Storming the Hill for Recognition for USMM of WWII

By Tony Munoz 2015-06-04 14:33:23

In January, Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA-44) introduced H.R. 563–Honoring Our WWII Merchant Marine Act of 2015, which would compensate qualified mariners with a one-time payment of $25,000.

Morris Harvey, president of the American Merchant Marine Veterans, said the House of Representatives passed HR 563, but Harry Reid, (D-NV) has failed to introduce the bill to the senate. Harvey and six other WWII mariner vets will be “storming the Hill” next week. Good luck!

Forgotten Valor – Damn the Torpedoes: Full Speed Ahead!

World War II ended 70 years ago and today its veterans are in their late eighties and nineties. The veterans of WWII were honored for their contributions to liberate Europe and Asia Pacific from the tyranny of the Axis with GI benefits for education, home loans and medical. And they went on the build the greatest generation and most influential middle class in history.

Those Americans that served in the U.S. Merchant Marine of WWII were also thrust into war and forced to fight with other free peoples for the right to live among their neighbors in freedom, in common decency, and without fear of assault.

Every single man, woman and child would become partners in the greatest undertaking in American history. They accepted the bad news, the good news, the defeats, the victories, and the changing fortunes of war. Every citizen in every walk of life shared this responsibility. And, each and every one of them understood the obligation and was determined to prevail.

Long before the United States entered the war, the U.S. Merchant Marine sailed the Atlantic Ocean bringing supplies to our besieged Allies on the European Continent and England. From 1939 to December 7, 1941, the U.S. Merchant Marine lost 146 ships and 169 merchant seamen were killed.

When the U.S. entered the war on December 7, 1941, five U-boats were deployed to U.S. waters in an operation code-named “Drum Roll.” Unfortunately, the United States had not enforced the blackout of its coastal cities at night. The U-boats lay on the bottom of the ocean during daylight hours, and then surfaced at night to sink the merchant ships that were silhouetted against the glow of the city lights.

It is estimated that 400 Allied ships were destroyed in the first six months ending in July, 1942 in the western-Atlantic, and only one U-boat was destroyed. About 5,000 American, British, Norwegian and other seamen were killed in the operation dubbed by the U-boat captains as the “American turkey shoot.”

The battle of the Atlantic for control over the shipping lanes lased from September 1939 to May 1945. The U-boats sank merchant ships faster than the Allies could build them. In the winter of 1943, conditions in the North Atlantic were some of the worst on record, and the endless lines of merchant ships were attacked with a vengeance by the U-boats.

Early in 1943, the U-boats sophisticated coding device known as the “Enigma” had been deciphered, and almost immediately the tide of the war quickly turned. From May 1943 until the end of the war the Allies sunk over 500 U-boats. By the end of 1943, the convoys of supply ships operated in relatively safe conditions until the end of the war.

The U.S. Merchant Marine played a significant role in the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Approximately, 2700 merchant ships were involved in the first wave of the invasion on D-Day, landing troop and munitions under heavy fire.

During the next year, at great risk, about 150 merchant marine ships shuttled 2.5 million troops, 17 million tons of munitions and supplies, and half-a-million trucks and tanks from England to France.

U.S. Merchant Maine in the Pacific

On December 7, 1941, the cargo ship SS Cynthia Olson was the first U.S. flag ship torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Pacific. The ship and all were lost about 1,200 miles off the Pacific Coast. The tanker SS Emidio was also sunk by a Japanese sub just 18 miles off Crescent City, California on December 20, 1941.

In October 1944, the merchant marine delivered 30,000 troops and 500,000 tons of supplies to Leyte during the invasion of the Philippines. They shot down 107 Japanese planes during the almost continuous air attack. In the Mindoro invasion of the Philippines, more U.S. Merchant Marine lost their lives than did members of all of the other armed services combined.

During the invasion of Okinawa, merchant ships came under fire by 2,000 kamikazes and conventional aircraft. At the same time, they delivered many of the 180,000 troops and over 1 million tons of supplies necessary for the invasion. Forty-four merchant ships were sunk, while the U.S. Merchant Marine took part in every invasion from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima.

The United States Armed Forces suffered 300,000 battle casualties in the Pacific up to July 1, 1945. Following the end of hostilities, the Merchant Marine was given the job of transporting the surrendered troops back to Japan, returning U.S. troops back home, and bringing in replacement troops and supplies for the occupation. Arms and munitions were also returned to the U.S.

In December 1945, the U.S. War Shipping Administration listed 1,200 sailings, 400 more than the busiest month of the previous four years. Tragically, twenty-five more U.S. merchant ships were sunk after V-J Day.

A Hero’s Welcome

On the morning of June 6, 1994, the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, a conspicuous remnant of the once great fleet of over 6,000 ships that made up the 1944 D-Day invasion armada, sat anchored off Point de Hoc. This icon of American heritage; this symbol of an era when a nation was baptized in the blood of its sons and daughters in the greatest global conflict for freedom, was the only 1944 Normandy ship to return for the 50th Commemorative Ceremonies.

