'Bad bunkers' among hot topics at 10th Loss Prevention Committee meeting

The 10th meeting of Norwegian Hull Club’s Loss Prevention Committee (LPC) took place in Bergen on Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th of September 2018. The LPC is dedicated to improving best practice through the sharing of knowledge.

The committee gathers senior technical and operational executives from The Club’s members to share their experiences, with a strong focus on safety and loss prevention. Norwegian Hull Club contributes by sharing insight gained from handling some 2,000 claims annually. 

Bad Bunkers
The challenges related to bad bunkers are high on the agenda for many of The Club’s clients, and were therefore a topic on the LPC agenda, as well as on the Bulk subcommittee meeting earlier the same day. 

Nick Chell, Shipping Technical Director with LOC, was invited to highlight ‘The Impact and Consequences of Bad Bunkers’ to the LPC. One of the challenges Mr Chell drew attention to was that there have been several revisions since the ISO-8217 standard was introduced in 1987. This may lead to challenges where a charter party may refer to one edition, while a fuel purchase contract can refer to another. He also talked of further challenges being likely in 2020, when the introduction of low-sulphur 0.5 per cent fuels comes into effect.
Another topic that was discussed was the importance of sampling the bunkers at the time of bunkering and ensuring that the sample is representative. Mr Chell addressed the fact that GC-MS (Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry) testing is most commonly used after damage has already occurred. The difficulty in assessing at what level fuel contaminants would lead to damage was also emphasised – is damage due to poor-grade fuel or poorly maintained equipment? 

The Loss Prevention Committee will summarise some of the members’ common challenges, as well as best practice, in an article later in October. 
Location challenges
Norwegian Hull Club regularly experiences that clients have challenges when dealing with an incident in an unfamiliar location. This topic was highlighted in a case study presented by one LPC member. Issues such as lack of knowledge regarding local agents, authorities and pilots were highlighted, together with the importance of having effective communication and local contacts in a country that is subject to sanctions. The Club’s Chief Claims Officer, Åge Solberg, told the committee that the issue was often not the incident itself but being locked in a difficult jurisdiction. The LPC was asked to consider what steps could have been taken to prevent such an incident occurring and will revert with a best practice check list to be shared on Norwegian Hull Club’s website. 
Minimising risk through awareness 
A recurring topic in LPC meetings is that of training and awareness. Commander in the Royal Norwegian Navy, Cato Rasmussen, took to the lectern for the presentation ‘Minimising Risk of Navigational Errors’. He highlighted what he considers to be the most important rule during navigating: ‘never assume’. The significance of anticipating possible consequences when deviating from one’s duty – whether taking a toilet break or being distracted by thoughts of family at home – were illustrated in some hard-hitting case studies. 
In a group work session, the members discussed why they believe the same incidents repeat themselves: how can we learn from incidents and successfully implement the lessons learned?  There was a variety of feedback, from people’s tendency to believe that ‘it will never happen to me’, to the challenges when individuals have to learn to operate and understand increasingly sophisticated equipment and systems. There was also strong focus on the importance of implementing company culture onboard each and every vessel, across all stations and ranks, through safety meetings, toolbox talks and safety moments.
‘Safety through peace’
The latter was perfectly illustrated by the video presentation ‘The Captain’s Influence on Bridge Team’s Situational Awareness’. Videos of an experiment were shown, in which two separate bridge crews were working in exercise situations under captains of very different personality types – one ‘bad’ (highly irritable, prone to shouting, despotic), the other ‘good’ (calm, approachable). The LPC members watched - and could relate - as the crew with the ‘bad Captain’ failed to handle any of the challenges they were presented with. The crew led by the ‘good Captain’, however, were able to effectively deploy their knowledge and experience in a healthy, team-work-based setting. One crew member noted: ‘Safe navigation to me means a peaceful environment’. 
Thus, the next LPC meeting will be held in a peaceful environment in London in February 2019.

10. Oct. 2018