GOKBEL – Tragic Ship Collision off the Italian Coast

8. January 2015
Six seamen feared dead from the sinking of the GOKBEL

The festive season proved to be a very black period in which i.a. two tragic accidents occurred in Italian waters. After the fire on board the Passenger Ferry NORMAN ATLANTIC 6 lives are feared lost after the collision of the 86 meter long Turkish ship GOKBEL with the 97 meter long Belize-flagged LADY AZIZA at the Marina di Ravenna harbor, following which the GOKBEL sank.

Five crew members of the Turkish ship were rescued in good condition and no one on the Belize Flagged Ship was injured.

According to international Laws and Regulations the families of the killed Turkish seamen may lodge compensation claims against the owners of both ships, against the GOKBEL under the respective terms of the crewing contract and against the LADY AZIZA in form of a claim in tort.

For the victim families it is not relevant to consider the apportionment of blame in the collision. They are entitled to claim full compensation from each of the two vessels involved in the collision and it is then left to the owners of the two ships and their liability underwriters to sort out a respective accounting of compensations paid amongst each other in relation to the apportionment of blame.

This principle does not apply to cargo receivers who might have lost their cargo, as in most Bills of Lading the so called “Apportionment of Blame” – Clause applies which means that the cargo receiver can only recover that part of the lost value for which the so called “carrying ship” was at fault in the collision. The remainder of the loss must be claimed against the so called “non-carrying ship”. This procedure may sometimes last for a long time until the apportionment of blame had been decided by a competent court which here most likely would be an Italian Court. This does not prevent the interested parties from trying to agree on an apportionment of blame amicably in order to avoid legal costs. In several recent cases we (ZASS) have been successful in doing so on behalf of our clients.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of professional assistance to you. We do have Turkish speaking employees to assist our clients.