1. Happiness –it’s all relative
2. Liquidated damages
3. Automation challenges
4. Barometer report
5. Lithium dangers
6. Asian seafarers
7. Electrical equipment dangers
8. Critical safety issues
9. IMRF awards
10. Improving leadership
11. UK port alerts
Notices & Miscellany
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1. Happiness – it’s all relative
By Michael Grey
When I was at sea, or afterwards, in shore-side employment, nobody ever asked me whether I was happy. If this unexpected inquiry had been made, I would have been instantly suspicious, anticipating that this was a preliminary to some unwanted bad news. It probably was inculcated very early on – during my first trip I was trained always to walk about the ship briskly (never sauntering) and if possible, carrying a spanner or a bucket, as if on an urgent mission, to demonstrate to any passing officer one’s unavailability for further employment. It is not a bad tip for life in general, I have found.
But happiness – surely it is a relative state of mind, which has always made the Seafarers’ Happiness Index, which evolved some years ago as an initiative of the Mission to Seafarers and the Standard P&I Club, an object of personal fascination. It has been carefully thought through, taking the measure of severely practical matters that make a seafarer’s life better or worse and has refrained from anything resembling a sociological study. And without going too deeply into the methodology, the product of a measurable index tells employers, recruiters and seafarers themselves something about what seafarers are thinking, at a moment in time, which can be easily compared with previous indices.
You probably didn’t need an index or even to ask questions about what the workforce was feeling throughout the pandemic, when everything was at a low ebb, with no shore leave, no reliefs or even the prospect of the voyage ending and getting either home or away. Last year, unsurprisingly, things were much better, the index rose substantially although I wondered whether from such a low ebb, we maybe should not have read too much into this apparent improvement. The latest index, by comparison, was disappointingly down again, which one would like to think was just something of a return to more normal (and modest) expectations, although there were suggestions that some employers might have lost a bit of interest in improving their employees’ lot.
It also seems obvious that there are still far too many restrictions on shore leave and access to ships which have been retained by port and terminal authorities, as they have found that they rather like the convenience of just saying “no” that they learned during the pandemic and just don’t want to reinstate previous and more liberal arrangements. That is something that really ought to be robustly confronted. A bit of naming and shaming would be quite a useful strategy. It would be also helpful if some agency could bring itself to rate ports for their general pleasantness for the crews of visiting ships. As leopards do not change their spots, it might be asking too much for any improvement in some awful places, but at least it might give people going to unfamiliar ports some advance warning, on the grounds of “here there be b…….s”. You probably cannot publish such a rating in the sailing directions, but social media might be useful in this respect.
Seafarers today are not asking for the earth. It is not unreasonable to be presented with proper contracts, paid on time and relieved when the contract period has elapsed. These days, when good communications are readily available and getting more affordable all the time, they should be able to easily and regularly be in communication with their homes. As for shore leave, they know that ships never stop work, but a brief excursion to the shops should not be out of the question.
Does the employer show that the workforce is valued by the provision of good food and accommodation that is better that the sort of institutionalised offering that will emerge from shipyards, without somebody being interested enough to improve it? It does make a difference if that is the case. All too often you get the impression that the requirements of the crew are a complete afterthought that will result in insufficient space, inconvenience, or very uncomfortable accommodation in the eyes of the ship, being used as a breakwater or perched aft of the stern frame, in a vibrating tower block without a square metre of open deck space.
It is also quite clear from what seafarers say, that on most ships at sea today, there are barely enough bodies to cope with the routine operations, let alone any emergencies. A couple more hands would obviously make people a lot happier. It is also obvious that “attitudes” matter, in the way that the ship’s people are treated by folk who march aboard in port, or communicate with them by email from ashore. The “we fail to understand” message from the office needs to adopt a more considerate and conciliatory tone! That would be a help toward happiness.
Michael Grey is former editor of Lloyd’s List
2. Liquidated damages
Brian Perrott of HFW (email@example.com) has flagged up the recent case during which the Supreme Court clarified the law on liquidated damages and endorsed freedom of contract
PTT contracted Triple Point to supply a software system. The principal issue before the Supreme Court (SC) was whether PTT was entitled to liquidated damages for delay in respect of work which had not been completed before the contract was terminated. The liquidated damages clause stated that if the contractor failed to deliver work within the time specified (and the delay had not been introduced by PTT) it would be liable to pay damages at a rate of 0.1% of undelivered work per day of delay from the due date for delivery “up to the date PTT accepts such work“.
