1. Neptune declaration
2. Jerry and the Bean Counters
3. Going nuclear
4. Flag state performance
5. Setting the safety standard
6. Tanker safety guide
7. Singapore vaccination programme
8. Cyprus green incentives
9. Seafarer happiness
10. Pollution risks in California
Notices & Miscellany
Readers’ responses to our articles are very welcome and, where suitable, will be reproduced:
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1. Neptune declaration
More than 300 companies and organizations recognise that they have a shared responsibility based on their roles across the entire maritime value chain, and beyond, to ensure that the crew change crisis is resolved as soon as possible. They have signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change that defines four main actions to facilitate crew changes and keep global supply chains functioning:
• Recognise seafarers as key workers and give them priority access to Covid-19 vaccines
• Establish and implement gold standard health protocols based on existing best practice
• Increase collaboration between ship operators and charterers to facilitate crew changes
• Ensure air connectivity between key maritime hubs for seafarers
Guy Platten, Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping, comments: “Seafarers are the unacceptable collateral damage in the war on Covid-19 and this must stop. If we want to maintain global trade seafarers must not be put to the back of the vaccine queue. You can’t inject a global population without the shipping industry and most importantly our seafarers. We are calling on the supply chain to take action to support seafarers now.”
The Neptune Declaration has been developed by a taskforce of stakeholders from across the maritime value chain including A. M. Nomikos, Cargill, Dorian LPG, GasLog, Global Maritime Forum,
International Chamber of Shipping, International Maritime Employers’ Council, International Transport Workers’ Federation, ONE, Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Sustainable Shipping Initiative, Synergy Group, V. Group, and World Economic Forum.
Patrick Verhoeven, managing director of the International Association of Ports and Harbors adds: “IAPH has also been cooperating with an initiative led by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) on COVID-19 related guidelines for ensuring a safe shipboard interface between ship- and shore-based personnel. It has also participated in the formulation of a 12-step framework of protocols on crew changes compiled by ICS in coordination with the maritime industry and supports the rapid adoption of the FAL requirement on digital health security. The Maritime health declaration along with the Crew list (FAL Form 5) must take absolute priority to facilitate crew changes and treatment for sick crew members.”
2. Jerry and the Bean Counters
By Michael Grey
I heard of the death, the other day, of my old friend Captain Jerome Benyo, who had retired to Florida after many years commanding container ships. I first met him in the 1970s and he was one of my most faithful informants about the shipping industry, keeping me up to speed on the realities of contemporary seafaring.
Jerry had been trained at one of America’s finest maritime academies and had sailed with United States Lines, then the most elite of US shipping companies. He had served with the celebrated Captain Richard Cahill, author of marine safety textbooks and a fierce supporter of the highest standards and having known both of them, it was clear that they held similarly uncompromising standards about how ships ought to be run.
Jerry left US Lines to become a Panama Pilot for a few years, where his ship-handling skills were honed, although he sometimes spoke of the strange and artificial life in this curious quasi-colony of his homeland.
Returning to mainstream shipping, at a time when high-cost flags were under huge pressure and the US flag fleet shrinking fast, he was, like his contemporaries, to find life hard. He spent time commanding a rackety ro-ro, and a strange vessel on government service, about which he was unusually reticent.
In the late 80s, with virtually no opportunities in “proper” ships, he worked as a barge master on North Sea semi-submersibles, which paid decent wages but was not exactly a life-enhancing existence. A large portion of his time aboard the rigs seemed to have been spent in arguing with the drilling staff, who outranked him, were as ignorant of the sea as they were knowledgeable about drilling, and constantly wanted to do dangerous things. They were always yelling about the cost of downtime, I recalled him telling me, but were oblivious to what the cost might be if lives were lost because of their idiotic miscalculation about the weather, hazards to supply boats, or the huge craft’s stability.
