Seacurus Bulletin 08/07/2014
MARITIME LABOUR CONVENTION AND SEAFARER NEWS
Nicaragua has approved the route for a controversial $40bn canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for shipping traffic. A committee comprising government officials, businessmen and academics approved 172 mile route, which passes through Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America. The $40bn canal is to be constructed by Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment (HKND) owned by Chinese telecoms businessman Wang Jin. The route from Brito river on the Pacific side to the Punto Gorda river on the Caribbean was one of six possible routes. The canal is expected to be completed in 2019.
Hundreds of flights were cancelled in Japan and more than 500,000 people urged to evacuate as a powerful typhoon brought torrential rain and high winds to southwestern islands and was forecast to reach Tokyo later in the week. Typhoon Neoguri weakened from its original status as a super typhoon but remained intense, with gusts of more than 250 km per hour (155 mph). It was powering towards the Okinawa island chain where emergency rain and high-seas warnings were in effect. The storm will be at its most powerful as it passes Okinawa, some 1,600 km (1,000 miles) southwest of Tokyo on Tuesday.
A Greek appeal court has reduced the prison sentence imposed on the former master of the "Sea Diamond", the Louis Cruises vessel that sank off the Greek island of Santorini in April 2007. The vessel, which was carrying nearly 1,600 passengers and crew, hit rocks and had to be evacuated. It sank two hours later after being towed out to sea but the body of a 45-year-old Frenchman and his 16-year-old daughter were never recovered. The master, Captain Yiannis Marionos, who was originally sentenced to 12 years and two months in prison after being found guilty on multiple counts, had his sentence reduced to five years by the appeal court.
Oil workers on a Super Puma which ditched into the North Sea have launched legal action against the helicopter operator. A total of 10 of the 14 people on board the aircraft at the time are suing Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd. Everyone on the Bond EC 225 Super Puma survived the ditching, which happened 30 miles east of Aberdeen in May 2012. Now 10 of the workers have lodged actions at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Lisa Gregory, who is representing the crew members, confirmed her clients had started legal proceedings against Bond. No one from Bond was available to comment.
The MV Loch Riddon had just left the port for the 10-minute trip to Cumbrae when a problem was detected with the hydraulic ramp. It was decided to return to the port in an attempt to repair the problem. A CalMac spokesman said 57 people and six cars were on board the 11.45am sailing. He added: "The vessel had only just left Largs when the crew noticed a problem with the hydraulic ramp." The Loch Riddon tied up at the port but it was decided passengers could not disembark safely so they were kept on board and were given hot drinks and water. A temporary fix was carried out and all the passengers and cars were eventually allowed off.
PIRACY AND MARITIME SECURITY NEWS
A victim of the Albedo hijack has been speaking of his ordeal and the dreadful treatment he suffered. In November 2010, Aman was captured by Somali pirates. “As months passed, I thought I would never see my family again,” said Aman. He underwent the horrifying experience of having to watch his fellow sailorbeing shot dead by the pirates. That’s when he realised that he had to play along with the pirates to keep alive his chances of survival. To win their trust, he showed them Hindi films, learnt the Somali language, chatted with them for hours and willingly recited Koranic verses (as the pirates intended to convert him into Islam). http://goo.gl/UnvJ6f
Kenyan police are questioning the Iranian captain and nine crew members from general cargo ship Amin Darya who were arrested last week on suspicion of drugs smuggling. The Kenyan Navy arrested the ship off Lamu and took it to Mtongwe military base within Mombasa port, where the bagged cargo of cement was unloaded and the ship searched using sniffer dogs. Mombasa Acting Police Commander Sevelino Kubai said that the crew claimed the ship was carrying 300 tonnes of cement. Kubai said that the vessel was one of two that had sailed from Pakistan and called in to Mogadishu, Somalia, apparently en route for Zanzibar.
There’s more to ship defence than a man with a gun, suggests one maritime security observer. In the debate regarding protection of vessels, it is very seldom mentioned that onboard a majority of ships, crew fend for themselves, even in such hot spots as Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Guinea. While there is a reliance in some quarters on armed guards, crew have long applied non-lethal defences, such as; securing doors and hatches of accommodation, stores and engine room; rigging of fire hoses; evasive maneuvers and higher speed as well as increasing vigilance by posting more look-outs.
Recent months have seen the resurgence of piracy in the region, leading one United Nations agency to call Southeast Asia a “piracy hotspot”. In fact, there were about eight armed piracy-related attacks at the start of 2014 in the Strait of Malacca, according to a report by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability.
Piracy in Southeast Asia is not a new phenomenon. To complicate matters, the rise in regional trade adds further incentive for pirates seeking bounties. Overall trade in Asean increased by 16.8 per cent to US$2.1 trillion (S$2.6 trillion) in 2011 from 2010. These figures only serve to tempt the return of piracy in Southeast Asia.
According to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the spread of proceeds from kidnappings in the Niger Delta and piracy off the coasts of Nigeria to the Boko Haram sect in the North. That is the same group that in April kidnapped nearly 300 Nigerian girls. They’re also blamed for laying waste to multiple villages in the northern part of the country, burning them down and killing many people in bomb attacks. The FBI has indicated that ransom cash may have been funnelled through other groups before making its way to Boko Haram. It should be noted the US has been long trying to find a link between terrorists and pirates.
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