Improve barge safety, Shell official says

The barge industry’s safety record is not good enough for Shell officials, and those who want the oil giant as a client would do well to start showing improvement.

That was the message sent by Harry Lee, Shell Trading Co.’s manager, shipping, operations and standards, at the recent Crew Endurance Management Seminar at Seamen’s Church Institute’s Center for Maritime Education, Houston.

“Have we gotten used to losing 10, 15, or 20 lives every year in the industry?” Lee asked. “Shell believes that the industry can and must improve.” 

Lee challenged 15 shore-based managers from 10 different companies, primarily from the Gulf area, to concentrate on increasing safety. 

“Shell operates a fleet of 80 deep-sea vessels in worldwide trade, and we track every safety and environmental-related incident that occurs on board,” Lee said. 

The numbers are compared against the million-man-hour standard and reported as a TRCF—total recordable case frequency.

“Shell has a fleet performance number of 1.4, including direct contractors,” said Lee. “When we compare that fleet performance to the OSHA performance of U.S. fleets, which are measured on a 200,000-hour standard, the results are staggering. The data reveals that the U.S. barging industry has a TRCF of around 20.”

Shell tracks the TRCF of its contractors, which is currently at 12.6.

Lee said vessel operators must realize that voyage and transfer planning is very important. “Our expectation is that the vessel operator will ensure that all identifiable risks related to the voyage are assessed and are mitigated to the lowest practical level from berth to berth,” he said. “The question of crew fatigue and human endurance as it pertains to the safety of the voyage and the safe conduct of transfer operations needs to be included in the voyage management plan.”

Lee said the jury is still out on the best solutions to crew endurance issues. He is lobbying for active participation in industry efforts to address these issues, referring specifically to the American Waterways Operators/Coast Guard task force and to the Towing Safety Advisory Committee’s working group on nighttime injuries.

What he does know is that barge accidents such as those Oklahoma and Texas cannot be tolerated. “It is time that those types of incidents become a thing of the past that will not be repeated,” Lee said. 

                                  —Ken Hocke  Conrad to build first aluminum vessel

In November, Conrad Industries Inc., Morgan City, La., announced that its subsidiary, Conrad Aluminum LLC, had been awarded a $2.8 million contract to build a 175’×32’×14’6″ aluminum crew/supply vessel for Diamond Services Corp., Amelia, La. The vessel will be built at Conrad’s new facility in Amelia with delivery scheduled for October 2004. Four Cummins KTA38-M2 diesel marine engines driving four Hamilton HM-721 waterjets will power the new vessel.

Hornbeck to build two double-hull tank barges

Hornbeck Offshore Services (HOS) has signed agreements with two unnamed shipyards to have the first two new double-hulled tank barges delivered to Hornbeck Offshore Transportation’s fleet by December 2004. The HOS subsidiary operates 12 oceangoing tugs and 16 oceangoing tank barges. Three of the tank barges will be retired in 2005. Only one of the 16 is currently double-hulled. The company also has options at one yard to build up to three more double-hulled tank barges. In anticipation of the newbuild program, HOS expanded its borrowing capacity under its revolving credit facility from $50 million to $60 million, while adding DVB Bank AG to its lending group.


TEA-21 extended 

Congress approved and President Bush signed an extension of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). TEA-21 was extended until Feb. 29, 2004. The move was necessary since TEA-21 was set to expire Sept. 30. This means that existing TEA-21 components, such as the Ferry Boat Discretionary Grant program, the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program, and other mass transit aid packages, will continue without interruption at their current funding levels until February. Congress will try to agree on a replacement for TEA-21 before the next expiration date, but if that effort proves unsuccessful, another temporary extension may be required. 


Washington surplus ferry sells on eBay

With the discontinuation of most passenger-only ferry service, Washington State Ferries turned to eBay, the Internet auction site, to sell the Tyee, a 94’×31′ passenger-only catamaran built in 1985. The state set a minimum bid of $500,000, and winning bidder Fred Gatchell paid the “buy-it-now” price of $560,000, which ended eBay bidding. The vessel cost the state $2.5 million. Its market value was $800,000 and replacement value is $4.5 million, according to WSF. Gatchell is a Florida boat broker who also bought the Tyee‘s sister ship, the Klondike, some years ago.


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