A BARGE owner and a salvage company have been ordered to pay damages to China Light and Power Company Ltd (CLP) after an accident involving a submarine cable. Leung For-wa owned a barge which was being towed by a tug belonging to the Guangzhou Salvage Company of China in July 1988. The vessels were going north up the Ma Wan channel on the Tsing Yi island side when the tow rope severed. The barge crew then appeared to lower the anchor while the tug came back to attach another line. When the tow resumed, the barge went much slower and it became apparent the anchor had come into contact with the submerged cable. CLP said the barge owner and salvage firm were negligent in allowing the barge to be towed in the channel when they knew there was a risk the tow rope might break because of the weather. Also, the defendants had failed to provide a suitable tow rope, causing the two to recommence without ensuring all the anchors of the barge had been weighed. Mr Justice Mayo found the master of the tug had the main responsibility for ensuring the safety of the tow, and he was negligent in not ensuring the barge anchors had been raised before resuming the tow. He also found the failure to maintain satisfactory communication with the barge constituted negligence on the part of both defendants. He ordered that CLP could recover the full amount of their loss from either defendant. The judge found the salvage company's negligence to be much more serious than that of Leung, and he held the company should be 75 per cent liable and Leung 25 per cent to blame. Leung was not represented in the hearing.