Egypt: Fender damage claims in Alexandria and Dekheila ports

Port news

Published: 17 June 2015

During the past 2-3 years, we have noticed that fender damage claims have become increasing in frequency, especially at the ports of Alexandria and Dekheila.

Most of the fenders in these ports are already old, have not been maintained and sometimes have cracks.

When fenders are damaged it is often due to rough maneuvering during berthing. This can happen with tug assistance when excessive push is used or the vessel berths unevenly. This can sometimes lead to fender damage in both Alexandria and Dekheila.

Due to the prevailing sea currents and depth of the sea in that area, Dekheila port often experiences high swells during rough weather, particularly as the port entrance faces north. There is a short western breakwater, the quays are angled toward port's entrance. This propagates swells toward the quays which are uninterrupted. This means that vessels berthed alongside sometimes experience heavy swells which may frequently cause fender damages.

The claim

Unfortunately, dealing with Alexandria Port Authority (APA) regarding fender claims is not very easy.

This is for the following reasons:

  1. Once a vessel is blamed for damaging a fender, the only way to successfully defend against such a claim is to find previous damage recorded in relation to the same fender at the port's accident department.
  2. APA doesn't allow vessels to sail before a claim regarding fender damage is settled in one of the following ways:
    a. Vessel's agent signs a non-negotiable guarantee (using APA's pro forma wording). That wording establishes vessel's liability, provides for a guarantee from the vessel's agent that they will cover APA's claim upon demand after the vessel's departure. This format is only accepted by APA in certain circumstances.
    b. The claim against the vessel is fully covered by a certified bank cheque in favour of APA.
    c. The claim against the vessel is covered by an unconditional bank Letter of Guarantee. It is important to note that APA doesn't accept club Letters of Undertaking as security for a claim.

Handling the case

  1. Our surveyor inspects the alleged damaged fender and takes photos.
  2. Our surveyor / correspondent attends APA's accident department and investigates if previous damage to the fender in question has been recorded. If there is evidence of previous damage, then we are able to successfully defend the vessel against the claim.
  3. If the fender sustained a crack, regardless if it is minor or major, it is considered by APA as a total loss. In this case we cover APA's claim in full by certified bank cheque.
  4. If the fender is dismantled, dislocated or a chain is cut, then the damage can be repaired. In this case we issue a bank Letter of Guarantee to APA as security. We then appoint a contractor to repair the fender up to the satisfaction of the authorities' technical committee. Once the repairs have been completed we can cancel the bank Letter of Guarantee. In this way the claim is minimised.

Recommendations to avoid such claims

  1. Vessels' agent are kindly requested to visually inspect fenders mounted at the quays where the vessels are expected to berth. This must be done prior to vessel berthing. A report of any damages found should be submitted to APA in a formal letter. Also a similar inspection should be made once the vessel leaves the berth.
  2. Before berthing, the vessel's master should also take photos of any fender(s) which appear to be damaged, missing or in bad condition. The vessel should then advise its agents about any potential issues with the fenders and ask for these to be reported, in writing, to APA.
  3. Owners may also wish to appoint a surveyor to inspect quay fenders before and during berthing as well as immediately after un-berthing.
  4. Masters are kindly requested to report any incident when they have been verbally advised that a fender may have been damaged. We can then attempt to intervene and prevent a formal claim arising.

For vessel specific enquiries, members are asked to contact their usual Skuld business unit.

The Association is grateful to El Hamamsy Marine Services Ltd. for their contribution to this update.