Maritime Safety News Archives - SHIP IP LTD

Vestdavit deploys augmented reality to enhance remote support

Published on 03-08-2020 at 08:03

Vestdavit enhances its remote support offering with augmented reality software from Ubimax, a provider of wearable technology solutions. The platform, named “xAssist”, will be used in conjunction with head-mounted hardware “RealWear HMT-1”.

The platform will allow Vestdavit engineers to provide service when they are unable to work on site. After Sales Director Henric Collvin explains that the idea is not to replace Vestdavit technicians, but to ease the burden on them. ‘Our engineers are highly skilled professionals with many years of experience servicing marine davits, and there is no replacement for that. However, they cannot be everywhere at once, and it is often far more practical to provide remote support.’

For example, if a client requires a small adjustment to one of its boat launch-and-recovery systems, Vestdavit can send the RealWear HMT-1 along with the necessary spare parts. Equipped with the headgear, the customer’s in-house engineer can perform the maintenance task with visual and audio instruction from a Vestdavit expert, who can see what the on-site technician is doing through xAssist.

This, says Collvin, brings great flexibility: ‘We can provide remote support even if all of our specialist technicians are occupied. For instance, an engineer from our hydraulics or mechanical team will be able to guide the customer through any simpler tasks.’

The current global health crisis has exacerbated the need for this kind of service, explains Collvin, but Vestdavit was planning to adopt the Ubimax platform even before the Covid-19 outbreak. ‘Many companies are responding to the pandemic by investing in new technology, but remote maintenance had been gaining traction for some time. Customers are always looking for more efficient, cost-effective ways to operate. With xAssist, we maintain our usual service levels without having to send technicians to our client’s location. This reduces cost and saves time for both parties.’

Picture: Two point davit HN type (by Vestdavit).

The safety benefits of electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS) mean ECDIS is now mandatory on your vessel.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) changed chart carriage requirements for certain kinds of ships on international voyages on 1 July 2012. These changes mean that ships can now carry ECDIS and electronic navigational charts (ENCs) to meet the chart carriage requirement of the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

By 1 July 2018, almost all vessels on international voyages will be required to carry an approved ECDIS.

Ships calling at Australian ports

Marine Notice 7/2017 offers guidance on ECDIS for ships calling at Australian ports and draws attention to the latest IMO Guidance on the use of ECDIS. More detail can be found in the IMO ECDIS—guidance for good practice.

Flow charts

These flow charts help port state control inspectors to assess the carriage and use of ECDIS on board ships. The flow charts outline potential implementation and operational issues with ECDIS.

ECDIS data presentation and performance check for mariners

Edition 4.0 of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) ECDIS presentation library became mandatory for all ships carrying ECDIS on 1 September 2017.

Changes introduced in Edition 4.0 of the IHO ECDIS presentation library invalidate the older tests contained in the ECDIS data presentation and performance checks published in 2011. The IHO provides instructions on how to check that your ECDIS is operating on edition 4.0 of the IHO ECDIS presentation library.

Source: amsa


The pace of container port capacity expansion is forecast to contract at least 40% over the next five years in the wake of the COVID-19 induced slowdown in port throughput, according to the latest Global Container Terminal Operators Annual Review and Forecast report published by global shipping consultancy Drewry.

Global container terminal capacity is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 2.1% over the next five years, equating to an additional 25 million teu a year. This is well below the capacity growth seen over the past decade, when the average annual increase was more than 40 million teu a year.

Projected regional container handling and average annual growth, 2019-24

Source: Drewry’s Global Container Terminal Operators Annual Review and Forecast 2020/21

Port throughput is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 3.5% over this period from 801 million teu in 2019 to reach 951 million teu by 2024. But risks remain to this outlook should a resurgence in COVID-19 cases cause further widespread economic lockdowns over the forecast period.

Eleanor Hadland, author of the report and Drewry’s senior analyst for ports and terminals said: “Our five-year forecast for global container port handling has been cut back drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the risks remain heavily weighted to the downside.”

As a result of the pandemic operators and port authorities are actively reviewing delivery of planned projects in the light of the drastic slowdown in economic growth and uncertain short-to-medium-term outlook.

“Major expansion projects and greenfield projects that are already under construction and due for commissioning in 2020 and 2021 may face minor delays due to interruptions to global supply chains during 1H20,” added Hadland. “However, for projects which are currently at an earlier stage of planning, particularly where construction contracts and equipment orders have not yet been tendered, suspension or cancellation is more likely if market conditions remain poor.”

