A Student Perspective: Shipping Business and Maritime Policies

Maritime policies have been the cornerstone of shipping business. They are considered as an area of study covering and emphasizing on issues such as environment, safety, subsidies, taxation and inter-modalism. Policies taken on the International level (IMO) such as SOLAS, MARPOL, and the ISM code have been hugely significant in regulating the shipping industry. Nonetheless, in our recent days, the new annexes of SOLAS and MARPOL are posing several challenges and ambiguities on ship owners and shipping companies.

Before mentioning these challenges, it is worth noting the importance of these policies. In fact, they ensure green and safe movement of vessels, and at the same time they give an added value to the company particularly the double –hull convention and the ISM code. To clarify, the ISM code main objectives are: 1) maintenance of ship and equipment; 2) safety and environmental protection policy; 3) development of plans for shipboard operations; 4) company responsibilities and authority; 5) emergency preparedness; 6) reports, non-conformities, accidents and hazardous occurrences; 7) certification, verification and control. Shipowners have been very keen to comply with the International regulations simply because their tankers will be chartered by worldwide reputable oil companies such as ESSO and Shell. In fact, these companies do their own surveying since they adopt the “zero tolerance policy” when it comes to oil spills from tankers. The reason behind that is to avoid accidents and spills like the Erika and Prestige.
Despite the great importance of these policies as mentioned above, they have been posing several challenges and ambiguities on shipowners and shipping companies. To begin with, on the 1st of January, 2015 ships operating in an emission – control areas must be fitted with engine emissions in order to reduce sulfur and carbon dioxide. In addition, along comes the ballast water convention, which will oblige ship owners to fit filters onboard in order to protect the local aquatic ecosystem caused by the unwanted introduction of foreign micro-organisms. Let us take the ballast water treatment system as an example, it is estimated that this equipment will cost between 1-5 million US dollars!

However, apart from the costs along come the ambiguities. To clarify, the ballast water treatment system and the technology that has to do with emissions are not available so far. Frankly speaking, the IMO while issuing policies are not checking if the required technologies are currently available. They are assuming that they will be available in the future when the conventions will come into force. Moreover, what make things much more complex and vague is the fact that there is no cooperation between policy makers particularly on the International level (IMO) and others on the national level (US). To illustrate, the ballast water treatment systems that enjoy certification from the IMO do not have automatic acceptance under the US rules, but must undergo a separate review. Some experts anticipated that the US might require more difficulty for equipment makers to satisfy than the IMO standards. These issues will leave ship owners in limbo.

At last, despite the fact that the IMO is not being sensible and pragmatic while issuing policies, it is worth remembering that these policies seem to be perfect solutions and positive approaches to build a sustainable and cleaner future for the forthcoming generations.

Omar Musharafieh, MA International Maritime Policy Student

A Student Perspective: Co-operative Development of UK Maritime Industrial Policy

The United Kingdom is a country whose economy depends on maritime transport, and efficient shipping. As a matter of fact, Great Britain has a coastline with a length of 17,381 km, which is the longest coastline of all the European Union member countries. Additionally, more than 95% of the volume of British international trade is passing through the ports of UK. As far as the domestic trade is concerned, over 7% of the cargoes are delivered through British domestic seaports and inland waterways. Furthermore, the British merchant navy nowadays owns a high-tech fleet, which consists of container ships, tankers, dry bulk carriers, cruise ships and ferries, which are fueling the growth of a significant British offshore support industry.

The Proud History and Glorious Prospect of the UK Maritime Industry
The British maritime industry has been well-known globally for many centuries. Along with the outbreak of the British Industrial Revolution (18th century) and the consequent rapid growth of the international trade (19th century), the British shipping industry has experienced a significant economic development and growth. As a result, the port of London, has succeeded in becoming not only the key port of Europe, but emerged as the main centre of the global shipping industry of the 19th and 20th centuries.

However, during the last quarter of the 20th century, the centre of the global economy and trade has moved partly to Asia. As a result, new and dynamic economic-, trading-, and shipping centers have been developed, for example the ports of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Shanghai. Consequently, the proportion of the UK’s share of the world trade declined from 22% in 1870 to 3.7% in 2007. Nevertheless, Britain remains even today one of the leading forces in world trade system, which gave a strong impetus towards further strengthening and development of the UK shipping industry, allowing London to retain its position as the center of the global shipping industry.

As an international shipping centre, London covers almost all sectors of the global maritime industry, including: shipping finance, marine insurance, courts of arbitration, ship broking services, maritime classification societies, registers of ships, ship agencies, consultancies, maritime training services, shipping publications, and many more shipping-related services. Βringing all of these shipping services in the city of London has resulted in the emergence of the latter as the center, into which the international policies of the shipping industry are being shaped. At this point we have to mention that the above mentioned shipping services of Londona and of the United Kingdom as well, are of great value to the other maritime countries, especially to the emerging economies such as China, Brazil, etc.

