The Maritime Advocate–Issue 775


1. The blame game
2. Counterfeit vaccines
3. Reducing grounding risks
4. Vaccine lottery
5. Ship-Port Interface guide
6. Asbestos warning
7. Follow GA procedures
8. Ever Given Q&A
9. Places of refuge
10. Stowaway issues
11. Cyprus consultation campaign
12. UK ballast water consultation

Notices & Miscellany

Readers’ responses to our articles are very welcome and, where suitable, will be reproduced:
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1. The blame game

By Michael Grey

It is interesting to note how the investigation of accidents has moved on since the advent of the Vessel Data Recorder. When these devices first appeared in the 1990s, it is fair to say there was a good deal of apprehension among those whose words and actions might be recorded, if not for posterity, or used in evidence against them. An old shipmate who commanded a large ferry told me that the bridge team had started to communicate in whispers, lest their off the cuff remarks about their management be picked up by the microphones and lead to unfortunate consequences. I recalled that I rather sympathised, as I used to sing to keep up my spirits on the graveyard watch and I wouldn’t have wanted this to be subsequently awarded “nil points” by some surveillance officer.

But VDR was effectively “sold” to those afloat on the grounds that it could become a valuable friend, rather than the feared “spy in the cab”. I went to a VDR demonstration in which a hair-raising incident in Tokyo Bay showed that the ship was completely in the clear for the “near-miss”. Another case in which those aboard a ship were blamed for damaging a dry dock proved that the ship was still in the custody of the ship-repairer when the bump came. Subsequently, people became used to this device and its presence in the bridge and engine control room is now quite unremarkable.

But above all, the VDR provides real evidence in a way that logbooks and the memory of participants never did. Prior to its arrival on the scene, anyone seeking to determine what had happened in an incident would often have to attempt to reconcile widely differing accounts. It was not necessarily because people were attempting to pull the wool over the investigator’s eyes – memory and recollection of incidents, often a long time past, can be notoriously faulty. Some of the most notorious collision cases were never satisfactorily settled because of the utter conviction of those on each ship (furiously backed up by their employers) that their action was wholly in the right. If anyone doubts this, they should consult the records of the “radar-assisted” 1956 collision between the liners Andrea Doria and the Stockholm (which latter ship has, amazingly, just gone to the breakers).

One would like to think that the VDR data reveals exactly what happened aboard the giant containership Ever Given as she veered into the bank of the Suez Canal and precipitated one of maritime history’s most notable traffic jams. Unlike incidents in the past, where there would be months, if not years, of legal and professional argument, the recordings of voices, helm, rudder and engine data ought surely to provide a quick and easy resolution to the many questions raised.

Nevertheless, one cannot completely rule out the possible interference of professional pride and politics in discussions about such an event, with all their sensitivities, almost regardless of what the data reveals. For the proprietors of a waterway to admit that the wind had blown a ship out of the channel, it would be an admission that the canal was unsafe in certain conditions for certain important ships. But should they risk the wrath of an enormously important customer by suggesting that the ship is in some way deficient? It wouldn’t be the first time the pilots, bridge team, even the steering abilities of the helmsman, had been called into question after an incident in a tight waterway. But let us hope that the VDR “speaks its truth”, sufficiently clearly to avoid these sensitive issues. Then the lawyers, adjusters and insurers can get down to many productive months of lucrative work.

At the same time as the containership was being dug out of the canal, the US National Transportation Safety Board was publishing a fascinating report into the 2019 collision in the Houston Ship Channel in which the tanker Genesis River went out of control and ploughed into a tank barge being pushed in the opposite direction by the tug Voyager. What makes it sort of relevant is the account of “bank effect”, interaction with another passing ship, excessive speed and doubts about both rudder effectiveness and course stability. People who think that big ships handle like cars need to read of incidents like these, graphically revealed by the faithful recorders.

Michael Grey is former editor of Lloyd’s List.

2. Counterfeit vaccines

Having warned of various threats to the Covid-19 vaccines supply chain late last year, the TT Club is now reporting disruptions to vaccine supply round the globe due to criminal activity as unscrupulous individuals seek to take advantage of the drive to provide supplies of this very high value cargo. Dangers include not only illegal sales of authentic vaccines but supplying counterfeit drugs and contamination of supplies in transit.

Mike Yarwood, TT Club’s managing director of loss prevention, warns the risks should not be under-estimated, “It is probable that the market for counterfeit pharmaceuticals is worth US$400 billion a year and the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that up to 1 million people die annually from counterfeited drugs,” he points out.

