Stuffers Put The “Con” In Container

 container accident, containership  Comments Off on Stuffers Put The “Con” In Container
Apr 112011

MSC Napoli: Stuffed by the stuffers

Overweight containers continue to present a hazard to seafarers and their ships long after the problem was brought out into open when MSC Napoli foundered. Crass excuses continue to made for what BIMCO’s Watchkeeper calls “cavalier behaviour that remains unacceptable” and what MAC would describe as venial greed.

In his latest article Watchkeeper cites a case from the Nautical Institute’s Mariners’ Alerting and Reporting Scheme:

Aboard what was described as a “large” container ship loading at its final port before an oceanic voyage, it was determined by the vessel that there had been “substantial under-declaration” in the manifested container weights being loaded at this port, which was later estimated to average out over the 350 boxes loaded at 12%. Because of this, the ship was judged to be in serious danger of grounding in the draught restricted channel on the way to the open sea.

At the last minute some 850 tons of ballast were temporarily discharged from the vessel’s heeling tanks to enable the ship to sail safely. But it was also discovered that stack weight limits had been exceeded in many of the deck stacks, as so many of these overweight containers had been loaded on the deck stowage“.

Those stuffing these containers are uninterested in the effect this overage will have on the vessel’s arrangements and terminals are reluctant to play their part in resolving it, fearing, possibly, the loss of business to more forgiving ports with less concern for the welfare of ships and their crew.

Says Watchkeeper:

…all too often container terminals seem unable or unwilling to make an issue about overweight boxes, even when these are discovered at the gate or in the terminal. Insufficient effort is made in many countries to persuade those stuffing containers that weights can be critical and should not be exceeded. But all too often the attitude of those who have hired the container is that they can keep loading it until the doors are just able to close. It is just not good enough in 2011.


Read Watchkeeper

Relevant podcasts:

The Case Of The Bendy Boxer

Relevant Posts:

Dodgy Containers Put Masters, Shipowners At Sea

MAIB: Boxer Missed Opportunity “Regrettable”

Napoli – And There She Was Gone

Container Scams Endanger Seafarers

Napoli – Time To Box Clever

Container Shifters To Get Bloody Knuckles For Napoli Grounding?

MAIB hits container dangers

MAIB Report On The Napoli

MAIB Report On The Annabella

Napoli Fights On

 accident reporting, MAIB  Comments Off on Napoli Fights On
Sep 182008

She’s bowed, she’s bent, she’s broken but MSC Napoli, subject of The Case Of The Bendy Boxer, seems unwilling to vanish off the face of the planet, or, at least, Branscombe Beach. Once again, weather is coming to the aid of her remains and salvors are suspending operations until spring 2009, two years after her hull cracked in a storm causing her to be beached in January 2007.

To date, 2,800 tonnes of the aft section have been successfully removed, but the remaining section is heavily constructed and proving difficult to dismantle. The engine itself weighs about 1,400 tonnes and partially remains in place. The vessels location and exposure to the elements has about helped salvage activities. There is also an estimated 3,000 tonnes of silt and clay trapped inside the ship and adding substantial weight to the overall structure.

Hugh Shaw, UK Secretary of States Representative, has decided to suspend salvage operations for the remaining stern section of the vessel due to the onset of autumn storms. Says Shaw: “The decision to suspend salvage operations for the `MSC Napoli was necessary to lessen the risks that the onset of harsher autumnal weather would have presented to the safety of the salvors involved, and the local environment. The conditions under which salvors are operating are now becoming increasingly treacherous. During the initial incident no lives were no lost, and my aim is to lessen the risks to anyone involved in the operation during this final phase.”

The suspension will also give the opportunity to look at mobilising specialised equipment to remove the rest of the vessel, in particular its engine. Such equipment is not likely to be available until spring next year.

A Temporary Exclusion Zone (TEZ) of 500 metres remains in place. In addition and prior to the suspension of salvage operations, navigational marks will be deployed around the wreck. Additional counter pollution response measures including personnel and equipment remains in place. Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveillance flights will continue to patrol the area on a regular basis.


The Case Of The Bendy Boxer

Relevant Posts

Praiseworthy MSC Napoli Crew Knew The Drill

MAIB hits container dangers

Container Shifters To Get Bloody Knuckles For Napoli Grounding?

Odd Story – How Napoleonic Shipbuilders And Zulu Bible Thumpers Gave Somerset Cider the Napoli Spirit

Napoli – Time To Box Clever

Article Of Note: Container Scams Endanger Seafarers

Napoli Investigation “close to completion”

Praiseworthy MSC Napoli Crew Knew The Drill

 grounding, lifeboat, maritime accidents  Comments Off on Praiseworthy MSC Napoli Crew Knew The Drill
Apr 222008

We’ll be covering the MAIB’s 56 page and two annexe MSC Napoli report in more depth anon but a footnote got our immediate attention:

“It was evident during the investigation that the master had placed a great deal of emphasis on the importance of safety drills and the maintenance of lifesaving equipment, and that the preparation and lowering of lifeboats had been well-practiced in accordance with company policy.”

