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The 1998 Countryman & McDaniel

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The extreme state of M/V APL China as she reaches Port of Seattle

1 November 1998

In the wake of historic Typhoon Babs

Cargo Havoc In The North PacificxxxxOne Of Several Merchant Ships Hit By The Typhoon

NOTE: The damage depicted in this photo is extreme. Only careful study of this photo will reveal the full extent of damage for the cargo on this proud vessel. DOWNLOAD this photo and make a "blow-up" on your P.C. for closer examination. This is said to be the greatest damage incident since the invention of containers, at over US$100M.

M/V APL China - photo & christening staticis

Other Damage Views of M/V APL China Now Available

Details From The San Francisco Business Times - 23 Nov. 1998

"APL In Sea of Legal Woes" - The San Francisco Business Times - 19 March 1999

First Reports From a Special Edition of The Cargo Letter


Air & Ocean Logistics - Customs Broker News

2 November 1998

LAX - 2 Nov. -- With word just now coming in, it is understood that several leading vessels of the Asiatic merchant fleet have sustained major damage as the result of Typhoon Babs this past month. The Philippine PRC & Taiwan were major casulaties.

Major container vessel damage is reported. For example, reports to The Cargo Letter are that APL's M/V APL China lost approx. 406 containers, with some 1,000 more damaged. Similar damage is said to have been sustained by Maersk, Evergreen and other lines in Taiwan waters as a result of the typhoon. Sources at American President Lines (APL) estimate that losses could run well into the hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars for all vessels.

Late word is that the unfortunate situation looks like a "Surveyors Convention" as experts rush in to survey the damage caused. At this hour L.A. Fire Department units are attempting to secure another APL container ship, M/V President Adams, which lost containers over the side after making the Port of Los Angeles tonight. Other containers are said to have been lost while the vessel was underway from the Far East. Whether this container ship was a casualty of the typhoon is not known.

Given the important holiday shipping season, we should expect both salvaged and delayed cargo to be booked for air movement as the result of Typhoon Babs. Depending on volume, there could be a squeeze.

Destruction is wide spread, but in just one region Typhoon Babs killed five people and caused US$57.98M in damage in China's southeastern Fujian province, the official Xinhua news agency said last Thursday. Three people were injured when Babs ravaged China's southeastern coast, causing torrential storms in most of the region, according to a report from the Fujian Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. The typhoon devastated the coastal city of Zhangzhou, destroying 1,461 buildings, wrecking 114 boats and sinking 12 others. Babs also struck Longyan, another city in Fujian province, the report said.

The Philippines bore the brunt of Babs, which killed at least 189 people, injured nearly 400 and damaged 144,000 houses in a three-day sweep across the country's most populous island, Luzon. The Philippine government said it will buy abroad as much as 300,000 metric tons of rice to augment local supplies damaged by typhoon.

NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs broker.



Air & Ocean Freight Forwarder - Customs Broker News

30 November 1998

LAX - 30 Nov -- Typhoon Babs Does A Job .......... as the intense Pacific Ocean storm on 26 Oct. resulted in major cargo damage to four container ships. No deaths or injuries were reported. On the two APL vessels there were no known impacts to hazardous cargo on board. Typhoon Babs has been described as a fast-moving storm featuring 40-70 foot swells & high winds hit the ships in the Northern Pacific, approximately 2,700 miles west of California .

The vessels were M/V APL China enroute from Taiwan (Kaohsiung), M/V APL President Adams enroute from China (Yantian), M/V MOL Alligator Strength enroute from Japan (Tokyo) , and M/V Ever Union. The total number of containers damaged/destroyed is still being calculated. Where M/V APL China is concerned, several legal depositions of crew have already been taken. Sources attending these proceedings report that some 406 containers were lost overboard with both major & minor damage to more than 1,000 containers caused by a combination of flooding and collapsed bays.

The APL China arrived at the Port of Seattle approximately 2 days behind schedule. The APL President Adams arrived at the Port of Los Angeles approximately 1 day behind schedule and the MOL Alligator Strength arrived at the Port of Los Angeles approximately 1 day behind schedule.

All vessels continued their rotations, except for the APL China which took 2 weeks to re-enter service. A small army of lawyers & surveyors promptly arrived to inspect the damaged cargo. At least two legal cases are already on file, including a limitation action for the M/V APL China in the Southern District of New York. The storm was unusually severe for this typhoon season.


We have given you this picture & the news reports at full length in an attempt to demonstrate the drama of what is currently considered to be the biggest cargo disaster in the history of ocean container technology.

The Law Offices of Countryman & McDaniel came to the defense of the numerous NVOCC's which has freight aboard the vessel. The complicated cases continue involving many companies and claims in several countries.

LESSON LEARNED: The importance of a properly constructed house bill of lading for the freight forwarder [NVOCC] cannot be overly stressed, as well as the need for quality marine cargo insurance. The sea is a dangerous place. For specifics & proper use, consult your company attorney or liability advisor.

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