MORE ABOUT THE NEFTEGAZ
67 AND THE YAO HAI.
The Nautical institute
magazine Seaways contains a long letter from the chairman of the Hong Kong
Pilot’s Association effectively rebutting the report in the same magazine
about the collision between the Neftegaz 67 and the bulk carrier Yao Hai.
This because the Court of Final Appeal had determined that the Castle Peak
Channel was a narrow channel, within the meaning of Rule 9, and that
therefore the blame for the collision rested with the captain of the
Neftegaz 67. His defense relied on the view that it was not a narrow channel
as far as the Yao Hai was concerned (I’m afraid you would have to look back
at the October 2013 newsletter for more information).
The Court of Final Appeal took the view that the steps taken by the Yeo Hai
to draw attention to the fact that it was the stand on vessel were
appropriate, and that the captain of the Neftegaz 67 had failed to respond,
and that therefore the collision was his fault.
It looks like a convincing case, but then the original case looked
convincing as well, so where are we? It is probable that the old Board of
Trade system of dealing with marine accidents was more appropriate than the
presentation of a case before a non marine judge, the results of which
surely depend on the wonderfulness of the barristers involved. The Board of
Trade always used to apportion blame as a percentage, and even when a ship
under way ran into a ship at anchor it was quite likely that they would
apportion some blame to the latter. Despite their awareness of the collision
situation those in charge of the Yeo Hai did not even slow down! But I seem
to be taking sides don’t I.
SHIPS IN FILMS
can’t keep the marine environment out of films at the moment. After the
monumental marine event that was ‘Captain Phillips’ we have ‘The Secret Life
of Walter Mitty’ and ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. In ‘Walter’ directed by and
starring Ben Stiller there is a really arresting sequence of a fishing boat
and helicopter in a storm off Iceland which had me on the edge of my seat,
it seemed so realistic. On the other hand in ’The Wolf of Wall Street’,
which is becoming known for its profligate featuring of sex, drugs and even
a bit of rock and roll, there is a sequence of the loss of the main
protagonist’s yacht in rough seas. The yacht appeared to be manned solely by
the captain, who could be seen grappling with the wheel in the middle of the
night with the wheelhouse lights on. I know that directors have a problem
with lighting when it comes to ship in the night, but surely they could have
worked it out by now.
THE HERALD OF FREE ENTERPRISE.
The Herald of Free
Enterprise - Photo from the Web.
day I was glancing at a BBC page on the internet which concerned a meeting
between a rescuer, and a lady who was rescued from the wreck of the Herald
of Free Enterprise. Also a charity called “Public Concern at Work’ has
published a report which highlights the disconnect between those doing the
work and those managing, particularly on the Herald of Free Enterprise. As a
result I had a look at the Department of Transport investigation in to the
It is now twenty-six years since the Herald of Free Enterprise sank just
outside Zeebrugge. 150 passengers and 38 crew members lost their lives,
hence the Secretary of State for Transport ordered an investigation into the
The Herald was a ro-ro ferry carrying passengers and their cars, and freight
vehicles and their drivers between Zeebrugge and Dover, a voyage of about
four and a half hours. On the evening of 6th March it left Zeebrugge,
passing the outer mole at 18:24, and sinking about four minutes later. The
ship rolled over to port and came to rest with the starboard side above
water about seven cables from the harbour entrance.
How had this happened? In short, the assistant boatswain, whose job it had
been to close the bow and stern doors had been resting on his bunk, and had
not heard the call to stations on the tannoy, and so had not gone and done
his job. So the ship had sailed with the bow doors open, water had entered
over the sill and caused the ship to become unstable due to free surface.
The investigation found that this class of ferry was designed for loading
and unloading at a higher and lower level, using two ramps – usually known
as ‘linkspans’, but in Zeebrugge there was a single linkspan, and
particularly at certain states of tide the ship had to trim bow down for the
linkspan to be able to access the upper loading/unloading point. To achieve
this the ship had to ballast down during the latter stages of the approach
to Zeebrugge and had to spend time ballasting up during the return voyage
towards UK. Hence, with the bow doors open and the ship trimmed by the head,
it was easy enough for the cargo deck to fill with water.
The investigation pulled no punches, and almost everyone involved was
censured in some way, with some of the mariners losing their certificates of
These ferries had a restriction in that at draughts of more than 5.5 metres
the passenger capacity was reduced. But it was not possible to read the
draughts and as a result an entirely fictitious draught was always entered
in the official log book. Apart from being illegal this obviously prevented
the ship’s staff from knowing exactly how the ship was trimmed. And in any
case it was determined that on many occasions the fleet in general was
carrying passengers in excess of their regulated capacity. Complaints by the
senior masters resulted in memos from management which did nothing to
improve the situation, and actually might have been intended to remove the
captain’s ability to determine how many passengers they were carrying.
The company did not employ ‘Marine Superintendents’ in the traditional
sense. The superintendents were usually engineers and the directly involved
senior managers were naval architects. Hence there were no mariners in the
management. The roles of the directors were not defined, and actually nor
were the roles of the ship’s officers who were supposed to follow standing
orders written by the heads of departments. The investigation made much of
this, and one hopes that maybe this particular problem might have been
solved by the ISM code and safety management systems in general.
There were specific instructions one of which was that the Chief Officer
should be at his station for departure, which happened to be on the bridge,
fifteen minutes before sailing. How could this be achieved, memos from the
senior masters asked, if the Chief Officer had to follow another instruction
which was to make sure that the bow door operator was in position before he
left the cargo deck.
