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Wilhelmsen Ships Services: MLC full compliance expected during 2014, with an estimated 40,000 ships being affected

A range of issues are now pressing the global shipping industry, from new conventions entering into force, like the Maritime Labour Convention and the Ballast Water Treatment one, while at the same time a more diligent approach is needed to maintain safety onboard modern vessels. As one of the leading ship services company, Wilhelmen Ships Service is providing ship owners worldwide with a vast array of services on every conceivable area. Hellenic Shipping News discussed with WSS’ Business Director Marine Chemicals, Mr. Bernd Hans Bauer and
Business Director Safety Mr. Andrew Sheriff on most of the current pressing issues ship owners are faced with, as well as the solutions provided by WSS.

Wilhelmsen Ships Services has been among the leading companies, when it comes to the range of services provided to ship owners. Given the constantly changing regulation, compliancy issues and increased operational costs, what specific changes have you implemented in your services portfolio, in order to stay up to par with the increased needs of a ship owner in today’s market environment?

Bernd Hans Bauer: WSS’s Waterproof service displays trend charts and advice on out-of-specification results to help crew make informed decisions and adjustments to water treatment programmes. This ensures long-term protection of the high value equipment in the engine room. Data and trend charts stored in our Waterproof system can be viewed online by shore-based superintendents and technical managers as well as by crew.
Test results are also periodically emailed to WSS Waterproof server and support staff for further interpretation and advice. Reports are generated and emailed to nominated customer contacts. This service helps the ship to meet with quality and class audits for quality and performance.

Andrew Sheriff: Within the Safety services industry there are regular changes to rules and regulations ranging from a small change which may affect one flag state to a complete SOLAS amendment affecting the whole way in which we deliver our services. WSS prides itself on ensuring that we constantly monitor regulation changes and are in a position to make the necessary changes and provide advice to our customers to ensure that their vessel remain in compliance.

Which are the biggest changes that the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) has brought to the shipping world?

BB: The MLC, often described as the fourth pillar of maritime regulation after SOLAS, MARPOL and STW will affect at least 40,000 ships which will need to be certified upon the convention’s entry into force. Shipowners, managers, shipyards and crew manning agencies must all understand how MLC 2006 affects them and develop and implement measures to ensure ongoing compliance with its requirements.

The MLC 2006 came into force in August 2013 and is in the process of adoption. Many countries have adopted the regulations and are working to establish Port State Control inspection procedures. Developing compliance measures takes time and we expect to see full compliance in 2014.

What particular services have you brought out to help ship owners deal with this radical shift in the business?

BB: The entry into force of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006) will for the first time set out regulations specifying the need to maintain high quality drinking water standards onboard ship which protect crew from waterborne health risks.

In response, Wilhelmsen Ships Service has launched the Nalfleet Potable Water Test Kit, which enables sea staff to monitor the quality of the potable water network onboard ship, providing tests for common infectious bacteria and in the process reduce the risk of possible risk to health by bacteria proliferation.

How do think the new MLC 2006 will change the way that shipping has operated thus far?

BB: The MLC sets out for the first time a comprehensive set of basic maritime labour principles and rights and simplifies international requirements. It is set to improve working and living conditions for seafarers; engendering a more secure and responsible maritime workforce, and promoting a more socially-responsible shipping industry.

The WSS Marine Chemicals team has developed a customer support tool, the WSS Active Solutions Portal (ASP). Could you provide us with details on what this tool does and how does it help crews deal with the handling of chemicals onboard?

BB: The intention behind ASP is to transform the customer experience from one where WSS reliably delivers a product range to that of a consultative partnership, delivering shared knowledge, technical expertise and world-class after sales service.
In developing the ASP, we had to acknowledge that the ready access to information and data available onshore in day-to-day work and home life is rarely available onboard ship. Despite reductions in cost per megabyte and increases in available bandwidth over the past decade, data communication to ship via satellite remains expensive and sometimes inconvenient. Many vessels are limited to sending and receipt of small emails and SMS, with little or no access to the world wide web.

To address this problem, the ASP is designed to be an offline tool, which can provide support to WSS customers whilst they are at sea, as well as to their management teams onshore. Where internet connectivity is built into the portal, it has been designed to utilise compact file sizes that are suitable for transmission over maritime email systems.

For its core application, the ASP includes tools to manage the use of water treatment chemicals used to protect valuable equipment on the vessel, such as the steam boilers and engine cooling systems, from the damaging effects of corrosion and scaling.
The performance of these products depends on them being applied and controlled at an optimum level. In addition to packaged test kits that enable engineers to test and control the application of water treatment products the Waterproof software package enables them to record and store equipment information and test results.

Why have we seen so many incidents with chemical treatment during the past couple of years? Does the ASP try to improve this poor track record of late?

BB: The handling of chemicals at sea must be done with crew safety in mind and the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be worn at all times. The ASP provides information on the range of automated chemical dosing systems that can be used to reduce the requirements for manual chemical handling and so improve health and safety. These chemical dosing systems are also designed to provide improved control and protection while managing costs for chemical used.

The ASP also bundles several PC-based training modules that provide easy access to training and familiarisation in the application and control of marine chemicals. These training modules include elements on theory, applications and technology, safe application of marine chemicals, and problem solving guidelines. WSS has also made a series of technical support manuals available for more detailed reference. Competence tests are incorporated into these training modules and can be used for training record purposes.

Also provided is fast, onboard access to product support information such as Safety Data Sheets, Product Notes, application instructions, chemical test methods and replacement spares and accessories. Contact details for global technical support and advice on the WSS marine chemicals product range are also included.

Another issue that WSS has been dealing with is fire on board vessels. Could you give us some help on this equally pressing issue, in terms of the company’s solutions provided?

AS: WSS has been providing service solutions for multi-brand fire and safety systems and equipment for the past 40 years. WSS has a global network of Class-Approved Service Stations situated in 47 countries. All WSS Service Stations are approved to ISO9001: 2008 and operate in accordance with IACS UR Z17 approvals. In addition, we have global approvals from seven major Classification Societies; DNV, Lloyds, RMRS, Korean Register of Shipping, RINA, GL and ABS as well as a number of local class approvals.

WSS service technicians are trained through the Wilhelmsen Service Academy and various OEM training courses to allow them to service a complete range of multibrand equipment in line with the requirements of IMO, SOLAS and the FSS Code.

In order to assist our customers in fire prevention, we also provide access to our Safety database which records and stores the details of every service that we complete and can be easily accessed for safety service planning and the recording of a vessel’s technical details, service intervals and due dates to ensure compliance, as well as service history in order to retrieve the details of the last service and regulations and certificates.

Which have been your fastest growing markets so far in 2013 and why?

AS: The fastest growing market that WSS has a seen from a safety perspective has been that of our Liferaft Exchange (LRE) offer and our service agreement offer. Both these solutions utilise an agreed annual fee model and offer the customer a good deal of predictability in order to budget their expenditure for safety services for the vessel.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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