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SAFETY: Sensible seamanship

Michael Grey 

THERE were some 270 pilots on the loose in London late last month, attending the 21st Congress of the International Maritime Pilots Association.

If you have read this column for any length of time you will realise that I like to support pilots all I can, believing that they are a force for maritime safety, insurance against accident and bring practical good sense into any operational discussions.

Their association is an important attendee at the International Maritime Organization, where those representing it bring a unique practical perspective to any debate.

There are many ex-mariners in national delegations and non-governmental organisations, but only the chap behind the IMPA card can say things like “on a VLCC I was piloting yesterday…” and apply this contemporary knowledge to the discussion. This matters.

The fact that they are on and off ships all the time also gives them a wide-ranging view on ship operating standards, along with the training and competence of their crews. It’s one thing for a government surveyor to sternly walk around a ship in port with his clipboard. A pilot sees that ship from the sharp end, in motion at what is arguably its most vulnerable time.

Some have suggested that pilots tend to be a bit prickly and defensive, but I would suggest that this is because so many shipowners like to think that they are a sort of optional extra and compulsory pilotage an unfair cost.

Those same shipowners have run their crews down to an overworked and exhausted minimum, and demand that Pilotage Exemption Certificates enabling practically anyone including the ship’s cat to substitute for a licensed pilot be available on demand.

The latest enthusiasm, now that the idea of “remote pilotage” from a VTS tower seems to have been discredited, is to inflict competitive pressures on pilots, to drive down the costs in a sort of Hayek-inspired fashion.

This seems to spring from a romantic notion of what pilots were like in the days of sail, when swarms of pilot cutters would meet arrived ships in places like the Western approaches to the Channel, all touting for business, with the shipmaster spoilt for choice.

Many professionals would rather think of pilots as a human addition to the safety systems, and generally fail to see how this is in any way improved by the imposition of a “market”, especially where there is not the level of business for such competition.

You don’t have competing bollards on the quayside, or competing locks into the same enclosed basin, do you?

And in most of the places where competition has been imposed, surprise, surprise; the actual costs of the pilotage to the users have increased, not least because of all the additional management extras.

In Australia, in Argentina, Denmark and a number of other places, competition has meant change for the considerably worse, with the job a darned sight less attractive for the people carrying out this important safety work.

However, there was little sign of such complaints at the recent IMPA Congress, with sessions on personal safety (pilots still take their lives in their hands as they board and leave ships), the design of pilot boats, pilotage administration and perhaps unsurprisingly, some important sharing of ideas on technology.

Pilots know they must “stay current” with fast-changing technology, while being very aware of the risks of over-dependence on electronics, as they tend to see this a great deal aboard ships they are handling.

“Technology is great — when it works,” an IMPA past president famously said.

With the arrival of electronic charts, ship’s officers are vulnerable to the march of technology and a new type of navigation. They might be on a new ship, and have to get attuned to new equipment every year or so.

A pilot faces one of at least 30 different Ecdis units every time he or she boards a ship. How can the pilot tell that the equipment has been properly set up by some second mate who is also unfamiliar with the equipment?

One pilot made the point that half the Ecdis units he sees are not set up properly, many using pirated or out of date software.

Maybe we should worry more about this revolution now taking place, especially when one third of 500 respondents asked about Ecdis revealed that they had encountered serious problems. “It’s still embryonic,” was one remark. Sure, but it is also mandatory.

Pilots really earn their crust when they board a ship and find that the pilot station to berth passage plan on the Ecdis takes the ship right over several shoals, because the wrong draught had been entered.

Or clambering up a ladder in a storm off New Zealand to find the ship on its “electronic leads”, heading straight for a cliff, with the bridge team following their electronics assiduously, without any adequate check.

Many pilots themselves use the Personal Pilot Unit, now laptop size but quickly becoming smaller. There was fascinating discussion about how this can be integrated into the training of new pilots.

