Sunday, April 30, 2006

QE2 Pollutes Maritime Waters

QE2 liner probed for polluting waters
Ship reported dumping paper Sept. 8 off Cape Breton

OTTAWA — Transport Canada is investigating the cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 for dumping three tonnes of paper pulp off the coast of Cape Breton last year.

The ship dumped the waste on the evening of Sept. 8, according to a pollution report obtained through federal access to information legislation. It happened during a five-hour period when the vessel was travelling between the northern tip of Cape Breton and the southern shore of the island.

Transport Canada officials have been investigating since the pollution was reported by the cruise ship the following day. The ship’s owner, Cunard, a subsidiary of the Carnival cruise company, could be facing fines.

"The reason it was not publicly announced that there were allegations against the QE2 is that it is not our policy to report allegations publicly," Transport Canada spokesman Steve Bone said Monday.

"Our policy is to make an announcement by means of a press release or publishing the outcome on our website after a charge is laid and we have a successful prosecution."

As part of its investigation, Transport Canada "will visit the vessel when it returns to a Canadian port, to gather evidence and interview crew members," Mr. Bone told The Chronicle Herald in an earlier interview.

Officials from Cunard declined comment on the matter.

Ships are required to keep a log of their garbage activities, which will likely be of interest to Transport Canada investigators.

Environment Canada emergencies officer Annie MacNeil, who received the original pollution report last year, said the type of waste is unusual — bilge oil or chemical spills are more common.

Paper pulp qualifies as garbage under Canada’s marine pollution regulations, and it’s prohibited to dump it in Canadian waters.

Paper products are not considered as serious as other substances, and Clarke Wiseman, an enforcement officer with Environment Canada, said that without a sample of the original waste, it will be difficult to tell whether any environmental damage was caused.

"This was something like shredded paper — it was nothing of a wood pulp nature, but I’m not sure of that," Mr. Wiseman said.

The pulp could have been from a toilet paper product, he said. Depending on the type of paper, it could have taken days or several weeks for it to dissolve.

Mr. Wiseman said paper pulp would have had little or no influence on fish, although it could have had negative effects by blocking sunlight or draining oxygen from the water.

But if the paper pulp was treated with chemicals, it could have been a hazard to birds and other animals.

Ross Klein, author of Cruise Ship Squeeze: The New Pirates of the Seven Seas, said he is concerned that pollution within the cruise industry is not effectively regulated by the Canadian government.

"The government really hasn’t taken an interest in standing up to the cruise industry," Mr. Klein said.

Environmental regulations are unevenly enforced around the world, he said, and it is unfair that cruise companies are not required to contribute to cities’ harbour cleanup costs.

But Ms. MacNeil, who has "been on the receiving end of pollution reports for a number of years," said Environment Canada does not have a specific issue with the cruise industry.

Transport Canada has up to three years to complete the investigation. Mr. Bone said working quickly is difficult with international vessels.

"Should there be sufficient evidence and if warranted, Transport Canada will prosecute under the Canada Shipping Act," he said.

Pollution fines are set by a trial judge, so they vary. For garbage pollution, fines are typically in the thousands of dollars.

Smaller ports, such as St. John’s are actively encouraging cruse ship companies to visit. The economic benefits of even short stays can be considerable.

The Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to return to Atlantic Canada in the fall, with the first stop in Halifax on Sept. 23.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

MAIB Issues Recommendations in Balcony Fire

According to Cruise Ship Report, lead British agency investigating the March 2006 Star Princess blaze has urged cruise lines to take action to prevent fires from starting on balconies of cruse ships. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) on April 26 said the fire erupted on the balcony of a cabin on deck 10 of the Star Princess and spread within 10 minutes to three decks, ultimately damaging more than 280 cabins. The agency said current safety regulations do not take into account the enormous increase in balconies on cruise ships built over the past decade. The agency recommended that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) extend fire-prevention regulations covering the interior of cruise ships to balconies and other exterior areas.

However, the investigation has already identified serious shortcomings in fire protection on ships' balconies which require urgent attention. The MAIB and its partners, therefore, have worked with the cruise industry world-wide to ensure that short-term measures are immediately put in place to safeguard passengers. These include

- increased vigilance on vessels with balconies, with consideration given to dedicated lookouts and additional fire patrols;
- a review of crew onboard training and response;
- advice to passengers and crew.
The industry has also agreed to implement medium-term structural measures as soon as practical.

Full Recommendations can be seen at:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Canadian Coast Guard = the lap of luxury

This newsbit came up in this week's Canadian Sailings Magazine. An interesting article. I guess this is becoming a trend for retired Canadian Coast Guard ships. With the Narwal previsouly converted to the Bart Roberts, now these two, there hope for the Bartlett yet, well after another 30 years of service, since there is no plans for replacement, and it would take that long for the government to do anything about it.

