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Fisher Maritime possesses a far-ranging body of experience due to the support and assistance we have provided to members of the maritime community over the course of more than thirty years. As a result of this experience, Fisher Maritime has been involved in cases that fall under the following categories:
Particular examples of our experience in each category have been provided below. If you can't find a sample applicable to your needs, we still may be able to help - contact us for more information!
Fisher Maritime's client, a Canadian shipyard, was asked by a Canadian government agency to delay the already-started construction of several vessels while substantive design changes were made. The shipyard claimed the extraordinary delay caused direct losses as well as unrecovered overhead.
Fisher Maritime assisted the shipyard in the organization of its records and the development of a Request for Equitable Adjustment. A mutually satisfactory resolution for several million dollars was negotiated.
A ferry operator contracted to have an older vessel completely re-engined along with the replacement of all electrical, mechanical and fluid equipment in the hull. At the same time, the contractor was to eliminate all lead-based paints within the hull. As the shipyard was completing the lead abatement portion of the work, using a directed change order, the owner required a full lead abatement program for the superstructure and deckhouse as well, but refused to recognize any reasonable cost or schedule impact of that change in policy.
Fisher Maritime developed a claim on behalf of the client shipyard. In addition to completely and accurately calculating the quantum of damages and delays, the Fisher Maritime report supported each claim item with a thorough analysis of cause and effect. Fisher Maritime's report was the basis for negotiating a settlement. The shipyard received nearly all of what it claimed for production costs and delays.
A shipyard contracted to perform certain maintenance and coating renewals on a government agency's small vessel. The yard bid the mast maintenance work on the assumption that it could temporarily remove the mast in order to blast and recoat it horizontally in a shop instead of having to erect scaffolding and temporary shelters in situ. The agency had allowed other shipyards to do the same on vessels of the same class, but now decided to 'interpret' the specifications to prohibit such temporary removal. Under protest, the shipyard accomplished the work in situ.
Fisher Maritime was retained by the shipyard to develop a change order and associated technical documentation for submittal to the agency. The document memorialized, and requested compensation for, the unilateral modifications to the contract made by the agency. Fisher Maritime's efforts in documenting, explaining, and quantifying the consequences of actions of the agency were the basis of a contract modification, giving the shipyard full compensation for the extra work performed in situ.
A passenger ship was to undergo a moderate conversion. The shipyard perceived that the owner was providing engineering after contract signing, but the engineering that arrived from the owner's naval architects fell far short of the anticipated scope of information.
Dr. Fisher served as chairman of the arbitration panel in this dispute of about $12 million. Several other issues were in dispute as well. The timeliness and completeness of the Owner's engineering was addressed by the arbitration award. One of the parties contested the award in federal district court and the US Court of Appeals, both of which upheld the award in its entirety.
A supplier of components for gas turbine propulsion systems was confronted by the shipyard to which it was supplying equipment by a requirement to upgrade its inspection of certain welding from dye penetrant to radiographic inspection. This would apply to components for 60 ships of the same class. The dispute focused on interpretation of an inspection standard identified in the contract, but which was not directly applicable.
Dr. Fisher was one of three neutral arbitrators in this dispute. At issue was whether the extra costs of utilizing the higher inspection standard was a change for the shipyard's account or if it was consistent with the supply contract requirements, and thus chargeable to the supplier. Neither party challenged the award of the arbitration panel.
The owner of a megayacht had taken the vessel to a repair yard for maintenance and minor modifications, but the only documentation was a work list - no formal agreement. During the three-week availability, the shipyard claimed, the owner directed the shipyard to accomplish additional work. Later, the owner challenged the shipyard's additional billings, stating that the claimed extras were part of the original workscope.
The parties did agree on one thing - to arbitrate the matter with Dr. Fisher presiding, under certain standard arbitration rules. Neither party challenged Dr. Fisher's award.
A government agency ordered four special service vessels based on a solicitation for both the design and construction of the vessels, based on a performance-type specification. The agency provided significant equipment that had to be incorporated into the contractor's proposed design, but, as was later learned, the agency did not provide sufficient information prior to bidding for the contractor to be able to fully estimate the cost of installing all the equipment.
The shipyard compounded the problem, however, by failing to support the project with sufficient engineering resources on a timely basis. The shipyard's $13 million post-delivery claim combined the effects of both the shipyard's and the government's contributions to cost and schedule overruns.
The Department of Justice relied on Fisher Maritime to sort out the causes of the observed overruns and delays. A negotiated settlement was then effected.
A vessel operator bare-boat chartered two vessels for operation by the operator's crews. During the charter, a casualty resulted in damage to one of the chartered vessels and loss of the second. The vessel owner presented a claim to the vessel operator, Fisher Maritime's client, for $8 million for damages, loss of additional charter-hire, and constructive total loss of one vessel, all in addition to the charter fees.
Fisher Maritime analyzed the alleged valuations of the various elements of the claim, and found little basis for the quantum of several of those items. Fisher Maritime's analyses included an analysis of shipyard work orders and invoices. The result allowed our client to settle the matter for only about $1 million (of the $8 million claimed).
Fisher Maritime was retained by a coating supplier in defending itself against claims by a ship owner that the supplier's watertight coating system was defective, as evidenced by the fact that it blistered after being applied to the flight deck of a museum aircraft carrier. While other consultants were focusing on the coating itself, Fisher Maritime evaluated the flight deck construction, the coating application specification, and the coating application process. Fisher Maritime's report showed that the owner's coating concept developed by a land-based architect was inappropriate when applied to the particular construction details of the carrier's flight deck. In particular, the wooden deck contained significant trapped moisture, but the application specifications by the owner naively assumed the wood would be completely dry. Fisher Maritime's report was central to the negotiated resolution of the dispute.
