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Monday, November 19, 2018

Air emissions, piracy and criminalisation highlighted at Seatrade conference

Key issues for the industry were very much to the fore at the Seatrade Middle East Maritime conference this week in Dubai, including environmental challenges for the shipping industry with a principal focus on air emissions, a special session on piracy, and many interventions on the injustice that has resulted in the imprisonment of the two Hebei Spirit officers.


The State of the Industry session focused on the implications for shipping of the current global economic and financial crisis, with several speakers observing that the industry is fuelling negative thoughts with excessively pessimistic comments on future demand forecasts, asset valuations and the availability of financing.


The Environmental Challenges session principally focused on air emissions, in which INTERTANKO’s Managing Director Dr Peter Swift provided observations on the processes of developing regulations for the classical pollutants – SOx, NOx, PM – and reductions in Green House Gases. He also highlighted some of the practical problems that remain in meeting the IMO, EU and Californian regulations, as well as the continuing concerns over fuel quality. This latter concern was taken up by subsequent speakers and delegates. To view Swift’s presentation click here


Piracy was the subject of a special session involving several of the different interests present. Some spoke in favour of using private guards to protect the ships in order to lower the chances of attack. Swift and others, however, argued that while each owner has to make his own decision, the mere availability of this option was an indictment of governments’ failure to provide sufficient naval and maritime aviation support to protect seafarers and the international sea lanes - and thus international trade. He called for more naval support and more effective command, control and communication coordination among the various military units, both those on scene and those about to join the coalition. He also highlighted the need for these forces to take pre-emptive measures and to challenge any suspicious craft, especially potential pirate mother ships.


In a summary statement he said:

-         that the safety and protection of seafarers was the number one priority;

-         that governments should ensure that adequate resources were provided and that coordination among these was critical to maximise their effectiveness;

-         that there was a need to strengthen the political will to take pre-emptive action – notwithstanding that the long-term solution lies on the ground in Somalia;

-         that advocating the greater use or private militia is like offering a band-aid when the issue is haemorrhaging more each day;

-         that all owners should maximise their contacts with, and use of, the services provided by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB);

-         that we should all remember that we have an equally unacceptable situation in the Gulf Guinea.


Throughout the Conference there were numerous references to the plight of Captain Chawla and Chief Officer Chetan who had become innocent victims when the Samsung crane barge broke from its tow and collided with the anchored tanker Hebei Spirit.


At the opening session Swift was invited to make an intervention setting out the basic facts of the case and the unjustified criminalisation of these two unfortunate officers who had now been imprisoned, apparently to assuage local commercial interests.

To see a copy of his intervention click here


Many other speakers throughout the Conference spoke out in a similar manner, including Malcolm Willingale of Hebei Spirit’s managers V.Ships, and Guy Morel of InterManager. In the session on manning, Morel spoke of several of the initiatives that ship managers and crews are committed to, or are being encouraged to take, in support of the two Hebei Spirit officers. This prompted much support and other ideas from delegates as to how their indignation could be expressed to the Korean authorities.


Contact: Peter Swift