THE ARCTIC SUNRISE
little more than a month after the Greenpeace protest at the Priraziomnaya,
where the protesters claimed that they just climbed aboard the rig in order
to plant a banner, all those involved are still in jail in Murmansk and the
ship is at anchor outside the port. This after Russian special forces were
helicoptered aboard and took over.
The 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists were originally charged with
piracy but more recently the charge was reduced to ‘hooliganism’, which
carries a lesser sentence. This is all extremely harsh and honestly you
would think that the organization – Greenpeace - would have assessed the
risks of such a venture. But then they don’t seem to assess the risks
relating to their other activities very well.
Of course not everyone will be distressed by this sequence of events. For
many years it appears that the environmentalists have used the oil industry
as a means of publicizing their activities, with the possible objective of
increasing their revenue. And of course in the west the oil companies have
taken a view that the best action is no action, particularly after Brent
Spar where Greenpeace succeeded in reversing Shell’s decision to dump the
redundant structure in the Atlantic. Shell possibly made the error of taking
aggressive action against the protesters who had taken up residence on the
structure, by spraying them with fire monitors from support vessels. This
had the effect of ensuring that the event remained in the news. In the end
much of what Greenpeace had claimed about the spar turned out to be false,
but by then it was too late.
SOME THING FROM THE CONSTA CONCORDIA TRIAL
been reports all over the media about the testimony of the Moldovan dancer
Domnica Cemortan at the trial of Captain Schettino, who faces charges of
causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. She admitted that after all she and
the Captain had a relationship. This was said therefore to cast doubt on her
previous testimony that he had been a hero, in navigating the ship to
shallow water. I don’t think we needed her new admission for us to be
doubting his heroics, since according to the accident investigation it was
an extraordinary stroke of luck that the ship drifted onto the ledge outside
Giglio harbour. And there may be some cynics who felt that her presence on
the bridge of the ship, with neither a ticket or a place on the crew list,
indicated that she was more than a friend.
NEFTEGAZ 67 AND YAO HAI COLLISION
The Neftegaz 55 - a
sister ship to the Neftegaz 67 photographed by Wullie Bemner
Nautical Institute Hong Kong branch recently held an evening seminar where
they discussed the Neftegaz 67/ Yao Hai collision which resulted in a court
case and the imprisonment of the captain of the supply ship. They were
specifically discussing the relevance of Rule 9 of the Collision Regulations
which determines the actions to be taken by vessels in narrow channels. The
event was reported in the NI magazine ‘Seaways’, and the reason for this
discussion was that the success of the prosecution hinged on the acceptance
that Rule 9 was applicable at the time. (Readers should be aware that I have
interpreted the documents available on the internet). The accident resulted
in the deaths of 18 of the 25 crew members on board the Neftegaz 67.
So how did it go? The accident occurred on the evening of 22nd March 2008.
The Yao Hai was a bulk carrier carrying 57000 tons of maize, and was inbound
to Shekou on a course a little to the south of west and the Neftegaz 67 was
a supply vessel, of the standard Russian design on an easterly course from a
supply base to a rig offshore. The supply ship’s course which, if one reads
their defense aright, happened to be within a deep water buoyed channel
marked for the benefit of coal carriers on their way to a power station. The
Yao Hai was approaching the CP1 and CP2 buoys, the outer marks of this
channel on a course which would have put it on the starboard side.
The bulk carrier had a senior and junior pilot on board, the master and the
crew were Chinese. The supply ship was being conned by its master Captain
Kulemesin who like the rest of the crew, except for a Chinese advisor, was a
The visibility was about two miles, and at about 2009 the second pilot on
the Yao Hai, which was now travelling at about 12 knots, identified a vessel
on a possible collision course one point on the starboard bow at about 2.5
miles. The target was the Neftegaz 67 outward bound at about 10 knots.
Shortly thereafter the Yao Hai made a small alteration to starboard, the
Neftegaz 67 remaining fine on the starboard bow. The co-pilot attempted to
attract the attention of the supply vessel by flashing the Aldis in its
the two ships showed up as potentially colliding on the Vessel Traffic
Centre radar system. At 2111 the pilot asked the co-Pilot to contact the VTC
with a request to provide information about the target, and to advise the
Neftegas 67 that the two vessels should pass port to port so as to avoid
At 2112 the pilot instructed the Yeo Hai helmsman to alter course slowly to
starboard and the ship entered the deep water channel. At the same time the
VTC Western Approaches work station contacted the supply vessel and warned
it of the impending collision and to take avoiding action. Similarly the
harbour workstation contacted the Yeo Hai and warned it of the danger.
Thereafter further warnings were issued resulting in no response from the
Yeo Hai and an incomprehensible message from the Neftegaz 67.
