Mariner Role In Collecting Evidence

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a) Legal dispute is an inherent risk in shipping business.

b) Availability of evidence is essential in settling any dispute.

c) If good, clear and methodical records and documents are produced, following advantages will accrue :

  • Disputes and claims will be resolved quickly.
  • Lengthy legal wrangles will be avoided.
  • Legal costs will reduce.
  • Judges and arbitrators will infer that the ship is being operated in a seamanlike manner and hence they are likely to arrive at a decision in favour of the ship owner.

d) If Master and officers have not collected the evidence immediately after an incident, then, by the time owner’s lawyers and surveyors arrive, same may be inadvertently lost or destroyed.

e) A minor incident may not appear to be of importance at the time of occurrence but it could develop into a claim after considerable time. Any effort made to collect specific evidence at this late stage may be infructuous, time consuming and costly. However, if Master has maintained regular and routine records then these could be very useful in defending owner. 

f) Awareness amongst the Master and officers about the type of evidence required to defend a claim will lead to greater care being taken by them in operating the ship.

g) If any lawyers of interested parties come on board to collect evidence or information, Master should seek authorisation from the owners before permitting them to do so. In any case they should not be allowed to discuss the matter with the officers and crew.

h) All enquiries from media should be directed to the owner’s spokesperson.

Record Keeping

Following documents and records form important part of evidence :

  • Official log
  • Deck or mate’s log
  • Engine room log
  • Rough logs
  • Radio log
  • Sick bay log
  • Movement or bell book
  • Print-outs from bridge and control instruments.
  • Crew overtime sheets
  • Maintenance reports
  • Daily work book
  • Safety equipment maintenance book
  • Safety drill book
  • Requisition sheets for spares
  • Oil record book
  • Garbage record book
  • Informal notes
  • Photographs and videos

a)  All records should be maintained in an orderly manner.

b) All information recorded should be factual and accurate, without any personal views.

c) All entries should be legibly written in ink.

d) If an entry is wrong then a line should be neatly drawn across it. Nothing should be erased by any method. If a judge notices too many erasures then he may draw adverse inferences about the operation of the ship. 


a) Master will make his personal report about the incident, which should be endorsed as follows 

“Confidential report for the information only of the company’s legal advisors; prepared for the purpose of obtaining professional advice in proceedings pending, threatened or anticipated.”

a) Such a remark may help in claiming privilege for not producing the report in a court.

b) Master’s report should be factual and objective without any personal views or opinions. 

Master’s views are extremely important in any investigation but these can be given at that time and not as part of the report.

Cargo damage, loss and shortage

General requirements

a)  Underlying principle of carriage of goods by sea is that the carrier/ship owner is entrusted with another person’s property to transport from one place to another. If it is lost or damaged in transit then the carrier is held accountable unless he can prove that he fully complied with his obligations and responsibilities as stated in the contracts under which cargo was carried.

b) A Charterparty and Bill of lading are two separate contracts relating to the same voyage. Both of them incorporate the provisions of either Hague Rules or Hague-Visby Rules, which do not defer very much from practical point of view.

c) Master should to be familiar with the terms of both the contracts. 

d) In addition, Master should also be familiar with the local practices and regulations which may affect the application of the above contracts.

e) Master should be aware of and maintain proper record of all instructions issued by charterer. 

Seaworthiness of ship

a) The above stated rules impose an obligation on the ship owner to exercise due diligence to maintain the ship in seaworthy condition

b) Seaworthy means the ship complies with the following :

  • Watertight integrity of the hull is in tact.
  • Machinery and other equipment are in good working condition.
  • Ship is equipped with everything that is required i.e. stores, bunkers, provisions, etc.
  • Ship is manned by trained and competent crew.

c) Exercising due diligence implies the following :

