Are Medical Exams For Seafaring Crew Detailed Enough?

As with any new employer, part of joining a new team can involve completing a medical examination – this is often par for the course in many places.

But it’s long been known that the medical received before joining a ship, is not in-depth enough to truly cover the needs of all staff.

One part of the shipping company’s role is to ensure that all crew are in as safe an environment as possible whilst in their employ.

It’s not until you consider the risks all around the seafaring crew and within the maritime professions that you really start to get a grasp on what an undertaking this is.

One particular area where the medical exams are not meeting the needs of the crew is around heart conditions. The medical exams don’t currently go into enough detail to uncover any underlying heart conditions so would be missing a crucial piece on how much risk that member is under once aboard.

Simply by stepping onto a ship, you are already in a much more dangerous setting – after all, it goes with the territory doesn’t it?

That perspective is often so widely accepted, that it would be easy to be a little blase about the fact you’re merely following procedural protocol while checking over the health of a new member. If the current measures are also falling short where potential heart issues are concerned, it makes it almost impossible to predict with any accuracy whether an underlying heart problem could cause any future incidents or developments.

So how can shipowners ensure that measures to keep their crew safe are sufficient when the risk of physical injury or loss of health is significantly heightened by the setting?

It’s widely accepted that ship crew are naturally exposed to far more risks than their land-loving peers. Besides the dangers of the ship itself, there are also additional factors such as:

  • Sudden climate change exposure
  • Being exposed to epidemic diseases, both on the ship and in port environments
  • Being exposed to devices with sudden electromagnetic, vibration or sound radiation
  • Heightened stress, physical and psychological strain through the nature of the work
  • Being in countries with low-quality healthcare
  • Logistics of being at sea causing delays in medical assistance.

Other implications to be borne in mind by ships are those involved in ensuring that the staff can get the vital help that they need should health issues crop up while at sea.

According to international regulation set out in the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006), it is expected that:

 “seafarers must receive equal quality of care as the population onshore” 

When we look at the challenges of the environment, in the case of injury or illness this can pose many a logistical problem.

  • Transporting the patient to the hospital from the ship
  • Admission to hospital in a multitude of countries
  • Accessing medicines and ensuring they are administered correctly
  • Transporting the patient to their home country
  • Provision of salary and sickness benefits during their illness and recovery.

From the shipowners perspective, they will also need to factor in additional costs such as production loss while the patient is recovering, the cost of replacing the worker’s output, the potential increase to their insurance premium as well as any time spent on managing the repatriation of the patient.

Add all of that up and what it equals is expensive. 

The shipping industry is also on a tight turnaround. Time is most definitely money in this business, with any slippage potentially costing a fortune.

So what’s the point here?

If you’re in the shipping world – none of that is news to you. So with that in mind, it’s easy to see why any crew member with potential illness, particularly a heart-based one, may be a little loose with their version of the truth when filling in their medical forms.

Disclosing that you may be a heightened risk to a shipowner could easily feel like you’re risking the job itself, so many crew members keep vital medical information to themselves.

One such incident happened in March 2018, when the master of the Sage Amazon bulk carrier suffered a cardiac event while standing on the access ladder above the cargo hold.

Their ship was just about to receive a cargo of cement so the crew been down into the hold to sweep and dry the top of the tank. The master and chief officer went to verify that the work had been done with the chief officer using the port ladder and the master using the starboard ladder.

Literally minutes later, a muffled sound was heard, and the master was seen lying unconscious on the main deck. Help was called for immediately via a portable radio by the Chief Officer and the ICE advisor on-board called the harbourmaster for guidance and requested a boat to bring the master ashore. 

A call to 911 was made and the master’s vital signs were shared with the 911 operator – it was confirmed at this point that the vessel was not carrying an automated external defibrillator. Under guidance, the crew administered medical oxygen and shared the details of the head injury, before handing over to the Coast Guard, who then took the call to dispatch the resources needed to carry out the medical evacuation.

