Top Ten Maritime News Stories 27/06/2016

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 27/06/2016

1. Long Awaited Panama Opening
Panama opened the long-delayed $5.4 billion expansion of its shipping canal amid cheering crowds on Sunday, despite looming economic uncertainty in the shipping industry and a heated battle over billions in cost overruns. At 7.50 a.m. (1250 GMT), the Chinese container ship “Cosco Shipping Panama” entered the Agua Clara lock on the Atlantic to begin the first crossing of the roughly 50-mile-long (80.45-km-long) waterway and was due to emerge on the Pacific side by 5.00 p.m. (2200 GMT). The expansion triples the size of ships that can travel the canal, and aims to wrestle market share from rival Suez and U.S. land routes.
2. Shipping Tries to Stay Calm
In a statement in response to the outcome of the EU Referendum, the UK Chamber of Shipping remained neutral on the on debate over the UK’s membership of the EU, but recognized the decision of the British people and saying now is the time for rational and strategic thinking. “Shipping moves 95% of the UK’s international trade and we don’t see that changing,” the UK Chamber. “We may now be beginning the process of leaving the European Union, but we are still an island nation…What we need now are cool heads. We’ve had the political debate, now it’s time for rational and strategic thinking".
3. Indonesia Bans Pirate-Hit Shipments
On Friday Jakarta banned all Indonesian-flagged vessels from heading to the Philippines, after a spate of seafarer kidnappings in the Sulu and Celebes seas in recent months, linked to southern Philippine Islamic group Abu Sayyaf. The move could lead to a shortfall in coal for the Philippines, which sources around 70% of the important raw material from its neighbour, Indonesia. “The moratorium on coal exports to the Philippines will be extended until there is a guarantee for security from the Philippines government,” said Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi.
4. Satellite Calls See Seafarers Arrested
Four people have been arrested from a Panamanian cargo ship off the coast of Odisha for allegedly carrying satellite phones banned in India and similar to ones used in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. According to the Army’s Eastern Command spokesman, signals from a ‘Thuraya’ phone were detected emanating from the Odisha coast on June 9. The Coast Guard in Kolkata tracked the signals to the Panamanian ship "Frontier Triumph", anchored near the Dhamra port. The master denied there was a sat phone on the ship as the Thuraya had not been declared – mandatory for ships entering Indian waters.
5. Ship Arrested for Wages
The Turkish controlled bulk carrier "Karaagac" was arrested Friday on the orders of the Madras High Court for failure to pay its crew and the questionable seaworthiness of the vessel. The Panamanian flagged ship was deemed not seaworthy by local port state control while the $59,000 in salary arrears owed over the past three months moved the ITF to also act against the ship. The ship which arrived in Indian on Wednesday from Chittagong has problems with its ballast system, water ingress system, fire alarm, navigational equipment and lifeboats. Some of the crew said the poor state of the ship had led to injuries.
6. Marking Day of the Seafarer
Marking the Day of the Seafarer, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the role of the shipping industry in moving forward the international agenda on sustainable development and climate change. “The world is now embarking on carrying out twin plans for the future that have the potential to transform our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Both can be advanced through actions of the shipping industry, giving added meaning to this year’s commemoration of the Day of the Seafarer,” Mr. Ban said in a message to mark the Day.

7. Very Large Trouble Ahead
VLCC tanker owners had their own troubles over the course of the past week, as spot returns retreated to the lowest level since October 2014, with shipbrokers reporting TCE earnings for Middle East/Japan (TD3) falling close to $20,000/day. According to London-based shipbroker Gibson, “the current weakness has been essentially driven by the build-up of available tonnage, leaving charterers with healthy numbers to choose from. However, is this a temporary blip or are there more fundamental forces at play?”, Gibson asked.
8. Helping Historic Hostage Victims
More than 3,000 seafarers have been held hostage by Somali pirates since 2001, with a significant, but unknown, number of seafarers kidnapped in other parts of the world. These seafarers, and their families, have faced fear and uncertainty, and in some cases, direct abuse. Research by Oceans Beyond Piracy explores the long-term impact of piracy on seafarer and family recovery.
9. Winners of Welfare Awards
The winners of ISWAN’s International Seafarers’ Welfare Awards 2016 were announced on 24th June at a high-profile ceremony held in Manila, the Philippines. The awards were presented by IMO Secretary General Mr Kitack Lim to seven recipients who have provided exceptional services for the welfare and wellbeing of seafarers. The winners are: Judges’ Special Award: Duckdalben International Seamen’s Club, Shipping Company of the Year: Anglo-Eastern Ship Management and MF Shipping Group, Port of the Year: Bremerhaven, Seafarers’ Centre of the Year: Stella Maris, Barcelona.
10. Port Workers Spotting Ship Slaves
Port workers are being asked to look out for signs of slavery on ships docking in England’s south coast ports. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Modern Slavery Partnership says slavery at sea can go unnoticed because of restricted access to ships and the limited chances to check on the welfare of seafarers. One port chaplain says he has seen evidence of crew members forced to work without sufficient rest hours or pay. Hampshire Constabulary said it would do all it could to help victims. Rev Roger Stone, said he had seen galleys without food or drinking water, food unfit for human consumption, filthy shower and toilet areas.

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