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ITIC warns expert witnesses to be on their guard and beware

ITIC says, “In addition to potential liabilities, even an ‘innocent’ expert can face substantial legal costs dealing with a claim. At best, only a proportion of these costs will ever be recovered.”
ITIC says, “In addition to potential liabilities, even an ‘innocent’ expert can face substantial legal costs dealing with a claim. At best, only a proportion of these costs will ever be recovered.”

International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) has warned that the role of expert witness should not be undertaken lightly and that all professionals acting in this capacity should be aware that they could face legal action for negligence.

In the latest issue of its online newsletter, The Wire, ITIC cites a case involving an explosion on board a yacht at a marina which resulted in an insurance claim being made against the owner. An expert appointed by the insurers to investigate the cause of the loss concluded that the explosion and fire were the result of a deliberate act by the owner.

The insurers rejected the claim for a number of reasons, and the owner challenged the insurer’s decision in the local court, which found in favour of the insurers because the owner had been working on the vessel without the requisite authority. Therefore, irrespective of the allegation of arson, the policy did not have to respond to the loss.

The owner then claimed €650,000 in damages for defamation in respect of the allegations of arson raised in the expert’s report. Proceedings were issued against the insurers and the expert.

The insurers wanted the expert to pay the costs of the defence of the defamation claim, based on the fact that it was the allegation in the expert’s report that had given rise to the issue. ITIC, however, persuaded the insurers that they should support their expert, especially since they were, in part, relying on the report to reject the claim. ITIC said that, if it turned out that the report was negligent, the insurers could make a claim against the expert which would fall under their ITIC cover but, until then, the insurers should defend the expert. The insurers accepted that position and the claim was ultimately rejected by the courts.

ITIC says, “In addition to potential liabilities, even an ‘innocent’ expert can face substantial legal costs dealing with a claim. At best, only a proportion of these costs will ever be recovered.”

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Lack of communication led to serious main engine problems is key finding

Photo credit: Swedish P&I Club
Photo credit: Swedish P&I Club

The Swedish P&I Club has published a case study following serious damage caused to a ship’s main engine. As a consequence of poor communication water contaminated the lubrication oil causing severe damage to the engine.

Engineers on a bulk carrier were conducting scheduled maintenance on one of the ballast pumps. They had closed all the isolating valves to the ballast pump and put up notices about the job in the engine room and engine control room, but not on the bridge. They didn’t finish the job on the first day, so continued the next day.

The next day the Master asked an officer to print out the alarm list for the ballast water management system, prior to arriving at the next port as a port state inspection would take place. To get the list the officer had to start the ballast water management system, which he did.

The bilge high level alarm was activated in the engine room. An oiler checked the bilges and could see water pouring in, covering the tank top. An engineer turned off the power to the ballast water management system.

He found that two ballast system valves were open from the main seawater crossover suction line. He closed these valves to stop the ingress of the water. These valves had been opened automatically when the ballast water management system started. The engineers pumped the water from the tank top into the bilge holding tank.

An hour later the M/E bearing wear alarm – Water Level 50%, went off. The lube oil for the crank case had 0.09% of water in it. The second lubricating oil purifier was started. A little later the M/E bearing wear alarm went off again. A second sample of the lube oil was taken, and it was found that the oil had 0.08% of water in it.

The chief engineer decided to partially change 3,000 litres of lubrication oil for the crank case. A third sample was taken and the water content was 0.019%.

Subsequently, the engine stopped and a full change of the lube oil was performed. A crosshead bearing was opened for inspection. No damage was found. Nevertheless, one of the rubber diaphragm seals for draining the crankcase to the system lubricating oil tank was found to be defective. This caused the water flooding into the engine room to contaminate the lube oil.

The main engine restarted and the voyage continued. The main engine was an electronic controlled model i.e. the exhaust valves and fuel injection system were powered by hydraulics. The system lubrication oil was also used as a hydraulic medium.

The next day there were problems with some hydraulic components and the main engine had to be stopped. A couple of cylinder units and pumps had to be dismantled, cleaned and reassembled. The main engine could not be restarted because of low hydraulic pressure. It was decided that one of the cylinders had to be blanked off.

The main engine was started and stopped numerous times the next days as the hydraulic system was leaking. Because the engine was running on low rpms, the scavenge trunking became fouled with oil deposits, so the engine had to be stopped several times and the trunking had to be cleaned.

Probable cause
A defective rubber diaphragm caused the water to flood into the engine room and contaminate the lube oil. Because of this, there was serious damage to crosshead bearings, crosshead pins, main engine cylinders, hydraulic pumps and main engine turbo charger bearings.

