Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Old things make new home on main site

A new update has just been made to the main site - Martins Marine Engineering Page - www.dieselduck.net. Below is a summary of the new developments.

I am very please to present Retired Chief Engineer Verheijden's work on the Doxford opposed piston oil engine. The famous British engine conjures up memories in many engineer, but those engineers are quickly moving on, as does this history. The center piece of the area is a fascinating pictorial of the manufacturing process, and the machining skills that this process required. You will also find a gallery of damages; and detail drawings of various components along with videos, and background on Sun Ship in the USA, and numerous supporting documents. You may be already familiar with this material, as it was online for some time, but we are mirroring the site's content, so has not to lose it forever. If you wish to have some of your marine engineering works hosted with us for free, drop me a note.

Still in the Historical Area, you will find many new engineering drawings and general arrangements drawings. One I particularly like, the document on the now retired USCG Mackinaw, an icebreaker that operated in the Great Lakes. You also find lots of engine room layout drawings, engineering plans from way back and more, check it out.

Quite few new entries, probably around 25, were made in the ongoing developmental timeline of the diesel engines and other prime movers, as they pertains to shipping. In particular, entries focusing on early steam, Wartsila, and EMD's history were made as well as numerous other notable happenings.

Some new documents have been uploaded in the Ship's Library; read about the 2010 state of the industry from BRS, European based shipbrokers, an excellent insightful report. Over in the Machinery Area, you'll find a pocket guide for EMDs listing torques and parameters, and also Class NK's guided on preventing human errors. Quite a few new jokes in the "Ship's Lounge"; you can even download a handy guide to swears words and expressions in a multitude of languages. New visitor comment on "Canadian Income Tax on Seafarers" area. Also been adding lots of new maritime related links. As always just look for the , for new content.

Once again, I had to take down the Ship's Logbook, this time the spammers went too far, they actually changed my administrative passwords for the area. Although it is very nice to see visitors comments, it just not worth it to have that 'guestbook' feature running. The Spam bots are just too numerous and powerful. One day they may realize that all that effort pushing "mexican Vicodin" isn't worth it, at least I would hope so. Like I said, if you wish to send me a hello, just use email, and I will post your comments on the Ship's Log page. Thanks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Not in the procedures

I finally made it home after my last contract, kissed the wife and promptly got a stomach flu bug. Ohh thanks luv ! But on the flip side, I got some sympathy and was allowed access to the computer, and found this little gem, for the SHE-Q guys to use for their "what not to do" on board. I guess that's what happens after too many days at sea.

And now for something completely different, here's a brief interior tour of the yacht "A". A thirty-eight year old Russian's new toy. Must be nice to have that kind of money...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Old problems, new again

If been a couple of decades now, since the big push of the 80's and 90's to remove (at great expense) Asbestos on ships and buildings, especially in Canada. The use of Asbestos in ship construction was extensive last century, even though it was a well known hazard to human health, as far back as the 1920. Flash forward to 2010, and this interesting notice from GL (Germanischer Lloyd) advising their clients, to be prepared for Port State Inspections in Rotterdam, that include ship's atmosphere testing, for signs of Asbestos contamination.

Russia is by far the largest producer of Asbestos, but Canada is also a significant producer. In Canada, the use of Asbestos is generally not allowed, so 96% of the production is exported to developing nations such as China. China has recently taken the top spot as the world's shipbuilder, surpassing Korea. So it is little wonder that Asbestos has reared its ugly head once again, and currently poses yet another health risk to seafarers, even on brand new ships. Asbestos use in ships, has been banned by SOLAS convention, in force since July 1st, 2002.

According to news clips, a Dutch engineering company surveyed 300 ships, and discovered asbestos on 95% of them. DNV as well reports that they found asbestos in 90% of the vessel the owners asked for a survey. It seems the majority of the problem lies in the spares that are brought on board after newbuilding, such as gaskets and seals.

Over in Quebec, a French speaking province in Canada, and one of the largest producer of Asbesto in Canada, and where I grew up, a dispute currently rages on as to whether or not the Quebec Government will provide Jeffrey Asbestos Mines, a loan guarantee for $60 million dollars. As a child I actually remember playing with the stuff, or at least it looks like it was asbestos, very neat material, stringy rock. I have no idea how it got in to the house, but it was in the geology class context, which of course, if your home province produces, it bounds to be hyped in school. Kinda scary looking back. There is even the town of Asbestos, located east of Sorel, near Montreal, on Google Maps, you can see the actual open pit mine, and its blueish tinge.

