Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Cargo care – a ticking time bomb?

I may have been taken to task for blaming the cargo (weights) for breaking the MOL Comfort in half, but I am probably on a safer wicket if I suggest that it was the cargo which saw off the forepart of the ship, along with 2672 containers. Continue reading

Watertight bulkheads – full of holes.

It is not a brilliant idea, once you have installed a watertight bulkhead of sufficient strength to withstand the sea, should it be lapping at one side of it, to then drill it full of holes to accommodate pipe and cable runs. And while you obviously have to pierce such bulkheads for very good technical reasons, there are ways of going about it that do not effectively render the barrier about as much use as a colander (possibly a more relevant comparison than a chocolate teapot). Continue reading

How technology expands awareness

I visited the headquarters of MAIB yesterday, the United Kingdom government’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, located in Southampton.

The MAIB people are using advanced systems for recovery and analysis of a growing menu of electronic “black box” data, much of it carried aboard modern commercial and passenger ships.

The growing use of diverse electronic monitoring systems, ashore and afloat, is expanding “maritime domain awareness” to track the actions of people, processes and things.

Regulators can access a growing array of sophisticated on-board monitoring technology to tell us what actually happened (read: accidents).

Moreover, we are now acquiring the means to monitor what’s happening on board and under way, right now, in real time.

No more “magic pipes”?

It means that the investigation of casualties… Continue reading

Watch your weight!

There is a certain category of shipper, I’m told, who is so dim (or so dishonest) that when a container is delivered to him for loading, will stuff the thing with cargo until the doors will barely shut. Continue reading

Quality operators take lead on lifeboat hook issue

There are many definitions of a “good” ship operator. “Somebody who does what is right, without regulatory pressure or mandatory provisions” might be as good a definition as you can find.

One of the real scandals which has disfigured marine safety for several years has been the terrible loss of life and serious injury that has occurred with accidents involving lifeboats and launching mechanisms, mostly involving the on-load release hooks which seemed such a good idea at the time. It took far too long for the industry to agree the mandatory guidelines for the release and retrieval systems now found in MSC.1/Circ.1392; several years of fruitless arguing, during which time a lot more seafarers and others were killed… Continue reading

A lift for lifting equipment

You clearly neglect your cargo handling equipment at your peril, but it seems quite a lot of people do. Continue reading

Time to tackle the bottom feeders

Good to see that David Dearsley, who was once a mighty man in the International Shipping Federation, is enjoying his retirement and chairing an International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare, which is undertaking a strategic review of the industry’s welfare provision. Continue reading

Let go everything aft

Mooring and unmooring is about the most labour intensive operation aboard a modern merchant ship, despite all sorts of mechanical assistance like drum-stowed ropes and constant-tension winches.

It can present too-small crews with real problems, as was evidenced from a pilot’s recent comments about a Capesize which had a perfectly adequate number of hands – but only to tie up one end of the ship at a time.

Apparently they tied up the bow, then, as the ship was held alongside in the tide by four tugs, the crew sprinted nearly a quarter mile aft to start hurling the sternlines ashore. Speed over the ground was as important as seamanship on this lean-manned vessel, which, he pointed out, was by no means unique.

But accidents can happen… Continue reading

Shocked and ashamed by training ‘deficiencies’

Experience has taught us that most casualties are cause by a human agency. It is possible that we need to train seafarers to handle different tasks in a different way. The use of lifesaving equipment is one example. 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