In the down-to-earth dedication to the UK Marine Industries, the UK Marine Industries Alliance has done excellent jobs. Firstly, the UK Marine Industries Alliance is bringing together all aspects of this diverse sector with the goal of working together to secure the maximum opportunity for the industry to flourish. Moreover, all UK companies, trade associations and public sector agencies operating in the marine sector are offered free membership of the UK Marine Industries Alliance, and use of its brand identity.

In the wake of the global economic crisis in September 2008, the world shipping business conditions wholly deteriorated under the double blows of the decline in freight demand and the excess shipping capacity. The financial crisis has forced the international trade patterns to change greatly, which has led the global shipping industry into a structural adjustment period. As a result, the UK Marine Export Strategy identifies some of the most promising sectors for British companies to target, including offshore oil & gas, naval defense and leisure boats & equipment. Featuring eight recommendations for growth, the strategy also includes detailed analyses of emerging and mature economies across the world that present the best opportunities for exports.

In October 2012, London Maritime Promotion Agency, composed by the British shipping companies, which possess 2 billion Euros (16.3 billion RMB) in the British Gross Domestic Product (GDP), has established the cooperative relations with the Chinese shipping industry in the 3rd International Shipping Strategy Development Forum hosted in Shanghai. The Marine Industries Growth Strategy (MIGS) is the first ever integrated UK strategy for the marine industries and establishes a foundation for long-term growth. If properly implemented, the strategy could lead to a £25 billion marine industry by 2020.

Despite the world financial crisis, the British shipping industry – the international shipping centre of London included – still holds a solid position in the international maritime industry, based on a 300 years accumulation of shipping services experience. Britain remains even today one of the strongest economic and trade powers in the world today, providing sound support for a continuing development of the shipping industry in the whole country.

Yifeng Liu, MA International Maritime Policy Student

From Russia with bombs. The marine engineer, the ‘Dambusters’ raid, 16-17 May 1943, and a maritime mission…

On the evening of 16 May 1943 nineteen Lancaster bombers of the specially-formed 617 Squadron, Royal Air Force, took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. The operation was codenamed Chastise. Its targets were the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in Germany’s Ruhrgebiet, providing hydro-electric power for the Third Reich’s armaments industry. The dams were very well-defended and could only be breached with massive bombs – bigger than any RAF plane could carry – or by torpedoes fired directly at them below the water. For this reason the Germans had installed multiple torpedo nets in front of all the dams, making placing a big enough charge in the right place impossible. Or so they thought… At the time the average bombing error was five miles. But this was to be a precision attack..

Enter the nutty professor … well, Barnes Wallis, the marine- and aero-engineer who had designed the Wellington bomber and the R100 airship with their revolutionary geodetic frames, exploiting the immanent strength of the triangle. Wallis (1887-1979) had left school at 17 to start an apprenticeship at Thames Engineering Works at Blackheath, but later transferred to J Samuel White‘s boatbuilders at Cowes in the Isle of Wight. In 1913 he left J Samuel White’s when an opportunity arose for him to work on airship design – a logical enough move – and then aircraft design at Vicker’s.

Early in 1942, Wallis began experimenting with skipping marbles over water tanks in his garden at home, leading to his April 1942 paper “Spherical Bomb — Surface Torpedo”. Except these would not be stones, but four-tonne bombs, shaped like oil drums (not spherical, as in the 1955 film – the design was still top secret when the film was made!). They had to be dropped from a very precise height – 50 feet (18 metres)(!), which was beyond the capabilities of altimeters. While the RAF were pondering the solution, one of the 617 Squadron officers went for a night out in the West End to see a show and saw spotlights intersecting on the stage. Bingo! When two angled lights on the Lancaster’s belly formed a figure of eight on the surface of the water, the aircraft was spot-on. Then, the bombs would spin anti-clockwise, to the direction of travel, which would ensure they bounced correctly, over the torpedo nets, and also push them against the dam when they touched it and descended. At nine metres depth, they would detonate. What they started, the pressure of millions of tonnes of water would finish.

It was a triumph of creative imagination and ingenuity, although only two of the dams were actually breached. But the casualties among the bomber crews were very heavy, and Wallis was devastated. The damage to German war industry was not as great as hoped, but it was portrayed as a timely triumph at a time when war-weariness was at its most intense. An air reconnaissance photograph was emblazoned all over the front of the Daily Telegraph on the morning of 18 May, showing water pouring through the breach in the Mohne dam. How many times have you seen an air reconnaissance photograph on a newspaper front page? One wonders who authorised such an irregular press release. Could it have been someone who was a former journalist? Like Churchill…

Mohne Dam
The Mohne dam in the aftermath of Operation Chastise.

