This chapter discusses the different versions of the Supplytime clause which provides that if the chartered vessel is lost, the owners will remove the wreck, and also discusses the Nairobi Convention on Wreck Removal, which came into force in 2015 and must be treated as part of the background to Supplytime 2017.
Thus, in Supplytime 2017 words such as “the wreck” and “remove” may be read in accordance with the meanings given to them in the Convention, and when owners undertake to remove the wreck of the vessel, this will include removing cargo which is in or on the vessel but not (it is suggested) cargo which has become separated from the wreck of the ship itself. If the owners are required by the local authorities to remove the wreck of the vessel including the cargo in the wreck and also cargo which is away from the wreck in another location, the owners will not be entitled to an indemnity from the charterers in respect of the additional cost due to the cargo in the wreck, but will be entitled to an indemnity in respect of the cost of removing cargo which is in another location.
Under the Supplytime wording owners agree to be “liable for expenses in connection with” the removal of the wreck, and it may not be clear whether owners are promising actually to remove the wreck or are only undertaking to repay the charterers any expenses which the charterers incur (and the owners would be entitled to limit their liability towards the charterers under that undertaking, while if owners are obliged actually to remove the wreck they may be obliged to pay whatever the full cost of removal may be).
Under Supplytime 89 and 2005 owners only accept responsibility for wreck removal if the wreck is an obstruction to navigation, and not if wreck removal is required by the authorities for other reasons. Under Supplytime 2017 owners accept responsibility if the removal is required by the local authorities in the exercise of their legal powers for whatever reason, including if removal is required for the convenience of offshore operations. However, even under the 2017 version owners do not accept responsibility if wreck removal is not required by the authorities but the charterers are obliged under the terms of their contract with their client to have the wreck removed.