The Maritime Advocate–Issue 778

Posted:

1. Losing patience
2. Gulf of Guinea declaration
3. Inadequate fire safety standards
4. Don’t jump the gun
5. Take your own bunker samples
6. Safety inspection app
7. Lines on the map
8. Free wellness campaign
9. Russian insurance cover
10. Covid crew crisis
11. Low sulphur fuel costs
12. Passage planning
13. Fake emails warning

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1. Losing patience

By Michael Grey

There will be few seafarers today who sail who off to the Gulf of Guinea with a light heart and cheerful demeanour, any more than they did a couple of hundred years ago, when disease was endemic along its shores. It is a different sort of blight today, with the depredations of kidnap gangs from the Niger Delta inflicting a miserable sort of existence on those aboard every merchant ship entering these waters.
People go to sea to make an honest living in an essential trade and don’t expect to be dragged from their ships by violent, heavily armed gangs, subsequently to be held ashore in frightful conditions against the payment of ransom. Last year in this area, this was the fate of more than 120 seafarers and there is no sign of any improvement, understandably perhaps, with the range of problems currently afflicting Nigeria from the delta to the far north of that large country.

It is tempting to compare the Gulf of Guinea piracy with that off Somalia, which was effectively suppressed by armed guards on merchant ships and international naval patrols. But whereas Somalia was a failed state, Nigeria is not and remains jealous of its sovereignty over its offshore waters, a not unreasonable attitude. What other sovereign state would agree to effectively surrender its sovereign powers, no matter how aggravating the situation might be to those whose ships have been victims of piracy? And compared to what the Nigerian authorities are combating in the north of the country, where hundreds have been killed and kidnapped by Islamist militants, the offshore problems constitute a low-level irritant.

It is nevertheless increasingly intolerable to the international shipping industry and a measure of this impatience is to be found in the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy which was signed by no fewer than 99 maritime companies, organisations and flag states, on the day it was launched. Indeed getting together this level of support is a pretty good demonstration of the fact that any patience with the situation has been unequivocally lost.

It appears that any attempts to persuade the Nigerian government to change its stance on armed guards is now regarded as a lost cause, and the Declaration makes it clear that suppression of the Gulf of Guinea pirates is a matter for navies, operating in international waters off this dangerous coast. Can some coalition of governments now step up to the plate and provide the relatively modest rotation of frigates and aircraft which it is believed can keep shipping safe? And can the Nigerian government be part of this strategy, providing the landside logistics and more importantly, the prosecution of the malefactors?
 
Senior naval officers like to emphasise that the “protection of merchant shipping on its lawful business” is an important and fundamental auxiliary role to that of warfighting. Well, there can be no doubt that shipping off the coasts of Nigeria badly needs naval protection and one can only hope that the strength of feeling represented by this Declaration will register with responsible governments, whose ships, and citizens go in fear of their lives. The authors do point out that the aim is to work with Nigeria and that country will itself be one of the economic winners, if this scourge can be eradicated.

You might also argue that it is pretty sad if the shipping industry has to produce such a statement of the obvious, and that governments around the world have so far been unable to take the protection of merchant shipping seriously. But maybe it is not surprising, with the curious way in which the governance of international shipping has developed over the past half century.

Nevertheless, as we have seen with the pandemic, when the lives and welfare of seafarers have been taken for granted as governments assume that the exports and imports they depend upon will be carried regardless, it is a reasonable question to ask – whether this timely and important intervention will have its desired result?

Michael Grey is former editor of Lloyd’s List.
 


2. Gulf of Guinea declaration

The Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy was launched on May 17. In 2020, 135 crew were kidnapped from their ships globally, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for over 95% of the crew numbers kidnapped. This has happened in international waters in an area less than 20% of the size of the sea area dominated by Somali pirates a few years ago. The pirates launch their attacks from the Niger Delta, where they also subsequently hold their hostages.

