What are Marine Services?
Marine services is a comprehensive word use to describe the services taken by a vessel for its construction, repairs, and operations. At the same time, we could describe Marine Services as port-related services provided to the watercraft to ensue the safe maneuvering and safe berthing. However, the purpose of all the marine services is to facilitate the ship’s operation.
The main purpose of port-related marine services are to ensure the safety of the vessel as well as the seaport. Also to assist faster vessel turnaround time. These maritime services include pilotage, tug services, towing facilities, light housing and vessel traffic management.
Other Mariner Services are crucial for a watercraft to maintain her seaworthiness. These varieties of maritime services include but not limited to vessel inspections and boat engine repairs and maintenance, or vessel hull repairs. The hull repairs include the facilities taken for chipping, popping dents, holes repairs, and buffing scratches. ship provisions were taken and bunkering.
Seafarer transportation, ship supplies, ship stores, ship provisions and ferrying also consider under the Marine Services.
There is no internationally agreed regulation on the marine services provided by a port. As per the capacity of the port, they have the right to decide which marine services they will be rendered. Thus, the basic maritime services for vessel berthing are a must to maintain the port operations.
The governments of the countries go for different port handling models, thus try to keep control over basic port-related marine services as they can control the movements of watercraft coming to the country.
A port has a responsible person calls a Harbourmaster. Also known as port captain. Some countries have one harbour master as in charge of all the ports in the country and a deputy harbour master in each port as the responsible person on the harbour master’s behalf.
The Harbourmaster is responsible for providing port-related marine services to the watercraft. Since the port-related functions are not privatised in many ports harbour master is a government-appointed pilot to protect national interests.
We have described the Marine Services functions one by one for your easy understanding.
Lighthouses are available in the countries to support the safe navigation of the watercraft on the sea and safe navigation of in and out of harbours and ports. Lighthouses are equipped with great illumination for mariners to see the light while they pass the coastal areas. These lighthouses help to identify the land locations. In general, lighthouses are built and maintained by the government-appointed port authorities.
Vessel Traffic Management
Vessel traffic management is usually known as VTM. This is a function provided by the maritime authority of the port. VTM software is available for assisting both seaport and vessels for better information exchange. The port control is the centre of communication and exchange of information. It supports communicating with distressed vessels on the sea, and communicating vessel arrivals to the pilot station and arrange berthing for vessels at anchorage.
Further, port control measure the wind directions and other weather condition to find berthing is safe and keep the pilot informed.
VTM equipment are available at the pilot station for monitoring safe navigation.
Pilots are generally Ship captains or master mariners.
The duty of the pilot is to provide safe navigation through the port access channel from the anchorage to the berth. In some ports, pilotage is compulsory while it is not in some ports.
A pilot is a mariner specialised in the safe navigation of the sea around the port. He is well aware of the hinders on the access channel and familiar with the passage. The vessel’s captain is not familiar with the port’s sea are like the pilot. Unlike on the deep sea, the port including its access channel has a small area to manoeuvre the ship. There are other ships in the port too and a port is considered as a place where we can experience most of the maritime accidents. Due to this reason, the importance of a pilot is a lot more when we consider the safety of both ship and the port.
The pilot manoeuvres the vessel to the berth and some vessels need to turn inside the port for berthing. For example, generally, RORO ships have their side ramp on the starboard side. Hence the starboard side of the vessel should be faced to the pier after berthing. Hence, the vessel might have to turn while inside the port. The pilot will be on board until all these activities are done until the 1st line of the mooring is completed. Pilotage will be provided when the vessel leaves the port as well.
When a vessel captain regularly comes to a port, some ports issue them a competency certificate to manoeuvre the ship instead of getting aids from the pilot. Ports charge a pilotage fee and a professional pilotage fee from shipping lines on providing the pilotage. Thus, if any accident/ damage happens during the manoeuvring such will not become the responsibility of the pilot.
Mooring and Unmooring
Once a vessel is at berth, it is important to tie up the vessel to avoid freely floating the vessel. This is required for safe cargo loading-unloading operations as well as to avoid vessels hitting the pier or another vessel. For such, both the vessel and the pier of the port has a heavy metal structure calls bollards. The bollard onboard the vessel is equipped with heavy ropes.
Once the vessel is berthed these ropes will be tie up to the bollard on the pier. Professional stevedores (In some countries dockers) are used to do the job as it’s very risky and could compensate with the lives of people around if anything goes wrong. This is called mooring. When the ship unberth this procedure should be undone for the vessel to move which calls as unmooring. Instead of manual mooring and unmooring, some ports use moormasters or hydraulic machines which is an automated mooring system.
Tugboats are small boats with high pulling and pushing power to aid the vessel in manoeuvring. Unlike normal vehicles, most of the ships cannot stop or turn the ship on its own power so quickly. Hence tugboats are used to support the vessel turning when she is inside the port. The number of tugboats required to aid the vessel depends on the bollard pull power of each tug boat and the size of the ship.
Even the tug boats are small in size, powerful enough to assist the vessel in manoeuvring
When the vessels have self manoeuvring issues, we say the vessel is not under command or the vessel is under NUC status. As such, they need the assistance of tugboats to manoeuvre the vessel to a location for repairs. Maybe the vessel requires a dry dock or afloat repairs can be done. The ship could become NUC due to engine failures, steering gear failures, a fire onboard, drifting, and stability issues.
Ship Provision|Ship Supplies|Ship Chandling
Supplying ship provisions is a must as it covers the food and beverages requirement of the people on board. These people could be ship crew, passengers or anyone onboard. Further, the supplies include the ship stores which covers the requirement of housekeeping. Further, the spare parts required for day to day maintenance are also covered in the ship stores. The important thing to remember is generally a port will facilitate these activities through the port, but the provider of these services is not the port. There are companies specialized in providing these services and they can register in the port as a service provider and provide these marine services to the vessels.
Assisting ships on garbage removal, sludge removal also comes under the ship chandling services.
Ship Repairs and Ship Lay Ups
Ship repairs and ship layups are another categories under marine services. When the vessels require afloat repairs or dry dock repairs ports facilitate them under maritime services. When it is not economical to operate a vessel due to market conditions or if the vessel needs to ideal until another operation/project starts (Drill Ships) ship owners prefer to rent a berth and leave the vessel there for the time period. These operations also come under the marine services.
Other Marine Services
Other than the above discussed main marine services there are marine services such as fire fighting facilities, sea marshalls, and, bunkering facilities. Either port provides such services or facilitate such services depending on the nature of the marine service.
To maintain the draught of the port, it is important to do regular maintenance of the water basin. This is called dredging. Dredging is the process of removing the sand and the mud on the sea bottom inside the port and the access channel of the port. There are two types of dredgings available namely capital dredging and maintenance dredging. Capital dredging is conducted at the time of constructing a berth or a port while the maintenance dredging is conducted to support the daily operation of the port. Dredging is a marine service that comes as a responsibility of the port operator to aid the vessel navigation.