Seafarers facing legal problems can now obtain immediate information concerning their rights, wherever they are in the world, with a new app formally launched today by Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI) after three months of user testing.

Deirdre Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of SRI said: “Seafarers need tangible support 24/7. There are many good companies and maritime administrations who provide seafarers with assistance and support with regard to their human rights. However where that is not the case, this app will provide a lifeline for seafarers. The app has been designed to operate offline so that seafarers can access information at all times.

It is compatible with iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry devices.

The app has a unique ‘Find a Lawyer’ tool which gives immediate access to a database of lawyers around the world who have signed up to the SRI Charter – a statement of good practice in the provision of legal services to seafarers – and who may be able to offer assistance to seafarers facing criminal prosecution.”

Brian Orrell OBE, Chairman of the Advisory Board of SRI said:

“It is important that the work of SRI gets directly to seafarers. This is why this practical advice is now being made available on an app, and we are also producing on-line education materials free of charge for seafarers to raise their awareness around subjects relevant to their working lives. This education will ensure that seafarers’ rights are real and meaningful for them.”


Videotel™, a KVH company, has developed a new programme aimed at teaching crew aboard a vessel how to work together as a cohesive unit regardless of nationality differences.

Ships’ crews today invariably include seafarers serving onboard from many different nationalities and while this mix of cultures can bring great benefits, it can also have the potential to create misunderstandings and possible disharmony due to a lack of awareness of differing cultural values.

Called Working with Multinational Crews…It’s a Cultural Thing!, the Videotel programme features seafarers from eight different nationalities who ‘role play’ a range of typical onboard scenarios. The programme includes an accompanying workbook.

Language issues are addressed where basic unfamiliarity can lead to confusion and even dangerous misunderstandings, putting crew safety at risk. This is often further complicated by people, in some cultures, not always saying what they mean.

The programme also covers the importance of understanding that body language, gestures, hand signals, and postures can mean entirely different things to people from diverse cultures. The various ‘role plays’ examine the assumptions we make about others based on our own upbringing and values. 

The workbook contains further information about the topics covered in the programme with notes on how best to run the training session.

Working with Multinational Crews…It’s a Cultural Thing! is available through VOD (Videotel On Demand), VOD Online, DVD and e-Learning CBT, with an accompanying workbook.


Ship owners and ship managers need to be aware that the MARPOL Annex VI limits applicable in Emission Control Areas (ECAs) for sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter, having already been reduced to 1.00% in 2010, are being further reduced to just 0.10 %, effective from 1 January 2015.

Videotel’s “MARPOL Annex VI Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships, Edition 2” focuses on ways that ship owners can reduce the main air pollutants contained in exhaust gas through engine design, tuning, and maintenance. Procedural guidelines for incinerator use are also described and the need for training is emphasised.

The programme also covers new MARPOL Annex VI regulations concerning the management of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) which prohibit deliberate venting of ODS often found in air conditioning, refrigeration, and fire fighting systems.

Furthermore, Videotel has also produced “The Practical Management and Switching of Marine Fuels” programme, specifically designed to provide a practical guide to what is required of officers and engineers to process fuel oil from the bunker tank to the engine.

The programme addresses MARPOL Annex VI and emphasises the importance of monitoring every stage of filtering and purification to ensure the most efficient combustion is achieved, cleanly and economically. Topics include marine fuel oils; bunkering; storage and settling tanks; centrifuge; heaters and filters; fuel combustion; fuel switching; planning; and temperature and viscosity control.

“It is vital that ship owners and ship managers are aware of, and comply with the ever tightening of limits set by MARPOL Annex VI. Our programmes are designed to help them make this transition and avoid potentially serious issues when switching marine fuels,” explains Nigel Cleave, CEO of Videotel.

Both programmes are available in DVD, Videotel on Demand (VOD), VOD online, and eLearning Computer Based Training (CBT). All are accompanied by a PDF workbook which highlights key learning points.

Shipping Industry Calls On Governments To Address Migrants At Sea Crisis

Speaking at a high level Dialogue on Protection at Sea, hosted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has called on governments to address the growing refugee and migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe, remarked: “The shipping industry fully accepts its humanitarian obligation to assist anyone at sea whose vessel is in distress. But the situation in the Mediterranean has been spiralling out of control, and may well get worse after the end of the winter weather as thousands more people may attempt to get to Europe from North Africa by sea.”

