Slave Ship Trading in Australian Waters

By MarEx 2015-08-21 19:04:51

A foreign crew in Mackay, Australia, has been denied basic rights such as access to food and has been forced to work without pay.

One crewmember on board the Korean bulk carrier, the C. Summit, was found to have malnutrition and a further four have since left the ship claiming they feared for their lives.

The accusations have been substantiated by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), following an inspection of the vessel on Thursday. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has also joined the ITF in inspecting the vessel.

ITF Assistant National Coordinator Matt Purcell said the crew, a mix of Cambodians and Burmese, had been subject to the worst kind of bullying he had encountered.

“We have discovered two contracts, one contract was the one the workers signed prior to boarding and the other, which doesn’t meet even the most basic international standards, was signed shortly after the crew joined the ship,” Purcell said.

“The crew claim they have received no wages for several months and are forced to do jobs outside of their requirements. They have been locked in hatches, and have survived on what I can only describe as a starvation diet.”

The vessel, owned by Korea-based Chang Myung Shipping Co, is a repeat offender in that deficiencies have been noted by a number of different port state control areas. The ship was found to be breaching labor standards in Denmark as recently as November last year.

The ship visits Australia, mainly Hay Point and Newcastle ports, a couple of times a year.

ITF President Paddy Crumlin said although this ship was an extreme example of crew abuses, many ships calling into Australian ports had dodgy records when it came to safety, pollution and crew welfare.

“The sea is a largely unregulated environment whereby greedy shipowners and operators are allowed to get away with egregious breaches of human rights, and the Australian Government is regularly turning a blind eye to the breaches happening in our waters,” Crumlin said.

“Further to that, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss seems to want these awful breaches to increase by wiping out the Australian merchant navy fleet through complete deregulation.

“Mr Truss has to understand that opening up Australia’s shipping industry so it can “compete” with the lowest common denominator is consenting to these kind of human rights violations.”

The Abbott Government is attempting to dismantle the Coastal Trading Act, which dictates that ships trading between Australian ports must be crewed by Australian workers or paid Australian award wages.

The amendment to the Act was inserted into May’s Budget papers but is yet to be debated in Parliament after it was sent to a Senate Inquiry.


Fires and Toxicity Over Tianjin

By MarEx 2015-08-21 16:30:19

Four new fires have erupted within the three kilometer disaster zone where warehouse explosions killed more than 116 people in China’s Tianjin port. Firefighters, soldiers and police offers have been dispatched to put out the flames.

According to reports, the fires were seen in a logistics park as well as three other locations in the central blast zone. There were at least 3,000 cars in the logistics park, which had been torched in the August 12 eruption. Authorities suspect that the fires were caused by combustible material in the cars’ fuel tanks.

Technicians have detected levels of cyanide up to 356 times the safe level within the evacuated blast zone.

Officials confirmed that more than 700 tons of sodium cyanide were stored at the Tianjin warehouse that blew up. Inspections of facilities handling dangerous chemicals and explosives were ordered by China’s State Council after the blasts.

The Tianjin explosions exposed several safety issues regarding the storage of hazard chemicals.

MarEx recently reported on it in an article you can read here.


Siphoning Hijackers Caught

By MarEx 2015-08-21 10:08:10

Indonesian police have arrested three men suspected of hijacking the Indonesian-flagged M/T Rehobot.

The tanker was transporting about 1,100 tons of fuel when it was boarded by nine men wielding knives on January 28. The Rehobot’s 14 crewmembers were forced to abandon ship and jumped into the vessel’s lifeboats and were not found until January 31.

The ship was found grounded and found on Mindanao Island February 23, and its fuel had been siphoned.

Indonesian authorities are still searching for the six remaining hijackers. North Sulawesi Marine Police believe the operation was led by a man named La Ade, who is a fugitive being sought in another incident of fuel siphoning in 2013.


The Sludge of Biofuels

By MarEx 2015-08-21 10:00:10

The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) has identified two species of super-algae that contain over 50 percent oil. The researchers suggest that it could be an untapped resource for the production of biofuels.

Using a new technique, the scientists examined strains in the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa, an internationally important algal store based at SAMS in Oban in the Firth of Loren.

Micro-algae produce high levels of oil, carbohydrates and proteins from sunlight. There are only a few species, which are grown commercially for health foods such as Omega-3 oils and pro-Vitamin A. The fatty acids found in micro-algae can also be converted into fatty acid methyl esters, or FAMEs, the molecules used to produce biodiesel.

The SAMS screening revealed two marine strains, Nannochloropis oceanica and Chlorella vulgaris as being ideal biofuel feedstock.

Dr. Stephen Slocombe, a SAMS research associate in molecular biology, commented that producing biofuels from micro-algae will require further data about what strains will generate high yields.

Currently, there are about 10,000 researchers working on super-algae, but the shortlist of super-algae developed by SAMS is considered the best opportunity of genetically engineering the right culture for oil production.

Algae is easily grown and is low maintenance, which make them an attractive option for biofuel production. Commercial algae also requires less land and water than plant alternatives, but production is relatively expensive due to equipment and operating costs.

Several companies and government agencies are currently funding efforts to make algae fuel production commercially viable. The SAMS project is part of the BioMara Project which aims to develop biofuels from marine biomass.


Royal IHC Launches Fifth Pipelaying Vessel for Sapura Navegação Marítima

By MarEx 2015-08-21 09:20:09

Royal IHC has successfully named and launched the pipelaying vessel, SAPURA RUBI, in a ceremony at the company’s shipyard in Krimpen aan den IJssel, The Netherlands. The naming of the fully integrated vessel was performed by Ms. Glaucia Maciel, Human Resource Manager of Sapura Navegação Marítima S.A.

The SAPURA RUBI is the fifth 550t pipelaying vessel that IHC is supplying to Sapura Navegação Marítima, a joint venture between SapuraKencana and Seadrill. All five vessels are being completely designed, engineered and built by IHC. Like her sister vessels, the SAPURA DIAMANTE, SAPURA TOPÁZIO, SAPURA ÔNIX and SAPURA JADE, the SAPURA RUBI is destined for Brazilian waters to develop deep-sea oilfields of up to 2,500m on behalf of Petrobras.

The vessel will be equipped with a pipelaying spread designed and built by IHC, and two below-deck storage carousels, with capacities for 2,500t and 1,500t of product respectively. A vertical (tiltable) lay system with a 550t top tension capacity will be permanently installed for the deployment of a range of flexible products, and the tower orientation allows for maximum deck space. A custom-designed IHC control system integrates each aspect of the pipelaying spread to ensure excellent levels of performance, safety and reliability.

Arjan Klijnsoon, IHC’s Executive Director Marketing & Sales, says: “With these ships, Sapura Navegação Marítima has entrusted IHC with an impressive order. The entire project has been on – or ahead of – schedule, which proves us to be a reliable partner in complex activities.

“The operational vessels, the SAPURA DIAMANTE, SAPURA TOPÁZIO and SAPURA ÔNIX, are all performing very well. With the launch of the final vessel, we have almost reached the end of a fantastic project. I am confident that the outfitting and delivery will be completed on schedule.”