This item appeared on gCaptain website 29 January 2016
The sinking of the Greek tanker released an estimated 63,000 tones of foul-smelling black fuel along the Galicia coast and forced the closure of the country’s richest fishing grounds.
As gCaptain reported earlier this week, Spain’s Supreme Court on Tuesday sentenced former captain Apostolos Mangouras to two years in prison over the disaster, overturning a previous ruling clearing him of criminal responsibility. Tuesday’s ruling found Mangouras guilty of recklessness resulting in catastrophic environmental damage and opens the door for damage claims against both the captain and the insurer.
The Greek tanker sank off Spain’s northwestern coast in 2002, causing the release of some 63,000 tons of oil into the sea and fouling thousands of miles of coastline in Spain, France and Portugal.
“This decision represents the dying gasps of a 14 year old attempt to deflect blame onto the shoulders of an octogenarian man, who has been cleared in the court of world opinion and by his peers,” commented ITF seafarers’ section chair Dave Heindel. “Thankfully it is likely to be as unenforceable as it is illogical. This innocent man cannot again be made to sit needlessly in jail.”
Heindel concluded: “The Mangouras case was one of the worst examples of the kneejerk criminalisation of seafarers. The ITF, like many other organisations and individuals, was able to support him during that ordeal. This latest piece of victimisation reminds us that we must all remain vigilant to protect seafarers from these injustices.”
Over the years, the main point of contention in the ongoing case has been the poor state of the 26-year-old tanker and the refusal by Spanish authorities to allow the ship to dock after it was damaged in a storm – the ship broke up and sank within days of the refusal.
In 2012, classification society ABS, which certified the seaworthiness of the vessel, was cleared of any liability in connections to the disaster. The suit was considered by many a “precedent-setting” case that would determine whether classification societies can be held responsible by third parties in an incident such as this.
Celestial Navigation Returns to US Naval Academy
Picture this: A naval vessel is navigating the high seas thousands of nautical miles from
land. Suddenly all navigation systems become inoperable. What happens next?
What does this mean?
With today’s technology rapidly advancing, the US Navy realized that many basic
techniques are still relevant to safe operations at sea. Celestial Navigation is one skill that has not been formally taught to Navy officers, depending on one’s commissioning source,
for more than 15 years.
Based on direction from the Chief of Naval Operations, Celestial Navigation has been
reinstated into the navigation curriculum and is a requirement in the Officer
Professional Core Competencies Manual. This administrative change ensures the
instruction will be an enduring requirement.
The US Naval Academy resumed classroom instruction during the summer session of
2015. The class of 2017 will be the first in many years to graduate with a basic
knowledge of Celestial Navigation. Director of Professional Development Cmdr.
Adan Cruz says: “It is a core competency of a mariner. If we can navigate using celestial
navigation, then we can always safely get from point A to point B.”
Midshipmen also take two cyber classes during which they learn about the vulnerability of electronic navigation systems and how they can be affected by cyber threats. The classes include how information moves, jamming, the RF spectrum, and many other topics in cyber security.
Director of Center of Cyber Security Studies Capt. Paul J. Tortora says: “Teaching Celestial Navigation is just one thing necessary to learn in order to get ready for the battlefield that’s already out there. Cyber affects all battlefields to include sea, land, air and space.”
Cyber threats aren’t the most likely reason electronic navigation systems might fail.
There are any number of reasons GPS might be rendered unusable on board a ship, such as system degradation, electrical failures and satellite malfunctions.
This article is taken from the HCMM Journal dated
Following the presentation of the 2015 Merchant Navy Medals, at Trinity House on Monday 23rd November, Shipping Minister Robert Goodwill MP announced a new State Award to be known as the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service. Her Majesty The Queen graciously signed the Royal Warrant for the new Medal earlier this year which will have a place in the Order of Wear. The first of these medals will be presented in 2016 and will replace the prestigious Merchant Navy Medal awarded by the Merchant Navy Medal Committee, on behalf the industry, from 2005 until this time.
