Maritime Training Blog

Maritime industry must remain prepared and vigilent

Posted by on 21 July 2014 | 0 Comments

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The recent downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over the Ukraine by pro-Russian separatist rebels, along with the unexplained disappearance of another Malaysian Airline flight earlier this year, should serve as reminders to everyone in the transportation industry that we must remain vigilant and prepared.

For the maritime industry, the defining moment came in the wake of the 9/11 attacks against the United States. Within a year of those attacks, the International Maritime Organization created the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code), a comprehensive set of measures designed to enhance the security of ships and port facilities. In 2002, Congress also passed the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), which is aligned with the ISPS code and SOLAS, and enforced by the Department of Homeland Security. Both ISPS and MTSA mandate basic security procedures for ships, ports, and facilities.  These include security programs, designated security officers, security plans, and risk assessments.  Both the ISPS and MTSA also stress the need to maintain constant security awareness and to provide for layered security.

ISPS established three levels of security:

Level 1:  The level at which the ship or port facility normally operates. Minimum appropriate protective security measures shall be maintained at all times.

Level 2: The level applying for as long as there is a heightened risk of a security incident. Appropriate additional protective security measures shall be maintained for a period of time as a result of heightened risk of a security incident.

Level 3: The level applying for the period of time when there is the probable or imminent risk of a security incident. Further specific protective security measures shall be maintained for a limited period of time when a security incident is probable or imminent, although it may not be possible to identify the specific target.

An estimated 90 percent of the world’s cargo is moved on the water. These same ports also have the potential to become channels for illicit trade, smuggling of weapons and chemicals, not to mention the potential for an outside terrorist attack. That’s why it’s imperative that mariners, company representatives, and port personnel continuously assess, manage and respond appropriately to such risks in an effort to protect lives, property, and the environment.  Security matters to everyone!.

There are several steps that must be taken to that end:

  • Remain current on regions of high risk and threats to shipping, ports, and maritime terminals
  • Collect as much information as possible and conduct frequent and thorough risk assessments
  • Maintain a current emergency communication plan to include all emergency contact information – review it frequently!
  • Appoint a security officer for your ship, port, and facility.
  • Create and exercise plans for crew and personnel safety
  • Test and ensure all emergency equipment is adequate and properly maintained
  • Conduct emergency drills often! Be creative and think like an adversary!

It’s been reported that the global port security market is estimated to grow from $22.28 billion in 2013 to $36.99 billion by 2018. USMRC is part of that market and as such is dedicated to helping ensure that the maritime industry is trained and prepared to handle emergencies.

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Why Undergo Maritime Training?

Posted by on 30 June 2014 | 0 Comments

No matter how long we have been in the maritime industry, things are always changing. Whether it’s new technology, advanced procedures, or updated regulations, staying on your toes is key. Training allows individuals and companies to stay on top of their game, which makes the maritime industry safer and more efficient for all of us. Here are five reasons why you should consider maritime training.

Keep up with new technology

It can be hard to keep up with emerging technology like LNG bunkering, improved navigational systems, and more. Maritime training is designed to allow you to practice and build skills in new areas while mitigating the risks. With shipping comes great responsibility, as you may oversee the transfer of potentially dangerous materials. Make sure you and your crew not only know how to handle it, but to do so with confidence.

Helps crew members think on their feet

One of the issues that crops up frequently in maritime incidents is complacency. When you’ve been doing something for a long time, it can become routine. Even the most experienced crew member may become flustered in an emergency that they haven’t had to deal with before. Training helps your crew think on their feet through real-time drills in a safe environment.

Risk assessment

Training can bring to your attention gaps in skill and knowledge. Risk assessment is a big part of training, as it allows us to help you identify where there is room for improvement. You can focus on those weak spots and strengthen them through practice. There may be risks that you are unaware of, simply because they have yet to become an issue. Training can help prevent any problems before they occur, whether it is due to human error or technology.

