1st Asian Forum on Marine Surveing - NI HKG

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1st Asian Forum on Marine Surveing

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   This forum was held at the Kowloon Shangri-la Hotel on Thursday/Friday 23/24 November 2000, and attended by over 50 delegates and speakers from as far afield as Australia and Scandinavia with all Asian countries well represented. The forum was organised by IBC Asia in association with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and supported by the Hong Kong Shipowners' Association.

   The aims of the forum were:

   • To bring together marine surveyors and their clients and to provide an open forum for debate.

   • For surveyors to hear what our clients want from them and vice versa.

   • For surveyors to hear about technology and developments in the marine surveying field.

   • To help in the education of marine surveyors and to enhance their standing in society and the marine world.

   • To discuss the establishing an Asian branch of a professional institution for Marine Consultants and Ship Surveyors.

   The forum was chaired by Mr Roger Tupper, Deputy Secretary of the Hong Kong Port Maritime Board, who provided excellent management of the proceedings with the occasional hilarious input. Whilst we tried to keep each of the speakers to 30 minutes each, Roger seemed to sense which papers warranted a little longer and accordingly was kinder with the 'Gong'!

   The keynote speech was given by Mr S Y Tsui, the Director of Marine, Hong Kong Marine Department. As a qualified naval architect, SY summed up the relevance of our profession in Asia and its contribution to the shipping industry. He also outlined proposals to delegate surveying duties to other surveying organisations on behalf of his department. There was an introduction to the conference by the undersigned which detailed the position of the marine surveyor in the shipping industry and the role of the surveyor in the life of a ship. This included some controversial and well received opinions, aimed at stimulating debate ......

   The first two papers were reports on local surveying activities in the PRC and Thailand, Sandy Lin of Stanley Yang, Shanghai, giving us an insight into the size of the mainland market and the development of private survey companies which are now allowed to compete with CCIB and CCIC. We were fortunate to have Mr Herry Lawford on hand to give his input as to the establishing of China Marine Surveys which is a joint venture between Thomas Miller and CCS.

   Captain Richard Allen gave most entertaining talk on the ports of Thailand and surveyors activities in the various ports. It was disappointing to find that he has dissuaded his son from taking up a seagoing career and following in his father's footsteps into marine surveying.

   Alan Loynd, of Hong Kong Salvage and Towage, gave an excellent talk on the need for quality surveyors in Hong Kong and Asia and quoted some classic examples of partisan/incompetent surveyors and expert witnesses. Alan stressed the need for experience, experience, more experience, integrity, common sense and clear, concise reporting skills. He was extremely disappointed to find that any representatives from the company concerned, which remains anonymous, were not present at the forum. As was stated many times during the proceedings, the presenters were preaching to the converted with a need to get the other survey companies into such forums.

   We were also pleased to have Mr Michael Cohen, Chairman Emeritus, of the Academy of Experts enlighten us on the possibilities for marine surveyors to be good expert witnesses and/or mediators. Interesting, and possibly embarrassing, to note that the case which defined the role of expert witnesses was that of the 'Ikarian Reefer' where the marine surveyors/expert witnesses were taken to task, resulting in a set of rules which form the guidance for expert witnesses. The probable introduction of modified CPR rules to Hong Kong and Asia was also discussed.

   Captain Jonathan Stonely of Cargill, Marine Claims and Compliance Manager with Cargill - Ocean Transportation Division, presented the Charterer's view of the marine surveyor's role in his paper entitled 'Pre-charter Condition Surveys - A Charterer's Perspectives and Their Requirements'. This highlighted the costs of making the wrong decision when chartering a vessel and reinforced the need for qualified, experienced and trustworthy surveyors. Like many other clients, Cargill support a small group of trusted marine surveyors who carry out around 500 surveys each year on vessels which might be considered to be borderline for charter. This puts a lot of pressure on the surveyor to give the correct assessment which must be reported by telephone and fax to enable the charterers to fix the vessel in a timely manner. Jonathan was good enough to let the delegates have a copy of their standard condition survey form.

   Captain Neville Hall of British Marine Managers gave an excellent talk on their approach to ship vetting which is based on risk management rather than issuing a list of defects. The methodology was innovative and interesting to all with a most professional presentation, just what we would expect from Neville, a former senior lecturer from Warsash.

