Maritime Risk Management Needed for Financial Safety

For vessel owners and captains engaged in commercial
fisheries, maritime risk management is a critical financial safety first, says
Seattle maritime insurance executive Chris Trainer.
Attention to state and federal laws and regulations, proper
safety equipment, proper training of crew, and proper operation and maintenance
of vessels in all weather conditions can result in savings of millions of
dollars, Trainer told fishermen participating in the recent ComFish 2014 forums
at Kodiak.
Preventive steps may be taken, from hiring procedures to
vessel maintenance, but vessel owners should also have proper maritime
insurance for unforeseen events, to avoid millions of dollars in insurance
claims, he said.
Among the real life examples Trainer cited was a $2.35
million Jones act verdict for a deckhand who suffered a crushed foot injury
aboard a scallop boat. The vessel was found to be unseaworthy and negligent
when the moving deck hatch rolled over the deckhand’s foot on the board.
Another Jones Act verdict of $1.4 million was handed down
for the death of a crewman who fell from a Jacob’s ladder while transferring
between vessels. The vessel was cited for improper training in man overboard
It is important, said Trainer, for vessel owners to
identify, characterize and assess threats to safety of the vessel and those on
board, and identify ways to reduce those risks. Insurance is one form of risk
management used to hedge against such losses.
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones
Act, adopted by Congress back in 1920, allows injured seamen to make claims and
collect from their employers for negligence of the ship owner, the captain or
fellow crew members. Legal action under the Jones Act may be brought either in
federal or state courts, and the seaman is entitled to a jury trial.
Jones Act remedies also include unearned wages, wage losses,
future medical needs, pain and suffering, and permanent or partial disability.
And there are plenty more reasons for vessel owners and
captains to employ risk management, to avoid violation of federal and state
pollution laws, Trainer said.

Vessel owners should also consider pollution liability stand-alone
policy coverage, which covers clean up, third party property damage, civil
penalties and criminal fines, loss of revenues and profits by third parties,
loss of public services and more, he said.