MH370, Polar Code Spark SAR Rethink

By Wendy Laursen 2015-10-12 23:48:40

Silversea Cruises recently announced that it will convert its elite cruise ship Silver Cloud into an ice-class ship during an extensive refurbishment scheduled to start in August 2017. As an expedition ship, the Silver Cloud will then spend much of its time in Polar waters carrying a guest compliment of 200 people.

The move follows other cruise lines’ expansion in to the Arctic. In August next year, Crystal Serenity will sail from Alaska, through the Canadian Arctic to Greenland and then New York with 1,050 guests and 650 crew members on board.

More people are wishing to explore icy environments, says Peter Hellberg, manager responsible for the SAR process at the Swedish Maritime Administration. Hellberg is part of an IMO/International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) working group that is re-evaluating search and rescue (SAR) operations in Polar waters as a result of this push.

The working group includes both a maritime and aeronautical perspective, and it has identified a need for more detailed guidance for SAR organizations which will be achieved through an update of the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR) planned for 2019.

While the IAMSAR manual is not mandatory, it is followed by most SAR organizations around the world. It provides the framework for setting up a multi-national SAR, giving different parties guidance on the necessary arrangements for Arctic areas.

The guidance will be expanded on based on the Polar Code and other recent IMO regulatory updates, and from an aeronautical perspective, from lessons learned after the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines’ MH370.

This disaster led ICAO to propose a distress tracking concept which could apply to SAR air operations including the carriage of emergency locator transmitters, automatically deployable flight recorders and extended duration cockpit voice recordings.

“There is actually very little written in the IAMSAR manual about the operational procedures in areas remote from SAR activities,” said Hellberg. “The Arctic is a remote area, and there is a lack of SAR facilities, a lack of rescue units, so if cruise ships go into Polar areas, they are very much reliant on themselves if there is a problem. It’s going to take time to reach them if they are in distress. It could take a couple of days to move assets to the location, and there is not so much written about the procedures to be used in this type of SAR operation in the IAMSAR manual.”

Hellberg says that, from a SAR perspective, the most important thing about the Polar Code is that it creates a framework and highlights the challenges that a ship and its crew will face when traveling in areas remote from SAR facilities.

“The IAMSAR, in three different volumes, is the SAR operational link between the Polar Code and ship safety. It is designed to make sure that the global SAR service has the operational capability to conduct a SAR mission in areas remote from SAR facilities, to give a global guidance for this and also to set a global SAR standard on how to do it. The IAMSAR manual will also assist and guide developing countries around our globe to set up a SAR service in areas remote from SAR facilities. The IAMSAR manual also shares SAR experience between countries which is important for the development of the global SAR service and the further development of IAMSAR manual.”

Meanwhile, there is some work to follow up the Polar Code itself. IMO is working on the development of guidance on a methodology for determining limitations for operation in ice. An MSC correspondence group, under the coordination of Norway, is examining the Polar Operational Limit Assessment Risk Indexing System (POLARIS) developed by IACS which has been endorsed as one acceptable system for meeting the guidance. The correspondence group will report on the matter to MSC 96 in May 2016.

Also, there are additional performance standards that are yet to be included in chapters 8 (Fire safety/protection) and 9 (Life-saving appliances and arrangements) of the Polar Code. The Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) has been instructed to consider the issues and advise MSC 97 on the best way to proceed.


Beijing Forest Police Smash Wildlife Trafficking Ring

By MarEx 2015-10-12 21:15:03

China’s Beijing Forest Police have arrested 16 suspects in a major wildlife trafficking case code-named “May 21”, which led to the confiscation of wildlife products including 804.4 kg ivory, 11.3 kg rhino horn and 35 bear paws.

Beijing Forest Police told a press conference the seizure was the biggest ever in terms of the scale of the smuggling operations behind it. Police said the total value of the haul was in the region of RMB24 million (almost $4 million).

The criminal gang behind the trafficking were said to possess their own processing factory, warehouses and vehicles for transportation. The three month operation uncovered a trafficking ring that led from Japan through Hong Kong to mainland China, where the gang was said to operate across a network that ranged from Guangdong to Shandong and Beijing, using antique shops as cover for their operations and using online illegal trading and couriers for their distribution. Some of the goods were transported by sea to their destination.

The Beijing Forest Police announcement came just days after China and the United States made a joint political commitment “to take significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory” during the recent visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the US. In July, the United Nations passed a General Assembly Resolution on Tackling the Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife.

“The Beijing Forest Police operation is a clear demonstration of the Chinese Government’s commitment to crack down on illegal wildlife trade and support international efforts to protect endangered species. As a Chinese proverb aptly says: Action is far more powerful than words,” said Zhou Fei, Head of environmental organization TRAFFIC’s China Programme.

