A Student Perspective: Maritime and Coastal Access Act 2009: ambitions and historical continuity. How the implementation is going?

The UK has built its history throughout the exploration and exploitation of the sea on a global scale. Goods, spices, raw materials, food, animals, labour force and so on, help us to obtain a clear view of what this island would have been, without its predominance above the oceans. In spite of the normal flow of time, the UK still today would not be able to cope with a lack of imports that probably might lead to cripple. Just think that the 15% of GDP relies on fishing! UK has been an island, is still an island and will remain an island. As a result, a good management of the sea and its resources still appear crucial for the country’s wealth and safety especially now where the North Sea is considered will be a fundamental crossroad for shipping. Now, the Maritime and Costal Access Act 2009 (the Act) guidelines framework can be summarized as follow:

a) Marine Management Organisation

b) Marine Planning

c) Marine Licensing

d) Marine Nature Conservation

e) Fisheries Management and Marine Enforcement

f) Environmental Data and Information

g) Migratory and Freshwater Fisheries

h) Coastal Access

i) Coastal and Estuary Management

From this framework lots of organizations at regional and national level have been spreading, which have the aim of implementing the Act in the manner that best suits them and that reflect the guidelines. For instance, there is a common thought within the Maritime Actors that the UK’s Marine System is full of flaws and as a result “Marine planning will be the hot topic in the next decade” and, as we can see from the range of topics covered by the Act, there are few doubts about it.

However, perplexities arise and the ambitious goals of the Act, seems to me quite pretentious. Firstly, being a long term plan, most of the NGO promoters involved in, may find on their way impediments in fund raising and therefore in the implementation. In detail, most of NGO are self-funded by their members, but who ensure that the amount of resources is going to be sufficient?

Secondly, due to the number of actors involved and to the absence of an authority and/or strict deadlines for implementation, what may occur is not a collaboration but conflicts amongst scholars, entrepreneurs, policy makers, councils and so on.

Thirdly, what is important is the development of a common communication system in order to avoid misunderstanding and promote clarity. UK is formed by different people, speaking different languages and having slightly different cultures. I think that the need of intercommunication and understanding of each other are the key words for establishing a better functioning teamwork.

Fourthly, there are still big data gaps. What is really interesting is that only 10% of the UK seabed is mapped.

Fifthly, most of the outcomes been forecasted turn out to be “no more than a guess”, whilst the risk is higher as well as the cost.

According to my opinion, Marine Sea Planning is certainly a good idea, actually a very good one. However, it seems to me that we are still in a theoretical stage instead of a practical one, due basically to the impediments and the lack of clarity concerning the implementation. Nevertheless, the numbers of actors involved and the efforts being made not only demonstrate the importance of the sea and coast for the UK but provide a substantial guarantee for the success of the whole work, as well.

Andrea Giannotti, MA International Maritime Policy Student

Public Seminar – The Challenge of Designing New Vessels for the 21st Century Tidal Thames

The next public research seminar of the 2013-14 programme will be taking place on Wednesday 12th February 2014. 

During this presentation Alan Cartwright of Warsash Maritime Academy will reflect upon the challenges and factors of designing vessels for the tidal Thames and how the Port of London Authority (PLA) has been leading the research and development of both technology and operations. 

After enjoying a rewarding career as a General List engineer officer in the Royal Navy, Alan Cartwright was appointed to head the Marine Engineering Department of the Port of London Authority in January 1998.  During his service with the PLA, Alan led a number of substantial projects, all focused on introducing more capable and environmentally efficient vessels for operations on the tidal Thames.  Under Alan’s direction and with the PLA’s support, pioneering research work was undertaken by Southampton University into minimising vessel wash and resistance for shallow water operations.  This led to the design and build of the PLA’s first class of low-wash, low-emissions patrol launches, Richmond and Chelsea, which operate in the upper reaches of the tidal Thames.  The innovative concept, research and vessel build was recognised by the Royal Institution of Naval Architects and Lloyd’s Register, winning first prize at their international Ship Safety Award, 2008.

