Tag Archives: ship

PHOTO: Maersk Leticia as seen from her bridge



2013/02/15 · 20:10

MARIME INSURANCE: Ship total losses on the rise


Edited from Tradewinds, 2012.09.17

Reported total ship losses have reached 39 this year compared to 24 at the same period of last year according to Harry Yerkes, chairman of the International Union of Marine Insurance’s (IUMI) ocean hull committee.

Yerkes warns that early casualty figures deteriorate quite markedly over the following 12 months so it would be no surprise if the 2012 total loss figure trebled in due course.

The falling insured value of ships and even shipping companies going out of business was adding to the claims pressure on underwriters according to Yerkes.

“This is putting us all under the gun,” Yerkes added ahead of the IUMI conference in San Diego.

The heavy claims and other pressures meant the outlook for the hull market was at best break even said Yerkes who is chief executive of the American Hull Insurance Syndicate.

Yerkes said underwriters would be questioning if they have analysed risk appropriately, what ship operators were doing to assess their operations and the safety and regulatory issues arising.

It would be bad enough even without the loss of Costa Concordia…


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COSTA CONCORDIA: Blame game in, hope out

As hope fades for the successful rescue of the 20 people still missing a week after the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, the focus of operations on the Italian island of Giglio is shifting towards the prevention of future catastrophe and the allocation of blame for that which has already occurred. With some 500,000 gallons [roughly 2 million litres] of fuel oil still sloshing around in the hull of the ship, “We need to prevent an environmental disaster,” says Franco Gabrielli, the head of Italy’s civil protection agency, who is coordinating the emergency response. He added that while the agency wasn’t giving up rescue attempts, the risk of rupture of the ship’s fuel tanks was becoming an increasingly important worry.

Rescuers have been investigating whether the ship can be chained to the rocks on which it capsized last week, to halt its slow slippage towards deep waters, which would dramatically complicate further salvage efforts. The consequences of an oil spill would be disastrous. The mayor of Giglio has called the ship an “ecological time bomb.”

The potential for pollution puts at risk not only the area around the tiny Mediterranean island, but also the entirety of the nearby coast of Tuscany, one of the engines of Italian tourism. On Saturday, light oil was discovered floating near the Concordia, but rescue workers speculated it may have been diesel from rescue boats or lubricant from some of the on board machinery, not the heavy engine oil that could spell environmental devastation.

The plan is to extract the fuel oil and replace it with water, to avoid destabilizing the ship. Experts estimate that draining even those tanks closest to the outside of the hull could take as much as month — providing storms don’t cause delays — and that the inner tanks could prove harder to reach. Still, “there is a very good chance that the fuel oil can be removed,” says Paul Wright, associate director of the Marine Institute at Britain’s Plymouth University. Contamination from the kitchen oils, chemicals, sewage, and personal belongings of the crew and passengers are likely to be contained using booms.

What could prove more challenging is the salvage operation of the $450 million ship itself. “I would be very surprised if she is righted and floated off,” says Wright. “The most likely solution is that she will be cut up and dismantled in position.” It’s an operation that could take months.

Meanwhile, the legal process is gearing up as Italian authorities work to establish the criminal liability for what some experts predict will produce the most expensive insurance claims in maritime history. As of Saturday, the death toll for the accident stands at 12 and is likely to rise; the Costa Concordia‘s captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest and facing charges of manslaughter. At the heart of the investigation will be determining what happened in the 70 minutes between the moment the ship tore itself open on the rocks and Schettino’s first formal call for help. In the interval, the coast guard was misinformed by a member of the Concordia‘s crew about the condition of ship, even as it was taking on water. And passengers were told by an apparently confused or oblivious crew that the problem had been resolved and that they should return to their rooms.

Lawyers for civil plaintiffs will be eager to show that responsibility for the tragedy extends beyond the incompetence of the captain. “You have an incentive to find the deep pockets,” says Luca Melchionna, a professor at St. John’s University School of Law. Was the Costa Concordia‘s dangerous approach to the island part of a pattern that the cruise company had previously sanctioned or tolerated? To what extent did company policy contribute to the disarray in the early minutes when lives could have been saved? How well prepared were the crew for the event of an emergency?

For now, the cruise company has joined the criminal case against the captain as a civil party, formally putting itself among the injured and (not coincidentally) forestalling civil action in Italy while the criminal trial plays out, something that could take months of years. “It’s a strategic legal move that protects them, at least for a while,” says Melchionna.

But such maneuvers won’t protect the company in other jurisdictions. While lawyers for potential plaintiffs have complained that the waivers their clients were asked to sign have ruthlessly limited the cruise line’s liability, at least two law firms have announced they plan to file a class action lawsuit in the U.S. next week. Meanwhile, several passengers have already sought representation with the British law firm Irwin Mitchell. “With thousands of passengers and crew on board this huge vessel, their safety should have been the first and only priority,” Clive Garner, the head of the firm’s international law team, said in a statement. “Tragically, it seems that this was not the case and passengers and their families have paid a very heavy price.”