The Court of Appeal (CA) considered that “If a construction contract is…terminated, the employer is in new territory for which the liquidated damages clause may not have made provision“. The CA held that, in light of the wording of the liquidated damages clause, it had no application in circumstances where the contractor never completed the work.
The SC disagreed with the CA. The SC stated that:
- Parties must be taken to know the general law that the accrual of liquidated damages comes to an end on termination of the contract.
- Whilst contracts may specifically provide for liquidated damages to terminate on completion and acceptance of the works, “it is…unrealistic to interpret the clause as meaning that if that event does not occur the contractor is free from all liability for liquidated damages, and that the employer’s accrued right to liquidated damages simply disappears”.
Liquidated damages therefore applied to all relevant work under the contract, including work which had never been completed by Triple Point or accepted by PTT.
The decision was a welcome clarification which should mean that liquidated damages clauses are more likely to apply as the parties intended. (Triple Point Technology Inc v PTT Public Company Limited  UKSC 29)
3. Automation challenges
Artificial intelligence and the advent of automated ships will pose difficult questions in determining liability under the Hague Rules for maritime casualties, the 2022-2023 chairman of the Association of Average Adjusters has warned.
Sir Nigel Teare raised the concern as he suggested that a recent case, in which the Supreme Court confirmed that a defective passage plan will render a vessel unseaworthy, will be scrutinised in the context of technological developments.
Sir Nigel chose for his annual chairman’s address to the association in London the topic of Seaworthiness, Negligent Navigation and Safer Ships, reviewing the implications of the general average case which he tried at Admiralty Court level in 2019, relating to the containership CMA CGM Libra.
The laden vessel left the buoyed fairway and grounded as she was leaving Xiamen, one of the largest ports in China, in May 2011, necessitating a costly salvage operation. Most of the cargo interests accepted that the cause of the casualty was negligent navigation and paid their contribution to general average, but a small minority refused to do so. The shipowner failed in proceedings in the Admiralty Court to recover general average sums from that minority, and its decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
In his address to the association, Sir Nigel extended the question of passage planning to its potential application to vessels controlled by operators ashore or by computers on board — ships known as Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships or MASS for short. “They are not yet common,” he said, “but, with commendable foresight, MASS are being closely monitored by the International Maritime Organization.” The IMO is exploring how far regulatory regimes such as Solas and the Collision Regulations can apply to autonomous ships. Its plan is to have a non-mandatory code for that type of ship by 2024, with a mandatory code in force by January 2028.
There was no reason why MASS should not have a passage plan to be seaworthy for their voyage, said Sir Nigel. “Such plans may in the future be produced by a computer. What if the reason that a passage plan is defective lies in a defect in the software purchased by the owner?”
He noted that Sir Richard Aikens, another distinguished judge, has suggested that in such a case an owner would be able to say that he had committed no breach of due diligence because the defect came about when the ship was not under his control or, as it was put in one case, ‘in his orbit.’ “That, if I may say so, appears to be correct,” remarked Sir Nigel. “The need for the vessel to be in the orbit of the owner before the owner is subject to the due diligence obligation in the Hague Rules [the protocol of 1924 on the allocation of risk between shipowners and cargo interests] was recognised by Lord Hamblen in the Supreme Court in the CMA CGM Libra case.
“Thus, the focus will be on the question whether the owner, once he was in possession of the software, should have appreciated, by careful and skilled monitoring of the software, that it was not in a fit condition for its purpose. If his monitoring were negligent then there will have been a failure to exercise due diligence. I suspect that it will be difficult to establish negligence of this nature.
“Where the master on board or operator ashore acts negligently when commanding the vessel, that would amount to negligent navigation. But what if the error is committed by a computer? If such error is the result of a defect in the software the automated vessel would presumably be regarded as unseaworthy. Again, there would be no breach of due diligence by the owner unless the owner could and should have detected the error before the commencement of the voyage. But if the error is the result of an error by the artificial intelligence of the computer, then that might well be regarded as negligent navigation by the computer just as if it had been an error by the officer of the watch.
