Wallem Fleet Officers Meeting – 2012
(picture courtesy of Wallem)
Each year the Ship Management arm of the Wallem Group Limted, hold the ‘Wallem Fleet Officers Meeting’ (“WFOM”) over a period of a few days. The audience for this seminar is drawn from the seagoing officer pool of Wallem’s and provides a forum for Owners, Managers and Fleet Officers to meet and exchange thoughts over the course of the seminar. This year the WFOM 2012 was held at Bangalore, India with several hundred fleet officers in attendance.
To each WFOM, a small group of industry figures are invited to make presentation to the attending delegates and, Andrew Moore & Associates Ltd were honoured to be invited back once again, with Christopher Raven presenting on AMA’s behalf.
Three Peaks Challenge 2012
The Sailors Society is an international not-for-profit charitable organisation, dedicated to the welfare of seafarers and their families around the world. As a part of its continuing and strong support of this worthy seafaring charity, Andrew Moore & Associates have for the last 3 consecutive years taken part in the Three Peaks Challenge.
The Three Peaks Challenge is a bi-annual event to raise money for the Sailors Society, in which 3 person teams attempt to climb the three tallest peaks in the United Kingdom (Ben Nevis, Helvellyn & Snowdon) in the quickest time possible. To read more about this great event please look to the Sailors Society web page here.
This year Andrew Moore & Associates were able to muster two teams for the challenge 2012. Both teams did well by completing the race event under poor weather conditions; on Ben Nevis the weather condition was wet and cold and at the top the temperature was near to zero degrees. On Helvellyn it was foggy and during the night hike up, all teams could only hike up to the half way point due to poor visibility; on Snowdon the weather conditions were clear at the bottom, but then very cold and foggy at the top.
While Andrew Moore & Associates didn’t quite finish in the first place, the two teams did really well and all completed the course in good times and most importantly, generating a lot of sponsorship money for this great charity. Well done to everyone involved from all teams participating, we look forward to seeing you all again in 2014… and for those of you able, Sailors Society Asia Challenge on mount Kinabalu, Sabah in 2013!
Insight : Fire on the QM2
Control Complexity and Engineer Complacency
Ieuan Dolby, 3rd January 2012
The recent failure of the 2003 built, Queen Mary 2 (QM2) off Barcelona suggests that the modern design of vessels is not reaching and seemingly will not reach an ideal state. The failure of all four propulsion motors, an explosion and drifting of the vessel for over one hour was perhaps ‘lucky’ considering the severity, the fire-fighting medium used and the 3800 plus passengers onboard (who reportedly were not informed of the situation).
The failure onboard the vessel was pinpointed towards a High Frequency (HF) Capacitor in the high voltage room.
An important finding in the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation’s Branch (MAIB) investigation and subsequent report was the designed installation of a water-spray/mist fixed-fire fighting system inside of the high voltage room where the failure occurred. This in itself should never have been allowed or even considered from a practical point of view; 11,000 plus volts mixed with water can easily mitigate an otherwise repairable failure to the point of total incapability, never mind the age-old fact that water just doesn’t mix with electricity. (Water extinguishers are typically not positioned next to our electric oven so …)! The Classification Societies therefore need to address this anomaly.
The MAIB report does not go far enough in addressing other problems highlighted during the investigation. We might accept that a passenger ship with one engine could possibly suffer total propulsive loss. It is though harder to understand how four independent propulsion drives can be knocked out by the failure of one single item; which would lead us to suggest that passenger ships should follow a full ‘failure-mode’ analysis and setup similar to the offshore industry. This would tend to increase over-all building costs as some segregation and duplication would be required but in effect it would prevent the loss of customer faith and high mop-up costs resulting from incidents like the one experienced by the QM2.
Perhaps more interestingly though is the MAIB reports attention towards an increased usage of highly integrated and complex alarm and monitoring systems! In the ten minutes preceding, during and after the failure of the ‘HF capacitor’ a total of 500 separate alarms were recorded in the engine room control system (never mind those on the bridge and elsewhere). This equates to nearly one alarm every second and is seen as disastrous to proper watch keeping analysis. Perhaps one alarm would have given adequate direction to the impending failure but 500 alarms is impossible to react to and apart from calling the Chief Engineer to the engine room there was little else that any watch keeper could do.
