Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Indian unions (shipping and non-shipping) call for Korean boycott

Multiple unions unite in protest against Hebei 2 jail terms – as movement gains momentum with Indian port boycott of Korean shipping and products, especially Samsung.

The two largest Indian Unions today issued a statement showing growing support for a unified protest against the “Appeal” judgement which sent the Master and C/O of the Hebei Spirit to a Korean jail.

this is the state of the deck of the Hebei Spirit, awash with oil, shortly after the Samsung No 1 crane barge repeatedly smashed into the port side of the VLCC, breaching 3 tanks and causing structural damage to the deck of the tank.

The Master and C/O of the Hebei Spirit are in a Korean jail, for not moving quickly enough in conditions shown in accompanying photo, to which a 5 degree starboard list was added (Korean wanted 10deg, but they weren't anywhere near the deck).

In an historic meeting today the Unions and ship owners Associations got together in an unique display of solidarity against the judgement of the South Korean Court which found Capt. Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan guilty. Both the seafarers were on board the ship "Hebei Spirit" which was at safe anchorage at South Korean waters, which was collided by a tug-towed crane barge owned by Samsung Heavy Industries resulting in an oil spill.

Capt. Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan were detained since December, 2007 in South Korea. Despite being proved innocent on 23rd June, 2008 by the Court. The matter went into appeal. Justice was denied when the judgement, which was delivered on December 10th 2008, found Capt. Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan guilty and sentenced them for 18 months and 8 months respectively.

The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) and the Maritime Union of India (MUI), both seafarers Associations, have already approached more than two hundred thousand seafarers and their families to boycott Korean products especially Samsung. Today they were joined by the Transport & Dock Workers Union represented by Mr. S. R. Kulkarni, All India Railwaymen Federation represented by Mr. Umraomal Purohit, Aviation Industries Employees Guild represented by Mr. George Abraham. Mr. Mahendra Sharma of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and Shipowners Associations i.e. FOSMA, MASSA, INSA, CMMI, Nautical Institutes also attended the meeting. The following has been decided:

1. Indian Shipping fraternity will fight with all its might against the unfair judgement which was delivered against Capt. Chawla and Chief Officer Syam Chetan in South Korea.

2. Demand for effective intervention by the Government of India through Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of External Affairs.

3. Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International have also been approached.

4. Call for appeal to seafarers to boycott the Korean products especially Samsung has been renewed.

A massive Rally has been planned at 4.00 pm on Tuesday, 23rd December, 2008 at Azad Maidan, Opp. Mahanagar Palika, Mumbai. The seafarers and their family members and family members of Capt. Chawla and Chief Officer Chetan will also be present in the Rally. The demonstration is for justice and release of the two seafarers of the ship "Hebei Spirit" who are victims of criminilisation of seafarers.

Similar demonstrations have also been planned at Chennai and Delhi. This issue is no longer national but has become international. If the efforts do not give the required results then the agitation can further intensify which can affect transportation of Korean goods in India.

Abdulgani Y. Serang
General Secretary / Treasurer
National Union of Seafarers of India

General Secretary
The Maritime Union of India

Monday, 15 December 2008

Industry unites in protest

Please find Lloyd's List report below:

Condemnation of Korean Maritime Authorities from Intertanko, ITF, V Ships, HKSOA, Intermanager: (Please click the logos below:)

Hebei Spirit crew treated like common criminals

Please follow link below to check out conditions in Korea Daejeon jail - home of Master and C/O for 18/8 months respectively.