In recent years global operators had already scaled back investment plans, with only limited greenfield projects in the pipeline. However, leading operators look set to continue to lead the way in terms of terminal automation. Currently more than three quarters of automated terminals are operators by global and international operators, and of the 22 automated terminal projects currently planned (including both greenfield and brownfield), more than 80% will be delivered by this group of leading operators.

Looking back at 2019 performance, the group of 21 companies classified by Drewry as global / international terminal operators out-performed the market, with combined equity-adjusted volumes growing 4.3% compared to global growth in port throughput of 2.1%. However, this headline figure disguises strongly divergent growth patterns. In 2019 six out of 21 global / international terminal operators reported lower volumes on an equity-adjusted basis.

“Divestment of non-core assets, and the fall-out from the US-China trade war were key factors behind these results,” explained Hadland.

Despite global throughput remaining flat year-on-year PSA retained its top spot in Drewry’s rankings. By contrast, Hutchison Ports saw volumes fall by more than 2% and dropped back to fourth place. DP World, with 2019 throughput only marginally above 2018 levels, also dropped a position. China Cosco Shipping and APM Terminals both reported strong growth in volumes, and both moved up the table to take second and third place respectively.
Top 5 Global/International terminal operators’ equity based throughput league table, 2019

Source: Drewry’s Global Container Terminal Operators Annual Review and Forecast 2020/21

Source: Drewry


Many things have changed in 2020 as we find ourselves confronted with the fallout from the COVID‑19 pandemic. We have all had to examine and adapt our working practices to ensure that we limit the spread of the virus and keep each other safe. Collectively, we have had to learn what lockdown means without precedent or warning.

This situation has affected us all, but the change in daily routine has been more palpable for those of us working ashore. Afloat, as ships have continued to move around the globe, there have been separate issues to address, notably with crew movements, not to mention virus control in cruise ships. Ashore, we have had to be innovative about extracting and managing the information we need to maintain our professional services with fewer people on whom to call. We are relying on our laptops and home broadband, without direct access to our many office IT systems or the ability to physically interact with colleagues and our global networks. Video systems are just not the same!

Lockdown reminds me of being at sea years ago. Communications were extremely limited. When we left the jetty, we were left without access to those who might support and advise us. We waited with bated breath for the Mufax to give us a grainy weather chart and days would pass without updating the ship’s position while the stars and sun remained blanketed behind clouds. Flipping the coin, shore‑side authorities had to wait to receive information from the high seas. These days, we expect and demand the instant exchange of data; it has become the lifeblood of maritime business.

So, what will COVID‑19 change? Will we carry on as before or is this a real chance to move forward and embrace the opportunities that technology offers for automation, Artificial Intelligence and, in some cases, the development of autonomous vessels?

There is no single answer to that question. It will depend on a myriad of factors; types of vessels; their ages; the nature of their operations; the areas in which they sail; their hull and machinery; and the human element. We should not ignore the fact that the following incidents occurred globally between 2015 and 2019: 2,734 hull and machinery damage, 1,817 Collisions, 1,663 Wrecked or Stranded, 1,084 Contacts, 903 Fires/Explosions, 344 Founded, 26 War Loss/Hostilities and 3 crew members missing. The overall desire to improve safety and become more efficient has never been more relevant and we must find ways to achieve this.

There is growing evidence to suggest that life will be different, but is this because we feel it should be, and will it actually happen? Matching expectations with reality will be tricky and will require strong leadership to adapt to the real and perceived desire for change. Many will return to their offices refreshed, having had time to think, research and plan – so often a missing component in our working lives. Some will acknowledge the benefits of spending more time in their home environments. Others will be leaping at the chance to revert to their old routines. The transition back may be more difficult than imagined as we re‑embrace freedom of movement.

Whilst it might appear that not much has been achieved in the past few months, the pace of technology has not been noticeably slowed down by the pandemic. Many companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), have been quietly going about their business and will be poised to spring forward once the tethers have been removed. In fact, there may well be a surge of new technologies that may have to be kept in check to ensure optimal integration into existing maritime systems.