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Hyperloop and HHLA are set to trial a new container by tube system

Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s high-speed-rail startup, has announced a new partnership with Hamburger Hafen und Logistik Aktiengesellschaft (HHLA) to explore ways to move shipping containers to and from inland sites with Hyperloop’s maglev-in-a-tube technology.

Initially, the joint venture plans to build a transfer station for testing purposes at an HHLA terminal in Hamburg and develop a Hyperloop transport capsule for standard shipping containers.

“With the Hyperloop transport system, HHLA is pursuing the goal of developing an additional component of efficient logistic mobility solutions in Germany,” said Angela Titzrath, chairwoman of HHLA’s executive board. “We want to employ innovative approaches to make a contribution towards relieving the strain on the transport infrastructure in and around the Port of Hamburg.”

Hyperloop aims to transport people and goods at high speed through a tube. With the help of magnetic levitation technology, the transport capsules used in the system will be sent through a tunnel in which there is a partial vacuum, at very high speeds. A test track for transporting people and goods is currently under construction in Toulouse, France, and the first test journeys in Europe are set to take place there next year.

Cargo services are certainly on Hyperloop’s agenda: the firm’s board is chaired by Ahmed bin Sulayem, the head of leading container terminal operator DP World. In April, Hyperloop announced a technology partnership with DP World called “DP World Cargospeed,” an international brand for hyperloop-enabled cargo systems for palletized cargoes. The firms said that DP World Cargospeed systems will deliver freight at the speed of flight and closer to the cost of trucking, ideal for time sensitive priority cargoes.

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Finnish luxury yacht builder Nautor will unveil its latest Swan at Düsseldorf

Finnish producer of luxury yachts, Nautor, plans to unveil the latest in its Swan series at the Düsseldorf Boat Show 2019 in January. Also on show will be an improved Swan 54 with new engine throttle, redesigned anchor locker and enhanced access to the engine with one single larger panel on the port cabin.

The newest model, the Swan 65, is suitable for cruising with family and friends but equally capable of racing. Designed by Germán Frers, the mid-sized yacht enhances Nautor’s existing “performance bluewater” line of yachts, following the same design philosophy and parameters as her larger sister, the Swan 78.

The yacht can be managed with or without a professional skipper and also raced with a full competitive crew. Four are currently under construction with delivery scheduled in 2019.

Racing plans

Nautor’s Swan has plans for racing over the next few years. The Swan One design program has been reinforced and includes the new ClubSwan 36, ClubSwan 50, ClubSwan 42 and Swan 45 Classes. Its sights are set on the bi-annual Nations Trophy Event, Palma de Mallorca in October 2019 and the annual Nations Trophy Leagues in the Mediterranean and northern Europe.

The Swan European Regatta 2019 has been confirmed and the event, organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron, will take place in Cowes on the Isle of Wight on 7-12 July.

Also returning after some years of absence is the Swan American Regatta, to be held in Newport on Rhode Island on 13-16 June.

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Report published by MAIB on the capsize and sinking of fishing vessel Solstice with loss of one life

At 1938 on 26 September 2017, the 9.9m fishing vessel Solstice capsized in calm weather conditions about 7 miles south of Plymouth. The skipper and crewman were rescued from the vessel’s upturned hull about 5½ hours later, but the vessel’s owner was trapped and drowned in the wheelhouse. Solstice later sank.

The scallop dredger had recently been modified to operate as a stern trawler and its owner, skipper and crewman were in the process of hauling a heavy catch on board when the capsize occurred. The net’s cod-end was full of fish, moss and sand, and started to roll uncontrollably along the transom as the vessel heeled in the light swell.

The crew did not have time to raise the alarm before they entered the water. As the vessel was not equipped with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and the crew did not carry Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs), they were wholly reliant on family and friends realising they were overdue and alerting the coastguard.

Safety lessons

– the crew had no stability information for Solstice and did not fully appreciate the risk of capsize. Vessel owners should always ensure that stability assessments are carried out before and after any modifications are undertaken;
– the weight in Solstice’s net was clearly excessive. In such circumstances, action should be taken to reduce the loads being lifted on board;
– take the search out of search and rescue; fit an Automatic Identification System (AIS) and carry an EPIRB and/or PLBs. They can be lifesavers;
– personal flotation devices should always be worn when working on deck and emergency use lifejackets should be readily available.

Recommendations

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been recommended (2018/132 and 2018/133) to conduct an impact assessment to determine the effectiveness of the actions the organisation has taken, as a result of the lessons learned from the Solstice investigation, to improve its network operations.

Read the report in full: MAIB_Solstice_Report

Read the annexes: MAIB_Solstice_Report_Annexes

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