Monthly Archives: April 2014

Rum bum and baccy.

They were the three things allatsea went to sea for.  Any one on it’s own was considered wonderful, all three, heaven on Earth. What sane chap wouldn’t want to sign up for a 4 year cadetship?
Well seemingly, after reading the following article on gCaptain, there are those that are out there on the high seas bent on piracy and other bad bad things. Here at the towers, there is tangible shock in the air.

By Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah and Keith Wallis

“KUALA LUMPUR/SINGAPORE, April 23 (Reuters) – Armed pirates raided an oil tanker off the coast of Malaysia and took three crew members with them, Malaysian maritime officials said on Wednesday, underscoring increasing threats to shipping in one of the world’s busiest waterways.

The incident in the Malacca Strait, a route for about a quarter of the world’s seaborne oil trade, has fuelled fears piracy could be on the rise in the area and drive up ship insurance premiums.

“We are very concerned,” said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s Malaysia-based Piracy Reporting Centre, who added the ship was hijacked while sailing near the Malaysia town of Port Klang.

“It’s the first time this has happened so far north in the Malacca Strait, and the first time they have kidnapped the crew. It’s not an area where we have seen the modus operandi of ships hijacked for their cargo,” he told Reuters.

Eight Indonesian pirates in a fishing vessel boarded the Naniwa Maru No.1 at 1 a.m. local time on Tuesday off the coast of west Malaysia, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said.

The pirates pumped out about 3 million litres of the 4.5 million litres of diesel carried by the tanker into two waiting vessels and made off with three Indonesian crew members, including the captain and chief engineer, the agency said.

There were eight armed robbery attacks in the Malacca Strait and around Singapore in the first quarter this year, compared with one in the same period last year, Singapore-headquartered ReCAAP said, although most were small thefts.

(Reporting by Al Zaquan Amer Hamzah; Writing by Niluksi Koswanage; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Ron Popeski)

Marine Warranty-a definition of ‘Procedure’

Copyright AHGiles

Question:   What’s a procedure?

A procedure is a document which details how something is to be accomplished!
A procedure should detail:
An overview of what the document is about.
It should identify roles and responsibilities of the ‘key’ players.
It should identify limiting environmental criteria for undertaking what the procedure addresses.
It should identify how weather forecasts are obtained, assessed and how often.
It should provide a time-line for the proposed operation along with a contingency allowance in case things go wrong.
It should provide a step by step list of all that is going to happen and how it will happen along with references to any applicable supporting engineering calculations and/or analysis as well as to supporting drawings to best explain the procedure (this is important for a complex operation).
It should also address communications as well as back-up communications.
It should also address contingencies (plans in case of equipment failure – eg breakdown of mission critical equipment or say breaking of a tow line.

The role as marine warranty surveyors should then be to assess:
If they follow the procedure – will they accomplish what the procedure proposes to address?  If it doesn’t, MWS must comment where the procedure has a potential failing.
Does the procedure (if followed) assure that the operation is being conducted with risk being assessed as, as low as reasonably practical (ALARP)?

When MWS reviews the procedure , they will be assessing if the procedure presents a potential claim on the construction all risk insurance.


So, procedure writers everywhere, please be so guided.


A broken sling, dropped pile cut-off weighing 15 tonnes, thankfully no deaths or injuries. Poor procedures, poor reviews.


Easter blighted by travel to work. Not completely blighted, travelling out on the Sunday, but enough to be, blighted, so to speak.


Never mind.


Genesis gig from 1973 playing on You Tube, a great rushing wave of nostalgia is washing over the office. Allatsea was always very suspicious of folks wot liked mainstream pop stuff. If ever there was a situation (and there was, frequently) when he found himself liking a song or track that could be so described he would immediately take steps to either pretend he didn’t like it (in public) or re-designate its genre  as alternative prog, underground expose or inward house, anything to allow him to continue liking it in the public forum without shame. Pathetic isn’t it. That said Steve Hackett’s work is still worth listening to, big time. The towers will often don travelling kit and make the pilgrimage to see him and his band. The first time we saw Genesesi was circa 1971 at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls and admission was around 50p. Those were the days…..sigh. Not all folk are so picky though. The other day when the towers asked daddy Dan where Dan was (Dan is a 38 year old chartered engineer) and was informed that he’d gone to the O2 to see ‘Take That’  we couldn’t help but blurt out, shocked, ‘Christ! Has  he really?’. No shame in that house hold obviously. God help us.

