Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 25/02/2015
1. Hijacked Tanker Found Off Philippines
Singapore-headquartered anti-piracy watchdog ReCAAP information sharing centre has reported that missing tanker MT Rehobot had been found off Mati City, Philippines. According to the report, the Philippines Coast Guard received information about a grounded ship in Barangay Cabuaya, Mati City. Coastguards and officials were dispatched to the location the next day. Authorities confirmed the grounded ship was the missing MT Rehobot following inspection of the vessel. Authorities also found spillage of an unknown substance on board the ship and further investigations are being carried out to determine what has happened since the vessel was boarded and the 14 Indonesian crew members were put into life rafts.
2. Drugs and Stowaways Seized
The Colombian Navy has seized over 220 pounds of cocaine and apprehended two stowaways from a U.S-bound tanker in Cartagena Bay. The drugs were discovered by Navy divers inside a secret compartment located near the rudder of the Cyprus-flagged “Prisco Alexander”. Also found inside the compartment were the two stowaways, both Colombian nationals, and plastic bags containing food. The compartment was discovered by a Navy Diving and Rescue unit from Coast Guard Station Cartegena while carrying out underwater inspections of the vessel. Inside the compartment, the drugs were stashed in black bags containing 102 rectangular packages with 1 kilogram of cocaine each.
3. Major Shipping Declines Noted
A recent analysis by Clarkson Research suggests major declines in shipping fleet productivity, as measured by tonnes carried per deadweight, since the financial crash. For tankers, including product carriers, productivity dropped 33% 8.3 tonnes per dwt in 2004 to 5.6 last year. Capacity had increased 66% in the period but trade by only 12%, although development of longer-haul Asian trades in recent years may have helped "real" vessel demand. Slow steaming accounts for most of the drop in productivity. With bunker prices 50% lower than last summer any pressure to increase speeds again could unlock a lot of surplus capacity.
4. Annual International Ice Patrolling Begins
The International Ice Patrol began flying its first reconnaissance missions of the 2015 annual ice season earlier this month to detect and track icebergs in the north Atlantic. In early February, the IPP deployed its first Ice Reconnaissance Detachment (IRD) to Newfoundland, Canada, to meet with Canadian partners and to conduct the initial aerial patrols of the season. During the reconnaissance, a total of 156 icebergs were spotted that could pose a threat to ships in transatlantic shipping lanes. The IIP, which is organized by the U.S. Coast Guard but involves a handful of nations, conducts iceberg reconnaissance using HC-130J Hercules aircraft from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
5. Vessel Loses Power In Bosporus Straits
The Marshall Islands-flagged King Edward lost power in the Bosporus strait and was carried dangerously close to the coast by strong currents before the crew managed to anchor the 182-meter tanker, The Daily Sabah reports. The 2004-built tanker was on its way from Italy to Russia’s Black Sea Kavkaz port when it suffered suspected engine failure near Istanbul, Sunday evening. Turkey’s Maritime Safety Directorate sent tugs to tow the disabled vessel to Istanbul’s Yenikapi port. Live shipping maps suggest that the tanker has not left the port yet.
6. Special Delivery for P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises on Sunday celebrated the handover of the biggest addition to its fleet – and a bonus, thanks to the eurozone crisis. The final instalment of the £473m Britannia was 5pc cheaper than expected because of the strength of sterling against the euro. The original budget for the 141,000-tonne cruise liner, with accommodation for 3,600 passengers and 1,400 crew, had been £500m. Britannia at a stroke adds almost 25pc to P&O capacity and is fully booked for 70pc of its first season. It breaks new ground as the biggest ship so far designed for the British holiday market, where P&O accounts for a 30pc share of the business. A one-week trip on Britannia costs from £595 to £3,000.
7. West Coast Port Dispute Finally Ends
After more than seven months, the labour dispute which has caused disruption to U.S. West Coast ports is officially over, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) Acting Director Allison Beck announced in an emailed statement. A tentative agreement between the The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and employer representatives Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) was finally reached late last Friday, February 20, 2015. “I am extremely pleased to announce today that after extensive negotiations and mediation provided by the FMCS and with the support and assistance of Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
8. Italian Ports to Close for Strike
Unionized workers at Italian ports plan to stage a 24-hour strike on March 6th, 2015. The strike, announced by union federations Filt-CGIL, Fit-CISL and Uiltrasporti, comes in the wake of announced reforms and ongoing dispute over the responsibilities between the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Economic Development. The unions claim that the new reforms would compromise quality and safety of workers, sailors, and users, benefiting companies without experience and expertise. The current system should be kept as it guarantees the stability and qualification of labour, the unions explained in a joint statement, adding that the existing regulations on nautical technical services guarantee safety.
9. UN Refugee Agency Supports Rescues
The UN’s refugee agency has said it supports continued sea rescues but that the safety of seafarers should be an equal priority for Europe. A spokesman said that the agency recognised the considerable "strain" that the current situation in the Mediterranean is placing on the international shipping, and "urged" that the "first priority must be to save lives and protect the safety of migrants, refugees, and the seafarers who are coming to their aid". The agency said it did not have the expertise to comment on maritime security measures, but recognised the "commendable" actions of seafarers and coastguard personnel "often in very difficult and dangerous circumstances".
10. Another Magic Pipe Seafarer Sentenced
The chief engineer of a car carrier has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty in the US to obstruction of justice and violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced chief engineer Noly Torato Vidad, 47, of the Philippines, to eight months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release, after he plead guilty to the charges last November. Vidad was the chief engineer of the Panama-flagged MV Selene Leader, operated by Hachiuma Steamship Co LTD, a Japanese company, between August 2013 and the end of January 2014. Vidad and first engineer Ireneo Tomo Tuale used a so-called ‘magic pipe’ to illegally bypass the ship’s pollution control equipment.
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