  • Careful checking of the ship before departure and rectifying any defects which are noticed.
  • Proper and regular checking of all aspects of the ship as often as possible, including manning, maintenance and repairs.
  • Periodical review of all procedures  and instructions.
  • Maintaining proper records and documents about the above mentioned checks, and regular maintenance, by means of the following :

d) Log books

e) Work schedules and books

f) Accounts

g) Standing instructions, reports and correspondence

Care of cargo

a) The above mentioned rules impose an obligation on the carrier to take good care of the cargo for a period of time as determined by the terms of the contracts and local regulations, and deliver it in as good a condition as when it was received.

b) To comply with the above, Master should ensure the following :

  • Load, stow, secure, carry and discharge the cargo properly and carefully.
  • Pay attention to any special requirements of the cargo as given in writing by the shipper.
  • Seek assistance of local experts or surveyors.
  • Ensure that the crew are aware of their individual responsibilities concerning cargo operations.
  • Understand the terms of the contracts and local regulations concerning cargo handling.

c) The standard of care of cargo is not dependent on the usual custom or practice.

d) All cargo handling operations should be accurately documented and fully described.

Quantity and condition of cargo

a) Quantity and condition of the cargo should be verified when it comes on board and the same recorded in various documents e.g. bill of lading, mate’s receipt, manifest, stowage plan, tally sheets, draft survey report, note books, correspondence and reports. 

b)Any endorsements on the documents, like “figures as per shore tally”, “quantity and condition unknown”, etc., may not absolve the carrier from any claims for damage or short delivery. Such remarks should only be made after receiving instructions from the ship owner.

Deviation and delay

a) Under the above mentioned rules the carrier is obliged to carry the cargo directly to its destination without delay. Deviation from the route or unnecessary delay is permitted only under the following circumstances :

  • If there is real and immediate danger to the cargo.
  • For saving life and/or property.
  • If there is a specific clause in the contract allowing deviation for reasonable purpose. This clause should not be relied on too seriously as what is reasonable for the carrier may not be reasonable for the cargo owner.

b) Master should fully and accurately record any deviation or delay in the log book and also communicate the same to the owners.


a) Ship’s plan showing holds, tanks and their capacities.

b) Safety, fitness, class and tonnage certificates, with recommendations or conditions if any.

c) Crew list with their qualifications, training and experience.

d) Planned maintenance and inspection schedules, logs, reports and accounts.

e) Repair logs and accounts.

f) Hull gauging report.

g) Standing orders for inspections and maintenance.

h) SMS with internal and external audit records.

i) Correction records for nautical publications.

j) Technical and operator’s manuals.

k) Test and calibration records of cargo system and equipment.

l) Draft calculations and survey report.

m) Stability and bending moment calculations.

n) Cargo documents — charterparties, bills of lading, mate’s receipts, manifest, etc.

o) Letters of protest.

p) Deck and engine log abstracts for the period of loading, loaded passage and discharging. 

q) Abstracts of period of voyage prior to loading will also be required if heavy weather was encountered or if hold cleaning was done.

r) Ventilation, temperature and bilge sounding records for the same period.

m) Notice of readiness at load and discharge ports.

n) Time and tally sheets at load and discharge ports.

o) Cargo stowage plan.

p) Cargo securing methods and plans.

q) Report of laboratory analyses of cargo samples.

r) Hatch closing procedures.

s) Printouts of course recorder, echo sounder, engine telegraph and integrated bridge system.

t) Ballast and fuel records.

u) Position reports.

v) Working chart, if something unusual happened during the passage.

w) Correspondence with charterers, shippers, agents, stevedores, port authorities, customs, or any other organisation involved in cargo operations.

x) Messages relating to weather, ocean routeing, navigational warnings, etc.

y) Photographs and videos showing weather encountered, condition of ship, loading, discharging, stowage and securing of cargo. 


