Number of containership fires is ‘shocking’

Source: American Shipper

Allianz consultant is concerned that risk is being normalized in the shipping industry.

The fires onboard the Hapag-Lloyd ship Yantian Express off the coast of Nova Scotia and the car carrier Serenity Ace in the North Pacific are highlighting what have become frighteningly commonplace occurrences.
The first week of 2019 brought a spate of serious shipping accidents that has continued this week. On Tuesday a fire and series of explosions on a tanker off of Hong Kong resulted in the death and injury of several crew members. South China Morning Post reports one crew member died, two are still missing and seven were taken to a hospital when the Vietnam-registered tanker Aulac Fortune exploded as it was taking on fuel.  
Insurer TT Club wrote last year, “Sources suggest that container fires may occur on a weekly basis and statistics indicate there is a major container cargo fire at sea roughly every 60 days.”
    Andrew Kinsey, senior risk consultant at the insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, which publishes an annual Safety and Shipping Review, said, “It is a truly shocking figure when you look at what a single container on fire can develop into.” 
    The cause of the fire on the 7,510-TEU Yantian Express is unknown, but Hapag-Lloyd said it began on Thursday in a single container and spread to additional containers. The ship was en route to Halifax from the Far East, having transited the Suez Canal.
   High winds have made fighting the fire difficult. A salvage tug, Smit Nicobar, arrived on Friday, and as the fire spread on the containership, a decision was made to transfer the crew from the ship to the tug on Saturday and Sunday. 
    Hapag-Lloyd spokesman Tim Siefert told American Shipper on Tuesday that the a second tug, Maersk Mobiliser, arrived at the Yantian Express on Monday and both tugs, which are equipped with water cannons, are now fighting the fire, which is in containers in the forward part of the ship. He said the ship is still 800 miles from Nova Scotia. It is not known how many containers are on fire.
    The cause of a fire aboard the 650-foot car carrier Sincerity Ace (pictured above) on New Year’s Eve is also unknown. That ship caught fire on Dec. 31. The crew abandoned ship, but only 16 crew members were rescued and five are reported to have died.
Autoweek reported that the ship contained 3,500 cars, most of which are Nissans. A tug was due to arrive at the scene of the fire on Monday.
    Kinsey said he is concerned about “normalization of risk” in the shipping industry.
   “We accept too much in the maritime environment,” he said, pointing to reports about improper stowage of hazardous cargo.
    Ian Lennard, president of National Cargo Bureau, said, “In 2017, we inspected more than 31,000 containers and portable tanks. About 4 percent of the containers that we inspected revealed improperly secured hazardous materials inside the containers. Of the 1,721 vessel stow plans we inspected in 2017, 20 percent revealed errors in regard to the IMDG Code and/or the vessel’s document of compliance. About 6 percent of all inspections had placarding issues. Some containers had both deficiencies. The overall failure rate was 9 percent.”
    Kinsey said, “We would never accept that type of error in aviation, but yet in maritime we continue to.” 
    Lennard pointed out that the inspections his company traditionally has done are of containers carrying cargo being exported from the U.S. and are for repeat customers. 
    He expects random inspections would uncover an even bigger problem.
   In a customer notice issued on Monday, Maersk said it and other carriers in the industry are working to improve container safety and that the National Cargo Bureau has begun random inspections of inbound containers to the U.S. “to remove some of the risk from mis-declared or incorrectly stuffed containers” under a program that was announced last summer.
    Lennard said NCB is inspecting 500 containers under an initiative with Maersk and other members of the Cargo Incident Notification System. “It should be illuminating because it is looking at containers that are not traditionally inspected.”
    He said a little less than 300 containers have been inspected and expected the initiative to be completed within several months. “We should have some meaningful and probably some shocking numbers when we are done with the 500.”
    John Verhoeckx, owner of the four-man company Port Supervisor that performs inspections of containers in Rotterdam, told American Shipper last year that in 2017 his firm inspected about 4,000 outbound containers or about 15 percent of the outbound containers containing hazardous materials shipped by his company’s clients. About 10 percent of those containers were improperly placarded or labeled and 23 percent were rejected because of problems with lashing or securing of cargo. (There was some overlap between the two groups.) His clients include Hapag-Lloyd, ONE and Yang Ming.
    Kinsey does not believe there is a need for stricter dangerous goods rules, but said there is a need for better compliance with existing regulations as well as “greater vigilance in inspection and prosecution of people who are not complying.” 
   He said some shippers are motivated to cheat because they find they can ship cargo more cheaply if they mis-declare cargo.
    Kinsey also believes that on ultra-large contanerships there is not sufficient firefighting capability onboard ships and notes severe weather is a contributing factor when ships experience major fires.
    In September, Maersk said while it was still waiting for an investigation to establish the cause of a fire aboard the Maersk Honam last March that resulted in the death of five crew members, it had implemented new guidelines to improve safety on its container vessels. (Maersk declared general average after the fire. The process of determining the total cost of the fire is still not completed and the Maersk Honam is currently in Dubai while the company is determines its future.)
Maersk said after the fire it developed “risk-based dangerous goods stowage principles” so that, for example, “cargo covered under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code will no longer be stowed next to accommodation and the main propulsion plant, which is defined as the zone with the lowest risk tolerance. Similarly, risk tolerance will be low below deck and in the middle of the vessel, whereas the risk tolerance will be higher on deck fore and aft.”