“The current and future supply chain challenge to distribute the Covid-19 vaccines, in all their forms, from various countries of production, will mean that these figures are likely to grow.  Multiple incidents have already been reported,” said Yarwood. 

In the Netherlands, upon opening the trailer doors of a full truck load of pharmaceutical products, the consignee was faced with ten male migrants who had been hiding in the trailer. The cargo was contaminated and destroyed.  While in the UK, three arrests were made following the theft from a truck of Covid-19 lateral flow testing kits worth over  £100,000.

For more information see:

3. Reducing grounding risks

Maritime software provider NAPA has joined forces with ClassNK and MOL on the next stage of development of a navigational risk monitoring system. NAPA alongside classification society, ClassNK, and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines say the software they have been collaborating on to intelligently monitor and mitigate grounding risks has been verified as successful in its proof-of-concept stage. Following on from this they have agreed to the joint further development for a comprehensive navigational risk monitoring system.

The grounding risk monitoring system, which is based on ship performance monitoring and voyage planning platform, NAPA Fleet Intelligence, combines many data sources, such as position data, sea depth and navigational charts, to provide a robust and accurate fleet-wide platform to reduce grounding risk. The system also provides carefully calculated alerts and notifications to crew onboard, as well as those onshore if vessels operate in a high-risk way, strengthening ship-shore connectivity and enhancing response time.

The development of the vessel grounding risk monitoring system could help reduce future grounding incidents and increase the shipping industry’s safety standards, the partners say.

4. Vaccine lottery

Dry bulk shipowners association INTERCARGO has expressed its concern on the vaccination issue in recent days, warning that the vaccination lottery affecting the shipping industry is beginning to hit the dry bulk sector hardest. The organisation points to a lack of joined up thinking both by government leaders and the maritime industry which has been a feature of the crew change crisis that continues to affect crews worldwide. “We are seeing a number of port states suggesting that all crew on board a vessel must be vaccinated as a pre-condition of entering their ports, and indeed insisting on a particular brand of vaccine. This is of course a very serious problem for the industry as a whole, when we consider the high proportion of seafarers that come from developing countries with no access to any vaccine at all,” says Dimitris Fafalios,  INTERCARGO chairman.

“The dry bulk sector is, however, bearing the brunt of this uncertainty due to the nature of its business. Bulk carriers on tramp trading call at many more ports than other shipping sectors and are at the mercy of the nationalized vaccination policy, applying at the port of call.” He added: “While the world’s eyes were on the situation in the Suez Canal, a very real crisis has been unfolding behind the scenes, unnoticed and ignored by the world’s media.

The UN, IMO and global maritime organisations’ efforts must permeate not only every area of the shipping industry, but in addition urgent action outside the maritime sphere is needed by all government leaders at the highest level. Co-ordinating a worldwide vaccination programme for seafarers under WHO and making WHO approved vaccinations available to seafarers in their home country is an urgent priority. In addition, universal commitments for collective action are imperative to resolve the humanitarian crisis at sea with crew change, and to keep global trade moving.”

Dimitris Fafalios adds: “INTERCARGO is participating in a joint industry Vaccination Taskforce, led by the International Chamber of Shipping, aimed at providing clear solutions and practical guidance in the increasingly complex situation we currently face. The group has produced guidance on the legal, liability and insurance issues arising from the vaccination of seafarers and is also working on developing a preliminary list of vaccination hub ports.

5.  Ship-Port Interface guide

A new Ship-Port Interface Guide focusing on eight practical measures which can support GHG emission reduction at the ship-port interface has been released. Developed by the Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping (Low Carbon GIA) under the IMO-Norway GreenVoyage2050 Project, the guide aims to support the maritime industry in achieving IMO’s emission reduction goals and contribute to greener shipping.

The eight practical measures presented in the guide are:  facilitate immobilisation in ports, facilitate hull and propeller cleaning in ports, facilitate simultaneous operations in ports, optimise port stay by pre-clearance, improve planning of ships calling at multiple berths in one port, improve ship/berth compatibility through improved Port Master Data, enable ship deadweight optimisation through improved Port Master Data and optimise speed between ports.

