Immigration authorities recently boarded a non-Chinese flag ship in Ningbo and conducted an inspection of the crew’s mobile phones, marine insurer West of England P&I informed.
The crew were told to surrender their phones and content from each of the phones was uploaded to the authorities’ laptop for inspection, which was reportedly undertaken as part of the country’s nationwide anti-terrorist campaign.
The search was said to be for videos, files concerning terrorism or any other criminal related activity.
Additionally, the vessel was also advised that the same searches may continue as a routine inspection in the future.
“Although the authorities claimed that they didn’t download any personal information, the situation is somewhat disturbing,” West of England P&I cited the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA).
The flag state of the ship in question is now considering making a formal protest to the Chinese Government.
West of England P&I said that this incident could be related to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which opened on October 18, adding that “time will tell if the searches continue after that event has completed.”
Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) intends to test an autonomous containership in the Pacific Ocean in 2019.
The ship would sail from Japan to North America with a crew on standby, Hideyuki Ando, a senior general manager at Monohakobi Technology Institute, part of NYK, told Bloomberg.
The boxship, the size of which has not been specified yet, would be remotely controlled.
NYK joins a myriad of companies that have been venturing into autonomous technology for ships.
As disclosed in an interview with World Maritime News, Rolls-Royceenvisages a remotely operated vessel in local waters as the first stage and in operation by 2020.
By 2030, remotely operated ships are expected to become a common sight on the ocean.
According to a report published by insurance company Allianz in 2012, between 75 and 96 percent of marine accidents are a result of human error, equivalent to USD 1.6 billion. This is often as a result of fatigue.
Remotely controlled and autonomous ships are expected to reduce the risk of injury and even death amongst ship’s crews and the potential loss or damage of valuable assets.
When staff at CyberKeel investigated email activity at a medium-sized shipping firm, they made a shocking discovery.
“Someone had hacked into the systems of the company and planted a small virus,” explains co-founder Lars Jensen. “They would then monitor all emails to and from people in the finance department.”
Whenever one of the firm’s fuel suppliers would send an email asking for payment, the virus simply changed the text of the message before it was read, adding a different bank account number.
“Several million dollars,” says Mr Jensen, were transferred to the hackers before the company cottoned on.
After the NotPetya cyber-attack in June, major firms including shipping giant Maersk were badly affected.
In fact, Maersk revealed this week that the incident could cost it as much as $300 million (£155 million) in profits.
But Mr Jensen has long believed that that the shipping industry needs to protect itself better against hackers – the fraud case dealt with by CyberKeel was just another example.
The firm was launched more than three years ago after Mr Jensen teamed up with business partner Morten Schenk, a former lieutenant in the Danish military who Jensen describes as “one of those guys who could hack almost anything”.
They wanted to offer penetration testing – investigative tests of security – to shipping companies. The initial response they got, however, was far from rosy.
“I got pretty consistent feedback from people I spoke to and that was, ‘Don’t waste your time, we’re pretty safe, there’s no need’,” he recalls.
Today, that sentiment is becoming rarer.
The consequences of suffering from the NotPetya cyber-attack for Maersk included the shutting down of some port terminals managed by its subsidiary APM.
The industry is now painfully aware that physical shipping operations are vulnerable to digital disruption.
Breaking into a shipping firm’s computer systems can allow attackers to access sensitive information. One of the most serious cases that has been made public concerns a global shipping conglomerate that was hacked by pirates.
They wanted to find out which vessels were transporting the particular cargo they planned to seize.
A report on the case by the cyber-security team at telecoms company Verizon describes the precision of the operation.
“They’d board a vessel, locate by barcode specific sought-after crates containing valuables, steal the contents of that crate – and that crate only – and then depart the vessel without further incident,” it states.
But ships themselves, increasingly computerised, are vulnerable too. And for many, that’s the greatest worry.
Malware, including NotPetya and many other strains, is often designed to spread from computer to computer on a network. That means that connected devices on board ships are also potentially vulnerable.
“We know a cargo container, for example, where the switchboard shut down after ransomware found its way on the vessel,” says Patrick Rossi who works within the ethical hacking group at independent advisory organisation DNV GL.
