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Precis File
SHIP NAME: ABT Summer KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 5
source LMIU
type C
volume
material
dead 5
link

Had deck explosion and on fire abt 900 miles W of Luanda, in 14 04.6 S 00 04.8 E May 28 1991 Holed, causing oil spill Abandoned by crew Salvage vessels arrived at area of casualty May 31, but vessel not found Presumed sunk. One crew member dead, four missing


source FSI
type A
volume 263676MT
material
dead 5
link

The first explosion occured in the vicinity of No 3B Port Permanent Water Ballast Tank. After taking heavy wheater [sic] in the Mozambique Channel off South Africa, the Cargo Officer detected the presence of crude oil in no 3 Port PWBT. The Cargo Officer had an air driven blower installed on the butterworth opening to gas free so that he might enter the ballast tank to determine the source of the leak. No work was being done on deck. Probable cause of ignition: movement of steel surfaces against other steel surfaces. Chief Mate created an unnecessary dangerous condition when he used a single portable driven blower to gas free No 3 Port PWBT.


source OSIR
type C
volume 51,020T
material C
dead
link

Says Explosion, fire and sinking


source
type L
volume
material
dead
link www.herbertsmith.com/NEWS/30July2002.htm

May 1991: The “ABT Summer”, a VLCC (“very large crude carrier”) owned by Somatra Limited, was lost off the West Coast of Africa as a result of an explosion in a ballast tank. The vessel was insured for US$40.5 million under the terms of the Norwegian Marine Insurance Plan, which provided for interest to run at 18%. Watson Farley Williams advised Somatra in presenting its claim under the vessel’s insurance.

Oct/Nov 1991: The vessel’s underwriters denied cover, alleging that the vessel was lost as a result of it being unseaworthy under Norwegian law governing the insurance.

February 1992: Somatra commenced proceedings against underwriters in the Commercial Court in London. Watson Farley Williams still acted for Somatra at this stage.

May 1992: Somatra instructed Sinclair Roche + Temperley in place of Watson Farley Williams.

By April 1994: The action against underwriters was listed for trial commencing on 18 April 1994. The amount claimed was now approximately US $60 million due to accumulated interest at 18%. Somatra had lost all trust and confidence in Sinclair Roche + Temperley resulting from various failures to comply with their instructions and complaints regarding the preparation of the case, and had decided that it could not take the case to trial with Sinclair Roche + Temperley acting on their behalf. Somatra had attempted to instruct new solicitors to take over the action, but was told that it was too close to trial for another firm to be able to take on the case. Somatra therefore decided that it had no choice but to agree the best settlement it could with underwriters.

7 April 1994: A settlement at two-thirds of the amount of the claim was agreed in a direct meeting between the Chairman of Somatra’s parent company and two partners of Ince + Co, who were acting for some of the underwriters.

Nov 1996: Following unsuccessful negotiations between the parties, Somatra issued proceedings against Sinclair Roche + Temperley alleging negligence in their conduct of the action against underwriters and claiming damages for Somatra’s lost chance of achieving the balance of its claim against underwriters.

Oct – Dec 2001: 11 week trial in Commercial Court before Morison J. [Ended up with court finding against SRT and a 5? million dollar judgement.]


source CTX
type C
volume 260KT
material
dead 5
link

This is by far the biggest post-1990 spill. Yet it has received almost no publicity. Classic case of leakage into midships segregated ballast tank. Despite what the Liberian report says, the Chief Mate did not create the dangerous situation. The corrosion in the ballast tank caused this spill one of the top five tanker spills of all time. To blame him for only using one blower is nuts.

However, this does demonstrate the possibly delayed nature of this sort of spill. The leak presumably opened up in bad weather on the east side of the Cape of Good Hope, but the spill did not occur until the ship had rounded the Cape and the weather had improved to the point where the crew could inspect the tank. The crew probably was the source of ignition, but the real cause was the structural failure. Same thing almost certainly happened in the Castillo de Bellver loss.

The flag state report, which CTX has not seen, has the ship fully loaded, so does ITOP., But for some reason this spill shows up as 15 million gallons (about 50,000 tons) in the OSIR database. The flag state/ITOPF are almost certainly correct. The only possible reason why a VLCC would only have 50,000 tons onboard on this route is if she had illegally off-loaded in South Africa. CTX knows of no evidence suggesting that happened.

The 1974 built ship was insured for 40.5 million dollars which was far above the market value of at most 23 million in a rapidly falling market. The H+M underwriters refused to pay the claim alledging the ship was not seaworthy. CTX does not know what evidence they had, but it must have been substantial, for this is rarely done.

The Arab owner, Somatra, brought suit against the underwriters. The London law firm representing the owners was Sinclar Roche and Temperly led by Harvey Williams. Williams is one of the most well-known, respected admiralty lawyers in the profession and a personal friend. He is totally honest. He advised his obnoxious clients to settle, but they were determined to go to court. If Harvey thought they that had a winnable case, he certainly would have agreed with them. I don't know any of the details, but Harvey may have over-stepped his authority in arranging a settlement.

The owners then successfully sued Sinclair, Roche for not following instructions, besmirsching one of the most respected men in the business. We can be sure that, if Harvey Williams thought that the ship was legally unseaworthy, then it was unseaworthy.