Seaworthiness of Ship

  • Harsh Pandey 
  • 5 min read

Seaworthiness, as the name says, it classifies whether a particular ship is worthy/fit to go at sea, ship is able to face all the emergencies encountered in the route and she can sail without any incident. Seaworthiness is term that is mostly used in Admiralty court, when there is claim for Marine Insurance, marine pollution etc.

Seaworthiness

Considerations taken into account before declaring a ship seaworthy

1. The destination of vessel
Example: A ship may be seaworthy for Indian coast but not for Antarctic and polar waters
2. The class of ship
Example: A warship is a seaworthy in a zone where mines have a chance to explode but a merchant ship like Product tanker cannot enter.
3. Place of departure and even cargo
4. Certifications and skills of crew
5. Working of Equipment and device on ship

The English court states that “A ship owner warrants that his ship will be seaworthy at the time she is delivered. This does not mean that owner’s responsibility ceases and a continuous one if ship is put to sea for continuous voyages in an unseaworthy state owing to master’s negligence the vessel will be fully liable for the consequences”, Further the clause continuous to state that “the owner is to maintain the vessel in a thoroughly efficient state of hull and machinery during the period of charter”. The owners are obliged to rectify any defect as and when noticed.

Seaworthiness Certificate

When a ship is declared seaworthy, she is issued with a certificate of seaworthiness. Cargo ship entering into territorial waters of a particular country are required to carry seaworthiness certificate to comply with international regulations, maritime safety and environmental protection. The security and safety of cargo vessel is very important to avoid collision, marine pollution and any type of accident. This certificate is issued to those ocean-going vessels whose purpose is to transporting freight, safe design, proper engineering and proper equipment in working condition. This certificate is vital for ocean going vessel and its security, when the inspectors are satisfied by the condition of vessels, ship is issued with Seaworthiness certificate by the inspectors and she is declared seaworthy.

Seaworthiness Certificate
Seaworthiness Certificate

Unseaworthy ships

A ship is unseaworthy when a vessel is not fit for sailing, her equipment is not in working condition, her crew are not competent and they don’t have required certificates to sail and her physical fitness is not in good condition (e.g. rust in bottom plate) or they have not constructed vessel in accordance to international conventions. An unseaworthy ship invites many dangers, loss of cargo and human lives, so it is important to make a ship seaworthy.

When a ship is declared unseaworthy ?

  1. Materials used in ship construction are not proper as per SOLAS.
  2. Equipment onboard a ship are not in proper condition.
  3. Ships doesn’t have enough certificates which would make her seaworthy.
  4. Crew of ship are not having proper certificates and required skill.
  5. Ship doesn’t have enough crew as per safe manning certificate.
  6. Ship construction and design are not as per international conventions.
  7. Wrong description, weight, height and voyage data also makes ship unseaworthy.
  8. Machinery are not performing for the intended purpose.
  9. Ship is also declared unseaworthy when she posses serious dangerous to human lives.
  10. Equipment are found faulty and in improper condition during survey and inspection.
  11. If she sails without sufficient bunker or fuel during voyage.

A cargo on unseaworthy ship has a great chance of cargo loss, and it can affect the ship owner during cargo claim and marine insurance.

Cargo worthiness

Cargo worthiness means that ship is suitable and she can carry cargo without any mishap at that particular voyage. Cargo worthiness can be determined by considering load distribution, cargo securing equipment, lashing gear, deck openings etc.

Consideration that should be taken into account but not limited to :

  1. Class of ship
  2. Nature of Cargo (Dangerous goods)
  3. Tonnage of Vessel
  4. Certification of vessels
  5. Water and weather tightness of cargo spaces
  6. Cargo handling equipment (Bilge pumping system)
  7. Cargo monitoring device (Pressure instruments, temperature)
  8. Arrival/destination of vessel
  9. Voyage nature
  10. Route of vessel

Importance of seaworthiness

Sea worthiness is very important in shipping especially when it comes to cargo claim, marine insurance, an unseaworthy ship invite so many dangers onboard and also loss of human lives and cargo Bill of lading, charter parties and contracts are becoming very important document nowadays which specify the rights and duties of the appropriate parties. Seaworthiness certificate provides extra protection to settle a legal dispute between owner and charters. Its important to keep a ship seaworthy all the times by maintenance, repairs if needed. so there will be no cargo loss and human lives will be safe and ship will be safe at all the times.

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