Cunard’s Three Queens Perform River Dance

By MarEx 2015-05-25 16:13:09

For the first time, Cunard’s fleet gathered together in spectacular fashion in Liverpool, U.K., its spiritual home, as the company marked its 175th anniversary. The event culminated with the three ships, the largest passenger ships ever to muster together on the River Mersey, lined up across the river just 130 meters apart as the Red Arrows performed a fly-past overhead to the delight of the hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Flagship Queen Mary 2 sailed from the Liverpool berth up to the mouth of the Mersey at 10.45am on May 25 to meet her sisters, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. The three ships then sailed in close single file down the river to Liverpool’s Pier Head with its iconic Three Graces: The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and The Port of Liverpool Building.

Queen Mary 2 slowed in the river opposite the Cunard Building – Cunard’s headquarters for nearly 50 years until 1967 – with her sister ships stopping ahead of her to create a three ship line-up watched by spectators of both sides of the river.

Just 400 meters apart, the three ships then performed a graceful 180 degree synchronized turn to starboard. At the mid-point of the turn, all three ships lay across the river, creating the spectacle of the fleet’s three bows dramatically set against the backdrop of Liverpool’s famous Three Graces. Queen Mary 2 then sounded ‘175’ on her ship’s whistle (foghorn) – first one, then seven short blasts, then five more.

With the full turn completed and the 150,000 ton Queen Mary 2 now in the leading position, her two 90,000 ton sister ships then glided slowly towards either side of her to create an arrowhead formation, with the flagship just ahead of her two consort ships.

Finally, the entire fleet lined up three abreast across the river just 130 meters apart, as a salute to the Cunard Building and the City of Liverpool.

With the Three Queens in this tight formation, the Red Arrows flew in formation low over the Three Queens as they lined up on the river, a coup de grace which created a once-in-a-lifetime moment that thrilled the hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Commodore of the Cunard fleet Christopher Rynd said: “It’s been a privilege to bring the Cunard fleet together on the Mersey for the first time ever to mark Cunard’s 175th anniversary year and our historic and ongoing partnership with Liverpool, our spiritual home.

“After months of planning, today the three ships have maneuvered on the River Mersey as never before, right in front of the Cunard Building, one of Liverpool’s Three Graces and a world heritage site as well as Cunard’s former headquarters. The Red Arrows flypast at the climax of the ships maneuvers added a finishing touch to an extraordinary day. There can be no more fitting way to celebrate Cunard’s 175th anniversary. The spectators have been amazing and the numbers extraordinary – all the way from the mouth of the Mersey to Pier Head, we have seen such enthusiastic crowds.

“There has always been a special bond between Cunard and Liverpool and the north-west, with so many people having worked for or with Cunard over the years. There’s an emotional connection between us. Cunard is more than just a shipping line – it’s a source of pride that means so much to us and everyone associated with it. It’s a real pleasure to be able to celebrate that enduring bond between us all in such a special way today.”

Cunard Director Angus Struthers said: “All of us at Cunard have been touched by the fantastic reception the Three Queens have received from the people of Liverpool and beyond today. It feels like 175 years of stories, people and history linking Cunard to the city have really come alive. With the Red Arrows flypast adding an amazing extra ‘wow’, it’s been the sort of day we hope parents and grandparents will remember with their children and grandchildren in years to come.

“It’s taken a huge amount of planning and cooperation between Cunard’s ships, the Mersey pilots and Liverpool’s cruise operation to make this happen and today is testament to the great results that continue to come out of Cunard’s partnership with the city. ”

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What the Trans-Pacific Partnership Means for LNG

By MarEx 2015-05-25 15:50:41

Final negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement could herald a new era of LNG exports for the United States.

According to statements given to Wall Street Journal, negotiations on the TPP, the largest free-trade agreement the U.S. has ever entered into, are entering the final stages. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, an extensive trade agreement involving twelve countries that share Pacific Coast borders, has been in formal negotiation since 2010. Currently, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States are all part of the negotiations.

