Gearbulk has a dedicated focus on improving the safety of our seafarers, our vessels and shore contractors. The most objective measure of the safety on board our vessels is Lost Time Injury Frequency (LTIF). Gearbulk’s target is to have Zero Lost Time Injuries amongst its staff.
Gearbulk measures injuries as per Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) injury guidelines and has a Zero Accident vision. Gearbulk believes that all injuries are preventable.
Gearbulk continues to stress on reporting all near misses as the improved accuracy of data gives the Company better analytics for continuous improvement of all safety aspects in the fleet.
Management actively promotes these reports as they are considered a leading indicator on detecting areas for improvement and actions, thus enabling the Company to identify possible safety focus areas on board, avoid injuries, property and environmental damage and increase performance during internal and external audits, including PSC performance.
The number of LTI injuries in 2020 was nearly half of what was reported in 2019. When asking the seafarers what may have contributed to this positive trend, they listed toolbox meetings, being more proactive and careful in regards to safety, and Covid –19. The global pandemic made going for a medical checkup for any reason a high risk situation.
The increased numbers of personal injuries in 2019 led to the establishment of the Gearbulk Safety Committee in December 2019. The Committee members are senior management in Bergen. They met monthly in 2020, discussing incidents, safety measures, safety monitoring, experience transfers and proposed and implemented safety initiatives and campaigns.
In 2020, 24 experience transfers were published to the fleet. They cover all personal injuries, specific damage cases and best practises.
An SEQ Bulletin is published to sea and shore staff quarterly and has become a great success. It covers safety, KPI’s, best practises, navigation and equipment, cargo safety, ABC and near misses amongst others. Our Marine superintendents publish selected near misses to their vessels every two weeks, to guide and learn from others.
Working closely with UniTy, our Security, IT security, Security awareness training and emergency response procedures were reviewed and updated to comply with the new Cyber Security Management Plan requirement from IMO, effective 01/01/2021.
Port State Control (PSC)
PSC is the inspection of vessels while in port to verify that the condition of the vessel and its equipment comply with international regulations and that it is manned and operated in compliance with these regulations. The results of these inspections provide a reasonable external verification of the standards of operation onboard the vessels.
In 2020 the Gearbulk managed Fleet had a total of 75 inspections with an average of 1.20 deficiencies per vessel per inspection. 67% of the inspections were recorded with NIL deficiencies. Three poor inspections where largely contributing to the sharp increase in our average result.
PSC inspections were significantly reduced worldwide as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rightship is an independent vetting company which was formed to monitor safety, quality and environmental awareness in the dry bulk fleet sector. It assesses the risk of all vessels over 500 tons using multiple information sources and historical data, resulting in a score that assigns a ‘star’ rating from 1 to 5.
During 2020, 17 vessels were inspected by Rightship, and findings and recommendations were processed in same manner as a PSC inspection. The average rating for the Gearbulk managed fleet was 4.18 by end of year. Gearbulk’s target is to maintain a minimum rating of 3 or above for each vessel.
Managing threats from piracy
The threat of Piracy in the Gulf of Aden & Indian Ocean remained at a low level in 2020 and only the occasional suspicious craft was reported. The geopolitical tensions with Iran escalated and several incidents in the Arabian Gulf/Hormuz were attributed to this. Gearbulk had limited activity in the area in 2020, and all transits were incident free, maintaining the same alertness and vigilance for each voyage. The civil war in Yemen is ongoing and developments are continuously monitored.
In South East Asia, primarily in Malacca straits and Indonesian waters, the risk of Piracy has maintained a status quo, where risks are mostly present at anchorages. Escalations of violent piracy and kidnapping for ransom in Gulf of Guinea is a concern, and potential voyages are assessed on a case by case basis.
For each voyage scheduled in the various areas with potential threats, Gearbulk carries out a Risk Assessment based on the current situation in those areas, recommendations from DNK (war insurance), MARISK and other security providers. An anti-piracy kit is issued to the respective vessels undertaking voyages in High Risk areas.