Controlling Hull Fouling: Behind the scenes of what keeps your ship ticking

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The relation of hull condition to fuel efficiency is no rocket science. For oceangoing vessels, there are opposing processes: for instance, the faster the ship moves through the water, the slower the growth of marine life on the hull; on the other hand, the more marine life that grows on the hull, the greater the resistance against the ship which in turn results in slower speeds and lesser distances covered.

The Clean Shipping Coalition estimates that a ship owner can ascertain fuel savings of 15 to 20 percent if the optimal coating technology were matched to vessels, properly applied and maintained. There is a corresponding decrease in emissions to be enjoyed as well. Even a small amount of smooth surface disruption on a ship propeller or hull can produce enough turbulence to reduce fuel efficiency. Therefore, there is good amount of reason to take proper preventive measures against the hull fouling of a ship.

Bio-fouling also has an adverse effect on the marine ecology of ports. The deep water vessels that transport cargo across vast oceans also have a propensity to transport viable marine life. These ships can carry invasive species which can harm the regional ecology and the mechanisms for transporting these are regulated by the International Maritime Organization.

Comprehensive guidelines have been established by IMO with respect to bio-fouling. For oceangoing vessels, it is very important for all stakeholders – both ashore and crew members on board– to keep the hulls of their ships free from fouling. This influences both economic and environmental bottom lines. Another area of concern are ballast tanks as these can be breeding grounds for invasive species; a far greater challenge deep water vessels compared to brown water work boats.

Fouling-control coatings include Anti-Fouling (AF) coatings and Foul-Release (FR) coatings. The former rely on biocides; the latter decreases adhesion strength through the mechanical properties. AF coatings typically are sacrificial coatings. They gradually wear off to expose fresh layers of biocide agents. But we must also take into account the harm done to environment by these coatings, from surface preparation efforts to paint application. Use of various coatings must be balanced against the other downstream consequences such as fouling, increased GHG emissions, etc.

It is of paramount importance that we know a vessel’s operating profile, because only after that is it possible to build a system that provides a five-year anti-fouling performance. Software can be used along with the operating profile to calculate film thickness. In this manner, the AF coating can be tailored to the needs of the customer, providing a much better fuel economy by controlling the roughness of the hull.

Another factor that we must consider is the method used to clean the ship’s hull. The cleaning schedule and methods depend upon an intimate knowledge of fouling processes. The adhesion of marine life to the ship hull depends on the type of coating as well as the species. The cleaning method chosen will depend on the degree of fouling or bio-fouling and the potential for the cleaning method to damage the various layers of coating. There will typically be several cleaning cycles before a new coating needs to be applied.

To conclude, perhaps the best investment that ship owners or vessel operators can make is to consult with a hull performance specialist who can advise them on what are the best practices of maintaining his/her vessel based on the climate and working conditions that the boat is under.

This can also help in ensuring that a coating is applied according to manufacturer specifications and a hull cleaning regimen is also developed that maximizes the life of the vessel and also its operating efficiency. The policies recommended and the maintenance work thus done will most definitely be recovered in fuel savings, reduced downtime and longer vessel ‘up-time.’

To this end, with an unparalleled blend of expertise and technology, Alphard has been successfully carrying out Diving & Underwater services since a year now. Our diving managers & Supervisors are commercial divers with over 25 years of diving experience, who add extensive amount of value to our client’s needs. We have our own dedicated Dive boats which are fully equipped with diving spreads on board which requires no loading time. More details of our services can be found at –



Sea under Siege: Getting to the bottom of Maritime piracy and How to tackle it

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On the 24th of September, a group of pirates attacked a Swiss cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria, kidnapping 12 crew members in a region that has seen dozens of similar attacks so far this year.

During the first quarter of 2018, the Gulf of Guinea alone accounted for around 40 % of the world’s overall maritime piracy incidents evidencing the perennial presence of theft and violence at sea.  Nigerian waters are now rated worse than Somalia as the global maritime report on piracy has put Nigeria on the spot.

