With the total number of LNG cargoes transported set to hit 100,000 in 2019, training and safety practices are under intense scrutiny
Addressing the audience at the LNG Ship/Shore Interface Conference Europe in London at the end of 2019, Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) general manager Andrew Clifton emphasised how the organisation is working to promote safety across the board.
Mr Clifton noted that it had been 54 years since the first LNG carrier, Methane Princess, entered service in 1964. Since then, nearly 100,000 cargoes have been delivered, with around 570 vessels in service and roughly 100 more on order. During this time, there has been no recorded loss of cargo tank containment, or cargo-related loss of life.
This impressive record can be attributed in large part to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk, known for short as the IGC Code. First developed in the early days, a revised version of the code entered into force on 1 January 2016
Mr Clifton also highlighted the good operational and maintenance procedures within the industry, along with high standards of training and competency verification.
“We owe a great credit to those who drew up the IGC code many years ago in the infancy of LNG shipping,” he said, adding, “We all have a collective responsibility towards retaining it.”
SIGTTO suggests operators apply a risk-based philosophy to their safety regimes. Mr Clifton noted the industry is well-equipped to address smaller risks and issues arising from Ship Inspection report Programme (SIRE) inspections, but noted, “there is also a need to focus more on major accident prevention”.
Training remains arguably the key element in identifying major risks and mitigating and avoiding them. Mr Clifton explained that SIGTTO recommends tools such as bow-tie models, which clearly differentiate between proactive and reactive risk management. A bow tie begins with identifying a hazard, with the rest of the model devoted to identifying how to prevent ‘top event’, situations in which control of the hazard is lost.
“We owe a great credit to those who drew up the IGC code many years ago in the infancy of LNG shipping; we all have a collective responsibility towards retaining it”
The model resembles a bow tie, with the ‘top event’ forming the knot in the middle. On the left-hand side of the model threats that could lead to the ‘top event’ occurring are identified, along with proactive steps that can be taken to prevent them, while the right-hand side identifies the potential consequences of the ‘top event’, and what barriers can be put in place to mitigate or prevent them.
SIGTTO also recommends ‘engineering out’ the human factor in design wherever possible. “You can never eliminate the human factor breaking down,” said Mr Clifton, “but you can minimise it.” As an example, he cited introducing interlocks to prevent the running of pumps at times when high-level alarms are disabled.
“As soon as the construction contract is signed and you know you’re going to have another vessel in the next 18 months to two years, you start your training and forward planning,” he added.
UK Ship Register director Doug Barrow cited his own experience in a previous role where he had assisted in the delivery of six LNG carriers. He noted that using simulators had played a key role in the preparation and planning stages, allowing crew members to familiarise themselves with vessel systems before they boarded the ship.
Liquefied Gas Consultancy principal consultant and Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement group fleet director Chris Clucas observed that owners who are investors from outside the industry may have the mistaken belief that a qualified crew can be secured “like you’d whistle up an Uber”. He added: “We always say training is something that’s got to be done at least a year ahead.”
Elsewhere, Columbia Shipmanagement has introduced a proprietary e-learning management platform that will allow its seafarers to undertake training wherever they are in the world, even without network connectivity.
Developed in partnership with software giant Adobe Systems, Columbia Shipmanagement’s platform, Adobe Captivate Prime, is web and app based and can be used at seafarers’ convenience, whether in the office, on board vessels, at home, or travelling.
Seafarers can use computers or mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to download courses, collect points and badges as they learn and generate certificates upon successful completion of relevant tests. The system also incorporates the ability for seafarers to post comments and questions in dedicated forums, participate in webinars, attend virtual classrooms and access virtual reality content
Masters and managers can use the programme to create continuous development programmes for their teams by enrolling them for specific courses, and use captured data to monitor training effectiveness and attendance, provide feedback and manage results on how quickly the workforce is improving through skill awards.
This is the first time a ship manager has teamed up with a software company to develop a global LMS solution for the entirety of its e-learning course offerings.
Columbia Shipmanagement group director of training Capt Faouzi Fradi said: “Seafarers play a key role in operating Columbia’s fleet; hence, it is of utmost importance to recognise their contribution and efforts by caring about their wellbeing and satisfaction.
“Columbia’s LMS has been implemented to train and educate seafarers, but also to adapt to their schedule and lives while onboard or ashore and help them train on their own terms.”
Mitsui OSK books manager for bunker vessel
Mistui OSK Lines (MOL) has booked Sinanju Tanker Holdings to manage its 12,000 m3 LNG bunker vessel that will operate in Singapore.
Currently under construction at Sembcorp Marine, the GTT Mark III Flex membrane, dual-fuel vessel is set for delivery in early 2021 and is the largest LNG bunker vessel currently set for use in the Port of Singapore.
Sinanju managing director Ju Kai Meng said: “We are delighted to partner MOL to promote the development of infrastructure and competencies in LNG fuel deliveries for Singapore.
“MOL’s expertise in LNG and our strong foundation in fuel oil bunkering augurs well for a successful collaboration in meeting the growing demand for LNG as a marine fuel
“While Singapore has entrenched itself as the world’s largest bunkering port, our foray into LNG bunkering is still in its early stages.”