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Matters affecting voyage performance

Matters affecting voyage performance

2.16.1 Providing security – letter of undertaking

The P&I insurer is sometimes requested to provide a P&I Club Letter of Undertaking (LOU) to prevent the vessel being arrested by a claimant. This situation may arise when

  • persons other than the crew are injured whilst on board the vessel
  • when cargo is damaged during the voyage
  • pollution has occurred and has caused damage to the environment or third party property
  • there has been a collision between the own vessel and another vessel.

Claimants may threaten to arrest the vessel in order to seek security for their alleged claim. To prevent the vessel from being delayed, the P&I insurer usually provides a LOU, if certain conditions are fulfilled, e.g. the claim must fall under the P&I cover provided, the premiums be fully paid up etc. It should, however, be noted that the P&I insurer is not obliged to do so.

In most jurisdictions, the claimants accept a LOU rather than insisting upon being provided with a bank guarantee or security posted in the form of cash. A LOU can often be provided within a very short time, whereas providing a bank guarantee or posting security in the form of cash can often be very time consuming as well as costly. There is also the fact that in some countries posting cash as security may lead to a wait of several years before the security is released, and may in the meantime have lost value due to currency fluctuations.

The P&I insurer may also be requested by claimants to provide a P&I Club LOU to cover liability that should more properly fall on the hull underwriters, e.g. in a collision case where the hull underwriters cover three-fourths of the liability.

One reason for such a request is that a LOU from an International Group P&I Club is often more widely accepted than a LOU from the hull underwriters, and can also be arranged more quickly and with less costs involved. Gard’s policy in these circumstances is that a P&I Club LOU can be injected as security for liabilities covered by the hull underwriters if Gard Marine & Energy has the claims lead on the Hull and Machinery policy. Gard P&I may do so against countersecurity in the form of a letter of indemnity from Gard Marine & Energy, covering all hull underwriters.

Gard P&I as P&I insurer and Gard Marine & Energy as Hull and Machinery insurer are together in the position of being able to provide the full range of insurance covers and services the shipowners may need when it comes to collision and FFO risks.

2.16.2 Fines

In most jurisdictions, the vessel, the Master and his/her crew are all subject to fines if a shore official observes the slightest irregularity. Fines may range from insignificant to extraordinarily large amounts. It is not uncommon for fines to be considered part of a country’s national budget in some jurisdictions. Therefore, the Master and his/her crew must closely adhere to all international conventions, national laws and regulations to prevent any fines being imposed.

Fines may be imposed on the vessel, the Master, officers and/or crew for a wide range of violations including

  • contravention of Collision Prevention Regulations and national waterway regulations
  • contravention of traffic directives given from ashore
  • expiry of the vessel’s trading documents
  • irregularities in customs forms, manifests and crew lists
  • discrepancies in ship’s stores, medical stores and crew’s personal effects declarations
  • outdated medicines in the ship’s medicine stores
  • in some countries, out of date provisions on board
  • pollution of the marine environment, irrespective of pollutant
  • breach of MARPOL regulations• the presence of stowaways on board.
  • crew list
  • customs declaration list
  • stores, food and provisions list
  • medicines list
  • manifests• oil record book.

Forms and lists to be presented to national authorities upon entering a port should be completed with the utmost care and attention, these include

Some countries require a separate declaration for any medicines containing narcotics, strong, psychotropic or poisonous substances and also separate safe storage of the same.

The slightest irregularity may lead national authorities to impose a fine or initiate criminal prosecutions. The P&I insurer does not cover any fine that results from any wilful act or omission of the Company, the Master or the crew, such as smuggling, carrying contraband or intentionally misleading entries in the vessel’s logbooks.

Landing of material or equipment from the vessel, or luggage or spares without prior written declaration and permission from the competent customs authorities may, in some countries, lead to a fine being imposed on the Master and/or the vessel. The Master is advised to contact the ship’s agent before discharging any item.

For further details please refer to Gard News 178, Declaration of medicines on board.

For the imposition of fines on the vessel, the Master or the crew and how to respond to the same, please see section 3.7 Fines.