Either way, there is a real opportunity to advance Automation, AI and Autonomy in the maritime sector, whilst reducing emissions to meet the stringent new target figures. This will affect all ships, and Uncrewed Ships will be a part of this process. It would be a good outcome for COVID‑19 to have acted as a catalyst for people to review their thoughts and return to work with renewed enthusiasm to make life at sea safer and to let technology enhance the capabilities for all those connected with life at sea.

Why now?

Despite recent challenges, the decade ahead will be transformational as shipping harnesses digitalisation and the drive to decarbonise. There is an enormous need for suitable fuel and emission reduction technologies. When combined with autonomous technologies, they will help the industry move towards meeting the IMO 2050 greenhouse gas reduction targets, as well as enhancing operational efficiencies and making life at sea safer. LR is particularly interested in the outcome of the Short Sea Shipping project being led by the Anglo Belgian Shipping Company, as it will be beneficial to have more solutions and products available that the industry regards as promising and viable environmental and autonomous technological solutions.

Source: LR


Covid-19 coronavirus continues to paralyse the world. Its consequences also affect both the oil market and the tanker transport market. We focus on ensuring a good working environment and protecting the health of our employees and crews while also fulfilling our commitments to our customers. Looking at tanker market developments in Q1, we can see that the upturn at the end of 2019 continued in January 2020. These developments were a direct consequence of structural factors in the form of relatively good growth in the global economy, good demand for oil, balanced stock levels and few ship deliveries – in other words, the factors that previously formed the basis for our belief in a strong market in 2020 and 2021.

While the tanker market declined in February, it was strong again in March, mainly due to a low oil price and a lack of agreement within OPEC+ regarding further production cuts. This resulted in Saudi Arabia, the world’s second largest oil producer, abandoning its production cuts and instead opting to increase its market share through sharply reduced prices to its customers. The price, already at a low level, fell by another 30% overnight. This resulted in significantly increased oil trading – and sharply rising rates in the tanker market. In a short space of time, rates in the VLCC segment rose from around US$25,000/day to US$150,000 – US$200,000/day. In the Suezmax segment, rates rose to US$70,000 – US$100,000/day, depending to some extent on geographical area. Rates also went up in the product segment; MR rose to US$20,000 – US$25,000/day. And that is where they have remained, with occasional fluctuations both upwards and downwards.

However, it is important to point out that a large proportion of the oil that is now transported will be placed in storage close to the consuming countries – both onshore and on vessels. Actual consumption of petrol, diesel and aviation fuel is significantly down as a result of the virus. The reduction is estimated at about 20–25M b/d for March/April/May. Accumulated stocks are now driving the market, but as these stocks gradually start to empty there will be reduced demand for tanker transport. This is the current state of the dynamics.

In early April, OPEC+ (supported by the G20) decided to cut production by 9.7M b/d in May and June (based on October 2018 production), corresponding to about 10% of production. In addition to OPEC+, other G20 countries will also contribute with ‘natural’ production cuts, which means that total production cuts are actually larger. The fact that the world’s major oil producers are now adapting production to the current situation is understandable and basically sound. Whether the reduction will be sufficient to strengthen the oil price depends on how long the effects of the pandemic last.

We should also note that the production cuts here and now do not outweigh the reduced oil consumption. Stock accumulation is therefore likely to continue, probably during most of Q2. We will then hopefully see a slow return to more normal transport flows starting in Q3 – with higher consumption (and drawing of stocks) as a result.

In the short term, it is our assessment that accumulated stocks will contribute to a continuation of the strong market. Production cuts are then likely to bring reduced demand for transport. In this situation, the fact that a relatively large proportion of the storage is on vessels may dampen the negative impact to some extent. This is all said with the greatest respect for the difficulty in making substantiated predictions in the current situation.

Source: rivieramm


Transas Marine has successfully introduced its e-Navigation technologies at Neva exhibition, which took place during September 22-25 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Transas, a global leader in high-tech equipment, software and system integration for the maritime industry, is a regular exhibitor at the Neva exhibition. This year, Transas displayed an integrated solution presenting real implementation of e-Navigation concept; fully integrated T-Bridge linked with a port VTMS and fleet management system of a shipping company in real time, as an example of integrating key maritime shipping actors in one unified information environment. Transas’ comprehensive vision in extending the scope of e-navigation incorporates all maritime processes guaranteeing enhanced efficiency in fleet and port management.

One of the flagship solutions presented at Neva 2015 was company’s integrated bridge system T-Bridge. The Transas T-bridge is one of the most advanced integrated bridge systems which brings together diverse systems into a single bridge environment to support efficient decision-making.