He explains that the switchboard manages power supply to the propeller and other machinery on board. The ship in question, moored at a port in Asia, was rendered inoperable for some time, adds Mr Rossi.
Seizing the controls
Crucial navigation systems such as the Electronic Chart Display (Ecdis) have also been hit. One such incident is recalled by Brendan Saunders, maritime technical lead at cyber-security firm NCC Group.
This also concerned a ship at an Asian port, but this time it was a large tanker weighing 80,000 tonnes.
One of the crew had brought a USB stick on board with some paperwork that needed to be printed. That was how the malware got into the ship’s computers in the first instance. But it was when a second crew member went to update the ship’s charts before sailing, also via USB, that the navigation systems were infected.
Departure was consequently delayed and an investigation launched.
“Ecdis systems pretty much never have anti-virus,” says Mr Saunders, pointing out the vulnerability. “I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a merchant ship Ecdis unit that had anti-virus on it.”
These incidents are hugely disruptive to maritime businesses, but truly catastrophic scenarios might involve a hacker attempting to sabotage or even destroy a ship itself, through targeted manipulation of its systems.
Could that happen? Could, for example, a determined and well-resourced attacker alter a vessel’s systems to provoke a collision?
“It’s perfectly feasible,” says Mr Saunders. “We’ve demonstrated proof-of-concept that that could happen.”
And the experts are finding new ways into ships’ systems remotely. One independent cyber-security researcher, who goes by the pseudonym of x0rz, recently used an app called Ship Tracker to find open satellite communication systems, VSat, on board vessels.
In x0rz’s case, the VSat on an actual ship in South American waters had default credentials – the username “admin” and password “1234” – and so was easy to access.
It would be possible, x0rz believes, to change the software on the VSat to manipulate it.
A targeted attack could even alter the co-ordinates broadcast by the system, potentially allowing someone to spoof the position of the ship – although shipping industry experts have pointed out in the past that a spoofed location would likely be quickly spotted by maritime observers.
The manufacturer behind the VSat unit in question has blamed the customer in this case for not updating the default security credentials. The unit has since been secured.
Safe at sea
It’s obvious that the shipping industry, like many others, has a lot of work to do on such issues. But awareness is growing.
The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) have both recently launched guidelines designed to help ship owners protect themselves from hackers.
Patrick Rossi points out that crew with a poor understanding of the risks they take with USB sticks or personal devices should be made aware of how malware can spread between computers.
This is all the more important because the personnel on board vessels can change frequently, as members go on leave or are reassigned.
But there are more than 51,000 commercial ships in the world. Together, they carry the vast majority – 90% – of the world’s trade. Maersk has already experienced significant disruption thanks to a piece of particularly virulent malware.
The question many will be asking in the wake of this and other cases now being made public is: What might happen next?
Egyptian Tanker Company and Singapore-based Thome Ship Management have pleaded guilty in federal court in Beaumont, Texas, to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS).
The owner and operator of the 57,920 gross ton oil tank ship MT ETC MENA also pleaded guilty for obstruction of justice for covering up the illegal dumping of oil-contaminated bilge water and garbage from one of their ships into the sea, according to the US Department of Justice.
The plea agreement includes a USD 1.9 million dollar penalty and requires marine and coastal restoration efforts at three National Wildlife Refuges located on the Gulf of Mexico in East Texas, where the offending vessel transited and made port stops.
US Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Port Arthur, Texas, launched its investigation on April 26, 2016, when a crew member on the 809-foot long oil tanker provided a written statement, photographs, and video that the ship had illegally dumped bilge waste overboard into the ocean.
In pleading guilty, the companies admitted that its crew members bypassed the ships OWS and discharged bilge water into the ocean in March 2016 without it first passing through this pollution prevention equipment. The government’s investigation also revealed that crew members were instructed to throw plastic garbage bags filled with metal and incinerator ash into the sea in March 2016.
The companies also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for presenting these false documents to the Coast Guard during the inspection in Port Arthur, Texas.
