Compania Naviera Maropan S/A v Bowaters Lloyd Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd (Stork.)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date05 April 1955
Judgment citation (vLex)[1955] EWCA Civ J0405-3
Docket Number1952 0. No.3563
CourtCourt of Appeal
Date05 April 1955
Compania Naviera Maropan, S/A.
Bowaters Lloyd Pulp & Paper Mills, Limited.

[1955] EWCA Civ J0405-3


Lord Justice Singleton,

Lord Justice Hodson and

Lord Justice Morris.

1952 0. No.3563

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

Counsel for the Appellants: Mr K.S. CARPMAEL, Q.C., and The Hon. T.G. ROCHE, instructed by Messrs Lawrence Jones & Co. Counsel for the Respondents: Mr Eustace Roskill, Q.C., and MR H.V. Brandon, instructed by Messrs Stokes & Mitcalfe.


The facts of this case are admirably stated in the Judgment of Mr Justice Devlin from which I take thorn: "The plaintiffs are the owners of the steamship stork' which is a vessel with a gross tonnage of 7111, a length of 441 feet and a beam of 57. The defendants are the well-known concern that manufacturers and sells paper. Some of it is manufactured in Newfoundland; but a part of their business is to export logs to England for the purpose of making wood pulp for paper at their factory in this country. Accordingly, on 17th October 1951 the defendants chartered the 'stork' to load on the east coast of Newfoundland a cargo of logo for carriage to Rochester. The place at which the vessel was directed to load was an arm of the Bea called Tommy's Arm. This is one of several places on the east coast of Newfoundland from which the defendant export wood. The season for export begins at the end of May and goes on until November and the place to which a vessel is directed varies according to the season of the year and the weather conditions to be expected there. Tommy's Arm is the place which is considered suitable for the end of the season. It is an inlet about a mile in length surrounded by high hills. I need not describe it minutely for the plan E.Y.l is itself a description of all the material features with which this case is concerned. The arm runs cast and west and is entered from the cast. At the far end or in the north-enst corner there is a cove called Lewis cove where there is marked a 'Pulpwood holding ground.' Logs are hold there in the water behind a boom which is marked on the plan. In the centre of the arm or inlet there is an Island called Central Island. There are three berths or loading places in the arm whore a vessel can be moored and this case is concerned only with the one called Berth C. In that berth the vessel's head is held by her anchors and her stern is held by being moored to ringbolts on the western end of Central Island, The vessel is thus heading north of west,- shout 280 degrees, - her head pointing towards Lewis Cove. In this position she has not for a large vessel a great deal of water on either side of her. On her port side she has some rooks called the Five Foot Rooks and on her starboard quarter the Seal Rooks. The distance between these two rocks when swash at low water is 1,040 feet. In the evidence a number of measurements will be found expressed in fathoms or in shackles, but I think it would be more convenient if I expressed them all in feet. The 'Stork' with her length of 441 feet was an exceptionally large ship to be directed to load at Tommy's Arm, the usual length being about 300 feet. The port that is most convenient for the defendants' English factory is Ridham Book and the longest ship that can use that dock is 315 feet; up till May 1951 it was 300 feet. Accordingly, quite apart from the character of the loading place on the Newfoundland coast, the defendants endeavour to secure that ships chartered for importing logo are under 315 feet in length. A long ship has to unload at Rochester, which was the discharging port for the 'Stork' and which is lose convenient for the factory and more expensive to the defendants. Captain Miller, who holds the position of wood shipping superintendent in the defendant company, is in charge of shipping operations in Newfoundlnnd on their behalf and was at the material times at Tommy's Arm. On 25th October the 'Stork' arrived at Great Dunier Island about ton miles case of Tommy's Arm, where she was met by a motorboat with a Mr Watkins in it. Mr Watkins is a fisherman who has lived on that part of the coast for 60 years. There is no compulsory pilotage there and no certified pilots but Mr Watkins is one of those who usually act as a pilot, and is almost invariably given by Bowaters the chance ofoffering his services to ships consigned to them. Captain Miller advises him of the estimated time of arrival of any snip and he goes out to meet the ship and hiding her in to Tommy's Arm. He receives his payment from Bolsters but they charge the ship with it as one of the items in their disbursements account. As I have said, there are three berths in Tommy's Arm; and as the ship is entering someone from Bowaters will hail the pilot and tell him which berth she is be go to. In accordance with this procedure Mr