IMO plans tougher measures to reduce plastic litter

Adapted from World Maritime News online November 2018

New supporting measures are to be introduced in order to enhance existing regulations, and actual measures are to be considered at MEPC 74 in light of the established action plan’s target set for 2025. This will involve a review of the usage of placards, garbage management plans and garbage record-keeping, as laid out in the MARPOL Annex V, along with the establishment of a compulsory mechanism that will require the number and location of containers lost at sea to be reported. Dumping plastics into the sea is already prohibited by MARPOL, however studies show that, despite regulations, plastic litter is still being dumped, for example, abandoned or lost fishing nets, and that this is causing a big problem for marine life.

Question: What will container vessels be required to do according to the new measures?

Answer: They will be required to report the number and location of containers lost at sea.


Nautical English: “Colours”

Autumn is here, and the leaves are changing in colour. This is a good opportunity to talk about colours. There are two well-known English idioms that use the word colour, and they both have their origins in the maritime industry.

Firstly, the word colour in the maritime industry referred to the ship’s nationality: specifically, the ship’s flags. This was something that was crucial: especially when in battle.

  1. Flying colours: The contemporary meaning of the idiom flying colours has to do with passing something successfully, for example, an exam or a health check.
  • I passed the health check with flying colours.
  • My car passed the low emissions test with flying colours.

If a ship returned from a battle, she would be flying her colours from her mast heads as a sign of having triumphed over her enemy: she was quite literally flying her colours. Since around the 17th century, the idiom has become synonymous with having achieved something with great success.

  1. True colours: Originally, pirate ships would display false flags to lure another ship into a false sense of security. Just before they were about to capture the other ship, they would then show their real flags: their true colours. This was frowned upon by international law.

Nowadays, if you say that someone is showing their true colours, you mean that the person is revealing their true character or intentions. Some example sentences might be:

  • They say people show their true colours when drinking.
  • During choir practice sessions, the students had very few occasions where they were able to all practice together. However, on the day of the event, they showed their true colours and took first prize.





How drones are being used to improve safety and efficiency on ocean freight ops

Adapted from World Maritime News online

Some shipping companies have started introducing drones into their freight operations. The potential for drones to be used as a part of a tablet-based system that incorporates artificial intelligence can provide captains with a digital view of their ship as never seen before. Drones can be used to deliver ship hold inspection data, draft readings and other critical information. Traditionally, a person climbs down ladders to check; they must be physically fit, use fall protection equipment and carry a parrot (oxygen meter) to check that there is enough air in the hold: this takes a lot of time. With cameras fitted, drones can take 4K and infrared images etc. to reveal cracks or other phenomena that are not easily visible with the naked eye. Drones could prove to be invaluable as a tool to expedite checks and inspections, and further eliminate the human element out of what could be a potentially hazardous situation.


Question: How can drones be used as a tool to expedite checks and inspections?

Answer: By delivering information about the ship’s condition, electronically.

Open-day lecture at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology

Last weekend we went back to the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (Etchujima Campus). This time we attended an open-day course on English that officers are expected to be able to use. On the following day, we then had the honor of sailing on the university’s training ship Shioji-maru.

We arrived at the campus at around a quarter past nine. After our lecturer introduced himself, we split into groups to introduce ourselves to one-another. It was nice to see a handful of senior high school students in the class, too. Some were in their final year and were attending because they were considering entering the university. While Japan owns a large number of ships trading in the world, there are very few Japanese national crew members onboard as the majority of seafarers are from other countries. This is also why English ability is essential.

Dr. Takagi told us the importance of using clear and simple English. Using unfamiliar phrases or idioms may only cause confusion. At sea a hazard can blow up in no time at all, thus clear, unambiguous language is crucial. The world of shipping uses fixed universal terminology. Although, having a flexible approach to English is important. If an emergency occurs on your ship, you need to be able to relay this to your counterpart effectively using all means possible to get your message understood.

He went on to tell us that shipping English consists of mainly nouns and short sentences. It is worth noting here that while shipping English terms may appear identical to daily English terms the terms used in shipping tend to be narrower in meaning. For example, the verb to pay means to send out rope or an anchor. Whereas in daily English this term has wider application, for example, to pay a bill, to pay respect etc.

Grammar is the same, but as mentioned above, it is to be kept short and concise.

Being accustomed to a number of different ways that words are pronounced is important, as people from a number of different countries, mainly in Asia, work in the shipping industry.