At this point, the master was still breathing, but his forehead was reporting to be cold – 

CPR began but it was reported that the master no longer had a pulse and that the colour of his skin had changed.

Over three hours later, the fast rescue craft had managed to reach the master and their AED went through eight diagnosis cycles but did not initiate defibrillation as the vital signs were not being found.

CPR was resumed alongside remote medical counselling, but shortly afterwards the physician recommended the CPR stop due to the lack of response to CPR, and no presence of vital signs, pronouncing the shipmaster dead.

The post mortem was conducted and showed that the master had a deep laceration on his scalp. His cause of death was initially thought to be the severe cranial trauma, causing the haemorrhage and resulting in the cardiopulmonary arrest. Upon further investigation during the autopsy, it was revealed that the master had, in fact, died of acute myocardial infarction, a heart attack. 

And that although the head injuries were serious, his skull and brain were intact with no presence of cerebral haemorrhage. It transpired that the master had an enlarged heart and that this was not the first incident of the myocardial infarction.

The toxicological analysis showed that the master was taking metformin, a drug used to treat type two diabetes. The master had heart and arterial conditions and had been taking 12 different types of medication to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, renal dysfunction, and heart arrhythmia.

But it was unknown as to whether a physician had prescribed these and family and crew members were totally unaware that any of his medication was being taken.

Despite all of this, the master had undergone a medical examination, a year before, when the medical practitioner, conducting the exam certified him to be fit for duty at sea.

On further exploration, it was revealed that the master had answered ‘no’ to the following questions…

  • Have you ever been hospitalised?
  • Are you aware that you have any medical problems, diseases or illnesses?
  • Are you taking any non-prescription or prescription medications? 
  • Do you have high blood pressure? 
  • Do you have heart or vascular disease?

The master had declared with his signature, that he had fully disclosed all of his medical history and that all of his information was true to the best of his knowledge.

The form did not allow for the master’s medical records to be released for review by a medical practitioner. in this, in this instance, the master had stretched the truth, somewhat.

In this instance, the medical practitioner conducting his initial medical exam had been extremely thorough, and the issue was being held back. 

This most definitely isn’t an isolated case.

One unfortunate piece of this though is that there wasn’t an AED on-board. You can never be certain if an AED would have saved the masters life, but statistics don’t lie and AEDs save hundreds of lives every day through being administered in those crucial first few minutes of cardiac arrest. 

There is a 70% chance of survival if defibrillation is administered within 3 minutes of cardiac arrest

Most cardiac arrests are sudden – they strike without warning. Whether your crew members have disclosed a cardiac illness or not, the fact remains that AEDs save lives within minutes. 

The only thing proven to improve the chance of survival after cardiac arrest is with an electric shock to the heart with an AED to restore a normal heart rhythm. The survival rate drops by 10% with every passing minute.

In the case of this master, even with the fast response crew attending, the medical team with their AED took over 3 hours to reach him to deliver that vital electric shock, which seriously reduced his chances of survival.

That wasn’t the fault of the medical team. At sea, it’s virtually impossible for any emergency response unit to reach your vessel in that time, so it’s up to you to have the right equipment on-board to save a life when necessary.

Lifeforce AED is the only marine approved device for this job. Tested to IP55 rating and rugged military standards, the simple to use device can be operated by anyone in an emergency. Spoken instructions guide the user to aid the patient at each step, including a metronome for CPR cycles.

The device will automatically analyse the patient and determine if a shock is required (i.e. if the problem is sudden cardiac arrest). If this is the case, the rescuer need only press one button to deliver a shock. If no shock is required, it is impossible to deliver one – so the device is incredibly safe to use.

If you’d like more information on the Lifeforce AED and ensuring you have the best equipment on-board to save the lives of your crew, get in touch here.

Are Your Breathalyser Limits Over Their Limits?

