COVID-19 updates

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Director's Log

I very much hope this newsletter finds our readers safe and healthy.

When I drafted my log for the March edition, I honestly thought that by the end of April we would have some view on when the COVID-19 pandemic would subside. Unfortunately, that is not the case and I suspect we will be in a similar position at the end of May.

However, on a positive note, we have found that those of us who work mostly in an office environment have continued to successfully perform our business remotely. Virtual meetings have become the norm and have proved to be successful. I expect that these will continue even after we return to normal, as organisations and businesses cut back on travel expenses, improve their carbon footprint and become more productive due to less time travelling. We had identified this in our Strategy review in 2019 and although we have been forced into testing the concept earlier than planned, it is gratifying to know that it works. As you read through the reports in this newsletter, you will see a sample of the meetings we have been able to complete in this manner.

OCIMF set up a COVID-19 Task Force early in the month to investigate alternative inspection strategies and methods in the short and mid-term to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the inspection programmes and its users, including inspectors, vessel operators and crews. We have periodically released guidance bulletins, with respect to inspections, and will continue to do so as and when changes happen. We are also in regular dialogue with other associations in the oil and gas industry to jointly identify and address the pandemic’s impact on the maritime industry.

With the support of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), we issued electronic versions of the Ship-Shore Safety Checklist and guidance on how to complete meetings to minimise physical interface between tanker and terminal personnel.

The unhindered global trade of oil, gas and chemicals is considered essential to maintain the supply of energy, fuel and the various industries that rely on oil and chemicals as feedstocks for producing materials, foodstuffs and medicines. It is important to ensure that this is achieved with continuing high standards of safety and environmental responsibility. While everyone involved in the logistics chain do what they need to do, I want to thank the vessel crews who face extensions to their contracted times onboard. They are essential to ensuring continuity of supplies and are being impacted negatively through the restrictions imposed by governments on the movement of people. The industry is urgently working with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), airlines and governments to find solutions and I hope that seafarers see improvements in the coming days.

I wish you well for May and hope my next log is on a more positive note.

Rob Drysdale
Director OCIMF

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Static Towing Assembly Guidelines

Static Towing Assembly Guidelines (STAG) supplements the OCIMF publication Guidelines to Offshore Tanker Operations (GOTO) and should be read along with the relevant guidance for static towing operations.

The purpose of this information paper is to provide technical guidance on selecting fit for purpose towing assemblies that minimise risk of injury to crew members or damage to equipment, and to optimise the effectiveness of static towing operations.

Read Static Towing Assembly Guidelines (STAG)

BMP West Africa

OCIMF is pleased to support the publication of Best Management Practices to Enhance Maritime Security for Vessels and Mariners Operating Off the Coast of West Africa including the Gulf of Guinea (BMP WA) to update maritime security guidance for mariners operating off the coast of West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.

Twenty-eight industry organisations, supported by seven government and military organisations, worked together to produce this information paper that will help mariners detect, deter and delay external threats to their safety. BMP WA consolidates and enhances existing guidance for specific threats in this region. The publication is free to download. Printed copies of the publication will be available later in the year.


Ports and Terminals Committee

92nd meeting: 15 April, virtual meeting (hosted by OCIMF)

Twenty-eight members of the Ports and Terminals Committee (PTC) were in attendance, including those from the USA, Brazil, Europe, Middle East and Australia.

The meeting agenda had been shortened to include only items of importance to the committee or where a decision was required.

Members could follow along with all the pre-read materials used in the slide pack.

Major topics of discussion included:

  • International Safety Guide for Oil Tankers and Terminals, Sixth Edition (ISGOTT 6) revision project.
  • Ship to Ship Focus Group (STSFG) update.
  • Marine Terminal Focus Group (MTFG) update.
  • Marine Structures and Civil Engineering Focus Group (MSCEFG) update.
  • Review of outstanding workload.

Connectivity did not seem to be a problem, but most members chose not to use the video feature.

General Purposes Committee

90th meeting: 11-12 March, London, UK (hosted by OCIMF)

The General Purposes Committee (GPC) meeting was held before COVID-19 restrictions were put in place by the UK government, however, 50% of members joined the meeting via teleconference due to member companies travel restrictions.

