Monday, 15 December, 2008

CMMI’s Maritime Spectrum 2008

The bi-annual seminar of the Company of Master Mariners of India held at the Textile auditorium, Mumbai on November 29, 2008 featured the theme ‘Maritime Spectrum 2008’. The focus was on five aspects: 100 years of Lloyd’s Open Form; Ballast Water Technology; Shipping Activities in Gujarat; New Rules concerning the Indian River – Sea Vessel operations; Operation of Tugs on the Indian Coasts and the Experience of a Master who sailed through the Somalian Waters.

Capt Mukesh Gautama gave a detailed account of the Lloyd’s Open Form (LOF) the document for the agreement which ship owners enter into with salvagers when the ship is in trouble or in the event of their vessels getting involved in an incident. He explained the background and the origin of the document, how it took shape, the important clauses which govern its operation and their significance.

“It is a simple document requiring seven important details to be entered in the boxes provided. It operates on the basis of a ‘fair and just award’ and ‘No Recovery No Payment’. The moment the form is signed the salvage commences. There are no pre-contract discussions involved.” After the salvage has taken place the Salvager submits his claim. If there is a dispute the matter is referred for arbitration to Lloyd’s, the trusted intermediary.

Sea Scan Marine Services Pvt. Ltd. which has two maritime training institutes in Goa has also been deeply involved in a research project on ballast water through their associate company, M/s Sea Reliance Marine Services Pvt; Ltd. Well protected by a U. S. patent, a presentation on this research was made by Capt Virendra J Mehta, the chairman & managing director of the Company.

The research has resulted in an invention involving a combination of techniques to effectively produce the desired end result of good quality of purified ballast water in large volumes which when discharged into territorial waters of a port state neither harms the environment nor disturbs the ecological balance.

Capt Mehta explained that in their system the treatment of ballast water involves providing for a large filtering surface area viz. 70% of a tank’s capacity which could be used to store, filter, treat and at the same time provide a large supply of water almost two times the feed to the high capacity centrifugal pumps which in turn distribute the water to the other ballast tanks.

“Our system involves ozone and ultraviolet treatment which are considered environment friendly and safe to use,” he stated. “Ozone is a powerful oxidation agent, easily soluble in water and has an extremely short half-life after which ozone reverts to oxygen. Our system uses ozone as the primary disinfectant and ultraviolet treatment as a back up and also for the removal of residual ozone levels in water.”

It is ‘Advantage’ Gujarat when it comes to maritime projects declared Capt Kapil Dev Bahl. “One reason for Gujarat being a foremost maritime state is because it has a vast hinterland. It is the first State Maritime Board in India and represents the state government in all port policies. Gujarat has oil contingency plans. Some ports are fair weather ports and others have been developed as all weather ports.”

He went on to explain the various models which are operational, the private ports that have made significant contributions in developing Gujarat as a maritime state and the various policies that are in place.

Speaking about the ‘Indian River – Sea Vessels (New Rules)’ Capt Mukund B Ajgaonkar gave details about the notification which has been issued on the construction, survey, certification and operation of Indian River-Sea vessels. He spoke on the various types of vessels that could be plied as authorised by the notification and its provisions. Various issues touched on included minimum safe manning, accommodation standards, construction rules, life saving and fire fighting appliances, communication, safety navigation, certification, pollution prevention, customs, etc.

Capt Vikas Vij, founding director of I Marine Infratech (India) Pvt. Ltd. later gave a presentation on ‘Operation of Tugs on the Indian coast’. “MS Notice No. 13 dated 12 September, 2008 came into force with effect from 15 September, 2008. It gives details about the towing permission required, applicable procedures and variations in the periods in what is declared as fair weather by the East coast and the West coast.”

He highlighted the various problems experienced by tug operators, especially in relation to manning, where in facilities offered by tugs differed from those on foreign going ships. Besides, he explained the difficulties experienced as a result of two different safe manning documents required, one for ‘Harbour Operations’ and the other for the ‘Indian Coast’.

Capt Albe Zachariah gave a sensational account of his experience while being chased by the pirates in Somalian waters. He dwelt on the utter helplessness that he and the crew experienced at not being able to retaliate in any way while being pursued by pirates, and trying to evade their much faster moving motor boats which easily sailed at 32 knots while ships could only achieve a maximum of around 20 knots speed.

“In the event of the pirates capturing the ship, don’t try to retaliate at any cost,” he warned. “They will not hesitate to shoot. On the contrary, try to be friendly and get as many liberties from the hijackers as possible while in their captivity.” He went to great lengths to explain in detail about how pirates operated and what manoeuvres one could undertake to ward them off.

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