Nor Shipping Looks to Maritime’s Future

By MarEx 2015-06-03 17:16:58

The opening conference for Nor Shipping 2015 addressed many key concerns for the industry that carries over 90% of the world’s trade. Delegates turned up to listen to the hard-hitting discussions that looked to, among other things, innovation, investment and transformative technology. Global geopolitical and economic scenarios were also debated.

New Norwegian maritime strategy

In her opening address, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg referred to her government’s newly announced national maritime strategy, saying that the Norwegian government wanted to establish a forward-looking framework for the industry.

“The industry has to invest in and adopt green technology. Norway will remain competitive by focusing on knowledge-based products. Our future lies in being smarter, not cheaper. That’s why we invest so heavily in innovation, research and development.”

Regarding regulation, Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland said, “The maritime industry is international. We need international rules and this takes time. But we have to be patient.”

Cyber security concerns

Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant US Coast Guard expressed concerns about cyber security, asking “Are we resilient enough?” This was echoed in the keynote address for the “What’s Next” roundtable by Espen Barth Eide, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.

“Everything today is cyber. Any future conflict you will see will be a cyber-conflict. As we become more connected, be aware that cyber space is a domain equally as important as sea, air and land,” he said. “Any strategic competition that happens in a physical sense will also happen in cyberspace. Every conflict you see in the future will be a cyber-conflict.”

He said it was very important to understand that, “We are living in a world where strategic competition is back,” referring to geopolitical conflicts around the world.

The conference also turned its attention to developing international security threats. The situations with China in the South China Sea and the conflict with Russia were both at the forefront of concern for conference participants.

“I see the situation becoming more risky,” Strategy and globalization expert Anil Gupta said regarding the Chinese conflict. “Neither side is backing down and this could easily become a more serious conflict.”

Similarly, Eide said that if the conflict with Russia continues much longer, it will have effects that will outlast Ukraine.

Big Data – Here to Stay

The Transformative Technology roundtable concluded with big data, connectivity and ship intelligence as the way forward.

“Are we ready to understand that we have to have open architecture integration platforms for everything that happens?” said Kongsberg Gruppen CEO Walter Qvam. “Hopefully, the times for the proprietary systems are over for good.”

“It is very important to find those who are willing to try new technologies,” said Krystyna Wojnarowicz, Co-Founder of MARSEC Inc. “ But they shouldn’t be left alone to do that. We need to think big and start small. Here is where we can look for support from local governments.”

Nor Shipping 2015 is taking place this week from June 02-05 in Oslo, Norway. The event is currently celebrating its 50 anniversary and will host visitors from over 80 different countries.


Car Carrier on Fire off UK Coast

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-03 15:08:25

A fire was reported on a US-flagged car carrier Tuesday night about 75 miles north of London.

The 29,213 dwt, Courage, reported the fire to the UK Coastguard at Dover Maritime Rescue Coordination Center shortly before 10:00pm June 2. Crew members used an inbuilt CO2 system to extinguish the blaze on one of the ship’s decks.

A Dover helicopter was put on standby but was not needed. The Coastguard reports that the situation is currently under control, however the area where the CO2 was used is now inaccessible to the carrier’s crew.

Five Hampshire Fire and Rescue maritime response officers are aboard the ship to assess the situation. They will also ensure the carrier is safe to take bring into Southampton.

Counter-pollution staff are monitoring the carrier, but all reports claim the situation is contained.

The owner of the ship, American Roll-On Roll-Off Carriers, told the BBC that the ship was carrying both commercial and U.S. military vehicles and was headed for Southampton. The extent of damage to the ship’s cargo is still unknown.


APMT cites Callao drug trade concerns

The new electronic roster system opposed by dockworkers in Peru’s Port of Callao is being used to combat drug trafficking, according to facility operator APM Terminals (APMT).
APMT recently fired 130 of approximately 600 dockworkers involved in the strike, which began on 13 May at APMT’s general

Cruise Ship Rescue Continues, but Hope Dwindles

By MarEx 2015-06-03 12:56:01

“Life is greater than the heavens, and the burden on your shoulders is massive, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told a group of military divers coordinating the Eastern Star cruise ship rescue operations.

Rescuers, including 180 navy divers and 100 rescue boats, scoured the search area through the night Tuesday in hopes of finding more than 400 missing people, mostly thought to be elderly. The rescue efforts have been complicated by heavy rains and fast currents. There is also the fear that rashly cutting holes in the hull could burst air pockets keeping people alive.

“Although there’s lots of work to do, saving people is still being put first,” Transport Ministry spokesman Xu Chengguang told reporters.

Only 14 people, including the ship’s captain, have been found alive since the ship capsized in a freak tornado on Monday night with 456 people on board. Just 29 bodies have been recovered.

The Hubei military region commander said on state broadcaster CCTV that “We will do everything we can to rescue everyone trapped in there, no matter if they’re still alive or not and we will treat them as our own families.”