It was with some relief that he returned to mainstream shipping and the command of container ships, chartered tonnage that was owned, curiously enough, by his union pension fund and working in the North Atlantic. Although his skirmishes with the drillers might have prepared him, it was in this phase of his career where he was to really meet the “bean-counters” who were taking over shipping and were to plague him (as they did every other ship master), in this mean-minded maritime era.
I used to see quite a lot of Jerry during those years and invariably there would be some tale of the latest “economies” that were imposed on his hard-worked ship. With a six or seven European port rotation, he used to take a North Sea pilot, which was a great safety boost, not least because of the uncertain skills of officers supplied by the Union hiring halls, who were never allowed to stay for long enough to be, in the masters’ eyes, reliable. Then there came an edict from HQ to say the master must do his own sea pilotage, at a time, coincidentally, when the bureaucratic burden seemed to be exploding.
The cost-cutting became regular and was undertaken without any consultation. Several crew posts disappeared overnight, including that of the chief steward/purser, leaving the master to become, in his words, as the “****** Menu Engineer” and decide what the crew should eat. There were endless arguments about the ship’s disbursements; if the weather required an additional tug for berthing, then the office was on the phone demanding to know why. If the ship was delayed by storms (this was the North Atlantic) there was an immediate inquisition, with the office letting the master know of their disapproval of the late arrival.
Some edicts were just ridiculous. I recall Jerry’s wrath when some wretched bean-counter told him that garbage collection bills were too high in the European ports and he was to retain all his stinking bags of wastes on the afterdeck until the ship called at the final port, where the authority offered a free service (actually the cost was rolled into the general port charges).
There were terrible arguments, usually involving threats of the sack, over dock damage, necessary maintenance, repairs, cargo disputes or small costs that the ship inevitably had to pay. Jerry came back from leave on one occasion to discover that the “office”, after the visit of some smooth-talking salesman, had taken it upon themselves to exchange the entire navigational console for something new and completely unfamiliar, with the ship due to sail that evening. Nobody had thought that the two masters of the ship might have views on such matters.
Michael Grey is former editor of Lloyd’s List
3. Going nuclear
By Christopher Chan and Derek Tam
As the world was celebrating the dawn of 2021, the shipping industry moved one-step closer to the IMO decarbonisation deadlines. Among the various proposals for alternative fuel, the nuclear option has gained quite some attention lately, after Bill Gates signalled his particular interest last November. The shipping industry is no stranger to the word nuclear, as one will no doubt recall NS Savannah from the 1950s. More than six decades later, the industry may want to look back in time for some guidance before delving further into the technology.
The costs of a traditional pressurised water reactor on board are known to be significant. The intricacy of the plant requires a high level of care and meticulous precautionary measures. The radioactive waste generated from it further pushes up the operating costs and shipowners will have to plan for disposal before commissioning a nuclear vessel. After all, it is quite hard to imagine and indeed impractical for every commercial container to be accompanied by a separate service vessel wherever it goes, just to receive its nuclear waste – like the NS Savannah and its waste-receiving servant vessel Atomic Servant. Although technological breakthrough may reduce the amount and radiation level of such nuclear waste, such waste generated will nonetheless have to be removed from vessels and properly dealt with at times. A business for receiving, treating and disposing of nuclear waste at ports could turn out to be a profitable lifeboat for bunkering companies, whose business would likely be adversely impacted if nuclear-powered vessels became mainstream.
Another major issue to highlight for shipowners and charterers interested in the nuclear option concerns ports entry. Due to nuclear power’s sensitive nature, public and political opinion will probably deter nuclear vessels from being accepted at ports near highly populated areas. In regions with strong anti-nuclear sentiment, such as New Zealand and Japan, securing port entry may well be unfeasible to begin with. Looking back in history, the German NS Otto Hahn was denied entry at multiple ports and into the Suez Canal. As of now, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974 still specifically provides for ports’ power to exercise special control over nuclear ships. Needless to say, the first batches of nuclear vessel to set sail in the much-advocated “nuclear era” may well find themselves facing a similar issue. The associated risk and costs should be taken note of when acquiring or chartering nuclear vessels for certain voyages.