The shipping firms will be placed on a four-year term of probation that includes a comprehensive environmental compliance plan to ensure that all of ships operated by Thome Ship Management that come to the United States fully comply with all applicable marine environmental protection requirements established by national and international laws.
Norwegian shipping company Rederiet Stenersen AS has selected Corvus Energy’s Orca lithium ion based energy storage system (ESS) for its first hybrid chemical tanker.
The 17,500 dwt IMO class II chemical tanker will be the first vessel of its kind to utilize an ESS for propulsion, which will integrate with WE Tech Solutions’ propulsion system into the vessel.
According to data provided by VesselsValue, the company has four chemical tankers currently under construction at the Chinese Taizhou Kouan Shipbuilding.
Featuring a length of 146 meters abnd a width of 22.5 meters, the new vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2018.
The hybrid chemical newbuildings will join the company’s fleet of 16 purpose built chemical/product carriers ranging from 13-19,000 dwt, all of which are deployed in North West European trade.
“Utilizing the ESS solution for the hybrid power and propulsion systems will allow for running fewer diesel generators for certain operations – improving efficiency, reducing the exhaust emissions and lowering noise levels, making it the most environmentally friendly chemical tanker ship in the Rederiet Stenersen fleet,” Corvus Energy said.
With Finland’s accession of the International Ballast Water Management Convention, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said that the remaining condition for entry into force has been met and therefore the BWM Convention is scheduled to enter into force on September 8, 2017.
IMO has approved draft amendments to the Convention’s implementation scheme and if adopted in October 2016, then approved ballast water treatment systems meeting the D-2 biological standard will need to be installed on new ships constructed on or after September 8, 2017, as well as on existing ships, not later than the first MARPOL IOPP Renewal Survey carried out on/after September 8, 2017.
Accession by Finland has triggered the entry into force of a key international measure for environmental protection that aims to stop the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species in ships’ ballast water.
BWM Convention’s entery into force will mark a landmark step towards halting the spread of invasive aquatic species, which can disrupt local ecosystems, affect biodiversity and lead to substantial economic loss.
Under the Convention’s terms, ships will be required to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments
“The entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention will not only minimize the risk of invasions by alien species via ballast water, it will also provide a global level playing field for international shipping, providing clear and robust standards for the management of ballast water on ships,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.
Her Excellency Päivi Luostarinen Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Finland to IMO, handed over the country’s instrument of acceptance to the Ballast Water Management Convention to IMO Secretary-General Lim today.
The accession brings the combined tonnage of contracting States to the treaty to 35.1441%, with 52 contracting Parties. The convention stipulates that it will enter into force 12 months after ratification by a minimum of 30 States, representing 35% of world merchant shipping tonnage.
The BWM Convention was adopted in 2004 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for developing global standards for ship safety and security and for the protection of the marine environment and the atmosphere from any harmful impacts of shipping.
Greek shipping companies Oceanic Illsabe Limited and Oceanfleet Shipping Limited, and two of their employees, were convicted of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), obstruction of justice, false statements, witness tampering and conspiracy, according to the US Department of Justice.
Convicted by a federal jury in Greenville, North Carolina, Oceanic Illsabe Limited is the owner of the M/V Ocean Hope, a large cargo vessel that was responsible for dumping tons of oily waste into the Pacific Ocean last year, while Oceanfleet Shipping Limited was the managing operator of the vessel.
Also convicted at trial were two senior engineering officers who worked aboard the vessel, Rustico Ignacio and Cassius Samson. The jury convicted on each of the nine counts in the indictment.
The US Department of Justice said that in June 2015 the vessel discharged around ten metric tons of sludge into the ocean. The vessel was also regularly pumping contaminated water directly overboard. None of these discharges were disclosed as required.
The evidence presented during the nine-day trial demonstrated that the companies were aware that the ship had not offloaded any oil sludge from the vessel since September 2014 and that the ship rarely used its oil-water separator.
Instead, the vessel’s second engineer, Samson, ordered crewmembers to connect what is known in the industry as a “magic pipe” to bypass the vessel’s oil-water separator and pump oil sludge overboard. In addition, crewmembers were ordered to pump oily water from the vessel’s bilges directly into the ocean up to several times per week. The dumping occurred with the knowledge and approval of the ship’s chief engineer, Ignacio.