Local officials in Nanjing have setup a command center in a hotel where victim’s families can await news on their missing family members. But some relatives were already bracing for the worst.

“Yesterday I still had some hope. The boat is big and the water hadn’t gone all the way in. Now, it’s been more than 40 hours. I ask you, what do I have left?” said Wang Feng, a 35-year-old wedding photographer whose father was on the ship.

The ship was on an 11-day voyage upstream from the city of Nanjing, near Shanghai, to Chongqing when it sunk.

While the People’s Daily said the ship passed inspections by authorities in Chongqing last month, in 2013 it was investigated and held by authorities due to defects, according to documents from a local maritime watchdog.

The Nanjing Maritime Safety Administration investigated Eastern Star as part of a safety campaign into passenger ferries and tour boats and held the ship along with five other vessels, according to three documents on the bureau’s website. The documents did not give details on the nature of the defects but said the issues were reported to the Chongqing maritime safety bureau.

The search area has been expanded up to 220 km (135 miles) downstream, state television said, suggesting that bodies could have been swept far away from where the ship foundered.

The death toll in the Eastern Star disaster may surpass the infamous 2014 sinking of the Sewol Ferry, in which over 300 people – mostly children- died.


IMO Confronts Passenger Safety Failings

By MarEx 2015-06-03 11:22:05

IMO Secretary-General Sekimizu expressed supreme sorrow for the victims and families of the Yangtze River ship disaster in his opening remarks to the Maritime Safety Committee. The sinking of the 456 passenger cruise boat highlights a key element that the committee will address this week: safety on short-sea passenger voyages.

Since the beginning of 2014, more than 20 ships carrying passengers on domestic short-sea voyages have suffered severe accidents, with the loss of nearly 1,000 lives. One of the most notable was the capsizing and sinking of the ro-ro passenger ferry Sewol in April 2014, which resulted in the death of over 300 passengers. The Norman Atlantic another ro-ro ferry is a second recent example. The late 2014 incident claimed nine lives, while the bodies of nineteen other passengers were never recovered.

Sekimizu noted that much progress has been made in ensuring passenger safety aboard large passenger vessels. In particular, the IMO has put provisions in place in light of the increasing size of ships. However, passenger shipping in the domestic sector has not received the same level of attention. “Unfortunately, while the safety standards on passenger ships in international voyages has advanced considerably, the same cannot be said for passenger shipping in the domestic sector,” Sekimizu said.

He further went on to add that the IMO’s top priority should be reducing the number of lives lost at sea by half, with the primary aim of saving the lives of passengers as well as those of seafarers. Achieving that degree of safety on domestic passenger ferries will take a collaboration between the IMO and state governments. In Sekimizu’s proposal SOLAS would cover the safety standards of domestic passenger ships.

“The travelling public has every right to expect that safety standards on domestic passenger ships should not only be the highest practicable but also match these to be expected on passenger ships operating on international voyages,” the Secretary-General said, adding, “I firmly believe that the currently unacceptable level of casualties and incidents involving domestic ferries can be avoided if adequate laws, regulations and rules are developed and effectively implemented and enforced.”

The 95 session of the MSC is meeting June 3-12 in London. It will additionally address adoption of a mandatory safety code for ships using gases or other low-flashpoint fuels, consideration of cyber threats to maritime security and unsafe mixed migration by sea.


U.S. Mulls Lifting Oil Export Ban

By Reuters 2015-06-03 09:53:10

The Republican chairman of the House of Representatives’ energy panel said lifting the 40-year-old ban on U.S. oil exports would benefit consumers and the country’s allies, a move that could boost support for legislation in the chamber.

“Oil exports can be a win for the American people and a win for our allies,” said Representative Fred Upton of Michigan in prepared remarks at a hearing.

Allowing exports should be “on this Committee’s agenda this year,” because of the potential to create jobs by expanding the market for U.S. oil, Upton said.

He did not say whether he would sponsor a bill introduced by fellow Republican Joe Barton on the panel, which currently has 40 co-sponsors in the 435-member House.

Upton’s words could clear the path for more representatives to support the bill to overturn the trade restriction Congress enacted in the 1970s after the Arab oil embargo.

Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, introduced a bill to overturn the ban last month. It has 13 co-sponsors, including one Democrat.

Oil producers eager to ship to markets in Asia and Europe say the ban has led to a glut of U.S. sweet crude that could eventually choke the domestic drilling boom, cutting jobs in the sector.

George Baker, head of the Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, said in a statement that lifting the ban would benefit U.S. consumers, workers and the overall economy.

The Obama administration took steps last year to hasten exports of minimally processed light oil called condensate. But it is unlikely to take the major step of fully lifting the ban. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has pointed out several times that the United States still imports millions of barrels of oil per day.

Jay Hauck, the director of the CRUDE coalition, a group of four refiners who oppose lifting the ban, said removing the trade restriction could raise domestic gasoline prices.