November 20th, 2020
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IN THIS ISSUE
1. Home truths on recording practices
Notices & Miscellany
Readers’ responses to our articles are very welcome and, where suitable, will be reproduced:
1. Home truths on recording practices
A fine piece of research has emerged from the World Maritime University which put together a team to look at the regulations surrounding the recording of seafarers’ hours of work and rest. Are people flogging their hours to stay apparently legal and ensure that any inspectors leave with smiles on their faces? Perish the thought! We need to think about the practice as one of “adjustment” which seems rather more respectable, when it is put like that.
Nevertheless, the report “A Culture of Adjustment” points to such widespread malpractices that you have to wonder what the point was of all those well-meaning regulations designed, several years ago, to prevent seafarers keeling over from exhaustion because of the normal operation of their ships. It summarises these as “systemic failures”, but it might better be described as all sides; shipping companies, regulators and the wretched seafarers themselves, effectively colluding in a system which just isn’t working.
It very effectively confirms all the anecdotal evidence that filters from the sea in their unofficial channels to the shore – that the whole concept of “safe” manning levels agreed between ship operators and flag states is wishful thinking and that there are just not enough bodies on most ships to do all the work that needs to be done. We have always known that “the ship comes first” and that if the choice is going to bed, or turning to and sailing, or completing a task, there really isn’t a contest. The researchers put it rather nicely – “prioritising your allegiance” – this conflict which invariably only settled one way.
The researchers go to town on the sheer inhumanity and impracticality of the 6/6hr watch system practiced in so many small ships, and the utter impossibility of their operating/rest hours remaining “legal”. But they then point to the fierce defenders of such a system which involve people working hours that wouldn’t look out of place in a Victorian coal mine. They also emphasise that it is a ship’s time in port which throw up the most problems, from the port state inspectors waking up exhausted ships’ personnel to verify their hours of rest records, and visitors demanding attention from officers who haven’t been off their feet, possibly for days.
And in the macho culture of shipping, when the priority above all else is expediting the voyage, there seems little faith that any feedback from the ship will be treated with any serious intent. There is no sense that any appeal for extra hands to spread the burden more fairly will not fall on stony ground.
The WMU work, which ought to ruffle a lot of feathers, talks of “cognitive dissonance , where deviance is normalised”. I suppose you might suggest that deviance is only normalised because anything else is seen to be impractical by all the “stakeholders”, although they would prefer to use the polite term “adjustment” to describe something less respectable. And you might also suggest that there is another culture – that of cheapness, which ensures that ships will continue to be under-manned, because their users just won’t pay for anything better. And that culture will take some changing.
Michael Grey is former editor of Lloyd’s List.
2. Seafarers rights initiative
The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) and the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), along with SSI members have launched a new project focusing on seafarers’ labour and human rights.
Delivering on seafarers’ rights will be a joint project to develop a human rights code of conduct for charterers, and a roadmap for tackling systemic challenges which create human rights risks for seafarers – a widely-recognised gap in catalysing industry-wide policy and practice.
Co-led by SSI and IHRB, the project brings together SSI members: The China Navigation Company; Forum for the Future; Louis Dreyfus Company; Oldendorff Carriers; RightShip; South32; and Standard Chartered Bank.
The challenge of protecting and respecting seafarers’ rights was thrust into the spotlight with the emergence of 300,000+ seafarers stranded at sea due to crew-change restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Alongside this increased public awareness of the challenges seafarers worldwide face, there is a growing demand from consumers, investors, business partners, governments, and civil society for transparent and sustainable supply chains that address human rights along with environmental concerns.
Charterers are also increasingly under scrutiny with regard to the sustainability of their supply chains, not only in terms of their commodities but also the vessels that transport their cargo. However, there is currently a lack of guidance on how labour and human rights risks should be identified and mitigated. Plugging this gap is key to strengthening both chartering-related decision-making and due diligence processes.
This project will see charterers play an active role in raising the industry’s bar through the development of an industry code of conduct for actors joined together across the shipping value chain. Based on international labour and human rights standards and principles, this work will bring charterers, shipowners, and operators together for collective action, increasing transparency and driving positive change.
The work will further explore ways in which seafarers’ rights can be addressed by demanding transparency on labour and human rights risks, for example – through contractual terms and chartering provisions.
