Mooring Tankers in California

Over the last few months, as my ship has called into the state of California, I’ve run into an issue where line handlers / terminal representatives are limiting or restricting the safe mooring operation of the vessel. Each time this happens California’s State Lands Commission (SLC) is listed as the catalyst for the restrictions.

A recent example had the linehandlers telling the vessel’s officers that, according to the drawings approved by SLC, my vessel only needs to run six mooring lines to safely moor - to clarify, that’s three on the bow and three on the stern. When I told the mates that were would run out our customary 12 lines, the line handlers refused to cooperate, citing that our mooring plan would then be against the approved drawings and that they would get a fine.

After threatening to return the vessel to sea, they finally agreed to run out 10 lines, but then didn’t place them in the locations we agreed to. These guys weren’t just being lazy either - they were honestly trying to do what they felt was correct.

Do any of the readers have familiarity with the Marine Oil Terminal Design and Maintenance (MOTEMS) process and would they shed some light on just how this supposed to effect the ships at the docks? While I understand the need to know and respect the design limitations of mooring strong points, I find it absurd that a line handler would tell the ship’s master that he’s not allowed to put out additional lines (even when unused bollards or cleats are available).

I’m also curious about how this will be looked at legally should something tragic happen. I think US case law is fairly clear that the master must ensure the vessel is securely moored to the dock. A safe berth must be provided, but the responsibility to moor there lies with the vessel.

What will the courts say if I want to put out additional lines but have my request denied because of SLC approvals? I sincerely doubt that SLC is going to stand up and say “my bad” when I’m getting grilled for not mooring the ship up correctly.

ou should ask them. Here is the SLC website:

I can’t even imagine a regulation that would mandate a regulation on maximum mooring lines. My experience with line handlers is in the Med. In general I have found most of them to be unmotivated and just plain lazy. And, if they were not lazy bums, they would not be line handlers. Instead they would get a real job.

I have no experience to generalize this behavior to line handlers in California. But it seems hard to believe that one could argue that they are not allowed to handle too many lines.

[QUOTE=PMC;43854]ou should ask them. Here is the SLC website:
My experience with line handlers is in the Med.[/QUOTE]

I can assure you it’s a global phenomena not restricted to the med OR california.

As I can assure you it’s not restricted to Ships, we’ve had the same issue in New York with barges.

I smell desk-jockey’s afoot, making decisions about something on paper without ever having seen or experienced mooring a vessel and the various forces that apply.

And rest assured, they won’t take the blame if something goes wrong. The Captain on the barge we work with had to flatly refuse to load at one dock and required the tug to stay alongside while the dispute played out. This placed his employment in great jeopardy as his office argued with him and negotiated with the dock. In the end, the company finally agreed with their Captain and a different barge was sent to transfer the product.

over 40 years of going to sea and 35+years as a pumpman the one thing i did learn was to cover my ass know matter what anyone says. pretty simple

[QUOTE=domer;43855]I can assure you it’s a global phenomena not restricted to the med OR california.[/QUOTE]
Unless things have changed for the better in the last 4 years, California has to be the worst. With the refineries operating at 99.9%, the window for getting the cargo into the refining process is extreamly narrow. Even with a minimum of 48 hrs notice, the Land Office and fire dept were ALWAYS “fashionably late” for inspections before cargo ops could start. It wasn’t uncommon to see the refining units going into “safe mode” waiting for our cargo. And they wonder why gas is $4 a gallon.