From the port perspective, receiving nuclear vessels requires prior planning, careful coordination, and importantly, insurance coverage. Port and vessel insurance policies in the market today seldom (if ever) cover substantive nuclear risks from nuclear vessels. The far-reaching consequence of nuclear accidents may be too big a risk to be insured by any single private insurer, and there is no existing, specific liability framework in place to allocate the risk and liability of nuclear accidents concerning ships. Taking reference from how stationary nuclear plants on land are insured by national nuclear pools, nuclear plants moving across seas and the ports which receive them may require similar joint efforts from underwriters in order to stay adequately insured.
The need for specialised port procedure and facilities should also be of concern. NS Savannah’s state-backed demonstration across North America and Europe no doubt provided ports an opportunity to develop procedures for a short-term, one-off entry. These experiences may provide some basic guidance for ports to handle nuclear-powered vessels in the future. However, such experiences are also literally from another century and will require modern updates in order to stay relevant in the face of latest models of nuclear propulsion technology. Port personnel will have to be trained against nuclear risks as well.
As of now, there is still no telling whether a “nuclear era” will eventually arrive. Nuclear energy does have its edge, but it is certainly not the only player running on the tracks. In any event, before one can ask nuclear vessels to sail and trade as smoothly as carbon-fuel vessels do, the shipping industry must join hands with all stakeholders, both at sea and on shore, to ensure that all suitable support have been put in place and in time.
Christopher Chan, is Hong Kong Head of Shipping, Offshore and Logistics and Derek Tam a Trainee Solicitor in Hong Kong with HFW.
4. Flag State performance
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has published the latest Flag State Performance Table (2020/2021) which finds that many of the largest flag states – including the Marshall Islands, Hong Kong (China), Singapore as well as the Bahamas and Cyprus– continue to perform to an exceptionally high standard, with traditional flags and open registers performing equally well.
ICS Secretary General, Guy Platten, says: “The Table clearly indicates that distinctions between ‘traditional’ flags and open registers are no longer meaningful. Alongside several European registers, and flags such as Japan, we have seen many open registers amongst the very top performers”.
Amongst the 10 largest ship registers (by deadweight tonnage), covering more than 70% of the world fleet, none have more than two indicators of potentially negative performance, and five have no negative indicators at all.
Platten concludes: “There are still a number of smaller flag states that have a lot of work to do to considerably enhance their performance, and shipowners should consider very carefully the prospect of using these flags, which may be perceived to be sub-standard.”
The ICS Flag State Performance Table provides an invaluable indicator of the performance of individual flag states worldwide. It analyses how the countries included deliver against a number of criteria such as Port State Control (PSC) records, ratification of international maritime Conventions and attendance at IMO meetings.
Due to the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, the previous period’s Flag State Performance Table (2019/2020) was not published. In order to maintain a complete and accurate record of Port State Control performance of flag States in 2019, ICS has published the relevant PSC data on the last page of the report, corresponding to information released in 2019 by the Paris MOU, the Tokyo MOU and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in their respective annual PSC reports.
Click here to learn more about the Flag State Performance Table and download a copy free of charge.
5. Setting the safety standard
RightShip and INTERCARGO have announced the launch of an important new quality standard for the dry bulk sector, DryBMS. The standard will be governed by a new NGO to be established later this year and will support the improvement of safety in the dry bulk segment.
Both RightShip and INTERCARGO have strongly and consistently advocated the need for significant improvements to dry bulk safety standards. In August 2020 both organisations combined their expertise to create a single framework for the whole industry.
Supported by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and BIMCO, DryBMS now exists as a simple set of best practices and key performance indicators and raises the bar on safety, environmental and operational excellence.
RightShip’s chief executive Steen Lund says that he is confident that such a programme will be supported and adopted: “We are proud to launch DryBMS to the industry. The standard is a product of extensive collaboration with many stakeholders within the dry bulk sector.
