China Sets Up Oil Spill Fund

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-28 18:53:38

China has established a national compensation fund for oil spills caused by ships.

“This marks a new milestone for China’s compensation mechanism for ship-caused oil pollution and will better safeguard the interests of the victims of accidents,” said He Jianzong, deputy transport minister, at the inauguration ceremony, reports Want China Times.

China’s oil consumption rose to a record high of 374.6 million tons in 2014 leading to an increase in tanker operations and subsequent risk of a spill in Chinese waters. Local media reports indicate that between 1973 and 2014, 3,200 oil spill accidents occurred in the seas around China resulting in 42,936 tons of spilt oil.

Shipowners are currently required to have liability insurance. However, compensation limits have meant that victims were not always compensated adequately and environmental remediation has not always been possible, said He.

The Ministry of Transport currently manages compensation and is currently processing 14 cases worth around $26 million.

The new multi-government-department controlled fund, established within China’s Marine Environment Protection Law and estimated to exceed $50 million, will be contributed to by shippers and shipowners.

Both local and foreign shipowners have been lobbying China for clearer direction and more transparency in the management of claims.


China Says It’s the Biggest Victim

By Reuters 2015-06-28 17:57:23

Changing position on China’s claims over the South China Sea would shame its ancestors, while not facing up to infringements of Chinese sovereignty there would shame its children, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday.

China has become increasingly assertive in the South China Sea, building artificial islands in areas over which the Philippines and other countries have rival claims, sparking alarm regionally and in Washington.

“One thousand years ago China was a large seafaring nation. So of course China was the first country to discover, use and administer the Nansha Islands,” Wang said, using the Chinese term for the Spratly Islands, which together with the Paracel Islands form the bulk of China’s claims.

“China’s demands of sovereignty over the Nansha Islands have not expanded and neither will they shrink. Otherwise we would not be able to face our forefathers and ancestors,” the normally taciturn Wang said in unusually strong comments.

China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

Speaking to academics and former officials, Wang said China could not face its children and grandchildren if “the gradual and incremental invasion of China’s sovereignty and encroachment on China’s interests” was allowed to continue.

He said U.S. ships took Chinese troops to reclaim the Spratlys after they were occupied by Japan during World War Two. Other countries only started occupying what he said was Chinese territory from the 1960s after oil was discovered.

“China is in reality the biggest victim,” Wang said.

On Friday, the U.S. State Department’s number two diplomat compared China’s behavior in pursuit of territory in the South China Sea to that of Russia in eastern Ukraine.

Wang did not address those comments, but defended China’s land reclamation and building work in the South China Sea as necessary to improve living conditions, pointing out that other countries had been building there since the 1970s.

“It is only recently that China has started necessary development,” he said.


China sets up spill damage fund

China has established a regulatory agency to manage compensation from oil spills.
The commission, comprising multipartite government departments, will preside over a statutory-managed compensation fund of more than USD51 million, paid into by ship owners and shippers.
Beijing has put in place the

IMO Prioritizes e-Navigation

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-26 20:48:13

The IMO has put e-navigation back on the high-level action plan of the Maritime Safety Committee. The program was to finish this year, but the outcomes achieved at MSC 95 earlier this month mean that work will continue for at least four more years. Five of the six planned work items were approved with the opportunity to re-present the sixth next year.

E-navigation aims to provide needed information, in electronic format, to a ship’s bridge team to enhance the safety and efficiency of navigation. This involves the integration of new and existing bridge technologies and equipment to enable the provision of globally harmonized maritime services. E-navigation will also help simplify the exchange of information between systems on board ships, between ships and shore, and on shore.

“The most important outcome of MSC 95 is that IMO will take a lead in harmonizing e-navigation systems,” says John Erik Hagen, Regional Director at the Norwegian Coastal Administration and Chairman of the e-navigation working group at IMO. “As technology develops, many new systems are being introduced such as the under-keel clearance system in the Torres Strait and another in the St Lawrence Seaway. If e-navigation is to work around the world, these innovative systems must be harmonized as far as possible for ships to be able to use e-navigation globally.”

Hagen says some shipowners may act early on e-navigation. “As e-navigation rolls out, those who wish to take advantage of what it offers will fit early,” he says. “The cost savings on ship reporting will encourage early fits. However, at this stage the IMO have no plans for mandating e-navigation. It is unlikely that anything will be ready until 2020.”