Finally, the engineers used a tank designated for oily wastes to store diesel fuel for sale on the black market.
Upon arriving at the Port of Wilmington, Oceanic, Oceanfleet, Ignacio and Samson attempted to hide these discharges by presenting a false and fictitious oil record book to US Coast Guard inspectors. When inspectors uncovered evidence of dumping, the defendants ordered lower-level crewmembers to lie to Coast Guard personnel. Samson also made several false statements to a Coast Guard inspector regarding the bypass of the oil-water separator.
At the conclusion of trial, defendants Oceanic and Oceanfleet were convicted of one count of conspiracy, one count of violating APPS, two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of false statements and four counts of witness tampering.
Ignacio was convicted of one count of conspiracy, one count of violating APPS, one count of obstruction of justice and two counts of witness tampering, while Samson was convicted of one count of conspiracy, one count of violating APPS, two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of false statements and three counts of witness tampering.
The companies could be fined up to USD 500,000 per count, in addition to other possible penalties.
Ignacio and Samson face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the obstruction of justice charges.
1 July 2016 – SOLAS – container weight verification
Amendments to SOLAS chapter VI to require mandatory verification of the gross mass of containers, either by weighing the packed container; or weighing all packages and cargo items, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed.1 July 2016 – SOLAS -atmosphere testing
Amendments to add a new SOLAS regulation XI-1/7 on Atmosphere testing instrument for enclosed spaces, to require ships to carry an appropriate portable atmosphere testing instrument or instruments, capable of measuring concentrations of oxygen, flammable gases or vapors, hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide, prior to entry into enclosed spaces. Consequential amendments to the Code for the Construction and Equipment of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (1979, 1989 and 2009 MODU Codes) were also adopted. The MSC also approved a related MSC Circular on Early implementation of SOLAS regulation XI-1/7 on Atmosphere testing instrument for enclosed spaces.1 January 2017 – Polar Code
The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code)and related amendments to make it mandatory under both SOLAS and MARPOL enter into force. The Polar Code will apply to new ships constructed after 1 January 2017. Ships constructed before 1 January 2017 will be required to meet the relevant requirements of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after 1 January 20181 January 2017 – MARPOL Annex I – oil residues
Amendments to regulation 12 of MARPOL Annex I, concerning tanks for oil residues (sludge). The amendments update and revise the regulation, expanding on the requirements for discharge connections and piping to ensure oil residues are properly disposed of.
1 January 2017 – SOLAS – IGF Code
International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-flash point Fuels (IGF Code), along with amendments to make the Code mandatory under SOLAS enter into force. The amendments to SOLAS chapter II-1 (Construction – Structure, subdivision and stability, machinery and electrical installations), include amendments to Part F Alternative design and arrangements, to provide a methodology for alternative design and arrangements for machinery, electrical installations and low flash point fuel storage and distribution systems; and a new Part G Ships using low-flash point fuels, to add new regulations to require ships constructed after the expected date of entry into force of 1 January 2017 to comply with the requirements of the IGF Code, together with related amendments to chapter II-2 and Appendix (Certificates). The IGF Code contains mandatory provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using low-flash point fuels, focusing initially on LNG. The Code addresses all areas that need special consideration for the usage of low-flash point fuels, taking a goal-based approach, with goals and functional requirements specified for each section forming the basis for the design, construction and operation of ships using this type of fuel. Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers (STCW), and STCW Code, to include new mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualifications of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on ships subject to the IGF Code, also enter into force on 1 January 2017.
1 January 2017 – SOLAS – venting
Amendments to SOLAS regulations II-2/4.5 and II-2/11.6, clarifying the provisions related to the secondary means of venting cargo tanks in order to ensure adequate safety against over- and under-pressure in the event of a cargo tank isolation valve being damaged or inadvertently closed, and SOLAS regulation II-2/20 relating to performance of ventilation systems.
1 January 2017 – STCW Manila amendments transitional provisions end
From 1 January 2017, STCW certificates must be issued, renewed and re-validated in accordance with the provisions of the 2010 Manila Amendments.
