3-Week Atlantic Mission Shows Future of Robotic Maritime Operations

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:

$1.5 Million Fine for Illegal Oily Water Discharge

• 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.

The Role of General Average in the Maritime Industry

“General Average” is a term used in the maritime industry to define shares in a common loss during maritime accident.


Defined by York Antwerp rules 1994 of General Average, these rules lay guidelines for the distribution of loss in an event when cargo has to be jettisoned in order to save the ship, crew, or the remaining cargo.

The rule states the apportionment of losses amongst the parties involved in any maritime adventure in case of an extra ordinary sacrifice or if the expenditure is made intentionally with proper justification that the causes for the same involved preserve the other property from risk of being lost.




The underlying cause which led to introduction of General Average was, in event of the grave situations where safety of ship, crew members and cargo was jeopardized.

It’s always a difficult decision for ship’s crew to take appropriate action to save the interests of cargo owners and the ship. The time constraints in such exigencies don’t allow the ship’s crew to decide which cargo to jettison and which to leave. Consequently there would be a hot debate arising among cargo and ship owners as to whose cargo has been jettisoned and whose interests compromised. The loss being totally on the account of the person whose cargo has been discharged.

Thus, in order to regulate unprejudiced interests of all those parties who enter into a common maritime venture, a powerful tool named General  Average was introduced, in the York Antwerp rules of 1890 and later reviewed and amended recently in 1994.

The clauses of General Average under the York Antwerp Rules 1994 can be simplified as under

  • A loss is deemed to be considered under general average if and only if the reason of sacrifice is extraordinary or the sacrifice is reasonably made for the purpose of common safety for preserving the property involved .E.g.  Capsizing due to inclement weather condition, shifting of cargo leading to excessive listing of vessel



  • When two or more vessels are pushing or towing and are involved in a commercial reason, then general average applies if they disconnect from each other in order to preserve the vessel and the cargo
  • General average shall be applied only for those losses which are linked directly with the material value of the cargo carried or the vessel. Any claims arising due to the delay, a loss or expense caused due to loss of market  or any indirect loss must not be accounted into general average
  • Each party’s share in the general average should not be determined by fault based approach. The risk borne by all should be equal in all aspects. Though if one of the parties actions has resulted in the loss, legal actions can be taken against those actions
  • Average adjusters are individuals or institutions looking after claims arising due to general average. The parties of a general average claim should send a written notice to them within 12 months from the date of termination of the common maritime agreement between the parties involved. If they do not receive this notice the adjusters are entitled to proceed with all available information with them
  • If a vessel or cargo is damaged by water, including damage by beaching or sinking a burning ship in order to extinguish the fire, then that damage shall be countable as general average. Also if a vessel is grounded intentionally for common safety, it excludes damage caused by smoke or heat of fire



  • If salvage operations are carried out in order to save or prevent the loss of cargo, or to prevent or reduce an environmental damage, the expenditures involved and the remunerations to salvors should be allowed in general average
  • If any vessel has been grounded and the cargo is liable to get damaged, then efforts can be made to refloat the vessel. However if such efforts cause damage to boilers or machinery of the vessel it shall be made as general average
  • The procuring expenses of any cargo, fuel or ship’s stores upon being discharged as per general average act shall be admitted into general average
  • Loss of freight incurred to the owner by due to loss or damage of cargo should be included in general average , however it is important to deduct from it the expenses which would have incurred by the owner  for carriage as they were not actually incurred
  • If cargo is sold in damaged condition, the general average amount is the difference between net sound and net damaged value

SOLAS, MARPOL amendments entered into force on 1 January 2014

SOLAS, MARPOL amendments entered into force on 1 January 2014

ship freefall lifeboat

A number of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)  and the 1988 Load Lines Protocol  entered into force or took effect from 1 January 2014.
The amendments cover passenger ship safety (in relation to safe return to port after a flooding casualty); the testing of free-fall lifeboats; minimum safe manning levels;  prohibition of blending onboard; the revised MARPOL Annex III; the United States Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area; and the Winter Seasonal Zone off the southern tip of Africa.


2012 May SOLAS amendments
The SOLAS amendments which entered into force on 1 January 2014 include the following:
– amendment to SOLAS regulation II-1/8-1, to introduce a mandatory requirement for new passenger ships for either onboard stability computers or shore-based support, for the purpose of providing operational information to the Master for safe return to port after a flooding casualty;
– amendment to SOLAS regulation III/20.11.2 regarding the testing of free-fall lifeboats, to require that the operational testing of free-fall lifeboat release systems shall be performed either by free-fall launch with only the operating crew on board or by a simulated launching;
– amendment to SOLAS chapter V to add a new regulation V/14 on ships’ manning, to require Administrations, for every ship, to establish appropriate minimum safe manning levels following a transparent procedure, taking into account the guidance adopted by IMO (Assembly resolution A.1047(27) on Principles of minimum safe manning); and issue an appropriate minimum safe manning document or equivalent as evidence of the minimum safe manning considered necessary;
– amendment to SOLAS chapter VI to add a new regulation VI/5-2, to prohibit the blending of bulk liquid cargoes during the sea voyage and to prohibit production processes on board ships;
– amendment to SOLAS chapter VII to replace regulation 4 on documents, covering transport information relating to the carriage of dangerous goods in packaged form and the container/vehicle packing certificate; and
– amendment to SOLAS regulation XI-1/2 on enhanced surveys, to make mandatory the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers, 2011 (2011 ESP Code, resolution A.1049(27)).
2010 October MARPOL amendments
The amendments which entered into force on 1 January 2014 include a revised MARPOL Annex III Regulations for the prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form, to include changes to the Annex to coincide with the next update of the mandatory International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code, specifying that goods should be shipped in accordance with relevant provisions.
United States Caribbean ECA now effective 
The United States Caribbean Sea Emission Control Area (SOx, NOx and PM) came into effect, under MARPOL Annex VI, on 1 January 2014, bringing in stricter controls on emissions of sulphur oxide (SOx), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter for ships trading in certain waters adjacent to the coasts of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands.
The ECA was designated under MARPOL amendments adopted in July 2011. There are now four three designated ECAs in effect globally: the United States Caribbean Sea ECA and the North American ECA; and the sulphur oxide ECAs in the Baltic Sea area and the North Sea area.
(See: MARPOL Annex VI regulation 14)
Coordinates for the Caribbean Sea ECA can be found in Resolution MEPC.202(62).
Winter Seasonal Zone moved south under amendments to LL Protocol
Amendments to regulation 47 of the 1988 Protocol to the International Convention on Load Lines (LL), 1966 to shift the Winter Seasonal Zone off the southern tip of Africa further southward by 50 miles, came into effect on 1 January 2014.


IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Web site: www.imo.org