“Brilliant kit, but it should not lead me to a place my brain had not visited first,” was the very sensible pilot advice.



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COSTA CONCORDIA: An organizational accident, after all?

It is increasingly clear to me that what took place off Giglio last January was an organizational rather than an individual accident. Have a look at the text below, from–court-experts-fault-captain-crew-owner-for-deadly-ship-grounding-off-tuscany, and have your say:

ROME – Court-appointed experts have squarely blamed the captain of a cruise ship that ran aground off Italy for the wreckage and deaths of 32 people, but they also faulted the crew and ship owner for a series of blunders, delays and safety breaches that contributed to the disaster.

The Costa Concordia ran aground and capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio on Jan. 13 after Capt. Francesco Schettino took it off course and brought it close to the island as part of a stunt. He is accused of manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all passengers were evacuated.

Eight other people, among them crew members and Costa’s crisis co-ordinator, are also under investigation. The court in Grosseto ordered the expert investigation to help it determine who, if anyone, should be put on trial. A hearing is scheduled for next month.

In a 270-page analysis, the four experts described in second-by-second detail the unfolding disaster as Schettino slowly came to realize the gravity of the situation. Using data and voice recorders to reconstruct the drama on the bridge, the report showed how Schettino failed to grasp for a good 45 minutes repeated reports from his crew that his ship was flooding and its motors dead.

The analysis came out Wednesday and was placed online Thursday by the Rome daily La Repubblica.

The experts contrasted what went wrong on board with maritime rules and procedures and determined that Schettino should have given the “abandon ship” order at 10 p.m. that night, 15 minutes after the 9:45 p.m. grounding against the rocks off Giglio.

Instead, the evacuation order only went out at 10:43 p.m. — and Schettino himself didn’t give it but another officer, in violation of maritime rules. By that time, passengers on their own had already reported to their muster stations with life jackets on, despite a decision from a crew member at one point that they should go back to the dining room.

“Madonna, what a mess I’ve made,” Schettino muttered soon after the collision, according to the transcript.

Beyond Schettino’s faults, the experts said a series of problems hobbled the execution of his initial manoeuvre and efforts to fix it, and contributed to the botched evacuation. Bridge crew members bungled directions and didn’t his understand orders because of language barriers. Other crew members weren’t trained or certified in security and emergency drills, the report found.

In all, the experts said, Schettino and his bridge crew showed “scarce professional seriousness” before and during the disaster, with Schettino joking just before the crash, after his helmsman again misunderstood an order, that he needed to do it right “otherwise we go on the rocks.”

And the experts said ship owner Costa Crociere bore blame, too, by delaying alerting coastal authorities about the emergency — a charge Costa denied Thursday.

In a statement, Costa said by law it was Schettino who was supposed to have alerted authorities about the accident, and that the captain assured the Costa crew on land that he had done so. And regardless, Costa said, Schettino’s reports to Costa’s headquarters were so delayed, “partial and confused” that the company couldn’t discern how serious the emergency was.

Yet the expert report said Schettino had “clearly explained the situation” to Costa’s fleet crisis co-ordinator in his initial call. Schettino was far less forthcoming when the Livorno port authorities called him after hearing word the ship was in trouble: in that conversation, Schettino only told the port that there was a blackout on board.

And Costa firmly rejected the experts’ claims that the crew was unprepared for emergencies, saying the “alleged defects in the certifications of some of the crew” didn’t affect the evacuation.

From the start, passengers described a confused and delayed evacuation, with many of the lifeboats unable to be lowered because the boat was listing too far to one side. Some of the 4,200 people aboard jumped into the Mediterranean and swam to Giglio, while others had to be plucked from the vessel by rescue helicopters hours after the collision.

Some passengers said they were shocked to see Schettino already ashore when they were being evacuated. Schettino claims he helped direct the evacuation from the island after leaving the ship. The report demonstrates how he refused several demands by port authorities to return to the ship to oversee the evacuation.