Banned in the "1st world", the stuff, 2 million tons of it in 2008, is exported to regions with little or no regulations, and even less enforcement, where much of the maritime business draws its resources from. A comment I came across - “The purchasing department thinks it is doing a good job, saving money on cheap gaskets from the Far East, and they bring back asbestos on board.”

You can read about the dangers of asbestos here, the wikipedia page is here, here is another interesting article about it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Third week duldrums

So we are settling in that time in the contract where things get a little blurry. Tempers have a tendency to flare unexpectedly. The days have been folding into each other, as if they are in a large mixing pot at the industrial bakery, and you are just beginning to realize it.

Funny, I don’t remember having this feeling when I did 14 weeks out at sea; 2 weeks stints aboard were certainly never a problem either. I have worked for a couple of companies with four weeks on and four weeks off, and no matter what the ship is, this holds true, the third week sucks!

The cook has loss all enthusiasm, down the very basic meals now. I think I saw "Adidas" stamped across the meat yesterday, unceremoniously drenched in watery gravy. The deck hands are behaving like magnets, with similar poles; the watchkeepers are snipping at each other like an old married couple.

It is very difficult to do a meaningful “self diagnostic”, but I have been thinking about it, for this post, and I must say this time, I not feeling too blue. This trip has gone very well so far, all things considered. But I am sure, it helped that the old man had a visit from his wife, at the last port.

I wonder what the psychological reasons are for feeling “blue”, in the third week. It starts soon after hump day, two weeks in. The "excitement" of signing on has faded. The good feelings at the prospect of traveling home, seeing the family, have not presented themselves. Yet, you feel like its time to go!

I don't think it's just me, in my last outfit, working month on month off, there was a popular saying on board, and across the fleet, “third week, everything is justifiable”, well actually the wording was bit more direct, but you get the idea.

Just a few more days now, and we will be into week four. The time to wrap up all the loose ends, appreciate all that has been accomplished, this will help build the excitement and bring the spirits up. The end is near.

The travel plans will start showing up mid week, and then the reality that you will rejoin society, and some form of normalcy, to an awaiting life, away from work, will bring a smile to your face for the last few days. And my long "monday" will end, and a month long "Saturday" will begin.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

No corporate sponsors please

I stumble upon a website containing a great deal of information, that certainly make interesting reading at the least, and perhaps offers insight into our own operational shortcomings. I am posting their "about us" area of the site, as I found it does a good job at summarizing a situation considered "normal" nowadays, not just with tankers, but with pretty much all ships, in my view.

The site is the Center for Tankship Excellence and is primarily the brainchild of accomplished marine industry veteran, Jack Devanney. He hopes to engage the average professional's input on tanker operations, and build a project to improve quality in shipping. A worthy endeavor, and judging from his contributions, certainly a good champion for this, leading by example.

I found his opening remarks striking a chord with me, perhaps with you.

The oil tanker industry has lost its way. The twin pillars of tanker industry regulation had been:

  1. The technical leadership of the major oil company marine departments.
  2. The professionalism of the Classification Societies.
These pillars have crumbled. The oil company marine departments were gutted in the wake of the massive economic losses in the tanker market in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The economic pressures on the marine departments were heavy contributors to the Amoco Cadiz and Exxon Valdez spills among others. At that time the marine departments lost credibility with and influence on their boards. The talent and experience that was not fired was allowed to resign without replacement. The only real centers for quality tanker design and research disappeared.

The Classification Society system was always deeply flawed, combining as it did dependence on the regulatee for fee income and potential competition among the Societies for that income. However, a combination of a strong tendency among the owners to stick with their national classification society and, in the best societies, a long tradition of technical professionalism managed to keep the class rules at a slowly declining but still marginally satisfactory level through the mid 1970's. Since then the combination of inter-class competition and the ability of the ship yards to rewrite the rules via the down-ratchet has resulted in a further decline in the class rules to imprudent levels. See Devanney and Kennedy, The Down Ratchet and the Deterioration of Tanker Newbuilding Standards

Almost every measure of tanker strength and reliability are down at least 15% from the marginally satisfactory ships of the mid-70's. The shipyards are now producing ships that are so flimsy and unreliable that they are willing to guarantee them -- a very limited guarantee -- for only a year. The classification societies are now run by businessmen who are far more interested in "growing the business" than in maintaining industry standards. Within the societies, unreasonable and inflexible traditionalists who do not get with the program are passed over and eventually leave in disgust. The class tradition of tough, disinterested surveyor has pretty much disappeared.

