Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Users and dealers

Lately we've been seeing quite a few reports of incidents caused by improper switching of fuel when entering Emission Control Areas (ECA), which a new one seems to be popping up just about every week now. Mechanical issues are obviously a problem that will come up more frequently, when you are making these types of far reaching decisions. There is bound to be some equipment and people that are not all on the same page.

I read of the various scrubbers and technologies being developed to fit into the various types of ship. Introducing a wide swath of new technology, procedures, chemicals etc, will undoubdetly create even more interesting situations aboard ships, hopefully not too many at inopportune times. Its great to see inovation and progress, but it strikes me as being an awfully silly exercise.

I've thinking about this whole low sulphur fuel push, which I believe is a good step for our collective global health, but I think the whole issue might be a bit misguided, well at least the implementation of change.

As Chief Engineer, I now have to fill several more legal documents such as records of Low Sulphur Fuel received, Switching Over Record, Fuel Sample Tracking and on and on. If the Oil Record Book, and the criminalization of seafarers that followed the ongoing scrutiny authorities have paying to this record is any indication, we can expect one hell of a legal bonanza against seafarers. The sudden multiplication of these types of records, and as a consequence, the potential mistakes made in maintaining these records, and the drastic sanctions they expose us on board are a cause for concern in my mind.

All this points to a silly way to deal with a problem, akin to going after drug user, and not doing anything about the drug dealer. I don't understand why the shipping industry has to bear the brunt of this responsibility to clean up emission. It would seem to me to be more logical to modify the fuel before it makes it onboard. Why do we have to force the marine industry, and about 50,000 ships worldwide, to make major capital investment, creating vast new regulatory bureaucracy, and more opportunity for failure at the shipboard level? It's great that equipment suppliers, the office and enforcement types are getting a great deal out of this, but lets face it, its just so inefficient.

Why not instead treat the fuel at the refinery level; take out the sulphur (etc.) at this level. Seems to me that the research and technology dollar would go the furthest at this level, with a broader impact on the overall environmental goals. There is less than one thousand refineries, probably far less that produce fuel specific for shipping, it would therefore be much simpler step to implement and produce a more predictable result, and a smaller bureaucracy and enforcement overall. We see this philosophy happening with Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) for vehicle use, and how this is being implemented across the globe now; why not adopt this format for heavier fuel.

Pics from internet sources.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

No holiday in Spain

Some of you may have heard of the name, Phil Halliday. If it seems like that name is familiar, but seems from long ago, you are correct, it has been a long time since the name was first mentioned in the media 18 months ago. Phil was a fisherman from Digby, Nova Scotia, who, after a brief voyage to the Caribbean on the retired Coast Guard ship Parizeau, was asked if he would return to work on the ship, to deliver it to new German owners, across the Atlantic. For $200 bucks a day, and a neat adventure, he happily re-joined for the trans Atlantic trip.

Unfortunately for him, the Spanish Navy intercepted the Destiny Empress far at sea, in December 2009, and found well over $400 million dollars of cocaine aboard. The ship and the drugs were confiscated, and the crew was jailed in Spain. Phil, in addition to dealing with medical problems, has been moved around Spanish jails, and has yet to to see a court date set for his trial.

The family is pleading for the Canadian government's assistance, but lets face it, our government has a tough time respecting the sovereignty of its citizen abroad on a good day, never mind that of a sailors on a "coke boat".

In hopes of influencing some action on the file, the family back in Digby, is asking for your help in raising awareness, and signing a petition to draw attention to this case.

The former captain of the vessel, who was reportedly not on board at the time, but was implicated in the sting, was acquitted of the charges against him. You can read more here, here and here. Here's a little more about the Parizeau and the Destiny Empress, pics and comments on her, on her way to being scrapped. You can sign the petition here.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Welcome home Mariner


Canada's newest ship, is fully loaded with its first cargo of iron ore, and proceeding up the St Lawrence Seaway onto Hamilton. We passed the Algoma Mariner shortly before lunch today, just upstream of Quebec City.

A new ship is always an impressive sight, especially since it is so rare in these parts. The ship's genesis came about a few years back, when Algoma decided to rebuilt two older ship, using the same stern, but putting on new fore bodies. With the first ship, the Algobay, everything went smooth and as planned. With the Algoport, things went sour, when she sank on her tow to China. With the fore body already built, and waiting at the shipyard, and an subsequent insurance payout, Algoma found it favourable to build a new stern section, and complete a whole new ship.

The new ship was completed by the Chengxi Shipyard Co, situated on the Yangtze River in China, on May 31, 2011. The shipyard located in Jiangyin city, Jiangsu province, built 26 similar ships in 2010.

With a refuelling stop in the Philippines and Panama, the Mariner transited the Panama canal, and made her way to Port Cartier in Quebec, to load her first cargo, iron ore, bound for the steel mills in Hamilton, Ontario. The self unloading bulk carrier is expected in Hamilton, late afternoon of August 8, 2011, where she try her unloading gear for the first time.

Pictured above, by yours truly, taken this morning on the St Lawrence; below, from Algoma Central Corp. You can find the official press release from Algoma here, with interesting comments, boasting the crew accommodations standards - mmmm. Here's another news bit. You can find tons of pictures from the shipyard, and its journey home on Mariner Project blog.

Algoma Mariner
IMO: 9587893
Call Sign: CFN5517
Owner : Algoma Central Corporation
Operator : Seaway Marine Transport
Delivered : May 31, 2011
Shipyard : Chengxi Shipyard Co, Jiangyin, China
Class : Lloyd's Register - SOLAS, UMS
Flag : Canada
Type : Self discharging bulk carrier
Lenght : 740' (225.564 m)
Breadth : 78' (23.7 m)
Depth : 49' (14.9m)
Gross Tonnage : 32,000
Cargo Capacity : six cargo holds, 35,500 DWT
Machinery : (?) 1x 2 stroke slow speed, with CPP
Speed recorded (Max / Average): 16.9 / 16.4 knots

Update, August 09 - Professional Mariner Magazine just released a short story on the final tow of the Algoport and what happened, from the tug's perspective.