MARITIME LABOUR CONVENTION AND SEAFARER NEWS
South Korean prosecutors said on Thursday that they had raided The Korea Register of Shipping (KRS) as part of expanded investigations following the sinking of a ferry last week in which more than 300 people were killed or missing presumed dead. "The objective was to investigate malpractices and corruption in the entire shipping industry," Song In-taek, head deputy chief prosecutor at Incheon District Prosecution Service, told reporters. KRS, which is in charge of testing and certifying ships, and the Korea Shipping Association (KSA), which is responsible for routine shipment inspections, were not immediately available for comment.
South Korean investigators said on Friday that life rafts and escape chutes on a sister ship to a sunken ferry were not working properly. Investigators seized a second ferry for checks belonging to the Chonghaejin Marine Co, as they seek to build a picture of the levels of competence, equipment and management standards employed across the fleet. Investigations are focused on human error and mechanical failure, but there are wider issues to consider too, and it seems the finger of blame may well be pointing both at individuals, the company and the wider shipping industry.
Japanese shipping firm Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd has paid about $39 million to a Chinese court towards securing the release of one of its ships which was seized over an alleged payments dispute dating back to World War Two, Japanese media reported on Thursday. Mitsui had paid about 4 billion yen in compensation and interest to the Chinese court. Its ship, the "Baosteel Emotion" 226,434 deadweight-tonne ore carrier, was seized on Saturday. Mitsui O.S.K. was still working to release the vessel, which the Chinese court seized over Mitsui's alleged failure to pay compensation stemming from a wartime contractual obligation.
Scientists are monitoring an iceberg roughly six times the size of Manhattan – one of the largest now in existence – that broke off from an Antarctic glacier and is heading into the open ocean. NASA glaciologist Kelly Brunt said the iceberg covers about 255 square miles (660 square km) and is up to a third of a mile (500 meters) thick. Known as B31, the iceberg separated from Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier last November, Brunt added. "It's one that's large enough that it warrants monitoring," but the iceberg's present location is not in an area heavily navigated by ships, but its journey will be closely watched.
First-quarter profits of Royal Caribbean came in below analyst expectations because of voyage disruptions. The NYSE-listed cruise major reported net income of $26.5M for 1Q14 versus $76.2M in 1Q13. Excluding special items, adjusted net income was $46.1M in the latest period versus $78.2M the year before.
Adjusted profit of $0.21/share was well below the $0.27/share expected by Wall Street analysts. Net yields fell by 0.3% during 1Q14, including a 0.5% negative impact from voyage disruptions such as last month's closure of the Houston shipping channel. Royal Caribbean continues to expect a 2-3% increase in net yields.
Bocimar turned in a first-quarter loss Thursday but the Belgian bulker operator is confident the tides will turn in the months ahead. Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB) said its bulker arm carded a $4.4m deficit in the three months to 31 March, versus a loss of $0.8m in the comparable period a year prior. In the Antwerp-based company’s earnings report it noted the first-quarter was “characterised by seasonally low freight rates” despite “generally held optimism”. Bocimar’s fleet of capesize bulkers watched daily earnings drop to $22,740 from $25,075 year-on-year, a decline CMB blamed on “high volatility” in the segment.
PIRACY AND MARITIME SECURITY NEWS
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has revealed positive progress against piracy, but warns that the threat is still present. The report, shows in the first three months, two vessels were hijacked, 37 vessels boarded, five vessels fired upon and five attempted attacks were reported. Forty-six crewmembers were taken hostage and two kidnapped from their vessel. Off Somalia, five incidents were reported – the same number as the first quarter of 2013. In 2014, three attempted attacks were recorded and two vessels fired upon. IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan stated: “There can be no room for complacency."
Further to the attack on a Japanese tanker this week, pirates pilfered diesel fuel from a Thai tanker off Malaysia’s east coast, making two attacks in a week and raising concerns of a rising threat to shipping, the IMB said Thursday. Reports state the tanker was sailing from Singapore to Cambodia when it was boarded by 16 pirates about 26 nautical miles off Aur island on the east coast of the peninsula. The pirates, armed with swords and guns, damaged the ship’s communication equipment, transferred part of the fuel cargo into a smaller unknown tanker and stole the ship and crews’ belongings before fleeing.
The problem with reality is that it is live and in real time, and can make even the most diligent of analysts look foolish. So the fact that two tankers have been attacked in SE Asia would seem to hint at serious security problems. However, this comes at a time when reports claim the area to be safer than ever. Latest reports proudly boast, "cases of piracy have dropped significantly since coordinated naval and air patrols were conducted along the Strait of Malacca." It seems that pride comes before a fall, but not necessarily a fall in piracy attacks.
The Nigerian Navy (NN) has pleaded with the Federal Government to create special court to speed up prosecution of sea criminals. Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS). Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin made the call in Lagos, saying the justice delivery system at the moment was making the Navy pay for the lapses of orders, adding that the force’s account is garnished by the court for ships held beyond reasonable time. “The NN is still pleading with appropriate authorities to ensure that criminals arrested are timely and completely prosecuted. This will help tremendously to deter and reduce significantly, the number of maritime crimes." he said.
When an Angolan navy spokesman rushed to claim that a piracy attack in the nation's waters was an aberration, likely performed by the crew, many thought it odd and a sign of some other pressure. Now it has been revealed the country is looking to usurp South Africa as the shipping hub in the region. Angola’s main port has installed new cranes and provided more training to reduce its cargo unloading time by 80 percent as the government plans to build a new terminal bigger than Africa’s busiest in Durban. They are looking to become a regional hub, as a gateway to landlocked countries such as copper-rich Zambia.
The Nigerian Police Force is planning a partnership with the Nigerian Trawler Owners Association (NITOA) to fight incessant pirate attacks that have crippled the businesses of domestic trawler owners. This comes as several companies in the fish trawler business have collapsed, even while many others reportedly relocated to neighbouring countries following the menace from pirates who kill crew members and steal commodities and money on board the vessels. The Commissioner of Police announced plans to support the trawler owners in stemming economic loss resulting from pirates attack.
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