The Maritime Advocate–Issue 753


1. South China Sea: China’s new claims
2. Ardent quit salvage business
3. Singapore accedes to International Salvage Convention
4. Fumigants entering crew spaces: a warning
5. Self-heating coal: a warning
6. Force Majeure – now what?
7. Final rule on demurrage and detention of containers
8. Panama announces sanctions for deliberate AIS/LRIT deactivation
9. Impact on wildlife within the industry
10. Call for accelerating digitalisation of maritime trade and logistics



Readers’ responses to our articles are very welcome and, where suitable, will be reproduced:
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1. Continuing our coverage of this topic, a report from The Maritime Post: From submerged reefs to underwater canyons: China’s new claims in the South China Sea.

With tensions mounting in the South China Sea, China has named and claimed 80 obscure geographical features in those contested waters as it steps up its aggressive campaign to mark out territory and push out other claimants.

Using satellite imagery and mapping software, Radio Free Asia has examined those claims – announced by China last month – and found that they include rocks, sandbars, and small reefs dotted off the coast of Vietnam and around the disputed Paracel and Spratly island chains where, in all, six governments have claims. Most of these 80 features are completely underwater. None of them qualify as islands, despite what China may insist.

With this latest list, China now claims more than 300 land features above and below the water in the South China Sea. Experts warn that the new rash of claims adds an irritant to negotiations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a Code of Conduct, at a time when Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines are pushing back on Beijing’s stance toward the resource-rich region.


2. Salvage News – Ardent Salvage: Roose & Partners pick up on a widely reported story.

Ardent Global Marine Services has announced that it will no longer undertake salvage operations from May 2020. Ardent formed in 2015 following a merger of Svitzer Salvage, which was part of the Maersk Group, and Titan Salvage, part of the US Crowley Group. The aim was to become the largest salvage provider in the world but a challenging and highly competitive market has taken its toll. Ardent’s US operation, Ardent Americas LLC, was purchased by Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. (Boskalis) earlier this year, of which salvage giant Smit is a subsidiary, significantly increasing Boskalis’ operation in the US and its OPA90 provision, with Ardent Americas having approximately 500 vessels as their OPA90 provider.

There is a statutory requirement under the OPA90 program that requires shipowners trading in US waters to have an agreement in place with approved emergency response companies for the provision of salvage and marine firefighting services. Readers will be aware of the recent proceedings in the States by Smit who were the OPA90 providers for the vehicle carrier Golden Ray after the vessel owners opted to utilise the services of T&T Salvage for the wreck removal operation. Smit had been involved in the original salvage operation as first responders.




3. Collin Seah and Mark Myles of Reed Smith report on Singapore’s accession to the International Salvage Convention.

Singapore’s accession to the International Salvage Convention is an important step, which will align the city state with other prominent maritime jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and China.

When the Salvage Convention becomes part of Singapore law under amendments to be made to the Singapore Merchant Shipping Act (1), it will enshrine into Singapore law a salvor’s right to recover expenses they have incurred in their attempts to prevent or minimize environmental damage, even if they are unable to salve the vessel or where the value remaining in the salved fund is insufficient.  This type of recovery is referred to as “special compensation,” which is available under article 14 of the Salvage Convention and protects salvors against the traditional consequences of “No Cure, No Pay,” which depended entirely on the successful salvage of the maritime property. Article 14 is intended to incentivize salvors to invest and maintain the assets, in terms of salvage craft, equipment, and personnel, that are necessary to render prompt assistance to vessels in difficulty.  This is vitally important, and mitigates against the risk of geographical regions having insufficient response capacity.  Such a scenario could have a profoundly detrimental effect on local marine ecologies, particularly in the event of an oil spill.  At a time when the number of professional salvors is declining, providing an assurance to salvors that they will not be left out of pocket is increasingly important.


4. Fumigants entering crew spaces – a word of caution from Skuld.

Fumigants are the preferred choice in avoiding insect infestation when transporting agricultural products in bulk by sea. However, fumigants are often at least as poisonous to humans as to the pests against which they are used, and it is of crucial importance that fumigation operations are placed in the hands of qualified operators.

Sadly, Skuld notes that fumigants continue to cause injury to and take lives of seafarers. By this brief article, we wish to raise awareness about the possibilities of fumigants entering accommodation, engine rooms and other working spaces in the ship and how this can be avoided.