1 September 2017 – MARPOL amendments sewage special area, NOx tier III reporting
MARPOL amendments adopted in April 2016 (MEPC 69) enter into force: amendments to MARPOL Annex IV relating to the dates for implementation of the discharge requirements for passenger ships while in a special area, i.e. not before 1 June 2019 for new passenger ships and not before 1 June 2021 for existing passenger ships; • amendments to MARPOL Annex II, appendix I, related to the revised GESAMP hazard evaluation procedure; • amendments to MARPOL Annex VI regarding record requirements for operational compliance with NOX Tier III emission control areas; amendments to the NOX Technical Code 2008 to facilitate the testing of gas-fueled engines and dual fuel engines.
1 January 2018 – Revised FAL Convention
The revised Annex to annex to the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL) includes mandatory requirements for the electronic exchange of information on cargo, crew and passengers
Keeping updated on new and retroactive requirements from IMO and ILO can be a challenge. To help, DNV GL has made a summary of the most important requirements entering into force from July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2018.
Two men, a Russian chief officer and a Ukrainian chief engineer have died in a hold containing timber while a third, a Filipino second officer who attempted to rescue them collapsed by survived.
The incident is under investigation by the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch while the report will not be available for some time the incident does highlight the confined space hazards of timber in cargo holds and the continuing problem of would-be rescuers being overcome while attempting to recover victims.
Sally Ann C is a 9000 gt Isle of Man-registered general cargo ship operated by Carisbrooke Shipping, based on the Isle of Wight. At the time of the incident she was carrying a cargo of timber en route to Dakar, Senegal.
All that is presently known is that the chief officer and chief engineer entered one of the vessel’s four holds and collapsed. Subsequently the second officer tried to rescue them but also collapsed. He was successfully revived.
Timber in its various forms, from pellets to logs is hazardous. Oxidation of wood reduced oxygen in the atmosphere and produces a range of potentially hazardous gases including carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide.
In the Suntis incident in 2014, for example, the Fire and Rescue Service analysis of the atmosphere after the accident showed normal readings (20.9%) of oxygen content at the access hatch; the readings reduced to 10% just below main deck level inside the hatch opening and to between 5% and 6% at the bottom of the ladder into the compartment. Such low levels of oxygen cannot support life. Anyone exposed to such levels will faint almost immediately, followed by convulsions, coma and respiratory seizure within a few minutes. It is likely that the timber cargo caused the deprivation of oxygen in the cargo hold and access compartments.
In 2010 another chief officer died, along with a member of the deck crew who tries to rescue him, aboard the bulker TPC Wellington. In the case the chief officer had been warned against entry by the bosun but ignored the warning. It took less than 1o minutes for the chief officer and the man who tried to rescue him to die.
New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission noted: “The dangers of the organic decomposition of logs and other organic cargos in enclosed spaces are well known in the international maritime community, and were documented on board the TPC Wellington, but in spite of this the high risk this posed to the crew had not been identified, no specific training had been given to the crew members to heighten their awareness of the risk, and no emergency drills had been conducted in recent times for rescue from enclosed spaces”.
In 2006 in Sweden 12 people were taken to hospital and five required decompression chamber treatment. Seven people have died and several have been injured under similar circumstances in Sweden over a two year period.
BIMCO issued a warning about the hazards presented by wood in 2005.
Sadly, two out of three confined space casualties are people who tried to rescue the first victim.
Confined space incident are common and completely avoidable.
All confined space rescue drills should be conducted as realistically as possible. You can use the many confined space accident reports, and podcasts, in MAC to increase your crew’s safety awareness.
The rules for surviving are simple:
Never enter a confined space unless absolutely necessary.
Complete the permit to work before entry
Alert rescue teams and the bridge
Assess the risks, including those presented by any cargo that may be in the space.
Put appropriate rescue equipment at the point of access.
Ensure that a safety monitor is in position outside the space who can raise the alarm.
Ventilate the space thoroughly before entry.
Test the atmosphere in the hold thoroughly before entry.
If possible wear an O2 monitor while inside the space.