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7 April 2020

Senator the Honourable Eric Abetz
Senator for Tasmania

Dear Senator Abetz,
Seafarers and COVID -19

In the particularly trying circumstance of managing the nuances presented by COVID-19 on the maritime industry, the Cruise Ship sector has demonstrated resilience, adaptability and compassion when dealing with the affects of the pandemic on valued guests and crew. Maritime professionals have watched the COVID-19 situation shift the public’s perception of the cruise ship maritime sector from one of tourism and adventure to that of fear, chaos and demonisation of the sector.

Despite this, the cruise ship sector has kept abreast of circumstances by seeking advice from shipping agents and respective Company authorities working with Federal and State Governments. This advice is underpinned by the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) regular COVID – 19 updates, and the World Health Organisation’s guidance on the management of health issues for shipping. Cruise ship companies operate to very high public health standards that consistently exceed those required ashore. Long term relationships with Australian Government health officials and Australian Border Force have built trust that these companies, and the vessels they operate, comply with the law and meet the expectations of modern social standards.
The crew of commercial ships, including cruise ships, are of many different nationalities employed under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) to which Australia is a signatory. With the current border closures on a global scale, ships and crews need, more than ever, a port of refuge.

The Secretary General of the IMO has called for a pragmatic approach in these unusual times. While the recent focus has been on a specific element of the maritime industry, cruise ships, it is important to recognise that maritime transport is also fundamental to the supply of goods worldwide and carries approximately 98% of Australia’s trade. It is vital that maritime cargo and supply chains are not disrupted such that global trade continues throughout the pandemic with minimal impact on seafarers. IMO COVID-19 guidance is regularly updated to facilitate this global trade dynamic; for example, Circular Letter No. 4204/Add.6, issued on 27 March 2020 (

Seafarers recognise that the perception of the maritime domain has been largely shaped by the engagement of thousands of passengers travelling around the Australian Coast and further, in cruise ships. Seafarers on cruise ships currently drifting off the Australian coast also recognise that, through media reporting, their ships have become the subject, and cause, of fear and anxiety relating to the Pandemic. Like circumstance ashore, seafarer concern now turns to a keen desire to diligently ensure that full measure is taken to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on those still assigned to cruise ships drifting off the Australian Coast.

The Nautical Institute (NI) is an international organisation for maritime professionals. Its membership encompasses a broad range of experience across the maritime spectrum including Ship Masters (cruise and cargo sectors), maritime lawyers, marine pilots, Harbour Masters, Academics and Naval personnel. The NI is an NGO with consultative status at the IMO and regularly works with the global community, including Australia, on key maritime issues. It is an internationally acclaimed source of maritime expertise and a potentially valuable resource for governments and the public service. Australia has four NI Branches with maritime experts available to provide advice on maritime issues, especially during these unique and testing circumstances.

Australian NI Branches are requesting that those making decisions and issuing
Directives that impact on seafarers, especially those in the cruise ship sector, focus their decisions based on an understanding and empathy for the seafarers’ contemporary circumstance dealing with the chaos that is

If professional maritime expertise is required, please contact me for further details of NI maritime professionals.

Yours Sincerely,

Captain Peter Martin FNI, CMMA, AIN
Master Mariner, Commander RAN
Nautical Institute Councillor – Tasmania Representative PhD Candidate
National Centre for Ports and Shipping
University of Tasmania / Australian Maritime College
+61 428 073 229

12 February 2020

South East Australia Nautical Institute Branch Quarterly meeting –
Sydney 12 Feb 2020

Presentation – Smart Ships: Smart Ports
Presenter – Capt. Rob Tanner AFNI, Senior Pilot, Port Kembla, NSW.

Report: Rob began the presentation going back to 1974 to one of his first ships MV British Cormorant with 42 crew onboard and compared it to a current regular visitor to Port Kembla, NYK’s car carrier ‘MV Iris Leader’.

The modern-day vessel has a complement of 20 and the only thing the two ships really have in common would be the radar and the autopilot.

Kendall Carter Branch Secretary
(left) and Rob Tanner AFNI

MV Iris Leader is one of the world’s first vessels trialling autonomous operations, and last year sailed for around 6 hours autonomously from China to Japan. Rob reckons “this is the way of things to come” and all this has to do with the change of pace in technology.

Last year Rob attended an Autonomous Ship Technology Conference in Amsterdam. The presentations mostly related to current and emerging shipboard technology and that humans will be replaced by that technology. Humans were held to be superfluous as they are, it is alleged, the root cause of most shipboard incidents. Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) ship owners would not have to consider any safety provisions or hotel services allowing more cargo space to be available. This stimulated his thinking to explore what skills and knowledge seafarers would need in the future and how the maritime industry will address those skills and knowledge requirements.
Some of the major presentations were on vision technology where they talked about Lidar (Light detection and ranging) and 360 deg thermal camera imaging, which are then processed and fused with radar and ECDIS inputs to provide options for multi target tracking and predictions for collision avoidance.

