Issue 17 - June 2015

Welcome to the June 2015/summer edition of SEA Watch with more updates and commentary on what's happening in the world of shipping and marine insurance.

Dear reader ,

Apologies to our loyal SEA Watch readers for the interruption of the publication of our newsletter during the past six months, due to the reorganisation of our office in Singapore. However, we are back on track and our intention is to publish SEA Watch on a quarterly basis.

To kick off, we a have short article written by the new MD of SEAsia and C Solutions in Singapore, Laurence McFadyen, who is both a Master Mariner and an English qualified Solicitor. Laurence provides his thanks and best wishes to two of the SEAsia crew who have moved on to new posts as well as describing his recent Cricket Club welcome to the Singapore maritime village.

Next on offer is a story about determination and teamwork in supporting a worthy cause in Singapore, the Mission RASI project. The challenge was to row around the island of Singapore in less than 24 hours. The goal was to raise funds for the Missions to Seafarers along with public awareness of the daily sacrifices of seafarers who help keep us all alive and well. SEAsia's Capt Kunal Pathak was one of the stalwart rowers and tells us all about it. It was no picnic but it was most certainly a tremendous result.

Our third article, 'Free Flowing Beer & Adrenalin' provides the background and promotional run up to the Mission RASI story that took place at Hero's Bar on the Singapore waterfront. Cash donations were raised along with adrenalin and blood pressure as maritime industry teams fought it out on rowing machines. The event was blessed from on high, as no heart attacks were reported.

Our next article provides a report from C Solutions Hong Kong on the mobilisation of their Team to deal with a cargo of self-heating seedcake as well as other causalities. SEA Watch always strives to bring topical knowledge to the table so this article details a post incident report which provides a sombre reminder of the dangers of shipping copra based seedcake. Sounds innocuous, but seed cake is listed in the IMDG Code due to its high oil content and its propensity to heating and self-ignition. There are 'loss prevention' articles available 'on line' about this commodity but ship owners and masters are still being caught out.

Moving on, don't miss the next article that highlights the economic sanctions imposed against Iran under the terms of the JPOA (Joint Plan Of Action) by the US the EU and other nations. The further reduction of existing sanctions is anticipated, subject to the finalisation of high profile negotiations between the US and Iran in relation to its nuclear capability. However, ship owners and charterers must be very careful 'not to jump the gun' as sanctions are still in place and the penalties are severe for those who ignore them.

Next in line is an update on the MCF supported maritime executive training courses run by SeaProf in Singapore earlier this year. The 10th run of 'Key Elements of Shipping', produced by SeaProf and the BI Norwegian Business School, was sold out again in March. The next KES course is set for 12 -14 October. A new intermediate/advanced course titled 'Shipping Economics & Finance' was created together with the Hamburg Business School (HSBA) and was completed in May with more titles like this to come.

Finally we have a small obituary to a well-known marine surveyor and P&I correspondent, Capt. Mike Bent. Mike spent his last years – many of them as it turned out, as age did not deter him – stationed in Thailand. Mike was well known in the P&I world and was respected by all who worked with him. He had a great run. May we all do as well and have as many friends.

Change of Command and crew

Since our December edition of SEA Watch, we have had two crew members sign off and a change of command.

Paying off were Oliver Rentzow, who headed up our transport liability claims and Shivani Raswan, a claims executive. Oliver has relocated to Germany with his wife and family. Shivani has taken a new position locally. We thank them both for their hard work and wish them well in their new ventures.

Taking command is Laurence McFadyen, our new Managing Director for both SEAsia Group and C Solutions Consultants (S) Pte Ltd.  A reception was held in March at the Singapore Cricket Club, where we welcomed some 70 guests to celebrate his appointment. Laurence being a solicitor and Master Mariner, knows the value of time and that brevity is best when issuing instructions. Being Singapore, the night was warm and the beer was cool, he gave a thankfully short speech. He spoke of the warmth with which he had been welcomed in his initial weeks in Singapore and the constant reference to the Singapore village atmosphere. That reminded him of his youth, being brought up in a small village in Scotland with barely 250 people where he learned quickly that there were no secrets in the village and that people had long memories. Singapore he suggested was no different, but here they called it reputation and honour and that is what he has to offer to the Market.

Laurence McFadyen


Mission RASI: A Tribute to our Seafarers

 "Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters; they have seen the works of the LORD, and His wonders in the deep."

