Tag Archives: year of the seafarer

SHIPPING | Maersk fined for breach of international regulations

 

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Maersk Patras (IMO 9168221) -- amsterdamhaven.web-log.nl

 

 

Fred Caygill | Maritime and Coastguard Agency (UK) | 2010.10.25

At a hearing today in Newcastle Magistrates Court, the Owners of the UK registered container ship Maersk Patras pleaded guilty to eight charges of failing to provide adequate hours of rest for the crew and one charge of failing to improve the situation.

In September 2009, the MCA conducted an audit on board the Maersk Patras at Bremerhaven. It was noticed that the Captain, Officers and other crew members had not been having the required periods of rest as laid down by international agreements.

The company, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S of Denmark, were informed of these concerns but failed to correct matters and the breaches of the regulations continued. On the 25th January 2010, the MCA issued the company with an Improvement Notice which required them to rectify the position by the 28th February 2010. They also failed to comply with that notice.

A.P.Moller-Maersk were fined £18,500 plus costs of £4,439.27

Neil Atkinson, Marine Surveyor, Maritime and Coastguard Agency said:

Fatigue is often a significant factor in accidents, whether it is to individuals or to the ship itself. For this reason the MCA are focusing on seafarers hours of rest during routine inspections of UK and foreign flag vessels. This conviction should send a strong message to the industry that failing to provide adequate hours of rest for the crew is not acceptable.

Graham Duff, prosecuting on behalf of the MCA said in court:

The hours of rest regulations are not just a bureaucratic exercise, they are all about safety.

It should go without saying that fatigue, particularly for decision makers on board large vessels, is a very real enemy and presents a significant risk to the safety of others.

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SHIPPING | Supply chain chaos

Gavin van Marle | Lloyd’s List | 2010.10.22

THE idea of a 24-hour strike by shipping to demonstrate to the world at large just how much it depends upon our industry is in a fine tradition of thought experiments that, if they actually came to pass, would cause unprecedented havoc.

In the apocalyptic-dystopian 1977 novel Lucifer’s Hammer, the phrase “society is only three meals removed from savagery”, appeared to be a reworking of a quote that has been variously attributed to revolutionary leaders such as Mao and Trotsky.

The theory is that all it would need for society to descend into anarchy is 24 hours without food. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if no one knew where their — or their children’s — next meal was coming from.

Shipping is one of the few industries that hold the power to bring that ghastly thought into reality. So many countries around the world rely on the global fleet to keep their populations fed, clothed and warm that a 24-hour shipping strike would, literally, be cataclysmic in its consequences.

It would probably be unfair to put V. Ships president Roberto Giorgi in the same bracket as some of history’s most authoritarian figures, but his comments in Cyprus this week ought to receive a wider audience than just the shipping community. He is, unfortunately, preaching to the converted.

The general public continues its day-to-day business blissfully unaware of the way in which orderly society is held together by such fragile supply chains.

The near-universal lack of awareness or concern over modern-day piracy, which so threatens these lines of supply, illustrates this.

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YEAR OF THE SEAFARER | Let us treat seafarers with dignity

A tribute to the community of seafarers in this year of the seafarers

By Fazlur Chowdhury, maritime adviser with General Organisation of Sea Ports in Bahrain

Originally published in Lloyd’s List, 2010/09/23

WHEN I joined a merchant ship as a cadet in 1963, life at sea was different.

As a young man it was always very exciting to call at new ports, see new lands, meet new people and of course get to know about their history and culture.

By choice of our unique profession we contributed to the world trade but in the process made new friends.

Almost 90% of the world trade is still sea-borne trade. How many of us ever thought of the fact that if all the sea-going ships were to be tied up in ports for merely two weeks, we would probably find the supermarket shelves empty. Today’s hectic modern lifestyle would come to a stand-still.

The subject of this article is the seafarers who keep these ships operating all over the world. If one wants to single out a community that has contributed more than any other to the cause of international trade and commerce then it has to be the seafarers. This is a community that remains out at sea, away from their near and dear ones for months at a time. There is no denying that it is their profession by their own choice but in the process they contribute so much to the cause of international trade, commerce and communications.

This in turn gives rise to friendship and closer relationship amongst nations. In today’s world of open door competition seafarers from several developing countries work together on ships in the spirit of friendship and brotherhood. In recognition of their special role, the seafaring community had always been treated with love, affection and respect. Ports around the world used to have recreational facilities to provide a home away from home.