Drones, AI and unmanned boats to be used to improve North East ports

Source: Chronicle Live

The SAINTS project is examining how new technology can improve efficiency and boost trade in ports

Port of Tyne aerial view
Port of Tyne aerial view (Image: Steve Ellwood)

The SAINTS project is examining how new technology can improve efficiency and boost trade in ports

Drones, artificial intelligence (AI), and unmanned sea vessels will be used in North East ports in an effort to boost trade and improve the economy.

Five ports from across the region have banded together to form the Smart Port North East Testbed, which aims to find out how satellite-based technology and digital programmes can solve problems faced by the businesses.

The test bed hopes that using technologies such as AI, drones, and data analytics will help the ports become more ‘intelligent’ by increasing efficiency, tracking cargo, reducing costs, improving security and protect the environment.

Port of Blyth
Port of Blyth (Image: FlyPro-UK Ltd)

The Port of Tyne, Port of Sunderland, Teesport, Port of Berwick and the Port of Blyth have all signed up to the new project. It is the first initiative of the Situational Awareness Information National Technology Service (SAINTS), which was recently launched by the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence.

Stuart Martin, CEO of the Satellite Applications Catapult, said: “Satellites have been providing services for the maritime economy for many years, with advanced technology for navigation and communications the norm in the sector. But as international trade continues to grow unabated, this initiative from SAINTS is an exciting new opportunity for UK companies to make significant technological advances for ports, and show what is possible from a combination of satellite data, terrestrial measurements and AI.

“By developing this collaboration between innovative companies and the ports themselves, the North East Satellite Applications Centre of Excellence offers the hope of long-term business growth in the North East and with it, jobs in a highly skilled and growing sector.”

SAINTS brings together experts from business, universities and the public sector to use AI to analyse data and come up with solutions for a range of challenges affecting the country.

The North East was found to be an ideal location for the test bed as its local economy is strongly tied to its ports.New wind turbines off the coast of Blyth

During the project Port of Berwick will look at how new technology can be used to increase collaboration between the port and its hinterland, and grow the economy by increasing tourism.

As Port of Blyth is home to EDF’s Blyth Offshore Demonstrator Wind Farm, it will focus on how technology can help service the renewable and green energy sectors.

Meanwhile, Port of Sunderland will look to improve customer service and efficiencies within its freight business, while Teesport will attempt to improve its logistics and warehousing processes.

