The European Tugowners Association held their annual conference in Trieste, 8 June, with 160 delegates and guests attending from across the continent. The largest gathering thus far, illustrated the vitality of the sector and the commitment of members to the work of the Association. During the AGM, Mario Mizzi of Tug Malta, handed over to Leendert Muller of Multraship Netherlands.
The theme of the conference was “Safety is our Business”. It opened with a snapshot of the towage industry in 2016, by Ben Harris Head of Claims, London Branch at the Shipowners’ Club and Adrian Mundin, Secretary of the British Tugowners Association. Both highlighted incident statistics and initiatives to prevent these losses. For the BTA it was an ideal opportunity to talk about the core work being carried forward on safety, in developing benchmarks, development of training and spreading best practice. Outcomes included new routes to certification, an aide memoire for pilots, an understanding of the importance of ‘near miss’ reporting, a new IACS standard for winch emergency releases and the initiation of a campaign against the use of dangerously weighted heaving lines. He said the corners stone of activity for the last ten years had been the annual safety seminar, attended by tug master, superintendents and pilots. Whilst there was no scope for complacency and accidents were still happening, reportable incidents over the last decade had dropped by a half.
Remi Mayet, Deputy Head of Unit, Ports and Inland Navigation, EU Commission focused on the decarbonization efforts and also in the implementation of the Ports Services Regulation. He was mindful of the unhappiness of the tug sector with the latter and agreed that once implemented he would be content to discuss with operators how it was running. EMSA Director General, Markku Mylly gave a keynote speech on efforts to improve maritime safety, including the project for a common EU coast guard.
Carlos Arias, Senior Specialist at Lloyds Register analysed the latest amendments to the IMO’s Intact Stability Code relating to tug stability and Robert Allan, renowned tug designer, outlined the main risks affecting tugs, describing his company´s efforts to design to the highest safety standards in the market. Dirk Degroote (Product Manager, Damen Shipyards Group) explained how the increasing size of ships is affecting design and what it implies in terms of towage operations safety.