EU SHIPSAN ACT JA - Newsletter: Issue 8

11 June 2014/Categories: News, Newsletters



Dr Carmen Varela Martinez, Spain

Dear readers,

At the end of last year the European Parliament and the Council of European Union adopted a Decision on Serious Cross Border Threats to Health, following the all hazards approach included in the International Health Regulations (World Health Organization, 2005). In line with that approach, SHIPSAN ACT expanded its scope to cover chemical and radiological events in addition to communicable diseases.

Regarding serious cross border threats, you can read in this Newsletter an article about the ECHENMET project and another article related to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Enjoy reading the newsletter with many interesting topics.



News from the leadership

Prof. Christos Hadjichristodoulou, SHIPSAN ACT Joint Action Coordinator

Dr Barbara Mouchtouri, SHIPSAN ACT Joint Action Manager


The SHIPSAN partnership through the European Manual of Hygiene Standards and Communicable Disease Surveillance introduced the water safety plan approach for ships, which according to the World Health Organisation is the most effective means of consistently ensuring water safety. To facilitate compliance of the shipping companies, the EU SHIPSAN ACT Joint Action has designed an advanced training course on water safety on ships, engaging experts around the world. The training course will be held from the 18th till 20th June 2014 in Athens, Greece. Additionally, on Friday 20th of June, as part of the training course, a conference will be held titled “Perspectives in water safety” where recent technological advances will be exhibited and presented by companies.

The EU SHIPSAN ACT Joint Action continues to implement the second phase of the integrated inspection programme for passenger ships. As it was communicated in Issue 7, during 2013 a total of 48 full inspections were conducted on board passenger ships sailing in European countries that participated voluntarily. The second year pilot inspection period started in May 2014 and will continue until the beginning of November 2014. Announced pilot inspections have been scheduled so far in 17 countries (Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Spain, The Netherlands, Turkey, and United Kingdom). A total of 14 passenger shipping companies (cruise ships and ferries) sailing in European waters participate in the pilot inspections voluntarily.

Another important recent development of the EU SHIPSAN ACT Joint Action is the preparation of the first draft of the EU SHIPSAN ACT Joint Action Sustainability Plan, which has been produced based on the outputs of the EU SHIPSAN ACT sustainability working group. It outlines what should happen to the project outputs at the end of the project, and explores how they can be sustained. The sustainability plan will be distributed for comments to the sustainability working group and will then be presented and discussed in the Interim Collaborative Group and General Assembly meetings, which will be held in the 16th-17th of October 2014 in Luxemburg.

Moreover, a first draft of a suggested document (Model) for a Memorandum of Understanding between competent authorities for hygiene inspections and port state control authorities on issues related to occupational health and ship inspections has been developed.  The aim is to promote collaboration between the competent authorities for ship inspections and is intended to be implemented by the EU MS in their own context and according to national and local rules. The first draft will be disseminated internally to the coordination team and the partnership and at a later stage will be forwarded to all stakeholders.

In relation to the update of the EU SHIPSAN ACT Information System, the registries and forms are currently under development and work is progressing according to schedule.

Finally, the EU SHIPSAN ACT Joint Action is now officially a collaborating partner of the European funded project ECHEMNET that is presented in the following sections in detail.



Thematic Sections

Occupational health on ships

Watching the media-concerning MERS

Dr Martin Dirksen- Fischer, Hamburg Port Health Center, Germany


It is almost impossible to follow all the relevant news concerning this emerging disease.

The ECDC for instance has up to today published nine risk assessments concerning the MERS-Virus, all well known to us. The last one can be found here:

However, the official part of the news is only a part of the whole story. It is of the utmost importance to react to the concerns of the media and the public as well. It is even more important to be aware of them in the first line. In the following few lines I would like to share a few thoughts on a program called MedISys that is available for free on the internet and was like the SHIPSAN ACT Joint Action financed by the European Union.  You will find it at:

The Joint Research Center of the EU is running this site, this in close cooperation with the ECDC and other European institutions. More than “10000 RSS feeds and HTML pages sites from 3750 generic news portals and 20 commercial news wires in altogether 60 languages” are covered on a daily basis.

