Maersk’s Newbuilds Won’t Fit New Panama Canal

By Wendy Laursen 2015-08-16 20:39:39

Last week Maersk announced the signing of a $1.1 billion newbuilding contract for nine vessels with a 14,000 TEU capacity.

The vessels are designed for flexibility, not a single trade, but they may not be as flexible as some might expect, says Dirk Visser, Senior Shipping Consultant at consultants Dynamar B.V. of the Netherlands.

Maersk is strengthening its fleet with hull designs that can be deployed on East-West or North-South trades without impacting on fuel consumption. The reasoning is that while China remains the global manufacturing center, competitors like Mexico, Turkey and others are growing. Maersk is therefore preparing for new trade patterns, the company said in a statement.

“When I first saw the order in combination with Maersk’s comments, I assumed that the dimensions of these nine 14,000 TEU ships would allow them to pass through the new Panama Canal locks – meaning that they should have a maximum breadth of 49 meters (48.77 meters, to be precise,” says Visser.

This would mean that, with these nine ships, Maersk Line could operate a Far East-US East Coast all-water via the new Panama service. Other options via the enlarged Panama Canal could be: U.S. East Coast-West Coast South America or Europe-West Coast South America.

“Upon signing the order, only the length of these nine 14,000 TEU container ships was stated: 353 meters, but meanwhile it has been confirmed that their breadth will be 53.3 meters,” says Visser. “Hence, they will actually be too large to sail via Panama and thus, perhaps, be less flexible than Maersk Line would have hoped.”

Nonetheless, there will remain many other options where Panama doesn’t come at play, says Visser, such as the Far East, Europe or U.S. East Coast-East Coast South America, Far East-South Africa or Far East-Middle East.

Although some think that the Panama Canal Authority would be considering an upwards revision of the maximum allowed vessel-breadth (physically, the lock chambers have a width of 54 meters), that would not help these 14,000 TEU ships, says Visser. “Moreover, as there must be room in the locks for the tugboats guiding the mainline vessels in and out, we do not expect any spectacular upwards revision, if any at all.”

Last June CMA CGM ordered six 14,000 TEU ships with a breadth of 48.2 meters, which will therefore effectively be NewPanamax. It is assumed that the extra capacity versus a 13,200 TEU NewPanamax ship will come from an extra deck tier for empty containers. Therefore, the 14,000 TEU CMA CGM ships will be more flexible than those of Maersk, says Visser.

Also, NewPanamax ships (such as the CMA CGM 14,000 TEU units) require 19-wide Ship-to-shore terminal gantry cranes. For Maersk’s new ships that will be gantries capable of handling 21 boxes across deck. However, Visser says that such cranes are not common in southern hemisphere ports-terminals, another limit to the flexibility of the Maersk vessels.


Royal Caribbean in Billion Dollar Singapore Deal

By MarEx 2015-08-16 16:56:43

Royal Caribbean International has signed a first-ever multi-million dollar marketing collaboration with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Changi Airport Group (CAG) to promote cruising out of Singapore and, in turn, attract the cruise line’s largest number of overseas fly-cruise guests to the nation.

The tripartite collaboration – which runs between 2015 and 2018 – is estimated to pull in over 170,000 overseas visitors to Singapore to sail on Royal Caribbean’s cruises over that period, resulting in a projected growth of over 50 per cent.

This will be done via a series of marketing campaigns, research studies and channel development activities, such as partnerships with the media and trade, in markets not only within Asia such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, but also beyond the region in Australia, Europe and North America.

Royal Caribbean also plans to increase its number of sailings from Singapore during this period to over 40 a year.

Currently, the cruise line’s 3,807-guest Mariner of the Seas makes around 30 voyages annually. Its next Singapore season which will be the largest ever, starting from this October, will feature more long cruises of seven to 15 nights, aimed at attracting more overseas fly-cruise guests.

Sean Treacy, Managing Director, Singapore and Southeast Asia of Royal Caribbean Cruises said: “Having deployed ships here regularly for the last seven years, Royal Caribbean now looks forward to its next phase of significant growth in Singapore. Our three-year deployment plan is our strongest commitment ever to this market and we see great potential in Singapore as a source market and regional cruise hub.”

Projected to generate over $100 million in tourism receipts, the collaboration with Royal Caribbean contributes substantially to Singapore’s cruise industry, with an estimated compounded annual growth of five to eight percent in throughput over the next three to four years. With the cruise industry already generating more than $500 million in direct spendingi in 2013, this development promises a further injection of significant economic impact into Singapore.

With more than 25,000 islands, Southeast Asia is an ideal cruising destination for travellers seeking to discover multiple cultures and new experiences in a warm, tropical year-round climate. The region appeals particularly strongly to Asian travellers due to its close proximity to home, with eight in 10 who have never cruised before expressing interest to embark on a cruise vacation within Southeast Asia.

Providing a link between Royal Caribbean International, Singapore and its regional neighbors is Changi Airport’s strong connectivity to 320 cities worldwide, along with some 6,700 weekly flights, giving Singapore a strategic advantage to effectively tap fly-cruise traffic from across the globe and serve as a cruise hub for Asia.


