London Arbitration 27/19


After Charterers had deducted hire based on shore crane charges as well as claimed underperformance and overconsumption from a chartered vessel, the Tribunal was left to determine if these charges were reasonable or if the shipowner’s evidence would disprove these actions.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he vessel in question was chartered on an amended NYPE form. The shipowners claimed US$27,000 after the charterers had deducted shore crane charges, underperformance, and overconsumption from hire. The shore crane charges occurred between the times of 07.30 and 11.45 on 11 and 12 May while the speed and consumption claim charges occurred on 18 and 20 of April and 2 and 7 of May. The following clauses and provisions were relied upon in the charterparty. 

17. Gear Clause;

   The vessel was to be able to load and discharge all five of her hatches with her cranes. These cranes were to be available free of charge, day or night, to the charterers and stevedores. If the vessel’s cranes malfunctioned or broke down, time was not to count for hire. The charterers were to be given the option of replacing broken down cranes, with owner approval, in which case the owners would be responsible for the cost. 

Provision 28. Cargo Gear and Lights

   The owners will be in charge of maintaining the cargo gear of the ship by providing gear that is capable of lifting capacity. The charterers are to have access to all gear and if they require it, the vessel will be permitted to work all day and night for loading and discharging purposes. The vessel will be considered off-hire if cargo gear malfunctions and the owners must pay for stevedores stand-by time as well as the cost of gear. 

Clause 46

   “It is understood…warranty applies only to speed and consumptions as stated above under good weather condition, smooth sea, without exceeding Beaufort Scale wind force 4 or Douglas Sea Scale 3, without adverse current.”

Clause 77

   “Evidence of weather conditions to be taken as reported daily on the noon position to the Charterers.”

The charterers submitted that the shore cranes had been used on 9 and 10 May to discharge steel slabs from holds 2 and 3.  However, the vessel was not able to operate these cranes on 11 May. The tribunal did not approve of the evidence provided by the charterers that the charges they had claimed were credited to the problem with the crane used on 9 and 10 of May. The owners were able to recover the amount the charterers deducted because of this. 

The charterers claimed that their crew was unable to work overnight on 12 May changing the cargo runner because the shore crane was unavailable. The shipowners provided substantial evidence that the repairs done on the damaged crane had been completed and the crane was not required for the work done. The tribunal accepted owners’ evidence and the charterer’s position was rejected.

The charterers used a weather report from 12 May, created by the weather bureau, that calculated a loss of over 43 hours and overconsumption of 26.47 mt IFO and 0.8 mt MDO on the vessel’s voyage. Because of this report, the charterers deducted US$22,000 from hire. The bureau reported that 18 and 20 of April and 2 and 7 of May were named “good weather days”. However, the owners supplied evidence that these days were not good weather days. 

The evidence supported that there were adverse currents on both days in April. The owners asked for 2 May to be excluded because the currents were adverse again and there were significantly high waves that exceeded the maximum wave height stated by Douglas Sea State 3. The owners argued that 7 May should be excluded for similar reasons. The hours used to describe good weather on 7 May were not representative of the whole voyage and the owners claimed it should not be included. 

Owners’ final position was that the weather bureau had used favorable currents in a way that would reduce the ship’s weather performance.  The shipowners objected to the weather bureau splitting the ship’s voyage into four parts instead of taking an average of all four to calculate vessel performance. The bureau stood by their original findings that 18 April was a good weather day because the net current was positive. They took entries in four six-hour periods. Two of the four periods were found to be negative as an adverse current was reported. However, this was not included in the compilation of dates during the four periods. If it had, the day would have had a negative net current. The weather bureau’s findings wrongly permitted the charterer’s favorable currents to decrease the good weather days.

Similar findings applied to 20 April. 2 May was found to have high wave heights that exceeded the standard found in No 8 Mariner’s Handbook NP100. The tribunal found that 7 May did not have sufficient evidence to use as a basis on the vessel’s performance. The tribunal disagreed with the weather bureau splitting the voyage into 4 parts and instead found that there were no periods of good weather on the voyage and the charterers could not deduct the amount they did from hire. Because of these findings, the owners were awarded a balance of US$27,425.