It shall consist of the following items in detail :

a) Master’s qualifications and experience.

b) Ship’s registration data, dimensions, tonnages, cargo spaces, machinery particulars, classification status, tank particulars, pumping arrangements, navigational and communication equipment.

c) Voyage prior to loading :

  • Previous cargo carried.
  • Weather encountered.
  • Ballast distribution and tank test carried out if any.
  • Work done in the holds and their condition.
  • Testing of bilge arrangement.

d) Loading operations :

  • Port and berth particulars.
  • Details of pre-arrival and readiness notices.
  • Dates and times of arrival and berthing.
  • Inspection of cargo space before loading.
  • Dates and times of loading cargo.
  • Type and nature of cargo. 
  • Specific instructions if any for stowage, dunnaging, securing and trimming, and method of complying with these.
  • Loading procedure and handling equipment used.
  • Inspection/testing of cargo gear.
  • Tally sheets if available and quantity loaded.
  • Stoppages and other problems.
  • Endorsements if any on cargo documents.
  • Securing of hatches.

e) Loaded voyage :

  • Log abstracts giving navigational particulars.
  • Details of heavy weather encountered and damages suffered.
  • Weather reports received.
  • Deviations and stoppages if any.
  • Whether hatches were opened and reasons thereof.
  • Ballast distribution and changes made and reasons thereof.
  • Ventilation procedure for each compartment.
  • Record of cargo, sea water and air temperatures, and bilge soundings.
  • Regular checks of the following items :

f) Securing of cargo.

g) Condition of various tanks.

h)Water-tightness of hatch covers. 

i) Discharging operations :

  • Details of arrival date, time, port, berth, etc.
  • Draft survey report.
  • Specific instructions for discharging if any.
  • Equipment used for discharging.
  • Tally sheets showing dates, times and quantity discharged.
  • Weather condition.
  • Any particular problem encountered.

j) Details of cargo loss, shortage or damage :

  • How and when it was noticed.
  • Inspection carried out and parties involved.
  • Segregation between damaged and good cargo.
  • Quantity lost.
  • Adequacy of packing and handling method adopted by stevedores.

Damage To Hull, Machinery And Equipment

Insurance Cover

a) Legally an owner is not compelled to insure his vessel, unless there are some mortgage commitments, but no ship ever sails out without an insurance cover. 

b) Normally an owner will be able to recover any loss suffered by him under the following circumstances : 

  •  Damage is due to an insured peril.
  •  Sufficient evidence of the extent and cause of damage is available.
  •  Vessel was seaworthy at the time of the incident.
  •  Vessel was engaged in lawful trade at the time of the incident.
  •  Value of the loss exceeds the deductible amount as applicable to the insurance policy.

c) The extent of cover provided by insurance policies varies enormously but generally the risks covered are as follows :

· Hull and machinery cover :

  •  Perils of the sea and other navigable waters.
  •  Fire and explosion.
  •  3/4th of collision damage.
  •  Piracy and violent theft by outsiders.
  •  Jettison
  •  Contact with shore structure, installation or equipment.
  •  Natural calamity.
  •  Contact with aircraft or any object falling therefrom.
  •  Accidents during cargo operations.
  •  Breakdown of hull or machinery, or latent defect therein.
  •  Negligence of Master, crew, repairers and charterers. 
  •  Barratry of Master or crew.
  •  Pollution hazard, including damage caused by preventive measures.

· Protecting and indemnity cover :

  •  Damage to third party’s equipment and property.
  • 1/4th of collision liability.
  •  Oil pollution.

Responsibility of owner and Master

a) Ship should be maintained in seaworthy condition as follows :

  •  Watertight integrity of the hull should be in tact.
  •  Machinery and other equipment are in good working condition.
  •  Ship is equipped with everything that is required i.e. stores, bunkers, provisions, etc.
  •  Ship is manned by trained and competent crew.

b) Any damage, failure or loss, which could affect the seaworthiness of the ship, and which can be reasonably detected by due diligence exercised by the ship’s officers, should be immediately reported to the owners. 

c) Safe working environment should be maintained on board at all times. All persons should be encouraged to use the safety equipment. They should rectify even apparent minor defect which could affect the safe working of the equipment. 

d) If any damage has occurred, owner and Master have a duty towards the underwriters to take reasonable measures to prevent or minimise losses covered by the insurance policy.

e) In case of any damage which could give rise to claim, owner should inform the underwriters promptly who will instruct independent surveyors, like those of salvage association, to ascertain facts of the case. 

