Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Above Board

Maritime news from the seven seas


February 1, 2018

In less than a decade, most ships plying the waters could “increasingly resemble floating computers” according to DNVGL’s look at the emergence of digitization in the industry. An improvement in Internet connection capabilities, the advancement of multiple software and simulation functions as well as the introduction of the “digital twin” of a vessel, are all leading to a huge paradigm shift in the building, design and operations of ships of the future.

Deadly Disasters and Other Incidents

In the Gulf of Finland, near the Porvoo Lighthouse, frantic attempts in heavy seas by a plethora of would-be rescuers that included a series of authority-dispatched boats, helicopters, divers and others, ended in the unfortunate death of two pilots trapped in a capsized pilot vessel.

Strong winds, sometimes gusting close to 100 km, were the culprit for two quick-succession incidents for the 180-meter Pride of Kent passenger vessel. First, as she was trying to depart the port of Calais, France, the vessel hit a foot bridge. Later, while she was attempting to pass the breakwater, the winds pushed her onto a sandbank. The ordeal continued when three tugs tried for more than an hour to pull the ferry free of the sandbank, eventually guiding her back to port.

In Boston, Massachusetts, a quay suffered significant damage at the Paul W. Conley Container Terminal, after the 1,065-foot Helsinki Bridge container ship broke free of her moorings during high winds and smashed into the pier as well as a terminal crane.

Two passengers were injured after an engine room fire aboard the Driade ferry disabled the vessel as it was transiting near Ischia, Italy. The ship’s crew subsequently put out the fire, while the Coast Guard assisted in evacuating all 12 passengers.

An accident on board the Maersk Interceptor jack-up drill rig at the Tambar field, Norway, left one person injured and one dead. At the time of this writing, it wasn’t clear what caused the person who died to fall off the rig. Safety measures where hardened as a result.

Piracy Pulse

At Manila Quarantine Anchorage in the Philippines, bandits removed several immersion suits and liferafts from an anchored container ship and got away unnoticed. In the resulting search, crew discovered the hawse pipe had been the avenue the robbers used to get on board.

The master and crew of a container ship in transit near Bonny Island, Nigeria, had to use evasive maneuvers to avoid being boarded by a group of would-be pirates who chased the large ship in a small speed boat.

A product tanker underway in the vicinity of Mukalla, Yemen, also had to initiate evasive maneuvers in an incident where armed bandits fired on the vessel while chasing it in a speed boat. Luckily the tactic worked, and no thieves were able to get on board.

Odds and Ends

The outcome of the sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart articulated tug and barge which was towing barge DBL 55 near Bella Bella, BC, was the result of a few factors, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Both human failure and the improper use and knowledge of the Electronic Chart System and its alerts were cited. While the second mate, who had relieved the captain, had fallen asleep, missing a key turning point, it was determined that if he had deployed the cross-track error alarm, he would have been alerted in plenty of time to make a course correction.

A floating LNG project, proposed for the Malahat nation-owned industrial land at the 525-hectare Bamberton site in BC’s Saanich Inlet, has been cancelled. The production and export facility was a partnership between Steelhead LNG and the Malahat Nation, but numerous regulatory hoops and mounting opposition led to the no-go decision.

Late last year, Seaspan launched the inaugural offshore fisheries science vessel (OFSC) as part of its agreement with the Canadian government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy to build a series of non-combat vessels. The OFSV1 is the first of three ships of this type that will bolster not only the exploration and scientific data-gathering done on these Canadian Coast Guard ships, but the building of these vessels will also bring welcomed business to BC and beyond.

Kathy Smith writes for global maritime trade journals and provides marketing copy to maritime businesses worldwide. She can be reached at


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