“We believe that this ensures the programme will be supported and adopted across the industry as a whole. The rapid delivery of the initial consultation document means that we are a step closer to providing consistent, meaningful safety expectations for the dry bulk industry.
“Handing the standard over to a new and independent NGO will ensure the standard is protected and governed with the industry’s best intentions at heart.”
Dimitrios Fafalios, chairman of INTERCARGO agrees: “This is an important step, not only for the industry, but for the sector as a whole. We are all collaborating in a scheme that is being developed by the industry and for the industry, which will deliver a truly robust standard with the buy-in of those that the industry relies upon to implement and support it.”
Interested parties are invited to sign up for the DryBMS newsletter to receive regular updates regarding the development of the NGO and the finalised standard. The final draft version of the standard is now available to download on the DryBMS website, and the team will continue to review feedback sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Tanker safety guide
With a background of unprecedented challenges for the maritime sector, safety continues to be a priority for the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). To ensure that the very best guidance is available for the chemical tanker sector, ICS has launched a new edition of the standard reference work for those working on tankers carrying chemical cargoes, the ICS Tanker Safety Guide (Chemicals).
The fifth edition of the guide provides chemical tanker operators and crew with up-to-date best practice guidance for safe and pollution-free operations on ships regulated under MARPOL Annex II. This includes oil tankers operating in accordance with Annex II when they are carrying chemical cargoes.
Chris Oliver, Nautical Director at the International Chamber of Shipping and project leader says: “Senior industry experts have contributed their expertise and experience to the technical working group to help shape the new Guide. We have worked to simplify this new edition and to make it easier to use – and hence more likely to be used. Techniques learned in the aviation industry have been incorporated to make the checklists more effective and the industry’s greater understanding of human factors means that we can make the messaging more relevant to the user, and consequently more effective.
“Sadly, the industry continues to see the same type of incidents time and time again. We have identified these areas and expanded the guidance on key safety issues, including enclosed space entry, risk assessments and PPE. This really is the essential guide for every tanker carrying chemical cargoes.”
Fully aligned with the latest edition of ISGOTT (the International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals), the ICS Tanker Safety Guide (Chemicals) can be purchased from ICS Publications or from maritime booksellers worldwide.
7. Singapore vaccination programme
Singapore became one of the first countries to prioritise Covid-19 vaccinations for frontline maritime personnel. These workers go onboard vessels at the port and come in contact with people from outside of Singapore. This vaccination exercise is part of the national COVID-19 vaccination strategy to protect frontline personnel and their family members, as well as residents living in Singapore.
Over 10,000 frontline maritime personnel are expected to be vaccinated for Covid-19 by end January. These frontline personnel include port workers, harbour pilots, cargo officers, marine surveyors and marine superintendents who are required to work onboard ships in the port. They carry out essential works including navigation, refuelling, ship repair and maintenance, as well as operations to transfer cargos. Harbourcraft and ocean-going crew who are Singaporeans and long-term residents living in the community are also prioritised for vaccination. Together, these personnel play a major role in keeping the Port of Singapore open and ensuring the undisrupted flow of goods.
Due to the better protection offered by vaccination, frontline maritime personnel who have completed their full course of vaccination will be subjected to fewer testing requirements. Going forward, those who are currently on the 7-day Rostered Routine Testing (RRT) will be tested every 14 days; those who are currently on the 14-day RRT will be tested once a month.
8. Cyprus green incentives
The Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM) has announced a new range of green incentives to reward vessels that demonstrate effective emissions reductions. From the fiscal year 2021, annual tonnage tax will be reduced by up to 30% for each vessel that demonstrates proactive measures to reduce its environmental impact, ensuring shipowners are rewarded for sustainable shipping efforts.
The Cyprus SDM is a leading advocate for sustainable shipping. It believes broad and diverse measures are needed at both a global and regional level to achieve emissions reduction targets and a sustainable future for the industry. This includes the use of cleaner fuels, the deployment of the relevant fuel infrastructure, the electrification of ships, and the use of energy efficiency technologies. A combination of all of these options has the potential to improve the commercial and environmental sustainability of the sector, but shipowners need to be rewarded for investment in sustainable practices to accelerate uptake.
