The dangers of assumption

A large construction firm was undertaking building works on an island. In order to construct part of the project, a large crane was needed to be shipped by barge from the mainland.

The construction company asked ITIC’s member, a marine consultant, for advice in relation to the carriage of the crane. This included the stowage and lashing arrangements. The advice provided included the separation of the crane boom from the main crane structure to avoid heavy stresses during carriage.

The construction company replied that they did not want to remove the boom due to the extra expense, but were happy with the other advice provided. As the marine consultant was not asked for an alternative method of lashing the boom, it was assumed that an alternative method had been sought.

During the voyage to the island, the vessel encountered heavy weather and the boom broke free from the main crane structure. There was a large amount of damage to the crane, and to a vehicle which was stowed on the deck at the time.

As the construction company had hired the crane they had to pay the rental company for the damage in the first instance. They then made a claim against the marine consultant for USD 850,000 for failure in their duty of care to provide proper securing advice.

The member had made the assumption that no further advice was required but, due to their involvement in the project, was aware that the shipment was going to go ahead. Although they had recommended the separation of the boom from the crane, they had not made clear the likely consequences of not doing so. While the greater part of the blame would lie with others involved in the shipment the claim was settled by ITIC on behalf of the marine consultant for USD 220,000.

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