Feb 142013
 
Battered USS Guardian may be first Philippine case under the IMO Code

Battered USS Guardian may be first Philippine case under the IMO Code

Newly appointed US Secretary of State John Kerry has assured his opposite number in the Philippine government, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario, of “full cooperation in the salvaging of the USS Guardian as well as in the investigation of the grounding incident and that the US stands ready to fully and appropriately provide compensation for all damages” says the country’s information agency. Of particular note is the willingness of the US Navy to collaborate with Philippine investigators which may open the door to IMO compliant casualty investigations in the country.

Joint investigation of criminal charges are covered in the Visiting Forces Agreement, VFA, between the two countries. The entry of the USS Guardian into a restricted area was a breach of Philippine law. Under the VFA crimes committed by off-duty US military personnel in the Philippines come under the jurisdiction of the Philippines while crimes committed by on-duty personnel are under US jurisdiction. However, recent announcements by the Philippine Coast Guard that its investigation will comply with the non-liability provisions of the IMO Casualty Code may have enabled the US Navy to provide Philippine investigators access to shipboard personnel.

It will be the first investigation in the country carried out in compliance with the code.

Says Del Rosario: “One of the first things we discussed was the USS Guardian incident. We had a very frank discussion between friends. We both agreed on the importance of removing the USS Guardian from the reef without causing further damage,” Secretary del Rosario said, adding “Secretary Kerry reiterated the deep regret of the US government over the incident and its readiness to provide full and appropriate compensation.

“Secretary Kerry said that he himself wants to know and get to the bottom of what truly happened. In this context he said that he wants to be a full partner of the Philippines in finding out what happened and that the U.S. government will cooperate fully with the investigation that the Philippines is conducting,” Secretary del Rosario said, adding that this would include the willingness of the US to accept and answer queries posed by Philippine investigators to key US personnel.

According to Secretary del Rosario, Secretary Kerry is also committed to sharing the findings of the U.S. investigation and to consulting the Philippines and its experts before finalizing its investigation.

“We both agreed that it is important to understand what happened and to take the necessary navigational safety measures to protect the reef and that would prevent other ships from grounding there.”

Currently the Philippines has no official body of trained accident investigators which is complaint with the IMO Casualty Code. The country’s Board of Marine Inquiry, BMI, a quasi-judicial body, considers itself the sole agency authorised to carry out accident enquiries although the board has no professional investigators attached and is primarily concerned with establishing liability. Among potential stumbling blocks is that under current legislation any ‘competent court’ can demand access to data gathered during an investigation, including reports, with a view to establishing blame, which contravenes the IMO Code.

Efforts to establish an IMO compliant investigatory capability Philippines have been hamstrung by a BMI reluctance to have its authority diluted. Efforts to replace the BMI have been consistently blocked despite encouraging reports in 2011. However, the PCG investigation team operating within compliance is hoped to break the deadlock.

See Also

Surprising Development in USS Guardian – Philippines To Invoke IMO Casualty Code

USS Guardian And The Ghost Islands – Human Error Moved Reef

USS Guardian Not Warned Before Grounding

Lessons From The Guardian Grounding – Don’t Trust Charts

Princess Of The Stars – fixing the blame, but not the problem

Unhappy Christmas For Philippines Ferries

An Accidental Wind Of Change In The Philippines

Philippines To Abandon Board Of Marine Inquiry

 

Feb 052013
 
Battered USS Guardian may be first Philippine case under the IMO Code

Battered USS Guardian may be first Philippine case under the IMO Code

In what may be a promising step forward for maritime accident investigation in the Philippines the country’s coast guard is to follow the IMO code of casualty investigation for it’s enquiry into the grounding of the USS Guardian. This will be the first investigation to follow the IMO code and is particularly unusual because it involves a military vessel of a foreign power.

In the Official Gazette, a joint US/Philippine statement says: “The Philippine government stated that the Philippine Coast Guard had commenced its independent inquiry into the grounding of the USS Guardian. Upon receipt of information on the incident, the Philippine Coast Guard formed the Maritime Casualty Investigation Team (MCIT) in accordance with its standard procedures and resolutions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on serious maritime incidents to establish the circumstances and causes of the grounding on Tubbataha Reef and to formulate safety measures to prevent a repetition of this incident”.

