The Year Past
As we enter the final month of 2012 there is no doubt that we have witnessed another eventful, and sometimes tragic, year in the world of shipping.
At the outset of 2012 many people were looking ahead to the 100th anniversary in April of the loss of White Star’s Titanic; but in mid-January a modern disaster claimed the headlines with the shocking loss of the Costa Concordia accompanied by a heavy loss of life. This was a dream cruise which turned into a nightmare for so many, and the tragedy raised substantial questions around the company’s bridge procedures, voyage planning, systems and training. I made the point at the time that the development of, and adherence to, a strong safety culture in any fleet is not the responsibility of Masters alone, but must be driven throughout a company from Board level down. The safety and wellbeing of passengers and crews must always be paramount.
In April we criticised the UK Government’s stated intention to withdraw the four strategically placed tugs from around the UK coast – these “Emergency Towing Vessels” (ETVs) had been deployed in line with the important recommendations of Lord Donaldson’s 1994 report which followed the groundings of the Braer and Sea Empress. Later in the year we welcomed the decision by the UK Government to place an order for four new replenishment tankers for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, but not the decision to award the build contract to Daewoo shipbuilding and marine engineering in Korea.
Throughout the year we have enjoyed lively dialogue, and sometimes healthy disagreement with the opinions expressed in my “Message from the Bridge”. Our letters pages continue to be very popular and never short of contributors with our readers’ enquiries usually garnering many replies and interesting responses.
Unfortunately the year has ended with the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy and the sad loss of the HMS Bounty replica ship and two of her crew. To watch her death throes as she was overwhelmed by mountainous seas was to witness the raw and awful power of nature.
The Sea Breezes team – as always – very much appreciate and thank you for your support in 2012. We wish you and yours a very peaceful and happy Christmas and New Year.
HAMISH ROSS, EDITOR