Cyber security at sea

Cyber threat is new unwarranted intentional or unintentional action which effects our technologies, computers, programs and data. Cyber security is not only about IT and its peripherals, and it is not only the responsibility of IT departments alone. Company and organization required to take a holistic, proactive, risk-based and well-practiced approach to identify the threat, invest in infrastructure and training, to make each staff and crew member aware about it.

The days are not far when there will a requirement of cyber certification and company will have to employ a Cyber Security Officer in office, and on board a passenger vessel.

On one hand reports are received about Japan and Norway developing and testing ships without crewmember, and on the other hand we are hearing news of Wannacry and Petya cyber attack. Due to lack of defence mechanism risk of attack is always high on oceangoing vessels, however the impact of an incident to be most likely to confined to a single ship.

Recent cyber attack on major shipping company office computer system has caused congestion in 76 ports operated by them and delay in cargo worldwide. Company has put the cost to this attack at $300mn.

In companies, a simple way of hacking could be hacking the emails, if emails are hacked, then hacker would monitor all emails to and from, specially from finance department. Whenever any big supplier will send an email and ask for payment,  the virus would simply changed the text of the message before it was read, adding a different bank account number.  A bunker supplier’s million dollar invoice can be settled to hacker’s account by simple hacking of email.

Below are the minimum protective elements on board now a days for cyber security, it must be included in IT procedure and followed by all;

  1. Fire wall
  2. Back up files regularly and keep anti-virus software up to date.
  3. Access control
  4. Spam filtering
  5. Anti phishing
  6. Strong passwords/two-factor authentication where necessary
  7. Encryption of sensitive data – at storage or when transmitted.
  8. Protection of ports of all hardware against using any foreign device.
  9. Do not allow any third party, service engineers, suppliers to connect their devices to onboard system.
  10. Remove all old and redundant system completely. It can be used as on board hacking device by hackers.
  11. Data and information from obsolete system should be destroyed completely before disposing off.

Immediate action is required by used in case threat of hacking is felt or attacked –

  • Power off the device and contact IT department.
  • Disconnect your PC from the internet.
  • Reformat the hard drive.

Increased dependency on automation, digitalisation and shore to ship connectivity is making the ships vulnerable to cyber attack. Most important vulnerable systems are as below and what would be the effect of attacking these systems;

  • Bridge equipment – Autopilot, Radar, Gyro, ECDIS, Dynamic Positioning system, AIS, SVDR – It will cause loss of navigational integrity.
  • Communication system – Satellite, VOIP, Internet, WLANs
  •  Propulsion and machinery system – Main Engine governing, Power management, Integrated Control System, Alarm monitoring system – Loss of propulsion or external control of ship.
  • Access control system – BNWAS, CCTV network, SSAS can be
  • Cargo management system – Cargo planning & control system, Ballast Control system, Alarm and level indicators.
  • Passenger information – health records, financial records of passengers on cruise ship can be hacked.
  • Core infrastructure – VPN, Firewall, security gateway, LAN. Can be used to still ship’s data or information.

The cyber attack would cause following incidents, which should be included in contingency plan of cyber attack of ship;

  • loss of availability of electronic navigational equipment or loss of integrity of navigation related data.
  • loss of availability or integrity of external data sources, including but not limited to GNSS
  • loss of essential connectivity with the shore, including but not limited to the availability of

  • Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) communication

  • Loss of availability of industrial control systems, including propulsion, auxiliary systems and other critical systems, as well as loss of integrity of data management and control

  • The event of a ransom ware or denial or service incident.


Ship demolition -2016

Opposite to shipbuilding where development of ship passes through many processes, ship recycling is rather quick, however again it has to follow some guidelines. Few years back, there was no guidelines for shipbreaking, accidents in shipyard were usual, some accidents were immediate and some were effecting in long term, like fumes and asbestos exposer to which causes cancer risk.