To access, click 'English' at the right top corner and once the English page opens,click 'home'

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Outrage to follow as Master and C/O sentenced to jail terms

Please note judgement handed down in Korea this afternoon regarding Samsung No1 crane barge smashing (out of control) along the port side hull of the anchored Hebei Spirt, causing 3 holes in the fully laden oil tanks. Related parties said: Initially all we can say is: "all of the parties related to the Hebei Spirit are very disappointed of course and find the reasons given for the decision - like both of the KMST Reports - technically flawed and are considering our options"

Hebei Spirit Master
Reasons for judgement:
Engine work not done correctly
Master should have gone full astern to drag anchor
On charge re Oil Spill prevention
Inert Gas increased spillage and should not have been done
Low explosive risk
3.5 hours was too long
Could have listed to 10 degrees which would have prevented oil spill
Jail Term: 1.5 years & W20m Fine

HS Chief Officer

Reasons for judgement:
Should have been more vigilant and called master by 0550 at latest
On charge re Oil Spill prevention
Inert Gas increased spillage and should not have been done
Low explosive risk
3.5 hours was too long
Could have listed to 10 degrees which would have prevented oil spill

Jail Term: 8 months W12m Fine
Owner - Hebei Shipping Co Ltd - W30 million fine

Monday, 8 December 2008

Intertanko send Open Letter to President Lee Myung-bak

Intertanko has taken the unprecedented step of taking a very firm and positive stance in the case of the Hebei Two and shown their commitment and full support by taking a full page advertisement in the Korea Times, just one day before Korean judges hand down a judgement on the appeal (by the Prosecutor and Samsung) against the innocent judgement handed down by the Korean courts in June this year, for both the Master and C/O, as well as the owner of the Hebei Spirit - against all charges laid.

To: President Lee Myung-bak
President of the Republic of Korea


We, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, have noted with considerable dismay the Second (Appeal) Decision of the Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal (KMST) and its findings of fault on the part of the two ship’s officers of the “Hebei Spirit”; Captain Jasprit Chawla and Chief Officer, Syam Chetan.

As a responsible and accountable international shipping association, which represents over 80% of independent tanker owner interests worldwide, we first wish to offer all our sympathy to the people of Korea who were so badly affected by the spill of oil which resulted when the runaway Samsung crane barge struck the legitimately anchored tanker “Hebei Spirit”.

We are aware that both Captain Chawla and Chief Officer Chetan were acquitted in the Daesan Court of the First Instance in June this year of all charges of criminal negligence. We are also aware that this Court Judgment is presently under appeal and understand that the Daesan Court of Appeal will be giving judgment as early as Wednesday 10 December.

We are further aware that the First (Inchon) KMST Decision has already been submitted in evidence in the Daesan Court of Appeal proceedings, and that it is likely that the Second (Appeal) KMST Decision will also be submitted in evidence in these proceedings. We are advised that Courts in Korea attach great weight to KMST Decisions. Noting this, and having considered in some detail the Second (Appeal) Decision of the KMST that is now before us as well as the First (Inchon) KMST Decision, we believe them both to be technically flawed and therefore that they draw unjust conclusions.

We wish also to express our concern that the KMST reports have not been produced in accordance with the internationally recognised IMO Interim Guidelines (MSC/Circ 1058) and IMO Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents. One of the cornerstones of this Code is the requirement to co-operate and consult with all interested parties before a final report is made.

We therefore urge the Daesan Court of Appeal to carefully consider all of the evidence, and in particular the judgment of the Daesan Court of First Instance, and not to rely solely on these KMST Decisions when reaching its decision. We also appeal to the Court to pay full respect to all its international treaty obligations to seafarers in rendering its decision. After it has made a careful and balanced review of all the evidence, we hope that the Court will reach a fair and just decision, not just in the interests of Captain Chawla and Chief Officer Chetan, but also as a demonstration to seafarers trading to the Republic of Korea that they can expect the highest standards of fair treatment and justice.

It would be highly regrettable if the outcome of these proceedings were to prove detrimental to Korea’s international reputation and to its status as a tanker shipping nation, to its shipyards which rely on business from international tanker owners and to its refining and chemicals industry whose oil is delivered by the international tanker fleet.

