The Maritime Advocate–Issue 823

Posted:

1. Testing times
2. Underwater noise
3. Ship finance year
4. Happiness rising
5. SSY outlook
6. Average adjuster update
7. Ballast water dangers 
8. Apprentice search
9. Fixtures app
10. Seafarers’ wage bill
11. Challenging conditions
12. Car fires
13. Crew restrictions
14. Irish regulations

Notices & Miscellany

Readers’ responses to our articles are very welcome and, where suitable, will be reproduced. Write to: contactus@themaritimeadvocate.com


1. Testing times

By Michael Grey

You would almost think that it is a seasonal phenomenon, these regular warnings about ships’ machinery grinding to a standstill on account of something nasty having been introduced into the bunker tanks. The consequences of off-spec or non-compliant fuel are generally dire, ranging from wrecked machinery, to expensive operations to purge the system and rid the ship of the filthy stuff, which never should have been aboard in the first place, if the proper precautions had been taken. And it might be that the “non-compliance” involves illegality, which beside the above, could see the owner and the Master (why the Master of a ship is responsible for bunker specifications is one of the mysteries of the sea) heavily fined by a wrathful flag state, whose inspectors have detected the problem.

The latest warning, in the shape of a report from Lloyd’s Register and their specialist consultants Thetius, put some numbers into the public domain. The report suggests that no less than 1m tonnes of off-spec and non-compliant fuel are detected every year; a pretty staggering quantity. I always like to think of these numbers in units which can be easily grasped, and that’s four VLCCs full of the stuff, if you like, which is said to cost ship operators between $27,000 and $50,000 per incident. And what about the ones which got away?

Is this a problem which is getting worse, or is it that with a greater emphasis upon inspections to ensure compliance with more onerous fuel regulations, brought about by emission criteria, there is just more of it being picked up? And it is worth putting the problem into perspective, in a time of changing regulations, increasing focus upon fuel quality and against the millions of tons of maritime fuels that are annually consumed by the world fleet.

But whatever is the answer to these questions, there is no escaping from the fact that the quality of marine fuel is generally far less assured than practically any other. One can be reasonably sure that somebody running a power station, or other large fuel consuming machinery, will not put up with the sort of louche performance standards in the supply of fuel routinely put up with by ships’ chief engineers. And a supplier of off spec fuel to the motor trades or aviation wouldn’t last long in the business. You might say that ships – here today and gone tomorrow – are natural victims of sharp practice – there are plenty of stories from years ago about even coal being so poor that the steam pressure could not be maintained. Perhaps the “culture” which presided over shale and stones masquerading as useful fuel just never really changed when oil came along.

It is probably also a fact that in so many cases it is the charterer, rather than the owner, who is responsible for the bunkers, is looking for a cheap deal, and may only be vaguely interested in the quality of what is supplied. Moreover, even though there are these regular warnings and stern invocations to test fuel taken aboard before it is ever let near the machinery, it will be invariably to the owner’s account.

There are excellent and highly reputable fuel testing services available all around the world, so if everyone could be persuaded to use them, you would think that this problem would disappear. In these columns we have pointed to companies which have been put on this earth precisely to test and track fuel all the way from its refinery to the ship, able to detect every possible impurity. But there will always be some bean counter, or chancer, who will veto their employment, leaving the quality, or specification in the lap of the Gods, who are not always smiling.

You could also argue that if the industry is to embrace some of these exciting new fuels, like methanol or ammonia, there will need to be new levels of precision and expertise in their handling, to provide both safety and quality assurance. It seems to be the preferred strategy of designers to place the fuel tanks containing these “future fuels” on the weather deck, rather than below. One doubts whether anyone has consulted the seafarers who will sail on these emission-free ships, but one proposed design for a large bulk carrier that is current shows an enormous tank of ammonia each side of the accommodation. It rather spoils the view, although their near neighbours may have other thoughts.

Michael Grey is former editor of Lloyd’s List.

“What makes you think our new bio-fuel bunkers are off-spec, Chief?”


2. Underwater Noise

Draft revised Guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise from commercial shipping to address adverse impacts on marine life have been agreed by the IMO Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC 9), which met in January.

