When the GLORY AMSTERDAM went aground in a storm off Langeroog, one of Germany’s East Frisian islands, in October 2017, there were justifiable concerns about a serious oil spill that would have been badly affected the holiday beaches of this lovely island. Fortunately, this 225-metre-long bulk carrier only suffered damage to her rudder blade and rudder system and no oil was spilled. After several failed attempts, the GLORY AMSTERDAM was finally pulled off the sandbank and towed to Bremerhaven where she has been hauled up ever since and is not expected to be declared seaworthy until the end of February.
This incident has led to some positive developments. Initially, there was a lot of criticism – of the maritime authorities involved, of the German Central Command for Maritime Emergencies in Cuxhaven, of the tugs, and of the breakdown in communications between the officials in Cuxhaven and the Chinese captain of the bulk carrier. One outcome of this criticism was the establishment in late January 2018 of a Maritime Safety Group by the Maritime Cluster Northern Germany (MCN). Its brief includes identifying maritime safety hotspots in the region. In the near future, the specialists who make up the Maritime Safety Group will be investigating new approaches for dealing more effectively and efficiently with future emergencies. The importance of this new Maritime Safety Group is underlined by Hans-Werner Monsees, who heads the German Central Command for Maritime Emergencies: “The rapid increase in the size of containerships and cruise liners is placing new demands on safety concepts, rescue facilities and rescue technologies.” Falk von Seck, the MCN office manager in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, backs him up: “The exchange of information between the various segments and players is more important than ever.” As one of the pioneers of real-time AIS vessel tracking, MCN member FleetMon will be represented on the Executive Committee of the new Maritime Safety Group.