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Copyright (c) 2010 Tulane Maritime Law Journal
Tulane Maritime Law Journal

ARTICLE: Recovery of Cable Repair Ship Cost Damages from Third Parties That Injure Submarine Cables

Winter, 2010

Tulane Maritime Law Journal

35 Tul. Mar. L. J. 103

Author

Douglas R. Burnett*

Excerpt



A core best practice in the protection of international cables is pursuing damages from wrongdoers who willfully or by culpable negligence injure submarine cables. 1 The practice is enshrined in international treaties of universal acceptance. 2 From a cable protection standpoint, pursuing wrongdoers serves two very important goals. First, successful civil or criminal prosecution has a demonstrated deterrent effect. Second, prosecutions allow cable owners to recover the cost of cable repairs from the parties that caused the damage. Since 2006, the success rate in identifying vessels that have injured cables by means of Automated Identification System (AIS) data has enhanced the value of legal action against vessels that damage cables. 3

In the period 1959-2006, about 59.9% of these faults were attributed to damage from vessel anchors, fishing gear, or dredging. 4 In recent years, the percentage of third-party faults has been evaluated at about 77% or higher. 5 The increase is likely in some measure the result of better technology (AIS) and industry practices in identifying fault cases. While vessel anchors and fishing gear still cause the vast majority of faults, limited but disturbing instances of hostile actions by pirates 6 and terrorists 7 causing cable faults are also now reported.

But when confronted with a claim, vessel owners and their underwriters in some cases challenge cable owners' attempts to recover what is known in the cable industry as "standing charges" for the cable ship carrying out the repair. Part of this problem is self-inflicted. ...
 
 
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