“We hope that all parties with an interest in a safe Gulf of Guinea will sign this Declaration,” says Sadan Kaptanoglu, BIMCO president and shipowner, who has personally had a ship hijacked and crew kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea.

BIMCO welcomes the positive steps taken by regional states, especially Nigeria. However, in reality, it will take some years before these states can effectively manage the problem. In the interim period the best solution is to have capable military assets from able and willing non-regional states to actively combat piracy in the area in support of the efforts by countries in the region. The signatories firmly believe that piracy and attempts at kidnapping are preventable through active anti-piracy operations and that by the end of 2023 the number of attacks by pirates can be reduced by at least 80%.

During its session from 5 to 14 May 2021, the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) discussed Gulf of Guinea piracy. Although development of related IMO resolutions on this topic is constructive and welcome, much more remains to be done, particularly in the short term. The launch of the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy is therefore a timely expression of the maritime industry’s call for further action, through a wide range of collective efforts, to end piracy urgently in the Gulf of Guinea.

BIMCO maintains that the piracy can be suppressed with as little as two frigates with helicopters and one maritime patrol aircraft which actively combat piracy in the area. It is therefore imperative that non-regional countries provide the necessary assets on a rotation basis, and that one or more states in the area support the effort with logistics and prosecution of arrested pirates. The Declaration does not aspire to provide the long-term solution to the piracy problem but to help make seafarers safe today.

Link to the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy: https://www.bimco.org/GoGDeclaration
 


3. Inadequate fire safety standards

A report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau into a fire aboard the bulker Iron Chieftain suggests there is a lack of adequate regulatory requirements and standards to address the known risk of fire on-board self-unloading ships.

The Australian flagged self-unloading bulk carrier Iron Chieftain was discharging its cargo of dolomite at Port Kembla, New South Wales on 18 June 2018 when friction, probably from a failed bearing, generated enough heat to ignite a rubber conveyor belt in the C-Loop internal cargo handling space.
During a regular safety round of the self-unloading system during cargo discharge operations, a crew member detected a strange smell and white smoke that abruptly changed to black as the crew member approached the deck casing door for the C-loop space.

The ship’s crew then initiated an emergency response but shipboard efforts to control the fire proved ineffective, with the fire soon establishing itself and spreading to the exterior of the ship, setting the discharge boom alight. The ship’s crew were eventually evacuated and Fire and Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) firefighters took charge of the response to the fire. The fire was contained and eventually extinguished about five days later.

“The fire on board Iron Chieftain demonstrates how the effectiveness of a shipboard response to a fire depends primarily on the ability to detect the fire at an early stage and quickly extinguish it at the source,” said ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood.

Iron Chieftain’s self-unloading system was not equipped with a fire detection or fixed fire-extinguishing system in the C-Loop space, but nor was it required to be.

“This highlights the lack of adequate international standards or regulations for dedicated fire detection and fixed fire extinguishing systems in cargo handling spaces of self-unloading bulk carriers.”
Mr Hood said the ATSB welcomes the commitment by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and Lloyd’s Register to approach the International Maritime Organization and the International Association of Classification Societies respectively, to highlight the safety issue regarding the inadequacy of fire safety standards or regulations for self-unloading system spaces.

“Nonetheless, the ATSB is recommending that AMSA formally raise the safety issue with the IMO to initiate safety action aimed at addressing the risk of fire in the cargo handling spaces of self-unloading bulk carriers due to the inadequacy of the current associated standards and regulations,” he said.

Read the report: MO-2018-011 Fire on board Iron Chieftain, Port Kembla, New South Wales, on 18 June 2018


4. Don’t jump the gun

A note by Ince & Co on the case of A v. B [2021] EWHC 793 (Comm) has highlighted the dangers of sellers under a sale contract jumping the gun and finding themselves in breach when they purported to terminate a contract prematurely on the grounds that they mistakenly considered the buyers were in repudiatory breach.