The ability to use time tense in English is especially important. A mix up in using time tense correctly could cause an accident.

While perfect English may not be required, the ability to communicate so as to maintain a good relationship with one’s counterpart is important.

After lunch, we took a tour of the university’s museum under the guidance of former pilot Kenzo Tateishi. We learned how Meiji-maru started out as a two-mast schooner that was then modified with the progress of time. With the advent of steam, she had a large paddle engine assembled in the middle of her hull. This was then later removed and another mast was added for training purposes, so that trainees could practice climbing the mast and working on the yard arms. Another interesting point to mention is that the sea territory of Japan is one third larger thanks to Meiji-maru being fast enough to claim the Ogasawara islands. This area of sea is rich in minerals and ores. The Meiji-maru played an important role in a part of Japan’s history.

On Sunday morning, we boarded the university’s training ship Shioji-maru. The plan was to sail from the port of Tokyo to the port of Yokohama and then back again. The weather was beautiful and we also had the chance to see a VLCC oil tanker undergoing bunkering. These colossal very large crude carriers are 333 meters in length (the height of Tokyo Tower).  

At the end of the short program we all received completion certificates. We are looking forward to future classes and events that will be held at the university.

「平成 30 年 7 月豪雨」災害に対するお悔やみとお見舞いを申し上げます

「平成 30 年 7 月豪雨」により亡くなられた方々に謹んでお悔やみを申し上げますとともに、被災された方々に心よりお見舞い申し上げます。


We sincerely express our condolences to those who lost their lives and homes due to flooding and landslides caused by “the heavy rain event of July 2018″ that ravaged western Japan. We pray from there bottom of our hearts for the speedy recovery of those affected by this tragedy.

6月8日、世界海洋デー記念シンポジウムへ参加して来ました (小澤)

2015年9月、ニューヨークの国連本部で開かれた国連総会にて採択された「持続可能な開発目標」(Sustainable Development Goals:SDGs)は、貧困や飢餓の終焉、生涯にわたる健康と教育の改善、居住地の持続可能性向上、気候変動対策、海洋と森林の保護といった17の目標と169のターゲットを掲げている。最も共感する誓いは「地球上の誰一人取り残さない(No one being behind)」という部分だと思うが、2030年というタイムリミットまでに如何にひとりひとりが、多様性と包摂性のある社会環境を希求し、その実現に向けて経済的・環境的な側面からも包括的に取り組むことの意義を痛感した。






58th Neptune Festival (June 2nd & 3rd)

Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (Etchujima Campus)

The university opened its doors to the public this weekend for its 58th Neptune Festival. After entering, we made our way to the event stage which was situated on a lush green lawn; in the background a fine sailing ship “Meiji-maru” stood gleaming in the warm sunshine.

After a light snack of seafood yakisoba and their legendary hotdog, we headed to the planetarium. This particular one, the M/1 is the oldest in Japan. The seats were made of wood and tilted back suddenly when leaned back on. Then the lights went out and the narration began. The students performed it as if we were on-board a ship. We first navigated the northern hemisphere. The stars in the northern hemisphere are named after Greek gods. When we navigated to the southern hemisphere, it was interesting to learn that stars in the southern hemisphere are named after objects and creatures related to ships. For example, Algo represents a ship. Navigation of the southern hemisphere began more recently, hence the greater use of modern objects etc. related to the shipping industry. This was then followed by a brief description of the planetarium. The reason as to why the university has such a facility is because originally ships used star constellations to navigate, thus for aspiring sailors, a class on astronomy was a necessity.

After the planetarium, it was time for a break before the lecture on pilots. We found a very comfortable and enjoyable Jazz café in one of the classrooms. Though, it was anything but that of a classroom. The windows were blacked out and the tables arranged in a café-style with small candle-like lights. We ordered two ice-coffees and enjoyed listening to the music which was very good.

Then it was time for the lecture on pilots. On hearing the word pilot, an airplane pilot may spring to mind. There are pilots for ships, also. Pilot is mizusakinin in Japanese and the speaker mentioned that he prefers to be referred to as mizusakinin rather than pairotto. Pilots perform the important role of berthing the ship. Some ports are dangerous for the unfamiliar seafarer, and the law states that a mizusakinin be provided. We were then shown a video of an experienced mizusakinin piloting a huge cruise liner arriving from China. Prior to this video, he showed us a video of a female mizusakinin guiding in a ship. We learned how important communication skills are for this type of work. The mizusakinin must cooperate with the Master (Captain) and advise on how to safely proceed. This is very often conducted in English. While English is a must, he mentioned that the ability to communicate in English is the most important thing.