   During the proceedings Class had come in for some criticism so when Peter Schmitz, Manager of ABS China, stood up to give his presentation on 'Marine Survey and the Class Societies' he felt like a persecuted man, the only Class representative at the conference. Peter detailed the philosophy behind and their approach to Class surveys of the future. With such a professional presentation and affable personality he soon had us eating out of his hand, well almost!

   Day two was opened up by Captain Nigel Snowden of Petrotech Marine Consultants Pte Ltd, Singapore. Nigel attempted to define the difference between a marine surveyor and marine consultant and came to the conclusion that there is no difference. He also tried to identify how clients selected their surveyors suggesting that appointments are very much on a personal basis, based on word-of-mouth recommendation. (I note that advertising was not mentioned at all during the forum!) He concluded by trying to explain the 'pragmatic' approach taken by some marine surveyors and ended up being harangued by a number of those present. He suggested that it was extremely difficult at times to maintain the 3 'I's, ie, independence, integrity and impartiality. This was followed by the most lively discussion so far, all of the delegates agreeing that the independent marine surveyors should be just that, reporting the facts as they are so that the Client can be fore-armed when entering the fray with the opposition. The best advice offered was to get your invoice paid before you issue the report.

   Captain Omar Sultan of the Australian Maritime College, Launceston, Tasmania, asked the question 'Is the Surveying industry failing the Surveyors?' and using some interesting anecdotes concluded that our fragmentation and independence is allowing the Clients to divide and conquer, ie, keeping the fee rates low. He also suggested that our variance of qualifications also contributed to our standing and that there was a need for higher qualifications for all surveyors, together with a code of practice. A lively debate ensued concerning provision of training for marine surveyors and both IIMS and SCMS representatives pointed out that they already had such codes of practice in place for their members.

   Gregg Newman of W K Webster (International) Pte Ltd, Singapore, like many others reiterated the need for appropriately qualified and experienced marine surveyors. He detailed his company's requirements for marine surveyors and some of the situations which they might find themselves in. He stressed the need for retaining evidence and joint surveys, together with ensuring that the Master and others were aware of which surveyors were representing which parties in the event of the inevitable bun-fight.

   Goran Rudelius of the Swedish Club, Hong Kong, covered the role of the marine surveyor on behalf of both Hull & machinery underwriters and P&I Clubs. As the Swedish Club offers both types of cover to Owners he also covered the appointment of a single surveyor to report on both aspects of an incident. He also stressed the importance of the gathering of relevant information and its inclusion in the report.

   Robert Gordon, of Seasia P&I Services Pte Ltd, Singapore, asked 'Unseaworthiness and Cargo Damage: Why is it still happening?' He included the questions 'Who is responsible?' and 'What can be done?' The paper covered much of other speakers' presentations but Robert's style and panache made the presentation even more interesting and entertaining. The discussion session concentrated on the need for Port State Control to be beefed up and liaison with Class to identify the 'ships of shame'.

   Herry Lawford of Thomas Miller & Co (Asia Pacific) Ltd was scheduled to give the next paper but Richard Carpenter, Director, stepped in to fill the gap by Herry's need to be elsewhere! The paper covered the legal position and risks faced by the marine surveyor with some claims examples and cautionary tales. His advice on how to minimise the claims through contract and other measures were extremely useful. Not surprisingly, Richard advised all to take out Professional Indemnity insurance, TM's having a company to provide just such a service.

   On the technical side, the author, in association with Burnie Sinclair of Allied Marine Consultants, Hong Kong, reported on a 'Comparison of Ultrasound Testing Equipment and Implications'. The two survey companies had obtained the three sets of equipment and tested them on a bulk carrier with interesting results, the published results being absorbed with interest. Display of the three sets of equipment drew a great deal of interest. The UE Systems equipment was on sale, but was not sold, due to the non-availability of mortgage facilities at the conference! I'm pleased to report that despite the fact that this was the first paper after an excellent lunch, none of the delegates were seen to be dozing off. However, our Chairman was beginning to look a little jaded and shell shocked!