New life for old vessels
Former coast guard ships to be transformed into luxury yachts in Italy

An Italian company will breathe new life into two former Canadian Coast Guard vessels. Exploration Commercial Charter Yachts of Livorno will transform the Simon Fraser (pictured and Tupper into luxurious motor yachts that will be available for charter. The two vessels were sold to the Italian firm through Crown Assets Disposal.

The Fraser, built at Burrard Dry Docks in Vancouver in 1959, was sold for $251,000. It was decommissioned in March 2003. The Tupper, decommissioned in November 1999, was built in Quebec and sold for $199,969.

The two ice-class vessels will undergo multimillion-dollar facelifts that will see changes to their superstructure and interiors, which will be transformed into lavish accommodations.

The Fraser underwent general maintenance and was ads seaworthy at the Woodside dock in Dartmouth, N.S. She left for Livorno Italy on March 1.

The Fraser's No snow tour of duty was in 2000- She escorted the RCMP vessel SL Roch ll/Nadon when it reenacted Me 1940-42 expedition through the Northwest Passage.

John Attersley of Quay Marine Associates Inc. of Dartmouth said the work at the Woodside dock was basically to bring the vessel back to life. "We did some overhaul work on the auxiliary engines and tested the propulsion systems.* he said. "We took her out on 24-hour trials and mechanically she performed very well."

Capt. Umberto Mazzella, the ship's master, said he expected it would take about 20 days to reach

Italy by way of Bermuda.

He anticipated the work on the ship would take nearly two years to complete at a cost of about US$8 million to $10 million. The vessel will be used for very exclusive charters, and certainly only for the few who can afford them, he said. An ice-class ship, the vessel could be used for adventure-type charters to the Arctic and Antarctic.

The price to charter the vessels is expected to be quite substantial.

The owners of the Simon Fraser have another company that charters a vessel called the Giant, a former Russian ice-class tug. That luxury motor yacht charters for $300,000 a week.

Attention now shifts to the Tupper, which has been renamed Caruso. The ship will also undergo general maintenance before sailing to Italy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Voices from beyond the grave

Monday April 24 2006 Lloyds List

Voices from beyond the grave echo doomed Red Sea ferry's final hours

Poignant transcript recalls crew's battle to save Al Salam Boccaccio 98. A
Lloyd's List Exclusive

Monday April 24 2006

A CHILLING transcript of the conversations recorded by the black box
recorder of the Al Salam Boccaccio 98point to a string of failings by the
captain and crew in the last hours of the ill-fated vessel's voyage.

Extracts of the transcript seen by Lloyd's List reveal the full horror of
the last four hours and 22 minutes of the Panama-flagged ferry's journey
between Duba in Saudi Arabia and the Egyptian port of Safaga.

More than 1,000 people died, making it one of the worst ship-ping tragedies
in recent history.

The last desperate exchanges between the ship's master, Captain Sayed Ahmed
Sayed Omar, and his crew, recorded on the transcript as taking place
between 2321 hrs and 2333 hrs on February 2, all too explicitly depict the
confusion that contributed to the massive loss of life.

The nightmare of the crew's valiant but ultimately ineffective effort to
fight a fire that appears to have started on the car deck for four hours is
vividly portrayed in the 8,800 words preceding the master's realisation
that he was about to go down with the vessel without a life jacket.

An Egyptian parliamentary committee investigating the causes of the
accident blamed a "wicked collaboration" between the ship's owners and
corrupt safety inspectors for the huge loss of life.

The parliamentary committee, which issued its report last week, accused the
owners of using forged documents to hide a shortage of safety equipment and
political corruption for allowing the owner of El Salam Maritime Transport,
Mamdouh Ismail, a politician, to escape the net of the investigation.

Panama Shipping Register, the company that issued the passenger safety
certificate which covers life-saving equipment, and the ship's insurer,
Steamship Mutual, both claim that the ship's documents were in order and
that the vessel was equipped with life-saving equipment for almost double
the 1,418 passengers and crew on the 11,799 gt vessel.

Regardless of the amount of life-saving equipment, the black box transcript
points to a complete lack of preparedness on the part of the crew to use it
in an effective evacuation of the passengers.

The voyage data recorder details how the drama unfolded from the first call
to the bridge, timed at 1909 hrs on February 2, to the decision to issue a
mayday signal more than four hours later, pointing to a litany of failings
by the crew.

Only 24 of the crew and 300 passengers survived the ordeal. Most of the
discussions during the four hours of recordings focus on firefighting
activities at the expense of efforts to alert the passengers or implement
any type of evacuation of the vessel.

It is only two hours after the battle with the fire on the car deck begins
that the master asks: "Is everybody wearing the life jackets?" At no point
does he consider returning to Saudi Arabia and continues on the tragic
voyage towards the Egyptian port.

The transcript also shows a reluctance to communicate with other ships in
the vicinity and with the ship's owner.

Shortly after the fire is detected, one of the officers on the bridge asks
the captain: "Shall we inform the vessels around us, captain?" but there is
no answer.

Later, the master says to one of his companions: "I do not want to confuse
the vessels around us, you understand. Then they will start asking us if
there is something and I do not want anyone to ask us."

