Mississippi Shipping Co. v Zander & Co. (The Del Sud) case brief summary
US court of appeals, 5th circuit, 1959
- Coffee was loaded into the Del Sud.
- Sweater damaged the goods.
- The water entered through a fracture caused by the pressure of the ship’s weight at contact with the dock.
- When the Del Sud left the Port of Santos, she bore the open wound and was unseaworthy.
Ruling and Analysis
- The Harter Act says in section 3 that the owner must exercise due diligence to make the vessel seaworthy “before and at the beginning” of the voyage. This means that to respect with the cargo being loaded, the vessel must be seaworthy at the time of the receipt of cargo and must continue in that state until the ship sails.
- The voyage commenced at the time the wound to the ship was sustained.
- The damage thus occurred after the voyage had begun, therefore the failure of the master to inspect and repair the damage was an error in navigation and management and excused under section 4.
- At Santos, Montevideo and Buenos Aires, the master stood as any other servant of the shipowner, and any failure to exercise due diligence to make the vessel seaworthy with respect to cargo loaded at each respective port would be chargeable to the owner. But at subsequent ports and with respect to cargo previously loaded, the acts of the master are those of management and navigation excusable under section 4, unless the particular activities are those concerning the care, custody, receipt and delivery of cargo.
- The initial damage was occasioned as a result of error in navigation. The voyage had begun and there wasn’t a failure of the master to exercise due diligence at Santos to make the vessel seaworthy. The error was one in management of the vessel unaffected by any act of the owner.
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