The list of presented measures is non-exhaustive. The measures are a result of initial research and findings, and aim to raise awareness of potential ideas which the maritime community could explore further. Each measure presented in the Guide can be individually implemented or implemented collectively – which would maximise the emission reduction benefit. While particularly useful for stakeholders within the port community, the Guide is equally relevant for shipowners, operators, charterers, ship agents, shipbrokers, and other relevant stakeholders. These play a key role in implementing the necessary changes and facilitating the uptake of emission reduction measures in the ship-port interface.

The guide can be downloaded from the IMO website.


6. Asbestos warning

Those who have followed the long-running legal battles relating to medical conditions arising from proximity to asbestos will be alarmed by a new report by maritime testing facility Maritec which says that more than half of all ships are operating with systems containing asbestos on board.
Despite the introduction ten years ago of regulations prohibiting the use of asbestos materials onboard ship, a significant number of existing and newbuild vessels continue to operate systems and machinery containing the hazardous substance, Maritec says.

The company,which carried out asbestos surveys for IMO compliance between 2011 and 2020, estimates that more than 55% of in-service vessels and 50% of all newbuilds were found to contain asbestos materials.

John Rendi, General Manager, Environmental Services, Maritec, said: “Although newbuild ships are delivered with an asbestos free declaration, in many cases asbestos has been found onboard during subsequent surveys, or port state inspections.
“This is placing shipowners in a very difficult position. It can lead to fines and detentions along with the high cost associated with removal. More importantly, if seafarers and shipyard workers are unknowingly handling asbestos then they are at risk of developing a respiratory illness.”

Many owners have found they have asbestos on a ship following a survey, Maritec operations manager Alvin Lee says. “I would say the majority of vessels in operation contain asbestos, normally through spare parts in the form of gaskets, pipe gaskets and valve packing. A ship could leave the yard free of asbestos but find itself taking spare parts from countries where either asbestos has not yet been banned or where enforcement is weak. The problem is very much a supply chain issue.”
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7. Follow GA procedures

Following some uncertainty caused by the declaration of General Average by the owners of Ever Given, the British International Freight Association is alerting its members to follow GA procedures, even though there is no certainty that any cargo has actually been lost, and there are likely to be further legal actions regarding blame and salvage.

BIFA has reminded its members that have been affected by the news that General Average has been declared by the owner of the Ever Given that if they have incorporated the BIFA Standard Trading Conditions into their contract with their clients there is an indemnity concerning General Average costs in clause 20 D.

Furthermore, Clause 22 states: “Where liability arises in respect of claims of a General Average nature in connection with the Goods, the Customer shall promptly provide security to the Company, or to any other party designated by the Company, in a form acceptable to the Company.”

Robert Keen, Director General of BIFA says: “When our members receive notification that a General Average has been declared for a vessel, whatever the position, their first action must be to give the importer immediate notice. The appointed average adjusters will need to be in possession of completed guarantees and bond forms, or a cash deposit before release of cargo, so it is vital that the importer takes immediate action.

“Our advice to members is that with General Average being declared, any standard marine policy will include General Average losses, so if the goods have been insured the importer should obtain a General Average guarantee from the insurers.

“If no insurance has been organised then a cash deposit will be needed.”

“Evergreen Marine received a notice from the owner of the Ever Given which it has chartered, on April 1 stipulating that the owner had declared General Average.  This requires all parties who have had their assets preserved by the successful refloating operation to share the relevant expenses incurred in the rescue effort and concerned arrangements in accordance with the regulations of the International Maritime Convention,” Evergreen said in  a statement following the successful refloating of the ship.

“Evergreen has sufficient insurance cover for the carrier’s containers, bunker fuel and other assets for which it has responsibility on the ship to reduce the risk of cost sharing. Estimates indicate that the company’s risk exposure is extremely little. The company will cooperate with the General Average adjustor appointed by the shipowner to handle the arrangements.

“In addition, Evergreen has also notified customers who have cargoes on the ship, and its alliance partners who have used the ship’s capacity on this voyage, to provide deposits or surety bonds for sharing the salvage costs in accordance with the General Average adjustment rules.  Such deposits will be necessary before their cargoes can be released after the ship arrives at its destination ports.”

8. Ever Given Q&A

Although the container ship Ever Given was fortunately freed after less than a week blocking the Suez Canal, the consequences for owners and operators due to the delays caused may last for several weeks or even months.

Who pays for these delays will largely be a matter of what’s written in the charterparty and what insurance cover is in place. With a focus on contractual implications BIMCO has prepared this brief Q&A on the key issues and take-aways for owners and charterers.

