Deirdre Fitzpatrick SRI Seafarers' Rights International


As the third anniversary of the entry into force of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) approaches, Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI) is embarking on a comprehensive study on the effectiveness of the Convention. The study has been commissioned by the International Transport Workers’ Federation. It will be an in-depth and…


Criminalization Affecting Talks Between EU and India

The arguably unfair criminalization of crew and armed guards in the MV Seaman Guard Ohio case, is stalling talks between the EU and India according to to a report in the Hindu this week where MEP Geoffrey Van Orden referenced the situation in his update on progress. SRI strongly advocates the fair treatment of seafarers…


Welcome to the SRI blog

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be keeping you updated with developments on our work here in the UK and overseas, and our thoughts on the current affairs surrounding seafarers internationally. We’ll be sharing news from our partners, and when appropriate, we will offer comment on issues in the media where we see that…


Hull Cleaning, Waste Capture System Getting Readied

By MarEx 2016-02-08 22:22:20

In November 2015, the Australian Government awarded GRD Franmarine an accelerating commercialization project grant work A$1 million. Now, after more than five years of research and development, GRD – Franmarine will release the first full scale commercial hull cleaning unit in July 2016.

Development has been focussed on getting the engineering right. The vortex produced by the contactless blades and on-board pumps is sufficient to contour the cleaning pods to the ship’s hull creating a negative water pressure vacuum seal which prevents potentially harmful biofouling escaping into the surrounding environment. Cleaned debris is then pumped to the surface where it enters a real time, multi staged filtration system which separates all solid particles greater than 15 micron, while the remaining filtrate is passed through an ultra violet radiation disinfection unit, before being returned to the ocean.

Having now achieved this world’s first in environmentally benign in-water hull cleaning, GRD – Franmarine are incorporating these latest developments into the final design.

The company will then move to the next stage of development including automation with in-water survey capability and ultrasonic hull plate thickness measuring equipment.

The estimated total release of copper from the cleaning of the entire underwater hull using the Envirocart system is less than that passively released by the active antifouling coating per day, says the company.

The Envirocart enables soft, silicon-based antifouling paints and coatings containing pesticides such as copper oxide to be cleaned using a contactless cleaning method. This fully containerized system is capable of being deployed to remote locations or directly onto a dive support vessel and is rated to offshore specifications.

The primary underwater cleaning tool is a hydraulically powered hull cleaning unit fitted with rotating discs. The discs can be fitted with conventional brushes for glass or epoxy based coatings or a revolutionary new patented blade system which can remove marine biofouling without damaging the antifouling paint (silicone and copper oxide).

Additionally there are a patented range of fully enclosed hand cleaning tools for difficult to access niche areas such as anodes and sea chests, providing an innovative total solution that enables in-water cleaning to be conducted in a manner that causes no biological risk to the environment.


Man Overboard: Fishing from Accommodation Ladder

By MarEx 2016-02-08 21:05:45

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released its findings into the man overboard fatality from bulk carrier Cape Splendor in Western Australia on October 6, 2014, citing disregard for

The vessel was moored at the time of the accident. Cape Splendor’s bosun descended to the lower platform of the ship’s accommodation ladder during his lunch break. He intended to fish from this location and asked a seaman to assist. At 1250, the bosun lost his balance and fell into the sea.

The seaman immediately returned to the ship’s deck and threw a lifebuoy toward the bosun, before raising the alarm. The ship’s crew deployed its rescue boat within 10 minutes, and an extensive air and sea search continued for three days. However, the bosun was not found.

The ATSB found that the bosun and the seaman were not wearing any flotation devices or fall prevention equipment. The bosun had seen fish below the accommodation ladder that was in the shade, and he probably saw it as a good opportunity to fish without considering the risks involved.

The lack of a lifejacket, wet clothing, the possible entanglement with fishing gear, sea conditions, and the current would have adversely affected the bosun’s ability to stay afloat and swim.

The ATSB investigation identified that the ship’s safety management system procedures for working over the ship’s side were not effectively implemented. Hence, the ship’s crew routinely did not take all the required safety precautions when working over the side. It was also found that the crew had differing attitudes to taking safety precautions during work and recreation times as the safety culture on board was not well developed.

When ATSB investigators attended Cape Splendor after the accident, they observed the crew rigging the ship’s port side, midships accommodation ladder. The observed an absence of standard working at height precautions, such as fall prevention equipment, unraised handrails on a ladder section 13m above water with two crew members on it and crew member standing outside ship’s handrails with no fall protection or lifejacket.

