Top Ten Maritime News Stories 26/05/2017

Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 26/05/2017

1. Police Raid Polaris Offices
The police have raided the Seoul and Busan offices of under fire Polaris Shipping as part of investigations into the sinking of the Stellar Daisy, an elderly converted ore carrier that went down in the South Atlantic at the end of March with the loss of 22 lives. Only two men survived the sinking. Since then Polaris has been hit by a string of other incidents across a number of other ships in its fleet, sparking a fleet-wide inspection.
Police raided the two offices yesterday morning and took away all documents relating to the Stellar Daisy, including communication transcripts between the ship and its shore superintendents, the ship’s navigation log, its repair record and its ship inspection history. Polaris has reached a compensation package with most of the families connected to the Stellar Daisy crew.
2. Waking To New Threats
After a period of declining piracy incidents, a new spate of hijackings have taken place off the coast of Somalia. A recent report from the NGO Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) found that piracy is spreading and evolving. Beyond the HRA, attacks surged off the West Coast of Africa with 95 incidents in 2016, up from 54 in 2015. The majority took place in Nigerian waters. "What looked like one-off attacks on vessels is now looking more like a concerted and organized effort to attack shipping," says Alan Cole, head of Global Maritime Crime at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Some vessels have been cutting corners, and worse still, according to Chris Farrell, group commercial director of private security group Neptune Maritime Security such vessels often have "low freeboard, no armed guards, no razor wire and no deterrent."
3. Owners Concerned About Compliance
Asian shipowners have flagged concerns over practical onboard compliance with the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 and the STCW Code. Following its agm in Taipei the Asian Shipowners’ Association (ASA) said that one area of concern is practical on board compliance with the work and rest hour provisions of MLC 2006 and STCW. The ASA is given to understand that some ships may not be maintaining correct records of work/rest hours, and urges all members to ensure that records are maintained correctly. In apparent reference the growth in onboard internet and the use of social media by seafarers in their free time, ASA added: “It is also important to impress on seafarers that rest is essential, and that other distractions should be kept to a minimum during rest periods so as to combat fatigue.”
4. Back to Safety Square One
The of the VLOC "Stellar Daisy" has brought home a feeling that as far as bulk carrier safety is concerned, we are back to square one. A series of well-intentioned and very detailed regulations and standards were adopted in the last 20 years to improve bulk carrier safety, yet Stellar Daisy went down in a copy book fashion, suddenly and caused by a catastrophic structural failure. Even though bulk carrier safety is a work in progress, can we, in the absence of any reliable solution on the horizon, take interim measures to prevent another sinking? Most vessels generally start their service life as being adequate to the demands of the sea, but may become inadequate at some point later due to deterioration with age. Also our assumptions of the dynamic loads on the hull due to waves and ship’s motions might be drastically erroneous.

5. UK Ports Step Up Security
UK ports have stepped up security and screening measures for ferry passengers following the deadly attack on concertgoers in Manchester earlier this week. At the port of Holyhead, the nation’s second-busiest passenger port, police commissioner Arfon Jones has added new armed patrols to ensure security, part of the UK’s Operation Temperer. “Following yesterday’s raising of the national threat level to ‘critical’ we have implemented part of our planned and rehearsed response which has involved the deployment of armed . . . personnel to Holyhead Port," said North Wales Police spokesperson Richard Debicki. "Armed officers already deploy at the port, but we are increasing our levels of dedicated resource in response to the move to ‘critical’."

6. Strike in Chile Traps Cargo
Chile’s customs association (National Association of Customs Officers of Chile- ANFACH) called an indefinite strike last Wednesday that is affecting Chilean ports, airports and borders and causing disruption and delays top freight movement up and down its 6,000 km-long Pacific coastline. Striking workers number around 1,900. Day one of the strike saw some 850 Bolivian trucks struck at the border unable to cross into Chile, reported Xinhua. According to the Bolivian president of exporters, Wilfredo Rojo, the strike prevented Bolivia from moving goods worth $5m a day to and from Chile. Only special cases attended, such as those related to humanitarian support and dangerous cargo, said ANFACH.
7. Port Looks at Human Factors
The Port of London Authority has launched a safety campaign, focused on the human element after analysis of incident data showed that it was the leading cause of navigational incidents on the tidal Thames in the last two years. Chief harbor master, Bob Baker, said human error was linked to more than 40 percent of the accidents on the river over that time. “Often it’s the simplest of things that trip people up, whether recognizing that their mind’s not on the job or suddenly thinking ‘I wasn’t clear in my instructions’.” The campaign draws on U.K. Maritime & Coastguard Agency guidance on the “deadly dozen,” the 12 top people related factors: “Over the next twelve months we will be giving hints and tips to river users on a variety of elements, including best practice, communication and avoiding distractions,” said Baker.
8. More Atlantic Hurricanes Predicted
The Atlantic hurricane season will likely churn out an above-average 11 to 17 named storms, in part due to fading odds than an El Nino will form in the Pacific. Of storms that emerge during the six-month season that begins June 1, five to nine will reach hurricane strength with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday. Two to four may become major systems reaching Category 3 or stronger on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. The Earth’s most powerful storms can threaten lives, destroy property and move global energy and agricultural markets. An estimated $28.3 trillion worth of homes, businesses and infrastructure is vulnerable to hurricane strikes in the 18 U.S. Atlantic coastal states, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.
9. Explosives Haul Found
Greek authorities say they are investigating a load of explosives that was allegedly being transported by a Maltese-flagged cargo ship from Turkey to Sudan. The coast guard said it stopped the Mekong Spirit, which had set sail from a Turkish port with a crew of 17, on Wednesday morning and led it to the eastern Aegean island of Kos. The coast guard says customs officials were to investigate the cargo to determine whether the shipment contravened a European Union and United Nations arms embargo on Sudan, or whether the explosives were meant for other use. No arrests were made pending determination of whether the cargo was illegal.

10. Losses as Migrant Fall Overboard
Over thirty people drowned, including seven children, after an overcrowded wooden boat with approximately 750 people on board listed causing hundreds of people to fall in the water on May 24 off the coast of Libya. “As the distribution of life jackets was completed, a sudden movement of the desperate people on board destabilised the boat causing it to list heavily to one side, causing around 400 people into the water and leaving hundreds still trapped under lock and key in the hull below deck,” Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), an NGO specialized in search and rescue, said. The MOAS personnel was joined by a Spanish SAR aircraft, an Italian Coast Guard vessel and two merchant ships, in pulling people from the water.

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