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Loss assessment surveys on cargoes during marine, barge, road, railway and air transportation
This type of survey has always been the core business of CONTINENTAL SURVEYS NV.
Working for some of the biggest European Marine Underwriters, we are performing surveys on a wide variety of commodities, viz: steel products, forest products, grains and derivates, sugar, colonial products, chemicals (liquid or solid), plastics, cotton, coal, ores and concentrates, etc.
These surveys are carried out worldwide, for important claims, which is confirmed by the impressive list of surveys mentioned in "surveys abroad", which is only a sample of the assignments performed by our company.
Of course, there are a great deal more "smaller" claims, especially in a geographical area in which so many big and medium sized ports are concentrated, and also the limitation of quantities of cargo which can be transported e.g. by truck may not amount to the sizeable values of break bulk marine transportation.
Yet one can rest assured that the level of service and professionalism of our company in dealing with these claims is the same as compared to the larger claims. Containerisation is still on the rise and also the marine transportation in this respect is relatively reducing the value of a shipping unit compared to break bulk shipments.
For more than 15 years CONTINENTAL SURVEYS NV has been the Belgian Claims & Settling Agent of Messrs. WARTA INSURANCE & REINSURANCE of Poland, and later also of Messrs. HESTIA INSURANCE of Poland.
Since 1996, we are also the Belgian Claims Agents for Messrs. INTERNATIONAL MARINE INSURANCE AGENCY Ltd, of New Zealand.
In addition thereto CONTINENTAL SURVEYS NV is regularly mentioned as Claims Agents in Insurance policies of numerous Underwriters on specific contracts.
In this function we also carry out recoveries versus third parties, obtain guarantees or claim extensions from vessels/P&I Clubs and provide intelligence regarding arrivals of vessels in Belgian or European Ports.
As such we are able to offer a full claims service with the added benefit that all aspects of a claim are handled under one roof, hence with better results.
Loading & discharging surveys
Inspections during loading or discharging of various commodities have always been a major part of the workload of CONTINENTAL SURVEYS NV.
For many years were have performed and coordinated the inspection during discharging of steel cargoes for one European manufacturer from the Belgian up to the Danish sea ports, ensuring a stand-by attendance during the entire discharging operation.
Damages were noted in detail, thus ensuring our Principals of a 100% recovery of these damages from the liable third parties.
These types of surveys are carried out on behalf of the cargo owners, Forwarding Agents and/or Underwriters, in the latter case as part of their loss prevention programs, and with positive results.
These surveys are either performed on a "time & trouble" basis or on a price per ton or shift.
Loading, lashing & securing of project cargo & heavy lifts, vanning surveys
This type of survey requires a detailed knowledge of handling, lifting, loading, lashing & securing of large, fragile, heavy objects as well as in-depth knowledge of the construction and stability of seagoing vessels or dedicated heavy lift carriers. In most cases no detailed lifting instructions are given by manufacturers of transformers, railcars, turbines, etc, and the number of proper lifting points is generally limited.
It consequently requires a detailed knowledge of lifting appliances available, and usually some prior study.
Heavy lifts or project cargoes can be handled with either ship's gear or a 800 T SWL floating crane in the Port of Antwerp, each requiring a different approach.
Lashing & securing is generally agreed jointly wit the ship's staff and considering the type of lashing material available. In case instructions are received however we will supervise follow up of these instructions.
"Vanning" surveys is the direct result of the increase of containerisation, combined with the "house/house" or "pier/house" aspect of container transport. We will give professional advice about the stowage, lashing & securing of cargoes in containers, to avoid damage during transportation.
We will also issue certificates in case of IMO cargoes confirming compliance of packing and/or stowage according to the latest IMO regulations.
Hull & machinery
Our technical Surveyors will survey any hull and machinery damage on board of seagoing vessels, barges, tugs or other crafts, following collisions, heavy weather, breakdown, etc.
Also surveys on quay walls, locks, fenders, cranes, etc. following collision are surveyed.
The event of containerisation has not, as was initially expected, reduced theft at all. Instead of small scale but widespread pilferage in ports at the highlight of break bulk shipments, we are now faced with specialised gangs who dedicate themselves to stealing entire container loads of cargoes.
Adding thereto the fact that Belgium is a small country, and the event of freedom of movement in the EEC, stolen property disappears rapidly over some border to a neighbouring country.
Despite this, detailed and meticulous investigations and close cooperation with police forces have had some results in recovering stolen property and arresting entire gangs of thieves.
Fire damage & investigations
Fires are a regular occurrence in warehouses in Port or industrial areas, often with disastrous results.
Warehouses have usually only minimal fire fighting equipment and are left unattended at night or during weekends. Only rarely is a warehouse equipped with a sprinkler system, which might cause extensive water damage to the products in the warehouse when it goes off, e.g. by accident.
Loss assessment of fire damage ranges from the depreciations due to smoke and soot contamination to total losses.
