Some years ago a Brisbane Maritime lawyer arrested a bulk sugar carrier after it had loaded in Cairns and a major Court battle developed. The cargo could not be taken off (the port only had equipment for loading sugar, not unloading it) and the vessel was moored off Cairns for many months over one of the hottest summers in history. When the hatches were opened at the end of the dispute it was found that, as a result of the heat, ingress of water and pressure in the (semi) sealed holds, the entire sugar cargo had turned to rum!

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The Wellington Branch hold monthly meetings at Bay Plaza Hotel, Oriental Parade,  1200 for 1230 on the following WEDNESDAYS during 2015.

In the past year a number of meetings were attended by wives and guests of members where the speakers subject was of interest. We would extend the same invitation this coming year.

14 October  – The speaker will be our fellow member Jack Hutchings who has been in Kiribati recently advising their Marine Division. Kiribati is an island republic comprising 33 coral atolls stretching along the equator.
11 November – Evening function

Please contact Secretary John Williamson  jdwskw@actrix.gen.nz   to confirm your attendance the previous day.


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It is with deep regret that we advise of the passing of Graham Williams this morning. Graham was a sea with Blue Star for many years before coming ashore into their office in both London and New Zealand . In recent years he was long time Secretary of the Wellington Branch of this organisation.


His funeral will be held at 1400

Monday 31 August 2015

St Michael & All Angels Church, Rangihiroa Street, Waikanae Beach.

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In the world’s biggest ship recycling centre of Alang on India’s Arabian Sea coast, workers with blow torches cut segments of steel stripped from the rusting hull of a towering cargo ship, sold for scrap by its Japanese owner. But in this town – located in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat – more than half of the ship-breaking yards have shut in the past two years and the future of the trade in India and neighbours Bangladesh and Pakistan is bleak The industry has been hit by a flood of cheap Chinese steel and new European Union environmental rules due later this year threaten to push business to more modern yards in places like China and Turkey – in turn devastating local economies.

“People are running this business from their heart, not from their mind,” said Chintan Kalthia, whose company R.L. Kalthia Ship Breaking Pvt Ltd runs one of Alang’s more modern yards. Still, he takes pride in the fact that after months of negotiations with a Japanese owner, his yard secured the biggest ship currently being recycled in Alang. But this is my last ship. This business is dying,” he added, suddenly sounding weary, as workers outside his beach-side glass office sized slabs of steel peeled from the ship.

Ships sold to South Asian breakers, which control about 70 percent of the market, are winched at high tide onto a beach, where they are taken apart by mostly migrant labourers. Equipment, such as radars, engines – and even tables and chairs – is taken off and sold, while the steel from the hull is removed for scrap. The trade in Alang used to employ about 60,000 directly, with thousands more in spin-off businesses, said yard owners.  But roads on the 11 km (7 mile) beach front that locals say used to buzz with people and trucks now appear deserted and dozens of shops displaying everything from crockery to computers ripped out of ships are struggling to get supplies. “I used to make five, six, seven trips a day” said Munna, sitting atop his tractor with extra wheels able to carry heavy scrap from the yards. “Now I hardly get one or two calls.”

File photo of workers carrying a rope line to fasten a decommissioned ship at the Alang shipyard in GujaratWith a plunge in steel prices, ship owners are getting about $3.6 million less for the 25,000 tonnes of recoverable metal from a typical iron ore or coal carrying ship than just eight months ago. The finger of blame is being pointed at China. “China is selling below the price of recycled steel,” said Amit B. Padia, owner of Sagar Laxmi Ship Breakers, as an orange crane lifted a bathroom removed from a ship onto a trailer. With China’s economy slowing, its steel exports soared 51 percent to a record 93.78 million tonnes last year and are up nearly 30 percent in the first five months of 2015. The impact has been felt in Alang where the number of active yards fell to 50 this year from more than 100 in 2014, according to the Ship Recycling Industries Association India. The number of vessels beached also dropped to a six-year low of 275 last year and was only 54 in the last three months, it said.

The situation in Pakistan appears equally bad. “It has always been a cyclical business but people who have been in this industry tell me this is the worst in 30 years,” said Shoaib Sultan, the owner of Horizon Ship Recycling in Karachi. The story in Bangladesh is similar “Three years ago there were about 80 yards, now it’s down to 25. I think another 10-15 yards will go,” said Zahirul Islam, director of PHP Shipbreaking and Recycling Industries Ltd in Chittagong. Ship breakers globally bought 25.2 million deadweight tonnes (dwt) of vessels up to early July, against 33.8 million dwt all of last year, with Bangladesh the largest buyer, according to shipping services firm Clarkson. “Everyone thought prices will improve and bought a lot, but now they are sitting on huge inventories,” said Islam. “It will be a disaster in the coming months”.