We’re no strangers to the mixed antics of seafaring crew – we’re all human after all whether we have our land or sea legs on, but occasionally you come across something more reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Drunken crew, brawling policemen, stranded ships and banished shipmasters…

We recently read about Valeriy Velychko, a 53-year-old ship master whose alcohol levels were six times the legal limit in charge of his tanker.

His state was reported by the crew and a police officer boarded the ship to find a drunken Velychko at the helm of the 23,600-tonne ship Kohl 1. After resisting arrest, a brawl ensued resulting in Valeriy being taken into police custody. He then tested positive for alcohol with 138mcg of alcohol in 100mls of breath, which equates to more than six times the limit of 25mcg for being in charge of a ship.

Velychko was held in police cells over the weekend before going to court – the intention was for him to be held in custody until his appearance at Teesside Crown Court weeks later, but it was then realised that the ship could potentially be stuck without a skipper in Teesside until his eventual release, which could have been four to six weeks away.

He was therefore granted bail after pleading guilty on the proviso that he return for his sentencing.

Time for a twist…

This is where this story has a slightly strange twist though…

As we’ve outlined, to stop the Kohl 1 being stuck in the UK, the master was needed back on the ship and granted bail, so he then legally took the ship and cargo to its intended destination in Finland.

Despite the prosecution stating that others had been jailed for up to two years for similar offences, Velychko was totally co-operative and intended to return to the UK as promised. 

However, even without the sentence, his drunken behaviour and skirmish were now on his records and because he now has a criminal conviction, he’s not being granted a Visa to allow access to the country for his sentence.

His defence team have been communicating with the authorities to try to find a solution – as a well paid professional master of a ship, he is not intending to further damage his reputation but it’s quite a Catch 22.

His sentencing is currently scheduled for early November, but the only permission he currently has to gain access to the country is the letter from the authorities to attend court. Immigration has refused to give permission using this, so there is a chance that despite him trying to do the right thing, Velychko will walk free.

Whilst the unusual ending to this may not be the norm, the inebriation on board is far from an isolated incident. 

It’s not unusual…

Every year, countless crew members over the limit whilst on duty go unnoticed, putting their own safety as well as that of their fellow seafarers at risk.

We also hear regularly that there is no equipment on board to test alcohol levels, or the equipment isn’t maintained well enough to be reliable.

Not only does this send the message that it’s hard to prove the drunken behaviour exists – which is hardly a deterrent – but it’s sweeping it under the carpet altogether.

There are many maritime policies in place, some which include screening for alcohol and drug use on board but not all are actioned or enforced. It has even been recorded that problems with the supply of suitable breathalysers have resulted in fines not being levied to guilty parties over the limit.

As we know, a significant part of the problem here is equipment availability as reliable breathalysing equipment can be expensive to purchase as well as cumbersome to maintain. 

This makes it even easier for excessive alcohol use to slip through the various loops present in the under-resourced management teams on board many of our ships. The many checks and procedures required to keep a vessel legal – before you even look at crew health and safety measures – is stifling and much of this is overlooked or executed poorly.


One product in our range which offers a solution to this growing problem is the ALCO XS™ 

It is a breathalyser with a difference being the only marine breath alcohol tester available which never requires re-calibration. 

Many conventional breathalysers are extremely wasteful as – by design – if they don’t remain reliable they need completely replacing each year.  The nature of a breathalyser is that it has a specified level of accuracy it must meet to comply with legal standards in place.

The design of the ALCO XS™ has addressed the issues present with existing breathalysers as it doesn’t need sending ashore every year to be calibrated or, as is more often the case, totally replaced. 

All you need to do with the ALCO XS™ is insert the pre-calibrated ALCO XS™ sensor cell every year, which only takes a few seconds to do, and it is ready to use being instantly certified as accurate for a further twelve months.

The simplicity of this model saves you a fortune compared to existing breathalysers and saves a phenomenal amount of time- it really couldn’t be easier.

