1. Fantasy Island
2. UK transport initiatives
3. LR decarbonisation projects
4. Seafarer guidance
5. Dangerous goods MOU
6. Stowaways and LOIs
7. IMRF awards
8. Golden Ray report published
9. Making waves
10. Award winners
11. FMC guidance on detention and demurrage
12. Abandoned cargo
13. Fuel cells
14. Jason clause
15. Chinese maritime safety law
16. Future is ESG
Notices & Miscellany
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1. Fantasy Island
By Michael Grey
One of my happiest assignments was during the 1970s when I found myself the part-time “Maritime Editor” of the new children’s weekly “Speed and Power”. It was a wonderful role, with a readership that could be relied on to respond vigorously to just about everything the journalists said in their pages. And one of the very best treats was serving as a judge in the annual competition in which our readers were asked to imagine what transport would be like in the 21st Century. There were prizes, and the brilliant team of Speed & Power artists would work the finalists’ entries into illustrations which showed off their designs to their best advantage.
I can recall that in the imagination of our readers, there would be nuclear-powered 20,000 tonne hovercraft roaring across the Atlantic at sixty knots or more, ships built of segments that could swiftly detach themselves when they arrived off a port, leaving the rest of the ship to proceed. With a nod to the environment, (although the religion of environmentalism had yet to be invented) one entry saw a ship dragged along by a series of enormous kites flying in the Jetstream. There was at least one proposed submarine freight carrier – nuclear powered, of course.
I thought back to these innocent times the other day and wondered whether the UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps might have been one of our readers, all those years ago, after reading his confident predictions of autonomous hydrogen-powered freight carrying submarines soon to be available around these shores. It really should have been the Prime Minister, author of extravagant capital schemes like the Irish Sea Bridge, who would have achieved the maximum attention for this spectacular proposal, but maybe he was busy.
There were few politically astute buttons that the freight-carrying submarines did not push. They were to be “powered” – perhaps he really meant fuelled – by “green” hydrogen, there would be no drivers aboard – neatly addressing the HGV driver shortage – while their environmental credentials would be further burnished, as they would collect microplastics as they patrolled our seas. All that was really missing was a pledge that they would be constructed with foreparts of soft rubber, in case of collisions with whales and dolphins. Maybe that will be in the final specification.
We are living in some very strange times and as we gird up our loins for the Great Green Glaswegian Enviro-spectacular in a couple of months’ time, there will be plenty more of this stuff. One must hope that the lights all don’t go out during the proceedings, should the wind fail as it did the other day and they have to flash up the poor old coal-fired power stations. If you think about it, it was why the first long range steamships were all fitted with a full set of sails. The Victorians, unlike their 21st century successors, who prefer to listen to activists rather than engineers, weren’t stupid.
You probably don’t look to Transport Secretaries for sensible words on shipping as they are always far more comfortable talking about trains, buses and aeroplanes than anything that floats on water. But you have to hope that people who are making serious efforts to address the realities of decarbonisation are not put off by this sort of nonsense. Before anything is spent on autonomous submarines it might be worth looking at what the people who do carry freight around these shores are doing to make their ships more sustainable.
Maybe Shapps ought to take a trip on one of the new “E-Flexer” ferries that Stena is putting on the Irish Sea, or examine the actual environmental performance of Cobelfret’s latest big ships. He also ought to see what the industry is actually doing in assessing new green fuels such as bio-methanol or green ammonia. But reality sadly doesn’t resonate with the activists among us like something really spectacular, as the pre-Glasgow hype is ramped up and small children tell their teachers they are really frightened of “climate change”. Somebody might tell this politician that there is a bit of a difference between a ship that can carry about seven miles of freight on its decks and some proposal straight out of the Speed & Power playbook.
It was a great magazine, while it lasted. Fuel was still cheap, emissions thought to be harmless and the accent was on speed, in an era of 33 knot Sea-Land SL7s and containerships with multiple engines and a colossal thirst. Happy days.
Michael Grey is former editor of Lloyd’s List.
2. UK transport initiatives
On September 13, at the start of London International Shipping Week, the UK Department for Transport announced plans to push for international shipping emissions to reach absolute zero by 2050. The plan is to go ahead under the aegis of the International Maritime Organization.
The UK’s Department for Transport has also announced that the government has established a so-called concierge service for shipping and related sectors to provide a one-stop shop for businesses wishing to interact with various government departments.
3. LR decarbonisation projects
Lloyd’s Register has secured funding from the UK Department of Transport to take forward a number of research projects into maritime decarbonisation. The funding comes from the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CDMC) which aims to accelerate the development, design and manufacture of zero-emission vessels and the port infrastructure needed to support them.
