Maersk to begin random container inspections over safety fears
Maersk Line is set to begin physically inspecting container contents as part of its efforts ...
A month after the blaze that claimed the lives of five seafarers on the 15,262 teu Maersk Honam, cargo owners still have no idea when they will receive their containers.
Laden with 7,860 boxes, the ship caught fire on 6 March in the Arabian Sea en route to the Mediterranean, via Suez.
According to the casualty website of Maersk-appointed average adjuster Richards Hogg Lindley, containers stowed in holds 1-3 of the ship are believed to be a total loss, due to fire and water damage.
Recent AIS reports from salvage tugs operated by Smit and Ardent indicate that the fire-stricken vessel is almost stationary off of Muscat, having made hardly any progress in the past week, but Maersk says the ship is not at anchor.
A spokesperson told The Loadstar yesterday: “The Maersk Honam is still under towage and has not cast anchor off Muscat. Next steps include bringing the vessel safely alongside and discharging cargo in a port with proper facilities and capabilities. We still expect this port to be Jebel Ali, Dubai.”
The spokesperson denied reports that shippers were being kept in the dark on the situation. Maersk said: “Our customer service agents are in frequent contact with impacted customers.”
That being the case, the agents will not be able to tell their customers any more than Maersk press officer was able to inform The Loadstar, due to the normal embargo of news following a declaration of general average.
Industry speculation on the reason for the delay in arriving at the nominated port of refuge ranges from the ship being still “too hot” to berth, to disagreements on salvage terms.
This will be frustrating for importers who will be unable to adjust their supply chains to compensate without knowing the length of the delay, or whether their cargo is undamaged. Moreover, smaller shippers with just-in-time shipments caught up in the GA could potentially face ruin.
A contact in the marine insurance industry told The Loadstar this week he expected a high percentage of the cargo on board could have insufficient insurance to cover a GA claim.
Owners of uninsured cargo will have to provide a cash deposit based on the C&F value of the property, in lieu of the salvage costs, before being able to take delivery, with the final GA calculation taking many years to conclude. Uninsured cargo owners unable to provide a cash deposit could be sued.
The insurance contact added that even if cargo was insured, there were often issues over the level of “acceptable” security.
Meanwhile, Maersk’s 2M partner, MSC, has not issued a customer advisory on the Maersk Honam casualty since 21 March when it said: “We will only be able to clarify the situation once the cargo has been discharged at the port of refuge and inspected.”
The Loadstar understands that slot charters Hamburg Süd and HMM did not have very many containers on the ship.