Note: In 1988, the U.S. Merchant Marine of WWII finally received U.S. Veterans status.

The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.


Sea Storage Plays Feeds Bloated Oil Market

By Reuters 2015-06-04 13:54:09

Physical oil is coming under pressure as trade houses unwind a profitable storage play after several months that saw them holding millions of barrels on tankers at sea.

A drop in the volume of crude stored for speculative profit is putting more supply into an already saturated market, elbowing out new loadings leading to a build-up of unsold West African, North Sea and Mediterranean oil.

“When the contango started, it created a demand,” said Tamas Varga of PVM oil brokerage. Now “they are creating additional supply”.

“The structure of the market should weaken significantly,” Varga added. “There is just lots of oil around in the U.S. and globally.”

Oil prices collapsed by 60 percent between June last year and January 2015, pushing the cost of oil for immediate delivery to a big discount below future prices and making it profitable to buy oil and store it for sale later.

At its peak earlier this year as much as 50 million barrels of oil was estimated to have been earmarked for storage on tankers. The oil market has since rallied – flattening that discount, also known as a contango, leading trade houses to cash in on profits.

Shipping sources and shipping data estimated that volumes earmarked for contango-led floating storage had dropped to as few as 10 tankers, known as very large crude carriers, each capable of carrying a maximum of 2 million barrels, meaning at most 20 million barrels.

“We’re getting to the point where it makes sense to sell,” Richard Mallinson, analyst with Energy Aspects.

“Effectively, we’re reaching the end of that storage.”

In the past week alone as much as 5 million barrels of floating storage has been sold, shipping data showed.

In an earlier sale last month, Chinese trader Unipec sold 2 million barrels of Nigerian crude that was stored on one of the world’s largest tankers, capable of holding 3 million barrels, to an Indian refiner.

Trade sources said trading firms such as Trafigura and Vitol as well as Shell had all sold cargoes held in floating storage.

The companies declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

“If you want to recreate the contango trade, you need a steep drop … in the oil price to make it viable given where tanker rates are today,” said Arctic Securities analyst Erik Nikolai Stavseth.

Mallinson contends that the long-term effect may be a drop in the market surplus of crude oil, but in the near-term, it adds to the oversupply:

“It makes the pain worse in the short term,” he said.

Nevertheless, for holders of millions of barrels of West African crude and also North Sea oil in the Atlantic, the sell-off in floating storage could mean a longer wait to offload cargoes as they compete. “Everyone is trying to sell,” one oil trader said.


US LPG exports accelerate

Despite volatile oil prices, US LPG export volumes are exceeding expectations and destinations are shifting, according to Dorian LPG.
On 4 June, the NYSE-listed owner reported a net income of USD8.8 million for its fourth quarter (which ended on 31 March 2015) versus a loss of USD1.3 million in the

Shipping Company Sentenced for Second Environmental Offense

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-04 11:25:50

A German shipping company has been ordered to pay $750,000 in fines and community service payments for a second oily water discharge offense.

Herm. Dauelsberg GmbH and Co. KG, of Germany was already on criminal probation for a 2013 case related to environmental violations aboard the M/V Bellavia off of California. A U.S. District Court has ordered the company to serve an additional 3 years’ probation for the latest infractions.

In January of this year a corroded bulk head aboard the Liberian-flagged M/V Lindavia, caused around 36,000 gallons of heavy fuel to leak into the ship’s hold. The cargo vessel was sent on to South Korea for cleaning, but not all the fuel was recovered.

For several days beginning Jan-31 the crew of the Lindavia pumped 1,430 gallons of oily water from the hold into 55 gallon drums on the upper deck. From there, crew members dumped the waste into the Bering Sea.

On February 11 the crew disposed of an additional 350 gallons of the oil water about 100 miles off the coast of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Coast Guard inspectors came aboard the Lindavia after the captain reported damage to navigational lights and a radar system. The inspectors become aware of the environmental crimes and ordered that the ship be detained in Dutch Harbor.

Following the June 3 judgement, the company must create an ‘environmental compliance plan’, which includes ship wide protocols for the company’s seven vessels operating in U.S. waters. Ships owned by the German company will also be subject to warrantless searches if there is suspicion a vessel has violated the law.

Wednesday’s judgement is the second passed down Alaska Federal Court in a ten day period. Another Germany company, AML Ship Management GMBH, was sentenced to pay $800,000 May 26 for discharging over 4,500 gallons of oily water.

The prosecutor for the two recent cases, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis, has noted that oil pollution continues to be a worldwide problem even in 2015. In a written statement Feldis said, “there is no excuse for this conduct. Companies that seek to profit from transporting cargo across the world’s oceans have a responsibility to likewise invest in following the law.”


Tanker not cause of Indonesia oil spill

Enigma surrounds an oil spill that occurred in Indonesia’s Penyu Bay on 20 May.
Until today, no one can say for certain what caused the oil spill.
Indonesia’s state-owned oil company Pertamina initially thought the oil leak occurred when product tanker Martha Petrol, which had been trading in