Justifiable Deviation

Common law, ship departure from the proper route is permissible at common law in the following circumstances: To save human life or to communicate with a vessel in distress in case lives may be in danger. Ship having deviated to answer a distress call, could easily have taken off the crew from the stricken ship, but decided to take the latter in tow in order to earn salvage. While the vessel was engaged in this operation it was driven ashore in a gale with the loss of her cargo. The deviation in order to salve the ship was held not to be justified and the shipowners were held liable for loss of cargo despite the fact that such loss was covered by the exception of perils of the sea in the charterparty. The position would have been otherwise had the weather been such that it had been necessary to take the disabled ship in tow in order to save the lives of the crew.