By their own words: “MedISys is an internet monitoring and analysis system developed at the JRC in collaboration with EC Directorate General SANCO to rapidly identify potential threats to the public health using information from the internet. These threats include the outbreak of Communicable Diseases, risks linked to Chemical and Nuclear accidents and Terrorist Attacks, i.e. events that could have a widespread impact on the health of the European Community.”

When approaching the website you will find all the regions of the world. So, if you are for instance especially interested in Saudi Arabia you would choose this:

At that special site you will find every 10 minutes renewed the top stories from that region. It is up to you to apply any possible filter. For instance: try “MERS and Saudi Arabia”. This will deliver more specific results, also from news sources that are not covered in other programs. You can choose the language that you want to be covered and can also choose to be alerted any time a specific issue is being covered, try “Bad pay for public health doctors in Germany” as a beginner. Another possibility for this medical centered aggregation site is to look for a specific disease. In our case: “MERS”. You would look up this link: What I find especially useful is the fact that social media accounts are also covered. It is most interesting to follow this site at the moment when “burning news” is published. Even in real time you can follow the reactions of the (tweeting) public.  Try it out for yourself-even with this little helper there is enough work left.


Infectious Diseases on ships

Vaccine policy for influenza on ships

Dr Maja Sočan, National Institute of Public Health, Slovenia


Influenza viruses are spread directly by droplets and aerosols produced by an infected person who is coughing or sneezing or indirectly through surfaces contaminated with viable viruses. Elderly, small children and persons with underlying health problems e.g. cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases are at increased risk for complications of influenza virus infection. Transmission of influenza virus is prevented through hygienic measures – cough etiquette, hand washing and social distancing especially during first five days of illness when viral loads in upper respiratory tract excretions are at the highest (1).

Cruise vacation is a growing industry. It attracts many international travelers, and approximately one-third of cruise passengers are senior citizens (2). Passengers and crew from different parts of the world mix together for extended periods in semienclosed compartments (3). Shipboard activities increase the likelihood of contact between passengers and crew. Acute respiratory infections including influenza could be spread without difficulty by co-passenger or from member of the crew.


Influenza outbreaks on ships

Outbreaks of influenza on commercial and military ships are clearly documented. Two first well described cruise ship outbreaks occurred during 1997/1998 influenza season (4, 5). The main characteristic of these two cruise ship outbreaks was that most passengers on both ships were aged ≥65 years. The passengers were at risk for severe influenza and influenza related complications because of their age and/or chronic underlying illness. As expected, most crew members and passengers at risk on both ships were not vaccinated against influenza. Both outbreaks were controlled through intensive case finding among travelers and crew members, use of antiviral therapies to treat cases and to prevent disease in non-ill persons, giving vaccine to crew and confining ill crew members to their cabins. Nevertheless, 1.3 – 2.7 % of passengers and 0.5 – 2.7 % crew members experienced influenza-like illness, respectively. The epidemiological investigation revealed that most probable source were passengers coming from Australia. This finding confirms the vulnerability of international communities in closed settings to introduction and spread of new strain of influenza virus among passengers, crew and by the end of cruise to local community after homecoming.

Summertime influenza outbreaks among passengers and crew members in regions where influenza is not in seasonal circulation were published (6, 7). The unexpected outbreak among tourists travelling to Yucon, Alaska, occurred during summer 1999 has been caused by influenza A virus (6). The timing of this outbreak demonstrates that influenza can occur at any time of year. Health Canada recommended that unvaccinated high risk travelers should receive 1998/1999 influenza vaccine. The vaccination was recommended also to the vaccinated passengers and crew because of waning levels of protection.

In a large outbreak on cruise ship co-circulation of two influenza subtypes was described. 37 % of passengers reported influenza-like illness, which was probably caused by influenza A or influenza B virus (8).