There was also a lack of communication with authorities in Egypt and Saudi

When asked, two hours into the ordeal, whether to inform the Egyptian port
authorities, the master replies: "No we are too far," as the ferry sails
towards its final destination. Only in the dying minutes of February 2 a
mayday call is issued.

Conversations also reveal how the master and crew used vast quantities of
water delivered by fire hoses rather than powder or foam to fight the fire,
contributing to the destabilisation of the ship, and how the crew later
attempted to address the listing of the vessel by filling the ballast
tanks, a move that eventually contributed to the sinking.

Black box transcript reveals four hours of confusion and fear as ferry sank

The Al Salam Boccaccio 98 disaster started to unfold with the sound of an
alarm and an ominous knock on the door of the bridge at about 1909 hrs on
February 2. The following excepts are taken verbatim from the 'black box'
recorder transcript, showing, exchange-by-exchange, how the crew struggled
to save the 1970-built ferry

'The first engineer is saying cabin 230 is on fire'

19:09:00 to 19:28:07

Someone knocks on the bridge door and says that there is a fire in the

Crew: "OK we tell the captain I was calling on the sailor but he is not

Crew:"Is this smoke in the engine?"

Crew:"I do not know."

Captain: "Send for Captain Massoud quickly. What smoke what is it?"

Crew: "There is a black smoke that might be coming from the engineroom."

Captain: "Engine room? Where is the chief engineer? Call the engine room

The first reaction of the master and the crew is to locate the fire - on
the sixth and seventh decks of the ferry and to tackle it with hoses and

Crew:"The fire is in the garage captain."

Captain: "Can someone have a look quickly. Go quickly with fire hoses to
the garage."

Crew:"And also the sprinklers."

Captain: "And the sprinklers too. Wake up the chief engineer and the first
quickly. I need the sprinkler quickly."

When another vessel is heard in the background, the Al Salam Boccaccio 98
master reveals his reluctance to admit any problem and ask for assistance.

A voice of another ship on the VHF

Captain: "Turn the lights of the bridge off because of the ships around us.
I want someone to be responsible for the bridge."

By 19:28:07 the fire has spread to cabin 400 although the crew believes the
hoses are 'working, working'.

19:30:10 to 19:49:23

Less than half an hour later other cabins are affected and panic is
beginning to set in amongst the passengers as smoke pours out of the port
side of the vessel. A crewmember tries to calm down a passenger as another
ship can be heard in the background.

A voice of another ship on the VHF

Officer addressing passengers: "Get back please. It's over, the fire is
over, get back."

Early on, the captain begins to realise the danger of pumping the vehicle
decks full of seawater, heightening the risk of the free surface effect
responsible for the sinking of similar ro-ro vessels. Concern is also
building regarding the ability to drain the water out of the lower decks
and the inability to locate the exact location of the fire.

Captain: "But tell him that they must suck the water from the garage. OK,
first someone take care of the water in the garage we don't want it to
reach high levels and send the plumper to fix the drains."

Crew: "Water level is getting high."

Crew: "I already told the first eng. And he is sending someone to the

Crew: "Someone with a mask go to check the left side may be this smoke is
coming from somewhere else."

Crew: "Yes. First engineer, what is wrong with cabin 230?"

First engineer: "It is on fire."

Crew: "The first engineer is saying cabin 230 is on fire."

19:49:26 to 20:10:39

By this stage a team around 10 crewmembers are fighting the fire and the
master has not ordered the waking of all the crew.

20:12:17 to 20:31:54

The fears about the build up of water on the car decks mount as cars block
the drains, the water level rises and the ferry begins to list. Crewmembers
raise the idea of calling for help but there is no answer from the master
who remains preoccupied with the fire.

Crew: "OK, OK - the first engineer sent the plumber to fix the drains."

Crew: "First engineer, please tell Youssef to fix the drains on the right
side by any mean the listing is increasing."

Crew: "Yes, engine room, we need Youssef the plumber to go and fix the
drains on the right side in the garage."

Crew: "The drains are blocked the cars are parked over it."

Crew: "Tell him to fix any drains that he can reach."

One of the officers on the bridge:"Shall we inform the vessels around us

No answer from the captain

The fire begins to spread to other cabins and a decision is taken to limit
the sprinklers in the car deck, to reduce the increasing list of the

'Captain, there is smoke from everywhere'

20:33:21 to 20:53:02

- "How many degrees is the list now?"

Crew: "Six degrees captain."

20:54:16 to 21:14:07

The master is asked whether to make contact with nearby ships and to ask
for assistance, but declines. In the belief that the fire is under control,
he elects instead to make contact with someone at the company.

Captain to someone on the bridge: "Yes, I know, but I do not want to
confuse the vessels around us, you understand, then they will start asking
us if there is something and I do not want anyone to ask us."

Crew: "Captain Sayed, what is the situation?"

Captain: "There is only smoke and I am working on it."

Crew: "Ok, OK good."

