Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Terminal illness

By Michael Grey

Posted on | October 11, 2014 | No Comments

What would you think about a port that would not admit you until you signed a bit of paper which said that anything that could conceivably happen to your ship while alongside, was your liability? It could be entirely due to the negligence of the port’s employees that your ship was damaged, or that the quayside was dented, but it would be all your fault and because you had signed some nonsensical form purporting to be a “condition of use”, it would be no use pursuing a claim against the port.

In the very least, you would think the practice was outrageous, and moreover in breach of the Civil Liability Convention. But , grinding your teeth in rage, you would advise the master to sign this disgraceful piece of paper, as without it you would not manage to get the ship discharged.

This is the latest scandal emerging from oil terminals, which are trying this on in a big way; terminals, moreover which will not permit tanker owners to inspect or even visit to see if they are safe and efficiently run.

You might suggest that this is just one of the consequences of always having too many ships chasing too few cargoes, so that the tanker charterers are always calling the shots. In a more balanced world, there would be a bit more give and take, terminals would treat ships with rather more civility and everyone would find life rather more rewarding. But how good it would be if a master was empowered to tell the terminal exactly what they could do with their document, and if they still insisted on his signature, he would take his ship away and the storage tanks could end up empty.  Hopefully some muscle might be applied here by Intertanko to get a bit more reason and civility in this gruesome business.

Mussel bound

By Michael Grey

Posted on | September 22, 2014 | No Comments

Well before my time, I must stress, ships running light into the Baltic from the ports of the Low Countries used to ballast with the small house-bricks that distinguish buildings in those parts. It accounts for why port cities in the Baltic had a sort of Dutch look about them. Deep water sailing ships would use sand and there are beaches in the Antipodes which were unloaded from wool clippers before they filled up for home. And in more recent times, general cargo ships running west over the North Atlantic in winter would load a few thousand of tons of coal slag, just to be on the safe side. But water ballast, first carried by a deep thinking UK East Coast collier owner in the middle of the 19th century, became… Continue reading

Alaska ro-ro voyage demonstrates value of U.S. mariners, pollution controls

By Clay

Posted on | September 11, 2014 | No Comments

Last year, at a Coast Guard Foundation dinner in Seattle, Carleen Lyden-Kluss and I bid on and won a one-way trip aboard Midnight Sun, a ro-ro trailer ship operating between Tacoma, Wash., and Anchorage, Alaska. Our attention was attracted by the fact that Midnight Sun’s owner, Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE), a member of the Saltchuk group of companies, has a well-earned reputation for innovation combined with careful attention to efficiency and performance. Midnight Sun is one of two Orca class ships, purpose-built for the Alaska trade. Carleen and I have been active in advocating a need for growing attention to Alaska’s maritime future, including its growing maritime connections with the “Lower 48”and with the expanding economies of Asia. As co-founders of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA)… Continue reading

Ash Readiness?

By Michael Grey

Posted on | August 26, 2014 | No Comments

There are warning signals emanating from Iceland where, under a glacier, another volcano with an unpronounceable name is showing signs of violent activity. Many of us will have memories of the extraordinary confusion caused in the aviation industry by the last emanations of Icelandic ash, a couple of years go. Those caught abroad while aviation came to a halt still dine out happily, boring their hosts with their accounts of how they made it home, even though it took many days and several different modes of transport. It is worth recalling the contribution of the ferries to this emergency, aided and abetted by the odd cruise ship pressed into service and the useful if unexpected revenue stream these ship operators discovered, as people accustomed to aeroplanes found that there were… Continue reading

Yielding, not cracking

By Michael Grey

Posted on | August 18, 2014 | No Comments

Years ago a former shipmate in command of a big channel ferry said that what would make his life inestimably easier would be if naval architects could incorporate a wide belt of rubber around the bows of his ship. This he said would enable him to approach the berth with much more confidence and speed, instead of worrying about the consequences should the pitch controls stick or there be a small miscalculation of his distance off. Ideally he would have opted for a sort of supersize Rigid Inflatable structure, although he recognised the limitations this might have for a drive-through ferry. It is just that his thick steel belting was somewhat unyielding for a ship that he was berthing several times a day. My friend is now retired but… Continue reading

Maritime TV’s ‘Mondays with Maitland’ – A Call for a National Maritime Education Conference in 2015 in DC

By Clay

Posted on | July 28, 2014 | No Comments

In this 19th interview in the series, Clay Maitland discusses importance of fostering communication between maritime educational professionals in this country, from the maritime high schools and vocational schools though the union institutions and the maritime academies, to compare notes on curricula and interface with industry. He proposes a large-scale National Maritime Education Conference to be held in Washington D.C. in the September-October 2015 timeframe… Continue reading

Merchant Marine Policy Coalition Applauds MARAD Administrator Confirmation

By Clay

Posted on | July 21, 2014 | No Comments

The Chairman of the Merchant Marine Policy Coalition (MMPC), Clay Maitland, today applauded the Senate confirmation of MARAD Administrator Paul ‘Chip’ Jaenichen.  Stating that this confirmation is “Well deserved and long overdue”, Maitland congratulated Jaenichen and wished him well on the ambitious and necessary work that lies before him. Coincident to Tuesday’s news, Maitland had released a webcast on Monday calling for the confirmation.  “Congress has been relaxed on taking a position on maritime policy. With Russia, the South China Sea, the Middle East and more, we are facing global challenges analogous to the late 1930’s.  We need a strong US flag merchant marine to provide sealift capability.  Chip has been leading this effort.  He must be confirmed and

They don’t come much bigger……

By Michael Grey

Posted on | July 21, 2014 | No Comments

Looking at the time lapse video of the gradual refloating of the Costa Concordia with the wrecked ship being towed just clear of the site, one can only be lost in admiration at what the salvors have accomplished. It does however suggest that there is probably no wreck likely to happen in the future which cannot (always supposing the insurers are paying and the chequebook remains open) be taken away! There is another interesting aspect to this astonishing salvage and “recovery” operation, in that the eventual destination of the wreck in the Port of Genoa might be considered a “place of refuge”. Assuming that the operation is successful and the vessel delivered to a place of safety and the subsequent recyclers, it might suggest a route that can perhaps be followed… Continue reading

Hope and Anchor

By Michael Grey

Posted on | July 10, 2014 | No Comments

It was some years ago that an archaeological expedition in the eastern Mediterranean fished up an anchor that was dated to around 200AD. With primitive flukes and a stock, it had more than a passing resemblance to those used on merchant ships 1800 years later. Rather than suggesting how advanced Roman technology was in those days, this does not exactly reflect favourably on the advances in anchoring techniques , since that ancient ship lost her anchor. Dragging anchor, as any P&I risk manager will tell you, is one of the major reasons why ships go ashore and the lack of any great advances in anchoring equipment might be identified as a contributor. Ships have got bigger, offer more windage, but anchor design has largely remained static. It is… Continue reading

The fish is off

By Michael Grey

Posted on | July 2, 2014 | No Comments

It is a question I have often asked. How, now you have ships crewed by one man and a dog, what happens when the man – or the dog, for that matter- is taken ill and cannot turn to? It reminds me of a time when I, as the second mate, was attacked by a duff mutton pie in Glasgow and for 24 hours, thought I was about to die. The Chief Officer, who was a dayworker in our well-manned ships, took over my job, with only a little muttering about malingerers. Or the time on the NZ coast when the Chief Officer was taken ashore for three weeks with a severe attack of piles, with the other three of us advancing one up in our ranks and… Continue reading
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