Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 06/07/2015
1. Owners Try and Remain Upbeat
Greece’s shipping community should calm its fears that the Greek government has bowed to Eurogroup pressure to phase-out offshore tax status for Greek shipping and marine service companies. “According to our official information the rumours … that the Greek government has accepted the Law 89 phase-out is absolutely incorrect,” the Union of Greek Shipowners has said. “Shipowners are fairly blind to the costs of the Eurozone membership to the country for their business interests,” one Greek shipping finance expert commented to. “Moving out does not work well for the small companies.”
2. Crew Refuse to Sail
The Australian crew of an oil tanker is refusing to leave Devonport in Tasmania after being told they are to be replaced when they reach Singapore. Thirty-six crew transporting Caltex oil on the Alexander Spirit were told they would no longer have jobs when the tanker returned to Singapore. The crewmen have refused to leave Devonport and have filed an application for a hearing in Fair Work Australia. Ian Bray from the Maritime Union of Australia said Caltex had refused to rule out returning the ship to Australian waters with a foreign crew. Mr Bray suspected the company was trying to circumvent cabotage laws, which require Australian crews to be used on domestic routes.
3. Authorities to Blame for Sinking
Officials of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) must also be held liable for the sinking of passenger banca MBCA Kim Nirvana-B, leaving at least 60 passengers dead, a seafarers’ group said Sunday. In a statement, Engineer Nelson Ramirez of the United Filipino Seafarers said Marina violated its own memorandum circular issued in 2003 when it granted a certificate of convenience to the motor banca that capsized off Ormoc City on Thursday. Motorized outriggers such as MBCA Kim Nirvana-B are allowed to operate only three miles from the shoreline, Ramirez said. Nirvana was reportedly carrying 189 passengers and crew members.
4. Nigerian Stakeholders Express Concerns
Stakeholders from the Nigerian maritime sector have expressed worry over worsening spate of piracy on Nigerian waters with offenders allegedly operating without fear of being arrest and punished. A cross-section of the stakeholders who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews called for the establishment of “Coast Guard” in the country and a push on Piracy Bill at the National Assembly. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the U.S. military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission with jurisdiction covering both domestic and international waters.
5. Latest Security Update
According to reports from PVI, on 20 June, four skiffs approached a merchant vessel in position 21:47.8N – 060:00E, approximately 24nm east of Al Ashkharah off the Omani coast (ID: 681). The embarked security team displayed their weapons. The skiffs were then joined by six further skiffs who formed a line ahead of the vessel. The security team displayed their weapons for a second time and the skiffs stopped dead in the water. It seems likely that the skiffs involved in this incident contained fishermen. Nevertheless, the possibility that pirates were using a legitimate fishing fleet from which to launch an attack should not be discounted.
6. Threat to Seafarer Wages
Discussion documents on the "Trade in Services Agreement" (TISA) of the World Trade Organisation published by Wikileaks reveal a continuing threat to seafarers’ wages and conditions should the agreement be adopted, the ITF has said. The documents can be seen here: https://wikileaks.org/tisa. This latest release confirms the hazards identified by the ITF when it warned that a previous airing of TISA documents predicted a power grab by transport industry players at the expense of the public interest, jobs and a voice for workers (see http://goo.gl/LFZQfr).The annex recognises IMO and ILO standards but fails to recognise that their standards set minimum protections. http://goo.gl/nCR5oF
7. Shipmanager Suffers Multiple Arrests
Greece’s MFS Shipmanagement has had 11 of its vessels stopped or arrested at ports worldwide and is selling four bulk carriers. The company has already sold one vessel and is currently engaged in selling three more, according to reports from Compass Maritime. The shipbroker attributes the sales to the low dry bulk market and pressure from MFS Shipmanagement’s creditors. The China-built handy logger Asian Prosperity (29,033 dwt, built 2011) is to be sold at auction in Gibraltar. Earlier this month, the handysize bulker Judi (was Altai; 18,320 dwt, built 2000) was reportedly in Capetown sold for $2.1m by private treaty. Equasis shows that the vessel is on the black list.
8. Newbuild Pricing Paradox
In what appears to be a paradox on first glance, newbuilding prices for tankers have been falling since the end of 2014, while those for modern ready to be delivered tankers are on the rise over the same period of time. It’s a clear sign of the premium owners have to pay, in order to acquire modern tankers in today’s elevated market conditions. In a recent report, Poten & Partners said that, according to the latest price estimated, a VLCC newbuilding contract is approximately $95.5 million, down $2 million from the end of 2014, while prices for 5 year old VLCCs are currently assessed at $80 million, $5 million higher than in December 2014.
9. Mega Bulkers Accepted into China
China said on Friday it will allow 400, 000-deadweight tonne ships to dock at its ports, officially ending a more than three-year ban that had effectively shut out Brazilian miner Vale SA’s giant vessels. Four domestic ports – Qingdao, Dalian, Tangshan Caofeidian and Ningbo – will be allowed to receive the carriers after they meet technical standards, China’s state planner, the National Development & Reform Commission, said in a joint statement with the Ministry of Transport. Vale’s Valexmax mega-ships, which were designed to cut the costs of transporting iron ore to China, were banned by Beijing in early 2012 on safety concerns.
10. Looking to Unmanned Future
Rolls-Royce and a handful of partners are pushing ahead with the first steps of a new 6.6 million euro project that could pave the way for autonomous, unmanned ships in the not-so-distant future. The Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative, which Rolls-Royce has been appointed to lead, aims to produce the specification and preliminary designs for the next generation of advanced ship solutions – the unmanned, “drone” cargo ship. “This project is a fantastic opportunity to establish the Finnish maritime cluster as the world leader in maritime remote control technology,” said Rauli Hulkkonen, Chief Advisor of Tekes.
Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions www.seacurus.com
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