   Dr Detlef Nielsen, Assistant Professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and former marine surveyor, presented a paper entitled 'A Comparison of Digital Cameras, Technology and Implications'. The information on the terminology, implications on the choice and tips on which camera for which application were well received. Inevitably, the ensuing debate covered speed, cost and the legality of digital photos. This was an area of great interest to the delegates, particularly the advice on choice of camera.

   To say we left the best to last would be fair. The last three papers were of great interest and importance to the delegates. Henk Arntz of Arntz van Helden bv, Netherlands, enlightened us on the developments in computer technology and how they can be of advantage to marine surveying firms. Both his Internet based reporting system and DamNet were discussed. All were impressed by the advances and the fact that Henk is streets ahead of any other company in these developments. This is evidenced by the quality of clients his company represents.

   Ian Biles, President of the International Institute of Marine Surveyors and Captain Rodger MacDonald, Director of the National Sea Training Centre, UK, reported on progress with the Diploma in Marine Surveying and informed us of developments in introducing a foundation course. It was good to hear that this distance learning course has been oversubsribed during its first two years and there are plans to have Asian representation in due course. The possible launch of the BSc in Marine Surveying in the not too distant future is to be welcomed by all in our profession. It remains to be seen whether it will recognised by the CEI and entitle the holder to corporate membership of IMarE or RINA. All agreed that appropriate qualifications would go a long way towards recognition of our profession.

   Last up was Ross Hunter, President of the Society of Consulting Marine Engineers and Ships Surveyors (SCMS). Ross explained 'The Role of Professional Institutions for Marine Surveyors'. Sitting alongside the two previous speakers during the question time it was clear that the two organisations are cooperating in this area. IIMS are clearly involved at the entry level with the recognition by, and membership of, SCMS once the marine surveyor is appropriately trained, qualifed and experienced.

   Matters of concern, and discussed at length during the forum, were:

   • The need for appropriately qualified and experienced marine surveyors.

   • Where the next generation of qualified marine surveyors will come from.

   • Maintenance of independence, integrity and impartiality.

   • The role of the professional institutes and services offered to their members.

   • Development of training courses for marine surveyors and their recognition.

   • The need and application of codes of practice governing the performance of marine surveyors.

   • Cooperation with Port State Control to weed out the substandard ships.

   • Cooperation with the Classification Societies to weed out the substandard ships.

   All papers delivered during the forum were highly professional and well presented with some excellent pictures of the various disasters that can befall ships and cargoes. All received a good reception, some generating more debate than others. Our Chairman was pleased to report that he had no work to do in keeping the debates going.

   To say that the conference stimulated debate would be an understatement. We were officially scheduled to end at 5.15 pm on both days, but we were eventually kicked out of the room at 6.15 pm with the debate continuing in the bar for some time afterwards!

   It is to be hoped that this will become an annual event, rotating around the major Asian ports, with the next scheduled for Singapore in November 2001.

Mike Wall -Managing Director
Kiwi Marine Consultants Ltd -Hong Kong


Meeting of the Society of Consulting Marine Engineers and Ship Surveyors (SCMS)

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, 22 November 2000

   On the evening of 22 November 2000, 25 marine surveyors, more than 50% being members or fellows, attended a meeting at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Those present discussed the possibility of establishing a Hong Kong branch and possibly an Asian branch of SCMS.

   We were pleased to have Mr Ross Hunter, President of SCMS, attend the meeting. Ross briefly talked about the role of SCMS and the possibility of Hong Kong members being delegated to carry out Small Craft surveys on behalf of the Hong Kong Marine Department (HK MarDep). He reported on a meeting between himself and HKMarDep representatives at which the feedback was favourable. It is hoped that in the next couple of years SCMS will be recognised in much the same way that 7 Classification Societies are to carry out these surveys.

   Most of those attending stayed for an informal dinner at which members and non-members alike debated various matters affecting marine surveyors in Hong Kong and Asia. Interest was high and this was illustrated by the fact that all 10 membership forms provided were taken up quickly!

   It is hoped that the HK Branch will be established during the next few months and that Mr Mark Borkett, Underwriting and Loss Prevention, West of England P&I Club, will accept the position of the first Chairman of the HK Branch.

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15 May 2024
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