Friday, 17 July 2009

Industry Snapshots

The Plastiki adventure David de Rothschild, a crew of scientists and others plan to sail 12,000 nautical miles across the Pacific in a boat made out of plastic bottles and other recycled waste products. Named after Thor Heyerdal's Kon Tiki expedition of 1947, the Plastiki expedition is aimed at promoting recycling and environmental issues and, in their own words, “captivate, inspire and activate tomorrow's environmental thinkers and doers to take positive action for our Planet. We hope to inspire people to rethink waste as a valuable resource. One person's waste could be another person's treasure.” The voyage will take the intrepid crew through some of the ecologically challenged areas of the world and then on to Line Islands and Tuvalu. The 60 foot catamaran is being readied in San Francisco for the launch and is behind schedule; it was supposed to be well underway in summer. De Rothschild says, “Waste is fundamentally a design flaw. We wanted to design a vessel that would epitomise waste being used as a resource." It is doubtful, however, that plastic bottles will replace steel for ship construction anytime soon.

Sixteen Indians feared dead after capsize in storm off the coast of Qatar. Their boat ‘Damas Victory’ sank just two miles off Doha last week, Indian embassy officials said. Five Indians were rescued. The boat, belonging to the Dubai based company Demas Marine, had a total complement of 35, and was ferrying workers and material to an oil rig. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the AHTS vessel has now been raised from the deep, and that officials have given up hope of any other survivors. Most of the crew were asleep when the storm hit. A spokesman said the "work vessel" was used to provide "support services" to the petroleum industry.

Indian dhow hijacked with 16 crew by Somali pirates. Reports at the time of writing are sketchy, but media reports quote East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme coordinator Andrew Mwangura confirming that the dhow was seized last Friday as it left the Somali north coast port of Bossaso bound for the UAE. All the crew on board are Indians. Mr. Mwangura believes that the hijack may be the result of a business deal gone sour; the dhow is on a regular run between Saudi Arabia and the African coast. These, and other incidents, confirm that the monsoon winds have not resulted in major reduction in pirate attacks in the region so far, as was earlier hoped. About 10 ships and 200 crewmembers are still held hostage by Somali pirates. In a separate report titled ‘Global piracy, the hidden side’, AP confirms that many attacks remain unreported, as owners are more concerned about
“Clean records, costly delays in the event of an investigation in the nearest port, jittery clients who might take business elsewhere and the likelihood of higher insurance rates if they log an attack with authorities.” IMB’s Choong estimates that more than fifty percent of such attacks go unreported, but other experts say that the figure is even higher.

Europeans look at fatigue, again. A new two and a half year long research project has been launched to examine seafarer fatigue. The European Commission funded ‘Project Horizon’ will involve 60 deck and engineer officers who will perform typical watchkeeping duties on simulators over a succession of seven day periods while being monitored by experts belonging to 11 academic institutions and organisations with shipping interests. Included amongst these are Southampton University in the UK, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, the Stress Research Institute from Stockholm University, Bureau Veritas, the European Community Shipowners’ Associations, the European Transport Workers’ Federation, the European Harbour Masters Committee, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, the Standard P&I Club, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency. The project “seeks to improve safety at sea by developing a fatigue management toolkit for the industry, as well as recommendations for improving work patterns at sea”. The cost? €3.78million. “That is a lot of money, and could be better utilised to increase safe manning requirements so that the officers would not be need the toolkit in the first place,” quips a local wag.



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