“It takes up to nine months for a typical bulk carrier in India to be broken up and its steel processed”, said Rakesh Khetan, chief executive of Singapore-based Wirana Shipping Corp, a major buyer of ships for scrap. As well as facing pressure from cheap Chinese steel, there are also calls to stop beach scrapping because of the danger and environmental damage from pollutants left to drain into the sea. Highlighting the risks, five people were killed and at least 10 injured after an explosion in a chemical tanker being dismantled in Alang last year. Workers can also face health hazards such as lead paint and asbestos when working on ships. The European Commission will introduce tougher environmental controls after December. While not specifically banning beach scrapping, owners of ships registered in EU countries will have to scrap them at approved facilities, a move that could favour countries such as China and Turkey where ships are taken apart in docks. “The European Commission’s intention is not to discourage vessel owners from using facilities outside of the EU but to discourage ship owners from using facilities which have proven to present very real danger to life and the general environment,” said Mark Clintworth, head of shipping at the European Investment Bank. In a bid to allay environmental concerns, some yards in South Asia have cemented their work area to try to prevent seepage of oil or chemicals, but many lack the money to do this. “It takes about $5 million to improve a yard. How can somebody do that when they are bleeding?,” said Islam of PHP Shipbreaking in Bangladesh. Clintworth said his bank and the European Commission could provide investment for South Asian ship scrappers to improve existing operations, as well as for safer and more environmentally friendly new facilities. But for many that could come too late and some, including Alang’s Sagar Laxmi Ship Breakers, are simply targeting other industries such as construction. Source : Reuters

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HCMM VolXXIII_No010_June_2_2015_OnLine

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It is with regret that I can report that Ian Dymock, QSM, the retired seafarer who tirelessly sought recognition for the Merchant Navy personnel, especially those who served during the Second World War, died at Hutt Hospital on Tuesday 09 June 2015 after a short illness. Ian’s father was also a seafarer serving in the Royal Australian Navy, Union Steam Ship Company as Master and a Port Phillip pilot.

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Monday 27 April 2015 Lloyds List

STAYING ON THE LINE  by Michael Grey

IT IS called “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted” and, as a phenomenon, it is as old as humanity itself, signifying the extraordinary precautions people take after an untoward event.

You might think of Hatton Garden the other week, after the safe deposit box heist, awash with the policemen who were sadly absent when they were most needed. In maritime terms, they don’t get much better than Titanic, with lifeboats sprouting on every liner’s boat deck in the following months.

Most readers will be too young to remember the notorious Lady Gwendolencollision in Liverpool Bay, when in 1961, the little Guinness coaster bumped into and sank an anchored tanker in thick fog. It subsequently transpired that the owners of the Guinness ship had failed to give explicit instruction to their master to use his radar and slow down in poor visibility and were thus denied leave to limit their liability and simply blame everything on crew negligence, as they normally would have done.

As collisions went, this was pretty insignificant, with nobody hurt and only two small ships involved; but in terms of the consequences, it was as if two laden liners had collided with vast loss of life. Within days of the judges’ decision, a huge global paperwork explosion took place, with every company dispatching vast quantities of hastily collated instructions, on every conceivable aspect of ship operations, to their fleets.

I can still recall the rage and frustration of our esteemed master as he worked his way through the great wads of paperwork in which was encapsulated what he described as “everything from the pointless to the bleeding obvious”. Up to this date, we had a company “Brains Book” — a single volume of company instructions that we were supposed to read and sign up to, each voyage, in addition to the specific requirements of the master.

Soon the volumes would start to multiply and before long there would be whole bookcases full of important information, which would be held against the guilty individual after an accident. It was called “clearing the yard-arm”, ensuring that the person issuing the instructions had done his part to avoid any subsequent blame, by having this documentary insulation. And all this happened because some bloody-minded old shortsea shipmaster didn’t like turning on his radar.

You might describe the months and years after the Lady Gwendolen judgment as the dawn of the “health and safety” age, with everything that hitherto was left to common sense and the normal practice of seamanship, being spelt out in dismal detail. It has just multiplied from there, to such an extent that even the International Maritime Organization is now starting to question the sheer numbing volume of instructions that delight modern mariners.

Lots of stable doors have been slammed shut and securely closed since those days. Think what the Exxon Valdez spawned in the way of precautions and completely changed tanker construction. Look at the Herald of Free Enterpriseand the International Safety Management Code. After the Costa Concordia loss, you would probably have put money on all sorts of new regulations and precautions coming along, although you wouldn’t have been given very good odds.

I have been reading the latest edition of the Royal Institute of Navigation’s excellent online journal Fairway, which tells its readers that since the facts became known about the loss of the Italian cruiseship, some owners have taken to “micro-managing” the navigation of their ships to an astonishing extent.

Ridiculous extremes

Communications are making this online scrutiny possible in a way that has never been available before; all it takes is for a ship to divert from the electronic course-line by half a mile, an alarm rings in Head Office and the master is being angrily questioned by some superior on his mobile phone!

As with all these things, people go to ridiculous extremes and common sense flies out of the window in the aftermath of an accident, as people go overboard demonstrating their extraordinary zeal.

I know we have a generation of people who regard a diversion from the computerised course-line something they should avoid at all costs and shout over the VHF at “stand-on” ships, but this is just barking mad. What about the Collision Regulations and necessary course alterations, which ought to ensure that ships keep well clear of each other as they abide by the rules?

The RIN points out that slow steaming is prescribed by the Gods in Head Office and if the ship alters its engine speed, for such a reason as not being able to maintain steerage way at such a low speed, or because of the visibility, or the density of traffic, there is an instant inquiry and the master is given a hard time.

The RIN’s Safety of Navigation group thinks this nonsense should be stopped forthwith and I imagine there will be plenty of practising navigators who would agree with this view.

I know that before that fine company ceased to exist, we used to laugh at friends who navigated Blue Funnel and Glen Line ships, as their routes were prescribed for them and charts taken ashore at the end of a voyage to see that they had not strayed unduly from the line.

But Blue Flu still self-insured its ships in those days, so there was arguably more at stake, whereas we were free to range all over the ocean at the master’s pleasure.

However, this latest flurry of post-accident micro-managing is something else — and if you treat professionals as idiots, that is exactly who you will be soon employing.


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