CAPTAIN S.K. ANAND, senior surveyor of ships with the Hong Kong Marine Department, gave members a presentation on 'Safer Ships, Cleaner Seas' based on the Donaldson report.
In view of the wide experience of the Branch members present, Captain Anand decided that an open discussion on the two aspects of flag State control and port State control would be the most productive way of forwarding the safety objectives of the Donaldson report. We were all given a copy of his full paper to read at leisure (a copy is also available at NI HQ for members who call in).
The discussion was certainly lively. One particularly pertinent point was made that some of the deficiencies cited by certain port State inspectors had very little to do with the overall safety of ship and crew and more to do with levying a fine and getting a deficiency on record-e.g., finding an out-of-date light list on an otherwise well run bridge. It was felt that inspectors should be looking for rather more meaty deficiencies that threaten the safety of the ship, the crew or the environment. They are not sent on board to act as owners' marine superintendents.
It was also felt that flag States that had no adequate infrastructure for operating a shipping registry should not be allowed to register international shipping. The IMO should set up an independent body to vet flag State registers.
A number of members felt that dialogue and discussion between professionals on shipping matters would produce better results than more regulations.
New Hydrographic Office
NICK EMERSON, PhD, the Hong Kong Government Hydrographer, gave members a very well presented talk and overhead projector show on the new Hydrographic Office and the variety of equipment used for local hydrographic survey work. He was appointed to head the new Hong Kong Hydrographic Office (HO). He ruefully acknowledged that his domain is shrinking fast, as about 60 hectares of the harbour have been filled in since he arrived.
The HO is a section within the Marine Department which, when set up, will survey the waters of HK and produce admiralty style charts to IHO standards. At present all updates to Admiralty charts come from the Marine Department, with input from various other Government Departments. However, changes have taken place so fast that the latest charts are outdated by the time they are printed. None the less, some out of fairway soundings on Admiralty charts of Hong Kong waters date back to leadline surveys of 1901-05.
There are three main professional grades in the office: Marine Officers, normally with class 1 certificates; land surveyors, usually from the Lands Department; cartographers, usually from the Lands Department. There are 14 staff at present, but the plan is for approximately 100 staff in due course.
To enable accurate plotting, it is intended to establish a differential GPS reference station that should give better than 1 metre accuracy over HK territorial waters. Survey boats will be fitted with suitable receivers. The Government may open up the signal for the maritime community so even low cost navigation receivers would have an accuracy of 3-5 metres. One word of caution: the GPS works on the WGS 84 earth model, so all positions plotted on the present charts will have to be shifted 0.09'N and 0. 1 0.15W.
It is planned to build two survey vessels in the near future, a 18-20 metre Swath which has very good stability (a godsend for seasick hydrographers) and a 10-14 metre catamaran tender.
Contributed by Captain Sir William, Codrington, FNI
Seaways February 1995