For details of the case see https://www.incegd.com/en/news-insights/maritime-invalid-nomination-vessel-did-not-entitle-sellers-terminate-contract


5. Take your own bunker samples

Bunker quality disputes are far from unusual and taking your own bunker samples is a good idea in order to avoid hassles down the line. As P&I Club Gard points out “The parties often agree to jointly test a sample to determine if the fuel supplied was on-specification or not, and the result is binding on the parties.

Even in the absence of an agreement, bunker samples will be relevant evidence that may help to resolve a dispute one way or another. The question then arises: which samples will be used for testing – the one taken on the bunker barge or the one from the receiving ship’s manifold?

For the full story see: https://www.gard.no/web/updates/content/31689894/take-your-own-bunker-samples-they-are-a-vital-piece-of-evidence-
 


6. Safety inspection app

DNV have launched a new app. The Mobile Inspection App helps ship owners and managers digitalize and streamline the workflow, recording and follow-up of their onboard safety inspections. The app also provides onshore staff with instant access to the results.

The solution is designed for all kinds of safety inspections by owners and managers, including planned inspections and ad-hoc vessel inspections. It is easy to capture the results of an inspection directly on site through text, audio, photos and videos. This improves the quality and accuracy of descriptions for findings, making it easier to determine the actions that need to be carried out, and with less risk of missing important information.
 
Read more about the Mobile Inspection App at: www.dnv.com/shipmanagerinspections
 


7. Drawing lines on maps

Some of the consequences of drawing lines on maps to create artificial borders have been bones of contention in the Middle East since the end of the First World War, notably because of creating rigid borders where flexibility was needed. Designated areas of maritime risk, also known as High-Risk Areas (HRAs), have shown themselves to be similarly contested and controversial spaces, Dryad Maritime says in a recent bulletin.

Dryad goes on to look at the Joint War Committee’s HRA concept and its strengths and limitations with reference to regional applications.

For the full story see: https://channel16.dryadglobal.com/designated-risk-areas


8. Free wellness campaign

Shipping companies are being invited to sign up to a free mental health and wellbeing campaign offering support not just to crews, but also their families and shore staff. 

International maritime charity Sailors’ Society has expanded its Wellness at Sea Awareness Campaign to include families and shore staff. The 27-week campaign, which starts in June, will help seafarers, their families and shore staff understand how they can manage their own wellbeing and navigate common challenges that people connected to the maritime industry can face. It will also offer them access to free support, advice and counselling. 

Johan Smith, Sailors’ Society’s Wellness at Sea programme manager, said: “We’re expanding the course as part of our ‘circle of care’ approach: offering seafarers support across both their work and home lives. 

“No seafarer is an island – each member of your crew is connected with other people who they depend on and influence their wellbeing. 

“Families and shore staff play a very important role in seafarers’ lives; by expanding the programme to include them, we can create understanding, empathy and unity between them, helping them all to develop stronger relationships and better mental health.” 

More than 1,000 ships took part in the Wellness at Sea Awareness Campaign last year, when it was launched in response to the coronavirus pandemic, from companies including Seaspan, Fleet, SWIRE, Mayfair, Seaarland, Dynacom Tankers and Dorian LPG. 

Torsten Holst Pedersen, COO, Seaspan Ship Management Ltd, said: “If I had to give one explanation of how Seaspan has got through the pandemic so far, it is that our crews have been resilient – and that has been possible because they know that there is a Wellness at Sea programme that supports their needs.” 

The awareness campaign reflects Sailors’ Society’s 10 years of experience in wellness training and industry-leading work on mental health at sea, is delivered free of charge and rolled-out over 27 weeks via a variety of materials including podcasts, videos and posters. Seafarers also have the opportunity to make contact with counsellors and port chaplains through dedicated helplines. 

