Effective gas detection is one of the most important safety concerns in the shipping industry. A third of all dangerous incidents that happen offshore are gas related.
Fatalities among seafarers are still occurring despite attempts by regulatory bodies to prevent them.
SOLAS Regulation XI/1-7 states that:
‘Every ship to which Chapter 1 applies shall carry an appropriate portable atmosphere testing instrument or instruments.
As a minimum, these shall be capable of measuring concentrations of oxygen, flammable gases or vapours, hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide.’
It’s these gases that a 4 gas detector is designed to monitor. They represent the biggest threat to crew members on vessels at sea or in port.
As well as being necessary to breathe, oxygen also supports combustion. So, monitoring its presence is vital in hazardous working environments on board ship.
Flammable gases (LEL)
LEL is short for ‘Lower Explosive Limit’.
LEL is the lowest concentration of a gas or vapour capable of producing fire in the presence of an ignition.
Concentrations lower than the LEL are too lean to burn, those above, too rich. The LEL is displayed as a percentage with 0% showing a combustible gas-free atmosphere and 100% when a gas is at its lower flammable limit.
The percentages will differ from gas to gas.
Methane, for example, is too lean to burn between 0% and 5% but is highly flammable between 5% and 17%. Over 17% and the atmosphere is too rich for methane to ignite.
Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S)
Known as ‘sewer gas’ or ‘swamp gas’, Hydrogen Sulphide is colourless and highly flammable.
It’s produced by industrial processes and/or decaying organic matter and has a characteristic odour of rotten eggs.
However, this may not be detected until it’s too late as exposure to the gas affects your sense of smell.
It’s heavier than air, so hydrogen sulphide accumulates in enclosed and poorly ventilated areas.
Inhalation produces extremely rapid unconsciousness and death.
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
CO is produced whenever a fossil fuel is burned and collects in poorly ventilated areas. CO displaces oxygen in the blood, depriving vital organs of oxygen causing victims to lose consciousness and suffocate.
Because it’s odourless and colourless and can overcome you in minutes, it kills thousands of people every year.
Fixed gas detectors
Fixed gas detection systems are a requirement for some vessels but are recommended for a much wider range of ships. These can be placed in vulnerable locations to monitor gases at all times, issuing alerts at the first sign of potential danger.
However, one gas detection system doesn’t necessarily suit all vessels. You have to make sure that you have the correct equipment for your vessel’s particular needs.
SOLAS guidance states:
‘It should be noted that, given a ship’s specific characteristics and operations, additional atmospheric hazards in enclosed spaces may be present that may not be detected by the instrument recommended to be selected by these Guidelines, and in such cases, if known, additional appropriate instruments should be carried.’
That’s why at Martek, we have a team of expert engineers. They build our fixed detection systems in-house so that we can ensure that the equipment is tailored to your specific requirements.
Our MM2000 system tests for toxic and flammable gases in a wide variety of situations and is guaranteed to be SOLAS and ISGOTT compliant.
Portable gas detectors
Worn by seafarers entering spaces where dangerous gases may be present.
This equipment should be as versatile and easy to use as possible so that all crew members are protected.
We have a range of the best portable gas detection equipment designed to cover a variety of requirements, including:
A robust and accurate portable gas detector, the Marine 4™ provides unrivalled protection in confined space applications with audible and visual alarms in the event of exposure to flammable or toxic gases.
Detecting and displaying up to 4 gases simultaneously, it is suitable for a host of applications in a variety of industries. The Marine 4™ can be configured to detect a combination of:
current Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo was declared on the 1st August 2018 and has grown to become
the second biggest EVD outbreak to date.
recent outbreak followed on from the earlier Équateur province Ebola outbreak
which occurred May to July 2018.