Meeting User Needs

The Nautical Institute (NI) is pleased that, given the wide scope of e-navigation, the IMO has chosen priorities that meet user needs, says David Patraiko, Director of Projects. “When the program of e-navigation was first adopted by the IMO in 2006, the Secretary General made it very clear that it should be led by user needs. The NI, as a leading organization for mariners, then embarked on an extensive task of gathering these needs by holding workshops through its international branch network, visiting ships, discussing it with its members and using all sorts of tools at its disposal. These needs were then shared with the IMO and other organizations involved in the development of e-navigation.

“Although all the priorities set by IMO are a step in the right direction, and the NI look forward to working with the international community to continually represent its members’ needs, we recognize that this is a not a fast process,” says Patraiko. “It started at the IMO in 2006 and will result in a range of guidelines being produced by 2020. Many of the e-navigation solutions and priorities require an internationally agreed infrastructure to harmonize the exchange and presentation of essential information, and we hope that in time these current priorities will lead to a more effective tool for mariners.”

The Paperless Ship

One of the key initiatives of the e-navigation project is automated ship reporting. It is anticipated that many forms currently required for customs, immigration, cargo manifest and dangerous goods, for example, will be made and submitted electronically in a harmonized format for all ports.

Patraiko says that this was a priority for mariners to reduce the administrative burden of reporting the same information to multiple shore authorities, which often distracts bridge teams (often teams of one) from the core job of safe navigation. This has been recognized by the IMO by prioritizing the revision of the guidelines and criteria for ship reporting systems (resolution MSC.43(64), as amended) relating to standardized and harmonized electronic ship reporting and automated collection of onboard data for reporting.


“There are over 30 manufacturers of ECDIS, many of which have more than one model. In the past some of the key operational features have been widely different from one manufacturer to another,” says Patraiko. “This has resulted in mariners having a difficult task to be familiar with the controls when they move from one ship to another. It also places an unrealistic burden on training providers to instruct mariners in how to use all the different models of navigation equipment that they may come across in the world fleet.”

A solution to this challenge, as proposed by the NI, is for the development of an “S mode” or standard mode of operation for navigation displays. This has been recognized as a priority by the IMO. Draft guidelines will describe a standardized mode of operation and display for all navigational equipment and provide seafarers with the ability to operate all navigation equipment in a standardized manner, thereby improving the safety and efficiency of navigation.

Work on S mode has been scheduled but has a later deadline than the guidelines for ECDIS standardization. “The displays on ECDIS are already standardized well in the International Electrotechnical Commission test standards with a number of default displays being required,” says Hagen. “However, the advantage of an ECDIS is that the display can be altered to support particular situations. The idea in S mode is that it can return quickly to one of the standards.

“S mode is not as mature or simple as some of the other new work items. It is not yet clear what exactly a default mode for most equipment should be as again it might be affected by the situation, such as deep sea, harbor approach, coastal passage etc. Work needs to be done in other organizations such as research institutes and universities to study the subject and the appropriate human machine interface before it can be brought to IMO as a draft for consideration,” says Hagen.

Other standardization improvements that e-navigation will bring include harmonizing the displaying of information received by communications equipment. Improved reliability and resiliency of navigation systems and in particular GNSS where reliance on GPS was seen to be a weakness have also been addressed at MSC95 with the IMO prioritizing Built In Integrity Testing (BIIT) for navigation equipment.

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


Obituary: Captain John Foley

By MarEx 2015-06-26 20:24:38

Family, friends and colleagues of Captain John Foley, Master Mariner and Great Barrier Reef “Grand Pilot” gathered together at St. Augustine’s Church, Hamilton, Brisbane on June 26, 2015 to farewell John and commemorate his life.


It was said of his passing “Captain John Foley enjoyed a full life that would have been more than enough for two lesser men.”

For a man who achieved so much in his lifetime, Captain John Foley was remarkable for one thing above all – his modesty.

Well spoken, polite and scholarly, Captain Foley was a fountain of knowledge on his favorite place, Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef, his “office” being one of the most challenging sea passages on earth.

Never a day passed that he didn’t thank his good fortune for a life long association with the Reef.

At the tender age of 15 John first went to sea as a fresh-faced young cadet, travelling the world to Japan, Venice, South America and Vancouver where he met his wife Denice – and Australia, where he had his first encounter with a marine pilot and the Great Barrier Reef; and its allure charted the course of the rest of his life.

