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London P&I Club says digital cameras can provide vital evidence in defending claims

22 October 2015

The London P&I Club has recommended that ship owners and operators keep a good-quality digital camera on board their vessels as part of their attempts to collect and preserve evidence in the event of claims arising, particularly as a result of damage to fixed or floating objects.

The club points out that experts need clear images to provide early remote assistance with incidents and the immediate actions required, and that insurers need evidence of the alleged damage and the losses suffered.

Writing in the latest issue of the club's StopLoss Bulletin, Mike Harrison of marine consultancy Solis Marine Consultants Ltd, says, "For many fixed object damage claims - broken fenders, concrete or pile damage, crane contact - there can be little for experts or insurers to go on, perhaps a quick sketch, a few pixelated images and a remarkably large bill for repairs and loss of use.

"In many cases, the immediate task of collecting and preserving evidence lies with the master and crew. Good photographs taken as soon as possible after the event are invaluable, and can easily be shared by email with a remote expert for instant advice on key issues. The expert can then identify where further detail might be useful, the signs of prior damage and perhaps dilapidation or poor design.

"These days, $100 buys a camera capable of storing and taking quality images. There is no need to compromise on quality or quantity. The bridge kit should include as a minimum:
a digital compact camera with at least 8X optical zoom, built-in flash and video function; camera image quality of at least 10 megapixels; two 8GB or larger blank SD cards (preformatted) and checked for operation; spare battery pack; mains charger with ship-compatible plug

"The camera should be kept on the bridge, fully charged with an empty storage card. Most cameras have an internal clock which should be checked and set to UTC. This time-stamp is used when the image file is stored, essential when the chronology of events could be questioned."