Mar 072008

North of England P&I club,NEPIA, reports that container damage and loss continues to be a problem on container ships.

‘Container losses and collapsed stows in heavy weather continue to occur,’ says the club’s head of loss-prevention Tony Baker. ‘Such weather is not altogether unexpected and it has highlighted a number of areas of poor practice that need to be rectified if the industry is to keep a lid on spiralling claims costs.’

Container claims can be particularly expensive. In 2006/7 North of England reported 16 cargo claims estimated in excess of US$1 million; only two related to container losses but these accounted for 30% of the total value.

Baker says there are four principal factors behind recent incidents: failure of automatic twist-locks in lashing systems; failure to stow and secure containers in accordance with the ship’s cargo securing manual; mis-declared overweight containers; and failure to anticipate and minimise the effect of heavy weather.

‘All of these factors can be resolved if shipowners and their officers take a more diligent approach to stowing and securing containers,’ says Baker. ‘Problems with fully automatic twist-locks are well-documented and stack heights should be reduced or heavy weather avoided until suspect equipment is replaced. If heavy or high-cube containers form part of the mix, there shouldn’t be a problem if stowage and lashing is done in accordance with the cargo securing manual. Making proper use of the ship’s planning software, and understanding any shortcomings, is also crucial.

‘Mis-declared overweight containers may be spotted by crane strain gauges and can possibly be prevented by closer shore-side monitoring of container stuffing. And finally, with the extent and increased accuracy of weather information and weather-routeing systems today, it should be possible for container-ship masters to amend voyage plans to minimise the effect of heavy weather,’ he says.

Beware Bouncing Bollards

 mooring  Comments Off on Beware Bouncing Bollards
Feb 192008

The last thing you want is a few kilos of cast iron bouncing off your skull, so take note of this safety flash from the Marine Safety Forum:

While alongside Peterhead South base, a vessel deployed an extra line due to concerns
over swell. The breast line was rigged in the form of a 2-fold purchase going from ship to
quay twice. This gave the rope a resultant breaking strain of 4 to 1.

The shortness of the line allowed no elasticity and as a shock load came onto the line due
to the vessel rolling, the bollard casting split in half catapulting the horn section over the
barrier onto the main deck. The impact on the deck broke two deck timbers. It then
bounced and hit the offside safe haven bulkhead and finally came to rest a further 10-15
metres down the deck. During this time, there was a member of the vessel’s crew
standing on the deck.

Hazards Identified:

• High potential for serious injury/fatality
• Damage to equipment

Actions Taken:
• Risk assess the weak link in systems (by doubling up the line, the bollard
became the weak link)

• Carefully assess mooring systems, in particular the deployment of breast lines
on short nips

• Vessel crew to ensure that the vessel is moored safely and continuous checks
carried out

 Posted by at 09:27  Tagged with: ,

Contractors Working on Board

 maritime safety news, ship accident  Comments Off on Contractors Working on Board
Feb 022008

Also from the MSF

Contractors Working on Board
A serious incident occurred while a maintenance contractor was using a gantry crane above a ship’s main engine.

The crane track was fitted with removable end stop pins which allowed the tracks to be arranged in different configurations. The contractor failed to fit the stop pin correctly and this allowed the crane to roll off the end of the track, trapping his hand and causing serious injury. The direct cause of the incident was identified as incorrect fitting of the stop pin.

The investigation has highlighted the need to ensure that contractors are adequately controlled and monitored whilst working on vessels. The first step in the process is to ensure that the selected contractors are competent to carry out the work required. It is essential that correct procedures are followed, ensuring that proper contractor familiarisation is provided in accordance with the company’s safety management procedures and that the Authority to Work and Permit to Work documentation is completed as required. Risk assessments must be completed and safe systems of work established and agreed before work is allowed to commence.

A further issue which must be borne in mind is that where a contractor is using ship’s equipment, it must be ensured that the equipment is suitable for the purpose for which it is intended, is properly maintained and that the contractor is adequately instructed in its operation before use.

Dec 032007

John Clandillon-Baker at UK Pilot Magazine sent me a link to the collision/allision between the general cargo ship Karen Danielsen and the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark that’s very timely given the call for ships to obey VTS Operators in the same way that aircraft obey air traffic controllers. In this case the Croatian Chief Officer fell asleep alone on the ship’s bridge and sadly died in the incident. The area was covered by a VTS system but, at the critical moments, the VTS operator was distracted and didn’t know the ship had hit the bridge until he heard a Mayday on the VHF.

Karen Danielsen

The Karen Danielsen before… 

KD Bridge
This was the bridge

Karen Danielsen after

…and after. The Chief Officer, the single watchkeeper on the bridge, died. 

The official report concludes that VTS could not have prevented the collision. John’s magazine article says: “In my opinion there is a bit of whitewash over the finding that the VTS could probably not have prevented this disaster since the investigators have seemingly revealed that no operators were monitoring shipping on the relevant display for over 30 minutes. If it is considered unlikely that the operator could have prevented the collision even if he had been keenly monitoring the ship it does rather beg the question why bother with having the VTS and expensively manning it since it is seemingly not fit for purpose?

“One common factor amongst all the VTS centres that I have visited is that VTS operators are allocated many administrative duties which inevitably distract the VTS operator from monitoring the displays. If the procedural changes introduced in the Danish Belt centre following the collision were implemented as general VTS policy the increase in manpower required to separately cover the administrative functions could have a significant impact on cost effectiveness of VTS.

You can read his article here.

An otherwise occupied VTS operator also played a role in the grounding of the P&O-Nedlloyd Magellan in Southampton Water, as mentioned in a previous post.

Despite the inevitable howls of protest and indignation from the industry the paradigm shift from VTS as advisers to VTS as controllers is sure to come. It will probably be the biggest change since VTS system began in Liverpool in 1948. Clearly, those who manage VTS will have to pull their socks up, too.

One issue that tends to be overshadowed in the Karen Danielsen case is fatigue. The Chief Officer had been working for 11 hours, taking breaks only for meals. As it happens, new crew had joined the ship on the day of the collision. None were involved in the accident but john has some forceful comments about how they joined the ship:

“…investigators noted a disturbing factor around how crew changes are now undertaken in total contravention of the Working Time Directive which results in ships’s personnel joining the vessel in an already extremely fatigued state. The report notes:

The 2nd officer together with four other new crew members joined the vessel around 1000 hours on 3 March 2005 after travelling by mini-bus from Split in Croatia to Svendborg, in Denmark. This was a direct drive of 26 hours, they were accompanied by two drivers and a crew manager from the manning agency. Upon arrival at the ship they went through their respective handovers and the departing crew members left to return to Croatia with the same mini-bus shortly after 1400 hours on 3 March. The joining crew went straight on duty upon arrival at the vessel.

Due to the busy work schedule planned for the 3rd March, all on board, both existing and newly joined crew worked throughout the day on the 3 March 2005.

I understand that this appalling disregard of the ‘Human Element’ is apparently now common practice as a means of saving the cost of hotel bills and air fares.

Says it all, really.

Container crush – disturbing image.

 container accident, crushing accident  Comments Off on Container crush – disturbing image.
Nov 192007

The following photo is a disturbing image and we gave considerable thought to whether or not its publication would serve a useful purpose.  It’s from the Blue Oceana website and tells more than any official report possibly could of the need to be safety conscious around containers. It is from an accident in Malaysia in 2005. As the Blue Oceana makes clear, it’s a continuing problem.