American P&I Club warns on steel cargo claims

AUGUST 14, 2014 — Following some recent cases where the absence of pre-loading surveys increased the cost of steel cargo claims on discharge, the American P&I Club has updated its advice to members on the handling of steel cargoes. .

In a March 2002 circular, the club made extensive recommendations aimed at minimizing the prospect of spurious steel cargo claims. In a new circular, the club's manager, Shipowners Claims Bureau, Inc., says that, for the most part, members have followed the guidance and made progress in minimizing and averting the risks, and consequent liabilities, involved with such cargoes.

The club is reminding members that it requires the appointment of an experienced surveyor at the port(s) of loading to conduct a precautionary pre-load survey in order to

  1. assist the master in recording the apparent condition of the cargo prior to loading so that, where appropriate, the mate's receipts and bills of lading can be claused correctly as necessary, and
  2. verify that the vessel's cargo hatch covers and other openings in way of the hold spaces are in sound condition.

The club emphasizes strongly that any failure to complete such a pre-load survey will "prejudice the member's cover for any cargo claims that are asserted against it and its vessel in connection with the subject shipment(s)."

As it has done since 2002, the club will always make a 50% contribution towards the cost of such surveys. However, should a cargo claim arise in connection with the voyage in question, the cost of the survey will be applied towards the claims file cost for that matter, subject to any applicable deductible.