Monday, April 10 2000

Chiles goes to Keppel for ultra premium jackup
Chiles Offshore LLC has ordered a KFELS MOD V ``B'' design, cantilevered jackup drilling rig from Keppel FELS Limited, Singapore. Total construction cost is estimated not to exceed $110.0 million, including owner-furnished equipment.
The KFELS MOD V ``B'' is a Keppel proprietary design modeled on the MOD V harsh-environment jackups and will be delivered with a leg
length between 475 ft and 545 ft.

Keppel chairman and managing director C.B. Choo said the order marked the launch of a design intended to ultimately replace the generation of jackups built in the 1970's. "The MOD V platform, jacking systems and their configuration," he said, "incorporate modern engineering concepts that improve productivity, enhance safety, and provide added independence from supply lines and environmental conditions."

Chiles CEO and president William Chiles said "our goal is to augment our position in the ultra-premium, deep-water jackup market niche.
We believe, in the next three to five years the demand for high productivity jackups will increase." He noted that the new rig will embrace digital technology and state-of-the-art information and communication systems.

The rig is being ordered through a dedicated Chiles subsidiary will be funded by a bank loan and new equity that will be invested by Chiles Offshore, which itself is 58.3% owned by New York Stock Exchange-listed Seacor Smit. Inc.

CHILES recently took delivery of two ultra-premium, deep-water jackup rigs, the Chiles Columbus and the Chiles Magellan from Keppel's AMFELS subsidiary in Brownsville,Texas. Chiles also, recently bare-boat chartered the Tonala from Perforadora Central S.A. de C.V. of Mexico.

RINA says Erika cracking could have been controlled
Italian classification society RINA has issued its preliminary technical report into the causes of the sinking of the Maltese-flag tanker Erika during a major storm in December. The results of the RINA internal technical investigation indicate that the Erika was presumably lost because an initial crack in the low part of the hull below the water line was misjudged and mishandled, allowing it to develop until the hull broke up eighteen hours later. The ship was not lost because of an overall hull girder collapse but because it suffered a progressive structural failure.

RINA's report, jointly prepared with Three Quays Marine Services and Studio Tecnico Navale Ansaldo, says the crack may have originated from a defect or brittle fracture in way of the bilge.The bilge is known to be one of the most problematic areas due to the presence of the bile keel, welds connecting the internal structures to the shell and welds of building blocks. During the first classification survey of the ship carried out by RINA when the ship was in Bijela, Montenegro, in 1998, five access openings were made by the yard on the curved shell plating in way of the bilge, in way of water ballast tank No.2, starboard. The presence of a latent defect in that area cannot be excluded. This might have developed to become an initial crack. "The matter certainly deserves further consideration," says the RINA report.

"Many cases are known of ships whose structures suffered cracks, but with proper handling, the situation was kept under control," says Nicola Squassafichi, managing director of RINA. "This crack, whatever its origin, could hardly have led, in eighteen hours, to the deterioration of the situation and the loss of the ship, in the absence of other contributory factors, in particular the mishandling of the ship and insufficient support from the shore."

Factors which are also deemed to have contributed to the ship loss are

  • the loading sequence and resulting loading condition at departure,
  • the effect of the heated cargo,
  • the bad sea conditions during the last voyages, and
  • the repairs carried out during the ship's life.

"Based on the internal investigation concerning the activities carried out by RINA for classification and statutory purposes, and subject to further investigations on the origin of the crack, which might have arisen during the repair works, RINA takes the view that it has substantially complied with the applicable rules, guidelines and procedures," says Squassafichi. "It is appropriate to recall that the proper operation and maintenance of the ship is solely under the responsibility of the shipowners or the ship managers. As specified by the rules for ship classification, the concept of class implies that the ship is loaded, operated and maintained in a proper manner by competent and qualified crew and shore personnel. Shipowners or ship managers should ensure proper control, care and maintenance of the ship in the period between class surveys."

RINA says the events that led to the loss of the ship and their sequence highlighted the utmost importance of the competence and preparedness of the crew and the company in handling emergency situations. RINA is considering this issue in depth, with the view to proposing further improvements in the present requirements of the ISM Code and their implementation to the competent organizations.London Club increases tonnage and maintains quality

RINA is calling on the EU and all shipping organizations to campaign for the establishment of a coastal state regime, which would identify ports of refuge and publicize the fact that they are equipped and able to handle casualties. Authorities in such ports should also be able to give proactive assistance to ships in distress, particularly in situations where the crew or owners/managers are not responding appropriately and human lives or the marine environment are at risk.

Cruise industry employees sentenced for Alaska pollution
U.S. District Judge James Singleton in Anchorage, Alaska, last week sentenced three Dutch nationals, Nanne Hogendoorn, Hantje deJong and Dirk Smeenk, for violations of the Clean Water Act. Each was sentenced to two years unsupervised probation and a fine of $10,000.

Hogendoorn, Holland America's director of technical operations in Seattle, is the first shore-based cruise industry employee ever sentenced for a criminal violation of the Clean Water Act. DeJong and Smeenk were second engineers aboard the ss Rotterdam, a Holland America ship that sailed in the Alaskan Inland Passage during the summer of 1994. Each of the defendants plead guilty on December 9, 1999, to one count of negligently violating the Clean Water Act by discharging bilge water containing a harmful quantity of oil into waters of the United States.

According to the Department of Justice, Smeenk and deJong were responsible for discharging oily bilge water directly overboard, without treating it first by pumping it through an oil water separator on the ss Rotterdam. At the time, the vessel's oil water separator often did not work. Although Hogendoorn was aware of the problems, he did not order repairs to the system. His criminal liability is based on his failure to correct the problem, which he knew would result in illegal consequences.

"The Alaskan coastal waters are some of our country's most important natural resources," said Lois J. Schiffer Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. "It is inexcusable that Holland America would benefit economically from these very waters and pollute them at the same time."

In June of 1998, the Dutch corporation that operated the ss Rotterdam for Holland America, HAL Beheer BV, was sentenced on charges of felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and paid a $1 million dollar fine and $1 million in restitution.

The investigation of the corporation and the individuals sentenced last week began following a tip from a vessel crew member who
refused an order to pump unprocessed oily bilge water overboard. Federal law prohibits the dumping of this waste into coastal waters within three miles of U.S. shoreline. Willem Spierens, also a Dutch national, was the chief engineer aboard the Rotterdam at the time of the violations and was also charged, but has not appeared in the United States.


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