How well prepared the bulk carrier industry is for a self-assessment scheme and whether the focus should include terminals were some of the themes in the Standardising bulk carrier management and self-assessment webinar held on 28 January 2021 as part of Riviera’s Bulk Carriers Webinar Week
Panellists included Oldendorff Carriers director of ISM & QSE Mark Rawson; FML Ship Management director Sunil Kapoor; and Bernhard Schulte (Hong Kong) senior marine superintendent Capt Paritosh Dube.
Mr Rawson noted that when it comes to vetting, “The tanker sector has a 30-year start on us (dry bulk). We had ISM at the same time (as tankers) in 1998, some revisions to ISM, and then vetting with RightShip (2001),” he said.
In a poll comparing safety and environmental performance standards of the bulk fleet to the tanker fleet, 82% felt the tanker fleet standards were better or a lot better than the dry bulk sector.
The difference was the key driver for vetting, which in the tanker sector is oil pollution. In dry bulk the main driver is safety, but the stakeholders in the dry bulk sector, the ’special trinity’ of shipowners, cargo interests and regulators have their own emphasis on safety.
“Each has a significant stake in improving standards of performance,” Mr Rawson said. Having a single standard would serve several purposes, and Mr Rawson highlighted the internal perspective it gives companies of their own performance and the external impact of creating a level playing field.
Capt Dube spoke as an operator of large dry bulk carriers of the commercial pressures for a quick turnaround in port. “The new concept of single-pass loading is also increasing the operational risk,” he said. As a direct consequence of this, one ULCC had cracks in the ballast tanks.
“We are looking for standards to improve the safety of dry bulk vessels,” he said. It is time to move from mandatory compliance and certification to self-regulation and self-assessment – as in the tanker industry. He noted the new Dry Bulk Management Standard (DryBMS) quality standard will help shipmanagers improve how they manage vessels.
For instance, the self-assessment programme will consider enhanced mandatory ballast tank inspections in huge dry bulk carriers such as Valemaxes.
In a poll 83% felt the new DryBMS will be a game-changer in the bulk carrier industry.
Mr Kapoor added the shipmanagers’ perspective. The theme of his presentation was that the difference in the condition of two sister ships is directly dependent on the attitude of the owners and managers. Having a risk-based assessment system would ensure an improvement in the overall standard of the vessels and adds further commercial incentives.
“The vetting inspections create a strong commercial incentive for the ship’s owner to comply to the inspection requirement, since the outcome will determine if the ship is attractive for chartering business or not, and in return, the ship’s profitability,” said Mr Kapoor. But, he added, the greatest loss of dry bulk carriers is attributed to cargo, such as liquefication – an issue that starts with terminal and loading.
In a poll, What percentage of responsibility do you think that port, terminals and shippers should share for recent major accidents occurred in the bulk carrier sector? 59% felt that terminals bear 50% of the responsibility and 14% felt that terminals should bear 80% of the responsibility.
Therefore, ports and terminals should be a focus, too, when it comes to dry bulk standardisation and ratings. In a poll, the greatest shortfalls with dry bulk terminals were found to be: restricted depths and air draft issues (30%); shore reception facilities for waste (28%); berth exposed to swell and inadequate fendering arrangement (28%); safe access to the vessel, restriction on gangway rigging (14%).
On social media, the dry bulk self-assessment process has been parodied as marking your own homework. The panel’s response was that self-assessment in the dry bulk sector might be seen as marking your own homework, but at least the homework is being done and efforts made to improve transparency and safety.
The Standardising bulk carrier management and self-assessment panel. From left to right: Paritosh Dube (Bernhard Schulte), Sunil Kapoor (FML Ship Management), and Mark Rawson (Oldendorff Carriers)