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Press article: Ship masters 'should check conditions in Singapore Straits'

12 March 2014

Standard Club Director of Loss Prevention, Yves Vandenborn, was consulted for the following article, published in IHS Maritime 360

 

Given the amount of land reclamation and general works in the Singapore Strait, ship masters should seek up-to-date information about sea conditions prior to entering, said UK-based protection and indemnity organisation Standard Club.

The Standard Club was commenting on the recent collisions in the Singapore Strait, which have raised concern among the city-state's shipping community. The collisions also prompted the Singapore Flag State to produce an updated Guide to the Singapore Straits, in cooperation with the Singapore Shipping Association.

In the evening of 29 January, COSCO's container ship Fei He collided with Cido Shipping's chemical tanker Lime Galaxy off Jurong Island. Less than 24 hours later, an NYK box ship, NYK Themis, collided with the barge AZ Fuzhou near the Southern Islands. The incidents created an oil spill and on 10 February, the Peter Doehle-owned box ship Hammonia Thracium collided with the chemical tanker Zoey off Seborak Island, creating an 80-tonne bunker spill. COSCO has since deemed 1994-built Fei He as beyond repair and sold the ship for scrapping. Hammonia Thracium is entered into the Standard Club.

The Standard Club's director of loss prevention Yves Vandenborn, who is based in Singapore told IHS Maritime: "The Standard Club has been analysing the root causes for collisions that have happened within the club and found a lack of proper application of the rules of the road, combined with poor bridge team management. "Masters should ensure that a proper lookout is kept on the bridge at all times. Sufficient crew should be available on the bridge to assist the master and officer on watch. Collision regulations should be adhered to at all times and verbal agreements over VHF radio which contradict the collision regulations, and can cause confusion, should be avoided."

Vandenborn added that having a proper passage plan, from berth to berth, with the latest available navigational warnings and corrections, is important. "A proper pre-arrival, pre-departure meeting should be held to discuss the passage plan and a meeting should be held prior transiting or entering a busy shipping lane," said Vandenborn.

The collisions occurred despite the Maritime and Port Authority alerting the vessels' crew to other ships in their way. Investigations are still ongoing for the three recent collisions in the Singapore Strait so it is not confirmed why the collisions happened. Vandenborn said: "In many collision cases we notice a breakdown of the bridge team management leading to confusion, assumption and wrong decisions. With the multitude of electronic equipment available to the modern day navigator, if this is not properly managed, we believe it may lead to an information overload."

 

This article was published by IHS Maritime 360 on 12 March 2014 and is reporoduced with permission. Reproduction, retrieval, copying or transmission of this article is not permitted without the publisher's prior consent.