Interesting Talk by member Wellington Pilot Lew Henderson

Fourteen members attended the May meeting. Not a bad turnout given the number away on vacation or being unwell.

Our speaker and member, Lew Henderson, gave an unscripted and fascinating talk for a full hour on the complexities faced by Master Mariners in command in present times.

As a current Pilot of the Port of Wellington and based on his own extensive career experience, Lew was able to engage with his audience in an informative manner  cataloguing the transformational changes in the shipping industry that have taken place since many (most?) of us at the meeting last stood on the bridge of a ship.

In his dialogue Lew traversed a full range of issues that have evolved over time and have definitely replaced the way of life which existed post WW2 and up to the introduction of container shipping, bulk shipping, cruising and the multiple offshore industries.

Probably the most prominent matter which has reshaped the industry has been the rapid advances in technology. This is exemplified by the fact that everything about the complete operation of a vessel, be it on the bridge or in the engine room, is, or is capable of, being recorded in some manner. This information is stored or accessed as necessary, by owners, regulators etc as and when seen necessary.

Ships sail without paper charts, sextants and other dated equipment which has been replaced by satellite based communication systems seen to be the ideal deputy for highly trained but sometimes fallible human beings.

Ships crews very often are a mixture of cultures, languages and having different dietary requirements. 

Evidence of qualifications may well be suspect. 

Health & Safety at Work legislation overarches all shipboard activities. 

Uniforms of office have, to all extent, disappeared. As a Pilot, when Lew boards a vessel he often identifies the Master as the individual in a group who steps forward to shake hands. 

Alcohol aboard ships has just about disappeared. 

Crews are small and the support and comradeship which existed in the past has been replaced by isolation and the potential for individual psychiatric problems. 

The ever present tension between ships masters and owners and regulators (policy innovators) is one situation which remains unchanged. viz a recent move to train candidates to be pilots but without their having the historical requirement of holding a Master’s FG Certificate of Competency. An action defeated by the Maritime Pilots Association

Lew had certainly not finished when time ran out. He has offered to speak again but with a focus on his pilotage responsibilities. This will be most welcome.

Next month Katherine Walker has agreed to talk about qualifications and the current career path  to become a Master Mariner ( if that is what you could possibly want after hearing Lew Henderson’s description!?) 

Please mark your diary for Master Mariners lunch on Wednesday 12th June.

Hope to see you then

Ken Watt


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March Meeting – Wellington

The lunch meeting held at the Bolton on Wednesday 13 March was the first for the year. 

14 members,  plus guest speaker Dr. Ed Ballard and visitor Bruce Campbell, a Southampton pilot and son of member Angus Campbell, all enjoyed the excellent curry lunch put on by the hotel.

Before the meal, the Warden welcomed all in attendance particularly newly recruited member Jenny Cuttrice.

Jenny was presented with her membership certificate to the acclaim of all present. With extensive recent command experience,  Jenny is a beneficial and appreciated addition to our Branch.

After lunch Ed Ballard was introduced by Roger Kerswill. 

Some time ago Ed had enjoyed his younger life with Roger being his scout leader in the Evans Bay sea scouts and he saw this presentation as a good opportunity to return some of his time which he felt he owed Roger.

Ed reviewed his educational career history – Engineering Degree from Canterbury University and a PhD in Ship Science from Southampton University in the UK. He is a qualified naval architect.

His talk revolved around the time that the consultant company for which he worked, had to prepare a conceptual proposal for the construction of a Floating Natural Gas Vessel (FLNG), hypothetically 500 metres long.

With the aid of projector slides Ed took us through issues such as where natural gas is found, its properties, the temperature and process by which it is liquefied and the formidable hurdles faced in the customers design brief for a notional vessel which processed natural gas piped from the sea floor, liquefied and stored it prior to it’s transfer to tanker ships for delivery ashore.

An hour passed very quickly with the audience being absorbed with the technical challenges and the proposal as to how they would be overcome. 

A short question time followed.

The talk was brought to a lighthearted end with Angus Campbell announcing that he had been a member of the Evans Bay Britannia Sea Scouts in 1940!

It was reflective as to how well the talk was received when there was general agreement that Dr. Ballard should be invited to speak again to a meeting later in the year.In concluding, the Warden advised that the April meeting would be the Branch AGM and it was hoped that there would also be time for member Captain Katherine Walker to give a short talk with it’s content yet to be advised.

The agenda for the AGM will be sent out shortly.

Cor Van Kesteren distributed new lapel name badges to all in attendance. These are to be kept by the individual and it is expected that they will be brought to meetings and worn.