To find out more about partnering with Sailors’ Society on its Wellness at Sea Awareness Campaign or the wider Wellness at Sea programme, visit: www.sailors-society.org/wellness-at-sea or contact Johan Smith on wellness@sailors-society.org
 


9. Russian insurance cover

Recent changes to regulations in Russian law now make it possible for forwarders and road hauliers to access full liability cover, similar to that enjoyed by those in the global supply chain. However, most insurance products on the market don’t offer comprehensive protection. Executives from Panditrans, TT Club’s Network Partner in Russia, have outlined the improved regulatory situation but emphasised the inferiority of the cover available in the market. Valuable risk management advice on temperature controlled and tank container cargoes was also presented at the recent TransRussia trade show in Moscow.

After five years of pressure from the Russian freight forwarding and transport community comprehensive freight liability cover is now possible, as officially confirmed by the applicable transport laws. Sadly, local insurers have not responded by changing the terms of their very restricted policies that continue to deny valid claims in many circumstances. TT Club’s Network Partner in Russia is strongly urging forwarders, and road hauliers, in particular to increase their demands on insurers for better, all-inclusive insurance cover.
 


10. Covid crew crisis

Alice Amundsen heads up Gard’s global People claims area. This group is responsible for handling the thousands of crew claims received each year from Gard’s membership. To read her insights on the Covid crew crisis and the challenges moving forward with crew vaccination see: https://www.gard.no/web/updates/content/31689896/the-covid-crew-crisis-is-there-a-light-at-the-end-of-this-tunnel
 


11. Low sulphur fuel costs

The introduction of rules last year to reduce ship sulphur emissions is resulting in a significant hike in operational expenditure for ship managers, with the use of low and very low sulphur fuel potentially resulting in system and engine damage.

Speaking recently during a webinar organised by trade association management company Maritime AMC, Sacha Cornell, fleet manager, Norbulk Shipping, revealed that using low sulphur fuel can add as much as US$20,000 to the operational expenditure for each ship per annum.

He told the   participants that logged on to attend Bunkering Challenges 2021: “I would guesstimate that the extra cost for additional sampling, onboard test kits, increased purifier maintenance, supply and installation of cermet piston rings, treatment chemicals, additional filtration equipment is in the region of between US$10,000 and $20,000 per ship per annum.”

He said there are numerous cases in which very low sulphur fuel delivered onboard contains undesirable substances, resulting in problems relating to fuel stability, storage, handling treatment and processing onboard.

The Bunkering Challenges 2021 webinar can be viewed in full at: https://youtu.be/ftsOsH_rmNo
 


12. Passage planning

Despite the ongoing discussion in the shipping industry regarding the importance of comprehensive passage planning over multiple years, the Shipowners’ Club continues to observe countless incidents across the industry that can be largely attributed to either improper or non-existent passage planning.

Planning a proper passage should be carried out by all vessels, although the extent of such planning would depend on a number of factors, including the vessel type, size, area and nature of operation. Whilst SOLAS/V/34 refers to aspects of passage planning, reference may be made to applicable equivalent local laws for similar guidance for vessels to which SOLAS may not apply.

https://www.shipownersclub.com/importance-of-proper-passage-planning/
 


13. Fake emails warning

International Transport Intermediaries Club has issued a number of warnings on the increasing prevalence of documentation fraud and is reinforcing the message by highlighting a recent case it has handled on behalf of a broker.

The case involved a vessel coming off hire. Under the charter agreement the ship was due to be redelivered with a set quantity of bunkers onboard. The returning charterer put the shipbroker in touch with their usual bunker supplier in China as it made sense for that supplier to provide all the bunkers which would be part funded by the returning charterer and part by the owner.

The supplier arranged for the vessel to be bunkered and sent the broker an invoice for around US$ 300,000 to cover the owner’s share of the fuel.

The following day, the broker received an email which he believed to be from the bunker supplier with a replacement invoice for US$ 300,000 advising that their bank details had changed.  The broker failed to spot that the bunker supplier’s name had been wrongly spelt and the contact details had been changed. Anticipating that the fake invoice would be spotted, the fraudulent “bunker supplier” phoned the broker to “re-confirm” their new bank details. Unfortunately, the broker then passed the fake invoice to the owner who paid it. Unsurprisingly, the genuine bunker supplier uncovered the fraud when they realised they had not been paid. The owner had to pay the actual supplier and brought a claim against the broker for US$ 300,000 paid to the fake supplier due to negligence.

