415. Western Sealanes Corporation v Unimarine SA (the “Pythia”) [1982] 2 Lloyds Rep 160

Off-hire clause – vessel running aground and unable to deliver at intended port on the Shatt-al-Arab – vessel ordered to anchorage off the mouth of the river Shatt by authorities and discharging into barges – hire again payable upon commencement of discharge

The Facts

Time charterers entered into a voyage charterparty on the Gencon Form for the carriage of about 17,000 tonnes of steel coils from Fos-sur-Mer in France to either Khorramshahr or Bandar Shahpour on the Shatt-al-Arab.

To carry out their obligations under the VCP, time charterers chartered the vessel from the owners on a NYPE form for a time charter trip, with delivery at San Nicholas and redelivery on dropping outward pilot off the Shatt-al-Arab.

The charterparty incorporated the Hague Rules.

Clause 15 read as follows:

“In  the event of loss of time from deficiency and/or default of men or stores, fire, breakdown or damages to hull, machinery or equipment, grounding, detention by average accidents to ship or cargo, dry-docking for the purpose of examination or painting bottom, or by any other cause preventing the full working of the vessel, the payment of hire shall cease for the time thereby lost; and if upon the voyage the speed be reduced by defect in or breakdown of any part of her hull, machinery or equipment, the time so lost, and the cost of any extra fuel consumed in consequence thereof, and all extra expenses are to be reimbursed to owners by charterers after computation and agreement of claim.”

Clause 38 read as follows:

“If during the currency of this Charterparty, the vessel puts back whilst on voyage or any loss of time caused by accident, breakdown, accident or sickness to crew (including Master) or any person on board the vessel (other than supercargo or passengers travelling under charterers’ auspices, hire shall not be paid for the time so lost and the cost of extra fuel consumed and other extra expenses incurred shall be for owners’ account until the vessel is in the same position where deviation took place and voyage is resumed therefrom.”

The vessel was accordingly ordered to load steel coils at Fos-sur-Mer for discharge at Khorramshahr.

The vessel arrived at the entrance to the river Shatt and after lightening, as agreed, at an anchorage off the mouth of the river, proceeded up the river intending to discharge the balance of the cargo into barges at Harta Point, a short distance south of Khorramshahr. 

Shortly thereafter the vessel collided with another vessel sailing downriver, suffered heavy damage to her forward parts and went aground by the head.

The vessel was refloated and was ordered back to the anchorage off the mouth of the river Shatt by the authorities who would not allow the vessel to proceed up the river to Khorramshahr in her damaged condition.

Charterers and owners then entered into a without prejudice funding agreement by which charterers contributed a sum equal to the estimated cost of discharging at Khorramshahr.

The remainder of the cargo was discharged into barges and taken directly to the receivers’ discharging place at Khorramshahr.

Owners exercised their lien on the cargo for general average. 

Owners claimed sums from the charterers for stevedoring charges, lighterage demurrage, supervision, diver charges and launch hire, giving credit for the sum contributed by the charterers for the estimated normal discharge at Khorramshahr.

Findings

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