Passage of the agreement may signal a dramatic increase in LNG exports as tariffs on energy products are slashed. Additionally, the agreement would streamline the current U.S. Department of Energy export facility review process. The Japanese market in particular has been eyeing the United States as a growing source for LNG imports. In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan shut down its nuclear power facilities and has increasingly become dependant on coal and LNG imports. As of 2012 it was the world’s largest LNG importer accounting for 37% of world LNG trade. Currently, Japanese companies hold stake in three of the first four LNG export terminals the U.S. approved.

The U.S. is already on track to become a net exporter of natural gas by 2018 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and LNG export facilities have overwhelmingly received government approval. Currently, there are seven LNG terminals that are operating or have been approved, and there are over 50 applications currently awaiting government approval. Additionally, the Department of Energy is considering exporting up to 45% of total US gas produced.

However, the possibility of increased LNG exports has many in the environmental community concerned. According to a statement released by the Sierra Club with the passage of the TPP, “the DOE loses its authority to regulate exports of natural gas to countries with which the United States has a free trade agreement that includes so-called ―national treatment for trade in gas. The TPP, therefore, would mean automatic approval of LNG export permits—without any review or analysis—to TPP countries.” Additionally, a higher demand for LNG exports could cause increased fracking, a practice seen by many in the environmental community as ecologically dangerous.

A key provision of the TPP is that it allows additional countries to join the agreement at a later time. So, in addition to the LNG prospects with countries currently part of the agreement there is the potential for other Asian markets to join the TPP at a later time.

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Man Sentenced for Lying About Blowout Preventer Testing

By MarEx 2015-05-25 14:55:50

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana announced that Race Addington, 49, of Houston, was sentenced May 20 for making false statements to agencies or departments of the United States in relation to the veracity of blowout preventer testing on an offshore oil and gas platform located at Ship Shoal 225 on a federal mineral lease in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan sentenced Addington to one year probation and 40 hours of community service.

According to court documents, on or about November 27, 2012, production and well workover operations were being conducted on the platform and the blowout preventer system had to be tested. A blowout preventer system is designed to ensure well control and prevent potential release of oil and gas and possible loss of well control. The blowout preventer pressure chart that recorded the testing of the blowout preventer testing done on November 27, only recorded 6 of the 7 required components as being tested and was not signed nor dated by any representative on the platform.

On or about November 28, 2012, Addington, as the well site supervisor for the platform saw the results of the blowout preventer testing and had workers create a false blowout preventer test. The next day when Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) inspectors conducted a routine inspection of the platform, Addington presented the fabricated blowout preventer pressure test chart to the BSEE inspectors with the expectation that it would be a passing test and the inspectors would not find the platform to be in non-compliance for failing to properly test the blowout preventer system.

On December 6, 2012, during an investigation of the veracity of the blowout preventer test by the Department of Interior’s Investigation and Review Unit, Addington lied and told investigators the false chart he provided inspectors was a test of the chart recorder and that the inspectors mistakenly retrieved the wrong pressure chart from the files when in truth and in fact he knew that he had the blowout preventer pressure test chart fabricated and personally presented the chart to inspectors as the actual test record for the platform’s blowout preventer system.

The case was investigated by the Department of Interior-Office of Inspector General (Energy Investigations Unit) with assistance from the Investigations and Review Unit, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Emily K. Greenfield of the United States Attorney’s Office’s National Security Unit.

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Four Bodies Recovered from Sunken Barge

By MarEx 2015-05-25 13:04:13

Four bodies have been recovered so far from a barge that sunk off the coast of Singapore last week.

The search for the 14 sailors missing from the Oceanline SC2018, a Bolivian-registered sand barge has been ongoing since the vessel capsized May 20. The bodies of one Malaysian man and two Chinese men were discovered Friday and over the weekend. A fourth body, that of another Chinese crewman, was recovered at around 11:00 am today.