Fumigants are pesticides, or mixtures of pesticides, that act in a gaseous phase even though they may be applied as solid or liquid formulations from which the gas arises. Effective and safe use requires the space being treated with fumigants to be rendered gastight for the period of exposure. A “fumigator-in-charge” should be designated by the fumigation company, government agency or appropriate authority and provide the Master with written instructions on the type of fumigant used, the hazards to human health involved and the precautions to be taken.

FULL ARTICLE:–a-word-of-caution/

5. West’s Loss Prevention Bulletin highlights cases of loading of coal that has exhibited signs of self-heating.

The West of England Club has reminded Members that self-heating of coal is more likely when the coal is of low rank, geologically immature material sourced from open cast mines such as that commonly shipped from Kalimantan in Indonesia.

West noted that the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code sets out that, for self-heating coals, the temperature of the cargo must be monitored prior to loading and cargo will only be accepted for loading when the temperature of the cargo is not higher than 55°C.

It said that in most cases any coal loaded in Kalimantan was from barges. The Club said that it had noticed a growing trend of increased pressure from shippers to load cargo from barges where temperatures in excess of 55°C had been recorded. Shippers were either pressing for cargo to be loaded from areas on the barge where no excessive temperatures had been recorded, or after “cooling” of the cargo on the barge.

Methods used in an attempt to cool cargo were varied, but included:

  • Turning the cargo over with a payloader or using grabs
  • Spraying with fresh or, more frequently, salt water
  • Spraying with chemicals which are designed to inhibit the oxidation reaction.

The Club said that in its experience none of these remedial actions were very effective. Although some localized cooling might be measured, coal was thermally insulating and any action that can be taken on a barge would not deal with the fundamental problem of the bulk of the coal being too hot.


6. Force Majeure – now what? HFW lay out a three-step framework for mitigation.

COVID-19 has led many companies to seek shelter within the force majeure provisions of their contracts, and our earlier briefings on this can be found on our website. But, having declared force majeure, what should you do next? Can you simply wait until it all blows over? The reality is that there is a continuing duty to mitigate the impacts of force majeure events. Here, we run over the basics and set out a three-step framework to assist you in protecting your position.


7. The Handy Shipping Guide explains the final rule on demurrage and detention of containers.

International freight forwarding association FIATA has welcomed the US Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) new landmark guidance on its approach to assessing the reasonableness of detention and demurrage regulations and practices of ocean carriers and marine terminal operators, a bone of contention which the Association raised last month with regard to a worldwide problem for its members.

Demurrage and detention charges can play an important role in the efficient movement of container stock, however FIATA says unjust practices in recent years have spurred concerns regarding their reasonableness in achieving their intended purposes, particularly in circumstances outside of the freight forwarder’s control. Put bluntly the forwarders see the charges as an unwarranted profit centre for the ports.

FIATA made that point quite clearly a couple of years ago in its Best Practice Guide on Demurrage and Detention in Container Shipping thus, ‘merchants should not be subjected to unjust and unreasonable charges. In this context, there are strong indications that shipping lines abuse the charging of demurrage and detention to maximise profits’.


8. Panama announces sanctions for deliberate AIS/LRIT deactivation. Tony Paulson Corporate Director at West P&I explains this widely reported move.

In likely response to the recent Global Maritime Advisory concerning steps to prevent breach of sanctions issued by the U.S. authorities (please see Notice to Members No.6 2020/2021 for details), Panama has announced that their General Directorate of Merchant Marine will “impose sanctions to all those Panamanian flagged vessels that deliberately deactivate, tamper or alter the operation of Long Range Identification and Tracking System (LRIT) or the Automatic Identification System (AIS).”


9. Two separate reports from Gard and the TT Club highlight the growing impact on wildlife within our industry, committed both unintentionally and deliberately.
a. From Gard: Marine fauna

While shipping traffic is one of many human activities in the ocean that may have an adverse impact on marine life, the opposite is also true. The presence of marine fauna in some geographic regions can pose a serious threat to the safety of ships and the individual seafarer.

The adverse impact of shipping on marine life and ecosystems is well documented. However, it is also true that the presence of certain sea creatures can pose a serious threat to the safety of ships and the individual seafarer. It is therefore important ship operators ensure crews are aware of such risks posed by marine fauna present in their trading areas and properly address measures to control the risks in ships’ onboard procedures.

On 20 April 2020, the US Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston published a safety alert, MSIB 14-20, warning the shipping industry about the upcoming Gulf Menhaden season and the risk of experiencing loss of propulsion while operating in the Houston Ship Channel complex.