In all instances, parties should carefully review their fixture terms and, where appropriate, seek legal advice before acting, BIMCO says.

9. Places of refuge

Coastal states need to reconsider their responsibilities when granting refuge to damaged ships, the TT Club has said. A detailed review of some of the more serious container ship fires of recent years highlights issues of concern following an incident in terms of safety to crew, the stricken ship and its cargo, and the maritime and coastal environment.

Speaking at the Middle East Transport and Logistics Summit recently, TT Club’s Abdul Fahl pointed to the substantial delays in finding damaged ships a place of refuge. Recent cases involving MSC Flaminia, Maersk Honam and Yantian Express were examples of  heavily damaged, fire-stricken ships which took at worst almost three months to be granted refuge and a further period approaching six months elapsed before their cargo could be safely and securely discharged.

Fahl explained, “A place of refuge – typically a port – is where a ship in need of assistance can take shelter to enable it to stabilise its condition and reduce the hazards to navigation and protect human life and the environment. There are no international conventions or mandatory regulations directly compelling a state to provide refuge.  IMO resolutions promote preparedness and the need for coastal states to take responsibility to avoid compounding issues faced by ships in distress. Equally, EU member states are required to draw up and implement plans to take ships in distress requesting refuge under their authority. However, the relevant Directive stops short of imposing a legal obligation on the coastal States to provide such refuge.”

The International Maritime Organization   guidelines state “when a request for an access to a place of refuge is made, there is no obligation for the coastal State to grant it, but the coastal State should weigh all the factors and risks in a balanced manner and give shelter whenever reasonably possible.”

Despite such ‘requirements’ and ‘guidelines’, the fire-crippled MSC Flaminia, on which three crew members died, was denied access to a number of ports in Europe for eleven weeks before berthing in Wilhelmshaven, Germany.  Even then, a further 20 or more weeks elapsed before her remaining containers were discharged in Romania.  The Maersk Honam was even more seriously damaged in the Arabian Sea – with five crew losing their lives. The severely destabilised ship was eventually allowed into Jebel Ali, Dubai some eleven weeks later.

Such delays endanger crews and salvors, increase the risk of further fire and damage, augment the possibility of maritime pollution and environmental damage of the coasts, and enlarge the losses of unaffected containers and cargo due to their extended transit times to their final destinations. While clearly each incident presents multifaceted issues and diverse interests, the balance in favour of coastal State sovereignty, economy and environment may restrict the readiness to provide assistance to ships in distress.

As a result, TT Club is urging all stakeholders, port administrations, coastal states and the regulatory authorities to consider carefully their responsibilities to be proactive in setting up and testing emergency plans in regard to places of refuge on safety, environmental and moral grounds.


10. Stowaway issues

Human Rights at Sea has just published a new independent Insight Briefing Note on stowaways looking at the background to incidents at sea, the drivers for individuals to take such risks and the human consequences.

Today, stowaways continue to be found onboard commercial vessels causing disruption to the master, crew, owner and the voyage. In some circumstances they may be a direct threat to the safety, security and well-being of the crew and vessel, but in other circumstances they may be compliant, of no threat, seeking economic betterment, or fleeing persecution and human rights’ abuse, the charity says. The briefing covers the recent Nave Andromeda case that involved the intervention of UK anti-terrorist units.

This incident, like those before it and those which have since followed, re-emphasises the need for such events to be viewed in context with the majority of stowaways acting peacefully and being delivered without incident to the authorities at the next port of call, Human Rights at Sea says.

Download the April 2021 Stowaway review document supported by Norton Rose Fulbright, OceanMind and MIRIS International using the link below.

Download Now!

11. Cyprus consultation campaign

The Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry (SDM) has launched a consultation campaign to gather feedback on key maritime issues, used to co-create a long-term strategic vision for Cyprus shipping.

This open consultation will continue throughout April and May and focus on three main topics: environmental sustainability, digital transformation, and external factors such as crew changes and piracy. The Cyprus SDM will then consolidate all the information to determine a clear vision, mission and objectives to lead positive industry-wide progress. The strategy will be officially launched at the Maritime Cyprus 2021 conference in October this year.

For more information on the Cyprus SDM, to be part of leading positive change, and to contribute to Cyprus’ strategic vision for shipping, please visit the website here: 

A video invitation message by the Shipping Deputy Minister to the President, Mr Vassilios Demetriades is available on the following link:

12. UK ballast water consultation

Consultation began last month on new laws which would further protect United Kingdom coastlines by stopping international ships from discharging potentially harmful species into the sea.