West African Ebola virus epidemic was the largest to date with 28,616 reported
cases and 11,310 deaths – although it was suspected that 17-70% of cases went
epidemic saw reported cases outside of Africa in the United States, United
Kingdom, Italy and Spain.
was believed to have started in December 2013 when a one-year-old boy in Guinea
died from the disease. Later, his mother, sister and grandmother died from the
village was close to a large colony of Angolan free-tailed bats, which have
been thought to spread Ebola, yet none of the bats tested were found to carry the
Health Organisation (WHO) Update
of 26th December 2018, a total of 591
EVD cases, including 543 confirmed and 48 probable cases, have been reported.
These reported cases have come from 16 health zones in the two neighbouring
provinces of North Kivu and Ituri (Figure 1).
Of these cases, 54 were healthcare workers, of which 18 died.
Overall, 357 cases have died (case fatality ratio 60%).
In the past week, ten additional patients were discharged
from Ebola treatment centres; overall, 203 patients have recovered to date. The
highest number of cases were from age group 15‒49 years with 60% (355/589) of
the cases, and of those, 228 were female.
WHO advises against any restriction of travel and trade to
the Democratic Republic of the Congo based on the currently available
Currently, no country has implemented travel measures that
significantly interfere with international traffic to and from the Democratic
Republic of the Congo. Travellers should seek medical advice before travel and
should practice good hygiene.
transmitted through close and direct physical contact with infected bodily fluids.
The most infectious being vomit, blood, and faeces.
have also been cases of Ebola detected in breast milk, urine and semen; with
studies detecting the virus 70 days after the patience had recovered from symptoms.
have also been studies showing the virus to be present in Saliva and tears, but
the sample size was limited.
coming into contact with those who may have Ebola, you should ensure protective
equipment is worn.
can be transmitted indirectly through contaminated objects and surfaces.
you are frequently in contact with objects, materials or surfaces that could
carry infection, it’s recommended to regularly clean and disinfect. Wearing
protective equipment will decrease the risk of transmission.
is no evidence that Ebola can be transmitted via airborne means. The virus
could be transmitted through large wet droplets from a heavily infected
individual coughing and sneezing at close distance, but no study has confirmed
if you are in close proximity with people who may be in contact with the virus
disease, ensure thorough cleaning procedures are in place and consider safety
There is currently no licensed vaccine to protect people from
the Ebola virus. Therefore, any requirements for certificates of Ebola
vaccination are not a reasonable basis for restricting movement across borders
or the issuance of visas for passengers leaving the Democratic Republic of the
The latest Ebola outbreak is the second biggest to date,
West African Ebola virus epidemic 2012-2016.
There are currently just short of 600 cases, with around 10%
of those being healthcare workers.
Ebola is passed through direct contact with infected bodily fluids
and can survive for 70+ days after the symptoms have passed.
Although there is currently no cure, the risk of spread can
be greatly reduced though personal and surface cleaning procedures, and further
reduced with protective equipment.
Modern ships are capable of carrying larger and larger loads while the number of crew aboard remains approximately the same. This means that Seafarers are more exposed to the dangers of confined space entries than ever before.
What is a Confined Space?
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) defines enclosed spaces as having limited openings for entry and exit, inadequate ventilation or a design not intended for continuous worker occupancy.
fuel tanks, ballast tanks
cargo pump-rooms, compressor rooms
and any other area that may be oxygen deficient.
These spaces are often used for installing new machinery or for storage and, on a modern vessel that has a complex matrix of pipelines running through each of its parts, there will be even more of them.
Toxic gases generated by storage or leakage accumulate in confined spaces because of the lack of ventilation. Therefore, if a crew member enters to carry out repairs or cleaning without taking adequate precautions, the results are usually fatal.
In the last few years there have been numerous deaths caused by confined spaces in the UK Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia.
In the last four months alone, there have been six deaths.
Two incidents on RMI flagged ships occurred within 24 hours of each other and resulted in the deaths of three crew members and two others losing consciousness.
Then, as recently as November, three more seafarers died of asphyxiation on board the timber carrier Apollo Kita as they were working in the vessel’s hold.
