Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

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.

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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

Banged to rights?

By Michael Grey

Posted on | February 12, 2015 | No Comments

After a trial which has lasted (if the extensive intervals are taken into account) some 18 months, an Italian court has judged Captain Francisco Schettino, guilty of the multiple manslaughter of the 32 people who lost their lives after the stranding of the Costa Concordia.

Was the master a scapegoat, as he tearfully asserted in his final appeal to the judges, who would later pronounce sentence of 16 years imprisonment upon him? Was it not a failure of the entire bridge team who should have been capable of keeping their huge ship with 4300 souls embarked clear of the rocks?

For the layman, it might seem difficult to conclude anything other than justice has been done and the miscreant master lucky indeed not to have been given the… Continue reading

Were you being served?

By Michael Grey

Posted on | February 4, 2015 | No Comments

We seem to have come a long way from old ideas of ships being regarded as the “customers” of ports and terminals. Nowadays it is the ship which tends to be told what to do and when to do it, the master being given a hard time if he does not snap to attention to the instructions of the powerful officials who swarm aboard.

There are probably many bulk terminals around the world which are pure pleasure to be alongside, but correspondingly, others where departure will occasion only a feeling of relief among the ship’s staff.

BIMCO is encouraging its members who operate dry bulk carriers to have their ship staff complete a brief “satisfaction” survey when they depart loading or discharging terminals, as part of a scheme… Continue reading

Wellness helps afloat

By Michael Grey

Posted on | January 30, 2015 | No Comments

Everyone by now knows about the connection between the human element – seafarers, in real language – and safety. What we perhaps do not know sufficiently about is the way in which human performance and an ability to do one’s job efficiently and well is influenced by health and, in particular mental health. If somebody aboard ship is miserably unhappy, for whatever reason, it is more than likely that their work will be affected. With small crews, people keeping watch more or less alone, retreating into their cabins when not working, the likelihood of such problems going unrecognised is obviously greater.

Social isolation, perhaps caused by language difficulties, bad news or worry about problems at home (the internet sometimes being a mixed blessing) have all been recognised as problems… Continue reading

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