The added advantage here is the red tape time it’s going to save you. It has been designed specifically to meet the new “Manila Amendments” to the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW). These new standards are being failed by the majority of current breathalysers so we would encourage any crew to test their existing breathalysing kit for compliance with the revised terms.

Now is as good a time as any to check your current breathalysers to see if they have the required level of accuracy to meet these new limits.

If you need any help with your equipment or it’s time to get a new top of the line breathalysing kit, get in touch and we’ll be happy to advise you on the easiest ways to maintain compliance onboard your vessels

IMPORTANT BULLETIN: Software for ABC Stations

In September 2016 we were made aware of a time/date error in software of the Auto Bump Calibration station (ABC) for Marine 4’s.  To resolve this issue customers were sent instructions and an update on a USB labelled either Silver or Gold ABC Update. 

If the instructions sent with the update were not followed in full it can corrupt the system and make the station inoperable.

Until now, we’ve been replacing any corrupted stations regardless of the age or warranty status, this will cease from 1st August 2019.

The Silver or Gold ABC Update was a very specific upload to solve a very specific software issue, and the USB’s issued should never be used for routine updates or to fix unrelated problems. We know there are still some USBs out there so if you have one, please discard it.  It can be identified as it will state gold/silver on the label.

Don’t upload the Silver or Gold ABC Update to your ABC Station unless you have been instructed to do so by Martek Marine.

If you do experience an issue with your station that isn’t covered in the manuals, contact one of our experts in the technical support team. And, if you have any queries or further questions, please let us know – we’re always here to help.

Technical Support Team – / +44 (0) 1709 599 213 / +44 (0) 1709 599 237

What is Reactive Gas?

Carrying effective gas detection equipment – and making sure that equipment is performing accurately – is an essential and potentially life-saving element of shipping. Obviously, the safety of vessels and crews is of paramount importance but, despite the best efforts of the IMO, deaths are still happening at an alarming rate.

Reactive gases in particular present lots of additional dangers. They can also provide extra headaches for operators when it comes to storage and supply.

What are they?

Essentially, reactive gases are much more chemically active than other, more commonly used gases. Their properties change in different atmospheres and they even react with the materials that they come into contact with, especially plastics and moist surfaces.

For this reason, they’re often called ‘sticky’ gases and they present many extra issues when they’re used for gas detection and calibration.

Gas detection

Their higher chemical activity means that they are more easily absorbed by the exposed areas of gas detectors like the housings, adapters and tubing. This depletes the amount available to test in a gas sample so you need to take special care when monitoring.

Using compatible materials and appropriate calibration techniques is therefore essential. Otherwise, the response time will be increased and your readings will be dangerously low.


Because reactive gases are so chemically active, they even react with the containers that are used to store them. Over time, they will be gradually absorbed by the walls of the cylinders.

To minimise these reactions, reactive gas mixtures come in aluminium canisters – generally available in either 34 or 58 litres – but they still have a limited lifespan. That’s why all cylinders have a shelf life that’s clearly labelled on the outside. Expired calibration gas will no longer provide accurate readings and will be potentially dangerous.


Because of the instability and impurity of the gases used and the relatively poor quality of cylinders within the industry, most calibration gases have a short shelf-life of just 6-12 months. This leads to many problems when it comes to supply.

Gases need to be replaced regularly – regardless of how much remains in the cylinder. In addition to the wastage of gas that’s gone out of date, multiple re-stocking deliveries will need to be arranged for each ship incurring freight costs, dangerous goods charges and customs’/agent’s fees.

Organising multiple deliveries and arranging schedules takes up valuable time. This is further complicated when using several suppliers as quality control can be an issue – different providers will all need to meet the same standards. Organising a reliable supply of calibration gas for a global fleet can prove a troublesome and time consuming process.