A sub-contractor/manufacturer presented a claim against a shipyard for over $40 million due to alleged design changes and disruption in its contract to construct and install major components in each of several high-value, special cargo ships. The shipyard's counter-claim was for return of the $70 million subcontract price plus additional $90 million for damages, delay and disruption allegedly caused by the sub-contractor/manufacturer.
Fisher Maritime was tasked to examine and rebut, if appropriate, the shipyard's counter-claim for its client, the sub-contractor/manufacturer. It was determined by Fisher Maritime that the major cause of delay was unrelated to the subcontractor's work, but was instead attributable to propeller-induced vibration problems which were not resolved in the basic design and model testing phase. Also it was ascertained that the shipyard had altered, on several occasions, the interfaces between the subcontractor's product and the rest of the ship, causing the subcontractor considerable rework. Lastly, the shipyard was in error when it alleged that workmanship errors by the subcontractor were not correctable.
In a settlement, our client received about $10 million, and shipyard withdrew its $160 million claim.
A ship owner contracted with a shipyard to construct three very large service vessels, but all propulsion system equipment was to be owner-furnished. A separate contract was let for the supply of the owner-furnished propulsion system equipment. Upon completion of the three vessels, the shipyard lodged a claim of more than $40 million against the owner, a significant portion of which was alleged to derive from problems with the OFE propulsion system. The owner sought to pass through to the OFE supplier about half of that claim.
Fisher Maritime was retained by the OFE supplier to develop strategies and analyses to be used to address the claims against the supplier. The Fisher Maritime analyses indicated that nearly all the OFE-related elements of the claim came about due to the owner's insufficient planning and management of the interfaces between the contractor and the supplier for engineering, production, testing and system grooming. The outcome from a three-party mediation effort, in which Fisher Maritime personnel were directly involved, was that our client, the OFE supplier, was released from any and all responsibility for elements of the claim.
A shipyard presented a claim for about $45 million above contract price ($70 million) for a dredge constructed for the Army Corps of Engineers. The shipyard's claim included some constructive changes, but primarily was for delay, disruption and acceleration. Initially the Corps had used two other consulting firms to help resolve the claim, but no real progress was made for two years. Then the Corps turned to Fisher Maritime, which commenced an analysis of the claim without the prejudices of the unsuccessful consultants.
The independent analysis of the claim recognized that the shipyard was legitimately owed $9 - 11 million (plus interest), but that the remainder of the claim (about $35 million) was improper, mostly having arisen from misunderstandings between the shipyard and its major subcontractors. The shipyard accepted only about $12 million in settlement, a figure only slightly above the Fisher Maritime analysis (compared to the $45 million claim).
A ship owner contracted for construction of a special chemical barge. Construction fell so far behind schedule that the long-term charter was voided, and vessel delivery was never accomplished, although the barge was 85% completed. The shipyard alleged that the delays were attributable to lack of engineering and design data from the owner and constructive changes.
Fisher Maritime's analysis of the vessel construction history effectively rebutted those allegations by finding that most of the alleged change work was, in fact, already included in the basic workscope, that most of the delay was due to the shipyard's lack of engineering resources, and that the contractor's actual productivity was substantially below that used for purposes of establishing the bid price. The shipyard ended up owning the incomplete barge and later selling it for an alternate use.
A shipyard was awarded a $110 million design-and-construct contract for several identical vessels. After delivery of the first several ships, the shipyard presented a claim for over $20 million against Fisher Maritime's client. The shipyard's claims alleged constructive changes, delays, disruption and over-inspection.
Fisher Maritime developed the rebuttal of that claim, and gave guidance for the development of the operator's counter-claim for over $20 million for incompleteness, late delivery and construction irregularities which were corrected by the owner. In settlement, Fisher Maritime's client was refunded about $8 million by the shipyard, which withdrew its $20 million claim.
Fisher Maritime was selected as technical consultants and expert witnesses by the US Coast Guard for the analysis of $3 million in claims by a contractor arising from the $7 million overhaul of an icebreaker. A major part of the yard's claim focused on alleged project disruption.
A detailed analysis of several thousand computerized time sheets revealed the insufficiency of the shipyard's disruption claim. The causes of the extra costs were determined to be a combination of underbidding and the shipyard's loss of project control, not knowing what activities were on or near the critical path. The shipyard inadvertently gave priority and overtime to non-critical tasks, thereby incurring excess costs with no benefit for either party.
Fisher Maritime's personnel testified before the Board of Contract Appeals, which generally accepted their assessments, denying nearly all of the contractor's claims.
Fisher Maritime provided expert witness services to the Department of Justice and the Maritime Administration to rebut claims made by a contractor that the government showed preferential treatment to one contractor over another. The claimant alleged that the government was more generous with changes and forgiving of delays with the other contractor, although both jobs appeared to be similar in workscope.
Fisher Maritime reviewed the two repair contracts in question. Although they started off similarly, the conditions on both ships were vastly different, resulting in different contractual needs. Fisher Maritime's analysis showed that there was no basis for the contractor's claim for preferential treatment. The contractor summarily dropped the charges against the Government.
Fisher Maritime provided expert witness services to the Department of Justice in defense of a claim by a shipyard that the Maritime Administration wrongfully terminated the shipyard for default. Fisher Maritime analyzed the project record to examine the validity of the government's termination for default due to a lack of sufficient process. The findings of Fisher Maritime were presented to the Department of Justice and used as a basis for its litigation strategy. The matter was resolved without going to court, largely based on Fisher Maritime's analyses.