Despite the fact that the damage appears to be a total loss this does not always have to be so. Our company surveyed a consignment of cigarettes in a warehouse, which literally burnt down to the ground, leaving only 50 cm of rubble. After careful investigation we were able to form a recovery team which recovered more than 1 million US$ in identifiable tax strips. These tax strips were offered to the Belgian excise department for destruction under their supervision and the assured was immediately reimbursed. This operation reduced the Underwriters' intervention for more than 25 %.
Loss prevention surveys. Warehouse inspections.
Loss prevention has been an exponentially increasing part of our workload, due to the increasing awareness of Marine Underwriters, Forwarding Agents, etc. that losses can in many cases be avoided, or the risks involved in transportation be greatly reduced.
This is a very wide ranging activity, varying from giving advice on packing and transportation requirements, giving advice on ship's suitability to load a certain type of cargo, which vessels are more likely to be in reasonable condition compared to others, forming databases of acceptable and sub-standard ships, etc. We have worked with various clients on long term contracts as loss prevention consultants.
We also give immediate information about a wide range of commodities, e.g. to Marine underwriters wanting to know the potential risks in insuring a certain commodity.
Part of our practical work e.g. loading surveys, supervision of loading & lashing of heavy lifts, ship inspections, etc. are in fact loss prevention surveys.
Warehouse inspections are also regular assignments, since many companies have become aware that in some cases the warehouses in which their products are stored are not entirely up to standard. In some cases they have special requirements which have to be followed up, and which we have to check. Our inspection confirms the conformity of a certain warehouse for storage of a certain commodity, and if not, gives recommendations as to make it suitable for storage of the intended cargo.
The inspection report confirms detailed aspects relating to theft, fire, flooding as well as the general information and comments if required.
Ship inspections are carried out regularly for the account of Marine underwriters, Charterers, Forwarding or ship Agents, in order to verify if a vessel is suitable to carry the intended cargo to a certain destination.
The inspection is carried out as a suitability rather than a cleanliness inspection, which means that the inspection goes beyond the fact that e.g. for foodstuffs the cargo holds have to be free of smell, free of remnants of previous cargoes, dry and free of live and/or dead infestation.
The inspection also includes a visual inspection of the vessel's weatherdeck hatchcovers, and our opinion about their weather tightness. In case of doubts in this respect a hose test or ultrasonic test can then be carried out.
On- & off-hire surveys
On- and off-hire surveys are carried out when a vessel is delivered to a Charterer or re-delivered to her Owners.
The on-hire survey can include the following:
- Full and detailed inspection of the condition of the vessel's cargo compartments, superstructure, deck and hatchcovers, with photographs of important damages.
- Checking of the inventory of container lashing material.
- Hose or ultrasonic test.
- Sounding and calculation of bunkers on board at time of delivery.
- Checking of certificates, particulars and cargo gear book.
The off-hire survey can include the following:
- Checking of damages compared to the original on-hire survey report ("over and above" survey)
- Checking of damages compared to the "Stevedore damage reports" issued during the charter period.
- Checking of the inventory of container lashing material.
- Sounding and calculation of bunkers on board at time of re-delivery.
Bunker surveys & bunker checks
Bunker surveys can be carried out e.g. when a Charterer does not consider a full on-hire survey required, or in case of discrepancies in the vessel's consumption, e.g. during an extended time charter period.
Bunker checks are carried out when a vessel takes bunkers, in order to verify not only the quantity (sounding of vessel's and barge's tanks and possibly flow meter) but also the quality by taking a drip sample of the fuel during bunkering.
Such samples can be sent to a local lab or another lab, under some classification's bunker testing program as instructed by the Principals.
The experience of our Surveyors is wide ranging and combines detailed knowledge of vessels' constructions, possibilities and limitations as well as detailed knowledge of the particulars of certain commodities. Hence these items can be combined in order to determine if a certain project is feasible, or e.g. if a certain vessel is suitable for a certain shipment.
Our worldwide experience in handling marine claims also gives us insight in solving most problems which may arise during marine transportation, as well as to avoid problems from occurring. We can give detailed information or assist a local Surveyor or Claims Adjuster in handling a case abroad.
Each of our in house Surveyors speaks 5 languages, which certainly helps.
Expert witness opinions
If handed the details of a certain case, we can give expert opinion regarding the possible cause and extent of the damage as well as the liabilities of parties concerned.
The same worldwide experience often gives us an insight in local customs or possibilities to perform certain tasks during marine transportation.
Expert opinions can be given at the request of Courts, Legal Counsel, Marine Underwriters, etc.
We have an international database of potential buyers for the commodities in which we are specialised, per country and per product. We are also constantly on the lookout for new potential buyers to increase the competitiveness of the buyers.
In case of a salvage sale we can issue a circular letter of sale, which is sent to all the potential buyers on the list as well as other parties concerned in the file. The potential buyers can then inspect the cargo and confirm their offers before a given date and time by mail, fax or e-mail.
Examples of major sales include 8.500 T sugar on board of a vessel in SAVANNAH, USA, 2.000 Tons of flooded sugar in BATUMI, GEORGIA, 20.000 Tons wet soybean meal pellets in GHENT, 5.000 Tons milkpowder in ZEDELGEM, etc.
Maximum amount recovered during a salvage sale was 10.000.000 EURO.