Thursday, August 28, 2008

Who needs a drink when you are working 14hrs a day

Fatigue poses similar risks to alcohol
Mission to Seafarers newsletter Dec 07

A study by Sweden's National Road and Transport Research Institute has found that fatigue can have a similar effect on ships, officers as drinking alcohol.

The report "Fatigue at Sea: a field study in Swedish shipping", found that risks were particularly high where a two-watch system was used with "really high levels of fatigue in 2.5 per cent of cases".

On occasions the study found the officers had to struggle to keep awake. Data collection included interviews with shipping companies and a detailed examination of the working patterns on board 13 cargo vessels. Thirty-two officers and ratings took part, with some working on two-watch systems and some on three-watch. Researchers estimated sleepiness and stress every hour and also monitored eye movement and reaction time.

The study found that three-watch participants were more satisfied with their working hours and working situation, while two-watch participants were more tired although stress levels were the same.

All participants were less sleepy and less stressed when at home. Time on shift had an effect on sleepiness while reaction times were longer during night watches. Researcher Margareta Lutzhoft said it was the same result as when testing people who had been drinking alcohol.

One has to wonder when the companies and regulatory bodies will pursuit as aggressively, initiatives to combat fatigue, as they have to address alcohol on board.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One big ore... carrier

MOL celebrates ore carrier delivery
Mike Grinter, 6 August 2008, Lloyds List

The Tubarao Maru was built by Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding at its Chiba Works facility.

At 327,000 dwt vessel, the latest addition to MOL’s dry bulk fleet is similar to its sister vessel, the Brasil Maru, which the company took delivery of in December. Another three vessels are under construction and will be delivered by August next year.

The Tubarao Maru has been contracted to Nippon Steel on a long-term charter to deliver iron ore from Brazil. Under the terms of the contract, the vessel will carry 1.4m tonnes annually.

Guests attending the ceremony at MES’ Chiba works included Nippon Steel president Shoji Muneoka and MES president Yasuhiko Katoh. Mr Muneoka’s wife Yoko cut the rope and Mr Muneoka named the ship.

Read the official press release from MOL here. Below are the "just the facts".

MV Brasil Maru, MV Tubarao Maru
Length overall : 340.00 m
Width (molded): 60.00 m
Depth (molded): 28.15 m
Draft (molded): 21.13 m
Gross Tonnage: 160,774 tons
Deadweight Tonnage: 327,180 metric tons (at draft = 21.13 meters)
Main Engine: MITSUI-MAN B&W Diesel Engine 7S80MC -C
M.C.O. : 23,640 kW x 66 rpm
Speed: 15.0 knots
Complements: 30 persons
Classification Society: NK
Flag: Panama
Yard: Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (MES) Chiba Works
Operator: Mitsui O.S.K Lines Ltd (MOL), Tamou Line S.A.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Valdez Re-incarnation

The infamous Exxon Valdez was sold in February 2008 for $32 million, according to reports. Exxon issued no news on the matter, but the Anchorage Daily News reports that the new owners are Bloom Shipping (probably Ever Bloom Shipping) of Hong Kong. They are reportedly going to convert her to an ore carrier and plan to call the ship "Dong Fang Ocean".

In early 1989, Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef, on her way out of Prince William Sound in Alaska, spilling 40,000 cubic meters of crude oil, and ushering wide ranging "knee jerk" reactionary policies by regulatory bodies which are just coming into full force now.

Exxon Valdez (built 1986) was renamed Exxon Mediterranean in July 1990. She was renamed again as S/R Mediterranean in July 1993, and in March 2005 the name shortened to Mediterranean, flying the Marshall Island flag of convenience. She was reported sold in February 2008 for US$32 million.

