As a shipping company, safe operation is our social mission, both in terms of the safety of human life, cargo and ships and from the standpoint of protecting the environment. Safe operation is also of the utmost importance for becoming the company of choice among customers and all other stakeholders. Our previous midterm management plan saw us put priority on refining our safe operation system. Under our current plan, "GEAR UP! MOL," we are building from this base with the aim of making our safe operation processes more visible, and becoming the world leader in safe operation.
In this section, we report on MOL's distinctive measures for reinforcing safe operations, which include both on-board initiatives and onshore support, by following the voyage of an MOL-operated containership from Tokyo to Rotterdam in the Netherlands by way of Singapore.
MOL executives and employees visit vessels as a part of operational safety campaigns.
During these visits in fiscal 2011, the MOL executives and employees explained the company's measures for preventing collisions, groundings, accidents causing injury or death, and engine trouble that results in the ship being unable to move under its own power. Seafarers also offered their views based on their own practical experience. Safety campaigns are conducted twice a year for around six weeks for all MOL-operated vessels. Face-to-face discussions are held between seafarers and land-based management and staff for the purpose of preventing marine incidents and workplace injuries. In addition to explanations of concrete response measures based on examples of recent incidents, MOL executives and employees listen actively to improvement ideas from the ships. Information is also shared with other operating vessels. Insights gained from the campaigns are reincorporated into measures for reinforcing safe operations.
Drills Simulating Serious Marine Incidents
Accident response drills are held to further solidify MOL's emergency response system. The drills are held twice a year at the head office and simulate a large-scale marine incident.
The drill conducted in April 2012 involved approximately 60 people, including MOL's president, other corporate officers, and representatives from relevant departments and ship management companies. It simulated the unlikely event of a grounding on a coast after a fire in the engine room of an MOL-operated LNG carrier in Tsugaru Strait caused the vessel to drift. The drill included a mock press conference to make it as real as possible. Participants responded to various issues and problems in a charged atmosphere.
On-the-job Training (OJT) Instructor System
OJT Instructors Board Vessels From Singapore. The system involves experienced captains and chief engineers who understand MOL standards of safe operations travelling onboard ships to identify unsafe practices and latent risks only discoverable on the ships in service and order immediate improvements. Information on near misses, best practices and the like is also disseminated on each ship to help raise safety awareness and prevent human error.
BRM (Bridge Resource Management) Training
Training is conducted using a bridge simulator that can create conditions equivalent to an actual ship's bridge, including recreations of sample incidents. The captain and officers work together as a team and effectively utilize information provided by each team member. The ultimate purpose is to prevent errors and achieve safe operations. In June 2012, we became Japan's first private- sector company to install a high-performance bridge simulator capable of 360-degree horizontal views and vertical views. MOL also regularly conducts this training at training centers in six countries around the world for seafarers on leave.
A monitor used in the Safety Operation Supporting Center
Enhancing Countermeasures Against Piracy and Terrorism
The ship is now approaching the Gulf of Aden and surrounding waters (off the coast of Somalia), where there has been a spate of piracy and terrorism incidents. These waters continue to see frequent pirate attacks (in 2011, there were 237 piracy incidents and 28 ships were hijacked). Sometimes crew members are kidnapped or murdered, so tension is mounting for the crew. The following introduces the various measures taken by the ship for safe operation.
The best solution is avoiding navigating in dangerous waters to the fullest extent possible. In pirate-infested waters, we increase the number of watchkeepers for 24-hour visual monitoring and strengthen radar-based monitoring activities.
In the internationally recommended transit corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden, ships susceptible to pirate attacks travel in convoys escorted by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force or naval ships from other countries. The pirates are extending the range of their activities, so via industry associations and other bodies we are requesting the Japanese government to widen the escort area and institute legal measures that allow armed security guards to travel aboard Japanese-flagged vessels.
To ward off pirate attacks, the ship we are following is equipped with water cannons and razor wire and crew members wear bulletproof vests and helmets. There is also an evacuation compartment onboard called a citadel where the crew can take refuge if the pirates board the vessel, which prevents a hijacking. The citadel is built for strength, equipped with several days' supply of water and food, and wired for communication with the outside. It allows crew members to evacuate to safety until a naval ship or other form of help arrives.
Safety Operation Supporting Center
The Safety Operation Supporting Center (SOSC) provides instant support for the ship's safe operation from onshore, including anti-piracy and anti-terrorism measures. Established in February 2007 and committed to ensuring that captains at sea never feel alone, the center supports decision-making by ship captains to ensure safety. It is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by a team of seven seasoned MOL captains and other MOL-affiliated personnel. Specifically, the center monitors the position and movement of roughly 950 MOL-affiliated vessels, providing assistance from the captain's perspective by promptly providing information on abnormal weather and tsunamis and on piracy and terrorism incidents to relevant personnel on the ship and on land.
MOL has held Safety Conferences for MOL seafarers at our four main supply locations (the Philippines, India, Croatia and Japan) since 2007 for the purpose of discussing how to strengthen safety measures. Executive officers and staff members from the head office also attend, making the conferences an opportunity to directly hear the views of seafarers from various countries.
Education and Training for Seafarers
MOL develops human resources to support safe operation through various education and training programs. They include an officer candidate program for aspiring students; the "MOL Rank Skill Training and Evaluation Program," which focuses on skills needed for each rank; and practical training provided by MOL Training Centers.
Please click here for the detail of "Education and Traines".
Family gatherings for seafarers and their families are held on a regular basis around the world. Executives from the head office attend and hold briefings on the state of the company and question-and-answer sessions. Social meetings are also held. MOL works in this way to strengthen bonds with the families of seafarers who are away from home for long periods of time.
Please click here for the detail of "A Good Working Environment for MOL Seafarers and Care for Their Families".
Comment from the Officer in Charge
Enhancing MOL Seamanship
In 2006, we experienced a series of serious marine incidents. We used these bitter experiences to revisit our existing safe management system and rebuilt it. For this, we implemented various measures, some concerning ship facilities and others concerning seafarers, ship management and the safety culture. As a result of these actions, we have seen a steady decline in vessel incidents and seafarer injuries.
The most important point for the realization of safe operation is the development and retention of highly skilled seafarers. That's why we provide adequate education and training before our seafarers, who come from more than 20 countries and different backgrounds, even step foot onto a vessel. Even experienced seafarers need to be reminded about safety, so dedicated, experienced captains and chief engineers will travel aboard vessels for a certain period of time to provide onsite instruction and advice.
We are also deepening bonds with the families of seafarers, who are often away from home, through family gatherings. And via Safety Conferences held every year around the world we facilitate candid exchanges of opinion between the company's top management team and seafarers, which promotes mutual understanding.
Various measures such as strengthening the safe operation management structure are essential for maintaining safe operation. That said, ships operate in an unpredictable natural environment that calls for self-reliance. No manual or technology can perfectly predict sudden changes in marine weather conditions or unlikely events. "Seamanship" comes into its own in these sorts of dangerous situations. Seafarers have long drawn on the five senses of human beings, wisdom, and instinct to navigate at sea without placing excessive trust in technology. Seafarers must have the ability to sense danger and surmount it. Judgment, inner strength, stamina and teamwork are the fundamentals of seamanship. We are therefore also revisiting these fundamentals as we step up measures to cultivate seamanship at MOL among our multinational team of seafarers with different backgrounds.