Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Slow, slow, slow the boat

Posted on | November 7, 2012 | No Comments

What a mess we are getting into as we seek to balance the demands of the atmosphere with that of marine safety, the charterer and even the requirements of those whose cargo may be aboard the ship!

What a mess mixed motives produce, as a need to save fuel is subsumed into a desire to save the environment! And it is even more of a mess when we attempt to attach some sort of scientific rationale to this balancing act, trotting out huge and incomprehensible formula to explain why the ship is only running at a quarter of its advertised maximum continuous revolutions.

Sooner or later, and sooner rather than later, we are going to see serious accidents caused by ships with machinery de-rated to comply with environmental constraints on emissions, or indeed fuel saving measures, having insufficient power available for their masters to get out of a hole. Out of control in heavy weather, these ships will be washed up on lee shores or fail to clear the land in an onshore gale, and it will be their lack of power which will be to blame.

Even then, nobody will dare to criticise the prevailing sentiment, the master being invariably available to blame. And these will not be the little “low powered steamers” of the early part of the 20th century whose cheapskate owners denied them adequate engine power, but very big ships indeed.

We have to be very suspicious indeed of some of these so-called “eco” designs, where all the sales material revolves around the fuel consumption and none focuses on the vessel’s likely manoeuvrability when in a light condition and there is a gale blowing.

But it is what we think is important today. Speed and power are dirty words. The light weight of a ship, its deadweight and its tons per day consumption are the statistics that matter. It’s all that carbon saved by the inadequate power which is praiseworthy. Nothing else is worth bothering about..

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