The outbreaks were recorded in military ships where crowding, rigorous working environment and physiologic stress occur (9, 10). In one of the published outbreak reports, the proportion of seropositives was significantly associated with more crowded living quarters and tended to be higher in those aged <40 (10). The attack rates were in general higher compared to those recorded in cruise ship passengers.


National influenza vaccination policies in EU

Official national seasonal influenza vaccination policies differ across European Union. The national vaccination policies were surveyed for the last in 2010 through Vaccine European New Integrated Collaboration Effort (VENICE) project (11).

All EU countries recommend vaccination of the elderly but the cut off age varies. Austria and Ireland recommend vaccination for ≥50, Malta and Poland for ≥55, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, the Netherlands and Slovakia for ≥60 and all remaining 17 countries for 65 years old and above. Vaccination for small children is recommended by very few countries.

There is even much more variability in recommending influenza vaccine for patients with chronic diseases and in occupational settings. All EU countries recommend vaccination of patients with chronic pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, more than 90 % of EU countries for chronic renal diseases, metabolic and haematological disorders and diseases of immune system including HIV/AIDS. In some EU countries an indication for influenza vaccination is hepatic disease, respiratory condition that may compromise respiratory function, and children on aspirin therapy (11). Seasonal influenza vaccine is recommended for residents of long-term care facilities in 22 EU countries and for household contacts for whom vaccination is recommended in 14 EU countries.

Most countries endorse the vaccination of health-care workers in hospitals, out-patient clinics, and those employed in long-term care facilities.

Only few countries have specific vaccination recommendations for individuals who work in essential services (e.g. police, fireman), poultry industry and military.  There is no special recommendation for crew on cruise ships in national recommendations compared to CDC (Atlanta, USA) recommendations (2). The guidelines prepared by SHIPSAN TRAINET partnership recommend that routine annual vaccination programme for all crew members should be considered (12,13).

Vaccination coverage among elderly and in persons with underlying diseases varies considerably within the EU countries being in general higher in Western part of EU and lower in Eastern countries. Very few countries accomplished WHO influenza vaccination coverage target (11).



Outbreaks of influenza on ships are well documented. To prevent the outbreaks vaccination of crew is highly recommended as it has been shown that is not only cost-effective but also cost savings (12). None of the national influenza vaccination policies in EU has recommended vaccination to members of the crew yet.



1.  Mouchtouri VA, Nichols G, Rachiotis G, et al. SHIPSAN partnership. State of the art: public health and passenger ships. Int Marit Health 2010;61:49-98.

2.  Miller JM, Tam TW, Maloney S, et al. Cruise ships: high-risk passengers and the global spread of new influenza viruses. Clin Infect Dis 2000;31:433-8.

3.  CDC. Guidance for Cruise Ships on the Management of Influenza-Like Illness (ILI).  Available at:

4.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Update: influenza activity -- United States, 1997-98 season. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1997;46:1094-8.

5.     Miller J, Tam T, Afif C, et al. Influenza A outbreak on a cruise ship. Can Commun Dis Rep 1998;24:9-11.

6.    Anon. Influenza in travellers to Alaska, the Yukon Territory, and on west coast cruise ships, summer of 1999. Can Commun Dis Rep 1999;25:137-9.

7.   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Influenza B virus outbreak on a cruise ship--Northern Europe, 2000. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2001 Mar 2;50(8):137-40.

8.   Brotherton JM, Delpech VC, Gilbert GL, et al. Cruise Ship Outbreak Investigation Team. A large outbreak of influenza A and B on a cruise ship causing widespread morbidity. Epidemiol Infect 2003;130:263-71.

9.   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Outbreak of 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) on a Peruvian Navy ship - June-July 2009. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2010;59:162-5.

10.  Tarabbo M, Lapa D, Castilletti C, et al. Retrospective investigation of an influenza A/H1N1pdm outbreak in an Italian military ship cruising in the Mediterranean Sea, May-September 2009. PLoS One 2011;6:e15933.