A major oil company contracted to purchase two double-hull VLCCs being constructed to specifications and plans initially drafted by the shipyard. The cost was to be about $65 million each. At vessel delivery, the shipyard lodged a claim for over $25 million against the ship owner, alleging constructive changes, faulty and misleading specifications, and over-inspection.
The oil company ship owner called on Fisher Maritime to develop the rebuttal of that claim and also develop a counter-claim. The counter-claim of over $14 million demonstrated incompleteness, late delivery and faulty workmanship. In settlement, the shipyard refunded about $8 million of the contract price and withdrew its $25 million claim.
A ship owner contracted to purchase a SWATH ferry from a shipyard that had previously constructed twin-hull vessels, but not of the SWATH type. The late discovery by the shipyard that methods and costs of construction of a SWATH vessel are different from a catamaran led to significant cost and schedule overruns.
Exacerbating the problem, however, the owner altered the specification to make the vessel convertible into a dinner cruise vessel; and later altered the specifications again to include on-board electronic gaming at each table. Moreover, the contract divided detail engineering into two parts, one for the owner and one for the contractor. And to make the contract more challenging, this was the first ship being constructed in the country to the new IMO high-speed craft code, about which the regulatory agency had much to learn.
After all the problems and disputes had surfaced, Fisher Maritime was retained by the ship owner to rebut the voluminous claim for costs and delays set forth by the shipyard. The challenge was sorting out the effects of the shipyard's misunderstanding of SWATH construction from the extra costs resulting from the owner-directed changes. Fisher Maritime assisted in pre-trial negotiations that led to a settlement of the matter.
A government agency ordered four new-configuration vessels from a shipyard. The vessels were delivered quite late and with significant cost overruns. The shipyard's post-delivery claim ($35 million) included allegations of constructive changes, correction of errors in the agency's design, delay costs, and significant disruption costs.
In supporting the Department of Justice as defenders of the agency, Fisher Maritime developed rebuttals to many of the individual elements of the claim. The analysis sorted out the impacts of the shipyard's late assignment of the necessary engineering resources and underestimates of construction requirements from the valid constructive changes. We did advise our client that certain elements of the yard's claim were fundamentally valid, though apparently overpriced. A pre-trial settlement was achieved.
The purchaser of a megayacht encountered financial difficulties while the yacht was still under construction. The builder ceased all activity while awaiting payments from the financial guarantor. Fisher Maritime was commissioned by the guarantor to evaluate how much the builder had earned up to the time that work ceased. Fisher Maritime personnel compared the incomplete ship to the plans for the completed one (including changes), identified those aspects of production, installation and testing that had not yet been completed, and estimated the costs of all the incomplete work, arriving at the value earned to date.
The parties accepted that methodology and quantum, resulting in a payment to the builder, with the residual resale value of the partially completed vessel being credited to the financial guarantor upon realization.
Fisher Maritime was asked by a major paint vendor to review a claim by a shipyard against the vendor for alleged product defects as evidenced by multiple forms of coating failures immediately after application. Fisher Maritime reviewed work logs, supervisory logs, environmental data, and facility usage logs. Our rebuttal to the shipyard's claim showed that the shipyard did not systematically evaluate the several most likely possible and probable causes of the coating failures.
When Fisher Maritime reanalyzed the same data used by the shipyard, it was clear that the causes of nearly all the coating failures were attributable to the application problems, namely, lack of air and steel temperature control and overspray due to shadowing. Whereas about half the coatings were applied to modules in an enclosed facility, nearly all the failures occurred to coatings applied outdoors. The causes of the few other failures were not clearly identifiable, with the parties sharing the costs of those corrections.
Fisher Maritime was tasked by a vessel owner to assess the contractual basis for potentially levying penalties against a shipyard for producing a vessel which failed to meet certain performance criteria contained within the vessel construction agreement. Fisher Maritime reviewed the contract documents, project documents, and interviewed the owner's project team. The effect of contract changes during vessel construction was central to the analysis and the questionable performance.
Fisher Maritime then facilitated a discussion between the parties enabling them to agree on a course of action to resolve outstanding disputes.
Fisher Maritime was engaged by the Department of Justice to analyze the positions taken by a government agency and a shipyard in a dispute regarding an overhaul of a government research vessel. Fisher Maritime developed three reports; one commenting on the credits unilaterally taken by the government for incomplete work, one commenting on the shipyard's request for additional compensation, and one commenting on warranty claims made by the government. The reports provided an unbiased assessment of the merits of each allegation made by each party.
As a result of revealing the strengths and weaknesses of each party's position, Fisher Maritime was the catalyst that ended the posturing and moved the two sides off their entrenched positions. As a result, the matter settled before court proceedings were initiated.
A shipyard, Fisher Maritime's client, converted a large off-shore service vessel to a fish catcher-processor. The owner asserted a claim against the shipyard for alleged late delivery and technical defects.
Fisher Maritime guided the development of the shipyard's response, identifying owner's design changes and owner's insufficient specifications as the cause of the delay and operational defects. The owner subsequently withdrew his claim; the shipyard was fully compensated for all of its work.
A topside contractor undertook to remove a propulsion motor from a diesel electric USCG icebreaker, but inadvertently caused permanent damage to part of the shafting by improper heating to release specially fitted bolts. The contractor alleged significant extra costs for multiple reasons.
