Seacurus Daily Top Ten Maritime News Stories 26/11/2014
1. Risks of Migrant Rescue Affecting Masters
Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI) has raised concerns about the implications for masters of the launch of the new EU Frontex operation ‘Triton’ which will apparently have a reduced budget and focus on border control in place of the Italian ‘Mare Nostrum’ that is credited with saving more than 150,000 migrants in the Mediterranean. The obligation of masters to render assistance to persons in danger at sea can be seen alongside the obligation of governments to ensure that assistance be provided to any person in distress at sea. Cuts to the search and rescue resources in the Mediterranean are impacting this delicate balance.
2. Greek Navy Forced to Rescue Migrants
Greece has sent a frigate to rescue a container ship believed to carrying hundreds of undocumented migrants and in distress off its southern island of Crete, the Greek coastguard. The Kiribati-flagged vessel, with about 700 people aboard, was sailing 30 nautical miles (55 km) southeast of Crete. The ship reported an engine problem in an area with strong winds. Four container ships sailing nearby could be called on to help if needed, a coastguard spokesman said. “There is no immediate danger, our priority is to save them if needed,” he said. “We’re waiting for the weather to calm down.”
3. Iranian Navy Tackles Pirates Again
The Navy’s 32nd fleet of warships rescued an Iranian oil tanker from a pirate attack near the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait for the second time in two days. Two days ago, servicemen on board Iran’s 32nd naval fleet managed to save one of the country’s oil tankers in the high seas. The pirates, however, added to the number of their speedboats and launched a fresh attack on the oil tanker near the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, this time equipped with more advanced weapons. But the Iranian naval fleet foiled the attack for the second time and forced the pirates away after timely presence at the scene and firing at the assailants.
4. Campaign Against Flags of Convenience and MLC
Seafarer unions along the east coast of India and in Sri Lanka, launched a week long industrial campaign (24-28 November 2014), against `Flags of Convenience’ (FOC) shipping. ITF Inspectors and union activists inspected a total of 16 ships on the first day of action week – checking crew contracts and working and living conditions on board FOC vessels notorious for employing seafarers on exploitative conditions. Some crew members were found to be receiving very low wages, violating the Maritime Labour Convention 2006. Talks have begun with the German owners of the vessel to cover the crew with an ITF approved collective agreement.
5. Chronic Congestion Hints at Wider Problems
Ports on the US west coast are currently suffering from chronic congestion, but are there deeper issues affecting their performance? Drewry’s new report Container Terminal Capacity and Performance Benchmarks compares capacity and performance benchmarks for 500 terminals worldwide that help to explain some of the underlying factors hindering ports in North America. The well documented severe congestion currently affecting US west coast ports is a consequence of a “perfect storm” of factors working together. The situation has now deteriorated to the point of mud-slinging between the employers (PMA) and the union (ILWU). http://goo.gl/1ot7OX
6. The Soft Underbelly of Naval Security Doctrine
Operation Atalanta (EU NAVFOR) has unquestionably grabbed the limelight as the EU’s most important contribution to combating piracy. Even though the mission’s mandate has been extended, some question whether the emphasis is shifting towards softer (and cheaper) maritime security initiatives. Even though progress was made against Somali piracy it showed just how limited use of naval force at sea often was, when captured pirates were simply let go or could not easily be prosecuted. The issue has long been that piracy is actually tackled best ashore – but how can the navies engage with the deeper roots of the piracy phenomenon?
7. Permanent Mission in Somalia
The European Union’s anti-piracy mission, EUCAP Nestor, opened a permanent operational base at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu Monday (November 24th). The mission’s deployment in Mogadishu is expected to enhance its ability to support maritime security systems in Somalia and in the Horn of Africa.
Head of EUCAP Nestor mission Etienne de Poncins said, "Pirates are still out there. They remain ashore ready to act at any opportunity," he said. "Our objective is to strengthen the action on the ground in order to help Somali authorities to identify them and dismantle their structures."
8. ITF Slams Panama Canal Union Bashing
The ITF has criticised the Panama Canal Authority for trying to use the courts to close down the ITF-affiliated Unión de Capitanes y Oficiales de Cubierta (UCOC – Panamanian Tugboat Captains’ Union). ITF president Paddy Crumlin explained: “The whole ITF stands in solidarity with, and supports, our colleagues in the UCOC against the Panama Canal Authority. The PCA is trying to shut the union down, using tortuous and opportunistic tactics – it’s currently seeking to appeal against a Labor Relations Board decision which was taken as a result of a Supreme Court decision…and, in doing so, to seek de-recognition and invalidation of the UCOC.
9. Class Issues New Guide to Emissions
Classification society DNV GL has released a new guide for shipowners working to become Emission Control Area (ECA) sulfur compliant. DNV said that the switch of heavy fuel oil (HFO) to low-sulfur-compliant marine gas oil (MGO) may be more difficult and intensive than owners expect, as errors could lead to putting equipment at risk and increasing operational costs. The organisation has also released a Fuel Change-Over Calculator (FCO) to help shipowners and operators with the changeover process.
10. New Regulations Drive Up Uncertainty and Costs
The shipping industry is increasingly subject to environmental legislation designed to reduce air and marine pollution. In January 2015, new regulations concerning sulphur emissions will come into force that seek to limit the amount of sulphur emitted by ships. All vessels within specified Emission Control Areas that include the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and North American waters will be prevented from burning fuel above 0.1% sulphur content. The regulations will introduce further uncertainty into a market that is suffering from overcapacity and depressed demand as a result of market conditions and low consumer confidence. http://goo.gl/nZmNs2
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