TT Talk - ICHCA 'Ship-Port Interface'

TT Talk - ICHCA 'Ship-Port Interface'

What does ‘Ship-Port Interface’ actually mean and what are the issues?

It was an opportune moment to consider key international and regional legislative and risk developments at the ICHCA ‘Ship-Port Interface’ seminar in mid-September. The presentations included those focussing on the work of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), such as initiatives relating to safe mooring and ships’ lifting appliances, and consideration by the EU on the important topic of ‘ports of refuge’ and handling distressed ships.

Range of stakeholders and risks
Apart from such intergovernmental progress, discussions relating to this vital nodal interface in the supply chain ranged across many live issues of safety, security and efficiency of operations. The variety of stakeholders that need to be cognisant of the risks in play for both ship and port is extensive, including ship designers, ship owners, operators and financiers, classification societies and insurers, port and terminal operators, stevedores and lashers, ships’ crews, surveyors – and the list goes on.

One important issue at the waterfront is that, despite the introduction of advanced ship and cargo handling technologies, many operations remain largely manual, posing hazards both on board ships and ashore, leading to injuries and deaths, as well as damage and loss to cargo, ships, cranes and port infrastructure. Furthermore, each stakeholder, in carrying out his/her specific tasks according to a set work plan, has to recognise that the work is often being undertaken in a ‘shared workspace’, frequently unfamiliar to the individual worker.

Recent events have highlighted some of the dangers of that shared workspace, with incidents continuing at an alarming frequency despite all the best endeavours of the agencies regularly advising the industry of the risks that are presented. Thus, while IMO has progressed with regulatory intervention in recent years, for example measures to make it mandatory to have rescue drills from enclosed spaces (and cargo holds can be considered as such) and all ships to carry atmospheric testing equipment, the incidence of injury and death of crew and stevedores through, for example, oxygen depletion remains a critical concern. While some jurisdictions are rigorous in enforcing risk assessments and planning, prior to a ship working at a berth, others are less so.

“some jurisdictions are rigorous in enforcing risk assessments and planning, prior to a ship working at a berth”

Impact of ‘cascading’ the global fleet
TT Club has been working together with ICHCA for a considerable period of time, highlighting risks in port operations and looking at ways of reducing those risks. One of the factors to be taken into account in recent years is also the deployment of larger ships, particularly in the container trades, which exacerbate existing risks and develop new ones of their own – and there has been widespread reporting of the cascading of the remaining fleet resulting in most ports having to reassess their operations and risks. At least the latest tonnage will have complied with the requirements for safety features of lashing platforms on container ships, an issue strongly supported by both organisations through the IMO debate.

Continuing the focus on container tonnage, David Tozer of Lloyds Register spoke of ever increasing tier heights on deck, the only real current restriction being the bridge over the Suez Canal. As has been highlighted previously, container lashing for a number of upper tiers is reliant on twist-lock technology, again a stubbornly manual operation at the waterfront. Aspects of automation for twist-locks have been fraught with operational difficulties over the last decade in relation to their ability to keep the containers locked at all times at sea. The seminar heard claims from German manufacturer Robert Bock/German Lashing that their new class approved ‘Smart-lock’ provides a step forward; the industry will watch performance with interest.

While ports and port infrastructure have sought to match the progress in larger ships, concerns were voiced over the enhanced risks. The industry still generally moors ships, regardless of size, with traditional mooring bollards and polypropylene ropes. Diverse issues arise, but casualties are widespread and often fatal. One port alone has reported hundreds of broken mooring lines in just one year! Problems with lines apart, it has been noted that there is no international standard concerning the strength and testing of bollards. This itself possibly reflects the historic reticence of the IMO to be seen to ‘come ashore’; the 2017 theme is therefore most welcome, since safe and effective operations at the ship/port interface are fundamental to the international supply chain.

MARPOL: shore reception facilities
Such interference with national governmental competence is perhaps typified also by the new provisions of MARPOL (the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Annex V for the disposal of bulk cargo residues and hold washing water. Now, where the cargo is declared ‘harmful’ (to the environment or life) by the shipper (and mineral concentrates are an example), there is an absolute ban on that residue and the hold washing water being discharged at sea. Traditionally, bulk cargo ships typically carried out their washing between ports, dumping residues and washing water in the process. With that now banned, national authorities are required to establish shore reception facilities. The impacts from this may include ships staying in port longer, possibly at berth, resulting in additional days on hire, let alone the need for states to nominate appropriate reception facilities.
Ship owners and operators inevitably put tremendous pressure on ports and everyone involved in the operation to improve efficiency and reduce time in port. There is an increasing need in this changing world to engage fully in the industry fora to ensure that the complex, potentially high risk environment can be managed safely and successfully for the benefit of all.

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance in the preparation of this article of Captain Richard Brough OBE, Technical Adviser to ICHCA International.

We hope that you have found the above interesting. If you would like further information, or have any comments, please email us, or take this opportunity to forward to any colleagues who you may feel would be interested.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Peregrine Storrs-Fox
Risk Management Director, TT Club

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