MarEx Reader Feedback: Response to Recent Articles

Last week, we published an article online about the keynote address given by Charles Fabrikant. Click HERE to read that piece. Read on to see what one MarEx reader thinks about today’s “expanding offshore industry”:

Dear Mr. Keefe,

An interesting insight from Mr. Fabrikant. The business of ship building is booming. I read in an article, recently, that the waiting time for a ship ordered today with a South Korean shipyard is 4 years! The supply and demand curve combined with the weak dollar is indeed an opportunity for the American ship industry.

The offshore industry is expanding. My point is the consequential opportunity to train seafarers. It is now quite a responsibility for the maritime industry to train the required manpower for this expanding industry. Considering the demand for new shipping, the vacuum is being filled by old shipping not being de-commissioned when due. This again requiring more trained seafarers to man these vessels (both ocean going and domestic/ offshore). It is time we gave thought not only to the training requirements of seafarers, but also to the safety and security aspects of these vessels.

A suddenly expanding industry is sometimes the very basis of potential future tragedies if the training is not kept up to date. The teeth to tail ratio has to be maintained!

Best regards,


Captain IJ Arora
Vice President / Quality Management International, Inc.

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Coverage by MarEx on the sinking of the M/S Explorer last week also garnered some attention from MarEx readers. The M/S Explorer sank in the Bransfield Strait off King George Island, Antarctica on Friday, November 23. Read on to see what MarEx subscribers had to say:

Interesting you would refer to the Explorer as a "Canadian ship". She's flagged in Liberia, the owner is GAP Shipping of Barbados and she's managed by GAP Sweden. (from Equasis.org)

Your article mentions an inspection carried out in Scotland in October 2007 but doesn't mention the 5 deficiencies found in that inspection, three of which are directly linked to the sinking. They are:

  • Life saving appliances;

  • Lifeboats;

  • Ship's certificates and documents;

  • SAR co-operation plan for pass.ships trad on fixe; and

  • Structural safety, Closing devices/watertight doors

You can read all about it on the Paris MOU web page at http://www.parismou.org/ParisMOU/Inspection+Database/Basic+Search/xp/menu.3975/default.aspx

Did anyone ask why a passenger ship in the Antarctic has open lifeboats? I know the age of the vessel (1985) "Grandfathers" open boats, but I would think that a responsible cruise company, whose passengers are advanced in years, would spend the money on enclosed lifeboats.

Once again, I ask that you keep my name and position confidential, for obvious reasons

Name withheld

Editor’s Note: An interesting letter which took us to task for perhaps not being thorough enough and not completely accurate. Fair enough. We won’t know which aspects of the vessel’s condition had anything to do with its sinking until the investigation comes to a close. In the meantime, we can be thankful that everyone got off without loss of life. Another letter follows, with another perspective.

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Dear Joseph,

The Liberian registered “Canadian” vessel M/S Explorer should not have sunk from damage as minor as a 10”x4” breach in the hull. The most rudimentary damage control equipment, such as wooden plugs, blankets, or similar readily available objects pounded into the hole with a fire ax would have slowed the flow of water enough that the ship could have been saved. Any crew operating a passenger vessel in hazardous waters should be trained in damage control, for obvious reasons.

This may prove to be yet another example of passengers lives endangered because of a poorly trained and poorly equipped crew.

Thank you for your coverage of this incident. I’m looking forward to future articles about the accident investigation and the final ruling of the cause of the sinking.

Best Regards,

Steve Taylor
Second Mate, Unlimited Tonnage

Editor’s Note: Again, the findings of the investigation will be of enormous interest to the maritime community when they are finally disclosed. There is no evidence, as yet, that a poorly trained crew had anything to do with the disaster. Regarding the size of the hull breach -- that is still not fully determined -- and we shouldn’t have reported it. We regret the error.

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The Cosco Busan allision: Finally, an interesting perspective on the spill cleanup from a local pilot in San Francisco Bay. He disputes the official timelines of others who report a rapid and efficient cleanup underway.

Dear Maritime Executive Magazine:

Just for the record, there were no oil spill boats out in one hour of the allision of the Cosco Busan. I was on our pilot boat going through the bay bridge after 10 am and sailing right past the ship.

I never once saw a boom anywhere that day. There was never a boom around the ship at either anchorage! There were no clean up boats at that time either. Our office dispatched one pilot to the ship just to start calling all the various oil spill people as there is no one number for an emergency!! It took him quite awhile I am told to call these people.

After 1200 that day I brought a vessel into the bay to anchor and there was oil everywhere and so were the clean up boats. There was no rhyme or reason to their method. I radioed one of the larger boats and told him that he was cleaning at the top end of the slick and that I didn't know anything about recovery but that there was more oil where I was at the time drifting out to sea. He was cleaning up oil that was going away from him with the ebb current.

The next day, I brought a ship into the port and the largest oil boat we have in the bay was not cleaning up oil but out on the ocean 'surveying' as he told it to VTS!! Seems to me he should have been collecting oil not reporting it!! We already knew where it was. A lot of the blame for oil everywhere, other than the obvious, is that the oil response was a joke. We learned nothing from Valdez, that the faster the response the less the oil will spread. In my view it was never contained but allowed to drift all over the place.

Sincerely yours,
Captain Paul Lobo
San Francisco Bar Pilot since 1977