Bulk Carrier Grounds in St. Lawrence Seaway

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-21 23:49:21

In a second mishap in the St. Lawrence Seaway this week, the bulk carrier Tundra ran aground on Sunday. The incident occurred hours after the seaway reopened following a separate incident involving a cruise ship.

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is assessing the incident concerning the Tundra, which ran aground at 1 a.m. Sunday morning near Summerstown, Ontario.

Local media reports a TSB spokesman saying the Tundra has been the subject of investigated before, following another grounding incident in 2012. Fatigue and communication problems between the pilot and bridge officers contributed to the 2012 incident.

Navigation on the St. Lawrence Seaway had resumed for about nine hours after being closed for 42 hours when the cruise ship Saint Laurent allided with a lock.

The cause of Tundra’s accident is being investigated.


Private Deals Could Boost Mass Rescue Success

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-21 19:17:54

An agreement between passenger ship operators to provide search and rescue services for each other could help save lives during mass rescue operations.

The idea of a formal agreement between operators was proposed by Captain Samir Mahdaly, lecturer at the Arab Academy of Scientce, Technology and Maritime Transport, during the 2015 World Maritime Rescue Congress convened by the International Maritime Rescue Federation.

Mahdaly studied a range of rescue operations to demonstrate how commercial and civilian vessels have contributed to rescue operations. In particular, he cites the ferry Bella that caught fire in 2011. All passengers and crew were rescued even though fire-fighting efforts failed and the vessel subsequently sank.

The ferry was carrying 1,230 passengers and 65 crew on a voyage between Jordan and Egypt. The ro-ro Ayla, with a capacity of 1,150, the fast ferry Queen Nefertiti, with a capacity of 750 passengers, the fast ferry Babylon, with a capacity of 350 passengers, and the fast ferry Princess, with a capacity of 600 passengers, came to assist.

Women, children, the elderly and those with special needs were disembarked to liferafts and the remainder climbed down rope ladders to the rescuing vessels that transferred them to the waiting passenger vessels. After the fire engulfed one side of the vessel, the remaining passengers were transferred to the other side of the vessel to continue the evacuation.

Ayla took around 800 passengers, Babylon took 100 and the remainder were divided between Princess and Nefertiti. The rescue was completed in 96 minutes.

Mahdaly says the success of the evacuation demonstrates the potential of his idea for a formal agreement between operators. This would reduce the demand for search and rescue services in areas where capabilities are low.

He says it would provide a sense of safety for crews and passengers and potentially reduce insurance costs. It would also encourage maritime tourism that would provide economic benefits for the economy of the countries involved.


U.N. Acts on High Seas Biodiversity Treaty

By MarEx 2015-06-20 22:36:38

The U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted a formal resolution to develop a legally-binding treaty for the conservation of marine biodiversity on the high seas.

The resolution identifies “the need for the comprehensive global regime to better address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).”

The treaty has been proposed to include conservation measures such as marine protected areas and reserves, environmental impact assessment (EIA) requirements, control of access to marine genetic resources and benefit sharing, capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.

The oceans contain a vast diversity of life forms, many of which are still being discovered. Some scientists estimate that over 100 million species inhabit the high seas.

This marine life is poorly understood, and scientific knowledge to guide management is very limited. There are many examples of severe, and potentially irreversible, damage to the biodiversity and environment of the high seas under present management and jurisdictional arrangements.

The World Ocean Council says that the U.N. resolution is the first global treaty process related to the ocean in over two decades and the only one targeted specifically on the protection and sustainable use of marine biodiversity.

The resolution follows the Rio+20 conference in 2012 where heads of state committed to address high seas protection.

A U.N. working group worked for two years to take a decision on whether or not to open up a new negotiating conference for a this new treaty.

The resolution allows for a two-year preparatory process to develop the treaty elements, from 2016-2017, with a decision whether to convene a formal treaty negotiating conference in 2018.


China Fines 21 Companies for Anti-Competition Breaches

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-20 22:24:04

China’s Ministry of Transport has fined 21 companies, including such big names as CSCL and Evergreen, for unfair competition practices.

Fines totaling nearly $700,000 have been levelled for offering rates below current market prices in order to attract customers on the Sino-Japan trade.

The violations occurred during the second half of 2014, and the ministry urged the shipping companies to operate fairly to maintain sustainable growth for the industry.