Captain: "Is there fire or only smoke, first engineer?"

First engineer:"Only smoke."

Captain:"Good, good. There is a lot of smoke coming from the chimney."

Somebody on the bridge: "Yes captain there is smoke from everywhere.

Captain: "I want you to call Captain Mamdouh Oraby on his mobile and tell
him that we had a fire and it spread in the garage and we are fighting it
till now and that the master is busy with the fire fighting and that we
will keep him updated and this is just for his information."

Two hours of a raging fire have taken its toll on the electrics, limiting

Crew: "When the pumps stopped number 24 stopped also and the telephone is
on number 24."

The list increases to 7 degrees and a request is made to stop the
sprinklers and contact the port captain in Egypt.

Crew: "Shall we inform Duba port captain?"

Captain: "No, we are far."

Crew: "Captain Massoud, shall we stop the spray garage or you still need

Captain: "OK, try to be sure and let us know immediately, because the water
level inside the ship is increasing a lot and will also become very
dangerous. There is no way that the telephone can work?"

Crew: "No captain, the telephone the pump and the GPS is out of order."

Crew: "The trailer on the left side is still on fire."

As the list increases, a decision is made to shore up the vessel's

Crew: "The list is increasing a lot captain."

Captain: "Yes, that's why I am calling the first engineer. I want him to
take the water from the right side and through it to the left."

Crew: "No captain it will go right again."

Captain: "Ok through it to the sea."

With drainage showing no signs of improvement and the electrics badly
affected, the chief engineer asks for permission to send out an SOS but
again the captain does not respond.

Chief engineer:"Shall I start the caterpillar so we send SOS?"

Crew: "There is no loads for the SOS but I can start the caterpillar."

Crew: "Where is engineer Abd el Rahman?"

A voice of another vessel on the radio

Captain: "Turn off these lights."

The list worsens as a result of the wind and the failing drains.

Crew: "If the drains are not blocked we would have had no problems."

Crew: "Yes, the wind, but at the end I will turn."

Crew: "You know captain this list is 7 degrees because of the water inside
and at least 4 degrees because of the wind?"

Electrical failings are also affecting the navigation of the vessel.

Crew: "We need to turn the vessel - we are trying."

Crew: "Is it turning with you, son?"

Crew: "Why?"

Crew: "The batteries are not working."

Crew: "It is disconnected we need ??. This is the problem I was afraid of."

Captain: "All to the right, all to the right."

Crew: "Chief engineer, is there any way that we can start the batteries of
the wheel are disconnected and I want to turn the vessel because of the

Chief engineer: "We try but not sure."

After the vessel finally begins to turn and a pump begins to reduce the
water levels, the list drops marginally from 10 degrees to 9 degrees. But
it soon begins to increase again as the vessel takes a new course. The crew
begin to realise that the initiative has failed and attempt to address the
list by emptying and filling the ballast tanks on different sides of the
vessel. As the ship turns, the vehicles on the car deck shift from one side
of the deck to another, further destabilising the vessel.

Captain: "The list is 13 degree."

Captain: "All the wheel to the right."

Radio officer: "Is it fire or only smoke?"

Crew: "Is it fire or only smoke, Captain Massoud."

Crew: "First, is the pump working or not?"

Crew: "Working."

Crew: "Is it coming with you all to the right."

Crew: "Yes it is coming."

Captain: "Stop the spray garage now until the pump work. When we were on
the first course it was better. Is there a way to discharge water from tank
18 right. Can we discharge the water from tank 18 right the ship is listing
15 degrees now. Can we fill tank 25 left?"

Radio officer to the captain:"They can open the pilot door and discharge
from it."

Captain:"The list is the most important now. How much is the bow."

Someone informing the captain: "All the trailers on the left side moved now
to the right."

'Captain, the ship is sinking'

Set on a new course, but with the vessel sinking, the danger of the
situation being played out begins to dawn on everyone, but there are still
no orders to begin evacuating the ship or to contact other vessels in the
vicinity. Almost three and a half hours have passed since the fire was
first reported.

22:38:14 to 22:58:32

Contact is made with another vessel as the list reaches 15 degrees.

Unclear discussion in the bridge between the captain, the radio officer and
the chief officer.

Voice of another vessel on the VHF

Radio officer: "What are you saying first, I cannot hear you?"

Captain: "Tell him we are listing 15 degrees. Yes, first, what is the
solution now the list is very dangerous."

23:20:55 to 23:21:43

The urgency is all too obvious as the master orders number 2, 6, 9 and 25
ballast tanks on the port side of the vessel to be filled and to stop the
use of sprinklers.

Captain: "Do not use any water. We will lose the ship this way. The ship is
listing too much - do not use the spray."

Crew: "Not even the pumps no any water."

Captain: "What is burning?"

23:21:53 to 23:33:13

With the ballast tanks filled and the pumps working there is no

Captain: "Can you see the right side. The list is increasing - we are
listing 18 degrees now. See if there is an opening that the water is
entering from."

