Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Above Board

Maritime news from the seven seas


February 1, 2020

New Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) guidelines, titled Guidelines for Automated/Autonomous Operation of Ships — Design Development, Installation and Operation of Automated Operation Systems/Remote Operation Systems, have been released by Classification Society ClassNK. The thrust of the research behind this is to help with easing crew workload and prevent human error aboard autonomous ships.

Deadly Disasters and Other Incidents

The VLCC COSCO Pacific suffered a fire in one of her cargo holds during a voyage to Nhava Sheva Port in India from Malaysia’s Port Klang. A mis-declared lithium battery was cited as the cause of the incident. The shipper, identified as Wan Hai Lines, reportedly declared the cargo as spare parts and accessories. Thankfully, there were no injuries.

The US Coast Guard had to rescue its own crew near Pier 30 in Astoria, Oregon, after a 26-foot USCG boat capsized in rough weather. There were four crewmen onboard the trailerable aids to navigation (ATON) vessel and all were safely pulled from the water and checked out by a local hospital.

Near San Juan, Puerto Rico, a man and his wife were medevaced from the cruise vessel Queen Mary 2 after the man suffered medical distress. In order to get the pair off the ship, area Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter, lowered a rescue swimmer to determine the medical state of the man, and then reportedly several hoists were carried out to get the two people on board the helicopter and to land-based medical facility.

Off the coast of Madagascar, a man who had fallen overboard from the cruise vessel MSC Orchestra was located and rescued by ship’s crew. It took about an hour for them to find the man, who apparently had intentionally jumped.

In the Gulf of Aden, a broken shaft was responsible for a wooden dhow losing power. Luckily for the 13 crew members aboard, the INS Sumedha Indian Navy patrol ship was nearby conducting anti-piracy patrol and was able to safely evacuate everyone.

A routine ferry ride became a lengthy experience after the Spiekeroog 4 grounded just outside of the Harbor entrance to Neuharlingersiel, Germany. There were no injuries reported among the 140 passengers but they had to wait seven hours while the tide rose before the ship could commence her berthing operations.

In another grounding incident, this time in Greece, near Skiathos, the ro/ro passenger vessel Proteus lost rudder function and ended up on the rocks of Daskalonisi. The 53 passengers aboard had to be evacuated to a patrol vessel, while the following day, the Proteus was refloated.

In the Philippines, yet another grounding incident occurred when the passenger ferry Oceanjet 7 encountered rough seas which pushed her shoreside on her way from Plaridel, Misamis Occidental to Tagbilaran City in Bohol. Multiple rescue vessels were dispatched to help get the 271 passengers and 17 crew off the foundered ship.

Three workers were injured after a fire broke out on the west side of an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Personnel on the Akal-C6, operated by Pemex, were able to extinguish the flames with the help of crews from the Mezquital and Atlantis vessels.

Odds and Ends

Carnival Corporation has 16 new ships on the books to roll out by 2025. The company took delivery of four new ships last year and is on track to do the same this year. To date, Carnival has 11 vessels that run on LNG.

Sea Machines Robotics SM200 commercial wireless helm has been approved by classification society ABS and the US Coast Guard for use aboard US-flagged ATBs – apparently a first in the industry. The technology allows remote control from the wheelhouse and other visibility- and safety-oriented locations on tugs and ATBs for the operation of both below and above deck equipment.

Climate scientists at the University of California have determined, through their recent research study, called, An emergent constraint on future arctic sea-ice albedo feed-back, that by 2044, the arctic Ocean could be relatively ice-free for part of the year.

Have questions?

Could be about news, trends, basic industry terms, ‘how-it’s-done’ or something you’re observing in your own industry sector. Send them to and I’ll do my best to answer them, either by email or in one of my upcoming columns (where first name-only references will be used).

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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