HMS Artful on Maiden Voyage

By MarEx 2015-08-14 20:30:53

The U.K.’s latest attack submarine, HMS Artful, built by BAE Systems, has set sail from the shipyard’s facility for sea trials.

Nearly ten and a half years after first steel was cut, HMS Artful departed Barrow in the U.K. on Thursday to begin its maiden trials – 15 months after it was rolled out of the construction hall at BAE Systems’ yard.

Commanding Officer Commander Scott Bower guided the Astute-class submarine out of Devonshire Dock and out into the open waters of the Irish Sea. There its systems will be tested before heading to Faslane in Scotland, the base of the other submarines of its class HMS Astute and Ambush.

Bower said: “I am immensely proud and honored to be leading the crew of Artful. Her capabilities are extraordinary and represent the next step in our country’s century-long history of operating submarines.”

The design and build of the Astute class is a highly complex engineering feat likened to building a space shuttle. The 7,400-tonne attack submarines measure 97 meters and are powered by nuclear reactors. Each submarine is armed with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack missiles.

Artful is the third Astute class submarine to have been built by BAE Systems. Seven of the class have been commissioned and the remaining four boats are currently under construction.

“The crew, alongside the workers at BAE Systems, have done a sterling job in generating more than a million parts into a submarine,” said Bower. “Artful will be home to more than 100 men and can spend months at a time submerged. She is able to generate her own air and water; food will be her only limiting factor.”

In the 15 months since the submarine entered the water, Artful has undergone numerous tests of its propulsion and power systems – notably the nuclear reactor – and carried out a partial dive in the dock. It’s wide and long enough to accommodate an A-boat, but at only 82 feet, the waters are not deep enough to submerge the Astutes entirely.

The 100-strong crew have gone through similarly-exhaustive instruction and practice, culminating in an assessment by the team from the Flag Officer Sea Training just before Artful put to sea.

Artful will follow the earlier Astute-class submarines to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in Scotland. It is the second vessel of the name in the Royal Navy. The first was also a submarine, an A-class boat launched on May 22, 1947 and commissioned on February 2, 1948.


Anglo-Eastern and Univan Merge

By MarEx 2015-08-14 18:07:36

Ship management companies Anglo-Eastern Group and Univan Group have reached an agreement to merge. The deal is the largest merger of independent, third party ship management companies and will result in a new entity called the Anglo-Eastern Univan Group.

Anglo-Eastern is already in the top three global ship management companies, and it says the merger will offer further scale advantages to shipowners.

Started in 1974, the Anglo-Eastern Group was a home grown product and took off as a third party manager soon after a young Belgian executive with a degree in Naval Architecture (Peter Cremers) joined in 1985. Marcel Liedts soon joined Peter on the management team and, under their leadership, the managed fleet steadily grew. The company gained a reputation for first class safety and environmental standards, and in 1998 it underwent a management buy-out, followed in 2001 by a merger with Denholm Ship Management, providing a presence in Europe.

Univan Ship Management was started by the late Captain C.A.J. Vanderperre, often referred to as the father of ship management, and under whose guidance many successful ship management executives owe their careers today. Former Maersk Captain Bjorn Hojgaard was appointed CEO in 2012 and has overseen significant change. In the past few years Univan has refocused its efforts on serving first class shipowner clients and has seen rapid fleet growth.

The merged business will be led by Peter Cremers as Executive Chairman, Bjorn Hojgaard as Chief Executive, Marcel Liedts as Chief Operating Officer and Mark Stevenson as Chief Financial Officer. The group is proud that its “top three” all have professional backgrounds at sea or in naval architecture, the core skillsets in shipping on which both groups were built.

The newly merged Anglo-Eastern Univan group, backed by long term shareholders in the ship management industry, has recommitted itself to serving its shipowner clients through its commitment to safety both at sea and ashore and to maintaining and improving its operating standards, said the company in a statement.

The newly merged entity will have:

1,700+ shore based staff

24,000+ seafarers

600 ships under full management

100 ships under crew management only

In the first instance the merged group will continue to operate as separate entities, out of their existing offices. The Anglo-Eastern and Univan tanker fleets will continue to operate under their existing management and from offices in Singapore and Hong Kong.

The group board will consist of: Peter Cremers, Executive Chairman, John Denholm, Kannika Thasak, Bjorn Hojgaard, Marcel Liedts, Mark Stevenson, Richard Wong and Richard Hext.


Brownsville Debates LNG Project

By MarEx 2015-08-14 16:19:20

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently held a meeting in Brownsville, Texas regarding the Brownsville Shipping Channel’s proposed LNG project. If approved, three LNG terminals would be built and export natural gas to foreign markets.

The three companies vying for the project are NextDecadeLLC, Texas LNG and Annova LNG. All three companies are members of the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce and would invest a combined $10 billion into the project.

The Annova LNG and Texas LNG proposals are for mid-sized natural gas liquefaction and transfer facilities. The NextDecade proposal is larger in scale, with four terminals and 27 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year.

Annova estimates that its project would create 675 on-site jobs over the next for years and would employ 165 workers once the facility is operational. If constructed, the Annova facility would produce six million tons of LNG annually. The Texas LNG proposal would produce four million tons per year.

While the three LNG companies paint rosy pictures of a thriving economy in Brownsville, the proposal does have opponents. Many in the community have concerns regarding environmental damage to the region if the ports are built. A report from the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club predicts unprecedented environmental damage.

Writes Stefanie Herweck, the report’s author: “LNG facilities emit large amounts of airborne pollutants including nitrogen oxides, which give smog its brown color, and volatile organic compounds, which help create smog and in some cases affect health adversely.”

Herweck also calls LNG a highly hazardous industry due to the potential of leaks, fires and explosions. Herweck also argues that while LNG isn’t volatile, the propane and other gases used in the liquefaction process are.

Some are also worried about the impact LNG will have on marine life. Officials with the LNG companies have said that they have considered these risks and would not have moved forward with their proposals if they hadn’t.


U.S. Approves Oil Swaps With Mexico

By MarEx 2015-08-14 15:53:24

The U.S. will allow limited sales of crude oil to Mexico for the first time. The Commerce Department has informed Congress that it will approve a number of licenses to export U.S. crude oil in exchange for Mexican oil. The licenses will be issued at the end of August and will be valid for one year.

The approval comes eight months after Mexico formally requested a swap. The shipments are likely to be lighter, high-quality shale oil which will help Mexico’s refineries produce more premium fuels.

The Commerce Department has also denied several swap applications with European and Asian.

The move may also bring the U.S. one step closer to lifting its oil embargo. The decision to approve oil trade with Mexico comes a little more than a year after the U.S. allowed companies to export ultralight oil to foreign buyers.


Hercules files reorganisation plan

Jackup rig and liftboat specialist Hercules Offshore has filed a Chapter 11 reorganisation plan after being hit hard by languishing oil prices.
The pre-packaged plan, filed 13 August, provides for more than USD1.2 billion of the company’s outstanding senior notes be converted to 96.9% of new common