Wednesday, October 9, 2013


On August 19th 2013, the Capesize bulk carrier 'Smart' ran aground departing Richards Bay, South Africa, with a full cargo of coal. It's been reported that there was a heavy swell running at the time, and that 'Smart's stern hit the seabed in the swell trough. After grounding, she drifted out of the channel, stranded and broke in two. If you open up the first photo to full screen, the lower part of the rudder has sheared off - whether from the grounding for afterwards.

If the grounding is attributed to touching bottom in the heavy swell, it bears a remarkable resemblance to the grounding and successful salvage of the 'Jody F Millennium' in Gisborne, New Zealand.

'Smart's stern was 'cleansed' of bunkers, lubricants (and hopefully the crew's personal possessions) and was successfully towed into deep water were she was scuttled. Maritime blog gCaptain carries the story and photo sequence from the salvors, Subtech Group, for which the AM attribute the sequence below.

M/v 'Smart' was an elderly Capesize, built 1996 at Mitsui Shipbuilding in Japan. Salvors continue to work on the forward section (Holds 1-6).

The Antipodean Mariner

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dynamic Under Keel Clearance

When ships are underway, a safety margin - the under keel clearance - is applied as a buffer. A static under keel clearance, or UKC, is typically 10% of the ships draft. In addition to the allowing for the imperfections in the sea bed and squat, it also makes the ship maneuverable. If the UKC is too small, Bernoulli's Principle creates localised low pressure zones under ship causing her to shear, or veer off course, and to be generally uncontrollable.

Commercially, deeper draft equals more cargo which equals more freight - depending on where you stand in the supply chain. Using predictive algorithms, shipping is dipping into the 10% static under keel clearance rule of thumb. This technology is called 'Dynamic Under Keel Clearance', and was pioneered by an Australian company, OMC International. Data from wave-rider buoys is combined with historic tide date, prevailing weather and barometric pressure. The algorithm calculates what the tide should be and then compares the predicted tide height with the actual water depth from the tidal meters. DUKC is being used in four of our ports to maximise cargo loading, and gives the Master an individualised target draft to load to.

What's this got to do with the photo below? Earlier this week, four bulk carriers were waiting for the DUKC-predicted tide to transit the Prince of Wales Channel in North Queensland.

The four deep draft vessels here had a 30 minute window to transit Varzin Passage from west to east. The line up (left to right) are our 'RTM Dias' (Captain Gupta), 'Noble Halo', 'Solin' and our 'RTM Twarra' (Captain Loveland). My thanks to Captain Wal Cray, Pilot of the westbound 'Jubilant Success' and 'Australian Reef Pilots' for this photo.

The Antipodean Mariner

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Grand Assembly 'RTM Djulpan'

I'll start off with an apology for the long layoff from the Antipodean Mariner blog. In January of this year, I was moved from a technical specialist to running our Company's Panamax dry bulk trading desk. The change to a trading desk has been an interesting career development, but is a lot less "blogable". Instead of studying ballast systems, I'm immersed in Baltic Panamax Index Average Four Time Charter Routes Freight Futures Agreements (or BPI A4TC FFA's in trader-speak). And I don't go anywhere.

Even though I haven't been spending any time in shipyards, my colleagues have - below is the Grand Assembly of our second caustic soda/bulk carrier 'RTM Djulpan' being built at Oshima Shipyard. The time sequence is over eight days. If Henry Ford ever built ships, this is how he would have done it!.

Many thanks to Cliff and Keel Marine for the photo sequence. Please enjoy

The Antipodean Mariner

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Changing course

To paraphrase Rule 8 of the Collision Regulations, alterations of course should be positive and made in ample time with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.

In January, the Antipodean Mariner made a bold course change and has left the world of shipbuilding for command of the company's Panamax freight trading portfolio. Main engines, keel laying and sea trials have been replaced by speed and consumption, Baltic Panamax Indices and demurrage.

The role completes the skills jigsaw that that, until now, has been in supporting roles as a technical or operational specialist. With the role comes P&L responsibility for about 30 million tonnes of freight in Asia and the Atlantic Basin.
As this dry world doesn't intersect with main engines and hull blocks, I'll have to live vicariously through colleagues in the field doing sea trials and ship deliveries. The final two Capesize at HHIC Subic Bay will be delivered in April/May after new main engines were fitted and the first of the new Post-Panamax, RTM Dias, has enteredt service. RTM Flinders will shortly head out on sea trials and deliver into service in March.

RTM Dias and RTM Flinders banked for their Naming Ceremony

RTM Dias approaching berth on her maiden voyage

RTM Flinders ready for sea trials

AM, February 2013

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

So you think you're a Shipping Geek!

Tradewinds (18/12/12) has posted a 'Litmus Test', developed by Shipping Analyst, Sydney Levine, designed to separate the shipping wannabes from the true geek. I got 20 out of 20. Good fun, happy to answer questions via the Blog or you can email the author.


Monday, December 17, 2012

'RTM Flinders' is launched

Post-Panamax Hull S.365, to be named 'RTM Flinders', was launched on Thursday 13th December in Imari, Japan. Her sister, 'RTM Dias' completed sea trials the day before and will be delivered in early January 2013.

The AM's colleague went  straight from the sea trials and launching in Japan to Subic Bay for the sea trials of PN69/'RTM Cabot'. She will also be delivered in January with PN70/'RTM Drake' - three ship deliveries in one month.

Photos of 'RTM Flinders' courtesy of Keel Marine's site team.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Loss of the Baltic Ace

The shipping media is reporting the tragic loss of the PCCT 'Baltic Ace' off Rotterdam, in which 11 of her crew lost their lives. What was notable about the collision and sinking was the huge loss of life - almost half the crew. In 2012, sinkings are usually a relatively drawn out affair with the crew able to abandon ship in lifeboats or liferafts. 'Baltic Ace' is reported to have sunk within 15 minutes of the collision.

m/v Baltic Ace (photo:
The website '' has uploaded a video of Baltic Ace AIS data, showing 'Baltic Ace' as the 'stand on vessel' and 'Corvus J as being the 'giveway vessel'. 'Corvus J' alters course to starboard to pass astern of 'Baltic Ace', but then 'Baltic Ace' appears to alter course to port whereby 'Corvus J' hits 'Baltic Ace' in her starboard side. AM can't attributed any blame to either vessel - this is just what the Collision Regulations state for crossing vessels.

gCaptain is also reporting daily on the casualty and have photos of damage to 'Corvus J's bulbous bow after the collision. 'Baltic Ace lies on her side in 36 metres of water (her beam is 25 metres), salvors have been appointed to remove her bunkers and a diver's search for the bodies of the missing crew is underway.

The result of the collision is eerily similar to the loss of Wilhelmsen's 'Tricolor'Pure Car and Truck Carriers are essentially floating car parks, designed with as many large area decks and as few watertight bulkheads as can be allowed under Class Rules. Combined with high freeboard and a tender stability, water in the wrong places has rapid and dramatic consequences.

The fact that the collision lead to rapid flooding and loss of stability in a modern, 2007-built vessel will hopefully spur the IMO and Classification Societies to review why PCCT's have such relatively poor survivability. The crews of bulk carriers and Roll on/Roll off ferries have all benefited (eventually) from design changes after high profile casualties with large losses of life.

The Antipodean Mariner