Due to the increased global focus on environmental issues, pollution, irrespective of the substance and cause involved, not only attracts immediate public attention but constitutes a criminal offence in most countries, often with severe personal consequences for the Master and the ship’s personnel involved.

As pollution has far reaching consequences reference should always be made to the Gard Handbook on Protection of the Marine Environment.

Every aspect of pollution is dealt with in detail in the above

Handbook. Information can be found on

  • general environmental issues
  • major causes of marine pollution
  • pollution prevention
  • reducing pollution
  • contingency planning
  • international and national historical and legislative background
  • MARPOL 73/78, including all Annexes
  • other relevant environmental conventions
  • national response systems
  • liability and compensation schemes.
  • oil and oily substances – bunker oil, lube oil and oil cargoes
  • cargoes such as

Due to the current focus on pollution some aspects are briefly dealt with in this section. Pollutants

Different types of substances, and operations or accidents can cause pollution of the environment. Major pollutants are

  • noxious liquid substances in bulk
  • harmful substances carried in packaged form
  • sewage
  • garbage and waste
  • air pollutants such as soot and sulphuric acid from the ship’s exhaust
  • ballast water. Types and causes of pollution

The Master should always seek immediate assistance if his/her vessel has caused pollution, irrespective of the type of pollution involved!

For further details please see section 3.12 Pollution.

A. Pollution by oil

Pollution by oil and oily substances causes considerable harm to animals and plants as well as damage to third party property during clean-up. Some affected property cannot be cleaned or repaired and must be replaced. Pollution by oil cargoes receives a lot of attention in the media but is actually a minor contributor to oil pollution world-wide. The most common type of pollution is caused by bunker heavy fuel oil. Pollution by heavy fuel oil is serious due to its chemical consistency and properties thus

  • having a more harmful impact on the maritime environment
  • making clean-up more difficult and expensive.
  • during bunkering operations

Pollution by fuel oil can occur

  • alongside the berth
  • on the roads
  • in the open sea
  • during shipboard operations such as re-pumping and/or ballasting measures
  • due to an accident
  • collision
  • contact with FFO
  • grounding
  • structural failure of the vessel

• as a deliberate act of discharging oil or oily substances into the sea, which may constitute a criminal act.

During bunkering operations, whether in port, alongside or at anchor, utmost care and attention is required by all crew members involved. Bunkering must be carried out in strict conformity with the Company’s Shipboard Operations for Bunkering.

The prevention of pollution by oil is covered by MARPOL 73/78 Annex I.

  • Pollution by noxious liquid substances
  • Pollution by harmful substances – dangerous goods
  • Pollution by sewage
  • Pollution by garbage

Pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk, i.e. chemicals, is rare and occurs mainly during cargo operations or as a consequence of an accident such as a collision or structural failure. However, the damage to the environment may be catastrophic, depending on the nature of the chemicals escaping from the vessel, and the effects are immediate and long lasting. The prevention of pollution by noxious liquid substances is covered by MARPOL 73/78 Annex II.

Pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form occurs occasionally by accident when cargo is lost overboard and to a lesser extent during cargo operations. The prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form is covered by MARPOL 73/78 Annex III.

Pollution by sewage has become a problem due to the increased awareness of protection of the marine environment. More stringent regulations to prevent pollution by sewage and thus avoid detrimental effects on the marine environment and its flora and fauna have been required due to the increasing number of passengers carried by sea. MARPOL 73/78 Annex IV sets out regulations for the Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships.

Pollution by disposal of ship’s garbage is not only prohibited under MARPOL Annex V but also constitutes a criminal offence similar to pollution by oil in most jurisdictions.

Pollution by garbage is mainly caused by careless or intentional disposal overboard. It has various impacts on the environment. Garbage not only pollutes beaches and estuaries but also harms marine fauna. It can seriously disrupt factories which are located on waterways and use water for cooling purposes, by blocking their suction cages.

In ports with garbage disposal facilities, garbage disposal should be carried out in accordance with the vessel’s Garbage Management Plan.

Garbage includes

  • ship’s domestic waste
  • wrappings from provisions and stores delivered on board
  • remnants and sweepings from the cargo holds.