The Cyprus flag will provide a ‘discount’ on its Tonnage Tax System with what it actually achieves. For more information on Cyprus SDM, and its latest green incentives please visit 2021-01-18-Environmental Ιncentives.pdf (dms.gov.cy)
9. Seafarer happiness
The latest Seafarers Happiness Index report, published today by The Mission to Seafarers, reveals that small investments can make a tangible difference to the lives of seafarers.
The survey, undertaken with the support of the Shipowners’ Club and Wallem Group, reports on the experiences of seafarers between October and December 2020. The report highlights the continued struggle with crew changeovers and workload. However, it also reveals that the simple steps taken by some ship owners can make a huge difference to the day to day lives of seafarers, improving mental health on board and renewing passion for their work.
Many seafarers have reported that shipowners have started to make changes which have improved the quality of life onboard. Free data or free calls, more investment in food and new gym equipment have been appreciated according to the survey respondents. With the lack of shore leave and limited Wi-Fi as major concerns earlier in 2020, this report appears to show that shipping companies are making an effort to improve the circumstances onboard, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seafarer training is a divisive issue, with some receiving high-quality training, but others receiving none at all. Where training does take place, it provides focus, important skills and positive learnings for those onboard. However, some training seems to then be voided due to outdated equipment onboard. For example, the entry into force of Resolution MSC.428(98) IMO rules on cyber security was a catalyst for a rush of training at the end of 2020 to prepare crews for the imminent changes. However, the training was not supported by secure and updated systems and equipment, leaving seafarers feeling like the training was counter-productive.
To read the latest Seafarers Happiness Index report, click here.
10. Pollution risks in California
Amendments to the so-called Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1990 in the state of California on criminal fines for oil spill violations in state waters entered into force on 1 January 2021. BIMCO is stressing the importance of strict compliance with this and other environmental laws. The new California law doubles the existing minimum and maximum fines for certain oil spill violations related, among other things, to persons who knowingly engage in or cause the discharge or spill of oil into waters or knowingly fail to begin clean-up etc. of spilled oil. For certain violations the new law also authorises the court, at its discretion, to impose a fine of up to USD 1,000 per gallon spilled in excess of 1,000 gallons of oil – a fine which is not statutorily capped.
Individuals should be particularly aware that the increased fines can be applied both to intentional violations and violations resulting from negligence (“a person who reasonably should have known”). The law applies to a wide range of corporations and individuals, including, but not limited to, owners, operators, and managers of ships of all types and their employees.
According to a Circular of 4 December 2020 available from the International Group of P&I Clubs (IG), the IG Clubs have considered the potential impact of the new law on cover for pollution risks and do not believe it would be appropriate to seek to amend the existing limit of cover to respond to the significant but nonetheless isolated new piece of legislation. The IG Clubs also believe that such an amendment, in any event, would be impossible to achieve within the current confines of the global reinsurance markets if sufficient cover were to be required to respond in full to the maximum level of fines that might potentially be levied by the Californian courts for accidental pollution.
Notices & Miscellany
Dennis Bryant change of direction
After more than 20 years writing and distributing his maritime newsletter, Bryant’s Maritime Newsletter, and almost 20 years writing a monthly column for Maritime Reporter & Engineering News, Dennis will be stepping back effective 31 May 2021. He says he will be turning his attention more to his family (including his very patient wife of over 50 years), his maritime consulting practice, and to his writing. He says “I do not intend to quit paying attention to maritime matters nor closing my maritime consulting practice, but I will quit polluting your in-boxes on an almost daily basis.” We wish him well in his future ventures. He will be a hard act to follow.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
During the peak of the Somali piracy crisis, three ships – from Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan – were hijacked and then abandoned to their fate by their employers, who lacked the money to pay ransoms. Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea tells the story of the mission to rescue the hostages the world forgot. Drawing on first-hand interviews, Colin Freeman, who has himself spent time held hostage by Somali pirates, the book takes readers on an inside track into the world of hostage negotiation and one man’s heroic rescue mission. It is published by Icon books on 4 March 2021, ISBN 978-1785787027, £16.99 hardback
Technological innovation and the global introduction of alternative fuels and/or energy sources for international shipping will be integral to achieve the ambition set out in the Initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships.
