Second Sea Lion Dies Following California Oil Spill

By Reuters 2015-05-26 15:33:07

A second sea lion rescued from along California’s oil-fouled coastline near Santa Barbara has died at SeaWorld San Diego, where veterinarians are still caring for 15 surviving marine mammals brought in for treatment, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

The petroleum-stained pinnipeds are among the earliest apparent wildlife casualties documented from a pipeline rupture that dumped as much as 2,400 barrels (101,000 gallons or 382,327 liters) of crude oil onto the shoreline and into the ocean west of Santa Barbara one week ago.

The spill left an oil slick stretching for more than 9 miles (14.5 km) along the coast and forced the indefinite closure of two popular beaches. The area also has been placed off-limits to fishing and shellfish harvesting.

The stricken region lies at the edge of a national marine sanctuary and underwater preserve that is home to whales, dolphins, sea lions and other marine mammals, along with some 60 species of sea birds and over 500 species of fish.

As of Tuesday, 15 oil-contaminated California sea lions and two elephant seals had been brought to SeaWorld to be cleaned and nursed back to health.

The first arrival, a young sea lion streaked with oil over a third of its body, died late on Friday or early on Saturday after being cleaned, SeaWorld spokesman David Koontz said. A second sea lion died there on Monday, leaving 13 sea lions and two elephant seals still to be rehabilitated and hopefully released.

“Our team is working very, very hard, doing everything they can to give these animals a second chance at life,” Koontz said.

Meanwhile, the carcasses of four sea lions and two dolphins have turned up with no visible signs of oil, including a dead dolphin found on Friday in Santa Barbara Harbor, according to officials overseeing the spill response.

Post-mortem exams must still be conducted on all dead animals recovered from the disaster zone, and those that die under care, to determine whether they were spill victims.

The latest official tally of oil-soaked birds indicated that nine pelicans and one western grebe had been discovered alive and five pelicans found dead.

Last week’s pipeline rupture resulted in the biggest oil release to hit the ecologically sensitive shoreline northwest of Los Angeles since a 1969 blowout dumped up to 100,000 barrels (4.2 million gallons or 15.9 million liters) of oil into the Santa Barbara Channel.

That much larger spill killed thousands of sea birds and other wildlife and helped spark the modern U.S. environmental movement.

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Half Cruise Ship, Half Freighter Debuts 2015

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-26 14:46:57

At first glance, it is hard to know what to make of the Aranui 5. It is clearly some kind of passenger vessel, but it is also appears to be a freight vessel. The ship is in fact both and is set to begin voyages in French Polynesia in late November. The Aranui 5 is replacing its predecessor, the Aranui 3 on a dual mission to bring travelers and commodities to the Marquesas Islands, the remotest archipelago in the world.

The Aranui 5 will complete a circuit of 2,200 miles leaving from Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, and traveling to all six inhabited islands in the Marquesas chain. Making it into the archipelago alone takes over three day’s sea journey. Also, vessel has the largest number of passenger berths of any cargo ship allowing for passenger capacity of around 260 up over 50 passengers from its predecessor that has been in operation since 2003.

The 125 meter (410 foot) ship can carry over 2,000 tons of freight. The vessel both allows visitors access to the remote Polynesian Islands made famous by Paul Gauguin, but it also carries supplies, fuel and other staples to the remote island ports otherwise cut off from commerce. However, the ship does not just make deliveries, it also receives imports form the islands in the form of dried coconut, citrus and fish.

Although the Aranui 5 is unique in design, it represents a concept that has been around in the shipping industry for many years: the fusion of cargo and cruising. Currently, there are about 300 passenger carrying cargo ships in the shipping industry, which can carry up to a maximum of 12 passengers (over this number the ship must maintain a doctor aboard). The sea travel company Cruise People Ltd. even state that all freighter voyages they showcase are aboard vessels with outside staterooms and swimming pools available.

CMA CMG, the third largest container shipping company notes on its website that 874 passengers traveled onboard its vessels in 2013. As a selling point, the company advertises passage aboard its largest vessels the 16,020TEU containerships CMA CMG Marco Polo and CMA CMG Alexander von Humbolt. The various itineraries the ships offer include passage from the U.S. to Asia and Asia to the Mediterranean.

Similarly, Rickmers Line offers various itineraries including a 124 around the world voyage. However, the company now prohibits passenger transportation between Genoa and Singapore as some passengers failed to heed the crew’s warning about being on deck in known pirate zones. Typical pricing for such a trip is around $135 per person per day.

There are even online guides for freighter travel that give stories from previous passengers and teach laymen maritime terminology that they will need for their voyage.

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Iran, Oman Settle Maritime Borders, Discuss Yemen

By Reuters 2015-05-26 12:20:37

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed how to advance Yemeni peace efforts with his Omani counterpart on Tuesday, Iranian media reported, on a visit to a country that has often played a conciliatory role in Gulf conflicts.

Speaking after talks in Muscat, Zarif and Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi also announced the two had agreed to demarcate a previously undefined stretch of maritime border, in waters including some of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

On Yemen, Zarif said they discussed implementing a ceasefire, setting up talks between warring factions and how to get aid in, Iran’s Mehr news agency reported.

“Iran and Oman want peace, security and stability in the region and have shared interests in this regard,” Zarif was quoted as saying by Mehr.

Oman, which borders Yemen, is the only one of the six Gulf Arab states that make up the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) not to join Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen’s Houthis, the rebel movement Riyadh says is armed by Iran.

Tehran denies that and has criticised the Saudi-led coalition’s refusal to Iranian cargo ships and planes into Yemen to deliver what it says is only humanitarian aid.

Analysts say Oman, which has quietly brokered resolutions to several disputes in the region, would be careful in its dealings with Iran over Yemen.