Cyber security, a major topic, ensures that control of the vessel is never lost and access to GPS is continuous and secure. To prevent cyber-attacks a possible solution is to have Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) trained humans, and authenticated access to protect against system entry by cyber pirates.

Another topic discussed by ship brokers and maritime lawyers was on the liability of MASS. Some said that the liability would lay with the remote operator, or for level 4 MASS v/ls which are totally unmanned it could be with the shipowner / operator or software engineers. Another interesting point is at this time there is no legal definition of what an Autonomous v/l is.
A speaker from an oil major made a bold statement “we need to get rid of the bits of string”; of course referring to mooring lines on vessels. Mooring lines cause injuries and deaths far too often and in the interest of safety should be replaced with mooring devices such as suction or magnetic mooring fender systems. Which got Rob thinking “that smart ships of the future will require smart seafarers & smart ports”.

What is a Smart Port? A Smart Port is one that uses automation and innovative technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain to improve its performance.
All these are new technologies that will lead us to a brighter and connected future. The need for smart ports is more relevant today than ever. Ships are getting bigger, goods are moving faster and geo-political conflicts and pandemics such as Covid -19 create new challenges for ports to deal with all around the world.

In a conversation that Rob had with Jillian Carson Jackson (Senior VP Nautical Institute) on the topic, Jillian made some very valid comments “that we need to investigate shipping lanes and controlled water space, digital communications and its associated data collection and the legal framework to underpin the innovation.”

Yara Birkeland – this year will see Norwegian owned and operated fully electric powered zero emission autonomous feeder vessel ‘Yara Birkeland’ commence operations in Norway. It will cut down 40,000 long distance truck journeys and has auto-mooring equipment which requires no manual handling. Initially the vessel will be manned, until everyone is satisfied that unmanned operations are safe to continue. The ship will revolutionise supply chain transport in Norway and the commercial template may very well start a new supply chain logistics task in Australia. The arrival of an autonomous vessel at an Australian port may be sooner than everyone thinks, and we have to start preparing for it.

What is autonomy? Rob talked about when mentioning autonomous ships, it must be emphasised that it’s not necessarily talking about just unmanned vessels and that many people misunderstand what the meaning of autonomy is. It can be manned, but everything onboard can be automated. Autonomy is said to be a process rather than an end in itself. A journey towards increased or full automation of a system and the reason to introduce autonomy is to improve systems performance. Increased autonomy is thought to be interconnected with less environmentally damaging emissions, increased efficiency and safety.

Humans will support the autonomous onboard system with the likelihood of decreased incidents due to human error. With this in mind a human centred approach is required when considering the design of shipboard systems, so that people and machine can work together as a team.

A recent report from the World Maritime University in Norway looked at how automation and technology will affect the future workforce. The report said that the process will be evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. The transport sector will become more efficient as more automation is introduced, which will lead to improved productivity. The transport volume is expected to increase into the future, with a projected need for more transport workers.

Australian ship and port operators need to engage with the vision and prepare for the future by observing what is happening elsewhere in the world and learn from their experiences. As Rob says smart ships will require smart ports. One example of a smart port operation is Searoad Shipping in their Melbourne and Tasmanian port operations where they introduced a mooring system that didn’t involve mooring lines, which has greatly increased safety and efficiency into their operation. Australia has the 5th largest shipping task in the world, and a few years ago it was reported that the maritime sector contributed approximately $20 billion to the national economy annually. Foreign flag ships carry nearly all of the 98% of goods coming into and out of Australia, and yet we do not have a domestic fleet of any significance.

A possible future for our island continent is to use the ‘Blue Highway’ that surrounds us with small manoeuvrable zero emissions ships. These would reduce bottlenecks in our major ports, reduce traffic congestion and pollution around major cities by taking many thousands of trucks off the roads, and encouraging us to become more efficient and environmentally sustainable.
Rob realises that there is a clear gap in the important understanding of how humans will need to be involved with autonomous ships and smart ports as we look ahead. This has provoked Rob to ask the question; What is the future of Australian ports and shipping and how do we build and maintain the necessary knowledge and skills for the humans in the loop?

Capt. Patrick Walsh AFNI.
Assist Secretary SE Australia NI.
6 October 2019

Development of Active Tug Escort for Tanker Operations

August’s meeting was held in Sydney jointly with the Company of Master Mariners of Australia and the Australian Institute of Navigation. Captain Scott Clinton of the Port Authority of New South Wales gave an overview of how Active Tug Escort procedures have been recently developed for use in the port of Newcastle in New South Wales. Scott is a senior check pilot at the port and has been instrumental in developing and implementing the use of tugs for tanker operations in and out of the port.

Newcastle port is the world’s leading coal export port, exporting over 160 million tonnes per year and is very experienced in handling large Capsize bulk carriers of about 300m length and 50m beam which arrive in ballast and depart fully laden. Recently however it has been expecting more visits by petroleum tankers, particularly LR2 type tankers in the 80,000 – 120,000 DWT range of up to 245m in length, 42m beam and 13.5m draft. These arrive fully laden at the very exposed entrance to the river port and the challenge has been to mitigate the risks involved in moving them into and out of the port. The current passive escort procedures needed review.

