446. American Overseas Marine Corporation v Golar Commodities Ltd (the “LNG Gemini”) [2014] EWHC 1347 (Comm)

Time charterparty – LNG containing particulate matter held not to be “injurious” to vessel – charterers not liable for drydocking and related expenses.

The Facts

Clause 30 of the charterparty read:  “No acids, explosives or cargoes injurious to the vessel shall be shipped and without prejudice to the foregoing any damage to the vessel caused by the shipment of any such cargo, and the time taken to repair such damage, shall be for charterers account”.

 The vessel, a 33 year old LNG carrier, loaded a cargo at the Cameron Terminal, Louisiana.

 Loading was suspended twice because of accumulations of debris on the shore side of filters fitted to the ship’s manifolds.

 The debris from both stoppages was analysed by SGS North America.  The sample from the first stoppage contained about 9% iron and from the second stoppage, about 34%.

 After loading a full cargo, the vessel proceeded to Senboko Japan.

 On the voyage, there was no sign of damage to the pumps, cargo tank relief valves or otherwise to the Cargo Custody Management System.

 The cargo was discharged without incident.

 From Senboko, the vessel sailed in ballast, first to Singapore then to Bonny, Nigeria.

 The vessel loaded a cargo for carriage to Tobata, Japan.  Some debris was found in the manifold filter.  Cargo was discharged at Tobata without incident.  The vessel then proceeded to Subic Bay, Philippines,  in ballast.

 There the vessel was drydocked, pursuant to class requirements. 

 All 5 cargo tanks were opened and inspected.  Debris was found in all 5, mainly around the bases of the cargo pumps.  The debris found during drydocking was not subjected to chemical analysis.

 After drydocking, owners sent the vessel to Jurong to have the 10 cargo pumps and 5 spray pumps overhauled.  During this process, fine metal particles were found in the pump mechanisms, but they were otherwise undamaged.

 Owners claimed damages from charterers under numerous heads including the costs of overhauling the pumps and for time lost.

 Findings

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