Seacurus Bulletin 19/06/2014
MARITIME LABOUR CONVENTION AND SEAFARER NEWS
Drewry’s recently published Manning 2014 Annual Report states that the current shortage of shipboard officers is forecast to worsen and risks impacting carrier profitability. In recent years owners and managers have been heavily cost focused, as the weak freight rate earnings have yielded poor returns. Manning has become the natural target for cost cutting, being the single largest element in the ship operating costs, with officer recruitment being directed towards the lowest cost source. Drewry estimated that the current officer supply is 610,000, representing a shortfall of 19,000 personnel. This shortfall is forecast to rise to 21,700 by 2018.
Foreign workers on Scottish ferry routes are regularly being paid "poverty pay" well below the UK legal minimum wage, unions have claimed. The RMT union is demanding government action amid claims some Estonian crew manning a major ferry route in the Western Isles are being as little as £4.19 an hour – far beneath the £6.31 UK minimum. The RMT claims Seatruck is able to pay the low wages to foreign workers because the Clipper Rangers sailors’ are outwith UK jurisdiction. Now the union is demanding the Scottish Government intervene because the "lifeline" ferry route is heavily publicly subsidised.
The Georgian Seafarers’ Union has been supporting the crew of a ship left stranded in the port of Poti. …The Roksalana was arrested for an oil spill, but the owner could not pay the fine and so sold the ship. Seven of the Ukrainian crew returned home last November, but the rest have remained on board for eight months in the hope of getting their wages owed. The union has been helping them with food and other supplies. "We did not have warm food or heating, and GSU assisted us," said one of the crew. "If they had not, we could have died of hunger. Our main goal is to get back home with the pay we are owed.
International classification society RINA has certified MSC Cruises under its Best Management Scheme. The innovative goal-based scheme recognizes management excellence, setting standards which go beyond the requirements of statutory rules and codes such as ISM (International Safety Management), ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security) and MLC 2006 (Maritime Labour Convention). The certification covers all aspects of managing a cruise line company with particular attention to safety operations and the training required to deal correctly with emergency situations.
The UK Ship Register has become 1 of only around 20 in the world to keep the United States Coast Guard (USCG) award for excellence. The register, which is administered by the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), regulates and inspects the ships that sail under the UK flag. It was recognised for the USCG’s Qualship 21 for 2014-15, thanks to an excellent Port State Control record achieved by UK-flagged vessels. Qualship 21 assesses ships’ safety and pollution prevention records and is awarded against a stringent set of criteria, including the requirement for a less-than 1 per cent detention ratio over a rolling thee-year average.
PIRACY AND MARITIME SECURITY NEWS
A spate of daring high-seas attacks off Southeast Asia is stoking fears that its vital shipping lanes could once again become a hotspot for piracy unless regional powers act fast. For centuries, pirates were the scourge of the Malacca Strait — the strategic channel between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore through which a third of global trade now passes. They were largely put out of business about five years ago by stepped-up patrols. But several tankers or cargo ships have been attacked in Southeast Asian waters since April, with pirates hijacking the vessels before syphoning off hundreds of tonnes of valuable fuel or oil.
Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) piracy reporting center in Malaysia has issued a stark and terrifying warning about the new spate of SE Asian piracy. Choong says, "It will become rampant again and you will have a hard time stopping it. He adds, "That’s how Somalia got started." After a campaign of increased enforcement about five years ago reduced piracy in the Malacca Strait, a rise in oil and other cargo moving through the high-traffic channel seems to be drawing criminal groups to the area again. Pirate attacks in SE Asia rose from 46 in 2009 to 128 last year and are on a similar pace this year.
Pirates are once again threatening merchant ships off the coast of Africa, with the west coast near Nigeria. Moreover, today’s new pirates’ weapons, tactics, and demands are far more formidable and vastly more dangerous and destabilizing. So why is West African piracy up while East African piracy is down? Naval presence–or, in West Africa, the lack thereof. Africa demonstrates that piracy is a crime of opportunity. Pirates ply their trade in the absence of navies. And though pirate activity is rampant and growing along many of the world’s major shipping routes, the U.S. Navy is rarely to be found.
The Sri Lanka ministry of external affairs says it is seeking ways to obtain compensation for the Sri Lankans who escaped and disappeared from the Malaysian ship which capsized when it was under the captivity of Somalian sea pirates. The "Albedo" belonged to a Malaysia company and had commenced its voyage from Dubai on the 6th of November 2010. At that time the owner of the ship was preparing to free the ship after paying a ransom of 450 thousand to 500 thousand US dollars. Six Sri Lankans were on board when the ship capsized and two of them have been able to save their lives.
Colonel John Steed (retd.), consultant to the UNODC’s maritime crime programme, has spoken about the recent escape/release of the final hostages from the MV Albedo, hijacked in November 2010. Many of the details surrounding the men’s release are a mystery, and it is not made clear how the escape was made possible.
Various versions of events have circulated, with some reporting that a ransom of $2 million was paid, while others say there was a split in the pirate gang and that one faction essentially allowed the escape in return for the ransom, while their fellow pirates were unaware and were holding out for more money.
A former British soldier currently being held in India on firearms charges faces an anxious wait to see if he will be allowed to return home. Paul Towers was among 35 crew arrested in the Indian Ocean last October while working on a US pirate-fighting vessel. Towers, 50, who was the ship’s head of security in charge of a contingent of armed guards, was one of six British nationals held on suspicion of trespassing into Indian waters with illegal firearms. He and a Ukrainian national – the ship’s captain – are the only two people who remain in prison after being denied bail. The trial is currently delayed once more.
Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions www.seacurus.com
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