How extreme weather can affect ships over the winter months

When operating a marine vessel in winter, there are always more risks due to the increased likelihood of severe weather and dramatic, often unpredictable, fluctuations in conditions throughout a journey. If travelling is a necessity, boat owners and marine businesses should take no chances as the consequences can be severe should something go amiss. Navigating choppy waters In December 2018, a Scotland-bound ferry was hit by severe weather conditions in the North Channel. This caused six lorries and other vehicles to topple against each other and overturn, causing significant damage and crushing cars in the impact. Fortunately, none of the ferry’s 52 passengers and 56 crew suffered any injuries, however, some were confined to their vehicles during the incident and the impact to the vessel caused widespread panic amongst the passengers. The incident meant that the port was shut for a long time and customers planning on sailing were encouraged to only travel if absolutely necessary and some journeys were cancelled, meaning that many customers were forced to make alternative arrangements. Suffice to say; multiple journeys and parties were affected in the meantime. Battling windy conditions Another incident occurred in the same month when a 16,000-tonne Russian cargo ship ran aground off a beach in Cornwall after speculation that the ship’s anchor broke from the seabed, rendering the crew with no control of the vessel. The rescue operation was fraught with difficulty due to 60mph winds and rough seas and the ship was grounded for over eight hours. As the vessel did not have any cargo on board, there were no issues with pollution in this circumstance, yet, if the vehicle had been carrying pollutants this could leave the company vulnerable to investigation by the Environmental Agency (EA). With cargo on board, the boat would have also been subject to theft from modern-day ‘wreckers’, similar to the widescale looting which took place after the Napoli – a 62,000-tonne container ship – was towed into Dorset’s Portland Harbour following catastrophic damage after being caught in a storm. How can you stay protected? Whether you own a ferry company, a shipping business or otherwise, in the marine trade you will likely be required to operate in undesirable weather conditions, providing it is within the terms of your policy. Safeguard can ensure that your business is financially protected should you get caught out by extreme weather. As commercial boat operators, you may have dozens of boats in your care, all of which you have the responsibility to adequately cover in order to protect yourself, your business, your staff, cargo and customers. The nuances of marine insurance can often make arranging the right policy difficult but with the help of Safeguard’s specialists, you can ensure that you have sufficient insurance in place to keep your marine business protected. We will also make you aware of any exclusions your policy may stipulate so you do not get caught out by taking risks which may void your cover. Fancy taking the plunge? We are offering a guaranteed reduction of 15% off your current insurance* for all new marine customers, subject to a copy of your schedule and terms and conditions from your providers. Get in touch on 01322 337557 or contact Safeguard’s Director Stewart on 07956 490 452. *Subject to terms and conditions

Protecting your boatyard’s reputation out of season: Do you have the right insurance in place?

As the long nights, shorter days and cold weather has truly set in for the season, most boat owners are storing their boats for the winter, whether that be in a marina, dry stack or on a mooring. Whilst it is not unwise to consider that vessels are less susceptible to threat when they are in storage or out of use, statistics reveal that 40% of insurance claims are made between the period of November 1st and March 31st.  With this in mind, it is vital to ensure that your policy adequately protects you and your business over this period. Perils in the off-season It is worth drawing on the Holyhead Marina catastrophe to substantiate these statistics; occurring in March of this year. Storm Emma caused strong gales to rip through Holyhead Marina, consequentially damaging 80+ boats, several of which sank as total losses. The aftermath was a scene of catastrophe, not only were the remaining boats in wreckage, but thieves proceeded to target the vessels. Safeguard has emergency measures available to protect boatyards/marinas in similar incidents. The cost of the damage was estimated to have run into the millions. Not only was there damage to the boats, but there was also an environmental impact from pollutants and interruption to numerous businesses. The weather is just one of the risks to stored boats in the off-season. There are multiple factors to consider when preparing for this period, and insurance needs to be one of them.  You can’t account for every eventuality, no matter how prepared you are. What about your existing insurance?  It is true that a number of policies will protect you over a period of 12 months, however, some will restrict your level of cover between November and March, meaning you may not be as protected as you think during this time. It is worthwhile checking your policy to ensure you have the protection you require, otherwise you are at risk of being caught short should an incident occur. Why not contact us for a silent review in which our specialists will confidentially review your current insurance arrangements, examining whether there are any gaps in your current policies and if your insurance is competitively priced? Your policy may have certain requirements which you need to fulfil in order to stay covered, so it’s essential you are aware of these beforehand. For example, you may need to maintain any warranties you hold or be able to provide proof of electrical certification for any power outlets. The Safeguard standard Specialists in all aspects of Marine Insurance since 1970, Safeguard’s expert brokers will use their extensive experience to analyse your existing policy or recommend suitable cover.  We will ensure to make you aware of any limitations that your policy stipulates over the winter months in order to recommend a solution that protects your boatyard or marina during the off-season. We’re also offering a guaranteed reduction of 15% off your current insurance* for all new marine customers, subject to a copy of your schedule and terms and conditions from your providers. Get in touch on 01322 337557 or contact Safeguard’s Director Stewart on 07956 490 452. *Subject to terms and conditions    