Schettino has insisted that by guiding the stricken ship to shallower waters near Giglio’s port instead of immediately ordering an evacuation he potentially saved lives. He has claimed that another official, and not he, was at the helm when the ship struck.

But the timeline in the expert report makes clear that he had assumed control with a verbal order at 9:39 p.m., after being called back up to the bridge to oversee the stunt, which he had planned as a favour to friends from Giglio.

Work has begun to remove the tons of rocky reef embedded into the Concordia’s hull, a first step in plans to eventually tow the wreck away from the island.

The whole removal process is expected to take as long as a year.

To learn more about organizational accidents, an interesting starting point might be Organizational Accidents: A Systemic Model of Production versus Protection, a paper written by Yang Miang Goh, Peter E. D. Love, Helen Brown and Jeffery Spickett of Curtin University of Technology, Australia. I quote the abstract below:

Production pressure is often cited as an underlying contributory factor of organizational accidents. The relationship, however, between production and safety protection is complex and has not been adequately addressed by current theories regarding organizational accident. In addressing this gap, this paper uses the methodology of system dynamics to develop a causal model to address the dynamic interaction between management of production and protection, which can accumulate in an organizational accident. A case study of a fatal rock fall accident in Tasmania, Australia was conducted based on the developed model and is used to uncover the intricate dynamics linking production pressure, risk tolerability, perception of safety margin, and protection efforts. In particular, the study demonstrates how a strong production focus can trigger a vicious cycle of deteriorating risk perception and how increased protection effort can, ironically, lead to deterioration of protection.

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MARITIME PIRACY | A tale of two seafarers

From Tradewinds, 2012.05.12

Two Indian crew have revealed gripping details of their four-month ordeal on board the Italian tanker hijacked off Somalia in December and freed last month.

The 16,600-dwt Marnavi-owned Enrico Ievoli (built 1999) was carrying 15,000 tons of caustic soda and 18 crew from Iran to Turkey when it was seized by gunmen.

The seven Indian crew members landed back home in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Roopendran Parrakat, 51, told the AP news agency he had been watching an unidentified boat since he had come on duty shortly before 6am on 27 December.

He and two other crew took turns peering through binoculars at the vessel, which showed up on the Enrica Ievoli’s radar as an ominous blip moving far too fast toward their ship.

“Normally, you get GPS data,” Parrakat said. “This vessel had no details, no name, nothing.”

Forty minutes later the captain sounded the alarm, jolting Shantilal Harji Solanki awake.

“I had a feeling pirates were around,” said Solanki, 52, who worked as a mechanic on the ship.

He stashed his gold prayer beads in an air conditioning duct before heading up to the ship’s bridge, the designated meeting point in case of emergency.

A skiff had set out from the pirate’s mother ship. The crew watched from the bridge as four men in shorts and T-shirts hoisted a ladder and climbed on board. Two carried AK-47s.

They fired shots in the air and called themselves pirates. They said they were from Somalia.

The men came up to the bridge and trained their guns on the captain. “They said this boat is hijacked,” recalled Solanki. One of the gunmen was shaking. Another man was bleeding, cut on the hand and shoulder by the barbed wire the crew had wrapped around the ship to stave off pirates before entering the dangerous waters.

Five more Somalis soon climbed on board. The youngest was 14, the oldest in his fifties.

“The leader told us we are hijacking this vessel for money,” said Parrakat. “We need this money for our country. We are doing this for our country.”

A helicopter flown in by the Turkish navy in response to the captain’s distress call arrived 20 minutes too late.

The crew were held the crew on the bridge. Half got mattresses, the rest slept on blankets. They had to ask permission to go to the bathroom or take a shower. Pirates always escorted them, one man at a time. Photographs were forbidden.

The pirates led the crew — seven Indians, six Italians and five Ukrainians — one by one to their cabins and took anything that could be sold.

They stole Solanki’s two laptop computers, one of which he’d just bought for his daughter, two cellphones, his watch, his leather shoes and all his money.