Port of Tyne will work with Smart Port Rotterdam on operational efficiency initiatives across the North Sea. This is because the only passenger ferry service from the North East to mainland Europe sails from Port of Tyne

Catherine Johns, innovation director at Business Durham, said: “Ports play a vital role in the regional and national economy, providing trading gateways to the rest of the world, with a massive impact on local supply chains and communities.

“The launch of SAINTS illustrates the important role the region’s fast-growing satellite and space sector can play in finding solutions to local issues and developing them to solve global problems in a sustainable way. The test bed provides an opportunity to pool the knowledge built up in one of our longest established industries with that of one of our newest.”

Even Dutch planning can’t avoid the chaos of a no-deal Brexit

Source: Brisbane Times

7 January 2019 — 11:44am

Rotterdam: The Hook of Holland, a stretch of land outside Rotterdam sliced by canals, functions in many ways like Britain’s backyard. Greenhouses stretch for miles, nurturing tulips, tomatoes and other supermarket specialties. The bounty is gathered into warehouses and sorted under signs denoting destinations such as Sheffield and Gateshead. Then trucks whisk it all onto ferries headed across the North Sea.

Thanks to this precisely calibrated ecosystem and the European Union’s borderless trading zone, British shops can order fresh produce early in the morning and receive it by the end of the day.

A pro-Brexit demonstrator waves a placard with others outside the Houses of Parliament in London.
A pro-Brexit demonstrator waves a placard with others outside the Houses of Parliament in London.AP

But a no-deal Brexit threatens to throw it all into chaos, resulting in trucks backed up for miles, vegetables spoiled and economic pain for everyone.

The Netherlands – Britain’s main trading partner on mainland Europe – is among the most-prepared for the possibility that Britons will leave the EU on March 29 without a deal to manage the withdrawal. Leaders here fear that the best efforts of a nation that loves to be prepared may not be enough to safeguard against the mess. And Britain’s other trading partnerships in Europe could be even worse off.

“Everyone is fully aware that something is going to happen,” said Mark Dijk, the head of external relations at the Port of Rotterdam, whose docks, rail yards and warehouses handle nearly 1 million tonnes of goods moving to and from Britain every week. The port has been working on Brexit emergency plans for more than a year and is trying to alert businesses that they need to brace for a wave of restrictions.

Britain’s efforts to manage the withdrawal “are so chaotic that it’s hard for people to be sure there won’t be a (no-deal) Brexit,” Dijk said.

Port officials in Britain warn that increasing the average time it takes trucks to clear customs by as little as two minutes could lead to 27-kilometre traffic jams.
Port officials in Britain warn that increasing the average time it takes trucks to clear customs by as little as two minutes could lead to 27-kilometre traffic jams. Bloomberg

No precedent exists for a country scissoring itself out of the interconnected modern world. And yet that outcome appears increasingly likely, as the British Parliament prepares to resume debate on a draft withdrawal agreement that has meagre support.

In a no-deal scenario, London’s powerful banks could find themselves in legal limbo when they want to trade in Europe’s market. Millions of British citizens who have lived and worked in the EU legally for years, as well as EU nationals in Britain, could suddenly become undocumented. Connections between British and European law enforcement agencies would go dark.

British leaders have warned of shortages of food and medicines, and they have asked importers to build stockpiles. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has put 3500 troops on standby to deal with potential disruptions. In all, cabinet ministers have approved $3.2 billion of contingency spending.

The countries that will remain in the EU also are amping up their no-deal preparations. Irish MPs may have to set aside all other business this month to pass 45 pieces of emergency legislation aimed at mitigating the impact of Brexit. France is building roads, warehouses and checkpoints near its ports in preparation for new customs controls.

Orders from British merchants for produce such as Dutch tulips can be placed in the morning and delivered that afternoon, for now.
Orders from British merchants for produce such as Dutch tulips can be placed in the morning and delivered that afternoon, for now.Alamy

The EU’s headquarters in Brussels unveiled a list of proposals to protect EU citizens from the worst consequences of a no-deal Brexit, but that would offer little relief to the British side. British airlines, for example, would be able to carry passengers to EU airports only from Britain.