There have been many a great additions to the spectrum of dangers to the maritime economy. Illegal activity in protected areas, import/export of prohibited goods, exploitation of preserved and endangered natural resources, marine pollution, illegal maritime arrivals, bio-security risks, and maritime terrorism are some of the primary factors comprising this notorious list. But still, it is maritime piracy that continues to be the greatest troublemaker of them all.

Somalia has seen unprecedented amounts of violence, types of which were unknown to modern day shipping. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has spent a great amount of resources to fight against this growing threat of maritime piracy by making use of international relationships with maritime agencies, encouraging heightened collaboration between states, strengthening defenses of potentially vulnerable vessels and promoting greater vigilance among ship owners.

Maritime security threats are an amalgamation of various concerns and thus attempting to solve one problem without understanding other associated threats will more often than not result in a failure.

For instance, Somalian piracy was the end result, but it had its origins in illegal unreported and unregulated fishing. The fishermen, deprived of their livelihood by foreign IUU fishing vessels, resorted instead to maritime piracy and so a criminal enterprise was born.

The same is now transpiring in the Gulf of Guinea and Southeast Asia, with the initial catalyst to both being states’ failure to control fisheries and their own exclusive economic zones.

A recent innovation to combat this has been integrated maritime surveillance systems, which enable the sharing of data between multiple agencies and ultimately nations. The use of artificial intelligence within the systems enables the most advanced to identify, through satellite tracking, those vessels displaying high-threat behavior and then highlight them to an operator. But this is up to the states being afflicted and concerned governments investing some amount of resource in association with IMB.

But until concrete steps are taken to curb this menace, it is the down to individual companies, vessel masters and ship-owners to take protect their on-board resources – both life and property which can be headache in absence of expertise needed to handle these High Risk Areas and associated routes.

To help protect ship-owners’ interest in these treacherous waters, Alphard’s Security division combines the wealth of experience in our management structures and applies our expertise to provide a cost effective maritime product. We offer a highly competitive rate based on a detailed risk assessment and a tailored client focused product whilst maintaining the highest adherence to industry standards.

Alphard Maritime understands that Risk Assessments are a critical element of any counter-piracy solution. With our dedicated 24 hours Operations Department, we closely monitor all relevant sources of intelligence for information that will assist in the protection of our clients. Alphard invests in the right personnel who are able to interpret the data for the elements which are intrinsic with operational success. The detailed Risk Assessments are the output of this correlation of data that Alphard produces, which is very useful for every transit our teams undertakes. We provide tailored Intelligence Analysis reports which is collected and scrutinized from multiple reliable sources to provide our clients with a dedicated and effective view of any possible threats.

We have a strong track record and a client list of over 300 companies, protecting more than 1000 merchant vessels (EXXON, BP, Anglo-Eastern, MOL, V Ships, Fleet Management, Columbia, Executive Ship management). We also provide maritime security services in West Africa which includes operations from/to Lomé in the highly dangerous Gulf of Guinea Piracy HRA – (High Risk Area).


For more information and inquiries – visit us at


LNG Bunkering the future as shipping industry looks to environment friendly alternatives

The LNG bunkering market is expected to witness a CAGR of 62.5% over the next 5 years, and is projected to reach $24 billion by 2023. The primary factors driving the growth of LNG bunkering market are increase in demand in order to reduce the carbon footprint of vessels, stringent emissions policy in the shipping industry and the evergreen search for a cost effective alternative fuel; not to mention the government floating initiatives to support such green companies.

Advantages for LNG are manifold, first of all as a fuel it releases lesser amounts of pollutant when compared to the more traditional fuels (fuel oil and marine diesel oil) due to the negligible amount of sulfur content, and its combustion producing lower nitrogen oxide. The bunker fuel is primarily used by the marine vessels such as bulk and general cargo vessels, tankers, container ships, offshore port vessels, and ferries. But there several obstacles that the LNG bunkering market is facing, including the high initial infrastructure development cost and, the regulatory landscape and competition from alternative fuels.