11. Mereckiene J, Cotter S, D'Ancona F, et al. VENICE project gatekeepers group. Differences in national influenza vaccination policies across the European Union, Norway and Iceland 2008-2009. Euro Surveill 2010;15pii: 19700.

12.  Mouchtouri V, Black N, Nichols G, Paux T, Riemer T, Rjabinina J, Schlaich C, Menel Lemos C, Kremastinou J, Hadjichristodoulou C; SHIPSAN TRAINET project. Preparedness for the prevention and control of influenza outbreaks on passenger ships in the EU: the SHIPSAN TRAINET project communication. Euro Surveill 2009;14: pii: 19219.

13. European Manual for Hygiene Standards and Communicable Diseases Surveillance on Passenger Ships. European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumers. 2010; 1-257.

14. Ruben FL, Ehreth J. Maritime health: a case for preventing influenza on the high seas. Int Marit Health 2002;53:36-42.


Chemical and radiological issues on ships

Serious Cross Border Threats to Health – the ECHEMNET project

Charlotte Hague, Rob Orford and Raquel Duarte-Davidson - Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Public Health England, Chilton, Didcot, Oxfordshire.

Chemical incidents can impact on society in a number of ways; these effects can be further confounded if the event involves more than one country. Improvements in preparing and responding to such events are required and this has been recognised by the publication of the Decision for Serious Cross Border Threats to Health.


The European Parliament and the Council of European Union (EU Council) have adopted a Decision (legal instrument) on serious cross border threats to health (`the Decision’), which came into force on the 5th November 20131 and applies to all European Union (EU) Member States. The Decision sets out provisions on notification, ad hoc monitoring and coordination of public health measures following serious cross border threats to health from biological, chemical, environmental events as well as those of an unknown origin.

The provision for the co-ordinated assessment of many cross border hazards such as communicable diseases, contaminated food or medicines fall to different competent authorities namely the European Centre for Communicable Diseases, European Food Safety Authority and the European Medicines Agency respectively. Some chemical threats fall partly or wholly outside the remit of such competent authorities and for such hazards that pose a risk to public health, the co-ordination of the response will be led by the European Commission Health Threats Unit, which is within the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs (DG-SANCO).  Existing European Scientific Committees and external experts will support the Health Threats Unit and other Commission bodies in providing rapid independent and authoritative risk assessments of emerging threats.  Communications and alerts on chemical hazards will also be co-ordinated by the use of IT platforms for risk assessment (rapid alert system for chemicals (RASCHEM) and Early Warning Response System (EWRS)). Both platforms are multilateral in that posting events to the systems enable all Member States and relevant bodies to access events details.

To support the implementation of the Decision for chemicals the Commission has co-funded the European Chemical Emergency Project (ECHEMNET), which will run for 36 months until April 2016. The project is a joint effort by medical and scientific experts who work for public health authorities and poisons centres in the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, and Spain together with collaborators across Europe. The project seeks to further develop a network of expert health risk assessors, guidance for posting events to RASCHEM and a rapid risk assessment methodology. Project outputs will be tested through exercises and strengthened through extensive stakeholder engagement. This complements  work being undertaken by SHIPSAN Joint Action project, which will consider arrangements for the alerting and notification of public health events  associated with chemical whilst on a vessel and at ports  within EU Member States. Formal collaborative links have been establish between ECHEMNET and SHIPSAN ACT Joint Action to facilitate and promote multi-sectorial collaboration as part of the implementation of the Decision and therefore the EU response to cross border chemical health threats.

If you would like more information please contact or visit our website www.ECHEMNET.EU.

1.    European Commission and Council of Europe. EC Decision No 1082/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on serious cross border threats to health and repealing Decision no 2119/98/EC. Official European Journal. 5 11 2013, pp. 1-15.

