Time Running Out For Philippine Safety Body

 legislation  Comments Off on Time Running Out For Philippine Safety Body
Sep 082009


With national elections due in 2010 proposals for a National Transportation Safety Board in the Philippines which would provide independent safety investigation of incidents like the Superferry 9 disaster seem unlikely to come to fruition after two years in committee.

Continue reading »

Maritime Safety & Security News – 25 June 2009

 Accident report, autopilot, Bridge Simulator, collision, news, piracy  Comments Off on Maritime Safety & Security News – 25 June 2009
Jun 252009

Seven S Korean cargo crew missing after ship collision | Article
Seven S. Korean cargo crew missing after ship collision. … find YON – Yonhap News Agency of Korea articles. INCHEON, March 10 (Yonhap)

Autopilot Malfunctions While Skipper Sleeps
BoatTEST.com – Stamford,CT,USA
Whidbey Island interrupted the much-needed sleep of four occupants of a 45 Tollycraft when it got in the way of the vessel traveling at 12 knots on

Princess: Damage assessment in wake of cruise ship fire will take
USA Today – USA
The ship had just left the port Thursday when the fire erupted and has since been anchored about five miles offshore, "The assessment process includes

Hong Kong – submarine cable works

The Hong Kong Marine Department issued a notice stating that, for approximately the next eight weeks, a vessel near the eastern boundary of Hong Kong waters will be installing protection works for a submarine cable and gas pipeline. Vessels transiting the vicinity are urged to navigate at slow speed and give a wide berth. Notice No. 82 of 2009

Slow boat to justice
Manila Standard Today – Philippines
One of them was the captain of the vessel, Florencio Marimon, who was reported missing after the sinking—even if persistent, Elvis-like accounts of

Sea Launch Co. files for Chapter 11 reorganization
The Associated Press
One of its major failures was a 2007 explosion just seconds after ignition that blew a 300-ton gas deflector off the self-propelled Odyssey launch platform.

Transas announces release of NTPRO 5000 navigational simulator
BYM News (press release) – Gibraltar,Spain
in new wave and interaction modelling along with new features of grounding, Graphic presentation of ship motion parameters enable advanced research


Pirates destroy Seychelles ship
Independent Online – Cape Town,Western Cape,South Africa
The seven crew members were released without the ship and they returned home on Tuesday. "We set fire to it three nights ago," said Abdullahi Qaaray,

Bid to Grant Immunity to Seafarers Who Kill Pirates
By Steve Gordon
Piracy has come into the US spotlight after the attacks in April on the Maersk Alabama and the Liberty Sun . Philip Shapiro, chief executive of Liberty Sun operator Liberty Maritime, has fuelled the debate over firearms, by calling on

Seacom Blames Piracy for Delay to Start-Up of Fiber-Optic Link
Bloomberg – USA
compared with 19 such assaults in the whole of 2008, according to a May 12 statement from the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre.

Maritime Safety/Security News – 17 June 2009

 Accident report, explosion, fire, news, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Maritime Safety/Security News – 17 June 2009
Jun 172009

Three missing after Vietnam oil ship explodes: Official
Times of India – India
“We have to wait until we can bring up the vessel, to understand why the explosion occurred,” Phi said. State-linked VNExpress news website said the ship,

French court scraps Senegal minister warrants over Joola disaster
Africasia – London,UK
In Senegal, several ministers and high-ranking military officers were fired after the accident and compensation offered to the victims’ families

Probe launched into sinking of tug
Aberdeen Press and Journal – Aberdeen,Scotland,UK
By Jamie Buchan SEA accident investigators have begun an inquiry into the sinking of a tug boat near a north-east harbour. The Dutch-registered Ysselstroom

Lady Mary divers float collision theory
In two dives on the vessel, which lies 210 feet down, they have taken several pictures and video showing damage they argue must have come from a collision.

Owner of ill-fated vessel sells another ship
Inquirer.net – Philippines
By Jhunnex Napallacan CEBU CITY, Philippines—Almost a year after the Princess of the Stars sinking, Sulpicio Lines Inc. (SLI) sold another of its ships,

12 overboard incidents on cruises in 2009
United Press International – USA
Yet Cruise industry officials, as well as industry critics, insist most overboard incidents typically do not involve a simple accident,

Shipping firms pay price for US visa restrictions
Lloyd’s List – London,UK
A TIME limit on seafarer stays mandated by their visas is causing operational difficulties to chemical carrier and lightering companies operating in the US


Seized ship with Lankans heads to Somalian coast
Australia.TO – Sydney,NSW,Australia
According to the state news agency Saba, at least four Yemeni fishermen have been killed this year when they have come under fire from international

Interpol compiling Somali piracy suspect database
The Associated Press
“Small skiffs will find it difficult to operate in these conditions,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director of the London-based International Maritime Bureau.

