Gennadiy Garas: USPA has good fleet but it needs to be renovated

(from the issue №4, 148, November) SE»Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority»(USPA) is perceived by many people only as a regulator of the «rules of the game» in the sea ports or as a dredging company. Only a few people today perceive USPA as a shipowner, although it is quite a large one: today the Authority operates more than 120 vessels and boats. The technical condition of the fleet, the problems and prospects of its renovation are the main subjects of the interview of the head of the USPA technical service Gennadiy Garas to the «Shipping» magazine.

img_1839-garasGennadiy Garas. Graduated from the Odessa State Maritime Academy on specialty «Operation of ship power plants» in 1992. From 1992 to 1996 worked as a motor mechanic, fourth and a third mechanic of the SE «Black Sea Shipping Company»(BLASCO). From 1997 to 2005 served as the 3rd, 2nd, chief engineer on the vessels of the «V. Ships Ukraine». Since 2005 he held senior positions in the State Enterprise «Delta-Pilot» (Head of the Odessa regional service fleet, Deputy Director of the Navy), SE «Odessa Commercial Sea Port» (Chief of Navy service), SE «Delta-Pilot» (Deputy Director for Technical Issues), SE «Maritime Search and Rescue Service» (Deputy Director of the Navy). Head of the Technical service of the USPA.


What is the purpose of the fleet which the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority operates?

The main activity of the USPA (and it is written in the law of the sea ports and in the Charter of the enterprise) is to ensure safety of navigation. And one of the main points, without which it would be impossible, is the availability of the fleet, specialized craft. Those are the ships of different types and purposes, which provide, first of all, the statutory activities in provision of the services for port fees. You know, you cannot receive funds without affecting services!
For example, I’m talking about ships, providing clean water area (oil skimmers or port collectors) or supporting the safety of navigation (this is a worthy pilot fleet, crew boats or the most powerful sea floating crane «Bogatyr», carrying capacity of 300 tons). And the Administration takes fees (fixed, well-regulated and defined by the order of the Ministry) and provides appropriate services at seaports.
Our specialized fleet «at the beginning» of the USPA, in 2013, had, in all Ukrainian ports, more than 167 boats. Today, taking into account the annexation of the Crimea and the closure of the Crimean sea ports, the fleet is of 126 units. During the time of independence of Ukraine USPA is one of the largest, the second exactly largest state-owned shipping company, after the «Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company».
What is the technical condition of the USPA fleet?
Quite good! Those are the ships in continuous operation. Each of them has its own passport, an operating certificate issued by the classification society – the Shipping Register of Ukraine. All survey, annual and class confirmation, come in a timely manner, in accordance with the rules and requirements of the Register. Boats are timely presented for inspection of the Shipping Register of Ukraine and are serviced.

Another issue is the fact that the average age of our vessels is already respectable, more than twenty years. Of course, we also have a 3-4-year boats (and we are planning to get some till the end of this year), but the most have the sufficient service life.To be honest, with a decent operation and maintenance, we have no emergency or dangerous fleet. Each branch of the Administration, directly exploiting the fleet, uses a powerful step control. At some point, we monitor how well routine maintenance is provided.

Each boat has own forms for preventive maintenance inspections and repairs. I say that: if you want the service life of the vessel to be as long as you need you have to maintain it right, warning in advance any possible damage. This allows you to get away from a variety of unpleasant «surprises». Of course, they happen, I will not dissemble – because there is a human factor, and the iron is not eternal. There is, for example, a concept that is recognized worldwide: the «metal fatigue». After a certain time of operation the strength characteristics of the metal are changing and some damage may occur.