The video concludes with the mizusakinin safely berthing the colossal MS Quantum of the Seas. I have included some facts below, but to give you an idea as to its sheer size, picture an 8-10 story-high hotel, now imagine that hotel floating on water.

Owner/operator: Royal Caribbean International

Port of registry: Nassau, Bahamas

Builder: Meyer Werft, Papenburg, Germany

Tonnage: 168,666 GT (Gross Tonnage)

Length:  348.1 m (Tokyo Tower is 333 m!)

Propulsion: Diesel-electric

No. of decks: 18

In service: October 31, 2014

Mizusakinin are self-employed and register with the national agency. They do not work within shipping companies. The fee per occasion is in the range of 1,000,000 JPY (9,084 USD). There are three levels of license:

Level 3) Can pilot a vessel of up to 20,000 tons. More than one year’s experience as a Master or Officer, or more than one year’s experience on a training vessel required. Must successfully pass the Level 3 exam.

Level 2) Can pilot a vessel of up to 50,000 tons. More than two year’s experience as a Master or as a Chief Officer required. Must successfully pass the Level 2 exam.

Level 1) Can pilot a vessel of unlimited capacity. More than two year’s experience as a Master required. Must successfully pass the Level 1 exam.


There are 700 Mizusakinin in Japan and 35 ports that require them. Tokyo Bay is the most popular.

Of course, a visit to the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology would not be complete without a tour of its magnificent sailing ship “Meiji-maru”.

Commissioned by the Japanese government, Meiji-maru was built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1873. In its heyday, it was a luxury state-of-the-art ship used as a lighthouse tender. It also served as ship for royalty. In 1964, the ship became permanently based at the Tokyo University of Maritime Science and Technology as a museum ship. One very significant piece of history the ship contributed to was the claiming of the Ogasawara Islands in 1875 – land that the British were competing for at that time.

It was great weekend out, and I thoroughly recommend anyone interested in nautical affairs to pay a visit.

Our Visit to Sea Japan 2018

Sea Japan 2018

Last week (April 11 to 13), we paid a visit to Sea Japan 2018. The event was held at Tokyo Big Site and more than 500 companies related to the shipping industry showcased their products and services. More than 20,000 visitors attended the event.

We listened to a talk on communications at sea. As ships are becoming more reliant on communications both for navigation and communication, safeguarding against a possible cyber attack or malfunction at sea has become all the more important. We learned how dedicated satellites can keep a vessel’s digital communications active and the techniques that can be used to mitigate jamming or interference. Jamming is when an apparatus emits a signal that is strong enough to override the target signal. In military activities, jamming is frequently employed to confuse enemy radar or communications (refer to Britannica Encyclopedia Online). Interference is the same thing, only it is not deliberate. The satellites emit adjustable frequencies and can pinpoint (spot beam) a vessel’s location, which means that as a jamming or interfering frequency increases, then so too does the satellite’s, thus protecting communications.

We visited booths on shipping, lifting devices, safety equipment, propeller makers, robotic solutions providers and many others.

I was particularly interested in how ship builders and management companies are turning their attention to environmentally friendly navigation. Some of the concept designs incorporated state of the art sails to power the vessel. It seems that the old sailing ships of bygone days offer developers a hint in how to create more environmentally friendly vessels.

At YUZEN Translation, our three main areas are shipping, energy and environment. These three areas are becoming all the more inter-related, and we are interested to see how this all develops into the future.

It was a somewhat exhausting but informative event and we are looking forward to attending Bari Ship that will be held next year.

Geoff England

YUZEN Translation LLC

海王丸での航海体験日記 (Geoff) 4日目

Kaiwo Maru:Day four 28, 2017

I woke up at the earlier time of five o’clock this morning, so that I could rescue my clothes from the the drying room where I had left them to dry the night before. There were about six washing machines in the laundry area and a huge walk-in drying room. I was told that it would take three hours for my clothes to dry, so I ventured into the hot room. There are more than 150 trainee crew members and it seemed as though everyone had decided to do there washing that evening. Walking into the room, it was dark because the sheer volume of clothes hanging from the ceiling blotted out the light. I almost got lost looking for the way out.

