Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 31/12/2014
1. Migrant Maritime Security Breach
Italian authorities have sent two helicopters to meet a cargo ship believed to be carrying hundreds of migrants off the coast of Corfu, after a passenger sent a distress call. A passenger is believed to have called an emergency number for help from their mobile. Official distress calls are usually made from a ship radio.
The passenger’s phone call reportedly said: "We are without water, food and blankets." The alarm was raised because of suspected armed people on board, Greek state television reported, claiming that "illegal immigrants" were on the ship. Coastguard officials later said the captain said the ship was not in any danger
2. US Makes Seafarer Welfare Moves
The US Federal Register has published a proposed rulemaking by the U.S. Coast Guard to implement section 811 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010. This proposed rule would provide clear regulatory requirements for each facility owner or operator to provide seafarers associated with a vessel moored at the facility, and other individuals, access between the vessel and facility gate without unreasonable delay, and at no cost to the seafarer or other individual. Also, this proposed rule would provide facility owners and operators flexibility to implement a system to provide seafarers’ access that is tailored to each facility.
3. Ferry Disaster Claims More Lives
As if the Norman Atlantic ferry disaster toll weren’t high enough, it has emerged that two Albanian seamen were killed during an operation to salvage a multideck car ferry that caught fire off Greece’s Adriatic Coast when a cable connecting their boat to the ferry snapped and hit them. The deaths add to a toll of 10 confirmed victims of the disaster, but there was continuing uncertainty over how many might still be unaccounted for on the smoldering hulk of the Norman Atlantic. The two Albanian seafarers killed were part of an eight-strong crew which had been towing the gutted ferry overnight.
4. Philippines Simulator Boost
The IDESS Maritime Training Centre in the Philippines has purchased a simulator classroom from Dutch company VStepfor training in compliance with international maritime standards and regulations. IDESS provides training courses to maritime students and personnel in the Philippines. Its VStep system comprises four high performance Nautis desktop trainers and an instructor station. According to VStep, Philippine seafarers have come under increased scrutiny following 2013 European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) audits and results, so high quality training in compliance with current maritime regulations is a priority in the region. http://goo.gl/7neRti
5. Tankers Win Awards
Two Kuwait Oil Tanker Company (KOTC) vessels have been named the world’s top tankers for 2014, the company announced. "Al Kout" was termed as the most “environmental, piracy protected and proven” in the world by the Maritime Reporter and Engineering News magazine, while Marinelog chose "Al Dasma" as the top “environmentally friendly crude oil tanker.” Not only does the choice reflect full commitment to the highest levels of safety and security on board KOTC tankers, but also the company’s dedication to its responsibilities as a national and a strategic carrier, CEO Sheikh Talal Al-Khaled Al-Sabah told the media.
6. Greeks Look to New Elections
With new political upheaval affecting Greece, Greek shipowners, reportedly worried they could be hit by a new wealth tax, are rumoured to be pulling deposits out of local banks. Small savers could follow their example, fearing a repetition of the 2013 bail-in of depositors in Cyprus. Antonis Samara, the centre-right Greek prime minister, lost one election on December 29th. Now he will have to fight another. His party’s candidate for president, Stavros Dimas, fell 12 votes short of the required three-fifths majority in a third and final ballot by Greece’s 300 MPs. As the constitution demands, a snap general election will be held on January 25th.
7. Missing Seafarer Mysteries
Agencies working in the shipping industry say that between 1,500 and 2,000 seafarers go missing every year: some take the opportunity to jump ship for a new life in a foreign land; hundreds are believed to commit suicide – but a small proportion are killed during suspected inter-crew disputes. There has been no systematic attempt to chart the problem. But a new global database, charting what its organisers say is likely to highlight widespread human rights’ abuse on the high seas is set to change all that. The Missing Seafarers’ Reporting Programme will be key to ensuring that action is taken and justice can be applied.
8. Banks Set to Begin Lending Once More
European banks are resuming lending to shipping companies after staying away from the beleaguered industry since the financial crisis. “They are definitely back. European banks already with a China or Asia desk are getting very much more active. I have begun to see term sheets from them,” said Jonathan Silver, a partner at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright. Germany, British, French and Norwegian banks were traditionally predominant lenders to the capital-intensive industry until 2008, when the financial meltdown sent several high-profile lenders into distress, saddling their shipping portfolios with piles of non-performing loans.
9. Tanker Market Risks and Rewards
The improved conditions in the tanker freight market has sparked investor appetite in this shipping segment. As such, prices have risen and ship owners looking for returns in the tanker markets can invest their available capital in a variety of ways. According to new research, the net asset value for a 5-year Aframax Tanker reached its high of 220.8 in August, 2008 and a low of 78.5 in October 2012. “The current NAV for this tanker index is 125.2. Based on today’s NAV, this index would have returned 59.4% from its low point, but would have lost an investor 43.3% if entered into at the high".
10. Double Hulls Finally Reach US
25 years after Exxon Valdez, the U.S. has finally mandated double-hulled oil tankers. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 gave ship owners 25 years to phase out their single-hull tankers. That deadline arrives on Jan. 1, 2015. The oil-spill prevention measure has been in the works for decades, ever since Capt. Joseph Hazelwood ran the Exxon Valdez onto Alaska’s Bligh Reef in 1989. Eleven million gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound, killing thousands of seabirds and sea otters, devastating the region’s fisheries and unleashing action in Washington, D.C. The act also required tugboat escorts for oil tankers in Puget Sound.
Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions www.seacurus.com
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