The prevention of pollution by garbage is covered by MARPOL 73/78 Annex V. The Master and his/her officers are advised to refer to Annex V for a detailed definition of “garbage”.

  • Pollution by ballast water
    • amend existing regulations for the Great Lakes Ecosystem
    • establish voluntary ballast water management guidelines for all US waters
    • establish mandatory reporting for nearly all vessels entering US waters.
  • Air pollution

Ballast water from vessels is one of the major sources of the global introduction and spread of harmful aquatic organism and pathogens.

On 1 December 1997, the IMO Assembly adopted Guidelines for the Control and Management of Ship’s Ballast Water to Minimize the Transfer of Harmful Aquatic Organism and Pathogens (A20/Res.868).

On the basis of this resolution and the US National Invasive Species Act of 1996, the US Coast Guard introduced both regulations and voluntary guidelines on 1 July 1999, to control the invasion of aquatic organism and pathogens which

A Master trading to the US or areas where similar regulations are in force should make enquiries with the local agents before entering the relevant Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles) regarding how to comply with the ballast treatment programme in force.

The Master should ensure that he/she is familiar with all relevant local and international requirements in force. Certain port States have imposed significant control procedures, detentions and fines on vessels discharging ballast water in their jurisdictions. For example, ballast water cannot be discharged in some countries without permission and the authorities in others often impose large fines for discharges of clean water.

Air pollution is caused by deficiencies in vessels’ exhaust pipe filters when burning heavy fuel oils. Air pollution from exhaust gases is said to contribute to global warming and can only be reduced by achieving a more efficient combustion of fuel oils.

Although less prevalent today, pollution of air by soot from the ship’s funnel may still occur. In such instances, the consequences are often far reaching as soot particles can be carried for miles and damage third party property. Furthermore, clean-up is labour intensive and thus costly.

Annex VI to MARPOL 73/78 sets out regulations for the prevention of air pollution and came into force on 19 May 2005. The Master, his/her officers and engineers are advised to consider and comply with MARPOL 73/78 as well as any national regulations.

In April 1999, the European Union (EU) issued a directive (1999/32/EC) which came into force on 1 July 2002, stating that a sulphur cap is in place on inland use of middle distillate fuels with a similar cap being placed on the marine use of such products. In summary, the directive puts a sulphur cap on all grades of fuel within Table 1 of ISO 82171996. The EU directive includes a sulphur cap of 0.2 per cent by mass on marine diesel oil (MDO).

This EU directive places considerable restrictions on the use of

MDO, particularly for transit between EU ports. Therefore, the Master, his/her officers and engineers should ensure that he/she has up to date information on the specific requirements of the EU which may be more stringent than those under MARPOL, Annex VI. Control and measures to avoid pollution A. Familiarisation with the SMS and MARPOL 73/78

The Master, his/her officers and all shipboard personnel likely to be involved in essential shipboard operations relating to the prevention of pollution by oil should acquaint themselves not only with the operations laid down in the Company’s SMS but also with the provisions of MARPOL 73/78 and its latest amendments.

Any deviation from international and national rules for the prevention of pollution is considered a criminal offence in most jurisdictions and has far reaching personal consequences for the Master, officer or engineer concerned.

