Thursday, 29 December 2011

Loss of the Vinalines Queen

The Antipodean Mariner is saddened by the reported loss of the modern Supramax 'Vinalines Queen', missing off the Philippines with a full cargo of nickel ore.

2005-built Supramax bulk carrier 'Vinalines Queen'

Her Master reported an 18 degree list before contact was lost with the ship and her crew of 23. Nickel ore is a nasty cargo, essentially mud with traces of nickel which is mined and exported from Indonesia using very basic 'off the beach' barging. Nickel ore is nasty because the fine particle properties make it highly susceptible to liquefaction, loss of stability and the capsize of the laden vessel.

Wet nickel ore in a ship's hold

If the loss of Vinalines Queen is confirmed to be due to cargo liquefaction, the loss of the ship and her crew was entirely preventable. In 2011, the IMSBC Code on Bulk Cargoes dealing with transportable moisture content became enforceable under the SOLAS Convention. The Code's application requires Shippers to test and declare the properties and moisture content of the cargo. Under the ISMBC Code, verification of the vessel's safety is to be confirmed by the tripartite agreement of the Port State of the exporting country, Port State of the receiving country and Flag State of the vessel.

Since the implementation of the Code, reports regularly surfaced of Shippers placing nickel cargoes in the market for shipment with clauses like "NO P&I SURVEYORS". "No P&I Surveyors" in Broker speak means no independent verification of the cargo and its suitability for shipment by P&I Club surveyors. The Antipodean Mariner has been told of local Police, on the pay of nickel exporters, confiscating cargo samples and running P&I Surveyors out of town.

That 'Vinalines Queen' loaded a cargo of nickel ore in Indonesia leading to her loss with all hands is evidence of the failure of the IMSBC Code. Despite the Code being enacted to make shipping safer, corrupt or weak regulators render it impotent and seafarers die. Here's the human face of the loss of the Vinalines Queen

Vinalines Queen Crew List

Another example of the Swiss Cheese safety model at work. No surprise that the maritime administrations of Indonesia, Vietnam and China are complicit in this preventable maritime tragedy.

The Antipodean Mariner

Post-script: One crewman survived and has been picked up by a passing ship after 5 days in the water. 22 crew remain missing and the vessel capsized in 5,000 metres of water.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Roll call at Astrolabe Reef

The crane barge 'Smit Borneo' garners most of the headlines, as she strips the Rena's decks of containers. But there is a cast of supporting craft out at Astrolabe Reef acting as maritime "roadies" for the main act.

GO Canopus, Dynamically Positioned AHTS laying anchors for Smit Borneo

Bunker barge Awanuia, removing bunkers and lubes

Waka Kume, pull-back tug for Awanuia to keep her clear of Rena's stern

Tug Katea and Sea-Tow 60, shuttling containers to Tauranga

Sea-Tow's tug Koraki

Tug Maui 1

Landing barge Subritsky

Tug Wainui towing barge Pohonui, which carried the worst of the decomposing reefer containers

Tug Petra G

Tug Pacific Pearl, her RIB Black Pearl astern and RIB Genesis

Today's report from the site is that the weather is deteriorating at Astrolabe Reef as the tail end of ex-Tropical Cyclone Fina crosses the North Island. Anchor relaying are the orders of the day.

The Antipodean Mariner

Structural failure in a Panamax

The Antipodean Mariner has been reviewing a report on structural failure on a Panamax bulk carrier. The ship in question is nothing special, one of many standard bulk carriers built in the mid-1990's at a reputable Japanese Yard. She has traded without problems until now and had just completed Special Survey which entailed a lot of close-up attention of the hull structure by her Managers and Class.

The problem came to the crews' attention when she arrived at a terminal to load. Water was seen gushing from a crack in the hull where a ballast tank and cargo hold bulkhead joined the shell plating. The area of the shell plating was cropped out and replaced, and the welded seam sent away for metallurgical analysis.

Analysis of the weld found a flaw in the welded seam which had been undetected for over 15 years. An asymmetric weld profile on the two sides of the hold bulkhead, combined with impurities in the weld, had lead to a crack propagating into the shell plating and the cracking of the hull.