Unfortunately things have changed. There are two factors. An incident in the year 2001 commonly referred to as 9/11 has perhaps caused more change than anything else. Terrorists’ actions in the US, Kenya, Spain, Bali and many other places claimed thousands of innocent lives and took away our peace of mind. The terrorist threats continue to exist and nobody knows for certain when and where the next will occur. Everyone has to be on guard to deny any further chance to the terrorists.

However, we must not suffer from any terrorist phobia. If we give up our modern lifestyle and do not enjoy the fruits of the modern civilisation built over ages then we help the terrorists achieve their goals.

This is one reason why the United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/ RES/ 57/ 219 ‘Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism’ affirms states must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law. Not granting shore leave to innocent seafarers in the name of security threat is nothing other than depriving the seafarer of their age-old tradition of recreational facility. It amounts to violation of human rights and dignity.

The other factor is a series of high profile ship related pollution cases around the world. Rightly or wrongly in most cases the master and chief engineer of the subject vessel is immediately arrested and put behind the bar like a criminal. The seafarers are kept in detention for days together without even any formal charge and in some cases without any access to lawyers or solicitors. This is certainly gross violation of human rights. The concept of natural justice of being innocent unless proved guilty is brushed aside and it falls upon the seafarers to prove that they are not guilty. The local authorities are always very eager to look to be doing something. The easiest thing to do is to put the master and chief engineer behind the bar. Sometime the marine professionals are the easiest scapegoats for the failure of others and thereby keep attention diverted when the issue is fresh and burning.

The tanker Prestige suffered structural damage in heavy weather and the master’s request for a place of refuge was refused. Instead the Spanish authorities towed the vessel 133 miles away from the coast of Spain exposing the damaged vessel to further perils of the sea, until finally six days later it sank. In the opinion of salvage experts, in a suitable shelter, the vessel could have transferred most of its cargo to other vessels and any limited spill out could be contained and later recovered/skimmed off. Nobody questioned the decision of the local authority; instead the master was arrested immediately despite having complied with all the orders and instructions. The suffering that Apostolos Mangouras underwent in Spanish jail is known to all. In any case the Prestige incident taught us two important things. It has now become a part of the Solas for coastal states to have designated shelters. It also identified the need for pre-arranged command structure which the UK has now done in the shape of a SOSREP.

In case of the tanker Tasman Spirit, which was under advice and guidance of fully licensed local pilot, it is again the master and crew of the vessel who were taken to police custody immediately after the incident as if they conspired and put the ship aground. It was later revealed that Pakistan was not even a party to Civil Liability Convention and the arrest was an effort to ensure that damages can be recovered. The innocent seafarers had to suffer for shortcoming on part of the government officials. There are many more such incidents where seafarers had to suffer for no fault of their own.

Now we look at another incident – this time it is not a ship but an oil rig named Deep Sea Horizon that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast Louisiana, US. The blast not only killed eleven persons but also caused the worst ever pollution known in human history. I have not heard of any police arresting any master, engineer or any other person. However, all measures have been taken to stop further pollution, clean-up the spill and compensate all affected. Inquiry and investigations are under way. The cause of the blast will be found and remedial action will be taken to avoid such explosion in future. It does not rule out punitive measures against any individual found to be negligent. That is the right way forward.

Denial of shore leave and locking up ship’s officers as the first action for any pollution incident is wrong. Being aware that seafarers work and live on ships involved in international trade and that access to shore facilities and shore-leave are vital elements of the seafarers’ general well-being and, therefore to the achievement of safer shipping and cleaner oceans, all coastal states should make recreational facilities available for the seafarers and allow them normal shore leave facility unless there is specific reason not to grant such facility to any individual. Asking them to obtain prior visa from the seafarers country of origin amount to denial of shore leave because sudden change of program may lead to unexpected destinations for which they were not prepared at the start of the voyage.

Criminalisation and victimisation of seafarers for no fault of theirs is barbaric and inhuman. With regard to the incident of Prestige Capt Roger MacDonald said: “It should be great concern to every European Union national that a democratically elected European Government got away with locking up a ship-master for three months in a high security prison without charge and without access to lawyers.” The secretary general of the International Maritime Organization said: “Punishing treatment meted out to seafarers, on whom international sea-trade and prosperity of nations depend, was not only disrespectful, wrong, unfair and unjust but also contrary to international law.”

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is the paramount Convention on all sea related matters. We should, therefore, try to achieve our primary objectives through UNCLOS-82. Article 73 and 292 of UNCLOS-82 have clear provisions against unreasonable detention of seafarers and for their release against suitable bond or guarantee. Article 230 is very specific that monetary penalties may be imposed to control pollution of marine environment except in the case of a willful serious act of pollution in the territorial sea.

