A shipowner tells a master to stow a piece of unprotected machinery on deck for a coastal voyage, even though the cargo could easily be stowed under deck. Will the owners be breaching the contract of carriage?

Even when there is no express or implied agreement for under-deck stowage, it may well be a fundamental breach of the contract of carriage to stow cargo on deck which is not suitable for on-deck carriage.Β 

Goods are not suitable for deck carriage if they are not packed in such a way as to be protected from contact with sea water which could occur during the voyage and which, if it did occur, would inevitably or probably cause damage to the goods. For example, sensitive machinery transported in a flat or open-top container should not be carried on deck.


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How does the law generally view the carriage of containerised cargo on deck on purpose-built container ships?

A container ship operator does not normally clause its bills of lading for “on deck” carriage, even though deck cargo is often carried. What should the company do in this case?