RTI was asked to carry out an investigation to determine the source of an insect infestation on board a ship carrying raw cane sugar in bulk. After the ship arrived in the port of discharge in the Dominican Republic, the local authorities discovered three species of insect crawling about on deck, and prevented the vessel from discharging her cargo. A total of eight days were lost at anchor at appreciable cost, until defumigation measures allowed the ship to finally deliver the cargo.
To resolve the inevitable demurrage dispute that arose following the delay, RTI was asked to determine whether the insect infestation was a pre-existing condition or arose during the vessel’s transit. If it could be shown any of the three types of insect was not native to the vessel’s trading area, particularly from the time the vessel had loaded the sugar in Brazil, then it might be established that the insects had been on board prior to the loading port, and prove a pre-existing condition of infestation.
RTI’s lead investigator worked in conjunction with a renowned entomologist to determine the natural distribution of these insects. Two species had inconclusive descriptors and are quite common throughout the world; however, the third kind can only be found north of the Panama Canal.
Accordingly, the route (point A to point B above) and trading area of the ship did not coincide with the natural distribution of this insect (see upper left quadrangle above). It was determined that the insect infestation existed prior to taking on the sugar cane. Therefore RTI’s client, the underwriter, was spared from paying a substantive demurrage claim for the delays to the ship.