As an élite precision attack force, 617 Squadron was used for special missions. After the Dambusters mission, it began to attract ridicule as ‘The Squadron with one op’. Barnes Wallis, however, came up with another revolutionary bomb, the 5.443 tonne (12,000 pound) Tallboy. The bomb was extremely aerodynamic, designed to be dropped from 18,000 feet (5,500 metres). That meant it hit the ground at 750 mph (1200 kph), which created a crater 30 metres wide and 24 metres deep. The idea was to produce an ‘earthquake’ effect so that if the target, such as a concrete bunker, was not itself smashed to pieces, it would just fall into the great big hole.

The Tallboy entered service on 8 June 1944 and was first used against the Saumur rail tunnel that night. The line was destroyed — one Tallboy drilled through the hillside and exploded in the tunnel about 18 metres below, completely blocking it. They were subsequently used against V-1 cruise and V-2 ballistic missile launch sites and facilities, and the V-3 supergun.

But Wallis’s background as a marine engineer resurfaced in September that year. Major surface combatants remained lethal adversaries, even though they were obsolescent in the face of submarine and air power. Throughout the war the German battleship the Tirpitz had evaded British attempts to destroy it, skulking in north Norwegian fjords. At 42,900 tonnes, she had been sister ship to the Bismarck. She remained a potential threat to the convoys supplying Russia, although by 1944 those were not as crucial as they had been. On 15 September1944 the ‘Dambusters’ Squadron launched Operation Paravane, attacking the monster from airfields in northern Russia under a special agreement with the Russian Allies, who obviously had an interest. At the time she was moored in the Kåfjord (Kaa fjord), south-west of the Altenfjord (Altafjord), at 69o 56’ 22” N, 23o 03’ 42” E. The Kåfjord was out of range of bases in Britain. Although Tirpitz was not sunk, she was crippled sufficiently to prevent her ever posing a threat again.

Prior to the actual raid, some 38 Lancaster bombers took off from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. Most were 617 Squadron but some were from 9 Squadron. One turned back and, after an eleven hour flight, the other 37 tried to land at Yagodnik airfield (64o 22 N, 40o 42 E) in north Russia, on the Northern Dvina river, close to Arkhangel’sk, which was designated as a temporary RAF base. Yagodnik was just 600 miles from the target. The base was drenched by heavy rain and thirteen of the British aircraft could not find the airfield and landed at various remote places across north Russia. Colonel Loginov, Chief of Staff of the White Sea flotilla, made determined efforts to find the aircraft and recover their crews, including one crew who were guided on foot to a lake where a sea-plane could pick them up and take them to the Yagodnik base. Two of 617’s aircraft and four of 9 Squadron could not be retrieved from the marshes where they had landed, but seven were recovered, plus, very importantly, all the crews. Without Loginov’s heroic efforts and those of his boss, Maj.-Gen. Dzymba, Chief of the White Sea Flotilla Naval Air Forces, the attack on the Tirpitz would have been much weaker. As a result the RAF later recommended Loginov, Dzymba and Vice-Admiral ‘Pantaleyev’ (Panteleyev), the Commander-in-Chief of the White Sea flotilla, for British honours. Panteleyev, as a Vice-Admiral, got the Companion of the Bath (CB), while Dzymba and Loginov were made Commanders of the British Empire (CBE).


The German battleship Tirpitz at sea


The Altenfjord

In the Kåfjord, surrounded by mountains and anti-aircraft batteries, Tirpitz was exceptionally well defended. There were also enough smoke diespensers to fill the fjord with a veil of smoke in just eight seconds. But One 12,000 lb Tallboy struck the ship 50 feet aft of her prow, pierced the bow compartments without detonating and came out under the waterline on the starboard side before exploding. This underwater explosion very close to her hull, plus those from other Tallboys exploding nearby did severe damage to her machinery and engines.
Though she remained floating, the Tirpitz was immobile and could only be repaired in a big dry dock, and it would be impossible to get her to one in Germany in the face of British naval and air superiority.
A German report recovered by the Allies after the war stated the Kriegsmarine’s conclusion: “It was eventually decided at a conference on 23 September 1944 at which the C-in-C – Admiral Dönitz – and Naval Staff were present, that it was no longer possible to make Tirpitz ready for sea and action again…” They tried to move her south to use as a floating battery for the defence of Tromso, but did not realise that this would bring her in range of bombers based in Scotland. The British did not know how badly they had damaged her and launched two more attacks. The first, Operation Obviate, inflicted no further major damage. But on 12 November 1944 the RAF launched a final attack, this time again beginning with a ‘C’, Operation Catechism. In a joint attack by 617 and IX Squadrons the Tallboy bombs hit her magazine, and she capsized with the loss of most of her crew.
Although Barnes Wallis is best known as an aero-engineer, who went on to develop the swing-wing concept used on the F-111 and Tornado, he began his long and creative career as a marine engineer. There was a certain irony in the use of his earthquake bombs to finish the Tirpitz. Like the underwater monster, the kraken, they wrested the great battleship from below, and pulled her beneath the deep…