2.     Kowalczyk G, Griffiths M, Brown J, Duarte-Davidson R. Chemical and Radiation Risk Assessment Network(CARRA-Net) - coordinating the international response to European transboundary incidents. Chemical Hazards and Poisons Report, 2012; 21: 24-26. Available at (accessed 03/2014)

3.     Orford R, Chilcott R, Etherington G and Duarte-Davidson R. Chemical and Radiological Inventory of Medical Countermeasures (CARIMEC), final Report, Framework Service Contract No 2009 61 05 -Lot 2 Contract Agreement No 2010 61 22. Health Protection Agency, Chilton nr Didcot, 2012.

4.    Schaper A, Desel H, Wyke S, Orford R, Griffiths M, Edwards N, Kupferschmidt H, Mathieu M, Pelclova D, Duarte-Davidson R. Countering health threats by chemicals with a potential terrorist background — creating a rapid alert system for Europe. European Journal of Internal Medicine 2012; 23: e63-e66 doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2011.09.015.


ECHEMNET is a part EU-funded (60%) project and runs until March 2016. This summary arises from the project ECHEMNET [20121101] which has received funding from the European Union, in the framework of the Health Programme.


 People from the project


Janneke Broekhuijsen

I was born near Amsterdam the Netherlands and during my youth, sailing was a great part of my childhood. During my days as a sailing instructor I gained my first training and coaching skills, which still come in handy during the training of new Dutch (Caribbean) Ship Sanitation inspectors. To travel and meet other cultures was also part of my childhood as my father was an international pilot for a commercial airline.

After an internship at UNICEF in Geneva, Switzerland, I graduated as a specialist in nutrition and health in 2008. For a short time I worked in the food industry especially active for the hospitality sector. From 2009 onwards I started as a HACCP-specialist at the Public Health Service of Amsterdam. Shortly after that I became a Ship Sanitation inspector. With this job I had achieved to combine my passion for ships and my education.

Since 2011 I work for the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (LCHV-RIVM) as Ship Sanitation Advisor. I am now responsible for the implementation of the WHO Ship Sanitation regulations (2011) in the Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean and to support and train the 60 active Dutch SSC inspectors. I am very pleased to be involved in the EU SHIPSAN Act Joint Action and I look forward to all its future developments!


Henk Visser

My name is Henk Visser, born on the 20th of July 1977 in Dordrecht (20km from Rotterdam). I started the study medicine in 1995 at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, and graduated in 2001. After my graduation I decided to do something completely different for a year, so I worked as a cabin attendant at a Dutch airline. After that year I started working a Public Health Service. Since 2004 I work at the Public Health Service in Rotterdam at the department of infectious disease control. April 2014 I end my 4 year specialisation in Public Health, though already am specialised in infectious disease control since 2012. Beside my work I play as a DJ. For me music plays a big role in my life and love to share that with others.



Recent Publications  

Nautical officers at sea: Emergency experience and need for medical training

Oldenburg, M., Rieger, J., Sevenich, C., Harth, V.

(2014) Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, 9 (1), art. no. 19.

Background: On merchant ships, the medical treatment including emergency interventions on the high seas are carried out by nautical officers who have to pass a forty hours medical refresher course every five years in order to meet international requirements. This study aims to show the most frequent kinds of medical emergencies on the high seas and to assess the seafarers' knowledge about their treatment.

Methods: 465 nautical officers who participated in the medical refresher course at the Institute for Occupational and Maritime Medicine in Hamburg, within the period from 2006 to 2013, were interviewed about their experience of serious diseases and accidents on board, which had led to an emergency port call, a course deviation or an evacuation. Furthermore, prior to the course the officers were asked to answer 18 basic medical questions about common medical issues on board.

