UASC is the United Arab Shipping Company, a Middle East based shipping company that offers services around the globe. The company is headquartered in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, but it operates in 185 other offices and 240 ports around the world. UASC is the largest container shipper in the Middle East with a large fleet of high-capacity container ships and other vessels.
As a company offering diversified services focused on shipping cargo, it is a part of the maritime industry and vulnerable to accidents and incidents that cause workers to be hurt. The company takes safety precautions, but has experienced a number of accidents, some minor, some that caused harm only to vessels, and other, more tragic incidents that led to the deaths of workers. Companies like UASC have a responsibility to protect workers and when they don’t, those workers may seek compensation thanks to maritime law.
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The United Arab Shipping Company was founded in 1976. It was originally begun as a joint collaboration between six Middle Eastern countries on the Persian Gulf: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, and Kuwait. The original headquarters were in Kuwait, but are today in Dubai. Its main ports are in Dubai, Malaysia, Germany, Istanbul in Turkey, and Georgia in the U.S.
The modern company is known for using innovative technologies and for developing a state-of-the-art fleet of large shipping vessels. One of its recent initiatives has been to use a system called TRUST for integrating operations and for faster and more efficient communication throughout the fleet. In 2016 UASC worked with German shipper Hapag-Lloyd to come up with a plan for a merger. The deal is expected to make the new company the fifth largest shipping company in the world.
UASC partners with a number of organizations including the World Shipping Council and the United Arab Chemical Carriers. The company has also been the recipient of numerous industry awards. These include the Maritime Standard Ship Owner/Operator award for two years in a row, the Environmental Responsibility and Green Shipping Awards, and the Shipping Company of the Year, for several years.
Services and Operations
UASC’s main type of service and focus of operations is on container shipping. The container vessels in the fleet travel all over the world on several regular routes and fulfill the company’s goal of connecting the Middle East to the world. Some of these routes include China to Northern Europe and back to the Middle East, from the Mediterranean to West Africa and from the Mediterranean to South America, among many others.
As the company has grown over the decades since its 1970s founding it has grown by diversifying services. In addition to container shipping, UASC offers storage services, warehousing, freight forwarding, trucking, logistics, air cargo, chartering, ship repair, and maintenance and repair of containers. It also offers customs brokerage and special shipping services for different types of cargo, including petrochemicals like liquefied natural gas.
The current UASC fleet, before its merger with Hapag-Lloyd, numbers in the 60s, but is expected to grow. The fleet is not only growing because of the merger, but because UASC is ordering billions of dollars in newly constructed, large container ships. The current fleet includes several classes of container ships with TEU capacities ranging from 4,000 to over 18,000. The company has seventeen new ships on order, all in the 15,000 or 18,000 TEU class. The design of these new ships is supposed to be focused on efficiency and environmental safety.
The company has proven to be committed to environmental safety, but its track record on accidents and worker injuries and death is not as impressive. UASC has suffered many accidents and terrible incidents over the years. The worst of these led to the deaths of 25 people. In 2014 the El Safat one of UASC’s container ships collided with a fishing boat in the Gulf of Suez in Egypt.
Naturally the fishing boat fared worse in the accident and of the 40 crew on board, only 15 were saved. The rest of the crew lost their lives. The El Safat did not stop after the incident until it reached the Port of Safaga, much further south. The captain and first mate on the ship were detained and eventually charged with manslaughter. The families of the deceased also filed claims against UASC seeking compensation for their losses.
UASC also experienced tragedy in 2008 on board its ship the Najran while it was docked in Hong Kong. A stevedore was on the ship, on a walkway that was on a lashing platform between cargo holds when he fell 20 meters into the cargo hold. The injuries he sustained from the fall proved to be fatal. The investigation into the incident found that the fencing that should have been on the walkway to prevent falls had been removed. The area was also found to have been inadequately lit. UASC was negligent in not providing a safe work environment for this longshoreman.
It isn’t always human error and mistakes that cause accidents for companies like UASC. In 2016 the large container ship Al Zubara was damaged and lost containers when a storm struck it in the Mediterranean. The ship was on its maiden voyage and was hit by huge waves from the storm. Several minor instances of damage were caused and the ship lost three containers and others were damaged. Fortunately no workers were hurt in this incident.
Workers who are hurt in such incidents, whether the ultimate cause is natural, like rough seas, or cause by human error, like in collisions, have rights under maritime law. The families filing claims against UASC over the loss of their loved ones are likely to see a settlement because the captain and first mate of the ship were negligent in the collision. They were not only negligent, but charged under criminal law as well.
Even when the case is not as cut and dry as the terrible incident in Egypt, maritime workers have rights. They work in a dangerous industry and laws are in place to ensure they can get compensation to pay for medical expenses, to cover lost wages, for their pain and suffering, and for covering future lost earnings. The dependents of workers involved in fatal incidents are extended these rights as well.
If you are a maritime worker and work for a maritime company, be sure that you know your rights. Know what steps to take if you are ever injured and make sure your family knows what to do if you die on the job. A maritime lawyer can help guide you during a difficult time and ensure that you have the best chance of getting the compensation you need.