The Merchant Shipping (Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments) Regulations 2020 would introduce legislation into UK law controlling the discharge of ships’ ballast water into UK waters.

Ballast water can contain aquatic species that are harmful to native UK ones and the legislation will stop vessels from potentially releasing them onto the UK coastline.

The new legislation, put forward by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), is based on the international Ballast Water Management Convention which was negotiated at the International Maritime Organization.

Katy Ware, director of UK Maritime Services for the MCA, said: “We have some of the most beautiful coastline in the world and we all have a collective responsibility to care for it. By introducing this Convention into UK law, we are protecting our coastline from potentially harmful aquatic species and pathogens such as Chinese Mitten crabs and Zebra mussels, which could be discharged by vessels visiting the UK.”

She added: “Although there is a cost for operators to comply with it, the cost to our coastline if they don’t is immeasurable.”

The UK hopes to accede to the Convention by the end of 2021.

To view the consultation please click here.

Notices & Miscellany

New London Club underwriters
Mark Esdale, who has worked in the P&I industry for 20 years, joins the London P&I Club as Associate Director.As a highly-experienced Underwriter, his main focus at the London P&I Club will be to assist in the further development of its fixed premium business.  George Dickson has been appointed as Underwriter. Before joining the London P&I Club George spent five years with a fixed premium insurance provider specialising in the European commercial market. At the London P&I Club George will cover both the fixed and mutual sides of the Club’s business.

Funding short sea ships
MARE FORUM and CONOSHIP are hosting the 4th edition of a series of digital Mare Forum round tables named Funding Short Sea Ships on April 15, 2021 at 11am CEST.

Register For Free

LNG seminar
The UK Chamber of Shipping’s webinar programme continues on 19th April with a presentation by Kenneth English, Consultant Marine Engineer, Waves Group.

This webinar will provide an insight into LNG as an energy source, its extraction process, shoreside storage, vessel loading facilities, types of vessels and bunkering operations. It will provide a practical guide to industry practices and the inherent risks and mitigations for transporting, handling, and bunkering of LNG.

It will explore how LNG is contained and handled onboard vessels, explaining the types of tanks it can be carried in and how it is utilized for propulsion.  This webinar will also further examine the risks and potential safety hazards it poses, ranging from Cryogenic temperatures to a full-scale release, the potential effects on the environment and its application in the future.

Sign up here

Maritime Security publication
The first edition of Maritime Security: A Comprehensive Guide for Shipowners, Seafarers and Administrations has been launched.

This new title provides crucial information on the security threats faced by the shipping industry, the statutory requirements that ships, shipping companies and port facilities must meet and guidance on how to conduct a thorough threat assessment for a voyage. The guide also contains a model Ship Security Plan for ships to implement.

Maritime Security: A Comprehensive Guide for Shipowners, Seafarers and Administrations is priced at £180 and is available to order directly from Witherbys or your local maritime bookseller.

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


And finally,

The following poem was composed by Barrie Youde before the Ever Given was successfully refloated.

At thirteen knots the vessel moves two hundred thousand tons.
Look, look! A sight magnificent! How beautif’ly she runs!
The land is on the port side and is on the starboard, too.
What distance, then? What is the gap allowed between the two?
Why, several hundred feet, Sir! It is wider than the ship!
What could go wrong? What query could be on the pilot’s lip?
What is the room for error? Very little, that’s for sure.
There’s substantial room for terror that she’ll end up on the shore.
The ship, d’you see, is longer than the gap allowed for passage.
Some might suggest some caution, speed reduction and some massage.
Some balance of the risks involved. Some due evaluation.
Some call for recognition of the laws of navigation.
Stoutly hearted, on she goes! She’s slimmer than the gap!
This needle’s eye is useful in the global trading map.
To question calls of commerce is a question quite banal
When called upon to navigate a purpose-built canal.
On, on she goes at thirteen knots, and such a graceful speed.
Here is mankind’s magnificence and lunacy and greed.
On, on she goes and happily. Misfortune then arises.
Expect the unexpected, as you should, to meet surprises.
A sudden sheer, for cause unknown, has caught the vessel yet,
And part of her is stuck and dry which should be clear and wet.
And how long will it take to free her, grounded at both ends?
Why, that is for the salvors. What d’you make of it, my friends?

Barrie Youde


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