one apus
Photo: Twitter @nobuya0827

Shippers and forwarders with shipments on board the ONE Apus have been warned to expect General Average to be declared on the casualty.

The 14,000 teu vessel suffered a massive container stack collapse en route to Long Beach after encountering heavy weather near Hawaii on 30 November.

The carrier confirmed that 1,816 boxes in total had lost overboard, including 64 dangerous goods (DG) boxes, abandoned its original route and returned to Japan, berthing at Kobe on Tuesday.

Marine claims consultancy WK Webster, which has a team of surveyors at Kobe and has undertaken an initial inspection using drones, said the early indications were that thousands of containers had been damaged, beyond the boxes lost overboard, with total losses expected to amount to millions of dollars.

“With 1,816 containers lost overboard and what looks to be thousands more collapsed throughout the deck, the total cargo/container losses arising out of this casualty will of course be very substantial. We anticipate that cargo losses, on the basis of average containerised cargo values, may reach $200m or more,” it added.

The firm said it was still waiting for the carrier to release the vessel’s container stow bay plans, “which will assist greatly in identifying the impact of this incident to individual cargo interests”.

It added: “General Average has still not been declared, although we continue to believe that this is a likely eventuality. If General Average is declared, GA securities will be required from all surviving cargo interests on board.”

And it warned shippers and forwarders eager for the release of their cargo that they may be in for a long wait, as the location of the casualty as well as its deployment on a THE Alliance service meant it was subject to a variety of jurisdictions.

“In terms of liability, the issues involved in this casualty will be both complicated and span several jurisdictions – Singapore, the US and Japan being notable examples.

“Cargo affected by this incident will be being carried by a range of different contractual ocean carriers and freight forwarders, and each will be subject to differing contractual terms, including, importantly, in relation to the law and jurisdiction applicable to claims.

“The extent to which the carriers’ liability is established will of course depend on a large number of factors, all of which will be closely investigated and evaluated,” it said.

The note further explained that total losses may well also exceed the applicable vessel limitation figure, which is usually “established by reference to the tonnage of the vessel pursuant to international conventions, but possibly also by reference to the vessel’s value”.

“While the ONE Apus is a very new vessel and with a very high value, we anticipate that vessel limitation will be a relevant factor and a key issue moving forward,” WK Webster said.

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