  • Special areas
    • the absolute prohibition of discharge of oil, oily substances or ship’s grey water, the latter permitted only by strict compliance with special requirements, and
    • the proper notification to the competent authorities before entering PSSAs.
  • Accuracy of records
  • Port State control inspection
  • Co-operation with authorities – no voluntary admission of liabilityIf pollution has occurred, the Master and/or engineers should co-operate with the authorities to limit any consequences thereof. Before any admission of liability is made by the ship’s personnel, the P&I insurer and the correspondent, or the lawyers representing the Company should be consulted.
  • Pollution not caused by the own vessel
    • section 1.8 Difference between P&I insurance and Hull and Machinery insurance
    • Gard News 178, The interface between Hull and Machinery insurance and P&I from the P&I claim handler’s perspective
    • Gard News 173, Collisions – why do they occur?
    • over reliance on the navigation aids available
    • mistaken evaluation of the information provided by such aids
    • wrong conclusions drawn from given situations
    • too narrow safety margins
    • underestimating the prevailing tides and currents
    • overestimating the vessel’s manoeuvrability
    • insufficient reduction of speed in restricted visibility
    • failure to post and maintain a lookout
    • insufficient knowledge or wrong assessment of the ship’s position
    • incorrect identification of VHF traffic causing confusion between two vessels
    • poor communication between the Master and the officer of the watch as to who is actually in command of the watch
    • insufficient engine or rudder manoeuvre in adequate time
    • sudden failure of navigational equipment, propulsion or steering systems.
    • constant vigilance and attention
    • proper and clear communication by and between everybody in charge of the navigation of the vessel
    • proper application of the Collision Prevention Regulations.
    • fully under the Hull and Machinery insurance cover
    • fully upon the P&I insurer
    • under the English ITC hulls rule – 25 per cent with the P&I insurer and the remainder with the Hull and Machinery insurer, in which case, the P&I insurer normally takes the lead in the investigation and any resulting proceedings.

When entering Particular Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA) the Master and his/her officers are advised to carefully comply with the special regulations in force, such as

Any contravention of these regulations not only constitutes a criminal offence, but may have serious financial consequences for the Company and sometimes the P&I insurer.

The Master and his/her officers are advised to keep proper and accurate records in the Oil Record Book and Garbage Record Book. The slightest irregularity in these records may lead an authority to not only carry out a more detailed inspection but to also impose a fine on the person responsible as well as the Master. Irregularities in these record books may, in some countries, constitute a criminal offence and could even lead to imprisonment.

Under MARPOL, port State control officers may at any time carry out an inspection when there are clear grounds for believing that the Master or crew are not familiar with their obligations under MARPOL. Such inspections may result in the vessel being detained without notice until steps have been taken to rectify the situation.

If the Master, however, feels his/her vessel is wrongly accused or any response action taken by the authorities is incorrect, he/she may make a note of protest, but should seek advice from the P&I insurer and the correspondent or the lawyers representing the Company before doing so.

If the Master or any of his/her crew discover pollution of air or water not caused by the own vessel, the Master is advised to gather as much evidence as possible of the pollution and its suspected source. The Master should in any case request assistance from the correspondent to prevent a fine being imposed against the own vessel.

In the event of pollution please see section 3.12 Pollution.



Causes of collision

For further details please refer to

Despite the fact that more and better navigation aids are available, collisions nevertheless do occur. The causes are often

The best precautions to prevent collisions are Insurance cover

In terms of insurance, a collision requires contact between two vessels. Under some insurance arrangements the liability for damage to the other vessels can fall

Please also refer to section 1.8 Difference between P&I insurance and Hull and Machinery insurance. Collision at sea

Despite vessels being constructed to provide sufficient buoyancy if one or more of the vessel’s compartments are flooded, the sequence and impact of a collision can never be foreseen as there may be an immediate loss of sufficient buoyancy. In such circumstances, knowledge of the vessel’s Emergency Contingency Plan is vital. Survival of the crew can only be ensured if the crew is trained to such an extent that every crew member is able to carry out his/ her emergency role. It cannot be emphasised enough that proper familiarisation with lifeboat exercises is in many cases vital for the survival of the crew and subsequent rescue by other vessels. The only help that may be available at sea is often the other vessel involved in the collision.

Collision drills and exercises are important as the Master and his/her officers are made aware of what can be expected in a real emergency situation. These drills include all the elements involved in making the vessel watertight.

The Master and his/her officers should always take early action to avoid a situation which may result in a collision. As a general rule the Master and his/her officers should act before the Collision Regulations apply.

The use of VHF for meeting or overtaking arrangements should be avoided if possible. If VHF is used, it should only be used after positive identification has been established. The communication must be clear, concise and timely to prevent wasting valuable time which would be needed for evasion manoeuvres. Misleading arrangements with another vessel on meeting or overtaking, such as passing against the Collision Regulations (e.g. green to green) must be avoided. Collision in confined waters

Collisions in confined waters, such as rivers and canals, often occur with a pilot in attendance. In many cases the collision can be attributed to the lack of proper communication between the Master and pilot, or unauthorised interference by the pilot. Constant attention to the pilot’s navigation is therefore the best advice to prevent a collision occurring. If the Master is in any doubt about any of the pilot’s recommendations as to speed in reduced visibility, coming from either the pilot or the Vessel Traffic Service System (VTSS) ashore, the Master should not hesitate to intervene.


