The Maritime Advocate–Issue 768



1. Your New Year Quiz
2. No “no crew change” clauses says IMO
3. IACS reorganises
4. New rules on cyber
5. Mission to Seafarers fundraiser
6. IBC Code amendments
7. Maritime Labour Convention changes
8. Sanctions and penalties
9. Moving vaccines
10. Christmas cheer

Notices & Miscellany

Readers’ responses to our articles are very welcome and, where suitable, will be reproduced:
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1. Your New Year Quiz

By Michael Grey

Do seafarers have souls? Are they sentient human beings, with natural rights, or, as the last mooring rope is slipped, do they become inanimate; items of ship’s equipment, like the oily water separator or the windlass? And while pondering these questions, which are really more practical than philosophical or theological, we might also ask whether charterers have hearts?

You have to wonder, as reports about how seafarers have been treated by their fellow human beings, since the Covid-19 plague provoked its panic-stricken response around the ports of the world. Nobody with an ounce of decency can fail to be enraged by the appalling plight of the bulker Anastasia, swinging around her anchor for nearly six months off the North China port of Caofeidan, along with another small fleet of laden tonnage waiting for berths.

The ship is operated by MSC, but Covid restrictions and general refusal by charterers to consider the need of the crew for relief have seen the adamantine hearts of the latter exposed to the worst possible degree. All sorts of solutions have been proposed – relieving the crew at the anchorage has been rejected, while the proposal to divert the ship to a Japanese port where the authorities are sympathetic, has been refused by the charterers. The operators, between a rock and a hard place, fear that the ship would be arrested if they attempted to order the master to seek succour elsewhere, with the crew merely becoming pawns for a whole lot longer.

Meanwhile the mainly Indian crew has sought the intervention of the Indian and Australian authorities, although neither government can be said to be enjoying cordial relations with that in Beijing. The ship was running out of fresh water but what was supplied was found to be effectively non-potable, after several of those who drank it became ill.

Who cares about this, apart from the crew and their relatives?  The institutions and agencies do their bit of course, but when it comes to rights, it seems that the inanimate rights of the charterers always trump everything else and protests fall on stony ground – that is ignored. It was notable that the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organisation, no less, felt impelled over the festive season to provide some very firm words about the utterly disgraceful practice of charterers seeking to insert a “no crew reliefs” clause into sundry charter parties. You would like to think that this might make a difference, but it probably won’t stop the practice, as the blighters will merely find some other crafty way around the wording. Remember the rights of the charterer are sacrosanct, as established in umpteen cases of Admiralty law. So there is no point in working yourself into a rage about seafarers’ rights.

Another item that struck a chord for all the wrong reasons in the run-up to Christmas came from the little New Zealand port of Napier, where a general cargo ship suffered a serious hold fire lying alongside, and the crew required to be evacuated. The ship had been 17 days at sea, the crew apparently healthy, but you would think, from the rage stoked up by the local media, that they were importing bubonic plague, by affording refuge to this company of seafarers. Admittedly, New Zealand (largely because of its geography) has been astonishingly successful at managing the pandemic, but it hasn’t been any fun at all for the seafarers upon whom that small country totally depends for its imports and exports, during the duration.

Napier was one of my favourite ports on the Kiwi coast, a small seaside town where the natives, who would flock to the port to look at any ships in at the weekend, were the soul of hospitality. There were tennis courts and putting greens within a five minute walk of the ship, and some of the loveliest country you could imagine not far away. It somehow saddened me to read about the deterioration in human relations over the years as the seafarers that country depended upon became invisible, as they have done everywhere else.

If nothing else, does not this Covid crisis, now being employed as an excuse for some pretty nasty legislation and crazed schemes for “rewilding” and veganism, show up the need for a proper revisit of the relationship between owners and charterers, not to mention the collateral like the crew? It is time to look at whether ancient case law, constantly cited by learned lawyers, is appropriate to the style and practicality of modern shipping and maritime commerce. My suggestion is that there should be constituted a high-level Commission, presided over by BIMCO, which retains its reputation for fairness, impartiality but above all practical professionalism , but with representation from those with an interest in a fair and decent final outcome. And it would be awfully nice if, somewhere in the not too small print, it could recognise that seafarers have souls. 

