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30 years ago
Three decades ago a British shipyard was still able to pick up a contract to build a large LPG carrier, something that is unthinkable now. But, looking back from the vantage point of 2012, the rest of the July 1982 issue of HCB is rather less surprising, with quite a few familiar acronyms sprinkled across its pages.
It was, though, a notable time for the industry. Among the news items of 30 years ago was the introduction on July 1 of the Paris MOU on Port State Control, which had been signed in January 1982. That was a new concept at the time, since copied around the world, and there are many in the shipping industry who credit PSC with improving the standards of maritime transport over the past 15 years or so. The mission to rid Europe’s waters of ‘substandard ships’ is pretty much complete.
Also fresh to the shipping business was Helmepa – the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association – launched with the backing of the Union of Greek Shipowners. ‘HJK’ reported on recent meetings of the IMO (no longer IMCO) Legal Committee, which had finalised the draft of the proposed (but still not in effect) HNS Convention as well as revisions to the 1969 Civil Liability and 1971 Fund Conventions. It was those revisions and the resulting broad acceptance of the international compensation schemes that led to the industry-sponsored Tovalop and Cristal being wound up in the late 1990s.
Elsewhere, the July 1982 issue was very much focused on tank containers, then still a relatively new concept for many. It attracted a lot of advertising support but younger readers might now find some of the names rather foreign: Unispeed, Trafpak, East Med, Deltank, Bailee Freight… Others are still in the game – Suttons, Hoyer, Wim Vos, WEW, for instance.
The issue remarked that the tank container market was depressed and that many operators were trying to line up employment for surplus IMO 2 tanks by carrying low-hazard products. Much of the interest in new tanks centred on IMO 1 units: Fauvet-Girel had just built a small series of rubber-lined IMO 1 tanks for Eurotainer for the carriage of benzyl chloride, UBH had delivered 10 stainless steel tanks to Suttons International, and Hoyer had developed a 22-litre IMO 1 unit for the carriage of product heated to 240˚C.
An interesting piece of research by French tank container manufacturer BSL compared the cost of moving chemicals from France to the US by tank container and by drum. Although tank containers ran out about 10 per cent more expensive in the first year, the fact that the tanks could be re-used for 15 years and would be written down after 22 months meant that, over time, tank containers would be much less expensive. Today that analysis would conclude that tank containers are far more sustainable, which amounts to much the same thing. But that sales pitch is still going on today, especially as the tank container attempts to make headway in emerging markets.