As per,  20,4 million Gross Tonnage recycled in 2015, which consisted of ; Bangladesh 33%, India 22%, Pakistan 18%, China 21%, Turkey 5% and Rest of the world 1%. Different sources shows different figure of ship recycling in Bangladesh, Pakistan, China and India but it is true that approximately 80% of ship recycling takes place in these countries.

EU Ship Recycling regulation – Adopted on 20th November 2017 , objective is to reduce the negative impact of recycling of ships flying European member state flag ( Top 3 are Malta, Cyprus & Greece).   Under this regulation all large seagoing vessels will be recycled only in safe and sound recycling facility approved under EU guidelines. Not only the European flagged ships but European ship-owners are also joining this list to support this regulation and in turn 2009 HK convention.

Recent development in Hong Kong convention to make the industry safer and more environmental friendly.

2011 Guidelines for the Development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials

2011 Guidelines for the Development of the Ship Recycling Plan

2012 Guidelines for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling

2012 Guidelines for the Authorization of Ship Recycling Facilities

2012 Guidelines for the survey and certification of ships under the Hong Kong Convention

2012 Guidelines for the inspection of ships under the Hong Kong Convention

2013 Adoption of Ship Recycling code




Bunkering at Singapore

Before 2017- bunkering at Singapore often ended up in a dispute and finally ship owner, charterer and ship staff remains at receiving end of the loss. Under pressure of vessel departure, and lack of much support from anywhere, ship staff settles the dispute hurriedly and accepts the loss. In the case of Cappuccino bunkering, bunker shortage is discovered after few hours or days of sailing. To prevent malpractice, MPA is regularly monitoring and taking action against suppliers, barge or tanker operators.

2016, yearly sale of HFO, MDO, LSFO bunker was 49000,000 Metric ton in Singapore port (as per statistics from MPA Singapore, Bunker sales data Singapore port). Considering just 1 per cent short supply of bunker, total loss to receiving end is approximately 4900000MT. If calculated at an average bunker rate of 300USD/ton, bunker lost by charterers or ship owners is approximately 1470million USD per year. In this calculation we have not considered MDO or LSMDO price, otherwise the loss would be higher.

In Singapore there are  about 15 bunker brokers, 60 suppliers and approximately same number of traders. Out of these 60 suppliers, 20 suppliers are main and wins most of the supply.

Recently MPA Singapore has taken measures to improve the bunker malpractice;

  1. New bunker survey licence to have better regulatory control over bunkering company and bunker surveyors, in tern it will have help the interest of all bunkering stake holders.
  1. From January 1st 2017, MPA will require to use Mass Flow Meter for all marine fuel supply in Singapore port for accurate measurements and to avoid any malpractice or dispute.

These measures will help bunker receiver to get accurate amount of fuel, no unwanted pressure, no dispute and eventually no financial loss to charterers or owners.

MRV – Collecting ships’ fuel consumption data

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of IMO in the 69th session meeting at IMO Headquarters in London (18 to 22 April) has approved draft amendments to the MARPOL, it is mandatory fuel consumption data collection system,  intended to be the first in a three-step process in which analysis of the data collected. It  would provide the basis for an objective, transparent and inclusive policy debate in the MEPC. Key features of this policy is as below;

  • To date, IMO is the only Organization to have adopted energy-efficiency measures that are legally binding across an entire global industry.
  • Due to new measures by 2025 all new ships built will be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2013.
  • IMO would be required to produce an annual report to the MEPC, summarizing the data collected. Data would be anonymized so individual ship data would not be recognized.
  • This would allow a decision to be made on whether any further measures are needed to enhance energy efficiency and address greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.

“Under the system, ships of 5,000 gross tonnage and above will be required to collect consumption data for each type of fuel they use, as well as other, additional, specified data including proxies for transport work. The aggregated data will be reported to the flag State after the end of each calendar year and the flag State, having determined that the data has been reported in accordance with the requirements, will issue a Statement of Compliance to the ship.   Flag States will be required to subsequently transfer this data to the IMO Ship Fuel Consumption Database.”

Source – International Maritime organization

Shipping up or down?

