Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Testing technology

We have had navigational simulators available for the best part of half a century. They began with relatively simple devices for training and testing competence with radars, but have graduated over the years to replicate pretty well every task in bridge, engine or cargo control room. They are proven and enable experience to be gained safely and fast. They are available in every conceivable form, with programs available to enable a team to practice taking a big ship into an unfamiliar port , conducting ship to ship or monobuoy cargo transfer operations or even “rehearsing” a difficult or safety critical maintenance task. They deliver utterly authentic teaching, better every year as computer generated imagery and even “motion” can be provided.

So why doesn’t the maritime industry employ simulators in… Continue reading

Spot the Hazard

Safety is largely a matter of awareness and anything that can be done to promote this is worth doing. Pointing out the frightful consequences of inattention and a casual attitude to safety can be effective, with the lesson underlined by reports of actual casualties. Notices, posters, placards, and signage all transmit safety messages quite effectively, although the impact will reduce with time. Safety DVDs and films slotted in among the entertainment have been tried and found effective. Humour has been used on occasion, although it may not always transmit between cultures as we don’t all necessarily laugh at the same things.

What about cash – rewarding people for accident-free service? This has also been tried in the past, with safety bonuses being paid for so many days… Continue reading

One-eyed men

The current daily rate for a capesize bulk carrier, we are told, comes to less than you need to pay the crew. And although rates for tankers and container ships have been worse, such is our lack of proper perspective that even these are portrayed as a story of improvement, rather that the disgrace they really represent. Thoughts of that saying about the identity of the sovereign “in the country of the blind” come to mind. Do we really want shipping to be free at the point of use?

We are reassured by the well-worn suggestions that these are merely expressions of the perpetual volatility that governs our markets and we should not be too worried about the current crisis. After all, containerships offering some half a… Continue reading

On The Front Line

It’s not much fun going to sea today. You probably might reflect, if you are serving aboard the Rickmers containership Maersk Tigris, that you didn’t go to sea to have shots across your bow and end up getting a hard time at an Iranian anchorage. It seems a curious way of mediating a commercial dispute over a few boxes which allegedly went adrift nearly ten years ago. One might have thought that maritime legal processes had advanced beyond the use of medium calibre weaponry.

But there again, you probably didn’t go to sea to sail down the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, and be worried about what the heroic aviators of the Royal Saudi Air Force might be making of your progress, as they fly over… Continue reading