Bible, Psalm 107:23-30

Mission RASI took place on the 22nd April 2015 supported by a group of 40 men and women, committed to rowing two replica Cornish pilot boats around the Island of Singapore in less than 24 hours. Total distance to circumnavigate the island was 140 km (75.6 nm) and the rowers had trained for at least a year to build up personal 'fuel tanks' big enough to survive the challenge. This article provides a brief account of the daily challenges experienced by seafarers along with the story of Mission RASI, its goal and the dedication of all involved in this project.

As a starter, let's look at some shipping statistics that will help us to understand the role of the seafarer in supporting our daily lives. According to the International Chamber of Shipping, there are about 1.2 million seafarers around the world manning about 1.69 billion "dead-weight tons (DWT)" of merchant vessels. That's a relatively small number of people given the fact that these seafarers are critical to the movement of about 9.6 billion tonnes of cargo around the world in one year alone (UNCTAD1, 2014). This is in fact 90% of world traded commodity by volume. Now this is where we can begin to appreciate why these men and women are required to be at sea and what would happen in a country like Singapore if ships and shipping stopped. In fact, it has been said that if ships and seafarers ceased to exist, then one half of the world would starve and the other half would freeze to death.

For the men and women working on board merchant ships, the stakes are high and so are the commercial pressures. Life at sea, no matter what your rank, is not a walk in the park. Their profession demands that seafarers leave their daily lives behind and commit to the job at hand, for many months at a time. Most seafarers go to sea immediately after attending pre-sea training. They are often as young as 16 and "learn the ropes" while on the job. As they attain seniority, their responsibilities multiply and the challenges get bigger. These include odd watch keeping hours without regard to natural sleep patterns; performing mooring operations in bitter cold; sleepless nights during critical cargo operations; navigating in dense fog and busy waterways, often without proper rest, and the list goes on. In short, a high stress job with a unique set of challenges. The goal: to meet commercial deadlines in an industry driven by bottom line costs with minimum crew and the constant necessity to optimize port turn around time.

It is not just the demanding work atmosphere that is difficult. Seafarers must also endure a significant amount of emotional stress during their time at sea. Being away from their loved ones for long periods is one of the toughest to handle. But for many seafarers, especially those from developing nations, this is often the only way they can afford to feed and house their families and this need takes priority. On top of this, seafarers can face criminalization and jail for accidental situations, such as oil pollution in foreign countries. As for shore leave, it often doesn't exist due to national restrictions, short turnaround time and long travel distances from cargo terminals based far from any town. Join the merchant navy and see the world? Not anymore.

Surely as we learn more about the life of the seafarers it becomes clear that it is a hard life. However, the people engaged in this profession are an absolute necessity for the survival of global trade and the world, as we know it. Fortunately, there are organizations around the world that recognize the hardships that seafarers endure and they provide support, in whatever way possible in many seaports around the world, including Singapore. The "Mission to Seafarers" is one such organization. It was founded in 1856 with the goal of providing support to seafarers. The Mission RASI project was created to raise money for the Mission to Seafarers by undertaking a “never-attempted-before” challenge.

Mission RASI kicked off at 11:00 on the 22nd April 2015, only to be greeted by Force 6 winds during the afternoon along the southwest coast of Singapore. The adverse weather conditions lasted about 4 to 5 hours and, by the end of it, the rowers knew what it's like to taste seawater. Large merchant vessels wouldn't have had a problem navigating in such conditions, but for a 7 man open rowing boat, it was quite a challenge to maintain course with heavy seas constantly pounding at the bow. Nevertheless, the grit of the rowers prevailed over the brunt of the wind and waves at the early stages of the challenge. Later, while rowing along the west coast of Singapore, the wind conditions improved, but the weather did not. Soon after sun down, the rain clouds took over resulting in torrential downpours and lightening making conditions extremely dangerous for the rowers to stay in the water. The mission was "paused" to let the storm pass and the support squad clambered aboard the boats to bail out the excess water. After about an hour, the lightening stopped and the rowers were back in the boats to resume the challenge. It was dark and, for the first time ever - at least for most of the rowers – very, very cold! However, as the challenge was far from over, the rowers had to push their limits to somehow make it to the end of the first stage at Singapore causeway.

