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Collisions and Property Damage

A Master's Guide to Shipboard Accident Response
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The P&I Club does not cover damage caused to the ship itself – that is the responsibility of the hull underwriters. If a collision only results in damage to your ship, your P&I Club will probably not be involved financially but it may assist the owner.

However, the damage caused to the other ship in a collision may be insured by the P&I Club or by the hull underwriters or by both of them. P&I Clubs always insure liabilities resulting from collisions relating to pollution, personal injury, cargo and other property damage. The P&I Club usually covers damage to docks and other fixed property, but sometimes this is covered by the hull underwriters.

    General Procedures

    • alert your owner or manager, the relevant authority and the P&I correspondent. Advise them of the other ship’s name and port of registry, details of the property damaged, and the date, time and location where the incident occurred. Outline the extent of the damage, and whether injury or pollution has occurred.

    The Club will invariably investigate the incident to find out the cause and who is to blame. To assist the Club you will need to assemble the information as set out below:

    – instruct those on watch (on the bridge and in the engine room) and any other potential witnesses on board to make personal notes regarding the incident as soon as possible, but they should note down only the facts and times;

    – copies of navigation charts which detail courses and positions for a period of at least sixty minutes before the collision and rough bridge notes;

    – printouts, with times, from the GPS, course recorder, engine log, echo sounder;

    – rough bridge notebook, radar, gyro, radio and weather logs;

    – standing orders/night orders; – the passage plan and pilot card (if relevant) with details of additional information which may have been passed between the master and the pilot;

    – names and the position of tugs which are ‘made fast’ or ‘in attendance’, and the time when each tug arrived.

    • check the synchronization of bridge, engine room and other clocks;

    • take photographs of any damage to your ship and the other ship or dock. If possible, estimate the angle of blow, the ship’s speed, the other ship’s speed and both ship’s courses;

    • remember not to admit liability when questioned (in most collision cases investigated by the Club, both parties, to a greater or lesser extent, have been found to blame), and take special care to prevent unauthorized surveyors and lawyers from boarding the ship;

    • brief crew members, tell them the facts and instruct them not to discuss the incident with anybody;

    • depending upon the damage caused during the collision, a survey of the ship’s damage or of the cargo or an accident investigation may be necessary – the P&I correspondent will arrange these surveys;

    • if injuries, pollution or cargo damage have resulted from the incident, check the relevant pages of this guide for the recommended action;

    • if the damage has been caused by ship’s wash, make a list of all other vessels which passed at or near the time of the incident;

    • if possible estimate their course, speed and distance from your ship.

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