Fisher Maritime provided analyses and expert witness testimony for the US Coast Guard to rebut the claim. Fisher Maritime personnel were accepted by the Board of Contract Appeals as experts in the planning, scheduling, cost accounting and management of ship repair contracts, among other areas; and testified pertaining to those matters. The court accepted Fisher Maritime's analyses with minor exception, and denied nearly all claims by the contractor.
A major US shipyard had produced a series of new technology, high-value cargo ships for several different owners, some of whom obtained construction differential subsidy funds for the construction. The amount of the subsidy was based on advance productivity estimates by the shipyard. Later, it turned out that the shipyard achieved a better-than-expected learning curve in the series of ships, and made significant profit on the last several ships, although sustaining losses on the first several ships of the series.
The federal government alleged the shipyard made excessive profits on the subsidized ships and was demanding from the shipyard the return to the government of the excess profits plus a three-fold damage penalty with interest, all totaling over a third of a billion dollars. On behalf of the shipyard, Fisher Maritime assessed, and explained to the court in expert testimony, the risks that the shipyard had undertaken on fixed-price contracts. The testimony focused on the new ship production technology that had not been fully developed at the time of contract execution, but for which the shipyard had executed fixed price shipbuilding contracts. The federal court accepted the Fisher Maritime testimony in its entirety and fully rejected the government's claim, thus saving the shipyard over a third of a billion dollars.
Fisher Maritime provided expert witness service to defend a director of a shipbuilding company who was sued personally for alleged extra construction costs to complete a megayacht after the shipyard had entered into bankruptcy. The yacht was completed at another yard.
Fisher Maritime reviewed and analyzed the contract and files, prepared an expert report and testified at trial. The analysis indicated that the extra costs were due to owner-directed changes, not part of the basic contract. The federal court's decision was in total support of our client who was found not liable for any of the additional construction costs.
Fisher Maritime's client, a manufacturer of cargo access components for ships, was sued by its sub-contractor, a steel fabricator. The sub-contractor steel fabricator claimed over $350,000 additional to the $1 million contract allegedly due to changes and late delivery of the manufacturer's drawings. The manufacturer counter-claimed about $200,000 for incompleteness and faulty workmanship.
Fisher Maritime developed the rebuttal of the sub-contractor steel fabricator's claim and assisted in asserting the manufacturer's counter-claim. After testimony by Fisher Maritime personnel, the Court awarded our client almost its entire counter-claim, and none to claimant.
A shipyard undertook to construct two large vessels, utilizing a subcontractor to supply several topside structural modules for each vessel. The subcontractor encountered difficulties - and extra costs - when fitting the modules to the hull structure. The subcontractor asserted a $15 million claim focusing on its extra direct and indirect costs due to vessel design changes, delays and interpretation of specifications.
Fisher Maritime was selected by the shipyard to independently assess and, if appropriate, rebut the subcontractor's claim. Fisher Maritime advised its client shipyard that money was owed to the subcontractor, but assessed the correct amount owed at about $2 million. Fisher Maritime personnel testified in Federal Court, which awarded the sub-contractor only about $3 million of its $15 million claim.
A ship owner contractually agreed to quickly provide engineering data for owner-furnished equipment that was to be delivered at a later time, enabling the shipyard to finalize the drawings for a rapid-build factory vessel. The engineering data arrived very late in the project, hindering design development, construction and ship delivery. The ship owner claimed significant liquidated damages and other special damages.
Fisher Maritime developed a $6 million claim on behalf of the shipyard pertaining to essential owner-directed and constructive changes incurred during the construction of the vessel. The report also rebutted the owner's claims. Fisher Maritime personnel testified in Federal Court pertaining to schedule and constructive changes. The matter subsequently settled during trial in favor of Fisher Maritime's client when the ship owner withdrew its claims and the shipyard received a substantial portion of its claim.
Fisher Maritime provided analyses and expert witness testimony for the US Coast Guard for the assessment of a $300,000 claim by a contractor arising from the overhaul of a cutter. Fisher Maritime reviewed and rebutted claims by the contractor.
The major source of the problem was identified as gross underbidding by the contractor. Fisher Maritime's personnel were accepted by the Board of Contract Appeals as experts in the planning, scheduling, cost accounting and management of ship repair contracts, among other areas; and testified pertaining to those matters. The court accepted Fisher Maritime's analysis with minor exception, and denied nearly all claims by the shipyard.
Fisher Maritime provided expert witness services to the Department of Justice and the Maritime Administration to evaluate the potential for recovering a portion of contract price through the warranty provisions of the contract. The ship had experienced major failures after the shipyard had allegedly completed the work.
Fisher Maritime reviewed the contract and project files, and then provided a report to the Government which was used as a basis for deciding on a course of action, resulting in a settlement with no further litigation.
Fisher Maritime provided expert witness services to the Maritime Administration in defense of a claim by a shipyard that the Government wrongfully terminated the shipyard for default. After Fisher Maritime finished analyzing the project record, the contractor essentially agreed that the termination for default was proper when it accepted the termination for default as a part of a negotiated a settlement to the claim.
Fisher Maritime defended a ship owner in a post-contract claim over the repowering of a vessel, including new engines, shafts, propellers, gears and an integrated control system. Central to the overruns and delays by the contractor were several major errors: (1) no delegation of detail/installation design responsibility; (2) no interface engineering to accommodate the components being delivered by multiple vendors; and (3) inconsistency between the vendors' subcontracts and the requirements of the prime contract.
Fisher Maritime's personnel testified on behalf of the vessel owner, resulting in a ruling where 99% of the value of the shipyard's claim was denied.
