71 Nations Celebrate Sea Sunday

By MarEx 2015-07-12 05:40:54

Global maritime welfare charity, The Mission to Seafarers’ campaign Sea Sunday kicked off on Sunday in hundreds of church congregations around the world. This year highlights the work their teams do responding to emergencies at sea and their aftermath.

2015 started with a series of shipping tragedies which included the sinking of two vessels the Cemfjord off Wick in Scotland and the Bulk Jupiter close to Vietnam in east Asia – on both vessels nearly all on board were lost – all eight crew were missing presumed dead on the Cemfjord and 18 seamen were lost on the Bulk Jupiter, with one survivor.

In Southampton Sound in the South of England, the car carrier the Hoegh Osaka narrowly avoided a similar fate, when it listed severely on leaving port and was run aground to save it. Two crewmen were injured, but all the seafarers were rescued by the coastguard.

The Mission to Seafarers’ teams respond to those who face danger at sea, and support seafarers and their families in their hour of need in 71 countries and 260 ports worldwide.

In Wick, after the Cemfjord tragedy, the Mission’s Port Chaplain helped to organize support for the families. The Reverend Tim Tunley said: “When tragedy of this magnitude happens, we offer counselling and support to the families left behind. Of the eight crew, seven were Polish nationals, and one was from the Philippines. We contacted our colleagues in Poland at the Apostleship of the Sea and liaised with them and local churches to bring support and pastoral care to those bereaved. We also contacted the family in the Philippines, and referred them on to our MtS colleagues in Manila.

“I worked closely with the shipping company, our fantastic local volunteers and the community in Wick who were all effected by the sinking so close to their shores.”

Last weekend Tunley attended a memorial service in Wick with the families from Poland who had been flown over to attend, and he holds a Sea Sunday service in Wick this Sunday.

Off the coast of Vietnam on January 2 this year another vessel sank with one survivor. The Bulk Jupiter was a bauxite carrier that got into trouble in heavy weather. It is reported that she listed severely to starboard before sinking. All on board were lost except the chief cook who has since been repatriated home to the Philippines.

The Mission to Seafarers has recently set up a new initiative in Manila to support seafarers and their families. The Mission to Seafarers’ Families Support Network has been in contact with the relatives of the Bulk Jupiter crew who lost their loved ones and who are still looking for answers as to why the ship sank.

In Southampton Port Chaplain John Attenborough was first on hand to respond to the coastguard’s emergency call for help for the crew of the stricken vessel the Hoegh Osaka. The Mission has issued an interview with John on their YouTube channel describing the events of that fateful night. Mercifully no lives were lost and the crewmen received support and aid from The Mission to Seafarers on the night of the tragedy, and daily visits in the weeks afterwards as they recovered before being repatriated home.

Sea Sunday is held in 71 countries around the world by The Mission to Seafarers. It is marked with services of thanksgiving and prayer to remember the hard work that seafarers undertake by bringing 90 percent of all imported goods to shore by ship, night and day, 365 days a year.

The Mission’s port-based welfare services include:

Emergency support: When a ship and her crew are in danger and have been abandoned, the Mission is on hand in the world’s ports to provide emergency help and assistance once seafarers are brought ashore.

Ship-visiting: The Mission’s chaplains visit hundreds of ships a day in ports around the world to provide a friendly welcome and offer help, support and advice.

Flying Angel centers: The centers can be found in 100 ports and offer refreshments, television, books, recreational activities, internet, phone facilities and the chance to spend time away from the ship.

Justice and welfare services: When a seafarer has not been paid, is working in substandard conditions, being bullied or has been a victim of wrongful arrest, The Mission’s staff can intervene and put them in touch with professional support and legal advice through local expertise and contacts.

Communications: The Flying Angel phone card is known by seafarers everywhere, providing a vital link to friends and family. The Centres provide telephones and wi-fi internet for email and Skype calls.

Counselling: Harsh working conditions, tensions between crew members and isolation from friends and family can take their toll on seafarers, leading to depression, anxiety and loneliness. The Mission’s chaplains are experienced counsellors, on hand to listen and offer sympathy and advice.

Transport: Many ports are located in industrial areas miles away from towns, shops and amenities. The Mission provides transport so that seafarers can make the most of their brief time ashore.

Emergency support: In cases of pirate attack, shipwreck, abandonment, serious injury or bereavement, the Mission is on hand to offer whatever assistance a seafarer needs, from food to phone calls home.

Post-trauma care: The Mission’s chaplains are trained to recognize and respond to signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. In the aftermath of pirate attack, shipwreck or industrial disaster they offer a caring response in the midst of post-event interrogation and bureaucracy.

High-level advocacy: The Mission works to uphold seafarers’ rights and ensure justice, fair pay and good working conditions at sea. It is in constant dialogue with the shipping industry, international governments and regulatory bodies.

Spiritual support: The Mission to Seafarers is a missionary agency of the Anglican Church. Its chaplains provide Christian services, spiritual support and opportunities for prayer and quiet reflection. The Mission serves seafarers of all beliefs and works in partnership with other faith groups to meet their spiritual needs, whatever they may be.


