Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Above Board

Maritime news from the seven seas


Virtual video medical assistance for seafarers is now a reality. Globecomm Maritime, a communications company based in New Jersey, has partnered with Future Care, Inc, to offer a virtual ER set up which also integrates with Globecomm’s Access Chat service. The service can remotely link medical personnel, hospital staff, Future Care case managers, shipowners and family members with the seafarer/patient while they’re on board a vessel. The service provides for illness and injury situations as well as for routine health needs.

Deadly Disasters and Other Incidents

Twenty-three crew had to be airlifted from the bulk carrier MV John 1 after the vessel ran aground off Newfoundland.

An environmental disaster was thankfully avoided after two vessels collided in the Houston Ship Channel. The Genius Star VII cargo ship loaded with grain slammed into a barge carrying more than 800,000 gallons of #6 fuel oil.

There were some tense moments at the Port of Halifax when a suspected radiation leak threatened the Ceres shipping terminal. Several cylinders full of Uranium Hexafluoride fell inside a container while in transit from ship to shore but there was no damage and tests on the crew and area workers showed they had not been affected.

Two men were presumed dead after the barge they were working on in the Mississippi River capsized and sank. The two had been unloading 50,000-pound steel coils in Hickman. The Coast Guard and three other organizations scrutinized an area of 54 miles for more than two days before the search was called off.

All crew had to be evacuated after Repubblica Di Roma, a ro/ro cargo vessel suffered a fire near Lome, Togo. One crewmember died when an explosion in a cargo hold aboard the Northern Guard boxship occurred while the vessel was enroute to Colombo, Sri Lanka from Pipavav, India. While the boxship Morning Viship was being loaded in Male Port, Maldives, a container slipped from a crane, killing two dock workers and injuring another.

A drunken captain nearly caused a catastrophic allision with a pier in Helsingborg, Sweden, Oresund. The San Remo, a general cargo vessel, did not heed warnings from ships in the area after going off course and the master gained control of the vessel just before impact.

Piracy Pulse

According to Dryad Maritime, a maritime intelligence organization based in the UK, piracy has dropped in the Horn of Africa, South East Asia and the Gulf of Guinea by 13 percent year-on-year, but areas off the Niger Delta are still on the high-incident list for kidnapping.

In the Red Sea, a chemical tanker came under attack from five pirate skiffs. A fire pump was used to discourage the 15 attackers but they were not completely deterred until the onboard security team fired a flare towards the group while presenting arms.

Near Pulau Karimun Besar, Indonesia, an engine room duty officer aboard a bulk carrier was tied up and threatened with a knife by four robbers who took off with engine spares.

A tanker sailing off Musandam Island, Oman, was chased by a skiff with six robbers wielding a machine gun. The attackers took aim and fired at the bridge but were foiled after hearing the ship’s alarm while the vessel altered course and activated the fire pump.

The Nigerian Navy is getting two new Offshore Patrol Vessels to help ward off maritime crime. Delivery of the first will take place around mid-2014 with the second vessel expected to be completed by early 2015.

Accident Investigations

The US National Transportation Safety Board found that the captain of a ferry that hit a pier in Manhattan last January lost control of the vessel during docking. While working to transfer between bridge stations and reduce speed, the Master of Seastreak Wall Street didn’t allow time to respond appropriately to the vessel’s loss of propulsion control. Several passengers were injured in the incident; four seriously, and it was also found that Seastreak LLC was operating with no safety management system which could have helped identify and mitigate risks while underway.

The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Board recommended the IMO be approached to consider issuing a requirement for two navigational watchkeepers to be on watch in addition to the master on all short sea trade vessels after the grounding of Danio, a cargo vessel off Longstone, Farne Islands in March of 2013. The chief officer, the only officer on the bridge at the time, had fallen asleep during his six-hour shift, and additionally, the vessel had been operating with the Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System turned off.

Odds and Ends

Canadian shipping company Fednav is the first to use Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) on a commercial voyage. The icebreaker Umiak I deployed drones equipped with video to conduct surveillance missions ahead of the ship in the Labrador Coast in order to supply captain and officers with real-time visuals on ice conditions.

Cap San Lorenzo, considered the world’s largest reefer vessel, recently completed her first visit to the Port of Hamburg, travelling from South America. The Hamburg Süd Cap San class ship is 333 meters long, 48 meters at the beam, and has 2,100 connections for refrigerated containers.

Heerema is considering building a new semi-submersible crane vessel and has issued a letter of intent with crane specialist Huisman for two cranes that will be able to lift 10,000 metric tons at a 48-meter radius. The giant tub cranes will incorporate Huisman’s in-house large bearing design instead of a typical slew system, which will help save on maintenance and achieve better control of slewing.

DNV GL case studies on arctic shipping have gauged that risk for a cruise ship is about 30 percent higher than in other waters and suggests lifeboats suited to the conditions as well as collision-resistant hulls be part of new vessel design, among other recommendations. Also recommended for bulk carriers, which could incur a nearly 15 percent higher threat than on traditional routes, are hovercraft lifeboats, which could help manage the risks inherent with sea ice. The case studies looked at a bulk carrier plying the Northern Sea Route and a cruise ship sailing the waters off Greenland.

Kathy A. Smith enjoys writing for US and international fishing and maritime trade journals. She can be reached at


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