Gulf Menhadens are small fish known to accumulate in ships’ sea strainers and cause loss or reduction in propulsion, reduced manoeuvrability, and loss of water pressure within the firefighting system. The species range throughout the Gulf of Mexico but are most abundant in the north-central Gulf, particularly in the waters off Texas and Louisiana. They are found in coastal and inland tidal waters and form large surface schools that appear in near-shore Gulf waters.

The risk of encountering Menhaden related problems is at its highest between May and October. In order to avoid incidents, the US Coast Guard recommends ship operators adhere to the following best practices when operating in the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Houston Ship Channel complex in particular:

  • Sea chests should not be used without filter strainers in place and should be monitored at all times.
  • Detailed procedures for cleaning seawater strainers should be established. These procedures may include back-flushing or regular changing and cleaning of duplex strainers as appropriate.
  • Prior to transit, inspect and clean the service sea chest. Ensure filters and coolers are clean prior to entry into US waters. Implement a preventive system that requires frequent cleaning and swapping between sea strainers.
  • Monitor the pressure on pumps and filters. Be prepared to respond quickly when reduced performance is observed.
  • Have a contingency plan in place and ensure all engineering staff is familiar with the plan. Consider posting a double watch in the engine room while in pilotage waters. Have crew ready to clean the strainers during transit.
  • All tools and equipment for opening the sea chest and cleaning the strainer should be prepared and ready for use.
  • Ships regularly transiting the HSC may consider having spare clean filter strainers onboard, allowing for quick changeover of strainers.
  • Consider implementing an engineering-designed approach, such as using the aft peak tank for seawater cooling purposes or internal cooling, which is commonly used for ships which operate in extreme cold weather conditions such as the Baltic Sea and Great Lakes during the winter.


b. And from TT Club: Wildlife
A previous article highlighted the exploitation of the global transport network by wildlife traffickers and the threats posed to the sector, including to human health and security. Here we revisit this important topic, considering wider risks associated with wildlife crime and their impact on the legitimate supply chain.

Over the past 30 years there has been an increase in emerging infectious diseases, more than 70% of which are considered to be zoonotic (infectious diseases able to pass between animals and humans). Until recently, the most widely publicised was Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Although the source of this latest coronavirus – SARS-CoV-2 – has yet to be confirmed, suspicions that it emerged from the illegal wildlife trade were amongst the earliest theories, with a possible transmission pathway from bats, via pangolins to people. Emerging only at the end of 2019, in the first quarter of 2020 the associated disease, COVID-19, has caused a global pandemic.

Pangolins remain the most trafficked mammals in the world despite the international ban on the trade of all pangolin species since January 2017. An estimate of 900,000 pangolins globally were trafficked from 2000–2019, while over 96,000 kg of pangolin scales mostly of African species were seized from 2017–2019 across Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.


10. Associations call for accelerating digitalisation of maritime trade and logistics.

The Covid-19 crisis has painfully demonstrated the heterogeneous landscape that currently exists across ports worldwide. With the world’s attention now focused on exiting from lockdowns and preparing for a ‘new normal’, there is an urgent need to co-operate and accelerate the pace of digitalisation, according to a number of leading maritime associations, including BIMCO.

While some port communities seized the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution and developed into fully-fledged ‘smart’ ports, many others have barely grasped the essentials of digitalisation. The latter continue to struggle with larger reliance on personal interaction and paper-based transactions as the norms for shipboard, ship-port interface and port-hinterland based exchanges.

As an illustration, only 49 of the 174 Member States of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have functioning Port Community Systems to date. These systems are considered the cornerstone of any port in the current digitalised business landscape.

With the world now exiting from lockdowns, there is an urgent need for inter-governmental organisations, governments and industry stakeholders concerned with maritime trade and logistics to come together and accelerate the pace of digitalisation. This will allow port communities across the world to at least offer a basic package of electronic commerce and data exchange, in compliance with all relevant contractual and regulatory obligations.



From Julian Clark Senior Partner, Ince
From the Sea I’ll Come Home – a campaign to raise awareness of seafarers as key workers.
As you will all be aware, Ince’s international shipping team have an enviable reputation in the maritime sector and is renowned for its work which covers everything from contractual disputes, to casualties at sea, to piracy, to cybercrime and maritime terrorism, to give just some examples.

95% of world trade still moves by sea and so not only is the maritime sector vital for the world economy but that sector is completely reliant upon the efforts of the body of international seafarers serving aboard vessels all across the globe. They work in extremely difficult and dangerous conditions and without their constant attention and assistance the global supply chain would stop.

