Mooring Marine Consultants’ loss control super and software developer Ron Mooring explains what drove him to develop a new cargo-calculating application for smart phones and tablets
TST: What led you to develop an app for calculating cargo quantities?
Ron Mooring: I have served on large and small tankers, and LNG carriers, so I am very familiar with calculating cargo quantities. This should be a straightforward procedure, but in my role as a freelance loss superintendent, I began to observe some discrepancies in procedures.
TST: Such as?
RM: As a loss control superintendent I noticed during my visits on a variety of oil and chemical tankers that the majority of these ships (if not all) used an Excel spreadsheet for producing their ullage reports.
TST: Is that not a standard procedure?
RM: It is, but there are consistency and security issues. I found that the Excel spreadsheet is either developed by the managing company, or in some cases, the company left it to an Excel enthusiast on board the tanker.
In many cases the security of the spreadsheet was either lacking or insufficient, resulting in a spreadsheet that malfunctions due to somebody tampering with the sheet to ‘improve’ it.
TST: Did you find other shortcomings?
RM: Yes, for as long as I can remember we have always used the ASTM tables version 1980 for finding out the volume correction factor (VCF).
However, in spite of the fact that the ASTM tables version 2004 have been around for nearly 15 years - and have been implemented in many if not most terminals and surveying companies in Europe and the United States - the number of ships where I have witnessed ASTM 2004 being used is zero. Obviously, there is no law that requires ASTM 2004 to be used, but it would make sense for a vessel to use the 2004 version if the terminal and cargo surveyor are also using that version.
Furthermore, on many of the ships the Excel spreadsheet being used had very limited options. Some managing companies want their vessels to use only table 6A/B instead of table 54A/B for calculating the VCF, regardless of the port that the vessel is visiting. On the vast majority of ships where I am appointed as loss control superintendent, the cargo calculations of the attending cargo surveyor and the chief officer only match in terms of gross observed volume.
TST: Can you explain how that effects the cargo volume calculation?
RM: Gross standard volume, metric tons in vacuum, metric tons in air and long tons were all different due to:
TST: And this is where you came up with the idea of an app?
RM: Exactly. To streamline the process of calculating the cargo quantity and producing the required form, the solution is a simple one: make use of current technology offered on smart phones/tablets.
I developed the Cargo Surveyor app (available both in Google Play and the App Store) which was designed and developed with cargo surveyors and expeditors/loss control superintendents in mind, but is perfectly usable for vessels too. Vessel owners or managers could supply their ships with an Android phone on which the app is installed.
TST: Does the app generate reports?
RM: Yes, it produces ullage reports, bunker reports, VEF reports, slop reports, timesheet and SOF/NOADs, to name a few of the available forms.
The user can choose whether the 1980 or the 2004 version of the ASTM tables should be used, and whether SI Metric or Imperial tables and units must be used. This gives the user access to all ASTM tables 6A/B/C/D and 54A/B/C/D.
Ron Mooring is a Dutch ex-master with 30 years of sea service behind him, having sailed first with STBV and later with STASCO.
He has sailed on a variety of large and small oil tankers and completed his seafaring career with eight years as master on VLCCs and other oil tankers and four years on LNG tankers.
He retired from sailing in 2012 and took up a career as a freelance loss control superintendent/expeditor cum software developer, developing apps for iPhone and Android, primarily for the Oil and Gas industry.