Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
In a statement from the NWA it is emphasised that together, the Good Practice Guide and Stability Annex, provide comprehensive advice and recommendations for the safe operation of tugs, refined and enhanced on the basis of comment from towage operators throughout the UK and Europe.In 2016 the original Good Practice Guide was developed by the NWA, in the wake of a number of towage incidents compromising both the safety of personnel and the integrity of the sector.
While targeting the main workboat towage areas, including the towage of non-propelled barges and other objects on coastal towage voyages, some of the guidelines also apply to site towage and ‘ship assist’ port towage operations. However, more specialised guidance should be sought to accompany this, it is understood. In its recent statement NWA advise that further editions of the Guide may include more ship assist guidance, with input from other practitioners.
It is understood that the updated version of the Good Practice Guide includes additional material on the safe use of gog ropes to prevent girting – recognising the lack of clear guidance available on this topic. While a rare occurrence, incidents of girting – or capsize – continue to pose a significant challenge to the safe completion of towage operations, threatening human life and leaving tug operators vulnerable to financial and reputational damage.
A second new addition to the Good Practice Guide is the Stability Annex, developed in collaboration with Captain Gareth Bonner from SMS Towage. This part of the publication is designed to help Tug Masters interpret the stability books onboard individual vessels. This extensive addition covers the basic principles of stability and defines regularly used terminology found in stability documentation on workboats, helping to prevent any lack of clarity that could pose a risk to the safe operation of tugs.
Furthermore, it is understood that the Good Practice Guide, including its Annexes, will undergo continuous updates to ensure that the guidance contained within it evolves with the towage market.
To quote Mark Ranson, Secretary, NWA: ‘We’ve been working on this revised Guide for a while, so I’m very pleased to now make it available to members and the wider market. The workboat industry is a fast-moving one, and legislation and advice must evolve to keep up with it – so we’re pleased to offer this updated version with additional recommendations tailored to today’s towage market. We welcome any comment on this edition, and we will seek a wider consultation with other sections of the towage industry when the time comes for version three.’
This updated Guide is the latest in a series of NWA initiatives aimed at combating safety challenges in the towage sector, including regularly hosted Safety Forums and NWA’s active participation in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Voluntary Towage Endorsement Scheme. This scheme, developed by the Agency (MCA) with the towage industry, is the first of its kind in the world to independently assess and certify a Tug Master’s practical competence – and the NWA has issued over 170 endorsements to more than 120 candidates over the last four years, it is reported.
About the National Workboat Association
The National Workboat Association (NWA) is the safety standards, skills and trade association for the workboat industry. Since its inception in 1994, the NWA has acted as a crucial point of liaison between its membership and key regulatory and industry bodies, such as the MCA. It has also driven the creation of safety, technical and best practice standards, provided a unifying platform for industry lobbying and debate, and delivered industry-recognised training and certification opportunities.
One achievement was the introduction and subsequent revision of the MCA Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Small Workboats – The Workboat Code – which acts as the recognised Technical Standard for UK workboats and has formed the basis for numerous international codes.
The NWA has a membership base of over 80 UK and European workboat owners and operators, collectively representing over 550 operational vessels.
On 13 November speaking in Tokyo on behalf of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), its Chairman, Esben Poulsson, highlighted serious concerns about the challenge presented by the United States.
In his words: ‘To the proven benefits of multilateralism and the existing global trading order underpinned by a system of international rules and norms which has brought peace and prosperity since World War Two’.
He added: ‘The view that international trade can be seen as some kind of zero sum game is demonstrably false.’
Poulsson acknowledged that the US has legitimate concerns about the policies of some of its trading partners, concerns which to some extent ICS also shares, particularly with regard to China and South Korea’s possible contribution towards overcapacity in shipping.
The IMO regulation that sets out preventive security measures on detecting and deterring threats to ships and port facilities – the ISPS Code* – was the subject of a training workshop that took place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from 5-9 November.
This workshop was initiated as a means of assistance to potential Designated Authority (DA) and Port Facility Security Officers (PFSOs) to improve their knowledge of how to implement the relevant provisions in the ISPS Code and SOLAS Chapter XI-2. This followed a national maritime security workshop on design and conduct of drills and exercises organized for Trinidad and Tobago by IMO last year, the outcomes of which are being addressed in part by this new workshop.