3. Using ECDIS
The Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) has released a new information paper, Recommendations on Usage of ECDIS and Preventing Incidents, which provides guidance to enhance policies and procedures regarding the safe use of Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS).
With more vessels using Electronic Navigational Charts for primary or secondary navigation, there have been several significant navigational incidents over the last decade where one of the contributing factors has been ECDIS-related. Recommendations on Usage of ECDIS and Preventing Incidents takes into account ECDIS-related navigational incident findings and safety-related observations from OCIMF’s Ship Inspection Report Programme (SIRE). To provide practical support and guidance, the information paper draws upon this analysis to provide recommendations for improving ECDIS-related practices and preventing ECDIS-related navigational incidents.
OCIMF managing director, Robert Drysdale, says “My view is that technology and digitalisation provide tools to ensure our industry will be successful and sustainable in the future. However, new technology can introduce unintended consequences if not planned, developed and introduced in a robust manner. Everyone recognises the benefits that ECDIS brings, but we have witnessed incidents caused through the misuse or misunderstanding of the technology. If followed, the recommendations contained in this information paper will help drive down the number of incidents associated with the use of ECDIS. I encourage all those who use ECDIS to read it and apply the recommendations.”
The information paper, which is available to download for free from www.ocimf.org, is aimed at ship owners, operators, masters, navigating officers and bridge team members including pilots, as well as ECDIS system manufacturers. Key chapters in the information paper cover ECDIS carriage requirements, ECDIS training and familiarisation, passage planning and alarm management.
4. Autonomous shipping contract
Introduction of autonomous ships continues to be a matter of much debate but the industry’s first standard contract for the operation of autonomous vessels is in the process of being drafted by BIMCO, with assistance from law firm HFW.
The new standard contract will be based on the SHIPMAN 2009 agreement for use with autonomous ships, and is expected to be published in 2021, HFW says, whose team of the drafting committee is led by Gudmund Bernitz and Henry Clack.
According to Gudmund Bernitz :”BIMCO and the drafting committee are facing an interesting challenge with creating this standard contract, in that there are currently no autonomous ships actually in operation. In fact, fully-autonomous shipping is likely still several years away. Many of the provisions are therefore having to be based on assumptions and expectations, and will continue to be refined and adapted over time as automation projects start to go live across the industry, to ensure that the standard contract continues to meet the needs of this emerging technology.”
5. Shipping transformation
The global pandemic has shown rapid change is possible. Can shipping seize on that momentum to enable positive, lasting transformation?
DNV GL’s Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen and Esben Poulsson, of the International Chamber of Shipping, argue that, if the industry works together as one, maritime has a golden opportunity to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis stronger, greener and more enlightened than ever. The time is right, they believe, for a maritime renaissance.
Read the interview article on how to take back control and help shipping navigate to a more profitable, efficient and sustainable future.
6. Rule B and arbitration
Rule B and pre-recognition remedies in maritime arbitration were the topic under discussion by P&I Club Skuld in a recent article. As the club puts it, there is nothing more frustrating to a successful claimant in an arbitral proceeding when it cannot enforce an award because the respondent has become insolvent.
Check out the club’s view of planning a strategy of enforcement of the award at an early stage in proceedings at https://www.skuld.com/topics/legal/pi-and-defence/rule-b-and-pre-recognition-remedies-in-maritime-arbitration/
7. Charterparty ping pong
Fixing a voyage charterparty is a game of “round the table” ping pong says Ince in its analysis on the touchy subject of when negotiations become binding, as outlined in the case of Nautica Marine Ltd v. Trafigura Trading LLC (Leonidas)  EWHC 1986 (Comm). When negotiating contracts parties need to be clear about any conditions contained in the contract and how these are applied.
For further details see the Ince website at: https://www.incegd.com/index.php/en/news-insights/maritime-touchy-subject-when-do-negotiations-become-binding.
8. Virtual IMO
Virtual meetings have been taking place at IMO to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing member states during the pandemic and going forward. In its virtual session from 4-11 November, the Maritime Safety Committee approved a circular which contained protocols for safe crew change during the pandemic. The protocols set up measures and procedures for crew change and travel, practical steps for joining or signing off vessels and measures to prevent infection on ships. They also emphasise the need for seafarers to be designated as key workers.
