Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What Is An Unseaworthy Condition?

   Commercial fisherman regularly ask me to explain the concept of "Unseaworthiness."  If an unseaworthy condition causes injury or death to a crewman, the vessel and its owner are legally responsible.

   "Unseaworthiness" doesn't mean something that makes a vessel sink (although a boat that does not float is unseaworthy).  Instead, it means that there is equipment on the boat that is not reasonably suitable for its intended purpose or does not function.  An example is a davit that breaks or an emergency shutoff switch that does not shut off the hydraulics.

   Today's Anchorage Daily News contains a good example.  A freon leak on a fishing vessel resulted in a man being hospitalized and another crewmember dying.  Freon systems on vessels are not supposed to leak.  Therefore, this is an unseaworthy condition and the vessel is legally responsible for the losses of these men.

You have to know the cards in order to lay your hand smartly.  See