Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 30/01/2015
1. Baltic Index Spirals Downwards
The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, spiralled downwards to its lowest level in nearly three decades as rates for all the four vessel types continued to flounder. The overall index, which gauges the cost of shipping resources including iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertiliser, was down 34 points, or 5.11 percent, at 632 points, the lowest since August 1986. The index is also seen by investors as an indicator of global industrial activity. Brokers said the dry bulk market was expected remain in the doldrums due to weak commodity demand at present especially from top global importer China.
2. West African Piracy Victims
The West African coastline recorded 41 incidents of piracy, although many further attacks were unreported while pirates held 442 crew-members hostage compared to 304 in 2013, according to a report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). In and around Ghanaian waters, three vessels were hijacked between June and July — one of which was a fishing vessel intended to be used as a platform to hijack tankers off Nigeria. Seven vessels were also boarded while anchored at Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo, with ship and crew properties targetted by the robbers. Nigeria’s coastline recorded 18 attacks involving 14 tankers and vessels taken.
3. Liberian Registry Goes Green
Maritime authority Liberian Registry Wednesday announced it has launched a new "green" initiative that aims to assist shipowners in improving their environmental credentials. Liberian Registry said it had entered into a partnership with U.S. consultancy EfficientShip Finance (ESF) to launch the programme. "Our aim is to ensure that Liberia remains the greenest fleet afloat," said Scott Bergeron, CEO of Liberian Register’s U.S.-based manager, the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR). "The Liberian administration welcomes any new technology and ship designs which improve operational efficiency and lower ship emissions to the atmosphere, including greenhouse gases." said Scott Bergeron, CEO.
4. Mega Bulkers Reach China
Brazilian miner Vale’s mega-ships have been able to dock at five ports in China, the firm’s head of investor relations said on Thursday, as a ban that had been in place since 2012 is relaxed. "The issue … of the obstruction, that’s overcome," investor relations chief Rogerio Nogueira, said at a conference in Rio de Janeiro. "We are in the process of working to increase the number of ports at which we can dock," he added. The comments mark the clearest statement yet from the company that restrictions on the ships are being rolled back. Chinese ship owners had opposed access for Vale’s mega-ships of 400,000 deadweight tons, known as Valemaxes, saying they could worsen a shipping glut.
5. Bunker Sales Arrests In Singapore
Twelve men in Singapore have been arrested in relation to an illegal sale of SGD 4000 ($3200) worth of marine gas oil (MGO). The suspects are not Singaporean nationals, and were detained after an investigation allegedly found that seven members aboard the Indonesia-flagged tugboat Tanaga Maju had sold six metric tonnes of MGO to the Equatorial Guinea-flagged "TB Nerine". Police also reportedly seized the "TB Nerine", along with the SGD 2760 ($2200) found aboard. The men are to be charged with abetment in criminal breach of trust and face up to 15 years in jail along with a possible fine. The transaction is believed to have happened at sea off the Pandan River at the end of last week.
6. Clubs Warns of Emissions Bite
P&I club Skuld has advised members that enforcement of new Emissions Control Area (ECA) rules "have teeth" and will be strictly enforced. "It has only been three weeks since the new ultra low sulphur regulations have come in to force in North America and Northern Europe, and already it is becoming clear that these rules will have teeth and that enforcement will be rigorous," said Skuld. This month, EPA released its penalty policy for non-compliance with the new rules, imposing up to $25,000 per day, per violation. Penalties are not restricted to those found not burning the correct fuel, but also apply in relation to a host of record keeping obligations.
7. Navies Work Together to Counter Piracy
Maritime forces from East Africa, South Africa, Europe, Indian Ocean nations, the United States and several international organizations began the fourth iteration of the multinational maritime Exercise Cutlass Express, Jan. 28, 2015. Exercise Cutlass Express 2015, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness (MDA) and information-sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity. The exercise leverages The Djibouti Code of Conduct, which 21 nations are signatory to, as a framework for exercising information-sharing practices and enforcing maritime rule of law at sea.
8. Maritime Cyber Attack Exercise Begins
The recent cyber attacks on the Sony Corporation, Target and Home Depot highlighted that even the largest corporations are still susceptible to cyber attacks. The United States Coast Guard — Sector Honolulu is conducting the Maritime Cyber Security Exercise at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus this week. It is the first USCG such exercise to combine hands-on cyber security with a tabletop exercise to study the impact of cyber events on the maritime industry. The hands-on exercise is an interactive simulation of maritime industrial computer systems and networks with a focus on the Hawaii container cargo distribution system, and will examine the impact on port operations and maritime industry. http://goo.gl/ZtlYFU
9. Dunkirk Spirit Towards Seafarers
Stιphane Raison, Chief Executive Officer of Dunkerque-Port, and Philippe Bertonθche, Chairman of the Seafarers’ Welfare Council of the Port of Dunkirk, have signed a Partnership Charter for the welfare of seafarers. The purpose of this Charter is to set out, formally and permanently, the terms and conditions of the support which Dunkerque-Port gives to the associations for their action in favour of the seafarers calling at the Port of Dunkirk. Besides the Port’s contribution, the services and activities of these associations are funded by the subsidies of the local partners and by a system of voluntary contributions from operators in the maritime sector (shipowners and shipping agents).
10. Leading Names Come Together For Crew Welfare
Leading names in shipping among supporters of new coaching programme designed to enhance crew welfare and improve retention rates. Sailors’ Society, one of the largest seafarer support charities operating internationally, has unveiled "Wellness at Sea", a coaching and support programme designed to promote health and well-being among the world’s seafarers. Wellness at Sea has been designed to reflect the needs of mariners and the shipping industry alike by promoting cultural awareness, emotional intelligence, social skills and spiritual well-being alongside more familiar skills competence. The programme will seek to address five specific needs: social, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual wellness.
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