ICS, the global trade association for shipowners, says the crisis has already required over 600 commercial ships to rescue tens of thousands of migrants during the past 12 months, as people attempt to get to Europe in dilapidated craft that are unfit for purpose, not seaworthy, and often grossly overloaded.

He added: “Large scale rescues at sea are not routine events and pose enormous challenges to ships that may only have accommodation and resources for a crew of perhaps 25 people. Recovering 200 or sometimes even 400 anxious and distressed people on board a merchant ship, and administering to their immediate needs, places huge demands on the crew and there is a compelling need for governments to ensure disembarkation as soon as possible to a place of safety ashore”.

The shipping industry is not in a position to solve the root causes of the crisis and recognises that governments face an enormous challenge. “But far more can be done by governments to ameliorate the current desperate situation at sea in the Mediterranean,” suggested Mr Hinchliffe.

ICS believes that the coastal authorities in North Africa can do much more to prevent the migrants’ craft from setting out to sea in the first place, especially where traffickers and people smugglers are involved. However, the European Union and its Member States also need to assist the authorities in North Africa and meet their moral responsibility as governments to support search and rescue operations and those merchant ships that are often the first on the scene. ICS suggests that more rescue resources need to be committed to the region by all EU Member States and that disembarkation facilities need to be provided without equivocation.

Illegal and inhumane trafficking and deliberate abandonment of migrants in shipping lanes needs to be urgently stamped out. Mr Hinchliffe praised the proposal by the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for those UN agencies concerned with the plight of migrants and refugees at sea to combine their resources in an inter-agency approach.

Earlier this week, ICS issued Guidelines on Large Scale Rescue Operations at Sea, which can be downloaded from the ICS website.

ICS Responds To Migrant Crisis With Guidelines For Large Scale Rescue Operations At Sea

In response to the continuing crisis in the Mediterranean, necessitating commercial ships to rescue tens of thousands of migrants and refugees during 2014, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has published new Guidance on Large Scale Rescue Operations at Sea, which can be downloaded free of charge via the ICS website. (See

ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe explained: “The shipping industry fully accepts its humanitarian obligation to assist anyone at sea whose vessel is in distress. But the scale of the crisis involving thousands of people attempting to get to Europe in craft that are neither fit for purpose nor seaworthy has raised real concerns about the safety and health of ships’ crews that may be involved in rescuing as many as 200 people at a time.”

The challenges involved in rescuing large numbers of people and then accommodating them on board ship prior to disembarkation are enormous compared to conventional rescue operations.  The ICS Guidelines are therefore intended to help shipping companies prepare for this eventuality, whilst taking full of account of the safety and security of the ship should such large scale rescues be necessary.  ICS says that experience has shown that advance preparations, and the development of effective procedures supported by regular drills, will prepare Masters and their crews to manage large scale rescue operations safely and successfully.

The issues covered by the ICS Guidelines include the provision of additional Personal Protective Equipment for ship’s crew and the safe management and accommodation of large numbers of people on board with an emphasis on sanitation, hygiene and ship security.  The Guidelines also refer to the need for companies to take full account of crew welfare in the aftermath of a large scale rescue.  The ICS Guidelines also contain useful references to relevant advice produced by the World Health Organization and the International Maritime Organization.

ICS also emphasises that Masters should not be expected to become involved in decisions about the legal status of the people they have rescued or whether they intend to apply for asylum.

“Notwithstanding the shipping industry’s legal and humanitarian obligations to rescue people in distress at sea, it remains incumbent on the governments to find a solution to the current crisis which is placing a very difficult burden on ships’ crews and the companies that have a duty of care for them.” said Mr Hinchliffe, who will be participating at a high-level meeting on the migrants at sea crisis being hosted by the UNHCR in Geneva later this week, in which the IMO Secretary-General will also be taking part.

