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Vessel torched under owners’ instructions - can insurance proceeds be claimed?

Fire damaged vessel; a lengthy litigation over CTL issue, and then over wilful misconduct; police investigation against the shipowner; a marine surveyor loosing his life in a blast while investigating the case; and some 8 years later it has finally been decided that The Brillante Virtuoso was torched under owners’ instructions. A $77m insurance claim by the co-assured mortgagee bank against war risk insurers was struck off!

Vessel was enroute to China and had stopped in Aden to pick up security guards. 7 masked armed men were allowed onboard who placed an IEID in E/R causing severe fire damage. Salvors (also accused of involvement in scuttling) responded immediately but did not take proper fire fighting actions.

The court found a lot of improbabilities, and coming to the conclusion summed it up as: "The improbable can happen. But when a number of improbabilities occur consecutively within a short is very difficult to accept they are coincidences”. Crew were not the victims of a pirate attack, but were held to be co-conspirators. Compliance with BMP3 was also looked at and because of multiple breaches, the insurance cover was suspended. The marine adventure was also held to be unlawful due to false B/Ls.

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