These are just the latest in a long line of similar incidents.
Deaths in confined keep happening despite the IMOs attempts to prevent them with new regulations. The latest – Regulation XI-1/7 – requires all SOLAS applicable vessels to carry portable gas detectors for monitoring enclosed spaces:
“Every ship to which Chapter 1 applies shall carry an appropriate portable atmosphere testing instrument or instruments. As a minimum, these shall be capable to measuring concentrations of oxygen, flammable gases or vapours, hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide. Instruments carried under other requirements may satisfy this regulation. Suitable means shall be provided for the calibration of all such instruments.”
Effective gas detectors and calibration instruments are essential on all cargo vessels. This equipment should also be as versatile and easy to use as possible so that all crew members are protected.
Martek has a range of fixed and portable gas detection equipment that’s designed to be as simple and safe to use as possible.
The MGC Simple+ doesn’t require calibration or charging, due to cutting edge sensor technology, so crew members can carry it at all times to make sure that that the environment they’re working in is safe.
The MGC Simple+ is lightweight and convenient to carry. It’s simple and easy to use, with one-button operation and large screen that’s readable in low light or changeable conditions.
The MGC Simple+ is rated IP68 so it’s waterproof up to 1.5m for 30 minutes, durable and uses infrared technology that’s immune to sensor poisoning, which means no calibration is necessary.
Because it doesn’t need oxygen to operate, it will reliably test for hydrogen sulphide (H2S), carbon monoxide (CO), oxygen (O2) and combustible gases (LEL) in even the most challenging of confined spaces.
Learn how the MGC Simple+ or any other item in our range of gas detection equipment, can prevent loss of lives on your vessel.
We’re always expanding and developing our wonderful team, so we’re delighted to announce our latest internal promotion: Nicole Rayner.
Nicole joined us at Martek just six months ago having worked in telesales for the previous five years. She quickly demonstrated her abilities as a sales person so when the position of Regional Sales Manager came up, she seemed like a very natural fit. Nicole will now look after her own international sales territory, traveling to meet clients as well as managing their needs from our head office.
Nicole says: ‘This promotion gives me the opportunity not only to visit extraordinary places but to develop both professionally and personally. I cannot wait to see where my new role will take me!’
We can’t wait either! We know Nicole will be a great Regional Sales Manager and everyone at Martek wishes her all the best.
8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year. If our current consumption continues at the same rate, there will be more plastic than fish by 2050. Single use plastic is the biggest problem with half of all plastic products designed to be used only once. Across the world, over a million plastic drinking bottles are bought every minute and these make up about 20% of all sea plastic.
But the world is waking up to the problem. There is increasing public awareness and governments are taking steps to reduce the use of disposable plastic. Just this week, the European Parliament announced plans to ban many throwaway plastic items by 2021 and stated that 90% of all plastic drinks bottles must be recycled by the year 2025. This will have a huge impact on shipping companies who are still relying on plastic water bottles for their clean water supply.
DrinkSafe is therefore even more important – not just for safeguarding crews, but for helping to save the environment.
It’s the easiest water testing kit on the market and is designed around MLC 2006 and WHO guidelines to provide you with everything you need to perform regular, comprehensive testing of your vessel’s water supplies. With DrinkSafe there’s no need to use single-use plastic bottles and some of the biggest shipping companies in the world are using it to look after the safety of their passengers and crews.
One of our customers, Grindrod Ship Management, have completely eliminated the use of bottled water on board ship by switching to Drinksafe to improve their water testing. As well as a massive cost saving, the change has also had a big impact on their plastic waste. Capt Rajaraman Krishnamoorthy from Grindrod said: ‘our company is saving 32,000 bottles per month due to more robust water testing policies’.
This represents a step in the right direction when it comes to plastic pollution and we hope that even more companies follow Grindrod’s great example.
