Top Ten Maritime News Stories 22/03/2017

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 22/03/2017

1. Marshall Islands Leaps Liberia
At the start of this century Bill Gallagher and Clay Maitland, via their firm International Registries, Inc (IRI), parted ways with the Liberian registry and sought a similar US-friendly territory from which to base a new shipping flag. They chose the Marshall Islands. The flag, the RMI Registry, then set about building up a global network of offices and enticing owners from across the world. As of March this year IRI can now boast a flag larger than Liberia’s, placing it second in the world behind Panama. The flag today stands at 223.26m dwt, just over 2m dwt in front of rival Liberia. Panama is out in front with 340.14m dwt.
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2. Box Lines Face Justice
U.S. Justice Department investigators have subpoenaed top executives of several container shipping companies as part of an investigation into price fixing, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Maersk Line, a unit of Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk, confirmed that it was issued a subpoena related to a probe into the container shipping industry on March 15. “The subpoena does not set out any specific allegations against Maersk Line,” a Maersk Line spokesman said, adding that the company will fully cooperate with the authorities in their investigations.
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3. Confidence Holds Steady
Shipping confidence held steady in the three months to end-February 2017, according to the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from international accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens. In February 2017, the average confidence level expressed by respondents was 5.6 out of 10.0, unchanged from the previous survey in November 2016 and equal to the highest rating since August 2015. Owners were the only main category to show an improved level of confidence, up from 5.4 to 5.6. Confidence on the part of charterers was down from its all-time survey high of 6.8 to 5.9, while that of managers fell from 6.4 to 6.0.
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4. Tanker Collision Search
A major search had to be undertaken in Spain for two people missing after a Russian tanker collided with a fishing vessel off the coast of Barcelona on Monday. Spanish authorities report that the Russian-flagged tanker "MID Volga 2" had just left the port of Barcelona when it collided with the fishing boat "El Fairell" approximately 3 nautical miles from the port on Monday afternoon, causing the fishing boat to sink. Two other crewmembers of the El Fairell were rescued and taken to a hospital ashore. The search involved a number of air and sea SAR assets, including the emergency rescue and standby vessel and ROV.
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5. ABS on Cyber Risks
ABS, participated in the 32nd annual CMA Shipping Conference and Exhibition in Stamford, CT, where ABS Chief Operating Officer Tony Nassif shared his perspective on cyber-related challenges faced by the marine industry. “The main challenge we face is that in our industry not all users of new technology understand the way the software they are using was built, how it operates, what happens when it fails and what mitigation they have,” Nassif said. “Now, our ships and assets employ a ‘system of systems’ approach that combines operational and information technology.”
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6. ISO on New Fuels
The International Organisation for Standardisation has launched a new class of marine fuel specifications to provide standards for higher quantities of biofuels to be blended into marine distillates, and making reporting of cloud point mandatory in their updated marine gasoil grades. No changes have been made to residual fuel oil standards in the latest edition of ISO 8217, the global standard for marine fuels, that was last updated five years ago.
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7. Holistic Approach to Piracy
There is an urgent need for a holistic approach to piracy which should include political, economic, military, administrative, legal and financial components. The recently hijacked "Aris 13" had no Sea Marshals on board; had no naval escort; was a slow vessel going at an average speed of 5 knots; and was hugging the coast rather than going through the open sea in order to save fuel. “Little wonder the vessel attracted pirates,” a regional expert has said. The re-emergence of piracy has to be seen in the objective conditions prevailing on land as well as the sea, and these are conducive once more.
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8. First Ship Audits
Having been tasked with auditing First Ship Lease Trust’s most recent annual accounts, Moore Stephens has found them to be in order, but has stressed that the embattled Singapore outfit continues to have going concern issues. The UK accountant stated that the trust and its subsidiaries (the group) had liabilities as of the end of 2016 that exceeded their assets by $179m and $171m respectively. Last week, the Singapore trust moved to improve its financial position announcing it will pay down its syndicated loan facility by $20m utilising available cash. Many key senior management figures have quit the trust over the past year.
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9. Conflict over Owner Compensation
Marine average adjusters are at the centre of a conflict over whether shipowners should be compensated for having to stump up thousands of dollars in extra costs when extricating their vessels from the hands of Somali pirates. Although the sum at stake in the incident that has led to the controversy is modest in commercial terms, argument over the principle at issue is about to go all the way to the Supreme Court, the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases. Opinion is sharply divided within the average adjusting profession over whether a shipowner should alone have to bear expenses that build up during a hijacking.
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10. Libyan Problems Deepen
Italian coast guard officials report that maritime migration is increasing on the Libya-to-Europe route, driven by deteriorating living conditions on the ground and concerns that the route may soon be closed by toughened EU border enforcement policies. Thanks to crowded boats and rough winter weather, fatalities rose to an average of 15 per day over the past three months. At the same time, conflict and corruption on the ground have called into question the EU’s plans to train the Libyan Coast Guard and return migrants to Libyan shores.
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Daily news feed from Seacurus Ltd – providers of MLC crew insurance solutions  www.seacurus.com

 

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