Up-to-date information on national focal points and on ports which facilitate crew changes will be made available in a new module in IMO’s Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS), following the agreement of the Committee.
The MSC agreed that IMO, working with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), develop a universal non-text logo or symbol that enables seafarers to identify, and consequently access, dedicated resources and processes on ship, in port and in transit to/from ships.
The MSC also agreed measures related to the delay in delivery of new ships resulting from the pandemic. Other issues covered included guidance on the use of remote surveys, and the issue of force majeure.
Meanwhile draft new mandatory regulations to cut the carbon intensity of existing ships have been approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), meeting in virtual session from 16-20 November 2020.
This builds on current mandatory energy efficiency requirements to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. The MEPC also agreed the terms of reference for assessing the possible impacts on states, paying particular attention to the needs of developing countries, in particular Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs).
The draft amendments to the MARPOL convention would require ships to combine a technical and an operational approach to reduce their carbon intensity. This is in line with the ambition of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy, which aims to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% by 2030, compared to 2008. The amendments were developed by the seventh session of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 7), held as a remote meeting 19-23 October 2020.
Further details can be found on the IMO website: www.imo.org.
9. Seafarers awards
Leading international seafarer welfare charity, The Mission to Seafarers, hosted the annual Seafarers’ Awards, Singapore on Friday 6th November to celebrate the individuals and organisations that have made significant contributions to improving the welfare of seafarers.
The Seafarer’s Award for the seafarer who has made a significant contribution to welfare at sea was won by Captain Jaswinder Singh of Fleetship with Captain Vinod Kumar of ASP Ships Group being highly commended.
Capt. Singh and his crew were recognised for their professional conduct and gallant deeds rendered at sea in the rescue of four people when they received a Mayday call which was followed by the ‘abandon ship’ call. The four survivors were taken onboard, looked after and transferred to the coastguard vessel the following day.
The Shore-based Award for the shore-based person who has made a significant contribution to seafarers’ welfare was awarded to Bjørn Højgaard of Anglo-Eastern Univan Group. Since the crew change crisis, Bjorn has actively addressed the issue of crew changes and sought key worker status for seafarers, lobbying government and industry bodies while also pushing the message to the media, both in his capacity as the Hong Kong Shipowners Association chairman and chief executive of one of the world’s largest ship managers. When many others were apprehensive about arranging crew relief due to the uncertainty of air and ground transportation, Bjorn persevered.
Meanwhile the Innovation Award for the company which has embraced a new programme, project or training which has enhanced seafarers’ welfare went to Thome Group with North of England P&I Club being highly commended. Thome Group launched an employee benefit programme called TSM Privilege Card which aims to aid offshore and onshore staff with their quality of life. Thome has also been investing heavily in wellness initiatives across the fleet to ensure mental and physical health and wellbeing of its crew and their families.
The Cadet Award for the Cadet or Trainee who has made a significant contribution to seafarers’ welfare at sea or ashore was Jarin Chowdhury of ASP Ships Group. Jarin is the first female cadet from Bangladesh on foreign flagged ships. She is an exceptional example of inspiration and achievement for the maritime community especially for female mariners. She motivates and mentors female seafarers in the country. Beyond her duties, she visits the Bangladesh Marine Academy and has been formally appointed as a mentor for junior cadets.
The Secretary General Award for the person or company who has shown sustained efforts to improve seafarers’ welfare at sea or ashore was awarded to Frank Coles of Wallem Group with Elizabeth Bleynat, former Mission to Seafarers intern, being highly commended. As the impact of the pandemic reverberated through the shipping industry, Frank Coles has capitalised on his platform as Wallem chief executive to advocate on behalf of seafarers, vigorously lobbying for industry regulators, trade bodies and national governments to deliver action rather than words as crew travel restrictions escalated into a human rights issue. He has participated in the intense liaisons with authorities that were required to organise repatriations at a time when rules on border crossings were changing regularly.
Many congratulations to all concerned.
10. AMSA crew changes
Interim Covid arrangements which have permitted seafarers to serve longer than 11 months on-board ships will end from 28 February 2021 the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has announced.
General manager of operations Allan Schwartz said that while flexibility on the part of regulators was necessary when the Covid-19 pandemic began, keeping seafarers on board ships for longer than 11 months is not sustainable going forward.
