A UK boat has just provided an impressive demonstration of the future of robotic maritime operations.
SEA-KIT International, which developed the craft, “skippered” the entire outing via satellite from its base in Tollesbury in eastern England.
The mission was part-funded by the European Space Agency.
Robot boats promise a dramatic change in the way we work at sea.
Already, many of the big survey companies that run traditional crewed vessels have started to invest heavily in the new, remotely operated technologies. Freight companies are also acknowledging the cost advantages that will come from running robot ships.
But “over-the-horizon” control has to show it’s practical and safe if it’s to gain wide acceptance. Hence, the demonstration from Maxlimer.Read more:
• Misuga Kaiun Co. Ltd. (MISUGA), Japanese shipping company has been fined $1.5 million for concealing illegal discharges of oily water. • The chief engineer of the vessel has also been convicted. • The company pleaded guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for failing to accurately maintain oil record book that covered up discharges of oily water. • Apart from the penalty the company has been placed on a probation for a period of four years. • It also has to implement a comprehensive Environmental Compliance Plan as a special condition of probation.
A recent new published in the United States Department of Justice website highlights about the role of a Japanese company MISUGA in polluting the ocean. Consequently it has been convicted and fined to the tune of $1.5 Million for this wrong doing and concealing it, as it is an environmental crime at any means.
Authorities in Germany have discovered an illegally stored oily waste on board a Barbados-flagged cargo ship docked in Bremerhaven.
On March 3, the water police in Bremen made a routine check of the vessel’s engine room.
The officers found approximately 300 liters of oily waste stored inappropriately in a cofferdam that was not intended for this purpose. Usually, the cofferdam — an enclosure which ensures safety of the ship and its crew — is empty.
As informed, a 45-year old Syrian ship’s engineer has been found responsible. He has been ordered to pay a security deposit of EUR 1,900 (USD 2,140). In addition, a criminal charge due to illegal waste handling has been filed.
The unnamed ship will be allowed to leave the port when it fixes the deficiencies, according to the police.
The investigation carried out by the Bremen water police is still ongoing.
Shipping has been expecting a cyber virus related problem for some time but was not expecting a biological one. Its hard to know if the Coronavirus outbreak in China, now declared a global health emergency by WHO, will be a short lived phenomenon or whether it will last as long as the 18 months to two years of the related severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak that began in late 2002.
It does seem that this time around China has reacted quicker and with more transparency than it did 18 years ago but it would also appear that the fatality rate is higher. The 2002 outbreak that was declared over in late 2004, resulted in almost 800 known deaths. Ten years after SARS, another coronavirus outbreak known as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) occurred in Saudi Arabia. It may have had less of an international impact, but more than 800 deaths were reported.
In just over a month the latest epidemic has claimed almost 200 victims. The spread of this latest disease also looks to be much more rapid with cases being reported from all corners of the globe – 15 countries to date – and more expected.
These sort of events obviously affect all manner of businesses and industries as well as shipping, but as the main artery of world trade, shipping can be both a means of spreading disease as well as a victim. Today more people travel internationally by air than by sea so the precautions taken against spreading the disease will first be concentrated on airports. Some airlines have already suspended services to affected cities and towns in China and no doubt more will follow suit. In some places, quarantine arrangements have been put in place. Britain, for example, is requiring 200 citizens evacuated from Wuhan to go into 14 days of quarantine. Elsewhere arrivals from China are being screened for signs of infection and some countries are suspending all flights.
There have also been some incidents affecting ships. In Civitavecchia on Thrusady the cruise ship Costa Smerelda was put in lockdown after a passenger recently arrived from Macau began suffering with symptoms that suggested coronavirus. No passengers were allowed to leave the vessel until the passenger received the all clear from health authorities. Another false alarm involved the container ship CMA CGM Ural which has also been given the all clear after several seafarers became ill after calling at a number of Asian ports.
It does not look as though there will be a rapid decline of the coronavirus so it can be expected that similar precautions will eventually be applied at sea ports. In an article earlier this week, ShipInsight reported on shipping law firm Hill Dickinson’s view on some of the contractual implications of coronavirus, but there are potential impacts beyond those as well. Since then, the ICS has also recommended following some WHO guidance aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. The trade body has urged all members to fully adopt the guidelines saying that doing so may help avoid the unnecessary closure of ports, that facilitate 90% of global trade, including the transportation of medicines that underpin the health industry, as well as food and fuel supplies.
The outbreak has coincided with what is traditionally a quiet time in the liner trades after the Christmas and New Year holidays and the later Chinese New Year which runs into early February. That means the hit on trade has been limited but already there are signs that less fuel is needed because of restrictions on travel and that in turn affects transport of oil and freight rates for tankers. Any port closures that might happen would be a further dampener and could impact other types of cargoes.
At the time of the 2002 SARS outbreak it was estimated by some analysts to have cost the world economy somewhere in the region of $50bn (estimates varied from $30Bn to $100Bn) with particular hits for China and Hong Kong in terms of GDP. Today the impact could be even higher especially as China has become much more important in terms of economic status and driver of trade across many sectors. In 2003 China generated 4% of global GDP but last year, it was 16%.
