Tag Archives: Shen Neng 1

MARITIME | Grounding on the Great Barrier Reef caused by fatigue and ineffective monitoring

From the Australian Transport Safety Bureau | 2011.04.14

At 1705 on 3 April 2010, the Chinese registered bulk carrier Shen Neng 1 grounded on Douglas Shoal, about 50 miles north of the entrance to the port of Gladstone, Queensland. The ship’s hull was seriously damaged by the grounding, with the engine room and six water ballast and fuel oil tanks being breached, resulting in a small amount of pollution.

The ATSB investigation found that the grounding occurred because the chief mate did not alter the ship’s course at the designated course alteration position. His monitoring of the ship’s position was ineffective and his actions were affected by fatigue.

The ATSB identified four safety issues during the investigation:

  1. There was no effective fatigue management system in place to ensure that the bridge watchkeepers were fit to stand a navigational watch after they had supervised the loading of a cargo of coal in Gladstone;
  2. There was insufficient guidance in relation to the proper use of passage plans, including electronic route plans, in the ship’s safety management system;
  3. There were no visual cues to warn either the chief mate or the seaman on lookout duty, as to the underwater dangers directly ahead of the ship; and
  4. At the time of the grounding, the protections afforded by the requirement for compulsory pilotage and active monitoring of ships by REEFVTS, were not in place in the sea area off Gladstone.

The ATSB has issued two safety recommendations to Shen Neng 1‘s management company regarding the safety issues associated with fatigue management and passage planning and acknowledges the safety action taken by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in relation to the extension of REEFVTS coverage to include the waters off Gladstone.

Read more about it at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13076231?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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SHEN NENG 1 | Report praises response, considers future oil spills ‘inevitable’

Originally published in Tradewinds, 2010/10/06

“Significant environmental damage” from the grounding of a Chinese bulk carrier on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef earlier this year was prevented by an “immediate, extensive and effective” response.

Oil spills are, however, “inevitable” off the country’s coast, an independent report into the April grounding of the 70,200-dwt Shen Neng 1 (built 1993) found.

The China-flagged panamax was fully laden with coal when it grounded on Douglas Shoal off Queensland on 3 April. Between three and four tons of heavy fuel oil were spilled before the ship was refloated nine days later.

However, the situation could have been far worse were it not for the fact that “Queensland was well prepared” for the situation following an incident involving the 3,700-dwt Pacific Adventurer (now-Pacific Mariner, built 1991) off the state a year earlier.

The Shen Neng 1 grounding “could have caused significant environmental damage” resulting in 975 tons of heavy fuel oil and some 65,000 tons of coal being spilled, the report written by Graham Miller read.

“Although the vessel’s crew were in shock and initial reports from the vessel were unclear, early situational awareness was developed by the responding agencies,” it read.

However, “the operations achieved a positive outcome as a direct result of the immediate, extensive and effective incident response” which Miller also termed “well-resourced and well executed”.

The report pointed to the reasonably favourable location of the casualty site close to the port of Gladstone while weather conditions during the casualty were “generally favourable”.

The report was not designed to study the causes of the grounding but issued a warning to agencies that it was unlikely to be the last such incident in the state’s waters.

The incident, it wrote, “highlights the vulnerability of Queensland’s coastline to a significant oil spill incident. Increased shipping movements and the continued likelihood of severe climactic events suggests that the threat of marine oil spills will remain and that future oil spills are inevitable.”

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Bulk carrier to be unloaded at Gladstone before repair

THE BULKER Shen Neng 1 was so damaged by its Great Barrier Reef grounding that some coal must be unloaded in Gladstone before towing it to Asia for repair, Australian authorities have found.

Maritime Safety Queensland announced last night that weather permitting, the 70,181dwt vessel will be towed to port in daylight hours on 22 April after a passage of 18-24 hours.

MSQ general manager Patrick Quirk said the bulker is now stable, with no oil leaking and most of the oil remaining secure on board in secure positions.

He added that the strong mix of maritime and industrial skills in the area meant Gladstone was the best place in Australia to undertake some weeks of initial repairs. Five tugs, with another on standby, would tow the ship – with four MSQ pilots aboard – to the RG Tanna Coal Terminal.

Salvors Svitzer has found that the ship’s hull had been breached in at least two places, with dents and cracking along its length, Quirk said. The engine room is inoperable and the rudder bent at 90 degrees.


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GROUNDING ON THE REEF | Reef safety in perspective

From Lloyd’s List
THE grounding of the Shen Neng 1 has become a metaphor for many things, including: the developing world and its hunger for commodities; the new dominance of China in world trade; our global disregard for natural resources in the face of economic development; and the new global capitalism versus the need to preserve our world.