Collisions in confined waters may also be caused by the incorrect identification of other vessels when using VHF. Clear and concise communication between vessels is essential, and where applicable stating the vessel’s name, call sign and position as identified by the AIS. Another cause for collisions in confined waters is loss of control of the vessel. No use of GSM or other mobile telephones

There have been reported incidents where the use of GSM mobile telephones has

  • distracted the Master or officer of the watch from his/her navigational duties, or
  • caused a sudden failure of the vessel’s steering system.

Although the effect of GSM mobile telephones on the vessel’s equipment may have been investigated previously, the Master should prohibit the use of mobile telephones whilst manoeuvring in confined waters. Collisions may constitute a criminal offence!

In an increasing number of jurisdictions, collisions between vessels may constitute a criminal offence for which the Master and the officer concerned may be subject to criminal prosecution. Fines are imposed in most jurisdictions, however, the Master and officer may also be detained and possibly arrested even where no personal injury or oil pollution has occurred. Detention cannot always be averted despite lawyers being instructed to protect the interests of the Master, the officer, other crew members concerned and the Company.

After a collision has occurred and the vessel has arrived in port, the Master and crew are advised not to discuss the collision with anyone unless the correspondent or lawyer appointed by the Company, Hull and Machinery or P&I insurer is present. Note of protest after collision

It is advisable to lodge a note of protest or sea protest in some jurisdictions, to protect the right to claim against the other vessel. The Master should seek advice from the correspondent or lawyer instructed.

For further measures to be taken in collision cases, please see section 3.3 Collision.

2.16.5 damage to fixed and floating objects (FFo) Insurance cover

Damage to FFO involves contact between the vessel or the vessel’s gear and the damaged object – which excludes another vessel. Liability may be covered either by the Hull and Machinery insurer or the P&I insurer. The standard insurance terms may be amended and the vessel’s insurance certificates will state who covers the vessel for damage to FFO. Objects likely to be damaged

A wide range of objects may fall into this category, such as

  • shore gantry cranes
  • supply pipes, e.g. water and gas
  • piers
  • jetties
  • locks and lock gates
  • navigational aids such as buoys and even lighthouses
  • fishing gear and aqua farms, particularly near the coastline.
  • closely monitor the navigation of the vessel on leaving and entering a port under pilot assistance
  • provide the pilot with the completed MPX form, please see Annex 6
  • collect from the pilot the MPX form, please see Annex 7
  • refuse to let the pilot take over the helm (unless necessary in the circumstances).

Damage to FFO tends to occur in confined waters mainly when a pilot is in attendance. To ensure vigilance at all times, the

Master should

Please see also section 2.13.5 Pilot assistance.

Damage to berths and jetties can in many cases be prevented if sufficient tug assistance is used. In circumstances where there are strong currents and tides or strong winds, the Master should always consider using tug assistance or delaying the manoeuvre until the prevailing situation improves.

When swinging off the berth before berthing, the Master should ensure that the tugs have brought the vessel under control sufficiently far off the berth before final approach.

Replacement towing lines should be available on the vessel and ready to be deployed if the tug’s line is rejected due to its poor condition or if the tug’s line parts.

On leaving or entering a berth where container or other gantry cranes are located close to the quayside, the Master should

  • verify the vessel’s highest point (air draught), i.e. aerial or mast
  • verify with the pilot the air clearance of the gantry cranes• reduce speed in time on approach to the shore installation • avoid coming into contact with the shore installation.
  • vessels being delayed and thus exposing the Company to a claim for detention in some jurisdictions
  • pier operators claiming commercial losses due to loss of use of the pier. Damage to lock gates and walls

If lock gates are damaged to the extent that the locks cannot be operated, this may result in

In many cases, in addition to the costs of reconstruction, compensation is claimed for consequential losses, detention and loss of use. Damage to navigation aids