The US/China trade dispute has already damaged confidence and affected shipping so the coronavirus could be a heavy blow and delay a recovery. A prolonged downturn will exacerbate financial problems for shipowners caused by the need to install a ballast treatment system and also the expenses of complying with the 2020 sulphur cap. The latter may be offset to some extent if oil prices tumble and bunker prices follow suit.
Another casualty could be the Posidonia and SMM exhibitions in June and September respectively. The SARS outbreak in 2002/3 severely affected exhibitors and visitors to European trade shows with many not turning up. That would be an unfortunate development for the organisers but hardly important in the wider scheme of things.
The owner and operator, as well as Senior Officers, of oil tanker Ocean Princess have been convicted and sentenced for various pollution, recordkeeping, and obstruction of justice crimes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Namely, Ionian Shipping & Trading Corp, Lily Shipping Ltd, as well as Stamatios Alekidis, Athanasios Pittas and Rey Espulgar used fuel that exceeded the maximum allowable sulfur concentration in the U.S. Caribbean Emission Control Area and attempted to deceive U.S. Coast Guard inspectors about the source of the fuel being used aboard the vessel.
Namely, the tanker was engaged in transporting petroleum products throughout the Caribbean including from Limetree Terminals, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
While vessels are operating within the U.S. Caribbean ECA, they must not use fuel that exceeds 0.10% sulfur by weight in order to help protect air quality.
Between January 3, 2017, and July 10, 2018, the tanker Ocean Princess entered into, and operated within, the U.S. Caribbean ECA using fuel that contained excessive sulfur on twenty-six separate occasions.
Between March 2, 2016, and February 6, 2018, nineteen separate fictitious Bunker Delivery Notes were created on and kept aboard the vessel.
USCG inspectors boarded the tanker on July 10, 2018, to conduct an inspection. During the inspection, the inspectors discovered that the vessel was using fuel with an excessive sulfur content.
The companies will each pay a fine of USD 1.5 million, be placed on four years of probation, and implement an Environmental Compliance Plan. The Master, Chief Officer and Chief Engineer were sentenced to three years of probation and ordered not to return to the United States on a ship during that time. The Chief Officer was also fined USD 3,000.
The British Ports Association and Dutch Port of Rotterdam have launched a joint smart ports paper as they aim to explore opportunities offered by port digitalization.
In the paper, the two sides outlined steps necessary to create more efficient processes in and between ports.
What is more, the paper noted that not all traditional ports would be able to survive this digital disruption.
“Just as with retail, the travel sector and the world of banking and insurance, digital platforms are set to dominate the supply chain in the logistics sector as well,” it was said.
“For ports, the challenge is to determine their digital strategy so they can preserve and strengthen their competitive position in relation to more digital ports and other transport resources.”
Both sides stressed that the development of a global network of connected ports around the world is the key element in the digital transition.
The paper also introduced a “digital maturity model” showing how ports can gradually develop into smart ports. The model outlines four maturity levels in the step by step process to become a digital port.
As explained, the first step is the digitization of individual parties in the port, followed by the integration of systems in a port community. The third phase would integrate the logistics chain with the hinterland before ports are connected in the global logistics chain in the final step.
“This paper sets out some of the benefits of smart operations and how ports can benefit. Ports of all sizes face similar challenges in adapting to new technologies and developments in the industries we serve,” Richard Ballantyne, BPA Chief Executive, commented.
“Smart port operations will give ports the edge in becoming greener and ultimately, more efficient in serving the wide range of industries we support.”
A catastrophic structural failure of the ship’s hull was the likely cause for the loss of the very large ore carrier (VLOC) Stellar Daisy, that sank on March 31, 2017, according to a report by the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
The hull failure probably began in No 2 Port Water Ballast Tank (WBT) of the 266,141 dwt vessel, owned by Polaris Shipping and converted from a very large crude carrier in 2008 under the supervision of the Korean Register.
Findings of the report indicate that the structural failure was most likely a result of a combination of factors, including the strength of the ship’s structure being compromised over time due to material fatigue, corrosion, unidentified structural defects, multi-port loading and the forces imposed on the hull as a result of conditions Stellar Daisy encountered between March 29 – 31, 2017.
KR noted that it agrees with most of the findings, including that the fatigue cracking was probably undetectable by visual inspection prior to the sinking, but added that there are areas areas of the report that are directed specifically at KR which require further explanation.
The report states that KR’s review and approval of the conversion design was based on the assumption that all of the scantlings, including those from when the ship was constructed as a VLCC in 1993, were as original and did not take into account material fatigue. The basis for this assumption was that the Finite Element Analysis (FEA), which was conducted in accordance with the requirements of the KR Rules for Steel Ships, took into consideration allowable stress, corrosion, and stresses due to local notch effect.
KR commented that the report correctly states that the FEA and fatigue strength assessment took into consideration allowable stress, corrosion, and stresses due to local notch effect. This is common practice for many IACS classification societies. An independent review conducted by BSR (Bruce S. Rosenblatt & Associates) – the third-party hired by RMI to technically review the conversion process – confirmed that KR’s structural analysis was conducted properly.
