Mega ships increase risks for bigger claims and damages

The New York’s American Institute of Marine Underwriters (AIMU) seminar drew attention to the risks of mega ships producing enormous losses because of huge number of cargo interests involved. Major casualties in the last 18 months have included fatal blaze last March on the 15,252-TEU Maersk Honam, the fire on the 7,510-TEU Yantian Express in January this year, noted Colchester’s Seatrade Maritime News.

One panellist, a beneficial cargo owner, noted that General Average was an ancient concept, but it was now inappropriate where ships carried cargo belonging to thousands. In both the cases of Maersk Honam and the Yantian Express General Average was declared, where all BCOs shared in the overall loss.

Streamlined and electronic documentation required to handle claims efficiently

Showing a picture of a large mega ship, with nearly two dozen rows of boxes stacked high, to the group, the panellist expressed a great frustration that each box could generate multiple emails that would keep claims staff busy non-stop for weeks. He added that the paperwork swirling around, needed to settle claims, would frequently contain errors, or was incomplete.

The speaker, who works with a leading cargo claims consultant, suggested that a move to a more streamlined system of electronic documentation would go a long way towards smoother and quicker resolution of claims. “The system is broken,” he said. “It was not designed for vessels like this”, referring to the 18,000 TEUer on the screen.

TT-club confirm larger risk exposure due to mega ships.

“With more data now, this debate will re-open. Large containerships do indeed present more risk.” An actual study on this subject has been undertaken by the TT Club.

According to the TT Club a major containership fire occurs every 60 days and that as the size of containerships increase so does the potential risk and consequence of a large explosion or fire. The club noted in a loss prevention bulletin last September that the capability to respond to a fire at sea had not progressed at the same rate as ship capacities and the large array of cargoes carried.