Development of the low-wash / low-emissions concept provided the opportunity to rationalise the PLA’s vessel fleet of patrol and pilotage vessels, in which further research work was undertaken by Newcastle University, leading to the build of four combined service catamarans by specialist boat builder Alnmaritec Limited, of Northumberland.  The Bridge Class of pilotage and patrol vessels (Lambeth, Southwark, Kew and Barnes) has now been in service for three years, demonstrating great operational flexibility and immense fuel and emissions savings.

Since 2011, Alan’s primary focus has been on the design and build of a new and very capable Moorings Maintenance Vessel, to replace the PLA’s old salvage ships Hookness and Crossness.  This complex and very capable vessel, to be named London Titan, is now at an advanced stage of build at Manor Marine, Portland, Dorset.  In December 2013, Alan moved on from the PLA, to start the third phase of his maritime career, as Commercial Manager of Warsash Maritime Academy, the world renowned provider of Merchant Navy education and training.

Location: Edinburgh Room (075), Queen Anne Court, University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London, SE10 9LS

Time: The seminar will begin at 6pm with refreshments available from 5.30pm

Anyone is welcome to attend this free event and no booking is required. If you would like any further information however please telephone the GMI Office on 020 8331 7688 or email gmi@gre.ac.uk.

2014 Alan Villiers Memorial Lecture Essay Competition

The Editors of British Naval History are pleased to announce the 2014 Alan Villiers Memorial Lecture Essay Competition, with the support of the Society for Nautical Research, the Naval Review, and the Britannia Naval Research Association. The AVML Essay Competition is designed with four goals:

1) To encourage the study of maritime and naval history at the Postgraduate level.

2) To provide an opportunity for Postgraduate students to publish a mid-length academic research paper.

3) To provide an opportunity for Postgraduate students to become known to, and involved with, several non-University naval and maritime history research associations.

4) To provide an opportunity for graduate students to communicate, and receive feedback on, the current form of their argument or analysis.

For further details, please go to http://www.britishnavalhistory.com/2014-alan-villiers-memorial-lecture-essay-competition/

Programme of Free Evening Seminars in Maritime Policy, Security and History

Greenwich Maritime Institute holds a range of events, seminars and conferences including the popular Public Research Seminar Series which are held in Greenwich at monthly intervals.

Experts are invited to give a presentation on areas that relate to the three broad themes that the GMI specialises in: Maritime History, Maritime Policy and Maritime Security. Presentations are then followed by questions from the audience. Anyone is welcome to attend these free seminars although advance booking is required via Eventbrite.co.uk.

This year we are pleased to announce a variety of topics such as:

  • Licensing Private Maritime Security Companies
  • Navy, Identity & Leisure in 20th Century Britain
  • Loss of the RB Angus
  • 1412 – The Year China Discovered the World
  • Designing New Vessels for 21st Century Tidal Thames
  • Human Rights Considerations in the Maritime Industry
  • China’s Ship Recycling


GMI Research Seminar Series 2013-14 – Download the brochure in PDF format

A Magnificent Transformation: World Shipping 50 Years Ago and Today

It began to take shape fifty years ago. Parts of the outline of the highly efficient global merchant shipping industry we see today started to become visible in the early 1960s. The transformation process was already well under way by then, in the tanker sector. But back in 1963 much of the world’s shipping system, consisting of cargo liner services and dry cargo tramp trades, was not functioning well. Dramatic changes were beginning, however, which would revolutionise the dynamics over the next decade and beyond.

The preceding revolution, the changeover from sail to steam propulsion, had greatly improved performance in the shipping industry. This fundamental technological change had increased capacity and enabled scheduled services to operate, but some inefficient aspects continued. In many trades cargo-handling in ports was said, jokingly, to have remained unchanged since the time of the Phoenicians, except that powered winches had replaced muscle-power. In the next revolution, from the 1960s onwards, old methods and traditions would be swept away by new technology and new working practices.

Industry characteristics and economics were studied in the early sixties by ambitious young men, working in London shipping offices, who enrolled for the shipping certificate course at the City of London College (in this era few women aspired to senior positions in the industry, which was male dominated). The course involved two years of evening classes. These keen students learned that the world fleet of ships at that time was dominated by liners (cargo and passenger), tramps (dry cargo) and specialised ships, including tankers.