Michael Grey is former editor of Lloyd’s List.

2.  No “no crew change” clauses says IMO

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has spoken out against “no crew change” clauses in charterparties, pointing out that such clauses exacerbate the dire situation of stranded seafarers and undermine the efforts undertaken to resolve the ongoing crew change crisis.

So-called “no crew change” clauses, which are demanded by certain charterers, state that no crew changes can occur whilst the charterer’s cargo is onboard – hence not allowing the ship to deviate to ports where crew changes could take place. IMO’s Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT) has been made aware of this worrying development in recent weeks.

In a statement issued on 18 December, supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO),  Lim called upon all charterers to refrain from requesting to include “no crew change” clauses in charterparties, and further called upon shipowners and operators to reject them if they are demanded. 
“Such clauses exacerbate the mental and physical fatigue among exhausted seafarers, undermine compliance with the provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, as amended (MLC, 2006) and further threaten the safety of navigation”, he said adding that alternative contractual clauses that do allow for crew changes during the pandemic are available and should be utilized. 

“Resolving the crew change crisis requires the best efforts of all stakeholders.  The elimination of the use of “no crew change” clauses is just one of those efforts”, the Secretary-General said, reaffirming the commitment of the organisation to assist all member states, the industry and seafarers in this regard.
International organisations  made statements at the latest meeting of IMO’s Legal Committee, LEG 107, to condemn the use of “no crew change” clauses in charterparties. The Committee invited submissions on the matter to its 108th session, scheduled to take place in July 2021.

A framework of protocols for ensuring safe crew changes and travel during the pandemic has been issued which were endorsed by the Maritime Safety Committee and circulated as MSC.1/Circ.1636.
The plight of stranded seafarers is highlighted in an IMO video featuring seafarers who describe the challenges they have faced due to the pandemic, and the impacts of the ongoing crew change crisis on their physical and mental health.

3. IACS reorganises

The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) announced changes to its governance model in December which aim to future-proof IACS as it prepares to tackle challenges faced by many trade associations at a time when technology is changing rapidly and new regulation is coming into force in challenging market conditions.

One alteration involves moving away from having a change in chairman every year towards an election to the Council chairmanship every two years and an elected General Policy Group chairman to join the IACS Secretariat in London for a three year term. Other changes include moving to majority voting for most decisions and an enhanced role for the chairman’s office to speed up decision making in addition to the permanent role of Secretary General.

 “The consistency in representation provided by a two-year Chair, a permanent Secretary General and a GPG Chair in post for three years will reinforce the establishment and maintenance of key industry relationships.  Deeper and wider cooperation will allow potential issues to be identified early while also providing time for solutions to be discussed and worked through in a more consistent fashion at both the policy and technical levels,” IACS said in a statement.

“These external facing measures are complemented by efforts to streamline IACS internal decisions as both the number and pace of new initiatives continues to increase.  As a technical standards-setting body, the results of which are embedded into IACS Members’ own Class Rules, IACS needs to balance the need for robust adoption criteria with the need to minimise bureaucracy.  Moving to simple majority voting for most decisions achieves this while the robustness of that process is protected by having any such majority decision also being dependent on it being comprised of members who collectively represent fifty per-cent or more of IACS’ total registered gross tonnage,”.

Further details of the changes are available in the IACS website


4. New rules on cyber

Shipowners and managers are required under IMO rules to implement cyber risk management in their safety management systems (SMS) as of January 1, 2021 and BIMCO and other trade associations have contributed to the recently published version 4 of the cyber security guidelines. Shipowners and ship managers need to implement cyber risk management in their SMS by the time of their first Document of Compliance audit after 1 January 2021. While the previous version in November 2018 offered the necessary guidance for the initial work of implementing cyber risk management in the SMS, the new version contains several improvements, BIMCO says.