“Thus,” continued Sir Nigel, “one can envisage expert evidence from software engineers as to the nature of the defect and as to whether the defect could and should reasonably have been discovered by the owner or whether it was simply a mistake by the artificial intelligence of the computer.
“At present, expert evidence in maritime cases is given by former masters and marine engineers. But in future, as and when MASS suffer a casualty, the important experts may well be software engineers. I would find that a depressing prospect; but more youthful minds may disagree,” he observed.
Sir Nigel insisted that the introduction of electronic charts had not eliminated the need for proper passage planning. To be seaworthy a vessel must still at the outset of the voyage have a proper passage plan. That remained essential to safe navigation.
The AAA chairman recalled that the CMA CMG Libra case had caused disquiet among shipowners and protection and indemnity clubs. It had been suggested that the decision would lead to more cargo claims against carriers and their insurers and to more claims in general average being resisted by cargo interests. Since the decision Sir Nigel had been informed by the P&I clubs that it was now routine to find allegations of poor passage planning in cargo claims. But in considering whether the decision would materially increase the share of the burden of maritime casualties borne by carriers it was necessary to ask whether any defect in a passage plan would render a vessel unseaworthy.
Sir Nigel doubted that the effect of the Supreme Court decision would be as damaging to shipowner interests as some had suggested. He said that “if the decision in the case does lead to carriers bearing a greater burden of the losses caused by maritime casualties than in the past, that is because the notion of a seaworthy vessel keeps up with and reflects modern safety standards. That is not a cause for regret. Seaworthiness is the handmaiden of beneficial changes in ship management designed to promote safety at sea. “
He added: “It is difficult, I think, to contemplate a case where a defect in the passage plan does not render the vessel unseaworthy.” However, a note of caution should be sounded. Lord Hamblen had said that in any future case it would be necessary to prove that the defect in the plan was ‘sufficiently serious’ to render the vessel unseaworthy.
Opinions as to what is proper passage planning might reasonably and legitimately differ. This would have to be borne in mind when deciding whether a sufficiently serious defect had been established. The reality was that the scope of the seaworthiness duty was not fixed in stone but could adapt to and encompass changes in the practice of shipping.
Some in the industry had suggested that the decision in the CMA CGM Libra case was now out of date in the world of electronic charts. “I beg to differ. The advent of electronic charts has not eliminated the need for proper passage planning. To be seaworthy a vessel must still at the outset of her voyage have a proper passage plan. Such a plan remains of essential importance to safe navigation.
“What will become important will be the training of navigational officers in the art of passage planning when using electronic charts. The UK Government’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch has urged navigating officers not to rely solely on the data embedded in a computer-based system but to consult all sailing directions and notices to mariners just as they would when passage planning on paper charts. There is evidence that not all navigating officers understand the limitations of electronic charts.
“It is therefore possible that the introduction of electronic charts will give rise to more, not fewer, complaints of poor passage planning. In circumstances where the decision of the Supreme Court has so clearly resolved the issues of law, the debate in the future is more likely to concern the adequacy of the plan on the electronic chart, the significance of any defects and the adequacy of the training of officers to use electronic charts safely,” said Sir Nigel.
Sir Nigel is now an arbitrator at the 10 Fleet Street practice, having retired from the High Court in 2020.
4. Barometer report
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) Maritime Barometer Report 2022-2023 – published this month – reveals that uncertainty over fuel availability and infrastructure puts at risk ambitions to meet decarbonization targets, reinforcing the need for a clear plan of action to mitigate risk.
The inaugural ICS Maritime Barometer Report is the first full-scale annual survey of risk and confidence among maritime leaders. More than 130 C-suite decision makers, half of them shipowners and approximately 35% consisting of ship managers, have provided insight into the issues preoccupying them and how they are placed to manage their impact.
Respondents’ views on decarbonisation factors highlight a maturing of the shipping industry’s understanding of the complex implications of the energy transition. While the practical implications of new greenhouse gas reduction regulations have continued to be the biggest concern for two years in a row, respondents demonstrated evolving opinions on the fuel landscape. This includes a shift in attitudes towards wind and nuclear power as potential, viable energy sources.
