Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 07/04/2015
1. Massive Med Migrant Rescue
Some 1,500 migrants have been rescued from boats trying to cross to Italy in the space of 24 hours, the Italian coastguard has said. The navy and coastguard despatched vessels to rescue the migrants from five different boats. The coastguard despatched four vessels and the navy another after receiving satellite telephone distress calls from three migrant boats. Two more boats were found to be in trouble when the rescuers arrived. The migrants were transferred to Lampedusa island and Sicily. Last year, Italy dealt with 170,000 migrants who entered the EU by sea, figures were up 43% on January and February in 2014.
2. Illegal Fishing Vessel Believed Scuttled
The captain of the vessel involved in a rescue at sea says it was a very harrowing 24 hours. The Bob Barker had been chasing the Thunder, which it suspected of fish poaching, for 110 days but ended up having to rescue the entire crew of 40 when the Thunder sank. "It has a bit of a surreal feel to it," Bob Barker captain Peter Hammarstedt said, "We had a number of scenarios in our minds about how this would end but all of those were in a courtroom, none of us imagined that it would end with the Thunder sinking today." Being on the scene when the Thunder put out a mayday meant the Bob Barker had a legal and moral obligation.
3. Greek Fleet Growing
The Greek-controlled fleet just grows and grows. Today, the 18.6% share of the world fleet controlled by Greek shipowners is some 4% more than that run by the Japanese and the gap is growing as the carrying capacity of the Greek-owned fleet is the largest ever standing at 314.5m dwt mid-March. The 4,057 ships of over 1,000 gt each is also the highest since it peaked in 2008 / 2009 at 4,173. Also up is the number of ships flying the Greek flag and the home-flag tonnage. However, the average age of the Greek fleet is up a month on 12 months ago, but is still well below the world average.
4. Nigerian Election Could Threaten Security
The election of General Muhammadu Buhari as President has raised hopes of a crackdown on corruption and a more stable environment for shipping in Nigeria. Buhari, a former military dictator, beat incumbent Goodluck Jonathan in an election that has been praised as Nigeria’s fairest ever. Buhari is expected to roll back the gains made by Islamic State-affiliated jihadi group Boko Haram in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, but the opposite may be true in the oil-rich but lawless Niger Delta in the largely Christian south. Which could have a negative effect on security, and a return to violence against oil interests.
5. More Attacks in Asia
Two pirate attacks have been reported to the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre this month. On Good Friday, a general cargo ship was boarded by two pirates while at Sandakan Port Berth No. 4 in Malaysia. The alarm was raised and crew mustered. Seeing the crew alertness, the robbers escaped, taking with them some stolen property. Last week a product tanker was boarded while under way around 62 nautical miles north of Pulau Uwi in Indonesia. Around 15-25 pirates armed with pistols boarded and hijacked the vessel, taking the crew hostage. They damaged onboard equipment and stole crew personal belongings. http://goo.gl/QQUTfg
6. Somali Convictions Upheld
Two Somali pirates convicted in the shooting deaths of four Americans aboard a yacht off the coast of Africa got a fair trial, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. A three-judge panel unanimously upheld the convictions of Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar, who each received 21 life sentences. Beyle and Abrar were among 19 men who boarded the 58-foot Quest in hopes of holding the Americans for ransom. The plan fell apart after the U.S. Navy intervened, determined to keep the sailboat in international waters and prevent it from reaching Somali territorial waters.
7. Yemen Pirate Prison Break
Convicted Somali pirates who were freed in Al Qaeda attack on a prison in the Yemeni city of Mukallah arrived back in Puntland, recounting ordeals during the pre-planned assault, Garowe Online reports. One pirate spoke to the press, Mahdi Isse said he was serving a sentence in the prison after he was convicted of taking part in high sea crime off the coast of Somalia. Isse added that he was among 45 Somali inmates held for various crimes, and pre-informed them about the attack: “We were informed that the prison will be attacked, once the assault commenced, we managed to escape”.
8. Tonnage Tax Boost for Training
In one of its final acts before the General Election, the Government has amended the Tonnage Tax regulations to allow ratings to be trained under the Core houses-of-parliamentTraining Commitment. Under the regulations, companies entered into Tonnage Tax are required to train new seafarers, but up until now this requirement has largely been limited to officers. The new rules allow three ratings to be trained in lieu of one officer. Guy Platten, CEO of the UK Chamber said: “The UK Chamber has lobbied successfully for this change through its ‘Strategic Partnership’ with the Government". The decision provides flexibility for owners.
9. New Face of Labour Discussions
With the imminent departure of Giles Heimann from the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) to a new position in Cyprus, Francesco Gargiulo will join the organisation with effect from Monday, 8th June. He will replace Heimann as IMEC CEO. Gargiulo joined Princess Cruises in 1993. He spent the following nine years at sea in a number of managerial roles until he was offered a move to the shore-based office of what was then P&O Princess Cruises. Commenting on his appointment, IMEC chairman, Capt Rajesh Tandon, said: “I am very impressed with Francesco’s range of skills and achievements".
10. Wreck Removal Imposes New Requirements
The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks 2007 comes into force later this month (14 April 2015 for all but 2 contracting states). The current number of contracting states is low. But compliance extends to any vessel that wants to trade within the waters of the contracting state. So it has a wide application. The Convention brings with it a new regime of strict liability and compulsory insurance for wreck removal – to be backed up with a “Blue Card” scheme similar to that already in place for bunker pollution. In reality all ocean-going vessels will require a new Blue Card to cover their wreck removal liability. http://goo.gl/7wYjst
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