A loaded bulk carrier receives a call for assistance from a vessel that has suffered a major engine breakdown in mid-Atlantic. What should be the bulk carrier master’s considerations before offering a tow?

A vessel requiring a tow is not necessarily in distress.Β 

The bulker master should therefore carefully consider: (1) whether the contract of carriage (as contained in the charterparty or bill of lading) gives his vessel liberty to tow; (2) whether sufficient bunkers and/or fresh water for the tow are on board, and whether sufficient reserves can be maintained, throughout and after the tow, so as to meet the stipulations of owners or charterers; (3) whether there is a possibility of missing a cancelling date or delivery/ redelivery date under the charterparty; (4) whether the nature of the cargo permits a lengthening of the voyage; (5) whether the ship’s machinery is of adequate power and in good enough condition for towing; and (6) whether the values of the vessel requesting the tow, and her cargo if any, is likely to be sufficient to merit an attempt at salvage.

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Having agreed in principle to giving a disabled vessel a tow, what should be the assisting shipmaster’s considerations?

Where a ship is in danger, is the master of a vessel rendering assistance under any obligation to save the ship as well as the crew?