The GPC made several key decisions, including:

  • Approved the publication of the OCIMF Human Factors Approach to wider membership.
  • Approved the Terms of Reference for Tanker Management Self Assessment (TMSA) chapter 14 (human factors) project, which was submitted by the Human Factors Focus Group (HFFG).
  • Approved the continuation of the work item on reducing the risk of fire in the engine room.
  • Approved the information paper Drug and Alcohol Policy, subject to resolution of all comments received from members. GPC approved the incorporation of information paper’s technical contents in SIRE.
  • Approved the latest recommendations from the Vessel Inspection Programme (VIP) project.
  • Approved the 1 July 2020 roll-out date for the new Inspection Request tool, subject to a final decision in May.
  • Agreed to terminate the practice of permitting a SIRE submitting member to preview the Vessel Inspection Questionnaire (VIQ) before it is uploaded to the SIRE database.

Europe Inland and Coastal Barge Focus Group

9th meeting: 18-19 March, virtual meeting (hosted by OCIMF)

The Europe Inland and Coastal Barge Focus Group (EICBFG) reviewed:

  • Progress on the European Barge Inspection Scheme (EBIS) transition.
  • Progress on International Safety Guide for Inland Navigation Tank-barges and Terminals, Second Edition (ISGINTT 2).
  • Management of OCIMF barge operations in Europe following the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Draft Effective Communications During Navigation on Inland European Waterways.
  • Updates from around the barge regions and OCIMF committee structure as related to barges.
  • Updates on OCIMF strategy implementation.

Next meeting: 3-4 June, TBD (hosted by OCIMF)

International Maritime Bureau’s Q1 Report

The International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) report for the first quarter of 2020 was issued on 14 April.

The report highlights that the Gulf of Guinea remains the world’s piracy hotspot. Seventeen crew were kidnapped 45-75 nautical miles from the coast in three incidents in these waters.

This report shows zero hijackings in the last two quarters, and no incidents around Somalia. However, worldwide, there is no sign of a reduction in attacks. “Navy patrols, onboard security measures, cooperation and transparent information exchange between authorities, are all factors which help address the crimes of piracy and armed robbery,” said IMB Director Michael Howlett. “The threat to crew is, however, still real – whether from violent gangs, or opportunistic armed thieves inadvertently coming face-to-face with the crew. Ships’ masters must continue to follow industry best practice diligently and maintain watches. Early detection of an approaching pirate skiff is often key to avoiding an attack”, he added.

OCIMF urges all seafarers to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities. A copy of the report can be found here.

IMO updates

Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment

The seventh meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE 7) was held 2-6 March at the IMO Headquarters in London, UK.

The meeting agreed:

  • Headsets are advisable for firefighters’ radios but the current SOLAS regulation does not mandate it.
  • Storage of firefighter outfits for tankers is up to the fire control plan approved by the flag Administration.

SSE 7 also developed the following:

  • Draft amendments to SOLAS, the International Life-Saving Appliance Code (LSA Code) and resolution MSC.81 (70) on the new ventilation requirements for survival craft, including lifeboats with a self-contained air system.
  • Draft amendments to the LSA Code on the conditions for exempting single hook systems from release hook requirements.
  • Draft amendments to SOLAS and the LSA Code and resolution MSC.81(70) to clarify that the five-knots launching test is not required for a freefall lifeboat
  • Draft amendments to SOLAS and new draft guidelines for lifting appliances to be finalised at SSE 8, with expected entry into force 1 January 2024.
  • Draft Interim Guidelines on safe operation of onshore power supply (OPS) service in port for ships engaged on international voyages.

SSE 7 decided to continue work on:

  • The test method for the dry chemical fire extinguishers for Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) carriers.
  • Preventive measures for flammable vapours leaking into the forecastle of tankers that have a blower.
  • Test methods for ventilation requirements of life rafts.
  • Draft guidelines for anchor handling winches.

SSE 7 also agreed not to discuss expanding lifeboat seating space from 430mm to 510mm until a high-level action plan is agreed.