Ebola and Seafarers: A Cause For Concern

 maritime safety news  Comments Off on Ebola and Seafarers: A Cause For Concern
Aug 042014



Ebola symptoms. Click for larger image. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Many of today’s seafarers come from countries where healthcare facilities are limited and may be unable to handle an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease, which has already killed almost 900 people in West Africa.  Three global shipping organisations have expressed concern about the potential exposure of ship’s crews  to the disease and have issued joint guidelines to their members on the risks posed in countries affected by the Ebola virus.

Ebola emerged in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The present outbreak has struck Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There is no cure and treatment largely consists of mitigating he symptoms (See graphic). Nine out of ten people infected die. Continue reading »

Fishermen Prefer Death To Lifejackets

 fishing, lifejacket, Man Overboard, NTSB  Comments Off on Fishermen Prefer Death To Lifejackets
Oct 062010

Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch. Seafarers prefer death to lifejackets.

Not so coincidental, perhaps, with the US National Transportation Safety Board’s upcoming forum on fishing vessel safety is a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, Commercial Fishing Deaths—United States, 2000-2009, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It may, at first sight, seem odd that a disease prevention agency should be involved in fishing accidents but, then, the refusal to wear a lifejacket is a disease, and an apparently incurable one, in the US as it is in the UK.

Continue reading »

Sep 262010

A new resource to advance the legal protection of seafarers across the world has been launched: Seafarers’ Rights International.

Inaugurated at the International Maritime Organization , Seafarers’ Rights International is a centre for research and analysis that will raise awareness of seafarers’ legal concerns. It will work to ensure that the protection afforded to seafarers through national and international laws is improved.

Funded by a start-up grant from the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, the centre, which will be based at ITF headquarters in London, UK, is an independent organisation. It will carry out a number of tasks including: research on strategic topics, monitor legal developments affecting seafarers’ law, and coordinate and participate in cross-border networks of researchers, research bodies and universities. Other activities include: promoting educational activities and delivering legal training and consultancy.

Continue reading »

Swine Flu Advisory

 seaman  Comments Off on Swine Flu Advisory
May 022009

London P&I Club has alerted its members on the Swine Flu situation. Swine Flu may not be as deadly as first appeared but responses to it will affect shipping and seafarers. The UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency has also  issued guidelines advising masters to take seafarers suspected of having contracted the disease off duty and treat them aboard ship.

THE United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO) is co-ordinating the response to the potential pandemic of influenza A (H1N1), which is often referred to as “pig flu” or “swine flu”.

In addition to Mexico, where the outbreak began, cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Austria, Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. Deaths have been confirmed in Mexico and the US. Moreover, suspected cases are being investigated in many countries including, Australia, Brazil, Guatemala, Peru, South Africa and South Korea.

The early symptoms of “swine flu” are said to be similar to the more common type of influenza (fever, head ache, chills, sore throat etc) but the WHO is concerned about the relatively high mortality rates of those infected with the influenza A (H1N1) virus.

The WHO has produced the attached interim guidance on infection prevention and control, which they has emphasised may be revised as their understanding of the virus develops.

WHO’s dedicated website can be accessed here.

Danish Seafarers Get Terror Compensation

 hostages  Comments Off on Danish Seafarers Get Terror Compensation
May 022009

Denmark’s Parliament has passed legislation providing cover for persons injured in connection with acts of terrorism. The Act covers seafarers on Danish-flagged vessels and ownesr of the vessels.

The cover will not only apply to persons employed by the company that was the target of the attack, but everyone affected by an act of terrorism while at work, such as persons employed by neighbouring companies who are also affected.

The insurance scheme is based on the principles of the Act on Industrial Injury Insurance. Consequently, the Danish National Board of Industrial Injuries will assess the cases and pay compensation on behalf of the State.

If persons are injured who have, due to the nature of their work, a special risk of being affected by a terror attack, the National Board of Industrial Injuries can, on behalf of the State, subsequently require the expenses to be paid by the employer’s insurance company.

This is the case if, for example, security guards, policemen, rescue workers, doctors and nurses are injured who are sent to locations where acts of terrorism have taken place in order to render assistance or restore peace and order.

In addition, the scheme applies to journalists, photographers and employees sent to countries where attacks of a terror-related nature pose a risk as well as to seafarers on board Danish ships engaged on voyages where there is a special risk of acts of terrorism.