Watkins brought the 'Stork' in about noon on 25th October and was told to moor her as Berth C. Mr Watkins considers that about four shackles or 360 feet of anchor chain is the right amount to pay out in order to hold securely a ship of the size of the 'stork' in Berth C. Accordingly he took her past the berth (which is of course only a notional place on the water) up towards Lewis Cove so that she could drop her anchors and then move astern to the position of her berth. The exact position is settled so that she can be conveniently situated for loading which is done by means of booms of timber secured to the sides of the ship. On the 25th the vessel dropped her anchors in the places which the pilot indicated and then moved astern to her loading position so that she could be secured by stern lines to the Central Island. The first line was taken by a motorboat to the shore but either it was not paid out sufficiently fast or some other incident occurred which prevented the ship being tied up and she was taken by an easterly wind and swung across towards the Lewis Cove boom. It is not really clear how this happened and conflicting explanations have boon given on both sides; I think it was probably a mishap and I am not satisfied that negligence has boon proved against anybody. The result of it was that it was rightly thought to be imprudent to try to moor the ship again that day in an easterly wind and accordinglyshe was taken out of Tommy's Arm and thus lost about a day of her laydays. She was brought back on the following day. 26th. October, and successfully in the manner I have described. She was secured to the Central Island by four stern lines. Loading began and continued until about noon on 29th October when it me stopped because of bad weather. That evening the weather deteriorated into a severe gale from the west or south-west. The Master says the wind was in the nest but with gusts from the south-west which struck his vessel on the port side and Capt. Miller says the wind was in the south-west; I do not think the difference much matters. The gale continued throughout the night and Capt. Killer remained on board till dawn. By then the ship's position had altered so that the had moved considerably to starboard in the direction of the coal Rook. one of her stern lines had parted during the night. There is a conflict of evidence about the position to which the vessel had got at down and about how she got there. The Master says that she was dragging her anchors and thus was carried by the wind perilously near the Seal Rocks so that she was in danger of going aground and damaging her rudder and propeller. He says she was lees than 100 feet away from the seal Rooks. Capt. Miller says that she was 150 to 200 foot from the seal Docks and in no danger; although the wind was continuing to blow hard it had shifted to the west and she was, he says, lying quietly. He further says that she never dragged her anchors at any time, and that the alteration in her position was due partly to a straightening out of the anchor chain and partly to the Master denies that he slackened the stern lines during the night by about 150 feet. The Master denies that he slackened the storn lines in this way; he says that after one parted he adjusted the others as to equalize the strain on them, but thatdid not involve an extension of more than 25 or 30 feet. These the main points in the controversy about what occurred during the night. At dawn - that is about 6 a.m. - cart. Miller left the vessel to gethis breakfast believing her to be quite safe. At the same time at the request of the Master he sent for the pilot. But Mr Watkins took his time about coming and about 9.0. a.m. the Master decided to move. He thought the position had got worse, that he was in great danger of striking the Seal lacks and that at the moment of movement he felt a very light sort of shudder. He outhis remaining stern lines and steamed ahead and picked up his anchors. His idea was to get the vessel to an anchorage at the western end of the arm where he thought that she would be safer. But as he proceeded down she was taken by a gust of wind and grounded on the Five Foot Dock. She was refloated the following day. The plaintiffs' claim against the defendants is for the damage done by the grounding."


At the conclusion of the hearing the learned Judge found that the shipowners were entitled to recover damages against the charterers, and he gave judgment accordingly with damages to be ascertained upon Inquiry.


The Charterers appeal against that Judgment.


The rights of the parties are to be determined by the contract between them, and that is contained in the Charter party of the 17th October, 1951, which is headed "Pulpwood Charter - From Newfoundland and Eastern Canada." It is on extraordinary document, to say the least.


In the course of their business Bowaters collect pulpwood at places on the East Coast of Canada and in Newfoundland, which places cannot properly be described as ports. Thus this form of Charter requires that the vessel...

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