Baltic index inching high, company making profit but shipping confidence is low.

When we receive contradictory reports, it becomes difficult to infer what is right and whether these news are giving a direction of shipping industry. In March 2016, we have received below 4 news, all stand alone are correct however when we combine these reports it looks something wrong, companies have reported profit or turn around, Baltic index is inching high, never the less shipping confidence is low.

  1. Seaspan net profit up 52.9pc to US$199.3 million (2015 YoY)
  2. Baltic sea freight index up on firmer Panamax rates (March 2016)
  3. Hapag-Lloyd back in black with 30pc more sales and US$127 million profit (2015 YoY)
  4. New low in shipping confidence;
    Charterers (down from 5.5 to 3.9), which is the lowest confidence rating by any category of respondent in the history of the survey. Confidence on the part of owners and managers was also down, from 5.7 to 4.8 and from 5.8 to 5.5 respectively. Geographically, confidence was down in all major areas covered by the survey – in Asia from 6.0 to 4.4, in Europe from 5.4 to 5.1, and in North America from 5.7 to 4.7.
    source – shipping confidence data – Moore Stephens

IBF and Seafarers

What IBF ( The International Bargaining Forum) does for seafarers?

Maritime industry is a unique multinational industry, where standardization of pay is paramount to protect seafarers. Therefore The International Bargaining Forum (IBF) was established in 2003, for collective bargaining of wages and condition of employment in the marine industry. Below are 4 major workings of IBF;

Pay Negotiation – International Seafarers’ wages varies according to nationalities. The fixing of wages is long process and represented by main stakeholders; IBF (International Bargaining Forum), which includes Joint Negotiation Group as employers’ representative and ITF as seafarers’ representative. Once the IBF negotiations are concluded, Joint Negotiation Group** representatives visit the principal labor supply and ship owning countries to negotiate the application of the settlement at local level. That is the reason of large difference in pay structure and benefits of seafarers of different countries.

IBF High Risk Area crew entitlements- Since 2008 the IBF designated an IBF High Risk Area, seafarers are in Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) are entitled to special allowances as per IBF recommendation. This recommends 100% additional basic wages and all compensation payable are doubled. Last update on IBF list was published on 16th December 2015.

The IBF Seafarers’ Support Fund – It was created exclusively to support the welfare of seafarers. A part of ITF Assistance, Welfare and Protection Fund is paid to this fund. JNG members contribute to this fund through ITF fund and it is utilized for welfare of seafarers, especially towards MLC 2006.

Seafarers’ Employment Promotion Fund – US$10 per month is contributed by every IMEC member, (it can be different for other JNG members) to Seafarers’ Employment Promotion Fund for every seafarer serving on an IBF registered vessel. This fund is utilized for training and development of seafarers and companies can ask for up to 90% grant from SEP. See the summary of Funds.

Who are members of JNG, Joint Negotiation Group?

JNG members’ main job is Seafarers wage negotiation; assisting employers with updated legislations about seafarers’ employment; promote good employment practice and many more to help employers and seafarers. Below are the members;

  1. The International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) – 200 companies, 11,000 vessels, 290,000 seafarers, 68 different nationalities.
  2. International Maritime Managers’ Association of Japan – 97 companies , 2,335 vessels with 47,664 seafarers
  3. Evergreen – 190 ships
  4. Korean Shipowners’ Association- 193 companies, 11000seafarers (2014 figure)

Source – IBF, IMMA Japan, IMEC

Famous marine salvages

The legal concept that a marine salvor is entitled to a reward for the saving of imperilled marine property has been a recognized part of the admiralty law for more than 3,000 years.

SALCON 89 – International convention on Salvage 1989, replaced an old salvage convention adopted in Brussels in 1910, there was “‘no cure, no pay” principle earlier, means a salvor is only rewarded for services if the operation is successful. New 1989 Convention, introduced “special compensation” to be paid to salvors who have failed to earn a reward in the normal way (i.e. by salving the ship and cargo). Special Compensation is additional payment of 30 to 100% of the salvor’s expenses, which is for their effort to save environment, marine life, human health and resources, which were unrecognised earlier.