Third parties can sense that something is wrong. Generally, this perception is in response to a high profile oil spill. However, third parties cannot know what the real problems are, especially in the emotional, media dominated aftermath of a big spill. Much less do they have the ability to develop efficient solutions to those problems. The results has been regulation that is both ineffective and terribly inefficient. We have mandated pollution prevention measures that have resulted in more pollution than would have occurred without the regulation while consuming an enormous amount of resources This is the opposite of conservation. We have overlooked -- and in certain cases, outlawed -- alternatives that would have reduced pollution considerably while consuming little or no additional resources. We have erected paperwork barriers to new entrants protecting inefficient and incompetent owners and managers. The basic problem is that the regulation is being written in an emotional and easily manipulated atmosphere by politicians who understand neither the problem nor the possible solutions. (This is not just a tanker industry problem. This problem of efficient regulation of highly technical industries is endemic to modern society.)

The situation would be much improved if there existed an organization to which these third parties -- and the industry itself -- could turn, which meets the following criteria:

  1. In depth, practical knowledge of the real problems facing the tanker industry.
  2. Recognized technical competence to develop and analyze alternative solutions to these problems.
  3. Clear independence from all the special interests that surround the industry: owners, yards, charterers, oil producers, oil consumers, Classification Societies, and environmental organizations.
The Center for Tankship Excellence (CTX) attempts to be such an organization.

Human Game

I have been in the marine industry for 30 years and reading the articles that are posted below, has me somewhat speechless. As anyone who knows me can attest, it is a state that I am not often in.

If the allegations are true, these cadets have been failed by the industry.

They were failed by the marine school who obviously did not give them the support they required; they were failed by senior management of the vessel who condoned and participated in this behavior and they were failed by the marine company who neglected the safety of the most powerless people on board their ship.

For this to go so far, I can't even imagine the atmosphere of secrecy and fear on the vessel, with the cadets threatened not to reveal the goings on with implications to their life and careers. These men and woman lived every moment of their day on the ship with the threat of violence. Most of us who went to sea, never had to deal with this type of manipulation and fear.

It is extremely easy for officers and crew to abuse cadets as it is. Most of these cadets are young and unsure about a new vessel and their reception onboard. For a woman, doubly so, for they must overcome the perception that they may not be as good as a man in the job and are taking wages from a man who is supporting a family. Add to that the cultural indoctrination toward woman of each crew member of that ship and it is a messy situation for a person who may never been exposed to anything like it in their life.

Here in Canada, the ship and company must report acts of violence on board to Transport Canada. Hopefully such an avenue will exist for any mariner trapped on these hell-ships world-wide.

I hope that this is investigated by the police and the Company and the participants dealt with severely. I am surprised that a company that is owned by Maersk has sunk to such low behavior....or maybe they never rose above it.

Human Game, Shiptalk

South African police are investigating the death of 19-year-old Akhona Geveza after the cadet fell overboard and died only hours after making rape allegations last month.

It was claimed she had told a fellow cadet and the ship’s master she had been raped by the Ukrainian Chief Officer of the “Safmarine Kariba”. Her body was found floating off the Croatian coast, she had just two weeks to go to finish her apprenticeship.

The incident has rightly caused real shock, especially as other cadets have alleged a pattern of abuse by senior officers on board the vessel.

Geveza, was a cadet in the Transnet National Port Authority's maritime studies programme, which has seen about a hundred young South African women encouraged to go to sea. Investigations are ongoing into the troubled study initiative, as something seems to have gone horribly wrong.

Many Cadets have emerged to claim systematic abuse by senior officers, "who threatened cadets' careers if they did not perform sexual acts”. There are allegations, including claims by both male and female cadets that they had been raped at sea; a female cadet had to terminate two pregnancies. Another male cadet was allegedly signed off because he refused to have sex with a senior officer.