No-one was hurt during the evacuation from the ship, and that may be owed to the seriousness with which the master took safety procedures and drills.

The abandon ship did not go without a hitch, “the crewman sitting nearest the forward painter release could not pull the release pin sufficiently far to allow the painter to disengage. He was squeezed between two other crew and his movement was restricted by his immersion suit. The painter was eventually cut by the chief engineer, who had a knife, and was able to reach the painter via the lifeboat’s forward hatch.”

Conditions in the lifeboat were far from easy: “The motion of the lifeboat was violent and the atmosphere in the lifeboat was very uncomfortable; all of the crew suffered from sea sickness. Although the lifeboat was certified to accommodate up to 32 persons, the 26 crew wearing immersion suits and lifejackets were very cramped. They were very warm and several felt faint and de-hydrated. The situation became more tolerable after the crew cut off the gloves from their immersion suits with the chief engineer’s knife. This allowed them to use their hands more effectively, and they were able to drink from plastic drinking water bottles
they had brought with them.”

Says the MAIB report: “The abandonment of a vessel in any conditions is problematic. Therefore, the abandonment and successful recovery of the 26 crew from MSC Napoli, in the severe conditions experienced, is praiseworthy. By the time the master arrived at the lifeboat embarkation position, the crew were on board and wearing immersion suits and lifejackets, the engine was running, extra water had been stowed on board, and VHF radios, SARTs and the EPIRB were ready for use. Despite the vessel rolling heavily, the enclosed lifeboat was lowered without incident and then manoeuvred clear of the stricken vessel. Although there were a number of practical issues that should be noted, this successful abandonment clearly demonstrates the importance and value of regular maintenance and drills.”

Sadly, drills are often carried out for the sake of filling in bits of paper, and sometimes not at all, but drills are a pretty good insurance policy.

Container Shifters To Get Bloody Knuckles For Napoli Grounding?

 grounding  Comments Off on Container Shifters To Get Bloody Knuckles For Napoli Grounding?
Apr 162008

Whatever the details of the UK’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch report on the 18th January 2007 structural failure and grounding of the MSC Napoli, scheduled for release on 22nd April, the container industry can expect to be walking around with painfully rapped knuckles for sometime afterwards. The size of the investigation and the importance that the MAIB places on it can be judged by the fact that 8m euro, around $13m, is understood to have been spent on computer simulation alone. Last September saw the first shot across the industry’s bows with the release of the MAIB’s report on the February 2007 Annabella incident in the Baltic in which several containers in a stack collapsed during heavy weather with damage to three containers carrying a hazardous cargo, butylene gas. The usually restrained MAIB forcefully called for a code of practice for the industry to prevent further disasters: “(Napoli and Annabella) identify a compelling need for a code of practice for the container shipping industry”. That call is likely to be reiterated with even greater force in the Napoli report itself. Early this year a MAIB official told MAC: “The investigation has been complex and has required in-depth research in several areas including the vessel’s structure and container vessel operation.” These incidents are far from new. MAIB itself investigated similar issues surrounding a stack collapse, and leakage of a tank of hazardous material, in 2001. In 2006 at least 300 containers were lost in a half dozen incident in European waters and some estimated put the worldwide level of losses at 10,000 teu. It is expected that the report will, in part, focus on how the speed of container operations has outstripped the speed of communications between the various parts of the transport chain, leading to the loss of control of stacking operations due to poor information flow between shippers, planners, the loading terminal and the ship itself arising from the ‘need for speed’. Container accidents are expensive. According to the North of England P&I Club, of 16 cargo claims in 2007/2007 only two involved containers but those two accounted for 30 per cent of the $1m losses. Many of the increasing number of container-related claims occur in heavy weather. “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.” 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. Another issue that may be explored in the MAIB report is the lack of knowledge about the dynamic forces affecting container lashing systems. There has been little study of how the real-world compares to computer models and how they are affected by ship design. Marin, the Netherlands Maritime Institute, has a two-year ongoing study, Lashings@Sea, supported by eight ship owners, three lashing suppliers, three class societies and the Dutch Department of Transport. At the moment, is seems, nobody really knows quite what’s going on when heavy seas and containerships get together at a time when the pressure is on to reduce lashing to cut turnaround times and costs. Of concern also is that the rise in container accidents appears to parallel the introduction of fully automated locks, International Standards Organisation standards have not kept pace with the development of FAL systems, and destandardisation of container sizes have added more complexity to the mix. Of course, the real question isn’t what the MAIB will say, it will certainly run along the lines of “get your act together”. The real question is whether anyone will be listening.

MAIB hits container dangers

Container Crunch Too Much

Odd Story – How Napoleonic Shipbuilders And Zulu Bible Thumpers Gave Somerset Cider the Napoli Spirit