Published: 1 January 2017

In a recent case reported to the Club, a consignment of pressure boiler parts was physically damaged during moderately heavy weather whilst en route from Hong Kong to Houston. The ship encountered high seas and winds of Beaufort scale 9. The master had adjusted speed and course so as to minimise rolling and pitching but despite his actions, inspections carried out by the master in the cargo holds revealed the cargo stowed in hold no. 2 had been damaged.

Investigating surveyors attended discharging operations at Houston to ascertain the nature and extent of the damage. The stowage and securing of the cargo was found to be in good order and the Cargo Securing Manual (CSM) instructions had been followed. The conclusion was that the cargo packaging and protection (carried out by the shippers) which consisted of a framework of small dimension steel angles, was found to be insufficient for an ocean voyage.

The cargo loading and stowage had been monitored by the chief officer throughout the process, but he had not paid attention to the packaging and protection of the cargo. The design of the steel structure and the dimension of the steel structural (angles) used to protect boiler pipes were clearly inadequate for the forces to be expected at sea and was clearly designed only to accommodate inland transportation and shore storage purposes.

The shipper is under a duty to package cargo in a manner sufficient to withstand the rigours of an ocean voyage. Although the master(owners) may not be responsible under the terms of a charter for stowage and securing and the cargo damage resulting therefrom and will rarely be responsible for the consequences of inadequate packaging, nevertheless, the master and/or party responsible for loading and stowage of such cargo should endeavour to note the adequacy of packaging/protection for the intended voyage and should put charterers and/or shippers on notice of any obvious concerns. In any event, the master has a duty to ensure that cargo is packed and protected so as to ensure no damage or hazard to the ship and other cargo loaded on board can result from the failure of that packaging.