Here in the Netherlands, exports to Britain could fall by 17 per cent if Brexit happens without a deal, according to a study from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Dutch government is scrambling to limit the damage, hiring nearly 1000 more customs agents for the inspections that would become necessary. The agency, whose officials inspect meat, dairy and animals, is scouring Eastern Europe for veterinarians and giving them crash courses in Dutch because they cannot find enough qualified people at home. And a legion of Dutch farmers and flower growers who take orders from British customers are worried that their supply lines could get tangled in bureaucratic knots.

“It’s all fresh, so you need to be able to deliver on very short notice,” said Pim Leenheer, who works in sales at a Dutch company, DailyFresh Logistics, that organises food and flower shipments to Britain.

Trucks can arrive as little as 15 minutes before ships are scheduled to leave.
Trucks can arrive as little as 15 minutes before ships are scheduled to leave. Alamy

On a gusty afternoon last month, tractor-trailers were arriving as little as 15 minutes before the vast Stena Hollandica ferry – which can hold 4 kilometres of trucks – pulled away. At the other end of the journey, in the British port of Harwich, the ferry can unload in 30 to 45 minutes, said Annika Hult, who directs North Sea shipping for the Stena Line.

The process goes quickly in part because no customs agents are involved. In 1993, countries that belonged to what was then called the European Economic Community pulled down their customs posts and stopped checks between countries.

Little would change if British MPs approve the withdrawal deal negotiated by the EU and Prime Minister Theresa May. Britain would remain inside the EU customs union at least until new trade agreements are devised.

But Britain’s leaving with no deal in place would set trade back decades.

“All of a sudden, you’re going to have certain checks,” Hult said.

Businesses would need to file paperwork with EU and British customs agencies when they want to send shipments between countries. Food and animals would need inspections on both sides. Truck drivers already pass through passport checks, since Britain is not a member of Europe’s passport-free travel area, but the post-Brexit checks would be far stricter. Dutch lawmakers are digging into their archives to figure out which old treaties with Britain might still be in force. Some date to the 1940s and 1950, when Europe was rebuilding after World War II.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is greeted by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte upon her arrival in The Hague, Netherlands, on  December 11.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is greeted by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte upon her arrival in The Hague, Netherlands, on December 11.AP

Some shipping and logistics companies expect that what currently takes a day to get to Britain could take a day-and-a-half – a dramatic increase for a system whose margins of error are measured in minutes. They also fear the roads leading to the ports will turn into parking lots. At present, there is no overflow space for trucks that cannot be driven straight onto ships. There has been no need.

“It’s like a queue in the supermarket. If the queue gets just a little bit larger than the capacity of the cashiers, the queue expands exponentially,” said Pieter Omtzigt, a Dutch MP who is responsible for his country’s Brexit preparations.

Hult said ferry operators such as hers were ready to find ways to speed any customs checks – if only they knew what to expect.

“The challenge here is the lack of clarity,” she said. “If there’s certainty about what the framework is going to look like, and if the systems are there, we can act quite fast.”

The agencies that will have to do the inspections are bracing for complications.

“The feeling is that we are doing what we can to be prepared as possible, but I won’t say that there won’t be any incidents in the first weeks,” said Jan Meijer, director of inspection at the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority.

Dutch authorities estimate that 35,000 small and medium-size Dutch businesses do business with Britain but have no experience with customs, since they keep their commerce inside the E.U. They would either have to navigate the complicated new terrain or cut off ties to Britain. The government is trying to get them ready. It is as if Illinois businesses suddenly need to contend with an international frontier to trade with Indiana – and have less than three months to figure out how to do so.

“If we are preparing and companies are not preparing, then everything breaks down,” said Nanette van Schelven, the director general of the Dutch customs authority. The agency has been running disaster drills to prepare for chaos.

“That’s basically the motto of this government: Hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” she said.

But Dutch policymakers are nervous that Dutch businesses may still be too complacent.