Ship 1


Cargo liners were versatile, multi-deck ships with installed cargo-handling gear, carrying mostly manufactured goods, often accompanied by refrigerated products, together with some bulk cargo parcels. They operated on regular scheduled services. Tramps (dry cargo), available on the charter market, usually carried full shiploads of bulk commodities. Many of these tramps were similar, in size and specification, to cargo liners and their role was often interchangeable between the sectors. Tankers mainly transported oil and oil products. During the early sixties, two changes were prominent. Bulk carriers, including ore carriers and dual-purpose combined carriers (able to carry either oil or dry bulk cargo), were coming in strongly, and passenger liners (operating on regular routes) were going out.

Fifty years ago many ships spent a large proportion of their working lives stationary in port. In the cargo liner trades especially, cargo handling – loading and discharging – was often slow, or very slow, caused by labour-intensive methods. This sluggish performance frequently was exacerbated by poor labour relations with dock workers. Consequently, a huge global fleet of ships was chronically under-utilised. Expensive, sophisticated cargo liners could be in port for up to 60 per cent of available time for transport movements (equivalent to 200 or more days annually) and much of that was idle time, when no cargo was being handled. Profitability suffered heavily, and the system struggled to perform adequately. A more efficient service was needed to cope with fast trade expansion and the solution was containerisation, which developed quickly from the late-1960s onwards.

Containerisation proceeded apace through the 1970s and 1980s, and was truly a revolutionary upheaval, enabling manufactured goods to be transported around the world rapidly, securely and cheaply. Cargo liner trades became integrated into a through-transport system providing a door-to-door service for manufacturers, a new way of organising transport involving vast capital investment in ships, ports and cargo-handling equipment. This reconfiguration hastened and greatly assisted the world’s transition to a globalised economy, with its extended supply chains, as we know it today.

In other shipping sectors, bulk (dry and wet) and specialised trades, developments were also dramatic, although not quite so revolutionary. But notable changes greatly enhanced efficiency and provided more economical transport. In a large number of international trades much larger ships of improved designs were utilised. Different types of specialised vessel were introduced. Coupled with high speed shore-based cargo loading and discharging equipment, this amounted to a transformation.

Over the past five decades world seaborne trade growth has been astounding. Global seaborne trade of all types totalled 1.35 billion tonnes in 1963, according to UNCTAD statistics, of which 53 percent was liquids, mostly oil (tanker cargoes). The 2013 figure, based on calculations by shipping information providers Clarksons, could be 9.9bn. This total represents a more than seven-fold expansion over the fifty year period, having already reached an estimated 9.5bn last year, of which oil cargoes comprised 29 percent.

Another aspect is longer voyage distances in numerous trades. More remote supply sources for commodities and other goods were located and became economical to use, while globalisation and reduced transport costs altered geographical trade patterns. Tonne-miles, the standard measure of shipping demand because it reflects both cargo volume and voyage distance, was further boosted. A great enlargement of carrying capacity was required.

Shipowners responded to this requirement with huge investment in new tonnage, continuously expanding the global fleet of ships. Measured in gross tons, the world fleet of all types of merchant vessel in mid-1963 totalled 145.9 million GT, comprising 39,571 ships, according to Lloyd’s Register statistics. Fifty years later the mid-2013 fleet, based on Clarksons data, was 1,114.8m GT, consisting of 85,642 ships. This growth, over seven-fold, was similar to the trade volume percentage increase. But the productivity of the fleet had also improved. More specifically, a typical ship’s annual carrying capacity, as distinct from the single cargo capacity measured by vessel tonnage, had risen. Higher speeds at sea, less time spent in port, coupled with enhanced operational efficiency was instrumental in ensuring that each ton of ship’s capacity carried more cargo in a typical year. Another feature accompanying fleet tonnage growth was the 253 percent rise in the average ship size, from 3700 GT in 1963, to 13000 GT in 2013.