It is possible all the wildlife products in the case originated in Japan, where the popularity of legally owned items such as ivory and rhino horns from the 1980s and earlier has plummeted and people have been selling family heirlooms and other goods into the marketplace.

Information from the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) database, which TRAFFIC manages on behalf of Parties to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) indicates that ivory trade between Japan and China was first recorded in 2005 but really began developing from 2009. Through 2014, some 56 seizure cases have involved nearly a ton of ivory, and rhino horn and a bear skin have been seized on at least two occasions.

According to information released at the press conference, since 2013, Beijing Forest Police has cracked 222 cases involving illegal wildlife trade and arrested 108 suspects. 1321 wildlife products worth around USD7 million, including 1527 kg of ivory have been confiscated.

Beijing Forest Police have reminded members of the public not to consume illegal and endangered wildlife products and to report any suspicious activity to the police or forest police. They also confirmed their commitment to monitoring online and physical markets for illegal wildlife sales and to preventing poaching and illegal exploitation of wildlife.


ABS Releases World’s First Scrubber Ready Guide

By MarEx 2015-10-12 21:05:57

ABS, a leading provider of classification and technical services to the global marine and offshore industry, has published the ABS Guide for SOx Scrubber Ready Vessels to support members and clients in preparing newbuilds for future outfitting with a SOx exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS).

Supporting the world’s first classification notation for SOx Scrubber Ready Vessels, the ABS Guide formalizes the process for clients who wish to plan for retrofit of a SOx scrubber at a future date by providing a detailed review and approval and an associated notation.

The SOx Scrubber Ready notation is in addition to ABS EGCS notations that may be assigned for vessels fitted with an exhaust emission abatement system, including SOx scrubbers, selective catalytic reduction systems and exhaust gas recirculation arrangements for NOx emission control, in accordance with the ABS Guide for Exhaust Emission Abatement.

“The decision to build a new ship or retrofit an existing one is not simple due to uncertainty with the entry into force of the 0.5 percent global sulfur limit and cleaner fuel alternatives such as LNG,” says ABS Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President Howard Fireman. “The new ABS SOx Scrubber Ready notation provides a unique approach to future-proof assets, to implement cost-effective retrofits and to demonstrate a commitment to environmental performance.”

In addition to the new ABS Guide for SOx Scrubber Ready Vessels and Guide for Exhaust Emission Abatement, ABS has published the ABS Advisory on Exhaust Gas Scrubber Systems.

The guide is available here.

Ship tracks in the Atlantic


240 Years of Navy Celebrated in Images

By Wendy Laursen 2015-10-12 20:24:17

On October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress approved legislation for two vessels to be equipped and armed with 10 carriage guns as well as crews of 80 sailors charged with intercepting transport ships carrying munitions and stores to the British army in America.

That marked the birth of the U.S. Navy, 240 years ago.

September 23, 2014

RED SEA (September 23, 2014) The guided-missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) launches Tomahawk cruise missiles to conduct strikes against ISIL targets. Arleigh Burke is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II/Released)

May 1, 2011

Osama bin Laden, Most Wanted Terrorists (

January 12, 2010

BONEL, Haiti (January 19, 2010) A Haitian boy watches as rigid-hull inflatable boats from the amphibious dock landing ships USS Fort McHenry (LSD-43) and USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) arrive ashore at the New Hope Mission at Bonel, Haiti. The multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5) is on station in Haiti with the amphibious dock landing ships USS Fort McHenry, USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44), and USS Carter Hall supporting Operation Unified Response, a joint humanitarian assistance mission to Haiti following a 7.0 magnitude on January 12. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Wilson/Released)

February 20, 2008

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb 20, 2008) A modified tactical Standard Missile-3 launches from the U.S. Navy AEGIS cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG-70), successfully impacting a non-functioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite approximately 247 kilometers (133 nautical miles) over the Pacific Ocean, as it traveled in space at more than 17,000 mph. President George W. Bush decided to bring down the satellite because of the likelihood that the satellite could release hydrazine fuel upon impact, possibly in populated areas. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

October 7, 2001

At sea aboard USS Enterprise (October 18, 2001)—U.S. Navy sailors inspect AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface tactical missiles on the flight deck of USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Apprentice Lance H. Mayhew Jr./Released)

January 16, 1991

Two F/A-18C Hornet aircraft of Strike Fighter Squadron 74 fly above the Forrestal-class aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-60) making a hard turn to starboard during Desert Shield. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

April 18, 1988

The Iranian frigate IS Sahand (F 74) burns after being attacked by the Joseph Strauss (DDG-16) and A-6s. Sahand was hit by three Harpoon missiles, Skipper rocket-propelled bombs, a Walleye laser-guided bomb, and several 1,000-pound bombs. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