This will be the first time that a case has been investigated under the IMO casualty code.

No agency in the Philippines is charged with conducting non-liability investigations. Although recent legislation, RA 9993, has been passed which mandates adherence to the IMO code, the regulations and rules have bogged down on the insistence by the Board of Marine Inquiry, BMI, a body established to assess liability, that it alone has the authority to carry investigations although it has no members professionally trained to do so and its aims conflict with the requirements of the IMO Code. Those involved in trying to bring the Philippines in line with international standards have expressed frustration at the slowness and lack of understanding of those tasked with implementing the new code.

Whether the MCIT will form the basis for an IMO-complaint body in the Philippines remains to be seen. The Philippine Coast Guard is a law-enforcement body so its independence is questionable, and there remains the issue of whether its finding can be passed to a court whose purpose is to establish liability, as required under current Philippine legislation but contrary to the IMO code.

Most importantly, if the IMO code is followed, the resulting report must be publicly available which is not a current requirement in the Philippines.

The international maritime investigation community, many of whom are barred by law from collaborating with a Philippine investigation will be watching closely.

See also:

Official Gazette

USS Guardian Not Warned Before Grounding

USS Guardian And The Ghost Islands – Human Error Moved Reef

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 192013
 

 

USS Guardian - thought the reef was eight nautical miles away

USS Guardian – thought the reef was eight nautical miles away

With a US Navy investigation underway to assess the circumstances surrounding the USS Guardian grounding that occurred in Philippine waters at 02.25 on 17 January local time there are lessons already to be learned: Charts are not infallible even if they are on screen and it is not wise to navigate to fine tolerances with the aid of GPS when the underlying data is less accurate than the GPS.

An inaccurate chart is not a defence – not bumping into bits of ground remains the master’s responsibility.

Much of the Philippine waters have not be surveyed for 50 years or more, an issue highlighted when the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior also grounded on Tubbataha Reef in 2005. The chart in use showed the reef 1.5 miles from where it actually was.

The digital chart aboard USS Guardian, an Avenger-class mine countermeasures vessel, showed a position about eight nautical miles in error. At the time of the grounding the vessel was attempting passage through a channel just half that width.

Many Philippine charts have not been re-surveyed in some 80 years. Transferring this aged data to an electronic chart does not increase its accuracy. The current NGA chart for Tubbataha reef appears to be the 1986 edition, based on Philippine charts of 1975 and earlier.

According to a source in the Philippine Coastguard “With the 1940 or 42 charts by NAMRIA, there might really be a problem with  that’s why we are advised to at least have a difference of Three nautical miles from the shoreline, we have to assume that there is one nautical miles changes in the chart already”.

NAMRIA tells Maritime Accident Casebook that the last hydrographic and topographic survey covering Tubbataha Reef was conducted in 2006 using single beam echosounder for the hydrographic data, 2008 is the latest hydrographic survey using multibeam echosounders. The chart was first published last May 2009 and the reef is marked as a restricted area on current charts.

On Friday, 18 January, the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, NGA provided the US Navy with preliminary findings of a review on Digital Nautical Charts (DNC) that contain inaccurate navigation data and may have been a factor in the Guardian grounding.

This followed the realisation by NGA that there might be a potential inaccuracy regarding the Tubbataha Reef digital chart. NGA has reviewed data from more than 150,000 square nautical miles in the surrounding area and found no additional errors.

The incident may also lead to a review of the $30m 2006 joint hydrographic survey agreement between the US Navy and the Philippines after nine years of negotiations. The project was to use advanced sonar technology to map shipping lanes, harbors, and ports throughout the Philippines. However an incident involving a Philippine Maritime Police Patrol vessel firing warning shots against a US Navy survey vessel in January 2008 led to US Navy surveys being restricted to within four nautical miles of the coast.

The project was expected to generate some $300m in commercial value.

