Top Ten Maritime News Stories 24/02/2015

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 24/02/2015


1. US Settles With Philippines for Grounding

The United States government has paid the Philippines $1.96 million in damages for the grounding of the USS Guardian on the protected Tubbataha Reef in January 2013. The Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines says it received the full requested amount of Php 87,033,570.71 in January as compensation for damages caused by the grounding. The compensation will be used for the protection and rehabilitation of the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Department said. Portions of the funds will also be used to enhance the country’s capability to monitor the area and prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future, according to the Department.


2. LNG Chartering Rates to Plummet

The cost to ship super-chilled natural gas has tumbled to the lowest level in more than four years and is forecast to fall further. That’s good news for buyers and sellers of the fuel. Rates to transport liquefied natural gas have declined to about 50,000 per day and will probably go lower before recovering, according to Andrew Buckland, a London-based analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. That compares with more than 140,000 a day in 2012, the energy consulting firm found in a report last month. Lower rates can benefit traders that sign short-term contracts and give LNG players flexibility in where they deliver the gas, said Hal Miller, president of consulting company Galway Group in Houston.


3. Inconsistencies Point to Complicit Crews

The Lapin attack was the first successful siphoning incident reported in 2015, but the frequency of these attacks has escalated significantly in recent years. Last year there were 15 such attacks, 12 of them successful — a dramatic increase on the previous three years when a total of only eight cases were reported. “Illegal siphoning of fuel/oil has become a lucrative business owing to the market price and taxes imposed on fuel,”a recent ReCAAP ISC report said. “With continued demand for fuel/oil in underground markets, siphoning incidents are here to stay.” In most of the cases ReCAAP find that the crew accounts "don’t gel". Inconsistencies render the crew’s version of events implausible and inside jobs.



4. Seafarers Injured by Dropped Load

Two men have been seriously injured during an incident on board a ship at Port Hedland. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the crew members from the Happy Buccaneer were injured by a "load spreader" just before midday. The pair were taken to hospital with leg injuries, where they are in stable condition. Two AMSA inspectors are investigating. Maritime Union of Australia’s North West organiser Kyle McGinn said union representatives had been briefed on the incident. "As far as I’m aware, there’s been a serious incident onboard a foreign-manned vessel that was alongside," he said. Adding, "There have multiple incidents over the last 12 months involving foreign seafarers".



5. Historic Freight Low Doesn’t Reflect Economy

Freight shipping prices have plummeted to a historic low, fuelled by a long-standing problem of too many ships and lower demand from China, but experts cautioned against seeing it as a warning on the global economy. The Baltic Dry Index (BDI), which tracks the cost of transporting dry commodities such as coal, iron ore and grain across 20 shipping routes, dropped to its lowest level since the creation of the index in 1985. There have never been more commodities transported by sea, but the sector has been plagued with a surplus of ships ordered in good times, while China has put further downward pressure on rates. The index used to be seen as a reliable indicator of global economic health. but no more.


6. Piracy Fight Plagued by Intelligence Gaps

The fight against piracy in the Gulf of Aden faces tough challenges because countries still refuse to share intelligence, a senior ranking British naval officer has said on Monday. Commodore Keith Blount said that while counter-piracy operations had seen significant advancement, some countries were still withholding intelligence for political reasons – even when they were operating in the same areas as other states. “The Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, they are all conducting counter piracy in a perfectly effective way but the information flow between us is not as good as it could be because there are other factors preventing it from being the case,” he said during a conference in Abu Dhabi.



7. Crews Vulnerable to Criminal Actions

With Asia’s piracy reporting watchdog ReCAAP seemingly becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the piracy "coincidences" which seem to be dogging some fleets in the region. Some companies seem to keep getting repeatedly hit – so can this really be bad luck? Maybe…but most likely not, and it seems increasingly likely that these are inside jobs. So what is being insinuated? Are some crews actually working with the criminals? Now there are allegations of criminal coercion, in which crews are forced to assist or provide information. If they don’t then their families could suffer, and the seafarers themselves could suffer violence too. The bomb left onboard one ship was a veiled threat to the master or crew.




8. Cargoes Damaged by Heated Bunkers

In a new report, marine insurer The Swedish Club has drawn attention to several cases of claims made for cargo damaged by heat from adjacent bunker tanks, advising shippers to be aware of the kind of cargo coming aboard ships. Bulk carriers are most susceptible to having damaged cargo, said Loss Prevention Officer Joakim Enström, as the vessels carry sensitive contents such as wheat, rice, and maize. Foodstuffs such as soybeans can begin to suffer damage when temperatures reach 40 or 50 degrees Celsius, he said, which can cause cargo to become discoloured, cake, carbonize, mould or even in some cases catch fire. "If sensitive cargo is loaded in the aft cargo hold the crew must plan", they stated.




9. Shipping Lanes are Still Safe

Shipping corridors used by Gulf energy exporters are not at risk from violence and political volatility in Yemen and the seizure of swathes of territory in the region by Islamic State militants, a senior U.S. naval officer. Vice Admiral John Miller, Commander of U.S. Naval Central Command, said a “robust” U.S. and international maritime presence was helping to minimise threats to oil-producing countries in the region. “As dynamic as the region is today, what we have seen over the past years is the maritime atmosphere has been safe, the free flow of commerce has been stable and secure,” said Miller, also Commander of U.S. 5th Fleet/Combined Maritime Forces.



10. Owner Sentenced After Crew Deaths

A tug boat owner was sentenced to eight months in jail on Friday after his crew member died trying to reattach a tow line in a violent storm. During the hearing at UK’s Southampton Crown Court, Martin Richley owner and skipper of 9.5m Medway tug boat Endurance pleaded guilty to serious offences under the Merchant Shipping Act. The case related to events in February 2013. On February 3, the Endurance began to tow a 60ft motor cruiser "Sirus M" from the River Medway to Brighton on the south coast of England. Richley was on board the Endurance acting as skipper along with Steven Trice acting as the crew. Strong winds caused problems, but the tug was licensed only for use in "favorable weather conditions".





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