Damage to navigation aids such as light buoys can have disastrous consequences. Contact with a buoy may go unnoticed and if the buoy is not replaced, another vessel may be mislead and run aground. Courts in some jurisdictions award generous compensation to those whose property is damaged in such circumstances. Damage to aqua farms and fishing gear

The costs of physical damage to aqua farms and fishing nets are relatively insubstantial but claims for consequential losses may be considerable. Particular attention should be given to the navigation in areas where fishing nets are thought to be located. It may be advisable to post a lookout equipped with a powerful searchlight on the forecastle and to establish a proper chain of communication.

An anchorage must be carefully selected to prevent the vessel from drifting into aqua farms or fishing gear. When anchored close to such areas

  • a careful watch should be kept at all times
  • constant bearings must be taken.
2.16.6 damage to other property Insurance cover

Insurance cover for loss of or damage to property other than FFO is a complex subject. Such claims may fall under the Hull and Machinery insurance or the P&I insurance. As a general rule, incidents involving loss of or damage to property not belonging to the vessel and where there is no contact with the vessel’s hull will, in most cases, be covered by the P&I insurer. Damage caused by manoeuvring the vessel

Some hull policies cover damage caused to other vessels when manoeuvring the own vessel, e.g. wash damage. Damage arising out of a manoeuvres which cause another vessel to run aground, collide with another vessel, or damage a FFO is covered by the P&I insurer subject to the individual certificate of entry.

Such damage is likely to occur in confined waters when approaching estuaries or pilotage areas. Wash damage can occur when a vessel has a poor trim or proceeds at excessive speed in confined waters, e.g. rivers. Claimants include marinas and the yachts and boats using them. There may also be damage to river banks and the vessels and barges tied up alongside, including newbuildings berthed at shipyards. The risk of wash damage is greater in tidal rivers where the mooring arrangements of other vessels may be inadequate. Whilst manoeuvring alongside moored vessels, special attention should be paid to vessels such as tankers, reefers or ro-ro vessels using fixed installations, such as chic-sans, flexible pipelines, booms, banana elevators or ramps. The slightest movement of such vessels may cause extensive damage and commercial losses.

An erratic or unexpected manoeuvre may cause another vessel to run aground, collide with a third vessel, or damage a FFO which may result in substantial claims. To prevent such situations arising, the Master should ensure that

  • there is always a safe distance between vessels
  • vessels involved are clearly identified when exchanging VHF messages.
  • after clear and precise information is exchanged as to which sides the vessels will pass
  • if there is safe clearance between the two vessels to avoid contact
  • if there is safe clearance to the river or canal banks.
  • the damage can be extensive
  • in some jurisdictions claims may be brought for consequential damages, such as loss of fresh water supply and commercial losses suffered by consumers.
  • carefully plan the location of an anchor manoeuvre
  • satisfy himself that the seabed is free of cables and pipes
  • after weighing the anchor, only make headway after the anchor is well aweigh or, better still, out of the water
  • ensure that the entire anchor gear is secured to avoid the anchor cable running out unnoticed when proceeding to sea
  • take in mooring lines before making headway.
  • the vessel’s equipment such as cranes and derricks coming into contact with shore installations
  • ranging alongside which may cause

When overtaking, being overtaken or meeting another vessel in rivers and canals, manoeuvres should be commenced only Damage caused by the vessel’s anchors or mooring lines

Whether near the coast, in rivers, canals or open sea, considerable care must be taken when anchoring. An anchor may drop on, pick or become entangled with a range of underwater pipelines and cables such as fresh water pipes, gas pipes, electricity and communication supply lines etc. In such circumstances

By way of precautionary measures the Master should therefore Damage to shore installations and property

Damage to shore installations and property may be caused by

  • mooring lines to part
  • discharging or loading hoses to break resulting in oil or chemical spills and consequently pollution
  • equipment such as rented gangways or conveyor belts etc., to break and/or fall into the water.

If container gantry cranes are damaged, the terminal operator will be deprived of their use which may result in substantial financial losses. Accordingly, the vessel’s derricks, cranes and other hoisting equipment should only be moved

• by the vessel’s crew subject to a permit-to-work procedure • provided a responsible officer is supervising the operation.