The insurance scheme only covers persons who are injured while at work. Persons who are not at work, but who are nevertheless injured in acts of terrorism can receive compensation in accordance with the provisions of the Act on Compensation for Victims.

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


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.

Give Me Your Huddled Seafarers, Yearning To Be Free…

 maritime accidents  Comments Off on Give Me Your Huddled Seafarers, Yearning To Be Free…
Oct 262008

Crew morale is a safety issue so efforts being made by the US National Maritime Security Committee, NMSAC, are to be welcomed. Present restrictions which effectively prevent non-US seafarers from having shore leave in US ports are by any measure, except xenophobic paranoia, unreasonably restrictive and onerous to those who have spend weeks or months huddled in the confines of a ship, people upon whom the United States depends for its existence.

Currently, the only sure way to get shore access in the US is to hit a bridge.

NMSAC’s blog gives rundown on what it regards as “One of the more sensitive issues that NMSAC has been working on”. Says the blogger “As a former Merchant Officer, I can tell you that getting off the boat for a few hours is a huge deal to most sailors. Even if it’s to go to Wal Mart to get a new tooth brush, getting a change of scenery does much for crew morale.”

Currentlky, Some facility owners and operators have established security measures that essentially bar access to any persons not vetted by them, including seafarers seeking access to shore leave. Others have established a system of escort and transportation through the facility with the cost of this service being billed directly to the individual seafarer. So, freedom isn’t free in a US port.

An NMSAC working group is looking at the issues. On physical access to the port and surrounding areas, the committee says: “Physical access issues arise through inconsistent interpretation of regulations and weak support from the Coast Guard for the intent of the human element provisions of the ISPS Code – specifically, paragraphs 10 and 11 of the Preamble and Part A, Section 16.3.15. The Working Group found that physical access issues must be resolved through the Coast Guard and terminal operators.”

It has also looked at documentation issues: “Seafarers’ documentation issues arise through the immigration policies of the federal government. For example, the arrivals and departures of air crews in the United States are governed by the same laws that apply to seafarers. However, air crew members may receive a waiver of the visa requirements for short stays. This is generally not done for seafarers. Seafarers’ documentation issues must be resolved through action by Customs and Border Protection and the Department of State.”

In other words, inconsistent application of the ISPS code, turning a blind-eye to those provisions applying to the treatment of seafarers, inequitable treatment of seafarers versus aircrew even though the same rules apply, conspire to make life even harder and more unfair for seafarers.

The committee recommends that the CG require each facility provide unencumbered access for seafarers by requiring that every port facility security plan facilitate shore leave, crew changes, and access for visitors. Any costs for facilitating such access are a matter for the port facility.”

It also wants to “look at legal authority to force facilities to provide access to shore leave.”

MAC suspects that the chances of the Department of Homeland Security giving the nod to fair treatment of seafarers are minimal. Possibly there should be recommendation to establish a main US port of entry at Guatanamo Bay.

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,

Watch Out For Bad Air Mozzies

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Watch Out For Bad Air Mozzies
May 282008

“too many seafarers are unaware that malaria is serious and potentially fatal; the real risk for seafarers is often miscalculated; seafarers are not familiar with the signs and symptoms of malaria; and seafarers do not protect against malaria sufficiently and do not take appropriate protective medication”


Just as I recieved reports of a malaria outbreak at the Hanjin Shipyard on the other side of Subic Bay, visible through the foliage of dipterocarps outside my office, the American P&I Club’s Currents carried an article by Dr. Rob Verbist, Director of Mediport Maritime Medical Service Antwerp, Belgium warning of the dangers of that disease so associated in the west with the European adventures of the 19th and early 20th century, when it was almost fashionable, but which today sickens more than half a billion people a year and kills up to 3 million, mostly children, annually.

Malaria gets its name from mal aria, or ‘bad air’, and was also known as ‘marsh fever’. American doctors during the US occupation of the Philippines in 1899-1902 believed it was the product of some sort of fumes coming out of the ground and sometimes recommended flooding the afflicted area, which only made things worse because the disease is carried by mosquitoes, ‘mozzies’, that thrive when there’s water around.

There are several types of malaria, falciparum being the most deadly.