The report also highlighted that delays in government decision-making will have far-reaching consequences for the shipping industry. Key choices by governments regarding supply chain resilience and greenhouse gas reduction measures will determine how the industry evolves over the next decade.
Emanuele Grimaldi, Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, commented: “The need for clear direction from our regulators and political leaders shines through in the data gathered from maritime leaders around the world for this report. Delays in government decision-making will have far-reaching consequences for the shipping industry as key choices regarding supply chain resilience, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction measures (including carbon pricing, alternative fuel availability and the provision of new onshore bunkering infrastructure) will determine how the industry evolves over the next decade. Make no mistake, shipping and maritime will be at the heart of many of the changes that the coming decade will bring, which is why it is imperative that we remain active participants in national and international discussions. Although our individual interests may vary, mutual understanding and collective action to leverage capabilities are the keys to a better future not just for our sector, but other sectors – and indeed, the world as a whole.”
Political instability, financial instability and cyber-attacks were also among top risks identified in the ICS Maritime Barometer Report. As financial and political risk has risen, particularly due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, so too have concerns about companies’ capabilities in managing these issues. A key takeaway for this year is that although some risks hold the potential to have a serious impact on operations, maritime leaders have high confidence in the industry’s abilities to manage these situations.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Dubai, Stuart Neil, Director of Strategy and Communications said:
“The report shows that there is increased maturity of the industry’s understanding of the implications of the energy transition on maritime. While the practical consequences of new GHG reduction regulations have continued to be the biggest concern for two years in a row, respondents demonstrated an evolving understanding of the new fuel landscape. There is also a growing awareness of environmental commitments and reputation management, which has meant that investor requirements have moved ahead of public leadership which has resulted in a significant concern for respondents. The report makes clear that political instability is a risk multiplier, threatening increased economic volatility and reducing growth as longstanding policies, trade arrangements and relationships are eroded. The results can have major consequences for trade and transport. The Maritime Barometer provides clear signals for policymakers and industry leaders alike. In turbulent times leaders need to move quickly to navigate change and succeed.”
5. Lithium dangers
In an article on the International Chamber of Shipping website while politicians focus on energy security and trade implications, safety should be shipping’s prime concern over growing global demand for lithium — more specifically the lithium-ion batteries that power everything from smartphones to satellites.
Lithium-ion battery fires or explosions can occur when the units are defective, damaged, overheated, overcharged or come into contact with reactive substances (such as nitric acid, as could have happened on the X-Press Pearl lost in Colombo in 2021). Such fires can burn with twice the energy of petrol fires, the ICS says.
“Ship operators seemingly have little control over some risk factors. They can check packaging and manufacturers’ certifications, but may lack the capability to identify issues, particularly when batteries are wrongly declared (listed as ‘computer parts’ in a container that caught fire before loading in the US in late 2021). Dangerous situations have been overlooked even when properly documented (including only partial battery disconnection when transporting electric vehicles), suggesting that increased training, regulation and perhaps new fire detection technologies will be needed to make carrying batteries safe.
“Supplementing global cross-industry safety regulations and carriage requirements around lithium-ion batteries, some maritime-specific initiatives are emerging. Guidance on carrying batteries in containers was published by a coalition of insurers and cargo handlers in March. The document identifies several main challenges for safe handling across the supply chain, including the proper classification of batteries, understanding battery test summary documentation, declaration of cargo (including shipper and packing declarations), container inspection regimes and implementing effective ‘know your customer’ schemes.
Technology development is another area of focus. Safetytech Accelerator, a multi-industry start-up incubator established by Lloyd’s Register, launched the Cargo Fire & Loss Innovation Initiative in February. With participation (and prospective funding) from Evergreen Line, HMM, Maersk, Offen Group, ONE (Ocean Network Express) and Seaspan, the initiative is seeking advanced technology solutions to reduce the occurrence and impact of cargo fires, with a particular interest in challenges caused by “the increasing carriage of lithium-ion batteries either in containers or within electric vehicles on car-carriers”.
While voluntary guidelines and technology advances may help, regulation is the ultimate safety net. The carriage of batteries by sea is regulated under the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, in which the different types of lithium-ion batteries are listed as Class 9 hazardous materials. However, P&I club Gard notes that this classification, the lowest in the IMDG Code, may underrepresent the risks that the batteries present. Further, special provisions in the code can encourage shippers to mis-categorise batteries, applying less onerous carriage requirements to batteries that carry greater risk.