V.Ships’ Sea Owl aims to detect piracy threats – Lloydslist.com
By John McLaughlin
SHIPMANAGEMENT giant V.Ships has developed maritime threat-detection technology that it hopes to see deployed soon in the Gulf of Aden as a non-lethal response to pirates, writes John McLaughlin . Sea Owl was developed over two years

Maritime Safety News Today – 18th October 2008

 capsize, explosion, maritime safety, maritime safety news, piracy, Sinking  Comments Off on Maritime Safety News Today – 18th October 2008
Oct 192008

Cargo ship blows up at Southpoint
New Straits Times – Persekutuan,Malaysia
The blast is believed to have ripped open the bottom of the vessel, causing it to start sinking immediately. The fire department, marine police and the

Pirates Hijack 8 Nigerian Vessels
THISDAY – Apapa,Lagos,Nigeria
“We appeal to the Navy to allow the status quo to remain to enhance safety and marine activities to thrive,” she said. According to her, the immediate

Panama freighter in danger of sinking in Vietnam coastal
VietNamNet Bridge – Hanoi,Vietnam
The hope to rescue the ship has gone. A Vietnamese tanker is taking oil off the sinking ship. The Panama-flag New Oriental was carrying 11500 tons of iron

UK. Commercial fisherman prosecuted following collision
BYM News (press release) – Gibraltar,Spain
At a hearing today in Truro Magistrates Court, the owner/skipper of a small fishing vessel was successfully prosecuted following a collision off Falmouth on

(Update) Start of retrieval of bodies inside ‘Princess’ moved to
GMA news.tv – Quezon City,Metro Manila,Philippines
Still, he said Sulpicio Lines Inc., owner of the capsized ship, will send a vessel to the area. He also said retrieved remains will be brought to Cebu for

EU sues Britain over maritime safety
The European Commission decided Thursday to take Britain to court for failure to respect European Union (EU) legislation on ship-source pollution and on penalties for those responsible for polluting discharges.

IMO charts passage through choppy waters
AsiaOne – Singapore
The grim outlook was provided yesterday by the head of a global maritime body who was visiting Singapore. ‘We must acknowledge that since 2004,

EU states slow to ratify maritime laws
Lloyd’s List – London,UK
The same holds true for the EU’s own maritime safety laws. The European commission is constantly having to cajole and threaten member states with court .

Japan looks at sending anti-piracy ships to Somalia
Mareeg – London,England,UK
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso expressed a positive view Friday on the possibility of sending Maritime Self-Defence Force vessels to guard commercial

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

 accident reporting, capsize, IMO, maritime accidents  Comments Off on Princess Of The Stars – fixing the blame, but not the problem
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.

Princess Of The Stars – Dead Masters Can Speak Through VDRs

 accident reporting, capsize, Ferry, Filipino  Comments Off on Princess Of The Stars – Dead Masters Can Speak Through VDRs
Aug 092008

Not unexpectedly, the master of the Sulpicio Lines ferry Princess Of The Stars will be deemed liable by a Board Of Marine Inquiry for its capsize and sinking with the loss of 800 lives. All other factors such as inadequate lashing of the cargo, modifications which punched holes through what was once a wagon deck so that it could be used for passengers and which may have allowed her to take on water and lose her main engine power as she listed, the possible lack of guidance to the master in the company’s safety management system are merely contributory and those responsible for those actions/inactions are faultless because the master, in theory, has ultimate responsibility.

The finding has the significant advantage of blaming a man who can no longer speak for himself, short of a spiritualist – the master is among those who lost their lives, along with the rest of the officers on the bridge at the time. His fault was to depart at a time when a typhoon was entering the Philippines, the assumption being, apparently, that ships of the size of the Princess Of The Stars, around 24,000 tonnes, simply naturally capsize and sink in a storm.

The view of every master MAC has spoken to is that the Princess Of The Stars should have been able to survive the storm, if with some discomfort to its passengers. The forensic evidence to establish the mechanism by which she sank remains underwater and apparently unwanted.

Yet there is a way in which the master could have spoken to us post mortem – a voyage data recorder, VDR. A device similar in concept to the ‘black box’, actually bright orange, carried by every commercial passenger aircraft in the Philippines. Earlier this year, following the sinking of the ferry Queen Of The North, which was not so equipped, the Canadian maritime authorities mandated that every ferry must be equipped with VDR.

