Have you ever wondered why incidents and accidents seem to come in clusters and often by type? I have. It is a strange phenomenon and one that I have no idea how to explain. Recently there were several enclosed space accidents hitting the news in quick succession and, sadly, with deaths to report. Then there was a spate of incidents within days of each other involving containers flying from ships into the seas. In some cases, it was just a handful, but in others, much larger numbers reported. And now, it seems, there has been a cluster of devastating fires, both at sea and on shore that have hit the headlines in recent weeks resulting in multiple deaths. Those who know me well will recall that as someone not from a marine background, I find maritime related tragedies on an industrial scale both shocking and hard to understand at times. As ever, my sympathies lie with the families of those who have lost loved ones.
Let’s consider just some of the recent fire related headlines for a moment.
• A fire broke out onboard a vessel berthed at Keppel Bay, Singapore.
• A clean-up operation has begun after a large motor yacht caught fire and sank in a Torquay Marina, with about nine tonnes of diesel on board.
• A fire has broken out in the funnel of the Carnival Freedom cruise ship, which was docked at Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
• Nearly 50 dead and hundreds injured after fire breaks out at Bangladesh container depot.
• Over 100 people were evacuated safely from the Spirit of Norfolk dining cruise on the Elizabeth River on June 7 after a fire erupted near the stern of the vessel.
• Fire erupts at Port of Suakin, Sudan.
It makes me wonder if there is a secret ‘think tank’ of people somewhere in the world that come together when there is a string of incidents such as the above. But the reality is that it is just a macabre coincidence of course.
What these incidents do is to highlight and remind us all of the potential danger and threats that are omnipresent for those engaged in maritime trade – and yes, I most certainly include marine surveyors in that list. I know that shipping and boating can be risky, but this year is already looking like another devastating one in terms of the number of incidents and accidents with loss of life involved. It has prompted me to start work on edition two of the Safety & Loss Prevention Briefings Compendium, which will publish at the year end.
On a lighter note, I am delighted to welcome South Korean based Peter Broad FIIMS as your new President. He formally took up his post during the AGM on 7th June following the changing of the guard as Geoff Waddington came to the end of his two-year term. You can read more about the AGM and see some photos elsewhere in the bulletin.
If you are an IIMS member reading this bulletin, we are planning to seek your opinion on a range of matters. Please keep an eye open for a simple online questionnaire that will be sent to you in the coming weeks. It is several years since we conducted some research amongst our members. Much has changed in the world during that time, and we would like to know your thoughts on a range of topics related to your membership of IIMS. Thanks in advance for your co-operation.
Chief Executive Officer