The findings show that although KR did conduct a failure analysis of the damage to the transverse bulkhead at frame No. 65, it did not conduct a failure analysis after an extensive number of cracks were identified and repaired when the ship was in drydock in 2011, within two years after the conversion was completed. As a result, potential weaknesses with design details were not identified. This is an indication that KR’s monitoring and assessment of the ship’s structural integrity was not as effective as it might have been.
The register explained that a failure analysis is carried out at the discretion of the attending surveyor when, in their assessment, a defect or damage is “out of the ordinary” and further scrutiny is required. The RMI report correctly states that a failure analysis of the damage to the transverse bulkhead at frame No. 65 was conducted as it was determined by the attending surveyor to be “out of the ordinary” and similar damage was not found in other parts of the ship. However, the cracks/defects identified and repaired at the time of drydocking in 2011 were determined to be those typically found on board ships of a similar age. Based on this observation, the attending surveyor determined that the cracks/defects were not “out of the ordinary” and as long as proper repairs were performed, a failure analysis was not needed.
Reporting to flag Administration
The report states that the 2016 RO Agreement between the administrator and register requires that KR immediately inform the administrator of “any dangerous occurrences, accidents, machinery or structural breakdowns, or failures that they are aware of on a vessel.” KR did not inform the administrator of the damage to frame No. 65 in 2016.
KR responded that, as stated in the casualty investigation report, a failure analysis was carried out to assess the structural integrity of damage to the transverse bulkhead at frame No. 65, the result of which showed that there was no area of concern and proper repairs were undertaken to renew the damaged part to its original condition. KR also examined the surrounding bulkheads of Stellar Daisy as well as bulkheads on 29 other converted VLOCs to determine if there were any similar defects, concluding that there were no areas of concern. As a thorough inspection and comprehensive repairs were undertaken and KR determined that there was no “dangerous” structural issue that warranted reporting to the flag Administration.
However, mindful of the recommendations in the report, the Korean Register said it plans to review its reporting procedures to avoid any future misunderstandings.
The 1993-built vessel sank in the South Atlantic Ocean while transporting 260,000 tons of iron ore from Brazil to China. Twenty-two of the 24 crew, that include eight South Korean and 14 Filipino seafarers, went missing from the converted ore carrier.
Seabed survey and ocean exploration company Ocean Infinity deployed its search ship, Seabed Constructor, to look for the ill-fated Stellar Daisy on February 8 under a USD 4.3 million contract. Only days after starting the search efforts, Seabed Constructor located the wreck some 1,800 nautical miles west of Cape Town at a depth of 3,461 meter and managed to retrieve its voyage data recorder (VDR).
On February 20, the search teams deployed at the wreckage site found bones believed to be from at least one of the missing crew members some 1 km away from the wreck, Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries reported.
The search vessel left the site on February 23 headed to Montevideo without recovering the remains, according to the International Stellar Daisy Network.
Pollution fines for vessels in Turkish waters have significantly increased, marine insurer West of England said.
Although pollution fines have been subject to a regular annual increase for a number of years, very significant increases have been levied in the latest round which entered into force in December 2018.
In addition, fines against persons and legal entities have been separated with the rates for fines against legal entities now between three and fourteen times higher than previously, depending on type of vessels and pollutant.
Since vessels are invariably owned by legal entities, a member is likely to attract the higher rates of fine.
In the event of a vessel being fined and detained for an alleged pollution incident in Turkish waters, the local P&I correspondent should be contacted immediately for assistance, the marine insurer advised.
As explained, the authorities do not need to substantiate their allegations and it is up to the vessel to prove otherwise, making pollution fines in Turkey very difficult to challenge.
Due to those difficulties, vessels should implement suitable measures to minimize the possibility of fines being imposed, according to West of England.
Pollution fines can in Turkey can be issued by the Turkish EPA or port and harbor master.
German shipping company, MST Mineralien Schiffahrt Spedition und Transport GmbH (MST), was sentenced and ordered to pay a USD 3.2 million criminal fine due to hiding oil pollution.
According to the US Department of Justice, the company pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Portland, Maine, for obstruction of justice and maintaining false official records to conceal deliberate pollution from its ship the M/V Marguerita.
Namely, the company used falsified log books to hide intentional discharges of oily bilge waste occurring over a nine-month period during which the ship regularly made port calls in Portland, Maine.
According to documents filed in court, MST discharged oily bilge waste from the Marguerita through the use of a so-called “magic pipe” that bypasses required pollution prevention equipment.
Pursuant to a plea agreement, the company was ordered to pay a USD 3.2 million fine and serve a four-year term of probation during which vessels operated by the company will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan, including inspections by an independent auditor.
MST, a vessel operator based in Bavaria, Germany, was convicted of similar environmental crimes in the District of Minnesota in 2016. That federal case involved the falsification of the oil record book for the M/V Cornelia, which concealed deliberate discharges of oil-contaminated bilge waste, including discharges into the Great Lakes. MST was on probation in the District of Minnesota when it committed the crimes charged in Maine.