Seacurus Top Ten Daily News Stories 12/08/2014
1. US Box Imports Breaking Records
Containerised imports arriving at US ports are expected to set an all-time record in August. Retailers want to take no chances against the possibility of industrial action by West Coast dockers, and so are stocking up on their holiday season sales early, the monthly Global Port Tracker report released Monday (11 August) by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates said. It estimates that total imports at major ports tracked by the survey will touch 1.54M containers this month, the highest monthly volume since NRF began tracking import volume in 2000 and just beating the record of 1.53M containers established in July.
2. Filipinos Banned From Shoreleave
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has banned Filipino seafarers from leaving their ships when calling at areas affected by the Ebola virus. "There will be no shore leave for seafarers and no crew change in the ports of these countries in the meantime," POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said. The POEA also said all shipowners, managers and operators must ensure that seafarers are properly provided with working gears, including personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and goggles to protect them from the deadly virus.
3. Finding Lost Seafarers in Somalia
Crew members of the Taiwanese fishing vessel, Prantalay 12, have been held by Somali pirates since 18 April 2010. Of the original 25 crew, six died when the ship capsized in July 2011. Four Thai crew members remain in captivity over 4 years later. The Prantalay 12 was captured with two other fishing vessels, Prantalay 11 and 14, with a total crew of 77 who had been looking for tuna and working out of Djibouti. Prantalay 12 was beached 14 July 2011. The UNODC HSP continues to put pressure on the pirates for a humanitarian release and is being actively supported by the Thai Embassy in Nairobi with consular support.
4. Tragic Cruise Pool Death
Princess Cruises has confirmed the death of a 29-year-old woman on board "Sapphire Princess" last week during a cruise between Shanghai and South Korea. The woman was found dead in the swimming pool. There have been a spate of drownings, or near drownings, in the cruise industry over the last two years. These include incidents involving children on Independence of the Seas, Norwegian Breakaway and Carnival’s Victory. Also, a 42 year old passenger drowned in a hot tub on the Carnival Dream last year. The question is being raised as to whether cruise ships should employ lifeguards.
5. Container Overcapacity Persists
According to boxline OOCL, overcapacity still persists in the container shipping market “The industry saw a disappointing first half and a more encouraging second half in 2013. Moving into 2014, there has been cargo volume increase and a generally more positive sentiment than last year. In total, it is expected that the container transportation industry posted improved results for the first half of 2014,” said Chairman of OOIL, Mr. C C Tung. According to Tung, such improvement, however, is likely to be capped given the large newbuilding orderbook and the anticipated next round of newbuildings likely over the next twelve months.
6. Owner Acts on Shipbreaking Risks
Hapag-Lloyd has said it would no longer sell phased-out cargo vessels on global markets where the company once enjoyed high returns on older freighters still in good condition. The decision goes against an emerging trend in the industry of sending old ships to scrapping docks in India, Bangladesh or Pakistan in order to make a quick buck on the price of scrap metal. But the company claimed it had ethical qualms about laborers in those countries facing adverse working conditions. Many are not at all protected against the tons of poisonous materials, such as asbestos and the chemical PCB, commonly found in large ships.
7. Bunker Bandits Captured off Thailand
The Thai Marine Police discovered 370,000 litres of diesel on four boats modified for smuggling in Chanthaburi, Thailand, during a raid on 9 August. Eleven suspected bunker pirates were apprehended. The boats and cargo detained by the law enforcers are said to worth over THB70M ($2.17M). Somyos Phumphanmuang, police general and deputy chief of Thailand National Police, said the government had allowed diesel to be sold free of customs and excise taxes to fishermen operating 12nm from shore, but the sale of untaxed oil onshore was illegal.
8. Fire Highlights Unsafe Practices
A fire on a ship last year revealed not only dangerous practices by its crew and managers ashore but also a failure by the system of safety inspections meant to prevent the accident. The fire broke out at night in a cabin on the UK-flag, 1984-built general cargo vessel Celtic Carrier on a voyage from Gibraltar to Belfast carrying a cargo of cement. Accident investigators raised concerns that the company adopted a “micro-management and authoritarian approach to the operation of its ships”. Essentially, it viewed the problems as a result of the decreasing quality of crews it was forced to hire to survive economically.
9. Navigating the Transition from Paper to E-Charts
Navigators these days find themselves in a curious sort of transitional period between the age of paper charts, which extends backwards in time to the dawn of cartography in medieval times, to the screen-based products of today. Virtually all but the youngest qualified mariners will have learned their chartwork at nautical college and indeed, begun their careers, using traditional paper-based navigation. Moving navigation from paper to screen has been even more of a change for a traditionally trained navigator than getting to grips with the satellites and GPS, some years ago. It has been altogether a bigger deal than many had anticipated.
10. Mapping the High Arctic Searoutes
Canada has sent two icebreakers to the High Arctic to gather scientific data in support of its plan to bid for control of the sea floor under and beyond the North Pole. The coast guard vessels Terry Fox and Louis St. Laurent set out Friday on a six-week journey that will take them to the eastern side of the Lomonosov Ridge, a long undersea feature that runs over the Pole. These efforts are seen as part of a "landgrab" by Canada, which has accelerated since relations between Russia and the West have grown strained. Russian President Vladimir Putin may see the Canadian mapping as a provocation, academics said.
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