The draft guidelines recognise that commercial shipping is one of the main contributors to underwater radiated noise (URN) which has adverse effects on critical life functions for a wide range of marine life, including marine mammals, fish and invertebrate species, upon which many coastal  communities depend for their food, livelihoods and cultures.

The draft revised guidelines provide an overview of approaches applicable to designers, shipbuilders and ship operators to reduce the underwater radiated noise of any given ship. They are intended to assist relevant stakeholders in establishing mechanisms and programmes through which noise reduction efforts can be realised.

The draft guidelines revise the previous guidelines (issued in 2014). They include updated technical knowledge, including reference to international measurement standards, recommendations and classification society rules. They also provide sample templates to assist shipowners with the development of an underwater radiated noise management plan.

The   guidelines will now be submitted to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80), which meets from 3-7 July 2023, for approval.

 The Sub-Committee agreed a work plan which envisages, among other things, identifying ways to implement the Revised Guidelines and increase awareness and uptake; organizing an expert workshop on potential co-benefits and trade-offs that may exist between the reduction of underwater radiated noise from ships and energy efficiency; and developing a plan of action for further work.

 The revised draft guidelines include reference to Inuit Nuaat, saying that, in Inuit Nunaat, a number of characteristics of the region and the activities within could increase the impact from underwater radiated noise. This includes potential for icebreaking activities, presence of noise-sensitive species, and potential interference with indigenous hunting rights. Additional efforts to decrease impacts on marine wildlife are advisable for ships that operate in these areas, including particular attention to reducing the noise impact from icebreaking and implementation of operational approaches and monitoring. 

In addition, the working group developed separate draft guidelines for underwater radiated noise reduction in Inuit Nunaat and the Arctic, with a view to being utilized in the future by interested parties.

IMO’s Department of Partnerships and Projects (DPP) later this year will commence a two-year   project called the Global Partnership for Mitigation of Underwater Noise from Shipping (GloNoise Partnership), which is aligned with the current work on the review of the guidelines for the reduction of underwater noise.
 


3. Ship finance year

Hamburg-based ship finance platform, oceanis, predicts ship financing costs for 2023 in a new quarterly report. Highlights include:

•    Bank financing for container vessels has all but dried up, with only vessels employed by top-tier charterers able to obtain financing terms on a non-recourse basis

•    Product Tankers are in vogue with Financiers; loans at over 100% of historic fair market value (FMV) are possible for pool-trading mature vessels

•    Poor earnings in Dry Bulk have caused a serious decline in the leverage available to shipowners, but finance remains available from a wide variety of sources

•    Strength in the Offshore sector is bringing international banks back after a decade of write-downs and restructuring

•    Rising base rates make alternative debt providers more attractive, with margins dropping across sectors

This year looks set to be a positive year for shipowners seeking finance according to the report. Shipping finance markets remain open and banks are seeking opportunities to grow their portfolios, resulting in a highly competitive market.

“Strong earnings across sectors, coupled with a flood of cheap money from quantitative easing efforts, pulled more banks and more investors into shipping after the pandemic. The increased competition that resulted, caused leverage to rise and margins to shrink across all vessel types, and is now most clearly seen in dry and tanker financings as banks attempt to rebalance their portfolios away from container vessels”.

The increase in base interest rates – 0.5% in January 2022 to 4.3% today – has in some cases tripled the total interest cost to shipowners and led to large changes in loan affordability for those seeking finance. These rising base rates have played to the favour of higher-cost alternative lenders who are now much closer to banks in terms of total interest cost.

Erlend Sommerfelt Hauge, co-founder and managing director of oceanis said: “The improving credit of shipowners over the past three years, coupled with heavy repayments on container financings, have generated immense competition between financiers. At the same time, rising base rates are making higher-leverage financings comparatively cheaper, creating more competition for banks.”

Overall, shipping finance markets remain open across most sectors. Banks are looking to grow their portfolios and with increasing numbers of alternative funds, increased competition plays to the favour of the shipowner. And on the heightened base rates which have caused so much market turbulence over the past year, there is some hope for the future.

To read the full report, go to: https://api-prod.oceanis.io/reports/pdf/Oceanis-Q1-Market-Report.pdf


4.  Happiness rising

The latest Seafarers Happiness Index, published at the end of January by The Mission to Seafarers, reveals average seafarer happiness levels in the last quarter of 2022 reached 7.69/10, up from 7.3 with levels rising across almost all categories, reflecting the sustained upward trend seen throughout the year.
 