The IMDG Code is reviewed regularly, but much deeper changes would be needed for shipping to match aviation’s battery safety regime. For example, International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations forbid the carriage of waste batteries, which have been cited as a potential source in several cargo fires, as well as the charge level of batteries in air freight.
As regulation and technology take time to evolve, one intermediate solution could also be borrowed from aviation. In 2021, IATA introduced voluntary certification of operators’ lithium-ion battery safety standards, under its Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) Lithium Batteries accreditation. Qatar Airways, Turkish Cargo and LATAM Chile are among the airlines to have undertaken the verification, which tests operators’ processes and regulatory compliance, resulting in a certification that cargo owners can use as evidence of good practice.
An equivalent voluntary certification for maritime operators would go some way to providing the training framework and capabilities that ship operators need. Supplemented by advances in technology and regulatory developments, it is one option for ensuring safe operations as the global demand for lithium-ion battery cargoes continues to grow.
6. Asian seafarers
The Philippines and Indonesia, which are home to just under 21% of the world’s crew members, are taking action to support their seafarers in developing modern skill sets as shipping decarbonizes.
The steady progress by key seafarer home nations in Asia, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, to equip their maritime workers with the skill sets needed to deliver a low and zero-carbon maritime sector, were showcased at the ‘Seizing opportunities for green shipping in Asia and the Pacific’ conference organized by the Philippines’ Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) which took place recently.
Timely action by governments and maritime authorities to enhance training and skills will position their seafaring nationals to embrace the high-quality job opportunities created by shipping’s green transition. A recent study by DNV has estimated that 800,000 seafarers will require additional training by the mid-2030s to handle the fuels, technologies and ships of the future.
Philippine Transmarine Carriers (PTC) CEO and International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) board member, Gerardo A. Borromeo says “Shipping’s ability to decarbonize is highly dependent on having well qualified and highly skilled maritime professionals who can operate these vessels in a safe and efficient manner. There is no doubt that the skill set for a career at sea is evolving. That is why we need to ensure that we provide the right kind of education and training so future generations of seafarers are able, skilled and ready to handle the new technologies and fuels on board that will increasingly be used in the years ahead. Countries with a strong maritime workforce must keep pace with the changing requirements of our industry as we transition to a low and zero carbon future which will benefit everyone.”
The MARINA conference provided a platform to share regional perspectives, emission reduction priorities and promote green shipping in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The event was organized in collaboration with the Danish Maritime Authority, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
With 252,392 of the world’s seafarers – 13.3% of global crew members – calling the Philippines home, the country’s ability to shift its training systems towards low and zero-carbon will impact the maritime sector’s progress on climate targets. The country has already taken steps to prepare with President Marcos launching the tripartite International Advisory Committee on Global Maritime Affairs (IACGMA) in January 2023. In addition to advising on how best to ensure the global competitiveness of Filipino seafarers, the committee is a key forum for the country to prepare future seafarers.
Sonia B Malaluan, Deputy Administrator for Planning at MARINA said, “Filipino seafarers have a long history of powering sea-borne trade and we hope to continue this tradition as we move towards decarbonized horizons. While this transition is certainly a challenge for the maritime sector as a whole, there are definitely opportunities to be seized by early movers, and we hope that our efforts will bear fruit for our seafarers and grant them access to high-quality jobs and long careers.”
Indonesia is also making inroads to upskill its maritime workforce in line with the emerging needs of the sector through its ‘Skills for Prosperity programme in Indonesia’, delivered by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The country, which is home to about 7.6% (143,702) of the world’s seafarers, is modernizing its training regime through international partnerships that share knowledge as well as best practice. The United Kingdom-funded programme includes the establishment of an industry advisory board for each of the four Indonesian polytechnics involved. This structure aims to promote closer collaboration between education and industry, and provide clear progression for graduates into skilled employment.
Mary Kent, Chief Technical Advisor, ILO, said, partnerships from the programme “are creating decent employment opportunities in the maritime sector, which will result in wider socio-economic benefits across the region. We look forward to sharing the lessons learned from this programme so that other regions can make informed decisions about the best ways in which to prepare their future maritime workforces.”
