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.
It was announced from Washington DC on 27 February that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) is seeking start-ups to develop or adapt a system to more clearly mark and track objects in the water.
Known as the new Maritime Object Tracking Technology an invitation was posted that day for a new technology that could become a valuable part of mission execution for the US Coast Guard (USCG).
Here the USCG is the lead federal agency for eleven statutory missions to include drug interdiction on the high seas, as well as search and rescue, migrant interdiction, and others. To better execute these responsibilities, the USCG needs a more reliable system for clearly marking and accurately monitoring objects in the water for recovery.
In the words of Wendy Chaves, US Coast Guard Chief of Research, Development, Test and Evaluation and Innovation: ‘During the course of normal operations, Coast Guard aircraft and vessels come across numerous types of jettisoned objects, and navigation hazards that need to be recovered from the seas and waterways. The USCG is interested in tracking solutions that are interoperable with current USCG maritime and aviation assets.’
This Other Transaction Solicitation call seeks a more robust buoy tracking technology that will assist USCG operations and has the ability to be deployed from both air platforms and maritime surface vessels, on patrol or in pursuit.
Melissa Oh, SVIP Managing Director commented: ‘A robust and effective Maritime Object Tracking Technology will bolster USCG mission capabilities and a system that can be more widely used by all USCG personnel will strengthen waterway security, drug interdiction, and search and rescue missions while benefitting maritime navigation and marine safety.’
On behalf of DHS Operational Components, SVIP invests in start-up companies with viable technologies suitable for rapid prototyping projects from across the nation and around the world to adapt, develop and harness cutting-edge capabilities that are commercially sustainable while simultaneously meeting the needs of DHS operational components and programs.
Our picture shows a Carnival line up. Five Carnival ships are due in Durban in week commencing 24 May. (Photo: www.africaports.co.za )
No less than five Carnival Cruise ships are due to arrive in Durban between 26 and 28 May to take on bunkers and to restock depleted supplies.
These five ships are part of a group of 12 engaged in the humanitarian task of repatriating over 26,000 crew from the Carnival fleet and other companies, as well as personnel from entertainment centres ashore, who because of the coronavirus pandemic, have had their employment suddenly curtailed.
Hotel staff and entertainers
These are the entertainment staff, the onboard shop workers, beauty salon practitioners, waiters and bus boys, chefs and kitchen staff, cabin cleaners, pursers and front desk people all making up the staff working on board cruise ships.
With cruising curtailed these former employees are finally returning home to destinations like India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines after having remained on board their ships for more than two months, unable to go ashore or receive visitors ever since cruising operations were suspended in mid -March. Ahead they face another three or four weeks at sea before being allowed to disembark. However, there’s something of a problem.
Call to governments
IFSMA* calls upon Governments to adopt the ‘Framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic’ without delay to allow ship owners and management companies to change over their dangerously tired crews.
Governments must act now in order to avoid personal injury to, and mental breakdown of, seafarers and avoid the significant risk of accidents and consequential danger to life and the environment.
Concern at IFSMA
IFSMA is receiving an increasing number of reports from its ship masters’ associations around the world concerned for the welfare and safety of crews and the increased risk with which they are operating in an already high risk environment. Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.
Following concerns from the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued a circular to all Member States, the UN and agencies and IGOs and NGOs in consultative status with IMO. This document concerned recommendations to Member States about measures to facilitate ship crew changes in seaports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IMO Secretary General has received a framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic, proposed by a cross-section of global industry associations in consultative status with the IMO, for example: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IFSMA, and P&I Clubs as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).