Maritime disputes not always one-sided, says ITIC

Sometimes fault is not always one-sided as a recent dispute involving a naval architect and a class society demonstrated. The claim was handled by ITIC (International Transport Intermediaries Club), provider of professional indemnity insurance to transport professionals across the globe, and originated from a shipyard.

The yard was commissioned to build a series of fast pilot vessels that had been designed by a naval architect. The designs were first submitted to the class society who advised that the forward stringers be strengthened (stringers are longitudinal beams inside the hull to provide longitudinal strength). It is usual for advice from class societies to be noted on the vessel plan in a speech bubble. 

In this case, a different format was used and although all the advice from the class society was followed by the naval architect, the requirement to strengthen the stringers was missed. The class society reviewed and approved the revised plans but also missed the fact that the stringers had not been upgraded.

Ten vessels were built by the same shipyard and, after just three years’ service, nine vessels had suffered cracking.

The naval architect had specified that the vessel’s operations should be limited to a maximum significant wave height of 3.5m, however there were reports that some vessels had been out in seas of 5.5m.

The nine damaged vessels had their stringers strengthened by the original shipyard at a total cost of US$450,000. The yard claimed this sum from the naval architect. 

Although it was clear that the naval architect had missed the advice given by the class society, it was also clear that the class society had missed the error when they reviewed the final plans; and the vessels had been allowed to operate in conditions outside of their specified limits. 

As a result, the total amount paid by ITIC on behalf of the naval architect was reduced to $300,000.

ITIC urges all specialist consultants and agencies to thoroughly check advice given by third-parties and to remain vigilant for advice provided in non-standard or unexpected formats.

Photo credit: iStock/ Iam Anupong

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