ICS Publishes New Chemical Tanker Safety Guide

A fully updated edition of the definitive industry guidance on the safe operation of chemical tankers has just been published by the shipping industry’s global trade association, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

The new edition of the ICS Tanker Safety Guide (Chemicals) replaces the previous edition issued in 2002. ICS recommends that a copy is carried on board every tanker engaged in the carriage of chemical cargoes, and that copies are also held within shipping company technical departments.

Since its first publication over 40 years ago, the ICS Guide has become the standard reference work on best practice for chemical tanker operations, with an emphasis on how best to comply with additional International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations to ensure the prevention of pollution in the safest manner possible.

ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe, explained: “The production of this new edition has been a major project taking many years and drawing on expertise throughout the industry. As well as taking account of the latest best practice, large sections have been totally rewritten to assist comprehension”.

The updated ICS Guide takes full account of the adoption by IMO in May 2014 of important amendments to the SOLAS Convention, following a major IMO review of tanker safety that has taken the best part of a decade.

These amendments to SOLAS include new mandatory requirements for the inerting of chemical tankers. Together with recent changes made to the IMO Fire Safety Systems (FSS) Code, these SOLAS amendments are fully reflected in the new edition of the ICS Guide.

Mr Hinchliffe said: “Particular attention has also been given during preparation of the updated Guide to the question of how to inculcate an effective safety culture amongst everyone involved in chemical tanker operations.”

The 4th Edition of the ICS Tanker Safety Guide (Chemicals) is available for purchase from all maritime booksellers worldwide, or direct from ICS. The updated ICS Guide, with almost 300 pages and numerous illustrations, is accompanied by a CD including a search function and the facility to print and complete various checklists and other documentation. The recommended price is UK £395.

The ICS Tanker Safety Guide (Chemicals) should be regarded as a companion to the International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals (ISGOTT), jointly published by ICS and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF).

Ships Must Be Prepared For Sulphur Rules, But Alternative Fuels Should Be Explored

The shipping industry is fully committed to total compliance with the 0.1% sulphur in fuel requirements, in Emission Control Areas, from January 2015.  And there is no reason to suggest that there will not be full compliance, says the industry’s global trade association, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

“But there is nevertheless concern amongst those owners who know that they themselves will comply but who may worry about their competitors” said ICS Director of Policy & External Relations, Simon Bennett, speaking today at the Mediterranean Bunker Fuel Conference (organised by Platts in Barcelona).

Mr Bennett remarked “The shipping industry will be investing billions of dollars in order to ensure compliance with this major regulatory change.  It therefore seems only fair that governments should implement the rules in a uniform manner as we enter a brave new world in which fuel costs, for some ships, will increase overnight by around 50%”.

Mr Bennett suggested that, unlike some of the national authorities in Europe, the United States had made its approach to enforcement relatively clear.

“The real crime in the U.S. is to be caught providing false information to the Federal authorities” said Mr Bennett.  “This is a criminal offence, attracting the possibility of multi-million dollar fines.   If a ship has been found to supply false information, the US Department of Justice can be expected to throw the book at the operator.  The DOJ is always very motivated by the chance to secure relatively easy prosecutions and shipping companies are easy pickings.”

Looking forward to the implementation of the global sulphur cap, most likely in 2020, it was still unknown whether significant numbers of ships would make use of options for alternative compliance instead of burning low sulphur fuel, a provision which ICS had fought hard for during the negotiations at IMO when the MARPOL amendments were adopted.

With respect to port state control and scrubbers, there was still a need for a harmonised approach about the acceptability of ‘closed loop’ and ‘open loop’ systems, and the extent to which overboard discharges would be subject to inspection.

With respect to sulphur-free LNG, while new some ships were being fitted with dual fuel systems, Mr Bennett suggested that for most existing vessels the engineering involved would probably be too costly to encourage retrofitting.  The other major unknown was the extent to which the current lack of LNG infrastructure will be addressed before 2020.  Apart from uncertainly about the comparative costs of LNG and distillate, there were also uncertainties about the future of the US shale gas revolution.

In the medium term, there was also the possibility of alternative fuels such as methanol, which for some ships might produce a clean and economically viable alternative.  There were genuine concerns about safety, although if handled correctly these were arguably little different to the risks surrounding LNG, and trials using such alternatives should therefore be permitted.

