IMX Session To Tackle Vessel Construction & Repair Contracts

Once upon a time, it wasn’t unusual for vessel construction or repair jobs to be based on a simple handshake and the word of those involved. Today, the cost and complexity of the maritime industry have brought that, for the most part, to a close, with the majority of jobs based on a written contract between the parties.

But what needs to be in those new-build and repair contracts? What key concepts and issues should they address? And what’s important from both the vessel owner/operator and the shipyard’s perspectives?

Those issues and more will be addressed during an education session of this year’s Inland Marine Expo (IMX), to be held May 31–June 2 in Nashville, Tenn. The “Vessel Construction and Repair Contracts: What’s Important? What’s not?” session will be held June 2 at 10:15 a.m. on the trade show floor at Nashville’s Music City Center.

Chris Ulfers, a partner in Jones Walker LLP’s maritime practice group, will moderate the panel discussion, which will also feature Lance Sannino, president of Enterprise Marine Services; Bryson Person, vice president and general manager of Arcosa Marine Products; and Kim Theriot-Smith, corporate counsel and contracts administrator for Conrad Shipyard.

Ulfers said vessel construction and repair contracts should always include items like a schedule for delivery dates, accommodations for weather delays, insurance concerns and indemnity. Liquidated damages, or a per diem fee for late delivery, should also be negotiated because, Ulfers said, it’s often hard to quantify the daily cost of having a boat or barge unavailable, especially in the heat of a construction or repair delay.

“The easy way to handle that is to agree to that rate ahead of time,” he said.

While it’s easy to see why this type of contract is important for vessel owners, Ulfers said it’s equally critical for the shipyards doing the work.

“The shipyard wants to make sure they have accommodations for things they can’t control,” Ulfers said.

Rain, damage from hurricanes, power outages, low water, high water and labor availability are all items to consider.

Ulfers said, besides shipyard owners and vessel owners and operators, he believes subcontractors and shipyard vendors will also find the session of interest.

“It’s just good business,” he said of taking a serious approach to construction and repair contracts.

The vessel construction and repair contracts session is just one of 10 on the docket for IMX, with the panel discussions and award sessions scattered throughout June 1 and 2. To register for IMX, view the overall schedule or explore the education sessions, visit