The results of the survey show that even the historically most problematic areas, such as shore leave and access to welfare ashore, are recovering. Crew members continued to express their relief at the return of freedom of movement, as well as their increased sense of certainty and stability. The survey was undertaken with the support of the Standard Club and Idwal.
 
The only area in which there was a decline in satisfaction was connectivity. Quality and cost are still concerns and there is a growing demand for free or inexpensive access as enjoyed by colleagues ashore. Many seafarers believe such access would improve social life at sea with responses like: “we gathered to watch live World Cup football and the atmosphere on board was fantastic.”
 
It was also noticeable that a significant number of seafarers appeared to have switched employer or trading patterns to be closer to home in case of travel restrictions. In addition, there was a growing number of responses from seafarers from non-traditional maritime labour markets, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
 
 In 2022, seafarer happiness has steadily increased from its lowest point in the first quarter of 2022 to something of a high-water mark at the end of the year. The first quarter saw the lowest level ever recorded with an overall average of 5.85, reflecting the negative impact of the Covid pandemic on seafarers. Other issues such as conflict and contracts also contributed to the low morale and deflated mood among seafarers. Many seafarers felt that their welfare was not being properly addressed and that their work conditions were becoming increasingly difficult.
 
However, in the second quarter of 2022, there was a significant increase in satisfaction levels, rising from 5.85 to 7.21/10. This was encouraging as it suggested that the worst may be behind us, and as the world began to reopen, this had a positive impact on seafarer sentiment. Additionally, when seafarers were more certain about their return time, they were able to deal more effectively with difficulties at sea.
 
The third quarter saw further improvement, with the overall average climbing to 7.3/10. This was due to improvements in shore leave, access to welfare facilities and initiatives, as well as companies investing in their people on board. These actions made life better at sea, and the sentiment expressed by seafarers reflected this.
 
 Although the Seafarers Happiness Index data shows positive progress, there are still persistent issues that need to be addressed, such as workload, mental health impacts, and the stresses of a difficult job. There are also concerns about the negative impact on mental health and well-being of too few people aboard ships. The industry is taking steps towards change, with initiatives such as the Sustainable Shipping Initiative Code of Conduct, which aims to go beyond the minimum standards of compliance.
 
Despite the negative impact of Covid-19 and tensions between Russian and Ukrainian seafarers, there have been clear signs of recovery throughout the year and onboard interactions are once again the most important factor in seafarer satisfaction. However, there are still concerns about isolation among seafarers and a lack of social cohesion on board.
 
Training for seafarers has improved over the years, but there are mixed responses from seafarers about its effectiveness. To improve, training should be incorporated into the shipboard schedule and not viewed as a chore. Concerns were also raised over the lack of communication and involvement of seafarers in discussions and plans for future fuels training.
 
By the end of the year, the satisfaction of seafarers had reached a high point, and the sentiment among seafarers had significantly improved. This has raised expectations that the systems supporting seafarer welfare will continue to deliver improvements into 2023 and we can only hope that this is the case.
 
Since Q2 2022, Idwal, global leaders in vessel inspections and one of the lead sponsors of the Seafarers Happiness Index, has been exploring the welfare conditions of seafarers. As part of this approach, they introduced a new inspection method of 12 objective-based questions.
 
The results of these inspections show a clear correlation between the overall condition of the vessel and crew welfare conditions on board. Further analysis of different vessel types, classification societies, and flag states also support this trend. This highlights the importance of the vessel standard in improving seafarer welfare and the positive symbiotic relationship between seafarer happiness and enhanced welfare standards.

To read the latest Seafarers Happiness Index report, click here.
 


5. SSY update

After a volatile 2022, leading shipbroker Simpson Spence Young (SSY) has been looking at the next 11 months and highlights areas of particular interest in their 2023 Outlook Report.

Read the full report here.

Commenting on the report Stanko Jekov, SSY Managing Partner, said: “The fallout from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine resulted in serious repercussions throughout 2022 and will undoubtedly continue to have a major effect well into 2023. While COVID-19 looks to be behind us ‘on paper’, its lingering effects are still being felt and continue to affect global supply chains.