After a few days, the ship reached Somali waters and the men were allowed to call home.

Solanki called his wife in Diu, an island north of Mumbai, India’s financial capital. “I told my wife, ‘I am hijacked. Don’t worry, we are OK,'” he recalled.

His two daughters were sobbing too hard to speak clearly. “Papa come soon,” they said.

The crew did not become friends with their captors over the long months of captivity. They barely learned each other’s names. The pirates slept separately and ate their own meals. The Somalis brought sheep on board, slaughtering one each day for food.

The crew played cards, mostly gin rummy, to fill the empty hours. Some prayed.

No one thought of escape. “Everyone was afraid for his life,” said Parrakat.

“I can’t be faster than a bullet,” said Solanki.

Once the ship reached Somali waters, Maya’s group handed the vessel over to anther crew of pirates led by a man named Loyan.

Twice Enrica Ievoli was pressed into pirate service.

In January, the ship sailed two and a half days to rescue nine pirates from a failed hijacking.

Five of the nine were injured and one had been shot dead by the US navy, said Solanki. The pirates put the dead body in the freezer and sailed back to Somalia.

In March, Loyan ordered the ship to chase a hijacked Spanish vessel whose captain was not following pirate orders. They never found the ship.

On 22 April, more than 30 pirates, all armed, were aboard the Enrica Ievoli. They wrapped their faces in cloths, hiding everything but their eyes. They lined the crew up on the deck so they could be seen, alive, from a small white plane that approached in the afternoon.

The pirates kept their guns pointed at the backs of the crew as the plane circled above and then dropped three plastic containers, each fitted with a small parachute, into the sea.

The pirates scurried off the boat to collect their treasure.

Then a new kind of fear settled on the crew.

“Until that day, they had reason to keep us alive,” Parrakat said. “After they got what they wanted, they can do anything.” He stayed awake the whole night, listening as the pirates left the ship in small groups.

Around 5am, the last few pirates fired three farewell shots in the air.

“It was like coming out of jail,” Parrakat said, a big smile spreading on his face.

The captain called an Italian navy ship patrolling nearby. A helicopter circled as six Italian commandoes boarded the Enrica Ievoli and scoured the ship for any trace of pirates.

“When the Italian commandoes came, we felt OK, fine, we are going home,” Solanki said. He took his prayer beads out of the air conditioning duct.

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SHIPPING | What of power, corruption and lies?

From Tradewinds, 2012.05.04, page 2. Worth more than just a reading… The bolds in the text are mine: there are only three of them.

The “chatterati” of the London shipbroker network have worked themselves into a frenzy in recent weeks gossiping over allegations that have emerged in public about bribery in the tanker-chartering business.

For brokers whose lifeblood is trade in speculation, it has added a frisson of excitement to otherwise largely gloomy markets news of late. If they stepped back a little, however, they might see their interest in such issues highlights a fundamental shift in the issues the industry faces, away from the old arguments about ship safety and pollution and onto new, more complex challenges.

It is perhaps an example of the increasing scrutiny shipping faces over business practices that until very recently have been accepted by many as standard and fair industry practice but which are now being questioned by lawmakers worldwide.

For example, the UK Bribery Act last July outlawed facilitation or “grease” payments in contracts anywhere globally involving firms with a UK presence of any type. It also outlawed “lavish” corporate entertainment but so far corporate tickets to Wimbledon and Ascot are selling just fine, while shipping folk still clearly enjoy being entertained.

More broadly, financial regulators worldwide have been forced by public outrage to tighten up on illicit practices that did so much to cause the 2008 crash and subsequent recession. Among many ways in which shipping markets have been affected is the scaling back by investment banks of proprietary trading of forward-freight agreements (FFAs).

Barry Vitou, the partner who leads London law firm Pinsent Masons’ corporate crime team, sees the UK Bribery Act as the “poster child” for regulatory action in the face of the public’s increasing anger over unethical business practices. But while the act has teeth, the authorities have not yet used them.