DO NOT LOSE THEM! they are your responsibility.

See you next month


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Crossed the Bar

Members who recently crossed the bar:

Captain Maxwell Deane – Auckland Branch, Life member, 22 February 2019

Captain Neil Andrew Wheeler – Auckland Branch, 14 January 2019

Captain Richard Henshaw – Christchurch Branch, 27 November 2018

Captain David Boyes – Wellington Branch, 21 October 2018

Captain Fred Kelner – Auckland Branch, Life member, 13 October 2018

Captain C. M. Anderson – formerly Christchurch Branch, 11th August 2018

Captain B. R. Meads – Christchurch Branch, 15th April 2018;

Captain G.T.H. Nicol – Wellington Branch, 31st March 2018;

Captain J. Glyde – Wellington Branch, 15th March 2018;

Captain J. Twomey – Christchurch Branch, 15th September 2017;

Captain D.R. Morgan – Auckland Branch, 6th August 2017;

Captain P.J.R. Wavish – Auckland Branch, 24th July 2017;

Captain G.D. Hill – Christchurch Branch, 16th July 2017;

Captain J.A. Barbour – Tauranga Branch, 22nd June 2017;

Captain Q.W.V. Gray – Auckland Branch, 12th February 2017;

Captain I.B. Owen – Wellington Branch, 1st February 2017;

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Waitangi Day 2019

The Governor General of New Zealand, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy GNZM QSO, is the Honorary Patron of the NZ Company of Master Mariners.

On Waitangi Day (6 February 2019), the Company was represented at a reception at Government House Wellington by the Master, Captain E E Ewbank, and the Warden of the Christchurch Branch, Captain Darrell Daish.

The Master, Captain Ted Ewbank, with Her Excellency the Governor General.
Captain Darrell Daish and Captain Ted Ewbank with students of Scots College
at Government House, Wellington
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It’s been an active beginning to 2019 in terms of maritime casualties.  The phone at the Panama Marine Accident Investigation Department was likely ringing off the hook with three major incidents on Panama-flagged vessels in the first two days.  The first three weeks of the year have produced a wide range of serious casualties…and they are likely just the tip of the iceberg in terms of incidents and near misses.

The casualties begin…

These casualties started with the SINCERITY ACE,  a Panama-flagged car carrier which suffered a major fire in cargo spaces on 31 December 2018 in the North Pacific.  The vessel was subsequently abandoned with four known casualties and one crew member missing.

On January 1st/2nd, MSC ZOE, a Panama-flagged ultra large container vessel (ULCV) was enroute Bremerhaven, Germany.  During heavy weather, the vessel lost 290+ shipping containers overboard.  The containers have started washing up on German and Dutch beaches with significant pollution.

Also on January 2nd, 6 crew members from the MSC container ship MSC Mandy were kidnapped off the coast of Benin.  The Panama-flagged feeder vessel was on the way from Lome to Lagos when a reported 8-10 pirates boarded the vessel and left with 6 of 26 crew, possibly including the captain.

A fire aboard the YANTIAN EXPRESS, a 7500 TEU container vessel reportedly started in one container on deck on January 3rd and spread.  The subsequent blaze forced the crew of the German-flagged vessel to abandon ship to a responding tug boat.  The blaze was finally being brought under control a week later.  Yantian Express is reportedly making her way to Freeport in the Bahamas under her own power.

On the less serious side from the view of personal injury, the bulk vessel Anglo Alexandria (UK-flagged) grounded while downbound on the Mississippi River on January 5th.  While the vessel was refloated within 48 hours and there was no reported pollution, a queue of 50 in and outbound vessels had developed.

In the Black Sea off Turkey, VOLGO BALT 214 split in two and sank in heavy seas.  While 7 of the Panama-flagged cargo vessel ‘s crew were rescued by Turkish authorities, 6, including the captain, were lost at sea.

Hong Kong harbour was the site of an explosion onboard the tank vessel AUIAC FORTUNE on January 8th.  The Vietnam-flagged vessel was preparing to bunker when the explosion occurred.  At last report 1 crew member had perished with multiple still missing.

The Vanuatu-flagged cable layer STAR CENTURION was anchored in the Horsburgh OPL off Singapore on January 13th when the outbound Hong Kong-flagged tanker Antea collided with her.  The damage to Star Centurion was so severe that she capsized and sank soon after with all crew being rescued.

Back in the Black Sea on January 21st, Tanzania-flagged LPG tankers Candy and Maestro were conducting a ship-to-ship (STS) transfer of cargo in international waters.  During the transfer, a fire broke out, engulfing both vessels. The two vessels had a combined crew of 31 of which 19 were killed or are missing.

