Disaster averted – GLORY AMSTERDAM was driven onto sandbank

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In one of the worst storms for a while in the German Bight the 225-metre bulk carrier GLORY AMSTERDAM was driven onto a sandbank some two kilometres off the East Frisian island of Langeoog on 29 October. The ship had been anchored off Helgoland but the winds and waves of “Storm Herwart” proved too strong for the ship’s moorings.

GLORY AMSTERDAM: https://www.fleetmon.com/vessels/glory-amsterdam_9287182_37635/


Though not carrying any cargo, the 11-year-old bulk carrier did have some 1,800 tonnes of marine diesel on board and environmental activists were seriously concerned about a possible spillage polluting the mudflats of the Wadden Sea, a UN Cultural Heritage Site. Concerns about the ship’s structural stability only grew when repeated attempts to pull the GLORY AMSTERDAM off the sandbank at high tide failed. The specialists from Rotterdam-based Smit Salvage knew they had just one last card to play. If that attempt failed, the oil would have to be pumped out and the bulk carrier broken up where it lay stranded – a precarious task in an ecologically sensitive environment.

Read more…

Storms caused by ships?

in Research by

Even though modern-day ships are much better equipped to sail through storms, most sailors prefer to avoid them. Yet according to recent research published in Geophysical Research Letters by Joel Thornton and his colleagues from the University of Washington in Seattle, some storms may actually be caused by ships themselves. They have shown that lightning strikes in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea occur almost twice as frequently along shipping lanes as in other areas of these waters.


The researchers worked extremely thoroughly, investigating some 1.5 bn lightning strikes recorded by the World Wide Lightning Location Network between 2005 and 2016. Fascinatingly, they discovered that the strikes happened over seawater were concentrated on much-frequented shipping lanes, and in particular the one that runs from south of Sri Lanka to the northern entrance of the Straits of Malacca and from there on to Singapore.

Wind or air movements alone were ruled out as causing such a concentration of thunderstorms, as the atmospheric conditions outside these shipping lanes were no different. That ships are made of metal and their superstructures are the tallest objects in an otherwise fairly flat expanse of water was also thought to be improbable because vessels only occupy a tiny fraction of the area covered by these shipping lanes.

The most likely explanation is sulphur-rich particulate pollution from ship emissions. Burning sulphur-rich marine diesel produces soluble sulphuric oxides that act as nuclei for the condensation of small cloud-forming droplets. When carried upwards by convection, these small droplets form storm clouds from which bolts of lightning can emerge. But the prospects for fewer lightning strikes in these shipping lanes are good. Standard bunker fuel currently has an average sulphur content of 2.7%. From 2020 it should be down to 0.5% if the IMO rules are obeyed.

Focusing on Baltic Sea ferries

in Partnering, Trends by

The 14th Baltic Transport Forum taking place on 2 November in Rostock-Warnemünde will take a closer look at the impact of recent politico-economic developments on the Baltic Sea ferry and roll-on/roll-off shipping industry. Carsten Hilgenfeld, FleetMon’s Head of Research and Development, will be moderating one of the sessions.

The choice of venue is no coincidence. Rostock is a major hub of ferry and roll-on/roll-off traffic in the Baltic Region. If attendees are tempted to gaze out the windows of the Neptun Hotel, where the Forum will be held, they will see ships regularly entering or leaving the Lower Warnow River at Warnemünde. But of course nobody will be ship-spotting, as the Forum programme promises to rivet everyone’s attention.

The focus in the morning sessions will be on how current developments will impact Baltic Sea ferry and roll-on/roll-off traffic, and which strategies can be best employed to meet the challenges. The first afternoon session moderated by Carsten Hilgenfeld will look in detail at how the ports of Rostock, Trelleborg Hamn and Szczecin/Świnoujście are responding to the challenges and changes in Baltic Sea traffic. The final session has intermodal transport as its theme. Judging by the quality of the speakers, the 14th Baltic Transport Forum will provide attendees with a wide variety of valuable information, insights and ideas.

Improving supply chain management

in Trends by

A well-managed supply chain can make all the difference to a business – the difference between success or failure, profit or loss. Two FleetMon experts recently presented a paper on how to improve supply chain management at the recently held 23rd International Symposium “Research – Education – Technology”, which was hosted by the University of Applied Sciences Stralsund, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, on 12-13 October 2017.

The paper prepared by FleetMon’s Sebastian Hübner and Carsten Hilgenfeld along with two other colleagues was entitled “Using dashboards to optimize supply chain management with AIS-based improved ETA calculation”. The FleetMon experts had been invited to the Symposium because of the improvements such a dashboard-based solution can bring to supply chain management. After all, knowing exactly when the ship carrying your cargo will arrive at a certain port is key to efficient supply chain management. FleetMon’s AIS-based vessel tracking service informs customers about the precise movements and estimated times of arrival (ETA) of any ships they are interested in – anywhere in the world. As outlined in the paper, all the information of relevance to supply chain management is displayed on a single dashboard, an extremely convenient solution first developed for a global automotive group.