“Many firms have tried to address these risks but it is incumbent on the government to recognise those who have done the right thing, and not just do nothing,” he said. “That would risk allowing lawbreakers to benefit from those who have addressed the issue.

“After all the tough talk the authorities must be seen to act. If no action is taken the authorities risk being seen as the ‘boy who cried wolf’.”

Shipping is clearly at high risk, as there is an obvious challenge in the form of demand for “facilitation” payments, which have been almost commonplace in some ports in some regions.

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has laid out a methodology to deal with such “grease” payment culture. “The question is: how many shipping companies are addressing the issue using the guidance and how many have buried their heads in the sand?” asked Vitou. “The latter approach comes with significant risk under the Bribery Act and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act [FCPA].”

The arrival this week of David Green as new head of the SFO could mark a watershed. He has vowed to not shy away from prosecuting firms even in significant cases, reversing his predecessor’s style of doing “deals” with wrongdoers rather than pursuing them through the courts.

In the global political arena, US sanctions against Iran have already hit high-profile shipowners and brokers, while the effect of the European Union (EU)’s own looming oil-sanctions regime against Iran is starting to bite into how the crude and products charter markets function.

Scott Bergeron, chief executive of the Liberian register, told last week’s Plymouth Nautical Degree Association conference at IMO: “If you haven’t already, you’re going to hear a lot more about sanctions. The landscape is changing very quickly, there’s a freight train approaching.”

David Brummond, senior sanctions advisor on shipping for the US Treasury’s Office for Foreign Assets Control (Ofac), told the same event: “We know we have to work with this industry but make no mistake, we intend to enforce our laws.” Many believe the public will not be forgiving of businesses that appear to be flouting such regulations.

“Unintended consequences” of such sanctions remain a serious risk, counters sanctions expert Mike Salthouse of the North of England P&I Club, with “accidental” sanctions breakers at risk of being targeted.

Shipping has always dealt in power, some notorious corruption at times and its own fair share of lies.

That phrase “Power, corruption and lies” for some of a certain generation —and I should declare that I am one — does evocate only one thing: seminal Manchester band New Order’s second album of the same name.

To those in shipping, however, those three words are going to ring in their ears for even more crucial questions of business probity in the coming months and years. In shipping, “power” is obvious to all who look; petty “corruption” is nowadays rare and largely hidden even when it exists; and as for the “lies”, there are many more out there than most would like to admit.


By Julian Bray’s Wavelength

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SAFE SHIPPING: Fatigue Risk Management On The Horizon?

Human science is a rarity in the merchant marine domain, there is nothing equivalent to the US Navy’s excellent TADMUS programme, so the release of preliminary findings of Project Horizon are welcome.  Undoubtedly its release will be met with “we knew that already” but its real value is putting number to what was already known, or suspected, and giving less wriggle room on the issue of safe manning – a markedly different issue from minimum manning – at the expense of seafarers being imprisoned for falling asleep on a poorly manned bridge.

The results of program, which involved 90 volunteers of a mix of nationalities and gender reflecting current ship manpower, under realistic living and work conditions, in a variety of simulators at Warsash and Chalmers, are chilling by not unexpected.

Says the prelimary report: “In all four of the watchkeeping sub-groups (4/8 and 6/6 at Chalmers and 6/6 deck and engineers at Warsash) there was evidence of full-blown sleep. Incidents of sleep on watch mainly occurred during night and early morning watches. At least one incident of microsleep was detected among 40% of team 1, 4/8, at Chalmers (the 0000-0400 watch), around 45% of team 1, 6/6, at Chalmers (0000-0600 watch) and around 40% for team 2, 6/6, at Chalmers (0600-1200 watch). At Warsash the rates varied from more than 20% of the 1800-0000 watch to 0% of the 0600-12000 watch. Falling asleep on the bridge is a main indicator of the effect of the watch on dangerous states of the crew”.