“That was enough for me,” he said. “The calm tropical seas, the maze of reefs, rocks and coral cays through which we weaved our way…I was hooked.”

His desire to get back to the Reef was evident in his rapid escalation through the ranks and by 26 years old he was in command of general cargo ship Alagna servicing Queensland coastal ports and outposts in the Gulf and Arnhem Land.

On board he was the “Old Man,” and younger than the rest of the crew.

By age 27 he’d qualified as a pilot but his dream of guiding ships through the Great Barrier Reef was proving elusive.

Despite his qualifications and experience, it transpired the authorities considered him too young to fulfil such a demanding role.

At age 35 he finally saw the realization of his energetic pursuit and received his ticket to pilot his first ship, the Blue Funnel liner Rhexenor through the Reef.

It was the first of more than 1,500 reef pilotages over the next 40 years.

Some ships were fine vessels, but others could be politely described as second rate: “…absolutely nothing working on the bridge, inedible food, a vermin infested pilot’s cabin and hostile bridge personnel.”

The filthiest ship he had ever seen, the illegal longline fishing vessel Lih Yih 202, had to be piloted under arrest to Cairns.

The skipper was about to make a run for the open sea when a federal policeman aboard with Captain Foley drew a pistol and defused the situation.

To manage the ships’ shortfalls, Captain Foley developed pilotage techniques based on the compass alone, a depth of local knowledge and the best radar available: two Mark 1 eyeballs.

As demanding as life at sea can be, John humbly felt that the history of the Reef should be recorded for posterity, and he set about committing to paper some of the Great Barrier Reef’s remarkable stories.

He wrote of being aboard the World Jade when it became the first ship to traverse the history- making Hydrographers Passage off Mackay, the story of the Quetta, Queensland’s worst shipping disaster, the WW2 hospital ship Centaur, a history of Thursday Island and reef pilots.

He was made a fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland.

But Captain Foley’s life was also marred by tragedy, his son David was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 15, but more than 25 operations later he died aged 24.

Captain Foley and his wife Denice made the emotionally-charged decision to donate his organs and as a result became actively involved in the donor movement.

He was also a major force in establishing the cruise ship industry in Queensland, identifying new anchorages in places like Kingfisher Bay and Hamilton Cove and consulting on the Brisbane Cruise Ship Terminal.

In recent years he has been sharing his love of the sea and history with passengers aboard cruise ships by giving informative onboard lectures on nautical points and places of interest.

He hung up his binoculars only a few years ago, but continued on in an advisory capacity for Australian Reef Pilots and the global cruise ship industry.

He saw the most dramatic changes in his lifetime at sea; from using a sextant like Captain Cook to radar to satellite to GPS to electronic charts.

He was also an inaugural director and a major figure in the growth and development of Australian Reef Pilots Pty Ltd and was always there to mentor and advise a new legion of pilots.

Captain Foley made little of his remarkable contribution to maritime safety and history, the economic prosperity of Queensland, and indeed Australia, and for this he was held in the highest esteem by all who came in contact with him.

To quote Captain Foley’s co-author of the book Hospital Ship Centaur:

“Rest in peace dear friend. You have done Australia proud and your written works are a testament to your character, courage and love of the sea. You have now become part of Australian Maritime history!”

He was a true “Guardian of the Reef.”

He is survived by his wife Denice, daughter Lisa and three grandchildren.


Barge Captain Imprisoned for Fatal 2005 Explosion

By Reuters 2015-06-26 16:24:58

An Illinois man who was captain of a petroleum barge that exploded in a Chicago canal in 2005, killing a crew member, was sentenced to six months in prison on Friday, prosecutors said.

Dennis Egan, 36, of Topeka in central Illinois, and the barge owner, Egan Marine Corp. of Lemont, were each convicted in June 2014 of negligent manslaughter of a seaman and negligently discharging oil into a waterway, according to a statement from prosecutors.

The Chicago suburban company was ordered to pay $5.3 million in restitution to the National Pollution Funds Center for the clean-up.

On January 19, 2005, a barge being pushed by the tow boat “Lisa E” on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal was carrying about 600,000 gallons of clarified slurry oil from an ExxonMobil refinery to the Ameropan Oil facility on the city’s south side.

