Friday, June 11, 2010

Shipping Interests Should Suitably Prepare For Hurricane Season

Coast Guard Sets Out Sensible Precautions for Forthcoming Storms
Shipping News Feature

US – CARIBBEAN - With the start of the hurricane season now officially upon us lives will doubtless be lost at sea, some unnecessarily, and the advice from the Texas Coast Guard applies equally to all at risk from a big blow. The Marine Safety Information Bulletin regarding severe weather safety planning issued by the Houston – Galveston sector this week offers sound advice to all mariners, and port side operators, likely to be at risk from the storms.

Using the experience gleaned from other catastrophic storms such as Hurricanes Rita (2005) and IKE (2008) the Guard have compiled an eight point plan which, although specific to the area of their jurisdiction, would equally serve seafarers and dock operators anywhere in the ‘at risk’ zones.

A revised précis of the plan is as follows:

1) Deep Draft vessels should leave port well in advance of a threatened storm.

2) Such vessels unable to leave port should advise local authorities and issue a declaration of their intent to remain in port where necessary. These ships are generally at far greater risk whilst in port than on the open sea.

3) Commercial boat and barge tows (tugs etc.) that usually ply their trade on intracoastal waterways should leave the threatened area completely as early as possible or, if unable to do so, to head inland as far as possible and make use of any available shelter. Cargo vulnerability (hazardous goods etc) should be given special consideration and local advice sought.

4) Commercial fishing vessels should plan ahead for locations of safe shelter. During prior storms, vessels that sought sheltered moorings and kept a live watch onboard to tend lines and apply horsepower fared best. Once again when threatened by an approaching storm, commercial fishing vessels should leave port or find shelter as far inland as possible to avoid damage during a storm's passage.

5) Skippers should establish if there are plans to relocate Coast Guard offices and other responsible authorities during the severe weather and ensure communications are possible.

6) Facilities with storage tanks, missile hazards, dangerous cargoes, and container and pallet stacks are encouraged to take positive action to secure or remove these entities should they be threatened. Flying objects such as these pose a major threat to lives and property

7) Waterfront facilities are encouraged to conduct an annual survey prior to the Hurricane Season. Also, each facility should have an emergency survey at their docks as soon as possible after a hurricane passes.

8) Local authorities and those responsible should conduct inspections of all susceptible items prior to and immediately after a storm with attention paid to such items as hoses etc which should be drained and secured.