Your bulk cargo carrier could be at risk of liquefaction.
What is liquefaction?
Granular materials loaded onto a ship hold can turn into a liquid state – which can be disastrous for your ship and crew.
Solid bulk cargo often contains water between solid particles. Present from mining, this moisture level can rise through transport and storing.
Friction between these particles makes these particles act like a solid, despite the liquid presence.
Ship vibrations and movements cause the space between the particles to reduce, increasing pore water pressure. If the pore water pressure increases enough, the “dry” cargo begins to act like a fluid due to the loss of friction between the particles.
The risk to life
The liquefied bulk can shift inside the hold and can solidify again in a shifted position.
This shift can cause the ship to list. If the cargo liquefies again, the angle of the list can increase. At this point, water can enter the hull via hatch covers, or the ship may be unable to recover from a roll.
Water from the liquefied cargo can also move towards the surface, causing further instability.
This happened to the Bulk Jupiter, which sank 300km off the coast of Vietnam.
Only one crew member survived.
The IMO issued warnings over possible liquefication of a solid bulk aluminium ore, Bauxite.
Beginning at the source, the method for storing, transporting and method of loading can affect the state of the solid bulk cargo.
Hard loading, to load cargo faster, increases the risk of raising pore water pressure. During transit, crews can be put off from draining cargo due to pressures to deliver the same tonnage as was loaded.
Technology may hold the answer, such as sensors to measure cargo water pressure or laser observers.
The problem lies in finding a technology cheap enough, yet also performs to a high enough standard to inform the crew of the dangers in real time.
Once water pressure increase had been detected the crew can look to drain cargo water, change course to reduce motion, or even evacuate the ship.
Liquefaction is not a new phenomenon – we’ve been aware of it for over a century.
Technology, storage and loading procedures alone aren’t currently in a place where they can reduce the risk of liquefaction. There would be a need for several cross-industry changes to take place.
Hatches can be a cause of sinking should a ship list due to water ingress, never mind the damage to cargo – which makes up over 60% of P&I loss claims.
Traditional methods of testing the tightness of hatches can be unreliable and time-consuming. Only ultrasonic testing ensure hatches are secure at all times.
You can download our whitepaper on hatch cover testing here.
International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code – New Edition
A carriage requirement for all vessels carrying Dangerous Goods and Marine Pollutants at Sea, this latest version will supersede the 2014 edition, which will become invalid.
The IMDG Code, 2018 Edition (inc. Amendment 39-18) comes into force on 1 January 2020 for two years and may be applied voluntarily as from 1 January 2019. The IMDG Code Supplement, 2018 Edition, once published, will render the previous 2014 edition.
The IMDG Code, 2016 Edition Amendment 38-16 came into force on 1 January 2018 for two years. The IMDG Code Supplement, 2014 Edition remains valid until further notice.
The IMDG code covers MARPOL and SOLAS Convention requirements and is the guide for handling dangerous goods and marine pollutants at sea.
The IMDG code includes:
Recommendations for individual substances materials and articles
Recommendations for good operational practice
Advice on terminology, packing, labelling, stowage, segregation and handling
Emergency response action.
Free Supplement for first 100 customers
It’s time to go digital.
Too often we store guides, code, updates and supplements in paper form. There’s still the sense of preferring to hold the physical product.
The problems lay when you need to find something specific within. Time is of the essence and there’s only so much the contents page can help with.
Dogeared and tattered, these can become difficult to store and to read.
In an industry that embraces technology as a means of improved performance and efficiency, it’s time digital books became the norm.
Content pages and index are useful for narrowing down your search in paper versions but can still be time-consuming.
With an e-book you have the ability to instantly search for keywords or phrases, saving valuable time previously spent flicking through pages.
No more legs
With a digital library, your publications are always in the same place. Regardless of who needs to use what or when a digital copy will be on hand for instant access
In a chaotic moment, items can get lost. There’s also a high risk of damage, especially with printed products.