Singapore Taps into Students’ Minds

By MarEx 2015-08-16 16:43:01

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) run its annual Smart Port Hackathon on Sunday. The event saw a total of 120 participants from 21 teams, producing 21 maritime-related technology prototypes.

Supported by Singapore Polytechnic and the Urban Prototyping Singapore community, the maritime-themed hackathon brought together professionals from all walks of life such as industry players, data scientists, developers and designers as well as students from varying disciplines, to create solution-oriented technology prototypes that addressed a series of challenges put forth to enhance productivity, efficiency and sustainability in the Port of Singapore.

This year’s hackathon saw a total of 20 different datasets with 70 million data points provided by MPA and its supporting partners such as Amos International, BH Global, Jurong Port, NEA, PSA and Singapore Cruise Centre. These datasets included vessel movement and position data, vessels pre-arrival notification data, ship registries, cargo information, berthing schedules, container trucking data, pilotage orders, garbage collection service orders, customers’ ship supplies orders, sea supplies inventory, lighter service timings and hydrographic maps.

Participants were tasked to use the datasets provided to create innovative technology-enabled, data-driven solutions that addressed various challenges in the maritime services value chain, maritime logistics supply chain as well as cruise and ferry terminal operations. The top prize was S$5,000, runner-up prizes being S$3,000 and S$2,000 accordingly. Special prizes were also given out to the Best Student Team, Best IBM BlueMix App, Best Data Analytics and Best Hack.

Andrew Tan, Chief Executive of MPA said, “We are happy to see such strong interest in this year’s Smart Port Hackathon. We look forward to working with the winning teams as well as the teams with innovative ideas to further develop their ideas and explore their feasibility in enhancing the productivity, efficiency and sustainability in the Port of Singapore. Looking ahead, we also hope to explore with other major ports meaningful collaborations in data analytics and information exchange to reduce port congestions and other supply chain disruptions.”

Smart Port Hackathon 2015 was made possible with industry partners – APL, BH Global, DHL, Container Depot Association of Singapore, Jurong Port, PSA Corporation, Singapore Cruise Centre, Singapore Customs, Singapore Shipping Association, Singapore Association of Shipsuppliers & Services; and supporting partners – M1, IBM, Orbcomm, Sense Infosys, Singapore Polytechnic, Tableau and Whispir.


Fire on Philippines Ferry, 550 Safe

By MarEx 2015-08-15 01:56:47

A ferry carrying around 550 people caught fire while docked at Ormoc Port in the Philippines on Saturday morning.

The vessel, MV Wonderful Stars, was reported to have thick smoke emanating from the engine room shortly after it arrived from Cebu City.

Fire engines arrived on the scene, but fire-fighting efforts have been hampered by the presence of fuel in the vehicles on board, so firefighting is ongoing.

The passengers were disembarked safely. Three injured crew members were sent to Ormoc City hospital for medical treatment of minor injuries incurred while combating the fire. There were no reported casualties amongst the passengers.

The MV Wonderful Stars is operated by Roble Shipping Line.

This was the second ship accident in Ormoc in two months. On July 2, over 60 people were killed when the Nirvana-B capsized shortly after it left Ormoc port en route to Cebu.


HMS Artful on Maiden Voyage

By MarEx 2015-08-14 20:30:53

The U.K.’s latest attack submarine, HMS Artful, built by BAE Systems, has set sail from the shipyard’s facility for sea trials.

Nearly ten and a half years after first steel was cut, HMS Artful departed Barrow in the U.K. on Thursday to begin its maiden trials – 15 months after it was rolled out of the construction hall at BAE Systems’ yard.

Commanding Officer Commander Scott Bower guided the Astute-class submarine out of Devonshire Dock and out into the open waters of the Irish Sea. There its systems will be tested before heading to Faslane in Scotland, the base of the other submarines of its class HMS Astute and Ambush.

Bower said: “I am immensely proud and honored to be leading the crew of Artful. Her capabilities are extraordinary and represent the next step in our country’s century-long history of operating submarines.”

The design and build of the Astute class is a highly complex engineering feat likened to building a space shuttle. The 7,400-tonne attack submarines measure 97 meters and are powered by nuclear reactors. Each submarine is armed with Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk land attack missiles.

Artful is the third Astute class submarine to have been built by BAE Systems. Seven of the class have been commissioned and the remaining four boats are currently under construction.

“The crew, alongside the workers at BAE Systems, have done a sterling job in generating more than a million parts into a submarine,” said Bower. “Artful will be home to more than 100 men and can spend months at a time submerged. She is able to generate her own air and water; food will be her only limiting factor.”

In the 15 months since the submarine entered the water, Artful has undergone numerous tests of its propulsion and power systems – notably the nuclear reactor – and carried out a partial dive in the dock. It’s wide and long enough to accommodate an A-boat, but at only 82 feet, the waters are not deep enough to submerge the Astutes entirely.