“There’s still a lot of rationalising going around, saying, ‘Things surely wouldn’t get that bad, would they?’ ” said Rem Korteweg, a senior research fellow at Clingendael, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, who has advised Dutch MPs and businesses about preparations for Brexit. “There’s a lot of wishful thinking going around, and that’s a problem.”

The Washington Post

Marine shipping safety shifts towards human-centred approach


Marine shipping safety shifts towards human-centred approach

The Port of Vancouver is the third largest container port in North America and the 47th largest in the world. It handles around $100 billion-worth of container cargo each year, and, in 2017, it accounted for 42% of the cargo handled by all Canadian ports. Vancouver is a crucial hub of Canadian trade, and container traffic to the West Coast is growing fast.

The importance of the marine shipping trade is not lost on Canadians. Findings of a recent study conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in partnership with the Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping show that 55% of Canadian respondents believe the marine shipping trade has grown in importance over the past two decades. This is largely because of the industry’s importance to the Canadian economy, access to imported goods and access to export markets.

Public opinion of the maritime industry is relatively high, according to the study. Approximately 75% of Canadians said they are confident in the rules and regulations governing marine shipping safety in Canada today. However, almost half of the respondents said they felt their provincial and federal governments pay too little attention to shipping safety, oversight and enforcement. This is important because there’s lots of competition within the maritime industry to get the right crews with the appropriate skills to run modern ships. If Canadians aren’t convinced by the safety onboard the ships, they could start turning their back on the industry.

“The [maritime] industry is safer now than it has been for quite a long time. We’ve had the International Safety Management (ISM) code in place for the last 20 years, and it has been running reasonably well. It has focused around putting mechanical systems and barriers in place to stop accidents happening, and it has had good results for the industry,” said Colin Gillespie, director, loss prevention, at leading marine liability insurer, The North of England P&I Association Limited (North).

“Now the industry’s moving towards safety management 2.0. It’s a move away from the mechanistic systems approach to safety towards a more human-centred approach that focuses around the seafarers and the people within the industry. That shift is absolutely key moving forwards for a number of reasons.

“For a long time, the shipping industry has been invisible. If something went wrong at sea, you wouldn’t get the same publicity as you would around an airline or aircraft incident. But that’s changing from a number of aspects. Today, there’s more focus from the authorities around what goes on at sea and it’s becoming less acceptable to have incidents, particularly if pollution is involved. The industry doesn’t look good if it gets into the mainstream press and people say bad things about it. That creates a problem because you can’t recruit the right calibre of people into the industry. The industry realizes that it needs to improve safety, and how does it do that? Mechanistic systems have taken them so far, but the people who operate those systems have to take them the rest of the way – and that’s why safety management needs to be human-centred.”

There are a number of “commercial drivers” behind safety management 2.0, according to Gillespie. First off, in today’s connected, modern world, it’s no longer acceptable to have an incident where a ship is delayed, or even worse, where a ship doesn’t get to its destination, because that means the cargo doesn’t reach its destination. Such an incident means bad publicity and the potential for a heavy insurance claim.

Furthermore, as the industry modernizes and implements technological changes to improve operational and commercial efficiency, seafarers are going to need more support and training (also part of safety management 2.0) around how to use new equipment and how to interact with people and systems differently.

“Everybody within the shipping industry needs to be commercially reactive when it comes to safety management,” Gillespie added. “The technological changes going on in the industry now are unprecedented. There will be a lot of technology coming on to ships that’s driven by research, particularly into autonomous vessels, and all of this stuff will spill over into the manned industry.”

It’s vital that seafarers are educated and trained on how to use these new complex systems if marine shipping firms want to avoid costly claims.

New Year 2019

After a quiet new year’s eve in #portofrotterdam , on january 1st 2019 the port started filling up again with containerships which had been waiting at anchor at sea. The CMA CGM MUMBAI, with 338 meters, drawing 13,5 meters, was the first large vessel to enter the Amazonehaven DDE Terminal. Assisted by 2 tugs, she entered stern first towards her berth.