Rotterdam – The port of Rotterdam has introduced a new online tool for reserving berths. “The agent simply has to enter the date of arrival, the duration of the stay, the name and length of the ship in the system, after which he or she is automatically provided with an overview of the available buoys and dolphins,” explained Port of Rotterdam’s ship to ship operation business manager Amanda de Bruine.
“This reduces the risk of vessels losing cargo during heavy weather, for example. And it facilitates quick and efficient loading, unloading and bunkering,” said de Bruine.
Named KING 3.0, the new system, says de Bruine, is comparable “to picking a hotel on a booking site, and it’s just as accessible in terms of ease of use.” Another advantage “is that it makes the planning process far more efficient. In the old set-up, agents couldn’t enter their own bookings – which occasionally resulted in ships having to queue up before they could be processed.”
With a total of 29 berths with buoys and dolphins out on the water, spread across multiple locations – from Maasvlakte to Dordrecht – the port of Rotterdam is a unique facility.
“Het gaat ons economisch voor de wind. Dat betekent een toename van het scheepsverkeer. We hebben dus meer loodsen nodig om al die schepen te bemannen”, zegt voorzitter Georg Jaburg van het Loodswezen regio Scheldemond.
Wat doet een loods?
Een loods adviseert kapiteins en schippers bij het navigeren door een bepaald gebied. In ons geval de Westerschelde. Met zijn vele bochten en kronkels is de Westerschelde een van de moeilijkst te bevaren wateren ter wereld. Hij verbindt de havens van Antwerpen, Vlissingen, Gent en Terneuzen met de Noordzee.
Het Loodswezen heeft een eigen opleiding. Op dit moment worden acht mensen opgeleid tot loods. Een van hen is Paul van Dijk. Hij werkte tien jaar lang als stuurman in de bagger en de offshore. Dan was hij vijf weken van huis om daarna weer vijf weken thuis te zijn. “Soms liepen de klussen uit of je moest nog ergens een extra cursus volgen. Dat vraagt veel van het thuisfront.”
Week op week af
Toen er ook nog een kleine op komst bleek, hakte Van Dijk de knoop door. “Als loods werk ik straks één week op en één week af. Het is een mooi beroep. Je gaat aan boord op het meest interessante stuk van de reis. En je werkt op schepen van allerlei soorten en maten en iedere dag een andere crew. Dat maakt het heel afwisselend. Bovendien werk je in een maatschap. Dat vrije bestaan zonder baas, die over je schouder meekijkt, bevalt me wel.”
Paul van Dijk volgt de opleiding tot loods (foto: Omroep Zeeland)
Mensen met ervaring in de zeevaart, zoals Van Dijk, zijn er steeds minder en daarom dreigt er in de toekomst een tekort aan loodsen. Jaburg: “We merken dat er nog genoeg studenten zijn op de zeevaartschool, maar dat ze na het behalen van het diploma niet verder gaan in de zeevaart.” En daar zit het probleem. Want om loods te kunnen worden heb je ruime ervaring nodig als bijvoorbeeld stuurman.
Een pittige opleiding
Maar dat is nog niet genoeg. Je moet ook nog een interne opleiding van ruim dertien maanden volgen. “En die is best pittig”, vindt Van Dijk. “Het is een opleiding op hbo-niveau. Vooral de combinatie van de 250 vaarten, de theorie en het onderzoek dat je moet doen maakt het lastig.”
Om in de toekomst zeker te zijn van genoeg loodsen neemt het Loodswezen maatregelen. “We adverteren in vakbladen en we proberen jongeren nu al enthousiast te maken voor het loodswezen. Dat doen we onder meer door studenten aan maritieme opleidingen een lesblok Pilotage aan te bieden, waarbij ze zich volledig focussen op het loodswezen.”
The chance of major ship disasters at sea can be reduced by statistical methods. The trick is to interpret the large amounts of data streaming in from the many sensors in the ship, making it possible to sound the alarm on time.
Companies can save millions of kroner by using advanced statistical methods to extract information from large amounts of collected data.
One company that has adopted this new way of thinking is the international industrial group ABB. They work closely with statisticians at the University of Oslo to enable shipping companies to save millions on more optimal operations and improve ship safety.
Ships of today are checked at regular intervals to ensure that they maintain their condition. The ships must be docked to do this. Such breaks can be quite costly.
