Shipping law

| May 20, 2015

Alpha chartered the Big Beer on an NYPE 93 form from Beta, the registered owner. The charter commenced on 1 Jan 2013, for a period of “3 years, 2 months more or less at the charterer’s discretion”. Since the conclusion of the contract, the market has become seriously depressed and charterers are actively seeking to escape long term commitments.
In November 2013, Alpha loaded cargo bound for Valetta. However, the cargo was rejected and Alpha ordered the vessel to Tripoli instead. However, a problem arose with the bills of lading, which took two weeks to resolve. Instead of proceeding to Tripoli, the master decided to proceed to a point 50 miles off-shore and let the vessel drift. Once the bills dispute was resolved, the master proceeded to port to discharge the cargo. Alpha subsequently claimed that the vessel was off hire for the drifting period, and sought to make deductions from hire.
In February 2014, the Big Beer was proceeding on a voyage through a stretch of water between some small islands near Hong King. A navigational passage was marked by some buoys, although there was considerable scope for navigation outside of this. The master decided that this was not a narrow channel, and sailed outside the buoys. Unfortunately, the master of another the vessel, the Cheap Cider, was confused by the conduct of the Big Beer, and made a sudden turn into the side of the Short Dram. The resulting collision sunk the Short Dram. The master of the Big Beer responded to the distress call, and along with the assistance of the Large Lager, a vessel also owned by Beta, managed to rescue some crew and cargo from the Cheap Cider before professional salvors arrived on the scene.
Subsequently, the Big Beer was detained in port for two weeks as part of the collision investigation. Once released the vessel was then captured by pirates and detained for 2 months, whereupon it was released. Alpha sought to treat these periods as off hire. When Beta disputed this, Alpha decided to return the vessel immediately.
Advise Beta on his potential rights and liabilities.

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