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Vessel with a crane not designed for cargo, is a gearless or a geared vessel?

If the owners contract to supply a “gearless” vessel then does the presence of a crane not designed for cargo operations render her “geared”? Singapore Arbitration 03/18 provides some guidance.

In this case an OBO vessel was nominated under the COA to carry bulk cargo. There was a hose handling crane which interfered with loading ops leading to the charterers stopping cargo ops. Owners argued wrongful refusal for following reasons (a) crane was not designed for cargo handling; (b) loading cargo upto 50% resulted in the other party waiving any non-compliance; (c) acceptance of NOR meant the vessel was accepted; (d) vessel's description is an innominate term.

Tribunal said that presence of a crane that could not be directly used in cargo operations could not make the vessel a geared vessel but the vessel could not also be said to be gearless. The fact that the COA required a gearless vessel and owners were to declare ‘all protrusions’, indicated that the vessel should be free of both the ‘cargo gear’ and ‘affixed gear’. Also, a failure to meet some serious description of the vessel may entitle the charterer to rescind the charter. How much cargo ops had been completed was irrelevant. In this case charterers had been misled into believing that vessel was gearless.

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