Another breakthrough technology is Transas Cloud simulation technology, which increases efficiency of traditional simulators and the range of training programs at minimal implementation cost. In combination with Transas’ navigational solutions it brings a significant contribution to increasing safety on board.

Source: maritime-executive


Wärtsilä e-navigation developments are part of the industry’s drive to implement just-in-time (JIT) port arrival to improve voyage planning and execution, reduce fuel consumption and emissions and optimise port operations.

Wärtsilä Navi-Port has been approved by class society Bureau Veritas and tested in a ground-breaking pilot in 2019. Wärtsilä collaborated with Hamburg Vessel Co-ordination Centre (HVCC) and Carnival Maritime to test JIT concepts. Carnival modified voyages on its cruise ships AidaSol and AidaPerla to match requested arrival times and berthing capacity in the Port of Hamburgreducing bunker costs and emissions throughout the route.

The next step is to conduct further trials with other shipowners and ports, says Wärtsilä general manager for ship traffic control and management solutions Dmitry Rostopshin.

“We have improved the functionality for digital communications between ports and ships,” he says.

“Now Hamburg is looking to add more ships to participate in this project,” Mr Rostopshin continued. “We are working with shipping companies to add to this idea. But it is a chicken and egg situation – ship operators want more ports and ports want more ships in the project.”

Wärtsilä could work with other stakeholders such as pilots and towage to get a critical mass for its implementation.

Ships added to JIT projects need to have ECDIS compatible with this data format. If they already have Wärtsilä ECDIS, only a software upgrade would be required in many cases. Mr Rostopshin says this investment would be paid back in terms of lower fuel costs. “Our customer cases demonstrate shipping companies can save up to 10% on each voyage and ports will have clarity of vessel arrivals, so there are opportunities for better resource information for stakeholders,” he says.

Wärtsilä Navi-Port is a solution hooked up to Wärtsilä’s Fleet Operations Solution (FOS) platform. This connects different stakeholders, shore centres and ship automation systems. Some of the FOS benefits come from shipowners gaining better understanding of vessels and managing their operations from shore, says Wärtsilä solutions director Kay Dausendshoen.

“For example, when a ship sails through an area that has restrictions under Marpol, there could be prohibited operations,” he explains. “FOS would then lock certain valves to prevent waste disposal or send notifications if it is in whale protection area.”

The latest FOS fleet rollout to date is with Anglo-Eastern Shipmanagement, which operates a fleet of more than 600 vessels with over 60 owners.

Wärtsilä provides automatic voyage planning and weather routeing tools through its ECDIS. “They are the most advanced and heavily automated with more data and analytics,” he says. They also have the highest levels of shore support for voyage planning.

“We can create optimised routes according to weather information and share this on a cloud server,” says Mr Dausendshoen.

These plans are then available to the bridge teams and navigation equipment on board.

“Our speed and track pilots can carry out the voyage automatically and this would be weather and operationally optimised,” says Mr Dausendshoen.

For weather routeing, Wärtsilä uses Weather News International forecast, hindcast and nowcast information. “This is distributed through the cloud and ship satellite communications to shipboard systems and shore,” he explains. This information is combined with regulatory, port and flag data, then used for automatic route calculation onshore and on ships.

“Once a planned route is in the cloud, our system will select the required ENCs and electronic publications needed for that particular voyage,” says Mr Dausendshoen. “The system will pull what is needed – it is all automated.”

What used to take seafarers up to four hours can be done in 30 minutes, “and with increased accuracy, while reducing the workload on the crew and costs of ENCs and e-publications” he says. It is computer-driven, and shore managers can make suggestions, but the ship’s master retains 100% control.

Source: rivieramm


The text of the following statement was released by the Government of the United States of America, as President of the G7, on the conclusion of discussions with G7 partners on restoring confidence in transportation and travel.

Begin Text:

Recognizing the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and acting in response to the G7 Leaders’ Statement issued on March 16, 2020, G7 experts launched an initiative to reinvigorate the global interconnected transportation system.

