Mr. Bond bought an almost one hundred year old eighteen meter Groningen tjalk. The ship was in good condition, the hull only needed to be reconserved. And that’s where the problem began.
If a shipyard proposes a repair or treatment method, can you as a customer trust that they know what they are talking about. Upon purchase, Bond had his tjalk, and particularly the hull below the waterline, carefully inspected by a reputable expert. Traces of leakage on the hull were not found. When asked, the seller reported no defects. The majority of the hull was well covered in tar. Where the tar was peeling, lands, welds and nails became visible and were in good condition. The Scot had the ship reconserved. The yard recommended blasting the hull and applying a two-component paint system. No sooner said than done. The unthinkable happened: while sailing down the Limburg Meuse, Mr. Bond noticed that the ship started to make water. He only just managed to dock at a shipyard that took the ship dry. Bond was shocked and amazed. How could the ship leak when it had just been re-preserved? The expert Mr. Bond had called in earlier concluded that the vast majority of the hull’s rivets were corroded below the waterline and that some of the welds were cracked. From his report, “With a probability bordering on certainty, the blasting of the hull below the waterline occurred such that softer parts (rivets) and sharp corners (lands and welds) had been affected.” The corroded rivets had caused a serious weakening of the connection between trusses and hull and of the connection between the hull plating. The surveyor adds that, when asked, he had never had the ship blasted. Mr. Bond asks Mr. Hommersom for advice, who in turn holds the shipyard liable for the improperly executed work. The yard responds dismissively, suggesting that the hull was already defective and that blasting was Bonds own initiative. Moreover, he should only have had the vessel inspected before it went back on the water,
Since the surveyor’s findings are disputed, a second survey takes place, with the shipyard present. This supports the earlier surveyor who says that the heads of the rivets are affected by the way the ship is blasted. He also notes that the paint treatment was not carried out adequately, since rust is already visible on the hull. The counter-expert also believes that the underwater hull should have been inspected after blasting and that the yard should or could have noticed the bad rivets. Blasting a riveted ship of this age involves great risks. The yard should have been aware of these risks and pointed them out to the client.
The shipyard was summoned. At the hearing it stated that Mr Bond had had sufficient opportunity to examine the ship himself before it was launched again. The yard also argued that the damage could not have been caused by the blasting, because corundum aluminum blasting agent would have been used, which would be softer than rivets. In short, because Bond had made the choice to blast, the consequences were at his risk. Sir really shouldn’t whine, the hull had been blasted completely clean, hadn’t it? The curious thing was that despite the fact that the shipyard came to the hearing with seven (!) people, the very person with whom Mr. Bond had spoken about the work on his ship, was not present… After a preliminary ruling by the judge, the parties came to an agreement out of ‘practical-economic considerations’ and the shipyard compensated Mr. Bond for a large part of the damage.
Moral: do not blindly trust the supposed expert and also ask someone else whether a certain repair or treatment method is the most appropriate one.
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