China Extends Ship Scrapping Subsidy

By Reuters 2015-06-24 18:57:44

China has extended a subsidy program that encourages shipping companies to scrap old vessels by two years. The move is a bid to support an industry struggling to emerge from a global downturn.

The scheme, which began in 2013 and was due to end this year, gives shipping lines grants of 1,500 yuan ($241.67) per gross ton to replace old vessels with newer, more environmentally friendly models.

These subsidies helped state-backed shippers including China COSCO and China Shipping Development to post a higher 2014 profit despite the slump in the global industry. China COSCO said it would have posted a loss had it not been for the subsidies.

“The shipbuilding and shipping industries are facing a very difficult downturn, the scheme’s extension reflects their needs,” said Zhang Shouguo, executive vice-chairman of the Chinese Shipowners’ Association.

The scheme’s extension to end-2017 was announced in a joint statement by the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission.

China’s economic slowdown has squeezed the global shipping industry, which has been stuck in a rut since 2008, partly due to an excess of vessels ordered before the financial crisis of that year, which has pushed freight rates down to historic lows.

New orders at Chinese shipyards plunged 77 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2015, the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry said in April. ($1 = 6.2067 Chinese yuan renminbi)


Remembering the Importance of Seafarers

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-24 18:42:04

On June 25, the industry celebrates the fifth Day of the Seafarer. This day was instituted by the IMO to remember the importance of seafarers and to raise awareness about life at sea.

IMO’s campaign this year aims to inspire young people to consider a #CareerAtSea. If you are a seafarer or working in the maritime industry, you can tweet using the hashtag #CareerAtSea or post on the IMO Photo Wall.

Princess Cruises Says Thank-You

Princess Cruises is joining the IMO in celebrating the Day of the Seafarer to recognize the world’s 1.5 million seafarers to thank them for their service and contribution during their career at sea.

Around the world, there are organizations that support the well-being of seafaring crew by providing important humanitarian services that directly benefit the shipboard crew at Princess, as well as all international maritime workers. Princess Cruises actively supports these organizations located in ports of call the cruise line visits often including Seafarers’ House (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida); Seafarers UK (Southampton, England); Mission to Seafarers, (Seattle, Washington); and International Seafarer’s Center (Long Beach/Los Angeles, Calif.).

On every cruise, Princess raises money for charity by conducting an auction of the nautical charts, a one-of-a-kind collector’s item signed by the Captain that details the routes of the voyage. To celebrate the 2015 Day of the Seafarer, Princess’ guests will have the opportunity to show their support for their favorite crew members and seafarers and take home this unique keepsake from their cruise vacation.

Fleetwide, through the month of July, the proceeds from each commemorative nautical chart auction will be collected on behalf of seafarers. Princess Cruises Community Foundation will match the auction proceeds up to $10,000. Both the auction proceeds and the matched funds will be donated to seafarer organizations that promote the well-being of seafarers and their families.

Princess Cruises is showing appreciation and gratitude to seafarers everywhere and this day offers the opportunity to acknowledge the company’s nearly 18,000 shipboard crew who work aboard Princess cruise ships and come from more than 70 countries. Princess is also taking this opportunity to salute three long-serving employees who have dedicated themselves to a lifelong career at sea:

Tom Beck (Coventry, United Kingdom), Newbuild Guarantee Engineer, 51 years at sea

Alastair Calder (Genoa, Italy), Fleet Marine Inspector, 48 years at sea

Nigel Stewart (Fortrose, Scotland), Hotel General Manager, 47 years at sea

“We are grateful for the commitment and dedication of our seafaring staff – they are truly what makes Princess Cruises special for our guests,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “Because of their choosing to have a career at sea, our guests enjoy a safe, meaningful and memorable cruise vacation.”

In an additional show of support, the company will also donate a cruise to the Seattle branch of Mission to Seafarers and will be hosting their annual luncheon aboard Crown Princess on August 22 in the Port of Seattle.

Nautilus International Looks Shoreside

Nautilus International is encouraging seafarers who have transitioned ashore to share their experiences on the Day of the Seafarer in support of the theme of inspiring careers at sea. Nautilus International is a trade union and professional organization representing more than 22,000 maritime professionals in the UK, Netherlands and Switzerland.

General secretary Mark Dickinson said the union welcomed the United Nation’s annual observance day which this year has a focus on maritime education.

“The day is a great opportunity for maritime professionals from all sectors to champion the value of maritime education and training, not only to support a rewarding career at sea but also a seafarer’s subsequent employment ashore,” he said.

This year the Union is focusing on shoreside jobs and is encouraging seafarers to share one thing they wish they had known about coming ashore. They can go online and post their messages using the hashtag #CareeratSea when posting to Twitter and Facebook.

In support of the theme, the Union has commissioned research into career patterns, highlighting the importance of seafaring skills for the transition to shoreside job, which will be released during a seminar at London International Shipping Week in September.


The Decision to Stop Using Security Guards

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-24 18:22:39

It’s a subject that ship managers are reticent to talk about, but many are now thinking about when they will stop using security guards on their ships travelling high risk Somali waters.

“Shipping companies are paying a lot of money to have armed guards on board their ships when there hasn’t been any successful attacks for a couple of years now,” says Daren Knight, managing director of specialist security company Knight Associates Ltd.

“The feedback I get from clients is that although most are now looking at an exit strategy from using armed guards, their issue is with finding an effective defence alternative.”

Armed guards are just one single layer of defence amongst many other layers, says Knight, but the current piracy situation in South East Asia is creating a critical problem for seafarer safety. “In South East Asia, many crews are transiting with their fingers crossed. At present, a ship might pass through the designated High Risk Area affected by Somali-based piracy with their guards and other best management practice measures in place, but they then disembark their security guards in Sri Lanka before heading in to Asian waters unprotected.