So should the Philippines.

The VDR would have revealed what was actually said during radio traffic, discussions between the bridge team and what was showing on the instruments available to the bridge team, and whether those instruments were actually working.

It would tell us much that we need to know in order to learn the lessons needed to avoid similar incidents in the future, which is the aim of maritime investigation.

Through that device we would understand better the nature of the decisions made by the master. He could have spoken to us through it. It would have empowered the BMI, MARINA – the Philippine Maritime authority – and the Philippine Coastguard to do their jobs of making Philippine seas safer.

Despite hours of debate, however, VDR, possibly the greatest contribution to objective maritime accident investigation in the Philippines has yet to be mentioned.

In Philippine waters? Keep your cellphone on

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on In Philippine waters? Keep your cellphone on
Jul 292008

Local reports in the Philippines quote Philippine Coastguard officials rely on cellphones and text messages to get the co-ordinates of ships in trouble because they don’t have the capability of receiving EPIRB signals.

Writing in the Philippine Inquirer, a report by Leila Salaverria quotes Emelson Morales, safety officer of Sulpicio Lines, owner of the ferry Princess Of The Stars which capsized in June with the loss of 800 passengers and crew, “”As far as I know, the Philippine authorities have no capability to get the signal from EPIRB. Sometimes we ask, what’s the need for this EPIRB? You’re better off texting your coordinates, get it through your GPS.”

Princess Of The Stars was equipped with an EPIRB which did not activate during the incident and as far as is known no efforts have been made to locate it on the inverted wreck to determine whether or not it was activated and deployed. While it may have activated automatically as the vessel capsized it is unlikely that its signal could be received if it is still aboard the ship and under water.

Although Morales is quoted as suggesting that the EPIRB may have been disabled by damage subsained by storm winds causing it to hit a wall, “That’s the only way for it not to send a signal because it’s automatic,” he says, the majority of EPIRB failures are due to poor maintenance, in particular the battery.

Morales also believed that the ship’s medium frequency, high frequency, VHF and two-way radio equipment antennae were damaged by the storm winds and so couldn’t be used for emergency communications. Only a single side-band radio and a cellphone were used when the ship ran into trouble.

The Philippine Coastguard is poorly equipped for emergencies. No GMDSS station is currently functioning in the archipelago and it is not equipped to receive DSC.  A spokeman for the Philippine Coastguard, PCG, Lieutenant Armand Balilo, is cited as saying that the PCG itself only has VHF and HF radios. It has some 108 VHF AND 78 HF radios to cover more than 7,000 islands, sixteen more VHF radios are not functioning, and PCG relies to cellphones.

So if you’re passing through the Philippines make sure your cellphone is handy, charged and loaded

Fear Of Ferry Royals

 accident reporting  Comments Off on Fear Of Ferry Royals
Jul 222008

By coincidence, this week could be dubbed ‘Ferry Cropper Week”. In the Philippines the Board of Marine Inquiry is to release its report on the sinking of the Sulpicio Line’s ferry Princess Of The Stars, which cost more than 700 lives, while the US National Transportation Safety Board is to release its report of the grounding of the sternwheeler Empress of the North.

Since we’re talking of ferries let’s add the Queen of the North report released by Canada’s Transport Safety Board earlier this year.

The Queen of the North grounding and sinking took two years of investigations which included recovery of physical evidence such as computer hard drives from the ship’s bridge and recording of radio traffic, and video from ROV examination of the sunken vessel. The report is backed up by a video simulation of the vessel’s voyage and sinking.

Investigating the Empress of the North grounding has taken a little over a year. It, too, will involve the examination of physical evidence.

The Philippines BMI has taken around one month, has taken statements from some 28 persons, including two seafarers who were travelling on the ferry as passengers, but neither asked for nor secured physical evidence as to how the vessel capsized, took on water and capsized.

There was certainly the opportunity to gather physical and photographic evidence from the Princess of the Stars. Divers went aboard her to photograph the faces of the dead in a misguided attempt to have them identified by relatives seeking their lost. The project was stopped following advice that the photographs would not be useful in identification and would have been disturbing those those trying to discover whether their loved ones were alive or dead.

That photographic equipment could have been put to good use in the cargo hold, where cargo is said to have shifted in the storm and caused the ship to list. They might have been useful in the area of the rear ro-ro ramp.

