Accident Prevention: Dealing with the Human Factor

Accident investigation is a painstaking and often painful process and, more often than not, the outcome is a raft of new policies and measures to avoid reoccurrence. Yet, if well thought out and established company procedures are followed in the first place, tragic consequences can be avoided.

In response to the renewed focus on training in this area Videotel has launched a new training series, Leadership and Team Working Skills, which takes as its foundation the importance of good resource management and how it can be achieved.

“With continuing improvements in technology, human factors feature more and more frequently in the causal chain,” explains Nigel Cleave, CEO of Videotel Marine International. “Forty years ago, the average cargo ship was manned by 40-50 crew – nowadays, even on VLCCs, we are seeing crews numbering in the low twenties. Individuals are required to operate ever more efficiently adding further pressure on board. This series addresses many of the key issues defined by the STCW and SOLAS conventions, which provide a framework for safe and effective working practices.”

Produced in conjunction with The Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association (Bermuda) Ltd Leadership and Team Working Skills is aimed at all sea-going personnel, having special relevance to the work of the watchkeeping officers in both deck and engineering departments, and is available on DVD and Interactive CD-ROM.

Topics include The Voyage Plan; both Bridge and Engine Room Watchkeeping; Working with Pilots; and Resource Management and Accident Prevention. There is also a module featuring case studies of five incidents where the bridge team failed to keep the ship out of danger as a result of poor resource management. Incidents are re-created using actors and showing the data available to the bridge team. The audience are invited to view each incident and then to stop and analyse what went wrong and discuss how things could have been done better.

Justice for Seafarers?

A worrying indictment of the plight of seafarers has been delivered by a far-reaching survey of the experiences of seafarers facing criminal charges with seafarers complaining of unfair treatment, intimidation and a lack of legal representation and interpretation services.

The survey by international legal research centre Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI) of 3,480 seafarers in the 12 months to the end of February 2012 was conducted in eight languages, with responses returned from 18 countries and 68 different nationalities of seafarers.

Of the seafarers surveyed, 8% had faced criminal charges; 4% had been witnesses in criminal prosecutions, while 33% knew of colleagues who had faced criminal charges. Almost 24% of masters in the survey had faced criminal charges.

Questions in the survey specifically asked about the experiences of seafarers who had faced criminal charges. 44% of seafarers reported that they were bodily searched. 87% who faced charges relating to the discharge of their professional duties said that they did not have legal representation; 91% of seafarers who needed interpretation services said that they were not provided with such services; and 89% of seafarers who had faced criminal charges said that they did not have their rights explained to them.

Seafarers were also specifically asked about their perceptions. 80% who had faced criminal charges felt intimidated or threatened.

Concerning casualty inquiries and accident investigations, 46% of seafarers who answered the question said that they would be reluctant to cooperate fully and openly with such inquiries. Reasons expressed included: “The information that I would provide might be used against me”; “I would fear incriminating myself”; “Anything you say can be used as evidence against you”.

Overall, 81% of seafarers who faced criminal charges did not consider that they had received fair treatment.

To gain a broader view of criminal charges faced by seafarers, SRI also carried out a review of all incidents involving criminal charges against seafarers reported in Lloyd’s List, TradeWinds and Fairplay, for the 12 year period from 2000 – 2011. There were 415 incidents reported in this period, involving 1,580 seafarers. Significantly over the period under review, the numbers of maritime criminal incidents and the numbers of detained seafarers showed a tendency to increase.

“The voices of seafarers are expressing real fears and concerns over criminal charges and it must be in the interests of the whole maritime industry that these are addressed and seafarers adequately protected. The prospect of criminal charges is daunting for any human being, whether in your own country, or even more so in a foreign country, and so for seafarers entering foreign ports on a daily basis, the risks are high and the consequences can be dire if fair and due process is not followed,” said Deirdre Fitzpatrick, SRI Executive Director.

She added: “We hope that the results of this survey will provide momentum for increased efforts to ensure fair treatment of seafarers, whether innocent or guilty of a criminal charge, and that from this survey, the faces and the voices of the seafarers will be seen clearly and heard loudly”.

The full report of the survey will shortly be available on SRI’s website.

Thomas Gunn Navigation Services and Transas Marine Ltd Join in Industry Leading Partnership

Thomas Gunn Navigation Services and Transas Marine Ltd announce today a new industry leading partnership which will bring significant benefits to customers of both organisations. Thomas Gunn will now offer Transas Navi-Sailor 4000 ECDIS as part of its total navigation solution, whilst Transas will offer Thomas Gunn’s paper chart management service – which includes Admiralty and International HO’s paper charts and paper publications – as a part of its ECDIS package.

This partnership sees two industry experts in the emerging ECDIS market teaming up to offer complete solutions for ECDIS implementation in accordance with the IMO Carriage Requirement. That will not only support both Thomas Gunn and Transas customers throughout the whole life cycle of purchased products but will also service those needs to the same high standard of quality, in whatever country their customers operate.

