The Maritime Advocate–Issue 776


1. Go on, stop on
2. GISIS on crew change
3. Trading legend
4. Ballast water confusion
5. Port data clause
6. Korean Register CSR changes
7. Decarbonisation in Singapore
8. BMA Covid survey
9. Ammonia safety research
10. Covid testing
11. Witness statements
12. Titanic anniversary
13. Piracy hotspot

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1. Go on, stop on

By Michael Grey

There could, I was reading the other day, be something of a societal change taking place as we emerge from Covid, to a kinder, greener and more inclusive world. This was evidenced by several of the most prominent finance houses and management consultants suggesting they would move away from their more inhuman practices such as making junior members of staff work long and antisocial hour.
Responding to objections from post-millennials, who would like some time off on their career path en-route to ludicrous rewards, it has been suggested that they might get the odd weekend to themselves. The Scots have been toying with the notion of a four-day week, although that might have something to do with an upcoming election.

Forecasts of societal change are perilous and natural sceptics will suggest that once we get back to something approaching normality, old habits will re-assert themselves. But it would be nice if the outbreak of universal kindness over the world of work could be exported to the maritime world, where there are few signs of it, thus far. True, there are all sorts of supportive messages about the need to consider the mental health of seafarers, just as long as its cost doesn’t appear on the ship owner’s balance sheet.  My old secretary, who was fond of killer put-downs, might have suggested that such are “all mouth and no trousers”.

But there is no evidence whatever that the frequently voiced complaints about exhaustion, fatigue and the dubious compliance with MLC rules, are producing any changes. Both the recent World Maritime University and Cardiff University studies on compliance with regulations on work and rest hours ought to have rung warning bells about an industry operating on the edge of legality. These reports, along with the effects of the pandemic, seem to have stimulated a certain amount of debate among seagoing professionals, mostly in the form of correspondence to their various organisations.

One rather shocking letter published in the Nautical Institute’s Seaways magazine tells of a tanker officer who suffered a heart attack after working 84 hours without a break. The same correspondent writes that on every ship he had served on, “hours of work were regularly exceeded due to the demands of compliance with other safety and operational matters”. Another, in the same issue, notes that none of his older colleagues seem to be surviving into old age following a working life of disrupted circadian rhythms and fatigue taken for granted. The old jokes about ship’s officers being woken up by officials checking up on the hours of rest really aren’t funny anymore.

It is obvious that firstly, there are not sufficient people aboard most ships to deal with the work that needs to be done, that the operational and bureaucratic burden on a few senior officers has become unbearable and that the pace of modern ship operations has become ridiculous. And none of this is going to be remotely improved by clever apps on smartphones or even software that will keep ships’ officers’ noses stuck in front of their screens inputting garbage that somebody demands ashore. Sure, we might get all the machinery wired up to transmit data to the engine manufacturer and wonderful “digitisation” that is said to be the cat’s pyjamas. Will any of this reduce the incessant demands upon a few exhausted people aboard ship? There needs to be a realistic assessment of the work that needs to be done, and the people available to do it, with proper leeway for illness, emergencies and the frequent untoward demands. There also needs to be a more rigorous application of the rules – the airlines would be an excellent example to follow, where there is no elasticity whatever. Or we could just slow down to a reasonable pace – we are not fighting a war here, but maintaining world trade and that shouldn’t be at the expense of anyone’s health. That’s what society seems to be saying, but will shipping shut its collective ears?

Michael Grey is former editor of Lloyd’s List.

2. GISIS on crew change

BIMCO has highlighted the International Maritime Organization’s creation of a new module on the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) for crew change and repatriation of seafarers, discontinuing the issue of the MSC.7/circ.1 series.

The IMO has been issuing MSC.1/circ.1 in a series of revisions each time a new IMO member state informs the IMO of their national focal point of contact for crew change and repatriation of seafarers. BIMCO has been posting the updates in its COVID-19 implementation measures section.

Via their circular letter no. 4398 dated 8th April, the IMO announced that a new module on Crew Change and Repatriation of Seafarers is now available on the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS). This is where member states will enter the information, as done previously by the circular letter series, directly into this new module, allowing for notification and dissemination of information on the national focal point of contact for crew change and repatriation of seafarers. The MSC.7/circ.1 series will be discontinued as the information will now be transferred to the new module.

Guidance on the use of this new module and how to access it, is set out in the above-mentioned circular letter no. 4398, item 4 of Annex I.

Users need to set up a free account in GISIS in order to access the above as well as other resources available to public users.

3. Trading legend

Those interested in the major trading players in the Far East should take a look at an article written by Tokyo-based author and journalist Eiichiro Tokumoto on the story of how a small ship, the schooner Troas, changed the course of history when Scottish merchant William Keswick set out for Yokohama in 1859. The voyage was to be the start of a relationship with Japan by Jardine Matheson.

The story, which appeared in the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s magazine Acumen is an excerpt of an article originally published in Japan’s weekly Shincho magazine (12th and 19th November 2020.).

The BCCJ translation can be viewed at

4. Ballast water confusion

Conflicting interpretation of the records in the ballast water record book (BWRB) by external parties means ships’ crews are faced with a dilemma when filling out the information in the BWRB, BIMCO has warned. In response to this, the association has co-sponsored a paper for the upcoming 76th Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting (MEPC 76) with the aim to improve the existing IMO guidance on the topic.

Currently, ships’ crews are being presented with conflicting interpretations of the various entries in the ballast water record book (BWRB) by administrations, class societies, port state control authorities and third-party auditors, BIMCO says.

In comparison, the oil record book under The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) follows a strict coding system, making it less prone to different interpretations. As the BWRB does not have such a coding system, conflicting interpretations are often encountered for items such as:

•    Ballast water exchange; which entry and which method?
•    The exact meaning of the term “circulated” and “treated”.
•    Recording of ballast water treated during ballasting and de-ballasting.
•    Should entries be made tank-by-tank?

The ballast water management convention is still in a so-called experience building phase, which allows member states and ships to gather experience on the implementation, analyse the gathered experience and, if required, review and amend the convention.

At the upcoming MEPC 76 on 10 June 2021, the plan is to move from the experience gathering to the analysis stage. The submitted paper is based on gathered experience by the industry and will be used to analyse and review the BWM Convention, especially, Appendix II – Form of the Ballast water record book.

MEPC 76/4/2 – Review of ballast water record book 0.4 MB Download now