Ship Deck Cargo Risks and Responsibilities

Ship owners of a vessel hired under a time charter often negotiate their charters to include a clause purporting to place upon the charterers any responsibility for cargo carried on deck. The words ‘at shippers risk’ alone are insufficient to exclude liability for loss or damage to deck cargo for unseaworthiness or negligence (The Galileo [1914]). However, where the clause provides ‘carried on deck at Shippers’ risk without responsibility for loss or damage howsoever caused’ it is effective to exclude liability for negligence causing the loss of the cargo and unseaworthiness (see The Imvros [1999]). NYPE 1993 form specifically provides (clause 13(b)) that the ship owners are indemnified by the charterers ‘for any loss and/or damage and/or liability of whatsoever nature caused to the vessel as a result of the carriage of deck cargo and which would not have arisen had deck cargo not been loaded ‘.