Crew: "No captain, there is no opening."

Captain: "So why is the list increasing although the pump is working and
the ballast is filling? We need any solution with the ballast."

Crew: "We are filling it captain."

Captain: "OK see why the water is increasing in the right side. Try to see
the ballast. We are listing 20 degrees now the vessel will turn. Please
first find any solution for the water the ship is listing 20 degrees now.
Captain Massoud, the ship is listing 20 degrees.

"OK, come right slowly. The wind is from the right - maybe it is against
us. How is the wind now?"

Crew: "Nobody knows how is the wind now."

Captain: "I mean left or right."

Crew: "Captain, tell him to change the wheel right."

Captain: "All wheel right."

Crew: "The list is 20 degrees now captain."

Captain: "OK be patient."

As the master pleads for patience, the severe listing is causing concern
among the passengers and yet, remarkably, some four hours after the fire
started, there has still been no order to prepare the life-rafts.

Captain: "Calm down the people."

Crew: "Shall we bring the life boats down captain?"

Captain: "Wait, wait."

A telephone is ringing.

Captain: Somebody answer. The left side is all on fire. We turning the
vessel we want to decrease this list."

Crew: "The list is 21 degrees captain, 25 degrees captain."

Captain: "Half the wheel."

Crew: "The ship is sinking captain."

Captain: "Left."

Crew: "OK captain left but the ship is sinking."

Captain: "Send may day."

Sounds of things falling and noise.

Crew: "Captain the ship is sinking."

Captain: "Wait every thing is OK we sent mayday."


Captain: "All wheel left."

Crew: "The ship sank captain."

Captain: "Just wait."

Crew: "Is there any life jacket here any life jacket?"

Captain: "Someone get us a life jacket....No life jacket?"

Crew: "Nothing."

Sound of a high alarm

Crew: "Captain Sayed I am here."

Captain: "OK, I am with you here."

Crew: "I am Ahmed Atrees.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Hyundai mis-Fortune

Lloyd's List gives some insight on the Hyundai Fortune, which suffered a major disaster off the coast of Yemen. It would appear that this severe fire aboard the ship is not terrorrist related but possibly fireworks could be the cause.

London, Apr 5 -- Independence Day parties in the US and other celebrations across North America and Europe could be without their traditional firework displays this summer because of safety fears following the c.c. Hyundai Fortune blaze. Hundreds of containers are due to be shipped from Asia in the next couple of months, but could instead be stranded on the quayside.

Hyundai Merchant Marine, owner of the stricken containership that was almost split in two by explosions in the cargo hold a fortnight ago, has now put a total ban on firework shipments and other hazardous materials, according to importers.

The Korean line would not comment on the reports, but one of the largest shippers of fireworks told Lloyd's List that HMM has imposed a moratorium, even though it shares the views of others that the blast and subsequent blaze on the 5,551 teu ship were probably caused by something else.

Bengt Henriksen, president of California-headquartered Quality Logistics, said the embargo had placed his company in a "dire situation" as it has more than 400 containers in the pipeline that are due to be shipped over the next few weeks ahead of the Jul 4 public holiday in the US. Neither he nor the Unaffiliated Shippers of America group that represents US firework importers believe correctly packed fireworks represent a risk.

But there is a widely-held suspicion in industry circles that cargo is being mislabelled, a practice thought to be particularly prevalent in the Asia to Europe trades where cargo tends to be shipped on a cost, insurance and freight basis. That places responsibility for arranging shipment on the exporter, rather than the importer. In contrast, firework shipments to the US are on free on board terms, placing control into the hands of the American importer that must comply with an array of strict safety regulations. Wrongly-marked cargo may be loaded into the hold rather than on deck, a situation that may have accounted for the Hyundai Fortune disaster.

In an email to Lloyd's List, independent fireworks expert Charles Weeth, who investigated the Hanjin Pennsylvania fire, said modern fireworks formulae are very stable, "and only a series of packing, handling or other mistakes could possibly lead to their ignition onboard a ship." More likely, he said, given the hole on the port side of the ship above the water line near the engine compartment, is a fire and explosion below decks which then ignited the cargo, including the fireworks, above deck.

The blaze on the Hanjin Pennsylvania in 2002 was thought to have been the result of fraudulent cargo declarations. Hyundai Fortune was heading from Asia to Europe when the fire broke out off the coast of Yemen. The crew escaped, but the hull is expected to be declared a total loss because of the devastation to the stern. Hundreds of containers have been destroyed.

Several other lines had cargo on the HMM ship, including both its New World Alliance partners and members of the Grand Alliance. So far, other lines are not thought to have stopped loading fireworks. A spokesman for NYK, one of those with slots on Hyundai Fortune, said yesterday that it was still carrying fireworks "under strict conditions", mostly loaded in Japan. But consortium partner Hapag-Lloyd said it does not accept any fireworks manufactured, classified or originated in China or Hong Kong.

