Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 04/05/2016
1. Fire Rages After Allision
A spectacular fire raged last night at Port Said after the 13,100 teu Cosco Hope hit a gantry crane as it tried to exit the Egyptian port. The crane’s boom fell onto containers on the berth, and local media suggests it also hit a fuel tank. More than 20 containers burned and two people were injured in the accident. The four-year-old 366 m long ship is on charter to Cosco from Seaspan. It is now moored just outside the port as investigators assess the damage from the incident. The Suez Canal Authority deployed fire engines and tugs to the scene and the fire was under control by dawn.
2. Pirates Switch to Kidnap
Pirate gangs in West Africa are switching to kidnapping sailors and demanding ransom rather than stealing oil cargoes as low oil prices have made crude harder to sell and less profitable. Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea have become less frequent partly due to improved patrolling but also to lower oil prices, according to an annual report from the U.S. foundation Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), which is backed by the shipping industry. "They have had to move towards a faster model and that faster model is kidnappings," OBP’s Matthew Walje said, noting that ransom payouts were as high as $400,000 in one incident.
3. Fears of Somalia Outburst
A series of attacks in 2015 may serve as an indication that the stage is being set for piracy’s return off the coast of Somalia. At least 9 merchant vessels, five dhows, and one fishing vessel reported being approached or attacked by Somali pirates. The five dhows were all successfully hijacked by pirates. While these incidents may serve as an indication that Somali pirates retain the capability and intent to return to piracy, it is not clear what that might look like. Though it is unknown if a return of Somali piracy would resemble the same pattern as in years past, Somali pirates remain a serious threat to the well-being of seafarers.
4. Owners Feel Pressure
The world’s major shipowners are feeling the pressure as container ship charter rates plummet and charters are being renegotiated as the financial positions of shipping lines worsen, according to Drewry. The analyst said in its Container Insight Weekly that the 2015 annual results available for some of the leading independent owners revealed that last year was generally still a profitable one, but the financial pressures were building up. “Charter rates are plummeting as demand for their assets fall — the Howe Robinson Containership Index that measures charter rates…is currently down by over 40 percent year-over-year".
5. Scheme to Find New Engineers
Singapore has launched a SGD1.2m (US$885,808) initiative to attract more locals to take up a career as a marine engineer. The Tripartite Engineering Training Award (TETA) Programme was launched by Singapore’s Minister of Manpower Lim Swee Say. The announcement was made at the 10th anniversary celebration for the Singapore Maritime Training Fund (SMFT). The SGD1.2m pilot programme will be conducted by the Singapore Maritime Officers Union’s (SMOU) training arm Wavelink Maritime Institute. Cadets are offering a training berth with a shipping company before starting the programme which takes about 31 months to complete.
6. Families Rally for Armed Guards
The families of six British men jailed in India over firearms offences have met with a government minister as they step up their bid to bring them home. The former soldiers, who were working on an a US anti-piracy ship, maintain their innocence. Their families, who met with the Foreign Office’s Hugo Swire in Carlisle, said the government is not doing enough to help them. Prior to the meeting, rallies were held in the city and in Oban, Scotland. A number of other guards on the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, mainly Estonians, have also been jailed Weapons on board were ruled not to have been properly licensed.
7. Maltese Flag Flying High
The Malta Maritime Forum was officially set up last October through the registration of the forum as a NGO and a legal personality. This development was a logical next step in the history of the local maritime industry, which is entwined with Malta’s history. In response to the challenges and prospects that the industry has to address, the forum has set up a number of sub-committees, each entrusted with specific areas of focus such as training and education, quality and standards, marketing and internationalisation, ports services and sea management, marine resources, culture and heritage and the promotion for membership.
8. Norwegian Tax Scheme Approved
The European Free Trade Association Surveillance (EFTA Surv) Authority has approved a Norwegian state aid scheme which grants tax refunds to ship owners. Under the scheme, qualifying ship owners receive refunds of income tax and social security contributions paid on behalf of crew employed on Norwegian-registered vessels. The scheme effectively subsidizes the relatively high wages of Norwegian crew in an industry which is able to employ foreign labor at a considerable discount. The tax refund scheme was introduced by the Norwegian Government as a temporary measure in 1993 and made permanent in 1994.
9. Bulk Fleet Breaking Up
Two out of a batch of four bulk carriers owned by the financially-troubled Lithuanian Shipping Company’s (LSC) were sold in the second round of auctions to undisclosed buyers. Namely, the 17,800 dwt vessels Romuva and Voruta were sold for EUR 2.17 million and EUR 2.25 million, respectively. The vessels’ initial price was set at EUR 1.72 million each. Other bulkers still up for sale are the 24,000 dwt Venta for EUR 1.9 million and the 16,900 dwt Raguva for EUR 1.6 million. LSC’s bankruptcy administrator has put up the company’s bulker fleet on auction as part of LSC’s bankruptcy procedure.
10. Shipowners’ Reports Strong Results
The Shipowners’ Club, the leading mutual P&I insurer in the smaller and specialist vessel sector, has reported resilient results for the period ending 31 December 2015. At the Club’s Annual General Meeting in July 2015, it was agreed to change the Club’s financial year to 31st December. As a consequence, and for this period only, the financial statements have been prepared for a shortened period of 20 February 2015 to 31 December 2015. Chairman Philip Orme announcing the results highlighted that “the Club had once again, and for the sixth consecutive reporting period, delivered an underwriting surplus.
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