As extracted from the MAIB report:
“During the watch before the accident, the duty engineer accepted approximately one alarm every minute. It is highly likely that the number of alarms during the busy hours of the day would have been even higher. The purpose of an alarm is to alert the watch keeper to an anomaly so that appropriate corrective actions may be taken. However, if the alarms appear as frequently as one every minute, it would be almost impossible for the watch keeper to deal with them effectively. Half an hour before the accident, the duty engineer had accepted two fire alarms without taking any further action and without actually knowing at the time that these were false alarms.”
“The first possible indication of the developing accident was available at the P1200 propulsion monitoring system around 36 minutes before the accident. The sheer volume of alarms from the IAS at around one every minute, in addition to alarms from the P1200 system, is most likely to have overwhelmed the watch keeper and it is not surprising that the propulsion motor alarms were not acted upon.”
Whilst not discussed comprehensively in the MAIB report the QM2 incident emphasises a growing modern day problem. Manufacturers of modern and extremely complex equipment are time and again placing insufficient information into the maintenance sections of their manuals for the crew members to follow. In the instance of the QM2, “Check Capacitors”, neither explains what to check for or how to do it and therefore it would be assumed that the ships electrician would simply open the cabinet, eye-ball the units and close the door again for another 12 months.
Equipment being fitted onboard vessels today typically comes with a variety of integrated control and monitoring functions. During the design stage of a vessel serious emphasis has to be placed on control system integration, the connection of the individual equipment’s own control panels to a central control panel, to a central alarm, monitoring and warning system. For example a sole air compressor can now be delivered with its own auto-functions, monitoring panel and twenty alarms – all for its little old self. Fifteen years ago a similar sized compressor came with a start and stop button and little else.
One extremely forward-looking company, after many incidents relating to poor watch keeping and machinery malfunction, recently decided to ‘go back to the basics’ and started to fit manual operated valves as opposed to remote control on their new-build vessels. They also attempted to install and fit machinery that went back to mechanical features only but found that these were no longer available. Equipment choice is therefore dictated by what is available on the market and this typically means highly complex and integrated machines that require a multitude of electronic components and automatic features that must therefore be integrated into a vessels over-all control system. In other words more alarms and in the modern day it is more likely that a printed circuit board, sensor or capacitor will fail rather than the actual mechanical parts themselves.
Another example of a few years ago highlights this problem well. A newly built, state-of-the-art 16000 HP, Anchor Handling vessel with two main engines suffered engine room computer failure. The vessel was asked to leave port due to a port security issue but eventually had to be towed out by an older unit. It was found that it was impossible to start either of the main engines in manual mode without the computer switched on and functioning. Where has the air, mixed with fuel and a ‘bang’ gone?
In times gone by, an engine failure would typically result in a vessel drifting until repair was conducted. Now, propulsive failure like the one highlighted by the QM2 can result in an explosion, a fire and possible injury or death and yet the watch keepers are forced to be complacent and who can blame them? Receiving one alarm a minute in normal circumstance is just too many to cope with and in addition the maintenance manuals don’t tell them to do very much at all anyway. So they are left with two choices; be highly stressed or be complacent.
This complacency is evidenced in the MAIB report where two unrelated fire-alarms were recorded, accepted and not acted upon prior to the incident. It could be surmised that the engineer knew, or had previous reference to the location and nature of these fire alarms as to be able to ‘ignore’ them (based upon repetitive or previous sounding) but this is no excuse. On a cruise ship the bridge staff would also have these alarms appearing (fire alarms are everybody’s concern) and therefore the bridge watch keepers would also have been complacent in their reaction.
Poor watch keeping ability bred from overload, stress management and resultant complacency cannot only be placed at the doorstep of the training establishments which has increasingly borne the sole brunt for the noted drop in seafaring standards. Undoubtedly, the current training system still educates engineers on steam boilers and the pulling of propeller shafts when in reality these are secondary to everyday functions, like the maintenance and monitoring requirements of a High Frequency Capacitor. But poor output is also the direct fault of the manufactures of the equipment, with watch keepers and engineers increasingly relying on the failure of the equipment to educate them on how to look after their charges in the future instead of proper and all-encompassing instruction manuals and updated service letters.
Failure reports and personal experiences in such circumstances are increasingly the only provider of essential knowledge of the modern equipment’s parameters and requirements for maintenance; as the age-old ability of sense of smell, feel and sound mixed with intuition and experience are thrown out of the window.