All mooring lines should be kept tight at all times to prevent the vessel ranging alongside and tidal conditions must be taken into account.

In the event of damage to third party property or FFO please see section 3.4 Damage to FFO – property damage.

2.16.7 General average – grounding and salvage – fire General average

The Master should understand that a general average in terms of the York-Antwerp Rules arises only when:

“Extraordinary sacrifice or expenditure is intentionally or reasonably made or incurred for the common safety for the purpose of preserving from the peril the property involved in a common maritime adventure.”

(York-Antwerp Rules 2004 Rule A).

Examples of events giving rise to a general average declaration could be • fire on board

  • grounding
  • major collapse of cargo
  • jettison of cargo
  • main engine breakdown
  • loss of rudder or propeller
  • serious structural failure.
  • jettisoning deck cargo to regain stability.
  • request a salvage tug to attend to salve the vessel or to keep her away from the shoreline
  • have the vessel towed into a port of refuge.

These incidents may result in extraordinary sacrifices, such as • flooding a full cargo hold to confine a fire

It may be necessary to

The parties who contribute in general average are the parties with an owning interest and usually an insurable interest in the adventure: the owners at risk for the vessel, cargo, bunkers and freight.

An incident leading to general average affects in all instances the Hull and Machinery insurer as well as the cargo insurer. Such an incident may often include elements such as pollution, threat of pollution, personal injury or other risks falling under the P&I insurance. Accordingly, the P&I insurer or its correspondent should be contacted without delay in order to assess the situation. A surveyor needs to be appointed for the Hull and Machinery insurer to investigate the cause and extent of the accident and a general average surveyor will frequently be appointed on behalf of all the interested parties. In addition, a surveyor for the P&I aspects of the incident may have to be appointed to investigate the extent of their involvement. The Company will, in co-operation with its Hull and Machinery insurer and the appointed general average adjuster, take the steps necessary to obtain a general average bond or guarantee and a non-separation agreement if required, prior to the discharge of the cargo and consider any further steps to secure the interests in general average. Cargo interests often try to deny their legal obligation to contribute their share in general average based on allegations of unseaworthiness and breach of contract of affreightment.

The Company and the P&I insurer may also be liable for the costs of the measures undertaken to prevent or minimise damage to the environment as such costs are only allowed in general average in certain circumstances.

Due to the complex nature of general average and the mechanism for the allocation of expenses, the Master is best advised to keep a detailed chronological record of all actions taken, so that the Company and the P&I insurer can justify their position to the various interests contributing in the general average.

For further information on general average please refer to section 3.9 Grounding and salvage – General average. Grounding and salvage

For further details please refer to Gard Circular to Members No. 05/2000.

A grounding can be caused by

  • the vessel losing her manoeuvrability
  • underestimating natural forces such as wind and tidal currents
  • manoeuvring to avoid collision with another vessel
  • losing control of the vessel
  • uncharted underwater obstructions
  • incompetent navigation
  • dragging of anchor
  • negligent passage planning not considering water depths
  • improperly corrected sea charts
  • ‘edge cutting’ on passage
  • fatigue and falling asleep
  • negligent watchkeeping
  • intentionally, in an emergency, to prevent the vessel sinking.

Salvage assistance in the form of a salvage tug is necessary if the vessel has lost her ability to manoeuvre or is firmly aground.

As the salvage costs are covered by the Hull and Machinery cover, the Master should immediately contact the Hull and Machinery insurer enabling them to send a surveyor to the scene to assist with the salvage or refloating efforts.

Under the ISM Code the Master has the overriding authority and responsibility to make decisions with respect to safety and pollution prevention – section 5.2 of the ISM Code. Therefore, the Master himself may have to make the decision to engage a tug. Under the Lloyd’s Standard Form of Salvage Agreement (LOF 2000) the salvor is entitled to claim special compensation in addition to the salvage reward for efforts to minimise or prevent damage to the environment. If this special compensation is not covered by the Hull and Machinery insurer, the P&I insurer may become involved. The salvors may advise the Master that they intend to invoke the SCOPIC Clause (Special Compensation P&I Clause), which means that the salvor will be entitled to a fixed compensation from the P&I insurer for his efforts to minimise or prevent damage to the marine environment.

