The owners of a container ship which broke from its moorings in high winds and rammed a quayside crane were hit with a Euros 1.5 million bill after the High Court ruled that the accident was caused by the negligence of the ship’s master.
The ship was lying alongside a quay in the Italian port of Genoa when its lines broke and it drifted off its mooring. Whilst the vessel was being brought under control and re-berthed, it collided with the crane which was derailed and seriously damaged.
The operators of the port sued the ship’s owners, claiming that the vessel had been negligently moored and handled. The owners countered with claims that the port and berthing arrangements were unsafe.
In upholding the operators’ claim, the Court found that the wind had not been dangerously strong and that the accident would not have happened had the vessel been properly tied up. The ship’s master had also been negligent in manoeuvring the vessel whilst it was being re-berthed.
Observing that it was not always possible to protect vessels from wind from every direction, the Court found that there was nothing abnormal about the berth or the port’s mooring arrangements. In those circumstances, the operators were awarded Euros 1,546,277, representing the cost of repairing the crane, other consequential expenses and interest.