Displacement: 211,469 tons (214,862 metric tons)
Length: 301 m (987.5 ft)
Beam: 51 m (166.24 ft)
Draft: 20 m (64.63 ft)
Power: 23.6 MW (31,650 shp)
Speed: 16.25 knots (30 km/h)
Capacity: 1.48 million barrels (235,000 m³) of crude oil
Crew: 21

Saturday, August 23, 2008

GOC Cancels New Vessel Acquisitions

Late on Friday the Canadian Government released a bombshell that the Navy's project to replace the aging supply ships has been cancelled. Also cancelled is the Coast Guard's tender to build 12 midshore patrol vessels.
This is fairly staggering news. Millions have been spent in the planning, design and the now aborted acquisition of the ships.
Instead of buying, say one supply vessel and eight CG patrol vessels which would give the organizations at least something new to work with, every scrap of work done has been swept off the table. Shades of the Polar 8.
Both the Navy and CG engineers will have to treat their aging vessels with even more tender loving care, because only God knows when they will be replaced. In the age of the shrinking budgets and raising costs, how long can the old ships be sent to sea safely?
Next question is, if we can't afford to build a 30m vessel, how the heck are we suppose to build new icebreakers to protect our interest in the Canadian Arctic.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Web Port" for international seafarers

I came across this little gem of a website the other day. The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has a long tradition of benefiting the international seafarers, especially those of impoverished nations. They have put their heads together and designed a cool new web site, with a focus on use by seafarers themselves. I encourage you to check the many feature such as maritime news, ship searches, port guide, forum to name a few of the features; not to mention a database of contacts for the ITF when in trouble while working on a ship. Below is the press release about the recent launch - mid June 2008.

ITF launches new resource for world’s seafarers

A major new resource for the world’s seafarers was unveiled this week at the ITF’s maritime conference in Stockholm, Sweden., an innovative news, advice and support service, was launched both to press and to the hundreds of inspectors, dockers’ and seafarers’ delegates attending the week long conference.

The new site is the only ‘one stop shop’ for seafarers anywhere, irrespective of how computer literate they are or how good or bad the equipment they access it from may be. It offers them information on their health, their pay and safety and includes features such as: Crew Talk message boards; advice and help; Ship Look-up Tool showing vessel agreements and other information; Inside the Issues briefing area; interactive polls; trade union contact details, and an ITF inspectors’ blog.

ITF Maritime Coordinator Steve Cotton explained how the new project was the result of seafarers’ pleas for web-based support that they could access from home, at sea and, in particular, during time snatched on shore leave. “Time, effort and all the expertise we can draw on has gone into getting this site right,” he said, “and with feedback from users we expect to make it better still.”

Also speaking at the press conference was ITF General Secretary David Cockroft, who told journalists “There are 300 delegates here who are seeing this website and what it can do today, and who are going to take the news of it out from Stockholm to their unions, home countries, ports and seafarers.”

The new site has taken eight months work to develop and launches in English, the international seafarers’ language. Chinese, Russian and Spanish versions will follow. Ease of use and access were built into it from the start.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Allure of an Oasis of the seas

Royal Caribbean has named its two new Genesis class ships, or ULPS (Ultra Large Passenger Ship as I will call them), currently under construction at Aker Finnyards' Turku shipyard in Finland. The first ship, Oasis of the Seas, is due in Sept 2009 and will trade in the US starting December 12, 2009. It will service the Caribbean cruise market with one week in the Eastern Caribbean, the other week in the Western, based out of Florida's Port Everglades in Ft Lauderdale. You can see RCCL's website for the Oasis, here.

Oasis's sister ship, Allure of the Seas, is due for delivery in August 2010. At a cost of $1.4 billion each, powered by 8 Wartsila V12, and weighing in at 220,000 tons, they shatter most passenger ship records. Carnival Cruise Line's CEO, Mickey Arison, publicly questioned the financial prudence of introducing this size ship into this US economic situation.

