Top Ten Maritime News Stories 17/07/2015

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 17/07/2015

1. ISIS Attacks Egyptian Vessel

In an attack which has worrying implications for shipping, ISIS has claimed responsibility for a rocket attack which has seriously damaged an Egyptian navy ship anchored in the Mediterranean Sea. Its claim to the attack came from a number of Twitter accounts known to be controlled by members of the militant group. A spokesman for the Egyptian military, Brigadier General Mohammed Samir said the vessel caught fire during an exchange of fire with "terrorists" on the shore, and said no crew members were killed. He did not specify the extent of the damage, but security officials said that a number of crew members suffered injuries during the attack, and several escaped.




2. Shipping Issues Migrant Rescue Guidance

The industry’s Guidelines on Large Scale Rescue Operations at Sea have been revised. This is in response to the continuing crisis in the Mediterranean, in which merchant ships and their civilian crews have so far assisted in the rescue of over 50,000 people. The new Guidelines update those originally produced by the International Chamber of Shipping at the end of 2014, but now take account of the considerable recent experience gained by shipping companies and their crews.   An important aspect of the revised Guidelines is the additional attention given to ensuring that rescued people are looked after safely once they have been embarked on board commercial ships.




3. Personal Injury Action in Philippines

The Philippines is set to pass an Anti-Ambulance Chasing Act, which will clamp down unscrupulous practices by lawyers representing seafarers in personal injury cases. With Filipino officer level seafarers entitled to $250,000, and ratings $125,000, in compensation if judged to be fully disabled when injured at work ambulance chasing lawyers have been bringing inflated injury claims that have become of increasing concern to shipowners and managers. At present such lawyers take up to 50% of awards as their fees and can also lend money to the claimant while cases are ongoing. The new act is about to pass into law, and is deemed extremely important and progressive.



4. Big Jump in Piracy Reported

ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC) has recorded 106 piracy incidents in Southeast Asia in the first half of 2015 (1H15), an increase of 18% year on year. Out of the 106 incidents, six cases were classified as attempted incidents, while the remaining 100 cases were actual incidents. The bulk in this period was petty thefts, although there were 10 severe, or Category 1 incidents, involving fuel/oil siphoning and hijacking. "At least one incident was reported each month in January-June 2015," said ReCAAP ISC in its 2015 half-yearly report. ReCAAP ISC noted that the perpetrators usually targeted smaller tankers carrying fuel and then fled the vessel.



5. British Firm Trained Pirates

A fascinating new study looks at the rise of Somali pirates, and of the political and social elements which fuelled its rise. One interesting point it raises is that a private British company, Hart Security, provided military training to Somali fisherman in the 1990’s in an effort to create a “Fisheries Protection Agency”. The bulk of training was dedicated towards “how to handle weapons and board boats at high sea” – the exact tactics currently used by Somali pirates. In fact, Somali pirates are so conditioned that they portray themselves as the nation’s unofficial coast guard – and may have learned to become better pirates from the British training.




6. ITF Collects Massive Wage Sums

Last year the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) collected $59.46m in wages owed to seafarers. In a presentation to the Maritime Manpower Singapore conference on Thursday ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton said that its inspectors and affiliated unions had collected nearly $60m in unpaid wages in 2014. “So there are still elements of the industry that need to be tidied up,” he said. The lion’s share, 81% of the $59.46m in unpaid wages was collected in Europe with some $48m. Cotton noted that more than 75% of the unpaid wages collected came from vessels that were not covered by ITF agreements through the International Bargaining Forum (IBF).




7. Welcome Decisions for Shipowners

Shipping insurance P&I Club, Gard, has issued an update detailing three recent welcome decisions from the Egyptian courts in favour of shipowners. Two are from the Appeal court and the third involves a claim against the Suez Canal Authority. The review was written in conjunction with El Swefy Law Firm. These decisions cover, "Contributory negligence by terminal owner relieves tanker owner of strict liability", "Resurrection of the customary loss allowance for shortage claims" and a case in which the Suez Canal Authority was ordered to refund vessel owners for unproved pollution claim.




8. Product Tanker Shortage Beckons

New IMO regulations for the carriage of biofuels may lead to a shortage of product tankers eligible to carry the cargo if shipowners are not ready to meet the new requirements, an environmental consultancy has said. Oil discharge monitoring equipment onboard most existing vessels is not calibrated to handle biofuels, according to Rivertrace Engineering, and less than six months remains to bring existing systems up to date. Amendments to IMO Resolution MEPC.108(49) will enter into force on January 1, 2016, after which all vessels that do not have type-approved equipment will not be eligible to carry biofuels and blends of biofuel and oil products.



9. Maritime Security Gun Runners

Private maritime security companies transiting Malaysian waters need to be careful. A local newspaper claimed today that a number of PMSCs are moving weapons and ammunition onboard foreign vessels through the Southeast Asian nation without prior approval. A specific incident at Port Klang on Sunday was cited where a master of a ship was caught radioing to shore that he was storing weapons before docking. “The police views the report seriously as it can challenge the credibility of those who are alleged to have failed in curbing activities at Port Klang where weapons belonging to merchant ships were stored,” federal police marine commander Datuk Abdul Aziz said.




10. Greeks Still Set to Splash Cash

Greek’s debt crisis may have reached a new climax in recent weeks. Over the same period though, the country’s ship owners proved to be more than resilient, in yet another indication that the country’s major industry, together with tourism, was largely unaffected by what’s been going on in the local economy. According to data compiled by shipbroker Golden Destiny, Greek ship owners captured 23% of the total S&P activity during June. In total, they invested $1.27 billion for the acquisition of 34 vessels with an aggregate capacity of 3,958,566 tons. The number of vessels acquired was increased by 70% over the previous month (May) and by 48% over the period last year.




Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions


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