Friday, May 30, 2008

Freak Accident at Tua Pek Kong Pavilion

There was a freak accident on the 29th May 2008 around afternoon around 1245. I received the news from a colleague of mine and I rushed to the scene to have a look. This report/article should reach the audience before the local newspaper reach the readers this morning.

A container ship rammed into the Tua Pek Kong Pavilion while trying to alongside the port. Observe how close the port are and the pavilion (see my previous post photo, taken from inside the port area). It is just basically next to each other. There are some common possibilities that lead to this incident such as strong river current, lapse of concentration or wrong judgement by the ship's Master, main engine failure and steering gear failure during the mooring time.

The ship is a regular to Sibu, MV Giseng, owned by Perkapalan Dai Zhun. The collision with the pavilion had created a big hole at the forward stem area, above the bow of the ship. The hole expose the forepeak tank. The ship shall not sail far with this condition and require immediate repair before assuming operation again. The orange inflatable boat should be from the Marine Department and they are investigating the accident

Here are a few images taken at different angles to show the damage. I believe the damage could well reach millions. The company better have a P & I Club to cover this losses. The 4 support pillar collapse and the shelter crash to the ground, damaging the railing, the expensive roofs, swan statues, lights and probably marble chair. The quayside should be damage slightly as well.

From the damage the ship sustained as well as the pavilion, I suspect the ship PORT side bow graced the pavilion concrete quayside edge and taking down at least 2 support pillars in the process. The other 2 support pillars gave way as they lost support and the shelter collapse down. The ship could have over shot and fail to return to a safe position while mooring.

I do plan to write about the Tua Pek Kong and its pavilion in my future post. Guess the sight might never be the same again. I always suspect it is quite dangerous to built such a structure near a port area as there should be sufficient clearance so ships could moor safely to the quayside. This is another failure by the politician here to make proper assessment before commencing a mega project.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Into the Ballast Tank

My work is tough, dirty and most of the time stressful. One of the works I need to go through every year is entering ship’s tanks. Ever wonder how it is look like inside the tanks? I will be happy to give you a tour. There are a few types of tanks usually available at the ship, ballast tank, fuel oil tank and fresh water tank.

First of all, tank entry is a dangerous task. We called it confined space entry. There is a danger of low oxygen level in the tank as well as hazardous gas inside it. As a precaution, the tank need to be ventilated properly with a blower for a day or so and check with oxygen meter before entering to ensure the oxygen level is sufficient and hazardous gas is at the minimal. Safety helmet, heavy duty glove, safety shoes and overall must be worn for safety reason. By the way, it is dark inside the tank, a good torch light is needed.

To enter a tank, one must enter via man hole as shown. It is pretty small and can fit a single body into it at a time. Big sized person will find it impossible or hard to even pass through it.

What I shown here are photos of ballast tanks of a 21 years old ship. Corrosion usually will happen in ballast tanks as the tanks are filled with sea water, which is salty and promote corrosion. Fuel oil tank and fresh water tank tend to be in better shape but for older ships, it is worth to check as I had seen badly corroded fresh water tank. When ships are newly built, all the tanks are properly coated. Coating will breakdown as the years goes by. Usually, by 15 years old or so, corrosion will be noticeable.

Zinc anode attached by M-clamp on top right

One way to combat continuous corrosion on older ship is using sacrificial zinc anode inside the tanks. For better results, the tank structure need to be fully sand blasted, wasted structures renewal and tank to be fully coated. This procedure however is costly and time consuming.

It is really uncomfortable when inside the tank. It is hot, dirty, smelly, rusty, cramped and dark. European ships tend to have a bigger tank for a person to navigate but Japanese and Korean ships tend to have small and tight tanks to navigate inside it. I know some ship/marine surveyor who died due to cancer. I suspect entering ballast tank on a continuous basis somehow contribute to this cancer. Imagine they have to enter tanks on average 2-5 times a month. A ship usually has a few tanks, so do the Maths. As for me, I have to follow the ship/marine survey whenever they enter the tank for inspection. For me, on average I probably have to do tank entry 3-5 ships per year. Let’s just hope I won’t die of cancer.

I will definitely get very dirty when coming out of the tanks. Just take a look at the gloves above. It could be sludge, mud or unknown substances to me. These stains are hard to be removed as can be seen on my nail after second wash. There a few stain mark on my nail.