A cadet told the reporters that her cohort of ten female cadets was told on board that “The captain is our god; he can marry you, baptise you and even bury you without anybody’s permission. We were told that the sea is no man’s land and that what happens at sea stays at sea.” While one former female Cadet claimed, “It was like we were dumped in the middle of a game park.”

While there are strong suggestions that sexual harassment may be rife in the Transnet cadet scheme Safmarine Africa region executive Jonathan Horn said this was an isolated incident. He claimed, “We are deeply saddened by the untimely death of Ms Geveza and while this is a most unfortunate incident, we believe it should not detract from the success of scores of young South Africans – men and women - who are now pursuing a career in the international maritime industry.”

Careers they may have, but at what cost?

Safe Seas has this article:

Sea cadet death probe raises jurisdiction concerns
Steve Matthews, Lloyd's List

Nautilus calls for detailed investigation into death of cadet who was lost overboard from a UK Flagged Safmarine boxship

THERE are increasing concerns about investigations into the suspicious death of 19-year-old South African officer cadet Akhona Geveza who was lost overboard from the UK-flagged Safmarine containership Safmarine Kariba on June 24 while the ship was in Croatian waters near Rijeka.

This case once again throws the spotlight on how to ensure the proper investigation of serious crimes onboard ships at sea where various legal jurisdictions are potentially involved.

Officers’ trade union Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson has written to UK secretary of state for transport Phillip Hammond, urging that a proper investigation is undertaken regarding the circumstances surrounding her death.

Ms Geveza was onboard the Safmarine ship as part of an arrangement with South African harbour authority Transnet to provide seagoing opportunities for Transnet cadets. Transnet specifically encourages the recruitment of young South African women as officer trainees.

In particular there are concerns that she had previously made allegations that she was raped by the ship’s Ukrainian chief officer. It has been claimed that other South African cadets have made similar allegations. Safmarine told Lloyd’s List that it “has not received any complaints of sexual harassment taking place onboard its vessels”.

In his letter Mr Dickinson says: “We believe it is particularly important that the UK, as flag state, takes a highly visible leading role in seeking to establish the truth of the allegations and – if true – to ensure that appropriate action is taken.”

It calls on the Department for Transport to do everything possible to secure a full and transparent investigation.

Mr Dickinson has also written to UK Home Secretary Theresa May expressing concern at the lack of information about any criminal enquiries into the allegations. He says it is unclear whether investigations are being carried out by the South African police, the Croatian police, or the British police. An added complication is that the Ukrainian chief officer left the vessel in Port Said, Egypt.

A spokeswoman for Safmarine told Lloyd’s List that investigations into the death are still underway. She said that Safmarine was co-operating with authorities investigating the matter, which include the Croatian police, South African Maritime Safety Authority and the UK Marine Accident and Investigation Branch.

However, Lloyd’s List understands that the MAIB is not actively investigating the incident as it normally defers to any ongoing police investigation, which in this case appears to be in the hands of the Croatian police.

A DfT spokesperson said to Lloyd’s List: “This is a tragic incident and we extend our sympathies to the family of Ms Geveza. This is now the subject of a criminal investigation and we are happy to assist if asked. However, it is not for the DfT to intervene in a police enquiry.”

Lloyd’s List contacted the Croatian police but at the time of going to press they were unable to give any information on the status or progress of the investigation.

A spokesman for the UK Home Office said to Lloyd’s List that British police involvement in such international investigations usually follows a mutual legal assistance request from authorities in other countries, but the Home Office does not confirm or deny whether such requests have been made in individual cases. Lloyd’s List understands that British police are not currently conducting an investigation into this incident.

This uncertainty about how the death is being investigated highlights fears that the various jurisdictions involved could end up with an inadequate investigation taking place into an extremely serious criminal offence.

Nautilus is concerned that the case has important implications for the international maritime industry and especially ensuring equal opportunities as the industry seeks to attract more women seafarers. “There must be no whitewash and no cover-up,” Mr Dickinson said.

The union has tabled a motion, in co-operation with the South African Transport Workers Union, at this week’s International Transport Workers Federation Congress in Mexico City. It expresses concern that “these allegations could damage irreparably the image of shipping as a career choice for young people and especially among young women”.