Source: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2105029,00.html#ixzz1k7VvAtS1

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Ships @ Itajai: MV Elbrus


This is the very first ship I piloted – an evening departure, 14 years ago. How much has shipping changed since then!

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2012/01/12 · 07:34

MV BULGARIA: Captain fined for failing to help passengers

The captain of a vessel that passed by the sinking Bulgaria cruise ship without stopping to help rescue drowning passengers was fined, but avoided jail time, Interfax reported.

A district court in Tatarstan ruled that Yury Tuchin failed to provide help to victims of the July disaster on the Volga River, in which 122 people died when the 55-year-old Bulgaria foundered in a storm.

Tuchin, skipper of the Arbat dry cargo ship, pleaded guilty to not stopping to collect survivors, but said he had only done so because his ship risked crushing the lifeboats.

The prosecution asked to jail the 60-year-old sailor for 14 months and ban him from working on ships for three years afterward, but the court only fined Tuchin 130,000 rubles ($4,200), the report said. Neither party said Monday whether it planned to appeal.

A similar case against the captain of the Dunaisky-66 towboat is under review in a Kazan court. Several officials and the head of the company that leased the decrepit Bulgaria also face charges over the disaster.

Source: The Moscow Times

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INCIDENTS: MAIB releases report on Queen Mary 2 explosion

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released the result of its investigations into a failure of a capacitor, part of the diesel-electric propulsion system of the cruise ship ‘Queen Mary 2’.

The MAIB feels that there are lessons that the industry should learn from this incident, which resulted in an explosion onboard,so has asked for our help in promulgating the information.

At 0425 on 23 September 2010, as the passenger liner Queen Mary 2 (QM2) was approaching Barcelona, a loud explosion was heard from the direction of the aft main switchboard (MSB) room. Within a few seconds, all four of the podded propulsion motors shut down. A few seconds later, the vessel suffered an electrical blackout. Thick black smoke was seen to be coming from the aft MSB room. Fortunately, the vessel was clear of navigational hazards and no one was injured.

By 0439, the crew had confirmed that the explosion had taken place in the aft harmonic filter (HF) which was situated in a compartment next to the aft MSB room. After establishing with thermal imaging cameras that there were no hot spots, they ventilated the area and isolated the aft HF and MSB from the rest of the 11000 volt electrical network. The crew were able to restore some electrical power supplies and, by 0523,QM2 was underway using two propulsion motors powered from the forward MSB. Subsequent inspection of the aft HF revealed that one of its capacitors had failed catastrophically due to internal over-pressure and another had developed a severe bulge.

The vessel had a history of HF capacitor failures, at an average rate of one per year. Although the exact cause of the capacitor failures could not be determined, it was concluded that capacitor degradation was probably caused by a combination of transient high voltage spikes due to frequent switching operations and occasional network over-voltage fluctuations. The capacitor deterioration had not been detected, and because there were no internal fuses or pressure relief devices, it had continued until the capacitor casing failed catastrophically.

Although the aft HF circuit breaker disconnected the HF from the rest of the electrical network to isolate the electrical fault, the disruption was likely to have caused electrical instability in the electrical network which led to the loss of propulsion and blackout. The vessel’s alarm logs were found to contain early warnings about the impending failure approximately 36 minutes before the accident. However, as the vessel’s alarm systems regularly logged more than one alarm every minute, this information was not seen and could not be acted upon.

The only protection against catastrophic failure of the capacitors was a current imbalance detection system. It consisted of a current transformer which was connected to the capacitor circuit. Under normal conditions, little or no current should have flowed through the transformer. When a capacitor degraded, the current flow across the circuit became unbalanced and induced a current in the transformer’s secondary winding. The system was set to give an alarm when the imbalance reached 400mA and to trip at 800mA.After the accident, the transformer’s windings were found to have failed. There had not been any alarms on this part of the system for several years and it was likely that the imbalance detection system had not worked for some time.

This caused the alarm display to read 0mA giving a false indication that the capacitors were in good condition. Although detection of an unbalanced current was the only protection system for the harmonic filters, it had no backup and did not fail safe. Routine tests of the system were by the secondary current injection method, and by-passed the transformer.

Source: http://www.motorship.com/news101/maib-reports-on-qm2-explosion

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The ship’s Captain: Master or slave?


Here is a PDF of an important article from Captain Inder Jit Singh MNI, published in the October 2011 edition of The Nautical Institute’s Seaways. I agree with what he wrote there and I believe many Masters will.

I quote him:

“Paradoxically, the ship’s Master now carries allow of the responsibility for activityon board ship, but enjoys little trust from authorities or owners, and less power. If we are really concerned about safety — or about the future of the industry — this must change.”

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