It has become common practice to employ riding gangs to assist with onboard maintenance and other tasks – and, more recently, armed guards for the protection of the ship and its crew against piracy attacks. But, there do not appear to be any internationally accepted guidelines on the employment conditions for these gangs nor for the tasks on which they can be employed aboard ship, such that there is a risk that riding gangs can be used to bypass the regulations that apply to a ship’s crew.
The International Transport Federation (ITF) advises that riding gangs must be covered by agreements giving at least comparable rates of pay to the crew, and minimum conditions and protections.
The US Coast Guard, through their Maritime Transportation Act of 2006, defines a riding gang member as: someone who is not a registered seafarer and who does not perform watchstanding, automated engine room duty watch, or personnel safety functions; or cargo handling functions, including any activity relating to the loading or unloading of cargo, the operation of cargo-related equipment (whether or not integral to the vessel),
and the handling of mooring lines on the dock when the vessel is made fast or let go; does not serve as part of the crew complement; and is not a member of the steward’s department.
According to a Moody’s Investors Service analysis, the global shipping slump is expected to last well into 2013 as a glut of vessels and a growing credit squeeze will challenge even the toughest companies in the seaborne sector.
Shipping companies, especially in the oil tanker and dry bulk sectors, already hit by worsening economic turmoil, weak earnings and oversupply ordered in the good times, now face tighter financing as banks cut their exposure to risky and dollar denominated assets such as ship finance to meet tougher capital rules.
However, the above mentioned shipping-related crisis seems to reinforce the Greek ship-owners, who were able to save liquidity thanks to very good years they had, and to keep significant funds in their “coffers.” And now, just before overcoming the crisis, they are trying to seize the newly emerged business opportunities.
- AFS 2001
International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems, 2001 (ANTI-FOULING)
- ARREST CONVENTION 1999
Engineers continue to take cues from nature - in an attempt to improve energy-saving technology for ships, engineers in Hamburg are trying out a coating that is similar to sharkskin.
How efficient is piracy as a method of transferring wealth to Somalia? Pirates generating ransoms could drive costs to industry up ten times the amount.
While the consensus seems to be that Somali piracy is in a terminal decline, over the weekend the Washington Post’s Wonkblog highlighted an interesting academic study from last year that attempted to determine the costs of Somali piracy since 2008. The bottom line, from economists Timothy Besley, Thiemo Fetzer and Hannes Mueller, was that piracy increased the cost for shipping bulk cargo through the region 8%, with a 14% seasonal discount between December-February and June-September when the monsoon causes sea states to be less hospitable to pirates.
Of particular interest is the economist’s attempt to measure how efficient piracy has been as a method of transferring wealth from the rest of the world to Somalia. According to their analysis, pirates generating a total in $120M in annual ransoms would possibly drive industry to spend up to ten times that amount on insurance and onboard security. Theoretically, Somalia could get the same amount of money from an .8% tax on charters than the 8% increased costs faced by shippers.
Does your company have a safety management system (SMS), a safety program, or internal safety policies? Are there problems with implementation or making sure that all policies are consistently complied with? Are there items in the manual which do not apply to your vessels or operations? Does the manual call for unrealistic work practices? If you answered “yes” to these questions, rest assured you are not alone. Unfortunately, however, your company could also be in danger of severe financial penalties, and/or litigation. In some case, such as a serious accident, individuals, depending upon their position in the company, might even face imprisonment.
The latest trend in regulatory schemes is performance based regulations. This type of regulation usually requires the regulated entity to come up with a plan or system which will meet the performance based criteria in the regulations, such as International Safety Management (ISM) and the impending towing vessel inspection regulations. Some organizations also require member companies to implement an SMS such as the American Waterways Operators (AWO) Responsible Carrier Program (RCP). Regardless of the source, not fully implementing and complying with these plans can have serious consequences in the event of an accident.