Other litigation support matters include:
Fisher Maritime was asked by a potential prime contractor to develop a proposal on its behalf in response to a NAVSEA solicitation for a phased maintenance package involving four ships over a five-year period. With limited input from the client, Fisher Maritime developed the overall strategy for the proposal, helped align resources that would be used if the proposal was successful (drydock, labor), and developed subcontract interface definitions. Fisher Maritime also guided the contractor's accountant and financial advisor in the process of developing the $180 million cost proposal.
When NAVSEA requested additional information to supplement the initially requested data, Fisher Maritime responded on behalf of the client as well. Nearly all materials submitted to NAVSEA were prepared by Fisher Maritime. Although the client's proposal was not successful, on the strength of its proposal, significant other work has been awarded to the client.
When the firm was commissioned by a major US shipyard to review an RFQ for new construction of a 470' service vessel, Fisher Maritime prepared for the shipyard a number of questions to be directed to the owner to clarify the draft language pertaining to many of the contractual provisions. Special attention was paid to the demarcation of design, testing and warranty responsibilities pertaining to the extensive owner-furnished equipment, namely, the entire propulsion system. The owner's use of several different design organizations for different aspects of the ship increased the likelihood of inconsistencies between systems that were not immediately obvious. The large amount of owner-furnished equipment further increased the probability of a breakdown of responsibilities for equipment integration, testing and grooming. These questions were prepared by Fisher Maritime as part of the shipyard's effort to avoid claims by clarifying ambiguities and resolving inconsistencies in advance.
A research institution was going to have a large oceanographic vessel modified at a cost of about $3 million. Fisher Maritime was commissioned by the institution to draft the contract for those modifications, including revisions to the draft specifications. An essential aspect of the development was to make the contract package unambiguous from the outset, to clearly define the post-award design and engineering obligations of the contractor, and to ensure that the contract included ample mechanisms to keep the work progressing even if potential disputes arose.
Upon completion of the drafting of the contract, the shipyard with whom the institution was negotiating complained that the contract was very tight, but it nevertheless agreed to it. The institution thought that the contract, being different from others they have used, resulted in a higher initial cost. After the work was completed, our client reported that, because of the contract language and Fisher Maritime's "tightening" of the specifications, there was no growth work - a great surprise to the vessel owner. This resulted in lower-than-expected final costs.
For an American ship owner, Fisher Maritime drafted the Agreement for the construction and purchase of a new dive support vessel to be built in Europe. During negotiations, the selected contractor suggested numerous alterations to the draft Agreement, each of which Fisher Maritime reviewed for consistency with, and impact on, the rest of the Agreement. Fisher Maritime found many inconsistencies and ambiguities between various parts of the overall document created by the many suggested, piecemeal revisions.
A presentation was made to the two parties to show why and how the inconsistencies and ambiguities could be equitably eliminated. The final contract containing Fisher Maritime's solutions was accepted by both parties, and provided the basis for a successful completion of the project with no disputes or delays.
Fisher Maritime was commissioned by a non-federal government agency to draft a contract agreement for the agency's procurement of several new vessels (over $50 million each).
An essential aspect of the development was to make the contract unambiguous from the outset, to define the post-award design and engineering obligations of the contractor, and to ensure that the contract included ample mechanisms to keep the work progressing even if potential disputes arose. Some unique features of the draft contract were multiple levels of dispute resolution mechanisms and the contractor's ability to negotiate the progress payment milestones. The contract, as developed by Fisher Maritime, included the agency's procurement regulations.
A non-US navy had contracted for the supply and long-term maintenance of a pair of auxiliary vessels to a commercial organization, but found that the contractor's interpretation of the maintenance obligations was not the same as the navy's.
Anticipating the need for additional ship procurement with an on-going maintenance agreement, the foreign navy retained Fisher Maritime to revise the prior agreement. The objective was to "tighten" the maintenance requirements to ensure that the contractor could not evade the navy's interpretations nor ask for extra funding to accomplish the level of maintenance that is routine to the navy. This contract-revision project was accomplished entirely by email and attachment of files to email correspondence. (Even payment was made electronically from overseas.)
A consortium of major oil companies committed that it would provide escort tugs for shuttle tankers bringing oil ashore from a new offshore production facility. The tugs were to be subject to a new set of performance parameters for multiple operating conditions, not just the routine bollard-pull performance requirements. The consortium looked to Fisher Maritime to prepare the contract for the construction of the tugboats in the country that would receive the oil from the shuttle tankers.
A major challenge in developing the contract was to define the special performance parameters and how the vessels' achievement of them would be measured, while giving the shipbuilder sufficient flexibility in how those requirements would be met. This contract preparation included writing the Agreement and substantially modifying the draft Specifications. The tugs were completed on time with no disputes and with minimal contract growth.
Fisher Maritime translated the specialized requirements of a ship charterer's organization into detailed performance specifications. (Another firm dealt with the non-specialized aspects.) Due to the specialized nature of the charterer's work, the performance specifications had to be "tight" enough to ensure that the outcome was a satisfactory translation into design/build specifications and plans.
Fisher Maritime then substantially modified an older version of the solicitation package to ensure that the competitive bids would all be fully responsive to the intent of the charterer. The entire bid package was released on a CD. The outcome was a satisfactory build-and-charter agreement for a unique vessel.
In the conversion of a large derrick barge to also be a pipe laying barge, the owner was confronted by the shipyard for delays and change orders shortly after the barge arrived at the yard. The shipyard had committed the drydock to another vessel as well, leading to delays for which the shipyard was trying to blame the owner. In addition to schedule problems, the yard also had problems with insufficient engineering resources and lack of production resources sufficient to cope with modest project growth.
