Can shipping companies be sued for containers lost at sea?

Shu

Super Anarchist
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96
This is a question for you lawyers out there.  

While reading the very sad transcription of the bridge recordings from the El Faro, I was hit by the very cavalier attitude the crew had toward containers washed overboard in previous storms.  Sure, who cares about running into containers when your 600-ft boat has mega-thick steel plating for a hull. For those of us without the wisdom of Brent Swain however, those lost containers are nothing short of warm-water icebergs ready to send our craft to the bottom.  

I guess it's a tall order for someone to actually get the name of the shipping company off a container they run into.  But if it actually happened could they successfully sue?  Could the damages also include other incidents to make the penalty sufficient to encourage corrective action by other shippers?  

In general I hate lawsuits, but how else to get shipping companies to take responsibility?

 
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O40_77885

New member
32
2
SoCal
You can sue anybody, would you ever win, no! Unless it fell on your boat from the ship or you saw it fall off, then hit it. How would you know which ship it fell off of? The company lease's the conx, plus their stolen all the time. So you will have to prove the ship and negligence.

 

Lark

Supper Anarchist
9,484
1,692
Ohio
Where would the venue be?   Panama for registration?   South Korea for owner?  

(Serious question)

 
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Where would the venue be?   Panama for registration?   South Korea for owner?  

(Serious question)


....given the vagaries of maritime law you could possible add to those jurisdictions;  ... location of accident if not in international waters....or flag country of damaged boat....I'm sure a maritime lawyer could suggest a half dozen more issues .......  (like a counter suit from the container owner for damage to their container owing to a failure to keep watch...aka the time tested   " hey your boat scratched my anchor"      defense   )     

 
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jack_sparrow

Super Anarchist
37,393
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If your in a position to identify it why not open it up and extract all the blow. That way you don't have to bother the insurer, though you might end up in a bad place where dropping the soap in the shower is an uncomfortable experience.

 

DtM

Super Anarchist
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514
Out of the Office
There is a long, old thread about this in Ocean Racing Anarchy.  Why not go there and tag along.

There was also a lot on the Vendee thread about this which spawned the other thread.

 

Shu

Super Anarchist
1,717
96
Thanks for the lead DtM.  I've had such poor luck with the search function, I've gotten out of the habit.  Thanks for the replies everyone. The video posted by By the Lee was especially informative.  In summary, it sounds like:

1. A lot of containers are lost at sea, but the sea is so big, hitting containers is extremely unlikely.  It has happened a few times.

2. The problem, miniscule as it is, is going to continue to grow.

3. There's nothing we can do about it legally, and 99.999% of the world's population doesn't care, so good luck getting the public in a furor over it.  Good on Robert Redford and friends for at least attempting to make the issue known.

 

Marcjsmith

Super Anarchist
3,885
1,049
Washington DC
I guess the problem will grow.  But How long does a conx last before it sinks.   And is no longer a problem to navigation (not discounting pollution).

if they could figure out a way to put in a biodegradable plug of sorts that would let the conx fill with water and sink after immersion for 30 days so it’s no longer a navigational threat

but then it becomes a maintenance issue for the conx owners/leasers.

assuming of course that a that a conx filled with Chinese shit packed in styrofoam would even sink in a reasonable amount of time when filled with water.

 

Meat Wad

Super Anarchist
  • Containers should be sealed so they will float above not below the surface.
  • Containers should all be fitted with GPS tracking. for removal and retrieval of lost goods and private property.
These 2 items would be minniscule in cost and  not cut into any profits. But I doubt the stock market would like it.

 

Zonker

Super Anarchist
9,725
5,681
Canada
Yes, it is tricky to get them to float below the surface :) .  But if they are filled with TV's packed in styrofoam, they won't sink!

If a container is floating just above the surface, it has positive buoyancy

If it has negative buoyancy, it sinks

In the real world, it is very very hard to get to true neutral buoyancy i.e. can float just under the water surface. As it sinks even slightly deeper, the water pressure squeezes the shape a very small amount, and then it loses buoyancy, and it sinks a bit more etc. In other words it's an unstable equilibrium problem.

Doubtful you'd get anybody to pay for GPS tracking - nobody is really demanding it.

 

Glenn McCarthy

Super Anarchist
1,827
274
Elmhurst, IL
You can sue anyone you want at anytime for anything.  I think your question is whether you could win a lawsuit.

So, your boat hits one and damages your boat, is it sinking, are you able to stop the water intrusion?  Just how much time did you have to identify any markings on the container?  Or did you tow it back to shore with you?  Did you hit it in day time?  Were you standing a watch, if so, why did you hit it?  Obviously you maintain a watch, so this must mean you hit it at night time.  How did you get the markings off of the container?  Now, will the container owner share with you anything?  They don't have to share anything with you.  They don't have to tell you what ship it fell off of.  Of course you can sue them to get the information started, in what court in the world?  Then the ship that lost it, you would need to PROVE that the ship was somehow negligent in losing that container.  Was it really the ships problem?  Was it the locks that lock the containers together that failed?  Did you get the manufacturer's name of the lock and bring that broken piece back to shore with you?  Did the ship not have it locked properly?  How are you going to prove that?  Did the lock hole in the container fail?  Was the container company somehow at fault?

Here's a completely different approach.  Insure your boat. File a claim, get your boat repaired quickly and get back out on the water.  The large paragraph above will take you years and years before you would ever see a penny, if you did see any penny.

 

P_Wop

Super Anarchist
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Bay Area, CA
....given the vagaries of maritime law you could possible add to those jurisdictions;  ... location of accident if not in international waters....or flag country of damaged boat....I'm sure a maritime lawyer could suggest a half dozen more issues .......  (like a counter suit from the container owner for damage to their container owing to a failure to keep watch...aka the time tested   " hey your boat scratched my anchor"      defense   )     
I posted on that other thread.  We lost a boat in Biscay many years ago.

Kingstonsail is just right.  But add to the list of owner of vessel... owner's representative, owner's management company, owner's insurance, charterer, charterer's management company and insurance, charter's agent, shipper, shipper's agent, what waters, what on-board or port riggers (if used), last port operators, last port country, container origin, container manufacturer, container owner, container lessee, last survey date, who did the survey (if any), and where....... 

No it's a no-hoper.

 

jack_sparrow

Super Anarchist
37,393
5,094
  Good on Robert Redford and friends for at least attempting to make the issue known
Without any shadow of a doubt the worst sailing genre movie ever made or will be made. I was pissed at the end when he went from being dead to being saved.

 

Glenn McCarthy

Super Anarchist
1,827
274
Elmhurst, IL
Without any shadow of a doubt the worst sailing genre movie ever made or will be made. I was pissed at the end when he went from being dead to being saved.
We debated if the white light at the end of the movie was him being rescued, or seeing the white light crossing over into death.  It was left to interpretation.

 




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