The Knock-on Impact of Developing Technology across the Maritime Industry

The shipping industry carries 90% of world trade but the sector faces significant threats from developing technology and cyber risk. The industry has always been faced with uncertainty surrounding human error, unpredictable weather conditions and mechanical failure. However, it’s now becoming increasingly hit with new risks from fast-emerging technologies, which means companies need to protect themselves against unfamiliar territory and unprecedented risks. Cyber attacks The threat of cyber-attacks is imminent across all industries with any type of cyber platform and the motivation behind the attacks is becoming increasingly complex, often steering away from data theft. Hackers now look to take control of vessels in order to inflict damage on both the property and operation of the vessel. The maritime industry is particularly vulnerable because ships are often inadequately prepared against such an attack, leaving them soft targets for potential criminals. There is usually a lack of encryption within critical systems and as cyber criminals know this, the industry looks more enticing. Whilst the risk of a cyber-attack has been present since computers came into existence, it’s increased exponentially since then, especially since the rise of the Internet. Critics believe that the cyber protection ships currently have is insufficient to meet the risks of the 21st century and the industry needs to update along with the threat. In particular, systems such as GPS (Global Positioning System), AIS (Automatic Identification System) and ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information) have all been identified as vulnerable to a cyber-attack. If such a system is infiltrated it can prevent a ship from receiving movement information, make phantom vessels appear, stage fake emergencies and make it appear to other ships that a vessel is or isn’t in the correct location. The motivation behind such attacks can vary from attempts to seize cargo or commandeer the vessel, extorting companies for money in return for the control of the ship, and more. In 2017, a global transport firm fell victim to one such attack, resulting in the temporary shutdown of some of its port terminals and widespread outage to its systems. This incident reportedly cost the company between £250m-£300m. Autonomous vessels We’ve seen the rise of autonomous cars in the last few years, with driverless taxis already being tested in some major cities. However, boats are not far behind and The Yara Birkeland, a fully autonomous electric container ship, is due to hit the water in 2019. The producers aim for the entire operation of the ship to be fully automated, from the process of loading and unloading to the journey itself. Whilst the concept of this vessel has a number of benefits—producing zero emissions, reducing the number of necessary journeys per year—many have doubts about the practicality and safety of autonomous shipping. What with the very real threat of cyber hacking, industry professionals are worried that the lack of human intervention could leave ships more vulnerable to these types of attacks and could result in the loss of more ships and cargo than ever before. Those who work in the maritime industry are also concerned that the presence of unmanned ships could have a negative impact on the safety of the seas. According to a survey of 1,000 maritime professionals carried out by trade union, Nautilus International, 85% of respondents considered unmanned automated vessels to pose a significant threat. Piracy Pirates are able to hack into a vessel’s cyber systems in order to identify which ships are carrying valuable cargoes and which have minimal on-board security. In the future, this could even extend to them being able to identify unmanned automated vessels which would more vulnerable to hijack once identified. Pirates often choose their stolen goods carefully, targeting only containers holding valuable goods which they can often take without detection. Following their crime, they frequently attempt to delete all data for the ship in order to avoid an audit trail. Pirates are not often highly IT-literate, however. Due to the outdated nature of cyber systems in the maritime industry, pirates have been able to conduct attacks without having the same knowledge as more developed cyber hackers. Prevention The best way to prevent cyber-attacks is to ensure that your cyber systems are up to date and that your staff are fully trained on cyber security. Small actions such as opening an infected email or attempting to charge their personal device on-board a vessel could leave your ship vulnerable to a cyber-attack which is why it’s important your staff are well aware of these risks. It’s also more important than ever to have fully comprehensive cyber insurance for your vessel, so if something should happen, you’re covered financially against the repercussions. If you have any questions or queries surrounding this or you’re wanting to check or update your existing insurance, contact the team at Safeguard today. We’re offering a reduction of 15% off your current insurance*, for all new maritime customers. Contact us today on 01322 337557 or email *Subject to terms and conditions

What is the potential impact of Brexit on the Maritime Industry?