“In recent years, the industry has been subjected to several significant incidents which have had a severe financial impact on the affected companies,” explains Dirk Fry, chair of BIMCO’s cyber security working group and director of Columbia Ship Management.

“While these incidents have had little or no safety impact, they have taught us some very important lessons which have been incorporated into the new version of the guidelines,” adds Fry.
BIMCO explains that the most recent version   contains general updates to best practice in the field of cyber risk management, and as a key feature, includes a section with improved guidance on the concept of risk and risk management. The improved risk model takes into consideration the threat as the product of capability, opportunity, and intent, and explains the likelihood of a cyber incident as the product of vulnerability and threat. Thus, the improved risk model offers an explanation as to why still relatively few safety-related incidents have unfolded in the maritime industry, but also why this should not be misinterpreted and make shipping companies lower their guard.

”With the increased connection of devices and systems to the internet, more opportunities will present themselves and more vulnerabilities in need of safeguarding will emerge in the future,” says Fry.

“Cyber security is an arms race between the attackers and the defenders, where the attacker has the luxury of first choice of weapon. Because we can never be 100% secure in such circumstances, we must extract all the learnings we can from past events. We should be capable of quickly recovering from incidents because we know they will most likely occur at some point. Drawing on the most recent experiences from the industry and beyond, the new version of the guidelines will help us achieve just that,” Fry says.

Guidelines on Cyber Security Onboard Ships (Version 4) 3.4 MB


5. Mission to Seafarers fundraiser

The Mission to Seafarers announced last month the launch of a new fundraising campaign to sustain the crew welfare support currently being provided around the world at a time when it is most needed and as the Covid-19 pandemic continues. The Mission will unveil a rolling programme of initiatives which will have significant benefits for the welfare of the entire industry from welfare training for seafarers and frontline staff to new family support network offerings, reassurance and practical help.
The programme has already received a generous donation from MSC to start the Sustaining Crew Welfare Campaign which will ensure the Mission is providing the best care possible, encouraging innovation in adapting and maintaining services to meet seafarers’ needs, and providing mental wellbeing support.
Following the success of the Flying Angel Campaign, which provided immediate welfare relief where it was most needed, The Mission to Seafarers is now focusing on a sustainability programme to ensure the support continues for seafarers. In response to a possible mental health crisis, the lack of crew changes and the families impacted by extended or cancelled contracts, the Mission will be focusing initially on three main strands to offer support: Justice & Welfare, Innovation & Regional Support and Family Support.
The Revd Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers comments:
 “During the pandemic, seafarers’ health has become even more fragile, with some working in excess of a year without a break. With limited crew changes, and in some countries no sign of the pandemic easing, our help is vital to those on the front line of international trade. Our Flying Angel Campaign was crucial to providing rapid relief and support to seafarers facing the most challenging circumstances.
“Now we need to be able to sustain this network of welfare support. We are calling on the industry to recognise that this crisis has not abated and we need to unite to support our international key workers. Without the generosity of donations, our work is not possible. We give our sincere thanks to MSC for providing the first donation of our new campaign and look forward to being able to continue our support for seafarers.”

For more information on this project, and the range of sponsorship and funding opportunities available at all levels, please visit: or contact

6. IBC Code amendments for OSVs

Amendments to the IBC Code will take effect from 1 January 2021. Although the IBC Code regulates the transport of dangerous chemicals in bulk on tankers, it also impacts OSVs transporting chemicals in bulk. Consequently, some important considerations will be needed to keep the vessel fit for purpose. DNV GL has written an article giving details of the IBC Code revisions for OSVs. This outlines some of the challenges facing owners and operators as well as guidelines published by the Norwegian Maritime Authority in preparation for the introduction of the new rules.–1925

7. Maritime Labour Convention changes

The 2018 amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention,
2006  ( MLC,2006)  entered into force on 26 December
2020 and BIMCO has issued advice on the scope of the changes and
how shipowners/ managers/ operators can achieve compliance.

