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Standard Club targets ‘eye-watering’ navigational claims

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Navigation-related insurance claims account for up to half of group claims; the Standard Club hopes to bring that number down through best practice guidance and communication.

Speaking at Crew Connect Europe as part of that Maritime Online Series on June 22, John Dolan, Deputy Director, Loss Prevention, The Standard Club shared figures from The Standard Club claims over the years 2016 to 2020. Grouping claims into five broad types—cargo, crew illness, crew personal injury, navigation and other— Dolan showed that navigation claims accounted for a reasonably consistent 7.5% to 9.2% of annual claims by number in each of the past five years.

Over the same period, navigational claims accounted for between 38.8% and 52.8% of claims by value.

“The aggregate values of those claims over the periods are nothing short of eye watering, and this is just The Standard Club’s experience, so it will be similar across all of the other clubs. The figures are extraordinary,” said Dolan.

For the International Group pool claims, where 13 P&I clubs have a mutual arrangement to share costs for claims over $10m, navigational-related claims are again a costly presence. There were 68 navigational-related group claims across collision, fixed and floating object and grounding between 2015 and 2020, accounting for 56% of claims and 64% of the value of group claims or $2.8bn over the period.

“Navigation claims are stubbornly high number; the associated costs are excessively high. In our experience, most are attributable to poor standards of watchkeeping,” said Dolan.

Dolan listed contributing trends and factors in navigational incidents, including the growing size of container ships and their windage, poorer low-speed manoeuvrability which may get worse as engines are optimised for lower carbon emissions, masters spending less time on individual ships and having less of a feel for a ship and its handling, tight schedules, and commercial pressures on masters and pilots.

Excessive speed was a growing factor, said Dolan, especially on container vessels.

Recommendations to reduce navigational incidents included conducting navigational risk reviews and navigational audits while vessels are sailing instead of VDR reviews at berth.

“We do think that checking bridge team interaction is a critically important part of this exercise. We will also ask also masters to perform better master-pilot exchanges. We do believe that this activity, this exchange of information can be and must be enhanced globally. Certainly, we see sharing of information with the vessel prior to arrival at the pilot station or prior to departure from the birth as an important step forward in this aspect of ship management.

“We know frequent neglect of the basic principles of bridge resource management, good planning, clear communications, use of all available resources and information, poor vessel position and progress monitoring and poor management, the elimination of distractions during critical phase of the voyages. They all feature on a regular basis [in claims]. All are in our view, wholly preventable,” said Dolan.

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