f) The local P & I representative should also be informed if third party claims are likely to arise.

g) Owner is obliged to maintain his ship in class, which could be suspended if the damage is not repaired or survey requirements are not met. If it happens then the insurance cover is automatically terminated. Such action will not be taken if the ship was at sea when the damage occurred, but will be taken if the ship sails from her next port without the approval of the classification society. Hence class surveyor should be informed about the damage so that survey and repair work can be carried out before departure.

h) The terms of charterparty may require the Master to inform the stevedores about any damage caused by them, so that they can take corrective action immediately, and also obtain a signed damage report from them.  


a) Damage report of the Master, chief engineer and other personnel involved in the incident.

b) Photographs of the damaged equipment both before and after removal.

c) Parts of equipment like broken seals, bolts, etc., which could help in determining the cause of damage.

d) Maintenance record of damaged equipment showing running hours, previous inspections, etc.

e) Deck and engine log books covering the period of the incident.

f) Fuel on board before and after stoppage of machinery, and extra fuel consumed due to its inefficient operation.

g) Details of deviation caused by the incident.

h) Copies of all messages sent to or received from shore organisations.

i) After reaching the proper port or port of refuge, following additional evidence will be required :

  •  Report of surveyor.
  •  Confirmation of retention of class by the classification society.
  •  Details of shore assistance provided by way of labour and equipment.

j) Written permission of the port authority for remaining at the berth due to delay caused by the incident, even after completion of cargo operations.

Under performance of ship’s speed and over consumption of fuel

a) Charterparty usually describes the capability of the ship to proceed at a given speed, when fully loaded, in good weather, on consumption of a given amount of fuel and diesel oil. The method of assessing these parameters will normally be stated. Good weather normally implies wind speed of force 4 or less. 

b) Following details should be recorded in the log books to counter any claims from the charterers at the end of the contract :

  • Wind force and direction.
  • Direction of sea and swell.
  • Height and length of waves.
  • Prevailing currents and tides.
  • Air and sea temperatures, and barometric pressure.
  • Accurate courses, positions and speeds.

Alteration of course and reduction of speed due to the following reasons :

  • Charterer’s or owner’s instruction.
  • Weather conditions.
  • Change of ballast.
  • Machinery failure.

c) Propeller RPM.

d) Fuel flow meter readings and tank soundings.

e) Periods when ship was on full away and when manoeuvring which required change over of fuel.

f) Periods of increased fuel consumption due to following

  • Air-conditioning.
  • Heavy electrical load.
  • Tank cleaning.
  • Use of incinerators, etc.

Sub-Standard Bunker Disputes

Bunkering Procedure

a) The procedures given below should be properly documented or recorded.

b) Chief engineer should supervise bunkering operations and liaise closely with the deck officer on watch.

c) Company bunkering procedures should be strictly followed.

d) Anti-pollution measures should be considered.

e) Sampling procedure should be carried out as follows :

  • Representative samples should be taken in scrupulously clean special sample containers.
  • It should be taken during bunkering at the ship’s manifold by continuous drip method, preferably by or in the presence of a qualified independent surveyor.
  • Master should request the bunker supplier or charterer’s port agent in writing to be present during sampling. If they do not come, Master should protest in writing.
  • The samples should be marked and sealed and one should be immediately sent to a reputed laboratory for analysis. 
  • If possible, bunkers should not be used till analysis results are received.
  • If sampling is carried out by the supplier then Master should attend the same and record details of how, when, where and by whom it was carried out.

Chief engineer and barge master/shore-man should take the following actions :

  • Check the security of the hose at both ends.
  • Take anti-pollution precautions.
  • Agree with the start-up, bunkering and topping off rates.
  • Establish a clear system of communication.
  • Confirm emergency shut down signals.

f) Tanks on board and ashore, if possible, should be sounded before and after bunkering.

g) New bunkers should be segregated from old bunkers.

h) If new and old bunkers are mixed then a sample of the mixture should be tested for compatibility. A sample of the mixture should be retained on board.