In the field of marine environment there is a number of international instruments to deal with various aspects of ship related marine pollution. They range from the subject of control and prevention of discharge by oil, chemicals, garbage, sewage and even exhaust by different annexes of the MARPOL-73/78. There is OPRC-90 that deals with preparedness and response (national as well as regional) in case of accidental pollution (how to contain and restrict and then the clan-up). There is Intervention-69 that gives powers to a coastal state to take pre-emptive precautionary action should it feel threatened by an accident or incident. In the field of compensation regime it has got CLC-69/ 76/ 92 to pay for by the carrier. There is Fund-71/ 76/ 92/ 2000/ 2003 to pay for on top of CLC.

The importance of protecting marine environment has gone to the extent of imposing restrictions and limitations on exchange of ballast water and use of anti-fouling paint on ships. These instruments are the outcome of lead given in the UNCLOS-82. There should be no need for putting people behind bar unless there is evidence of deliberate action or willful misconduct. Arresting people for cheap publicity or popularity should be discouraged.

On this occasion of the World Maritime Day the Secretary General of IMO says in a message to the world’s seafarers: “Our intention is to pay tribute to you, the world’s 1.5m seafarers – men and women from all over the globe.” As a seafarer, I say the best tribute we can pay to the seafarers is to do something which will prevent them being bullied in future.

I call upon both IMO and ILO to work together to prepare a draft document and then call a diplomatic conference to adopt a convention under title ‘Fair treatment to Seafarers’. The document, with all due respect to the sovereignty of every state, should make it binding upon them to ensure that visiting seafarers are given shore-leave (without insisting on prior visa) and that states should provide such recreational facilities as are considered appropriate to their history and culture except where there is reason for not granting such shore-leave.

In case of accidents or incidents resulting to loss or damage to human life, property or environment, the state which has the jurisdiction may inquire, investigate and deal with the matter in a manner acceptable under international treaties, practice and procedures. The flag state of the vessel should be involved in the process of investigation. Unilateral arrest of seafarers should be avoided unless there is clear evidence of deliberate misdeeds. Where arrests are already made, the seafarers should be treated with dignity and be provided with full access to legal support for grant of bail. Unless criminal negligence is established, monetary fine/penalty should be preferred to jail sentence.

Fazlur Chowdhury is the maritime adviser with General Organisation of Sea Ports in Bahrain. He was previously director general of Shipping in Bangladesh, deputy chief examiner of the UK-MCA and maritime administrator in Gibraltar.

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YEAR OF THE SEAFARER | Crew stuck on “floating prison”

Originally published in Tradewinds, 2010/09/21

Seven Indonesian crew have been stuck on a Saudi tanker since February in a dispute over pay.

The vessel has been anchored off Bahrain and the men have been reliant on local charities to survive.

Captain Saehoddin Amri and his six crewmates brought the 600-dwt bunkering ship Lady Anna (built 1995) to the country for work on behalf of operator Al Sabah Marine of Saudi Arabia.

But the relevant documentation needed to carry out the project had expired before their arrival. They have not been able to work, return to Kuwait or officially enter Bahrain since then.

Amri likened conditions to being in a floating jail, when he talked to local reporters.

“We cannot go anywhere or do anything,” he said. “After we are finished eating, that’s it. We have no salary so we cannot even buy anything.

“We cannot take on any contracts to work either, because legally we are not allowed to operate in Bahrain, so we are just maintaining the ship every day; painting and washing and anything else that needs to be done.

“The crew is already in very low spirits and we just want to retrieve our salary.”

A spokesman for the Indonesian consul said Al Sabah had made an offer to return the men to Indonesia and pay the salaries within five months.

But the crew remain unimpressed with this.

The company phone number given on its website was not in use.

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YEAR OF THE SEAFARER | Giving to Filipino seafarers — and robbing them

Barista Unomarine-cafe.com

Plans are afoot to revise the standard employment contract for Filipino seafarers so that they’d get, amongst other benefits, four-and-a-half months leave in lieu of the current 2 1/2. We can understand the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) wanting to play up to the lads in the Year of the Seafarer. But the whole idea is unenlightened, if not entirely doltish.

