Jack-up barge punches through sandy bottom

Jack-up barge punches through sandy bottom

An offshore consultant performed a site assessment for a jack-up crane barge. The site was known to have some inherent difficulties for jack-up operations due to the underlying layer of soft clay which could potentially lead to a “punch-through” of one of the jack-up’s legs.

The offshore consultant’s report clearly highlighted this hazard. Ten days after the site assessment the barge went onsite and suffered a punch-through. The legs of the barge penetrated due to the effects of scour. A year later the owner of the jack-up barge brought a claim of US$ 1.75 million against the consultant, arguing the consultant did not consider the effects of scour.

The claim was rejected on the basis that (a) the report clearly showed there was a danger of punch through, (b) the barge had been shifted away from the site which had been assessed, (c) at that site the owner had failed to carry out proper preloading checks, particularly in relation to the danger of a punch-through, and (d) in the scope of work the consultant was never asked to consider the effects of scour.

The consultant’s position was considerably strengthened by a detailed scope of work and a well written report. ITIC often deals with claims in which a consultant is exposed to a claim because one of these documents is insufficiently clear. The legal costs to defend the consultant amounted to US$ 100,000.

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