The G7 set forth key objectives to address all modes of transportation– air, land, and sea.  They noted the importance of working together in a transparent way, communicating collective efforts, and helping to restore confidence in travel and tourism.  They stressed the need for coordination between governments, industries, and international organizations to:

  • ensure global transportation routes and supply chains remain open, safe, and secure;
  • restore consumer and passenger confidence;
  • underscore the importance of transportation and critical infrastructure workers as “essential” employees;
  • integrate evolving public health considerations into transportation and travel; and
  • recognize the importance of transportation in facilitating repatriation efforts.

To support global coordination, the G7 will share this document with the G20, other key international partners, and relevant international organizations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Maritime Organization.

The G7 endorsed the following high-level principles to:

Transportation Safety, Security, and Health

  1. ensure unwavering commitment to safety, security, and public health;
  1. restore passenger and transport operators’ confidence in the health safety of travel through globally compatible public health measures that incorporate the latest scientific and epidemiological understanding of COVID-19;
  1. recognize that the health posture is ever-changing, such that mitigation measures should be based on health and risk-based criteria to allow for continuous monitoring and adjustments of mitigation measures as appropriate; and to avoid unnecessary burdens on the public or industry;
  1. communicate clear and transparent messages to the public on the nature and purpose of the actions being taken in an effort to reduce confusion and restore confidence;

Economic Growth and Recovery of the Interconnected Transportation Systems

  1. underscore the importance of compatible requirements imposed on transportation in response to COVID-19 in order to avoid a global patchwork of health safety measures and to minimize market access barriers and burdens on transportation operators;
  1. maintain connectivity and global supply chains to facilitate the movement of essential goods, medical products, equipment and agricultural goods;
  1. enhance overall systemic resilience in response to the COVID-19 pandemic for all modes of transportation of passengers and goods;
  1. promote innovative digital solutions to advance seamless interconnectivity to accelerate recovery;
  1. recognize transportation as a driver of economic recovery, and aviation’s particular role, in revitalizing global economic growth, travel, and tourism;

International Coordination and Transparency

  1. ensure that any restrictive public health-related measures on travel and transportation resulting from COVID-19, are:
    • responsive, targeted, transparent, proportionate, temporary, and non-discriminatory;
    • risk-based, continuously reviewed, monitored, and adapted as appropriate;
    • compatible with international best practices; and
    • consistent with obligations under international agreements;
  1. share best practices and technological advancements on common challenges such as prevention, sanitization, and cleaning protocols;
  1. promote global coordination among governments and between governments, international organizations the private sector, other key stakeholders;
  1. encourage information sharing regarding repatriation efforts so that citizens may travel to their home countries;
  1. recognize these principles do not alter the sovereign right of a state to take actions to protect its safety and security, consistent with international obligations;

Protection and Treatment of Air Crews

  1. promote a closely coordinated international approach to the treatment of air crews, consistent with recognized public health standards in order to avoid impacts on aviation operations, and to alleviate burdens on air crews, including testing, quarantine requirements, travel to and from their worksite, and immigration restrictions that apply to other travelers;
  1. recognizing that air crews must abide by their employer’s health requirements in their course of duty, to avoid subjecting crew to additional invasive testing;
  1. facilitate or expedite screening for crews and ensure that health screening methods are as non-invasive as possible, for the countries where these measures are required;
  1. continue to support the urgent repatriation of air crews in lieu of quarantine, as circumstances may warrant;
  2. highlight the importance of safeguarding crew rest, with adequate layover facilities and access to food and amenities made available to ensure the continued safety of aviation operations; including for crews operating pre-positioning, ferry, or non-revenue flights;
  1. maintain close contact and coordination with the aviation industry to get updated information on current issues affecting air crews during the COVID-19 pandemic;

Protection and Treatment of Seafarers

  1. encourage discussions among relevant countries in response to COVID-19 outbreaks at sea;
  1. promote an international approach to the treatment of maritime crews in order to alleviate burdens on seafarers, including testing, quarantine requirements, travel to and from their worksite, and immigration restrictions that apply to other travelers;
  1. consider designating maritime crew, and workers requesting to cross a border for the purpose of performing vessel construction, repair, refit, maintenance or inspection/certification, as essential workers to facilitate cross border movement for those that are asymptomatic;
  1. promote a safe and secure workplace for seafarers and their access to prompt and adequate medical care both on board and on shore;
  1. support the repatriation of discharged seafarers to their home countries and travel of new crew members to their ships in order to facilitate crew changes; and
  1. maintain close contact with the maritime industry in order to ensure the exchange of relevant information affecting seafarers and the operation of international shipping during the COVID-19 pandemic.Source:


The seafarer community is in the midst of a mental health crisis due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the seafarers’ welfare and that of their families, the latest edition of the Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI) published by the Mission to Seafarers shows.