The barge exploded after a crewman, Alexander Oliva, 29, used a propane torch to heat the barge’s cargo pump and ignited oil vapors. The use of an open flame on a loaded petroleum barge violates U.S. Coast Guard regulations and safe industry practice, prosecutors said.

The resulting explosion discharged thousands of gallons of oil into the canal. Oliva’s body was recovered weeks later, prosecutors said.

Total cleanup and other costs from the spill were more than $12 million, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel concluded that Egan and Egan Marine permitted the use of open flames by crew members, even though it was a safety violation.

“The ultimate tragedy of their crimes is that Alex Oliva would not have lost his life if the defendants valued basic safety higher than expediency,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon, in a statement.

A sentencing hearing on restitution costs against Dennis Egan will be held next week, said defense attorney William Walters. Dennis Egan, who faces the same restitution as Egan Marine, is considering an appeal, Walters said.


‘Africa’ Performed by the Bourbon Peridot Crew

By MarEx 2015-06-26 15:49:19

Following the Day of the Seafarer June 25, MarEx would like to share a laugh from the past for all the hard working men and women who have dedicated themselves to a life at sea.

In 2013 a bored crew of oil workers spending long days away from friends and family found the perfect way to occupy their time. The men aboard the Bourbon Peridot offshore supply ship recorded a cover video of the 1983 hit song “Africa” by Toto. The choice was particularly fitting given the Peridot was operating off the coast of Equatorial Guinea in West Africa. Posted on YouTube in 2013, the video became a huge hit, generating over 75,000 views and 780 likes.

Directed by ROV operator Darren Flynn, the video shows the crew miming to the 80’s classic, using barrels, pumps, as well as fish as fake musical instruments, during operations on the vessel.

Commenting on the video, Darren said: “Well I’ve made a few videos out here to show friends and family what it’s like to work offshore Africa and this time I was offshore and had my camera with me, however, it was broken. I managed to get the camera fixed and thought I should take a couple test videos. We thought of doing a music video and Africa came on my iPhone randomly; it was perfect! A couple of the Subsea 7 guys and myself filmed the first 2 verses and it seemed funny, so we decided to make the whole video on our time off.”

So whether you’re on a ship off Africa, Asia or anywhere in between, thank you for what you do!


Harvey Gulf Enters Shipbuilding Segment

By MarEx 2015-06-26 14:58:28

Harvey Gulf International Marine is entering the shipbuilding segment following the purchase of two shipyards along the Gulf of Mexico.

The New Orleans-based company is acquiring Gulf Coast Shipyards in Mississippi as well as Trinity Yachts in Louisiana. Currently, Trinity Yachts builds custom superyachts and operates as a division of Gulf Coast Shipyards.

In order to manage its shipbuilding assets, Harvey Gulf will be launching a new affiliate, Harvey Shipyard Group, the company announced Thursday.

Under Harvey Gulf’s leadership, Gulf Coast Shipyard will become a state-of-the-art builder of world-class vessels, the company claims. Gulf Coast is already responsible for the construction of the nation’s first LNG OSVs for the offshore market. Harvey Gulf alone is investing $350 million to construct a six vessel fleet of hybrid LNG-diesel OSVs.

Shane J. Guidry chairman and CEO of Harvey Gulf said, “These shipyard acquisitions will position Harvey Gulf as America’s only builder, owner, and operator of dual-fuel offshore supply vessels and allow us to pass along the savings of lower operating costs and environmental protection to the Marine Transportation industry.”

In July Harvey Gulf will be opening its first LNG marine fueling facility at Port Fourchon, LA. Harvey Gulf’s $25 million Phase I construction will be capable of fueling Harvey Gulf’s fleet of dual-fuel offshore supply vessels and will accommodate America’s growing fleet of over-the-road vehicles operating on safe, efficient LNG.

Harvey Gulf is also the only American shipbuilder to meet the requirements of the ABS “ENVIRO+, Green Passport Gas Fueled Ships” certification and says it remains committed to building and operating the most environmentally–friendly vessels in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The duel-fuel vessels we’re building and our LNG bunkering facility are indicative of HGIM’s commitment to develop and utilize the safest, most environmentally-friendly vessels and fuel technology available today,” said Guidry.

Harvey Gulf expects its shipyard acquisitions will result in an expansion of operations in Gulfport and New Orleans as it continues to bring innovative dual-fuel ship design, engineering and construction to its marine transportation industry clients.