As per Market Watch, in 2017, Singapore the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) commenced its LNG bunkering pilot project. Under the project, the MPA has provided various companies with grants of up to $2 million per LNG-powered vessel constructed.

In 2016, the International Maritime Organization notified that the effective date for the reduction of marine fuel Sulphur will be 2020. After that there’ll be a new worldwide cap, ships will have to use marine fuels with a Sulphur content of no more than 0.5% Sulphur against the current limit of 3.5% Sulphur in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which are the primary reason behind global warming and climate change.

The LNG bunkering market will be dominated by ferries and offshore service vessel during the forecast period of 2017-2023. Ship-to-ship LNG bunkering market is expected to witness a CAGR of 56.0% by 2023 owing to its quick transfer operation.

Asia-Pacific region backed by high marine trade is expected to grow at the fastest rate during the forecast period. The LNG bunkering market in North America is expected to be benefited owing to the decline in natural gas price in the region

The African region and Middle East, especially Qatar is expected to make a good business in the LNG bunkering market owing to the abundance of LNG in the region.

The key companies dealing in LNG bunkering market are Skangas, Gazprom Neft PJSC, Royal Dutch Shell Gasum, KLAW LNG, Korea Gas Corporation, ENN Energy Prima LNG, Fjord Line, and EagleLNG.

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Illegal immigrants attack Coast Guard patrol boat off Tunis

A fishing vessel harboring Illegal immigrants of Tunisian, Congolese and Ivorian descent was intercepted by a Coast Guard patrol boat on 18th August off Tunis, in their attempt to make way to Italy. When the coast guard vessel ordered them to stop, the immigrants started throwing dangerous Molotov cocktails at the coast guard.

But as luck would have it, the migrants ended up setting their own vessel on fire. Four Tunisians were arrested along with eight migrants from the Ivory Coast and two from Congo and one of them was hospitalized for burns. Tragically enough 4 of those 14 migrants lost their life in the process while the Coast Guard vessel sustained damages.

It’s no surprise that a growing number of Tunisians are choosing to leave their homeland behind and take on the risk of going across the Mediterranean in search of a better lifestyle in Europe.

In the first half of 2018, nearly 2,660 people were arrested in Tunisia during attempts to make the sea crossing, compared to number amounting to only 564 during the same course of time last year. Several deadly shipwrecks have taken place in recent months, including one on 3 June that killed 87 people.

This is a serious issue – imagine tens or hundreds of migrants, picked up by a vessel and creating a ruckus if the ship is refused entry by a port or stuck at sea for indefinite periods of time. Imagine if the ship attempts to disembark them at a place other than their proposed destination. What if they try to raid the on-board supplies (food, medicine) and pose threats when refused? Imagine it’s a tanker in load, or dry cargo ship loaded with dangerous goods (any given container ship has containers with hazmat on board).

Any incident, intended or not can cause huge losses in terms of life and property. Therefore, all parties who are propagating merchant vessels to take part in “migrants rescue”, are waiting for disaster to strike and that too sooner rather than later. Merchant ship must be officially banned from “migrants rescue” operations, as Law of the Sea has nothing to do with “migrants rescue”.


Tanker missing off Gabon coast with 17 sailors on-board

A tanker is missing off the coast of Gabon with 17 Georgian sailors on board, officials said on 21st August 2018.

The ship “disappeared” from tracking screens on August 14, the source said, while regional military officials said the potential search area was between the Gabonese coast and the Sao Tome and Principe archipelago.

Specialist websites list the 121-metre ship, the Pantelena, as a 7 000-tonne, 12-year-old dual-purpose oil or chemical tanker.

The vessel is Panamanian-flagged and owned by a Greek company, Lotus Shipping Co. Ltd.

The Georgian foreign ministry in Tbilissi, in a statement issued last Friday, said there were concerns for 17 Georgian sailors onboard and a search operation was being conducted with the help of the British maritime authorities.

Gabon lies on the southern part of the Gulf of Guinea – the great bend in the coastline of West African – where pirates are a infamous problem for shipping.

The Pantelena “turned off its locator beacon,” a device that tracks a vessel’s position by satellite, a regional military official said.