The 2018 amendments to the MLC 2006 will bring about a change to a
seafarer’s employment agreement (SEA) where it shall continue to
have effect and wages shall continue to be paid while a seafarer
is held captive on or off the ship as a result of acts of piracy
or armed robbery against ships. This is regardless of whether the
date fixed for the SEA’s expiry has passed or any notice to
terminate it has been issued.
details are available on BIMCO’s MLC section/ 2018 amendments

Shipowners/ managers/ operators must review their policies,
procedures and SEAs and/or any applicable collective bargaining
agreements to ensure compliance with the amendments and  any
document that contains statements that are contradictory to the
amendments. As for the Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance
(DMLC) and MLC certificate for ships, the relevant ship flag State
or their RO (recognised organisation) should be consulted.

Additional information is available at BIMCO
MLC, 2006 landing page

8. Sanctions and penalties

Banco San Juan Internacional, Inc. v Petroleos De Venezuela SA
(PDVSA) is another case in which the effect of US sanctions has
come before the English courts. In this instance  the court
did not agree with PDVSA that it could rely on sanctions
provisions in finance documents to escape its obligations as
borrower on the basis of sanctions aimed, in part, at PDVSA,
Watson, Farley & Willams said in an opinion piece last month.

“The PDVSA case is the latest manifestation of the lack of
sympathy, evident from a number of earlier cases, with which the
English courts treat parties who attempt, without good grounds or
contrary to the risk allocation of the contract, to invoke
sanctions or sanctions-related contractual provisions to escape
liability,” WFW believe.

Read the full story at:

9. Moving vaccines

As multimodal transport continues to ramp up movements of the
Covid-19 vaccines round the globe, logistical issues come to the
fore. “Risk exists at every juncture including packaging, packing,
transport and unpacking,”says the TT Club in an online viewpoint.
“Contamination risks will be amplified given the sensitive nature
of the cargo. Carrying equipment will need to be clean, clear of
debris, free of visible pests, and controlled to ensure that
previous loads will not lead to taint or odour. Ship stowage
planning may also require increased attention.”

Take a look at the issues contained in Mike Yarwood’s article in
TT Talk at

10.  Christmas cheer

For those needing a bit of Christmas cheer to escape from the
gloom, the team at law firm Zeiler Floyd Zadkovich have come up
with a few alternative legal cases for readers to get their teeth
into. Here you can take a look at how the Hague Visby Rules apply
to Father Christmas’ deliveries worldwide in time for Christmas
morning and what the position is with regard to force majeure in
the well- known case of SantaClaus v XmasCoal.

When applying Hague Visby, wordings relating to door to door, or
pole to tree, need to be considered.  We understand that
“Failure to include such wording may raise questions about whether
delivery actually occurs ‘over the sleigh’s rail’, rather than
under the tree, thereby reducing Santa’s potential liability for
arguably the most precarious aspect of the carriage, ie. the
delicate manoeuvring required to avoid a “vertical grounding”
during the chimney leg.”

Check out the full story at

Notices & Miscellany

American Club seminar
The American Club’s Virtual Market Presentation for Europe,
Middle East, Africa is due to take place on Wednesday, January 13,
Please register for the webinar here:

Design for the future
Mare Forum and Bureau Veritas will host the second online round
table of the series “Designing zero-carbon ships of the future and
what to do until they are ready”.  Designing the Ship of the
Future 2 will be held on Thursday, January 7, 2021 · 11:00:00 AM
CET (90 min).
for Free

UK Chamber conference
The UK Chamber of Shipping’s first ever Virtual Conference:
Creating Pathways to 2030 will take place on 11th February 2021
and consist of VIP speeches, Keynote Speakers and Breakout
Sessions. The conference’s aim is to generate pathways for the
next decade which will enable progress to be measured towards
safer and cleaner shipping. The morning’s Breakout Sessions will
be split into Technology, Safety, People and Environment.
up here

Hide & Seekers Syndicate

Mary Ignarski has two places left in her horse racing syndicate
‘The Hide and Seekers’. If you’re interested in joining, please

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