And in all of this one should not forget that the investigators had
determined that there seemed to be an imperative within the company that
turn-rounds in port had to be as quick as possible, and that specifically
the manager ashore in Zeebrugge had issued a memo to the ship encouraging
the crew to make everything ready for sea and to leave the port fifteen
minutes before the official departure time, this apparently to give more
discharge and loading time in Dover.
In addition, over the years, sailings had taken place with bow doors open on
a number of the class, since it was not possible to see from the bridge
whether the doors were open or not. As a result there had been a number of
requests for from masters for indicator lights to be fitted on the bridge to
show the door status.
Possibly the most important of these was written by one of the senior
masters in 1985 saying:
There is no indication on the bridge as to whether the most important
watertight doors are closed or not. That is the bow and stern doors. With
the very short distance between the berth and the open sea on both sides of
the channel this can be a problem if the operator is delayed or having
problems in closing the doors. Indicator lights on the very excellent mimic
panel could enable the bridge team to monitor the situation is such
One of the responses was from a deputy chief superintendent saying “Do they
need indicator lights to tell them whether the deck storekeeper is a wake
and sober? My goodness!!”
The investigation report says, “It is hardly necessary for the Court to
comment that these replies display an absence of any proper sense of
It is impossible to do the report justice in a few words, but it is
contained complete on the MAIB website. Everyone whose involvement the Court
found wanting is named, so so much for a no blame culture. Even today, in
many organizations, middle managers seem to think that it is part of their
job to control the budget for the company, and to put a red pen through
anything that costs money. A message from the Herald report might be, that
in order to operate efficiently, successfully and safely you have take
notice of your staff, and spend money occasionally.
A UNIFIED BRIDGE
Here is the hull of the Stril
Luna launched at Astilleros Gondan in Spain in 2013, and due for delivery in
shipyard building the Stril Luna for Simon Mokster has recently distributed
a press release where they announce that this fine vessel is the first one
in the world to be fitted with a ‘Unified Bridge solution’.
Well this does take me back. Thirty-one years ago my employers asked if I
could design a bridge layout for the newbuildings which were to enter
service in 1985.
Lacking the possibility of a complete bridge system, similar to that fitted
to aircraft, which would have solved the whole problem the Chief Engineer
and I measured the dimensions of all the panels and switches fitted to the
ship on which I was serving and which was a sort of forerunner, and then
drew diagrams to provide layouts for all the required systems, but
minimizing the amount of space used, and ensuring that we could reach
everything if necessary.
I also redesigned the joystick control to make it easier to use and to
determine what the settings were and also drew a design for a triangular
bridge front which has particular advantages when keeping a lookout.
How we wished for a unified bridge system to get rid of the variety of
different types of equipment scattered randomly about the consoles,
apparently without much thought.
The joystick control made it into service on our next ship in 1985 but it
has taken a further 30 years for the bridge system to make it.
THE PIETER SCHELTE
A picture of the Pieter Schelte
at work from the Alllseas website
who up to now have put a number of innovative pipelayers into the field have
come up with a pretty unusual vessel for removing old platforms from the
offshore environment. This is the Pieter Schelte a twin hulled ship of vast
The ship will be 382 metres (1253 ft) long and will be 117 metres (384 ft)
wide. Incidentally this will be wider than the latest Ramform ship claimed
by PGS to be the widest ship in the world. It will have eight large engines
in four engine rooms and 13 enormous thrusters.
This is a pretty long term project, some of the equipment being ordered in
2007, but it is hoped that it will enter service some time this year, and
has already been contracted for some decommissioning work by Shell. There
are a number of videos showing it at work on the Allseas website, and it
looks pretty straightforward. But – and you know there must be a ‘but’ –
many of these early platforms were but together in very small pieces because
of the limitations of the heavy lift cranes. Thistle, for instance, was
constructed using a 300 tonne crane. Can the Pieter Schelte lift off the
topsides in one piece?
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER AND SHIPS AND OIL LTD
This newsletter expresses the views of the author Victor Gibson about marine
events which are considered to be worthy of interest. It is meant to be a
five minute read. Sources of information include:
International Tug and OSV Magazine
The Tugs, Towing and Offshore Newsletter.
The Nautilus Telegraph
The Nautical institute Magazine Seaways
The BBC Home Page
The MAIB Website
World Maritime News
The Siberia Times
The Ships and Oil website contains comprehensive information about many
offshore vessels and approaching 10,000 images.
People have continued to send pictures of the day for which I am very
grateful. The photos brighten the days of our hundreds of visitors as they
sit at their desks – I have noticed that our numbers are considerably
reduced at the weekends. By the way I have been told that a number of
subscribers to the newsletter send it on to others – if you are one of the
others email me for your own copy!
Company pages updated this month are as follows:
Blue Star Line
Recent Pictures of the Day include:
Ships at Elgin
North Ocean 102 Asso Trenuno
AND OIL OFFERS THE FOLLOWING PUBLICATION FOR SALE ON ITS WEBSITE:
THE HISTORY OF THE SUPPLY SHIP £37.50 inc P&P anywhere
SUPPLY SHIP OPERATIONS £27.50 inc P&P anywhere
RIGMOVES £5.75 inc P&P anywhere.
Buy all three books for the bargain price of £52.5
Vic Gibson. January 2014.
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