Maybe M. Arison is on to something, as this article, below, rumbled across my desk. Then again, fuel prices has affected all ships, including Mr. Arison's, and therefore not really related to the economy of scales and "bling bling rating" that I believe RCCL is going for with the new Genesis class ships. You can check out the company`s quarterly announcement here.

Royal Caribbean slashes 400 jobs as fuel costs bite
Rajesh Joshi, 23 July 2008, Lloyds List

ROYAL Caribbean has confirmed that it has cut 400 shoreside jobs as part of an $125m-per-year cost-cutting plan.

Royal Caribbean chairman and chief executive, Richard Fain, pinned most of the blame on rocketing fuel costs, which have soared 55% since last year. “Too much of our profitability is being eroded by the increase in fuel prices,” Mr Fain said yesterday. “This is unacceptable and we are evaluating everything we do to find ways to do it more efficiently and effectively.

“This is a difficult period for virtually all businesses, but we are determined to improve operating results through tight cost controls, while preserving our outstanding guest experience.”

As part of the $125m restructuring, Mr Fain said that the shoreside jobs had been eliminated “as of yesterday”. The Scholar Ship, an educational partnership for college students studying on board cruiseships, has also been axed, along with other non-core operations. The company is taking a charge of $15m in its third quarter accounts to absorb the restructuring. Mr Fain admitted that Royal Caribbean’s brands “continued to attract premium pricing even in this difficult environment”.

But, addressing a company conference call yesterday, Mr Fain added that while the company’s revenues were healthy and predicted a “terrific year”, Royal Caribbean was not immune from consumer sentiment, in that cost pressures have begun to affect the cruise ticket buyer. The results noted that while net yields improved 1% on the quarter, net cruise costs increased 6.7%. The company expects net yields to increase around 2% for the third quarter, 4%-5% for the fourth quarter, and 3%-4% for the full year 2008.

“Although pressure on the consumer persists and there is much uncertainty in the market, demand for our cruises and on board spending continues to be resilient and yields should improve in all four quarters,” said Royal Caribbean executive vice-president and chief financial officer Brian Rice.

Despite the gloomy restructuring news, Mr Fain and Mr Rice highlighted Royal Caribbean’s longer-term vision of growing its international business. Mr Rice said: “We have made significant investments to seed our growth in many strategic markets. “These costs are now being absorbed by capacity and revenue growth in the emerging markets around the world.

“In addition, our scale and exceptional brand positioning in North America are enabling us to drive further efficiencies.” Net income for the second quarter fell to $84.4m compared with $128.7m a year ago. Corresponding revenues increased to $1.6bn from $1.5bn.

A leading cruise analyst in New York told Lloyd’s List that while most self-respecting cruise firms were reviving some versions of their post-9/11 austerity plans to weather higher costs, he was “not surprised” that Royal Caribbean appears to have taken the biggest hit. “Royal Caribbean has never been the lowest cost operator,” the analyst said. “Compared with Carnival, the company has always been more a corporate type, more formal in structure and less entrepreneurial. This means the company’s overhead is much higher.”

The analyst said that the luxury cruise sector has so far remained immune from cost pressures because of less pressure on revenues. Other mainstream firms are all “keeping a watchful eye on increasing costs and taking whatever steps they can”.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Seaspan crew in crash - update

This post is a follow up on the airplane crash that occurred two weeks ago on Vancouver Island, claiming the life of 5 people, 4 of them, employees of Seaspan, a large marine services company based in Vancouver BC.

The following men were involved in the accident...

