Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

The eyes have it – but not all!

By Michael Grey

Posted on | April 14, 2015 | No Comments

Modern bridge watchkeepers, surrounded with their exciting electronic aids, are constantly being reminded to raise their eyes from their instruments and look out of their windows at the world outside. There is an accident which perhaps deserves to become a “classic” piece of mis-navigation (if that is not a term, maybe it ought to be) reported by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch in its latest Safety Digest.

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Off the Radar

By Michael Grey

Posted on | April 8, 2015 | No Comments

The world’s press is a fickle thing, focussing intently on a topic for a brief moment in time and then, unless it suits its editors to maintain its gaze, moving on. It maybe doesn’t matter when a story naturally “dies”, as nobody wants to bore the readers with yesterday’s news, but when it is a serious regional crisis that won’t go away, it would be good for the media to reflect this rather than pretend it no longer exists.

The general frightfulness of the Mediterranean migrations made the headlines in February and March when the terrible figures for 2014 were totted up and the IMO Secretary-General hosted a multi agency meeting in London which spelt out the realities of the situation. That meeting forecast an appalling continuation… Continue reading

The Travelling Circus

By Michael Grey

Posted on | April 6, 2015 | No Comments

What are a few of the defining characteristics of seafarers? Let us begin with mobility, because it goes without saying that as ships are mobile, so are the people who drive them. But unlike the ship’s engine, or its deck cranes, the seafarers are not permanently affixed to the hull of the ship they are serving in. They need to go ashore occasionally, and certainly need to be able to easily move through the countries their ships are docked in, as they leave and join these vessels.

Then there are those who need to travel through different countries to sort out problems on their companies’ ships. There is a serious technical problem, one which requires the company technical superintendent to jet across the world and sort it… Continue reading

Spotlight on Salvage

By Michael Grey

Posted on | March 27, 2015 | No Comments

Salvors prevent bad things getting worse and can be thought of as one of the genuine emergency services. And in their role as removers of wreck they clear away the mess the shipping industry leaves behind it. The International Salvage Union Associate Members’ Day brings salvors together, but also is a chance for hull and machinery insurers, P&I clubs, maritime lawyers and those whose work brings them into contact with professional salvors, to exchange their current concerns.

Fewer ships are being wrecked these days, but when they are, they tend to be far harder and more expensive to sort out. The amazing removal of the Costa Concordia showed the wider world just what can be done, but at an astonishing price. The removal of the remains of… Continue reading

Lash Up and Stow

By Michael Grey

Posted on | March 26, 2015 | No Comments

Containerships have been with us for nearly half a century and goodness knows what old Malcom McLean would have thought if he could have dreamed that the system he effectively invented would have developed ships capable of carrying 20,000teu in a single hull. But while the ships have changed beyond all recognition and the individual boxes have got a bit bigger, the technology for lashing them on deck has scarcely changed.

Lashing gangs still have to struggle with twistlocks on container corners and heave around great lashing rods and turnbuckles, just like they did on the first generation ships. The only difference is that while the boxes on deck were two high (which made experienced Western Ocean seamen doubtful), today we are looking at nine high on… Continue reading

Hope and Anchor

By Michael Grey

Posted on | March 16, 2015 | No Comments

Who remembers the great dark days of the 1980s, with the price of oil stuffing cash into oil producers’ pockets, with the local ports around the Arabian peninsula and Nigeria unable to cope with the flood of goods they were buying with their loot. There were ships waiting in roadsteads for months on end, as the owners counted the demurrage and crews went quietly insane. There was one choice report of a ship laden with a full load of cargo handling equipment for a port waiting for weeks, because there was no cargo handling equipment ashore to discharge it.

The best memory comes from the Saudi port of Hodeidah, where the situation became so dire that ingenious US innovators proposed to discharge cement from ships offshore… Continue reading

Strength of Materials

By Michael Grey

Posted on | March 9, 2015 | 1 Comment

One of the reasons that wooden ships eventually gave way to iron and steel was the fact that the size of a wooden ship is limited by the strength of the component parts. This was perfectly illustrated in WWI when the shortage of merchant ships caused b  the depredations of German U-boats caused the desperate construction of wooden freighters in the US and Australia. Several of these craft, despite reinforcement of the original design, were basically “too big for wood” and were condemned.

For a century, steel has been the preferred shipbuilding medium, designs being extrapolated to construct bigger and bigger hulls. Just occasionally has design been dangerously compromised, as the tendency has been to prudently “over-engineer” in any areas where stresses might

Hostages – lest we forget

By Michael Grey

Posted on | March 2, 2015 | No Comments

After nearly five years in the hands of Somali pirates and the longest held hostages since the plague of Indian Ocean piracy began, four Thai fishermen have finally been released. Their relatives, during this period, have been supported by the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme* and the MPHRP will continue this assistance as the four are re-integrated into society after their ordeal.

Somali piracy only rarely shows up on the public radar these days, but the release is a reminder to everyone, that it has not gone away and attacks are still regularly reported by shipping in the area. Best Management Practice, the presence of armed guards on vulnerable merchant ships and patrolling aircraft and warships are still obviously needed. There are still 26 hostages in pirate hands… Continue reading


By Clay

Posted on | February 20, 2015 | No Comments

6th Annual Capital Link
Greek Shipping Forum
“Opportunities & Challenges”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 – Athens, Greece

When I chose this title, along with Nic Bornozis, I might have been thought to be drunk or crazy. It is, after all, hard to find one, let alone ten, such “signs”.

There is an old saying: “if you seek a sign, look to the heavens”.

Well, I’ve tried looking everywhere else, with mixed success.

Certainly, we in this industry have been assailed by what the bible calls “job’s messengers”, or false hopes.

These are therefore hard times also for Chinese ports, Norwegian offshore shipowners and us investors.     Just to name three categories.

Recently, the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) put a number on the… Continue reading

First principles

By Michael Grey

Posted on | February 17, 2015 | 1 Comment

On my first voyage, the single radar had its controls behind a small lockable shutter, the key of which was in the master’s sole possession. On the onset of fog, the officer of the watch would then have to apply to the master to unlock the machine, which would then be warmed up and put into use, by which time the visibility was probably nil. This, said the master, was to prevent an undue reliance being placed on this new equipment, to the neglect of first principles for keeping a proper look-out. It was just an “aid” to navigation, which must be carried out by “lead, log and look-out”.
On another fleet on that same trade to Australia and New Zealand, the ships were then without radar, its fearsome proprietor… Continue reading

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