Worse was to come when the vessel's hull cracked in adjacent frames on the next laden leg of the same voyage. More repairs were done and the ship sits awaiting the outcome of the inevitable legal dispute between the Owners and Charterers.

The moral of this posting is that despite computer aided design, fatigue analysis and close-up inspections, inherent defects can take years to manifest themselves. It was fortunate for the crew that this defect didn't lead to a catastrophic failure in the single hull bulk carrier.

The Antipodean Mariner

Monday, 26 December 2011

Up in smoke

One of the Antipodean Mariner's contributors was at the right place at the right time with a camera to catch this mini-disaster unfold. Swire's 'Kwangi' was loading pulp in the port of Tauranga when one of the forklifts had small problem that became a large problem. The photos tell the rest of the story...

No-one hurt, scratch one forklift.


Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas at Astrolabe Reef

Work goes on at Astrolabe Reef over Chritsmas without a break. Salvage sites are 'dry' sites so no Christmas cheer while the boats and barge are working. A nice sequence from the salvage, as Rena's decks are cleared of empty containers to Smit Borneo. The technique used is for the barge to tie up to the Rena and the wires to the anchor pattern tensioned to keep her in position just a few metres from the hull.

Anchor spread for Smit Borneo on the northern side of Rena

The container stackes connected with twistlocks are disassembled on the deck of Smit Borneo and then transferred to the smaller barges to be towed in to Tauranga.

Nice shot of Singapore standing by. She is primarly equiped for ocean towage and is not nimble enough to foot it up close to the Rena.

One of the AM's contributers observed that Nature abhors a vacuum. The waters around the Rena are teeming with fish and (smarter) birds.

Watch ex-Tropical Cyclone Fina as it moves eastwards towards the North Island.

Merry Christmas to everyone out at Astrolabe Reef and to the Readers.

The Antipodean Mariner

Friday, 23 December 2011

What's wrong with the AP exclusive on the Rena

The NZ media has been saturated with an Associated Press ‘exclusive’ about Rena’s detention by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, and the general evils of any ship flying a ‘flag of convenience’. The premise drawn in the ‘exclusive’ is that the detention of the Rena was a precursor to her grounding on Astrolabe Reef.

The Antipodean Mariner holds no stock with this theory – it has the journalistic ‘depth’ of a paddling pool and doesn’t consider all of the factors leading to the accident (see Swiss Cheese, 8/12/11).

No apologies or excuses are made for the defects found in the AMSA inspection. They are all credible evidence as to how the vessel was being operated and maintained. However, the container securing pins and bilge alarm did not cause the ship to run aground. The evidence is that the ship deviated from her planned route and grounded on Astrolabe Reef. In an aviation accident investigation, this would be called a Controlled Flight in to Terrain. This phrase was coined to describe where a perfectly good aircraft is flown into terrain due to the flight crew being unaware of the hazard in their flight path.

Based on the evidence to date, ‘Controlled flight in to terrain’ is a near-perfect correlation with the Rena’s fate. The Transport Accident Investigation Authority is charged with the conducting investigation and will use aviation techniques to examine all the factors including what commercial imperatives were placed on the Master an crew by MSC.

Not the Rena - 'MSC Napoli'

A beat up by Union-appointed ITF Inspectors and academics is lazy journalism and only serves to put the focus on the pixelated outlines of the hapless Master and Second Officer. Here’s a tip for the journo’s following this Blog – take a look at how many MSC owned and chartered ships get scrapped on beaches in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Antipodean Mariner counts 73 MSC-prefixed containers ships scrapped since 2009. Take a look at how many MSC container ships are involved in serious casualties. MSC’s business model is to run old ships at the end of their commercial life. Rena, at 21 years, fits that model perfectly. Plenty of material out there for the Google jockeys.

The Antipodean Mariner

Tradewinds: Vale VLOCs a "loss-leader"

If you ever needed proof that a Shipbroker could sell refrigerators to Eskimo's, read on. I'm sure Vale's Board of Directors are congratulating themselves now on cunning plan brilliantly executed.