With the greatest of respect,
8th December 2008



ITF create website for Hebei Two

In support of the Master and C/O of the Hebei Spirit who have now been unable to leave South Korea for 12 months on December 7, the ITF have launched a dedicated web area: www.itfglobal.org/campaigns/hebeitwo.cfm to help the many unions looking for ways to help their fellow seafarers.

Although primarily intended to assist ITF unions as part of the wider campaign to back the two men, it is also very useful as a resource for, for example, contact details of Korean embassies etc., and detailed background on the incident itself.

The webpage calls for solidarity among the ITF’s 656 union members – in order to help secure the release of Hebei spirit officers

Captain Jasprit Chawla (right) and Chief Officer Syam Chetan (left).

The ITF is calling on affiliated unions to highlight the plight of two innocent officers, members of ITF Indian seafaring affiliate, who are detained in South Korea following an oil spill from their ship last year.

The ITF page says:
How you can help !

We are calling on ITF unions to draw the Korean authorities’ attention to the men’s case as soon as possible and before 9 December, the day before the judgement is handed down:

- Making appointments with Korean embassies and diplomatic representatives to meet, express concerns and present the model letter.

→ View your nearest South Korean embassy here
→ Download and view the model letter here

- Speaking informally to any Korean shipping or industrial contacts the union has, at the highest possible level, to express concern at these events

They are also calling on member unions to advise their planned activities in order for the ITF to help keep everyone aware (including the media) of such planned activities.

Trade Unions unite behind Hebei Two

The Indian Seafarers Federation ISF) announced over the weekend that the Merchant Navy Officers Association at Chennai, India - MNOA – had staged their first demonstration Friday, December 5th, 2008.

The protest was held inside Chennai Port, in protest against thedetention of two Indian Mariners in South Korea following the Hebei Spirit disaster.

The protest was held in front of a Car Carrier loading South Korean cars in the Port, to highlight the injustice that is being done to the Master and Chief Officer of the Hebei Spirit.

This was a follow up to a 500-strong Flag March carried out by MNOA on the 5th of October, for the same purpose, with more expected to follow throughout India.

With such protests targeted at South Korean cars and other products, this may unfortunately start to affect other non-Korean shipping companies in the near future – hopefully other companies will also make their voices heard against the South Korean shipping authorities.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal branches stick together.

This is the main satellite communications equipment damaged by the hooks of the Samsung Crane barge, swinging wildly along the deck of the VLCC, while the crane barge bounced along the port side hull of the Hebei Spirit.

The much disputed Incheon Maritime Safety Tribunal Report, full of errors, omissions and false assumptions has now been endorsed by the full Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal, as the original report (first published as the Incheon Maritime Safety Report on September 4) was again released on Thursday, December 4th, in Korea.

Yet again without consultation with the stakeholders (except perhaps Samsung) and in time for the Korean Appeal Court Judges to consider – prior to deciding on the fate of the two Indian seafarers (who have already been found innocent by a Korean court once) – as they hand down their decision next Wednesday, December 10th.

Korea has continually, In this matter, the Korean maritime authorities have and continue to ignore the IMO regulations and manipulated the findings to their own benefit – or was it Samsung - despite being part of the group that signed off on those same rules and regulations.

With an estimated control of about 26percent of Korea’s GDP, Samsung as a Corporation undoubtedly has influence far surpassing that of a Hong Kong registered, Chinese owned, Indian crewed shipping company.

But should innocent Indian seafarers have to go to prison to satisfy the ego of people running the country’s largest corporation?

Should the Indian Master and C/O of the Hebei Spirit be found guilty next week, facing up to a 3 year jail sentence – it is difficult to see many Indian seafarers crewing ships visiting Korean ports in the future.

In a time when there is a shortage of experienced crews worldwide - how many other shipowners, including Korean shipping companies, will be effected if the Indian shipping community endorse such a move.

Korea should (and by their decision next week may inadvertently do so) make it abundantly clear whether they want to be part of:

- The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) ?
- As the IMO is a part of the UN, the United Nations ?
- The international shipping community, as a whole ?