“Oman would be extremely cautious not to compromise its neutrality: it should not be seen as having been influenced by Iran with regard to the Yemen conflict,” Ahmed al-Mukhaini, a former assistant secretary-general for Oman’s consultative Shura Council, said.

Last week, a Houthi delegation went to Oman to discuss the conflict with the government that has previously relayed messages between the Shi’ite Muslim group and Saudi Arabia.

Iranian and Omani news agencies reported that the countries had demarcated a 450 km (280 mile) section of their maritime border that had not previously been defined, in the first substantial progress on the issue since 1975 – before the 1979 overthrow of Iran’s shah and establishment of the Islamic Republic.

The reports did not disclose the exact location of the area defined but suggested that the border was now fully agreed.

“This agreement will strengthen economic relations between our two countries,” bin Alawi was quoted as saying by Mehr.

Iran has a territorial dispute with the United Arab Emirates, which claims three small islands controlled by Iran in the Gulf.

Hardline commentators in Iran have also occasionally laid a territorial claim to Bahrain, a Gulf Arab island kingdom that is a member of the GCC and is closely allied to Saudi Arabia.

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Representatives Note Importance of Merchant Mariner Bill

By MarEx 2015-05-26 11:14:45

Two U.S. representatives, Janice Hahn (D- Calif.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), emphasized the importance of a House bill to recognize U.S. Merchant Mariners over 70 years after their service in World War II during National Maritime Day Speeches on the East and West Coast.

The Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015 was introduced earlier this year by Hahn and Hunter and seeks to award a $25,000 one-time payment to merchant mariners of World War II. Currently, only about five thousand Merchant Mariners who served in the war are still alive.

Duncan Hunter, speaking at a Maritime Day event in Washington DC stated that, “the legislation would provide “well-deserved recognition for these heroic mariners who fought so valiantly for our country.”

Similarly, Hahn speaking to an audience at the San Pedro Merchant Mariners Veterans Memorial said “The first Maritime Day honoring our merchant mariners was held in 1970. Before that, despite their courage and service, and despite suffering higher casualty rates during World War II than other branches of our military, merchant mariners were excluded from celebrations of Veterans Day and Memorial Day.”

During World War II over 200,000 Americans served in the Merchant Marine. The Merchant Marine also had higher casualty rates than any branch of the armed service with the exception of the Marines. However, merchant mariners were denied any veteran benefits or status until 1988 when a federal court mandated recognition for the U.S. seamen.

Hahn has introduced HR 563, “Honoring Our World War II Merchant Mariners Act of 2015,” to provide the payment to surviving World War II merchant mariners. More than 6,000 merchant mariners died in service during World War II and time is running out to commemorate the accomplishments of the remaining Merchant Marine veterans.

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Hyundai Heavy Sets ‘Unprecedented’ 2,000 Ship Record

By MarEx 2015-05-26 10:12:52

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has broken a new record this week with the announcement of the delivery of its 2000th ship, the Ocean Blacklion.

The world’s largest shipbuilding company, headquartered in Ulsan South Korea, delivered the Ocean Blacklion drillship to Diamond Offshore at the Ulsan Shipyard on Friday, hitting the 2000th vessel milestone.

Mr. Choi Kil-seon, chairman & CEO of HHI said, “Today, we wrote a new chapter in the global shipbuilding history by delivering the 2,000th ship.” In a statement given to Korean news agencies yesterday Kil-seon called the accomplishment ‘unprecedented’ citing that companies in Europe and Japan with longer-established histories have yet to hit this milestone.

HHI built its first ship, a 266,000-ton VLCC, in the Mipo Bay Shipyard near Seoul in 1974 and completed a second vessel of the same size within a two year period. In 2002 the company was the first in the global shipbuilding industry to hit the 1,000 ship delivery milestone and HHI was also the first to achieve a 100 million gross ton ship production record in 2012.

The gross tonnage of the 2,000 ships HHI built amounts to 126 million, twice the gross tonnage of total ships built last year worldwide. The top four most-delivered ships of HHI are containerships (583), bulk carriers (357), tankers (232) and VLCCs (147). Country-wise, Greek ordered the most ships of 254 followed by Germany with 238, Japan with 120 and Denmark with 101.

Speaking about the company’s continued path in the industry Kil-seon further commented, “as we have been over the past four decades, we will continue to stand firm as the global leader in the shipbuilding industry with tireless innovation and shipbuilding method improvement for the coming decades.”

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USCG Assists Freezing Arctic Activist

By MarEx 2015-05-26 09:29:31

Coast Guard personnel assisted in the removal of an activist who secured herself to the anchor chain of the Arctic Challenger in Bellingham, Wash., Monday morning.

Chiara D’Angelo requested Coast Guard assistance down from the vessel’s anchor chain at approximately 9:30 a.m. and was transported to Coast Guard Station Bellingham.

Coast Guard personnel transported her in good condition to Station Bellingham where she was met by EMS and the Bellingham Police Department. Fuller was issued a summons and released in good condition.

The Coast Guard did not cite any vessels for violating the safety zone overnight.

“It was cold, rainy and she was starting to display signs of hypothermia,” said Chief Warrant Officer Charles Chavtur, commanding officer of Station Bellingham. “Boatcrew members were able to safely assist her down from the chain and gave her blankets and water. We brought her back to the station where she was evaluated by EMS and released to her family and friends.”

The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment Rights of people to safely and lawfully assemble on the water and is committed to enforcing the laws and regulations necessary to ensure the safety of the maritime public.

Violation of the safety zone can result in possible civil or criminal penalties. Whether intentional or unintentional, interference with these vessels has the potential to result serious injury, death or pollution in the highly sensitive ecosystem of Puget Sound.

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