Continue reading »

Nov 252011
 

Flawed safety systems led to a fatality in the UK

One Korean tourist has died and two hospitalised after a ‘banana boat’ inflatable collided with a motorised outrigger in the Mactan Channel, Cebu, Philippines. The driver of jet-ski towing the inflatable has been charged with ‘reckless imprudence resulting in homicide’.

Banana boat rides are a popular recreation worldwide but safety falls into a gray area, as noted by the UKs MAIB earlier this year. In the Philippines recreational watersports fall under local authorities, Lapu-Lapu City in the latest incident and are unlikely to be aware of  developements and recommendations elsewhere.

In the latest incident, the driver of the jetski was distracted by paying attention to riders on the inflatable. When he became aware of the approach of the other vessel it was too later to avoid the collision between the inflatable and the other vessel.

Two self-evident issues arise: the driver was required to divide his attention between the passengers on the inflatable and the safe navigation of the jetski. The MAIB recommends that an observer be on the towing vessel to monitor the passengers, thus allowing the driver to pay full attention to his task.

A second issue is that passengers should be required to wear safety helmets. This might have saved the life of the fatality.

Neither requirement is a provision in local authority regulations with regard to watersports.

See also:

Banana Boat Fatality – SMS “Flawed at every level”

Dec 282009
 

Three Philippine ferries came to grief in as many days starting on Christmas Eve. Dozens of lives lost in incidents that do not speak well of the nation that provides around 25 per cent of the world’s maritime manpower. With national elections scheduled for 2010 it is certain that the country’s politicians will leverage as much coverage as possible – personality and name recall win elections, not national issues and maritime safety, or lack of it, will not affect voters’ choices.

Hearings are being conducted in the legislature but it is unlikely that any new measures will make it through both the Senate and Congress before both go to the hustings. A far greater issue is the enforcement of existing laws and the need for a change of mindset.

Continue reading »

Sep 082009
 

Crew saved from grounded trawler
Lerwick lifeboat and a coastguard helicopter were dispatched to help the Banff-registered Serenity when she began taking on water.

Rush to avert fuel spill
The Times – Johannesburg,Gauteng,South Africa
The SA Maritime Safety Authority has asked salvors to prioritise the removal with waves crashing over the bow of the casualty ship, and while she rolled

Ship safety sinking, says cruise operator
Brisbane Times
The Brisbane party cruise operator from whose boat the missing Irishman Shane O’Halloran fell at the weekend claims industry regulator Maritime Safety

Aboitiz defies Marina order
Business Mirror
(ATSC) defied the government order grounding its passenger-cargo ships and continued plying its routes on Tuesday. The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina)

Continue reading »

Sep 062009
 

Hundreds rescued from sinking ferry in Philippines
Reuters AlertNet
The "Superferry 9" vessel was carrying about 960 passengers and crew when it set off from General Santos City, on the southern island of Mindanao,

Expert committee to investigate sunken ship case: Macedonian
Focus News
It is still early to identify the reasons for the accident, he said. He added that the ship had been registered in compliance with all standards and the

Four NL fishermen rescued after vessel burns, abandoning vessel
The Canadian Press
The accident happened yesterday about 134 kilometres east of the community on the island’s northeastern coast.

Continue reading »

May 012009
 

Got news? Know something others should? Email news@maritimeaccident.org

Search crew find missing oilman’s body
Upstream Online – Oslo,Oslo,Norway
It is believed Lindsay, who was not wearing survival gear, was carrying out routine checks on the
oil platform when he vanished sometime between midnight

Skipper dies after trawler sinks
Fish Update – Edinburgh,UK
THE Norwegian authorities are preparing to hold an investigation into the
sinking of a relatively modern Russian fishing vessel off their northern coastline

Sailor dies while working on ship’s drains
Stars and Stripes – Washington,DC,USA
By Erik Slavin, Stars and Stripes A sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis died Friday after being crushed while working on the
ship’s .