Countries cannot be part of international organizations and then just ignore the agreed regulations whenever it suits them (Korea is a member of the UN, of IMO and many other industry groups) - which is the danger facing Korea's maritime industry.

The general pubic as well as the maritime industry is still amazed at how a stationary, anchored VLCC, repeatedly battered by a huge Samsung crane barge, creating holes in 3 tanks in the process – can be blamed and its seafarers face criminal charges for spilling crude oil – because they did not get out of the way in the 8 minutes, from the time of the tow wire snapping to the Samsung Crane Barge battering of the hull of the anchored VLCC.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

5 basic points (in official IMST/KMST Report) that demonstrate lack of maritime knowledge and/or bias against Hebei Spirit crew by IMST/KMST experts?

Damage caused to Hebei Spirit by the Samsung Crane barge No1. There were a total of 9 moments of impact and puncturing of 3 cargo holds. The shaded parts are the empty ballast tanks.

Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal (KMST) experts continue to ignore IMO Regulations, by avoiding consultations with other parties involved - despite blatant errors in 1st Ruling – as the appeal hearing against the IMST (Incheon Maritime Safety Tribunal) Report is about to be handed down by the Central Division of the KMST, 1 week prior to judges making a decision on the overall Appeal Court hearing and deciding the fate of the Master and C/O of the Hebei Spirit, who have already been detained in Korea for 1 year, despite initiale "innocent" findings by the court.

No consultation and despite IMO regulations that maritime Safety Tribunal reports not be used injudicial proceedings, the KMST is expected to publish their final report today - 1 week before the the final Appeals Court judgement.

Is this a level playing field?.

We hope the final Report from the Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal does not contain the same errors, omissions and biased comments as shown in the Incheon branch of the KMST and to make matters clear, we have identified some blatant mistakes from their Report along with our comments below.

In the initial ruling from the IMST, their maritime experts say as follows, with our comments interspersed:

“ The marine pollution due to the collision of this case (“Marine Pollution”) was caused by the following: The tugboats, “Samsung T-5” and “Samho T-3,” failed to take early actions in response to the weather changes while they were performing the towing operations for the barge “Samsung No. 1.” The marine spread encountered bad weather and lost its towing ability …
The tow never lost its full towing ability prior to the parting of the towline of “SAMSUNG T-5” after the “SAMSUNG T-5” had passed the bow of the Hebei Spirit and, as the IMST have noted above, those on the marine spread never notified anyone of their movements or broadcast / signaled any warnings until prompted by the action of those on the “HEBEI SPIRIT”.

to the extent that it was impossible to navigate the vessels as intended. However, the marine spread continued to navigate without taking any safety measures, such as warning the other vessels nearby or performing emergency anchoring, etc. In the end, the towing line of Samsung T-5 broke under the circumstances where the marine spread had approached too closely to the anchored vessel, M/V “Hebei Spirit,”

The breaking of the towline of “SAMSUNG T-5” was the prime cause of the collision. Prior to its parting the marine spread was passing clear, albeit to the windward side, of the anchored tanker. Had it not parted there would have been no collision, nor pollution. The tow wire, its maintenance and use, is the responsibility of the tug operators/managers and their masters and crew, as is the overall operation of the tugs and barge. As such, those on “HEBEI SPIRIT” have absolutely no liability for the way the marine spread was operated/managed.

The following contributed to the marine pollution due to the collision: Despite the fact that “Hebei Sprit” was anchored in an area frequented by sailing vessels and had a duty of care, it was negligent in performing its duty and failed to notice the marine spread early.
Those on the anchored “HEBEI SPIRIT” did not fail to notice the approach of the marine spread in a reasonable time. As was shown in the VTS/VHF transcript, action was being taken on “HEBEI SPIRIT” before any notification from those on board the marine spread. Responses to calls from the VLCC and Daesan VTS were ignored by those on the tugs.