The intention, apparently, is to allow seafarers to spend more time with their loved ones. This is all fine given the value Filipinos place on family. On the other hand, the POEA proposal assumes that seafarers abhor the idea of spending up to 12 months (the maximum allowable) at sea. Maybe so. Life at sea is hard and often dangerous. Yet, the stark reality is that scores of seafarers, even the old hands, are desperate to join a vessel in order to feed their families. Most would probably not even think of sailing if only they could find decent paying jobs on shore.

Imagine, too, the impact of the scheme on shipowners. The current rules stipulate that “days leaves shall not be less than two and a half (2 1/2) days for each month of service and pro-rated.” No need for a calculator to see that shipowners would be shelling out more for leave pay if the crew is granted longer leave. The same holds for the joining crew’s air passage, which is to the shipowner’s account, with crew rotation occurring more frequently. And woe to the shipowner whose manning agent in Manila doesn’t have enough qualified replacements for the fellows returning home for a nice, long vacation.

Seafarers certainly would get the short end of the stick. Anyone with an average IQ will understand that shorter-term contracts mean less money for the seafarer and his family. Already, seafarers are spending a fortune every time they prepare to go to sea – certification fees, medical check-ups, transportation, lunches and snacks, even grease money for the ever-outstretched government palms. They’ll likely spend the same amount to cover such items but this time for shorter periods of employment. The proposed longer-leave provision purports to give something to seafarers, only to rob them of what they now have. This is not only dumb. It is mean.

SafeSeas comment:

I think this gives an insight on how far the needs of Filipino seafarers are used against them to render their work a commodity. And how politicians can twist a much-needed initiative — the Year of the Seafarer — to serve their own purposes.

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SHIPPING | IRISL crew stranded at Antwerp in sanctions row

European banks refuse to honour Iranian P&I club’s guarantee out of fear they may be breaking the law

LLOYD’S LIST

AROUND 60 crew were running out of food and water today after their vessels were arrested in the port of Antwerp as a result of European Union sanctions against Iran.

The ships’ agent said he could not deliver cash to the masters of the breakbulk vessels controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines without authorisation from the Belgian finance ministry, which said it first needed to consult with other EU member states.

The two vessels, the 15,670 gt Garland and the 16,694 gt Lavender, were running low on provisions, said independent Antwerp agent Eiffe.

“This is not a good situation,” said Eiffe manager Werner Bogart. “If we have permission we can contract a ship’s chandler and give cash to the master and we will do so straight away.”

The Belgian ministry reportedly said it could take up to 14 days to reply.

The vessels, thought to be among the first victims of the Iran sanctions, were not specifically targeted by the Belgian authorities but became caught up in a cargo claim.

The ships’ cargo of steel for European interests is understood to have suffered sea water damage and therefore underwent a standard survey upon arrival.

Complications arose when it was discovered that the P&I club insurer was Iranian. European banks have reportedly held back from accepting the club’s guarantee out of fear that they may be breaking the law.

The EU Iran sanctions published at the end of August impose a blanket ban on insurers and banks doing business with Iran, Iranian companies, individuals and their intermediaries.

EU sanctions have come in several waves and have specifically mentioned IRISL in the past. The regulation of July this year stated that “the obligation to freeze economic resources of designated entities of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines does not require the impounding or detention of vessels owned by such entities or the cargoes carried by them insofar as such cargoes belong to third parties, nor does it require the detention of the crew contracted by them.”

Sanctions have nevertheless created confusion within both the transport and insurance industries. Uncertainty remains over their implementation. This has stemmed from the fact that sanctions were drawn up by foreign affairs officials without industry consultation. Not even the European Commission’s transport ministry was consulted.

Question marks remain over issues such as the requirement for pre-arrival and pre-departure information for Iranian imports and exports. Without clarity shipping lines are concerned they could face penalties even if they are unaware, as is often the case, of the contents of containers they are carrying.

Lavender and Garland are listed by Lloyd’s List intelligence as Maltese-flagged. Sapid Shipping of Iran is given as the beneficial owner.

Volunteers, possibly religious bodies, are thought to have been delivering emergency supplies to the ships, said Mr Bogart.

European banks refuse to honour Iranian P&I club’s guarantee out of fear they may be breaking the law

AROUND 60 crew were running out of food and water today after their vessels were arrested in the port of Antwerp as a result of European Union sanctions against Iran.

The ships’ agent said he could not deliver cash to the masters of the breakbulk vessels controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines without authorisation from the Belgian finance ministry, which said it first needed to consult with other EU member states.

The two vessels, the 15,670 gt Garland and the 16,694 gt Lavender, were running low on provisions, said independent Antwerp agent Eiffe.

