How New Technology is Changing Marine Loss Claims

Johannes Czuba: Welcome to “Best’s Insurance Law Podcast”, the broadcast about current and important legal issues in the insurance industry. I’m John Czuba, Editor-in-Chief of The best resources for insurance professionals.

Today we’re talking to John Gow and Craig Sylvester from the Qualified Member Expert Service Provider Jensen Hughes. John Gow is a very skilled fire investigator who also includes ship fires and explosions. A seasoned report writer, he has carried out maritime surveys on behalf of underwriters, charterers, and those interested in cargo.

His experience includes cruise ships, container ships, RoPax, tankers and bulk carriers. As a former fire officer, he also taught STCW certified courses in fire fighting at sea and in the management and control of ship crews and officers using a live fire environment. John was fully involved in the development and operation of Strathclyde’s full-time fire investigation unit, the first full-time unit in Scotland.

He has represented both the Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service and CFOAs at national forums to develop fire investigation and crime scene standards. John has provided expert advice on fatal accident investigations, criminal and civil courts. His work has recognized him as an expert in the USA.

Craig Sylvester is a retired U.S. Navy Mustang officer with a unique background in electronics, mechanical systems, naval operations, naval architecture, wild diving, personal safety, aerospace manufacturing, and technical team leadership.

Craig is a licensed mechanical engineer with over 20 years experience in the operation and maintenance of complex equipment systems on ships, submarines, diving barges, and in industrial facilities supporting ship repair and aircraft construction.

Combining this extensive technical background and confidence as a forensics engineer, Craig conducts accident investigations, product liability cases, personal injury assistance and expert opinions for law firms, insurance companies and industrial clients. Gentlemen, we are very happy to have you both with us today.

John Gow: Thank you, Johannes. It’s good to be here.

Craig Sylvester: The same applies here. Thank you, Johannes. I am glad I could do it.

Johannes Czuba: Today’s podcast is about ship losses. For our first question, John, I will start with you, what challenges do you see for the shipping industry?

John Gow: The past year has presented the world with significant challenges in relation to the COVID pandemic, but this has impacted the crew around the world as the crew cannot be returned home and has a significant impact on their health and wellbeing Has.

It has also impacted our ability to assist our customers with marine casualty investigations. The resulting transport restrictions have forced us to adapt to these needs through the use of technology and remote inspections.

Johannes Czuba: Craig, do you have another comment to add?

Craig: I do. I would agree with John that many of the delays we are experiencing this year due to all the challenges will force the world, as in other areas, to rely on technology to do its job on the water.

It’s pretty exciting for me to see some of these technologies that have been around for a while and that the shipping industry hasn’t really embraced, so that has been a very positive result from this last year. .

Johannes Czuba: Thanks, Craig. John, what new risks do you see overall?

Craig: That is a very positive result from last year.

John Gow: The maritime industry faces a number of risks, but one of the risks that could potentially impact safety is the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent.

As the industry introduces alternative fuel sources such as ammonia, hydrogen and electricity, there is the potential for additional hazards to the crew and the ship.

It is important that measures are taken to mitigate these emerging hazards and to ensure that crew response training and equipment are adapted to needs so that the crew can respond effectively to any on-board emergency.

Johannes Czuba: Craig, how are modern navigation and mapping tools used today to help forensic scientists reconstruct marine accidents?

Craig: The commercial industry has long used ship management software and tracking software, which enables forensic scientists to review ship conditions prior to and during an accident. The same tools are available in the commercial industry.

Software like Garmin and other map plotting software allow forensic scientists to work just like a motor vehicle. who help us and help us with our accident investigations.

Johannes Czuba: Craig, how are lidar systems used with drones today to investigate and document ship damage above the waterline?

Craig: This is a tool, and you can probably tell from my introduction that I am very excited to have it used in the shipping industry now. I have personally used this tool on a number of occasions. This LIDAR system or light detection and distance measurement is nothing more than a laser that you essentially use by drone.

This helps forensic scientists, myself included, when we need to get to a crime scene, be it a ship that may be on the ground or a ship that we just can’t get to. It allows us to get up and take some pictures, some very high resolution pictures.

Not just images, but point cloud images. Data allows us to build models, determine the extent of the damage, the total damage above the waterline. This tool is now an important part of what we see and these are the challenges of getting to accident sites. I am very excited to see this tool in action.

Johannes Czuba: John and Craig if you would ask the two of us that next question. John, we start with you. What does the future look like for the maritime industry and forensic support?

John Gow: With the industry slowly returning to normal and routes opening up, there is no doubt that the potential for ship fires to increase is there. The other thing to watch out for in the shipping industry is that ships are getting bigger. Some observers are already predicting the first loss of billions.

As forensic investigators, we now need to make sure we have the tools to meet the requirements of the investigation. Craig pointed out some of the tools that could be used to overcome this challenge.

I think there is some light ahead of us. The 103approx The meeting of the IMO safety committee agreed to put together a group of experts to deal with the challenges of fire protection for container ships. I am happy to announce that, as part of this group, I look forward to making a contribution that will hopefully achieve these goals.

Johannes Czuba: Craig, additional comments?

Craig: I thought of the cargo ships I saw waiting in line out here in Puget Sound. I think we will continue to see challenges with delays that force ships to anchor.

It goes back to my comments about the remote support that some of these technologies can provide and help us with. I believe this will be part of the future in the maritime industry and our forensic work.

Johannes Czuba: For our final question today, Craig, can you bring up what new technology will be available to help with ship damage investigation?

Craig: Yes, I would like to mention another technology that I see appearing in the marine world and that is the use of underwater lasers. Similar to the LIDAR systems used by drones, these underwater lasers also enable us to assess the conditions below the waterline.

This could simply be an inspection, this could be an assessment of damage that has occurred. The challenge that has always existed with these underwater lasers is the lighting conditions and getting accurate data from these lasers. They have evolved over the years since the early 2000s. Their development has resulted in some pretty incredible opportunities for inspectors to use them.

These can be used remotely via ROV, they can even be used by a diver. The end result is data that will allow us to model and assess damage down to the sub-millimeter range, which is pretty incredible underwater.

Johannes Czuba: Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us today.

John Gow: Many Thanks.

Craig: Many Thanks.

Johannes Czuba: You have just listened to John Gow and Craig Sylvester from the qualified member expert service provider. Jensen Hughes. Special thanks go to today’s producer Frank Vowinkel. Thank you for joining us for Best’s Insurance Law Podcasts.

To subscribe to this audio program, visit our website, If you have any suggestions for a future topic on an insurance law case or problem, please send us an email at [email protected].

I am John Czuba, and now I have this message.

Transcription by CastingWords