“The first thing that pirates do when they board a ship is to cut off this beacon.”

A crew member aboard a ship sailing between Libreville and Port-Gentil, Gabon’s economic hub, told AFP: “We received a distress message over the radio and we alerted the Gabonese navy.”

A Gabonese navy official confirmed, “We received an alert… about the Pantelena, but we didn’t have enough information to intervene.”

In Sao Tome and Principe, which is located about 260km from Gabon, the commander of the local coastguard, Joao Idalecio, said it had dispatched a patrol vessel with a crew of 30 to search for the tanker.

In February, a Panama-registered tanker, the MT Marine Express with 13 500 tonnes of gasoline was seized with its crew as it was anchored off Benin. The ship and crew were freed several days later.

Last month, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said that its specialist piracy reporting centre had recorded 107 incidents worldwide in the first six months of 2018.

“All 25 crew kidnappings reported this year have occurred over six incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, highlighting the higher risks in this area,” the IMB said.

However, the true number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea is believed to be “significantly higher,” its report added.


Explosion on UAE-bound Indian oil tanker near Oman

Three sailors were injured on Tuesday in an explosion on an Indian crude oil tanker off the coast of Oman, the company said.

The Shipping Corporation of India says the tanker was en route to Fujairah when the explosion struck the MT Desh Vaibhav in the Gulf of Oman. The vessel started its journey in Sikka, India.

One crew member suffered burns in the blast and was airlifted by helicopter. The Omani navy and other ships responded to the fire.

Three crew members are being treated at an Omani hospital and are responding well to treatment, hospital sources said.

“Three sailors of this vessel were picked up from the sea by other vessels that were sailing past and now they are being treated here in Oman,” a ministry of health spokesman told the National.

In a stock disclosure filed by the shipping company, they said: “the fire has been extinguished and the ship is fully manned and operational”.

The Omani coastguard official said that the vessel has already left Omani waters and he believed it has been docked in the UAE’s Fujairah early Wednesday morning. The vessel started its journey in Sikka, India.

“As far as we are concerned, the vessel has been seaworthy just hours after the explosion and set sail towards the UAE. The Omani navy helped with the fire,” the coastguard said.

The identities of the nationals are unknown and a company spokesman declined to comment, as did Omani officials and the Indian embassy in Muscat.


Ordeal of 57 Abandoned Ukrainian Seafarers Finally Over


Being a seafarer is all but an easy task and the fate of 57 Ukrainian seafarers that managed to return home after being left high and dry for over a year at sea proves that.

The seafarers in question include 27 crew members of MV Mekong Spirit and MV Free Neptune, according to the Marine Transport Workers’ Trade Union of Ukraine (MTWTU), which has managed to repatriate the mariners with the help of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

The seafarers of the Maltese-flagged containership Mekong Spirit were stuck in Greece after their ship was detained off the island of Crete on May 25, 2017 on suspicion of smuggling military goods to countries/regions under United Nations sanctions.

The ship was escorted to a NATO base where a cargo inspection performed by the relevant Greek authorities, found that the cargo was legal and industrial. Nevertheless, since January 2018, the seafarers were prohibited from leaving the territory of Greece.

Following a legal proceedings, on July 23 a court decision was issued, allowing 12 crew members to leave the territory of Greece, subject to compulsory monthly registration at the Consulate General of Greece in Ukraine. On July 28, 2018, the seafarers returned back home, MTWTU said.

“It was like an American action movie, when masked people climbed the ship and put us all on the deck face down,” recalls the Mekong Spirit oiler.

Another 5 Ukrainian crew members remain in Greece until the final decision on the case is taken by local justice.

One of the most notorious cases, widely covered by the world media, is that of MV Free Neptune, a Liberia-flagged bulker, and its seafarers, who were abandoned and unpaid for 32 months 4 miles offshore Oman.

The ship was owned by Greek shipowners Free Bulkers SA, which declared bankruptcy in 2016 and abandoned the bulk carrier with 22 Ukrainian seafarers on board.