In a similar vein BBC4 was re-running ‘Guitar Heroes’ late last night, mostly wonderful stuff (Ronnie Wood is NOT a guitar great, not then, not now, not ever), Johnny Winter’s version of  ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ though, was wonderful wonderful wonderful stuff. Drifted off to bobos very happy indeed. A lovely day it had been all the way through. Mate Mick P was newly returned from his winter sojurn in Spain, very fine to see him again. We marked the occasion by spending 8 hours in Wetherspoons. Thank you Wethers!!! Any place where you can  get a large plate of cod and chips and mushy peas…..and a pint, for £6.50 has got to be applauded and supported. Judging by the crowds in there, it was. Long may they continue. As for Mr Thorley, a local pub operator famed for attracting the town trash, in quantity, to his establishments………………..let’s hope he continues to do so.

So that’s it for today, Air Chance flight to Nantes at 1415 from LCY tomorrow. At least there the telly news won’t be mandatorily showing footage of the Royal Baby. Frankly parading the newborn as some kind of  ‘aren’t we clever, isn’t he/she cute’ trophy statement, royal or otherwise, is sickmaking. Bleurghhhhh!!

Korean Ferry Catastrophe

Four Dead, Scores Rescued, Many More Still Missing From South Korean Ferry


sewol sinking

South Korean ferry “Sewol” is seen sinking at the sea off Jindo April 16, 2014. Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea on Wednesday, despite frantic rescue efforts involving coastguard vessels, fishing boats and helicopters, in what could be the country’s biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years. (c) REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

reuters_logo1UPDATE: Six have no been confirmed killed and between 277 and 290 are still missing.

By Narae Kim

JINDO, South Korea, April 16 (Reuters) – More than 280 people, many of them students from the same high school, were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea on Wednesday, in what could be the country’s biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

The ferry was carrying 462 people, of whom 174 have been rescued, coastguard officials said. Four people were confirmed dead, but as frantic rescue operations continued late into the night under light from flares, hopes were fading for the 284 unaccounted for.

It was not immediately clear why the Sewol ferry listed heavily on to its side and capsized in apparently calm conditions off South Korea’s southwest coast, but some survivors spoke of a loud noise prior to the disaster.

“It was fine. Then the ship went ‘boom’ and there was a noise of cargo falling,” said Cha Eun-ok, who was on the deck of the ferry taking photographs at the time.

“The on-board announcement told people to stay put … people who stayed are trapped,” she said in Jindo, the nearest town to the scene of the accident.

The families of those still missing faced agonising uncertainty as divers searching for those trapped in the largely submerged ship were forced to suspend their work until daybreak on Thursday.

Survivors in Jindo huddled on the floor of a gymnasium, wrapped in blankets and receiving medical aid. One woman lay on a bed shaking uncontrollably. A man across the room wailed loudly as he spoke on his mobile phone.

Furious relatives of the missing threw water at journalists trying to speak to survivors and at a local politician who had arrived at the makeshift clinic.

Most of the passengers on board the ferry appeared to have been teenagers and their teachers from a high school near Seoul who were on a field trip to Jeju island, about 100 km (60 miles) south of the Korean peninsula.


Wafi people, don’t read this, you wouldn’t understand.

Downward-Angled Thrusters Show Major Efficiency Gains


In a recent conversation with Wim Knoester, Director of Propulsion at Wartsila Ship Power, he described a new thruster design that his company has been working on targeted to the drillship and semi-submersible drilling rig sector.