The SHI is a barometer of the key issues facing those at sea today, and the latest report for the second quarter of 2020 reflects the responses from crew members globally against the backdrop of a global crew change crisis precipitated by COVID-19.

The report said the continuing decline of happiness at sea, was largely due to the inability of seafarers to sign off and return home. Heavy workloads, virus fears and a perceived lack of COVID-19 precautions on board vessels are exacerbating the decline in satisfaction.

“Without immediate action, there are significant risks for the mental and physical wellbeing of crew and a growing risk to safety,” the report warns.

The latest survey, undertaken in association with the Shipowners’ Club and Wallem Group, analyses the experiences of seafarers across the global maritime industry between April and June 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, seafarer happiness has dropped from 6.30 in Q1 2020 to 6.18 in Q2 2020.

The survey unveils the harsh reality of crews not being able to get home, worries about the safety of family and friends, and frustration at extended contracts and even fears about entire careers, not just jobs.

Crew members are tired, fed up, lonely, homesick, sometimes even suffering illness and pain, and they desperately want to get back home.

Furthermore, the report shows vessels are sailing with fewer crew members, increased sickness onboard, and pressure to keep hygiene standards at almost hospital-like levels. The demands of meeting these standards while also maintaining social distancing are relentless and seafarers are struggling to adhere to new guidance.

Seafarers have reported feeling unsupported and stressed, and without respite, which is impacting work standards as well as the welfare of seafarers.  Combined with the challenge of accessing medical services, the risk of an increase in incidents of self-harm and in the number of accidents is very real as stress impacts work, compromising safety at all levels.

“We are in the midst of a welfare crisis. While Q1 showed us how seafarers suffered as COVID-19 struck home and provided insight into the support that was needed, the Q2 report highlights the cost of inaction and the need for immediate solutions,” Andrew Wright, Secretary-General of The Mission to Seafarers, commented.

“It is paramount that we see progress with crew changeovers, onboard PPE and improved communication between shore and sea, to defuse this ticking time-bomb. Protecting seafarers is a priority and governments must now come together and work with industry before it is too late.”

As explained by Louise Hall, Director – Loss Prevention at the Shipowners’ Club, social distancing has taken a great toll on relationships and connectivity on board.

“Reports of additional safety measures, such as separating tables and limiting the capacity of mess rooms at meal times, has made even the most habitual social interactions difficult. This, coupled with extended periods of time at sea, raises serious concerns for seafarers’ mental wellbeing as feelings of loneliness and isolation intensify.”

ITF: 600,000 seafarers impacted by crew change crisis


Posted:13 days ago

“Never has the statement ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ had more meaning than in the crew crisis.  No bonus or extra pay can resolve the anguish, mental stress and problems being faced by the crew today,” Frank Coles, Chief Executive Officer, Wallem Group, added.

The report also reaffirms the importance of communication to seafarers. With many seafarers unable to leave their vessels or contact their family due to the crisis, online access is fundamental to their wellbeing.

Without the connection to home and restricted support from ship visitors and port chaplains, seafarers are on the edge of serious mental distress. It is reported that many companies are not communicating well with their seafarers and little support is on offer. With little or no communication, seafarers are trapped on vessels, imagining the worst.

The Q1 2020 Seafarers Happiness Index identified the pride that seafarers feel in their work and their hope that the industry would protect them.

Today, this is clearly tempered with disappointment that seafarers are not recognised as key workers. The challenges being reported are reaching intolerable levels, due to contracts being disregarded and growing reports of sexism, racism and bullying and drunkenness onboard. Seafarers are at a tipping point and it is essential that faster progress is made to protect seafarers and stop the industry from falling into a deeper crisis.

The message of the report is clear: crew changes are needed, and those who can make them happen must do so, now. Only once seafarers can return home to their families and those serving at sea feel safe can we avert the both the immediate and the long-term impact of a mental health crisis among our seafarers.

Source: offshore-energy


In response to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the Congressional Research Service released a report that stated global economic growth has declined by 3% to 6% in 2020 with a partial recovery predicted for 2021. Also, the GDP of the U.S. has fallen by 5% in the first quarter 2020. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the maritime industry, and seafarers themselves, have not been able to escape the significant effects of this crisis.

