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.

1 comment:

  1. Never let the truth get in the way of a Korean dynasty!