Tag Archives: safety at sea

SHIPPING NEWS: Malta-flagged freighter captain admits high alcohol count

Federal prosecutors say the captain of a [224-metre]-long freighter was intoxicated as his ship was trying to cross the hazardous Columbia River bar near Astoria, Oregon.

The Coast Guard reported that Georgios Choulis was found sleeping on the Malta-flagged ship Laconia with an almost empty bottle of Scotch whisky beside him.

US Attorney Amanda Marshall said that Choulis had a blood-alcohol level of 0.287. Federal law prohibits the operation of commercial vessels with a blood-alcohol content over 0.04.

The Coast Guard removed Choulis from the Laconia on Tuesday. A river bar pilot and a Coast Guard team had boarded the vessel to assist in its transit from the Pacific Ocean into the Columbia River.

On Friday, in Portland, Choulis pleaded guilty on Friday to operating a commercial vessel under the influence of alcohol. US District Judge Marco Hernandez sentenced him to a year’s probation and a $500 fine, and barred him from US waters for a year. The local press reported that he was expected to fly back to his native Greece.

The Coast Guard has released the freighter to pick up a load of grain from Longview, Washington.

Source: http://www.independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=140757

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SAFETY AT SEA | Do I really need to wear a life jacket?

Vincent PicaOriginally published in atlanticmaritimeacademy.com

“Do I really need to wear a life-jacket?  I’ve been boating since dinosaurs roamed the Earth and it is always fine!”

How many of us have said that, or something like that?  More than a few and more than would admit to it.  It is a natural reaction to wearing something that might be considered “binding” versus the wonderful feeling of just being out on the water…

But think again.  First, some activities require a life-jacket (more scientifically called a “Personal Flotation Device” or PFD).  Water skiing regulations require the skier to have one on.  The driver and passengers of a “Personal Water Craft” or PWC (often called a jetski) are required to have one on.  If you are younger than 13 years old, you must have one on.  If you are using the “Type-5” PFD, the kind that look like a set of suspenders that have  buoyancy pouches that are inflated by a CO2 cartridge, you must have it on for the USCG to consider that it is on the boat (unless you are under 16 in which case it is illegal to wear it!)

But what about the fellow that just wants to tool away from the dock, quietly find his favorite fishing spot off the channel in Moriches Bay and just drop two hooks – one for the boat and one for the fish…?  How dangerous is that?

It can be plenty.  Aside from weather changes, the rapid change from dusk to night and things like that, there are other boaters.  And I don’t mean the ones that drive into you, admittedly a rare albeit not unique occurrence.   Here’s the scenario…

You hook that fish that has been nibbling your bait away all afternoon.  You finally have him on the hook.  As you reach over with the landing net to get him in the boat, another boater races by and his wake hits your boat at just the wrong angle at just the wrong time.  Into the drink you go…

And here are the statistics:  16 guys go in the water with a life-jacket and 15 come out.  16 guys go in the water without a life jacket?

1 comes out.

Do you have a boater that you love?  Get him or her to wear a life-jacket, especially if they are out there alone…

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INSURANCE | P&I Club warns against GPS-only navigation

Originally published in Lloyd’s List, 2010/10/05

RELYING solely on global positioning satellite without the right navigational corrections could put ships in danger, the London P&I Club has warned.

The club highlights its concerns with the grounding of a containership on a regular schedule, which got into trouble because the officer was using only GPS to navigate the vessel.

GPS positions are referenced to the World Geodetic System 1984 Datum (WGS 84), which may not be the same as the horizontal datum of charts in use. This means that a GPS-only plotted position could be wrong.

This can be avoided by first checking to see if any chart corrections are necessary. However, in the grounding case raised by the club, the officer had failed to do this.

“During a coastal passage, a containership ran aground after a navigating officer commenced a significant alteration of course about half a mile before he reached the intended alter course position,” the London P&I Club noted.

The officer was “wholly unaware that a significant correction had to be applied before GPS positions could be plotted on to any of the charts used in the service”.

The club added that a “more detailed passage plan would have alerted the inexperienced officer to the danger and required him to cross-check his position by more than one method”.

The London P&I Club said that navigating officers should always check the charts for information about corrections to be applied to satellite-derived positions when preparing a passage plan. Navigating officers should alert navigators to any existing corrections that are required before positions are plotted on the individual charts, it added.

The club declined to name the ship involved in the incident.

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SAFETY | Faulty maintenance blamed for Evergreen crewman death

Botched gearbox maintenance has been blamed for a ladder collapse that killed an Evergreen crewman in the US.

Chin-Fu Huang, 41, from Taiwan, fell from the 6,046-teu UK-flagged containership Ever Elite (built 2002) on 10 September 2009 as it entered San Francisco Bay.

He drowned after the lower section of the accommodation ladder he was standing on broke free and fell into the water, the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said.

It was the third fatality on board Evergreen’s 11 UK-flagged ships reported to MAIB within eight months.

And six accommodation ladder hoist failures on other owners’ ships have been reported to the MAIB in the last five years, two of which resulted in the loss of life.

When Huang was on the ladder, a colleague heard “a loud bang followed by a whirring sound as the ladder fell rapidly towards the sea,” MAIB said.

The man was spotted about half a metre below the surface of the sea by a tug crew between 10 and 15 minutes after entering the water, but there were no signs of life.

The local coroner determined the cause of death to be drowning with blunt force injuries.

Huang had suffered injuries to his head, neck, chest, back, abdomen and legs, resulting in a broken right femur, fractured ribs, multiple bruising and abrasions. These injuries were not considered to be fatal.

The report found that the ladder was set free when the hoist winch gearbox failed.

“The gearbox had been incorrectly re-assembled by the ship’s crew following maintenance,” it added.