Experienced experts

There’s a reason we don’t do this kind of training online—you need experienced instructors who are at the top of their field both in teaching methodologies and industry expertise. The people who train you are leading researchers, skilled in maritime security, ports and waterways, and emerging technology. These are men and women with real-time experience in a variety of situations and conditions who are there with you every step of the way in your training.

Personalized to your needs (specific ports, technology, etc)

Not every crew has the same training needs, or even similar ones. That’s why personalized training is critical. You can tailor your training depending on the type of ship, navigational technology, cargo, likely security risks, and specific port. Simulation technology allows us to provide accurate representations of many ports around the world, and if we don’t have one in our database, we can usually create it. The more specific your training program, the more you can get out of it.

Maritime training is multi-faceted and flexible. It lets you improve your skills by working with experts and specializing a program that is just right for you. Training should be an ongoing consideration for anyone in the field, because it lets you keep up with any changes as well as keep your abilities sharp.  Check out our training opportunities, including LNG training, by clicking here.


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Research May Benefit Ports of the Future

Posted by on 23 June 2014 | 0 Comments

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A recent study known as Research on the Passing Effects on Ships (ROPES) has revealed new data about just how safe our shipping ports are. The findings have raised serious questions about safety, both to people and the environment. The three-year study involved computer simulation, scale-model testing, and full testing in the Netherlands’ Port of Rotterdam. It began in late 2010 and completed in late 2013; the findings have recently become available.

The Findings 

The researchers found that in restricted waters, such as those found in ports, can create a large force on moored vessels, mooring lines, and fender loads. This, in turn, can make for dangerous conditions in the water. A number of factors contribute to the force of the wash, including the size of the vessel, the shape of the port basin, and the speed at which a vessel passes through.

As time passes and technological advances are implemented, our ships have continued to grow larger in size, speed, and overall power. That means that the wash they give off is much bigger than ever before. When a ship passes through restricted waters, it produces suction and draw down that affects everything around it. As a result, moored ships can come loose, which has dangerous implications on loading and unloading vessels.

 What's Next?

Following the results of the research, new software has been developed to identify and implement the safest conditions at port. Further to the software, improved guidelines have been established that may improve the planning and design of new ports. In theory, this will allow the ports of the future to work with our existing vessels and grow with them as technology advances. That would make future ports safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly than ever before.

What does this mean for you?

The face of the shipping industry is continually changing. The more we learn, the more we can understand about how to make the industry work best for everyone involved. A big part of successful maritime operations is collaboration. We must work together towards a common goal, to use the research findings to improve things for everyone.

This will often mean an increased need for maritime training and risk assessment, to ensure that you are prepared to meet adjusted regulations. What’s more, it’s important to understand why things are changing; i.e., why a new technology or software might be useful to you. In many cases, these improvements can save you time and money as well as creating a safer situation for your vessel.

Ports of the future and their terminals may look different than those we know today, but they should be better, too. It’s our job to stay up to date with information, regulations, and best-practice methodologies, both in terms of our own operations and of those around us. This can help keep the vital shipping industry sustainable in the years to come, and we can all grow with it and adapt to get the best results. 

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LNG Shipping on the Move

Posted by on 16 June 2014 | 0 Comments

Liquified Natural Gas, or LNG, is taking shipping by storm. At the moment there are about 400 specialized tankers that serve the LNG industry, but that number is set to explode in the next several years. Floating LNG (FLNG) installations are also being developed at a rapid pace to allow for offshore processing of LNG. This new technology’s current and potential impact on the shipping industry is significant.

What is LNG?
Liquified Natural Gas is methane that has been cooled to the point where it becomes a liquid. In its liquid form, the natural gas occupies much less space than it does in its gaseous form, making it easier to export in LNG carriers. This makes gas accessible to many more areas that are not within a reasonable proximity to gas fields. When the LNG is transported, it is then converted back to its original form and piped to consumers.