Crossing the causeway meant getting the boats out of the water and loading them onto a trailer to be transported to the other side. A challenge in daylight, but at night by torch light and car head lamps, not so. Thankfully the support squad was once again on hand to assist with the operation. Once the boats had been transferred, the rowers were back to their mission. When your body is exhausted and sleep deprived, the smallest of tasks can seem like a climb up an insurmountable mountains. As the causeway transit of the boats took much longer than planned, the mission started looking like an impossible mountain. Time and distance calculations were done every 10 minutes and the "mountain" only grew bigger. When the going gets tough, the tough get going and the most inspiring part of the entire mission was to see the determination of the rowers to keep going and not give up. In fact, everything beyond the control of the rowers that could go wrong had gone wrong. Despite this, Mission RASI was accomplished in 23 hours and 11 minutes - a full 39 minutes under the stipulated deadline. It was an incredible moment. We had succeeded.

I am personally proud to have been a seafarer for 12 years and to have been one of the rowers for "Mission RASI". The experience of giving back to the life and people that got me to where I am now was immensely satisfying. The mission was a huge success as the rowing challenge not only raised public awareness of the importance of seafarers, but also raised over half a million US dollars for the Mission to Seafarers and their essential work.

Finally, at SEAsia, we thank the world's seafarers for their daily 'just doing their job' approach to what is literally the provision of life support to the world as we know it. And to 'Team RASI' that made 'moving mountains' not only a possibility but also a reality, through dedication, team spirit and true grit.

1 UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport, 2014, Page 27-29. 

Capt Kunal Pathak


Free Flowing Beer and Adrenaline.

The things we do to support MISSION TO SEAFARERS

Hero's bar, on the Singapore waterfront was the venue for the first of a series of events in support of the MISSION TO SEAFARERS. A pub based rowing competition was held on 12th March and raised SGD 27,500 for the charity.

Its primary purpose was to raise awareness of an extreme 140km rowing challenge around Singapore, in 24 hours, in 2 boats. C Solutions and SEAsia jointly fielded a team which included Natalia Malashkina and Laurence McFadyen as well as, Alexandros Charavgis from ADK Maritime to complete our squad of three. Chris Beesley had hoped to be in the line up but other commitments took precedence. Ringers were allowed, and, we were privileged to watch members of the UK Olympic rowing team in action.

The race involved rowing 500m against another team on rowing machines. Points were awarded in first past the post fashion, to all competitors. Everyone was a winner. Whilst time was of the essence, the 2 minute session seemed to take a lot longer when you were the one rowing! The competing teams were watched cheered and supported by a sell-out audience. Unfortunately, or fortunately, our team failed to move out of the relegation stage, so we bowed out gracefully but remained to cheer on the other teams and consume some of the free flow beer and fish + chips. Iain Anderson, Ian Teare and Lewis Hart - three main procrastinators and promoters of this and the 'round the island' event - were the race controllers. They missed no opportunity to garner in additional funds. The event was a superb evening in its organisation, banter and rhetoric. Congratulations to all those involved.

Laurence McFadyen


C Solutions - Hong Kong

Members of the Hong Kong team were recently mobilised into action. The casualty concerned a cargo from Indonesia which was prone to self-heating with a high risk of spontaneous combustion. The vessel had developed technical issues during the voyage and deviated for repairs. With the extended passage time and 35°C ambient air temperature at the port of refuge, the cargo temperature continued to rise and self ignited in one and later, two cargo holds.

Our Hong Kong Master Mariner, Stephen Armstrong was quickly on site putting his command experience to good use by relaying ‘live coverage’ to his shore support and Clients. This left no room for misunderstandings. Fortunately, the fire was brought under control, following which Clive Beesley proceeded to the location, took over the reigns and assisted with contractual issues concerning the fire and the cargo.

In recent months, the Hong Kong office of both C Solutions and SEAsia were involved in a variety of interesting cases. The most notable of these included a wreck removal off Hong Kong, a difficult salvage operation off Australia, a number of collisions in the Caribbean, Vietnam and Hong Kong, managing the collation of evidence, jurisdictional issues and security. Personnel from London and Hong Kong also collaborated in a procrastinated grounding and salvage operation in the approaches to Alexandria.

The Hong Kong team is well placed, undertaking a variety of marine and insurance related assignments as well as emergency response activity and backup. Complementing an equally experienced and versatile Team in Singapore, the regional capabilities of the C Solutions Group have gone from strength to strength.

Carriage of seedcake

The potential dangers associated with Seedcake, which is the residue remaining after the removal of oil from any oil-bearing seeds or other commodities with similar properties, can change a routine voyage into a memorable one, for all the wrong reasons. This article highlights the particular issues that masters and ship operators should be aware of with respect to the carriage of Seedcake in bulk.