How do we learn from these incidents?

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Casualty Investigation Code’s (CIC) objective is, “…a marine safety investigation, as defined in this Code, is an investigation conducted with the objective of preventing marine casualties and marine incidents in the future.”  In short, the goal is for flag states and the maritime industry as a whole to learn from incidents, identifying opportunities for improvement and best practices.

Unfortunately, 75% of the time according to Allianz Global, we find that the cause of these incidents are attributed to human error.  “Human error” potentially involves all the different processes in shipping in which humans play a role – navigation, engineering, ship design, vessel management, shipping clerks, regulatory agencies, flag state.  Everyone from the CEO down to the entry ratings in a shipping company is part of the human element.  Everyone from the secretary of the IMO down to flag state and class inspectors is part of the human element.  And all parts of the human element have the capability for error.

But what is human error? LACK OF EXPERIENCE!

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Maritime Societies’ Annual Dinner

The Auckland Branch of the Company was well represented at the Maritime Societies’ Annual Dinner, held at the Northern Club on 7 December, when twelve Master Mariners and their partners/wives attended with 50 others.

During the course of the evening, the Warden of the Auckland Branch, Captain Chris Barradale, presented membership certificates to master mariners Holly and David Clayton. Holly is employed by Ports of Auckland Ltd and husband David is currently serving as C/O of MV Buffalo working around the NZ coast.

The guest speaker was Commander Lisa Hunn BSc RNZN, Commanding Officer of HMNZS TE MANA who spoke well of her time during the annual Exercise RIMPAC when the ship won the “Top Gun” trophy competed for by 14 nations.

David and Holly with the evening’s Guest of Honour, Commander Lisa Hunn RNZN (Commanding Officer HMNZS TE MANA)

David Clayton addresses the guests

Warden, Capt Chris Barradale presents membership certificate to David Clayton while Holly Clayton looks on.


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Auckland Branch Calendar 2019

2019 UPCOMING EVENTS (Auckland Branch Meetings)

                    Committee Meeting                    General Meetings

Monday 4th February                Thursday 7th February

Monday 8th April                     Thursday 11th April

Monday 10th June                    Thursday AGM 13 June

Monday 5th August                  Saturday 10th August Ladies Lunch

Monday 7th October                 Thursday 10th October

Monday 2 December                DTBA Maritime Dinner

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SMOKE SIGNALS – Michael Grey Lloyds List

SHIPPING has often been described as an industry that operates “on the frontier”, which could be taken to mean there are always many hostile tribes out there, which bear it no goodwill.

Anticipating where the trouble will flare up next may be thought of as an essential skill in the experienced frontiersman, who, in the best Westerns, was always alert to smoke signals or other signs of danger.

For the professional master, exposure to criminal or civil sanctions has always been the downside of the job, inextricably part of the responsibilities that come with the ship they command.

But in recent years, this risk has been greatly increased along with port state control, which for better or worse, has enabled anyone with a bit of authority to march on board a ship and throw a lot of weight around. Time in port, once a place to perhaps relax a little after a stormy sea passage, is often a place of tension and one of perpetual inspection.

It is also threatening to become a whole lot worse, with coastal states, international regulations and local bylaws, all combining to make the air cleaner and the sea free from harmful alien species which might be transported around in ballast water. The charges for which a master may end up in court are multiplying fast.

There are plenty of smoke signals to be seen.

This month the master of P&O cruiseship Azura will find out whether charges he faced at the Criminal Court of Marseilles for burning non-compliant fuel will stand.

In theory, he and the company face heavy financial penalties with up to a year’s custody for the master, after it was discovered that a local sulphur limit of 1.5% was breached, the ship having bunkered in Spain with 1.68% sulphur fuel. It is regarded as something of a “test case”, but any criminal record for any shipmaster is a very heavy penalty, that is magnified hugely by the demands of his profession to travel unhindered.

There is already a growing number of cases of ships that have been detained, after contraventions of emission regulations have been discovered. Even more sinister, there have been warnings that bogus “environmental inspectors” have been plying their trade on certain Black Sea waterfronts, looking to make some easy money.

Anyone with a little common sense may wonder why it is the master of a ship, who probably has limited exposure to the contents of the bunker tanks, or indeed the operation of the ballast management systems, who would be the person dragged into court concerning any alleged infraction. Nothing new about this, of course.

