Wednesday, July 5, 2000

France will make shipping safety an EU presidency priority
Where environmental protection is concerned, "the emphasis, from the outset, will be on maritime transport," French President Jacques Chirac, told the European Parliament yesterday. Chirac addressed the parliament to spell out France's priorities for its presidency of the European Union.

Chirac said that the "ecological catastrophe" resulting from the Erika incident was all the more unacceptable in that it was due to human negligence. The French authorities, he said were resolved to see concrete progress, with the support of the parliament, in the coming months on measures to protect European coasts from a repeat of the Erika drama. The measures in question included those that had already been proposed by the French authorities and the European Commission--"and those that will be."

U.K. authorities detain tanker
Britain's MCA (Marine and Coastguard Agency yesterday responded to an alert from the Sullom Voe Terminal in Shetland that water was weeping from the side of the 52,664 gt Bahrainian flagged ship, Almanama (ex. Planier) IMO No: 8908222, call sign: A9GB

The ship was built in 1991 and is owned and managed by the Arab Maritime Petroleum Co.

The leak seemed to be coming by way of the loading/discharge pipes amidships, the ship has a double hull in the area, and the leak seemed to be coming from the segregated ballast tanks which contains seawater. Similar problems were evident on the other side of the vessel.

Stuart Pearce, the MCA surveyor in Shetland went onboard just before 11 a.m. yesterday..He reported transverse cracks in the shipside plating, on the rounded gunwale. The cracks, which are similar on both port and starboard sides, are about 200 mm long and run from the point where the vertical support posts of 150 mm diameter are welded to the deck. There are signs of corrosion around the base of the posts, which are designed to support the loading/discharge pipelines where they pass over the side of the ship.

Pearce verbally detained the ship for non-compliance with Load Line Regulations - strength of ships and water integrity. Det Norske Veritas, the classification society involved was informed and the MCA surveyor prepared to carry out a Port State Control inspection of the vessel.

The vessel was last inspected in Bilbao (Spain) on February 22, 2000 and no defects were recorded. The ship had been previously inspected under the U.K . Port State Control at Leith on January 25, 2000, when six relatively minor defects in lifeboat inventory, rescue boat embarkation arrangements and pilot ladders were recorded.

Pearce said after his initial inspection:

" The MCA along with the Paris MOU members are presently greatly concerned with tanker conditions, and in the wake of the 'ERIKA' disaster off the coast of France just before Christmas last year, the Committee of the Paris MOU recently announced its intention to undertake a concentrated inspection campaign on oil tankers from September to November this year. This campaign will target oil tankers over 15 years of age and over 30, 00 gt and focus on both structural and operational aspects.

" The MCA will continue to send out a very strong and clear message that only tankers of the highest quality can expect to operate into Paris MOU ports.

" The checklist we have developed covers aspects of the ship's operation and also the inspection of both ballast and cargo tanks when they are available for entry."

Skaugen to order up to ten ethylene carriers
I.M. Skaugen ASA, Oslo , (IMS) has reached a preliminary agreement with the Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai, China to order up to ten 8,400 cu.m ethylene gas carriers.

"It is the first time we are seeing that new buildings are becoming not only a viable but also an attractive alternative for our company," said Skaugen. The order will be firm for four vessels, with an option for six more. The total delivered cost of all 10 vessels will be about $220 million.

CEO Morits Skaugen, Jr . said the project was in line with Skaugen's
strategy to strengthen the position of its NGC (Norwegian Gas Carriers) unit as the second largest ethylene carrier in the world and its long term objective of renewing the NGC gas carrying fleet.

The vessels will all be part of the NGC fleet which currently consists of 14 gas carriers (13 with ethylene capacity) and with about 100,000 cu. m capacity.

Skaugen will own 50% of a new company that will be the buyer
of the four new carriers.

Skaugen says that IMS has determined that "certain Chinese yards are very competitive in the world - on both price and quality of construction for such gas carriers. It chose Zhonghua "due to its 'on time' and 'on specification' delivery performance record and the fact that the well reputed Shanghai Edwards Shipyard, which has long experience in building such gas carriers, is now a part of this yard."

Skaugen said that in recent years IMS has explored "several acquisition possibilities in the second-hand market without finding the ideal candidates at the right price and terms."