The 100-strong crew have gone through similarly-exhaustive instruction and practice, culminating in an assessment by the team from the Flag Officer Sea Training just before Artful put to sea.

Artful will follow the earlier Astute-class submarines to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in Scotland. It is the second vessel of the name in the Royal Navy. The first was also a submarine, an A-class boat launched on May 22, 1947 and commissioned on February 2, 1948.


Anglo-Eastern and Univan Merge

By MarEx 2015-08-14 18:07:36

Ship management companies Anglo-Eastern Group and Univan Group have reached an agreement to merge. The deal is the largest merger of independent, third party ship management companies and will result in a new entity called the Anglo-Eastern Univan Group.

Anglo-Eastern is already in the top three global ship management companies, and it says the merger will offer further scale advantages to shipowners.

Started in 1974, the Anglo-Eastern Group was a home grown product and took off as a third party manager soon after a young Belgian executive with a degree in Naval Architecture (Peter Cremers) joined in 1985. Marcel Liedts soon joined Peter on the management team and, under their leadership, the managed fleet steadily grew. The company gained a reputation for first class safety and environmental standards, and in 1998 it underwent a management buy-out, followed in 2001 by a merger with Denholm Ship Management, providing a presence in Europe.

Univan Ship Management was started by the late Captain C.A.J. Vanderperre, often referred to as the father of ship management, and under whose guidance many successful ship management executives owe their careers today. Former Maersk Captain Bjorn Hojgaard was appointed CEO in 2012 and has overseen significant change. In the past few years Univan has refocused its efforts on serving first class shipowner clients and has seen rapid fleet growth.

The merged business will be led by Peter Cremers as Executive Chairman, Bjorn Hojgaard as Chief Executive, Marcel Liedts as Chief Operating Officer and Mark Stevenson as Chief Financial Officer. The group is proud that its “top three” all have professional backgrounds at sea or in naval architecture, the core skillsets in shipping on which both groups were built.

The newly merged Anglo-Eastern Univan group, backed by long term shareholders in the ship management industry, has recommitted itself to serving its shipowner clients through its commitment to safety both at sea and ashore and to maintaining and improving its operating standards, said the company in a statement.

The newly merged entity will have:

1,700+ shore based staff

24,000+ seafarers

600 ships under full management

100 ships under crew management only

In the first instance the merged group will continue to operate as separate entities, out of their existing offices. The Anglo-Eastern and Univan tanker fleets will continue to operate under their existing management and from offices in Singapore and Hong Kong.

The group board will consist of: Peter Cremers, Executive Chairman, John Denholm, Kannika Thasak, Bjorn Hojgaard, Marcel Liedts, Mark Stevenson, Richard Wong and Richard Hext.


Brownsville Debates LNG Project

By MarEx 2015-08-14 16:19:20

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently held a meeting in Brownsville, Texas regarding the Brownsville Shipping Channel’s proposed LNG project. If approved, three LNG terminals would be built and export natural gas to foreign markets.

The three companies vying for the project are NextDecadeLLC, Texas LNG and Annova LNG. All three companies are members of the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce and would invest a combined $10 billion into the project.

The Annova LNG and Texas LNG proposals are for mid-sized natural gas liquefaction and transfer facilities. The NextDecade proposal is larger in scale, with four terminals and 27 million tons of liquefied natural gas per year.

Annova estimates that its project would create 675 on-site jobs over the next for years and would employ 165 workers once the facility is operational. If constructed, the Annova facility would produce six million tons of LNG annually. The Texas LNG proposal would produce four million tons per year.

While the three LNG companies paint rosy pictures of a thriving economy in Brownsville, the proposal does have opponents. Many in the community have concerns regarding environmental damage to the region if the ports are built. A report from the Lower Rio Grande Valley Sierra Club predicts unprecedented environmental damage.

Writes Stefanie Herweck, the report’s author: “LNG facilities emit large amounts of airborne pollutants including nitrogen oxides, which give smog its brown color, and volatile organic compounds, which help create smog and in some cases affect health adversely.”

Herweck also calls LNG a highly hazardous industry due to the potential of leaks, fires and explosions. Herweck also argues that while LNG isn’t volatile, the propane and other gases used in the liquefaction process are.

Some are also worried about the impact LNG will have on marine life. Officials with the LNG companies have said that they have considered these risks and would not have moved forward with their proposals if they hadn’t.


U.S. Approves Oil Swaps With Mexico

By MarEx 2015-08-14 15:53:24

The U.S. will allow limited sales of crude oil to Mexico for the first time. The Commerce Department has informed Congress that it will approve a number of licenses to export U.S. crude oil in exchange for Mexican oil. The licenses will be issued at the end of August and will be valid for one year.

The approval comes eight months after Mexico formally requested a swap. The shipments are likely to be lighter, high-quality shale oil which will help Mexico’s refineries produce more premium fuels.

The Commerce Department has also denied several swap applications with European and Asian.

The move may also bring the U.S. one step closer to lifting its oil embargo. The decision to approve oil trade with Mexico comes a little more than a year after the U.S. allowed companies to export ultralight oil to foreign buyers.