Professional intrussion in port terminials, economic results or security

 Capt. Javier Madiedo Acosta

Different international organisations IMO, SOLAS, ILO, MLC , MARPOL ...  maintains a continuous legislative activity  to protect civil crews and an the environment.

Consequently, the crew is increasingly required to obtain more qualifications, continuous and certified training, as well as more written or electronic records of any work or operational activity carried out on board the ships and subject to being inspected at any time by official bodies; capable of denouncing, sanctioning, stopping etc. everything that involves non-compliance with current legislation, with agreements signed by the majority of the international maritime community.

Legislation is putting increasing pressure on crew members, they are required more qualifications, continuous and certified training as well as more written or electronic records of any work or operational activity carried out on board ships, which can be inspected at any time by official bodies ; capable of denouncing, sanctioning, stopping etc. Anything that involves non-compliance with current legislation or agreements signed by the majority of the international maritime community.

 This exhaustive requirement of compliance with international maritime legislation does not have the correspondence that it should have for personnel who work on shore, on whose decisions, actions and executions depend on ships and crews.

 The abundant professional intrusion in crews has been corrected, thanks to this legislative activity, but in the land maritime network, whose activity directly affects crews, ships and the maritime environment has had a continuous progression; the increase in international container traffic has generated a large number of jobs ashore, and some have been filled by people with little or no maritime training or experience in navigation.

 If a serious and detailed study were made of those responsible for operations in container terminals, without adequate qualifications or experience in navigation, we would be surprised by the great intrusion that exists, without any legislation that regulates the qualifications, certification or experience they should have but they are who decide how carry out the operation of a ship (operating time, cranes to work, unhitching / lashing equipment, IMO loads, Reefers, OOG, BB, etc.) with the minimum possible cost, many times pretending to respect safety, but always looking for the better economic results even to the detriment of safety, due to their  ignorance and insecurity in their job under pressure of their bosses.

Many stowage planners and operations controllers have not had any experience in ships nor do they have maritime qualifications, nor knowledge about static or dynamic stability or about the behavior of a ship when navigating in adverse conditions. Terminal yard planning should comply with IMO segregation regulations.

 When an officer communicates with the terminal to request stowage or operational changes, due to the efforts of the ship, stowage alarms, stability problems, heeling, etc., the response received soon demonstrates him the knowledge or ignorance about the ship who has responsible for the operative.

 A container operation carried out by trucks with a driver and working with 5 or more simultaneous cranes and 6 o more trucks by crane, the circulation of the tractors is channeled through rails between the crane legs, inevitably and frequently the heavy loads or the pontoons pass over the heads of drivers.

 In some terminals, they simultaneously allow bunkering with loading or unloading operations, which saves costs for delays to the detriment of safety. Sometimes containers, lashing bars or twistlocks have fallen from the ship to the barge.

These kind of operations are sold by the direction staff of the port terminals, CEO, COO, Managers  etc.. .. as safe and successful when are too far from being so.

 The slogans about safety, like the popular Safety First, are tactical messages of marketing to cover up safety breaches, accidents have proven.

 The latest accidents of large container ships should cause the alarms to give rise to a detailed study of the qualifications, certifications and experience of all the responsible personnel that affect the loading and unloading operations in port terminals.

Managers/direction staff and the chief of terminal operations (including shift managers or team leaders) must be exercised by Captains or Chief officers with a minimum of 2 years of experience in vessels of this type of vessel.

Likewise, those responsible for technical teams that design large containers ships, lashing systems and lashing materials, should have proven experience in navigation with maximun load and bad weather.

 National governments should be aware that on the comercial ports there should be an international regulation comparable to IMO, MLC, SOLAS etc.. that eliminates the pofessional intrusion in terminals through qualifications, certifications, inspections, audits, sanctions, etc., favoring professionalism qualifications, continuous training, valid certification and the renewal periods.

Although the terminals do not travel from one country to another like ships, their connection and influence should correspond to operational standards

Comments about containers lashing

The goods in the containers must be well detailed, declared and officially documented, with their gross weights; Ships need accurate information on the gross weight of each container on board. For this, all container loads should be inspected by authorized surveyors who certify the weight of the content and the secure lashing of the load in those containers that need it.

Ignorance of the cargo contained or its lashing inside a container is the source of surprises, polluting spills and / or accidents.

Regarding lashing systems, the problems detected are innumerable due to the different systems, designs and materials used. The designers of these systems and materials should have experience in navigation with decks and bad weather, theoretical calculations through computer simulations or tests on shore fall short in some real situations, serve as an example some automatic twistlocks that were tested on land 100% by 100% effective and at sea caused thousands of container losses when opened with the ship's own movements.

The marine environment acts negatively on lashing materials and mechanisms causing corrosion and limiting the path of moving parts, which makes it easier for the lashing not to maintain 100% effectiveness.