Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 29/04/2016
1. Tug Encounters Pirates
Crew working on the OSV Armada Tuah have warned of the possibility of pirates operating around an oil field 120 km northwest of Labuan in Sabah – waters that have seen Abu Sayyaf, a Philippine militant group, rise to prominence in recent weeks. The ship sent a distress signal on Wednesday as four smaller ships tailed it. However, Malaysian enforcement officials have yet to find any suspicious activity in the area. A number of tugs have been targeted in the same area lately with hostages taken and ransoms demanded.
2. Dispute Over Panama Safety
The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has dismissed a critical safety report on its new locks as “inadmissible”, claiming the study did not have all the facts correct. The safety study into the Panama Canal expansion, commissioned by the ITF, was carried out by Brazil’s Fundação Homem de Mar (FHM). The study, which used simulations, suggests the safety of manoeuvrability is compromised as the locks’ dimensions are too small for safe operation (with both gates closed); there are no refuge areas for the tugboats inside the locks, leaving no room for failure; and the bollard pull was deemed insufficient.
3. Indonesia Calls for Armed Escorts
Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan said on Thursday ships travelling from Indonesia’s Borneo to the Philippines to have an armed escort as piracy in the waters is escalating. The minister stressed that if the vessels fail to have such security guard they should abort the sailing. “It is a call for boosting security. So if there is an escort by an armed ship, the vessels may sail. But if not, it is better not to have the journey,” Jonan said at the State Palace. “It is to address the threat of kidnapping,” he added. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said that he is to hold regional talks with military chiefs and foreign ministers.
4. Battle of the Bankers
Credit Suisse has elbowed Royal Bank of Scotland out the way into top place for Greek ship finance, according to a survey from Petrofin Research. While Credit Suisse saw its Greek portfolio grow 13.53% last year, RBS, which has made clear its intention to cut back from financing ships, saw a 13.58% reversal. This is the first time RBS has not been in top spot since Petrofin began its annual survey more than a decade ago. Ted Petropoulos, managing director of Petrofin Research, commented on how many owners in Greece have struggled to get bank loans lately, as lending to medium or small owners largely disappeared.
5. UK Aid Anger
Britain is withholding all financial aid payments to Mozambique following Maputo’s admission of as much as $1.35 billion (£925.8 million) of previously undisclosed borrowing, much of it for maritime security. "This appears to be a serious breach of trust, so we are working closely with other international partners to establish the truth and coordinate an appropriate response," Britain’s Department for International Development said in a statement.
6. Libya Crude Blacklist
An Indian-flagged oil tanker is returning to Libya, the North African country’s rival oil corporation said on Thursday, after its failed first attempt to export crude oil led to the ship being blacklisted by the United Nations Security Council. The tanker "Distya Ameya" is heading to the western Libyan port of Zawiya, said Nagi al-Maghrabi, chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) set up by Libya’s rival eastern government in parallel to the Tripoli-based NOC. The Tripoli NOC is recognized internationally as the legitimate seller of Libyan oil. NOC is determined to continue to fight for the right to export crude.
7. EU Policy on Arctic
The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission have adopted a policy proposal that will guide the actions of the European Union in the Arctic region. The European Union will step up its existing action and engagement in the region with 39 actions focusing on climate change, environmental protection, sustainable development and international cooperation. The particular importance of research, science and innovation is reflected across these priority areas. There is a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as ongoing and forthcoming EU activities and projects. http://goo.gl/GklfOt
8. Steam Coal Warning
The London P&I Club has issued a warning about continued problems associated with the carriage of Indonesian thermal or ‘steam’ coal, following a number of recent incidents involving owners and charterers. Indonesian coal has a propensity to self-heat and/or emit methane. If uncontrolled, self-heating can lead to serious cargo fires, and an accumulation of methane can explode. The IMSBC Code states that coal with such characteristics should not be loaded if the temperature of the cargo exceeds 55ºC, and that the atmosphere in the holds is monitored at least daily on passage.
9. Public Learn About Modern Ships
A new installation at a local museum aims to wow attendees of all ages as curators hope it helps Hongkongers reminisce about the city’s rich and largely forgotten maritime history. Unveiling to the public on Friday, the KM Koo Ship Bridge simulator allows visitors to the Maritime Museum to get their hands on the panels of a control room as sophisticated as those used in actual professional training. Developed in tandem with Dalian Maritime University, the HK$4.7 million installation lets visitors captain a high-speed boat, a container barge or even the iconic Star Ferry.
10. Expanding Missing Seafarers Programme
The charity Human Rights at Sea has expanded its global program to record and investigate cases of missing seafarers to now include missing fishers at sea. The flagship program, established in January 2014, originally focused only on missing seafarers. The program’s mission is to support seafarers, fishers and their families by the registration, tracking, investigation and advocacy on behalf of those missing at sea through a secure mobile on-line platform. That platform is known as the Missing Seafarer & Fisher Register.
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