“In our view there has been sufficient time for ship operators to adjust to the Covid-19 world and develop new plans for seafarer repatriation and crew changes,” Schwartz said.
“Seafarers have shouldered a heavy burden during the Covid-19 pandemic, maintaining global trade and keeping our economies moving by delivering the vital supplies that we all need. But it has come at a personal cost to the seafarers who have spent longer on board ships, unable to take shore leave due to mandatory quarantine and separated from their friends and families.”
“It’s time the seafarers are recognised for their efforts and we all make the effort to get them home on time.”
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has welcomed the announcement. ITF Seafarers’ and Inland Navigation Section Coordinator, Fabrizio Barcellona, said that given the world had been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic for more than eight months, regulators and the industry needed to return to respecting the rights and welfare of seafarers.
“We welcome the decision by AMSA to end their exemptions for shipowners to have crew on board beyond the 11 months maximum allowed for internationally. But this is only the start of the action we need by port states to help resolve the crew change crisis and set clear expectations for the global shipping industry.”
“While we are disappointed that this unnecessary exemption will continue for another three months, we welcome the acknowledgement by Australia’s Port State Control that it is ‘not sustainable’ to persist with exemptions like this that harm the welfare of seafarers and infringe on their rights.”
11. Heroes at Sea
Those readers who would like a bit of a challenge during lockdown due to Covid can still do their bit by supporting the Heroes at Sea 2020 appeal. This has been launched in aid of seafarers, who have been subjected to the toughest of conditions during the pandemic, with difficulties signing on and off vessels, returning home and living in isolated circumstances for months at a time.
Walking, jogging, cycling and swimming are all means of supporting those at sea. The deadline for signing up is November 30th. For more details see the links below.
Sponsors so far include: China Navigation/Swire, One Ocean, PacMarine Services, SMOU, Voyager Worldwide, Mega Dynamic Builders, Wartsila Singapore, with individuals and groups including Drewry’s, Maersk Tankers and the Singapore Rotary Club.
12. Singapore MOU
The Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration (SCMA) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (Singapore Branch) (ICS Singapore). The MOU seeks to provide a framework between both organisations to achieve a sustainable, long-term relationship and permanent association. The MOU was signed on 6 November 2020, by Justice Chao Hick Tin, Chairman of SCMA, and Captain Subhangshu Dutt, Chairman of ICS Singapore.
Under the MOU, there will be opportunities for cross-sharing of knowledge through cross-promotion of events and initiatives, organisation of joint events and sharing of articles. In addition, there will be cross-representation — the Chairman of ICS Singapore will automatically become a member of SCMA’s Local Users Council and the Executive Director of SCMA will automatically be an observer on the Executive Council of ICS Singapore. The two organisations will be holding a webinar covering regional news – see Singapore feedback below for details.
Notices & Miscellany
John Reeder QC
Sadly we report that John Reeder QC died in hospital on 22nd October after a short illness and his funeral took place on 9th November.
John was working to the end and had advised only in recent weeks on salvage matters. He had been a consultant with the team at Tatham & Co since 2013 following his retirement from day to day advocacy. John was a leading Admiralty QC, a Lloyd’s Arbitrator and Appeal Arbitrator. He was editor of former editions of Brice on Maritime Law of Salvage and Lowndes & Rudolf on the Law of General Average.
The plan is jointly with 36 Stone to organise a memorial service, once circumstances allow, probably around the Inns of Court. John was one of the founder members of Stone Chambers in the late nineties and will be sadly missed by his friends and colleagues. A few comments by members on hearing the news included:
“His last email to me told yet more lively tales (in his own inimitable way) about him still leading a lovely life ‘lurking about on the seabed chasing treasure’. It ended with words about causing ‘tears to roll with laughter.’”
“A wonderful man…extraordinarily clever too: properly brilliant.”
“Wonderful man and a great colleague. A wonderful tradition of courtesy, kindness and just plain fun for us all to follow, in heartfelt gratitude for his time with us in Chambers.”
Memories like this are a tribute to the man, who will be sadly missed at 4 Field Court.
Further details can be found in the announcement below https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?n=david-ld-beard&pid=196991724
Maritime tourism summit
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