All sectors of the maritime industry have been adversely affected by the global pandemic. The shipping industry alone can face up to $1.7 billion loss in revenues to the carriers. Cruise lines in particular have been hit hard by the virus; most companies have essentially shut down operations until the fall at the earliest. Other sectors have also been negatively affected, including ports, terminal operators and their workers according to Lauren Brand, the President of the National Association of Waterfront Employers (NAWE), in her hearing testimony before the House Committee on Transpiration and Infrastructure regarding “the Status of the U.S. Maritime Supply Chain During the COVID-19 Pandemic” on May 29,2020.

Finally, we have seen seafarers stranded as a result of COVID-19 and makeshift efforts have been made to allow them to travel home. For instance, the IMO has created a Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT) to assist stranded seafarers.

What has Congress done to help the maritime industry? Unfortunately, not much. So far, Congress has passed three COVID-19 stimulus bills: the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L.116-136), the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L.116-123), and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L.116-127). Anecdotally, these response packages are referred to as the CARES Act, CARES Act 2, and CARES Act 3, respectively. When they return from July 4th recess on July 20, 2020, Congress is primed to enact their fourth, and likely final, stimulus package for Coronavirus aid. Very few funds were allocated to the maritime industry in these first three stimulus bills.

The fourth package is still in the early stages of negotiation so whether maritime will get aid this time around remains to be seen.  The House of Representatives has already enacted their version of the next stimulus bill entitled the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (H.R. 6800), at over $3 trillion the bill would constitute the single largest piece of economic support legislation ever, if enacted. On the other side of the Hill, the Republican-led Senate is reluctant to pass another stimulus bill with such a high price tag so negotiations will determine what is stripped or stays in the final legislation. However, with COVID-19 resurging in Republican-led states, Members may have no choice but to provide more money to states, local governments, and even to unemployed workers.  Though Congress has set a goal of passage by the end of July, we expect the fourth stimulus bill to be enacted by the end of the summer.

Relief for the Maritime Industry
The first bill directly targeted to the maritime industry is The Maritime Transportation System Emergency Relief Act (MTSERA), introduced on July 9, 2020, by the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and the Coast Guard Subcommittee Chair, Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.). According to Chair Defazio,

“[t]he men and women who work within the Maritime Transportation System are part of our nation’s essential workforce that has been key to keeping critical goods moving during the global pandemic, and for that, we owe them a debt of gratitude.”

“But our thanks are not enough. We must also ensure that stakeholders across our maritime industry have the resources and equipment they need to keep the global supply chain moving and stay safe while doing so.”

The bill would establish for the first time a comprehensive maritime emergency relief authority to enable the Maritime Administration (MARAD) to provide financial assistance to stabilize and ensure the reliable functioning of the U.S. Maritime Transportation System (MTS) in the event of a national emergency or disaster, including, the current COVID-19 public health emergency. The bill would authorize MARAD to provide grant assistance, during this and other emergencies, to state and private entities engaged in maritime transportation activities. The federal share can be 100% of the cost. One element of reimbursement is for the cost of personal protective equipment that these entities have incurred during the pandemic.

To date, there is no companion Senate bill but we expect this bill will be wrapped into the House-passed infrastructure package entitled the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2) or the FY2021 MARAD appropriations bill. Funding may also be available from the existing Disaster Relief Fund that is administered by FEMA.

Regular Order of Maritime Business

In the meantime, Congress is continuing its regular order of passing authorization and appropriation bills for FY2021. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Chair of the Senate Commerce and Infrastructure Committee introduced the MARAD authorization bill (S. 3930) on June 11, 2020. The bill would:

  • • Provide COVID-19-related relief for ships participating in the Maritime Security Program (MSP), so that they can continue to support military sealift.
  • • Authorize the Tanker Security Program – based on the successful MSP framework – to support U.S. maritime sealift capacity for military refueling operations.
  • • Improve MARAD’s Marine Highways program by streamlining eligibility and application requirements. These reforms would increase eligibility for the program and obligate the Executive Branch to be timely in their review of applications.
  • • Authorize funding for the Port and Intermodal Improvement Program to improve the safety, efficiency, or reliability of the movement of goods through ports and intermodal connections. The bill would also make small ports more competitive under the grant program.
  • • Reauthorize the National Ocean Partnership Program to increase federal coordination of ocean research across the federal government.
  • • Authorize a Community College Maritime Career Training Grants Program to provide funding for community and technical colleges to develop, offer, or improve educational or career training programs for maritime workers along the nation’s coasts, the Great Lakes, Mississippi River System, and other inland waterways.
  • • Authorize increased funding for the Small Shipyard Grant program and full funding for the Title XI maritime guaranteed loan program to support the maritime industrial base.
  • • Reauthorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Commissioned Officer Corps. The NOAA Corps supports the collection of ocean and atmospheric data vital for predicting weather and managing ocean resources.
  • • Enact a number of reforms to support the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Traditionally, the MARAD authorization bill has been added, on the Senate side, to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and we expect this will transpire this year as well. Like the MTSERA, the MARAD authorization bill is funded through the MARAD appropriations title of the Transportation-HUD (T-HUD) appropriations bill.

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Authorization Act of 2019 is proceeding through Congress on separate tracks. The House passed its version of the bill, H.R. 3409, last July and the Senate reported its bill, S. 2297, through the Senate Commerce Committee last July as well. Due to limited time the Senate has for floor action before the end of the fiscal year, the chamber is looking to pass its USCG bill through “unanimous consent” procedures. If one Senator objects to a provision, the offending provision is usually struck so the entire bill will not be torpedoed. The House and Senate are informally conferencing their bills and with one exception all language has been worked out.

The one remaining provision in dispute is Section 305 of the House-passed bill which creates a complicated Jones Act waiver system, to be administered by MARAD, that allows a developer on the outer Continental Shelf (for oil and gas or offshore wind) to use a foreign-flag heavy lift vessel only if no U.S. flag vessel is capable and available. This Jones Act waiver process is supported by the Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) and the Shipbuilders Council of America but opposed by the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA), the American Petroleum Institute (API), and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). We are waiting to see how Congress resolves this longstanding dispute; it is unusual for them to act when the maritime industry is split in half.
Funding for Maritime Agencies

At this writing, Congress has begun the regular order of passing FY2021 appropriation bills to fund authorized and new programs before the end of the fiscal year. The House is further ahead of the Senate.  Full Committee markup is scheduled on July 15 in the House for the major appropriation bills. Draft bills include the following for MARAD and USCG programs.

For MARAD, funding is allocated as follows: $1.2 billion total authorization, including $314 million for the Maritime Security Program, $300 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP), $389 million for schoolship construction, and $100 million for assistance to small shipyards. On top of these funds, the bill would appropriate $3B for the TIGER/BUILD grant program and an additional $1 billion for the PIDP.

For USCG, the draft House bill would appropriate a total of $12.8 billion for the US Coast Guard, including a procurement budget of $2.16 billion for a second polar security cutter, 4 fast response cutters and continuation of the offshore patrol cutter program.

Are New Icebreakers a Reality?
A final word must be said about icebreakers. We know that the United States has only one functional heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star, operated by the U.S. Coast Guard which pales in comparison to the Russian fleet with around 40 icebreakers. On June 9, 2020, President Trump issued a memorandum on “Safeguarding U.S. National Interests in the Arctic and Antarctic Regions” which directed the Secretary of Homeland Security, along with other agencies, to develop an acquisition program for a fleet of polar security icebreakers and report back in 60 days. We anticipate this report being issued soon.

On July 10, 2020, during a visit to U.S. Southern Command in Doral, Fla., President Trump announced that he was working on securing 10 icebreakers for the U.S. Coast Guard but did not offer specifics on where the government would acquire these additional icebreakers from and whether it would do so through an outright purchase or some other type of arrangement. “We’re trying to do a deal with a certain place that has a lot of icebreakers, and we’re seeing if we can make a really good deal where you can have them very fast,” the President said.

In sum: the maritime industry will have to wait for the MTSERA to be enacted and funded in order to receive significant COVID-19 relief; the U.S. Coast Guard Authorization is hung up over the Jones Act waiver process; funding needs to be resolved for FY2021 for the two key maritime agencies; and the report on new icebreakers for the United States remains outstanding. With the number of FY2020 Congressional working days quickly diminishing and COVID-19 cases surging, Members must get to work quickly if they want to help not only the maritime industry but the country.

“Congress Responds to COVID-19 and Other Challenges for the Maritime Industry,” by Joan M. Bondareff was published in Maritime Reporter and Engineering News on July 30, 2020. Reprinted with permission. 

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