Maritime operations of the future are likely to be significantly more complex with new fuels and technologies being used in an increasingly digital and automated work environment – a fact that is likely to influence the upcoming review of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) convention and code.
Fabrizio Barcellona, the Seafarers and Inland Navigation Section Coordinator at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) warns, “Although the actions by the Filipino and Indonesian authorities are admirable, there is still much to be done if we are to appropriately empower a global seafaring workforce of the future. Improving the training environment is a very necessary first step – particularly given the concerns about STCW compliance and competency. This must be followed by upgrading to a new, modern and coordinated model for apprenticeships and cadet training with quality, enduring schemes backed by shipowners, unions and government. Collaboration between these sets of stakeholders is essential to deliver a Maritime Just Transition and safeguard their long term standing as global leaders in seafaring.”
Bringing together stakeholders such as governments, shipowners, unions, training facilities and more, is essential, explains Sturla Henriksen, Special Advisor for Ocean, UN Global Compact. “Decarbonizing shipping is essential to combat the climate crisis and it is encouraging to see seafarer hubs across Asia and Africa taking action to equip their workers with the skills for future green operations. The global nature of this evolution means that no one is alone in tackling this issue and the Maritime Just Transition Task Force, which is primarily funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, is committed to providing resources to support stakeholders making this journey,” he says.
A new effort to produce a seafarer training framework for decarbonization with relevant training materials for seafarers and maritime education and training providers is expected to be launched in July 2023 under Phase 2 of the Maritime Just Transition Taskforce. Arsenio Dominguez, IMO’s Director of the Marine Environment Division elaborates, “Combating climate change requires action across the maritime sphere, both in offices on shore and on vessels at sea. We know that seafarers are eager to do their part to develop green shipping’s operations and this framework, alongside some of the free online courses developed by the IMO, can help to boost crew knowledge of how their daily operations impact the environment.”
Seafarers can access the IMO’s free Energy Efficient Ship Operation training programme on the UN Climate Change Learning Partnership website.
7. Electrical equipment dangers
A recent Hong Kong Merchant Shipping information note produced by the Hong Kong Marine department multi- lateral policy division discussed a fatal electrocution accident which happened on board a Hong Kong registered bulk carrier during cargo hold cleaning when she was drifting off the coast of Veracruz, Mexico.
The note draws the attention of shipowners, ship managers, ship operators, masters, officers, and crew to the lessons learnt from this accident. The bulk carrier drifted off the coast of Veracruz, Mexico, to conduct the cargo hold cleaning for the next loading of steel cargoes. Three deck crew members, including an AB, entered the No.1 cargo hold to clean the tank top. As it was getting dark, a portable cargo hold light was temporarily provided to the crew in the hold for illumination. When the AB attempted to move the light by hand to illuminate the starboard bilge well of the hold and check the cleanliness there, he suddenly collapsed on the tank top due to an electric shock. The crew of the vessel organised themselves immediately and applied first aid to the AB. The vessel was steered back to the designated rendezvous position to seek urgent shore medical treatment. Unfortunately, the AB was declared dead later by the shore doctor.
The investigation identified that the contributory factors leading to the incident were that the crew failed to follow the requirements of the “Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers” (the Code) to use a portable lamp with low voltage or take suitable precautions to avoid electric shock in damp or humid conditions; failed to follow the requirements of the Code and the shipboard safety management system (SMS) to hold a toolbox meeting properly, including a risk assessment before cargo holds cleaning; lacked safety awareness on prevention of electric shock when using a portable cargo hold light; and the shipboard SMS failed to identify using electrical equipment as one of the main risks onboard the vessel when working in cargo holds
In order to avoid recurrence of similar accidents during operations in the future, the ship management company, all masters, officers, and crew members should strictly follow the relevant requirements of the Code to use a portable lamp with low voltage or take suitable precautions to avoid electric shock in damp or humid conditions; strictly follow the requirements of the Code and the shipboard SMS to convene a toolbox meeting properly, including a risk assessment before the cargo hold cleaning; enhance safety awareness of the crew on prevention of electric shock when using a portable cargo hold light; ensure the crew strictly follow the safety requirements when working in cargo holds; and ensure shipboard SMS identifies the risk of using electrical equipment when working in cargo holds as one of the main risks onboard.
