Seacurus Top Ten Daily News Stories 25/07/2014
1. Cruise Ship Crime Concerns Grow
Sexual assault is "far too common" on cruise ships serving US ports, despite the cheerful image of fun on the high seas promoted by cruise lines, a Senate committee heard this week. A rape victim was among the witnesses who appeared before the Senate transportation committee, which is considering legislation to reinforce the rights of cruise ship passengers. "If you think young women are safe on cruise ships, think again. They´re not," said Philip Gerson, a Miami trial lawyer whose clients have included an autistic teenager sexually assaulted on a Christmas cruise around the Caribbean. Cruise lines "foster a misleading information campaign" with promises of safe and happy days on the high seas far away from such dry-land hazards as muggings or traffic mishaps, he said.
2. Terror Threat to Norwegian Ports
The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) issued a threat warning for Norway on July 24, regarding a possible Islamist extremist terrorist threat against an unspecified target or targets in Norway, a threat which may materialize in the course of the next few days. Security authorities are on elevated alert and with reduced response times. Some measures already affect ports, says the Norwegian Hull Club. ISPS ports and terminals in Norway, and thus also vessels calling ISPS ports in Norway, have been requested to operate at ISPS security level 2, “until further notice”. This temporary change in the security level in Norwegian ports/terminals was announced at around 1500 hrs local time 24 July 2014 by the Norwegian Coastal Administration.
3. So careful on Social Interaction
Videotel, part of KVH Industries, Inc., has launched a new program, "Social Media at Sea", addressing the unique dangers of inappropriate use of social media by shipboard personnel and providing simple solutions to ensure that seafarers understand the dangers – and benefits – of this onboard revolution. Since the use of the Internet has now become commonplace on many vessels, seafarers often have much more freedom to communicate with friends and family using social media tools. Consequently, the thoughtless snap of a picture or video capture can often make the difference between incidents that attract little or no attention and those that end up making the headlines.
4. Union Plans Day of Action
Shipping union RMT will hold another demonstration against exploitation in the ferry industry on Saturday. The day of protest against social dumping and exploitation allegedly carried out by Condor Ferries will be at Portsmouth International Port at 7am. According to the union, Condor continues to recruit Ukrainian seafarers on pay as low as £2.35 per hour to work on vessels to the Channel Islands from Portsmouth, Poole and Weymouth. RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘This weeks statement from Condor is just a bare-faced admission that not only are they exploiting their Ukrainian seafarers but that they have every intention of continuing to do so. Condor chief executive James Fulford has previously said Ukranian workers were happy.
5. Massive Growth for Abu Dhabi
General cargo moving through Abu Dhabi’s commercial ports has increased by 37% this year. ADPC’s commercial ports (Musaffah, Khalifa and Zayed Ports) have handled 6.4mn FT of general cargo, compared to 4.7mn FT in the first half of 2013. This is an increase of 1.74mn FT (freight tonnes) compared with the same period in 2013. “These figures show a strong first half of 2014 and indicate a promising six months ahead”, said Capt. Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO, ADPC. He added: “The volume of cargo moving through our ports is on the up. We expect that we will handle more than 12mn FT by the end of this year, compared to 9.5mn FT handled last year.” Against this backdrop, ADPC is enhancing its capacity for general and bulk cargo at Abu Dhabi Ports.
6. Pirate Equipment is "Greatly Improved"
The equipment of pirates, who are capturing merchant ships, has greatly improved in the past few years, a security company providing armed protection for ships, has said. In the past 5-6 years he says, "we started seeing heavier weapons, we started seeing multiple weapons on board vessels, climbing equipment, ladders, we started seeing them use the mother ships, what let them go for the operations further and further into the sea". The expert noted that without armed guards on board, there is no guarantee any ship is safe, despite the presence of international missions to protect against pirates in the dangerous areas. “Pirates are getting much better at boarding the vessels and it is also depends on the type of vessel it is,” he said.
7. Mining Giants Iron Spike
Rio Tinto posted a 20% spike in iron ore production in 1H14, the mining company has announced. Shipments out of Pilbara exceeded production, drawing on stockpiles, to post a record for the first six months of the year. Port infrastructure remains on track for completion by June 2015, the company said, creating further potential for ramped up mine output. "Our iron ore expansion continues to deliver high-margin growth, reinforcing our position as a low-cost producer," Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh said in a media statement. Australian miners have invested $30Bn in new mines, trains and ports in the Pilbara in the past two years, the Australian Financial Review reported. Rio Tinto alone invested $9.8Bn into expanding its Pilbara platform last year.
8. Singapore Tackling Box Trust Issues
The Singapore National Shippers Council said today Maersk Line is testing the limits of anti-trust regulations. The Council said this in a follow-up statement about Maersk’s proposal of the 2M vessel-sharing arrangement with Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). "Instead of trying to beat the system, Maersk has become a system player as it believes this to be the only way to succeed in the current environment," said the Council, pointing out at Maersk’s decision to leave the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement in 2004, only to rejoin it in 2009. The Council also urged governments to take stiffer action against the trend of alliances.
9. Tackling Seablindness Key to Security
Africa is trying to tackle the "seablindness" which is blighting security efforts around the continent. A recent study showed we all suffer from this kind of “seablindness”. Even the small percentage of people who are aware of the importance of shipping can’t imagine the dangers that hundreds of ships and crew face from piracy. Between 2008 and 2011 hundreds of ships were attacked off the Somali coast. Vessels were hijacked and seafarers held hostage, many for months and years. The study stresses that fighting pirates with war ships is successful, but costly, and navies cannot maintain their presence forever. If people are not aware of the importance of the seas, there is little chance of positive change and political will to keep navies in place.
10. Japanese Arming Ships – An Explanation
Over six months since the Japanese government issued a landmark national law permitting privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP) aboard Japanese flagged vessels, there remains confusion and uncertainty as to its scope and practical application. The legislation is entitled the “Special Measures Act for Security of Japanese Vessels in Pirate Infested Waters” of 20th November 2013, Law No.75 (Japanese Ship Guarding Act.) This Act, along with its supporting orders and ordinances, sets the policies, procedures, and applications for the employment of armed guards aboard Japanese flagged oil tankers. It is written exclusively in Japanese and requires not only translation, but also analysis by those seeking to provide or procure security services.
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