Sub-Standard Bunkers

a) If any specification of fuel like flash point, viscosity, density, pour point, water content, compatibility, catalysts, etc., does not confirm to the ship’s requirements, then Master should notify the supplier and charterer’s agent in writing and hold them liable for any damage, delay, poor performance, over consumption or any other loss that may be caused due to the use of unsuitable bunker. 

b) Owners should be notified.

c) Following records should be maintained :

  • Tanks in which the bunkers were taken.
  • If the new bunkers were mixed with some old bunkers then details regarding where, when, how much and by whom were the old bunkers supplied and their specifications.
  • Details of movement of bunkers between the tanks.
  • Complete record of bunkering procedure including names of the persons involved.
  • Copies of old and new bunker receipts.
  • Samples of old and new bunkers.
  • Corrective action taken before using the fuel, like use of additives, separators, filters, etc.
  • When the fuel was used for the first time, problems noticed, corrective actions taken and results thereof.
  • Repairs carried out, parts changed or overhauled.
  • When was the fuel used for the last time.
  • Performance of the engine before and after using the contaminated fuel.
  • Damaged parts of machinery.
  • Photographs of damaged machinery. 

Unsafe Port

Obligation Of Charterer

 a) Charterers have the option to nominate the port for the ship but they are obliged to nominate a port which is safe for the ship to approach, use and depart. This includes river passage if any, and the route upto the berth, which a skilful Master can safely negotiate.

b) They are not so obliged if later on the port becomes unsafe due to unexpected or abnormal danger which they were unaware of and which is not characteristic of the port.

c) If in Master’s opinion the nominated port is unsafe then he should immediately inform his owners, giving reasons for his opinion and await further orders.

d) If Master complies with the orders of the charterer and the ship is damaged then the charterer will be held liable. However it is expected that the Master will take all reasonable actions and precautions to prevent or minimise damage. 

A port should be safe for the ship under consideration. It is immaterial whether the port was safe for other ships or not. 

Safe Port

a) A ship can approach it without dismantling her structure or without reducing her draft by discharging cargo. 

b) Waiting for tide to cross a bar does not make the port unsafe.

c) Structured and integrated port systems as required by ship, like navigational aids, pilotage services, berthing arrangements, mooring facilities, weather service, communications, etc., are provided.

d) Port will not be unsafe if the ship has to leave the berth due to onset of bad weather, provided Master receives reasonable notice to do so and he can safely leave the port using the port tugs, pilot and other facilities. 

e) Dangers if any in the port can be safely avoided by good, but not extraordinary, navigation and seamanship.


a) Complete record of communications dealing with the voyage.

b) Ship’s plans, including mooring arrangements and equipment.

c) All log books.

d) Print-outs from ship’s instruments.

e) Ship’s charts in use, without erasing anything from it.

f) Record of weather observations using ship’s instruments, and those received from shore stations.

g) Particulars of the pilot.

h) Berthing procedures.

i) Harbour charts used and date of last hydrographic survey.

j) Names of other ships at nearby berths and those moving in the vicinity during berthing operations.

k) Particulars of tugs used.

l) Shore mooring arrangements.

m) Description and sketch of the berth, including fender arrangement, and constraints if any.

n) Weather services provided by port.

o) Photographs of the following items :

  • Sea condition at anchorage.
  • Navigational hazards like strong currents, ice, etc.
  • Fenders at the berth.
  • Approach to locks and their condition showing evidence of previous damage if any.
  • Mooring arrangements.
  • Swell condition at the berth.
  • Manoeuvring room.
  • Damage sustained by the ship and port installations. 

Damage To Fixed And Floating Objects


a) Fixed and floating objects include harbour, dock, pier, quay, jetty, land, buoy, crane, etc.

b) In many countries the ship will be responsible for any accidental damage even if the ship or crew are not at fault.

c) The damage may be due to direct contact or by ship’s wash.

d) In most cases the P & I insurance will cover the cost of damage.

e) Such incident may give rise to unsafe port claim against the charterer. Hence evidence may have to be recorded accordingly.