Speaking of amenities, to my surprise there were two large steel baths on board. I have seen a bath on board a ferry, but wouldn’t have expected to see one on a training sail ship. To boot, there were even electric bidet toilets. Having said that, water is strictly monitored and there are two taps: one for drinking water and the other for mixed water. Incidentally, refuse water etc. is sent down below deck to a special facility where it is treated biologically before being pumped out to sea. Bath nights are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

After morning exercises, the rest of the morning was used for getting the ship Ship Shape for docking. In the evening, the ship will be lit up with illuminations, so our job was to string up the lights and polish the brass fittings. Over the next couple of days or so the ship will be docked at Omaezaki, where members of the public will be allowed to board and look around.

Late morning, we docked at Omaezaki Port. Waiting for us was a series of tents with stalls and a crowd to welcome our arrival. There was also a taiko group playing as our ship gradually docked. We all left the ship and formed rows on the harbor edge in front of the ship. Dignitaries gave their welcoming speeches and our captain gave his.

After this, it was time to return to the ship to pack up all our belongings and get ready for disembarking. Just after packing, we had one more and final lunch. Lunch was Red Snapper! On that note, food deserves a mention here. The food was very good! Other days, we were treated to steak and fried chicken. But the amazing part was that the cost was just over one thousand yen for three meals a day!

Finally the time came for us to part. At the back of the ship, we (8 trainees) lined up in front of the college trainees before the captain. One of my colleagues kindly suggested that we made a donation, so some time was allocated for him to present it to the captain before hand. Then I was called to receive a completion certificate from the captain on behalf of my colleagues.

Everyone saw us off with salutes and good wishes as we made our way past them to the steps to disembark.

Kaiwo Maru has been a valuable experience for all of us and I will treasure this always.

My heart felt thanks go to Captain Osugi, who recommended me to partake in this invaluable experience, and Mr. Koyama (Chief Engineer), who sailed Kaiwo Maru, for his helpful and practical advice.

Geoff, on terra firma again : )


海王丸での航海体験日記 (Geoff) 3日目

Kaiwo Maru:Day three July 27, 2017

This morning we took the usual role call. There are two role calls, one early in the morning and another after lunch. We are expected to be present five minutes before the role call announcement. In fact by the time we heard the announcement for role call, we had already finished role call. This five minute rule applies to all other activities.After role call, they got the hoses out and started spraying sea water all over the deck: it was time for Turn To. The water was warm. Turn To is well noted as being a tough chore. This was probably from when a ship like Kaiwo Maru sailed to Hawaii. The ship would sail North towards Alaska, in order to catch the low air pressure to take the ship to its destination. Of course the temperature would have been unbelievably cold. For me, crouching down while scrubbing the deck was hard enough. By the third day, we had pretty much reached our destination, so the ship anchored in the nearby stretch of sea of Omaezaki, Shizuoka. We went up to the bridge to observe the lowering of the anchor. An anchor weighs around four tons, and the chain that it is attached to is huge. So the whole process is carried out under very close scrutiny. To lower the anchor there are two gaping holes in the front deck part of the ship that are opened up. Between these, the huge chain is hauled via a large cog, that is stared off by hand. I asked how the chains are stored below and was told that they are too heavy to lift so the chain drops into the the hull in a pile, naturally.

Later, they opened up the stern sail known as the Spanker. To do this required three crew to climb up the web and then balance on the parallel ropes while reaching across between two vertical ropes to get to the mast where the Spanker was attached.

This looked pretty dangerous to the untrained, and as we were asked to bring our harnesses, I felt my palms get sweaty again at the thought of the prospect of doing the same. But, fortunately, we only had to pull the ropes to open it up and pull other ropes to close it again. Three experienced crew members again climbed up and tied the sails back to their original position in no time. One of the members was a slightly mysterious slim gentleman with a grey goatee beard and sunglasses. I would often see him doing pull-ups under the bridge above the deck. As it turns out, he was in charge of all of the rings, nuts and bolts. Later, we went to look at the rooms where these and the sails were stored – incredible.

Our instructor told us that the college trainees would take twice as long to do the same to unpack and pack away the Spanker sail. I think it would have taken me a lot longer.

