What caught my eye last month

Is your new bike stuck in the Suez Canal on the Ever Given?
Is your new bike stuck in the Suez Canal on the Ever Given?

There is never a shortage of news stories as far as the shipping and boating world is concerned, many of them bearing bad tidings of more incidents and accidents the have happened at sea. In fact, daily maritime news feeds fill my inbox to capacity. Some of these articles are of great importance and relevance, others rather more frivolous by nature. There is room for both of course.

Sometimes these articles leave room for further thought and require more digging around to really understand what is at stake, often creating more questions than they answer. Anyway, here are three news items from the last month that caught my eye.

IMO set to move on container losses at sea

It is difficult to have precise figures on the number of containers lost, particularly as container visibility from the bridge may be limited by the containers themselves, and only the upper tiers and the nearest bays can be seen, we are told. When a relatively distant stack of containers collapses, it is difficult to determine immediately and precisely how many containers are involved and when they fell. These events generally occur in adverse weather conditions that prevent immediate on-site investigation they say.

Discussion is underway to agree to initiate new measures to detect and report containers lost at sea, which may enhance the positioning, tracking, and recovery of such containers. The aim is to establish a compulsory system requiring the loss of containers to be declared and the setting up on board of measures to easily identify the exact number of losses. Along with installing such a system, ships would be obliged to report the loss of containers through a standardized procedure.

Given the comments made in the first paragraph, which seem to be slightly at odds with the second paragraph, it strikes me as improbable that the number of containers can be accurately reported. I applaud the sentiment behind this move by IMO, but is it workable?

Your new bike might still be stuck on the Ever Given

Remember that ship that had its 15 minutes of fame recently when it blocked the Suez Canal, inspiring a week of incredible memes, bringing shipping into the mainstream media and news (a rare occurrence), and seriously threatening to upend the entire global economy? As it turns out the news cycle has moved on for many and the 18,000 or so containers that were on the Ever Given have been seized by Egyptian authorities and are being detained, along with the ship itself and the crew members, pending demands of eyewatering sums of money.

The blame game is now in full swing with both sides raising the stakes and there seems no end in sight to this impasse, apart from the handing of large amounts of cash from one party to another which, clearly, is unlikely to happen. And today I read that there is a suggestion that the size of the ship’s rudder could have been a contributing factor.

Canyon has a shipment of bikes stuck on the Ever Given, a spokesperson said in March, and Bird Cycleworks posted last week that there’s a shipment of new handrails aboard too.

So, when might you get your new bike and handrails? How on earth will this stand-off be resolved and brought to a conclusion to everyone’s satisfaction? Impossible is the simple answer to a very complex matter!

Famous face gets a lesson on surveying and UTG from an IIMS stalwart

John Heath, a highly experienced and respected marine surveyor with over 40 years of experience is the IIMS Technical Director and a board member. Recently, he got a huge surprise when he was conducting a pre-purchase survey on an ex-passenger vessel on the River Thames. As he was taking measurements with his thickness gauge a famous face approached him from within the boatyard. It was none other than Sir Tony Robinson, a British ‘national treasure and icon’, who is a prolific creator of factual and historical documentaries about the UK, (but is perhaps most famous for playing Blackadder’s sidekick – Baldrick)!

Sir Tony was filming a series for Channel 5 called “The Thames: Britain’s Greatest River” and he and his team were in in the same boatyard where John and his team were working. Sir Tony approached John on the slipway and, much to everyone’s amusement, he broke off from filming to be given a lesson on marine surveying and ultrasonic thickness gauging.

Survey well.

Mike Schwarz
Chief Executive Officer

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