For those with a historical bent, malaria in the Philippines is a bit of an oddity because, while elsewhere associated with low lying marshy areas, until a couple of hundred years ago it was mostly confined to the highland forests where the malaria-carrying mosquito preferred the local water-buffalo to people but did infect people who ventured into the areas once in a while, which is why forests were regarded as dangerous places filled with deadly spirits that made one sick.

Commerce changed all that. Clearance of lowland areas deprived people of their homes and forced them in the malarial forests where they became infected. These people went to the lowland marketplaces to buy food and to work on the new, vaste, rice farms, transmitting the disease to the lowland mosquito which bit them and then injected some other poor victim and epidemics of malaria followed.

With the rise of the timber industry, workers ventured into the forest to cut down trees, thus exposing themselves to the malaria mosquito and also carried it to the lowlands.

You don’t get malaria from other people but from the mosquito which has bitten an infected person. The mosquito actually has a good reason to bite, the ones that cause the problem are pregnant females whose sole aim in life is to secure a meal of blood for their offspring-to-be.

Where the Hanjin shipyard sits is at the base of a mountain which, until the 1960s, was richly covered with forest. The forest has been erased from the face of the earth, giving the malarial mosquito nowhere to go but down to the marshy lowlands.

In the first six months of 2007 some 321 cases of malaria were reported among workers at Hanjin and the surrounding areas.

By and large, malaria mosquitoes inhabit the sort of areas where you’re likely to find ports and shipyards and, therefore, seafarers. In some areas, malaria has built up a resistance to treatment so it’s worth checking out the World Health Organisation website for information to areas you might be calling at.

Malaria is an obvious threat to seafarers. Dr Verbist says: “too many seafarers are unaware that malaria is serious and potentially fatal; the real risk for seafarers is often miscalculated; seafarers are not familiar with the signs and symptoms of malaria; and seafarers do not protect against malaria sufficiently and do not take appropriate protective medication.”

So, I’ll wait here while you go and check out that you’ve taken the appropriate medication to prevent you getting malaria. For what it’s worth, quinine extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree was the first anti-malarial medicine but tasted so bitter that it was mixed into tonic water. The British, being what they are, found that grain alcohol helped it go down even better and thus was born the gin and tonic. However, entering a potentially malarial area is not an excuse for consuming gin and tonic on board.

Several medicines are now available and the choice may depend upon whether the malaria in a particular area is resistant to chloroquine.

Dr. Verbist says that those most at risk are seafarers staying onboard, at anchor, or taking shore leave; seafarers signing off , travelling inland, or joining the ship in that port; and the duration of stay, daytime or also at dusk ordawn (with higher risk).

Prevention is better than cure, which may be dubious anyway, so he gives the following advice: “Within 2 miles of a malaria shore it is important that:

  • doors and windows are kept closed after dusk;
  • any mosquitoes entering compartments are killed;
  • insect spray is used, also under tables and chairs and in dark corners;
  • long sleeved shirts and trousers are worn;
  • pools of stagnant water, dew or rain are removed;
  • refuse bags and bins are sealed properly;
  • portholes, ventilation and other openings are covered with fine wire mesh; and
  • lights are screened to avoid attracting mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes are most active in low light hours after dusk and prior to dawn. Air conditioning helps
to keep the mosquitoes away, it is important that it is left on all day. While sleeping, use undamaged
impregnated mosquito nets, put under the mattress, fixed on the four corners of the bed.”

If worst comes to worst, how do you recognise malaria? Beware of a fever or flu-like symptoms that develop between one and three months after entering a malaria zone. If there’s any doubt it’s best to start treatment immediately and call for radio medical advice.

Says Dr. Verbist: “Symptoms are flu-like and include fever (often exceeding 40°C), chills, malaise, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, myalgia (muscle pain), headaches, and sweating. A typical
attack lasts 8-12 hours.

“Three successive stages may be observed: (1) cold stage; (2) hot stage; and (3) sweat stage. These stages are often NOT observed in the lifethreatening “falciparum” malaria. A patient with severe falciparum malaria may present with confusion, drowsiness, extreme weakness and may develop cerebral malaria with convulsions, an unrousable coma and rapid death.”

Some shipping routes involve several short stays in malarial areas over a period of time so it’s wise to be prepared for standby emergency treatment. You’ll find some guidelines at seafarershealth.org, the International Committee On Seafarer’s Welfare, together with the brochure Malaria, You Are Part Of It, and three posters which you can download and print out for display at the top of this page.