The afternoon activities comprised of four 45 minute sessions back-to-back. For this we divided up into pairs and were then assigned a group of college trainees to work and solve tasks with. The four sessions were:

  1. Planning a sea rout
  2. Emergency contingency related to the rudder
  3. Risk management
  4. Heaving line (throwing a line with a weight on the end over the side of the ship in practice for docking)

Working with and solving problems with the college trainees really got us involved on a hands-on level. I could tell that some of them had really done their homework.

At the end of the day, our chief instructor invited us to comment on the program. Most of my colleagues were repeaters. It was interesting to hear their thoughts. Overall, in comparison to other years, the curriculum was much more in-depth. Other years, they felt treated more like guests, but this time they felt as though they went through pretty much the same training as the college students. I have to admit the lectures were very in-depth. For example we learned how to make a safe passage schedule to our destination using maps, compasses and triangles. I can honestly say that it has been a very educational experience.

Finally, I would like to mention the college students. Most of the students will go on to work in the shipping industry. I was impressed at their level of skill and their overall good manners. It’s good to know that the future of Japan’s shipping industry will be in such capable hands.

It’s the last night for us, and while it has been a truly worthwhile experience, it has also been a tough one. So we enjoyed a nice last evening with a small party and each other’s company.

Geoff, aboard Kaiwo Maru


海王丸での航海体験日記 (Geoff) 2日目 

Kaiwo Maru:Day two July 26, 2017

After a surprisingly good night’s sleep, I woke up before my alarm went off at 6, at the much earlier than usual time of 5:30. Then it was time for morning exercises and breakfast. It was difficult to keep balance while doing the morning exercises, some of us (me included) were wobbling because of the rocking of the ship.

And then, it was time for “Turn To.” This is when someone sprays sea water all over the deck and a row of crew members kneel down and start scrubbing, using half of a coconut shell. The deck is made of teakwood and the best way to preserve it at sea is by washing it with seawater and scrubbing it with half a coconut shell. The rough edge of the coconut shell acts like a sort of brush. It was a lot more difficult than I had expected. It was difficult for me to keep my balance. Plus we all shouted out “Washoi”, a kind of “heave ho.” Shouting and scrubbing tired me very quickly.

After cleaning and breakfast, it was time for us to start learning the ropes. I explained to my shipmate that Westerners use this expression to convey the idea of learning something new. But, as this was a ship, the word literally means learning how to tie and arrange the ropes. The ropes of a sailing ship are one of the most important parts. We learned how to tie the ropes in a figure of eight around a pin that keeps the rope that controls the yard arm (the cross section of a mast).

After doing some rope work, it was time for that thing that I was dreading a little (only a little), yet was determined to do in order to push me out of my comfort zone: climbing the mast!

We were only allowed to climb to the “Top Platform”, which sounds like the very top part of the mast (Bird’s Nest) but in actual fact it is the lowest part. Having said that, it was about 15-20 meters high, which is pretty high when looking down. We took off our shoes and socks, attached safety harnesses and wore hard hats. Our instructor gave us a demonstration and assured us that the harness (an automatic slip action type, like a car seatbelt, would stop us from falling to the deck below. Climbing the web known as a Shroud was not so difficult, but the platform at the top overhung and we had to extend our arms in order to climb over it: this was the hardest and probably most terrifying part. I did the opposite and clung to it gradually using my knees and stomach to edge me over. My team of three made it safely up onto the platform and waved with relief as someone one of our instructors down below took photos of our relieved faces. Of course, it was time to climb back down after that. The descent was more painful than frightening, especially the soles of our feet, the insteps that never normally get used. It was such a relief and feeling of achievement once we got back down to the deck. Thanks to the instructors who were there to support us around the tricky bits we made it back in one piece.

It was time for lunch, and there was a certain sense of quiet among us while we ate.

After lunch, it was time for us to learn about the engine room. We first had a lecture on the workings of the propellers and the massive 6 cylinder Diesel engines that power them. Then, we put in ear plugs and got shown around the engine rooms. The first was the control room, which was full of dials and display. The instructor was telling us how they get the instructions from the bridge (via a signal) and then carry out the request. It occurred to me how involved the whole process is.

Then we were taken to the rooms where the actual engines were working. To my surprise, they even have a workshop of engineers who actually make replacement parts from scratch using lathes and clamps etc. I assumed that all of the repair work was done at dock. I was amazed that they had an onboard workshop.

To pretty much finish the day, we took turns going up the bridge where we actually got a chance to drive the ship and study the radars. It was wonderful to see everything in action.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Geoff, aboard Kaiwo Maru