Key findings include:


  • at least one occurrence of sleep was detected among 45% of officers in the 6/6 team working the 0000-0600hrs watch at Chalmers and one occurrence for about 40% of those on the 0000-0400 watch in the 4/8 pattern
  • at Warsash, where the watchkeepers remained undisturbed in their off-watch rest periods, the number of occurrences of sleeping on watch for officers on the 6/6 pattern varied, and was up to more than 20% on the 1800-0000 watch
  • such incidents of sleeping on watch were found within both watchkeeping patterns, and they mainly occurred during night and early morning watches
  • participants in all the groups reported relatively high levels of subjective sleepiness on the KSS scale, which got higher towards the end of a watch and the end of the week
  • varying degrees of sleep loss were observed between the watch systems and depending on whether off-watch periods were disturbed or not. Overall sleep duration for those on the 4/8 pattern was found to be relatively normal, with around 7.5 hours a day for those in team 1 at Chalmers and about 6 hours for team 2
  • participants working 6/6 watches were found to get markedly less sleep than those on 4/8, and data showed a clear ‘split’ sleeping pattern in which daily sleep on the 6/6 pattern was divided into two periods — one of between three to four hours and the other averaging between two to three hours
  • reaction time tests, carried out at the start and end of each watch, showed clear evidence of performance deterioration – and the slowest reaction times were found at the end of night watches and among those on the 6/6 patterns
  • watchkeepers were found to be most tired at night and in the afternoon and sleepiness levels were found to peak towards the end of night watches
  • the 6/6 regime was found to be more tiring than the 4/8 rotas and ‘disturbed’ off-watch periods were found to produce significantly high levels of tiredness
  • in both watch systems, the disturbed off-watch period was found to have a profound effect upon levels of sleepiness
  • there was evidence that routine and procedural tasks could be carried out with little or no degradation, whilst participants appeared to find it harder to deal with novel ‘events’, such as collision avoidance or fault diagnosis, as the ‘voyages’ progressed
  • researchers also noted a decline in the quality of the information being given by participants at watch handovers as the week progressed

An obvious conclusion is that having a single watchkeeper at night is not a great idea, although it makes good commercial sense. It is not surprising that routine procedures were little affected by fatigue but performance under developing and high stress situations were degraded.

Data from Project Horizon indicates that the probability of danger at sea will be highest when night watches are combined with prior reduction of sleep opportunities, combined with passages through narrow or very densely travelled waters, or during reduced visibility.
The Project Horizon findings suggest that owners, regulators,  seafarers and others should pay special attention to the  potential risks in difficult waters in combination with the 6/6 watch system (because of sleep loss), night watches, the last portion of most watches (especially night watches), and watches after reduced sleep opportunity.

A variety of methods (some of which are already commonly deployed) may be used to address this potential risk, including alarm systems to alert crew before important waypoints, encouragement not to use chairs on the bridge during night watches, additional crew, training crew to recognise symptoms of fatigue, and special protection of sleep periods for watchkeepers.

This has led to the development of a fatigue risk management toolkit called Martha. The computer-based system will provide an interface with selectable watch schedules and a ‘do-it-yourself’ watch system facility. Users will be able to enter their working schedules over a six-week time window and receive predicted estimates of the most risky times and the times of highest potential sleepiness for each watch and for the whole watch schedule, as well as for time outside watch duty.

Project Horizon Website


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LINER SHIPPING: Are ULCSs heralds of consolidation?

It is a proving a fruitful time for prophets of change in the liner industry.

Malaysian carrier MISC is pulling out of the boxship trades, Zim is considering consolidation or merger possibilities, and CSAV is seeking a partner in the restructuring of its container-shipping activities.

Mix in talk that the three major Japanese lines have considered a merger and it all points to a new phase of restructuring in the sector.

The new watershed for the industry has come just six years after the last major phase of consolidation in 2005, when AP Moller-Maersk acquired P&O Nedlloyd and Hapag-Lloyd took over CP Ships.

