Top Ten Maritime News Stories 04/04/2016

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 04/04/2016


1. Heading Towards China Crisis

Vietnam’s coast guard has seized a Chinese tanker for "intruding into its territorial waters", according to local media. The seizure occurred on Thursday in the northern port city of Haiphong. The vessel was carrying diesel fuel in the Gulf of Tonkin. The captain of the Chinese ship allegedly admitted to the intrusion, saying he was carrying fuel for Chinese fishing boats in the area. The report comes amid accusations from Malaysia and Indonesia that Chinese fishing vessels, backed by the Chinese coast guard, are intruding into what the countries consider as their sovereign waters.



2. Stopping SixOn Watches

The International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P) says a recently released paper on the "six-on/six-off" watch system is "little more than an opinion piece", serving the interests of operators in the inland tug and barge industry." The paper, "Enhancing Sleep Efficiency on Vessels in the Tug/Towboat/Barge Industry," is the product of Northwestern University and industry. MM&P claims the study used "Self-serving opinions combined with selected research papers on fatigue and sleep in a very different environment, such as astronauts in space, are used to justify inherently unsafe practices," he adds.



3. Seafaring Hampered by Berths

Attempts by India to augment its supply of seafarers to the world is hit due to lack of training slots on ships, according to Captain K Vevekanand of Indian Institute of Logistics. Speaking on National Maritime Day 2016, he said the shipping ministry was currently working on a proposal to provide two ships to train seafarers.

“These ships would not be stand alone training ships. They would be both trading cum training ships and each could provide a slot to train 400 seafarers," he said. India is aiming to increase the supply of seafarers to 9 per cent of the global workforce from the existing 7 per cent, but has huge backlog of cadets.




4. Crew Thought Pirates Were Officials

The crew of "MV Masfive 6" did not think anything was amiss when four armed men boarded their vessel in the Celebes Sea from Manila to Tawau. As the four men dressed in black uniform rounded them up, they figured it was just a routine check by maritime security officials. They never thought they were at the mercy of some notorious Filipino kidnap-for-ransom gang. They only realised when the boarders spoke in a mix of English and Tagalog that the men in black were not Malaysian security personnel but in fact kidnappers. One of the gunmen then demanded to know their nationalities before taking off with the four Malaysians.




5. Piracy Data is Superficial

Superficially it looks as though Southeast Asia is the major hot spot for piracy, but a security expert believes the data is skewed. The Annual Report for 2015 from the IMB shows that of the 246 actual and attempted incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in 2015, 202 occurred in Asian waters. In comparison, 31 attacks occurred off West Africa. Absolute numbers of attacks give a misleading impression of the situation. It’s important to get behind the statistics and look at the nature of the attacks, what ships are being attacked, whether they are at anchor or underway, and where the attacks are occurring.




6. Flagging Security Concerns

The potential abuse of flags of convenience has emerged with a feature in the Financial Times that argues that global terrorism is exploiting weaknesses in supply chain tracking and tracing. The FT has published a report compiled by Windward, an Israeli maritime intelligence company which has been studying "unusual or suspicious" shipping activities. Alarmingly, analysts have discovered cases of where vessels have behaved highly erratically while moving undeclared goods in troubled waters. Vessels taking sudden turns in transit, turning off transmitting devices, for instance. The claim that flags of convenience facilitate such actions.



7. Search for Missing Crewman

A search in underway in Milford Haven after a crewman was reported missing from a visiting ship. Local Police said a 24-year-old man from Cornwall was reported missing at around 11am yesterday. Searches have taken place around the docks area and in the water overnight. The coastguard and specialist police divers are assisting the search. There have been a spate of crew accidents in ports in recent months – and it stresses that there can be no complacency when it comes to shipboard safety.




8. Dangers of Swimming Pools

The U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its first Safety Digest for 2016 highlighting the risk of passengers drowning in cruise ship pools. Steve Clinch, Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, states: “A recent article in a U.K. newspaper reported on the comments made by a Coroner during the inquest of a seven year old child who had drowned in a hotel swimming pool while on holiday overseas. The Coroner had said that she would write to travel agents asking them to review the provision of lifeguards (there had been none at the pool where the child died.) There is a lack of risk management in place, also.




9. Ports Need to Work Together

Collaboration has been mooted as the key to handling big ships as many ports and terminals do not plan ahead to ensure that beneficial cargo owners can effectively pass on containers to truckers, thus creating a ‘random access’ process after containers are discharged from vessels and clear Customs, according to the Journal of Commerce. Paul Trani, President of International Longshore Workers Union, said: “The key is that there is only so much land here. We have to push the cargo out without letting it sit on the terminals.”



10. Rena Reef All Clean

Maritime New Zealand removed two hazard notices on the wreckage and the Bay of Plenty harbour master says small vessels will be allowed back in the area. The 37,000-tonne Rena ran aground 12 nautical miles from the entrance to Tauranga Harbour in October 2011. It spilled oil, shipping containers and debris into the ocean in what became New Zealand’s worst maritime environmental disaster. More than 22,000 tonnes of debris has been removed from the seabed since, says Maritime NZ director Keith Manch. "All reasonable efforts have been made to remove entanglement hazards and wreckage, where possible," he said.



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