Logo International Symmposium -RET- 12-13 oct 2017 slide-the-challenge-bild-stralsund

LNG gaining ground – Cruise Industry jumps on

in Trends by

One of the most challenging issues currently facing cruise shipping companies is air pollution in ports. Cruises through the Mediterranean, Baltic or Caribbean involve port calls in any number of tourist hotspots, and it’s not just in popular stop-offs such as Venice that the locals are getting worked up about air pollution from cruise ships moored close to city centres. SOx, NOx and fine-particle emissions from ships are a growing concern, not just to environmental activists.


One way of significantly reducing emissions is to install LNG-powered engines – and the world’s first LNG-powered cruise liner, the 183,900-ton AIDANOVA, is currently under construction at the Meyer Shipyard in Papenburg in NW Germany. The engine room for this cruise ship was recently completed at the Neptun Shipyard in Rostock on Germany’s Baltic coast. Then on 26 September, this 120-metre long and 42-metre broad section of the ship containing the four LNG-powered Caterpillar MaK engines passed through the Kiel Canal en route to Papenburg. It was a tricky trip. The maximum breadth for ships passing through the Kiel Canal is only 32 metres, but with a special permit and less than 1 metre of leeway on each side, the floating engine room section was safely steered through the Canal by two tugs, the RT PIONEER and BUGSIER 6. With the safe arrival of the engine room in Papenburg another important step was taken towards lowering emissions from cruise shipping. The AIDANOVA is due to go into service in November 2018.


FleetMon CEO speaks on transport safety at German Mobility Congress

in Events by

Mobility is a major issue in Germany – not just due to its geographical location at the crossroads of Europe but also because it is one of the world’s leading export nations, which makes it highly dependent on maritime mobility. The keynote theme of the upcoming German Mobility Congress is networked mobility and FleetMon CEO Lars Brandstäter will be one of four experts on a panel discussing safe transport networks. 

FleetMon CEO speaks on transport safety at German Mobility Congress

Networked mobility is at the very heart of the FleetMon service portfolio. After all, its AIS-based vessel tracking service informs customers about the precise movements of any ships they are interested in – anywhere in the world. “I was delighted to accept the invitation to join a panel discussion at the German Mobility Congress because FleetMon plays a key role in enabling safe transport networks at sea,” Lars Brandstaeter says. The FleetMon CEO will join Hans-Hilmar Rischke, Head of Safety at Deutsche Bahn, Mechthild Stöwer, Head of the Security Management Department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Safe Information Technology, and Prof. Dr. Stefan Pickl from the RISK Centre of the Federal Armed Forces’ University in Munich on the panel that will address key networked transport issues. Up to 400 attendees are expected at this event.

The Germany Mobility Congress is taking place at the House of Logistics and Mobility (HOLM) in Frankfurt/Main from October 4-6 (www.deutscher-mobilitaetskongress.de).

Colourful Chinese cruise liner on sea trials in the North Sea

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Bright lights and crazy colours: the Chinese cruise liner WORLD DREAM was a spectacular sight as she passed through the narrows of the River Ems in NW Germany en route from the Meyer Shipyard in Papenburg to Eemshaven. On 17 September thousands of sightseers followed the cruise liner’s passage along the Ems and were delighted when, with nighttime falling, the whole superstructure and dashingly decorated hull were bathed in the bright colours of 40,000 LEDs.

Colourful Chinese cruise liner on sea trials in the North Sea

After arriving safely in Eemshaven on 18 September, the WORLD DREAM departed for sea trials in the North Sea on September 21. This giant liner – 335 metres long, 39.7 metres wide and with a draught of 8.10 metres – will serve the rapidly expanding Chinese market on cruise holidays from China to destinations such as Vietnam and the Philippines. It is the second luxury liner Meyer has built for Dream Cruises, which is part of the Genting Group. The WORLD DREAM’s almost identical sister ship, GENTING DREAM, was handed over to Dream Cruises in September 2016.

Around 1,200 specialists are accompanying the WORLD DREAM on her sea trials to complete work on the ship’s interior fittings and furnishings, e.g. laying carpets, touching up the painting and installing the high-tech audio-visual and media equipment. “The shows passengers will enjoy on the WORLD DREAM are even more spectacular than her highly colourful exterior,” says Christoph Schnetker, a media engineer responsible for coordinating the complex interplay of audio, video, IT and lighting technology on cruise ships like the WORLD DREAM. During the current sea trials Christoph and his colleagues are working long hours to ensure this cruise liner makes dreams come true after being handed over to Dream Cruises in late October.