As the image below shows, the thruster is angled downward at an 8 degree angle.

wartsila thruster

Although the angle of the thruster does give up a portion of the energy in the downward vector, which adds nothing to the performance of the thruster, the added benefit of keeping the thrust away from the boundary layer adjacent to the hull results in more than a 15 percent decrease in losses in performance according to Wartsila’s computational fluid dynamic analysis.

wartsila thrusterwartsila thrusterwartsila thruster cfd computational fluid dynamics

What does an a 15 percent efficiency gain really mean?

Mr. Knoester notes:

In case of the conventional straight unit, from the 100 ton of thrust that the thruster generates, 80 tons remains to keep the rig on its location. The rest, 20% is lost due to thruster-hull interactions.

For the 8 degree tilted thruster, more than 95 tons is available for dynamic positioning.

Esssentially, 20 percent of the usable thrust is lost from a conventional thruster due to boundary layer losses associated with the hull.

Boats, barges, turbines.

MV Robin

Pictured in Lowestoft circa 2009 or possibly 2010. The good but terribly uninteresting ship, ‘Robin’. The beneficiary of lorry loads of public and legacy cash to restore this boring old un-miraculous hull and tow it to somewhere as a museum piece which will dull the senses of any maritime enthusiast and singularly un-inspire  the layman. A complete waste of money in our ‘umble opinion guvnor.



An ex MCA ‘fast cat’ and proposed for use on the Thanet Windfarm Project. The smallest boat allatsea has ever ‘audited’. It wasn’t used. Far too small to be of use to man or beast on anything other than the smoothest of inshore waters.


Ballast panel 541

The ballast control panel on a large launch barge. Can’t remember which one, probably one of HMC’s.



Another ballast control panel on a launch barge. After 10 years of looking at these things the memory starts to merge, sadly. Probably another of HMC’s but possibly one of the big Saipem units.


Pipe-laying on Apache 2.


Where you bolt  a blade to a wind turbine nacelle.


Looking along the insides of a turbine blade, in this case for a 3.0MW Vestas unit.


Racks of WTG blades on a self elevating installation vessel.Fully loaded the vessel had 27 blades, 9 nacelles and 9 WTG towers. In good weather and if the ship’s engineers weren’t being girly precious about their jacking routines, 9 WTGs could be installed in 5-6 days. It rarely happened of course. Lessons learned? Insist that the SEIV has more than one person capable of operating the jack up equipment. Most of them do of course, some, who should know better, don’t.


Rows of Nacelles at Dunkirk, bound for Blighty windfarms.


Lay barge UR101, Pegwell Bay, Kent, export cable pull in. The cable installation company ‘Subocean’, went bankrupt shortly after this picture was taken. I think they were absorbed into Technip. Their nick-name was ‘Pubocean’. Truth be told, we never met anyone from ‘Subocean’ who impressed. They were all nice and charming  though, so can be  forgiven anything and everything.


Westbrook at the dead of night.

Ssshhhh! All is quiet. No traffic on the road, just two ships anchored in the Roads, telly on mute, the gentle hum from the pooter cooling fan the only discernible sound. Very calming, very nice.

Apart from a short visit to mummy allatsea to check on the old girl, the day has involved nowt but stagnation and sloth.  True the keyboard took a bit of a hammering at times but as far as  physical movement and industry was concerned, bugger all. That said there was half hearted attempt at one point to set the world of culinary experiment on fire by making up a bowl of hummus using half chick peas and half  pearl barley. It was very yum but unlikely to get tongues wagging in any sense of the word. Still, a marked improvement on recent attempts using the more traditional approach. Imho of course. No imminent call to appear on ‘Saturday Kitchen’ expected. The only reason us at the towers would like to get such an invite would be  so that the chance of bumping into Greg Wallace (him off the telly) would improve a tadge and then we could tell him, face to ugly face, just what a wonderfully blatant blagger  he is. Ahh, deep joy at that thought. Come to think of it though, he probably gets told that quite a lot, millions of times a day most likely.