Actions By Master

a) Notify the owners immediately about the incident, whether major or minor, so that they can appoint expert surveyors to asses the damage.

b) If the ship is in port then call the P & I representatives to assist.

c) If place or object to which the ship is moored is already damaged, then take following steps :

  • Notify the port authorities.
  • Record the details of damage in the log book.
  • Draw sketches and take photographs of the damage.

Record the following data :

  • Date, precise time and location of the incident.
  • Prevailing conditions like visibility, state of sea and swell, tides and currents.
  • Whether the ship was entering or leaving the port, or berthing.
  • Use of tugs and pilot.
  • Names and addresses of all witnesses to the incident like crew members, pilot, tug crew, shore workers, etc.
  • Account of the incident as observed by the witnesses.
  • Details of the damaged object.



a) In view of major pollution disasters which have occurred in the past, many countries now deal severely with even small quantities of pollutant of any kind.

b) Ship causing pollution is likely to be penalised whether it’s Master or crew are at fault or not.

c) It is possible for the owner to recover the costs from the parties who are actually at fault.

d) In some countries the penalties may be reduced or waived all together if it can be established that the ship was not at fault and that all reasonable precautions were taken to minimise or prevent pollution.

e) Both the above possibilities can be successfully pursued provided sufficient evidence is collected to support the same.

Causes Of Pollution

a) Collision

b) Explosion or fire.

c) Grounding

d) Pumping out bilges.

e) Deballasting cargo tanks.

f) Transferring fuel, cargo, garbage, etc. to or from the ship.

Precautions To Minimise Pollution

a) Prescribe and follow procedures, forming part of the standing instructions, relating to cargo and bunker transfers at sea or in port.

b) Comply with local procedures.

c) Qualified officer should supervise all operations involving pollutants.

d) Cement the scuppers and plugs of drip trays.

e) Check moorings.

f) Conduct pollution drills.

g) Train the crew in the use of dispersing equipment and chemicals. Chemicals can only be used with the permission of the local authority.

h) Carefully collect, segregate and dispose off pollutants, whether mixed with water or not, in accordance with the MARPOL Convention.

i) Frequently inspect all equipment used in cargo and bunkering operations for any signs of damage, leakage, excessive pressurisation, etc.

j) Regularly check the agreed loading and discharging rates and ullages.

k) Establish close communications with the shore/barge. 

l) Keep a record of the following activities :

  • Cargo, bunkering and tank cleaning operations.
  • Chemical and physical properties of oil/chemical on board, alongwith the ship’s fire plan. This will help in combating spills in future.
  • Accumulation of pollutants from time to time at a centralised containment area.
  • Disposal of pollutants at sea, to shore reception facilities or by incineration. 
  • Receipts of disposal ashore.

Procedures After Oil Pollution Incident

a) Carefully follow the SOPEP or VRP as applicable, to minimise pollution.

b) Consult the local P & I club representative who will help in dealing with the local authorities, suggest ways of minimising pollution and also arrange for surveyors. 

c) Co-operate with the local authorities.

d) Show concern about the pollution incident, however small it may be.

e) Allow access into the ship to the local authorities, including interviewing the ship’s crew, after taking the following precautions :

  • Ascertain from local legal representative that they have powers to do.
  • Supervise and record their movements.
  • Ensure that they conduct interviews in presence of P & I club or other legal representative. 
  • Record their names, the names of their departments, and dates and times of their visits.


a) Date, time and place of incident.

b) Weather conditions and state of tide.

c) Kind of operations being carried out at that time.

d) Types of pollutants involved and their samples.

e) Broken parts of equipment which caused the pollution.

f) Quantity spilled on deck and what went overboard.

g) Area covered by the spill and whether it will affect other property or vessels.

h) Actions taken on board and ashore to contain and clean the pollutant, including names of equipment and dispersants used. An inventory of cleaning materials, dispersants and absorbents on board should always be kept.

i) Actions taken to report the incident to the owners, local and other statutory authorities.

j) Identity of other vessels in vicinity.

k) Video films and photographs of extent of spill.

l) Master’s report and accounts of the incident from other crew members involved. It should not contain opinions or conjectures.

m) All written communications.

n) Cargo loading/discharging plan.

o) Complete pipeline diagrams.

p) Instructions of owners/charterers and shore installations.

q) SOPEP/VRP and upto-date oil/chemical/garbage record book.

r) Procedures adopted to prevent pollution during cargo/bunkering operations.

s) Record of pollution drills.

t) Names of persons involved in cargo/bunkering operations.


