Cayman Port sued over crushed reef

| 14/03/2017 | 21 Comments

(CNS): The owners of a cargo ship which crushed a sizeable portion of reef off Eden Rock in December have sued the Cayman Port as they claim the authority is entirely to blame for their 100-metre, 3,000-ton cargo vessel running aground and then causing the damage. The Saga ran aground in George Town Harbour and government officials said at the time that its owners, Risley Ltd, admitted responsibility. However, they now say that the port was at fault, not their captain.

In the writ filed in the Grand Court at the end of last month by local attorneys Campbells on behalf of Risley, the owners state that the damage happened while the ship was “under the direction” of the port authority staff. The owners are claiming damages and a contribution from the authority for the ship’s liabilities to the Department of Environment for the reef damage under the National Conservation Law.

The owners state in the legal action that the port is liable for several reasons, including its general management failures regarding day markers, inadequate and missing buoys and lighting, a lack of reef markers, as well as failures in safety supervision for ships in and about the harbour.

They also claim specific failings on the day the ship ran aground and say port staff instructed the Saga “to stop her engines when she was attempting to reverse away from the initial site of the incident under her own power, causing her to lose steering in windy conditions and to exacerbate the seriousness of the incident as she was blown further on to the reef”.

The writ claims that the port directed the tugs to tow the Saga sideways across a wider area of the top of the reef than had been affected by the initial incident, and with the loss of steerage the situation was exacerbated. The owners also made the final damning allegation that the port had failed to ensure that users could navigate the George Town harbour safely.

At the time of the incident the port officials had said the captain had not sought their assistance when he miscalculated his position and as he turned the ship, the captain steered the bow into the reef, where the vessel became stuck. At that point, the port stated, that two tug boats responded from the port and pulled the Saga from the reef.

The owners of the Saga had engaged Polaris Applied Science, the same firm that worked on the damage caused to the reef off Seven Mile Beach by billionaire Paul Allen’s luxury yacht last year, to assess the damage and work out if it was possible to repair any of the damage.

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Comments (21)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    a XXXXX dive boat tried to run me over during the week end. i am a caymanian fisherman. it made a b line towards me and skimmed 5 ft away at mach speed. i waited and followed until their divers were going in and pulled up alongside…..the captain had a fit! i told him, i know of the danger….what hood for goose…good for gsnder….

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup. I had same thing happen to me as I was fishing.
      Came so close the dive boat prop even cut away my lines – even the divers on board were yelling at the “captain” to stop.
      These companies pick up any beach trash with a swimsuit and call them divemaster.
      Cayman has NO boat Captain/.operator licence or requirements.
      I radioed in the incident to his company and I followed him til i caught up with him and made him pay tho.

  2. Anonymous says:

    There is markers out there. Dive markers that warn boats of the dive site and the cargo ship came within those markers and unfortunately crushed the coral. Nothing but the fault of the captain and now the blame game begins.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Port authority is a joke. A ship with no one at the helm, and zero accountability.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This claim is Joke of the Month!
    Bald-faced Blame-Shifters are grinning everywhere on this Island

  5. Anonymous says:


  6. Truth says:

    How are you going to blame somebody else for crashing the ship that you were driving?

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you comment on something you don’t understand at all? The laws and rules of the sea, especially in the area controlled by a Port Authority are completely different to anything you would understand..if there were no markeers (there weren’t) and the vessel was under the instruction of the PA, then they are just as guilty…this might wake them up a little, although I doubt it frankly..

      • Anonymous says:

        How are you going to assume that I do not know what I am talking about when you have no clue who I am?

        I have spent more time on the water than most people have, especially in that area. The fact of the matter is that you can clearly see which areas are shallow from a good distance.. Our waters boast visibility upwards of 100′, and any good captain should have enough sense to know where he can and cannot take his boat… These days, depth finders do most of the work for you! It is not difficult, you look at the screen and see how deep you are! An alarm will typically tell you when you are too shallow.

        Even if that genius went against his own judgement and trusted that of another person, whether it be the Port Authority or Poseidon himself, the fault is still his. Society needs to stop with this “passing of the blame” BS and start taking accountability for their own actions.

        It is people who think like you who drive insurance costs up.

        I strongly despise whoever you are.

        • Anonymous says:

          My family has a long tradition of West Bay seamen so I am very qualified and I do Not have to Hide behind anonuymous but for now I cannot say my name. Ok bobo?

      • Anonymous says:

        Try blaming the Port Authority the next time you misuse deep stingray city channel which is missing 2 markers and you end up stuck on a coral head…

  7. Anonymous says:


  8. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians can not be held responsible. It’s right there in the Pirate code.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Skills of the sea lost long ago

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes 7.37, although the delivery of Se(a)men to Baby Mamas seems to be doing quite well.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Skills of the seas” please see “non unionized cheap labour working cheaper than sailors from the home ports to supply bulk carriers” or “complacent enough to not carry any safety gear during weather warnings or maritime drug deals”.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Move on move on, no blame here. Just lift up the carpet and bury the blame

  11. Anonymous says:

    One question … Was there a pilot on board?

    • Anonymous says:

      No, because at the time of this crash, the captain on board the ship and the ship’s agent said they did not need the help of the harbor pilots, they could bring the ship in and take it back out by themselves.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Was bound to happen sooner or later-if indeed the instructions were given as stated and markers were missing (we know they were) then PA is going to share in the damages, although I suspect ship will still be held partly to blame…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Rightly so!

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