Myth – The law of salvage is a concept in maritime law which states that a person who recovers another person’s ship or cargo after peril or loss at sea is entitled to a reward commensurate with the value of the property so saved.

Fact – Even when a vessel is “abandoned” and left without intention to return or hope of recovery, the vessel remains the property of her owner absent some affirmative act by the owner which clearly and convincingly establishes a positive intent on the part of the owner to part with ownership.

Slide2Many salvage operations have been undertaken over the century, these numbers are more than what people hoped for. Some of them are famous because of name attached to it.





The wreck was found in 1985, 73 years after the ship sank, now the ship structure is so fragile that it cannot be salvaged, however salvagers has recovered many artifacts from within the ship.
In 1985, a joint American-French expedition discovered the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean in international waters. Two years later, Titanic Ventures, a limited partnership, explored the wreck, bringing up approximately 1,800 artifacts. Thereafter, it sold its interests in the salvage operations and the artifacts to RMST.
In 1993, RMST commenced this in rem action against the Titanic to become its salvor-in-possession.

German Fleet in Scapa Flow
It is the biggest salvage operation in the history. After the end of World War I, Germans decided to scuttle their fleet to avoid being seized by Allies. There were 74 German ships in Scapa Flow, Scotland, UK after WWI, waiting for their fate after surrender, on German commander’s order all were planned to scuttle (puncturing the hull by opening sea valves, opening port holes etc). On 21st June 1919, 52 warships out of 74 warships were scuttled, and these became biggest wreck in the history. New salvage technique was developed, hull were patched, air was pumped in to make the ship rise to the surface. One of the salvage operation was costing £30000, about 45 ships were salvaged in next 20 years. 7 wrecks are still there and designated as monuments, used by divers for underwater tourism.

Pearl Harbor
7th December 1941, Japan sank 5 battleships, 2 destroyers, a target ship and a mine layer of American Navy at Pearl Harbor. Within 6 months US Navy refloated 5 ships and 2 cruisers by patching holes and pumping out water. Later, 20000 underwater man-hours were spent for another year to salvage remaining ships, which were not successful. It was one of the most difficult salvage operations in history.

Costa Concordia
114,500-ton cruise ship Costa Concordia capsized at island of Giglio in January 2012, killing 32 people. Ship was turned upright and secured to an artificial platform after a massive salvage operation in September 2013, in May 2014 she was towed 240-km to Genoa.
Submerged platform and around 30 buoyancy tanks were used to refloat and tow the ship, it was the largest salvage operation ever attempted, and the most expensive, at a cost of $1.5 billion so far.

12th August 2000, Russian nuclear submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea due to an internal explosion, it led to death of 118 sailors and officers. It had 2 nuclear reactor, so eliminating this hazard was necessary. In 2001A portion of the destroyed submarine was raised to the surface in October 2001 to recover the bodies and eliminate the hazard from the Kursk’s two nuclear reactors.
Cost of Salvation was USD 65mn,it took 5 months to refloat the submarine wreck.

Cougar Ace
In July 2006, Cougar Ace,of MOL, was packed with 4,700 Mazda cars and Isuzu trucks for North-American market, value of cars was 117 million. The ship was bound from Japan to Vancouver, Canada when a ballast operation caused 60degree list to ship.
Ship[ was rightened on 16th August 2006, the salvage team, TITAN had to work solidly for 24 days straight to try and save the vessel and its extremely lucrative cargo.
Only 46 cars were damaged during this incident, however Mazda announced scrapping of all cars; till 2008 all cars were scrapped.  