“This is not a good situation,” said Eiffe manager Werner Bogart. “If we have permission we can contract a ship’s chandler and give cash to the master and we will do so straight away.”

The Belgian ministry reportedly said it could take up to 14 days to reply.

The vessels, thought to be among the first victims of the Iran sanctions, were not specifically targeted by the Belgian authorities but became caught up in a cargo claim.

The ships’ cargo of steel for European interests is understood to have suffered sea water damage and therefore underwent a standard survey upon arrival.

Complications arose when it was discovered that the P&I club insurer was Iranian. European banks have reportedly held back from accepting the club’s guarantee out of fear that they may be breaking the law.

The EU Iran sanctions published at the end of August impose a blanket ban on insurers and banks doing business with Iran, Iranian companies, individuals and their intermediaries.

EU sanctions have come in several waves and have specifically mentioned IRISL in the past. The regulation of July this year stated that “the obligation to freeze economic resources of designated entities of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines does not require the impounding or detention of vessels owned by such entities or the cargoes carried by them insofar as such cargoes belong to third parties, nor does it require the detention of the crew contracted by them.”

Sanctions have nevertheless created confusion within both the transport and insurance industries. Uncertainty remains over their implementation. This has stemmed from the fact that sanctions were drawn up by foreign affairs officials without industry consultation. Not even the European Commission’s transport ministry was consulted.

Question marks remain over issues such as the requirement for pre-arrival and pre-departure information for Iranian imports and exports. Without clarity shipping lines are concerned they could face penalties even if they are unaware, as is often the case, of the contents of containers they are carrying.

Lavender and Garland are listed by Lloyd’s List intelligence as Maltese-flagged. Sapid Shipping of Iran is given as the beneficial owner.

Volunteers, possibly religious bodies, are thought to have been delivering emergency supplies to the ships, said Mr Bogart.

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YEAR OF THE SEAFARER | Seafarers urged to share nautical sayings

Seafarers past and present are being asked to contribute some of the sea-inspired sayings and words they use in everyday life to a new book on maritime language.

Maritime charity the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society has launched a nationwide campaign designed to capture modern-day seafaring sayings to mark the Year of the Seafarer (2010).

As part of the campaign, the society is teaming up with former Royal Navy surgeon-captain Rick Jolly OBE, who is author of naval slang and jargon guide Jackspeak, to produce a new compendium of modern nautical terms for the next edition of his book.

The society is calling on serving and retired members of the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy, fishermen and port workers nationwide to get involved in the Royal Alfred Gung Ho Language Workshop, inviting them to send in modern words and sayings they use in everyday language, inspired by their time at sea.

Common sayings such as giving someone “a wide berth”, getting “carried away”, and “letting the cat out of the bag” are just a few examples of everyday language that originated with mariners.

Dr Rick Jolly said: “The beauty of nautical language, just like all language, is that it is constantly evolving.

“Shaped by changing times and technologies, the expressions used often carry that classic mariner sense of humour – inherent in sayings such as ‘kecks’ which are underpants (or trousers in Liverpool!) and ‘spondoolicks’, a 19th century word for money.

“Projects like this are vital in preserving the significance and awareness of nautical language and we look forward to hearing from today’s seafarers who may have their own ‘first rate’ suggestions or may really ‘know the ropes’ when it comes to modern-day sailor speak!”

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society canvassed its retired resident seafarers at its nursing and residential home in Surrey for their top 10 favourite phrases coined from a life at sea.

Their top five were: “the cat’s out of the bag”; “brass monkeys”; “batten down”; “splice the mainbrace”; and “three sheets to the wind”.

Commander Boxall-Hunt, chief executive of the society, said: “Seafarers do literally have their own language which is evident every time our residents socialise together, but it’s astounding how much of this language is used by everyone – every day.

“This heritage must not be lost or forgotten, which is why we are embracing today’s generations of seafarers alongside the generation we care for at our residence in Surrey, to take that understanding to the wider public and celebrate it.”

Maritime sayings and words can be submitted online at http://www.royalalfredseafarers.co.uk or by post to The Royal Alfred Gung Ho Language Workshop, Head Office, Weston Acres, Woodmansterne Lane, Banstead, Surrey, SM7 3HA.

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society was established in 1865 and provides care predominately to retired seafarers from across the UK, but welcomes those of non-seafaring backgrounds when able to do so. For more information visit http://www.royalalfredseafarers.co.uk.

Fonte: http://www.communitynewswire.press.net

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