8. Critical safety issues
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has called on Maritime New Zealand to address critical safety issues with the maintenance and management of ship engine cooling systems.
The call is detailed in a preliminary report as part of the Commission’s inquiry into the loss of power experienced by the KiwiRail Interislander passenger ferry Kaitaki, leaving it drifting close to the coast in Cook Strait on the night of 28 January 2023.
The Chief Investigator of Accidents, Naveen Kozhuppakalam, says TAIC has recommended that Maritime New Zealand require KiwiRail to provide evidence that safety-critical rubber expansion joints on the Interislander fleet are fit for purpose taking into account the manufacturer’s guidance; and alert operators of ships that have these components that maintenance schedules should account for date of manufacture as well as time in service.
“The crew were conducting maintenance on the propeller shaft generator when it tripped and the vessel lost all electrical and propulsive power,” said Kozhuppakalam.
“The main and auxiliary engines shut down because their high temperature cooling water system had failed; this happened in part because one component, a rubber expansion joint, had ruptured and most of the cooling water drained out before the crew could stop it.”
It took the crew about an hour to repair the cooling system and re-start the engines.
The rigid pipes of the Kaitaki’s engine cooling system included twelve rubber expansion joints (REJs) to reduce vibration and noise; compensate for heat expansion, load stress and pumping surges; allow for misalignment of pipes; and make inspections easier.
These REJs are safety-critical components that should been tracked and checked throughout their lives. This is because, over time, as is common with manufactured rubber components, REJs become more susceptible to cracking, delamination, and can become softer or ‘gummy’.
“They should be taken out of service before their natural ageing process puts them at an unacceptable risk of failure. Ship operators need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which say the REJs they should be no older than eight months when installed, inspected annually and replaced after five years.
“Kaitaki’s ruptured REJ was thirteen years old when installed in 2018 and eighteen years old by the time it ruptured.
“This happened because KiwiRail had not followed the manufacturer’s advice; even under KiwiRail’s own system, the REJ was two months overdue for replacement.
Since the incident, KiwiRail has updated its guidance for REJs, but it still doesn’t comply with the manufacturer’s guidance and doesn’t account for the date of manufacture.
TAIC’s inquiry into the Kaitaki incident is continuing, with current lines of inquiry that include maintenance, safety systems, emergency response and emergency capability. A final report, setting out findings, safety issues and recommendations, if any, will be issued at the completion of the inquiry.
9. IMRF awards
Nominations have opened for this year’s International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) annual awards, which looks to recognise volunteer and professional maritime search and rescue (SAR) personnel from around the world.
This year’s awards, which will be the eighth to take place, will also focus on those who have dedicated their lives to developing maritime SAR services, as well as those developing innovative technology and equipment, and those encouraging more women to enter a traditionally male-dominated sector.
“Every day, maritime SAR volunteers and professionals do everything they can do to help those in distress at sea, but we should not take their work for granted. The IMRF Awards are our way of highlighting the incredible work done by men and women, 365 days a year, to keep us all safe at sea, as well as showcasing new equipment and technologies that are making SAR operations more effective,” says Caroline Jupe, Chief Executive Officer of the IMRF.
“The entire global maritime SAR community continues to innovate to tackle complex operational challenges, particularly as issues surrounding climate change and the climate transition will have a major impact on maritime industries and communities. The IMRF Awards are our way of giving back to those looking to safeguard our future,” she adds.
This year’s awards will have five categories that are open for nominations:
- Individual: For Outstanding Individual Contribution to Maritime SAR Operations
- Team: For Outstanding Team Contribution to Maritime SAR Operations
- Innovation & Technology: For Innovation and Technology in the field of Maritime SAR
- Vladimir Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement in the maritime SAR sector. This award is sponsored by Inmarsat, the world leader in global mobile satellite communications, providing safety communications at sea since its inception by the International Maritime Organization in 1979 (www.inmarsat.com).
- WomeninSAR Award: For an individual, who has made an outstanding contribution to improving equality of opportunity for women and girls in Maritime SAR. This award is sponsored by HamiltonJet, the developer of waterjet and control systems that deliver manoeuvrable, reliable and safe propulsion for SAR vessels (www.hamiltonjet.com)
The closing date for nominations is 31 July 2023 and the shortlist will be announced on 29 September 2023. The winners will be announced on 18 October 2023.