During the subsequent investigation, it was discovered that the owner had been given the opportunity to spot the changes and to check the new bank details themselves before paying the invoice. Regrettably, they chose not to perform any checks. However, as the broker had taken on the obligation to verify the bank details, it was clear that the broker was at fault and that their negligence had been a cause to the owner’s loss – although the owner had also contributed to their own loss. The claim was eventually settled for US$ 150,000.

ITIC advises all parties to thoroughly check invoices before making payment – especially if there is any change to banking details. They should make use of publicly available contact details – such as those displayed on the company website – to contact suppliers to verify details and not rely on the supplier contacting them, as it could be a fake supplier. Other “red flags” include the payee or bank account name being different from what is expected, banks located in unrelated countries and different emails or contact addresses.
 


Notices & Miscellany

London Talks
Shipping is a critical part of global trade and drives an almost unquantifiable level of positive social change which the maritime community should all be proud to be part of, according to dry bulk specialist Steve Davies.

But an appreciation of the full scope of the ‘social’ element of corporate governance is crucial in order to effect that change and drive growth in a changing world, he advises.

Presenting the first in an informative series of London Talks videos which herald the start of the run up to London International Shipping Week 2021 (LISW21), Mr Davies, Chief Executive Officer of London and Cardiff-based dry bulk ship owner Anglo International, gave a thought-provoking insight into the ideas he aims to explore this September.

Mr Davies is set to chair a panel discussion on the ‘social’ aspect of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) during LISW21’s Headline Conference on Wednesday September 15.
London Talks can be viewed by clicking https://londoninternationalshippingweek.com/london-talks/

London International Shipping Week 2021 runs from September 13 to 17, 2021. For more information see the dedicated event website: www.londoninternationalshippingweek.com

Testing facility
Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification (TIC), has celebrated the opening of a new laboratory and testing facility in Regency Park close to Port Adelaide, the hub for Australian naval shipbuilding in South Australia. The facility was officially opened by the Premier for South Australia, the Hon. Steven Marshall MP in a ceremony on 11th May 2021. 

The newly opened laboratory is offering ISO 17025 NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) accredited Mechanical Testing on state-of-the-art methods. It demonstrates the commitment of Bureau Veritas to support defence and naval shipbuilding within South Australia.

Mersey Maritime
Industry body Mersey Maritime is holding its third annual Maritime Exchange conference on Friday, June 25, 2021. Taking place in the magnificent surroundings of a Grade-II-listed Victorian building in Birkenhead docklands, the conference will be a hybrid virtual and in-person event. The Mersey Maritime Exchange will serve as a platform for the maritime sector to come together to review progress on implementing the UK’s flagship national maritime strategy, Maritime 2050.

In addition to the Mersey Maritime Exchange conference, the Maritime Knowledge Hub site will also host a number of other activities across the day including a VVIP visit to launch the pre-development phase of the project with key partners Wirral Waters, Peel L&P, Wirral Council and Liverpool Combined Authority.

The days’ celebrations will conclude with a drinks reception to announce the finalists of the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards 2021 (MMIA21). The awards ceremony will take place in Liverpool on September 17, 2021 and will feature as the closing event of London International Shipping Week.

For more details on the Mersey Maritime Exchange – Maritime 2050: The journey so far:  https://merseymaritime.co.uk/events/maritime-exchange/;
For more details and how to apply for the Mersey Maritime Industry Awards: https://merseymaritime.co.uk/mmia21/

Smart technology
A webinar entitled Smart Technology and AI: How to exploit these bottom line gamechangers is taking place on Wednesday 26th May at noon (BST) hosted by Ship Management International on behalf of ioCurrents. The 60-minute session will feature five panellists, each of whom will be invited to make a short presentation before joining a panel discussion moderated by Elaborate Communications managing director Sean Moloney.