Currently, in the early 2010s, the world fleet of ships meeting the needs of cargo movements is comprised of three main sectors. Today’s students, such as those pursuing post-graduate maritime studies at Greenwich Maritime Institute, London are well aware that bulk carriers, tankers and container ships dominate. These vessels are accompanied by what has become a very large group of special purpose ships, such as liquefied gas carriers and car carriers. A prominent feature in many trades has been the great increase in the size of vessels typically employed, demonstrating advantages to be gained from economies of scale, amid pressure to reduce the unit cost of providing services.

From these brief highlights we can see that a fascinating and impressive period of progress has evolved in the global shipping industry, during the past 50 years. World seaborne trade has expanded enormously. The fleet of cargo-carrying ships, of various types and varieties, has been required to tackle an ever more challenging task, and has done so pretty effectively. Sometimes though, fleet growth in various sectors has been far too rapid, as investors collectively misjudged – always a difficult judgement – or ignored the shipping market cycle. What is abundantly clear is that great improvements have been made in the efficiency and sophistication of the sea transport system, restraining costs and freight rates and contributing massively to the globalisation era.

Richard Scott, GMI visiting lecturer and MD, Bulk Shipping Analysis

Deptford Plan Lacks Sense of History – David Hilling

In a letter to the Evening Standard published on 7th May 2013 David Hilling, GMI wrote:

In the redevelopment plans for Convoys Wharf in Deptford there seems to be little in the way of vision with respect to what makes places tick.

With Deptford dockyard history and Maritime Greenwich and the birthplace of The Great Eastern nearby one might have expected some recognition of the role of the Thames.  An obvious way would have been to include a modern cruise ship terminal which London sadly lacks.  It seems amazing that the developer, port operator Hutchinson Whampoa, did not think along these lines.

A Student Perspective: Implementation of the Marine and Coastal Access Act, 2009

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (the Act) has a number of elements, such as enabling the Marine Management Organisation and develop marine planning. The primary aim is to strengthen the protection of the marine environment, which includes marine conservation zones and the management of fish stocks.

The Act is the primary legislation, which will be the starting point for a number of secondary legislative processes that will put the purpose(s) of the Act into action. This Act is seen as ground breaking, because it is truly unique. This is because it provides a single regulatory model and body to protect the ‘living seas’ (Wildlife Trust).

The development of the Act is that it will directly counter the problems of overexploitation, which has been a significant issue in the marine environment (and the rationale for the legislative process created). The Act is a culmination of policy review and development from 2001, which inevitably required legislation as the protection of the seas would only be achievable through legal obligations.
The Act has brought some important changes, which include the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) being put into action. There has also be drafting of marine plans in the East and Southern Coasts, as well as a marine licensing regime in place to ensure that any exploitation is based on ensuring sustainable fisheries management. One of the most important factors is the development of marine protected areas, which will limit exploitation in some of the most vulnerable coastal areas.

The main problem with the Act is that it may have enabled potentially substantive organisation and planning, but putting these elements in practice has been less than effective. For example, the MMO has a low value added service; as well as a slow uptake for marine planning. Another example is the ineffectiveness of the marine licensing and fisheries conservation system. This illustrates that the Act has in fact made little practical change, which is due to the ineffectiveness of the practical implementation of the legislation and not the statute itself. This means that the purposes of the Act will not be met; hence there needs to be more effective practical implementation to meet the end goals (especially meeting the Marine Protection Area targets).

The implication is that the Act can be seen as a potentially effective tool to protect the marine environment off the English coast. The implementation seems to be poor, which will mean a mixed bag in meeting the end-goals in immediate and medium future. The consequence of this is that there needs to be special reconsideration of the implementation, in order to create a better model. This may not be necessary; as the Act is relatively new the practical issues may be rectified as the ‘kinks’ are ironed out. As Pliny the Elder identifies “the only certainty is that nothing is certain.” However, it stands to reason that if a system is failing that it is reconfigured to improve the effectiveness of implementation.

Faisal Idris, MA International Maritime Policy Student

GMI One-Day Short Courses: Maritime Crime; Maritime Ancestry and Maritime China

Greenwich Maritime Institute are delighted to announce that registration is now open for three one-day short courses that are to be held in June 2013.