It had also been suggested that the availability of distillate could be immediately increased by lowering the minimum permitted flashpoint from 60 degrees, which is the requirement under the IMO SOLAS Convention, to something comparable to conventional diesel.  Mr Bennett stressed that “this is highly controversial because of the danger of fuel coming into contact with hot surfaces in ship’s engine rooms, with the potential for catastrophic explosions and loss of life.  However, the question of the higher flashpoint required by SOLAS is now being looked at again by IMO”.

Because of legitimate concerns about safety, simply lowering the flashpoint of diesel on existing ships, in the belief that it will lower the price, may well prove a step too far for the regulators.  “But there is a school of thought that says that a future generation of ships, with appropriately trained crews, could be constructed or operated in a manner such that use of low flashpoint diesel would be safe, just in the same way that LNG has proven to be safe and cost effective fuel.  This is not yet the current position of ICS, but a discussion is starting to take place.”

Shipping Industry Sets Out Progress On CO2 Reduction On Eve Of UN Climate Conference, But Stresses Industry Is Not ‘Cash Cow’

The global shipping industry, which transports around 90% of world trade, only produced about 2.2% of the world’s total Green House Gas emissions during 2012 compared to 2.8% in 2007.  Shipping’s total emissions have reduced by more than 10% during the same period.

In advance of the United Nations Climate Conference in Lima (1-12 December), the global trade association for ship operators – the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) – says that the industry is on track to reduce its emissions by more than 20% by 2020 (compared to 2005) with further reductions going forward.

This and other information about the impressive progress which the shipping industry is making to reduce its CO2 emissions is set out in a special brochure prepared for the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference (COP 20).  This can be found on the global trade association’s website –

The shipping industry is the only industrial sector which is already covered by a binding global agreement to reduce its CO2 emissions, through technical and operational measures agreed – with full industry support – by its global regulator, the London-based International Maritime Organization (IMO).

ICS explains that the IMO is now developing additional measures to reduce CO2 emissions from shipping and that the UN Conference needs to maintain its support for IMO as the principal forum for addressing emissions from maritime transport, which cannot be attributed to individual national economies.

ICS emphasises that any decision, for example on whether to develop a Market Based Measure for shipping that might be linked to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), should be a matter for IMO Member States.  IMO will be best placed to develop an approach that can reconcile the UNFCCC principle of ‘Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR)’ – whereby developing countries are treated differently – with the need for all ships, regardless of flag, to be treated in a uniform manner.

Shipping is a global industry requiring rules on CO2 to be applied on a global basis to all ships.  Apart from preventing market distortion in this totally globalised sector, this is necessary to avoid ‘carbon leakage’ since only about 35% of the world fleet is registered with those developed nations that are covered by emission reduction commitments under the existing Kyoto Protocol on climate change prevention.

The position of the shipping industry remains that any contribution by shipping to the GCF must reflect the sector’s modest contribution to total global CO2 emissions.  ICS is firmly opposed to any suggestion that the shipping industry should collectively pay tens of billions of dollars each year, stressing that the industry is not a ‘cash cow’.


Mersey Maritime is to host an Industry Awards Dinner next March with a Ministerial presence that will bring together maritime companies and related organisations right across the Maritime, Logistics and Energy spectrum in the North West.

Chris Shirling-Rooke, Acting CEO of Mersey Maritime, announced: “We are delighted to launch Mersey Maritime’s Industry Awards which will be presented at a gala dinner event on 12 March 2015. It will be an annual event designed to celebrate excellence within the Maritime Logistics and Energy sectors. It will also help businesses to network while providing a forum for discussion.”

There are nine award categories:

• Business of the Year
• Vocational Skills Award (individual award)
• SME Business of the Year
• Engineering Company of the Year
• Environmental Award
• Supply Chain Partnership
• Best Newcomer (company award)
• Global Reach Award
• Ambassador of the Year Award

Event sponsors include Cammell Laird, Grant Thornton and Liverpool John Moores University, who, together with a representative from Mersey Maritime and other key business leaders, will also form the judging panel for the awards.

Application packs can be downloaded from today from Mersey Maritime’s website at: For further details please contact Mersey Maritime communications manager Annette Parker on 0151 647 4747. Applications need to be submitted by Friday 16th January 2015.