The companies fined include China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL), Evergreen Line, Wan Hai Lines, Sinotrans Container Lines, Yang Ming Marine Transport, Cheng Lie Navigation, Shanghai Haihua Shipping and MCC Transport, reports Seatrade Maritime.

Last year an investigation was launched by the ministry after Chinese shipowners trading on the route complained to the Shanghai Shipping Exchange about the C3 alliance. C3 was formed by COSCO, China Shipping and Sinotrans in May.

The case has been seen by some as a test of whether China will treat its own carriers the same as it did the attempted P3 Network. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce rejected the planned P3 alliance between Maersk Line, CMA CGM and MSC last year.


Powerful Brazilian CEO Arrested in Petrobras Probe

By Reuters 2015-06-19 16:13:19

Brazilian police on Friday arrested Marcelo Odebrecht, the head of Latin America’s largest engineering and construction company Odebrecht SA, and accused his family-run conglomerate of spearheading a $2.1 billion bribery scheme at state-run oil firm Petrobras.

In pre-dawn raids that netted 12 arrests in four states, police also apprehended Otavio Marques Azevedo, CEO of Andrade Gutierrez, the second-largest Brazilian builder.

Odebrecht, Azevedo and other top executives arrested in Sao Paulo were driven to the airport in a van to be flown to the southern city of Curitiba, where Brazil’s largest-ever corruption scandal is being investigated.

A lead prosecutor, Carlos Fernando dos Santos Limas, said he had “no doubt” Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez led what he called a “cartel” that overcharged Petrobras for work and passed on the excess funds to executives and politicians.

The arrest of 46-year-old Odebrecht, who has personal ties to former President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, could bring the scandal closer to the political heart of the ruling Worker’s Party.

“There is a larger connection between Lula and Odebrecht and we see (Odebrecht’s) possible indictment as a big risk,” said Cameron Combs, Latin America researcher with Eurasia Group.

President Dilma Rousseff, who was the head of Petrobras board during Lula’s presidency, has denied knowledge of corruption and urged a thorough investigation. Neither she nor Lula have been implicated.

Last month federal prosecutors opened a separate investigation into whether Lula improperly used his connections to benefit Odebrecht, saying he had frequently traveled abroad at Odebrecht’s expense since 2011.

Lula’s institute, the Instituto Lula, denied wrongdoing at the time and declined to comment on Friday.

Odebrecht is the third generation leader of the privately held company and has been instrumental in the company’s expansion throughout Latin America, in Africa and the United States.

A lawyer for Marcelo Odebrecht did not return calls seeking comment. It is not known if Odebrecht or Azevedo will seek plea deals with prosecutors, as 17 other suspects have done.

Odebrecht SA said in a statement that the arrests were “unnecessary” because it was collaborating with investigators.

Odebrecht bond prices fell on Friday. Shares of Braskem SA, a petrochemical producer Odebrecht controls, were the worst performer on Brazil’s Bovespa index as they slumped 10 percent.

Andrade Gutierrez said it was also cooperating with the investigation, but had no connection to the alleged corruption at Petrobras.


Neither Azevedo nor Odebrecht have been charged, and it was not clear how long they would be detained. Arrests of other top Brazilian executives resulted in months-long pre-trial incarceration in Curitiba.

The so-called Lava Jato probe, centered on Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the oil major is formally known, has led to the indictments of more than 100 people and implicated dozens of lawmakers, most of them from Rousseff’s Workers’ Party.

The treasurer of the Workers’ Party is currently in jail awaiting trial for corruption though the party denies campaign donations it received were bribes.

Eight engineering companies under investigation donated 64.6 million reais ($20 million) to Rousseff’s re-election campaign in 2014, almost double what her challenger Aecio Neves received from them, according to the electoral court. Andrade Gutierrez donated 21 million reais to Rousseff’s campaign.

Federal judge Sergio Moro said investigators had evidence Odebrecht paid bribes “in a more sophisticated way” than other contractors, using overseas accounts.

The scandal has blocked the construction firms, including Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez, from doing business with Petrobras and economists say the subsequent paralysis contributed to Brazil’s descent into recession.

Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer said there “must have been a reason” to arrest the executives but that it was important to distinguish between the executives and the companies, which are major employers in Brazil.

The arrests, although somewhat expected, raised hopes among Brazilians that the investigation would not spare the elite in a country where the wealthy have enjoyed relative impunity.

“The objective of the operation is to bring a clear message that the law applies to everyone, no matter the size of the company, its place in society or its economic power,” federal police agent Igor Romario de Paula said.