Negotiations for Brexit have been a long time in the making and Britain is still uncertain as to what the outcome may constitute. However, the majority seem to be in the agreement that the repercussions of a no-deal outcome could be catastrophic for UK businesses across the country. The Maritime Industry has made it clear they’re hoping for an agreement to be made. The industry does not take the opinion that no-deal is better than any deal and have in-fact called for a potential extension to Brexit talks to avoid the risk of a no-deal outcome. The repercussions of waiting for a settlement to be reached is the delay of any advance preparations required to prepare for any potential changes which may impact the industry. Simmonds is currently in the process of writing up technical advice documents on Brexit and how to deal with it, however, they are finding it difficult due to the uncertainty surrounding the decision. With no-one knowing the outcome of future talks, it’s impossible to make a clear plan to work around the impact. Consequences of a ‘no-deal’ outcome A no-deal outcome could cause disruption at ports including Dover, Holyhead and Portsmouth and could also have an impact on EU ports like Calais. It has been predicted that already congested ports, such as Dover, could face permanent traffic jams up to 20 miles long unless EU proposals are met in Brexit talks. In the worst case scenario, lorry drivers could be stuck in queues for the port up to days on end. Disruptions could affect supply chains and minsters have predicted that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Britain may well need to stockpile food, medicines and other supplies to prepare against the repercussions of this. With 50% of the nation’s food, 80% of our fresh vegetables and 30% of our fresh fruit imported from the EU and Ireland, this could have a huge impact on how Britain’s food industry currently operates. It has been predicted that British ports and shipping companies will need at least three years to devise a new customs system in the event of a no-deal Brexit, including new IT systems, retraining of staff and a brand new infrastructure. It also needs to be ensured that customs systems are aligned with the rest of the EU, so one country’s way of working isn’t hit by the red tape of the UK, or vice versa. All in all, the shipping industry agrees that a no-deal scenario would not be positive for the maritime shipping industry in the short term and the long-term effects are uncertain. What happens once an agreement has been reached? The maritime industry agrees that Brexit will have significant positive and negative impacts on the shipping industry in particular. A ‘hard Brexit’ will bring with it increased trade hurdles, a consequence already being prepared for by ports such as Zeebrugge, Rotterdam and Calais who have already hired more customs officials and produce inspectors and are already predicting a likely need to hire more agents in the future. It’s believed that Brexit will bring with it a temporary slowdown in growth/trade. It is too early to say what the impact of Brexit on maritime trade will be in the long term, but it is thought to be improbable that Brexit will have a substantial bearing on overall UK maritime volumes. There are also potential negative repercussions from any restrictions placed on immigration pending Brexit talks. The UK relies greatly on skilled people from across the globe, and if their right to remain is called into question and it becomes harder to live and work in the UK, this could limit the number of European citizens wanting to work within the UK maritime sector. This could seriously harm the UK shipping cluster. Opportunities in the future   Whilst Brexit is certain to impact the maritime industry, no matter what decision is made, it isn’t all predicted to be doom and gloom. The industry is foreseeing a new or improved bilateral trade agreement between the UK and countries such as India, the US, Canada and South American countries. When in the EU, the UK government needed to get consensus approval from 27 EU countries when striking agreements with countries such as India, so Brexit will give them the chance to create agreements independently – opening a lot more scope for the countries the UK can operate with. Furthermore, politicians in Australia have already agreed to discuss a bilateral deal. The government is working with the industry to deliver an ambitious export plan which they believe will put the UK as global front-runners in the shipping industry. This plan includes doubling the number of apprenticeships that maritime companies currently offer, working with industry partners to grow the sector and developing new trade opportunities, in-turn creating more jobs across the UK. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling believes Brexit can help the UK to ‘rediscover our heritage as a truly global, seafaring, trading nation.’ Safeguard’s assurance to you Safeguard believes in supporting industries during this period of uncertainty, having built our reputation on tackling unusual or uncommon risks. This is why we’re offering a reduction of 15% off your current insurance*, for all new maritime customers. Contact us today on 01322 337557 or email *Subject to terms and conditions