“As a consequence, we’ve experienced a general slowdown in economic growth and an increased tightening on monetary policy with interest rates increasing in response to rising inflation.

“Added to this, the decarbonisation of shipping markets continues to be an important challenge and one that we must collectively tackle head on.

“The IMO is attempting to improve the carbon performance of existing fleets, while working to encourage moves towards low or zero-carbon fuel alternatives.

“How effective these measures are remains to be seen. In this report, SSY experts examine how these factors have influenced shipping markets in 2022 and provide insights as to what we can expect in 2023. Suffice to say, the forces as outlined above will continue to shape our business in the year ahead.”
 


6. Average adjuster update

Jörn Groninger, of average adjusters Groninger  Welke Janssen, has put together the following comments about the Comité Maritime International’s activities in the field of general average.

“During its Conference in October last year the Comité Maritime International (the international organisation of national maritime law associations worldwide) approved the second edition of the CMI Guidelines relating to General Average which, for the first time, now contain recommended standard general average security forms.

“The Guidelines, which were first issued in 2016 (together with the most recent version of the York-Antwerp Rules), are a short handbook of general average, designed to provide an overview to persons not too familiar with this niche topic. It contains general explanations about GA as such and the role of the average adjuster, the collection of GA security, a sample adjustment, and a chapter about salvage. Apart from reviewing and amending the Guidelines, the major task since then was to develop standard GA security forms. For decades forms have been in use which were based on templates from the 1970s to 1990s; they widely varied in practice and were difficult to understand for those unfamiliar with GA.

“The CMI’s Standing Committee on General Average (consisting of a dozen highly qualified average adjusters, lawyers, and insurance people) successfully restructured, simplified, and improved the usual wording by adding clarifications and limitations. In intense work over the last years the Standing Committee obtained input from the legal and average adjusting communities around the world, from BIMCO and the International Group of P&I Clubs, as well as from the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI). The result of this cooperation is that the new Guidelines and the security forms – GA bonds and guarantees for cargo as well as for (charterers’) bunkers and freight – have not only been adopted by the CMI Assembly but have also received official approval from IUMI and ICS.

“As of recently the Guidelines, with the security forms as appendix, can be found on the CMI website (https://www.comitemaritime.org), where also the latest versions of the York-Antwerp Rules and lots of other material are available for download, besides a wealth of information about all the other projects and activities of CMI.”
 


7.  Ballast water dangers

French UV-based water treatment specialist BIO-UV Group has developed state-of-the-art cyber security software for its BIO-SEA ballast water treatment system ahead of two IACS Unified Requirements set to enter into force next year.
 
Like any networked system or control software onboard ship, the ballasting process, including the treatment system, can be susceptible to a cyber attack, with hackers looking for an entry point to a vessel’s Operational Technology (OT) systems.
 
Concern is such that the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) adopted in 2021 two new URs to increase the cyber resilience of ships. UR E26 and UR E27 will be applied to new ships contracted for construction on and after 1 January 2024.
 
The requirements are twofold: to ensure the secure integration of equipment into the vessel’s network throughout its operational lifespan; and to make the interface between users and computer-based systems/equipment more resilient.
 
“This could be a problem for legacy systems,” said Charlène Ceresola, project manager, BIO-UV Group. “It’s not the case with a BIO-SEA unit, but older ballast water treatment systems can be susceptible to a cyber-attack. If the ballasting system is hacked and pumps operated remotely, ship stability is at risk; a ship could sink, and lives lost. It’s much more than simply an environmental threat.”
 
Ceresola said: “We are following these guidelines and have developed greater cyber secure functions to our software ahead of the requirement. In an increasingly connected and digitised world, every component onboard ship has to be cyber secure.”
 
BIO-UV Group completed testing of the new cyber secure function in 2022, with full type approval expected later this year.
 
“Software development forms a key part of our commitment to going beyond compliance,” said BIO-UV Group’s Maritime Division, BIO-SEA Business Director, Maxime Dedeurwaerder.
 
“In terms of development, what is changing for the industry now is the need for more advanced solutions for remote maintenance; solutions for integrating BWTS with different cabling configurations; and solutions for different water conditions and UV dosage rates. The refinements we are making are not part of the Convention but will help operators better manage the ballasting process.”
 