Authorities: Man injured when canister explodes
MiamiHerald.com – Miami,FL,USA
Authorities say a cruise
ship passenger was injured when a canister exploded, in one of two separate incidents at Port Everglades.

Murphys injured in car crash
Cape Cod Times – Hyannis,MA,USA
He had no other details of the
accident. Murphy, a 2001 graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, was supposed to be honored at this morning’s formation

Replica Chinese junk sinks one day from end of epic journey
Telegraph.co.uk – United Kingdom
Despite the
sinking, Mr Peng of the Chinese Maritime Development Society, said he believed the ship had “accomplished its mission”.

Trade vessel sinks at St. Kitts port
SKNVibes.com – Basseterre,St. Kitts and Nevis
SKNVibes spoke to Winston Hendrickson, Manager of the TDC Shipping Department, who said that he could not speak to a specific cause for the
accident at this

Teenage boy survives fatal boat accident by using his dead
Daily Mail – UK
Mr Che Hassan, southern regional commander of Malaysia’s
Maritime Enforcement Agency, said: ‘We are still trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle,

Helicopters grounded after two crashes in space of weeks
The Edinburgh Journal – Edinburgh,Scotland,UK
The ill-fated helicopter was carrying two crew members and fourteen
oil workers from a BP offshore oil rig. The most recent incident report from the Air

Oil & Gas UK Comments on AAIB Report into Helicopter
Apr 13, 2009 Oil & Gas UK Comments on AAIB Report into Helicopter Accident

Owner of Korean Commercial Cargo Vessel & Chief Engineer Plead Guilty to Marine Pollution Related Charges

WASHINGTON—STX Pan Ocean Co. Ltd. (STX), headquartered in Seoul, Korea, and the owner of the commercial cargo ship, M/V Ocean Jade, pleaded guilty to conspiracy as well as falsifying and failing to properly maintain records meant to ensure compliance with maritime pollution laws, the Justice Department announced. The chief engineer

Wrecked vessel’s crew wants investigation into sea strike
Honolulu Star-Bulletin – Honolulu,HI,USA
Stewart said that about 15 minutes before the
collision, the crew on watch noticed the freighter change direction and head toward the TaiPing.

Genco Shipping & Trading Limited Announces First Quarter 2009
PR Newswire (press release) – New York,NY,USA
As previously announced, the Genco Cavalier, a 2008-built Supramax
vessel, was involved in a minor collision caused by another vessel in its vicinity during

Survivors and crew of sunken BC ferry still seeking compensation
CBC.ca – Toronto,Ontario,Canada
(CBC) A BC Ferries worker who barely escaped the
sinking Queen of the North ferry says that after three years of struggling with mental and physical

Selendang Ayu Settlement
Alaska’s SuperStation – AK,USA
Four years ago the
ship became grounded and broke apart off of Unalaska Island. IMC Shipping, out of Singapore, has paid the state nearly 845-thousand

Brazil: a growing poaching presence
FIS.com (Registro) – Tokyo,Argentina
Incidents involving gun firings and even a
collision attempt directed by a Brazilian ship against a Uruguayan military ship have gone beyond the occasional

Piracy

JTF Kills 6 Militants, Frees Hijacked Vessel
THISDAY – Apapa,Lagos,Nigeria
He said they returned
fire, drowning six of the militants suspected to be members of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) in the process,

Walk the plank? No, gun the skiff

THE CREW of the box ship Boularibank found a novel way to repel Somali pirates, the vessel’s owner said today: tossing large planks of wood at them.

Canada’s release of pirates “nuts,” expert says
Globe and Mail – Canada
Canada is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which makes
piracy an international crime, formalizing maritime law that dates back

At former British prison, Somali pirates tell their side
McClatchy Washington Bureau – Washington,DC,USA
Five of those prisoners are serving 15-year terms for
piracy. |

Ship captain: Just arming crews won’t stop piracy
The Associated Press
Armed with knives and
fire hoses, Phillips and his crew of about 20 tried and initially failed to fight off a raid by young pirates armed with automatic

Armed Cruise Ship Security Team Fights Off Somali Pirates
InjuryBoard.com – Tampa,FL,USA
and he Israeli security guards opened fire with small arms. The pirates backed off but continued to follow the ship for about 20 minutes firing at it.