The common thread running through all of this is China and the implicit demands it is placing on nations that benefit from trading with it. But while these broad-brush ideas are satisfying, sometimes we neglect the details, where the Devil resides.

Take the name Cosco, which has appeared in almost all the dispatches about the Shen Neng 1 since it was grounded 10 days ago. The ship is owned by Shenzhen Energy Transport. Cosco’s only affiliation is part ownership in the company that manages the vessel — that is, not an owner at all.

But the symbolic neatness of having Cosco be the erring party was too sweet. Cosco, a state-owned giant, is a corollary for Chinese shipping power. Journalists had time to sort out the details, but why bother with inconvenient fact when hamfisted metaphor will do?

A little perspective is needed, too, on the charges of recklessness in navigation, which are still under investigation. Whatever the outcome, it was one vessel in one particular circumstance, not a symbol of universal disregard or imperilment by China — which has since apologised — of a natural wonder.

Australia, laudably, understands the value and beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, and its citizens treasure this resource. But the reef itself has long been vulnerable to problems hampering pilotage. The piloting system was described by Australasian Marine Pilots Institute president Peter Liley as a flawed model.

The model was introduced in 1993 during a time, according to Capt Liley, “when economic rationalism was in its heyday and competition was thought to be a panacea to all our ills”. But the competitive structure that evolved does not lend itself to transparency, supervision or control, nor does it promote a culture of safety.

Truly protecting the reef will involve a considered look at all the problems, and less reliance on easy finger pointing.


I could not agree more. It was time someone came forward and said, “do not feed the hype, please.”

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Great Barrier damaged by bulker grounding

From ABC News

The Chinese coal-carrier  Shen Neng 1, which ran aground on Douglas Shoal off Rockhampton on Easter Saturday and was towed to safe anchorage overnight,  has caused widespread damage to the reef, according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Divers have made a preliminary assessment of the reef and GBRMPA says the coral damage and paint scrapings stretch for more than three kilometres.

GBRMPA Chairman Russell Reichelt says the clean-up is likely to be the biggest operation ever undertaken on the reef.

“It didn’t just [run] aground and stop,” he said. “It migrated over a kilometre over the week doing damage as it went.”

He says it could be weeks before the full extent of the damage is known.

“The paint that’s been scraped off onto the reef is killing corals in its vicinity or they’re showing signs of almost immediate mortality from being close to the anti-fouling,” he said.

A Bill will be introduced into State Parliament within the next few days to increase the penalties for spilling oil and other toxic substances on the reef.

Bigger fines, more safety

Premier Anna Bligh says the Transport and Other Legislation Amendment Bill of 2010 will be introduced to the House later this week.

“That Bill will include provisions to significantly increase the maximum penalties for the spilling of oil or noxious liquids and the jettisoning of harmful substances in Queensland waters,” Ms Bligh said.

GBRMPA is holding discussions with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority about improving shipping safety through the marine park.

“I’m a multiple-use marine park advocate but I do think we have claimed in the past that we’ve got the best shipping protection in the world,” he said. “If the best isn’t good enough – we’re still having groundings. We have to do better.”

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GROUNDING ON THE REEF | No easy way out

No matter how long Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd try to avoid their share of responsibility for the grounding of the bulk carrier Shen Neng 1 on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park by playing the ‘blame game’, it will not go away.

It is clear that the ship is at fault, willfully or not. The circumstances of the accident — engines full ahead, grounding on Douglas Shoals, several miles off-lane — provide indication that either the navigation team was unaware of their situation, or they violated the rules. Besides, the fact that this is is yet another accident in which the Chinese shipping giant COSCO is involved, after the Cosco Busan and Full City incidents, should raise more than a few eyebrows.

Blaming the master and the owner of the bulk carrier alone is very easy, though, and begs the questions about the possible inadequacy of risk mitigating measures in the area.

Mr Rudd said “there is no greater natural asset for Australia than the Great Barrier Reef.” If he really meant it, greater control over ships’ movements in the Great Barrier, such a Vessel Traffic System or compulsory, should have already been in place. However, despite the increasing traffic in the area and the foreseeable consequences of an accident in that region, the government had no VTS to warn that Shen Neng 1 departed from the lane, and no law to make the ship take a pilot, for the sake of public interest.

It is not enough to ‘throw the book’ at the captain and COSCO. It is not enough to be ‘outraged’. Lip service may help with public opinion, but it does nothing for the environment or for safer shipping.

Next time, if nothing changes, it can be a tanker.

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