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Passage Planning & Unseaworthiness – Where the line is drawn? The ‘CMA CGM Libra’

In the CMA CGM Libra the Admiralty Court ruled that a defective or inadequately prepared Passage Plan, if causative of a loss during the relevant voyage, would not only render the vessel unseaworthy but, at the same time and without more, will also constitute a failure by the owner/ carrier to exercise ‘due diligence’ before and at the commencement of the voyage to make the vessel seaworthy under the Hague/ Hague-Visby Rules. This would be owner’s/carrier’s actionable fault barring recovery in General Average (“GA”) from cargo. By the same token, a cargo owner claiming under a Bill of Lading would be able to recover its loss. The CMA CGM Libra shows that where a line is (literally) drawn on the navigational chart may turn out to be crucial as a shift of a cable’s difference on the chart may shift a liability between cargo and owner/carrier of many millions of dollars.


On 8 March 2019, the Admiralty Court handed down its decision1 on a claim by the owners of the CMA CGM Libra (“Owners”) for recovery in GA of GA contributions due by certain cargo interests who denied any GA liability on grounds of causative unseaworthiness and lack of ‘due diligence’ by the Owners to make the vessel seaworthy before the commencement of the voyage.


Just after midnight of 17/18 May 2011, the CMA CGM Libra (“the Vessel”), a 131,235 mt DWT 2009-built container laden with 5,983 containers, departed from Xiamen, China destined for Hong Kong. After she dropped pilot, she sailed outbound the dredged channel marked by buoys and shown on the relevant BA Chart by a magenta pecked line. Buoy 14-1, which was the next in order after Buoy 15 outbound and before Buoy 14, was marking a shoal in the middle of, and extending along more than a half of the width of the lane marked by the magenta line on the chart…

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Education LPC, The College of Law, Guildford, Distinction  GDL/CPE, Manchester Metropolitan University Captain Class B’, Marine Education Institute for Senior Officers...

About Konstantinos

Konstantinos is a Solicitor and Master Mariner (Class B'). Before setting up his own practice in Piraeus, Konstantinos qualified and worked in the Shipping Department...