Gunning for salvors

Your ship is in trouble. A salvage tug pitches up. You agree Lloyd’s Open Form and they chuck you a line and get you out of trouble. Arbitrators determine the salvor’s fee and your insurers pay them. Easy and simple and the time-honoured view of salvage. Very nice, but in fact it doesn’t work like that.

Last year two-hundred and sixteen ships got into trouble all over the world and were rescued by brave and determined salvors who were … Continue reading

Piracy forgotten again

When the Somali piracy was at its height the great navies of the world responded with half-hearted commitment of forces and no commitment at all of interest. World trade was threatened but the big navies, the US and the UK, were too busy posing about world war fighting and strategic interests to worry about the safety of merchant ships. When they sent ships it was reluctantly and despite the efforts of Hollywood to big up their action they have since … Continue reading

Flags of convenience

If a ship comes along and deliberately rams your fish pens, then the crew of the ramming ship deploy rubber bullets against your fishermen, then you might possibly consider that you have a legal case for damages against the attackers.

Not so, if your attackers are holier than thou campaigners who choose the right flag for their vessel. One you can hide behind. A convenient one, an open register. Such as the Red Ensign, the proud flag of UK trading … Continue reading

Rock bottom and digging

I thought Captain Schettino had reached rock bottom. He put the Costa Concordia on a rock to show off to his girlfriend. He killed several people by messing up the evacuation of the ship, although he saved himself. And recently he got sixteen well deserved years in chokey after an embarrassing defence which claimed it was not his fault. That would seem like rock bottom for most passenger ship masters.

Not Schettino. He hits rock bottom, then he starts digging … Continue reading

Good news for polar bores

The oil price has bounced back a little recently. But it is a dead cat bounce. It will soon fall again, and further. There is too much oil, too much gas and too little demand. Good news for consumers, good news for refiners and transporters of products and fuel retailers. And as an offbeat thought, good news for those many people who would like the Arctic left unspoilt.

The dreamers who report every year about the North East Passage and … Continue reading

A small step for Somalia

Another piece of good news from Somalia, surprisingly not very much reported in the global marine press. The four longest-held hostages of the Somali piracy have now been released. The Thai fishermen were seized in 2010 and six of their colleagues died in captivity.

Whatever was paid in ransom it will have been a poor deal for the pirates who have guarded them so long. They rack up huge costs protecting their hostages. It is another nail in the … Continue reading

Bear necessities

It’s much harder to write a simple book than a complicated one. So my hat is raised to Edwin Lampert, a journalist colleague, who has written and published an admirably simple book for children. The Flood – the first in what will be a series of adventures of Brunhilfer and Brunfin, is nicely illustrated, straightforward to read and quirky enough to appeal to small children.

Edwin is a marine journalist in his day job, and has managed to squeeze a … Continue reading

Captain Calamity

Criminalising seafarers for making mistakes is wrong. But sixteen years for Captain Schettino is wrong too. He should have got more. He didn’t make an honest error of judgement. He deliberately sailed the Costa Concordia dangerously close to the island of Giglio, just to show off. Thirty-two people died, many of whom would have been saved if he had handled the subsequent evacuation of the ship properly. He deserves the long jail sentence handed down last week in Italy.

He is … Continue reading

New uses for old ships

The European Parliament has spent a lot of time recently getting hot under the collar about how ships are recycled. The time of these ill-informed and over-pampered eurocrats might have been better spent thinking of how to stop a new use which has appeared for old ships.

Twice so far this weekend the Italian Coastguard has intercepted old rustbuckets loaded with illegal immigrants heading for its coasts. The forty-year old Moldova-flagged Blue Sky M with 768 immigrants onboard was boarded … Continue reading

Ugly rush as ship in trouble

An ugly rush followed the outbreak of fire on the ro-ro ferry Norman Atlantic. Not of panicked passengers, nor of undirected crew. No, it was the public prosecutors of southern Italy who saw the chance to get their name in the newspapers by rushing to make the Captain and owner of the stricken ferry into criminal suspects.

The fact is that Captain Argilio Giacomazzi had to fight a terrifying fire and get around 450 passengers safely off his ferry in … Continue reading