Panama Canal

Events which had not been held to come within the off-hire provisions are The Aquacharm (1982) where the vessel was denied permission to transit the Panama Canal due to too deep a draft. After nine days of delay some cargo was discharged into another vessel and was reloaded to the Aquacharm after she had passed through the canal. The delay had been caused by the vessel carrying too much cargo to pass through the canal. This did not, however, impair the Aquacharm’s efficiency as a ship and she remained at all times capable of normal working. Another example of a “non off-hire event” was The Mareva AS (1977) where a cargo in stow had become too wet to discharge owing to the hatch covers not being secured and watertight. The true cause of the delay was the inability of the cargo to be off-loaded in its wet state, so held the court, which did not affect the efficiency of the vessel as such. This case illustrates the narrow borderline between an event and a non-event, because there could also be an argument that the cargo would not have been in a wet state if the hatch covers had been watertight. In a case involving the vessel RIJN (1981), marine growth had accumulated on the hull during charter service and because the vessel had lain in a port for some time at the charterers’ direction. One of the listed causes in the off-hire clause was defect in hull. Charterers tried to argue that marine growth was a defect in the hull but the court said it was a defect on the hull and thus not within the off-hire clause even with the general words attached. The court said that the drafters of the clause must have intended some restriction on the list of causes. It also said that the “defect” was the natural consequence of the way in which the charterer employed his ship.