“Instead of sending inspectors on board ships, we can rather use statistical methods to monitor all the data for changes, such as when the engine is about to overheat or break down. This automatic data monitoring should be able to provide warnings about incidents before they happen”, says Morten Stakkeland, who is both a project engineer with ABB and adjunct associate professor of statistics at UiO.
If the captain is notified a few hours before the engine breaks down, it is possible to repair it before the ship shuts down. Imagine the disaster if an engine fails just when a several hundred-metre-long tanker is approaching an oil terminal.
The main mantra of the statisticians is to extract and interpret the enormous amount of information that can be collected from large ships. “The point is to be able to find a pattern in these reports, so that the alarm sounds when something approaches a crisis”, says Ingrid Glad, professor at the Department of Mathematics at the University of Oslo. She is part of the research group Big Insight, a centre for research-driven innovation. They are working to develop and commercialise statistical methods.
The data comes from the huge amount of sensors on board. A single ship can have several thousand sensors. Some sensors transmit data every ten seconds. Other sensors transmit data as often as every millisecond. As one can imagine, this amounts to a huge amount of data over the course of a year.
Sensors are not the only source of data. The large amount of equipment on board also communicates with each other.
On large tankers, the instruments send a series of cryptic reports to each other. None of these reports are standardised.
“Several gigabytes of information are gathered in a short period of time”.
The huge amounts of data are continuously stored on the ship or sent to control centres on shore.
The point is to find something that stands out in the data streams.
“We can then build a statistical model that shows the normal condition and where we can find deviations. We might find deviations in only one sensor, or perhaps all the data from all the sensors are within the accepted range, but the correlations between the data are so special that they still trigger an alarm”, points out Erik Vanem, senior researcher at DNV-GL.
Checking the hull
Cracks in the ship’s hull is one of the feared scenarios. The struggle against big waves in rough seas can in the worst case break the hull apart.
Hundreds of sensors can be placed inside the hull to monitor the risk of material failure.
DNV-GL, formerly Veritas, looks for tension in the hull. They specialise in ship safety and work on making sea transport safer.
“We can measure the tension in the hull and use this to say something about the strength of the ship and the risk of fatigue. In addition to inspecting ships on a regular basis, we can equip critical components with sensors to provide continuous monitoring. We can then catch things that we can’t catch with spot checks, and use the additional knowledge to plan when physical inspection is needed, rather than having to inspect the ship at fixed intervals”, says Erik Vanem.
The sensor data is also linked with weather data to calculate the extent of the strain on the hull over time.
“If a ship has taken a lot of beating, we can pay extra attention”, says Erik Vanem.
Even something as seemingly simple as a battery check can quickly save shipping companies large sums of money. Electric ships with large batteries must be taken out of operation a whole day for the annual service.
“This is lost uptime. We look at how it is possible to use statistics to evaluate the batteries. This will save shipowners a lot of money”, says Morten Stakkeland.
One of the big points is maintenance only when needed, rather than at fixed intervals.
“Shipowners could potentially save millions of kroner per ship”, Stakkeland points out.
He believes that data monitoring may be the first step towards driverless ships.
The big challenge is being able to interpret the enormous amounts of data and sound the alarm when necessary, but not otherwise.
“The ultimate goal is to be able to report that the engine is going to fail before it happens”, says Ingrid Glad.
She compares this to looking for something abnormal in the woods without knowing what it is.
“If you are gathering mushrooms, you know exactly what you’re looking for. However, we are looking for something we have never seen in the woods before. That’s much harder”.
The analysis must also take place in real time. This means that the statisticians need to create a system that detects anomalies before the abnormal situation leads to faults or damages. At the same time, they must reduce the likelihood of false alarms. It’s a mathematical challenge.
It’s 6:30 on a calm summer morning. Kirk Taylor, from Rice Point, P.E.I., is about to do something most people wouldn’t — jump from a small pilot boat onto a huge moving cruise ship.
Taylor is a licensed marine pilot with knowledge of local tides, currents, winds and underwater hazards.
He’ll use that knowledge to safely guide the cruise ship under the Confederation Bridge and then into Charlottetown Harbour, the two areas of Prince Edward Island that require pilots.
“In Canadian waters under compulsory pilotage areas, all ships are required to have a licensed pilot to assist in the manoeuvre of the ship,” Taylor said.
But first, Taylor — who boarded the pilot boat at Port Border at sunrise — has to catch up with the Aida Vita in the Northumberland Strait, and then board it.
