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The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the possibility of physical IMO meetings and delayed other meetings, thus complicating timelines related to the coming into force of amendments to various IMO Conventions, IUMI Policy Director, Hendrike Kühl, said.

The last physical meeting prior to international travel restrictions and lockdowns coming into effect was the Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) Sub-Committee, in early March 2020. Currently all meetings through to mid-2021 are scheduled to take place online.

Among the key challenges related to remote IMO sessions is the necessity to accommodate delegates from all time zones around the globe, while also offering simultaneous interpretation into the six official UN languages, IUMI noted.

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A Singapore-flagged LR1 Product tanker has been hit by a yet unidentified ‘external source’ whilst discharging at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on 14 December 2020, causing an explosion and subsequent fire onboard.

The tanker in question is the 2008-built BW Rhine and is owned and operated by Hafnia, part of BW Group.

“The Master immediately ceased all discharge operations and enacted emergency procedures onboard. The crew have extinguished the fire with assistance from the shore fire brigade and tug boats, and all 22 seafarers have been accounted for with no injuries,” Hafnia said in a statement.

The 76,600-dwt vessel sustained hull damages.

“It is possible that some oil has escaped from the vessel, but this has not been confirmed and instrumentation currently indicates that oil levels on board are at the same level as before the incident,” the tanker company added.

Cooling procedures and inserting of cargo space have been initiated to avoid reignition of fire. Ship stability is being assessed before proceeding with any further operations.

Hafnia said iti is working with relevant authorities to ensure the ongoing security of the crew, vessel and environment.

No further details have been disclosed. It not clear if Houthi rebels are behind the latest incident.

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Following the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maritime NZ issued a guidance on how seafarers can stay protected onboard international vessels amid the outbreak.

In light of the unprecedented coronavirus situation, it is vital for crewmembers to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 when boarding an international vessel. Therefore, Maritime NZ recommends:

Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) properly

Facemasks must be worn. Goggles, face shields and gloves will provide additional protection and can reduce the spread of infection when used correctly.

Everyone should be wearing masks on the vessel and if someone is not, remove yourself from the situation.

Wear single use gloves where possible and do not touch your face or anyone else once they’re on.

Clean your hands before you put on your face masks, goggles or face shield if you are not wearing gloves.

Make sure the mask covers your nose, mouth and chin. Replace the mask if it becomes damp, damaged or dirty.

After use, take your mask off by removing it from the ear loops so as not to touch the actual mask piece and ensure no one else can come into contact with it after disposal.

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This article describes a case of a crew fatality onboard due to severe burn injuries. The incident occurred in a pump room during ventilation. When the fan was plugged in, there were some sparks which ignited the combustible gas which was in a pocket of the corner.

The oil tanker was in port loading when it was discovered that a valve was leaking in the pump room, so loading had to be stopped. Because of the leakage, the pump room was full of explosive gas. The Master informed the terminal that loading had to be stopped.

The Master informed the superintendent who told the Master to ventilate the pump room. It was decided that the cargo that was still in the lines should be put in the slop tank.

The broken valve was in a difficult position as it was close to the bulkhead. The crew could not fix this with their tools, so a contractor was arranged to come onboard to do the repairs. The superintendent decided that the vessel should depart for the next port for loading where the contractor would embark.

Meanwhile, the crew started to ventilate the vessel. When the gas in the pump room was below 1% LEL (Lower Explosive Limit) the crew began to wash down the pump room and also lowered a portable water pump in the room to pump out the water. When this was completed, a hydraulic water-powered fan was put in the pump room to dry it out, and the crew started to clean up the leaked cargo.

Later that evening, the chief officer was resting before the arrival in the next port. The Master had taken the chief officer’s watch to let him rest. The schedule was tight, and the crew would not get much rest before arrival.