Digital charts and publications remain safe and in place. Files are backed up to ensure that even with a system failure or loss, there’s another device ready to step up to the plate.
The maritime industry is set to reduce emissions by 2050. Whilst an e-book may not look to solve this directly, it’s a contributing factor. Reducing the need for paper form publications, and the methods of carriage and delivery all work towards the bigger cause.
Your free supplement
To help with your move towards digital publications, and for those who already use them, we’re offering a free IMDG supplement to the first 100 customers who purchase the latest edition of the IMDG guide in digital format.
The supplement is worth £65 and is packed with:
The Revised EmS Guide
The Medical First Aid Guide
Recommendations on the safe use of pesticides in ships
The INF Code
Other appropriate resolutions and circulars pertaining to the transport of dangerous goods
Claim yourIMDG guide with free supplement now and lead the way as an early adopter in 2019.
Want to save money on charts, without compromising safety? Sign up for our 30 min webinar and find out why you’re wasting money on digital charts.
Protecting against one of the world’s biggest killers
V.Ships Partnership to raise standards of crew welfare through onboard defibrillators.
As a trusted provider of technology for ship safety, performance and crew welfare, Martek Marine has teamed up with V.Ships, the world’s leading third-party ship management company to combat the number of fatalities from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) at sea.
The issue of SCA is growing, not just in the maritime industry, with more than six million deaths worldwide directly attributed to SCA, and survival rates less than one per cent.
V Ships said:
“We undertook a thorough investigation of the global AED market before deciding on a model and partner to be equipped throughout the fleet. It was concluded that the LIFEFORCE AED from Martek Marine met all our criteria, with proven shipboard pedigree and type approval from DNV GL. As the leading ship management company in the industry, crew welfare is our highest priority, and as such we have mandated the requirement for AEDs on every ship to protect against sudden cardiac arrest.”
Paul Luen, CEO of Martek Marine, said: “We feel this is the beginning of a truly great partnership, setting the new standard for crew welfare globally.”
Sudden Cardiac Arrest
SCA can strike anyone at any time. Lifestyle factors can increase the likelihood of suffering from SCA but unfortunately can’t guarantee that.
We’ve previously covered how Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the worlds most famous explorer, collapsed at Bristol airport.
Had it not been for an AED on hand within minutes, it’s highly likely that Sir Ranulph would not have survived.
Age isn’t the only factor either.
Earlier this year, there was a frightening study released on young footballers who suffered from SCA. These are some of the most active individuals on the planet, and the number who collapsed, and died, due to SCA is a stark reality.
Martek Marine is excited to continue to develop our relationship with V.Ships and hope that it will encourage other ship management companies to take sudden cardiac arrest seriously, and protect their crew with fleetwide AEDs.
LIFEFORCE® is an automated external defibrillator (AED) – specifically designed for the marine environment and was the world’s first defibrillator to be Type Approved.
It is designed to be the simplest to use AED on the market and independent tests have proven that members of the public without any training can deliver a life-saving shock quicker than any other unit in the market.
With a built-in handle and weighing just 1.9kg, the LIFEFORCE® AED is portable, lightweight and can easily be stored and carried to a victim’s side. It is a durable piece of equipment, tested for use in even the most hostile environments
The unit is weatherproof, with ruggedized handles and sides for ultimate protection from impact damage.
Martek offers a range of training options. You can have a dedicated standalone training unit; your LIFEFORCE® AED can be easily converted into a temporary training unit for in-house training, or we can offer on-site certified training.
Get in touch to see how the LIFEFORCE® AED can save the life of you or your crew.
This simple technique will save you hundreds on your next chart purchase.
Automation is fantastic for business – but are there hidden costs?
Advancements in tech and innovation are crucial to the shipping industry. We’re passionate about cutting-edge products and services at Martek Marine, it’s what makes us.