December 17, 1970

Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., Chief of Naval Operations (seated, third from left), speaks with the Human Relations Council at Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan, July 2, 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Second Class Edward C. Mucma/Released)

July 29, 1967

Crewmen aboard USS Forrestal (CVA-59) battle flames amid smoke and charred debris on the after flight deck where a violent chain reaction of fires and explosions were set off by an initial blast as attack aircraft were being prepared for launch on combat missions over North Vietnam while the ship was deployed in the Gulf of Tonkin, July 29, 1967 (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

March 11, 1965

River Boat 117 under Attack at Night. Acrylic by John Steel. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

October 22, 1962

A U.S. Navy P-3A Orion of Patrol Squadron VP-44 flies over the Soviet ship Metallurg Anosov and destroyer USS Barry (DD-933) during the Cuban Missile Crisis, November 10, 1962. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

December 30, 1959

Rear Adm. William F. Rayborn (left) and Adm. Arleigh A. Burke, Chief of Naval Operations, examine a cutaway model of the ballistic missile submarine USS George Washington (SSBN-598), in July 1959. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

September 30, 1954

USS Nautilus. Watercolor painting on paper by Albert K. Murray. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

September 15, 1950

Inchon Landing. Colored pencil on paper by Herbert C. Hahn, 1951. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

October 23–26, 1944

Leyte Gulf IJN Yamashira in Surigao Strait. Oil on wood by John Hamilton. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

June 6, 1944

The Battle for Fox Green Beach. Oil painting by Dwight C. Shepler. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

June 4–7, 1942

The Battle of Midway. Oil painting by Robert Benney, 1943. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

April 18, 1942

The Tokyo Raid by U.S. Army B-25 Bombers. Oil painting by John Charles Roach. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

December 7, 1941

USS California (BB-44) slowly sinking alongside Ford Island as a result of bomb and torpedo damage, December 7, 1941. USS Shaw (DD-373) is burning in the floating dry dock YFD-2 in the left distance. USS Nevada (BB-36) is beached in the left-center distance. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

March 20, 1922

USS Langley (CV-1) at anchor off Christobal, Panama Canal Zone, March 1, 1930. She has 24 aircraft on her flight deck. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

March 1917

Chief Yeoman (F), USNRF during World War I. Painting by Anne Fuller Abbott, 1925. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

December 16, 1907

Great White Fleet in Magellan Strait. Painting by Orlando S. Lagman. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

May 1, 1898

Battle of Manila Bay. Painting by Frederick Bauer, 1910. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

March 8, 1862

The Ironclads. Painting by Raymond Bayless. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

October 29, 1814

USS Fulton (1837–1861). Watercolor by Erik Heyl, 1955. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

September 11, 1814

Macdonough’s Victory on Lake Champlain. Watercolor by Edward Tufnell. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

February 16, 1804

Burning of the Philadelphia. Watercolor by Cdr. Eric C. C. Tufnell. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

October 21, 1797

USS Constitution. Watercolor and gouache painting by Michele Felice Corne, 1803. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

September 7, 1776

David Bushnell’s Turtle, First American Submarine. Drawing by Lt. Francis Barber, 1875. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

October 13, 1775

CNS Mosquito and CNS Fly. Oil on canvas by William Nowland Van Powell, 1974. (U.S. Navy Art Collection/Released)

In honor of the Navy’s 240th birthday on October 13, President Barack Obama released the following message.

The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.


New U.S. Submarine Christened Illinois

By MarEx 2015-10-12 19:23:28

General Dynamics Electric Boat has christened the Illinois (SSN 786), the 13th submarine of the U.S. Navy’s Virginia Class.

The Saturday morning christening ceremony took place at Electric Boat’s Groton shipyard with the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus as the ceremony’s principal speaker. First Lady Michelle Obama is the ship’s sponsor and she christened the ship by breaking a bottle of Illinois sparkling wine against the submarine’s bow before an audience of approximately 7,500 people.

USS Illinois will be delivered to the Navy in 2016.

Virginia-class submarines are among the most effective platforms in the Navy’s portfolio. In addition to anti-submarine, anti-surface ship and counter-mine warfare, Illinois will support surveillance, special operations and covert strike missions.

The Virginia class are the first U.S. Navy combatants designed for the post-Cold War era. Unobtrusive, non-provocative and connected with land, air, sea and space-based assets, Illinois and the other Virginia-class submarines are equipped to wage multi-dimensional warfare around the globe, providing the U.S. Navy with continued dominance in coastal waters or the open ocean.

The new submarine is only the second U.S. Navy ship to be commissioned with the name USS Illinois since a battleship with that name was commissioned in 1897.

With its construction partner Newport News Shipbuilding, Electric Boat has delivered 12 Virginia-class submarines; another nine are under construction.