A cargo of copra based seedcake was loaded into a general cargo vessel for a voyage across the China Sea. Shortly after departure the vessel began to experience mechanical difficulties, causing delay. The extended voyage resulted in the cargo heating to such an extent that it spontaneously combusted

The cargo in question was Copra Extraction. Extraction is either by mechanical means or by the use of solvents. The extraction process results in the removal of oil from oil-bearing seeds, cereals and cereal products. The resulting pellets are known as Seedcake UN1386 and is generally used as a constituent of agricultural animal feed and fertilizer.

As a general rule, with the exception of solvent extracted products with a low resultant oil and moisture content, Seedcake is liable to self-heat and is designated by both the IMDG and IMSBC as hazardous cargo. The process of self-heating is driven by microbiological activity, oxidation and a proximate heat source, which could simply be the ambient temperature. It follows therefore that moisture content, air flow, stowage location and vessel management are all factors that can determine whether carriage of this cargo is routine or memorable.

Before accepting any bulk cargo for loading, the shipper must provide the master with information that includes the bulk cargo shipping name, Group of the cargo (as per IMSBC), stowage factor, UN number, chemical properties if hazardous, transportable moisture limit (TML), moisture content and other specific information as required by the relevant Code, which the master would need in order to know the nature of the cargo. Clearly in the case of Seedcake this would include oil content. This information should be provided as early as possible, to allow the master to consult his owners / operators or charterers for further information. Following consultation with the IMSBC, IMDG, BLU Code, ship's individual certificate of fitness and operational procedures, the Master can make an informed decision on the hold preparation for the cargo as well as its safe carriage and discharge.

Prior to loading Seedcake the IMSBC requires the cargo holds to be clean and dry. Many of damaged cargo incidents are the result of improper hold preparation. It is not only residues of previous cargo that cause contamination. Scale on the underside of hatches for example, or flaking paint coatings are other sources of cargo damage.

Microbiological activity will occur naturally during the carriage of the cargo resulting in natural self-heating. The process is usually slow with normal levels of moisture content but if the moisture content is elevated then the speed of microbiological activity will increase and so will the degree of self-heating. Accordingly the hold must be dry before loading, the cargo should not be handled in the rain, and hatch coamings and hatch sections must be in a condition whereby water ingress can be completely prevented. In the event that microbiological self-heating takes place, the temperature of the Seedcake can rise to about 70°C. Such temperatures promote the process of oxidation, during which the temperature of the cargo will rise further to the point at which steam, later smoke and finally self-ignition of the cargo is likely to occur.

The oxidation process consumes oxygen inside the cargo space. The chemical processes produce carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. In certain circumstances there is the risk of other toxic gasses being produced, such as hydrocarbons and hydrogen sulphide. Accordingly, suitable gas monitoring equipment and hold entry procedures should be checked and practiced.

Care must also be taken with the stowage of the cargo. External sources of heat are undesirable. Such sources are adjacent to bunker tanks containing fuel that is heated for operational reasons and migration of heat through the engine room bulkhead. During the planning stages before loading it may be necessary to construct a false bulkhead to prevent Seedcake coming into contact with the engine room bulkhead. The management of bunker fuel which requires heating, on passage as well as the pipeline route and adjacent bulk heads and tank tops may require special precautions to insulate the cargo from these heat sources.

Often, ventilation is prohibited for a few days to ensure that when applied, the fumigation process is completed. Furthermore, it is prohibited to mechanically ventilate UN1386 (a) Seedcake and caution is required, due to the possible gasses, when ventilating all other Seedcake cargos. Considerations when ventilating include the balance between the prevention of sweating versus the natural replenishment of oxygen in the hold.

Once the cargo is loaded it is crucial to monitor the temperature of the cargo at various levels twice daily. The readings should be formally recorded to allow a trend to be noted. If the cargo temperature rises to 55°C ventilation should be stopped and the hold sealed to try to prevent entry of air. This is to exclude oxygen and halt the oxidation process. However, it is most unlikely that the temperature of the cargo will fall, and once oxygen is allowed back into the hold the self-heating process will resume. If the temperature continues to rise, then firefighting measures need to be considered, such as injection of carbon dioxide or another source of inert gas. Often, cargos that are in the self-heating phase must be partially discharged to prevent the situation deteriorating further.



