Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 04/12/2014
1. Liberia Releases MLC Report
Liberia has just released the mandatory MLC Annual Report for 2013, which confirms that Liberia’s proactive approach to enforcement of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 has resulted in an extremely low deficiency rate for Liberian-flag ships, the Liberia Ship Registry (LISCR) said in a statement. “Liberia has consistently led the way on MLC. It was the first flag state to ratify MLC 2006 and has been tireless in applying its training and implementation procedures. Liberia’s first MLC Annual Report confirms this,” said LISCR Ceo Scott Bergeron.
2. German Flag Suffers Loss
The German flag is to lose its largest ship manager by the end of June 2017 as Reederei NSB’s flags-out its fleet of 38 containerships by the deadline, with the layoff of 486 onboard personnel. The fleet will be re-flagged in waves, with three ships replaced every two months, along with the replacement of 25 German or European sailors. Fleet reductions and the out-flagging of distressed one-ship companies has already made 179 sailors unable to be deployed on NSB ships, and those employees will have their termination announced "at short notice". The ship manager warned of its departure in June.
3. Weather Warning for Arabian Sea
The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) has issued a warning to seafarers in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman due to rough weather. In a statement on Wednesday, the centre said the sea level had reached a maximum height of 10 feet at Umm Al Sheif, accompanied by northwesterly winds of up to 55kmph. The centre has forecast clear to partly cloudy sky over some areas, with moderate to fresh winds especially over the sea today. The sea will remain to be rough. The relative humidity will increase during night and early morning hours over some coastal and internal areas with a chance of fog formation.
4. Owners Should Stop Bleating says Union
RMT has announced that the shipping industry is being “blatantly alarmist” when it comes to the new low sulphur regulations and the threats it poses. The shipping and transport union states that the concerns the sector has about the restrictions, which come into force on 1 January 2015, “threaten to destabilise the already damaged sector and which pose a renewed threat to seafarers’ jobs and training." The organisation stated that the collapse of oil prices in the last six months means that the costs of the rules have been reduced. New limits on the sulphur in fuel were announced in 2008 when the Chamber of Shipping welcomed them.
5. Piracy Past Haunts Presidential Hopeful
A Somali presidential hopeful has been found to have had rather a checkered past and is facing strong piracy allegations. The UN Monitoring report on Somalia that was published in October 2014 shows Kamal Gutale was involved in piracy. The report says he opened a bank account for Mohamed Abdi Hassan ‘Afweyne’ the kingpin of pirates, who is considered to be responsible for at least 24 hijacking and abduction cases and has often and publicly admitted his involvement, including during a 24 April 2013 interview with AFP. In 2010, the Monitoring Group proposed Afweyne for sanctioning. The evidence seems pretty damning.
6. Hard Times for Guarding Firms
Cash-strapped maritime security firms are being forced to use fewer costly elite guards and to diversify into other businesses such as cyber security, as a steep decline in Somali pirate attacks and hotter competition erode fast-thinning margins. Hundreds of security firms sprang up over the past seven years to offer protection to shipping companies, with scores of merchant vessels being boarded and sailors taken hostage in pirate raids off the coast of conflict-torn Somalia. The cost of using guards has also halved as the sector has become more competitive, which though good for ship owners is bad for security firms.
7. Cross Channel Stink over Sulphur
Cross Channel RoRo Ferries have become embroiled in a row over sulphur regulations and there is a threat of freight rate rises. If true across the board fare increases would be due to lack of preparation. Now, according to the national press, P&O Ferries has announced massive price increases from 1 January of £50 per trip for a family of four with a car, something the company takes issue with. The alleged statement has led to the usual hysteria as the press have warned of ‘dangerous fires’ and ‘boats floating dangerously without power in busy shipping lanes. Operators have had enough time to convert ships but they haven’t.
8. Dry Bulk Rally In the Offing
Dry bulk shipping is expected to continue its recovery, thanks to declining excess capacity, increasing iron ore shipments and rising grain trade, according to the latest edition of the Dry Bulk Forecaster, published by shipping consultancy Drewry. The dry bulk market rebounded in the third quarter thanks to the encouraging performance of the Capesize segment, which thrived on strong demand for iron ore from China and high production in Brazil. China’s hunger for imported ore led to a 25% increase in the Baltic Dry Index during the third quarter. The Ebola virus outbreak has reduced the number of vessel calls at West African ports.
9. Chinese Fleet Hoves into GoA
The nineteenth Chinese naval anti-piracy task group has departed China for the Gulf of Aden as China continues with maritime patrols in the region. Xinhua reports that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) task force left the coastal city of Qingdao in Shandong Province on December 2. It comprises missile frigates, as well as supply ship with two helicopters and more than 700 troops. It is the first time that two frigates are being used for such maritime security patrols. China sent its first convoy fleet to the area in 2008, and now 18 fleets have escorted more than 5 800 vessels and successfully rescued or aided more than 60 ships.
10. Longchamp Ruling on Ransoms and GA
The "LONGCHAMP" piracy case has examined how the York-Antwerp Rules (on substituted expenses) should be interpreted when assessing whether the substituted expenses of negotiating down a ransom demand should be allowed in general average. The Judge considered whether a USD 6 million ransom payment would have been reasonable and would have fallen within the ambit of Rule A. It was held that the Expenses were in substitution for the differential between the initial ransom demand and the final ransom payment. This was sufficient to engage Rule F, but also demonstrated a willingness to follow a more flexible interpretation.
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