The search operation has been greatly hindered by rough sea conditions over the weekend and into Monday.The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) stated that diving operations were called off around 3:30pm today due to strong currents. According to Malaysian news sources, today’s rescue operation consisted of a ship, four boats and a total of 28 rescue divers.

The bodies have been brought to the Marina Jetty at Tanjung Pengelih for additional investigation.

The Oceanline SC2018 was carrying a cargo of sand between two Malaysian cities on May 20 when it reportedly capsized due to rough waves. One crewman was rescued immediately following the incident, but ten crewmembers still remain unaccounted for.

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Japan and Malaysia Bolster Defence Ties

By Reuters 2015-05-25 12:21:12

Japan and Malaysia agreed to bolster security ties and start talks on transfers of defence equipment and technology, their leaders said on Monday, as both separately wrangle with China over territorial spats.

“I’ve agreed with Prime Minister Najib (Razak) to raise our bilateral ties to strategic partnership,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a joint news conference.

“As a concrete step, we’ve agreed to cooperate in defence equipment. Also, by reinforcing support to (Malaysia’s) maritime law enforcement body, we will cooperate for maritime safety.”

Sino-Japanese ties have been plagued by a dispute over a group of tiny East China Sea islets. China also claims most of the South China Sea, with overlapping claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Details of cooperation on defence gear and technology have yet to be decided, but it is likely to include the areas of disaster relief and maritime security, Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters.

Malaysia is the first Southeast Asian country with which Japan has launched negotiations on such cooperation, Kato said.

At the meeting with Najib, Abe expressed strong concern over China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea, Kato added.

On the issue of “boat people” adrift off Malaysia and some other Southeast Asian countries, Najib called for Japan’s help.

“We believe that while we try to look for an ASEAN solution, it is also an international problem, which requires an international solution,” Najib told the news conference.

“Therefore anything Japan can do to help us alleviate this problem would certainly be very much welcome.”

Najib last week ordered the navy to rescue thousands of migrants adrift at sea in rickety boats. Many of the boat people are Rohingya Muslims, who have long complained of discrimination in Myanmar, and Bangladeshis fleeing persecution and poverty.

Japan told the Malaysian side it was willing to offer whatever assistance it could, Kato said.

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Japan and Malaysia Bolster Defense Ties

By Reuters 2015-05-25 12:21:12

Japan and Malaysia agreed to bolster security ties and start talks on transfers of defence equipment and technology, their leaders said on Monday, as both separately wrangle with China over territorial spats.

“I’ve agreed with Prime Minister Najib (Razak) to raise our bilateral ties to strategic partnership,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a joint news conference.

“As a concrete step, we’ve agreed to cooperate in defence equipment. Also, by reinforcing support to (Malaysia’s) maritime law enforcement body, we will cooperate for maritime safety.”

Sino-Japanese ties have been plagued by a dispute over a group of tiny East China Sea islets. China also claims most of the South China Sea, with overlapping claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Details of cooperation on defence gear and technology have yet to be decided, but it is likely to include the areas of disaster relief and maritime security, Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters.

Malaysia is the first Southeast Asian country with which Japan has launched negotiations on such cooperation, Kato said.

At the meeting with Najib, Abe expressed strong concern over China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea, Kato added.

On the issue of “boat people” adrift off Malaysia and some other Southeast Asian countries, Najib called for Japan’s help.

“We believe that while we try to look for an ASEAN solution, it is also an international problem, which requires an international solution,” Najib told the news conference.

“Therefore anything Japan can do to help us alleviate this problem would certainly be very much welcome.”

Najib last week ordered the navy to rescue thousands of migrants adrift at sea in rickety boats. Many of the boat people are Rohingya Muslims, who have long complained of discrimination in Myanmar, and Bangladeshis fleeing persecution and poverty.

Japan told the Malaysian side it was willing to offer whatever assistance it could, Kato said.

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