Mr Henriksen, who was asked by HMM to put together a paper on the shipment of fireworks following the Hyundai Fortune disaster, is warning that there could be further such incidents unless rules are tightened up in the Asia to Europe trades. The paper concludes that fireworks shipments to US are highly regulated and importers in principle all abide by the rules as any violations have serious consequences. "Fireworks shipments to Europe are regulated but with rules differing by country. Importers have no responsibility and misdeclarations are rampant and almost accepted as a general practice. "We did it before, so why not again" is a standard reaction of China forwarders," the paper states.

Of course , Cargo Law has some pretty dramatic pictures of the fire. Check them out.

V Ship takes a hit over OWS

V.Ships hit by bulk of Maersk Barcelona fine
By Andrew Spuurier- Lloyd's List, Thursday April 06 2006

A COURT in Brest has imposed a record E800,000 fine on the master and manager of Maersk Barcelona for pollution off the French Atlantic coast but shipmanager V.Ships will bear 90% of the penalty.

Passing judgment after a hearing on February 1, the court went beyond the E600,000 fine called for by the public prosecutor for the 61 km slick, despite the claim of the Ukrainian master's defense that it had been due to a "sudden and unexpected breakdown of the vessel's waste water separator".

But unusually, 90% of the fine is to be borne not by the vessel's owner, the KG company Munia Mobiliengesellschaft, but by the vessel's technical manager, V.Ships. V.Ships confirmed this but was unable to explain why the court had imposed the fine on it rather than on the vessel's owner. It said that it would, however, be appealing against the judgment.

The 1975-built, 2,328 teu Bahamas flagged vessel was spotted by a French customs service aircraft at the head of the slick 160 kms off the tip of Brittany last September 20. The ship, which was en route from Antwerp to Gioia Tauro, was ordered into the port of Brest for inspection and only released after payment of E500,000 bail.

An inspector from the Brest ship safety centre told the court in February that he had never seen a waste water separator in such a poor state and the prosecutor said, "We are not in the presence of an accident but of a lack of maintenance of the oily water separator."

V.Ships said after the incident that the vessel had undergone a full flag state inspection, including an examination of its oily water separator, in Antwerp on September 19 and that no deficiencies had been found. There were reports that an alarm had gone off aboard the vessel on the day the vessel was arrested, however, indicating the possibility of a malfunction. The separator was shut down after the alarm had sounded but was thought to have been functioning for two hours prior to this.

Here is some more insight from the French government on the subject of polution enforcement.

Bow Mariner: Just a question of time

Captain given brunt of blame in ship disaster
By JACK DORSEY, The Virginian-Pilot, January 3, 2006

NORFOLK ­ A Coast Guard investigation into the explosion and sinking of the chemical tanker ship Bow Mariner off the Virginia coast nearly two years ago has disclosed that the captain abandoned ship without sending a distress call or trying to save his crew.

While unable to pinpoint what sparked the explosion that led to the deaths of 21 of the 27 men aboard, the investigation also faults the captain for violating safety guidelines when he ordered vapor-filled cargo tanks opened for cleaning while the ship was en route to Houston.

Capt. Efstratios Kavouras' order to open 22 tanks that previously held methyl tert butyl ether "was a stunningly significant breach of normal safe practices for a tank ship and defies explanation or excuse," according to one of 20 conclusions by Coast Guard investigators.

The report, obtained by The Virginian-Pilot through a Freedom of Information Act request, further concluded that the crew was poorly trained in safety procedures and that friction between the ship's Greek officers and Filipino crew members contributed to the death toll.

Much more at

Here is the USCG report about the tragedy.

Seaspan Gains Weight

Seaspan orders four more vessels
From Sailings Magazine, March 2007

Seaspan Corporation of Vancouver has signed a contract with Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding in China to build four 2,500-TEU vessels for delivery between September 2008 and March 2009.

These newbuilds will increase the company's contracted fleet to 29 vessels.

The total delivered cost is expected -to be approximately $44.5 million per vessel, subject to certain predelivery expenses, the company said.

Seaspan also announced that it has arranged simultaneous 12-year charter agreements for the four vessels with China Shipping Container Lines (Asia) Co. Ltd. at an initial rate of $16,750 per day,' increasing to $16,900 per day after six years.

CSCL Asia is a subsidiary of China Shipping Container Lines Co. Ltd., the world's sixth largest liner company.

Seaspan currently owns a fleet of 15 container ships consisting of 13 4,250-TEU vessels and two 8,500-TEU vessels.

I guess since the IPO last year, Seaspan has the cash to expand a little. The Economist Magazine give a good overview of the current situation in general and puts a bit of a dire spin on things. Martin

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Even empty oil barrels worth a look...

Mystery of 'dumped' man found drifting on raft of oildrums
By Marcus Oscarsson in Stockholm and Joanna Bale, The Times April 22, 2006

A MAN found floating on a raft 30 miles (48 km) out to sea between Norway and Denmark insisted yesterday that he had been thrown overboard from a British ship.