General Approach For Recording Evidence

a) Leave ship’s position precisely as plotted on the working chart and do not erase them even if they do not match some other positions.

b) Continue the general practice of plotting ship’s positions on charts, under pilotage also.

c) Take particular care to plot ship’s position on the chart by indicating distance off buoys when passing them abeam.

d) Record positions by more than one method.

e) Write movement books in ink. Erasures if any should be done by drawing a single line across the deleted item and should be signed and dated by the person making it.

f) Record times as accurately as possible. Check accuracy of the clocks on bridge and in engine room, and the personal watches of the crew members who witnessed the collision.

g) Check accuracy of the automatic data recorders and retain print-outs from telegraph recorders and engine room, with the movement book.

h) As per normal practice, lawyers of one ship will not question the crew of the other ship. Hence ensure that the crew give their statements only to the correct person.

i) If joint survey is arranged then surveyor of one ship will normally not be authorised to inspect navigational equipment and log books, or interview the crew, of the other ship.

Evidence Collected After Collision  

a) Radars and other instruments in use and their mode of operation.

b) If reflection plotter of radar is in use then record all the marks with times, which are made on screen.

c) Following data to be recorded when the ship was first observed :

  • Method of observation.
  • Time, distance, bearing, aspect, apparent course and speed.
  • Lights and shapes observed.
  • Own ship’s course, speed and position.
  • Action taken.

d) Same data as above on first visual sighting and subsequent observations.

e) Sound signals made and heard with timings.

f) Details of communication between the ships before and after collision.

g) Actions taken by both ships before and after collision with timings and positions.

h) Following data about the collision should be recorded :

  • Date, time and position. Mark the time on the course recorder paper.
  • Ship’s head and estimated angle of collision.
  • Speeds of both ships.
  • Speed log reading.
  • State of tide and current.
  • Direction and force of wind.
  • Direction and height of sea and swell. 
  • Visibility
  • Names of personnel on bridge and their duties.
  • Point of contact and points of subsequent contacts if any.

i) Last weather forecast.

j) Written accounts of the incident from all crew members and other shore personnel who witnessed the collision. 

k) Names of ships in vicinity. Try to obtain on VHF the names and addresses of their operators and the names of their duty officers.

l) Name, address and telephone number of the pilot. Request him to give a written account of the incident before he leaves the ship. 

m) Photographs of damage to both ships.

n) Sketch showing the movement of both ships. 

o) Data about the other ship :

  • Name and port of registry.
  • Name and address of owner.
  • Ports of departure and destination.
  • Status after collision.
  • Any need for assistance. 

p) Complete data about own ship.

q) In case the other ship was moored then record following additional data 

  • Was that ship testing her engines in such a way as to contribute to the collision.
  • Were her moorings defective, slack or ineffective.

Personal Injury


a) Owners have a duty to ensure safety of persons on board, which includes crew, passengers, shore personnel, relatives of crew and stowaways.

b) This duty also includes safety of persons ashore if it is affected by the operations of the ship eg. mooring operations, cargo operations using ship’s gear, etc.

c) Personal injury claims can be very high, depending on the place where it occurred. It constitutes nearly 40% of the P & I claims.

d) Hence owners and Master should be vigilant in monitoring the safety of the ship and working procedures. If they become aware of any potential risk it should be eliminated immediately.

e) In accordance with the ISM Code, procedures should be established to ensure that accidents and hazardous situations are reported to the company, investigated and analysed to improve safety.

f) All evidence should be collected and recorded immediately after the accident. Compensation claims can arise after considerable time has passed, when it will not be possible to find any evidence to counter the claims.

