Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

The world turned upside down

By Michael Grey

Posted on | April 18, 2014 | No Comments

There is an awful photograph, clearly taken from a ship in the close vicinity, of the last moments of the South Korean ferry Sewol. The ship is lying, in what appears to be a smooth sea, on her beam ends, with a list of around 60-70degrees. Deck edges are long immersed, indeed the port of wing of the bridge is level with the water. Overhead, three rescue helicopters hover, but of the frightfulness inside this doomed ship, there is no clue. Just abaft the bridge, level with the water’s edge to port and high in the air to starboard, long double racks of liferafts lie apparently untouched. One the foredeck there is a jumble of small freight containers toppled over to the port side.
Of the 300 or so souls who are obviously still inside this all-enclosed ship, there is not a sign. It is long past the time when any easy movement around the vessel might be possible, with the decks becoming bulkheads and the only escape possible through the enclosed superstructure of the starboard side, with its non-opening picture windows around the public rooms, high above any occupants.
It is too early to speculate about the cause of this horror. Raking damage a la Costa Concordia? A sudden shift of cargo after the helm had been put hard over? Perhaps some of the vehicles carried away and even penetrated the ship’s side in the way of the garage? Such an accident has happened before. In 1980 the big new freight ferry Zenobia, running through the eastern Mediterranean, fell on her side after trucks broke their chains with the whole mass of cargo becoming displaced. A seized autopilot was blamed for the initial heel with the helm going hard over. The ship was abandoned, salved, but subsequently rolled over and sank in deep water.
But of course the main focus will be on why the desperate peril the ship was in was not recognised earlier, when there was still time to evacuate. Did they believe the situation was recoverable? East Asian ferries do not carry boats and depend on liferafts – might that have been a consideration in the mind of the master, that such an abandonment was too drastic a strategy? Were they just too focused on recovery, rather than placing their predominantly young passengers into a place of safety? Too many questions, far too early.

Re-homing the Comet

By Michael Grey

Posted on | April 8, 2014 | No Comments

One of the most endearing features of the United States Navy is its reluctance ever to throw anything away. It is an example to other navies, which often cannot wait to send ships with years of life still in them to the scrapyard. In the US they are carefully stored, anchored in creeks around the seaboard, just in case they are needed. Then, when it is reluctantly concluded that these old ladies are really beyond any productive life, some perceptive person realises that they are historic treasures, and offers them to kindly new owners to use them as museum artefacts. Thus, just about all the last battleships have found new homes, even the odd aircraft carrier, while a number of surface combatants and submarines are local cultural treasures in port… Continue reading

Thin Air

By Michael Grey

Posted on | April 4, 2014 | No Comments

Some years ago, I was given a hard time by a very distinguished aeronautical engineer, whom I happened to be sitting next to at dinner. This was at the height of the bulk carrier crisis, when it seemed that every month a laden bulk carrier would disappear, taking the crew with her. He was appalled at the way in which the shipping industry seemed to accept the disappearance of a big ship and the lack of any provision for finding the wreck and its fate. In aviation, he solemnly lectured me, the industry cannot remain unaware of the cause of any accident involving an aircraft. Bulk carrier disappearances are, thank goodness, mostly a thing of the past, but the remarks of this aero-engineer came back to me as we read… Continue reading

Maritime TV’s ‘Mondays with Maitland’ -Robotics in the Maritime Industry: Outpacing the Human Element?

By Clay

Posted on | March 31, 2014 | No Comments

In this eleventh interview in the series, from his position as Founding Chairman of (NAMEPA), Maitland provides his thoughts on roboticsin the maritime industry and whether a fully-automated ship is even feasible… Continue reading

A Head for Heights

By Michael Grey

Posted on | March 27, 2014 | No Comments

There is a current craze in which young men (young women probably have more sense) do handstands on the roof parapets of impossibly high buildings, cranes and other towering artefacts, while simultaneously photographing themselves. It is not one the authorities wish to encourage Continue reading

The Woes of March

By Clay

Posted on | March 25, 2014 | No Comments

Today, March 24, is the 25th anniversary of the EXXON VALDEZ oil spill. March is a bad month for these things: on March 18, 1967, the tanker TORREY CANYON struck Pollard’s Rock on the Seven Stones reef between Cornwall and the Scilly Isles. On March 16, 1978, the VLCC AMOCO CADIZ, carrying 22,000 tons of crude oil from the Persian Gulf to Rotterdam, suffered the loss of her hydraulic steering gear off the French Coast. The vessel broke up, and her entire cargo was lost, polluting over 180 miles of the Coast of Brittany. And then came EXXON VALDEZ on March 24, 1989, which struck Bligh Reef, in Prince Williams Sound, off, as it happened, Valdez, Alaska. Continue reading

Fuel for Thought

By Michael Grey

Posted on | March 18, 2014 | No Comments

These are bewildering times for anyone planning new buildings. “Black swans” – those unexpected events seem to be swarming, while exciting developments like the uprated Panama canal or the cold short cut to Asia are still being analysed for their probable impacts. If these are hard enough to judge, what on earth is going to happen on the fuel front? Continue reading

8th Mare Forum USA 2014 “Shipping – a four dimensional view” conference

By Clay

Posted on | March 7, 2014 | No Comments

On Monday, March 3rd, Mareforum held the 8th Mare Forum USA 2014 "Shipping - a four dimensional view" conference in Washington DC. Despite snow, which resulted in a US government shutdown, the conference was productive and enlightening covering a myriad of operational and regulatory issues. Clay Maitland was a speaker on the Marine Planning panel, and contributed throughout the day. To view the conference please CLICK HERE

Saltwater Governance

By Michael Grey

Posted on | February 28, 2014 | No Comments

Do we need another global organisation to exercise control over the oceans, operating under the UN banner and focusing on the environmental bits that IMO and UNCLOS don’t already deal with? This seems to have been the purpose of a well-meaning high level conference organised by the Economist magazine in San Francisco. The “World Ocean Summit” which attracted what might be described as the usual suspects, to be lectured by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prince Charles, seemed to conclude that a World Ocean Organisation should be established to provide oceanic oversight over the two thirds of the earth that are outside national sovereignty. Continue reading

Maritime TV’s ‘Mondays with Maitland’ – The Vision for the Future of the U.S. Coast Guard

By Clay

Posted on | February 24, 2014 | No Comments

In this eighth interview in the series, from his position as Chairman of MMPC, Maitland provides his thoughts on the vision for the future of the U.S. Coast Guard… Continue reading
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