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.
Deputy Master Captain Ian McNaught describes the impact made by COVID-19 on the safety and charity operations of Trinity House and the work being done to move forward
Working to keep seafarers safe and supported
‘Following the recent revision to the Government’s lockdown restrictions, we at Trinity House are looking closely at how we can manage a safe return to full operational capacity as both a General Lighthouse Authority and a major maritime charity.
‘First and foremost—given that our statutory work as a General Lighthouse Authority and the objectives of the Trinity House Maritime Charity are all being delivered to a high standard—we are confident that we can take the time to get this right and do it properly.
‘Our people’s safety—both at sea and on shore—is our priority; we will continue to focus on delivering our various responsibilities and make our return to offices and depots when it is safe and appropriate, with all safety measures fully in place. As an organisation we have adapted quickly and deftly to remote working, making extensive use of technology to enhance collaboration and communication across shore teams and vessel crews.
‘While their core duties have resumed throughout the lockdown, our vessels and Buoy Yard teams are ready to pick up the backlog of buoy inspections and maintenance and our Field Operations teams will be getting out there to resume technical inspections and painting; we are proud to say that availability of our aids to navigation has been kept to the incredibly high standard demanded of all lighthouse authorities.
‘Likewise, our schedule for inspecting over 11,000 local aids to navigation has been slowed but will now return to its normal pace and we are making tentative arrangements—pending further Government guidance—to carry out our annual inspection committee.
The Maritime Charity
‘The work of the Maritime Charity has been no less busy and meaningful; the team works diligently—and in near-constant collaboration with partner charities—to meet the growing welfare need in the maritime community, to ensure the welfare and safety of mariners and their dependants.
‘Emergency response grants have been given to the Fishermen’s Mission, the Sailors’ Children’s Society and the Mission to Seafarers, among others, and the team has been meeting regularly with other funding partners and frontline charities to stay abreast of the emerging challenges.
‘To reiterate my comments from an earlier statement, I want to thank everyone at Trinity House, and their families too, for adapting so capably and completely to the demands placed upon them by the extraordinary circumstances presented by COVID-19.
‘My gratitude extends to maritime sector workers everywhere, including our colleagues at our sister lighthouse authorities the Northern Lighthouse Board and Irish Lights and our partner maritime charities. They have all demonstrated time and again that they are worthy of the ‘key worker’ plaudits—whether at sea or on shore—and our continuing recognition, applause and support.’
Captain Ian McNaught
Deputy Master, Trinity House.
Illustration: https://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/galleries/lightvessels ©.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the World Health Organization’s decision to name seafarers as one of the groups of transportation workers that should be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination in instances of limited supplies. This was reported on 22 July.
Updated guidance for Stage II of its vaccine roadmap from the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) states: ‘Seafarers and air crews who work on vessels that carry goods and no passengers, with special attention to seafarers who are stranded at sea and prevented from crossing international borders for crew change due to travel restrictions.’
IMO Secretary General Lim commented: ‘I am glad to see that the WHO recognises the importance of vaccinating seafarers on cargo ships.
‘These individuals are responsible for transporting over 80% of all goods around the world, including food, medicine and vaccine supplies – and have continued to do so despite extremely challenging circumstances. Seafarers will play a key role in the global recovery, and barriers to international travel and crew change must be removed.’
On 28 September 2019, a cargo tank containing styrene monomer on board the Cayman Islands registered chemical tanker Stolt Groenland ruptured causing an explosion and fire. The tanker was moored alongside a general cargo berth in Ulsan, Republic of Korea and the Singapore registered chemical tanker Bow Dalian was moored outboard. Ignition of the styrene monomer vapour resulted in a fireball, which reached the road bridge above. Both vessels were damaged, and two crew suffered minor injuries. Fifteen emergency responders were injured during the fire-fighting, which lasted for over six hours.
Rupture of the styrene monomer tank resulted from a runaway polymerisation that was initiated by elevated temperatures caused by heat transfer from other chemical cargoes. Elevated temperatures caused the inhibitor, added to prevent the chemical’s polymerisation during the voyage, to deplete more rapidly than expected. Although the styrene monomer had not been stowed directly adjacent to heated cargo, the potential for heat transfer through intermediate tanks was not fully appreciated or assessed.