  • Terry Axton, 51, of Maple Ridge. He was a loader, employed with Seaspan for 30 years. He leaves a partner and two children behind.
  • Scott Thorne, 56, of Vancouver. He was a ship's Mate employed on the Seaspan King, having worked his way from deckhand. He had 30 years under his belt at Seaspan. He leaves a wife and two daughters behind.
  • Grant Wood, 62, of Chilliwack. He was a loader, employed with Seaspan for 23 years. He leaves his wife and two children behind.
  • Mark McLean, 48, of Comox. He was a loader who recently began working with Seaspan.
  • Simon Lawrence, 36, of Port Hardy, was the pilot, and employed with Pacific Coastal for 2 years.
  • Survivors were Lorne Clowers, 56, of Squamish and an eight year veteran of Seaspan who suffered a broken pelvis in the accident.
  • Also surviving, was Bob Pomponio, 54, of Campbell River who suffered a fractured hip, but manage to drag Mr. Clowers 50 meters away from the burning aircraft. Mr. Pomponio, recently hired by Seaspan, was credited with effecting a "prompt" rescue using his cell phone's texting feature, to direct search and rescue planes to their location, after the destruction of the aircraft's emergency beacon. The two were seated at the rear of the airplane, and managed to get out before the plane caught fire after the crash.

The Grumman G-21 Goose amphibious plane, on charter at the time and operated by Pacific Coastal Airlines of Vancouver, crashed in a remote forested area of British Columbia, near the town of Port Alice on Vancouver Island. The crash occurred around 0700hrs on the morning of Sunday, August 03, 2008, halfway into a 20 minutes flight from Port Hardy, BC, at the north east end of Vancouver Island, to Chamiss Bay, in Kyuquot Sound, on the island's north west coast. The plane was subsequently destroyed by fire. The wreckage was salvaged and is the focus of a Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigation based in Richmond BC.

Seven person were on board the flight; five of whom were crane operators, also know as "loaders" and were employed by Vancouver based Seaspan International. The sixth Seaspan crew was the ship's Mate. The flight was bringing the crew to the Seaspan King, which had towed its self loading, self dumping log barge to the inlet. Once there the loaders were to operate the barge's own crane, loading bundles of logs onto the barge. Once loading is done, the loaders fly out, the tugboat gets underway to the destination of dumping.

Seaspan is contemplating a memorial for the victims of this accident, the worst in their operating history.

Mighty cool show

I just finished catching the second half of Discovery Channel's Mighty Ship. If you are in North America, I am pretty sure you can catch this new series on your local cable TV signal. In Canada its on Discovery Channel on Tuesday, 21:00 hrs - which I believe repeats every four hours after, for the duration of the day.

I was pretty impressed with the quality of the show and the material covered. Like usual, the most featured area is of the bridge / deck operations, but in the Becrux episode (a livestock carrier - pictured), they featured an unscheduled engine shutdown to investigate an overheating problem. For seasoned seafarers it is a very topical look at life on board, but I think overall its a great view of ships and shipping. I would encourage you to catch all six episodes, filmed in High Definition which premiered in late July and is produced by a Canadian team - Exploration Productions.

The original show featured the Queen Mary 2, which you can catch, commercial free, online from their website. The subsequent episodes features the worlds largest container ship Emma Maerks, the Becrux livestock carrier, and Wilhelmson car carrier Faust, Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaker Henry Larsen, the Great Lakes bulk carrier Paul R. Tregurtha, and the Tyco cable layer Resolute. You can find show time and details here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rank my port !

Ever wonder what port is the busiest in the world. Well, wonder no more. Cargo System's website has an interactive world map listing the 100 busiest ports in the world, with a ranking and a quick overview of that particular port's activities, and statistics. Pretty neat. The Port of Vancouver, and the Port of Montreal in Canada, for example, rank 45th and 76th respectively - the only Canadian ports to do so. Check out the ranking of your nearest port here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Qatar's big gasser

World’s largest LNG carrier ready for its debut
Qatar Gas’ first Q-Max vessel is part of wider contract with Samsung Heavy
Mike Grinter, 8 July 2008 Lloyds List

QATAR Gas’ first Q-Max liquefied natural gas vessel, Mozah, was waiting alongside at Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in Geoje Island yesterday in anticipation of its naming on July 11.

With a capacity of 266,000 cu m, an overall length of 345 m, breadth of 53.8 m and a height of 34.71 m, it is the largest LNG carrier in the world.

