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Looking to future navigation

Aids to Navigation are state of the art and match the demand from shipping There may still be plenty of arguments about the need for lighthouses and the cost of light dues where these are not funded from general taxation, but it is important that Aids to Navigation are state of the art and match the demand from shipping.The General Lighthouse Authorities of the UK and Ireland have a reputation to maintain as leaders in AtoN technology and last week published their strategic document which looks ahead to 2025 and beyond. Anyone concerned with safe navigation would find it of interest.Much of it revolves around the move from what might be described as "conventional" and traditional navigation to the e-Navigation era which has been prescribed by the International Maritime Organization.But it is also important, when considering AtoNs, that these are used by all classes and sizes of shipping, with the need to consider not only commercial shipping, but a substantial population of fishing and leisure users. And while there may be assumptions made about the way in which GPS has become the subject of "overwhelming reliance" by all sorts of navigators, the GLAs' concern is for the growing vulnerability of ...

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Better times for the World Maritime University

The future of this important maritime institution looks more secure Just about everyone in the maritime world agrees that the World Maritime University has been a thoroughly positive development.It was inaugurated in 1983, primarily to provide the practical assistance for the developing world to bring its maritime administrations up to the necessary level to enable them to implement all the regulatory activity being produced by its parent body, the International Maritime Organization.It has, over the years, educated graduates from 157 countries and has established a reputation for advanced education, training and research for a whole range of marine specialities. More important its alumni, now around 3,000 spread around the world, are exactly the people international maritime industry needs to uphold high standards in a universal fashion. Financing the WMU, despite its growing reputation, has been something of a struggle. It is too young an institution to have built up the funds necessary to provide it with the financial stability that is necessary to help it to ride out the occasional economic storms. And while the member states of the parent body agree as to the university's usefulness, only a small minority of member states contribute to its upkeep. Ideally, all ...

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Transportation is the backbone of our local community

Background trends that drive our industry of derived demand BIMCO General Meetings have a reputation for being rather different to those in the run of the mill conference circuit, and that in Vancouver last week was no exception.They make their delegates think - about big pictures - about the important background trends that drive our industry of derived demand - and the way forward.The theme for Vancouver was sustainability; an ideal location for such a topic, seeing this city on Burrard Inlet in beautiful British Columbia might be thought of as a "market leader" in valuing its environment, with clean air and pristine waters while doubling as Canada's biggest port. As the Hon.Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure of the Government of B.C. noted, "transportation is the backbone of our local community". And Vancouver undoubtedly values its maritime past and present, with the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia well-connected, dynamic, and enjoying a great deal of support. Its counsel and sponsorship of the BIMCO meeting was greatly appreciated.BIMCO Bulletin No. 3 will have a fuller report of the proceedings in Vancouver, but let us offer a "taster", which might give something of a flavour of the event. Why ...

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Sustainability is the key to future progress

Meaning the importance of using the worlds resources in a responsible way Who knows the old English saying doubtless having its equivalent all over the world waste not, want not? It is as old as the hills, but like many of these old ideas, has a timeless quality about it. It spoke about the virtue of never throwing away something that might be useful, hinted at the value of thrift, and in modern terms, referred to the importance of recycling.The more contemporary term sustainability, which of course is the theme of next weeks BIMCO General Meeting in Vancouver, exactly encapsulates the importance of using the worlds resources in a responsible fashion. Most of these resources are, after all, finite and there is the future and its generations to consider.But the avoidance of waste is good sense and, whether we are thinking about not throwing away good food or using up bunker oil in needless speed, good husbandry. The fact that it is also helping to mitigate the damage we might do to the planet, is also every bit as important.There is a debate to be had about sustainability, because there is clearly a need for balance in the way that ...

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The need for real vessel ownership

The need to have somebody who can take proper responsibility Continuity in the manpower overseeing any complex technical equipment is important, as anyone who has had responsibility for the maintenance of a ship knows full well.It is not easy, with some of the liberal crewing regimes that are necessary to attract people to stay at sea, when crew members are sometimes just a few weeks aboard before being relieved.Such arrangements demand the most punctilious record keeping if some vital information about a job "half-done" is not to fall between the responsible crew members.Once, the person responsible for allocating manpower to ships was principally concerned that those appointed had the appropriate qualifications to suit the manning scale required by the flag state. Now, issues of experience and time in the necessary rank intrude, as they are insisted on by certain charterers who have started to introduce this complexity.But even this is only part of the problem, with the need to ensure that there is continuity between crews on their short tours of duty and that all those appointed have the capabilities to operate the specific items of equipment in the ship they are joining.Accidents caused by unfamiliarity are mounting up. An ...

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AIS reliance may lead to complacency

Warning for negligence of first principles It is a sad fact that virtually every new advance in navigation has brought with it a number of accidents which have been contributed to by inappropriate use of the new equipment, usually because of the neglect of first principles.The term "radar assisted collision" became well-known in the early days of commercial radar and in more recent years, the facility of inter-ship VHF, automated radar plotting aids and sophisticated integrated navigation systems involving computers have all contributed to expensive mistakes, often because of either complacency or inadequate training in the new equipment, which have permitted bad habits to form! The emergence of the Automated Identification System is, without doubt, a great advance, but here too, there is some evidence that its availability to provide useful information on the "other ship" can, like other equipment, lead to complacency. It is also a fact that while it may be a mandatory fixture aboard larger vessels, there are many small leisure and fishing craft which are not so fitted. A fatal accident in the North Sea last year, recently the subject of a report by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch, provides a salutary warning on the ...

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The shipping industry in exciting times

Ships as the consumers of maritime technology These are exciting times for the shipping industry if one considers those who operate ships as the "consumers" of maritime technology.There is both the incentive and the demand for change and improvement represented by the need for cleaner, more sustainable ship operation, and the undoubted pressure coming from the cost of fuel.There is a "triangle of progress" that is completed by the ship owners, shipbuilders and regulators and as we have seen in the past, when political pressure, economic necessity and technological development get together, things start to happen! We can see progress emerging in a generally more open and "questing" attitude among ship owners, with a substantial number of the more progressive companies encouraging, if not actually sponsoring, technical development in a way that we have not seen for a number of years.We should be encouraged by the way in which quite radical thinking on such matters as new ship propulsion systems is being seriously contemplated and energetically researched. The "all-electric" ship, nuclear cassettes, fuel cells, and the emergence of an LNG fuel infrastructure are all products of this open minded attitude so evident in the industry. Environmental pressure groups will claim ...

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