Myanmar Lands Seized Migrant Boat

By Reuters 2015-05-31 16:39:13

A boat packed with more than 700 boat people seized off Myanmar’s coast was stopped on a small island on Saturday, as officials gave mixed signals about its final destination.

Myanmar’s navy discovered the boat with 727 migrants off the country’s southern coast on Friday, but have since been tight-lipped on the identity of those on board, as well as their fate.

Myo Win, the township administrator of Hainggyi Island, in the country’s south, said the boat was taken to nearby Leik Island and the migrants were kept on board while they were provided with food, water and medical help.

“The boat won’t rest at Leik Island tonight… I heard they will be taken to Sittwe or Maungdaw (in Myanmar’s Rakhine State), to then be sent to Bangladesh.”

Officials had on Friday initially labeled those on the boat “Bengalis” – a term used to refer both to stateless Rohingya from Rakhine state, as well as Bangladeshis. The government later said most of those on board are believed to be from Bangladesh.

The government had initially said it would take the migrants to a navy base on Hainggyi Island, but have since reconsidered their destination, Commander Soe Min, an assistant to Myanmar’s navy chief, told Reuters.

“The navy may take them somewhere further north, such as Sittwe in Rakhine State. We’re not even sure yet,” Soe Min said.

The discovery of the boat on Friday came as Myanmar told a 17-nation meeting in Thailand that it was not to blame for the crisis that has seen more than 4,000 desperate Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladeshi migrants take to the seas across Southeast Asia in the last month.

An additional 2,000 people are believed still adrift after being abandoned by traffickers following a crackdown in Thailand.

The boat was found in the Andaman Sea on Friday with 608 men, 74 women and 45 children on board, according to Myanmar’s Ministry of Information.

Those on board told officials they had been at sea in three boats since March, during which at least 50 migrants died, the ministry said on its website. The passengers were later abandoned in one boat by traffickers, it said.

Myanmar has come under heavy criticism for discrimination against the Rohingya. Most of the 1.1 million Rohingya in Myanmar are stateless and live in apartheid-like conditions. Almost 140,000 were displaced in deadly clashes with Buddhists in Rakhine State in 2012.


U.K. Reverses ECDIS Training Rule

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-31 04:19:55

The U.K Maritime & Coastguard Agency has revised its stance on type specific ECDIS training, stating that the decision on how to deliver the training is now the responsibility of the shipowner or operator.

Marine Information Note 503 (M) reverses Port State Control Committee Instruction 47/2014/15 requiring the completion of both generic and ship specific ECDIS training for the master and navigational officers of U.K. flagged vessels.

The Manila Amendments to STCW (which include the use of ECDIS to maintain the safety of navigation as a required competence) came into force on January 1, 2012 and the mandatory carriage of ECDIS began to phase in from July 1, 2012.

ECDIS can be complex and with the best intention some administrations have advised or required mariners to be trained by manufacturers – so that they are familiar with the ECDIS on board, says David Patraiko, Director of Projects for The Nautical Institute.

However there is nothing in any IMO documentation that requires or mentions type specific training, and the industry believes there are other ways to ensure familiarization, he says.

The emphasis now will be on demonstrating familiarization as required by STCW and the ISM Code. The marine information note states: “Instructions which are essential to be provided prior to sailing should be identified, documented and given.”

“This will most likely have a huge impact on the industry where crews have had to be sent all over the world to attend manufacturer training courses prior to joining ships. This should not become the “easy” option, but if enforced effectively, should be a more effective way forward,” says Patraiko.

The change of stance brings the U.K. in line with the Industry Training Guidance published by The Nautical Institute in 2012. This guidance includes the recommendations:

• All watchkeeping officers must be competent in the use of the onboard ECDIS prior to taking charge of a navigational watch. An implicit element of continual competence is the ability to demonstrate that competence.

• Familiarization pertains to any ECDIS onboard including any backup systems. This includes any pertinent information required for the safe operation of the ECDIS including all updates and alterations.

• Focus should be upon achieving and demonstrating the necessary competencies, rather than time spent on training or achieving certification alone.

• There are a wide range of training methods and tools available that can be used, alone or in combination, to contribute to a navigator’s competency.

• Familiarization should be structured, specific to the onboard equipment and its arrangements and should be complementary to generic ECDIS training.


LNG First For Cruise Ship

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-30 22:51:39

A cruise ship received environmentally friendly power from an LNG hybrid barge for the first time when Becker Marine Systems’ barge, Hummel, provided 7.5 megawatts of low-emission power to AIDAsol during its layover at port in Hamburg on May 30.

“With this successful premiere, the Port of Hamburg is serving as a global role model,” said Henning Kuhlmann, a managing director of Becker Marine Systems. “Credit is also due to our partner AIDA Cruises, who were deeply involved in this technically challenging project.”

Up until now, only a few other ships have been able to receive power from such a barge. “Nevertheless, to improve air quality at port cities preferably all modern seagoing vessels should be able to do this in future,” said Kuhlmann.

The 76.7m long and 11.4m wide barge developed and operated by the Hamburg-based company works like a floating power plant that generates power via a gas container filled with 15 tons of LNG. In the gas processing plant, the cryogenic liquid is heated and then passed on to five gas Caterpillar motors on the barge.