Cape Splendor’s managers U-Ming Marine conducted a fleet-wide review of procedures and training to ensure ship crews comply with procedures and permits to work. A number of fleet-wide memoranda describing the accident were issued to promulgate lessons learned, encourage compliance with policies and procedures and reiterate the importance of taking safety precautions during both work and during leisure periods.

The ship’s managers have prohibited fishing from ships’ accommodation ladders and warning signs have been posted. Man overboard recovery procedures were reviewed and the accident was highlighted in training programs.

The ATSB has issued a safety advisory notice to shipmasters, owners and operators to promote the importance of an effective safety culture on board ships.

The report is available here.


Western Bulk’s Future Uncertain as Bond Deal Unravels

By MarEx 2016-02-08 20:54:06

In a record-breaking bear market, operator Western Bulk has been working to improve its balance sheet and move forward – but on Monday it announced that its majority shareholder has backed away from an earlier deal to restructure the firm’s obligations, leaving Western’s future uncertain.

In November, Western reached a deal with its bondholders for easing of financial covenants, including significant reductions in the firm’s minimum book equity ratio and equity amount.

The deal required the sale of at least $10 million worth of shares, subscribed and allocated by the end of March – and the participation of the firm’s largest shareholder, Kistefos, which promised to buy those shares and to come up with an additional $10 million in equity. Kistefos is wholly owned by the investor Christen Sveaas, who is also chairman of Western Bulk.

On February 8, Kistefos completed the purchase of a Western chartering subsidiary and discharged its equity commitment by making an initial payment to Western of $10 million. But in addition to the much-needed capital infusion, Western Bulk had some unfortunate news.

“Kistefos AS has informed the Company that it given the current circumstances considers that its subscription and guarantee undertaking no longer applies” – indicating that a key component of Western’s bond deal has fallen out of place, and it may soon find itself in breach of its covenants.

Western is still looking at the possibility of a rights issue – a sale of shares to existing shareholders – but without the participation of Kistefos, which holds a 60 percent stake, the firm does not sound optimistic. “[Western Bulk] will initiate dialogue with its creditors to explore and pursue potential solutions. If no acceptable solution . . . with the remaining creditors is achieved, the basis of [Western’s] continued operations will be reassessed,” the company said.


Jump in Dangerous Goods Issues After Tianjin

By MarEx 2016-02-08 19:53:28

Hapag-Lloyd has stated that it registered considerably more incorrectly declared dangerous goods last year, compared to 2014.

The Watchdog program, developed jointly by Hapag-Lloyd’s IT and dangerous goods experts, is software that continuously checks cargo data to identify anything conspicuous. It identified 4,314 incorrectly declared dangerous goods cases last year. This is an increase of 65 percent on the previous year’s figure of 2,620 cases.

For Ken Rohlmann, head of the dangerous goods department at Hapag-Lloyd, there are two reasons behind the sharp increase: “Firstly, the volume of cargo shipped by Hapag-Lloyd increased considerably last year due to the company’s merger with CSAV’s container business. Secondly, there was a sharp rise in Watchdog findings following the devastating dangerous goods explosion in the port of Tianjin in mid-August,” says Rohlmann.

The Tianjin explosions were a series of explosions that occurred at a container storage station at the Port of Tianjin starting on Wednesday, August 12. The first two explosions occurred within 30 seconds of each other, and they were followed by another eight on August 15.

The initial blast involved hazardous materials in shipping containers at a plant warehouse owned by Ruihai Logistics. The blasts killed 165 people and caused damage worth over $1 billion.

Many ports drastically tightened their dangerous goods guidelines in the wake of the incident or even prohibited dangerous goods from being processed at all.

Hapag-Lloyd’s dangerous goods experts looked into more than 236,000 suspicious cases picked up by the safety software in 2015 (2014: more than 162,000).

Hapag-Lloyd’s Watchdog is considered to be a leading piece of software in the shipping industry and has been subject to a lot of interest from customs and port authorities, police, as well as from other shipping companies.

In September last year, Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk Line have agreed to cooperate in increasing the safety of dangerous goods. In a meeting held in Hamburg, Maersk Line showed its desire to implement a tracing system similar to Hapag-Lloyd’s Watchdog program.

The software has a database of more than 6,000 keywords that is constantly being added to and refined.

Rohlmann says: “With the software, our industry can considerably reduce the risk posed to crews, ships, cargo and the environment.” After all, it’s in the interests of everyone involved that the entire shipping system should be made safer, emphasizes Rohlmann. Dangerous goods that are declared imprecisely, incorrectly or not at all have the potential to pose a major risk to crews, ships, other cargo and the environment.