The five winning projects involving LR and the Maritime Decarbonisaton Hub are: eFoiler CTV – This project brings together partners to investigate the feasibility of the Artemis eFoiler electric propulsion system as a transformative solution to decarbonise global crew transfer vessels which are often used in offshore wind farm operations; avoiding the hard cell – fuel cell integration into a large ship’s power architecture; Zero Carbon Base Load Power for Large Ships; Shipping, Hydrogen & Port Ecosystems UK (SHAPE UK); and National Clean Maritime Demonstration Hub. Following an independent assessment, 55 projects won the competition, supported by private consortia comprising 208 partners from around the UK. The competition allocated more than £23million of match-funding to UK innovators.
LR recently produced a report How To Make Shipping’s ‘Decade of Action’ a Reality warning of the dangers to world trade if action was not taken as a matter of urgency on the issue of decarbonisation.
4. Seafarer guidance
At the start of London International Shipping Week, the International Chamber of Shipping published new and updated guidance to protect seafarers and shipowners against the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. The free resources include guidance on vaccinations, manning agents, mental health issues, and shore leave.
Despite noted improvements in rates of vaccination for seafarers, only 25% are fully vaccinated, and most are not in line to receive a vaccine through their national programmes until at least 2022. Meanwhile, severe travel restrictions across the world have led to seafarers being stranded on board, some for more than 18 months. This deterrent to existing workers and potential new recruits has stretched global supply chains to breaking point, with shortages of key goods reported, and shipping costs approaching all-time highs.
The guides were produced in association with International Maritime Health Association, INTERTANKO, International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), Intercargo, InterManager, International Association of Ports and Harbors, International Christian Maritime Association, International Marine Contractors Association, International Maritime Employers’ Council Ltd., Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA), and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC).
The new seafarer guides address acute issues faced by seafarers during the pandemic. Seafarers are required by the nature of their job to travel across the world to locations which have different levels of COVID-19 infections. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccination for Seafarers and Shipping Companies: A Practical Guide answers pressing frequently asked questions in an approachable and informed way.
A reality of the pandemic is that shore leave has been heavily impacted and crews have been forced to remain on board their ships for extended periods without relief. Coronavirus (COVID-19): Seafarer Shore-Leave Principles sets out principles for providing shore leave while navigating draconian travel restrictions across the globe.
Recruiting for non-existent jobs at sea is on the rise, as dubious manning agents take advantage of the current environment. Losing seafarers to poor manning experiences is something that must therefore be stamped out. Manning Agency Guidelines was produced to help shipping companies choose reputable manning agencies and to ensure that seafarers are recruited in line with the requirements of the ILO.
The pandemic has also increased job stress that can impact seafarers’ mental health, including family pressures and limited shore leave. Handling a Mental Health Crisis or Emergency and Spotting Suicidal Behaviour in Seafarers lays tools out for companies to create a caring on-board culture to address mental health matters.
5. Dangerous goods MOU
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed by ICHCA International, representative of global cargo handling operators and the International Vessel Operators Dangerous Goods Association (IVODGA), whose membership consists of the world’s ocean carriers.
The collaboration of these two expert bodies will facilitate producing clearly defined guidelines to best practice based on years of practical experience in handling dangerous goods. They will work closely on joint projects to improve standards across numerous common safety issues affecting the transport of dangerous goods.
Richard Steele, chief executive of ICHCA International notes, “The extraordinary disaster in Beirut last August was an all too unwelcome wake-up call to everyone involved in the transport, storage and distribution of dangerous materials. However, similar incidents, smaller in proportion, yet damaging to life and limb as well as property happen across the supply chain on a frequent basis. The mutual cooperation of IVODGA and ICHCA will be aimed at the universal understanding and application of measures for the safe handling and storage of a range of goods with potential to cause explosions, fires and noxious gas emissions etc.”
Uffe Ernst Frederiksen, of A.P. Moller – Maersk and vice chairman of IVODGA comments, “The mutual goals and the shared respect of our two organisations will quickly result in a positive contribution to a clear and efficient communication between not just our respective members but crucially across all stakeholders in the supply chain whose interests touch any and all hazardous materials.”
P&I Club Skuld provides new advice on its website relating both to stowaways and letters of indemnity. As far as stowaways are concerned, numbers have been increasing this year after a drop in 2020 with considerable difficulties for operators because of restrictions imposed on landing stowaways in some jurisdictions as a result of the pandemic (see https://www.skuld.com/topics/legal/pi-and-defence/stowaways_rise-in-numbers/. The club has also highlighted the issues of LOIs and considers the risks and benefits of exchanging them when involved in standard or extraordinary vessel operations.