Vale VLOCs a "loss-leader" (Tradewinds)

Losses Brazilian mining giant Vale may suffer from selling its 19 very large ore carriers (VLOCs) might be a small price to pay to gain access for the behemoths to Chinese ports, according to ICAP Shipping’s James Leake.

The broker’s research managing director says Vale may have come in for unfair criticism from many commentators for its move into industrial shipping.

Attention has focused “purely on the shipping dimension and citing the likely thumping discount of current market values to original purchase prices,” says Leake.

But, he says the ”contrarian” view suggests that even in a worst-case scenario any loss would be “covered by the profit from the sale of iron ore from only one or two shipments in these vessels, even at current depressed ore prices.”

Added Leake:”Ultimately, this may be a small price to pay for the political capital that could be achieved by transfer of ownership to Chinese interests, with the endgame being the acceptance of these behemoths in Chinese ports.

“Vale, after all, is in the iron ore business first and foremost—this could prove to be the most extravagant loss-leading strategy of all time.”

Leake says the announcement that Vale plans to sell off its VLOCs with long-term charters back comes as no surprise.

Those vessels already delivered have not received approval to enter China’s ports.Also, one of the newbuildings, the 400,00-dwt Vale Beijing (built 2011), developed cracks in the hull while being loaded at Ponta da Madeira, northern Brazil.

Vale placed orders in 2008 for 12 of the so-called Valemax vessels for construction by Jiangsu Rongsheng Heavy Industries in China, plus seven more in 2009 at Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering.

A further 16 similar-size vessels have been ordered in China and South Korea for other companies for long-term charter to Vale.All are set to enter service by 2013.

By Geoff Garfield in London

Published: 11:02 GMT, 22 Dec 11 updated: 11:04 GMT, 22 Dec 11

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Rena - New charges laid against Master and 2/O

Photo: LOC and Maritime NZ

Story today from the Bay of Plenty's SunLive. The Master and Second Officer have been charged with 'flogging the log'...

New charges laid against Rena pair

Posted at 9:59am Wednesday 21st Dec, 2011 By Letitia Atkinson

The two sailors facing charges related to the grounding of the Rena on the Astrolabe Reef are each facing new charges related to obstructing/perverting the course of justice. The captain and Navigation officer in court on November 2. Their interim name suppression is continuing. The 236m container ship’s captain and navigation officer appeared in the Tauranga District Court this morning where the new charges were laid.

The charges are under sections 117(e) and 66 of the Crimes Act and are for allegedly altering ship documents subsequent to the Rena’s grounding on October 5. The captain, or master, faces four new charges and the navigation officer three charges, with each charge carrying a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment. Further details about why the new charges were laid were not revealed in court as the Crown requires a time extension to allow new documents to be filed.

The men are also charged under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 for operating a vessel in a manner likely to cause danger and under the Resource Management Act 1991 for discharging a contaminant. The RMA charge is under section 338 (1B) and (15B) relates to the ‘discharge of harmful substances from ships or offshore installations’.

It carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $300,000, or two years imprisonment and $10,000 for every day the offending continues.

They also both face one charge each under section 65 of the MTA ‘for operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk’. These charges carry a maximum penalty of $10,000 or a maximum term of imprisonment of 12 months.

Judge Christopher Harding has extended their interim name suppression. The pair was remanded on bail and is due to reappear in court on February 29.

In this new age of Voyage Data Recorders and AIS position records, it's pretty hard to alter the electronic 'bread crumb trail' after the event.


Vale Beijing salvage plan

With the assistance of Google Translator, the Antipodean Mariner has been able to pull together a summary as at 20th December;

STX Pan Ocean have appointed Smit as salvors, and their first priority is to debunker the ship at anchor of the bulk of her fuel oil, leaving sufficient to maintain essential services. The debunkering plan requires ratification by the Brazilian Institite of the Environment and Natural Resources. A floating crane is to be brought to Sao Luis to redistribute cargo from the damaged No.7 Hold to Holds 3 and 5.