But the vessel is just a bit-part player in the Qatar Gas project. As part of a multi-billion dollar contract, Samsung Heavy Industries is in the throes of delivering another 10 Q-Max ships, with a further three coming from Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering.

Seven of the smaller 210,000 cu m -216,000 cu m, Q-Flex ships have or are being delivered from the SHI yard, while DSME has been contracted for 18 of the vessels.

Mozah is as sophisticated as its smaller sisters. Custom-built for trade between Qatar and the UK and the US, the ship is equipped with twin engines and shafts for maximum propulsion and, equally important, vibration reduction.

Mozah is equipped with slow-speed diesel engines that are more thermally efficient than traditional steam turbines, burning less fuel and reducing emissions by 30%.

The onboard cargo reliquefaction plants return cargo boil-off to the tanks to ensure full cargo delivery at the discharge port. Traditional LNG carriers typically burn off 0.15% of a cargo each day.

In many ways, Mozah is state of the art but during the 16 months it has been under construction the world has moved on relentlessly.

Contracted at a little under $300m three years ago, if the vessel was ordered today it would cost a cool $400m, according to SHI’s executive vice-president of project planning CH Park.

Expensive maybe, but such an innovative project brought its challenges. “First and foremost,” said Mr Park, “was the unprecedented size. We had to go through a great deal of trial and error regarding the liquid motion in the tanks before going for five tanks rather than the traditional four found in most conventional LNG carriers”.

Even so, it was still necessary for SHI to jointly develop a system that would strengthen the hull of the containment system invented by France’s GTT by 30%.

SHI is reasonably confident that 300,000 cu m is the maximum requirement for a vessel of this type for the foreseeable future.

Pictured are the Q Flex, smaller than the new Q Max.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

BC Ferries moves to Cambodia

Aging Queen of Esquimalt ferry sold to buyer in China

VICTORIA - One of four B.C. ferries on the market has been sold.
Canwest News Service, Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Queen of Esquimalt has been purchased by a buyer in China, BC Ferries representative Deborah Marshall said Friday.

The company announced in January it was selling four of its oldest vessels: the Queen of Tsawwassen, Queen of Esquimalt, Queen of Saanich and Queen of Vancouver. The ferries are more than 40 years old and it's time to replace them with newer vessels, the company said.

Negotiations have begun for the other three ferries, Marshall said. No other details are being released until the vessels are sold, which the company anticipates will happen by the fall.

Built in Victoria in 1963, the Queen of Esquimalt is a V-class ship, and sister ship to the Queen of Victoria, which was sold in 2001 to the Dominican Republic.

When it first went into service, the 130-metre long Queen of Esquimalt carried passengers between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen and has been used recently as a relief vessel.

In 1982, the vessel was cut in half and an extra vehicle deck and new engines were installed.

M.V. Queen of Esquimalt
Place Built - VMD, Victoria, BC
Year Built - 1963
Vehicle Capacity - 286
Passenger Capacity - 1,138 (+ 27 crew)
Length - 129.97 m
Gross Tons - 9,304.07
Service Speed - 19 knots
Horsepower - 8,500

Ferryman at Flicker also has some more details. Above is a picture I took just last week of the ship, with its new name, Princess Jacqueline, at BC Ferries' Deas Dock facility on the Fraser River.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

4 Seaspan crew perish in airplane crash

Some very sad news tonight, as I have just logged on to read of this tragedy. I just saw the Seaspan King the other day in Howe Sound. They tow a log barge and most likely the men that perished were the "loaders". They usually fly in to join the vessel and operate the cranes that load logs onto the barge, once the tug gets to the load site. Once the loading is done they fly back out, while the tug tows the barge to its destination to unload. Pacific Coastal Airline is well known in these parts and are well traveled throughout the region, dealing with many boats and logging camp crews. I believe this is the worst accident in Seaspan's history. Very sad indeed. I see that the Seaspan website has not released any press releases on their website about this accident, neither has Pacific Coastal.