The courses all reflect the expertise and interests of our teaching staff so are a mixture of historical and contemporary themes. Anyone is welcome to attend, there are no entry requirements.

Fees: Each one-day course costs £90 per person. However if you would like to attend more than one course the fee for two courses is £160, or for all three courses £240. Fees include course materials; certificate of attendance; lunch and refreshments throughout the day.

For a booking form and more details on the courses, please visit our website: http://www2.gre.ac.uk/about/schools/gmi/study/short/programmes


A Student View – The Role of the Maritime Press: Lloyd’s List

The Lloyd’s List’s editorial mission is to provide information, analysis and knowledge for business decision makers in the global shipping community including among others ship-owners, ship managers, classification societies, seafarers and regulators. In a changing and increasingly complex shipping environment, Lloyd’s List’s aim is to deliver business-critical information in the distribution channels most suited to the needs of a customer, with immediacy and no matter where in the world that customer is located.

Lloyd’s List provides a unique conduit to the analytical power of Lloyd’s List Intelligence. Conversely, Lloyd’s List’s journalists draw on this resource to deliver more incisive information and analysis to readers. Lloyd’s List establishes a forum for the shipping community, providing a space for informed debate by business leaders, from ship-owners to classification societies to financial services providers and seafarers, via interviews, opinion, surveys and exchange of ideas. This forum is enhanced by a global programme of awards and conferences.

Lloyd’s List stands at the centre of this community as arbiter, ombudsman, and as source of information, shipping knowledge, analysis and reporting. Lloyd’s List provides the business critical information and analysis on a timely basis, providing news that keeps readers informed in an increasingly competitive and complex shipping market. Lloyd’s List is the only information provider that covers all aspects of shipping, from finance to the regulation of the markets. Its readers, therefore, benefit from the most comprehensive hour-to-hour view of shipping available in the world.

What is interesting is that the credibility of the Lloyd’s comes at a time that the print or web media are facing serious reliability problems, which arise from the way of reporting or writing down the news. Nowadays, many mass media (e.g. free newspapers, informative websites), provide a 24-hour news agenda, trying to attract the interest of readers in every way. However, the mass media and the press not only try to attract the interest of the readers, but they manage to exert influence on public opinion and to use the “public opinion” in order to exert influence on governments or entrepreneurs, as well. In other words, the mass media and the press can, to some extent, affect the policy making and they try to release specific “ideas” in order to change policy makers’ minds or to form a ‘public opinion’. For example, shareholders of a newspaper might impose indirectly on journalists to write articles in such a way in order to influence readers and thereby meet their own economic, political or business goals. As the dripping tap effect, the erosion of firmly held ideas can be reached.

Within this context, there is an interesting question the reader or user of these informative sources has to pose: who pays for the free or non-free informative resources, and who provides the information to the journalists? In other words, a very important issue is whom or which source of information can the reader trust: for example, the Mass Media, the businessmen, the politicians, or the journalists? Consequently, the credibility of an informative source is a very important question that must be answered only by the reader.
Thus, the above mentioned power of the press to promote change, and to affect the public opinion is really important for the seafarers and for the vast majority of the people working in the shipping industry if they want to present to the public opinion the positive impact of the shipping industry, and to provide the public opinion with the necessary knowledge and information about the maritime affairs, as well.

Hsien-Chang Yang (MA International Maritime Policy Student)

Successful Short Course in Maritime Piracy

The GMI held a very successful one-day course on Saturday 16th June 2012 at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich. It explored both a historical look at piracy, its development and the challenges faced by the maritime industry today. We were delighted to be able to draw on the knowledge from our very own Professor in Maritime Security, Chris Bellamy along with Dr Christian Bueger from Cardiff University, Peter Cook from SAMI and Neil Smith from Lloyds Market Association. This team delivered their seminar-style course to an impressive 18 delegates who were all presented with a certificate of attendance at the end of the day. We would like to thank everyone involved for making this day a success. Further details will now be posted about our next short course in July!