With the contractual relationship deteriorating by the minute, the owner called in Fisher Maritime to provide project management support. Fisher Maritime was assigned by its client ship owner to oversee the conversion project management functions. Fisher Maritime responded immediately by sending a team to the owner's shipyard office, assessing the situation and providing assistance to the owner's staff in monitoring and controlling those aspects of the project that were troublesome.
Upon Fisher Maritime's recommendation, several aspects of the shipyard work were cancelled to enable the shipyard to timely finish the already-started tasks. The work was then cost-effectively completed at the owner's dock with several subcontractors being directed by the owner's staff. Fisher Maritime provided continuing post-project assistance to the owner in resolving some contentious issues that had been deferred to that later time for the sake of moving ahead with the construction phase of the project.
A ship owner contracted with a rig fabrication yard to construct a complex, new form offshore service vessel. The project was delayed, after contract signing, by a dispute over engineering responsibilities, which was resolved by a very expensive change order in favor of the contractor. Thereafter, disputes continued to mount while production continued to slow down and project cost seemed to spiral upward.
Fisher Maritime was brought in by the owner to provide project management support to the owner's on-site project management team in order to regain control over the schedule, to bring a halt to the upward spiraling price and to minimize all further changes. Later, the parties agreed to have the vessel completed at a different facility, but the contractor had outstanding claims against the owner. Fisher Maritime provided assistance in rebutting claims for additional compensation because of alleged additional work claimed to have been performed by the shipyard.
The vessel was completed under direction of the owner's staff, and a settlement was achieved with the contractor. The head of the ship owning company, that had initially turned away a proposal by Fisher Maritime to manage the project, stated, "I wish we had brought you in from the start."
A government agency procured the design and prototype construction of a new class of vessels. Upon evaluation of the constructed prototype vessel, the agency sought certain engineering and design modifications for vessels to be subsequently produced. The contractor offered to execute the engineering and design modifications at significantly higher price than anticipated, although the contractor acknowledged there was no net impact on production costs.
On behalf of the agency, Fisher Maritime performed an analysis to approximate the costs of those engineering and design modifications. The analysis was used as the basis of a negotiated agreement.
A shipyard sought to develop an offer in response to a solicitation by a government agency for the construction of a wooden sailing vessel replicating one of the 18th century, except it would also be fitted with engines and meet all Subchapter T requirements. The yard had no experience dealing with government agencies. Accordingly, the shipyard retained Fisher Maritime for the development of its offer.
After award, the agency asked the contractor to use Fisher Maritime to assist in the resolution of disputes involving delays and labor disruptions caused by differing interpretations of the technical specifications and inspection criteria. Under Fisher Maritime's guidance and participation in negotiations, the disputes were resolved through a series of meetings without having to utilize formal dispute resolution mechanisms.
The builder of a $35 million special service vessel announced, several months before vessel completion, that it would have a multi-million dollar claim against the owner. The shipyard alleged the claim arose from late delivery of owner-furnished equipment as well as numerous constructive changes.
Fisher Maritime, having been retained by the owner to stabilize the contractual relationship, found that the problems were partially due to the owner's use of three independent managers to control different aspects of the project. Fisher Maritime came in to guide daily project management on behalf of the owner and to stabilize the relationship between the parties, in order to expedite completion of the already-late ship.
Later, the yard lodged a claim of over $5 million for changes and disruption during new ship construction against the ship owner. Fisher Maritime developed the rebuttal of that claim and also developed a counter-claim on behalf of the owner for several million dollars arising from the builder's non-compliance with specifications (less-than-target deadweight) and late vessel delivery. A settlement gave our client about one million dollars of additional shipyard services, and the shipyard withdrew its entire claim.
The owner of a pair of oceanographic research sister ships was having both of them substantially modified in a $23 million, 2-year contract involving extensive owner-furnished equipment. When the owner and operators saw the revised schedule slipping toward 3+ years and alleged costs escalating to over $38 million, Fisher Maritime was retained to help push the project to an expedient conclusion.
Fisher Maritime coordinated the efforts of the owner's project management staff, the owner's naval architects, and the vessel operations personnel who were participating in the project. After completion of the project, the $14 million claim of the shipyard was thoroughly analyzed, and the impacts of late and incomplete OFE were separated from those portions of cost and schedule overruns that were the shipyard's responsibility. A mediated settlement was achieved after Fisher Maritime's analyses had been studied by both parties.
[Unfortunately, this is one of the many instances which support Fisher Maritime's perspective about owner-furnished equipment. Namely, when there is substantial OFE, it becomes a high-risk endeavor for the perceived benefits unless thoroughly and properly managed.]
A shipyard contracted to design and construct an office/accommodation barge for a government agency. The engineering subcontractor failed to keep schedule commitments, thereby causing the agency to threaten to default the contract. Fisher Maritime was asked by the shipyard to perform several project management functions in order to avoid being found in default.
Fisher Maritime temporarily intervened and directed the shipyard's project management functions in order to avoid being found in default. Fisher Maritime developed a recovery plan inclusive of a CPM schedule, brought in a new engineering subcontractor, and working with the shipyard, negotiated with the agency an acceptable schedule modification to the contract.
Fisher Maritime prepared the construction agreement for its client ship owner for a multi-ship class of triple-screw ocean-going anchor handling tugs. This preparation included a thorough review and amendment of the shipyards proposed specifications and contract plans. A reasonable set of suggested specifications was modified by Fisher Maritime into a tight set of requirements that vastly improved the quality of the product that the client ship owner would receive. Fisher Maritime also introduced into the project the concept of inclining the outboard azimuthing thrusters to improve performance and reduce maintenance.