Poor watch keeping output is therefore seen as the direct result of highly complex machinery that is an unknown quantity in terms of repair and monitoring ability, of manufactures who seemingly refuse to give proper instruction, of overly complex and frequently sounding alarms that breeds complacency and of course misguided standards of training that do not take into account the modern-day electronic and electrical importance of integrated alarm and monitoring systems.
AMA Alert : DRI Carriage Exemption Certificates
Cargo Exemption Certificates and DRI under the IMSBC
We have been receiving a growing number of queries on the subject of IMSBC exemption certificates being presented at load ports by cargo shippers to allow for the carriage of cargo in a condition or by a method that would otherwise be blocked by the IMSBC. This has particularly been noted to happen in the Orinoco areas of Venezuela, but also now it seems in Trinidad, with respect to shipments of DRI (Direct Reduced Iron).
In summary, it would appear that some nations are attempting to exercise the mechanism which exists in the IMSBC for signatory governments to produce alternative standards to an equal or better level than those stated in the IMSBC. This is possible through section 1.5 of the IMSBC.
1) Section 1.5 of the IMSBC deals with exemptions. For ease of reference we included it here below:
“1.5 Exemptions and Equivalent measures
1.5.1 Where this Code requires that a particular provision for the transport of solid bulk cargoes shall be complied with, a competent authority or competent authorities (port State of departure, port State of arrival or flag State) may authorize any other provision by exemption if satisfied that such provision is at least as effective and safe as that required by this Code. Acceptance of an exemption authorized under this section by a competent authority not party to it is subject to the discretion of that competent authority. Accordingly, prior to any shipment covered by the exemption, the recipient of the exemption shall notify other competent authorities concerned.
1.5.2 Competent authority or competent authorities which have taken the initiative with respect to the exemption:
.1 shall send a copy of such exemption to the Organization which shall bring it to the attention of the Contracting Parties to SOLAS, and
.2 shall take action to amend this Code to include the provisions covered by the exemption, as appropriate.
1.5.3 The period of validity of the exemption shall be not more than five years from the date of authorization. An exemption that is not covered under 22.214.171.124 may be renewed in accordance with the provisions of this section.
1.5.4 A copy of the exemption or an electronic copy thereof shall be maintained on board each ship transporting solid bulk cargoes in accordance with the exemption, as appropriate.
1.5.5 Contact information for the main designated national competent authorities concerned is given in the separate document issued by the Organization.”
2) The IMO through document DSC.1/Circ.65 acknowledge that Venezuela has indeed issued an exemption request to the IMO and that the named shippers within are covered by this. To view DSC.1/Circ.65 please click here
3) The specific wording of part 1.5.1 states that a competent authority ”may authorize any other provision by exemption if satisfied that such provision is at least as effective and safe as that required by this Code”. The question therefore arises whether or not what is typically the proposed removal of an inert gas blanket from DRI under shipment and its replacement by purely mechanical (and possibly not intrinsically safe) ventilation, can ever be considered a move “at least as effective and safe“. This very point has been alluded to by several industry bodies including INTERCARGO (who recommend extreme caution) and by various P&I Clubs, etc. In any event, it is strongly urged and by some P&I Club’s required, that you report the existence of the availability and details of such an exemption certificate to your P&I Club before acceptance.
4) To further quote from INTERCARGO on this matter, “The exemption refers to “safety standards specified…” in IMO meeting documents that were submitted proposing changes to the DRI (C) schedule – these proposals were not accepted and the schedule remains unchanged in this regard”.
5) Section 1.5.1 also states that “Acceptance of an exemption authorized under this section by a competent authority not party to it is subject to the discretion of that competent authority.” In short, for any exemption to be valid it must be accepted by all the competent authorities that may encounter it, for each is at liberty to reject it unless they are a contracting party to same. Typically, this will mean that the government of the shipping state, flag state and receiving state will each need to accept the exemption or problems that may arise.
6) In summary therefore, it is highly questionable whether or not such exemption would be valid for most if not all destination ports or the flag state of the vessel concerned. As a matter of caution these parties should always be approached and confirmation obtained from them prior to any contemplated loading of such cargoes under the proposed exemption. Likewise, your P&I Club should be approached and notified of the offered exemption certificate.
In our experience, it is generally unwise to put too much faith in what may arguably be seen as self-serving documentation (of any nature) for a hazardous cargo.
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