“We are really pleased to be working with Transas,” says Thomas Gunn, founder and managing director of Thomas Gunn. “Our key priority has always been to offer our customers the best products with the best global service engineering in the industry. The advance of digital navigation has meant that we must continually evaluate our product offering – and of course good products demand good backup. Our relationship with Transas will ensure that we maintain our reputation for service excellence”.

When it comes to ECDIS implementation, in addition to Transas Navi-Sailor ECDIS, Thomas Gunn customers will now benefit from a service network strategically spread worldwide through all major ports.

“Transas Marine and Thomas Gunn share a common philosophy – we are both focused on building the best user experience with a truly worldwide service and solve advanced business needs,” states Peter Mantel, business development director, Transas Marine Limited. “By working together, we are taking our commitment to the next level by making it even easier for our customers to go through the ECDIS implementation phase, manage all information and get access to complete solutions in one place. We are very excited about this partnership that will bring a new level of business agility and usability to our systems.”

Caribbean Lacks Resources To Combat Oil Spills, Warns Jamaica

The Caribbean region including Jamaica and other Small Island Developing States lacks the resources to combat a major oil spill, delegates to a regional convention on oil spill prevention and response have been warned.

Opening the convention to discuss oil spill prevention, preparedness and response in the Gulf of Mexico, keynote speaker Christopher Cargill, Chairman of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, said Jamaica and other islands in the region do not have access to vast amounts of resources to combat major oil spills of the magnitude of the BP Deepwater Horizon incident – which occurred two years ago this month in the Gulf of Mexico.

He told delegates: “We understand that the BP Deepwater Horizon incident involved 47,000 persons, 600 vessels and 120 aircraft and the responders had access to a Spill Liability Trust Fund.
The development of a mechanism for cooperation is therefore a critical part of the preparedness in the region as Jamaica and other small states will have to rely heavily on their neighbours to the north for assistance in dealing with such events. “

The objective of last week’s convention, held in Kingston, Jamaica from April 11-13th, was to further regional preparedness and cooperation to oversee the offshore oil exploration and exploitation industry and to improve oil spill response preparedness and capabilities.

This was third such forum and aimed to complete a Caribbean Multinational Authorities Matrix to aid regional plans towards the offshore oil exploration industry. The previous discussions looked at the legal and policy frame work for drilling operations and issues related to preparedness and response to pollution incidents arising from oil and gas exploration and exploitation.

According to Bertrand Smith, Director of Legal Affairs at the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ): “This meeting was important to Jamaica as we ratified the IMO Oil Pollution and Response Convention (OPRC) two years ago and are currently incorporating its provisions into national legislation to deal with discharges from oil and gas platforms, among other things.”

The convention was sponsored by the Maritime Authority of Jamaica and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Regional Activity Centre/Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre (RAC/REMPEITC).

In attendance were US Ambassador, Ms. Pamela Bridgewater Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of the United States of America, His Excellency, Mr. Yuri Gala Lopez, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Cuba, and Mr. Raul Mendoza-Gallo, Head of Consular, Commercial and Cooperation Affairs, Embassy of Mexico. Attendees also included representatives from the US State Department and other regulators from the USA as well as delegates from Jamaica, Cuba, Mexico, The Bahamas and Guyana and representatives from RAC/RECPEITC-Caribe.

Piracy: Prevention Is Better Than Cure Says AtoBviaC

It is no secret that piracy attacks are becoming more audacious and that methods necessary to combat such attacks are becoming more extreme. Local restrictions often mean that ship owners can’t always obtain reliable armed protection, attacks are now expected up to 120 nautical miles off the coast of some areas and concern exists over moves to ban ransom payments – the choices for operators are fraught with difficulty.

AtoBviaC Plc has recently introduced a new Anti-Piracy Routeing Tool in the BP Shipping Marine Distance Tables. “The Anti-Piracy Control allows ship operators to make informed decisions on voyages which may need to avoid piracy areas,” says Captain Trevor Hall, Director of AtoBviaC. “With the amount of uncertainty in the industry and the depressed freight rates currently being experienced, the implication of avoiding piracy has to be carefully measured.

“The AtoBviaC tool enables the ship operator to select routes based on the most current intelligence, and accurately calculate the time and fuel implications of the voyage. In many cases this can work out to be considerably more accurate than the other available options and provides a level of self-determination that is missing from other solutions.”

Anti- Piracy Routeing from AtoBviaC within the BP Shipping Marine Distance Tables is based upon information on piracy activity obtained on a regular basis from the Joint War Committee bulletins, and from specific routeings requested by ship operators. All routes calculated are navigable, taking account of the need to keep suitable distances off shoals, wrecks, coasts and obstructions and also avoid oil field development areas. The routes are reviewed weekly and updates are issued at 2 monthly intervals or more frequently if significant changes need to be made.

The BP Shipping Marine Distance Tables are widely used within the marine industry and contains all ports, offshore terminals and transhipment areas needed by its many users, particularly: Worldscale; oil tankers; gas carriers (LNG & LPG); the container trade and the bulk shipping of coal and ore.