The project was completed quickly, in part because the contents of the agreement contained a clear definition of the responsibilities of each party. Whenever a potential problem arose, it was readily resolved because the contract already anticipated such a potential. This fostered an exceptionally good working relationship between the owner and the shipyard.
The firm was commissioned by a public research institution to draft a contract for extensive modifications (about $2 million) to its research vessel. As part of this work, Fisher Maritime modified the draft specifications and plans, which had been developed by another firm of naval architects and marine designers, in order to remove ambiguities within the shipyard's possible interpretations.
This was necessary to ensure that the institution received exactly the product, work and performance that were essential to the project. Fisher Maritime also incorporated the institution's State procurement regulations into the contract.
A major conversion project on a special service ship was to be undertaken for Fisher Maritime's client, the ship owner. A ship conversion project is far more likely to experience changes and growth work due to the need to define both the starting and the end points of the conversion; whereas shipbuilding need only define the end point.
Having used our services previously on other projects, the owner asked us to revise the draft contract and draft specifications to minimize the likelihood of growth work, changes or disputes. Several of Fisher Maritime's senior consultants focused their expertise on this project. During project execution by the shipyard, our client was relatively silent. Finally, the outcome was reported by the client: "No changes, no growth, no disputes. Thanks."
For its client ship owner, Fisher Maritime reviewed and altered a multi-ship construction agreement that Fisher Maritime previously had developed for the same owner when acquiring a different class of vessels. This was done to bring the new contract into full compatibility with the needs of the newest shipbuilding project for a different type of vessel. Then Fisher Maritime modified the proposed technical specifications and drawings to ensure clarity and continuity between the three documents. A few minor changes were negotiated between the shipyard and the owner. This allowed the five-ship project to be completed on time and on budget.
Fisher Maritime also assisted the ship owner in negotiating contract amendments applicable to vessels constructed later in the series to reflect a slightly modified ship configuration.
Some of our work has included:
Additional information available upon request.
A shipboard pedestal crane malfunctioned when the ship came to a northeast US port after departing South America in February. As a result of a short-circuit caused by condensation within the control cabinet, the operator could not stop the crane from slewing when it was activated in the US port. A personal injury and shipboard damage resulted because the limit switches were inoperable.
The crux of the problem was that the limit switches could not be independently tested prior to crane operation. The crane manufacturer's operating manual dissuaded the crew from testing the limit switches by specifically stating that such testing may result in damage to the crane. Thus, at perhaps the only time in the crane's lifetime that the limit switches were vital to safety, they did not function.
An example focuses on a pull-start outboard motor. A safety feature is that it cannot be started in gear -- only in neutral. The operator's manual cautions the user to not try to start the motor in gear -- in other words, do not verify that the safety feature is operable.
A severe personal injury resulted when an operator inadvertently started the motor in gear -- which occurred because the safety device had previously failed. But according to the operator's manual and the design of the motor, there was no way a user could have determined that the safety feature had failed without having the outboard motor stripped down by a qualified technician.
An overnight stay aboard a small boat ended in asphyxiation by onboard generator exhaust. Fisher Maritime's analyses uncovered deficiencies in design, construction, and maintenance that led to the casualty. Our experts focused on the generator exhaust system, the electrical systems, the generator high-exhaust-temperature shutdown, the carbon monoxide detector, and the permeability of the machinery space bulkheads.
Fisher Maritime analyzed the circumstances surrounding a seaman's fall to the bottom of a cargo tank from a tank entry ladder. Fisher Maritime compared the actual access to various worldwide standards for ladder and platform designs. Although there were no regulatory standards applicable to that ship's ladder due to the ship being in a gap between flag-state requirements and classification requirements, the actual design violated every identified published standard. Defendant ship owner and its insurance company apparently agreed, as the seaman received significant compensation from the ship owner well in advance of the trial date.
We have analyzed a number of incidents including collisions, fires, falls, and injuries. Examples of specific cases in which we have have been involved include the following:
Fisher Maritime's client ship owner experienced large economic losses due to the mechanical unavailability of a large tanker. The electrical system would unexpectedly go off line, imperiling the ship, when load sharing by the two generators failed to operate satisfactorily. This was corrected after several near-disasters and large sums of money were spent on analyses and revised electrical hardware.
Investigation by Fisher Maritime revealed the constructing shipyard had prior knowledge of the defect in electrical load sharing control, but ignored it to save $25,000 during ship construction. On behalf of the owner, Fisher Maritime established a claim for several million dollars for latent defects and product defects in the construction of the vessel. In a settlement, our client received about $3 million from the shipyard.
A vessel sank with significant loss of life during a severe storm off the east coast of the US. Underwater photographs showed a stove-in forward hatch cover and the ship's forward structure torn asunder. The hatch cover had been inspected by the manufacturer a few months earlier and had been accepted for the Load Line Certificate at the same time. The ship had been a conversion, with a new midbody between old bow and stern sections.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the US Coast Guard convened hearings, with the hatch cover manufacturer in the "hot seat." Fisher Maritime provided technical representation for the manufacturer at the hearings. It was postulated by the ship owner that the ship sank due to failure of the hatch cover, and then the other structural failures occurred when the hull struck the seabed. Fisher Maritime pointed out to the Board that the forward hatch was, in fact, forward of the collision bulkhead, so any flooding of that hatch would not have sunk the ship. Fisher Maritime also showed that an alternate theory of damage from a loose anchor was inconsistent with the events prior to the casualty.
