Can Power Ships Solve Ghana’s Energy Woes?

By MarEx 2015-08-12 16:05:27

Ghana is hiring power ships as part of the solution to its power crisis. Ghana government has ordered two power ships from Turkish energy company Karadeniz Holdings. The vessels are scheduled to arrive later this month and will be operational in September.

A power ship is a converted vessel that has been modified for power generation. A power plant is installed on ships and they are often sent to developing nations. Karadeniz’s power ships operate for about 12 hours a day in a 12 day cycle.

Ghana currently uses open cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) to generate power OCGTs areinternal combustion engines that operate with rotary rather than reciprocating motion and run on diesel fuel, which can be expensive.

South Africa has energy issues and is also considering ordering power ships. Currently, the South African government has implemented rolling power outages on a rotating schedule to deal with its energy shortages. The strategy is known as load and shedding and its objective is to ease the pressure on the power grid to prevent its collapse. Load shedding is implemented whenever there is a discrepancy between energy supply and demand.


U.S. Navy Doubling LCS Fleet

By MarEx 2015-08-12 15:02:34

The U.S. Navy will double its fleet of Littoral Combat vessels by February 2016. The Navy accepted the USS Jackson, the first of its next four newbuilds, at an August 11 ceremony at the Austal Shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

The Navy will also receive the USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) in October, the USS Montgomery (LCS 8) in December and the USS Detroit NEXT February.

The USS Jackson is the first LCS ship built by Austal and is part of a ten ship, $3.5 billion block-buy contract. The Jackson is the first of seven independence-variant LCS under construction by Austal. The Montgomery will soon undergo test trials before its December delivery and the Gabrielle Gifford (LCS 10) was recently christened.

Omaha (LCS 12) is currently being prepared for a fall launch and the Manchester (LCS 14) is in assembly. The Tulsa (LCS 16) and Charleston (LCS 18) are currently under construction, and constructuion will begin on the Cincinatti (LCS) later this year.

In a statement, Austal President Craig Perciavalle said: “To deliver our first LCS as prime contractor is a major milestone for our company. I can’t express enough how proud I am to be part of this team of amazing men and women who made this accomplishment possible through their hard work and dedication. This truly is an extraordinary ship built by extraordinary people.”

The USS Jackson will undergo shock trials in Mayport, Florida and will be transported to San Diego, California once cleared. Its four sister vessels the USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) and the USS Coronado (LCS 4) are based in San Diego.


US Clears LNG Exports to Non-FTA Nations

By MarEx 2015-08-12 12:31:11

The Department of Energy (DOE) has given approval to American LNG Marketing LLC to export domestic LNG to nations that do not have Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with the U.S.

American LNG is cleared to export up to of 0.008 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas from Hialeah, Florida’s liquefaction facility for 20 years. The LNG will be delivered in approved ISO containers and loaded onto container ships or RoRo carriers for export at the Port of Miami.

According to American LNG, Caribbean and Central American nations will be the most likely recipients of its cargo.

This marks the third time this year the DOE has granted export authority American LNG. Federal law stipulates that natural gas must be exported to countries with an FTA agreement with the U.S. unless granted export authorization by the DOE.

In June, American LNG received export authorization to FTA nations for an 82.6 MMcf/d liquefaction project near Titusville, FL.

The approval was granted by the DOE after a review of the application forwarded by the American LNG which considered its economic, energy security, and environmental impacts.


Panama Canal strike is called off

Construction workers building the Panama Canal’s third set of locks have called off a threatened strike after winning a pay rise from the consortium building the locks.
SUNTRACS, the workers’ union, had been seeking an 8.9% pay hike, following the 11% increase they gained last year.
On 11 August,

Software Solutions For The Connected Ship

By MarEx 2015-08-12 11:03:59

Container shipping, like any other sector, continues to search every corner of its business for economies. Larger ships, eco-innovations and more efficient terminal activities are obvious targets but carriers would do well to consider smaller wins as well. Achieving savings in less obvious areas can impact significantly on the bottom line. Reducing the cost of the annual container maintenance and repair (M&R) bill could be an easy win for operators of all sizes.

