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Jettison of deck cargo

Jettison refers to throwing property overboard to lighten a vessel in times of potential danger that threatens the safety of the vessel or crew members. In general, when cargo is sacrificed in saving a common adventure, it will probably be allowed in general average and will be considered as a general average sacrifice with the loss being shared by ship owners and cargo owners (including owners of different cargos). Whereas for jettison of deck cargo, the York-Antwerp Rules 1994 give the following explanation:

“No jettison of cargo shall be made good as general average, unless such cargo is carried in accordance with the recognised custom of the trade.”

This means that even where there is a general average act but the jettisoned cargo is not of a type customarily carried on deck (i.e. not livestock, logs, manufacturing goods and equipment, oil tanks or any dangerous goods, etc.) the cargo owner will have no claim under the York-Antwerp Rules 1994 to a general average contribution from other parties to the adventure, and will be liable for the loss of goods by himself.

In difficult times during an adventure, deck cargo will often be sacrificed and thrown overboard first because of its relatively convenient location. To help prevent cargo owners from suffering possible losses from jettison cargo, MSIG recommends that every cargo owner carefully checks the storage method and location of any cargo he is transporting. Since storage location will affect his insurer’s risk assessment, if the cargo is to be shipped on deck, cargo owners should ensure that they declare this to their insurer, and make sure the insurer has agreed to the goods being shipped on deck. Cargo owners should also ensure that their cargo policy covers jettison as an insured peril.

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