Vale Beijing (above) is being towed off the berth to anchorage - the iron ore residues on her deck from the ship loader indicate that Holds 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 are loaded. She was reported to have had 260,000 tonnes loaded, with 20,000 tonnes in No.7 Hold at the time of the structural failure. It is believed that she will go to Rotterdam for dry-docking and permanent repairs. Unknown whether she can make the voyage under her own power with the structural damage adjacent to the engineroom bulkhead and accommodation.


Monday, 19 December 2011

Vale Beijing Condition of Class

There has not been much new information on the 'Vale Beijing' , with the exception last week of the Chinese Shipowners Association playing the 'oily penguin' card and claiming that the ships are unsafe and an environmental hazard. Not a great vote of confidence by the Chinese Shipowners Association in the Chinese shipbuilding industry considering that 20 of the Vale fleet are built in Chinese yards.

Some new information which may have inadvertently been picked up by web crawler are the details of the Condition of Class imposed by DNV on Vale Beijing. A Condition of Class is a defect notice which describes the problem and what needs to be done to repair or rectify and in what timeframe. This is no longer on DNV's public website, indicating it may been removed from public view. The shorthand has explanatory notes square-bracketed:-

DNV Class Records for Vale Beijing
[Condition of Class Status] Overdue
CC 1 [Condition of Class No.1]
[Date and Office imposing the CoC] 2011-12-05, Rio de Janeiro
[Date of Expiry of the Condition of Class] 2011-12-10

#7 Port & Starboard Side WBT All six heavily buckled / fractured web frames, deformed / cracked side shell plating and distorted / cracked longitudinal stiffeners to be repaired / renewed. An action and repair plan is to be submitted / agreed including proposed sailing / towing condition, repair location (berth and/or anchorage) and loading condition before leaving São Marcos Bay, Ponta da Madeira Anchorage Area 6. Vessel to be assisted by tugs at anchorage area.

Photo of an unrelated VLOC under construction, showing the oval web frames (buff colour) either side of the cargo hold (grey colour)

Web frames are the oval steel structures between the ship's outer hull and cargo hold. On a VLOC like Vale Beijing, each web frame will be about 25 metres in height and about 15 metres wide (or deep). The CoC reports that the six web frames either side of No.7 Cargo Hold are heavily buckled along with the longitudinal stiffeners. This has lead to the our hull cracking and reports of water in the cargo hold mixed with the 20,000 tonnes of cargo reported as loaded in that hold.

The cached record of the DNV Condition of Class can be found here. Vale Beijing remains at anchor at Ponta de Madeira.

The Antipodean Mariner

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Road Trip

No shipping content at all in this posting.

The Antipodean Mariner realised a long-held goal this year to do a motorcycle 'road trip'. In the AM's case, 4,653 km through western Victoria and New South Wales to Queensland on two wheels. The weapon of choice for the trip was the '92 BMW K1100LT tourer, fully loaded with tent and sleeping bag. The AM's family flew to the holiday destination giving a window of nine days to cross three states to (and from) the sun and beaches.

The broad plan was to avoid the coast and take the Newell Highway from Victoria, skirting around Brisbane to destination Maroochydore.

What made the trip really memorable was the solitude. Nine days on the road solo. Some days, the AM only spoke to a handful of people. Petrol station cashiers, cafe counter staff, the caravan park custodian. Whole days spent in the saddle in communion with the rural Australia.

Highights were the scenery and wildlike - slowing (or avoiding) emus, wombats, kangaroos, snakes and lizards. Low point was standing under a shop awning in pouring rain in Junee NSW eating a fried chicken skewer.

The Beemer was perfectly matched to the task. Not sure yet when or where the sequel will be, Australia still has a lot to explore.

The Antipodean Mariner

Beira Mozambique

The Antipodean Mariner’s network is reporting progress at the new coal terminal in Beira. Berth 8 is a co-development by resource companies but will be operated by the Government port company CFM and stevedores Cornelder. Based on the site of a defunct minerals exporting berth, all traces of the old terminal have been erased and replaced with a modern, but basic, coal handling infrastructure.

When completed, the terminal will comprise a rail wagon unloading siding, yard stacker, two quadrant ship loaders and a single berth for up to SupraMax (55,000 DWT) bulk carriers.