Some thought the industry would undergo structural change again in the crisis of 2009 but it failed to result in any consolidation. Instead, the bumper year that followed meant lines were able to postpone some tough decisions.

Operators are still living off the fat of those profits but their cash reserves are wearing thin. That is forcing lines to again consider the rationale for staying in the container trades at what seems a crucial juncture.

Lines operating in the Asia-to-Europe trade are approaching a crossroads where they need to make a strategic choice.

On the one hand, they have to consider stumping up cash to buy the new generation of ultra-large containerships (ULCCs). If they decide not to, it may mean retiring from the trades.

If they are to remain as players in the business, where ships of 16,000 teu to 18,000 teu will be deployed, at least a dozen will need to start ordering larger vessels.

When the first of these giant boxships are delivered in around three years’ time, operators using sub-10,000-teu vessels will be unable to compete on the Far East-to-Europe trades.

The orders for larger vessels have so far been dominated by Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) and CMA CGM, which are committed to what has been described as “a game of scale”.

Others are weighing up the pros and cons of the move but the uncertain economic climate means it is a tough call.

In its November newsletter, Clarksons Research Services says players that have yet to make a move in the post-10,000-teu sizes are “still playing a wait-and-see game over the economies in the West”.

“It is still unclear whether these companies will play their hand and order to keep up with their competitors or if they will wait and see what the post-Lunar New Year brings,” the analyst added.

Yet events are moving remarkably rapidly and some of the top 30 lines have effectively already made their decision. MISC’s announcement that it hopes to be shot of its liner business by next June is a case in point.

Chief executive Datuk Nasarudin Md Idris spells out the reasons in no uncertain terms. It is not so much the losses — even though MISC is down $1.18bn since 2008 from container shipping. Instead, it is the “the radical change in the operating dynamics of the liner industry”.

“In view of the expected larger demand of investment in the liner industry, the cost for us to remain relevant in the liner business is untenable,” the MISC chief executive said.

This structural change clearly has implications for cash-strapped lines that will struggle to order big ships.

Chile’s CSAV, South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping and Zim of Israel have already announced equity-raising measures.

Yet there are signs that this is only a partial step in the trend toward industry consolidation. Zim is considering a merger, according to sources quoting chief executive Rafi Danieli.

“We are not ruling out a possibility of consolidation or a merger in the future but at the moment there is nothing on the table regarding this matter,” Zim said in a statement.

Elsewhere, there are reports that CSAV has appointed financial advisor Celfin Capital as part of a $1.2bn capital-raising exercise and to help the search for joint-venture partners for its container business.

This may be only the tip of the iceberg and the feeling is that a radical change in the industry could be imminent.



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SCIENCE: What is Marine Forensics?

Wikipedia provides: The word forensic comes from the Latin adjective forensis, meaning “of or before the forum.” It roughly means to provide evidence upon which judgement can be made.

Marine Forensics applies this very broad definition to gathering evidence related to causation of incidents and accidents that have occurred on the greater than 70% of the earths surface that is covered with water.

It includes fresh water brooks, rivers and streams, Lakes great and small as well as the oceans.

