Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 24/12/2015
1. Think of Seafarers This Christmas
We in shipping tend to forget the thousands in our sector who have to work on this holiday of holidays. It’s hard to get very precise figures but the Sailors’ Society and Wallem Group estimate that some 780,000 men and women will be at sea on Christmas Day away from their families. With shipping becoming an ever increasing financially led industry – the days of the family-run owners in peril – the lives of seafarers are becoming more and more ignored. The argument about broadband internet being made available to all at sea is more pertinent than ever on December 25. Christmas Day for the majority of seafarers is a day that is among the hardest to be at sea.
2. Iranians Fight off Pirates
The Iranian Navy warship Sabalan recently defended a tanker from a pirate attack at the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, Iran’s defense authorities announced Wednesday. Pirates in six boats approached an unnamed Iranian tanker. Her master issued a mayday call and the Sabalan responded quickly. The Sabalan’s crew opened fire on the pirates, who fled. The Sabalan and combat support ship Tonb have been in the region since December 1 on an anti-piracy mission. Iran has conducted patrols in the area since 2008. Its forces have allegedly deterred pirate attacks on the vessels of 20 nations, including a dramatic episode in June with two separate attacks within hours.
3. Shark Kills Captain
In a cruel twist of fate and timing, a Venezuelan man was killed by a shark mere moments before being pulled to safety after a shipwreck off the coast of Aruba. At the time of the attack, the victim was clinging to a buoy, waiting to be reached by a rescuer who was being lowered from a helicopter. The media reports that the victim was one of three people who died as their laden vessel, the Doña Matilde, capsized near Aruba. The Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard said they successfully rescued another four people from the water nearby. The victim of the deadly shark attack, identified by local media as 58-year-old captain of the ship Adrian Esteban Rafael.
4. Modelling for Shipping Drones
The Spanish Ministry of Defence has engaged ship numerical modelling specialist Siport21 to develop systems that will predict vessel movements in advance so that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can land on them safely. The system being developed will map the swell in a vessel’s operational area and determine the relative movements of both vehicles (UAV and vessel) and provide a prediction that enables the UAV pilot to safely land the vehicle. The project will define the movements of the vessel depending on its characteristics, load conditions and meteorological and maritime conditions. The project Prediction System UAV on Naval Platforms will run until 2017.
5. European Commission on Recycling
The European Commission has opened the application procedure for the European List of Ship Recycling Facilities. The Commission will review applications and publish a first version of the list before December 31, 2016. Early in January 2016, it will also issue guidelines on the requirements for ship recyclers and independent verifiers certifying yards. The list comes in response to criticisms of ship breaking practices in places such as the Indian subcontinent which indicate that many yards operate under dangerous and polluting conditions including the practice of beaching where ships are dismantled on tidal sands.
6. End MARPOL Mess
Hardly a month goes by when another illegal maritime dumping violation is reported. Most violations, prosecuted in the United States, are based on false or fraudulent entries in the oil record book of a foreign-flag ship. Often, evidence of a “magic pipe” installation is found upon inspection in a United States port. While not all such reported cases are successfully prosecuted, most are, with the help of a whistleblower aboard the ship. The steady stream of such violations is convincing evidence that prosecution alone is not an effective deterrent. Over the years, various complaints have been made: there aren’t enough accessible reception facilities for oily wastes in U.S. ports.
7. MARINA Moves Process from Manila
In a bid to reduce the number of seafarers lining up for documents in its Manila headquarters, the Maritime Industry Authority-Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Office (Marina-STCWO) announced it is now in the initial steps of devolving the function to its regional offices, Marina-STCWO Head Chief Mate Michael Esplago said. “Regional offices are now processing Certificate of Proficiency [COP]. Although the central office is the only one handling the processing of Certificate of Competency [COC], we [now] have an infrastructure on how we can handle the processing needs of the seafarers,” he added.
8. Clearing Up Weighty Matters
Come July 1, 2016, every export loaded container, from any part of the world, would have to be weighed and verified (Verified Gross Mass-VGM) before being loaded onto a vessel. This mandate comes from the IMO which has adopted amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention, making weighing of all export containers sine qua non, for loading on any vessel. Is the maritime industry ready for the strict compliance of this requirement? Will the enforcement, crinkle the existing supply chain leading to congestion of containers in Inland Container Depots (ICD) and Gateway Ports? Weighty issues lie ahead for the maritime sector.
9. Liverpool Set to Steal Box Share
Peel Ports, one of Britain’s largest port operators, expects to withstand the container shipping slump with a bold project aimed at attracting cargo to Liverpool away from southern gateways, its chief executive said. The container market has been hit hard by a slowdown in demand for goods from Asia, especially China. Peel Ports, which competes with Associated British Ports, has invested more than 300 million pounds ($445.92 million) in transforming Liverpool into a deep water container terminal that can receive ships carrying up to 19,000 TEU boxes (20-foot equivalent units), CEO Mark Whitworth said. It expects to start operations in the first quarter of next year.
10. Maersk Culls Office Staff
Danish ocean carrier Maersk Line has begun the process of reducing its workforce as part of the cost cutting plan. The world’s largest ocean carrier is eliminating 110 positions this month at its headquarters in Copenhagen where 1,125 persons worked previously. Maersk would reduce its landside staff of 23,000 by 17 percent (around 4,000 jobs) by the end of 2017. Maersk has said that it would seek to reduce layoffs through “managing natural attrition.” The positions are being eliminated as part of a plan announced Nov. 4 that seeks to reduce sales, general and administration costs by $250 million. In 2016, the impact will be $150 million, it said.
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