As the global BWTS market matures and moves from an acquisition and supply market to one of support and service, BIO-UV Group has seen increased focus on system integration and engineering.


8. Apprentice search

To mark the beginning of National Apprenticeship Week, Associated British Ports (ABP) launched recruitment for its  Apprenticeship Programme, which seeks to find the next generation of talent to join the maritime and logistics industry and keep Britain trading sustainably.

Apprenticeships on offer, cover a range of specialisms, including IT, marine, engineering, pilotage, commercial and business administration. They will be split across ABP’s different locations, including the Humber, East Anglia, Southampton and South Wales.

The UK port industry is the second largest in Europe and ABP is the largest ports group in the country, with 21 ports around Britain, supporting around 119,000 jobs across the supply chain. With a strong commitment to sustainability, ABP continues to invest in decarbonising its own operations and enabling the UK clean energy transition. The company has decreased its absolute carbon footprint by more than 35% since 2014 and 17 of ABP’s ports have renewable energy generation projects.

Kerry Thompson, head of ABP Academy, said: “Apprenticeships offer a fantastic opportunity to combine learning on the job with earning an income, which in the current economic climate is an especially appealing prospect for job seekers.” 

The closing date for applications is Sunday, 5th March 2023. Candidates are invited to follow this link to apply.

For more information about the different Apprenticeships available at ABP, access its brochure, available here.


9. Fixtures App

Tankers International, the   shipping pool for VLCCs, has launched a new CII feature for its VLCC fixture app, which uses Tankers International’s comprehensive market data to calculate indicative voyage CII scores for all market fixtures.
 
The new CII reporting mechanism uses Tankers International’s knowledge of the global VLCC fleet to benchmark any vessel’s bunker consumption against the closest similar vessel out of the 250 vessels that have traded in the Tankers International pool since 2000. This is set against a benchmark speed, which adapts based on Tankers International’s own data on averages across the sector and market conditions.

Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) regulations came into effect at the start of January 2023, and represent an ongoing annual measure of the carbon intensity of a ship’s operations in terms of its greenhouse gas emissions relative to the amount of cargo carried and the distance travelled.

The Tankers International VLCC fixture app’s new CII functionality gives shipowners, charterers, and brokers insight into where a vessel or voyage is ranked on the CII scale, helping to make strategic chartering or operational decisions.

The app’s data will show a precise analysis and a breakdown of how a voyage CII score is calculated, so a shipowner will know how their voyage is ranked and where they may need to improve. In addition, if a voyage incurred a long idle period, the app will provide two clearly labelled and accurate CII estimates to account for this. Calculations are listed in full for PLUS and PRO users.

The Tankers International VLCC fixture app was first launched in 2014. The app was re-launched in December 2021, and the new CII feature will allow users to integrate even more quality data and analysis into negotiations and strategic decision making. This added insight and market transparency will benefit the entire VLCC sector.

Charlie Grey, Chief Operating Officer, Tankers International, commented: “Many people are still uncertain about how to keep up with shipping’s latest regulation, and we recognise the importance and need for quality data, to faster support decision making for shipowners, charterers and brokers. We foresee CII ratings impacting commercial decisions across the sector this year, and providing access to this voyage specific CII information will support key market stakeholders – helping them adhere to decarbonisation regulations and recognise market trends more quickly.”

The Tankers International VLCC fixture app can be accessed directly from any web browser as an ‘in-browser’ app here.
 


10. Seafarers Wages Bill

Maritime union, RMT has written to the Transport Secretary demanding that the government beef up its Seafarers Wages Bill with greater protections for crews on ships.
 
The Seafarers Wages Bill, in its current form, only provides for a limited extension of the National Minimum Wage to seafarers on international routes from UK ports, the union believes.

 The union wrote to Transport Secretary, Mark Harper recently demanding that the government circulate the Seafarers Charter before the report stage of the bill on Tuesday 7 Feb.

Waiting for the Bill to pass before releasing a voluntary seafarer welfare charter preserves a culture of seafarer exploitation which the Government claim they want to tackle as quickly as possible, the RMT believe.

