Seacurus Daily Top Ten Maritime News Stories 27/10/2014

Seacurus Daily Top Ten Maritime News Stories 27/10/2014

1. Terrorists Target Tankers

The Royal Navy has been put on red alert after Al Qaeda urged its followers to blow up oil tankers using the Strait of Gibraltar. Terror chiefs have called on militants to destroy tankers bound for the west by ramming them with boats laden with explosives or by hijacking the ships and running them aground. An attack would cause "phenomenal" reaction around the world and help ramp up oil prices, shipping rates and maritime insurance as well as military spending. A spokesman for the Government of Gibraltar said: "This is not the first time that threats have been made to target merchant shipping passing through the Straits of Gibraltar. Every year 106,000 ships, including 5,000 oil tankers bound for the West, pass through the Strait.



2. Ship Operating Costs Set to Rise

Shipowners and managers expect that vessel operating costs, lead by crewing and repairs, will increase 2.9% in the next two years, according to a Moore Stephens survey. Respondents to the survey indicated that crew wages were expected to increase 2.4% by the end of 2014 and 2.6% in 2015, while repairs and maintenance would go up 2.3% and 2.4%, P&I by 2.0% and 2.2%, drydocking by 2.1% and 2.2%, and management costs by 1.2% and 1.5%, respectively. Expected crew cost increases followed the implementation of the MLC which was “likely to be a significant factor in higher labour and crewing costs”, as well as “the strong presence of labour unions in the shipping industry,” and shortages of officers and engineers, according to responses.




3. Police Agree On Pirate Attack

After an investigation, investigators said there are enough grounds to determine that Vietnamese oil tanker Sunrise 689 has been hijacked as reported by the vessel’s crewmembers, adding it will seek help from the Interpol to track down the pirates. Through an examination of the entire vessel and the testimony of the crew, investigators concluded that the tanker suffered from a piracy attack in international waters, said Major General Ho Sy Tien, head of the Investigation Police Agency under the Ministry of Public Security. Based on the conclusion, police will launch an official investigation into the case and will coordinate with the Southeast Asia anti-piracy Center based in Singapore to hunt down the hijackers, Tien said.


4. Shortage of Seafarers Bites Again

An acute shortage of skilled seafarers has hit the Indian shipping industry, forcing public and private ship owners to hand over the command of merchant vessels to less experienced captains and chief engineers. Industry executives said that it usually takes 10 years of sailing experience for a marine cadet to qualify for the post of a captain but ship owners are increasingly handing over the wheel to candidates with seven or less years of sea time. This not only raises maintenance costs of vessels but also risks their safety. "There is an acute shortage in terms of both quality and quantity," said Arun Kumar Gupta, chairman of state-run Shipping Corporation of India. "We are really struggling to meet our manpower requirements" he added.



5. Outrage At Personnel Still Being Held

There is widespread outrage at the failure of the Indian authorities to release the 35 personnel arrested aboard the floating armoury Seaman Guard Ohio, when the ship was detained by the Indian Coast Guard in October 2013. Although they have been released from custody, they remain unable to leave the country, their documents still held by magistrates in Tutincorin. Any hopes of an imminent release have been dashed by an appeal by a branch of the Indian Security Services which is anxious to reinstate charges previously dropped by the Indian Supreme Court. The Mission to Seafarers, which it is fair to say, has been hugely active in providing support for the prisoners, has shown its dismay at the latest disappointment.




6. Ebola Paranoia Affecting Shipping

Ships entering UK waters that have visited ports in west Africa affected by the Ebola virus are being monitored by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is asking them to provide details of the “health status” on board. There have been claims of an “atmosphere of fear” in the shipping industry, which has led to some seafarers and shipowners refusing to call at those ports in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea at the centre of the medical emergency. If there is any reason to suspect someone on a vessel has the life-threatening disease, a ship in British waters will be required to divert to a port designated by the marine authorities, the MCA said in a circular sent to ports and their pilots.




7. BIMCO New Bunker Boilerplate

Bunker suppliers, traders and purchasers have been discussing the practicalities of buying bunkers and to announce a new set of standard terms and conditions for bunker purchases. The new contract, called the BIMCO Standard Bunker Contract (SBC), is an easily understood “boilerplate” agreement that is comprehensively worded to reflect current commercial practice and is, more importantly, fair to both parties. Parties can use the BIMCO terms and conditions in their unamended form, but may also adapt the contract to suit a specific commercial relationship. The real benefit of the SBC is that it provides the industry with an opportunity to harmonise basic terms and conditions for buying bunkers by relying on one common form.




8. UN Authorises Ship Stop and Search

The United Nations Security Council authorized the inspection of boats suspected of carrying illegal shipments of charcoal or weapons to and from Somalia, though Russia and Jordan abstained from the vote over concerns about the move.  The resolution, adopted by the 15-member council with 13 votes in favor, approves the use of "all necessary measures" – diplomatic code for military force – to carry out such inspections.  The council imposed an arms embargo on Somalia in 1992 to cut the flow of arms to feuding warlords, who ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and plunged the country into civil war. "Charcoal is giving al Shabaab a lifeline," Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told the council.




9. Banks Need to Act to Underpin Ship Finance

European banks need to increase their provisions for bad shipping loans by 25%, to EUR 7.3 billion (USD 9.25bn), according to the European Central Bank’s (ECB) year-long examination of the resilience and positions of the 130 largest banks in the Euro area as of 31 December 2013. In the report the ECB said that it ”placed particular emphasis on the treatment of shipping exposure across the SSM (Single Supervisory Mechanism) given the divergent practices observed across banks and NCAs (national competent authorities).” The ECB found that ”following the credit file review, a total of 21.3% of the shipping debtors reviewed were reclassified to non-performing, and the total amount of provisions increased from €5.9 billion to €7.3 billion (+25%)."




10. Record Year Beckons for Royal Caribbean

Early bookings for 2015 are robust and the current order book is better than at the same time last year in both volume and price, Royal Caribbean Cruises said in its third quarter results. Based on this, the company’s current earnings estimates are consistent with Street consensus of USD 4.55 per share for 2015. “Double-digit yield improvements on Europe and China sailings continue to offset the continuation of a highly promotional Caribbean environment,” the cruise liner noted. With regard to the outlook for 2015, the company said it was experiencing strong early booking trends for 2015. “We anticipate another record year in 2015, an important step on the way to DOUBLE-DOUBLE,” said the company.





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