The average age of the USPA fleet is «more than twenty», but not «more than thirty». And it means that shipyards have built the vessels during the time of independence of Ukraine?
For example, SE «Delta-Pilot», that is a subdivision of USPA, renewed its fleet in recent years, this branch today has 31 watercraft on the balance. But such vessels as marine oil skimmers providing spill in the waters and the solutions of all adverse situations related to the pollution of water areas, or port collectors which remove bilge water, sewage water, solid waste and heavy oil slops, — they are older.
Recently we attended the great event: the launching of the ship, oil skimmer, which was built for the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority (Yuzhny branch) at the Kherson shipyard. This is a trial implementation of our new concept, because this new ship replaces at least three more: it acts as a tugboat with sufficient traction, the actual oil skimmer and, in addition, it has the capacity that allow to perform the functions of the port collector.Even more, at the request of our colleagues of Yuzhny, the ship was equipped with foam monitor, which allows to support the fleet when extinguishing fires. Therefore, USPA having planned serious money for this project, decided: we build, and then evaluate the effect of its operation within a half-year. Because the calculation of compensation on paper costs and results in reality may vary. And in the future, if the operation results will confirm our expectations, we will move in this fleet renewal direction.

I want to stress some difficult moments. For example, the majority of the mechanisms that the port collectors and oil skimmer are equipped with were produced in Russia. And today, in case of modernization we replace some parts or equipment by imported ones. Import is good, but very expensive. Unfortunately, the imperfection of our customs legislation adversely affects the shipping and shipbuilding industry. I’m telling about the impossibility of transit of import parts.


Which segments (types) of the USPA fleet need to be renovated?

There is such a document – the program of the development of our enterprise. It is planned, according to the law, for 25 years. It contains items about renovating the sanitary fleet (I’m talking about the majority of our «aged» oil skimmers and port collectors). Just recently, Kherson shipyard showed that we are able to build it in our own country. And I’m talking about our pilot fleet, it is quite a large amount of our services. Besides, the intensity of the pilot boats work is very high. For comparison, if the port collector accumulates 70-80 hours per month, the pilot boat – 230-240. Accordingly, the operational period is smaller, and they need more serious maintenance and updating.

Some years ago, «Delta-pilot» received the port boats of Soviet era, they were built at Leningrad factory «Pella». Those boats are, of course, still strong, sturdy, displacement, but I would say it is the last century, in terms of energy efficiency and associated costs. You cannot compare them with the craft that «Delta-Pilot» built during last ten years.

Another point: USPA is the owner of the only icebreaker in Ukraine, «Captain Belousov». But this is the 1953 year model. Of course, it is completely renovated and is ready for ice navigation. Every year we raise it to the dock and examining. But I must say that, for all its merits, it has a significant drawback. Ice’s campaign of 2011-12 showed this problem, when in the ice of the Azov Sea 27 vessels were overwritten, and several of them were killed, and the crew went down to the ice and were evacuated by helicopter, «Captain Belousov» was not always able to come close, because it has very deep draft. As for the caravan leading, it is acting quite well, although under ice cohesion of 7-10 points it has to work very intensively… So, in our development plans we have the vessel of this type, but the modern one. We understand that Ukraine needs an icebreaker of about 10 megawatts, shallow-draft, which can be used, in addition to the leading of caravans in Berdyansk and Mariupol, in rescue operations, in situations arising in the Azov Sea, when careless owners, concealing the true state of their ships, go to ice field, get the holes and run the risk of people’s lives.
Actually, we analyze the efficiency of the fleet acting and strive to ensure that the boats were working without any loss. Time by time we are decommissioning some vessels and raising at the wall until there is no need. If there is a stevedore, who needs such a service or such type of vessel – the ship enters into work.


Does the USPA have a deficit of the vessels of any type?

I have already told about the situation with the pilot and collectors fleet. As for the tugs, I guess, we have minimal but sufficient fleet to perform our tasks.

We have a deficit of our own dredging fleet. There is a dredger written in our development program. Our dredger, «Ingulsky», that was built in the «Damen» shipyard some time ago, has a hold capacity of 750 cubic meters. And according to our current tasks, optimal dredging ship for use in our waters and navigable canals must have a capacity of hold 2000 cubic meters.

Serhiy Lyalikov, «Shipping»

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