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.
Emerging maritime challenges were at the forefront of discussions at the 11th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Inter-Sessional Meeting (ISM) on Maritime Security held in Da Nang, Viet Nam, on 14-15 March. Participants had the opportunity to exchange views on regional maritime issues, review progress of their maritime security work plan, and discuss proposed activities over the coming year.
IMO took the opportunity to update ARF members on IMO’s work in Asia and told senior maritime officials of potential future technical cooperation projects in the region. IMO also talked about improving the implementation, among ASEAN members, of maritime security measures, including the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS).
It was reported by IMO on 13 March that a new set of publicly-available guidelines for monitoring plastics and microplastics in the oceans will help harmonize how scientists and others assess the scale of the marine plastic litter problem.
These guidelines* for the monitoring and assessment of plastic litter and microplastics in the ocean have been published by the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), a body that advises the United Nations system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection.
Guidelines cover what to sample, how to sample it and how to record and assess plastics in the oceans and on the shoreline, including establishing baseline surveys. They include recommendations, advice and practical guidance, for establishing programmes to monitor and assess the distribution and abundance of plastic litter, also referred to as plastic debris, in the ocean.