Off to France next week. Good Friday will be spent in or around Saint Nazaire. CMID’ing a freighter.  There’s very little in the maritime world that is more soul destroying than vessel audits but that said  it will be done with good grace and enthusiasm. Clients pay a fair old wodge for such services so only fair to give them what they pay for. Board with a smile but a hefty dose of cynicism and a 50 page checklist and all will be well. I note that said vessel is Russian managed, so fingers crossed all the documentation is in the  language of the good and the great and not in Cyrillic or similar. The thought of travelling in the Catholic nation that is Belle France may prove to be  a bit of challenge over the Easter holidays but time will tell on that. Time to dust off the Tom Tom and venture forth by jamjar probably the best bet. Relying on trains and taxis  not a good idea this time.

The picture below has absolutely nothing to do with the previous three paragraphs. It was taken in a Tabernacle Street (just of Old Street, London) tavern in 2008 and the reason the photo was taken was not celebrate chip culture or record a momentous pub lunch but rather to support any subsequent litigation. They charged allatsea £5 for that plate of anaemic garbage (around 25p a chip) and ‘me and the boys’ were not happy. That said, after  four pints of Amstel, allatsea really didn’t care any more. The thing is, Greg Wallace may well have owned the place…………….missed opportunity there…………………………Doh!


I’ve sailed the seven seas and though you’d never think it,

The rums too strong for me, but I like the men that drink it.


A fine view at Margate beach, composed to show the seafront at its best some years ago.

Cargo Ships on Beaches…Really?


shipbreaking ship recycling scrapping

Shipbreaking at Alang. Photo: IMO

A perspective on ship recycling and how to end beaching

Like most other things, ships don’t last forever. After 25-30 years they are no longer commercially usable and therefore taken out of service to be dismantled. The materials are recycled to a lesser or greater extent – since a large cargo vessel may consist of 20-40,000 tons of steel, they clearly have a market value as steel scrap.

The vast majority of ships are taken to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh to be scrapped on the beach. There is something quite wrong with that.  People in flip flops on beaches are OK. But people on beaches wearing flip flops and no safety gear while taking apart massive cargo ships with hand tools is simply wrong.

Unsurprisingly, ship breaking is one of the most dangerous industries. According to the EU Commission, it is six times more likely to die at work in the Indian shipbreaking industry than in the Indian mining industry, and according to a recent report from Sustainalyitics, 1,000 people died in the Bangladesh ship breaking industry over a 10 year period.

NGOs argue that beaching must end now. We agree. In Maersk Line we have a policy on responsible ship recycling. Since 2006, we have recycled 23 ships responsibly, and we have sent none to the beach.

Most of our ships, however, are sold off well before they get too old to operate as it is important to us to have a modern and energy efficient fleet. And from time to time we are criticized by NGOs that the scope of our policy is too narrow because it only covers our own ships and not chartered vessels – and because we don’t sell ships with a clause that they should be recycled responsibly.

I doubt that such a clause would really serve as any guarantee for responsible ship recycling but that is actually besides the point I am trying to make here. We don’t like to see ships that have served us being sent to the beach, but we also think it is important to draw a line in the sand.

While it is important to us to take good care of our old ships, we don’t think it is the way forward for us to sponsor that other companies take good care of their old ships as well. And we really don’t think that the issue of unsafe and unsustainable beaching is well addressed by private companies alone.

The real answer to the problem is global regulation that raises the legally acceptable minimum standard for ship recycling. In 2009, the Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships was adopted. Yet in 2013, only two countries have ratified it.

The Hong Kong Convention is not perfect – actually it doesn’t ban beaching, it just makes it a lot harder to scrap ships this way. But it is the best we have, and if it entered into force, it could be improved over time.

So we need more countries to ratify the convention. Actually, it’s fair to ask what’s holding them back. Did governments change their opinion since 2009 when they adopted the Hong Kong Convention and now think that beaching is not an issue, or is it simply lack of priority?

If the health and safety statistics of the ship breaking industry is not enough of an argument for the Hong Kong Convention, here is another argument: Over the coming decades, steel will get scarcer and therefore more expensive, which means we  need to become better at steel recycling.

When ships are scrapped on beaches, I will argue that it is less likely that the materials are recycled to their full potential. Taking ships to proper recycling yards like the ones in China will enable a far better recycling of the steel for use in building new ships and other constructions.