Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Remembrance of things past

My habit of studying oil spill problems has reminded me of something different: a note to our British contributors. I’ve been meaning to send it, but something always comes up these days, and here at last is my end-of-year comment.

On January 15, 1942, before even I was born, the British tanker COIMBRA was lost to enemy action off Moriches Inlet, Long Island, New York, with heavy loss of life. Since that time, the wreck has been intermittently “burping” oil. It is one of more than 100 wrecks off the Atlantic coasts of the United States and Canada that are now the subject of possible abatement efforts, even though they have been under water for, in some cases, more than 65 years.

Some of you will say that… Continue reading

Holes in the fence

When the Cosco Busan struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on November 27, 2007, in a heavy fog, it became an exhibit in the ongoing debate about the importance of crew qualifications. Continue reading

The Audit Scheme – an IMO success story

As I was sitting in the back of the main conference room at IMO two weeks ago, a fellow delegate leaned over and said; “Every so often, something happens here that is really important.” Continue reading

Where Washington leads others follow

During the IMO assembly meeting last month, Secretary-General Mitropoulos made a plea for uniform solutions, arrived at internationally, through a process of collective agreement. In the field of oil pollution legislation – always politically sensitive – this is perhaps wishful thinking. Particularly in the United States. Continue reading

The Other Human Element in shipping

When shipping gurus, or guru wannabes, gather, we often speak of the “human element.”

This is understood to be the merchant seafarers who are, as is well known, often in short supply these days. There is, however, another “human dimension,” one that we often forget. Continue reading

‘Bear’ necessities hit Ship Finance

claytoonjpgShakespeare, in The Winter’s Tale, includes the stage direction: “Exit, pursued by a bear.” The bear that is pursuing us is a bad market.

Many of us fear the impact on the lending institutions that specialize in ship mortgage finance. The more philosophical say: “The banks always start lending again.” The pessimists say that parts of the ship banking market resemble Monty Python’s dead parrot. You may think that it is just resting, but some departments really are deceased. Worryingly, the combination of specialized knowledge and prudence that makes a good banker is born of experience.

With extensive (if unannounced) layoffs now occurring in the shipping departments of leading British and German banks, many an experienced… Continue reading

The Greeks had a word for it

Greeks have always known a thing or two about the shipping industry, and operational issues were apparently a concern in classical times, as they are today. Pericles lived in an age that abounded in great thinkers, and as one contemplates (or tries to) the problems of training and retention of seafarers, it is clear that he, and other big names of those days, would have been well aware of the issues fared by seafarers, and those who employ them, today. Continue reading

Looking for support

We have long expected that another major oil spill would happen some day. If this happens, will draconian and possibly unworkable regulations be put in effect? How can our industry work together to eliminate the “holes in the fence” that now exist, and create a more broad-based, higher quality and performance system within our industry? Continue reading