The ability of a ship or other vessel to make a sea voyage with probable safety: there is, in every insurance, whether on ship or goods, an implied warranty that the ship shall be worthy when she sails on the voyage insured; that is, that she shall be "tight, staunch, and strong, properly manned, provided with all necessary stores, and in all respects fit for the intended voyage."
The following rules have been established in regard, to the warranty of sea-worthiness.
That it is of no consequence whether the insured was aware of the condition of the ship, or not. His innocence or ignorance is no answer to the fact that the ship was not sea-worthy.
The opinion of carpenters who have repaired the vessel, however they may strengthen the presumption that the ship is sea-worthy, when it is favorable, is not conclusive of the fact of sea-worthiness. The presumption, prima facie, is for sea-worthiness. And it is presumed that a vessel continues sea-worthy, if she was so at the inception of the risk.
Any sort of disrepair left in the ship, by which she, or the cargo may suffer, is a breach of the warranty of sea-worthiness.
A deficiency of force in the crew, or of skill in the master, mate, etc., is a want of sea-worthiness. But if there was once a sufficient crew, their temporary absence will not be considered a breach of the warranty. A vessel may be rendered not sea-worthy by being overloaded. When the sea-worthiness arises from justifiable ignorance of the cause of the defect, and is discovered and remedied before any injury occurs, it is not to be considered as a defect.
By an act of congress, approved July 20, 1840, as amended, by the act of July 29, 1850, it is provided, that if the first officer, (or a second and third officer,) and a majority of the crew of any vessel, shall make complaint in writing that she is in an unsuitable condition to go to sea, because she is leaky, or insufficiently supplied with sails, rigging, anchors, or any other equipment, or that the crew is insufficient to man her, or that her provisions, stores, and supplies are not, or have not been, during the voyage, sufficient and wholesome, thereupon, in any of these or like cases, the consul or commercial agent who may discharge any duties of a consul shall appoint two disinterested, competent, practical men, acquainted with maritime affairs, to examine into the causes of complaint, who shall, in their report, state what defects and deficiencies, if any they find to be well founded, as well as what, in their judgment ought to be done, to put the vessel in order for the continuance of her voyage.
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