Top Ten Maritime News Stories 27/04/2016

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 27/04/2016


1. Nigeria Hostages Released

A Turkish maritime company says six crew members of a tanker ship who were captured by pirates off the coast of Nigeria have been released. The pirates boarded the Malta-flagged "M/T Puli" on April 11 and captured six of the ship’s 14 crew members, including the captain. Fehmi Ulgener, a lawyer for the firm Kaptanoglu Denizcilik, said Tuesday the freed crew members are in good health. He did not elaborate on the circumstances of their release or say whether a ransom was paid. There have been at least 32 attacks off the coast of Nigeria alone so far this year.



2. Shot Across Shipping’s Bows

Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf has given the shipping industry a shocking taste of things to come, having beheaded a Canadian hostage sparking fears the same fate might wait await over 20 others being held, mostly crew members from vessels captured by the group. The Canadian man was beheaded after the group said they would kill him if a ransom of $6.4 million wasn’t paid. Malaysian tugboat "Massive 6", Indonesian tug "Brahma 12", and Indonesian barge "Anand 12" have all been hijacked by the group in the last month. Abu Sayyaf is currently holding 18 Indonesian and Malaysian seafarers abducted off the southern Philippines.



3. Marshall Islands Security Warnings

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Maritime Administrator has issued Ship Security Advisories for two areas. The flag is recommending heightened vigilance while transiting off the Southern Philippines and also the Yemen. It follows three kidnapping incidents involving 18 seafarers in Philippine waters by terrorist group Abu Sayyaf and a further incident in which the embarked security team aboard a ship off the Yemeni port of Mukalla exchanged fire with attackers in skiffs. The Marshall Islands advisory says non-essential operations in Mukalla should be avoided.



4. Delay for New Alliance

Evergreen and Cosco will not switch alliances until the end of March next year. The pair are set to join OOCL and CMA CGM in a new alliance, called the Ocean Alliance, a move that will shred almost all existing container grouping agreements. Members of the CKYHE Alliance – which comprises Cosco, K Line, Yang Ming, Hanjin and Evergreen – outlined changes to calls from Asia to the US East Coast. More importantly, the grouping said the current cooperation would last until the end of March next year. OOCL will exit the G6 Alliance come next year, while CMA CGM will back out of the O3 alliance in order to form this new group.




5. Sulphur Cap Date

The date of the global 0.5% cap on sulphur in marine fuel is to be determined in October, if the outcome of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) fuel availability study allows. Last week the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) heard from the fuel availability steering group that the study – assessing the availability of fuel compliant with the MARPOL annex VI global sulphur limit – would be completed before the next MEPC meeting in October. Based on that information, the committee agreed to aim for a decision on whether the cap will be introduced on 1 January 2020 or 2025 at the forthcoming meeting.




6. UN Speaks Out On Security

The UN Security Council has spoken out against piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, saying it badly affects economic development in the region and is a threat to commercial maritime routes. Senior UN officials have called for a comprehensive regional framework to eradicate piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, with the Security Council stressing the importance of addressing underlying causes and strengthening justice systems and judicial co-operation in the region. “The Security Council remains deeply concerned about the threat piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea pose to international navigation".



7. El Faro Data Found

A search team early Tuesday morning located the missing data recorder belonging to the ill-fated freighter ship the El Faro, federal officials said. The device was found near the sunken ship’s wreckage — 15,000 feet down and about 41 miles northeast of the Bahamas, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The research vessel Atlantis located the so-called voyage data recorder mounted on El Faro’s mast. "Finding an object about the size of a basketball almost three miles under the surface of the sea is a remarkable achievement," NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said in a statement.




8. End of Baltic Sewage

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed this week that the Baltic Sea special area for sewage discharges from passenger ships under Annex IV or the MARPOL Convention will take effect by latest 2021 for IMO registered passenger vessels.  If a passenger vessel has an approved sewage treatment plant, meeting all IMO standards, it may discharge its effluent in the Baltic after treatment.  However, in certain cases of direct passages between St. Petersburg area and the North Sea there is a two-year extension to the deadline, until 2023.




9. Queen Mary Refused Entry

The Queen Mary 2 cruise liner has been refused entry to Jordan and Oman due to an outbreak of the norovirus vomiting bug. Cunard described it as a "minor" outbreak and said there were two confirmed cases onboard. Some passengers have spoken of "unrest" onboard after missing the opportunity to see Petra in Jordan.
The liner is on a 120-day world voyage from Southampton and is due back on 10 January. The ship, which is carrying 2,403 passengers, has been denied permission to dock at Salalah in the Oman and in Aqaba, Jordan, "despite extensive negotiations with relevant port authorities", a Cunard spokesman said.



10. Singapore Welcomes Nautical Institute

The inauguration of new Nautical Institute (Singapore) Branch was hosted by the Singapore Shipping Association and sponsored by the Shipowners’ Mutual Protection and Indemnity Association (Luxemburg), during Singapore Maritime Week. Members of the Institute attending were welcomed by the President of The Nautical Institute (Singapore) Branch, Capt. Duncan Telfer FNI and the Honorary Secretary Capt. Venkat Padmanabhan. McCabe paid tribute the efforts made by Singapore to build an international maritime centre in the past few years and remarked that the republic was now one of the world’s leading international shipping centres.



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