Besides cumbersome efforts and innovative techniques there are certain equipment which are commonly used for modern salvage operations;

  • High viscosity hydraulic pumps to transfer/ pump out highly viscous fuel oil to be used
  • High power winches – installed on barge or another vessel
  • Air baloons, or air bags, sponsons to give additional buoyancy
  • Underwater cutting equipments –usually hydraulically operated, it can be custom made for the purpose and made of tunguston carbide tip or dimond tip tools.
  • Floating crane, barge, tug boats
  • Diving team
  • Wire ropes, chains etc

Shore staff – 2015 Job concerns

The 7th maritime employee survey carried out by Halcyon Recruitment and online training provider Coracle, which includes 3000 respondents from various backgrounds of  brokers, charterers, traders, senior management, technical, HSEQ, P&I, legal, insurance, vessel operators, liner trades, HR, crewing, admin, finance etc.

The result shows that the majority of shore based employees across the shipping sector believe that the most satisfying factors for employee are; relationship with manager, followed by reputation of employer. Promotion prospect and training opportunity are least satisfying in current job.  Salary, work life balance, job security, benefit packages are of medium satisfaction, however when changing jobs, 60% of employees always look for health cover as a must have benefit.

Most of the employees are lacking in training and development opportunities. Lack of salary increases, promotion potential, training and development opportunities, will cause increased staff turnover, so employer should emphasize more on needs of training and development, to make employee more productive and satisfying .
Some of the facts of this survey are;  

  • Technical department, 69% of respondents received a bonus in the last 12 months vs 46% in 2013, this shows an on-going shortage of technical personnel.
  •  Only 47% of total respondents had their basic salary rise, and only 58% received a bonus in the last 12 months.
  • Asia continues are leaders in terms of salary increases and bonus payments.
  •  Singapore is the most attractive location from a work/life perspective with 23% of participants favouring this location, followed by England and Northern Europe.
  • When considering a career move, salary ranks highest in terms of importance, replacing work/life balance from last year 2014.

Shipping confidence level

As per shipping adviser Moore Stephens, overall confidence levels in the shipping industry fell in the three months to November 2015, it is hovering at lowest level since this survey was started in the year 2008. Facts of this shipping confident survey are as below;

This survey is carried out every 3 months and results published, it was first published in May 2008 and latest published in the month of November 2015.
Owners, brokers, charterers, managers, advisers and others, these are the main categories of which respondents are surveyed.
This survey is divided into regions as Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America and Rest of the world.
Performance factors of this survey are; Demand trends, Finance costs, Operating costs, Tonnage supply, Fuel costs, Crew supply, Regulation and Port congestion.
The confidence level is measured between 1 (low) to 10 (high).

As per November shipping confidence level, overall confidence level has gone down from 5.9 in Aug2015 to 5.6 in Nov 2015. The confidence of charterers was down from 6.5 to 5.5,  managers from 6.4 to 5.8, brokers from 5.2 to 4.6, and that of owners from 5.8 to 5.7.  Some peaks in confidence level reported in May 2008 (6.8), May 2010 (6.3), Feb 2014 (6.5) and major dips were in Feb 2009 (5.4), Aug 2011(5.3), Aug 2012(5.3) and May 2015 (5.3).

As compared to 2008 performance factor shows that Operational cost has come down from 12% to 6%, Crew cost down from 11% to 5%, Regulation cost up from 2% to 9%.

The net sentiment was nevertheless positive (+7) in the tanker market and in the dry bulk sector (+16), although negative (-5) for container ships.

Please read more here.


ECA & CARB – Adaptation

From the 1st January  2015 onwards, vessels are required to comply with stricter sulphur limits within Emission Control Areas (ECAs), vessels are using Ultra LS Fuel oil or LS Marine Gas Oil. The vessel specific change over procedure and calculators are being followed to ensure compliance. But complying with CARB is little different than simple ECA. Vessel has to follow zero emission in port, this requirement has developed new methods to curb emission and there will be many more more developments in this field in coming year.