The crew on the Norwegian gas tanker Berge Odin thought that they were mistaken when they spotted the lone man sitting on a makeshift raft of oil drums and planks in international waters. They had initially mistaken him for a large piece of debris, but when they approached him he politely explained in English what had happened. "I have been dumped from another boat," he said. The Norwegian crew lowered a rescue boat, helped him aboard their vessel and gave him a hot bath, dry clothing and food before alerting the Norwegian Sea Rescue Service.

At first the crew believed him to be in good health, but it soon became obvious that the hours on the raft had taken their toll. "The man's condition is worse than first assumed. He is suffering from hypothermia, is dehydrated and exhausted. We are not sure what is behind the incident
but the man claims he has been dumped on the raft against his will. He says he has been on it for three days and nights," Per Erik Bjö rklund, an official with Bergesen, the shipping company, said.

He emphasised that the man was lucky to be found, adding: "The raft was small - four small oil drums and a wood pallet tied together. Temperatures were at freezing point and the raft would stand only minor waves."

The man was found 30 miles south of Randøysund, Norway. Anders Bang-Andersen, spokesman for the southern Norwegian Sea Rescue Centre, in Sola, said: "He had hardly any clothes on him and was frozen through. You hear these kind of Robinson Crusoe stories from other parts of the world, but not very often here in the far north."

Mr Bang-Andersen praised the ship's crew for its fast response, calling the effort "an excellent example of seamanship". The man has said little, other than that his name is George and that he was born in California in 1959.

"After being rescued, he turned into a man of very few words," Jan Haakon Pettersen, the deputy chief executive of Bergesen, said. "He did not want to say any more before meeting a lawyer."

The ship continued on its way to the southern Swedish port of Marstrand, where the man was scheduled to be interviewed by police.

A bit more here, with pics of the raft.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Savannah Express MAIB Report

On July 19, 2005 the Savannah Express, one of the largest container ships in the world, was manuevering prior to berthing at Southampton Container Terminal, when her main engine failed. The engine was unable to be started astern to reduce the vessel's headway, and she made contact with a linkspan, which was seriously damaged. The vessel suffered paintwork damage to the bulbous bow.

Savannah Express had been delivered from the builders a few months before the
accident. She was equipped with a slow speed diesel engine of a novel design, with no mechanical timing gear (including camshaft and timing chains or gears) but, instead, was fitted with a fully integrated, and computer controlled, electrohydraulic control system.

A guarantee engineer had sailed with the vessel for about two weeks after she had left the builder’s yard, and the vessel’s first chief engineer had attended a basic training course designed by the engine manufacturers. However, the engineer officers onboard at the time of the accident had not received any type specific training from the engine manufacturers.

The engine control system had suffered a series of technical problems since the
vessel had come into service. A Engine Manufacturer FSR had visited the ship at the previous port of call to address these

An engine failure occurred as Savannah Express approached the pilot boarding ground on arrival at Southampton. The engineers misdiagnosed the cause of this failure and, although they managed to re-start the engine, they inadvertently disabled an integral part of the engine controlsystem, which effectively prevented sufficient hydraulic oil pressure to be supplied for the engine to operate astern.

This led to the second failure as the vessel entered the Upper Swinging Ground. The
cause of this second engine failure was also misdiagnosed by the engineers, and they
resorted to repeatedly turning the engine on compressed air in an attempt to ‘reset’ the control system electronics instead of determining the cause of the failure. Eventually,low air reserves prevented any further attempts to re-start the engine.

This accident illustrates the need for ship owners to ensure that the vessels operating personel are trained thoroughly in the operation of new technology.

Further details on the accident and the subsequent investigation can be found in the
MAIB’s investigation report, which is posted on its website,

Friday, April 14, 2006

Arctic Container Ships Delivered

MS Norilskiy Nickel, an arctic container vessel built at Aker Yards in Helsinki, was delivered to the Russian MMC Norilsk Nickel. The vessel is intended for traffic on the Northern Sea Route. MS Norilskiy Nickel is a prototype based on the double-acting ship concept developed by Aker Yards.
The 14,500 dwt Arctic Container Vessel worth $84.9 m is 169 m x 23 m, with 9 m draught and capable of breaking 1.5 m ice.
It will transport metallurgical products from Dudinka on the river of Yenisey to Murmansk.
The vessel can navigate the ice-bound Arctic Ocean all year round, without the assistance of ice breakers.

The double-acting concept is based on the idea that the vessel makes its path in heavy ice conditions with the stern ahead, which is possible through the use of electrical podded propulsion systems.
Thus the stern and the propulsion units are dimensioned for icebreakers simultaneously, however, it is now possible to give an optimised open-water form to the hull in the bow.
This arrangement offers good icebreaking capability with reduced power level and independent ice operation without compromising the open water performance of the ship.
Experience has demonstrated a reduction in fuel consumption compared to conventional ships, which will be further enhanced through the pulling mode of the propeller.

After going to the Arctic several years on a cargo ship and icebreakers, it is hard to envision icebreaking astern. But having an improved open water capability would be fabulous. Some of the icebreakers I worked on would roll in dew.

