Top Ten Maritime News Stories 24/10/2016

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 24/10/2016

1. Pirate Hostages Finally Freed
‘We had to eat rats,’ say sailors held by Somali pirates for four years. Seafarers tell of extreme deprivation during years in the clutches of pirates after their ship was seized in March 2012. The crew report being kept in dire conditions. Arnel Balbero told the BBC that the group were forced to eat anything they could get their hands on, including rats, and were given only tiny amounts of water. He said the pirates treated the group like animals. The sailors were released after a ransom was paid, and “represents the end of captivity for the last remaining seafarers taken hostage during the height of Somali piracy.”

2. Owner Not Caring for Crew
Troubled Singapore offshore player Vallianz Holdings has come in for criticism for treatment of its crews. The "Swiber Explorer", a Marshall Islands-flagged OSV belonging to subsidiary Vallianz Offshore Marine, has lain off Dubai for weeks with conditions onboard deteriorating and the crew allegedly are owed considerable back pay. Singapore-listed Vallianz has been hit hard by the offshore downturn. Swiber Holdings, which sought judicial management this summer in Singapore, has pledged its 25% stake in Vallianz to lead creditor DBS, adding further uncertainty to Vallianz’s future.
3. Not a Compelling Deal
A possible merger between South Korea’s No. 2 container liner Hyundai Merchant Marine and its larger local rival Hanjin Shipping appears to be not so lucrative, as it is expected to create an entity ranking only 38th out of 5,000 global vessel operators, according to data from VesselsValue, a UK-based shipping valuation firm. “If HMM & Hanjin merged, they would have a combined fleet value of $2.1 billion,” said Claudia Norrgren, head of public relations at VesselsValue in an email to The Investor. “Even though this sounds a lot, the merged Hanjin & HMM company would only rank 38th in the world in terms of the fleet value.”
4. Africa Makes Piracy Charter
African Heads of State and Government met in Lomé, Togo, on 15 October for a high level summit on maritime security. As the outcome of the summit they agreed on the ‘Lomé Charter’ that should be a next step in ensuring maritime security in Africa. European shipowners strongly welcome this summit and the interest African states take in the topic. ECSA was pleased to be invited by the Togolese authorities to take part in the discussions around this summit. Owners have called for urgent actions to be taken to make sure seafarers can do their job in a safe and secure environment, without risk for life.
5. Big Fine for Pollution
A federal judge in Seattle has ordered two companies owned by a Greek shipping magnate to pay $1.5 million after a jury found that a cargo ship deliberately pumped oil-polluted water into the ocean, then repeatedly lied and falsified records in an effort to deceive inspectors with the U.S. Coast Guard. Authorities hailed the sentence as a rare success in holding corporate defendants accountable for pollution on the high seas, an offense that’s notoriously difficult to detect and prove. A lawyer for the companies argued for a fine of just $100,000, blaming the misconduct on rogue employees.

6. Concern Over Canal Changes
Global union federation the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) have raised fresh concerns about the safety of the new locks on the Panama Canal and a growing threat of privatisation of its members in the Panama Canal at a press conference in Panama City. The ITF held top level meeting in Panama in recognition of that country’s role as a key global transport hub and component of the Federation’s plans for building the future of work. They sounded a new alarm over the operation of the Canal. Along with its Panamanian unions it has previously raised serious safety concerns.

7. New Eco Rules Beckon
The world’s leading maritime nations are leaning toward setting rules next week to cut the sulfur in oceangoing vessels’ fuel by more than 85% in 2020, people familiar with the matter say. The rules are aimed at reducing the air pollution from burning high-sulfur fuel oil—a viscous refining byproduct—that health officials blame for respiratory and heart diseases. Shipping executives say it would cost around $40 billion for the industry to meet the new rules, with some of the outlays starting soon, during one of the sector’s worst-ever downturns. The regulation ould catapult the price of cleaner-burning marine diesel fuel.
8. Western Moves into Iran
Western insurers are slowly reaching deals with Iran as they seek to re-enter a multi-billion dollar market although the pace of business is hampered by banking restrictions ten months on from the lifting of international sanctions. Shut out of international financial markets for years, Iran is still trying to reap the benefits of last year’s nuclear deal with world powers. Despite the removal of international banking restrictions in January, Tehran has secured ties with only a limited number of smaller banks as U.S. sanctions remain in force.
9. Beta Release of Efficiency Data
The EfficienSea2 project, which is led by the Danish Maritime Authority, is now ready to demonstrate its first results. At a coming conference, beta releases of some of the solutions will be launched. Now, the EfficienSea2 project is ready to present beta releases of some of its solutions. The service and identity registries of the Maritime Cloud will be opened up, enabling information suppliers to develop and insert digital information services in the service registry. The project will also launch a beta release of the web-based platform BalticWeb.
10. Fireworks But No UK Crew
The UK’s national union of rail, maritime and transport workers, RMT, has said that new Atlantic Container Line (ACL) UK flagged vessels are not employing seafarers from the country. The union has also alleged that the entire fleet of ACL’s five new ro-ro container ships, including the Atlantic Star, Atlantic Sail, Atlantic Sea, Atlantic Sky, and Atlantic Sun, will not have a single UK seafarer working on-board.  However, all the vessels are being registered in the UK’s Port of Liverpool. "Shipping bosses cannot be allowed to employ the cheapest labour they can find in a race to the bottom to secure profits."

Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions


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