Top Ten Maritime News Stories 06/04/2016

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 06/04/2016


1. Panama Still Having Draft Issues

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced a second tightening of vessel draft restrictions in a matter of two weeks as the effects of El Nino weather patterns continue to affect water levels for the famous inter-oceanic channel. The latest announcement of a temporary restriction will see the maximum allowable draft lowered to 38.5 feet (11.74 metres), effective from April 29. Previously, on March 21, the first such restriction had seen the maximum set at 39 feet (11.89m), from a norm of 39.5 (12.03m). That restriction will begin on April 18, although in each instance ships already loaded before the day of announcement will be exempt.



2. DryShips Shifts Bulkers

Greek shipping company DryShips has completed the sale of its three bulker carriers, the Fakarava, Rangiroa and Negonego along with the associated bank debt, to entities controlled by the company’s chairman and CEO, George Economou.  As a result of the transaction, the company says that its total bank debt has been reduced by USD 102.1 million, and currently stands at USD 213.7 million. The company has also agreed to sell all of its shares in Ocean Rig UDW to a subsidiary of Ocean Rig for USD 49.9 million. The money will be used to reduce the debt burden and cash flow burn.



3. Shipbreaking Protestors Shot

Seven people, including a 16-year-old boy, were injured after guards at a shipbreaking company in Bangladesh opened fire on people protesting against the death of a worker.  Mohammad Sumon was killed instantly when a truck transporting scrap steel from the Kabir Steel yard in Chittagong ran him over on the morning on March 28. On hearing about the accident, locals, co-workers and Sumon’s family members gathered at the scene. According to reports, factory authorities at Kabir Steel took the body inside and refused to hand it over to his relatives. With grief and anger they started to protest, blocking the Dhaka Chittagong highway.



4. Massive Arms Cache Seized

The U.S. Navy has announced the coastal patrol ship "USS Sirocco" intercepted and boarded a stateless vessel in the Arabian Sea and confiscated a cargo of weapons.  The cache included 1,500 AK-47s, 200 RPG launchers and 21 .50 caliber heavy machine guns.  Military intelligence assessed that the arms shipment originated in Iran and was likely bound for Houthi insurgents in Yemen. The Sirocco was supported by "USS Gravely", which was directed to assist following the discovery of the weapons.  As the vessel was interdicted in international waters, the dhow and her crew were allowed to depart following the confiscation.



5. Grounded Ship Has Containers Removed

All containers on a container ship that ran aground off Taiwan’s northern coast about one month ago are expected to be removed from the stranded ship by Wednesday noon, the Maritime and Port Bureau said Tuesday. Eight containers carrying toxic materials have been removed from the grounded ship and another 101 containers on the forward deck of the ship have also been removed, Chi Wen-chong (祁文中), head of the bureau, said during an inspection tour by Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Jian-yu (陳建宇) to monitor the progress of the work to remove the remaining containers and clean up the oil spill.




6. Master Arrested for Port Call

Japanese authorities arrested a Chinese ship captain on Monday for not declaring a recent visit to a North Korean port, according to local media. The captain’s detention was possible under Japan’s stricter autonomous sanctions on the DPRK, which prevent ships from entering Japanese ports if they visited North Korea within the previous six months. The Palau-flagged "Lucky Star 8" stopped at Japan’s Rumoi port in Hokkaido on March 27. According to Japanese authorities, the vessel falsely claimed to have visited a Chinese port between January 29 and February 1, when it was really in the DPRK’s eastern port of Taean.



7. Deported Migrant Voyages Begin

The first migrants deported from Greek islands under a disputed EU-Turkey deal were shipped back to Turkey on Monday in a drive to shut down the main route used by more than a million people fleeing war and poverty to reach Europe in the last year. Under a pact criticized by refugee agencies and human rights campaigners, Ankara will take back all migrants and refugees who cross the Aegean to enter Greece illegally, including Syrians. In return, the European Union will take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and reward it with money, visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.




8. Mumbai Port Strike Called Off

APM Terminals-operated Gateway Terminals India resumed normal vessel operations Tuesday morning after outsourced workers handling rubber-tire gantry crane operations ended a four-day strike that shut down export gates at the terminal and slowed down cargo handling at India’s busiest public port complex, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust. Ports in India have suffered from a number of spells of industrial action in recent times, and many in shipping believe this to be damaging to the nation as well as severely hampering trade.



9. Massive Maritime Exercise Kicks Off

The International Mine Countermeasures Exercise, the largest maritime exercise in the world, kicked off April 4, with international naval and civilian maritime forces from more than 30 nations spanning six continents training together across the Middle East. The exercise is organized and led by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, which leads U.S. Navy and afloat Marine Corps forces across the more than 2.5 million square miles of ocean in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. "These participating nations…need to protect the free flow of commerce from a range of maritime threats including piracy, terrorism and mines,".




10. Keel Laid for New Carnival

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri held a keel laying ceremony of the new unit for Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line, brand of Carnival Corporation, at its Marghera shipyard. According to the shipbuilder, the new vessel is scheduled to hit the water in 2018. Featuring a weight of 133,500 gross tons, the new cruise ship will be able to carry almost 6,500 guests and crew. Fincantieri said that the ship will be realized on the basis of the project of the twin vessel Carnival Vista, which is expected to join its owner by the end of April from Monfalcone shipyard, Italy. The shipbuilder will construct five new cruise ships for three different Carnival brands.


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