Seacurus Top Ten Daily News Stories 28/07/2014
1. All Change At Panama Flag
The head of Panama’s shipping flag has stepped down and will take a job at one of its major rivals. Merchant Marine Director General Alfonso Castillero is understood to be taking a job as vice president at the Liberian Registry, the US-based company that runs the second-largest open flag. His departure from a government job to the private sector comes amid sweeping personnel changes at the top levels of the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP). There has been a worrying political dimension to some Panamanian flag actions of late, and while the shipowner tail should not wag the flag State dog, there has to be a balancing act.
2. US Hits Pollution Spill Ship
US Federal prosecutors say the operator of a ship that discharged 34 metric tons of oily bilge water and waste sludge has been fined $500,000. Authorities said the ship, M/V Bulk Victory, is banned from calling on ports of the United States for three years. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release that Pacific and Atlantic, which has its main offices in Greece, operated the Bulk Victory, a 13,697 gross ton cargo ship. Authorities say in March, the U.S. Coast Guard boarded the vessel in the Delaware Bay Big Stone Anchorage to conduct an inspection. An investigation determined the ship had discharged the bilge water and sludge.
3. Vessel Hit in Ghanaian Waters
A Kiribati-flagged tanker has been hijacked by pirates off the coast of Ghana, the International Maritime Bureau has reported. According to the IMB, the 3,232 gross ton MT Hai Soon 6 was boarded and hijacked by a group of 10 heavily armed pirates at 2340 UTC on Friday about 46 nautical miles south of Anloga, Ghana. The vessel was said to be sailing in southeasterly direction and the fate of the crew and vessel is unknown. IMB advises all vessels in the area to keep a sharp lookout for the missing tanker and report any sightings to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.
4. Gas Leak Closes Houston Ship Channel
The US Coast Guard says ammonia that leaked from a vessel forced the closure of the Houston Ship Channel and nearby bridges while sending four workers to a hospital. Coast Guard officials said in a release that the tanker "Sombeke" was docked at the Houston Ammonia Terminal when a gasket blew and anhydrous ammonia leaked. The tugboat "Trigger" was refuelling the "Sombeke" when the leak occurred and four of its crewmembers were exposed and required hospitalization. Authorities had alerted nearby residents to remain in their homes as the anhydrous ammonia gas spread.
5. New Threats Emerge in Piracy Fight
Sometimes the global fight against piracy is bit reminiscent of one of those “whack-a-mole” games in amusement arcades – every time you bash down the mole in one place it pops up in another. In the late 1990’s and into the first part of the 2000’s Southeast Asia was the global blackspot, however, pressure on regional governments saw the problem brought under control. Shipping is far from free of attacks. A new, particularly violent form of piracy has come up in West Africa, where vessels are hijacked to steal their cargo, and this is now aped in SE Asia too. If action is not taken the situation will surely get worse.
6. Big Deals for VLCC Sales
John Fredriksen’s Ship Finance International (SFI) has sold three 1999-built VLCCs for $77.5m. The vessels, Front Opalia, Front Comanche and Front Commerce, were sold to an unrelated third party that SFI did not reveal the identity of. Sister company Frontline has terminated charters on the vessels which will be delivered to their new owners in the fourth quarter of the year. Divesting of older vessels is a part of the company’s strategy to renew and diversify the fleet, and the proceeds is expected to be reinvested in other assets,” SFI said.
7. Former Pirate Chief Jailed
A former Somali Pirate chief Mohamed Abdi Hassan, aka ‘Afweyne’ or ‘Big Mouth’, has been charged with piracy for the first time, a charge which carries a 20 year prison sentence. Afweyne is said to be behind a kidnapped vessel which a ransom was paid, according to the statement of the charges. The important evidence filed against ‘Big Mouth’ during his trial and judgment are among recorded phone calls and surveillance cameras conducted by people that met him from different record numbers. According to Belgium law, Afweyne will serve a 10 year sentence in prison.
8. Shipbuilding in the Public Eye
Who would have thought it? Nowadays a surprising number of people around the world seem to know about shipbuilding. For the time being the shipyards have struggled through, thanks to this switch in product range. Although tricky, the bulkers are keeping Japan and China busy and specialised was a nice bonus, especially for the big Korean yards. But switching product range is always difficult, and that really is the issue for the future. The first rule of shipbuilding recessions is “you never know what they’ll order next” but it’s often completely different.
9. Differences of Social Media Opinion
Videotel, InterManager, MTI Network and the Hill Dickinson law firm have teamed up recently to create a new program called “Social Media at Sea” to address “the unique dangers of inappropriate use of social media by shipboard personnel.” GCaptain has been urging seafarers to turn their back on such policies, and they want them to feel free to tweet and post with impunity. They believe the "honourable intentions" of the industry as a muzzle on seafarers and prefer seafarers "completely ignore them". Which sounds good until we have a slew of seafarers sacked owing to their breaching social media policies and contractual terms.
10. Box Lines Deal is Done
German container shipper Hamburg Süd has announced an agreement with Compañía Chilena de Navegación Interoceánica S.A. (CCNI) to acquire their container shipping business. The deal is valued at a total consideration of USD $160 million. CCNI currently operates 5,500 TEU containerships on a weekly service to Chinese ports as well as 1,700 – 3,500 TEU vessels covering the west coast of North and South America. Additionally, CCNI operates thirty-three vessels of between 6,500 – 8,500 nominal TEUs capacity, which connecting South Korean ports, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.
Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions www.seacurus.com
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