“The wages were not paid, but they persuaded us that they were about to pay. Then they took the ship to Oman, and that’s it, we were caught in a mousetrap,” says the 3rd engineer of MV Free Neptune.

Due to poor living conditions, lack of food and medical supplies, the Ukrainian sailors resorted to a hunger strike at the end of 2016 to draw attention to their problems.

The ITF helped to purchase food, and the Ukrainian Consul in Saudi Arabia assisted with provision supply, MTWTU said.

In February 2017, seven seafarers returned home. In accordance with the MLC, 2006 Convention, the repatriation was organized by the Liberia Maritime Authority, the vessel’s flag state.

In 2018, through the ITF-led efforts a court authorized the remaining crew members to legally leave the ship and the seafarers managed to obtained a partial wage balance settlement.

Reported by World Maritime News


Macro of Yeman on a globe, narrow depth of field

Rea Sea / Gulf of Aden

In June 2017 the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), which aims to protect shipping from terrorism and piracy, issued a statement saying it was stepping up its activities in the region, due to “recent attacks against merchant shipping in the Gulf of Aden and Bab-el-Mandeb”.

It mentioned two attacks in particular, both thought to be linked to the Yemen conflict. The first was the assault against the LNG tanker GALICIA SPIRIT in October 2016 and the second the attack on the oil tanker MUSKIE in May 2017. Both attacks, whilst unsuccessful, involved the use of high speed boats and “significant amount of explosives”.

A maritime security notice issued by United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations (UKMTO) around the same time said: “We assess that it is highly unlikely that international shipping is being directly targeted [by combatants in the Yemen conflict] but there remains a risk of misidentification and miscalculation.”

Incidents that have been reported since then include:

In April 2018 a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, claimed an oil tanker had come under attack by Houthi rebels, in international waters, west of Hodeidah.

In May 2018 there was an explosion on a vessel carrying wheat in the Hodeidah waiting area. Rebel sources said the ship had been struck by a missile; Saudi-led coalition forces said the explosion was from the inside to the outside.

In June 2018 a vessel that had been delivering food aid to the rebel held port of Hodeidah was reported by the World Food Programme to have come under fire from unidentified gunman in a skiff.


Yemen’s Houthi rebels warned on 9 January 2018, that they would block shipping traffic if Saudi-led coalition forces continued their advance on the Yemeni port of Hodeidah.

The warning, published by a Houthi controlled news agency, came from Saleh al-Samad, a senior Houthi leader.“If the aggressors keep pushing towards Hodeidah and if the political solution hits [a] wall, there are some strategic choices that will be taken […..] including blocking international navigation in the Red Sea,” he was quoted as saying.

The port of Hodeidah, which has been in Houthi hands throughout the conflict, has been a crucial entry point for fuel, food and humanitarian aid and supplies.

In June 2018, Yemeni forces – backed by UAE and Saudi Arabia – had advanced to within 10 km of the port. However the port has continued to operate. As of early July 2018, the UN is trying to broker a deal to prevent fighting at, and the closure of, the port of Hodeidah.

As well as the security risk at Hodeidah, there are commercial risks such as delay and disputes arising from problems associated with the vessel clearance procedures. Additionally, financial difficulties (for example, traders having to seek credit outside of Yemen) increase the importance of conducting commercial due diligence.


All ships sailing through the High Risk Area (HRA) – which includes parts of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden – should register their intentions with the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA).

The US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) has set up a Maritime Security Transit Corridor (MSTC) in the Gulf of Aden and Southern Red Sea region. The purpose of the corridor is “to provide a recommended merchant traffic route around which Naval Forces can focus their presence and surveillance efforts. The CMF recommends “that all vessels use the MSTC to benefit from military presence and surveillance.”

Vessels should follow BMP5 and the BIMCO / ICS / INTERTANKO complementary guidance ‘Interim Guidance on Maritime Security in the Southern Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb (Published 25 January 2018).

Vessels trading to Hodeidah should conduct both additional security and commercial due diligence, including obtaining the very latest information and employing risk assessments, as well as keeping insurers advised and seeking their advice.

UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM) clearance is required for vessels calling at Salif and Hodeidah.

Vessels calling at Gulf of Aden ports require Ministry of Transport and Coalition Forces clearance.

Application for permission may take up to two weeks before ships are cleared and granted permission for entry at Yemeni ports.

The situation is fluid and the threats to shipping can change rapidly. Ship operators should carry out detailed risk assessments for each voyage into the area using the latest threat information.


Reported by Gray Page

In Depth: NonPetya Aftermath


Digitalization has become the new normal and a means of survival for companies in the maritime world, which is being transformed by the relentless development of technology. It is a vast topic covering from digital certificates on board ships to making ships’ navigation fully autonomous.

Players across the board, in what has been described as a very conservative industry, are looking into the opportunities of the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence to boost their performance and cut costs.

However, one year after the cyber attack that rocked the maritime world, proving it can happen to the very best, the importance of cyber security has come to the forefront.

World Maritime News spoke with Pantelis Skinitis, Business Development, ABS Advanced Solutions about the current state of play and lessons learnt about the importance of cyber security following the NonPetya attack in June 2017, which cost Maersk Line around USD 300 million.

In terms of cyber security, the need is real, he says, whether looking onboard the ship or ashore.

“The growth in communication and data transfer means that all businesses must think about cyber security in a holistic way.”

Commenting on the current situation in the market, Skinitis said that there is still not enough emphasis on the relationship between Operational Technology and Information Technology and the risks that flow from system upgrades and non-compatibility as well as from malicious risks.
“Based on numerous interactions with clients, it became evident to ABS that the conversation around recognition and response to maritime cyber risk needed to change. It required a new model that gives asset owners a clear picture of the sources of risk and tools to guide their mitigation actions and create a safety culture,” he explained.

“To do this, risk needs to be defined in a straightforward way that can be observed and measured, specifically defining the individual risks inherent in marine operating systems giving cybersecurity managers some ‘engineer­ing knobs to turn’ in order to reduce them.”

One of the positive outcomes from the recent developments is that the awareness is growing fast that this is not something that is going to go away.

“Indeed as digitalisation increases in shipping, the risk from OT/IT issues or from cyber-attacks can only grow without proper management. The many stakeholders involved in building and operating vessel now and future all need to fully understand how to design assets and systems that shift cyber-risk away from a defensive approach to a risk-based proactive method of thinking about maritime OT and IT risks,” he added.

ABS is looking at how better use of data and analytics, reporting and sharing of information can help drive safety from the individual mariners to the company level.

“The next phase is voyage performance where there are huge opportunities to collect, analyse and act on data captured from the vessel that can demonstrate regulatory compliance and also feed into greater operational efficiency. There are much wider opportunities too – in areas such as the interface between the ship and the port and integration of the supply chain, that promise to deliver much larger gains in efficiency in future,” Skinitis said.

Commenting on the other side of the equation, there are some obstacles that remain in the minds of the shipowners, who believe they don’t need to change the way they operate their fleet or that their customers will be asking more from them in future.

“However, they are fewer in number every day,” he added.

Can you ever be perfectly protected?

Digitalization of operations has a great potential to drive down cost for industry players. However, the question arises where do we draw the line between cost-reduction and cyber-attack risks?

“It’s a mistake for any organisation to believe that it is ‘perfectly protected’ from cyber attack and certainly there should be no correlation between cost reduction and cyber security. The fact is that cyber security means continued investment – but not just in systems. We know that people are key to good cyber hygiene whether in an office or onboard ship. Training and awareness with easy to follow procedures need not be expensive but they can help to stop the easy access for hacking, phishing and spoofing for example,” he replied.

Speaking on the way forward for achieving cyber resiliance, Skinitis said that for today’s maritime risk practitioner, the main challenge is creating a model that calculates risk for operating systems based on factors that can be counted, measured, computed, compared, and modeled against a Cybersecurity Management System.