Martek’s cylinders

FastCalGas has the highest gas production standards of any calibration gas on the market. We use advanced materials and a mass spectrometer to analyse and verify the quality of every cylinder – in 30,000 deliveries, only two defects have ever been reported. This is a quality yield of over 99.993%.

Because of this, we can offer a 27-month shelf life on all reactive mixtures – a world first in the industry. This makes ordering far less complicated as you can order large stocks up to two years in advance without worrying about co-ordinating supplies that have short expiry dates.

Our cylinders are also recyclable which means that you can sell empties on to recycling companies for roughly $2 each instead of throwing them away. They just need to be prepared first.

The most important part of this preparation is to make sure they’re completely empty of any reactive gas. This will involve drilling a hole in the cylinder – some recycling companies may also require you to cut them in half. The valve also needs to be removed or rendered unusable to prove that the cylinder is no longer pressurised. This can be done quickly and easily with one of the tools that are compatible with all our canisters.

After this, cylinders will no longer classified as dangerous goods and can be recycled as scrap.

The Procurement Process

Our calibration gas inventory management service will enable you to save even more time and money by taking control of your ordering and supply process.

Martek’s service is designed to cut down on carriage and agents’ charges as well as the hidden costs that come from the time spent on administration. It simplifies the process into one order, two years’ supply and one delivery.

We review your usage of calibration gas to determine your requirements and run on-going checks with vessels, contacting each ship to arrange re-stocking after twenty-one months. Simply pass on the inventory of gas detectors on board your fleet or let us contact the ships directly to get the information and we take care of the rest.

You can purchase calibration gas quickly and easily online from anywhere in the world. Our lean order processing and extensive global supply chain means that we have a 4 hour turnaround on quotes and 98% of our orders are shipped within 24 hours.

Stop the hassle and start gaining competitive advantage.

Contact us to find out more.

Confined Space Entry: U.S. Coast Guard Warns After Three Die Of Asphyxiation

The danger of confined spaces is in the news again after three crew members died of asphyxiation on a drilling rig.

They were part of a ten man team preparing equipment for heavy lift transport. After a de-ballasting system failed, they rigged a portable diesel engine pump to discharge tanks. Unfortunately, the hatches used for ventilation were inadequate and one of the crew collapsed after being overcome by fumes while supervising the operation.

The second and third victims died while attempting to rescue him after descending into the enclosed space without safety equipment. The Captain and Ship Superintendent narrowly escaped and were airlifted to hospital.

This is sadly typical of enclosed space fatalities and is similar to other recent accidents in Japan, UK, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia.

Because many toxic gases are colourless and odourless, it can be easy to miss the danger signals, especially if you’re under stress or focused on a complicated task. Rescuers are commonly the next victims as they react quickly – and usually in a state of panic – so they don’t follow essential safety procedures or use the necessary equipment. Studies suggest that over 50% of the deaths in confined spaces are the result of crew members attempting to rescue colleagues.

This latest incident has prompted the US Coast Guard to issue a Marine Safety Alert about the dangers of confined spaces. They advise:

  • Obtaining the requisite level of knowledge and training of confined space entry procedures including emergency and rescue procedures
  • Ensuring crews undergo periodic confined space training and participate in routine and practical onboard emergency drills
  • Verifying that all required confined space entry and rescue safety equipment is onboard, maintained, tested and fully functional
  • Continually appreciating the dangers involved in confined space entry and educating yourself by further study.

Modern vessels contain more enclosed spaces than ever before. This, combined with the pressures of larger loads, smaller crews and tighter turnaround times, means that deaths in confined spaces are still happening despite the IMO’s attempts to prevent them. The latest regulations require 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.

Contact us to find out more about keeping your crews safe in confined spaces.

Gas Detection: What is a 4-gas detector?

4-Gas Detectors

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.
Oxygen (O2)
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:

    • Methane
    • Oxygen
    • Carbon Monoxide
    • Hydrogen Sulphidea
  • and other flammable gases.