Below is a picture I took of the 3,600 hp Seaspan King, entering Howe Sounds, north of Vancouver, just a few days ago. - Martin

Follow up - On the plane, they were seven people; the pilot, and six Seaspan Employees - 5 "loaders" and one mate. The 36 year old pilot and four others died. Two survived, both remain in hospital, one with relatively "light" soft tissue injuries and a crack hip bone his name has been released as
Bob Pomponio, and he was one of the loaders. The other survivor`s name and position has not been released, but he reportedly has a broken hip and has been transfered to hospital in Victoria. No other names have been released. This was indeed the worst loss for Seaspan in its long history. You can read further details here from the local paper, and here from the CBC.

From Monday's Globe and Mail, August 4, 2008 at 12:03 AM EDT

VICTORIA — For several desperate hours Sunday, the two survivors of a plane crash in a
remote section of Vancouver Island watched as search aircraft flew overhead, the rescue crews unable to spot the wreckage hidden in the mountainous terrain.

The Grumman Goose crashed a little after 7 a.m. Sunday, leaving five dead — including four members of the same tugboat crew. The pilot of the Pacific Coastal Airlines flight had been taking six passengers from Port Hardy for what was to be a short flight to a remote logging camp on the other side of the island.

One survivor, with his cellphone battery low and reception weak, was able to call and
text-message a friend, trying to guide his rescuers. His descriptions were frightening — the plane had been consumed by fire — but with the emergency beacon destroyed, search crews were hampered by the thick forest that seemed to swallow the aircraft.

It would be 10 hours before the worst of their ordeal ended, with helicopter crews arriving to airlift them to hospital. One survivor was injured, the other was not, said a spokesman for Pacific Coastal. "This was very unusual, an amazing frustrating search," said Lieutenant-Commander Gerry Pash of the Victoria Joint
Rescue Co-ordination Centre. The information from the survivor, passed on by a third party, was cryptic but lent the search urgency.

The plane was taking a Seaspan International Ltd. crew to the Interfor logging camp at Chamiss Bay, near the village of Kyuquot. It was a routine trip and a spokesman for Pacific Coastal said the pilot was experienced with the area.

"We can confirm it did not make it to its final destination," said Spencer Smith, vice-president for customer relations. He would not identify the pilot. "He's been flying with us for a few years in that area." He said the company makes 75 to 100 flights a day. "Our hearts go out to the families involved, and that's our priority now," Mr. Smith said.

Kelly Francis, a spokeswoman for Seaspan International, would not identify the crew. However she did confirm they were travelling on a routine trip to meet the tugboat Seaspan King to load logs from the camp to be hauled down the coast. There were six Seaspan employees on the flight.

Late Sunday night, Seaspan said in a statement that four of its employees died in the crash. "We offer our deepest sympathies to the families and will be working with them and the two Seaspan survivors to provide grief and trauma counselling," said the Vancouver-based tugboat company, a subsidiary of the Washington Marine Group.

Lt-Cmdr. Pash said search-and-rescue crews weren't called in until 10 a.m. when Pacific Coastal officials, having failed to find the aircraft on their own, asked for assistance.

The search was conducted by 442 Squadron out of the nearby Comox airforce base, using fixed-wing Buffalos and Cormorant helicopters. Local loggers turned up to try to search on the ground, and RCMP and the airline also contributed to the search.

The amphibious aircraft was taking an overland route, almost due
south from the northeast coast of Vancouver Island to the west coast, covering high mountain peaks. Lt.-Cmdr. Pash estimated the plane went down just 10 minutes after it took off, based on the crash location roughly mid-island.

He said the 50-year-old, second-growth trees were perfect for hiding even an aircraft with a 15-metre wingspan, tall but still flexible enough to spring back and cover the wreckage.