Captain Matthew Easton chairman of the Committee, in welcoming this news, responded: “The industry greatly welcomes this announcement, which formally recognises the huge contribution that the men and women of the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets make to the skills, economy, trade and defence of the United Kingdom. I want to pay a particular tribute to all those who have been awarded the Merchant Navy Medal, today and in the past. All holders of this award should justifiably feel proud of their achievement. It is the success this medal that has paved the way for a State Award and this reflects the high quality of the recipients and the well established selection process. I want to emphasise that existing holders should continue to wear their medals with equal pride. I am very pleased to announce that the Department of Transport will consult the Merchant Navy Medal Committee when reviewing nominations. Furthermore, if nominations are sent, in the first instance, to the Committee we have agreed to act in a consultancy capacity. This will help to ensure that they meet necessary criteria and properly completed before being formally submitted.”
The existing Merchant Navy Medal is an award by the industry for meritorious service and acts of courage afloat. It has been awarded by the Merchant Navy Medal Committee, which was established in 2005 as a result of a charitable initiative and has members from a wide cross section of the industry. Captain Matthew Easton is the Chairman of the Committee and Admiral The Lord West of Spithead is its Patron. The new medal will be a State Award with a place in the Order of Wear. The first recipients of the new Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service will be announced on Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September 2016.
Gentlemen, and Ladies,
Please forgive my addressing the gentlemen first. It is due to their preponderance in numbers. But yes, happily the Company does have lady Master Mariner members, Three in fact, of which two are members of Christchurch Branch, and the other is a member of Tauranga Branch. And as a result of my recent networking with the Maritime School, I have become aware that there are others who are qualified to join us, as Associate Members or Members, as the case may be. I certainly hope that they may be so persuaded.
I am heartened by events of the last year, and feel that we can move ahead with confidence in our credibility as a professional body.
The most important event is a move toward offering a mentoring programme for nautical students through their studies, their service as cadets, and further if this should be required. We have to thank Captain Darrell Daish for his initiative in raising this topic, firstly by enquiries with the Honourable Company (in person and by email), and then by engaging us in discussion on the matter. We also have to thank Captain Chris Barradale for his willingness to see the programme actioned. To this end, we have circularised a request for those who are willing to become mentors to register with their branches. At time of writing (12/01), Auckland had gathered three prospective mentors, but none reported so far from the other branches.
Another such event is the provision in our rules for admission of Student Members to the Company. We see this as fitting very well with the mentoring programme, and also as invigorating our membership with young blood. Our thanks to Christchurch Branch for this initiative.
Initiatives such as these, provided that they are compatible with the aims of the Company, will be our life-blood, and should be pursued. But not simply with a proposal, expecting others to take up the challenge. The proposer should also be prepared to actively follow up with his/her proposal if accepted, and to have already done some groundwork supporting it.
We have still to see the success, or otherwise, of the above ventures, but nevertheless they are full of promise for the future, and are an example of the new concepts needed to enliven and strengthen our professional institution. They are positive steps to the future, undeterred by negative, and sometimes inadequately researched, argument against.
My comment on initiatives relates to “service”. Service on committee, and on subcommittees should such be set up. Without such support, the Company will wither and die of apathy, or even of old age.
Edward E Ewbank,
New Zealand Company of Master Mariners.
From Lloyds List Tuesday 12 January 2016 Lloyds List
WHY are numbers of marine professionals so enthused with the notion of autonomous ships?
The Nautical Institute seems positively potty on the idea, holding conferences on a subject which for many of us seems as remote a possibility as holidays on the moon. And in the latest edition of the NI Seaways magazine, we have the chief executive Philip Wake (who we should congratulate for his OBE awarded in the New Year honours) telling us that autonomous ships are “inevitable” and we need to start preparing for them now.
The NI isn’t alone, if you count all the acres of newsprint being filled with articles about robots and driverless cars and the gloomy predictions of all those middle class jobs that will be made redundant overnight by advanced technology.