But what if there are times when Artificial Intelligence is costing you? Is it better to have a human eye?
It’s a simple voyage. Aberdeen to Oslo.
After a few clicks on your route planning software, your route is ready. The helpful system selects the relevant charts.
Click. Add to cart. You’ve spent an extra $300.
But why is overspending possible when technology is efficient?
AI is there to make our lives easier, but you won’t have to look far to find morality issues.
A dilemma of safety
In 2016 a class action lawsuitwas filed against Tesla over their driver-less cars. Built around Tesla’s decision not to use its Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system when a driver is pressing on the accelerator. This decision was blamed for preventable accidents, like driving into a wall.
Tesla removed AEB in situations where you’re taking action to avoid a collision. For example:
You turn the steering wheel sharply.
You press the accelerator pedal.
You press and release the brake pedal
A vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian, is no longer detected ahead.
Humans are responsible for 1.25 million road deaths a year. But there are times when the human brain can perform logic currently beyond the grasp of AI.
Back to charts
When it comes to charts, AI plays it safe – with good reason. When balanced with a trained eye, you optimise results.
“Tech is great, but without the human touch, you’re overspending. The human element brings years of experience to the fore, making simple, safe and cost-effective decisions.” Steve Dionne
Martek Marine’s Chart expert, Steve Dionne, believes in the balance between man and machine.
On 24th September, Steve is holding a free webinar to show you how to save hundreds in chart costs. In 30 minutes, you’ll pick up simple, cost saving tips.
The human touch
There’s a valid argument for autonomous systems. But what do humans bring to the field?
Dedicated account managers do exactly what their title suggests. They’re dedicated to your organisation.
You’ll notice how similar companies do things differently.
It might be their communication methods, their procedures or culture. Although AI will work, each system would need to be customised to the company for full cultural integration.
Martek Marine, embrace new ventures and incorporate them with time-tested practice.
The difference: balance
The Martek Marine Chart service does just that. Your dedicated accounts manager manages your digital charts.
You’ll plan your routes and order as usual, with one difference. Your chart manager will cast their expert eye over the selected charts. They’ll cut costs, without compromising safety.
Working with you regularly, you’re gaining a team member. Your accounts manager will know your processes, and how you run your ship.
It’s possible to balance cost effectiveness without compromising safety. Sign up for the free webinar that will save you hundreds on your next voyage.
Make the most of technology with the balance of human interaction. AI is great, but with human support, the possibilities are endless.
Automation is only going one way. How will it impact you?
It’s estimated that tens of thousands of dollars could be saved each day by introducing automation to a single container vessel – but is this realistically on the horizon?
We’ve spoken at length about drones being used in the future, but what about ships and ports?
Container cranes at Maasvlakte 2 are unmanned and pretty much fully automated. Aside from a few small processes, the whole operation is managed by computers.
Moving forward, this could be used on a larger scale to speed up the shipping supply chain process, but there are some concerns. Digital errors, unchecked by human eyes could cause damage or harm. There’s also the risk of criminals hacking into the system.
Entirely unmanned, or hosting a small skeleton crew, self-piloting and self-managing – possibly out for testing later this year.
The YARA Birkeland Autonomous Container Vessel plans to be operational on a sea route between Brevik, Herøya and Larvik ports in southern Norway by 2020.
The ship’s navigation and autonomous operations will be supported by a number of proximity sensors, including a radar, a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) device, an automatic identification system (AIS), an imaging system and an infrared (IR) camera.
The looming downside is, of course, a lack of jobs which will impact the shipping industry. That’s not to say this will see jobs lost immediately, with ships like the YARA Birkeland costing three times more than a similar sized conventional ship, and plenty of regulatory and legal requirements to iron out, we don’t expect to see fully autonomous shipping just yet.
Martek Marine will continue our mission to revolutionise ship safety, performance and crew welfare. Where automation is a benefit for the industry as a whole, you can guarantee we’ll be leading the way.