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.
The National Workboat Association (NWA), the trade, skills and safety standards association for the workboat industry, announced the launch of Edition 2 of The Workboat Code, a document that will redefine working practices and standards for vessel operators across numerous maritime sectors in the UK.
The UK MCA Merchant Shipping Notice MSN 1892 (M) which introduces the Code is to be found here:
To access the full revised Workboat Code, readers are invited to visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-workboat-code-edition-2
(Note: Image of Workboat Code © Crown Copyright 2018).
This much-anticipated Code of Practice, published in December 2018 and introduced at the NWA’s AGM on 31 January, has been developed in direct collaboration with workboat operators to better reflect the realities of modern workboat operation.
Workboats – loosely defined as vessels under 200grt and less than 24m in length – represent a fast-growing segment of the UK maritime market, with over 600 boats now registered with the NWA and probably twice this number in operation. This rapid growth has been driven by the emergence of new industries such as offshore wind, alongside rising demand for a diverse range of logistical support applications in the wider maritime sector.
This growth has been accompanied by technical innovation, and the UK workboat fleet now comprises a wide variety of advanced, specialist tonnage, ranging from from tugs to pilot vessels, survey vessels and crew transfer vessels (CTVs). Demand has consequently grown for a Code of Practice that reflects this fleet diversity and evolving scope of operation.
According to NWA the first edition of The Workboat Code, also known as the ‘Brown Code’ was published in 1998 and, while it played a key role in promoting the initial development of the UK workboat industry, it was not written with the modern UK workboat fleet in mind.
NWA members and workboat operators at large, aiming for progressive improvement in safety standards, have been calling for a revised code that builds on lessons learned from the past 20 years’ operation.
Edition 2 of The Workboat Code, developed by a working group led by the NWA in close cooperation with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), includes a number of essential revisions to industry best practice.
Along with an improved section on stability for modern designs, and improvements relating to vessels engaged in towing, the revised Code encompasses a number of new considerations. It now considers modern vessel applications such as offshore wind farm crew and equipment transfer CTVs and carriage or transfer of dangerous goods.
These best practice guidelines will validate and confirm the approaches taken by workboat operators working throughout the UK and Europe, setting a standard for safe and effective operations.
Katy Ware, Director of Maritime Safety for the MCA commented: ‘The new Workboat Code has been developed directly with the industry – and it has been highly rewarding to see the level of commitment and enthusiasm UK operators have shown during this time. We are grateful for the support and assistance of the National Workboat Association during this process and we look forward to working with them in the future.”
Kerrie Forster, Chair of the National Workboat Association Safety Forum said: ‘The revised Workboat Code is a great improvement in regulation and we would like to thank Jenny Vines and the Vessel Policy Branch at the MCA for their tireless efforts in getting this crucial Code of Practice over the line. The Code will certainly be instrumental in supporting our thriving industry – and we call on all of our members, and the wider sector, to use it to its full potential as we collectively aim to uphold the highest possible standards of operation.’
Mark Ranson, Chief Executive of the NWA added: ‘When we first took on the task of revising the Workboat Code, we did not perhaps realise what a task we were taking on – but it makes all the hard work worthwhile, to see the revised Code published by the MCA and owners now able to build with confidence for the future.’
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 Maritime & Coastguard Agency (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.
Core achievements include the introduction and subsequent revision of the MCA Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Small Workboats otherwise known as 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 620 operational vessels.
To find out more about the NWA, see: http://www.workboatassociation.org/
On 15 October it was announced jointly from London and Kuala Lumpur that the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) had issued its report for the third quarter of 2019. This document demonstrates that fewer incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported than in
the first nine months of 2018.
A total of 119 incidents of Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships have been reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) in 2019, compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018. Overall, the 2019 incidents include 95 vessels boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked. The number of crew taken hostage through the first nine months has declined from 112 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.
While the overall number of incidents has dropped, incidents involving guns and knives remain consistent. There have been 24 knife-related and 35 gun-related incidents reported in 2019, compared to 25 and 37 for the first nine months of 2018. These statistics confirm IMB’s concerns over continued threats to the safety and security of seafarers.
Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea remains a high risk area for piracy and armed robbery. The region accounts for 86% of crew taken hostage and nearly 82% of crew kidnappings globally.
In July a general cargo vessel was hijacked approximately 120nm SW of Brass. Ten crew members were kidnapped from the vessel and released four weeks later. In August a bulk carrier and a general cargo vessel were boarded within hours of each other at Douala anchorage, Cameroon, and a total of seventeen crew were kidnapped from the vessels. Within six weeks all kidnapped crew were released. This incident demonstrates the range of piracy activity in the Gulf of Guinea and that all types of ships are vulnerable to attack. Lagos recorded 11 incidents in 2019, the highest number for any port.
In the words of said Pottengal Mukundan, Director, ICC IMB: ‘Although incidents are down, the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a concern for piracy and armed robbery-related activities with kidnappings of crew members increasing in both scale and frequency. It is important that shipmasters and owners continue to report all actual, attempted, and suspected incidents to ensure that an accurate picture of these attacks emerge and action is taken against these criminals before the incidents further escalate.’
In recognition of California Clean Air Day, the Port of Long Beach (POLB) announced on 2 October the demonstration of hydrogen- and electric-powered cargo handling equipment at two terminals, in pursuit of its goal to become the world’s first zero-emissions seaport.
This new equipment was purchased through a $5.3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as part of the C-PORT, or Commercialization of POLB Off-Road Technology Project. It was reported that the port has several continuing clean-air technology demonstrations in partnership with labour, marine terminal operators and regulatory agencies.
It is understand that the CARB grant falls under the umbrella of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities similar to those adjacent to the port.
In the words of Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bonnie Lowenthal: ‘Today, you see some of the equipment with the potential to take us to the next level – zero emissions. The equipment, which will be operated by our longshore partners at the port, will help us reduce our impact on our neighbourhoods and contribute to the port’s ability to increase trade.’