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Capesize bulker awarded for salvage of a smaller general cargo vessel

When a judgement starts like this: “The mythological Norse god, Thor, wielded a hammer and…was associated with…thunder, lightning and storms. Fortunately, it is not necessary to decide whether Thor was at work…when the ME of Thor Commander suffered a breakdown in close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef”, you know the remainder will be interesting (and it was).

The Thor Commander [2018] covered a whole lot of areas - salvage, unseaworthiness (due to poor maintenance), GA, transhipment & breach of court order by owners wrg to retaining parts of ME. Needless to say that all cannot be summarized in one post hence will do it in 2 or 3.

Let’s start with salvage since it was in many ways the most extravagant of all. As the vessel was drifting towards the reef, a passing cape size bulker (M.V. Xinfa Hai), upon directions of AMSA, passed on her mooring line with the help of a patrol boat and then towed the disabled vsl to safety.

When it came to assessing the quantum, the Court gave weight to the fact that a capesize was not adapted to providing towage services, was not readily maneuverable, the crew were not trained salvors, and there was a real risk of a collision or other mishap. Taking all that into account and more, salvage award was fixed at $1 mil.


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