A HYDROGEN SULPHIDE
Most safety flashes are
distributed anonymously which in a way frustrates those reading them because
they somehow only provide bits of the story. Hence it is of interest that a
member of the StatoilHydro marine department Ole Steinar Anderssen described
an incident and named names at a recent Marine Safety Forum event. The
event, which was potentially extremely dangerous involved the carriage of
248 m3 of "slops" from the Ocean Vanguard which for a variety of
reasons remained on board the ME303 Northern Challenger between 17th July
and 8th September. On 8th September when the ship was alongside in Stavanger
the crew became aware of a smell of rotten eggs in the vicinity of the vents
from the tanks which stil contained the slops. Apparently a measurement of
the H2S at the vents was taken which revealed an H2S
level of 500 ppm.
This resulted in the ship
being moved to somewhere in the harbour where the fumes would affect no-one
but the crew (My words) and in the days following action was taken to
disperse the gas, remove the slops and clean the tanks. There were
recommendations made, none of which as far as I could tell was "Don't load
any H2S contaminate fluids onto support vessels". Indeed there is
quite a bit we should understand about H2S, and I recollect that
during my brief period in command of a supply vessel in Saudi Arabia I was
aware that we carried 12 sets of breathing apparatus , and that these had
something to do with H2S, and on one occasion I smelt the
tell-tale smell of rotten eggs but just thought that one of my fellow crew
members had a digestive problem.
The one really valid
recommendation from the investigation into the incident was "all crew should
be made aware of the hazards of H2S."
Due to the media coverage
of the Maersk Alabama incident there has been a greater awareness of
the pirate activities off the coast of Somalia, and I realise that |I have a
sort of subtext at work, in that as well as summarising what I think might
be major news items affecting mariners everywhere, the subtext is that in
the future people might choose to follow these various trains of events,
just to see how they progressed.
Hence, subsequent to the Maersk Alabama
incident, attacks on merchant ships off the Horn of Africa have continued,
but the warships of the various countries involved have had some successes.
Hence, even though further merchant ships have joined those holed up off the
coast of the Puntland some pirates were captured by a Portuguese warship ,
but they had to be let go on instruction from the Portuguese authorities.
This is really due to problems with a judicial authority. none exists in
Somalia at present. Probably the biggest error was made by two small craft
full of pirates who mistook a French warship for a commercial craft, and as
a result 11 of them were captured.
But for those who ware reading this in the
future, at present there really seems to be no way of sorting out this
problem. There are hundreds of very hard up young men in Northern Somalia
who are starving, and the entry level into the pirate force is ownership of
a Kalashnikov. If we look at New and Views last month, being a pirate could
be a better option than dying in a small craft between Libya and the
southernmost point in Italy.
I am aware that people who
are not, and do not intended to be, seafarers visit this site and have been
requested by some to provide a glossary of terms. Some-one asked me what an
AB was, and of course mariners all know what ABs are, but why should
some-one who lives in Chertsey. So the glossary of terms is now in the
"Features" section, and I have included a link to it on all the pages of
the site. But to move on. It occurred to me that non-seafarers can have no
idea how desperately how boring some aspects of the job are.
As a young man I
served as a Second Mate (for non seafarer's "the navigator") for a tramp
ship company, principally because I was going to get married, and me and my
then future wife were considering emigrating to Australia. So I joined a
ship which they told me was going to Australia. However, in the way of tramp
ships of the time, it actually went to China and arrived during the cultural
revolution. We just made it though the Suez Canal at the initiation of the
six day war, and the convoy that went in as we came out was at anchor
in the Bitter Lakes for eight years. Eventually though, we got back to the
UK and I then joined another of the company's ships which did go to
Australia. And here is the point of this little tale we left the east coast
of Australia and returned to Europe across the Pacific and the Panama Canal.
The crossing took twenty-six days, and we watchkeepers spent eight hours a
day on the bridge, looking out in order to ensure the safe passage of our
ship, and we did not see even a shadow of land on the horizon or a single
Recently I reader a
letter in a trades union periodical which pointed out some of the problems
which may occur if one takes on a job in the contract business, and this may
be applicable to mariners under certain circumstances. The guy took on
a job somewhere on the seaboard of the Caspian Sea and together with others
flew into the main airport and was met by the representative of the company
for whom they were to work, but it turned out that their visas were not in
order, and despite re-assurances from the company rep they were taken to a
police station and questioned. The rep said he would sort it all out, but
never-the-less the group of European workers were put in a cell and remained
there for more than 24 hours, with little space and little water and food.
They were eventually deported, so from no fault of their own they suffered
considerable privation, and were probably just pleased to get back to a
civilised country. I suppose the message here is, that one should be
cautious before taking on employment in an unknown environment, and even
under the best circumstances you might have experiences outside what one
would regard as the norm.
I have my own
illustration. Many years ago I went to Saudi because I needed the money, and
I was prepared for some difficulty. My expectations were fulfilled. Entering
the country I had to wait for an agent's representative, and the wait turned
out to be several hours until I was the only person left in the airline
terminal. He finally turned up and took me to the port and left me on the
quayside telling me to get on the ship, not my ship, but the ship which was
going to take me to my ship. Eventually I found it and was given a bunk in
an eight berth cabin with lots of guys from middle east who were going
to be labourers, electricians, you name it. I was going to be captain of a
ship and had become used to a little respect, but I learnt to take it as it
comes, and if you go to do this sort of job so must you.
SUPPLY SHIP OPERATIONS
More about "Supply Ship Operations".
And if you are bored by this please forgive the advertising. The book has
unexpectedly been picked up by a number of retailers including Waterstones
on Union Bridge in Aberdeen. There is a full list of who they are on the
relevant page. They are of course in the North East of Scotland.
My distributor has been
trying to persuade WHSmith in Aberdeen airport to stock it, but have so far
been unsuccessful. My suggestion that more supply ship people pass through
that space than any other in the world has cut no ice. Please give me a hand
by asking for it at their check-out. Once a few people have done this the
message will get through.