Ever since humans started exploring the ocean, many terms have been coined in relation to the ocean. Such ocean-related terms have created interesting stories in people’s daily life.
A case in point is the word “pilot.” Entry and departure are when sailing is the most dangerous. Ports are narrow and have shallow water, resulting in a higher probability of accidents. Therefore, sailing experts who are knowledgeable about local conditions are put in charge of the entry and departure of ships. They are called pilots. According to historical records, it was the 16th century in Europe when pilots first emerged. A few hundred years later, the term “pilot” was borrowed for those who drive airplanes zipping through the sky. A Korean word for a pilot is “doseonsa,” which is an occupation that enjoys one of the highest levels of income and the No. 1 or 2 position in terms of job satisfaction.
A1 is a term whose origin is often unrecognized by even those working in marine transportation. During the Age of Discovery in the 16th century, European shippers wanted better safety of ships carrying expensive goods as their potential sinking would cause huge loss. As a result, public organizations were created to check the safety of ships and issue verified certificates accordingly, and ships were instructed to join such organizations. The first of its kind was Lloyd's Register. The safety of ships was examined in two areas. The first was the hull to examine if a ship’s outer hull panel is thick enough to prevent seawater from entering. The second was vessel appurtenances, such as an engine and sail. The former was graded in A, B, and C while the latter was ranked in 1, 2, and 3. So, an A1-graded vessel refers to a ship with the highest level of verified safety. Lloyd's Register had examiners at the major ports of countries who checked the safety of ships and reported results. Then, the company's headquarters would give grades to the examined vessels. On the land, A.1. was adopted for the brand name of a steak sauce to promote it as the best quality sauce available in the market.
There are terms that the ocean borrowed from the land. One example is Himalaya. A carrier is granted a right to limit its liability for cargo to a certain amount according to a transportation contract signed with a shipper. While the loading and unloading of cargo fall into the responsibility of a carrier, such work is usually carried out by a stevedoring company on behalf of a carrier. As there is no contractual relationship between a shipper and a stevedoring company, a carrier cannot claim its limited liability right for the damage incurred to cargo during loading and unloading. How can a carrier protect itself, then? A carrier and a shipper should include a provision that a carrier shall not be responsible for such damage in their transportation contract. Such provision is called the “Himalaya clause.”
You may wonder what it is called the Himalaya clause. It is because the first vessel that faced such situation was named “SS Himalaya.” I often include a question about the Himalaya clause in a test for a maritime law class. I once saw an unexpected answer, which said that it is the name of a mountain range crossing through Asia and Europe. Of course, I couldn’t give any score for the answer but was amused, nonetheless. I now bring up this episode in every class. A zero score may be temporary but humor lasts through time.