I usually was nagged by my mother and wife after messing my overall. What you see here is just stain after entering 1 tank. For a ship, I need to enter 8-20++ tanks depending on the ship design and the amount of tanks the ship has. So, the end result of the overall is beyond my words. The stain will remain even after washing it many times with Clorox Bleach. A senior surveyor once advises me to boil the overall to get the best cleaning result. I never tried it as I usually throw the overall away once it is badly torn apart.

The tank can be small where it is impossible to walk and one needed to crawl to navigate around the tank. With so many stiffeners and structures around, one might get bruise on the knee or elbow. Great flexibility is also needed to pass through each stiffener with a round opening where a single normal size body can fit in at a time. Usually a tall guy will have a bit of difficulty due to the long feet, like me.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Jouney To Sibu Airport

On Saturday, I have to make a trip to the airport to fetch up Colin as we will be attending Henry’s wedding on Monday, which is today! Congratulation Henry!

Sibu airport is located some 23km from the town. The journey is smooth but I have to pass through 4 annoying traffic lights from my house to the airport. The local council really should look into this matter, there are too many traffic lights around Sibu. Anyway, some 1km before reaching the airport, the road get bumpy as road widening work is carrying out. This work had been ongoing for ages, at least a year now as far as I can remember. I really don’t know why they took so long for just a small stretch. This road can be particularly dangerous at dark as the reflective tape seems to be the only guide for motorist at this area.

Sibu Airport, front view

Sibu airport is the gateway to the town for those travelling by air. Frankly, it is probably the lousiest airport in Sarawak and Sabah. Almost all airports in Sabah and Sarawak had been upgraded/refurbished except this one. I believe the political leaders here got something to do with it. They do not want third party to upgrade it as there is no monetary benefit for themselves.

Sibu Airport, side view, entrance side

Sibu Airport, side view, exit side

I always think every airport in a place should be unique to reflect on the town/city itself. Sadly, most airports in Sarawak & Sabah (for example Kuching, Bintulu, Miri, Kota Kinabalu & Tawau) are upgraded/refurbished by the same contractor with basically the same design reminiscence of mini KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport). The old Kuching International Airport design is based on the Iban’s longhouse and this in my opinion is unique and truly reflects the culture of the place.

Concourse of the Airport

Empty car park

The check in and waiting area is not air conditioned as shown and it can get pretty hot on a very hot day. However, the departure hall is air conditioned. You will not see this type of scenario in other major airports in Sabah and Sarawak. Another annoying thing is the people here. They tend not to use the allocated parking spaces and park nearby the entrance of the airport and areas adjacent to it. Today is alright though. But on peak season, it is disastrous. The parking lot used to be free but now they charge RM1 for one hour. See how empty the parking lot is now.

Nearby bus stop

There is a bus stop further up at the airport but I never see any bus serving this area. What a shame! For the budget traveler, public transport is the preferred choice. Anyway, to get to the town, taxi is available and one needs to purchase the coupon from the coupon booth. A trip to the town will cost around RM25-30.

Air Asia's Airbus A320

Mas Wing's Fokker-50

Passenger walk at apron to embark Air Asia's A320

There are 2 aircrafts when I arrived. Air Asia’s Airbus A320 (which Colin boarded) and Mas Wings Fokker-50. Air Asia is a low cost carrier and sky bridge facilities are not been used for this company to cut cost. The passengers have to walk at the apron to embark and disembark from the aircraft. Same goes for the Fokker-50 passengers as the sky bridge unable to accommodate Fokker-50 aircraft. The Fokker-50 aircrafts will be phased out in the coming years. So, we probably won’t be seeing this aircraft in another 3 years time. By the way, Fokker is created by a Dutch company which no longer exists.

There is a beautifully maintained plant/flower beside the airport which I would like to share.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

How to determine a ship's age?

With the introduction of ISPS Code (International Ship & Port Facility Security) in 2004, a few requirements had been imposed for ship owners in particular to comply with the code. One of the requirements is to permanently welded the ship IMO number to either the superstructure, aft of the ship or side shell. The IMO number is like a birth certificate number for a ship. The reason for it? It is to make life difficult for the hijackers to sell the ship after they manage to get rid of the crew onboard by dumping them to the sea or whatever means. The hijackers will then have to get rid of the IMO number or otherwise the authority will able to spot it. In order to get rid of the number, the hijackers will need to cut of the steel plate containing the number to achieve it. The same goes to why some car owners sand blast the wind screen on their car with the car plate number.

