Unseaworthy due to lack of safety system

Friday, May 30, 2003
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a ship involved in a collision that was due, in part, to its lack of a safety system, may be found unseaworthy and the owner may lose its ability to limit liability. In the instant case, two offshore supply vessels collided in the fog on the Mississippi River. Multiple lawsuits followed. The trial court found that one of the vessels was operated at high speed, without running lights or fog signals, without use of radar, and without making use of its radio. The trial court denied the owner's petition for limitation of liability and the owner appealed. The appellate court held that the owner had privity and knowledge of the master's negligence because it failed to provide a lookout; failed to train the master in use of radar; failed to evaluate the vessel's seaworthiness or the master's competence; failed to inspect the vessel's logs; failed to employ a safety manager; and failed to provide safety training or safety manuals. Trico Marine Assets, Inc. v. Diamond B. Marine Services, Inc. , No. 01-31323 (5th Cir., May 28, 2003). (Source: Haight Gardner Holland & Knight, May 2003)

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