MGC Simple+



From Zone 0 to inert atmospheres – with the Marine Triple-C you’re always good to go.

Innovative 3-year battery life and cutting-edge infrared technology remove the need to calibrate, meaning no unproductive maintenance breaks and no expensive sensor replacement.

This all-in-one solution guarantees compliance and reduces risk whilst saving time and money – all at the touch of a single button.


Discover how we can help to keep your crew safe on board ship.

Kivu Ebola Outbreak – What you need to know

The 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.

This recent outbreak followed on from the earlier Équateur province Ebola outbreak which occurred May to July 2018.

Previous Epidemic

The 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 unreported.

This epidemic saw reported cases outside of Africa in the United States, United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.

It 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 same symptoms.

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 disease.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Update

As 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.

Confirmed and probable Ebola virus disease cases by week of illness onset, data as of 26 December 2018. Source: WHO
Confirmed and probable Ebola virus disease cases by week of illness onset, data as of 26 December 2018.
Source: WHO

Travel Restrictions

WHO advises against any restriction of travel and trade to the Democratic Republic of the Congo based on the currently available information.

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.

Direct Transmission

Ebola’s transmitted through close and direct physical contact with infected bodily fluids. The most infectious being vomit, blood, and faeces.

There 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.

There have also been studies showing the virus to be present in Saliva and tears, but the sample size was limited.

If coming into contact with those who may have Ebola, you should ensure protective equipment is worn.

Indirect Transmission

Ebola can be transmitted indirectly through contaminated objects and surfaces.

If 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.

There 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 this.

Again, 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 equipment.


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 Congo.


The latest Ebola outbreak is the second biggest to date, behind the 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.

You’re Wasting Money On Digital Charts

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?

I, robot

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 lawsuit was 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.
Find out how our managed Admiralty Chart service can cut costs and fit into your company culture.

We are not prepared for exploding drones

The recent attack on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was the first attack on an official by weaponised drones.

Terror and criminal use of drones are well documented, but this has mainly been isolated to the war-torn Middle East, prisons and a few none lethal examples in Mexico and the US.

It wasn’t widely documented, but a drone was used to land a ZMG-1 thermite grenade on a Ukrainian weapons dump, causing $1 billion in damage.

A similar attempt to blow up the Balakliya base took place in December 2015, when drones dropped 14 grenades. Fires were extinguished by Ukrainian servicemen, and one grenade, a ZMG-1, was recovered.

An attack on an ammunition depot at Svatovo destroyed 3,000 tons of explosives and damaged 1,700 nearby homes.

In 2016, two French Special Forces soldiers were injured and two Kurdish fighters were killed by an exploding ISIS drone. ISIS has conducted numerous drone attacks during the Mosul campaign and terrorism experts fear weaponized drones could spread outside conflict zones.

“I think we do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones”

“We’ve seen that overseas already with growing frequency. I think the expectation is that it’s coming here imminently.” said the director of the FBI when addressing the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
“I think they are relatively easy to acquire, relatively easy to operate, and quite difficult to disrupt and monitor.”

The fact is, this threat is sophisticating faster than many organisations can counter it. Government and military sites, nuclear plants, sporting events, ports and ships, tourist hot spots… nothing is currently equipped to counter the threat of weaponised drones.

Did you know most locations purchase First Aid equipment, such as defibrillators, AFTER a person has died?

We are very much a reactive breed, reeling from the damages and hopefully preventing them from happening again.
But what if we were pre-emptive? What if we prepared so well that terrorist drone threat became redundant?

The technology is here – but we must start now.

Why you need regular services from approved technicians

Last week, we spoke about how ‘pirate’ parts are voiding type approval, but what about if you’ve made sure you buy legitimate parts?

What’s the next step in ensuring your equipment isn’t going to let you down?

Regular servicing.
Approved engineers.

Simple. You knew that, but not everybody actions it. Here’s why it’s important.

Continue reading “Why you need regular services from approved technicians”