Wednesday, July 17, 2013


MERCHANT MARINE INTEREST, Reference Work and Useful Hyperlink  for Ocean Cargo Claims
Links retested 2/16/2015
Cargo Ship
Photo by Bobby Mikul:  

One of the more common issues dealt with by admiralty lawyers, paralegals, insurance professionals, freight forwarders, steamship agents, and marine surveyors is the ocean cargo claim. Many cargos are temperature sensitive, some like bananas must be transported within a very narrow range; too warm and they ripen before arrival, too cool and they turn black. The reason most "banana boats" are white is temperature control. Mere refrigeration doesn't do the trick. The proper temperature range is well above typical refrigeration temperatures and below the typical ambient temperature in the tropical and subtropical zones these ships usually transit. Frozen cargos of other food products can be lost should the refrigeration equipment fail for a protracted period. Sweat damage is difficult to control. The interior sides of ships "sweat" under a variety of circumstances. Tainting is another source of loss. Tainting occurs when cargo is not properly segregated and odors or fluids or other properties of the different cargos mix. The professional ship's officer is tested on his or her ability to manage cargo, including the supervision of the loading of the ship in such a way that all aspects of loss control related to environmental conditions are balanced against requirements for cargo segregation and order of lading and discharge.

 The proper handling of ocean cargos is both an art and a science. Licensed merchant marine officers of all nations are trained in these arts and sciences and tested for competency in this skill set as part of their occupational license examinations. Yet every day around the world tainted and spoiled, and ruined cargo arrives in ships. Sometimes cargo from ships is discovered in a ruined state ashore on the dock or in the dockside wharehouse. Did it spoil from mishandling on the ship, on the dock, or was it ruined at the foreign loading point before it was ever brought aboard? This is a bit of a mystery that usually requires the attentions of a skilled marine surveyor, usually an experienced merchant marine officer, and the insurance claims adjusters for the consignors, consignee, ship, and cargo handlers and storage organizations.

 Physical mishandling of the cargo or cargo hold environmental failures aren't the only sources of ocean cargo losses. Seizure by customs authorities, or customs authorities delays that lead to spoilage due to natural causes are common sources of loss. There are complex manifesting, notice, and declaration requirements involved in moving ocean cargos across international borders. within the transportation system more than one actor has responsibilities for documents and notifications required by the world's customs services. The consignor, the freight consolidator or broker, the ship, and the ship's local agent all have responsibilities for satisfying the customs requirements. Who pays when a customs seizure or delay eliminates or ruins the cargo? It is highly unlikely that it will ever be the customs service or its personnel.

 So whether you are a lawyer or paralegal new to ocean cargo claims, or a ship's officer, marine surveyor, freight forwarder or broker you will want to have a general knowledge of ocean cargo claims. American Admiralty Books has two suggestions for starting your study or having on hand a reference, and the first one is free. The Los Angeles, California law firm of Countryman and McDaniel offers a free on line guide to the ocean cargo claims service as part of their firm's web site. Just follow our hyperlink and you're in.

For a short (36 pages) and concise desk top reference check out
American Admiralty Bureau's Introductory Guide to Ocean Cargo Claims by R.F. Bollinger
ISBN 1-879778-18-1
Copyright 1993
available from Marine Education Textbooks
124 North Van Avenue
Houma, LA 70363-5895
Telephone (985) 879-3866


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    Boats and divers have been hunting for survivors from the sunken ferry - but many remain missing
    More than 200 people - many of them schoolchildren - remain missing after a ferry sank on Wednesday off South Korea. The BBC looks at some of the questions surrounding the disaster.
    Why did the boat sink?
    Rescued passengers report hearing a loud thud before the boat began to tilt. This may have been caused by the vessel striking a submerged object such as a rock or a sunken container.
    However, the noise may also have been caused by large cargo coming loose aboard the vessel.
    The ferry is known to have made a sharp turn shortly before it issued a distress call but is not clear whether this was planned or the result of an external factor, the South Korean Constellation MaritimeMinistry said.
    "The distress call was put out and the authorities had a structured response," says Bruce Reid, CEO of the International Maritime Rescue Federation, a body that promotes safety at sea. But, he says, it is still too early to come to any conclusions about the effectiveness of the rescue mission.
    More questions are being raised about instructions given to passengers.
    Several survivors say that the crew ordered them to stay in place when the vessel ran into trouble. Ultimately, only two of the ferry's lifeboats were deployed. Many passengers were rescued after jumping into the sea, wearing lifejackets.
    Oh Yong-seok, a crew member, told the Associated Press news agency that the officers initially tried to stabilise the vessel. He says they instructed passengers to put on life-jackets and stay on the ship. The evacuation order was only given after 30 minutes, Mr Oh said, and it may not have reached all the passengers.
    "Those currents are quite swift, [which] means that the rescue area would be quite broad," he says.
    After previous accidents, passengers have sometimes been rescued from air pockets within sunken vessels. However, there is less chance of surviving for long in cold waters, such as those off the shores of South Korea.
    Passengers or crew would be very lucky to find themselves in an air pocket, says Mr John Noble,constellation marine services. "If they did, they would instinctively make a noise by banging on the metalwork," he says. "And I'm quite sure the rescuers would be listening for that."