Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 24/03/2015
1. Looking Back at Exxon Valdez
Twenty-six years ago, the Exxon Valdez ran aground the Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, spilling an estimated 257,000 barrels of crude oil and causing the 54th largest oil spill in history. The tanker was transporting Alaskan crude from Port Valdez, which is supplied by the Alyeska Pipeline. The pipeline is one of the largest systems in the world and commonly referred to as one of mankind’s greatest engineering feats. The Exxon Valdez incident also promoted amendments to the IMO’s MARPOL Convention, which called for double-hulled tankers, which were one of the main themes of the U.S. OPA90, which mandated them by 2015.
2. Hijacked Vessel and Crew Found
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has found a hijacked ship off Malaysia, about 7 nm southeast of Tanjung Labuh, Batu Pahat. The Malaysia-flagged ship was travelling to Labuan, Malaysia, from Singapore on the 9 March when it lost contact with its shipowner after being boarded by pirates near Pulau Bintan in Indonesian waters on 10 March. Seven pirates, armed with guns and machetes, robbed the 10 crew members, of whom nine were Indonesians, of their cash and belongings, and siphoned off 1,500 tonnes of marine fuel from the vessel before fleeing. The crew members were unhurt.
3. Major Losses on the Slide
The world is losing fewer ships at sea, with only 75 lost last year – the lowest number in a decade, according to an insurance industry report. Sinking and submerging has been the most common cause of ships being written off over the past decade and this was the case in 2014 too, with it accounting for 49 of the 75 losses. Other significant causes includes ships being wrecked or stranded (13 losses) and four fires or explosions. Over a third of losses come from two Asian maritime regions. The seas round South China, Indo China, Indonesia & the Philippines accounted for 17 losses while those surrounding Japan, Korea and North China had 12.
4. Shaking Up Manning Levels
Amendments to the ISM Code could finally shake up the perennial problem of minimum safe manning levels that are not fit for purpose according to new research. The amendment has shifted the onus of responsibility back on to the shipowner, requiring that the ship is manned in excess of its Minimum Safe Manning Document in order to comply with hours of rest rules and other requirements that may arise due to the operation of the ship. Owners will now be held liable if they have not made a proper assessment of the necessary minimum safe manning level or for not reassessing a change in the circumstances of the vessel.
5. Review Process in the Spotlight
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is planning to review the approval guidelines and performance for permitted ballast water management systems (BWMS). The agency has launched an online survey for stakeholders involved in testing, approval, fitting and operating BWMS. Participants in the survey include administrations and associated agencies, test facilities, organisations and independent experts, BWMS developers, manufacturers and vendors, classification societies, ship owners and operators. IMO has also invited flag state and port state control inspectors and other experts, consultants and organisations to take part.
6. US Supercarrier Receives Warm Welcome
Cheers greeted US Navy supercarrier USS Theodore Roosevelt as she sailed into Stokes Bay today. Hundreds of spectators flocked to the area to watch as the gargantuan vessel, nicknamed the ‘Big Stick’, arrived for a five-day visit as part of a round-the-world deployment. The ship is crewed by more than 5,000 sailors, many of whom will be seen around Portsmouth’s restaurants, bars and shops as they take ‘liberty’ breaks onshore in coming days. One observer said, ‘It’s a bit like watching a floating town arrive off the coast.
7. Latest Iranian Naval Intervention
Iranian naval forces rescued one of the country’s oil tankers from a pirate attack around the Bab-el-Mandeb, a strait between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. Iranian Navy’s public relations office announced that the Gulf of Aden pirates, on board two boats, launched an attack on an Iranian oil tanker on March 20 and forced the vessel to stop. Afterwards, a naval group tasked with protecting the trade vessels rushed to the zone and shooed away the pirates, who returned three hours later, this time on board six speedboats armed with semi-heavy weapons. The attackers fled ultimately after hours of heavy clashes.
8. Biggest Box Ship Undergoes Trials
The 19,224 TEU MSC Oliver returned from sea trials this weekend ahead of next month’s expected delivery to Mediterranean Shipping Company from the DSME shipyard in Okpo, South Korea. MSC Oliver will join sister ship MSC Oscar, the world’s biggest ship by TEU carrying capacity since its delivery November 2014, serving the Albatross string on MSC’s new East-West trade routes between Asia and Europe. The first two ships will be by followed by 18 additional vessels with a capacity over 19,000 TEU by 2016. MSC Oscar and Oliver are the first of six ultra large containerships (ULCS) in the Olympic Series.
9. Norwegian Tanker Grounding
A 71-meter long tanker “Scan Master” ran aground on Sunday off Norway, local media report. The ship got grounded onto a rocky beach at Hemnskjela in Snillfjord, Norway while battling strong winds. There have been no reports of injuries to the crew of 6 members on board. Activities to refloat the ship are to take place today as weather conditions are expected to improve. The cause of the grounding is yet to be determined. No pollution has been reported. The ship, operated by Grontvedt Shipping of Norway, was en route to Averoy on 21 March when it got grounded.
10. Drugs Bust Onboard Cruise Giant
Argentine police have discovered 15kg (33 pounds) of pure cocaine on Royal Caribbean Line’s Splendour of the Seas. Customs officials seized the drug, worth over a million dollars, from two crew members when the ship docked in Buenos Aires. The two men, one a Croatian and the other a Chilean traveling on an Australian passport, are accused of having packets of cocaine taped to their bodies. Sniffer dogs discovered more of the drug in the pair’s cabin. The ship arrived in Buenos Aires on Monday from Uruguay en route for Europe. It will continue on its voyage.
Earlier this month, five Norwegian Cruise Line crew members were arrested after allegedly smuggling 7kg (15 pounds) of cocaine on the Norwegian Sun as it arrived in Tampa in the U.S. from Roatan, Honduras.
Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions www.seacurus.com
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