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Should one sacrifice cargoes to save lives in the event of an incident onboard a vessel?

Should one sacrifice cargoes to save lives in the event of an incident onboard a vessel?

A large percentage of international trade is done using sea as the mode of transport. This mode is use to carry larger volume of cargo at relatively low rate. Though is it cheaper that other modes of transport, it begs the question, is it safer? Cargo shipped by sea is expose to the extreme of elements, tempestuous weather, accidents, and many other spontaneous hazards onboard the vessel. The value of a merchandise and its safe transport is of high priority to the cargo owners and carrier alike. But what happens in the event where sacrificing these merchandise is the most feasible option of saving the lives of the crew and or the vessel use for transport? This is where jettison comes in play.

Jettison is an intentional act of throwing overboard a ship some or part of shipment in order to save the rest of the shipment, crew, or the whole vessel from complete damage.

As inferred from the definition, jettison is only done the extreme conditions. For example, jettison is done if there is a localized fire hazard or in an effort to stabilize a vessel to prevent toppling. According to the York-Antwerp Rules, whenever jettison occurs, “No jettison of cargo shall be made good as general average, unless such cargo is carried in accordance with the recognized custom of the trade.” The owner of the vessel is entitled to ‘General Average.’ The general average clause in ocean marine insurance obligates the insurers of various interests to share the cost of losses incurred voluntarily to save the voyage from complete destruction. Such sacrifices must be made voluntarily, must be necessary, and must be successful.

It is without a doubt that in an event where there is an emergency or accident, the act of jettison should be executed. While the consumable or usable commodities can be replaced, the gift of life cannot be regained, and some amount of necessary precautions should be taken to save the entire crew in case there is an incident. In addition to that, vessels are expensively expensive! Instead of having a vessel being sunk, it would be extremely smart to get rid of the larger cargoes that are likely to cause the harm. This does not necessarily means getting rid of all cargoes…of course we would like to get rid of the larger ones, but the ones that are inexpensive would not be so much of a lost to the shipping company.

By: Jerome Morant

Jerome Morant is a 23-year old youth influencer and international maritime enthusiast from Clarendon, Jamaica. He holds an undergraduate degree in Customs Processes, Freight Forwarding and Immigration from the Caribbean Maritime University. He is now pursuing his Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications at the University of the West Indies.


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