Top Ten Maritime News Stories 13/01/2016

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 13/01/2016

1. Jones Act Set to Stay
Donald Trump’s pick to run the transport department, Elaine Chao, has vowed to uphold the Jones Act, the US’s long held legislation that keeps local shipping and shipbuilding jobs in place. Chao, who served as labour secretary under President George W Bush from 2001 to 2009, told politicians today: “The Jones Act is the law of the land, and it will be obeyed unless the Congress changes its mind on that.” Chao also promised to take an interest in upping the spend on the United States Merchant Marine Academy if appointed to transport secretary. Chao’s father, founded the Foremost Group, an international shipping company.
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2. Jeers for Wage Arears
Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport today named and shamed a number of transport firms including the nation’s top shipping line for failing to pay some VND700bn ($31m) in wages and social insurance last year. Across Vietnam’s transport industry around 3,000 workers were not paid their full salary last year.
The worst offenders were both from the maritime field – Vietnam National Shipping Lines and Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (formerly Vinashin), who together counted for roughly half the salary arrears.
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3. Tough Times for Box Ports
The head of one of the world’s top container terminal operators has admitted times are tough for those in the port sector. In announcing results for 2016, Tan Chong Meng, group CEO of Singapore-headquartered PSA International, said: “The tough business environment is likely to continue into 2017 but that is not the whole story. We may witness more system-wide changes brought on by the convergence of slow market growth, emerging technologies and new business needs. Rapid consolidations in the container liner industry are giving rise to uncertainties as well as opportunities.
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4. Saudi Call for Maritime Policing
Saudi Arabia’s efforts to promote regional and international cooperation to achieve security and maritime safety have been the focus of major conference as delegates explored the piracy threats off the coast of Somalia and their impact on other maritime crimes. Vice Admiral Awwad bin Eid Al-Balawi, director general of Border Guards, stressed the need for a legal framework to combat maritime crimes, illegal fishing and the smuggling of weapons, explosives and drugs. There were calls for effective measures to curb the risks posed by terrorist organizations and armed militias.
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5. Big Three Job Slashing
South Korea’s top three shipyards – Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) – are readying to axe another 4,000 staff this year, adding to the five-digit figure made unemployed last year. South Korean shipyards have been fighting plummeting orders with docks being shuttered and the nation has slumped from first to third in terms of global orderbooks in the past couple of years. The news of further layoffs comes as Korean unemployment has risen past the million mark for the first time.
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6. Repair Yards Alliance
As of February 1, German repair yards comprising German Dry Docks (GDD), BREDO Dockgesellschaft (BREDO) and Mützelfeldwerft will form a shipyard alliance under the umbrella of the German Dry Docks Group. The shipyards will preserve their independence and continue to trade in the market with their names. In the future the three locations will be managed by Guido Försterling from GDD and Dirk Harms from BREDO. The aim is to harmonise the business segments with a cross-site dock planning.
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7. Germans Slam Asian Aid
The German government has adopted a maritime agenda through to 2025, a move that has been welcomed by the nation’s shipyards and maritime technology companies. The German Association for Shipbuilding and Marine Technology (VSM) said the move “emphasizes the outstanding importance of the maritime economy for the future” of the German economy. However, VSM took the opportunity to hit out at many Asian competitors whose governments have intervened – possibly against WTO rules – to save their maritime firms during the protracted downturn.
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8. Wind Blows to China
China’s development of offshore wind farms could be set to accelerate, supported by favorable government-backed pricing and increased investment. “Offshore wind is becoming more and more economically attractive” after the government cut the tariffs for onshore projects, Ma Jinru, vice president of Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., China’s biggest maker of wind turbines, said in an interview. The renewed focus on offshore wind could see China exceed its target of 5 gigawatts of coastal projects ahead of the government’s 2020 deadline.
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9. 2016 Bunker Sales Record
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) expects 2016 sales of bunker fuel for ships to rise to a record for a second consecutive year, with early estimates showing volumes increased 7.7 percent to 48.6 million tonnes. This compares with the 45.2 million tonnes sold in 2015. “It’s really no surprise we broke the record, 2016 was a strong year for Singapore bunkers,” said a Singapore-based bunker fuel trader who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to the media. Volumes of marine fuels sold in Singapore averaged 4.1 million tonnes a month in 2016, compared with 3.8 million tonnes in 2015.
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10. Bulker Boarded by Pirates
A bulk carrier was boarded by robbers on January 8, 2017, as five persons climbed aboard the ship which was in Indonesian Muara Berau Anchorage at the time of the incident, according to data provided by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB). The robbers took a duty crewman hostage and tied him to the foremast. Another duty crewman tried to contact the first man but received no response. As he approached the forecastle to investigate, he noticed the robbers, according to ICC IMB. The duty crewman informed the officer of the watch (OOW) who raised the alarm.
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