Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Don’t Sit Down!

There is an interesting email discussion taking place in Nautical Institute circles, after an LNG carrier Chief Officer pointed out the extraordinary number of jobs which seem to land on his plate these days. Now, there may be nothing new about this – there was a splendid poem doing the rounds years ago which portrayed The Mate as the last resort for anyone needing a decision on virtually everything that takes place aboard. But it is the way that this multi-tasking role has expanded in the era of shipboard bureaucracy which, it is suggested makes it almost impossible for a sentient human being to manage. Continue reading

Keep Looking!

It is quite worrying to hear that the combined might of Class NK and the Japanese authorities have yet to discover why the MOL Comfort so alarmingly buckled and broke in half in the Indian Ocean earlier this year. Both halves of the fully laden 8000 teu ship had gone separately to their watery graves, so there would be little in the way of forensic evidence available although structural inspections on the sister ships revealed some buckling deformations around the midlength. Continue reading

A Mariner’s View of “Captain Phillips”

Perhaps because Hollywood traditionally doesn’t do commercial shipping very well – “Titanic” being the most notorious example of its rare excursions into this mysterious industry, its treatment of the Maersk Alabama affair has probably been approached by marine professionals with a certain amount of suspicion. If the Danish “A Hijacking” (which sadly was not widely distributed) was a restrained example of Scandinavian Noir, there was some apprehension that “Captain Phillips” would be all bloodshed and bad language, interspersed with people rushing around in speedboats. Continue reading

Awareness the Hard Way

It is really quite hard to tell people why merchant ships are important, and just as one needs teaching aids to get an educational message across, sometimes very nasty occurrences can be used positively in this respect. Thus the destruction of the containership MSC Napoli, in the full view of the public on the Channel coast of England offered many positive messages, from the sheer variety of the cargo that was carried away by the looters to the lasting testament to the abilities of ship salvors, in wreck removal. Those of a more cerebral disposition might have also been given a useful hint about maritime logistics when the Volkswagen plant in South Africa ground to a halt a couple of weeks after the ship was wrecked, for