STS issues addressed

Nov 21 2014

Ship-to-ship (STS) cargo transfers off West Africa is still causing the legal and insurance world problems.

This is despite West African shuttle tanker operations being much improved during the past three to five years, a seminar audience was told this week.

At the seminar, organised by Clyde & Co and DYNAMARINe, it was said that there were still some ‘rust buckets’ out there and it was time to put pressure on charterers. It was estimated that anywhere between five and 20 STS operations occur off West Africa every day.

Clyde & Co’s Ed Mills-Webb and North P&I Club’s Eamon Maloney warned that even a small dent caused by an STS transfer could add up to a claim of $3 mill plus when taking into account 40-60 days offhire. “A small bump is a financial disaster,” Maloney said.

With some 12,000 STS operations taking place last year, a figure which is still rising, this has resulted in about 62 service providers vying for the business and this figure is also increasing. Not all have a high level of safety and the correct procedures in place, the audience was told.

The panel, consisting of representatives of two service providers- SafeSTS and Fendercare, plus North P&I Club, Intertanko, Clyde & Co and, addressed the relationship between a Person in Overall Advisory Control (POAC) and the vessels’ Masters. 

During the lead up time to the joining of the vessels, the Master and POAC should endeavour to create a working relationship, similar to a Master and pilot situation and become confident in each other’s expertise, SafeSTS’ Bob Gilchrist said. 

North’s Maloney described POACs as rather shadowy figures and advised an operator and Master to find out who they are talking with. He called for more transparency as to who they are and on how to get in touch with them after the event.

It was agreed that a POAC is a highly specialised job needing a lot of expertise and that it would be unreasonable of a Master not to ask for advice when necessary.

Mills-Webb urged Masters to take real caution before handing over the reins to a POAC, although recognising that the Master was legally in control at all times.’s Alexandros Glykas asked how do you define experience and warned that a Master relying on a POAC could become complacent.   

Intertanko’s Ajay Gour warned that an STS operation was in effect a “controlled collision.”

Clyde & Co has recently published another draught version of ‘Freuqently Asked Questions in Ship to Ship Transfer Opertations’ put together by DYNAMARINe and the law firm.

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