LNG and Shipping

While LNG has long been technically viable, it presents some economic challenges. LNG carriers are highly specialized and very expensive to build and operate, making them less appealing in a financial respect. However, as the demand for LNG grows, the high price of these carriers is mitigated by the economic rewards of transporting LNG. Technology is also improving, making the required components of an LNG carrier less costly and more efficient.

The first large-scale LNG plant opened in Algeria in 1964, which utilized two ships that were also the first of their kind. The development of LNG technology stalled in the 1970s, but has recently been back on the rise with record highs in 2011. Despite the expense associated with processing and transporting LNG, it is still seen as a clean energy, which is very appealing in terms of sustainable development.

The future of LNG

Asia and Australia are poised to be two of the worlds’ big players in LNG production, with Asia said to be an ideal recipient for importing and Australia working towards exports. The USA is typically known to import LNG, though it remains to be seen how it will use LNG in future.

As LNG grows, shipping is set to grow as a result. Floating processing units are likely to appear in more places, which will require trained employees and high-quality equipment. Employee contracts may also reduce in length, as short-term LNG projects are proving to be available. This suggests that highly skilled maritime professionals may be in demand for a number of different projects, rather than being associated with one long-term project.

As LNG technology becomes more popular, the demand for specialized training will also increase. In July we are launching our first LNG Bunkering PIC course, with five more dates through the end of 2014. Safety is a serious issue with this highly volatile cargo, and safe operation for bunkering LNG when carried as a fuel is very important. With new technology comes new safety precautions and procedures, and seafarers working on LNG ships need to be trained and practiced in these methodologies.

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Coast Guard Rescues Rogue Freighter

Posted by on 9 June 2014 | 0 Comments

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Accidents at sea happen more than we would like, but sometimes they are unavoidable. When that happens, it’s important to assess the risks, develop a safe solution, and carry it out as smoothly as you can. Two recent incidents out of New York illustrate how a potential crisis can be averted with proper training and experience.

Federal Kivalina

In May, the Federal Kivalina, a freighter flagged from Hong Kong, lost its steering in New York state’s St. Lawrence Seaway. The 656-foot bulk carrier was carrying 23,000 metric tons of canola seeds when it began drifting in the busy waterway. The crew dropped three anchors, which caused it to drag to a stop just before it reached the Thousand Island Bridge.

Fortunately, there were no injuries in this incident, nor was any pollution reported. The US Coast Guard was summoned to help and two tugboats from Montreal were sent as well. It was found that the freighter lost power and the USCG designed a salvage plan. Until the area was deemed to be safe, the seaway was closed to vessel traffic for more than two days. The 22 crewmembers remained onboard.

On this particular occasion, the ship was salvaged and refloated according to the safe removal plan developed based on the weather and water conditions. The canola seeds were offloaded to allow for improved floatation, and divers reportedly discovered a two-foot hole in the hull of the ship. The cause is being investigated.

According to all reports, the crew and their rescuers worked together and were able to remedy the situation as efficiently as possible. This is a great example of a potentially dangerous situation being turned around as safely as possible. Without preparation and teamwork, this could have been a tragic story involving injuries. As it stands, it was a reminder to us all to be prepared for the worst as best as we can.


Ocean State

This wasn’t the only recent mishap in New York, with a ferry running aground near Jamaica Bay around the same time. Ocean State was a 55-foot ferry carrying 25 passengers and four crew members when it was grounded due to mud in low water. The trip was a special cruise and the mud was not identifiable on the nautical charts.

In this case, the captain directed the passengers to the front of the ferry, the Coast Guard was called, and an FDNY vessel brought the passengers to shore. Again, no one was injured and the passengers praised the actions of those on board. The incident is being investigated, though it appears to be an accident. It’s impossible to predict if and when you might run into an accident at sea; just like accidents on land, they are often unexpected and sudden. Whether it’s a large cargo-carrying freighter or a small passenger ferry, keeping a calm head and following procedure is important.

Make sure that your crew knows what to do in the event of an emergency, and stay current with your training and risk assessment practices. We never know when we might be called upon to manage a crisis, and when the time comes it’s best to be as prepared as possible.



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