Thursday, 27 November 2008

Korean Maritime Authorities a law unto themselves : Part II

The damage made by the first contact between the unsecured spreader beams on the falls of the crane contacted the fore mast damaging the navigation lights, created sparks which were visually seen and helped confirm the time of first contact. The engine room alarm logger has the following alarm recorded at 0658 hours: a leakage to earth (ships steel structure) of electricity from the appliances served by the 100 volt switch board. This is consistent with the damages to the electrical cabling and fittings on the foremast, including the lights.

In substantiation against the master and C/O of the Hebei Spirit, Korean experts are blaming the Master of Hebei Spirit for not slipping or breaking a 385 metre anchor chain where each metre weighed 27.5kg, within a maximum of 8 minutes (no warning till at least 2 minutes had gone),; in strong winds of 15~18 m/s (Beaufort scale 6 ~7), and 4m+ high waves. . This also does not take into account that the Hebei Spirit would have to move forwards, toward the MS in order to pull up the anchor chain.

As Samsung said nothing in contradiction when this Report ( with comments such as above) was submitted as evidence during the hearings – do we assume that the world’s leading shipbuilder also agrees with this comment as well as the so called KMST experts?

The Report, issued September 4th, 2008 by the Incheon Branch of the KMST (Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal) has clearly contravened a number of IMO Regulations as explained below, in addition to using physically impossible assumptions to create new evidence.

Furthermore, by the local Prosecutor submitting this Report as evidence in the Criminal Appeal Proceedings - the multiple errors and biased comments give presence to a distinct prejudicial effect on this case – as the KMST investigators are perceived to be impartial and experts in matters marine

Given the content of the report -which you can see for yourself at
the perceptions of being impartial and expert are difficult to uphold. If there had been collaboration between all parties to the incident – as stipulated by the IMO regulations – we don’t see how Samsung could have agreed to statements such as :

e.g. The report states: “When the T5 towline broke, should (the fully laden VLCC) have gone fully astern and slipped/broken the anchor cable.”

Especially given the time between the towing wire and smashing into the VLCC, was around 8 minutes at best, with the Marine Spread (MS) advising the wire had broken around 5- minutes prior to impact at best.

Gan Tae Kim and Seung Min Cho reported to the Daesan VTS the severing of the towing line of “Samsung T-5” at around 0655 hours and 0657 hours, respectively and the Hebei Spirit engine room alarm logger has recorded an alarm recorded at 0658 hours. This alarm description is a leakage to earth (ships steel structure) of electricity from the appliances served by the 100 volt switch board. This is consistent with damages to the electrical cabling and fittings on the foremast, including the lights, the sparking of which was visibly seen after the spreader beam of the crane barge contacted the foremast.

Re Breaches of the IMO Regulations (by section)
In order to remain a separate and impartial to any judiciary action (as the IMO intended), in this instance the IMO was ignored and several breaches of the IMO code occurred as shown below..

As a result, the investigative report – instead of being an independent, investigative report, became a highly prejudicial document, full of erroneous information biased against the previous innocent verdict of the Hebei Spirit, its C/O and Master..

The specific breaches of the IMO code relate to …
Apportioning of Blame. [IMO Code : Chapter 1]
Clearly intended with quotes from the Report such as: “ e.g. Master was “negligent” for failing to:
1. “ avoid collision with the Marine Spread..”
1. “ immediately stop the leakage of oil cargo..”

Lack of co-operation. [IMO Code: Chapter 10]
Very little of the evidence obtained by the KMST during it’s investigation was made available to the other Interested States – basically no collaboration and as a result much evidence omitted.

No Consultation prior to release. [IMO Code: Chapter 13]
The KMST Decision was rendered on 4 September 2008 with no prior consultation with the Interested States and Parties (to be fair, we did not ask Samsung)

Being used as evidence in the criminal proceedings. [IMO Code: Chapter 23]
The Report released by the KMST announcing its findings and decision was submitted in evidence in the Criminal Appeal Proceedings by the local Prosecutor

Who is the Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal?
All Flag States have a safety tribunal set up to investigates all types of marine casualties in Territorial waters, including those involving foreign ships.

In Korea, the KMST and Korean Territorial waters are divided into 4 areas, or districts: Inchon - Mokpo - Busan - Donghae. On this occasion, the Incheon District Regional office of the KMST conducted an investigation of the Hebei Spirit incident and rendered a decision on September 4th, 2008 using it to serve the purpose of introducing biased findings to persuade the Appeals Court to amend the initial Court’s findings of “innocent” for the Master and C/O of the Hebei Spirit..

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