Results: 133 seafarers (28.6%) reported that they had been confronted with at least one serious medical emergency at sea. These emergencies encompassed trauma (37.9%), cardiovascular diseases (18.2%), severe gastrointestinal diseases (15.9%), serious skin or pulmonary infections (9.8%), neurological (9.1%) and urological diseases (4.5%) as well as burns (4.5%). With regards to the basic medical questions, an average of 70.7% of the total score had been achieved (from 26.8% to 100%). On average, 65.5% of internal and 65.6% of surgical questions had been answered correctly. Proper answers to toxicological and infectious questions had been given by 93.3% and 94.1% respectively and to topics of hypothermia and medical treatment by 59.4% and 61.0%. In total, a significant number of younger seafarers answered the questions correctly (p = 0.001).

Conclusions: According to this study, serious emergencies on board are most frequently related to trauma or cardiovascular diseases. Taking into account the acquired medical knowledge, there seems to be a need to train deck officers within these fields more intensively. Considering the knowledge of seafarers about medical issues directly before attending their medical refresher course, the 5 years interval without any form of refresher course appears to be too long to guarantee adequate medical treatment by the lay persons on board.


Water safety plan on cruise ships: a promising tool to prevent waterborne diseases.

Mouchtouri VA, Bartlett CL, Diskin A, Hadjichristodoulou C

Science of the Total Environment; 2012 Jul 1;429:199-205.


Background: Legionella spp. and other waterborne pathogens have been isolated from various water systems on land based premises as well as on ships and cases of Legionnaires' disease have been associated with both sites. Peculiarities of cruise ships water systems make the risk management a challenging process. The World Health Organization suggests a Water Safety Plan (WSP) as the best approach to mitigate risks and hazards such as Legionella spp. and others.

Objectives: To develop WSP on a cruise ship and discuss challenges, perspectives and key issues to success.

Methods: Hazards and hazardous events were identified and risk assessment was conducted of the ship water system. Ship company management, policies and procedures were reviewed, site visits were conducted, findings and observations were recorded and discussed with engineers and key crew members were interviewed.

Results: A total of 53 hazards and hazardous events were taken into consideration for the risk assessment and additional essential barriers were established when needed. Most of them concerned control measures for biofilm development and Legionella spp. contamination. A total of 29 operational limits were defined. Supplementary verification and supportive programs were established.

Conclusions: Application of the WSP to ship water systems, including potable water, recreational water facilities and decorative water features and fountains, is expected to improve water management on ships. The success of a WSP depends on support from senior management, commitment of the Captain and crew members, correct execution of all steps of a risk assessment and practicality and applicability in routine operation. The WSP provides to shipping industry a new approach and a move toward evidence based water safety policy.

Recommendations for assessing water quality and safety on board merchant ships

Grappasonni I, Cocchioni M, Degli Angioli R, Saturnino A, Sibilio F, Scuri S, Amenta F.

Int Marit Health; 2013; 64(3):154-9.

Introduction: Health and diseases on board ships may depend on water. Interventions to improve the quality of water may bring to significant benefits to health and water stores/supply and should be controlled to protect health. This paper has reviewed the main regulations for the control of water safety and quality on board ships and presents some practical recommendations for keeping water healthy and safe in passenger and cargo merchant ships.

Methodology: The main international regulations and guidelines on the topic were analysed. Guidelines for Water Quality on Board Merchant Ships Including Passenger Vessels of Health Protection Agency, World Health Organisation (WHO) Guide to Ship Sanitation, WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, WHO Water Safety Plan and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention Vessel Sanitation Program were examined. Recommendations for passenger and, if available, for cargo ships were collected and compared. Recommended questionnaire: A questionnaire summarising the main information to collect for assessing the enough quality of water for the purposes it should be used on board is proposed. The need of having a crew member with water assessment duties on board, trained for performing these activities properly is discussed.

Conclusions: Water quality on board ships should be monitored routinely. Monitoring should be directed to chemical and microbiological parameters for identifying possible contamination sources, using specific kits by a designed crew member. More detailed periodic assessments should be under the responsibility of specialised personnel/laboratories and should be based on sample collection from all tanks and sites of water distribution. It is important to select a properly trained crew member on board for monitoring water quality.