In the letter, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch wrote: “RMT request that the Government now circulate the latest copy of the Seafarer Welfare Charter to Unions and employers. We are extremely concerned by the Government’s removal of an agreed roster pattern (based on our collective agreements with Stena Line and DFDS) and the restriction on trade union membership of the Seafarer Protection Forum, the implementation mechanism for what the Government intend to be a voluntary Charter. We hope that the Government’s final draft of the Charter has addressed these shortcomings in the interests of seafarer employment and welfare standards.

“We welcome the Government’s engagement with RMT and Nautilus over the Nine Point Plan. We also support the Government’s negotiations with governmental counterparts in France, Ireland, Belgium, Holland and other countries on short sea shipping routes from the UK, although we are disappointed that progress seems to be limited to the Channel routes between the UK and France.

“The remaining parliamentary stages of the Seafarers’ Wages Bill are imminent and seafarer unions and parliamentarians must have sight of the latest version of the Seafarers Welfare Charter in the interests of primary legislation which effectively tackles the exploitative crewing model used by P&O Ferries and other operators of international services in UK ports.

“We look forward to receiving a copy of the Government’s proposed Seafarer Welfare Charter before the Commons Report Stage of the Seafarers Wages Bill.”
 


11. Challenging conditions

The International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) held its annual Winter Meeting in London recently.  Fundamental challenges facing the marine insurance market were on the agenda, and IUMI said it would play an important role this year as it meets difficult conditions. Speaking at its winter meeting, Frédéric Denèfle, President of IUMI, said: “IUMI has a responsibility to navigate and support the marine insurance industry. A downturn in trade, geopolitical tensions, inflation, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors – as well as onboard safety – are all creating complexity. We remain fully committed to assisting our members and providing comprehensive guidelines to the larger marine insurance market.”

One of the many challenges that marine insurers are facing is the reluctance of the reinsurance market to provide cover for risks involved in insuring maritime vessels in war-related regions. The question insurance companies face is how would they find their way around the risks without the support of reinsurers.

 Marine insurers are also currently confronted with geopolitical challenges amid ongoing sanctions, the war in Ukraine and increasing tensions in Southeast Asia. Also, there has been a significant recent reduction in demand, resulting in slower vessel turnarounds in ports due to low cargo volumes. This, together with declining freight rates, shows that the market is decreasing. In turn, it impacts marine insurance as there is far less value to insure.

However, Denèfle told delegates that digitalisation must remain at the forefront of developments in the industry. “Keeping up to date with data-led innovations and digitalisation is essential for marine insurers. This includes the technical development of vessels and the ongoing challenges regarding fires on container and RoRo vessels. IUMI must advocate for proper regulations to address these challenges.”

IUMI provides an essential forum to discuss and exchange ideas, information, and statistics of common interest for marine underwriters and in exchange with other maritime professionals. IUMI currently represents 42 national and marine market insurance and reinsurance associations.  IUMI annual conference will be hosted from 17 to 20 September in Edinburgh.

Sanctions and embargos are still ongoing, not only from the US and Europe but also from Iran. Iran imposed sanctions on individuals and entities from the European Union and Britain. This was in reaction to similar measures they have taken over Tehran’s response to months-long protests. The impact of the actions means that Iran will halt shipping trade against any nation that has raised sanctions and embargos against their interests, which have enormous implications for the Persian Gulf. With the ten most prominent and active ports globally in China and the most significant volume shipped from China, the marine insurance industry will have to monitor the ongoing threat in Southeast Asia and the increasing tension between China and Taiwan.

Currently, the maritime insurance industry does not have final statistics on the losses due to the Covid pandemic, especially considering crew hire and maintenance of ships. The extent of losses due to the war in Ukraine must also be considered as they continue to evolve. 

Jun Lin, Chair of the Facts and Figures Committee said 2021 saw a robust macroeconomic recovery, but with inflation and the recession, 2022 was challenging. The IUMI Stats Report is available here at https://iumi.com/statistics/public-statistics.

According to Isabelle Therrien, Chair, of the Cargo Committee, “the supply chain challenges from 2022 will continue into 2023, and many supply chain managers and executives have reported significant disruptions. Global political unrest, the looming risk of a global recession and the economic downturn have impacted the movement of goods globally. Furthermore, shrinking demand and easing congestion continue to push container rates down.”