  • A recent archaeology study on the Island of Crete in the Mediterranean sea proved that humans lived or visited there as far back as 130,000 years ago. Crete is many miles from the mainland and has been separated from it for over 5 million years. This implies that humans had some sort of water craft at least that far back into History. The earliest shipwreck remains ever found go back to several thousand BC.
  • A commercial fishing boat went down with 5 souls off New Jersey in 2009. An ongoing investigation seeks to determine the cause of this sinking. The possibilities range from a broken pipe in the engine room to being run down by a huge containership that passed through the area at that general time.
  • A rented power boat sank in Lake Tahoe a few years ago taking 4 souls to eternal rest. The investigation suggests that the boat was overcome by waves.
  • A 729 foot long iron ore carrier was down bound in Lake Superior on November 10th 1975, when a severe storm arose with hurricane force winds and a significant wave height of 7.9m. The Edmund Fitzgerald broke up and sank taking 29 lives and rests on the bottom in 520 feet of fresh water. The bow is upright, the middle exists as a collection of scattered metal shards, while the stern sits upside down.
  • The largest steamship ever built to that point left Southampton, England, on her maiden voyage on the well traveled route to New York. Of the 53 large steel ships that had struck icebergs in the previous 20 years, all but two had survived to reach port, and those two had time to discharge all their passengers onto other vessels before they went under. The Titanic was not especially concerned with icebergs until she struck one a glancing blow that sliced into or sprung riveted plates in 6 forward compartments. April 15th, 1912 gave us the most famous and enduring shipwreck legend of all time.
  • A ship laden with gold left one country to prop up the government of a friendly country but was lost in a storm at sea. The fall of the receiving government changed the course of history.
  • An earthquake and tsunami struck the largest and most important town in the Americas and destroyed most of it in a single afternoon. Port Royal on the Island of Jamaica went from the most important port in the Americas to a foot note in history in a single afternoon as it sank beneath the seas.
  • An invasion fleet from Kubla Khan reached the coast of Japan not once but twice when a typhoon came up and sank most of the vessels with a death toll that may have exceeded 100,000. In Japan this was seen as the divine wind, known forever after as the Kamikaze. It is no coincidence that the Imperial Japanese Empire chose to name their last ditch suicide mission against the US Navy at the end of World War II, the Kamikaze as it once again represented their last hope.

The list of marine casualties from ancient times to yesterday have shaped the history of individuals, countries and continents is long and varied. It is only since the end of World War II that humans have developed the technology that everyday makes the worlds waters more transparent. This is a new and exciting frontier to be explored by generations of clever and inquisitive minds.

Some Marine Forensic Investigations start with scuba gear, while others start with a newspaper clipping and a fist, head and computer full of equations. There are questions that can only be asked by each method. No amount to diving will ever explain the wave induced forces that caused the Edmund Fitzgerald to break into pieces, but modern computer tools are beginning to have that capability. No amount of computer modeling will ever tell an investigator about the damage to the hull of a sunken ship, but diving by one method or another can survey the damage and report back with evidence that can support the investigation by other means.

When a vessel sinks, there are physical circumstances that caused the sinking that may or may not leave traces. There are forces that can cause extensive damage as the wreck descends through the water column in deep water. The German Battleship DKM Bismarck, left the surface upside down and bow last, but hit the seabed right side up and bow first so complicated things happened in the water column.

There are bottom impact forces and associated damage. How does an investigator separate out which damage happened when? What damage caused the sinking and what happened before or after? These are not easy questions to answer but they are critical to understanding or discovering the truth of the matter.

The study of land based crime forensics has captured the popular imagination in recent years. Many of the techniques that the real experts use in a terrestrial setting will not work at all underwater. How does one take crime scene photos when the optical visibility is 6 inches or done at all? How does one measure off distances and angles when there is no fixed location to orient to?

The analyses desired can still be carried out but the means are forced to be quite different in the marine environment. There are acoustic “cameras” that can take quite good “pictures” using sound waves instead of light. You can’t buy these at any photo shop but there are commercial firms that can do this sort of work for a sizable fee, if you can wait up to several months for them to get under contract and come available.
When a vehicle, train or aircraft wrecks, all of the victims remains are recovered for burial by whatever traditions, beliefs and practices that the victims family, religion and country believe are necessary.

When a ship goes down, it is a very rare occurrence that anyone even tries to recover the bodies for burial on land. This is largely based upon tradition and also the cost and difficulty of doing so. In some cased like the Israeli submarine Dakar, or the Japanese fishing / research vessel Ehime Maru, great expense in what can take many years are expended to return the victims home for burial according to the customs of the group they came from.

The International Marine Forensics Symposium will discuss these and many other issues. We invite you to come listen, learn and help the next generation enter this new and exciting field.


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