Canada Funds New Tanker Research Center

By MarEx 2015-07-12 01:24:15

Lisa Raitt, Canada’s Minister of Transport, has announced that the government of Canada is providing $3.7M to establish the Vancouver-based Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping.

The activities of the center will support the government’s commitment to protect Canada’s coasts, and to enhance marine safety through the world-class tanker safety system that aims to strengthen ship-source spill prevention, preparedness and response.

The center’s mandate is to be the leading, independent source of evidence-based information on best practices for marine shipping, including the shipping of natural resource products, and to promote and facilitate research that supports the highest standards for safe and responsible marine transportation.

Specifically, the center will:

• Serve as a trusted, independent source for information on the safe handling and shipping of oil and gas products, including liquefied natural gas;

• Identify and facilitate research related to the shipment of resource products;

• Provide a forum for sharing best practices and dialogue with the public, Aboriginal groups and a broad range of stakeholders; and

• Provide a structured framework for the ongoing research and monitoring of environmental and social impacts related to the shipment of natural resource products, and to make recommendations on how spill risks can be assessed and communicated to the public.

“Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping will make a valuable contribution to the government’s commitment to protect Canada’s coasts and to strengthen marine safety through the world-class tanker safety system initiative,” said Raitt. “As an independent body governed by its own board of directors, Clear Seas will provide an important independent voice on Canada’s shipping regime.”

John Weston, member of Parliament for West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country, said: “Vancouver continues to make its mark as the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and this government recognizes that as we increase in commerce and traffic as a central hub for business, we must also continuously improve and strengthen our marine safety. This funding will help us to do that, at the highest standard, to ensure the safe and sustainable shipping of commodities in these valued waters.”

The center is an independent, not-for-profit organization. Board members include:

• Kim Baird, former Chief of Tsawwassen First Nation;

• Duncan Wilson, Vice-President Corporate Social Responsibility at Port Metro Vancouver;

• Kathryn Moran, President and CEO of Ocean Networks Canada at the University of Victoria;

• Bud Streeter, President of Lloyd’s Register Canada, in Halifax;

• Roger Thomas, a retired Executive Vice-President at Nexen;

• John Woodward, a partner in Woodcorp Investments Ltd. and a board member of Pacific Salmon Foundation;

• John Hepburn, Vice-President, Research & International at the University of B.C.

• Lindsay Gordon, Chancellor of the University of B.C. and former President & CEO of HSBC Bank Canada

• Christopher Causton, former Mayor, Oak Bay, B.C.

In addition to funding from the government of Canada, the center is receiving contributions from industry (Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers) and the government of Alberta.

Pilot Projects

Raitt has also announced the launch of the Area Response Planning pilot project and related community participation funding program.

Area response planning is one of the government of Canada’s measures under the world-class tanker safety system that supports ship-source spill preparedness and response tailored to a particular geographic area, in collaboration with local communities, Aboriginal groups, industry and all levels of government.

The pilot areas include:

• the southern portion of British Columbia, including Vancouver Harbour;

• Saint John and the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick;

• Port Hawkesbury and the Strait of Canso, Nova Scotia; and

• St. Lawrence River (Montreal to Anticosti Island), Quebec.

In concert with this initiative, Transport Canada’s community participation funding program will support the participation of local communities and Aboriginal groups in the pilot project. The program will provide up to $2.1 million starting in fall 2015 and ending in 2017 to eligible recipients.

“Our government’s goal with world-class tanker safety is to prevent ship-source oil spills, clean them up quickly if they do happen and ensure that polluters pay,” said Raitt. “As a part of our tanker safety measures, the Area Response Planning process will help ensure procedures are in place and equipment is readily available to plan for any scenario in specific areas.”


APM Poised For Greek Port Buy-Up

By Reuters 2015-07-12 00:01:41

APM Terminals, part of A.P. Moller-Maersk, said on Friday it is interested in buying into the Greek ports Piraeus and Thessaloniki, slated for privatization if a new bailout deal is agreed between Athens and the European Union.

“Yes, we are interested in the Greek ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki and are pursuing them as part of our growth plans. Our interest has been consistent throughout the economic and political cycles of the country,” Francois Delenclos, Vice President of Business Development at APM Terminals, said.

Privatization Plans

Meanwhile, the head of Greece’s biggest port Piraeus will step down, a statement said last Wednesday, after the port was once more named as a target for privatization in the country’s cash-for-reforms negotiations with international creditors.

Chief Executive Yiorgos Anomeritis has headed the port since 2009. In February, he had informed the new leftist-led government he would stay on until the company’s annual shareholder meeting, on the weekend, to help the government in their first months in power.

Piraeus Port is majority state-owned and China’s Cosco has been operating two of the port’s cargo piers since 2008.

The sale of a majority stake in the port was part of Greece’s privatization plan under its 240 billion euro bailout with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Tsipras’ government halted the privatization after it came in power in January but relaunched it last month, as a concession to break a four-month impasse in negotiations.

Anomeritis had opposed the sale of a majority stake, saying that ports can be managed by different operators but should be majority-owned by the state.