The Drewry composite world container index as of 26 January 2023 sat at USD 2,046.51 per 40ft container, which is now 80% below the peak of USD 10,377 in September 2021, indicating a return to more normal prices. With lower rates and new vessels impacting the market, container vessels will likely continue to protect their levels and monitor specific trades’ capacity concerning demand. This may result in further weakened rates in 2024. In addition, cargo owners are also looking at alternative shipping methods to reduce their carbon footprint to contribute to a more  sustainable future. Ocean freight versus sea freight is often one of the aspects considered by organizations to increase their green credentials, as it is said that aeroplanes emit 500 grams of CO2 per metric ton of freight per kilometre of transportation. In comparison, container ships emit only 10 to 40 grams of CO2 per kilometre. 

 Sean Dalton, Vice-Chair, Executive Committee said: “Much like many sectors of the global economy, the global marine insurance industry is significantly impacted by inflation. Since May 2020, the inflation rate has increased to record levels in many countries. The result has been a steady increase in the cost of goods and services.” 

Record freight rates and supply change challenges resulting from the global pandemic are major factors impacting cost, he said. Some examples of specific cost drivers include higher material and labour costs for repair, as well as the availability of parts/materials and labour shortages. Third party liability lines are also challenged with the increased cost of litigation and, in the US, the ongoing ramifications of social inflation driving increased jury awards and settlements.  For more detailed information,   refer to the webinar on inflation and its impact on marine insurance by clicking the link: https://iumi.com/education/webinars/webinar-recordings-andslides.
 


12. Car fires

Following several high-profile ship fires involving electric vehicles (EVs), survival technology provider Survitec is advising operators of vessels transporting hybrid and EVs   on how best to prevent and control fire onboard ship involving lithium-ion batteries.

As part of ongoing initiatives within the industry to improve safety, there is a drive to develop early fire detection systems to better monitor and protect car decks and lithium-ion batteries installed in vehicles onboard. Any slight deviation in properties can provide an early indication that conditions are right for a fire and afford time to take preventative measures to protect or quarantine hybrid and EVs.

Pre-ignition signs of a battery fire include heat and smoke from parts of the vehicle where the battery is usually placed, popping sounds from battery cells, and toxic gas emissions.
While early detection solutions are readily available, Rafal Kolodziejski, Survitec’s Head of Product Support & Development – Fire Systems, revealed that these systems are not yet adapted to allow for pre-fire conditions specific to lithium-ion batteries. That is, not only smoke and heat but also gas emissions, including, potentially, sound frequencies related to gas release.

“Monitoring car decks for early-stage fire conditions – typically any fluctuation in temperature or atmospheric condition – is critical to preventing fire propagation. The type and location of sensors are vitally important.”

Kolodziejski said that Survitec is investing “heavily in the development of new solutions capable of pre-ignition monitoring” and is working with a major ship operator to design a comprehensive fire detection and extinguishing system for the EV cargo deck of a new build PCC (Pure Car Carrier).

Currently in development, the company’s integrated graphical monitoring system can provide real-time status of all the fire-protected zones onboard. The monitoring system will link all the detection systems and sensors onboard to allow for the remote or local activation of a compartment’s fire suppression system.

“An EV battery fire is different to any other type of fire in that the battery generates explosive and toxic gases, increasing the size and propagation of the fire,” explained Kolodziejski.

“The heat is, therefore, more intense, and an extinguished fire can potentially reignite at any time until the battery is completely burnt down. This presents a real challenge regarding gas-based fixed fire systems, such as CO2. Traditionally, a system pack has sufficient gas for just one discharge in the event of a fire. Currently, the Class societies propose that double the gas volume is provided, but this may not be enough to control fire or prevent reignition”, he continued.

Water-based solutions provide the best cooling effect, which is crucial in the case of this type of fire. However, the volume of water required to control an EV deck fire could impact ship stability, so a suitable drainage system must also be considered. Research shows that a water mist system has the highest efficiency for this type of fire. However, because battery modules are installed under the floor in most EVs, the most significant heat will be generated at deck level. There are various R&D initiatives investigating the best water spraying method for this. One of these solutions is a pop-up nozzle that sprays water mist upwards, and mobile solutions are now at the testing stage.

