First forum for new Code

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 52, August 2017

Risk assessment best practice – for the safe navigation of large vessels – was a key subject discussed at the first national forum of the refreshed Port and Harbour Marine Safety Code recently.

The theme was “Continuous Improvement in Safety Management”, with the 50 or so attendees including representatives of ports and harbour authorities, Maritime NZ and other stakeholders such as the Port Chief Executives Group, NZ Pilots Association, the NZ Shipping Federation, LINZ and the NZ Institute of Surveyors.

Opening speaker Belinda Vernon, the Deputy Chair of Maritime NZ, says a robust marine safety code provides confidence in the safe operations of our ports and harbours.

The Pacific Maritime Safety Programme
Discussing port and harbour safety in Wellington recently were Grant Nalder, Wellington Regional Harbourmaster; Belinda Vernon, Maritime NZ Authority Deputy Chair; Keith Manch, the Director of Maritime NZ; Annabel Young, Executive Director of the Shipping Federation; Dave Duncan, Port of Nelson Marine Operations Manager and Regional Harbourmaster; and Jim Dilley, Regional Harbourmaster for Environment Canterbury.
Maritime New Zealand ©2020

“Weather events, larger vessels, more cruise ships, changing technology, and conflicts between commercial and recreational use, all contribute to our changing marine operating environment – creating challenges and opportunities. Managing the risks involved with these is paramount.”

Belinda says “it’s important to recognise how far we have come since the early 2000s when groundings such as the Jody F Millennium and Tai Ping prompted the introduction of the forerunner to the current version of the Code”.

Huge swells caused the log ship Jody F Millennium to break free from her moorings in Gisborne in 2002 with 25 tonnes of fuel oil spilt onto beaches when she ran aground, while the bulk carrier Tai Ping was successfully refloated later that year without any oil spilled after running aground at Tiwai Point near the entrance to Bluff Harbour.

“The updated 2016 Code has resulted in a national voluntary standard which has buy-in and commitment from all ports and councils across New Zealand. That is powerful,” says Belinda.

A total of 16 regional councils, 14 port companies and Maritime NZ are party to the Code, which has a new governance and management structure involving representatives from all three parties. The Code covers all activity associated with the movement of vessels entering, leaving and navigating within ports and harbours. It promotes a systems approach to safety management, based on risk assessment and on-going monitoring of safety performance.

Port Nelson Marine Operations Manager and Harbourmaster Dave Duncan, Environment Canterbury Harbourmaster Jim Dilley, and Ports of Auckland Senior Pilot John Barker, discussed safety management case studies at the forum in Wellington last month. These outlined the risk assessment processes followed in their ports for visits by larger ships – such as the many months of planning needed for the maintenance visit to Nelson of the 252 metre oil production and platform ship Raroa in 2013, and visits to Auckland over last summer of one of the largest cruise ships in the world, the 348 metre Ovation of the Seas.

A panel debate discussed the issue “How big is too big”, in light of the world-wide trend for larger ship builds. It was suggested that in the future small ports may become feeder ports for larger ones.

The operation of the Code involves a steering group, working group, a secretariat, and peer review process. An annual programme of reviews of the Safety Management Systems (SMS) of ports and harbours has been established, with review panels drawn from a general pool of experienced harbourmasters, marine managers and pilots – nominated by council and port chief executives and supported by a Maritime NZ representative.

The safety management systems of Tauranga and Gisborne ports and harbours, together with Fiordland cruise ship operations, are among the reviews completed in the last year. All parties to the Code have also undertaken and submitted their annual SMS self-assessments.

The steering group looks for evidence of national consistency, implementation of good practices, and effective stakeholder engagement, along with support for areas with lagging performance.

Secretariat Demetra Kennedy told the forum that all parties have a role to grow and develop the Code: “How far, how fast and how effective is up to you”.

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