Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 27/02/2015
1. Seafarers Freed After Nigerian Hijack
Two Greeks and a Pakistani taken hostage three weeks ago off the coast of Nigeria in a bloody attack on a Greek oil tanker have been freed, the ship’s owner said on Wednesday.Aeolos Management, owner of the Maltese-flagged VLCC Kalamos, said in a statement that pending medical examinations the three men would be flown home to recover from their “traumatic experience.” The firm said that no details would be released on how the three men were freed, since “this might encourage further attacks and hostage taking” off the coast. They also expressed “great sadness” over the death of the vessel’s chief officer in the February 3 attack in the Gulf of Guinea. The vessel was hit while at anchor.
2. UN Calls for Maritime Support for Libya
According to United Nations, Libyan authorities need an international maritime force to help as they are unable to halt the illicit trade in oil or the flow of weapons in and out of the country, says a Reuter’s report. UN likely increase pressure on major world powers to consider intervention to stop the North African state from spinning further out of control, as per the confidential report by the U.N. Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Libya. "The capacity of Libya to physically prevent (arms) transfers is almost nonexistent and there is no authorization to enforce the arms embargo on the high seas or in the air as there were during the 2011 revolution," the panel wrote in the report.
3. Russian Vessel to be Freed for Cash
An Indian court has requested a fine of $200,000 for a release of the Russian ship "Sevastopol" which was detained earlier this month. The Russian seafarers union has said, “There is a fine imposed on the ship of over $200,000. Until it is paid, the ship will not be released. The ship owner has now retained a lawyer and the issue is solved through the court". The union added that all Sevastopol’s crew members are feeling well, there is enough food and water on the ship. The "Sevastopol" owned by a Vladivostok-based shipping company, Gudson, was detained while leaving the port of Mumbai and has since been held in neutral waters 14 miles off the coast.
4. Maersk Results Announced
Maersk Line delivers a 2014 result that is USD 831 million higher than 2013. Company achieved this by lower unit cost and increasing its volumes while the rates decreased by 1.6%. The lower unit cost is the result of a better vessel utilisation and network efficiencies. The USD 2,341 million profit – represents a 55% improvement compared to 2013 (USD 1,510m), 11.6% return on invested capital (7.4%), volumes increased by 6.8%, average rate decreased by 1.6% while unit costs decreased by is 4.3%. The underlying result for 2015 is expected to be higher than 2014 (USD 2.2 billion – as global container shipping demand in 2015 is expected to grow by 3-5%, nominal supply by 5-7%.
5. Reaching out Nations on Maritime Security
Malaysia has invited Myanmar to be an observer in the Malacca Strait Patrols (MSP) initiative. Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammudin Tun Hussein said the MSP was a coordination of marine and air patrols between the littoral states to combat the threat. "The move will hopefully help Myanmar further develop its knowledge of maritime security, as well as enhance the existing MSP cooperation," he told a press conference. The MSP which was launched in 2006, comprises the Malacca Strait Sea Patrol (MSSP), Eyes in the Sky (EiS) and the MSP Intelligence Exchange Group (MSP IEG).
6. Owners Hit by Losses
European shipowners Golar and Hoegh LNG both reported net financial losses for the final quarter of 2014 on 25 and 26 February amid a bearish short-term charter market outlook. Golar saw the arrival of two LNG carriers over the final quarter of 2014 which pushed its fleet up to 12 vessels but which also increased its operating expenses. Oslo-based shipowner Hoegh LNG suffered a net loss of $57.7m in the final quarter of 2014 due mainly to one-off impairment charges associated with writing off a US floating import project. The US project in Port Dolphin, Florida which received regulatory approval back in 2009 cost Hoegh $35.5m.
7. Greek Banks Look to Offload Shipping Debts
Greek banks are considering offloading part of their shipping debt portfolios worth billions of dollars in a bid to shore up their capital, Reuters stressed citing banking and ship-financing sources. Earlier this week, Athens has secured a four-month extension of its existing loan agreement but the danger of it ending up in a wreck raises the risk of Greek banks facing further deposit loses in the future, the news agency estimated. At the same time, Greek banks were themselves approaching shipowners, offering them to sell their performing loans back to them at a discount: “Even at a slight discount, this will help bolster underlying capital and buy some breathing space for the banks".
8. NORTH Advises on Iranian Sanctions
The North P&I club has produced a quick reference guide which aims to simplify sanctions legislation governing shipments in and out of Iran. ‘Current EU and US sanctions against Iran are incredibly complex and change frequently. They are a source of great confusion for shipowners and operators, who need to take great care when considering whether or not it is lawful to ship a particular cargo to or from Iran,’ says North’s deputy director Mark Church. The club points out that for any party wishing to trade with Iran or Iranian people, the onus is on that party to know the law and ensure that any goods being carried and any individuals or companies involved in the trade are not sanctioned or blocked.
9. Latest Record Breaking Vessel Announced
Royal Caribbean International’s third Oasis-class ship is set to be the largest cruise ship ever constructed, according to some new details revealed this week about the ship. Oasis III will encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, just over 1,700 tons greater than the 225,282 GRT Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas and far greater than the world’s third biggest cruise ship, the 168,666 GRT Quantum of the Seas, part of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class. In addition to its massive size, Royal Caribbean also revealed that the ship will be named Harmony of the Seas and that it will launch in April 2016.
10. NATO Visits IMO Training Initiative
NATO Maritime Commander Vice Admiral Peter Hudson, CBE Royal Navy, visited the two-week Advanced Maritime Law Enforcement/Training of Trainers course taking place at NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Centre (NMIOTC), in Souda Bay, Crete, Greece. The course is being conducted from February 23 to March 6 under the auspices of the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) and the Djibouti Regional Training Centre with the support and supervision of the IMO Secretariat’s Kiruja Micheni, and benefits from the high NATO standards embraced by NMIOTC. The course included training in evidence collection at a simulated crime scene on board a ship.
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