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A cargo vessel making a voyage from Bremerhaven, Germany to Baltimore, Maryland arrived 30 hours late.  The Captain stated that he encountered strong head winds halfway through the journey and made a decision to alter the ship’s course in order to avoid the adverse weather.  The company which had chartered the vessel to transport its cargo filed a claim to recover the cost of having the ship and cargo arrive late.  The owners of the ship countered that if the Captain had not changed course, the vessel would have arrived even later than it did.

The attorney for the ship’s owners contacted CompuWeather about performing a post-voyage analysis or the 2 routes.  A Marine Meteorologist from the Ocean Routing division (FleetWeather) was assigned to the case.  He first traced out the route that the ship would have taken had the Captain not changed course.  An analysis of the winds and waves along that route showed that it had indeed become quite rough at the time that the Captain chose to change direction.  In addition, strong head winds would have persisted along that route for the following 72 hours.  The meteorologist then mapped out the actual route that the ship followed and performed an analysis of the winds and waves along that path.  The weather was less than ideal along that route as well, but substantially better than on the originally intended route.  Calculations which factor in winds, waves, type of vessel, etc, were used to determine that had the Captain chose to stay on the original route, the vessel would have arrived nearly three days late.

Based on CompuWeather’s analysis of the weather and sea conditions along the two routes, it was ultimately determined that the Captain used prudent judgment in altering the ship’s course.  In doing so, he saved the company which had chartered the vessel almost two full days of lost time.  The claim was subsequently dropped.