410. Sig. Bergesen DY v Mobil Shipping and Transportation Co. (the “Berge Sund”) [1993] 2 Lloyds Rep 453

Off-hire clause – tank washing as a result of contamination from indeterminate cause – vessel not off-hire

 The facts

 The vessel, an LPG carrier, was let for 20 years.

 The vessel was ordered to carry butane from Chiba in Japan to Terneuzen in Holland.  The cargo was known to contain excessive sulphur.

 The vessel discharged in Holland and returned, in ballast to Ras Tanura, Persian Gulf.  During the ballast voyage and after docking at Ras Tanura, the vessel required repeated tank cleaning which led to a delay of some 20 days. 

 Clause 8 of the charterparty (the off-hire clause) read as follows: 

 “(a) In the event that a loss of time, not caused charterer’s fault, shall continue,  (i) due to repairs, breakdown, accident or damaged the vessel, collision, stranding, fire, interference by authorities or any other cause preventing the efficient working of the vessel, for more than 24 consecutive hours, whether at sea or in port including but not limited to dry docking pursuant to clause 9 or for an accumulation or of more than 24 hours during any voyage (a voyage to be considered as a round voyage beginning at the time the vessel tenders for loading at the first port under the voyage in question until such time as it completes the voyage and tenders for loading on a subsequent voyage, …) then hire shall cease for all so time lost until the vessel is again in an efficient state to resume her service and has regained a point of progress equivalent to that when hire ceased hereunder.”

 Charterers claimed that the vessel was off-hire during the period of delay. 

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