With these issues in mind, ABS recently joined forces with the Stevens Institute of Technology to redef­ine the traditional cyber risk model as a mathematical equation in terms that are countable, observable and easily understood.

“The result is a new model,” Skinitis continues, “the FCI, for Functions, Connections and Identities – which enables a risk-based cybersecurity approach driven by specific quantifiable risks and that spotlight a specific area for remediation.”

“By dividing up the software critical Functions, such as navigation or other equipment, the Connections, whether isolated, or in a shared network, or with internet access to and from shore and Identities, such human or machine, trusted or untrusted, ABS can provide owners with a simple comparison of their fleet, ship by ship, indicating where improvements need to be made most urgently,” he said.

When asked about the claims that the industry might be getting ahead of itself with digital solutions for problems that don’t actually exist, Skinitis said that these arguments have been a common part of the process throughout the history of technological evolution.

There is a ‘hype’ we are hearing in the industry today that talks about what some new technologies might be able do, whether or not the case is proven, he added.

“Digital solutions are easier to apply than strong leadership and management practices, and that is one reason they are quickly applied. Therefore, people naturally look for digital solutions both appropriately and inappropriately. As the problems to which technical solutions are applied become better defined, the arguments tend to be resolved.

“The reality is that there are still big improvements the shipping industry can make to increase safety, reliability and efficiency using data tools. Whether these result in concepts such as full vessel autonomy depends on the true level of demand as well as on the safety case that surrounds it.”

How far away are we from an age of “autonomous shipping”?

“In terms of small vessels, sailing in coastal and inland waters, not far away at all. The pilot and pioneer projects currently underway will be in fruition in a relatively short time span provided the demand remains. This reflects not just the size of the vessels concerned but also the conditions in which they are likely to be sailing,” Skinitis said.

Nevertheless, he believes it’s less likely that we will see many such ocean-going vessels in the near term for regulatory, safety and market-based reasons.

“The noise around autonomous ships also overlooks the fact that vessel have been operating with increased autonomy – in the form of automation – for many years and this is something that will continue as the fruits of digitalisation begin to ripen.

“Will it result in autonomous ships? Perhaps, but given the technical and regulatory barriers and the need for public acceptance, its is likely that while crews continue to shrink in number, the need for skilled personnel ashore and at sea will remain,” he pointed out.
Interview by Jasmina Ovčina Mandra, reported by World Maritime News

Chinese Rescue Diver to Receive IMO Exceptional Bravery At Sea Award.


A Chinese rescue diver who led a series of dives to help rescue six crew members from a sunken cargo ship will receive the 2018 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery At Sea, the International Maritime Organization has announced.

The rescue started 27 November 2017 when the bulk carrier M/V Jin Ze Lun collided with another ship in Guangzhou Port, China, causing the bulk carrier to sink in the main channel to the port. Of the 14 crew on board, two were immediately rescued but 12 remained missing.

The award recipient, Mr. Zhong Haifeng, was a senior diver and deputy of the Engineering Team at Guangzhou Salvage and put in charge of the desperate search for survivors.

Facing strong currents, Haifeng organized a series dives resulting in the discovery of six missing crew members trapped inside an air pocket of a cabin. After their discovery, the team worked to replenish oxygen and talk to the trapped survivors to calm them. Haifeng even dove down to deliver scuba diving equipment for those trapped.

The following day, Haifeng made six dives to help teach survivors how to use the scuba gear before helping them to the surface. He is personally credited with rescuing three of the crew members over the course of just one hour.

Mr. Haifeng was nominated for the award by China.

A Panel of Judges agreed that Mr. Haifeng demonstrated “truly exceptional bravery and human spirit” during the rescue “by personally exerting tireless efforts under highly dangerous circumstances,” making it deserving of the IMO’s highest award for bravery at sea.The decision was endorsed by the IMO Council last week at its 120th session in London.

Of a total of 22 qualifying nominations for this year’s award, another three will receive Certificates of Commendation and eight will receive Letters of Commendation.

The awards will be presented during an IMO Awards ceremony to be held on 6 December 2018 at IMO Headquarters in London.


by gCaptain