Cold ironing – The term Cold Ironing is old when coal fired iron engines used to be completely shut down and vessels were supplied with shore electrical power for cargo handling or other necessary services in port, in this way the iron made engine said to be cold ironed.
1. AMP – Alternative Maritime Power(Permitted in California). There can be any means of supplying power to vessel at berth, most commonly used method in California is through shore supply of high voltage (6600KV) to vessel through receptacle container on board.
Large container vessel, cruise ship operate at 6600Volt to 11KV power system, whereas most ships operate at 440 Volt systems. Some vessels has 50Hz system, and some has 60 Hz system. New vessels are fitted with suitable adapter to connect to the shore power. However existing vessels has to be retrofitted with suitable adaptation system, costing is approximately USD 200000 to 500000, few suppliers of these power adaptation system are ABB, Sam Electronics (now a part of Watsila), Schneider Electric etc. Since these HVSC containers are permanently loaded on one side or both sides, there are quite a number of cargo slots killed and losing revenue for shipowner.Slide3

  1. Aux Engine Exhaust collection and treatment (permitted in California) – If vessel is not fitted with shorepower adaptor container,
AMECS barge for exhaust gas from Aux Engine

there is another option for shipowners. Vessel can trade in CARB ports, and run their aux power source, but they must use exhaust gas collection system. Advanced Maritime Emission Control System (AMECS) is approved for simultaneous emission capture from two exhaust stacks of a single ship, with independently verified test results proving 90% to 99% reduction of the particulate matter (PM), nitrous oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxides (SO2) found in diesel exhaust. This system is fitted on barge and exhaust is treated on board barge. In case bad weather / swell or wind, we need to see how this will not get affected.  Source – AMECS


  1. Exhaust scrubber (Not permitted in California) – These  are fitted on board for  main, auxiliary engine, oil fired boiler. and water and sodium hydroxide (NaOH) based closed loop exhaust gas scrubber. Cost-saving solution (able to operate on HFO instead of expensive low sulphur MGO).Slide1
  • Open loop cleaning system – Sea water used
  • Closed loop cleaning system – Fresh water used with Sodium hypochloride.
  • Hybrid system – has facility of switching both to sea water as well as fresh water, vessel can trade in open sea or in fresh water.

Standard guaranteed SOx-reduction is 97-98 %, offering ships SOx-   emissions equivalent with 0.1 % sulfur in the fuel when using fuel with 3.5 % sulphur.  NOx-reduction is approximately 3…7 %, and PMI-reduction 30…80 %.Amount of sludge generated from scrubber is 0.1-0.4kg/MWh which is 10% less than the normal sludge, can be collected in normal sludge tank and disposed off as normal sludge to shore reception facility.

PureSOx from Alfa Laval – World’s largest scrubber for 21MW power engine is installed and in service.

  1. Shore power Barge (new source of shore power)– In Rotterdam recently hybrid LNG power supply barge has been introduced, this will be a key game changer in some ports without investing huge amount in port shore power infrastructure. This can be provided in port as well as in anchorage and in idle time these barge can supply electricity to factories along the coast.

New vessels– For newer vessels LSFO /LSMGO and HFO lines are completely segregated from bunker to transfer to service line, the regulations will be complied without any difficulty. Vessels planned for trading  in these area are fitted with AMP container adaptor on both side of the vessel, enabling them to berth on any side to connect to shore power.

Risk of non compliance –

Local, regional and national regulatory are very stringent about SOx requirements. There are strict reporting system introduced to ensure vessel once alongside follow the regulation. Authorities are checking;

  1. Log entry of fuel change over
  2.  Matching the positions and timing of change over
  3. Collecting sample of oil on engine inlet for  analysis.
  4. Checking of bunker delivery note.

Recently EU too has announced LSFO sampling for the vessels calling EU ports. As per Change over procedure crew is carrying out change over to LSFO/LSMGO to comply with ECA and CARB reregulation. However Sulphur content of oil at the point of inlet to engine cannot be ascertained due to internal behaviour of the fluid. California Environmental Protection Agency/ Air Resources Board has more than dozens of cases against shipping companies. These cases are either due to delay in complying the regulatory changeover of low sulphur fuel oil or  completely non-compliance of regulation. See the list of companies penalised by carb.