It calls on the ITF to ensure that Ms Geveza’s family receive justice with a full and open investigation and action concerning all allegations of abuse by Transnet cadets and that any conclusions are implemented quickly. The ITF should “send a message to the shipping industry that the worldwide maritime trade union family will not tolerate this kind of treatment of any seafarer on any ship and redouble its efforts to support the eradication of harassment and bullying at sea and the promotion of mutual respect and equal opportunities in shipping”.

and again from Safe Seas:

Croatian police wrap up Safmarine cadet death probe
Steve Matthews, Lloyd's List

CROATIAN police have concluded their investigation into the death of 19-year-old South African cadet Akhona Geveza, whose body was found in the sea off Rijeka on June 24 after she went overboard from the Safmarine containership Safmarine Kariba.

The Director of Police Administration for Primorsko-goranska region told Lloyd’s List that it had concluded a criminal investigation into the death and submitted a report to the State Attorney’s office in Rijeka. It will decide on what, if any, further action will be taken. However, he did not reveal the findings of the investigation or the content of the report. He confirmed that no police forces from any other countries were involved in the investigation.

Suspicions were aroused when it was revealed that Ms Geveza had made allegations of rape against the vessel’s Ukrainian chief officer. She was onboard the Safmarine vessel as part of a scheme enabling cadets of South Africa’s National Ports Authority Transnet to gain seagoing experience. The incident prompted further allegations by Transnet cadets of sexual harassment onboard vessels.

Transnet spokesman John Ddudlu said: “Transnet is currently reviewing the cadet maritime programme and, through its employee assistance programme, has appointed independent service providers to conduct one-on-one interviews with all the cadets who have gone through the programme. We will use their experiences to determine appropriate steps to be taken to prevent similar incidents in future. In addition, the conversations will assure cadets at sea that they have access to support should they experience any difficulties. The review is ongoing.”


Safmarine Kariba
Owner: Safmarine, Antwerp, Belgium
Built: 2008, at Hanjin, in Korea
IMO: 9333034
Flag : UK (London)
Class: ABS
LOA:299.5 m
Design TEU :6200

From Safmarine's website.

"Safmarine Container Lines NV is a Belgian shipping company, based in Antwerp and specialising in sea transportation of cargoes between Africa, the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent as well as operating in other trades. Our services are mainly based on fully containerised vessels but we also have a division offering services for non-unitisable break bulk and project cargo."

You can read more about this story here, here, and here. Read about the impacts to her parent's here and here.

She also has a memorial Facebook Group; her actual Facebook page is here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Seaspan takes advantage of champagne sale

To most on the west coast, Seaspan is a prominent name, hauling barges every which way all over the coast. Now, Seaspan is also becoming quite an established name in the container ship business too. And judging from the recent spats of new build deliveries, those head honcho must have a sore hand cutting all those ribbons and breaking champagne bottles.

Seaspan has taken delivery of no less than 10 new major container ships, so far this year. In July alone, two ships joined the fleet within days of each other, the 8,500 TEU COSCO Indonesia and the 4250 TEU CSAV Lebu, both already chartered out; the Indonesia on a 12 year charter, the Lebu on a six year charter. Take that Government of Canada, who can't seem to make up their minds for 20 years on one small ship! Seaspan is not done yet, they have another 16 vessels due to be delivered over the next 21 months.

Seaspan Corporation owns the ships, but they are chartered to other "marquee" shipping companies like Hapag Lloyd, Cosco, CSCL, MOL and others. The company falls under the Washington group of companies umbrella led by its founder, Denis Washington, and has 53 ships in operation, with another 16 new builds under way. The management of their vessels is taken care by Vancouver based Seaspan Ship Management, and crews them out of Seaspan Crew Management Ltd. based in Mumbai, India. All their ships fly the Hong Kong flag, and they are classed mostly by Lloyds and DNV, with a few under Germanischer Lloyd.

Although their shares, traded on the New York Stock Exchange as SSW, has taken a beating over the last couple of years, they seem to have weathered the storm that battered the industry. The all time high value for their shares was 37 dollars; they have been hovering around the 10 dollar mark since November 2008.

Vancouver also host the corporate headquarters of another shipping titan, TeeKay Shipping, having a significant presence in the oil transportation sector, operation 157 tankers with an average age of 10 years.

Pictures are of COSCO Korea top, and COSCO Indonesia, from the internets.