To take stock of ongoing initiatives, the 2021 IMO Symposium on alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels for shipping will be held virtually in English only on Tuesday, 9 February 2021 and Wednesday, 10 February 2021, with daily sessions from 11:00 to 14:00 UTC.
The symposium aims to raise awareness, to present state-of-the art research and innovation, to discuss the advancement of alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels in international shipping, and to discuss initiatives to promote the availability, affordability and uptake of future marine fuels.
The agenda is on this web page
https://www.imo.org/en/About/Events/Pages/Symposium-alternative-low-carbon-and-zero-carbon-fuels.aspx or can be downloaded here (PDF)
Wallem Group changes
Wallem Group announced recently that chief executive Frank Coles has resigned and will be leaving the Wallem Group shortly. As many will be aware Frank has been very active in highlighting the plight of seafarers during the Covid-19 pandemic and now wishes to become more involved in promoting their welfare, as well as pursuing other opportunities.
On an interim basis and until further notice, John Kaare Aune, managing director of Wallem Shipmangement Limited, will take over Frank’s role as CEO.
Brookes Bell addition
Brookes Bell – the global technical and scientific consultancy – has announced the addition of US based marine consultancy firm 3D Marine USA. 3D Marine is a full-service consulting group, specialising in all aspects of marine transportation, offering vessel and cargo surveys, casualty and marine engineering consultancy.
Nicolas & Associés
Following the departure of Henri de Richemont of Richemont-Nicolas & Associés, Christophe Nicolas tells us a new firm, Nicolas & Associés has been established with the other lawyers from the firm.
The firm is based 65 rue d’Anjou – 75008 Paris.
Tel : 00 33 (0)1 53 77 64 10
Direct line : 00 33 (0)1 53 77 64 14
Mob : 00 33 (0) 6 80 65 23 98
Bulk cargoes courses
The Port and Terminal Operations for Bulk Cargoes course organised by the Association of Bulk Terminal Operators in collaboration with The Wolfson Centre for Bulk Solids Handling Technology, University of Greenwich will next run online from 8-11 March 2021.
For further details including fees, registration and discounts for ABTO members contact either Simon Gutteridge at email@example.com +33 (0)3 21 47 72 19 or
Caroline Chapman at firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 8331 8646
Biomass Operations and Handling Technologies – ONLINE SHORT COURSE will also been held from 22-26 March 2021. For more details please click here.
Please notify the Editor of your appointments, promotions, new office openings and other important happenings: contactus@themaritimeadvocate.
As you know, the English language is constantly evolving and the Uxbridge English Dictionary endeavours to keep up.
Here are some recently added definitions, with thanks to Lawrence Black.
Adultery: What happens after puberty.
Allocate: Greeting for example, to Ms Winslet.
Alternative: To modify a member of the indigenous population.
Boycott: A small bed for a male child.
Bratwurst: The very naughtiest of children.
Britanny: A bit like Britain.
Brouhaha: A hilarious drink.
Buckingham: A rodeo pig.
Busking: Owner of many buses.
Canopy: Tin of urine.
Capitulate: The mistake BP made in the Gulf of Mexico.
Car Park: How Noah saved the fishes from the great flood.
Castanet: To go fishing.
Depend: Opposite the shallow end.
Dialogue: An awful piece of wood.
Dialysis: To ring your sister.
Dreadlocks: Fear of canal holidays.
Endear: This is where it stops.
Escalator: An Australian word meaning to delay the questioning of a lady.
Example: Much thinner.
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