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Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse – Relevant Terminology “General Average” & “Force Majeure”

We hope this message finds you well. Following the recent incident involving the Baltimore Bridge and the M/V Dali, a number of maritime terms have come into the spotlight that might impact the handling and financial responsibilities tied to your shipments. At WB Skinner, we strive to keep you well-informed and prepared for these scenarios, so we’d like to clarify two important concepts that are particularly relevant right now: General Average and Force Majeure.


  1. General Average:

General Average is a maritime principle that may be applied when a vessel suffers damage or incurs substantial expenses for the common safety of the cargo and vessel during a voyage. In such cases, all parties sharing the vessel’s cargo may be proportionally liable for the financial losses incurred.

For instance, if a ship sustains $10,000,000 in damage and carries 10,000,000 kilograms of cargo, the cost is shared equally based on cargo weight. This means each kilogram of cargo would be responsible for $1 of the damages. This process often requires cargo owners to secure a bond or letter of credit in favor of the carrier to cover their share of the costs, which can be handled directly by your cargo insurance under All Risk marine coverage like those provided through WB Skinner.


  1. Force Majeure:

The term Force Majeure refers to unexpected events beyond the control of the shipping company that prevent the fulfillment of shipping obligations. In the current situation with the M/V Dali, this might be declared if the vessel must reroute to an unplanned port for repairs, leading to potential changes in the delivery of cargo.

For example, if cargo destined for Chicago has to be offloaded in Philadelphia instead due to unforeseen circumstances, Force Majeure may be declared. This shifts the responsibility of any additional transportation costs from the carrier to the cargo owner.

Understanding these terms is crucial for managing your expectations and responsibilities in maritime shipping. Should you have further questions or require assistance with a specific shipment, our team at WB Skinner is here to support you.


Thank you for choosing WB Skinner. We look forward to continuing to serve your shipping needs with reliability and expertise.


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