News and forthcoming dates

EU SHIPSAN ACT Joint Action Events:

Advanced training course for water safety on ships, 18th-20th June 2014, Athens, Greece

The training course is designed for:

-    shipping industry and in particular operators, managers, supervisors working ashore and officers and crew working on ships and involved in water safety such as marine engineers, sanitation officers, environmental officers
-    port health officers working in authorities responsible for public health issues related to hygiene inspections and communicable disease prevention in a port environment.


Key points:

What will this training course address?

• Practical examples for designing a Water Safety Plan.

• The European Legionnaires’ Disease Surveillance Network (ELDSNet).

• Water microbiology and biofilm.

• Disinfection of piped water systems.

• Water chemistry in potable and recreational water.

Legionella spp.: ecology and microbiology.

• Lessons learned from Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.

• Microbiological testing methods.

• How to perform water sampling.

• Establishment of a representative sampling schedule for verification monitoring.

• Case studies on troubleshooting in recreational water facilities and potable water systems.


Click here to download the training course brochure.

Conference on "Perspectives in water safety", 20th June 2014, Athens, Greece

On Friday 20th of June 2014 a conference will be held, as part of the training course on water safety, titled “Perspectives in water safety”. In this conference, recent technological advances as well as experiences and policies of participating cruise ship companies will be presented. The companies that will participate in the conference are the following: Aquagroup AG, NutriLab-ANK Labs, ATG Willand, Land & Marine Environmental, Hatenboer-Water.

Interim Collaborative Group meeting, 16th October 2014, Luxemburg

The objectives of the Interim Collaborative Group meeting will be to decide on the methodology for developing deliverables, plan and discuss on activities and processes of the Joint Action.


General Assembly Meeting, 17th October 2014, Luxemburg

The General Assembly members have the role to decide on recommendations derived from the sustainability working group, the advisory board and the coordination team. The objectives of the General Assembly meeting will be to:

-         Prepare a long-term vision for the Joint Action activities 

-         Discuss the draft Memorandum of Understanding

-         Discuss and finalise the exit/sustainability strategy


What’s new on the website

  • New Forum Area: A new Forum has been created in the restricted area of the website for the advanced training course for water safety on ships (18-20 June 2014, Athens, Greece) and is accessible by all SHIPSAN trainers. 
Visits: 7298 Visitors: 3097 Page views: 34,6935




By Henk Visser, Public Health Service, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Here you see a picture of the headquarters from a (former) Dutch cruise company, with the beautiful Hotel New York which to date is a popular place to be in Rotterdam. What is the name of the cruise company, and which cruise company owns it now?



Please send your answers to

Answer to Issue 7 quiz:

San Niccolo

Source: An Account of the Origin and Progress of the Plague in the Island of Malta in the year 1813 by Robert Calvert, M.D. Physician to the Forces, communicated by Dr Bateman

Congratulations to:

·Saskia Tejland, Technisch hygienist,  GGD Rotterdam – Rijnmondn, Netherlands

·P.J.Faragher. BSc (Hons). MCIEH MRSH, Environmental Health Officer, Food Safety Unit, Department of Environment, Food & Agriculture, Isle of Man

·John Ambrose CFCIEH DMS, Port Health Officer, Quality Manager, Markets and Consumer Protection, Tilbury Office, London Port Health Authority, UK



Port in focus  


Henk Visser, Public Health Service, Rotterdam, Netherlands


The old city – Rotte dam

Rotterdam owes its existence to the place where the small peat river the Rotte flowed into the Nieuwe Maas (which was still called the Merwe at that time). Around this point, a small settlement developed. The local people and the counts of Holland liked to keep their feet dry and wanted to reclaim the peat bogs that were threatening this. They therefore decided to raise the banks of the Nieuwe Maas slightly and dam the Rotte (fourth quarter of the 13th century). Rotterdam now existed. On 7 June 1340, Count Willem IV granted Rotterdam a city charter. At that time, the city had a population of around 2000.