Procedure After Accident

a) Make a report of the accident, as soon as possible, in the forms prescribed by the owner, flag State or port State as applicable.

b) Seek guidance from the local agents or P & I representative regarding reporting requirements.

c) Ensure that the report is factual and without speculations. 

d) If ship is in port, call for medical help or send the injured person ashore, even if injury is not serious.

e) If ship is at sea then take the following actions :

  • Treat minor injuries on board.
  • Call for medical advice for serious injuries.
  • Call for medical help to be flown to the ship or deviate the      ship to the nearest port, in case of life-threatening injury.
  • Inform owners about any deviation. 

f) Record statements of witnesses.

g) Collect all evidence as required.


a) Take photographs or video of the scene of the accident.

b) Observe and record the prevailing conditions where the accident occurred, eg. slippery deck, obstructions, day or night, artificial illumination, weather conditions, etc.

c) Draw a sketch of the place.

d) Check condition of the equipment or protective clothing used.

e) Check if the protective clothing or gear was correctly used.

f) Collect broken pieces of the equipment or samples in sealed bags for future analysis.

g) Interview the injured party and witnesses to the accident, and record their factual statements. 

h) In serious cases, if lawyers are present, then Master should still carry out his investigation but statements will be recorded by them.

i) Ascertain the condition and health of the injured person before the accident, and the nature of the work which he was engaged in. 

j) What orders was he given, were they followed, was he supervised, did he comply with the prescribed safety procedures. 

k) Ascertain if any third party is involved or has contributed to the accident. 

Contents Of Accident Report Form

a) Ship’s particulars.

b) Owner’s name and address.

c) Particulars of the injured person and his employers.

d) Date, time and place of accident.

e) Description of the facts of the case.

f) Medical treatment given on board and ashore, and by whom.

g) Did the injury incapacitate him totally or partially.

h) Was the person authorised to be at the place of accident and what was he doing there.

i) Condition of the person before the accident.

j) Particulars of any third party involved.

k) State of weather, illumination, natural light, condition at scene of accident. 


Procedures To Prevent Boarding Of Stowaway

a) Maintain a continuous gangway watch.

b) Before leaving the berth carry out a thorough search of all enclosed spaces and other places where a person can hide, in accordance with a check list.

c) Record the result of the search.

d) Extra diligence should be used for searching, in areas of the world where such problem is most prevalent.

Procedures If Stowaway Is Found

a) Inform owners and the agents of the next port of call. P & I club will be informed to start negotiations with the local immigration authorities for repatriation.

b) Search him and the ship for any documents to establish his identity. 

c) In absence of documents, question him for any information.

d) Send a report to owners/P & I club as required, containing following information :

  • Name of last port and date and time of departure.
  • Cargo on board.
  • When, where and number of stowaways found.
  • Any documents found.
  • Is communication with them possible and are they co-operative.
  • Their state of health and where placed.
  • Are they a threat to safety of ship and crew.
  • Their particulars as follows :
    • Name and sex.
    • Date and place of birth.
    • Name of parents.
    • Nationality and home address.

e) In case it is decided to divert the ship to land the stowaway, following information will be required by the owners to claim expenses from P & I :

  • Dates, times and positions of ship when diversion commenced and      when it was completed.
  • Distance steamed and time taken to reach the port of      disembarkation and then back to the original course.
  • Statement of facts.
  • Port expenses.
  • Seamen’s wages and fuel, stores and provisions consumed during      the diversion.

f) Such a diversion is possible only if it is acceptable to P & I club and permitted under the appropriate contract of carriage of cargo.

Treatment Of Stowaway

a) In port guard him to prevent his escape. If he escapes, the owner may be penalised for allowing an illegal immigrant into the country.

b) He can be put to work at sea but it is not recommended.

c) Place him in secure quarters, guard him if possible, and provide him with adequate food and water to remain healthy.

d) Maintain following records :

  • When food, water and clothing were provided.
  • Details of medical treatment given.
  • Place where he is kept and security arrangements made.

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