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4.15 DOCUMENTATION OF WEATHER DAMAGE AND VOYAGE INCIDENTS

During the loaded passage, the low freeboard and large deadweight of the tanker increase the potential for damage due to storm waves boarding the ship. A prudent owner/charterer will employ a weather routing service to minimise the exposure to weather damage. The master should have the absolute freedom and confidence to deviate from the shortest track and/or reduce speed as necessary to ease the riding of the ship and minimise damage. He should carefully monitor all weather reports and routing recommendations and adjust his voyage plan as necessary. If heavy weather cannot be avoided, the additional preparations should be made including:
Inform the engineers of anticipated heavy weather.
Inspect the ship for loose gear and secure all equipment and stores adequately.
Close ports and doors.
Inform the crew.
Rig safety lines or 'managers' where needed.
Sound bilges and tanks.
Check anchor securing.
Prepare a camera on the bridge to record heavy weather.

Despite these best efforts, any tanker can be overtaken by a severe storm or encounter a 'rogue' wave, which may cause damage.
To support a claim for the costs of storm damage repair, the following records will be most useful:
Logbook entries for the each hour of the watch indicating the course steered, speed or revolutions and the prevailing weather conditions.
Copies of all weather reports and weather maps received.
Copies of the weather routing instructions.
Copies of barograph charts.
Copies of meteorological observations made for transmission to national weather service radio stations.
Photographs of the vessel during the storm and of later damage surveys.
An accurate survey of the damages, accompanied by a marked-up copy of the ship's general arrangement plan.
Written statements of crew members taken/made immediately after the incident.
Physical evidence.

Photographs are one of the most valuable forms of evidence. To ensure that the master can make the necessary photos, he should be provided with a number of 35 mm disposable cameras. These cameras, in sealed packages, are now available in daylight, flash and weather protected models. One of each type can be maintained on the navigating bridge, ready for immediate use. The exposed camera and film can be forwarded to owners for developing and printing along with the vessel's report. Alternative photographic methods are polaroid/instant cameras and regular 35 mm cameras with date and/or text imprinting attachments.
Statements by crew members, especially in the case of injuries, should be taken down, written out and signed by the crew member making the statement as soon as possible after the event. If taking of statements is delayed, the story invariably is modified, intentionally or subconsciously.
Damaged equipment should be preserved for examination by the claims surveyor at the next port. Small items of physical evidence should be placed in plastic bags and labelled clearly.
If a weather routing service is employed, they should be asked to provide a voyage summary report of the ship's track and weather encountered.

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