Top Ten Maritime News Stories 21/09/2016

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 21/09/2016

1. Sadness at Champion’s Demise
The Hamburg shipping community has reacted with shock and sadness that one of the city’s erstwhile maritime champions Hermann Ebel has become the latest victim of the container downturn. Ebel, who via his firm Hansa Treuhand, was a pioneer of the KG system, has now sought court protection for a number of his ships. In a statement on the Hansa Treuhand site, the company said it would look to halve its fleet of around 50 ships, admitting that any turnaround in shipping was several years away. The German owner has sought creditor protection for 15 container ships at a court in Hamburg.
2. Insurance Stats Make Tough Reading
The International Union of Marine Insurance – unveiling its annual statistical report on the marine insurance market announced global underwriting premiums for 2015 of USD 29.9bn. This is a 10.5% reduction on the 2014 figure. Vice-Chairman of IUMI’s Facts & Figures Committee, Astrid Seltmann explains, “All business lines suffered a real reduction in premium income due, in the main, to a sluggish global economy, low commodity prices and reduced activity, specifically in the offshore sector.” Technical insurance results for the 2014 underwriting year deteriorated strongly for cargo, hull and energy sectors.
3. Hanjin Plan is Impossible
The South Korean court overseeing Hanjin Shipping’s receivership said a rehabilitation plan is "realistically impossible" if top priority debt such as backlogged charter fees exceed $896 million. With debt of about $5.4 billion at the end of June and the South Korean government’s unwillingness to mount a rescue, expectations are low that Hanjin Shipping will be able to survive. Top priority debt means claims for public interests, which are paid first to creditors and include cargo owners’ damages and unpaid charter fees. Shares in Hanjin plunged more than 20 percent to a record low after the report, perhaps unsurprisingly.
4. CMA CGM Seeks Consolidation
CMA CGM will look at opportunities in container shipping triggered by the collapse of South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping (117930.KS), the French group’s vice chairman said on Tuesday. "With the collapse of Hanjin, there will be a wave of consolidation in the sector and CMA CGM is on the look out for opportunities if they should arise," Rodolphe Saade told journalists. "We think that small or medium sized operators are going to go bust or be forced to join large operators like us," he said. Family owned CMA CGM has reinforced its position as the third largest container line through its acquisition of Singapore-based NOL.
5. IMO Talks Migrants
International Maritime Organization (IMO) is at the high-level UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants being held at the UN Headquarters in New York, United States. A number of IMO treaties include provisions relating to migration by sea. These include SOLAS chapter V on Safety of Navigation, which requires the master of a ship at sea able to provide assistance to persons that are in distress at sea, to do so regardless of the nationality or status of such persons or the circumstances in which they are found. IMO has produced a series of three short films examining unsafe mixed migration by sea.
6. How Can Tanker Market Rally?
What would it take to see VLCC rates pick up again? The VLCC market has taken a sharp turn downwards in 2016. Higher ship deliveries, weaker global oil demand and import growth, high stocks, lower refining margins have all contributed to a broad deterioration in the tanker freight market. According to brokers, there is no extraordinary demand expected in the second half of 2016 through 2017, and perhaps not even until the second half of 2018. So, the orderbook through 2017 needs to be cleared, plus a reversal in operation factors such as ballast speed and waiting days.
7. No Go Fire Zone
Hong Kong’s Marine Department has maintained a no go zone around the Wan Hai 307 containership which suffered a spectacular fire yesterday evening, with smoke still detected from some of the boxes onboard the 2,200 teu ship today by commuters heading to work by ferry. The ship is now moored between Cheung Chau and Lamma islands. The fire erupted in the fore of the ship. Crew’s efforts to douse failed and local salvage tugs were deployed to help put it out. The crew has been evacuated as some local reports suggest some of the cargoes carried are toxic.
8. El Faro Settlements
Two families of crewmen lost in the El Faro cargo ship disaster on Tuesday accepted settlement amounts in their wrongful death claims, bringing to 23 the total of settled cases. As with the previous 21 settlements the families of Theodore Quammie and Steven Shultz accepted $500,000 each for pain and suffering and undisclosed amounts for economic losses. The payments will be from the vessel’s owners and operators Tote Services and Tote Maritime Puerto Rico.
9. Need for Fire Rethink
Recent ship fires have caused calls for a re-evaluation of the fire-fighting equipment used on container ships. The call comes just as the Wan Hai 307 container ship suffered a fire in Hong Kong and the ship’s crew were unable to extinguish the fire, and local salvage tugs were deployed to help. IUMI’s Loss Prevention Committee states that at sea, below-deck fires cannot be fought with water and so CO₂ is used instead to displace the oxygen and extinguish the fire. However, if the fire is burning within a container, the box will protect it from the CO₂ and so this method of fire-fighting is rarely successful.
10. Greek Sends Ship for Migrants
The Greek government is to send a ship to provide accommodation for more than 1,000 migrants after fire destroyed large areas of their camp on the island of Lesbos. Up to 5,000 people fled the blaze at Moria camp, where migrants and refugees have long complained of overcrowding. Greek shipping minister Thodoris Dritsas said families would be given priority on the ship. If necessary a second ship would be sent, he added.

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