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Federal Court dismisses Clipper Adventurer judgment appeal

2018-02-19

Leo Ryan

Editor, Maritime Magazine

McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit  won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel.  She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan;  Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).

The Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed an application by Adventurer Owner Ltd. appealing a Federal Court decision which held the cruise operator liable for damages resulting from the grounding of the MV Clipper Adventurer on August 27, 2010 on a shoal on the Coronation Gulf in Nunavut. "I have not been persuaded that the Federal Court made a reviewable error," stated on February 7, 2018 Justice J.A. Gauthier, who cited a number of reasons for the thumbs-down.

Instead of receiving the more than $13 million claimed for damages resulting from allegedly insufficient information, the Bahamas-based owner was ordered by the Federal Court on January 27, 2017 to pay the nearly $500,000 in environmental costs to the Canadian government.

"The Clipper Adventurer was the author of her own misfortune by recklessely proceeding at excessive speed in largely unknown waters," last year's court judgment declared. It also charged that the captain and crew had failed to pay attention to a 2007 Notice to Shipping about the shoal in question and other navigation warnings.

The Coast Guard icebreaker CCGS Amundsen rescued the nearly 200 passengers and crew, evacuating them to Kugluktuk, 55 nautical miles away. Four tugs took two weeks to free the grounded vessel which was later taken to Poland for repairs.

 

Among his observations, Justice Gauthier said that the cruise vessel "did not have a properly updated nautical chart on board."

He noted that, at the time of the incident,  the course of the Clipper Adventurer was "well outside the main shipping corridor and the magenta coloured area" on Canadian Hydrogrographic Chart 7777 covering the western portion of Coronation Gulf. "The chart only showed tracks and spot soundings that could be quite old and mariners were notified to proceed with caution."

Justice Gauthier also recalled: "In the Arctic, surveying is essentially opportunistic by nature; that is, it is done when the circumstances are favourable." Consequently, as is generally acknowledged, less than 10% of the vast Arctic waters have been surveyed to modern standards.

 
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