New pirate attacks on Italian ship
Ansa news in English – Rome,Rome,Italy
On Wednesday the
ship’s crew fended off another attack 300 miles south-east of Mogadishu after a small boat with seven pirates approached it and opened fire

Maersk to increase its ships’ precautions, but no guns
The Virginian-Pilot – Norfolk,VA,USA
Chalk said Maersk should continue having its ships transit through
maritime corridors where naval ships keep watch. But smaller shipping companies aren’t

Russians detain 29 suspected pirates
United Press International – USA
The would-be hijackers, armed with automatic weapons and grenade launchers, opened
fire on the vessel but were outmaneuvered, a company statement said.

Government studying other measures to protect seamen
Philippine Star – Manila,Philippines
The same circular also gives Filipino
seafarers the option to disembark if he feels any threat passing Somalia. But Roque said not a single seafarer opted

Filipino Seafarers Top Victims of Somali Pirates
Voice of America – USA
“Our experience has been that we have not had any
casualty from among those The International Maritime Bureau says pirate attacks off the Somali coast

Spanish navy arrests pirates
Monsters and Critics.com – USA
with security personnel returning fire. According to Campain Ciro Pinto, the ship was slightly damaged, but none of the passengers suffered any injures.

Aug 302008
 

While the report of Board Of Marine Inquiry, BMI, in the Philippines on the capsize of the Princess Of The Stars in a typhoon with the loss of more than 700 lives, has met its primary objective, establishing liability for the incident and recommending measures to be taken against those deemed at fault, how those recommendations will enhance safety remains open to question.

The report’s key recommendations are that the master’s licence should be revoked, since he is found liable for sailing in potentially unsafe conditions and that the Certificate of Public Convenience of the ship owner, Sulpicio Lines, should be withdrawn, theoretically.

Revoking Captain Florencio Marimon’s license is unlikely to contribute to safety, being almost certainly dead, along with the rest of the bridge team, he is not likely to need it. Sulpicio Lines accounts for around 40 per cent of interisland traffic, much of which is given to monopolies, and withdrawing its certificate of public convenience will do little more than open up a free-for-all by other ferries companies to take over Sulpicio’s routes. Some of those ferry companies have a worse safety record than Sulpicio.

The report makes no firm recommendations regarding safety issues. It makes no recommendation regarding the lashing of cargo. Movement of inadequately lashed cargo almost certainly made a major contribution to the listing and subsequent capsize of the vessel. No evidence is presented regarding the adequacy or inadequacy of the lashing arrangements.

Inadequate lashing of cargo is common element in maritime incidents in the Philippines.

The report does not consider in any depth changes made to the wagon deck, deck C, of the ferry. As originally designed, for vehicles, Deck C had no0 windows. A refurbishment adapted the deck for passengers, with non-watertight windows, and inadequate escape routes.

No firm recommendations are made regarding the watertight integrity of passenger spaces or emergency access.

The report does not consider the introduction of voyage data recorders, instruments that might allow monitoring of a vessel’s safety.

The report does not address the training of the crew in evacuation procedures or their familiarity with lifesaving appliances.

The report does not address the lack of GMDSS in the Philippines, the shortfall in emergency response or the lack of appropriate equipment or training to deal with a sadly common occurrence.

The report does not address the lack of appropriate procedures for the investigation of maritime casualties.

It does not address the ineffectiveness of regulation or enforcement.

It must be emphasised that the purpose of the BMI is merely to establish liability, so much that is not covered by the report is, in fact, not within its remit.

Most of all, it doesn’t address the issue of “where do we go from here?

The Philippines is not the only country without an adequate, safety-oriented maritime casualty investigation regime, nor the only one to cling to a concept rooted in a long-gone colonial past, and certainly not the only one to avoid its obligations to the International Maritime Organisation.

More than anything else it represents a model of the challenges faced in establishing competent, professionalised maritime accident investigation in much of the rest of the world.