International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) has successfully defended a ship manager against allegations of negligence made by a ship owner following the loss of a lifeboat overboard.
The lifeboat was subsequently found drifting off the port of Naze, Japan, after the Master of the vessel had reported it missing. In view of the cost of deviating the ship to recover the lifeboat, compared to the cost of replacing it, it was decided, in consultation with hull underwriters and the vessel’s P&I club, to abandon it. The P&I club arranged for the lifeboat’s disposal through its correspondent in Japan.
The owner brought a claim against the ship manager for $90,000, which sum was moreover withheld against fees and disbursements owed to the manager, alleging that the loss of the lifeboat had been caused by the manager’s gross negligence and mismanagement.
However, under the SHIPMAN 2009 management contract governing the relationship between the parties, the owner had no right to set off a claim against what was owed to the manager. Neither could the owner provide any evidence to support its claim that the ship manager had been negligent, let alone grossly negligent.
A report into the incident concluded that it had not been possible to physically examine the release mechanism of the lifeboat before arrangements for its disposal were made by the P&I club correspondent in Japan. The lifeboat had successfully undergone its annual service and inspection six months previously, however, and had been wire-lashed on board the vessel for added security.
ITIC advised the owner that, if the sum owed to the manager was not paid, interest would be applied, and the ship would be arrested. The owner thereafter remitted the funds due, and nothing further was heard about the lost lifeboat.