Fisher Maritime recommended to the Board that remote sampling of the steel at sighted fractures be taken for analysis. It was later learned that, due to incompatibility between old steel and welding rods, the steel of the old bow had been brittlized in way of the welding-in of the new midbody, leading to a catastrophic failure of the structure. The hatch cover manufacturer was held to have no responsibility for the casualty.
A catastrophic failure of equipment on a tanker resulted in a flooded engine room, salvage and reconstruction costs which totaled over $14 million. The owner and insurers asserted a claim against Fisher Maritime's client, the manufacturer of the failed component, for alleged product defects.
Fisher Maritime identified the relative contributions of crew negligence (failure to follow emergency procedures), owner's negligence (failure to maintain), the role of the classification organization (failure to inspect although otherwise stated), and the manufacturer's negligence (none identified). Fisher Maritime also assessed the validity of elements of owner's claim, including detailed review of shipyard invoices and salvage costs. A significant role of the classification organization in the casualty led to its contribution in settlement of about one quarter of the total.
Fisher Maritime's analyses showed no specific product defect or manufacturer's liability, resulting in it's client contributing less than two percent of the total resolution.
Fisher Maritime's client, a propulsion machinery manufacturer, was faced with a $12 million claim by a ship owner. The product liability claim was for damages, costs and loss of charter-hire for four ships allegedly arising from product defects and negligence by our client in manufacturing and supervising the shipyard installation of major equipment. Fisher Maritime's analysis included a complete review of shipyard installation and testing quality control procedures.
Fisher Maritime showed that the nature of the failure would have been subject to the original warranty (i.e., a contract matter), but the warranty had expired by the time of the casualty. It was not a product liability issue, but was a contract issue, since no damage occurred to anything other than the product itself. The client was fully exonerated by District and Appellate courts. Because of differing Appellate decisions elsewhere, the US Supreme Court heard the case, and upheld the lower court's ruling.
A shipyard was facing a number of asbestos-related law suits from subcontractor personnel. Fisher Maritime was commissioned by the shipyard to analyze the historic factors that led to the use of asbestos as a construction material in the maritime industry and to identify the extent of the shipyard's role in deciding to use asbestos in the ships.
Fisher Maritime conducted extensive historic research from government and other archives on asbestos, going back to the 1930s. Then Fisher Maritime analyzed the historic data and reported on the key events, legislation, and regulations that resulted in the use of asbestos as a building material in the maritime industry. This research, analysis, and reporting was instrumental in assisting the shipyard's counsel develop its litigation strategy.
[Fisher Maritime has released several publications which address the use of asbestos in shipbuilding.]
Additional information available upon request.
As a byproduct of the research described above, Fisher Maritime is regularly retained to report on the maritime-related asbestos exposures of persons that served in the maritime and shipbuilding industries as civilians, or as armed service members (such as personnel that served in the US Army, US Navy, and US Coast Guard) aboard vessels. The analyses associated with such tasks typically begins with research pertaining to the the vessels or shipbuilding facilities to which the subject was associated with. From there, it expands to consider the asbestos-containing materials and related practices that were in use at the time. In certain instances, a rough time-weighted comparison may also be used as a basis of comparison with other forms of asbestos exposure that a particular individual may have experienced.
Fisher Maritime was tasked by its clients, a group of insurers, to analyze and comment on the shipyard processes that resulted in contamination of the shipyard premises. The shipyard sought to pass the costs of site remediation on to insurance companies that provided certain coverages many years ago, but not currently.
Through careful analysis of the evolution of the shipyard and the timing of the activities that were undertaken there (newbuilding, scrapping, repair), Fisher Maritime discovered that the contamination was mainly from processes that ignored company disposal policies or from events that transpired prior to the relevant insurance policies. Both avenues of contamination were found to be outside the particular insurance coverage held by the shipyard.
Fisher Maritime was retained by the Department of Justice to evaluate the potential liability of each of several parties for clean-up costs at a private shipyard. The parties included several former owners of the shipyard, a state government that operated a facility at the site, and the federal government. Fisher Maritime analyzed the historical records of work performed at the site for each owner and each type of customer (private owners, state, federal) and linked each to the types of contaminants found at the site. Fisher Maritime's report was used as a basis for a negotiated settlement between the parties.
Fisher Maritime provided expert witness services to one of four parties litigating over the remediation of a portion of a former Government shipyard developed during WW II. Fisher Maritime provided an expert report that combined its insight of the maritime industry and the documentary evidence from the files that thoroughly discussed the history of the site inclusive of ownership, occupancy, and the industrial uses of the site.
Fisher Maritime's report linked all the identified major site contaminants to various ship-related activities as appropriate. The history of the site, as researched and described by Fisher Maritime, was more complete and comprehensive than prior site histories; it was sufficient to give the four involved parties a basis for allocation of the site remediation costs without further litigation.
The owners of a former shipyard in a riverside urban location wanted to sell the property for development as a large shopping center, but first faced significant costs for environmental remediation. The site's sellers turned to Fisher Maritime to define which other parties may have had partial responsibility for the site contamination in order to share the clean-up costs.
Fisher Maritime analyzed the historical records of work performed at the shipyard site, including ship construction and ship scrapping. Fisher Maritime's personnel testified in state court to identify the sources of the various contaminants and to identify the parties that brought those contaminants to the site. That testimony, coupled with that of experts in other fields, was instrumental in a favorable ruling from the court for Fisher Maritime's client, the shipyard, as to allocation of costs among several parties.
We have analyzed a number of tug-barge related incidents including collisions, fires, falls, and injuries. Examples of specific cases that we have have been involved in include the following:
Additional information available upon request.