Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 08/12/2014
1. Crew Death Raises Asian Piracy Stakes
The killing of a crew member of a Vietnamese tanker by pirates marks a deadly escalation in Southeast Asian hijackings and the third attack on a ship from Vietnam in two months. Crew member Tran Duc Dat was shot yesterday in the forehead after the VP Asphalt 2, owned by VP Petrochemical Transport Co. in Haiphong, was attacked at 4:30 a.m., the Vietnam Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center said in a statement. The vessel, which had just left Singapore, was carrying 2,300 metric tons of liquid asphalt. The ship may have been targeted by pirates who thought it was carrying oil products.
2. MLC Progress But Wage Fears Remain
Seacurus says that overall confidence in the successful implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) should not conceal the fact that there is continuing concern over the risk of abandonment and the timely payment of crew wages. Thomas Brown, managing director of Seacurus, says, “Recent figures…indicate that the MLC Convention is being well-enforced". But ‘payment of wages’ (39.5 percent) and ‘manning levels for the ship’ (28.6 percent) are still massive concerns. Protective systems are in place, such as the Seacurus CrewSeacure cover, and seafarers are willing to research the subject before sailing. http://goo.gl/tD679h
3. Human Rights for Pirates Discussed
The decision of the European Court of Human Rights to pay damages to Somali pirates is rather bizarre and poses the question whether the UK should remain a part of this system. According to experts the decision is the latest and serious of rulings which have brought the European Court of Human Rights into attention in the UK. And the raised question is to whether it is a valid body at all and should form part of a judicial system. Human rights are clearly important. But in some cases at the ECHR protecting them can lead to leniency for some rather hard-bitten criminals. It is important that we seem to know where to draw the line.
4. Massive Blue Growth for Denmark
The Danish-flag merchant fleet is now its largest ever, having grown 13% as measured in gross tonnage since the beginning of the year, according to statistics released by the Danish Shipowners’ Association as of November. The fleet stands at 13.8 million gross tons (gt) and 15.9 million deadweight tons (dwt) distributed across 647 vessels. This growth has occurred despite a weakening Chinese economy and geopolitical tensions, says the DSA. The Danish flag is now the 14th biggest in the world, up from 16th. The lower total figure means that Denmark is now the 8th largest shipping nation in the world. Owners also have 99 ships on order.
5. Tankers Rates Boosted by OPEC
VLCC tankers will likely keep their upward trajectory as the recent OPEC decision to keep the oil taps flowing, means that oil prices will remain low for the time being, punishing some producers. However, at the same time, low oil prices will stimulate consumption, ultimately encouraging crude movements. According to the latest report from shipbroker Gibson, “2014 has seen a marked improvement in sentiment, with many suggesting that we may have seen the bottom of this particular cycle. According to the shipbroker, “the frequent volatility of the spot market during 2014 has significantly increased the confidence of shipowners".
6. Indian Seafarers Facing Emirate Issues
There has been a sharp increase in cases related to problems faced by Indian crew members on the coast of Dubai and Northern Emirates, Indian diplomats here have said, admitting that they have received many SOS calls in the recent past. The active intervention with ship owners/agents and port/immigration authorities has helped in timely resolution of more than ten such cases, according to the Indian Consulate in Dubai. There has been a sharp increase in the number of distress calls as stranded crew members have already been relieved and sent back home. and it is important to look into welfare of the stranded crews.
7. Amsterdam to get New Sea Locks
The construction of the new sea lock in the Port of Amsterdam is scheduled to begin in 2016. The construction completion is set for 2019, when first ships should be able to transit the new lock. At the moment, executive organization of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment is at the start of the second dialogue phase of the procurement tender. The initial plan by the national government was to replace the locks no later than 2029, however this date seemed to be too far away as the port may reach its maximum capacity of 95 million tons already in 2020. The total cost of the project is estimated to be EUR 889 million.
8. UK Sets Up New Permanent Middle East Base
Britain is to establish its first permanent military base in the Middle East since it formally withdrew from the region in 1971. The base, at the Mina Salman Port in Bahrain, will host ships including destroyers and aircraft carriers. The UK said it was an "expansion of the Royal Navy’s footprint" and would "reinforce stability" in the Gulf. Bahrain will pay most of the £15m ($23m) needed to build the base, with the British paying ongoing costs. The base would also be used for operations against piracy and for aerial surveillance, he added. Regional instability may have prompted some nations to value a British military presence.
9. Missing Seafarer Fate Still Unknown
The fate of seven Indians kidnapped four years ago by pirates operating off African coasts remains unknown and the past six years have seen the abduction of over 400 nationals, the Indian government has said. A total of 416 Indian crew were kidnapped in 42 incidents reported between 2008 and April this year. Of the total cases, a maximum of 10 such incidents were reported in 2010 (in which 100 crew were kidnapped), followed by nine in 2011 and five each in 2008, 2009 and 2012 in which 63, 47 and 43 Indians were held by the pirates. The Indian Navy is taking various steps to ensure safety of Indians on board the vessels. http://goo.gl/dxl6LI
10. New Cruise Crime Legislation Beckons
New US legislation is set to emerge which calls for quarterly updates of any alleged crime onboard cruise ships regardless of its investigative status. It could force the cruise-line industry for the first time to make the information publicly available on a Department of Transportation website. Federal legislation four years ago was supposed to reveal the full picture of crimes aboard cruise ships. Deaths, sexual assaults, thefts and missing-person reports were to be readily available to the public. But slight wording changes in the law that weren’t discovered until 2012 rendered it useless when it comes to crime reports. This change should help.
Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions www.seacurus.com
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