FleetMon at NEVA in Saint Petersburg – Russia’s Largest Maritime Trade Show

in Events by

Since 1991 St. Petersburg has been the venue for Russia’s leading B2B commercial maritime event, NEVA. FleetMon is proud to be playing a proactive role in this year’s exhibition and conference.

NEVA, the International Maritime Exhibition and Conference of Russia, has been supporting the accelerating expansion of the country’s commercial maritime industries by promoting development opportunities, products, services, designers and manufacturers as well as their cooperation with the international shipping community. This year’s bigger-than-ever and fully booked event, the 14th of its kind, takes place from September 19-22 at the exhibition and conference complex near St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo International Airport, and FleetMon will be proactively involved.

All the preparations for NEVA 2017 have now been completed and several exhibitor meetings held. The FleetMon brochures have been translated into Russian and advertising material sent off in good time.
“We can’t wait to meet visitors and other exhibitors who come to our section of the Mecklenburg-Pomerania state pavilion,” says Carsten Hilgenfeld, FleetMon’s Head of Research and Development. “We’re very much aware of how significant this event is in strengthening ties between the Russian maritime industry and international suppliers.”

From 2-4 pm on September 21 Lars Brandstaeter, FleetMon’s CEO, will be presenting a paper at a NEVA workshop. The focus of his talk – “FleetMon’s ETA and ETD data employed on the Russian market” – will be on the practical relevance of FleetMon’s world-leading AIS vessel tracking platform to the Russian maritime industries.

Visit JAKOTA Cruise Systems Ι FleetMon at the NEVA booth G2112.

Best regards from Rostock


Holiday report off Sanlucar, IT: swimming, sunbathing, shipspotting…

in Community by

Sanlucar de Barrameda, the seaside resort and fishing port (Bonanza) at the mouth of the Rio Guadalquivir in SW Andalusia, is a unique location for ship spotters. Lying on the beautiful sandy beach or swimming in the 30° warm water, you see all kinds of vessels sailing by – numerous fishing cutters chugging into the nearby harbour and cruise liners, container ships or tankers sailing up river to Seville or returning to the Atlantic. The Rio Guadalquivir is navigable as far as Seville, around 60 miles further north, and the capital of Andalusia is not only a popular destination for cruise liners but also a regular port of call for various cargo ships.


On August 10, for example, the 30,000-ton P&O cruise liner ADONIA sailed past the Sanlucar sunbathers heading from Seville into the Atlantic en route to her next port of call, Gibraltar.


A cargo ship regularly seen off the beaches of Sanlucar is the OPDR LISBOA, a 698-TEU container ship operated by the Oldenburg-Portugiesische Dampfschiffs-Reederei (OPDR) that runs a shuttle service between Las Palmas, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Casablanca and Seville. When seen sailing past the Sanlucar swimmers on August 20, the LISBOA had left Seville the day before and was heading for Las Palmas where it docked on August 22.

On six evenings at low tide in August the Sanlucar beach also stages professional horse races that attract crowds of up to 30,000 – an unparalleled sporting event held since 1845. It also offers the horseracing spectators the uniquely remarkable sight of thousands of horsepower sailing past ten horsepower on the sand.



Big Data – good for your business?

in Trends by

One of today’s biggest buzzwords is Big Data. But what exactly does it mean? And where does Big Data start? As a data-driven company, we’d like to give you a quick introduction to the world of Big Data – and tell you how it can be good for your business.


What is Big Data? Maybe we should start by defining when data is big. Of course opinions vary but one common definition is that data are big when they don’t fit onto one disk – and that means anything in excess of 5 terabyte (TB). But what does a number like that mean in practice? If Google were to catalogue and index all the books in the world, it would be impossible to load all this data onto a single data. That’s certainly Big Data.


Big Data have been around for some time but it’s only in recent years that the advances in computing power and artificial intelligence (AI) have made data science a really useful discipline that enables Big Data to be put to good use. Physics, and in particular astrophysics, was one of the fields where Big Data were first collected and, interestingly enough, many data scientists used to be post-doc physicists.


So how does data science work? Put simply, it involves taking raw data and processing it to produce a data set from which statistical models can be developed, analyses undertaken or machine learning predictions generated. Based on these findings, data scientists can develop data-driven products and/or communicate what they’ve learned via reports, blogs or visualisations. Good data science teams – and data scientists usually work in teams – have a number of skills: knowing which questions to ask; interpreting the data collected well; and understanding the structure of data. This is what is known as substantive expertise. And that’s what we’ve got at FleetMon – as well as lots of Big Data. We process 3,500 AIS reports per second – that’s 300 million a day – and store over 100 TB of raw AIS data or around 410 billion reports in all! And what good is that for your business? As a FleetMon customer you can view every single AIS report for the past three years or so. And that’s just one way you benefit from our Big Data.

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