Then too, the people of Rotterdam had a very enterprising spirit. They did not stay in fishing and small-scale trade, but went into large-scale trade and fitting out/preparing ships to sail. This new strategy was possible thanks partly to the fact that Rotterdam had good domestic connections by water. And the strategy worked! Because Rotterdam overtook Dordrecht as trading city in the 17th century. This was despite the fact that Dordrecht had the ‘staple right’, which meant that the city had a monopoly on handling all goods transported along the Beneden-Maas river.


The years 1940 - 1945 and port restoration

The bombing not only destroyed the buildings in the city centre, but quay walls, businesses and installations were also blown to bits. In May 1940, the ports on the right bank of the Maas were destroyed. Even before the war was over, a start was made on restoring these ports.

 At the end of August/ beginning of September 1944, the advance of the Allies in Belgium seemed unstoppable. This prompted the occupying force to destroy the quay walls for ocean-going vessels in Rotterdam. In total, more than 7 kilometres of quay wall throughout the port were lost, or 35%. And that is not to mention the pilots, storage tanks and industries in the port area. Immediately after liberation, restoration work on the port began. The Rotterdam Reconstruction Department (DIWERO) was called in for this job. The reconstruction work was assigned to the Maatschappij Havenherstel N.V. This was a joint venture between five Dutch and three British  contractors in the field of concrete and steel construction. They began work in 1946 and completed it in 1949. In total, 7,790 metres of quay wall were rebuilt.

Irrespective of the destruction, the port lay more or less idle during the years of occupation anyway. There was no ‘normal’ world trade during the war. Furthermore, the port could only be used if the activities did not conflict with the interests of the occupying force. Something which never, or only rarely occurred, of course.


Maasvlakte 1 (1965-2008)

In 1965, before the Europort was complete,  the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management, in consultation with Rotterdam, began work on building the dams for the Maasvlakte. This would mean an expansion of three thousand hectares. It was the first time that land would be reclaimed from the water in the port, instead of the other way round. The parties involved had different ideas when it came to the form and scale. The final result was a compromise, which already took account of further expansion on the seaward side.

In the years that followed, the area proved popular with companies in the (petro) chemical industry and the storage and trans-shipment of dry bulk. Depots were also built on the Maasvlakte for the storage of contaminated dredged material from the river and port.    

It was important for the development of Rotterdam as a container port that the leap was made to the Maasvlakte in the early 1980´s. ECT built the Delta Terminal there. A lot of people were sceptical. They thought that the terminal would generate overcapacity. The scepticism proved unfounded, because the large-scale approach gave Rotterdam a head start on its rivals.

There are now 4 container terminals operating on Maasvlakte I, with a combined capacity of 7.3 million TEU (Twenty feet Equivalent Unit). Therefore Rotterdam is the biggest container port in Europe.


Maasvlakte 2

Once again, the port of Rotterdam started to reach its limits in terms of space. There was hardly any room left in the existing port and industrial complex for new companies and existing clients wishing to expand. If Rotterdam wanted to continue to develop, extra space had to be created. Space was needed particularly for the deep sea-related container sector, the chemical industry and distribution parks. This is where the opportunities lie. The container ships of the future will have deeper draughts than existing ports can handle. By responding to this with a 20-metre deep port directly on the sea, Rotterdam can guarantee itself a unique position in the market. In 2007, the first contracts were signed with clients and on 1 September 2008 construction work on Maasvlakte 2 began.


The Port of Rotterdam now

Rotterdam is one of the main ports and the largest logistic and industrial hubs of Europe. With an annual throughput of 450 million tons of cargo in 2012, Rotterdam is by far the largest seaport of Europe and ranks the fifth place worldwide. The port is the gateway to a European market of more than 350 million consumers.

Rotterdam thanks its position to the excellent accessibility via the sea, the hinterland connections and the many companies and organisations, active in the port and industrial complex. The port stretches out over 40 kilometres and is about 12.500 ha (including Maasvlakte 2).





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