It could be just a sort of fashionable fad, a red herring designed to get our minds off the really harsh realities, along with a few manufacturers of technology flying a metaphorical kite or two. But you surely would think that there are more important things for anyone concerned with ships and shipping to be worrying about in 2016.
We have been here before, of course. In the 1980s, the Japanese became so concerned that no person from that nation, in his right mind, wanted to go to sea, that they spent a lot of time effort and cash on the development of remote-controlled ships, which even then proved perfectly feasible in technical terms.
However, with a few strokes of the legislator’s pen it became possible to register Japanese-owned tonnage with accommodating flags, which were unfussy about crew nationalities. Even Japanese ships were subsequently allowed to carry increasing numbers of foreign (and much cheaper) crew, so the incentive for all this expensive technology went out of the window.
About the same time we had the Danish advanced ship project which was designed to accumulate all sorts of clever technology from both industry and the military, which could be crammed into a ship and which would enable it to be operated by about seven people. Once again all the technology worked, which was not surprising considering the money poured into the project and the small group of highly trained experts, who I recall could enjoy a coffee lounge in the back of the wheelhouse. They didn’t actually kill each other, so it wasn’t a social failure, either.
A small series of the world’s most expensive reefer ships was built and that was really the end of the affair. Bear in mind that these lovely, all-singing and all-dancing ships, flying Danish ensigns, were competing with bog standard reefers operated by cheap crews under convenient flags , so it is not hard to understand the reason why this experiment was of short duration. It probably also helped along the Danish International Ship Register, which was predicated on the availability of cheap international crews.
If you are going to build ships designed to operate without onboard human assistance, they will be ridiculously expensive, to design, to force through the regulatory barriers and eventually, to operate. Certainly it could be done, but why in the world would you want to spend all that money on the complex technical systems needed to keep the ship and its cargo safe, when there is so little return on the operations of conventional, cheaply-built ships?
You wouldn’t have to spend money on crew, you will answer? Are they going to be run by themselves? You won’t hire many “ship controllers” for the monthly ITF minimum wage.
And when people assert that it will answer the perennial problem of persuading people to go to sea, this too is copper-bottomed, gold-plated nonsense. Global shipping is now so badly rewarded (largely because of the idiocy of contemporary shipowners) that the only people who are prepared to take their ships away to sea are those who don’t need a great deal of money in return. When even they become too costly, the crewing agency expeditions will discover even cheaper seafarers in some other disadvantaged part of the world in which a sea career will still seem desirable compared to their grim life ashore. Technology can do pretty well anything, but it is the money and the economics that talk, in the end.
We shouldn’t be wasting our time with such silliness. I would liken it to all the sheer nonsense expended at the International Maritime Organization and elsewhere some years ago when crazy “surface skimming” craft such as the Ekranoplan were taking up time that could have been spent on safety, structure and, more importantly, the human element for the 99.9% of ships that are found in the world’s trade routes.
I know this will enrage all these clever scientists and classification society experts who are showing off their splendid artists’ impressions of driverless ships, but I just think we need to adjust our priorities somewhat.
I began by abusing my own professional institute but within its latest publication is a letter from fellow NI Fellow Captain Malcolm C. Armstrong of British Columbia that sets out the case against autonomous ships better than I can, saying “we can all give a hundred reasons why ships should be manned by competent personnel”.
He asks very pertinently why, just because it is possible to send a ship around the world without anyone on board, we should think it inevitable that such will happen? It is possible, he adds, “to send a man to the moon, but we do not all have to go”.
So there are at least two of us! I suspect there might be more.
Malcolm Armstrong served in Union Company during the 50 & 60’s before joining NSW pilot service.
The Wellington Branch hold monthly meetings at Bay Plaza Hotel, Oriental Parade, 1200 for 1230 on the following WEDNESDAYS during 2016.
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.
13 April Wellington Branch AGM
10 August NZ Company AGM at Auckland
9 November Evening function
Please contact Secretary John Williamson jdwskw
Click on link below for interview with Master and Chief Officer of largest container ship, with 18 601 TEU on board, to call at London Gateway – 2 week after leaving Port Klang in Malaysia.