Think back to those infamous “Perben” court cases in France, where masters found themselves fined and given criminal records, after an overflying aircraft had photographed a ship that appeared suspiciously near what may have been an oil slick on the sea. No other corroboration was needed.

A very experienced retired master of my acquaintance tells of a nasty time he experienced in a Spanish port after his second engineer, who did not speak English very well, made an innocent mistake with the oil record book and suggested in error that sludge had been discharged overside. Only the helpful intervention of a classification society surveyor saved the master from a court appearance.

But all around the world, the authorities are anticipating the 2020 sulphur cap and sharpening their investigative powers. And it is shipmasters who stand to be out there, “on the frontier”, when these new powers are exercised.

Corrupt authorities

They hope that justice and fairness may be watchwords in this new environmental regime, but one does not imagine they are counting on this. In too many parts of the world, it will be regarded by corrupt authorities as just another opportunity to make some money.

But even in places where normally the authorities will be scrupulous regarding their regulatory powers, there are unanswered questions.

There is a presumption of tremendous precision about the performance of environmental equipment, along with a largely misplaced belief that the blended fuels that are taken on board are formulated to the standards that it says on the tin.

Scarcely a week elapses without some P&I club warning about horrible things somebody has managed to tip into a tank of ship’s fuel, whether it is cutter stock, shale, or just the odd tonne or two of chemicals they wanted to get rid of.

The clubs are chiefly warning about the harm it can do to the ship, or the machinery, but is this the sort of behaviour that provides the master with confidence that the sample taken by the inspector will come back from the laboratory smelling of roses and fulfilling all the environmental criteria?

It has occurred to me from time to time that some friendly agency ought to be providing masters with some sort of global analysis of prosecution risk.

Smoke signals for the 21st century, they could be much like the old Admiralty Sailing Directions also known as Pilots, which would warn mariners of poor holding ground, or other local navigational hazards. It might grade the country for its corruption — an index may be a useful indicator — or the propensity of its courts to deal with visiting masters in an unjust manner. A colour code would provide ease of use.

The problem, in these politically correct days, is that nobody would be sufficiently brave to publish such advice. Maybe a seafarer union would take it on board.

“Sailor, beware of the Bight of Benin…” began an old sailing ship shanty, which nobody would dare to recite these days.


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There are six classes of Membership of the NZCMM:

Ordinary Membership – the holder of a certificate of competency as Master Mariner (Foreign Going) or an equivalent grade recognised by the Executive Council, issued by a properly constituted authority, or an RNZN Seaman Officer who has held seagoing command of a major NZ warship.

Country Membership – any person who qualifies as an Ordinary Member, but does not reside in a port at which a Branch of the Company has been established, may join any other Branch as a Country Member at a reduced subscription. Country members shall be entitled to all the rights of Ordinary Members.

Honorary Membership – any Branch, subject to the prior formal approval of the Executive Council, may invite any person closely connected with the Company or with the seafaring community or who has provided or is providing a service either to the Company as a whole or to the Branch, to become an Honorary Member.

Life Membership – this accolade may be conferred on any Ordinary or Country Member of the Company by Members of the Company in general meeting in recognition of outstanding services rendered to the Company, provided that the proposal is made with the precedent approval of the Executive Council. The number of Life Members of the Company shall from time to time be in the discretion of the Executive Council. Life Members shall be entitled to all the rights of Ordinary Members.

Associate Membership – the holder of a certificate of competency as Second or First Mate (Foreign Going) may apply for Associate Membership of the Company. Associate Members shall have the same voting rights as Ordinary Members.

Student Membership – any student of nautical studies – prior to obtaining a certificate of “Officer of the Watch” – can apply for this membership. This member shall have no voting rights, but will be accepted for Associate Membership once certificated, and then the same voting rights as for Ordinary Members will apply.

Associate of the Branch – any Branch may invite any person with an honourable record and associated with the Branch or with matters maritime and who wishes to associate him or herself with the activities of the Branch, to become an Associate of the Branch.

This posting is extracted from the Rules of the Company which can be found here.

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On Wednesday 14 November at the Bolton Hotel, twenty four members, wives, partners and guests sat down to the Branch’s end of year function.

With crackers and party hats there was a Christmas spirit which added to the convivial atmosphere.

As usual, the three course menu was excellent and so far the feedback from those who attended has been very positive.

In closing the event, Warden Eric Good wished everyone a happy Christmas and made mention of the forthcoming sale of the book written and published by our recently deceased member, Tim Nicol.

Before the end of the month, “Sunrise to Sunset”, an Illustrated History of New Zealand Lighthouses will be available in Paper Plus and WhitCoulls shops.

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