During the period of the pandemic seafarers are particularly exposed. They are not able to socially distance when at sea, or to see their families and friends, they have restrictive access to social media. In addition the crisis has brought particular issues for the seafaring community where they are often unable to disembark from vessels, crew changes have been restricted and their access to welfare systems in ports denied. All of this has resulted in an alarming increase in mental health issues.

As a firm which is world leading in the maritime sector we wanted to do something to raise awareness for the international body of seafarers that are unable to hear the applause and pot banging that takes place in the UK every Thursday evening.

We have therefore donated a song (originally composed by myself at the request of the Singapore Shipowners Association some years ago) to one of the leading maritime charities, Sailors’ Society.

How you can help
You can help our efforts by sharing the message and promotional video on your own social media channels.
We have shared this press statement with relevant media today. At the end of the article you’ll find our promotional video for the campaign and a link to our YouTube channel where this and further video messages will be shared over the coming days.

Please also keep an eye out for new posts on the Ince Linkedin channel where a series of videos from members of our team and the international shipping community speak in support of the role of the seafarers.
Thank you for your interest and assistance.
Yours sincerely
Julian Clark

From Richard Leaman CB, OBE, Rear Admiral, CEO Tall Ships Youth Trust
Building for the future.

This is a time to reflect on what kind of society – and civil society – we want when the pandemic subsides. But is anyone actually thinking about this right now?

The Tall Ships Youth Trust literally transforms young lives. As a nation, we have known for hundreds of years that taking young people to sea turns them into adults, and this is exactly what we do in Tall Ships. 97% of our disadvantaged and broken young people go into education employment or training – a remarkable result. Before the pandemic, there were 780,000 young NEETs – languishing, without purpose, and many without hope – a national disgrace. But the situation will get worse now. A further 640,000 young people are predicted to become unemployed, and already over 3 million are reporting mental health difficulties. In a matter of months this will turn into crime, disengagement and a burgeoning Health and Social Care bill.  Something must be done – we must get these youngsters out and about, and help them to build, or re-build, their lives.

At the same time, the government remains focused on charities dealing with today’s Covid-related problems, with the Civil Society Minister saying ‘we simply can’t save all charities’. Quite true Minister, but in that case, which charities should you be saving and what is your plan for saving them? The third sector is not somewhere that the ‘survival of the fittest’ actually works. We need to decide what kind of society we want when this is over, and what kind of civil society we need to support it. With small (and efficient) charities going under as I write – mainly through lack of reserves to cope with this unprecedented economic shock – there is little time to get this right.

Despite the lack of government support my charity, is aiming to be here when the dust settles. I hope Maritime Advocate readers will support us – and others like us – to get through this. Hundreds of thousands of young people, and the society they belong to, are depending on it!

If you wish to find out ways in which your maritime enterprise can help us build the future for young people, please contact me at

Richard Leaman

From Paul Ridgway, News Editor IFSMA
An urgent call from shipmasters: Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.
Call to governments
The International Ship Masters’ Association (IFSMA) calls upon Governments to adopt the ‘Framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic’ without delay to allow ship owners and management companies to change over their dangerously tired crews.

Governments must act now in order to avoid personal injury to, and mental breakdown of, seafarers and avoid the significant risk of accidents and consequential danger to life and the environment.

Concern at IFSMA
IFSMA is receiving an increasing number of reports from its ship masters’ associations around the world concerned for the welfare and safety of crews and the increased risk with which they are operating in an already high risk environment.  Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.
Paul Ridgway,
News Editor IFSMA

Marintec Innovation Webinar Series – Fourth Industrial Revolution at sea.
Thursday, June 11, 2020  07:00 PM China Standard Time, 1 hour
Dr Martin Stopford will talk about the perspectives and direction for the shipping and shipbuilding industries, the first step into the future of sophisticated merchant shipbuilding. And together with guest speakers from ABB, CSSC and Wartsila, this webinar will provide expert opinions on the great technical challenges that lie ahead in the industry today in terms of digitalization.

Magne Nilsen will become the Managing Director of Gard (UK) Limited from 1 July, taking over from Thomas Nordberg who will return to Norway to take up a new position as Head of Claims Services reporting to the Chief Claims Officer.

Martin West, Assistant Vice President, Chief Cargo Risk Engineer at FM Global Cargo, has retired after 48 years in the marine industry.

Please notify the Editor of your appointments, promotions, new office openings and other important happenings:


Baird Maritime’s Workboat World indulges us in some shameless  “I remember it well” reminiscences. On reading our Telemedicine story (MA752), Michael Grey recalled this one he’d contributed, with due attribution to Baird Maritime.