No doubt we will see more of this technology as the Beaufort Sea becomes busy with oil exploration in the future.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Ecstasy and the Agony

I had to take a picture of this picture montage found at the Seafarer's Mission in the Port of Galveston. Pretty dramatic pictures showing the realities of most seafarers on a daily basis.

The caption reads...

"Carnival Cruise Line ship Ecstasy had been operating out of the Port of Galveston since October of 2004. On September 6, 2005, she was contracted by FEMA following Hurricane Katrina to serve as temporary shelter for Louisiana evacuees and was relocated to a few days later to New Orleans to house emergency personnel. On September 24, New Orleans was again in the direct path of another Huricane. As Huricane Rita made its way towards land, the Ecstasy and Carnival Senssation were directed out to sea to ride out the storm. These photographs were taken by the crew of the Sensation as the Ecstasy was battered by Huricane Rita.

Thankfully both ships made it safely to New Orleans."

The photographer is not mentioned.

Kometik Fire Kills One

One dead, another in hospital after N.L. tanker fire
( Picture From Environment Canada)

The Canadian Press
Saturday, April 08, 2006
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - One man is dead following a fire on an oil tanker more than a kilometre off Newfoundland.
Coast Guard officials say the man was pronounced dead aboard the Kometik, which services the Hibernia offshore oil platform.
Another man was taken to a St. John's hospital with burns to half of his body.
The two crew members were plucked from the tanker in Conception Bay after a fire broke out Saturday morning.
The fire was out by the time the men were airlifted.
Lieut. Sonia Connock, a search-and-rescue spokeswoman in Halifax, could not offer details about the fire.
A Cormorant helicopter from Gander, N.L., and a civilian helicopter from St. John's were dispatched to the area.

More Info From CBC:
One man has died and another was in critical condition in hospital after a fire broke out on an oil tanker off the coast of Newfoundland on Saturday.
The names and ages of the men have not been released.
However, the deceased was an employee of Canship Ugland Ltd., which operates the vessel. The other man was airlifted to hospital.
The fire began shortly before noon on the MV Kometik, a tanker that services the Hibernia offshore oil platform.
A coast guard spokesman said 30 people were on the Kometik, which was anchored a kilometre off shore in Conception Bay.
Capt. Sid Hynes, chairman of Canship Ugland, said the fire started in a cargo area of the vessel, where the two men had been working. Cause of the fire was not known.
The blaze was quickly put out, but the rescue was hampered by smoke and heat, Hynes said.
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the federal Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Neptune doesn't like Canadian seafarers

Perhaps some of you are aware that a huge project is afoot to study the ocean, by building a underwater ocean observatory. The main project, Neptune (acronyms) is yet to be installed, but the small scale trial model has been install off Patricia Bay in the Saanich Inlet off Vancouver Island, it is called Venus. Venus infrastructure was installed by Global Marine, a British outfit using the Wave Venture usually based out of Victoria.(Pictured to the right, from the Venus Website).

I am concerned that although funded by my tax dollars, which is a topic of it own, I am, as a professional seafarer, getting a another chop to the ribs. And I am not particularly enthused by it and I wrote my member of parliament about it, here is an excerp.

"I wish to express my concern about a current scientific project off the coast of British Columbia. The Neptune project is a $300 million dollars underwater ocean observatory spearheaded by the University of Victoria. I believe this to be a great step in understanding our oceans and I am certainly not opposing it. My concern arises from the recent awarding of a $39 million dollar contract by UVic to a French telecommunication company, Alcatel, for the design and installation of the actual infrastructure of the project; underwater and shore terminal. Alcatel, I am sure, as proven itself in this technical design expertise.

Since Alcatel is a communication company, the actual installation of the infrastructure at sea will most likely be done by a vessel they have on charter, the Maersk Defender. The Maersk Defender is a Danish flag vessel, crewed by Danish officers and Filipinoo crewmembers. As I am a Canadian Officer and this Danish ship could be operating in Canadian waters under a substantial tax funded project it is easy to see my concern.

I am not sure of the exact plans for the deployment of the infrastructure, as no information is provided on the project website, and emails to Alcatel have not been answered, but I would like to make sure that to the best of our abilities, Canadian companies and Canadian seafarers are chosen to perform the installation of the Neptune work is not outside the capabilities of Canadian firms and the seafarers and experienced technical personnel are certainly available to properly carry out this operation. "

We have Secunda in Halifax who operates two such cable ship. As a matter of fact, Bold Endurance, (Pictured one rare snowy day in Victoria) currently in the Gulf of Mexico, but previously in Victoria for almost four years was doing the exact thing Wave Venture was doing. Not to mention enough seafarers to go around.

I don't want to be a party pooper, but for goodness sake,don't make me pay taxes to give it to other seafarers who don't have too, to work in my backyard ! What do you think, am I way off ?

To learn more about Venus, Neptune click on the link.

Martin Leduc