“In South East Asia, pirates know they can get away with attacks because there is no coordinated response and vessels are being pretty much undefended,” says Knight.

Piracy in Asia usually involves cargo theft for the black market in fuel or robbery of cash, personal items and equipment. The situation in the South China Sea is therefore vastly different to the situation in the Gulf of Aden where heavily armed pirates board vessels in open seas with the intention of taking the ship and its crew hostage for ransom payments.

It is important to distinguish between armed robbery and piracy when reporting incidents in South East Asia waters, says the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), which has commissioned a study to determine the scale of threat posed to seafarers in the area.

The findings reveal that in the first quarter of this year the vast majority of incidents in Asia fall under the category of armed robbery (which is within the territorial waters and under the jurisdiction of the sovereign state) not piracy (which is on the high seas). The distinction determines whether a merchant vessel can seek protection from the navy/coast guard of the littoral state or from the navy/coastguard of the vessel’s flag of registry.

SSA says that recent reports of pirate attacks show it is more likely to have been armed robbery and targeted at specific vessel types, particularly when in port or at anchor. SSA stresses that, with an estimated 50,000-90,000 vessels transiting the Straits of Malacca and Singapore each year and further numbers sailing around the South East Asia and South China seas, it can be calculated that the likelihood of a merchant vessel, which exercises high vigilance and conducts anti-boarding watch, being attacked is between 0.012 and 0.07 percent.

For Knight the distinction between piracy and robbery is not as simple as a definition of where an incident occurs. “These are criminals of opportunity. They will take what they can, where the can, when they can.”

Knight’s aim is to empower fleet operators with cost-effective integrated policy, procedural and physical defence alternatives to armed guards. He acknowledges that piracy incidents are rare, but he says that the consequences can be serious. He says that few ships have suitable medical supplies and few designated medical officers are appropriately trained to deal with the sort of traumatic injuries that can be inflicted by pirates, including gunshot and blast wounds.

If the crew have followed procedures, most would be in a safe place on board in the event of a pirate attack. Therefore any injuries sustained are most likely to be suffered by those few remaining on the bridge. To perform first aid to stop a major bleeding wound, he says, crew members would first have to access the dressings from several first aid kits scattered around the ship. A victim may however only have a few minutes before such a wound could prove fatal.

SSA is encouraging captains and seafarers to ensure they comply with recognised methods to counter possible boarding when traversing South East Asian waters and advises that, if boarded, captains should put the well-being of their crew first while, at the same time, fully complying with the standing instructions of their respective companies.


Crew of 14 Rescued from Sinking Cement Carrier

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-24 15:56:26

Fourteen crew members aboard an Indian-flagged cement carrier were rescued from their sinking vessel Wednesday morning.

The Indian Navy and Coast Guard received a distress call from the 2,047dwt MV Coastal Pride at approximately 7:00am. The cement carrier had earlier reported a complete engine failure and was anchored 75 nautical miles off the coast of Mumbai in Western India. Extremely rough weather caused the vessel to list heavily and take on water.

A coast guard helicopter was dispatched to the area and rescued six crewmen over the course of two trips. However, the vessel capsized before the helicopter returned for a third time, dumping the remaining crewmen into the ocean. The eight survivors were subsequently rescued from the water by both Navy and Coast Guard helicopters.

Everyone aboard the ill-fated vessel survived and was brought to Umargam beach, the nearest land.

The vessel had been disabled since June 22, after losing all machinery functions. The owner of the Coastal Pride made arrangements for a tug to recover the stranded vessel. However, rough weather on Tuesday prevented the tug from towing the carrier to shore.

On Monday a joint operation between the Indian Navy and Coast Guard similarly rescued 20 crewmen from the Jindal Kamakshi after it also encountered rough weather off the Western Coast of India. The container ship is currently anchored and abandoned as authorities monitor the situation.

The inclement weather encountered by the Coastal Pride and Jindal Kamakshi is a result of low pressure weather system in the Arabian Sea, which is causing gusts up to 40 mph. The Indian Meteorological Department has issued warnings for vessels near the Mumbai Coast.


Trans-Atlantic Dry Bulk May See Recovery

By MarEx 2015-06-24 14:17:01

Shipowners operating in the trans-Atlantic dry bulk market, where prices have been plumbing two-year lows on the back of acute vessel oversupply and shifting patterns in minerals demand, could be facing brighter days, according to the latest special report released by Platts.

The study, titled “The Hour of the Wolf for Panamaxes,” takes an in-depth look at coal and grain trade in the Atlantic; reviews supply and demand and other voyage economics for ship owners; and provides an analysis of the global Panamax fleet and order book.

“The shrinking exports of U.S. thermal coal to Europe, falling bunker prices and a massive overhang of Panamax tonnage have kept freight rates depressed,” said Peter Norfolk, Platts editorial director for global shipping and freight. “And while the short term outlook is quite bearish, with global deadweight capacity expected to rise the next two years, the medium-term forecast looks more positive past 2018.”

The report notes that a large portion of the orders that are responsible for new vessel deliveries in 2015 through 2017 were placed back in 2010 to 2012.

“On the plus side, months of poor earnings have discouraged ship owners from further expanding fleets,” said Alex Younevitch, Platts managing editor of freight markets and lead author of the study. “At the same time, a large proportion of the Panamax vessels is now old enough to be considered for scrapping. So the global fleet might become considerably younger and leaner in the next several years, which should pull freight rates higher and ease the burden on shipowners.”

Access the full report here