The terminal is expected to be completed by February 2012 and will have a designed annual throughput of about 6 million tonnes of high grade coking coal for steel making. At this point, it is believed that the railway line linking the mines to the port will be the capacity constraint, and not the terminal.

Quadrant Shiploader South

Yard stacker which will build the stockpiles

Looking down the belt feeding the Stacker

Coeclierici's 'Bulk Zambesi' trans-shipper

Coal will be exported from Beira using two widely differing methods. Bulk carriers of up to 55,000 DWT will be able to load about 40,000 tonnes of coal at Berth 8, limited only by the draft at the berth and channel. Italian trans-shipment specialists Coeclierici have built two specialised trans-shippers which will load about 30,000 tonnes of coal at Berth 8, sail out from Beira and load Panamax and Capesize bulk carriers at anchorage off Beira.

The first trans-shipper, Bulk Zambesi is at Beira awaiting her first cargo with sister-ship Bulk Limpopo under construction in China. Both have been contracted to Vale for their coal exports.

The Antipodean Mariner

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Berge Everest to discharge in the Philippines

Update 29th December: Berge Everest has sailed to and berthed at Dalian, China on 28th December. Seems the time wa right and the impass has been broken. AM


There has been speculation in the shipping media that one of the 'small' Vale ore carriers, Berge Everest (388,000 DWT), may be heading to China to 'test the waters' for acceptance of a fully loaded VLOC.

'Berge Everest was built in Bohai Shipyard for Berge Bulk and chartered to Vale for the Brasil - China ore trade.

Berge Everest loaded her first cargo in Brasil in early November and headed east. The vessel has changed her AIS destination from Singapore to Villanueva, a JFE Steel Corporation sinter plant in the Philippines. Villanieva has an ore berth with 21.5 metres draft and which is able to accommodate the Berge Everest.

Looks like the time isn't right just yet.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Integrated Bridge

The Antipodean Mariner has spent the last ten months (with the support of the Hong Kong Plan Approval team) reviewing and commenting on the hundreds pages of drawings and technical information requiring approval for the Capesize newbuilding project.

One of the most rewarding as a mariner has been specifying the Integrated Bridge Console for PN65 series. Most bulk carriers are delivered into service with the traditional bridge layout (port to starboard) of electrics, navigation lights, alarm panel, auto-pilot, engine control and radars. Ergonomically lousy and requiring the Officer off the Watch to walk (sometimes run) between the various consoles. The last thing needed when things are turning to s@#t in heavy traffic or in a port approach.

The ergonomic console selected for the series is the L3 NACOS Platinum integrated bridge console. The focal point for control of the ship is the starboard conning station. From this position, the OOW has main engine, autopilot, overlaid ECDIS (digital chart), radar, telephone and VHF radio all within arms reach. A second ECDIS/radar unit is stationed to port of the helm position for the Master or Pilot.

These photos are from a sister ship at the Yard which is nearing completion.

Integrated Console looking to starboard

Starboard conning position

The AM's ships are going to have the Bridge Navigating Watch Alarm System (a deadman alarm) integrated into the radar and ECDIS and with motion sensors so that the hapless OOW doesn't spend four hours pushing the alarm reset button.

The one reversion to traditional hardship is that the two cockpit-style bridge chairs have been deleted - same as for the AM's vessels. The Owners of this ship obviously have the same concerns about comatose watchkeepers in a pair of huge, comfy chair in front of the console.


Monday, 12 December 2011

Capesize PN65 is a complete hull

Another really quick post on the progress of PN65 and PN66. PN65 is a complete vessel for the first time with the fitting of her bulbous bow.

Block for a sister ship is lifted over PN65

PN65 block comprising side shell, stool piece and bulkhead slotted in to No./No.2 Hold

Ready for lowering

Almost there

In position, ready for welding

Bulbous bow is lowered in to position and PN65 is a complete hull

PN65's Forecastle in the Paint Shop (upside down)

Sister-ship PN66 next to PN65 (Looking in to the Engine Room). Another identical Cape is in the dock ahead.

Photos courtesy of the Site Supervision Team

Tha Antipodean Mariner