Nominations can be submitted online here: https://www.international-maritime-rescue.org/imrf-awards-2023-nomination-form
10. Improving leadership
The Nautical Institute has announced a new collaboration with The Seafarers’Charity to develop a new range of training courses aimed at improving the leadership and management skills of seafarers and those working ashore.
Increasing reports about bullying, harassment and abuse onboard, and its impact on the work experience and mental health of seafarers, have driven this new collaboration between the two maritime charities – both of whom are interested in improving working life at sea. This new collaboration aims to enhance leadership and management skills, and to promote a shift in cultural expectations about acceptable workplace behaviours onboard. It is anticipated that, over time, this may lead to a reduction in unacceptable behaviour onboard and, consequently, an improvement in the mental health and welfare of seafarers.
A leading voice in the maritime industry, the Nautical Institute has a well-established track record in developing training courses that support mariners in their continuing professional development. It has joined forces with The Seafarers’ Charity, a leading grant funder of maritime welfare services, to support the development of three new training courses for seafarers which will be accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management. Launching in Summer 2023 the new training courses include:
- Leadership & Management (levels 3 and 5)
- Coaching & Mentoring (levels 3 and 5)
- Welfare Toolkit aimed at enhancing resilience.
Deborah Layde, Chief Executive of The Seafarers’ Charity, said: “If we want a culture of care to become the norm for people working at sea, then we need to support an enhancement of leadership skills at sea. Training is an important part of this as it helps seafarers to understand what good leadership looks like. This will support a behavioural and cultural shift in expectations of standards of leadership. Ultimately, this will improve the lives of people working at sea as everyone will benefit from more positive interactions and good leadership which challenges unacceptable behaviours. In addition, the Welfare Toolkit will provide resilience training – a transferrable skill which is helpful for all seafarers at any level of their career as well as those working onshore to support them.”
The new training courses are the first practical initiative which will be delivered. The collaboration will explore further opportunities to collaborate on other initiatives to support enhanced leadership and prevent toxic behaviours in the workplace which can be damaging to everyone’s mental health and wellbeing.
John Lloyd, Chief Executive Officer of the Nautical Institute, said: “The funding from The Seafarers’ Charity provides us with the opportunity to extend the range of educational opportunities that we already offer. These new courses involve the application of theory to the workplace through reflective practice. They are equally appropriate for those at sea such as navigators, engineers, deck officers, mates or cadets, as they will be for those ashore including superintendents, DPAs or general management. Everyone who participates in the courses will develop leadership skills that will be of benefit no matter what their rank and their attendance will improve the lives of all working at sea through positive and good management.”
11. UK port alerts
The British Ports Association has launched a new security alerts system for rapid information sharing amongst industry to help prevent and detect criminal activity.
The new system will involve BPA disseminating details of activity submitted by ports to others in the same region. This will improve security posture and raise awareness of suspicious individuals or patterns of behaviour.
The industry’s Security & Resilience working group proposed the idea earlier in 2023 and a simple system has been trialled and is now live.
Any UK port can sign up to receive alerts although recipients are checked regularly by BPA to ensure they have a legitimate need to receive such data. The BPA also checks data before it is circulated to ensure it is appropriate and distributed to the relevant port security professionals.
The system complements the existing reporting regime, whereby ports report incidents to government. The BPA works closely with the Department for Transport’s security division and other Government security teams.
UK ports can submit an alert on the BPA website or by contacting a member of the team.
Notices & Miscellany
Oscar Dragon Boat Race
The 8th OSCAR Dragon Boat Race will take place on Friday 15th September 2023 in London. This annual event has already raised over £900,000 towards the total raised by the OSCAR Campaign which now exceeds £2.25m and which funds essential research and treatment for children with leukaemia and related diseases at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.
Some 25 teams compete against one other and the top six teams battle it out in a final. There is a bar, food, quayside games and activities and a DJ to get everyone in the mood. It’s an excellent networking event and good fun. Most importantly, no training is required for those who want to race.
For information on the OSCAR Dragon Boat Race contact Phil Parry or visit the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity website where you can sign up your team.
The Al Muraykh at sunset by Margaret White ©
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