Fire onboard ships where EVs may be involved is now a genuine industry concern, and, referring to guidelines the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) published in May last year, Kolodziejski highlights some of the recommendations currently being proposed to limit fire propagation and allow for effective monitoring of the environment around EV cargoes and also easy access in the event of a fire. 

“Prevention is certainly better than the cure at the moment,” said Kolodziejski. “Early monitoring and detection are becoming increasingly important safety factors for ship operators and crew. With an EV cargo, the earlier the crew can detect pre-fire conditions, the better.”
 


13. Crew restrictions

The Global Maritime Forum (GMF) reports that the rise in Covid-19 infections, following the lifting of restrictions in China, has led to some countries introduce new test requirements and restrictions for seafarers arriving from certain Asian countrie, including India and Japan.

India now requires all travellers from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand to produce a negative RT-PCT test, which must be taken 72 hours prior to departure. Japan has introduced tests on all travellers leaving China within the previous seven days. Any seafarers testing positive will be placed in quarantine for seven days.

The Standard Club recommends that members contact the local agent or correspondent for the latest port requirements before their ship calls at any port in Asia.


14. Irish regulations

Miller’s Maritime Newsletter points out that Ireland’s Department of Transport issued a notice to shipowners and other maritime stakeholders regarding updated regulations concerning maritime security measures for vessels and port facilities.

The updated regulations will be enacted on March 1, 2023. (2/8/2023) https://www.gov.ie/pdf/?file=https://assets.gov.ie/246783/771b3110-3055-4dbb-adcc-ca60a3aa5afe.pdf#page=null


Notices & Miscellany

Green portsSvitzer, a leading global towage provider and part of A.P. Moller-Maersk, has announced Svitzer Australia Chief Commercial Officer Ivan Spanjic has been appointed as Global Head of Green Ports.

The role has been newly created to focus on unlocking value for partners across the marine supply chain, as the demand for green ports and green shipping corridors accelerates. 

The Charterers Shipowners Dialogue
 Mare Forum is returning for a sixth time to Geneva to host a meet-up between the charterers and shipowners. This highly successful event focusses on a discussion between these groups.  It will be held on Tuesday, 14 March, 2023 at the Hotel Beau-Rivage, Geneva, Switzerland. 

Register – From 600 EUR

Boxing clever

The next London Shipping Law Centre event, Boxing clever – how to work better together in managing a container ship casualty will focus on  the experience of various stakeholders in handling container ship casualties,  analysing the development of a typical incident and exploring how improved communication can work to the benefit of all.  The event is due to take place at the IDRC in London at 9AM on Tuesday February 21st.

https://www.shippinglbc.com/upcoming-events/

Please notify the Editor of your appointments, promotions, new office openings and other important happenings: contactus@themaritimeadvocate.com


And finally,

(With thanks to Paul Dixon)

NEW OFFICE SLANG

World Wide Wait – The real meaning of www.

404 – Someone who is clueless. From the Web error message, “404 Not Found,” which means the document requested couldn’t be located. “Don’t bother asking John. He’s 404.”

Chips and Salsa – Chips = hardware, salsa = software. “First we gotta figure out if the problem’s in your chips or your salsa.”

Cobweb – A WWW site that never changes.

Cube Farm – An office filled with cubicles.

Egosurfing – Scanning the Net, databases, etc., for one’s own name.

Keyboard Plaque – The disgusting buildup of dirt and crud found on some people’s computer keyboards.

Mouse Potato – The online generation’s answer to the couch potato.

Oh-no-second – That minuscule fraction of time during which you realize you’ve just made a terrible error.

Open-Collar Workers – People who work at home or telecommute.

Plug-and-Play – A new hire who doesn’t require training. “That new guy is totally plug-and-play.”

Seagull Manager – A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, dumps on everything and then leaves.

Stress Puppy – A person who thrives on being stressed-out and whiny.

Under Mouse Arrest – Getting busted for violating an online service’s rule of conduct. “Sorry I couldn’t get back to you. AOL put me under mouse arrest.”

Xerox Subsidy – Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one’s workplace


Thanks for Reading the Maritime Advocate online

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 edition 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.

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