We have received reports that the "ONE APUS", a 2019 built container ship, flying the Japanese flag has lost a significant number of containers overboard about 1600 miles off Hawaii. The vessel is heading to a port of refuge. This loss of containers is another incident in a series of losses of significant numbers of containers overboard.
We have been heavily involved in similar cases such as the "MSC ZOE", "MAERSK SVENDBORG", "BREMEN EXPRESS" and "MSC ELOANE"
If you have insured cargo on board this vessel and would like assistance with claims for the recovery of your losses, please do contact us.
The vessel remains at Kobe, having arrived on the 8th December 2020. Extensive work is needed to remove the damaged containers from the collapsed stacks. This is predicted to run into January 2021.
In terms of investigations into the cause of the casualty, we have retained an expert on behalf of our clients. We understand that the Japanese authorities will also conduct an investigation.
To date, we are not aware of any GA declaration. It seems to us that the very large numbers of cargo interests would make a GA very expensive to adjust and any GA claim is likely to be robustly defended by cargo interests (subject to the outcome of the investigation into the cause).
As we have mentioned, the ONE bill of lading provides for Singapore law, albeit the Singapore courts will have to apply US COGSA for shipments to or from the US. As such, this may well result in US COGSA package limitation being applied by the Singapore courts.
Of course, there will be many other bills of lading with different law and jurisdiction provisions.
One point which may become interesting is whether the claims are sufficiently large to impact on global limitation, and whether Owners/Charterers will seek to limit liability by opening a limitation fund under the relevant limitation convention.
Under the 1996 Protocol to the 1976 LLMC (which we understand applies in Singapore) the limits have been updated. As such, the global limitation available to shipowners/charterers is 59.7m SDR (about US$85.376m at the present exchange rate). Global limitation will not protect NVOCCs which may well give an advantage to those pursuing the NVOCCs if global limitation is likely to be an issue.
If you have insured cargo and wish us to assist in pursuing recovery please do contact us.
The vessel is approaching Kobe with an ETA of the 8th December 2020. It is clear that a substantial amount of cargo will have to be removed and re-stowed, which will take considerable time. Damaged consignments will need surveying and we anticipate a number of cargoes will be re-stuffed into alternative containers, which may cause issues in terms of cargo damage and/or the interruption in the integrity of the carriage conditions of the cargo.
The number of containers lost has now been reduced to a figure in the region of 1,800. This is still a very substantial loss. Based on an average container value of $50,000, this would result in a cargo loss of $90m. If the average value of a container was in line with the "MOL COMFORT", which in our experience was exceptionally high, the figure would be in the region of $240m.
We have retained an expert to advise on the technical aspects of this loss, in conjunction with our own in-house master mariners. We are also seeking to arrange attendance on board to investigate the cause of the loss and obtain evidence and to co-ordinate with local surveyors for the purpose of cargo surveys
We note that the ONE bill of lading terms provide for the exclusive jurisdiction of the Singapore Courts. If the cargo was bound to the USA, then the bill of lading provides for US law but Singapore jurisdiction. Our global offices (including our office in Singapore) are well placed to assist.
Based on our experience in many multi-interest container casualty cases, we anticipate that there will also be a multitude of different contractual carriers involved. By way of example, we pursued recovery from over 100 different contractual carriers in the "MOL COMFORT" case.
If you have insured cargo on board the "ONE APUS" that may have been damaged, please do contact us.
By way of an update, it seems to be clear that this is a major cargo loss. The number of containers estimated to have been lost are in the region of 1,900 which, as far as our records are concerned, is far and away the largest loss of containers overboard. This one incident easily exceeds the annual average container loss over the whole industry.
The vessel is reported to be sailing in the direction of Japan to seek a port of refuge. A picture of the devastation can be seen below.
If you require assistance in pursuing claims for recovery, then our team of cargo lawyers and in-house master mariners are well placed to assist.
Vessel: "ONE APUS"
Casualty date: 30th November 2020
Casualty type: Loss of containers
Vessel type: Container ship
Year built: 2019
Voyage from/to: Asia to USA but container ship so cargo worldwide
Vessel IMO Number: 9806079