Readers will be aware of the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA). This was an International Agreement whereby, in return for Iran's commitment to limit its nuclear program, a limited sanctions relief had been agreed for six months, from 20 January 2014. Since that date, sanctions relief has been extended twice – in July 2014 for a further period of six months and subsequently in November 2014 for a another six months. Also on 19th July, the P5+1 or E3+3 (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China, co-ordinated by the EU High Representative Catherine Ashtom) and Iran affirmed that they would continue to implement the commitments described in the JPOA,

Of most relevance to the marine industry is that the JPOA provides for the temporary suspension of certain sanctions on:

Iranian petroleum and petrochemical exports and associated services, including insurance and transportation services and the provision of financial and technological support

  The export of crude oil originating from Iran to NDAA waiver countries (China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Turkey

On 2nd April 2015 the P5+1 announced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a framework agreement with Iran which, subject to additional and detailed negotiations to be completed by 30 June 2015, could see further relaxation of sanctions against Iran in exchange for various commitments by Iran to limit its nuclear programme.

It should be noted that despite this announcement, no additional sanctions have been suspended and it remains of utmost importance that due diligence is carried out before engaging in any type of trade that may have links to Iran. Each party to a venture should be identified and the UK, EU and US (OFAC) lists of sanctioned individuals, entities and bodies should be checked. https://www.treasury.gov/ofac Restrictions on cargo, goods and financial transactions should also be referred to before committing to any contracts that may have links to Iran.

Re-positioning for the shipping upturn? Or 'head in the sand' and pray?

Shipping cycles are predictable but their duration is tough to forecast. The one thing we do know for sure is that despite the current shipping downturn, the reported high rates of Capesize scrapping and decimated shipyard order books are reducing overcapacity and helping the freight market to turn the corner. When that happens, the shipping companies that have both strategized and re-positioned themselves to reap the harvest of freight and asset play earnings will be the winners. But how is this to be accomplished?

One way is to ensure that your management team are at the top of their game. SeaProf in collaboration with the BI Norwegian Business School and the Hamburg Business School (HSBA) focuses on providing martime education in Singapore and the Asian region. SeaProf's successful methodology includes an intensive blend of both academic and industry knowledge, together with learning reinforcement by way of classroom 'real life' case study workshops. Course outcomes are designed to create new knowledge and skills for immediate workplace application and the mutual benefit of both management teams and, most importantly, their employers.

SeaProf's courses include the bi-annual 'Key Elements of Shipping' course, which is now coming up for it's 11th run in Singapore on 12 -14 October 2015, and is always 'sold out'. The KES course is designed for marine industry 'newbies' as well as martime executives who provide specialist support services (e.g. banks, ship managers, equipment providers, brokers etc.) who need to acquire an intensive 'top to bottom' overview of how shipping really works.

SeaProf also provides maritime executive education at the intermediate to advanced level for more senior martime executives. SeaProf's recently delivered 'Shipping Economics and Finance Masterclass' was created in collaboration with the Hamburg Business School. This 3 day intensive programme was led by Dr-Eng Orestis Schinas, HSBA's Professor of Shipping and Finance, and it proved to be a great success. An HSBA 'Certificate of Achievement' was awarded to the course participants who attended from a significant number of high profile Singapore shipping organisations. Plans are now underway for a repeat of the 'Ship Finance' course as well as a new course which will focus on 'Green Shipping Strategies', inclusive of the regulatory, technical and financial issues and the impact on Asian shipowners.

In summary, the reminder to Singapore maritime industry professionals and employers is simply this: Singapore boasts the most generous maritime education support system in the entire world. It includes both the MCF training grants available from the MPA and cash rebates available from the IRAS under the PIC programme. If your company may have a 'training ban' implemented because of current poor shipping market conditions, now's the time to stop being an Ostrich and look to the future. First, take a look at the MCF and PIC websites to check out the financial assistance available. Then do the maths (SeaProf will be pleased to help) and consider the ROI in terms of improved productivity as well as work force job satisfaction and loyalty. It's a 'no brainer' and you, your boss and your martime industry company would be crazy to miss the opportunity to up-skill, re-position and ultimately prosper – even in a tough market. The unattractive alternative is to keep your head in the sand and pray.

Capt Robert Gordon


Captain Mike Bent – Marine Surveyors (Thailand) Limited

It is with great sadness that we heard recently that our very good friend Mike Bent had passed away peacefully in Thailand. Having served his early days at sea with BP, Mike got his Master's ticket in Hong Kong whilst serving with John Manners and Fir Line. Over subsequent years, driving Hydrofoils to Macau, took him to 1968 when he set up Marine Surveyors in Bangkok. In later years he had succeeded in securing the representation of a number of P+I Clubs where his honesty, integrity and professionalism shone through. The days of Mike and Richard Sherriff of Perfect Lambert holding court in various Bangkok watering holes is the stuff of legend. Farewell to a thoroughly decent bloke.


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