Top Ten Maritime News Stories 21/03/2017

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 21/03/2017

1. NATO Urged to do More
NATO forces are being urged to help stamp out illegal fishing off the Horn of Africa or risk witnessing repeated vessel hijackings in the region. Speaking out in the wake of the capture last week of the UAE-controlled product tanker Aris 13, the first vessel hijacking by Somalis since 2012, a senior political figure made the express link between illegal fishing and piracy. “We requested NATO warships to tackle the illegal fishing, but they replied it was not their mandate,” Abdihakim Abdullahi Omar, the vice president of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, told reporters at Bosasso port yesterday.
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2. Panama Embraces High-tech
The Panama Canal Authority is developing a computerized scheduling and resource management system that it said will help double the number of big ships that can travel through the canal each day, giving it a competitive edge against the Suez Canal. The first phase of the system, which was commissioned late last year, will be up and running by September, with two more phases that will be completed by the end of 2018. The “state-of-the-art” system will be located in the canal’s Marine Traffic Control Center and is designed to automate, schedule, and plan all of the moving parts that help a ship move through the canal.
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3. Anti Piracy Head Sacked
The head of anti-piracy operations in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia said he had been fired for speaking out about illegal fishing, which he claims could trigger a new outbreak of piracy in the Indian Ocean. Pirates hijacked an oil tanker off Somalia last week, the first such attack in the region since 2012 after shipping firms hired private security and international warships started patrolling nearby waters. Abdirizak Mohamed Dirir, director of anti-piracy operations in Puntland, said the province’s president sacked him after he told journalists that permits had been handed to illegal fishing vessels.
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4. Countering Consolidation
Contrary to the prevailing mood of consolidation seen in the sector and shipping in general, one shipmanager says there is a push back against the largest names in the shipmanagement business. Vinay Gupta, managing director of Union Marine Management Services, claims to have received new ships in recent months from owners who felt they were not getting the right level of attention from some of the shipmanager majors. Gupta says, “shipmanagement is a service industry and policies that are made at the top have to be followed and implemented at the ground level by the superintendents, masters and chief engineers.”
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5. Chinese Tanker in Blast
On Sunday evening, the Chinese product tanker Xing Long Zhou 569 suffered an explosion and fire about 120 nm southeast of Qingdao, in the Yellow Sea. The Ministry of Transport Beihai Rescue Bureau dispatched the salvage tugs Bei Hai Jiu 112 and Bei Hai Jiu 201 to the scene, and the first responders rescued 13 out of the tanker’s 16 crewmembers. Three seafarers remain missing, according to Xinhua. The fire was brought under control and the tanker was taken in tow. The cause of the incident is under investigation.
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6. UN Calls for Investigation
The United Nations and the Somali government have called on the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen to investigate a deadly helicopter attack on a Somali refugee boat last week. However, the coalition had a different agenda: in a statement on Sunday, it denied responsibility for the attack and called on the U.N. to supervise the nearby port of Hodeidah, which is under the control of Houthi rebel forces. UN control of the port "would facilitate the flow of humanitarian supplies to the Yemeni people, while at the same time ending the use of the port for weapons smuggling and people trafficking," the coalition said.
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7. Denmark Seeking Autonomy
Denmark’s potential for autonomous ships has been analyzed in a study by the Danish Technological University and the Danish Maritime Authority. The study aims to inspire future development projects. The pre-analysis focuses primarily on small coastal ships including small island ferries, tugboats, barges, supply and service vessels for drilling platforms and wind farms as well as autonomous surface vessels for servicing underwater and drone units for offshore inspections. A decisive element in the analysis of the suitability of autonomous ships for goods transport is noted as the industry’s competition with transport by truck.
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8. Rickmers Working Against Clock
Beleaguered Singapore shipping trust Rickmers Maritime has until 15 April to present a revised restructuring plan to its main financier HSH Nordbank. The trust is in discussions with HSH Nordbank on forgiveness on its existing loans but said the bank had not so far accepted any specific proposal. “Further, HSH has granted the Trust until 15th April 2017 to present a concept that ensures a higher level of total recoveries than under a Trust winding-up scenario,” Rickmers Trust Management said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange. Last December noteholders rejected a proposed financial restructuring.
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9. NORTH on Bunkers
The North of England P&I Association has warned of bunker quantity shortchange even through the use of mass flow meters (MFM) and encouraged receiving vessel to continue to take soundings onboard before and after bunker delivery. The North of England P&I made reference to the mandatory use of MFM for bunker deliveries in the port of Singapore since the start of 2017, where a case emerged recently of piping irregularities on five bunker tankers operated by Panoil Petroleum.
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10. Conti on the Market
With German banks finally getting around to clearing out the nation’s ailing lines a trio of Conti ships have gone on the market and been snapped up. Earlier this month plans were announced by Hamburg-based Claus-Peter Offen to take over struggling Munich owner Conti Group. It now emerges that France’s CMA CGM has paid $14.5m a piece for a brace of 12-year-old 7,471 teu ships – the Conti Le Havre and Conti Venice. The ships are on subs according to broking reports. Also, Sinokor has stumped up $14m for another sistership, the Conti Savannah. Conti has a fleet of 30 boxships, eight product carriers and 29 bulkers.
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