Tsipras has until Wednesday

Euro zone ministers have given Greece until Wednesday this week to pass new laws as a condition for negotiations on a bailout Athens needs to avoid losing access to the common currency, Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said on Sunday.

Describing a joint proposal the Eurogroup of finance ministers have put to a summit of euro zone leaders which began on Sunday, Stubb told reporters: “It has far-reaching conditionality, on three counts: Number one, it needs to implement laws by July 15. Number two, tough conditions on for instance labor reforms and pensions and VAT and taxes.

“And then number three quite tough measures also on for instance privatization and privatization funds.

“And for us the most important thing is that… this whole package has to be approved by both the Greek government and the Greek parliament and then we’ll have a look.”


Typhoon Lashes China, One Million Evacuated

By Reuters 2015-07-11 23:29:46

One of the most powerful typhoons to strike eastern China in decades disrupted air, rail and sea transport on Saturday after forcing the evacuation of more than a million people from the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu, state media reported.

Typhoon Chan-Hom was packing winds of 162 kph (101 mph) as it hit the city of Zhoushan, slowing from an earlier speed of 173 kph (108 mph).

It could be the most powerful July typhoon to hit Zhejiang since the Communist Party took power in 1949, the National Meteorological Center said.

No casualties have been reported yet, Xinhua said.

In Shanghai, the commercial capital, all flights out of Pudong International Airport and Hongqiao Airport were cancelled because of the typhoon, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Authorities in Zhejiang said the province may face 1.95 billion yuan ($314 million) in economic losses, with agriculture the worst affected, sustaining 1.44 billion yuan in losses, Xinhua said.

The typhoon brought heavy rain to Shanghai as well as the provinces of Anhui and Fujian, besides Jiangsu and Zhejiang, the weather service said.

Apart from the closure of schools and the suspension of flights and trains, more than 51,000 ships had returned to port, Xinhua said, citing local authorities.

Typhoons are common at this time of year in the South China Sea, picking up strength from warm waters before dissipating over land.

Earlier this week, typhoon Linfa moved slowly across the north of the Southeast Asian archipelago and up to China’s southern province of Guangdong.

($1 = 6.2092 Chinese yuan renminbi)


A War of Words for Now – China and the U.S.

By MarEx 2015-07-10 16:01:55

Drawing a line in the sand has become literal in the South China Sea these days as China moves forward with its reclamation projects, which is imtimidating the neighbors, many who are U.S. allies. Meanwhile, the rhetoric between the U.S and Chinese governments has gotten a little nasty as well and the region could become a hot spot very quickly becasue of the maritime disputes.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State recently called China’s actions a “threat to peace and stability” and compared the reclamation projects to the Ukraine crisis. Xi Jinping, China’s president, tried to be a little more diplomatic saying appropriate steps should be taken to avoid damage to their increasingly important relationships, but he has made it clear as well that the U.S. is meddling in its sovereign affairs.

In May, a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane flew from Clark Air Base in the Philippines to three South China Sea reef – Subi Reef, Mischief Reef and the Fiery Cross Reef- where China is reclaiming land and intends to establish a permanent military facility. During the flight, the U.S. plane received eight warnings by radio, and were told, “This is the Chinese Navy. Please leave immediately to avoid misunderstanding.” And then the radio operator yelled “You go!”

While planes and U.S. warships have been operating in the region more intently for months, the warnings by the Chinese is getting more aggressive as the reclamation projects progress. While China is not the only country reclaiming land, China’s has been much more extensive and fast paced. The U.S. believes that China will be positioning aircraft, radars and satellite communications equipment as well as antiaircraft and naval guns, helipads and docks.

China says that the Philippines and Japanese military has been flying over the disputed reclamation area, Liyue Tan, in a joint military exercise sanctioned by the U.S. And, the Chinese government says it’s being bullied by what it says are reckless moves. China says it will never change its stance about its ownerships of the islands and will defend its territorial integrity. Stay tuned, more to come in this series.


New Movie Recounts Historic USCG Rescue

By MarEx 2015-07-10 14:27:39

Disney has released the trailer for a new movie based on the true story of heroic US Coast Guard rescue of 32 mariners aboard the SS Pendleton.

In the winter of 1952, a four-man crew from the USCG braved 60-foot waves and 70-knot winds to save men trapped in stern section of the oil tanker after one of the worst Nor’Easter gales on record tore the vessel in two. Using only a 36-foot wooden motorized boat the men carried out one of the most daring rescue missions in Coast Guard history.

The incident occurred on February 18 while the tanker was underway off of Cape Cod. In the early morning hours fierce snow fall and hues waves snapped the vessel in two. The captain and seven crewmen sank in the bow section of the ship. Reports after the accident said the tanker had been constructed with “dirty steel”, which was not able to withstand gales force winds.

The Finest Hours recounts this amazing story from the perspectives of the US Coast Guard men that carrying out the operation as well as the desperate mariners stranded aboard the mangled tanker.

The movie is based on the 2009 bestseller by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. It directed by Craig Gillespie and set for a January 29, 2016 release in theaters world-wide.