Under the circumstance where it had to belatedly avoid the collision, Hebei Spirit could not help but go dead slow astern because it did not have its main engines fully prepared.
“HEBEI SPIRIT”’s engine was fully prepared 40 minutes before the collision and it was not necessary to use the engine in any more than dead slow astern to stretch the cable prior to the collision. Thereafter, the evidence from the engine data logger after the collision shows that the vessel used slow astern and half astern settings successfully.

In addition, after the occurrence of the collision, it failed to actively perform responsive measures under the Shipboard Oil Pollution Emergency Plan because it lacked understanding of the seriousness of the marine pollution.
The actions of the crew of “HEBEI SPIRIT” correctly followed international guidelines which have been developed over the years from incidents involving catastrophic casualties of tankers. In addition, at no time during the immediate aftermath of the collision were they ever criticized by the Korean authorities for failing to adequately respond to the leakage of oil.

The Report seems to suggest that taking measures to stop the oil leakage should have been carried out before:
a. waiting till the crane barge had cleared the Hebei Spirit hull. The crane barge took in excess of 20 minutes

to bounce along the hull of the VLCC, creating 3 breaches in tanks from bow to stern. During those 20
odd minutes, oil started flowing from 3 tanks
b. once barge had cleared, checking whereabouts and safety of all crew
c. checking which tanks were breached and how badly
d. pumping inert gas into breached tanks to maintain oxygen below low explosive limit
e. checking structural integrity of vessel to ensure safety of ship

These actions all take time and damage could not be seen from inside the Bridge while the Samsung crane barge smashed its way along the hull of the VLCC – hindsight is a different matter.

Readings from equipment on the VLCC, also showed that over 4,000 tonnes (nearly half) of crude oil spilled into the sea within first 30 minutes of being breached, i.e. while the Samsung crane barge continued to bounce along the hull, totally out of control with its crane hooks swinging wildly along the deck towards the Bridge.

Some recommended actions from the Maritime Tribunal experts were to ..
a. transfer the crude to other tanks (all tanks were 98% full)
b. if cargo tanks full, should have used empty ballast tanks to transfer oil (piping systems were totally

independent of each other)
c. claims that Korean University tests showed that if VLCC had been listed to 18deg, the oil would have
stopped flowing out (the vessel was listed to about 5deg, any more on a full VLCC in Beaufort Force 6-7
winds with 4 metre waves and the ship’s stability would have been compromised. If ship had sunk, spillage
could have increased to 200,000 plus tonnes of crude in lieu of around 10,500)

A glaring omission or misunderstanding in the IMST Report was in regards to the Insurance Certificate for the Marine Spread.

The IMST experts have used the wording of the insurance certificate as the basic instructions for the voyage. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the insurance surveyor and his certificate. In this respect the IMST experts have fundamentally misunderstood of the role of the insurance surveyor, and demonstrated a reliance on a towage survey that is crucially misplaced particularly as it was not valid for this particular voyage.

In implying that SHI had acted correctly in obtaining an insurance certificate, the IMST ignored the fact that SHI had not arranged an insurance survey for the voyage from Incheon.

The insurance towage certificate, used in the IMST Report, as the deciding factor for the fitness and operation of the marine spread for the voyage was not valid. The independent survey used as evidence in the court hearings and the appeal hearings was covering a single voyage from Geoje to Incheon, not the return voyage to Geoje.

It can be seen from the certificate that it was valid for a period of seven days after the issue date of the certificate for a single voyage from Geoje, the 26th November 2007.

The accident occurred on December 7th, on the return voyage from Incheon and as such, this certificate has absolutely no validity for the return journey, and yet the IMST just totally ignore this obvious fact.

The question should be asked why?

We hope that the Korean judicial system will not take the Incheon / KMST report of this incident into its deliberation in handing down a judgement next week, as it does not represent all of the true facts of the case and is only one (1) side of the story – that of Samsung and the Prosecutor.