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Pilot Secures Arrest of Chinese Cargo Ship Following Career-Ending Gangway Collapse


published on 15 March 2024 0 -

Source: tradewinnews.com - Symbol photo by Antonio Alcaraz - www.harbourpilot.es

Fujian Shipping vessel ordered to stay put in Deendayal Port in rare case of a ship arrested against injury claim.

In a notable instance of legal action within the maritime industry, an Indian harbor pilot employed by the Deendayal Port Authority, Captain Shishir Nishikant Patange, has taken the extraordinary step of filing for an admiralty arrest. This action seeks compensation for injuries he alleges have prematurely ended his career in shipping.

Patange has successfully obtained an arrest warrant for the 44,700-dwt bulk carrier, Jin Hai Hua, owned by Fujian Shipping, built in 2012. The issuance of such a warrant over a personal injury claim is exceedingly rare.

The incident occurred when Patange was assigned to oversee the undocking of the Jin Hai Hua from the Deendayal Port Jetty on the afternoon of March 4. He reports that during his attempt to board the vessel via its gangway, the structure failed, overturning and collapsing, leading to his fall onto the wharf below.

This fall resulted in severe injuries to Patange's left wrist, including severe cuts, crushing, and fractures. Immediate medical attention was sought, and he was informed by healthcare professionals that he would suffer from permanent mobility loss in his left hand, despite surgical intervention.

This injury has led to Patange's assertion, through his legal representation to the Gujarat High Court in Ahmedabad, that he is now unable to perform his duties as a pilot effectively, thus signaling the end of his professional path in this field and a consequent permanent loss of income.

The claim against the Jin Hai Hua and its owners includes allegations of negligence in maintaining and monitoring the gangway's safety. Patange is seeking compensation amounting to INR 68 million (approximately $822,000) for the pain, suffering, and future income loss anticipated up until the age of 65. Additionally, he seeks coverage for legal expenses and interest.

Further, it was noted by Patange's legal team that he is still evaluating the full scope of the damages and retains the right to increase his compensation claim. They also highlighted that the Deendayal Port Authority has acknowledged responsibility for Patange's injuries incurred on duty, leading to their directive that the Jin Hai Hua remains within the port premises.

Concerns were raised by Patange regarding the potential for the port authority to allow the vessel to depart following the conclusion of their investigations, prompting the arrest application.

Shashank Agrawal, a maritime lawyer with SSA Legal, shared with TradeWinds that the scenario of arresting a vessel over a personal injury claim is highly unusual. The claimant is required to provide a written assurance to compensate for any court-awarded damages to the defendant vessel, should the arrest lead to any prejudice.

Agrawal suggested that Patange's decision to proceed with the arrest might have been influenced by the ship owner's residence in China, raising uncertainties about the vessel's return to Indian jurisdiction.

The arrest is expected to be revoked upon the deposition of a security by the ship’s protection and indemnity provider, identified by S&P Global data as the UK P&I Club.
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