15 DEC 2020
The unprecedented container collapse aboard the boxship ONE Apus could end up costing $200 million in cargo damage, according to an estimate from a claims consultant.
On November 30, on a voyage from Yantian to Long Beach, ONE Apus encountered 20-foot swells at a position about 1,600 nm northwest of Hawaii. In circumstances that are under investigation, most of the vessel’s on-deck container bays collapsed, sending a total of 1,816 containers over the side and into the North Pacific. ONE Apus altered course to the south, avoiding the worst of a powerful weather system and then headed back eastwards towards a port of refuge in Japan. She arrived in Kobe on December 8.
The cargo claims consultancy WK Webster has conducted an initial damage survey of the Apus‘ cargo bays via drone overflight. Thousands of containers remain on deck, and they will have to be examined individually to determine the full extent of any internal damage; many show obvious external signs of damage, especially containers towards the bottom of each stack.
The total bill could exceed $200 million, according to WK Webster, and it could be greater than the value of the newly-built vessel herself. The parties are believed to be weighing whether to invoke general average; if ONE and its insurers pursue that route, the owners of the surviving cargo would be required to post a (typically steep) GA bond in order to recover their goods.
“General Average has still not been declared, although we continue to believe that this is a likely eventuality. If General Average is declared, GA securities will be required from all surviving cargo interests on board,” said WK Webster in a statement.
Ocean Network Express (ONE), the vessel’s operator, said Friday that the Japan Coast Guard has given its permission to begin the removal of the remaining containers on deck, and the work is now under way. The careful, step-by-step removal process is expected to take more than a month. A full damage assessment for the vessel herself will begin once cargo discharge is completed.
The cause of the casualty is currently under investigation in conjunction with the vessel’s flag state, Japan.