It is often forgotten that carriers will hold between two and three times the number of boxes in relation to their total number of on-board slots. These are costing, on average, around $1 per box per day to cover leasing/depreciation, storage, repair and repositioning. Therefore, for a medium-sized carrier with 10,000 on-board slots, the annual cost of running a fleet of 30,000 TEU would be nearly $11 million a year. This is a sizeable sum. But savings can be made here by examining and reducing the amount of time containers spend in the M&R cycle. On average, 5% of the fleet under repair – that’s 1500 boxes using the current example – are undergoing maintenance at any one time. If we could halve this number then our carrier could perform the same level of business but with 750 fewer boxes. This would save over $¼ million each year.

But how is that achieved?

The M&R process is complex and involves many parties and the exchange of many pieces of information. Surprisingly, it is the coordination of these parties that takes the time – often much more than the physical repair process itself. Many operators continue to manage the process by email and while this is workable for a small container fleet, anything more than around 5,000 boxes and it becomes unwieldly and prone to errors and bottlenecks.

The answer is to use a sophisticated software solution that can be accessed through a normal web browser and which connects all the relevant parties – carrier, agent, surveyor and depot. Such a facility will manage the process, introduce efficiency and control; and reduce admin errors. Repair expenses can be automatically validated against previously accepted tariffs and these can be further compared to past repair data to either highlight inconsistencies or to check that a “double repair” is not being authorised. Software will also control the invoice process to validate what has been agreed before authorising invoices for payment. Good systems will facilitate and guide the repair depot to gather and provide accurate descriptions of the damage together with supporting material and validated repair estimates. This information is then packaged and delivered to the repair manager in an easily digestible format. This allows an informed decision – based on hard information – to be made on whether to go ahead with the repair, re-position a box to another location, lease an additional asset from elsewhere or off-hire/sell. Should the repair option be taken, the software will automatically authorize the work and inform all parties accordingly.

The software will then follow through these activities and recognise that the container has been returned to stock and indicate that it is available to be deployed as required. In essence, the software package handles the main administrative overhead leaving the repair manager with all the information needed to authorise the repair.

Until relatively recently, comprehensive solutions like these were hugely expensive and difficult to deploy across a global network of partners. But today’s technology allows operators to take “packaged” software from suppliers that is a tried and tested off-the-shelf solution capable of easy customisation to suit individual carriers. This has significantly reduced the cost of implementing intelligent IT within a shipping company and given the small and medium-sized players the same advantages as the bigger operators.

It is important to continue the search for economies, particularly in today’s climate of austerity, and we are fortunate that cutting-edge technology is available to facilitate this.

Lars Fischer is Managing Director of Softship Data Processing Ltd, Singapore, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Softship AG, the leading provider of software solutions to the international liner shipping sector.


Military Helicopter Crashes Into Vessel

By MarEx 2015-08-12 10:36:52

The U.S. Army H-60 helicopter crashed into USNS Red Cloud off Okinawa Island during a training session. Seven people were injured but all 17 crew members were rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard. The injured were transported to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Foster.

The crash occurred as the helicopter attempted a hard deck landing on the Red Cloud, but Japanese officials are still investigating what caused the collision. Japanese patrol boats and helicopters were dispatched for the rescue.

The helicopter’s rear rotor was severed and currently on the deck of the USNS Red Cloud. The Japanese Coast Guard confirmed that no oil leaked into the ocean due to the collision.

Okinawa is 900 miles southwest of Tokyo and home to several U.S. military bases and 27,000 personnel.

The USNS Red Cloud is a 1999-build and is one 19 U.S. military Sealift Command medium-speed RoRo vessels.


Rickmers Group expands earnings base

Rickmers Group today (12 August) reported improved turnover and underlying earnings for the first half of the year.
The German shipowner and operator’s revenues, mainly from charter and ship management income, rose by 6.6% year on year to EUR289.6 million (USD319 million), while its operating