Damage to harps

Marine surveyors based in the Far East were instructed by the insurers of a cargo of HRSG harps (which are metal tube modules used in power generation) to conduct a pre-shipment inspection and to advise on loading and stowage. The cargo was loaded at a Malaysian port and the loading was overseen by the surveyor, who verbally notified the cargo interests of his reservations about the packing of the harps and the stowage. The reservations were ignored.

On a voyage to Australia (the intended destination) the ship encountered heavy weather. When the cargo was unloaded it was found to be heavily damaged. An expert was appointed by the Club, who advised that although some of the damage was caused by bad packing, the major part of the damage was caused by bad stowage and inadequate lashing. The consignees sued both the ocean carrier and the surveyor. An arbitration took place and the consignees were awarded USD805,000, of which the ship owner paid USD491,000 and the surveyor paid USD314,000.

The marine surveyor’s defence would have been much stronger if he had put his reservations about the packing and stowage in writing.

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