Chris Bellamy

EU Maritime Day Public Seminar – People, Place and Fish: towards understanding the importance of inshore fishing to communities in the English Channel and southern North Sea

Fishing is important not just for economic livelihoods, but plays an important socio-cultural role in terms of heritage, sense of place, local identity and social cohesion. This presentation will report on work carried out in two EU Interreg funded projects GIFS (Geography of inshore fishing and sustainability) and CHARM III (Channel Integrated Approach for Marine Resource Management). In CHARM III sense of place was used as a framework to explore the cultural ecosystem services that marine fishing provides. In the GIFS project this work has been developed. Firstly, through a survey across fishing places in southern/eastern England, northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands, where people’s attachments to fishing places will be measured. Secondly, community, researcher and professional photography will be used to understand the diverse landscapes of fishing across the region and how these landscapes are shaping the practice of fishing and the character of those places. Alongside this sense of place research GIFS is now addressing numerous other ways that the importance of marine fishing can be felt in coastal communities. This presentation will include report on the role of women in fisheries and their contribution to the social cohesion of coastal communities focusing in particular on three countries: Belgium, England and the Netherlands.

Presented by Dr Tim Acott, Dr Julie Urquhart (School of Science) and Dr Minghua Zhao (Greenwich Maritime Institute), University of Greenwich

VENUE: Royal George Room (180), Queen Anne Court, University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, SE10 9LS

TIME: 18:00

DATE: Monday 20th May 2013

There will be time for questions and answers and a drinks reception will follow.

Places are free but please book a place in advance by contacting:
Greenwich Maritime Institute, University of Greenwich
Email: (gmi@gre.ac.uk) Tel: 020 8331 7688

For more information about the London Universities Maritime Law and Policy Research Group please see our website: http://tinyurl.com/c73bs2w

The European Maritime Day is celebrated annually across Europe on 20 May.
It shows the importance of the sea and oceans for everyday life, both in coastal communities and in landlocked areas across Europe. It also highlights the opportunities and challenges currently facing maritime regions and sectors.

Combien? Cinquante-et-un quart …. Wahey!

With apologies to super-heroes, one might ask ‘ Is it a boat? Is it a plane?’ The Hydroptère is a bit of both. The French-built craft, which appears to have been inspired by windsurfers, has just broken the speed record for a sailing yacht, by skimming across the top of the water.
It can do this because of the wings with floats on the end which keep it aloft once it reaches ten knots. When it reaches that speed, the foils under the floats are rotated to 45 degrees, lifting the wing off the water. Then, only 2.5 square metres of boat are in contact with the water – the size of a dining table.

Source: Metro

Then, she ‘flies’ with the main wings five metres above the water, and can accelerate from 20 knots to 45 knots in just ten seconds.
She has just broken the record for a nautical mile, covering it at 50.17 knots. On a shorter 500-metre spurt, she made 52.86 knots.
So much for stately wind-jammers. Now the Hydroptère’s makers are hoping she will sail to a world record as the fastest boat ever to cross the Pacific. Next month’s record attempt from Los Angeles to Honolulu will be led by Hydroptère’s designer, Alain Thébault. Alain began work on the carbon fibre and titanium hydrofoil more than 20 years ago. It’s all in a name, obviously – Alain The boat…

When the hydroptere completed its hair-raising nautical mile sprint, the crew were understandably excited. But had they broken the record? ‘Combien?’ – how fast? And then ‘cinquante et un quart’ – ‘fifty and a quarter…’ Well, almost. High fives all round. You can see the record-breaking run on Metro’s website: http://metro.co.uk/2013/04/30/is-it-a-boat-is-it-a-plane-actually-it-is-a-bit-of-both-3708552/

More than fifty knots. No engine required.

The team are confident they will win the record for crossing the Pacific. With a sailing boat. But one thing has not changed since people first put a boat to sea.

Before deciding exactly when to set off in June, they will wait for the best weather…

Chris Bellamy