A full risk assessment was conducted using simulators, and mathematical models of swell conditions were made. Designated tracks were designed for certain common swell conditions and a limit established. Active escort tugs can deploy rapidly to assist as a contingency for turning and braking and are a proven method of mitigating risk in the event of shipboard failures.

Scott explained the six features which combined to take the guesswork out of using active escort tugs – Risk Assessment, Tug Suitability, Training Processes, Procedures, Simulator study, and the use of science rather than the “art” of ship handling. His main message was, “We don’t guess!”
He explained there was a large amount of information available especially concerning wind and swell effects on an exposed hull, the engine output in tonnes at the propeller and the rudder lift forces.

It was possible, for example, to model the forces involved if a ship’s rudder failed and locked hard over and thus know what tug forces were needed to counter this type of event.

Simulation studies showed that LR2 ship models could be effectively handled at the port entrance subject to sea and weather limits. The entry conditions were also limited by under keel clearance. It was also vital that the tugs used had a render recovery type winch and the ship’s bits were OCIMF compliant.

Scott then went on to discuss the type of tugs suitable for this kind of active escort and how they are positioned and also explained that communication procedures were also reviewed, moving to Outcome Based Orders where the pilot is using the expertise of the tug master to achieve the desired outcome, for example: - Pilot: “Stern to Starboard full” ; Tug Master: “Stern to Starboard Full – Indirect”.

He also explained the comprehensive training regime implemented for the pilots to achieve active escort and how the results had been very good.
This was a thoroughly engrossing presentation which was enjoyed by all and the ensuing Q&A period showed the interest generated. Scott was introduced and thanked by the new Chair of the SE Australia Branch, Kit Rynd FNI.

Kendall Carter AFNI

Friday 04 October 2019

Women in Maritime (WiM), The Nautical Institute SE Australia Branch - Breakfast Networking & Panel Discussion Tuesday, 29th Oct, Doltone House, Sydney.  Click here for Flyer

Kindly supported by The Australasian Marine Pilots Institute (AMPI), in conjunction with the AMPI2019 Pilotage and Port Logistics Conference and sponsored by Svitzer Australia.

Time is running out to book your place at the breakfast event of the year! The SE Australia NI Branch is hosting a breakfast event. ‘Empowering Women in Maritime – a panel discussion’, which aligns with IMO’s World Maritime Day theme for 2019.

Participants will have an opportunity to discuss what we can do together to increase participation of women in ports and harbour maritime roles in Australia. Our keynote speaker Mrs Henriette H. Thygesen, Svitzer CEO is one of the most respected professionals in the maritime industry internationally. Henriette will be joined by Kirsteen Roberts, Second Mate, Solstad Offshore; Mike Gallacher, CEO Ports Australia and Capt. Craig Eastaugh, Marine Pilot-Port Hedland & AMPI board member in the panel discussion.

This will be a sell-out event so please book ASAP to avoid disappointment using the following link  see attached flyer for breakfast details and contact me by email  or mobile 0437681277 for NI and WISTA members discount code.

Attendees to the breakfast are also offered a special rate one day pass to the conference with some extremely interesting presentations promised. The highlight presentations are listed below;
• Pathway to Highly Reliable Pilotage and Port Operations. – Capt. Jeanine Drummond Harbour Master Newcastle and Yamba
• The Management of Safety in Flight Operations – Capt. Debbie Slade (Qantas)
• Challenges for the Pilotage Industry in the Age of Big Data – Capt. Ravi Nijjer
• Evidence Based Training – Captain Simon Henderson Phd
• Risk Assessment versus Due Diligence in Marine Pilotage - Presented By Richard Robinson
• Shifting Legal Landscape of Marine Pilotage – Ambrose Rajadurai
• Lessons From UKC Management – Meg Batchelor, OMC International.
Please feel free to share this email with anyone you think might be interested in the event.

Best regards,

Capt. Patrick Walsh AFNI
Assist Secretary SE Australia NI branch.

Join the SE Australia NI branch Group page on LinkedIn for the latest branch news and updates

Friday 13 September 2019

The International Harbour Masters’ Association (IHMA) has invited the Nautical Institute (NI) to become an official endorsing partner of the 12th biennial IHMA Congress that is being held in Hobart on the 23-26 March, 2020. The 2020 Congress is proudly co-hosted by Tasports and the Australian Maritime College (AMC) and will explore the theme, ‘The Next Wave – Navigating Towards the Digital Future’.

The prestigious IHMA Congress is held every two years and features a three-day conference & exhibition, a technical site tour and exciting networking and social program. The 2020 Papers’ Committee is developing a stimulating and thought provoking programme to explore and identify how ports and port operations, including Harbour Masters and port customers, will navigate the digital future.

In order to engage with and attract the next generation of industry leaders, the IHMA has introduced a new 50% discount for young professionals and will be launching the inaugural ‘Young Maritime Professionals Pitching Competition’ at the 2020 Congress. Both opportunities are available to all maritime professionals aged 35yrs and under across the sector.
Click on this link to read the Christopher Rynd CV