The question of whether a port is safe or unsafe for a visiting ship can sometimes prove a matter of legal controversy, with a number of landmark cases arising over the years. It is topical today, notably because of the Ocean Victory case and subsequent Appeal which illustrated many significant elements, but also because of the practical consequences of the scale economies taking place in the shipping industry, with ship sizes increasing rapidly, in some cases faster than the ports are able to accommodate them. This is a “classic” issue where the law is inextricably linked with matters of practical ship-handling, authority, experience and judgement.
Issues for discussion:
– The changing realities of marine risk; lessons from the Ocean Victory and other safe/unsafe port judgements.
– The role and responsibilities of charterers and owners, harbourmasters and shipmasters amid the changing circumstances of scale economies and operating pressures.
– What changes can make a safe port unsafe?
– What a shipmaster needs to consider when entering and leaving port.
– What a charterer needs to bear in mind when relating to the master in issues of safe navigation.
– Is case law, established in a more leisurely age of smaller ships appropriate amid 21st century pressures with ever-larger ships in every category and the need to arrive on time?
– Is there a need for new tests and definitions that are appropriate for present-day circumstances?