The 42,289 tonne ship reduces its speed by half, to eight knots, as the pilot boat edges closer to the ship’s hull alongside an open doorway.
A member of the ship’s crew reaches out to help Taylor get on board.
But the seas are not always this calm, and often some of the vessels — such as oil tankers or cargo ships — don’t have a doorway in their hulls.
Instead, the ship’s crew must throw a long rope ladder from the deck, forcing Taylor to make the risky climb up the side of the vessel.
‘It’s a timing issue’
“The bigger issue is the size of the waves,” Taylor said. “If you’ve got two to three metre seas, it’s rising and lowering that distance so you have to time your jump onto the pilot ladder so that the boat’s going down and not coming up. It’s a timing issue.”
Once Taylor is safely inside the doorway, and ship security has cleared him, he’s escorted up to the vessel’s bridge area to meet the captain of the Aida Vita.
Even though Capt. Detlef Harms has previously sailed under the Confederation Bridge, and into Charlottetown, he willingly hands over navigational duties to Taylor.
‘He’s the expert’
“This is our third or fourth call this year,” Harms said. “I believe we could manage it ourselves to pass through the bridge and to enter the Port of Charlottetown,” said Harms.
“But this is normal procedure around the world that we always have to take pilots to enter ports,” he said.
“He’s the expert for some special current and wind situations,” said Harms. “Safety first.”
As the ship enters the Confederation Bridge pilotage zone, Taylor begins calling out readings, safely guiding the ship under the bridge’s 60-metre navigation span and into open water.
Taylor then steps aside for a few hours as the ship heads to the next pilotage zone, just outside the mouth of Charlottetown Harbour.
With time on his hands, Taylor tells me he knew from an early age he wanted to be on the water. He was six when he first started helping on his dad’s fishing boat.
‘I liked on the water’
“My father was a lobster fisherman so I fished lobsters with him,” said Taylor. At 14, he started working full time with his dad. “I liked on the water and thought that was a good career,” he said.
Taylor was 18 when he joined the coast guard. He then got his third-mate’s certificate and became a deck officer on Irving and Shell oil tankers.
These days, aside from his duties as one of three marine pilots on P.E.I., Taylor also fills in as a captain with Northumberland Ferries.
But back to the task at hand. The Aida Vita is about to enter the Charlottetown pilotage zone and once again Taylor steps in to guide the ship into port.
‘Contend with the tide’
He will have to change course a number of times to get though the channel. He also has to contend with the rising and falling tide.
“Depending at which way it’s setting the ship and how the wind affects the ship as you’re making the various course alterations.”
There’s an extra challenge facing Taylor this morning. Another cruise ship has already tied up at the city’s only cruise ship dock — a second berth is expected to be ready for the 2020 season.
The work is not over
For now, the Aida Vita inches past the other cruise ship, turns around 180 degrees and then drops anchor.
Taylor, along with hundreds of passengers are taken ashore in a small fleet of boats. But Taylor’s work is not over.
In late afternoon, as the Aida Vita prepares to leave port, Taylor returns to the ship to guide it out of the harbour.
Once that’s done, Taylor will have to transfer from the cruise ship to a pilot boat that will take him back to shore.
This year, Taylor expects to assist 35 ships in all kinds of weather — from winter storms to calm seas, but he loves every moment of it.
“You just kind of get taken to the sea and enjoy being on the water.”
recipients of 2019 Merchant Navy Medal awards announced
19 mariners to be recognised across a range of categories
3 September 2019 also marks Merchant Navy Day, honouring the significant role our Merchant Navy seafarers make to the UK
A 93-year-old seafarer who began his nautical career in 1943 has been given the highest honour in shipping, Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani has announced today (3 September 2019).
Captain Angus McDonald is one of 19 men and women receiving a Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service to the UK’s maritime industry.
Setting out to sea with the Merchant Navy at the height of World War 2, Captain McDonald served in international waters for more than 20 years and navigated the treacherous seas off the West African coast as a port pilot in Ghana.
Another recipient of this year’s prestigious award is Captain Rachel Dunn, who started her career in the Merchant Navy and later became the first female Admiralty Pilot.
Nusrat Ghani, Maritime Minister, said:
It is a privilege to announce the recipients of this year’s Merchant Navy Medal, for their service both at sea and on land.
These remarkable men and women have gone above and beyond their duty to provide an invaluable service not only to our maritime industry, but to our nation.
