Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Spotlight on Salvage

Salvors prevent bad things getting worse and can be thought of as one of the genuine emergency services. And in their role as removers of wreck they clear away the mess the shipping industry leaves behind it. The International Salvage Union Associate Members’ Day brings salvors together, but also is a chance for hull and machinery insurers, P&I clubs, maritime lawyers and those whose work brings them into contact with professional salvors, to exchange their current concerns.

Fewer ships are being wrecked these days, but when they are, they tend to be far harder and more expensive to sort out. The amazing removal of the Costa Concordia showed the wider world just what can be done, but at an astonishing price. The removal of the remains of… Continue reading

Lash Up and Stow

Containerships have been with us for nearly half a century and goodness knows what old Malcom McLean would have thought if he could have dreamed that the system he effectively invented would have developed ships capable of carrying 20,000teu in a single hull. But while the ships have changed beyond all recognition and the individual boxes have got a bit bigger, the technology for lashing them on deck has scarcely changed.

Lashing gangs still have to struggle with twistlocks on container corners and heave around great lashing rods and turnbuckles, just like they did on the first generation ships. The only difference is that while the boxes on deck were two high (which made experienced Western Ocean seamen doubtful), today we are looking at nine high on… Continue reading

Hope and Anchor

Who remembers the great dark days of the 1980s, with the price of oil stuffing cash into oil producers’ pockets, with the local ports around the Arabian peninsula and Nigeria unable to cope with the flood of goods they were buying with their loot. There were ships waiting in roadsteads for months on end, as the owners counted the demurrage and crews went quietly insane. There was one choice report of a ship laden with a full load of cargo handling equipment for a port waiting for weeks, because there was no cargo handling equipment ashore to discharge it.

The best memory comes from the Saudi port of Hodeidah, where the situation became so dire that ingenious US innovators proposed to discharge cement from ships offshore… Continue reading

Strength of Materials

One of the reasons that wooden ships eventually gave way to iron and steel was the fact that the size of a wooden ship is limited by the strength of the component parts. This was perfectly illustrated in WWI when the shortage of merchant ships caused b  the depredations of German U-boats caused the desperate construction of wooden freighters in the US and Australia. Several of these craft, despite reinforcement of the original design, were basically “too big for wood” and were condemned.

For a century, steel has been the preferred shipbuilding medium, designs being extrapolated to construct bigger and bigger hulls. Just occasionally has design been dangerously compromised, as the tendency has been to prudently “over-engineer” in any areas where stresses might

Hostages – lest we forget

After nearly five years in the hands of Somali pirates and the longest held hostages since the plague of Indian Ocean piracy began, four Thai fishermen have finally been released. Their relatives, during this period, have been supported by the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme* and the MPHRP will continue this assistance as the four are re-integrated into society after their ordeal.

Somali piracy only rarely shows up on the public radar these days, but the release is a reminder to everyone, that it has not gone away and attacks are still regularly reported by shipping in the area. Best Management Practice, the presence of armed guards on vulnerable merchant ships and patrolling aircraft and warships are still obviously needed. There are still 26 hostages in pirate hands… Continue reading