In such instances, the Master should immediately inform the Company and the P&I insurer enabling them to send a representative to monitor the activities and expenditure of the salvors. The P&I insurer may also become involved generally, as salvage in most cases results in a general average.

In circumstances where the vessel has run aground, please see section 3.8 Grounding and salvage – general average.

22 Fire

For further details please refer to Gard News 175, Facing the challenge of fire at sea.

Fire on board a vessel is one of the most dangerous situations for both crew and passengers. A fire on board may result in the total loss of the vessel. The Master and crew must be trained and drilled to react professionally to any fire. A well-trained crew is often able to contain a fire or even put it out, not only saving lives but also the vessel itself and the cargo.

The success of effective fire fighting is dependant upon a quick response

  • immediately assess the source of the fire
  • alert the entire fire fighting team and equip them ready to respond
  • close all the vessel’s openings as quickly as possible.
  • on all tank vessels
  • on dry cargo vessels during cargo operations and when carrying dangerous goods on deck, even if stowed in containers
  • on deck on all vessels whilst in port
  • in the holds and engine rooms of all vessels
  • and in the cabin bunks.
  • smoke – irrespective of its source
  • pipe leakage
  • storage of combustible materials in confined spaces
  • defective insulation and electrical wiring
  • cargo remnants in the holds or spaces on deck forming a dangerous mixture likely to combust.

It is essential that all members of the crew and other persons not directly involved in the fire fighting operation are evacuated as quickly as possible.

It is a mandatory requirement under section 8 of the ISM Code to be prepared for such an emergency.

As in any marine accident, the vessel should not be abandoned hastily, without the Master and his/her officers having evaluated the stability of the vessel.

To prevent a fire occurring, safe working practices and smoking restrictions must be observed

Please also see section 2.8.5 Safe working practices.

The Master should ensure that the entire crew is aware of the risks of

In addition, sufficiently large and clearly marked NO SMOKING signs must be displayed in prominent places on board and observance of the no smoking policy must be monitored. All personnel and visitors must be made aware of the smoking restrictions.

In case of fire please see section 3.8 Fire.

2.16.8 diversion – deviation

A vessel may divert from the planned course or schedule to

  • land ill or injured crew members, passengers, stowaways, refugees or persons rescued from the sea
  • call at a port of refuge if the safety of the vessel is endangered
  • carry out emergency repairs at a port of refuge
  • replenish bunkers, fresh water, stores etc. – although a diversion for such activities should not under normal circumstances occur as an unplanned event.

Diversion needs to be distinguished from deviation. A diversion from a course or route may be justifiable if necessary, e.g. to save life; a deviation is usually unjustified and may deprive the Company


of defences or rights of limitation that might otherwise be available. The P&I insurance normally covers the Company for certain extra costs incurred in diverting a ship to land an injured or sick person, search for a person missing from the ship and for the purposes of saving persons at sea. The Company will often be under a duty to divert the vessel in such cases and if it does not the Company may be exposed to liability.

P&I cover for cargo liability may also be prejudiced if such liability arises from a deviation. There is an implied duty under contracts of carriage to prosecute the cargo voyage by the usual and customary route and with reasonable dispatch. If the carrier intentionally commits a deviation and is not excused from doing so by either custom, agreement or statute there is a risk that certain defences or rights of limitation will not be available to the carrier, which may otherwise have been available under the contract.

Although most, if not all, contracts of carriage contain a liberty clause, which seeks to expand what is to be considered “usual and customary”, e.g. “to call at any ports in any order”, the courts will generally restrict the carrier’s ability to rely on such clauses and if the deviation is committed purely for the carrier’s own benefit it is unlikely to be considered justified, even within the context of a liberty clause. In many cases, the P&I insurer can arrange additional insurance for deviations on the Company’s behalf and at their expense. If a diversion from the planned route is intended, the Master, or more usually the Company, should seek prior authorisation from the P&I insurer.

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