Their impressive contributions to the maritime sector have boosted the heart of the industry while also paving the way for the future generations of seafarers – and I would like to thank them for their work.
The annual Merchant Navy Day celebrates the vital role of Merchant Navy seafarers and the contribution they continue to make to our country, as well as their well-known service during wartime.
Other recipients of this year’s medal include Captain Mark Meade, who found his passion for all things maritime working alongside his father on small workboats and tugs.
Throughout his career, Captain Mark Meade has worked to improve the safety and standards of the industry and is now Chairman of the National Workboats Association.
Captain Fran Collins, who started as a cadet and sailed on deep-sea oil and gas tankers, went on to become the first female captain of a Condor ferry and is now the CEO of Red Funnel. She has also been honoured with a Merchant Navy Medal.
The medals will be officially awarded at a ceremony at Trinity House in November.
Orkney’s new pilot vessel arrived at Scapa at the weekend, after a long journey from Spain.
The Scapa Pathfinder was constructed by shipbuilders Astilleros Armon S.A in Northern Spain.
After sea trials, the vessel set off earlier this week – travelling 1,400 nautical miles over four days across the Bay of Biscay, through the English Channel and up the east coast of Britain, before crossing the Pentland Firth and heading into Scapa Flow.
The launch, flanked by another of Orkney’s pilot vessels, the John Rae, was greeted by a small crowd who had gathered on Scapa Pier to see the arrival on Saturday.
The name Scapa Pathfinder was chosen after a public poll earlier this year. Crew familiarisation will now take place – with a naming ceremony planned for late September.
By Amanda Morrow Issued on 02-09-2019Modified 02-09-2019 to 15:15
Macron named “slow steaming” as an environmental priority at the G7 summit, saying it was one of the most effective ways to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. He’s also reportedly looking to create a green shipping lobbying group to drive momentum for the idea.
When France put the idea to the International Maritime Organisation in April, it quickly won the support of more than 100 shipping CEOs – who called for maximum annual average speeds for container ships (the worst polluters), and maximum absolute speeds for other ships.
A question of speed optimisation, not speed limits
However Guy Platten, secretary general of the London-based International Chamber of Shipping, which represents 80 percent of the world’s merchant ships, says that while the industry is “absolutely committed” to CO2 reductions, mandatory speed limits are not the most efficient way to go about it.
“Speed reduction can be a slightly blunt instrument … there’s no one-size-fits-all,” he explains. “It depends on trade, it depends on the weather conditions and a huge number of other factors.”
Platten is in favour of a more tailored approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would put each ship in charge of completing a voyage in the most energy-efficient way possible. The details would be available to inspectors in the form of a mandatory management plan.
It’s a question of speed optimisation; not speed limits, he says. “In other words, the most effective speed that burns the least amount of fuel … Speed optimisation can be very effective along with other measures that include the design of ships, and maybe using alternative types of fuel.”
For more than a year the IMO has been looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions from ships.REUTERS/Hannah McKay
IMO strategy to reduce carbon footprint
For more than a year the IMO, a UN agency, has been looking at ways to reduce carbon emissions from ships. Twelve months before France’s call for speed limits, the maritime body committed to reducing shipping emissions per tonne of transported goods by 40 percent by 2030 – and by 50 percent by 2050.
However France’s position is that, in order to meet the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement, the IMO targets need to go even further – as far as a 70 percent reduction in emissions by 2050.
Furthermore, a June report by the UK-based environmental organisation CDP warned that 18 of the world’s largest shipping companies were not on track to meet the IMO’s own targets – with only three companies investing in carbon-neutral endeavors.
The report found that while slow steaming could reduce emissions by 30 percent, the measure should only be considered a short-term solution. Events of the past are proof that speed matters: when ships voluntarily slowed down following a drop in trade in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the IMO noted a 13 percent drop in emissions.
The IMO is set to discuss the possibility of a speed limit – along with other proposals to cut emissions – at a conference in November.
As the industry grapples with the challenge of producing a carbon-neutral ship, it’s unclear which propulsion sources will be viable. The IMO has identified ammonia, biofuels, electrofuels, hydrogen and nuclear power as fuels that could contribute to meeting its goals.
Any approach to reducing emission has to allow for innovation and the development of new technologies, says Platten.
“Reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050 will inevitably mean the introduction of zero-carbon ships around 2030 – and we are absolutely focused as an industry on making that happen.”