What’s up, Doc?
We are thinking a lot about medical professionals in these virus-infected days, people have been rightly identified as heroes for their hazardous work in combating the contagion. In our Commonwealth cargo liners, we were fortunate on most of our voyages to have a doctor on board, signed on as a supernumerary, for the month-long voyages between North Europe and Australia or New Zealand.

The regulations required ships carrying more than 100 souls to be provided with a doctor and we thus would not have qualified, except that there was a regular passage of medics between our countries and it was an excellent way of keeping us healthy for the sum of one shilling per month. The doctors were either going north to qualify as specialists, or having gained their special skills, going south to practice them, although we did find some who were just enjoying a holiday and a cheap passage, with free food and lodgings.

By comparison with proper passenger ships and their complements of the elderly and frail, our doctors were not exactly hard pressed; our crews being mostly young and fit, with the exception of the occasional alcoholic and odd malingerers. But we liked carrying them for their different approach to life, conversation and the fact that their yarns weren’t those of seafarers. It was somebody different with whom to have a drink, and to my recollection most of them spent a fair time in our bar.

Best of all, having a doctor aboard meant that the Second Mate, or some other officer nominated by the Master, didn’t have to pretend to medical knowledge and stitch somebody up after they had cut themselves, set a broken bone or worse still, inject some shivering matelot suffering from what is called today a “STD”. We had all undertaken what was laughingly described as a “First Aid Course” up for our Second Mate’s and were under no illusions about our adequacy as medical practitioners. I remember nearly fainting when the instructor brought out a skeleton and actually passing out when we were stitching up an artificial wound in a plastic arm. I can recall having to practise injection techniques, using a large rubber ball which allegedly replicated human tissue, and that seemed quite disgusting at the time. I still have the certificate which was dished out for attendance, whether one remained conscious or not…


And a letter to the Editor: To clause or not to clause, from Douglas Lindsay.
Back in 1965 I was third mate on the Iberia Star, one of Blue Star Line’s passenger mail boats on the River Plate run.  Loading homeward in Montevideo I was down in number two hold in mid-afternoon when a small parcel (probably about 20 tons) of frozen offal came on board.  It was a mess and when I climbed out of the hold and into the deck office I claused the mate’s receipt “Bags torn and bloody”.  Half an hour later a furious chief officer bellowed for me to come out of number four and still in my white boiler suit I was virtually frogmarched into the captain’s cabin. There were the captain (who happened to be commodore of the line) in his gold-laced splendour, several people from the agents, a representative of the stevedores and a red-faced gentleman bouncing up and down in his seat who turned out to be the shipper.  The message was, ‘how dare I clause his beautiful shipment and if I didn’t retract the clausing pronto, I could be looking for another job’.  Jobs were plentiful in the early ‘60s so I wasn’t too bothered about that.

Anyway, the red-faced gentleman was looking for blood and the captain tried to placate him by grilling me.

‘Why had I done this?’

‘Well sir, that’s how they are.’  He was a seasoned old campaigner with an outstanding war record but also known as a fair man who clearly had sympathy with my stance when I refused to retract the clausing. After some further argument the chief officer and a shipper’s representative were dispatched down number two to look at the offending items. And they had to agree that yes, the bags were torn and bloody. The chief officer remarked in private that they were filthy and could easily have been more seriously claused, but the damage was done. The shipper happened to be a friend of the President (of Uruguay) and he would fix it that we were all sacked and Blue Star Line banned from Montevideo but this bluster did not impress the assembly. I was dismissed to go back on deck but half an hour later the offending items were removed ashore. The Commodore (who was not sacked) quietly commended me once we had sailed.
Plus ca change…
If nothing else, I hope you enjoy this little tale which says something about eternal verities.
Best regards
Douglas Lindsay

And you may be interested to learn of the three maritime crimes that inspired my Angus McKinnon thrillers, Sea of Gold, Dark Ocean and Black Reef:

Finally, some useful quotes:

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

“There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves.”
Albert Guinon (1863 – 1923)

“We must open the doors of opportunity. But we must also equip our people to walk through those doors.”
Lyndon B. Johnson (1908 – 1973)

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Maritime Advocate Online is a fortnightly digest of news and views on the maritime industries, with particular reference to legal issues and dispute resolution. It is published to over 20,000 individual subscribers each week and republished within firms and organisations all over the maritime world. It is the largest publication of its kind. We estimate it goes to around 60,000 readers in over 120 countries.