The advent of smart technology is changing the way we live and work and the maritime industry is no exception. Sensors on vessels provide huge amounts of data on engine, pump and generator performance but how do we use this information to optimise our operational, regulatory and safety approaches? Good data analysis and transparency are key so that stakeholders can work together to reduce accidents, improve efficiency and maintain regulatory compliance. Our speakers will discuss and debate the best ways that the maritime industry can work together to achieve these goals.
CLICK TO REGISTER

Cyber fraud and piracy seminar
The London Shipping Law Centre will be holding a seminar to discuss cyber fraud and cyber piracy on 24th May at 1700 BST. This webinar is hosted by Twenty Essex Street.

REGISTER HERE

Titanic follow-up
Mike Allen has provided us with a follow-up to Dennis Bryant’s commentary on the Titanic anniversary, saying it is interesting to see how such events were dealt with over 100 years ago.

Mike explains that the owners, White Star Line, entered their vessels with the Liverpool & London for P&I cover.  When news of the loss reached their offices, they realised to their dismay that the Titanic had not been declared to the club.  An extraordinary general meeting was convened by L&L and the committee voted unanimously to cover the vessel retrospectively.  The minutes of the meeting were proudly displayed in L&L’s reception.

Lord Mersey was appointed by the Board of Trade as Wreck Commissioner to hold an inquiry into the loss.  The hearing commenced in London on 2nd May 1912 and sat for 42 days until 3rd July.  His report was published on 30th July, only three and a half months after the loss of the vessel.  In this day and age, three and a half years would be regarded as very good going, Mike adds.

Spy drama
A spy swap in the Syrian desert, a pirate attack in the Sulu Sea, a devastating confrontation in the Balkans … get your hands on a copy of former MA editor Nick Elliott’s latest spy thriller which has now hit the streets!

Beirut 1963: Kim Philby defects to Moscow. As he boards his Soviet escape ship, unnoticed, a young ship’s officer passes him on the quayside. Valdis Ozols is disenchanted, idealistic and susceptible. And two men are waiting for him.

Drawn into the shadowy world of espionage and a lifetime of deception and danger, Valdis reaches his lowest ebb in the harsh surroundings of a post-Soviet prison – until a ship’s bosun and fellow inmate, Angus McKinnon, becomes the Latvian’s trusted friend and confidante.

Together, the two men must break out and thwart a plan to annihilate a war-torn Balkan city. In doing so, an impossible choice must be made between the murder of tens of thousands of innocent citizens and the horrific killing of a young woman.

The Code spans the Cold War and beyond, from the Cuban missile crisis to the dawn of the Millennium.
And it introduces us to marine investigator, Angus McKinnon and how he becomes entangled in the world of life-and-death espionage before confronting further hazardous assignments in Sea of Gold, Dark Ocean and Black Reef.

E-book and paperback editions: https://amzn.to/3vi6ygI

 

Please notify the Editor of your appointments, promotions, new office openings and other important happenings: contactus@themaritimeadvocate.com


And finally…

It is a tale of tight times in the military. Because of excessive budget constraints, the military housing shortage was very, very severe.

It was so terrible that the troops were forced to domicile themselves in the large kitchen pots frequently used for making gelatine desserts.

How did the drill sergeant respond to the recruit that complained about the situation? .

“We all live in a Jello-Tub, Marine.”

The base was quite far from “civilization” with the obvious result that the troops were forced to entertain themselves.

One of the more popular pastimes was card playing. A large number of groups met regularly to indulge themselves. Bridge, poker, and gin rummy were played, but the most popular game by far was hearts.

It happened that a few of the NCOs were not well liked by the troops.

One in particular was unanimously hated. As a result, he was never invited to any of the card sessions.

When he complained to the Commanding Officer it was decided to put a stop to the whole business with the following command:

Sgt. Pepper’s lonely. Hearts club banned.
 


 

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