"We then started, and have spent the last several months, investigating various newbuilding alternatives and developing state of the art designs," said Skaugen. Newbuilding prices for such vessels have declined about 35% over the last five years and "it is believed that this declining trend has now stopped and that such prices may increase somewhat again." Excluding the 10 IMS newbuildings, the newbuilding orderbook in this segment (semi refrigerated LPG fleet from 4,000 up to 22,000 cu. m) currently stands at 17 units incl uding four options, which amounts to 9.3% of the present fleet. This corresponds to about a 5% increase in the fleet for delivery in 2000, 1.9% for 2001, 1.7% for 2002 and 0.4% for 2003 .

Call for black boxes on newbuildings
Black box recorders--Voyage Data Recorders--should be fitted to all new commercial ships worldwide, says John Lang, the U.K.'s Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents.

Publishing the annual report of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), Lang said a Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) can provide vital information in investigating accidents.

"The continued failure to install VDRs in ships, and the implacable refusal by some flag states to even countenance fitting them on economic grounds, continues to hamper investigations," said Lang. "I have argued repeatedly for VDRs to be a standard fit on all new vessels. Until they are, marine accident investigators the world over will be denied the opportunity to identify the main and underlying causes of whatever occurred.

"I most strongly recommend that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) takes the necessary measures, without delay, to ensure VDRs can be fitted in all new construction vessels," he added.

"While recognizing that such recorders can never provide all the answers, I am in no doubt that until they are fitted to all commercial vessels and, arguably, to fishing vessels as well, we will never identify many of the reasons why accidents happen at sea."

Lang pointed to human error as the main cause of accidents at sea.

The most frequent problems were:

  • failure to keep a proper lookout;
  • the lack of a team approach to crisis management;
  • the failure to consider the consequences of taking 'a short cut' during a routine operation.

Lang also said fatigue remains one of the most endemic problems, especially in the short sea trade.

"I have become increasingly concerned." said Lang, "by the relentless increase in the workload of some masters and chief officers. This is most pronounced in vessels where, once again, manning levels have been reduced. Too often we find they are very, very tired."

London Club backs piracy video
Piracy and armed robbery continue to be a major problem in a number of parts of the world. To help ships, crews and ship operators tackle the problem, the London P&I Club has sponsored a major new video training program that outlines practical steps that both crews and managers can take to minimize the risk of attack, and minimize the impact of any attack which does take place.

"The safety of ships, crews is of paramount importance to our members," says Lance Johnson, a director of A Bilbrough & Co, managers of the London Club. "We are pleased to support this training package, which will be of real practical use to crews who trade to areas where armed robbery and piracy are still too common. We hope that if crews follow the advice given it will make their lives safer, and also help authorities world wide to eradicate piracy."

Developed by Videotel Marine International, the training package consists of a video and the ICS publication "Pirates and Armed Robbers, a master's guide." The training program shows how ships can assess risks in different areas, and gives examples of practical means of deterring attack. It also shows how crews should conduct themselves during an attack in order to ensure their safety. It goes on to detail the actions to be taken following an attack, emphasizing the need to inform the authorities in the correct format.


MacGregor acquires U.S. galley specialist
The MacGregor Group has acquired Miami-based cruise ship galley technology specialist Atlas Marine Services Inc. This follows the acquisition last year of French galley specialist Tanel International SA.

Atlas Marine Services is a custom metal fabricator specializing in the modernization of galleys on board cruise ships and yachts.

"With the acquisition of Atlas Marine, we are able to offer complete galley technology solutions worldwide, from innovative concept design to material supply, installation and after sales service," says Vilhelm Roberts, general manager of MacGregor's Passenger Ship Division. "Atlas Marine's capabilities will serve to complement MacGregor's existing expertise in the area."

Recent significant Atlas contracts include:

  • 'Alternative dining' equipment and renovations to the main galleys and Lido catering areas on eight Holland America Line vessels
  • USPHS upgrades to Pacific Princess (Princess Cruises)
  • Turn-key galley delivery (except for electrical) for Caledonian Star (Lindblad Special Expeditions
  • Two complete galleys for the 152 ft yacht The Highlander (Forbes Inc) and the 260 ft yacht Lone Ranger (private owner)
  • Delivery of a complete new galley and two dining room buffet lines for Enchanted Sun (Commodore Cruise Line)


European Commission clears Dutch dredging merger
The European Commission has given its green light to a merger between Koninklijke Boskalis Westminster and Hollandse Beton Groep, both active in the dredging sector. The all-Dutch merger will create a leading player in the market for large dredging projects but this will not create a dominant position either in the European Economic Area nor in the Netherlands.

The Commission noted in particular that the award of dredging contracts is done through open tendering, mostly by public procurement.

The Commission found that the merged entity will face sufficient competition from other big players both on the European and worldwide market, including in the Netherlands where there will remain three sizable competitors and many small players.

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