Anyway, the introduction of this code has given us with the best tool to estimate of the ship's age by just looking at the IMO number without going too deep to get those information

Very few ships in the world will weld the IMO number on the superstructure for some reasons. Anyway, pay attention to the 2 numbers at the front, in this case 86. This means the keel for this ship was laid on 1986, in other words, the construction of this ship started on 1986. Usually the ship will be completed in 1 year, giving 1987 as the year of completion. Hence, this ship age is roughly 21 by now.

Most ships would prefer the IMO number to be welded at the aft as shown above. I guess it is more neat and shows all the essential information at a place, which are the ship's name and port of registry. In this case, the 2 front numbers are 89, meaning construction start at 1989 and assuming the ship completed in 1 year, 1990. Hence, the ship should be around 18 years old by now.

By marine standard, cargo ship or tanker above 15 years old is considered old.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Home Made Fire Etinguisher

Need a fire extinguisher in emergency? Remember, you can fabricate one with some basic items. You will need:

  1. Large plastic bottle with a narrow opening (the 1.5ℓ mineral bottle will be fine)
  2. Baking Soda
  3. Vinegar

What to do

  1. fill bottle with ¾ full with baking soda
  2. pour vinegar into the bottle
  3. aim the bottle mouth towards the fire. Bubbly liquid will shoot out of the mouth of the bottle. After the bubbly liquid reaches the flames, they will die out.

Why it works?

Fire extinguisher works by removing one of the critical ingredients for a fire, which is oxygen. When vinegar is combined with baking soda, the two react and produce carbon dioxide gas or CO2. The CO2 gas produced is heavier molecular weight than does the surrounding air, which is comprised primary of nitrogen and oxygen, so the CO2 sinks into the bottom. As the reaction continues, more and more carbon dioxide gas is produced, displacing the oxygen. When the level of carbon dioxide exceed to the level of the flame, the flame will go out from lack of oxygen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wayne Rooney's Cousin, Natalie Rooney Goes Topless

Manchester United famous striker, Wayne Rooney's Cousin, Natalie Rooney had undergone breast surgery and go topless to show off her latest asset. This is reported at The SUN, UK

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lijejacket Light: SHIP BRAND Review

I put an order of 20 lifejackets light and I received a plastic bag from my agent in Singapore. I am a bit furious when receive it as it is not the model I ordered earlier. I ordered a model made in Japan but the one arrived is made in China. Anyway, I used to this model and let's review it. Lifejackets and its light is an essential safety equipment. You can find it in cruise ship as well as in commercial airlines. The commercial airlines should use something like this.

When open the package, it comes with the light unit itself and 2 cable ties. I never knew why the cable ties are included in the first place but I think it is used to secure the light to the lifejacket. There is also a long black cable with a red lanyard at the end.

It looks like a pretty crap brand for me at first impression as the brand of this unit is "SHIP BRAND" with model LG-3(98) The 98 basically the unit complies with SOLAS 98 Convention. We will see if it is true. I would thought the light bulb is a LED light but on closer inspection, it is not an LED light as I notice a filament inside the small light bulb. It would be nice if it is a LED light bulb as it will help to conserve the battery power when in operational mode. At the side of the light unit, there is an approved mark. Well, as predicted, it claimed to be complied with SOLAS 98 Convention and approved by ZC (not sure what this stand for, most likely a local classication society) and CCS (China Classification Society, this is an IACS Members). Based on the approved marking, it is confirmed that this light is made in China.

At the bottom, there is an expiry date. It means the battery expiry date. The light is virtually do not need any maintenance and only need replacement after 5 years as it is usually the battery lifespan. This also simplified the survey time when inspected by ship surveyor or any surveyor. For this light unit, the expiry date is March 2013. Also appear at the bottom is the certificate number. This should be the approval certificate for this product.

The red lanyard is the one that controls the operational of the light. The light will be operational when the light unit touches water, especially at the end of the back cable, in way of the red lanyard. By position the lanyard at the bottom gate, it will prevent the switch to be lowered and ensure the light will automatically on when touches water.

The red lanyard can be pulled as shown above, exposing the metal at the gap. Expose this metal to water will activate the light.

The red lanyard can be secured to the top cap. In order to save energy and off the light when touching water, push the top cap down as shown.

For testing, it is immerse in water and the light is ON. The light watertight integrity is confirmed with no water appear to be leaking into it. When the top cap is pushed down. The light will off.

Pros: No need maintenance, battery lifespan 5 years, watertight, cheap, compact, easy to use
Cons: Could be a trouble process for testing if requested so by surveyor as need to prepare water and etc. No LED light. Cable ties appear to be cheap and poor quality, black cable might not need to be too long