Divers were taken off the vessel following the discovery of a highly toxic cargo of endosulfan in a container but an examination could have been done using ROVs, which certainly are available in the Philippines.

Much might have been learned by simulating the last voyage of the Princess of the Stars in a bridge simulator, of which there are several in Manila, another in Cebu, and three in Subic Bay. It woiuld have provided a fairly accurate representation of conditions at the time, far more accurate that witness testimony – only witness in the BMI inquiry, for instance, correctly identified the ship’s list as to port, everyone else recalled it as starboard.

An engineering simulation of the forces acting upon the ship, something which might have been done at University of the Philippines, would, too, have told us much about the mechanics of the capsize and sinking.

Given the time the BMI has taken, and the lack of substantive investigation and forensic techniques, sadly it can be little more than a superficial exercise, no matter how well meaning the intent of those comprising the board.

There are very meaningful differences between the BMI and those agencies which investigated the Empress of the North and the Queen of the North incidents. These last incidents were investigated by full time agencies of relative independence, manned by professional, trained, qualified maritime casualty investigators. The Philippines has no such agency.

Determining the underlying, root, cause of an incident and addressing it will save more lives than determining who is at fault.

What is needed is a professionalised agency whose investigation is solely concerned with the safety aspects of an incident, who can interview witnesses without them having the sword of liability hanging over them, and with the capability to gather forensic evidence, and whose reports are publicly available on the internet.

While such an agency’s investigations must, as a matter of safety, take precedence over other investigations its recommendations do not need the force of law, they have the force of public embarrassment – a ferry company that doesn’t implement recommendations made to it will certainly be grist for the media mill.

Liability should be determined solely by the courts with the force of law behind them. Boards of Marine Inquiry, or their equivalent, have largely been abandoned around the world and the Philippines should follow suit.

The BMI’s function of establishing liability would be better replaced by an Admiralty court under the Supreme Court, with specialist judges and attorneys trained in maritime law.

Given the strategic economic and social importance of the domestic shipping industry in the Philippines, it’s difficult to argue against such changes.

Maritime Safety News Today – 19th July 2008

 accident reporting, AMSA, capsize, classification, collision, Sinking  Comments Off on Maritime Safety News Today – 19th July 2008
Jul 192008

19 July

Mersey chemical spill contained
ABC Online – Australia
The Environment Department and the Fire Service were called early this afternoon, after a container on the ship, Searoad Mersey, spilled about 500 litres of

Seamec vessel damaged in accident
Equity Bulls – Chennai,Tamil Nadu,India
Mexico with effect from July 08, 2008, that The vessel while operating at offshore Carmen Mexico, subjected to an accident on July 16, 2008 coming into .

Captain of doomed ship convicted of five charges
Shawn Ralph, captain of the ill-fated Melina and Keith II, was convicted Friday of five of the eight charges he was facing in connection with the sinking. The 65-foot vessel
capsized and sank off Cape Bonavista, NL.

Nigeria: Accident – APM Terminal Gets Foreign Experts
AllAfrica.com – Washington,USA
Mr. Michael Land Hansen said the accident occurred as the Boom of the one of the cranes missed its target while discharging cargo from a vessel.

Salvage tug to rescue stranded cargo ship
The West Australian – Perth,Western Australia,Australia
The Department for Planning and Infrastructure, the Albany Port Authority and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) are coordinating the salvage

Croatian master guilty of drug running
Lloyd’s List – London,UK
A  Croatian reefer master has been convicted by a Greek court of trafficking drugs, in a case that is sure to prompt fresh debate over how seafarers

Gov’t offers bonus to salvage firm if it gets toxic chemical out
ABS CBN News – Philippines
Bautista said retrieval operations should start immediately before the fuel and pesticides leak from the vessel and cause environmental havoc in the area.

Lack of response to Somalia piracy ‘threatens famine’
InTheNews.co.uk – London,UK
The Ministry of Defence added that Britain “has a longstanding commitment to maritime security in the region”, explaining: “The question of any UK naval .

Job Vacancy: Christian couple needed at Falkland Islands Seamen’s
Independent Catholic News – London,UK
Lighthouse Seamen’s Centre – a café/mission complex run for seafarers, fishermen and the local community of the Falkland Islands, in the South Atlantic. .

toxic waste,Princess of the Stars,Philippines,Sulpicio Lines,Titan Salvage,Melina,Keioth II,Sinking,piracy,Seamec,famine,APM,Nigeria,crane boom,Searoad Mersey,Mersey River,chemcal spill,seafarers,seamen,drugs,