Naval Architects Count The Cost Of Ship Design Errors (marineinsight.com)
International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC) says recent claims experience demonstrates that naval architects need to be aware of the need to protect against their exposure to liability for damages resulting from errors in design work.
ITIC cites by way of example a case involving the operator of a passenger and ro-ro ferry service which appointed a naval architect to design a landing craft ferry. The design was to be based on that of an existing vessel operated by the company. Prior to beginning the design work, the parties entered into a design agreement under which the naval architect’s liability was limited to approximately $750,000.

Shortly after the vessel was launched, the operator noticed various issues relating to its performance, including vibration, lack of manoeuvrability and stopping capability. The vehicle loading ramp was also at an excessive angle in certain conditions, making the loading of vehicles difficult and, in some cases, impossible. The operators took the view that urgent rectification work was required so that improvements could be made before the approaching summer season.

The vessel was drydocked and third-party experts were engaged to provide a report detailing the extent of the problems and their potential causes. Based on the findings of the report, the operators brought a claim for $3.5m against the naval architect, alleging that the performance issues were attributable to design errors. The operators subsequently acknowledged that the naval architect’s liability was limited to $750,000.
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