At 2113 the ships were more or less end on and approaching each other at a
combined speed of about 23 knots. The VTC warning system indicated that
collision would occur in 1 minute and 17.5 seconds if immediate action was
This need for action became apparent to both vessels, and the pilot of the
Yao Hai gave helm orders altering the heading to starboard. At more or less
the same time the Neftegaz 67 altered course to port. Both vessels blew
their whistles in what they regarded as being the appropriate manner. In the
view of the writer, by the time it gets to whistle blowing it is all too
Almost inevitably Yao Hai ploughed into the Neftegaz 67 at a point half way
down the main deck on the starboard side. The bulbous bow of the bulk
carrier penetrated the starboard stern tube and the bow itself holed the
hull in the area of a store aft of the engine room. The impact of the
bulbous bow on the prop shaft rolled the supply ship to starboard, ie
towards the oncoming Yao Hai.
The Neftegaz 67 rapidly took a starboard list. The open watertight doors
below decks allowed water to enter the engine room, and the stability
assessment attached to the marine investigation report determined that the
ship had capsized due to free surface underdeck, and also that if the
watertight doors had been shut the ship would have remained afloat.
The report on the accident hardly mentions Rule 9 – which is where we came
in. Nearly all the required actions according to the investigators should
have been taken by the Yeo Hai, which as the giving way vessel should have
made early and substantial alterations to starboard to pass outside the CP1
buoy marking the edge of the deep water channel, and in any case it should
have slowed down. The Neftegaz 67 as the stand on vessel should not have
altered to port.
One gets the feeling that the VHF comms were disadvantageous, giving the Yao
Hai the impression that the Neftegaz 67 would respond. But did the Captain
of the latter understand? And why did the court rule that the deep water
channel was a ‘narrow channel’ where Rule 9 would be applicable? Despite a
reduction in his sentence on appeal Captain Kulemesin is still in prison and
will not be released until next year.
THE DANNY FII REPORT
has a view, and it was the view of the World Society for the Protection of
Animals that the deaths of 30,000 animals which were the cargo of the Danny
FII is an indication that the transport of live animals by sea is cruel.
Well yes, it probably is, but the deaths of more than 40 of her crew when
the ship sank in December 2009, are probably more important. The ship’s
captain and the electrician both of whom were lost, were members of
Nautilus, the UK based seafarers union, and they called at the time for an
investigation into the casualty, particularly since the vessel seems to have
overturned in only moderate weather.
As I wrote in early 2010 the Danny FII was a converted car carrier, and it
is still possible to see details of the conversion in places on the
internet. My question then was, could the animals themselves have acted as
But now, having waited for nearly four years the Panamanian authorities have
completed their investigations, but the Nautilus Telegraph writes that the
investigation is to remain confidential. Can this possibly be legal. If it
is it is certainly not morally acceptable.
A SCENE FROM THE FILM.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS FACES THE PIRATES.
week I went to see the much lauded film ‘Captain Phillips’, actually named
after the captain of the Maersk Alabama, who was taken hostage by a group of
Somali pirates back in 2009.
The film was directed by Paul Greengrass, and I find that if it is possible
for one to be a fan of a film director I am a fan. He just hits the spot
when it comes to tension and action. And so it is with Captain Phillips and
the Maersk Alabama.
Even if you remember the event and how it all went the film will have you on
the edge of your seat throughout. And even for we seafarers there is
virtually nothing we can dispute – except actually the fact that Captain
Phillips did not appear to have anyone hand over command to him. But that
would have been a dramatic disaster, so they are forgiven.
However, the broadsheets have reported that in the real world eleven of the
Maersk Alabama crew are taking Maersk to court for damages, since it seems
that the captain of the title ignored seven warning of possible pirate
attacks and failed to take any notice of company instructions on means of
And even more interesting, or entertaining, depending on your frame of mind,
is that the $30,000 from the ship’s safe which was given to the pirates, and
could have been recovered, has disappeared.
I’m trying to avoid spoilers here!
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS NEWLETTER AND SHIPS AND OIL LTD
This newsletter expresses the views of the author Victor Gibson about marine
events which are considered to be worthy of interest. It is meant to be a
five minute read. Sources of information include:
International Tug and OSV Magazine
The Tugs, Towing and Offshore Newsletter.
The Nautilus Telegraph
The Nautical institute Magazine Seaways
The BBC Home Page
The MAIB Website
World Maritime News
The Siberia Times
The Ships and Oil website contains comprehensive information about many
offshore vessels and approaching 10,000 images.
People have continued to send pictures of the day for which I am very
grateful. The photos brighten the days of our hundreds of visitors as they
sit at their desks – I have noticed that our numbers are considerably
reduced at the weekends.
Despite some problems with my Apple desktop after upgrading to Mountain Lion
software – and apparently I am not alone – I have managed to update quite a
number of company pages. These are as follows:
Sea Trucks Group
Recent Pictures of the Day include:
SHIPS AND OIL OFFERS THE FOLLOWING PUBLICATION FOR SALE ON ITS WEBSITE:
THE HISTORY OF THE SUPPLY SHIP £37.50 inc P&P anywhere
SUPPLY SHIP OPERATIONS £27.50 inc P&P anywhere
RIGMOVES £5.75 inc P&P anywhere.
Buy all three books for the bargain price of £52.5
Vic Gibson. September 2013.
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