Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 27/03/2015
1. Somali Pirates Seize Vessel
Pirates have seized an Iranian vessel fishing illegally off the coast of Somalia in the first successful hijacking in almost three years, officials said Thursday, raising fears that the scourge of Somali piracy may be returning. "An Iranian vessel, fishing illegally in Somali waters, was hijacked earlier this week," said Alan Cole of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In the past, Somali pirates justified their attacks saying they had to defend their fishing grounds from illegal trawlers. The reduction in piracy has been met with an increase in illegal fishing with many vessels brazenly trawling waters less than five miles off the Somali coast.
2. Yemen Crisis Threatens Shipping
Conflict in Yemen risks spilling out into the busy sea lanes that pass it and potentially disrupt the narrow Bab el-Mandeb passage through which nearly 4 million barrels of oil are shipped daily to Europe, the United States and Asia. Oil prices rose as much as 6 percent on Thursday after neighbouring Saudi Arabia and its allies launched air strikes on Yemen that targeted Iran-backed Houthi rebels fighting to oust Yemen’s president. “The collapse of Yemen as a political reality and the power of the Houthis will enable Iran to expand its presence on both sides of the Bab el-Mandeb, in the Gulf of Aden and in the Red Sea.
3. Humanitarian Disaster for Shipping
Last year Italian authorities ordered oil tankers owned by Mediterranea di Navigazione SpA to help in five operations to rescue 600 boat people trying to cross from Libya to Italy in flimsy vessels. The rescue operations cost the group €100,000 ($109,473) in extra costs, such as fuel and personnel. Now, managing director Paolo Cagnoni is considering changing his vessels’ routes to avoid the flow of migrant boats that is likely to surge this spring. “We’ve been drawn into this human exile, but our crews aren’t equipped,” Mr. Cagnoni said. “It’s a disaster.” The waves of African and Middle Eastern seaborne migrants are a massive problem.
4. Mooted Response to Salvage Pool
A fund where industry players all chip in to create a pool sufficient to subsidise the salvage industry to meet current risks, has received mixed reactions. Speaking at the International Salvage Union annual members’ day, Reed Smith lawyer Richard Gunn said shipping stakeholders should safeguard its salvage industry that is facing new demands such as ultra large container ships. The fund, he said would support a pool of equipment dedicated to marine salvage and also pay for R&D for new equipment. Gunn opined that salvage is in fact a comparatively inexpensive service and that the pay-out required for such a fund would not be costly.
5. Panama Sees More Ambitious Project
As it enters the final stretch of a massive expansion, the Panama Canal Authority is setting its sights on an even more ambitious project worth up to $17 billion that would allow it to handle the world’s biggest ships. Workers are now installing giant, 22-story lock gates to accommodate larger “Post-Panamax” ships through the Canal. The project involves building a third set of locks on the Canal. It is being headed by Italy’s Salini Impregilo and Spain’s Sacyr, and should open on April 1, 2016. They are looking beyond this project to a fourth set of locks which would serve a new generation of even bigger ships that can carry 20,000 containers.
6. Greek Ferry Runs Aground
A Greek ferry carrying 282 passengers and crew ran aground last night at the Aegean island of Kasos, the Hellenic Coast Guard has confirmed. According to the Coast Guard, the ro-pax ferry Vitsentzos Kornaros had onboard 227 passengers and 55 crewmembers when it ran aground as it tried to moor in heavy winds.
The captain reported that the vessel was not taking water and nobody was injured in the incident. A tugboat was from Mykonos was expected on scene Thursday afternoon. Greek island ferries are famously known for their impressive med-moor maneuvers – stern to dock – no matter how bad the conditions.
7. Learning How to Switch Fuels
Videotel has responded to concerns from the U.S. Coast Guard about an increasing number of machinery space fuel leakages when vessels are switching to low sulphur fuel as they comply with MARPOL Annex VI, by producing a programme that will help guide shipowners through the process. The recent lowering of acceptable sulphur limits for ships operating in Emission Control Areas (ECAs) has also led to calls from the shipowners’ organisation, BIMCO, for governments to exercise robust enforcement of these tighter controls to ensure a continued level playing field. The programme: shows how to do it.
8. More Signs of Corruption at K Line
A third Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) executive has been jailed in the US for price fixing in its car carrier business. The US Department of Justice said Toru Otoda, who was a general manager in K-Line’s car carrier division, had plead guilty to price fixing and had been jailed for 18 months and fined $20,000. The charge related to price fixing between November 2010 and September 2012. “Today’s sentence reinforces our commitment to hold executives accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. In November 2014 K Line was ordered to pay a fine of $67.7m.
9. Looking into a Life at Sea
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Teekay Corporation (NYSE:TK) owns and operates one of the world’s largest fleets of oil tankers, gas carriers, offshore vessels and floating facilities which collectively, play a vital role in support of the global energy infrastructure. Most of the time, these amazing vessels quietly go about their business plying the world’s oceans out of sight and out of mind of the general public. We can now get to see inside a world that most never have the opportunity to experience, this video was shot by Teekay aboard their 12 year old, 151,849 deadweight crude oil tanker, "European Spirit".
10. Lloyd’s Looking to China
China’s reinsurance market provides significant growth potential for Lloyd’s of London, said chairman John Nelson on Thursday. "We are obviously very small in China, growing from small percentages quickly, but I think over the medium to longer term we’d expect China to be a major market for Lloyd’s. China’s domestic carriers are very strong, and we are there to complement them with specialist risks," Nelson said. Nelson was speaking just after Lloyd’s reported its 2014 annual pre-tax profit of 3.2 billion pounds ($4.76 billion), which is considered successful given the current challenging market conditions.
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