Compared to conventional marine diesel with 0.1 percent sulfur content, the barge emits no sulfur dioxides or soot. Emissions of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide are also significantly reduced. It is thus already deemed the cleanest option for providing shoreside electrical power cold ironing to cruise ships, says Kuhlmann.

Becker Marine Systems is planning to extend operations by offering the environmentally friendly LNG technology to container ships, bulkers and tankers as well in the future.

“With this, so far unique worldwide pilot project for the energy supply of cruise ships using LNG during idle periods, we have opened a new, forward-looking chapter on environmental protection in the port of Hamburg,” said AIDA President Michael Ungerer.

In spring 2016, the first of AIDA’s new generation ships will be homeported in Hamburg. Aida Prima is the first cruise ship that has both a shore power connection, a comprehensive system for exhaust after-treatment and a dual fuel engine. The vessel may, depending on availability, be operated on LNG fuel.

A recent study by Hong Kong authorities estimates that only 35 international cruise ships, about 16 percent, are expected to be equipped to use shore power.


Equipment Incidents on U.S. Navy Ships Double

By MarEx 2015-05-30 21:56:21

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report showing that U.S. Navy casualty reports—incidents of degraded or out-of-service equipment—have doubled over the past five years for overseas-homeported ships.

GAO says that the material condition of overseas-homeported ships has also decreased faster than that of U.S.-homeported ships.

The U.S. Navy has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on overseas infrastructure and base operations since 2009 and moved large numbers of sailors, dependents and ship repair work overseas.

Forward presence supports the Navy’s goals of ensuring sea control, projecting U.S. power and providing maritime security. To meet these goals, the Navy has doubled the number of ships assigned to overseas homeports since 2006. A total of 40 such assignments are expected by the end of 2015, and there are plans to increase this number further in the future.

The report states that the high pace of Navy operations overseas limits dedicated training and maintenance periods, which has resulted in difficulty keeping crews fully trained and ships maintained.

GAO states that the Navy has not identified or mitigated the risks its increasing reliance on overseas homeporting poses over the long term. GAO found that some ships homeported overseas have had consistently deferred maintenance that has resulted in long-term degraded material condition and increased maintenance costs that could shorten service life.

The Navy began implementing a revised operational schedule in 2014 for U.S.-based ships that lengthens time between deployments, citing the need for a sustainable schedule. However, the Navy has not determined how—or whether—it will apply a more sustainable schedule to ships homeported overseas.

Although the Navy’s decision process for moving individual ships overseas identifies actions and resources needed, it does not assess risks that such moves pose to costs, readiness or expected service lives of ships based on historical experience.

Without a sustainable operational schedule and a comprehensive risk assessment on overseas homeporting, the Navy lacks information needed to make informed decisions, says GAO.

The GAO suggests that the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to implement its optimized fleet response plan and develop and implement a sustainable operational schedule for all ships homeported overseas.

The report is available here.


Slapped for Dancing “Like a Girlie”

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-29 19:38:10

An Australian inquest into the deaths of two seafarers on Sage Sagittarius, the “death ship,” has heard that a third man was slapped by the vessel’s master for dancing “like a girlie.”

The inquest is examining the death of Cesar Llanto, 42, one of three men from the Sage Sagittarius to die in a six weeks between August and October 2012. Llanto disappeared overboard as the vessel approached Australian waters northeast of Cairns.

The scope of the inquest also includes the death of chief engineer Hector Collado, 57, who died as a result of an 11-meter (36 foot) fall on board the bulk carrier. The third death, that of Japanese superintendent Kosaku Monji, who was crushed to death on a conveyor belt, is beyond the scope of the enquiry as it occurred when the ship was docked in Japan.

The inquest heard that Captain Venancio Salas Jr was like a big brother to galley worker Jessie Martinez. However it has been alleged that Salas regularly bullied Martinez. On one occasion, he allegedly punched him so hard he struggled for breath for days afterwards.

Salas also admitted to slapping Martinez on the bottom at one of the ship’s weekly parties where alcohol was consumed. 9News reports Salas as saying: “I saw him dancing inappropriately … like a girly … like a woman in a burlesque,” he said. “It is very degrading to him already, and I told him to stop, and if you don’t stop I will slap you with a slipper.”

Guns On Board

The captain also admitted to selling guns to crew members and taking a commission. Most of the crew members on board were armed. ABC News reports that, when pressed, Salas admitted to collecting the gun brochures and permits from the crew before the Sage Sagittarius docked in Newcastle to prevent the Australian Federal Police from finding them.

Llanto’s Disappearance

The inquest heard that Llanto, chief cook on board Sage Sagittarius, may have been involved in a plan to report Salas to the International Transport Worker’s Federation on arrival in Australia.

The same day that he disappeared overboard, Salas ordered Martinez to delete a statement of complaint from Llanto’s computer as it would have resulted in the ship being detained at Newcastle port. Salas denied he was angry with Llanto and denied he had anything to do with his disappearance but said he believed the man may have been murdered.

Salas is about embark on an eight-month voyage as captain of another vessel.

The inquest continues.