Factors leading to this error included:

  • the lack of technical information held
  • an ineffective management system of onboard maintenance
  • the low-level maintenance and testing requirements adopted for the hoist winch because it had not been considered to be lifting gear as defined in national regulation.

It also said rigging the ladder when underway was unnecessarily hazardous, and a safe system of work had not been developed.

Huang fell into the water and drowned because he was not wearing a fall arrest device and a lifejacket, which should have been required for working over the side.

Other, unrelated, safety shortfalls were identified during the investigation, MAIB added.

MAIB has asked Evergreen to strengthen its safety culture and improve the maintenance management systems on board its vessels.


Read also

Marine Accident Investigation Branch — Report on the investigation of the uncontrolled descent of an accommodation ladder from the container ship Ever Elite in San Francisco Bay on 10 September 2009 resulting in one fatality. Report No 8/2010. Published 14 July 2010.


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DEEPWATER HORIZON | Spill fears eased

Fire boat response crews battle the blaze on the Deepwater Horizon on Wednesday (REUTERS/USCG)

Fire boat response crews battle the blaze on the Deepwater Horizon on Wednesday (REUTERS/USCG)

FEAR OF a serious spill diminished today when the US Coast Guard said no oil appears to be leaking from the Transocean drilling rig that exploded, caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We’ve been able to determine there is nothing emanating from the wellhead,” Rear Admiral Mary E Landry, commander of the Coast Guard’s Eighth District, said on ABC TV.

But the search for 11 missing workers continued today and officials are trying to contain what spilled after the blast and prevent any threat to the coast. Coast Guard officials said Gulf shipping lanes are so far unaffected by a moving oil sheen left when the oil platform sank.

“With the size of the current oil sheen and the direction of the current, we don’t expect it will [affect shipping lanes]”, a Coast Guard official told Fairplay this morning. “But we are monitoring the situation closely.”

The Coast Guard estimated the at 0930 local time as up to 10 by 10 n-miles.

It also said images transmitted from remote submarines show “there’s very little or no oil leaking out at this time. But we’re still assessing, and we’re prepared to respond in case oil starts to leak out.”

Industry analysts indicated that a major spill could bog down President Obama’s recent initiative to open the US East Coast to offshore drilling – approval of which could have curtailed tanker demand.

Firefighters used underwater robots yesterday to attempt to close valves that had allowed the fire to burn before the platform sank. Three “very large” oil spill skimming vessels were sent to the scene, Coast Guard spokeswoman Katherine McNamara told Fairplay.

More than 3,000 n-miles have been searched for those missing since 20 April, when the blast ripped through Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon, a 32,588gt mobile offshore drilling unit.

Before the explosion, the rig carried 2.6M litres of diesel fuel and was pumping 8,000 barrels (1.27M litres) of crude oil a day, the BBC reported.


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Princess Ashika: Tongan law lord arrested

With information from FAIRPLAY

LORD Ramsay Dalgety, secretary of Tonga’s Shipping Corp of Polynesia, became the third official arrested in last year’s sinking of the ferry Princess Ashika, which killed 74 people.

Dalgety, a Scotsman who moved to Tonga in 1991 and was made a law lord in 2008 by King George Tupou V, was arrested late on Friday.

Dalgety was making his first appearance since 22 January, after citing ill-health. In his earlier evidence, Dalgety admitted Princess Ashika was a “rustbucket” but denied revising a memorandum of agreement for purchasing the vessel.

“I’m not going to be the fall guy for signing this contract or agreeing to it,” he said.

The 37-year-old vessel capsized in calm conditions during a voyage from Tongan capital Nuku’alofa.

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‘Full City’ officers allowed to return home


Two officers charged with criminal neglect over the Full City incident have been allowed to return home to China. Chinese captain Zong Aming and third officer Qilanng Lu were charged with criminal neglect after their 26,758dwt bulker ran aground in rough weather off Norway’s Langesund coast on 31 July last year, leading to a 150km-long oil slick.

The two officers were being held in custody in an Oslo hotel but were allowed to return home on 14 December. A Norwegian appeal court had ruled that the pair may have their passports returned after bail payments of NOK 1 million each. The officers are due to face charges of gross negligence at the Norwegian supreme court in February.

Although we’re very pleased the two officers were able to go home to China, which is a real improvement over previous criminalisation cases, the big issue now is how to stop these prosecutions happening in the first place,” David Cockroft, secretary-general of the International Transport Workers Federation, which campaigned for the release of the pair, told SASI.

Cockroft’s view was one that was condoned by Guy Morel, general-secretary of co-campaigner InterManager, the ship managers association. “I am very pleased with the decision to release the officers in a country like Norway which operates on democratic principles. We were very concerned that they would be held in custody away from their families during the very harsh Norwegian winter,” Morel told SASI.

“Obviously ships’ crews have responsibilities and liabilities but it is also important to take a democratic view, and officers should be deemed innocent until they are proved guilty,” Morel emphasised.

The detention of the two Chinese seafarers has already created controversy. “Norway’s court processes are certainly at variance with the IMO’s fair treatment guidelines,” Andrew Linington, campaign chief of the Anglo-Dutch seafarers’ union Nautilus International, told SASI.

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), the Norwegian Seafarers’ Union and InterManager have also condemned Norway’s actions as “the worst case of seafarer victimisation since Hebei Spirit”.

In the latter incident, a crane barge owned by Samsung Heavy Industries collided with tanker Hebei Spirit on 7 December 2007, resulting in a spill of more than 10,000 tonnes of oil. The tanker’s captain, Jasprit Chawla, and chief officer, Syam Chetan, were detained in South Korea for nearly 18 months before they gained the right to head home in June of this year, albeit with their reputations still tarred by the guilty verdict.

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