Arrested tanker to be auctioned

Arrested Singapore-flagged tanker Sophie 9 will be auctioned on 28 October along with its cargo of 4,078 tonnes of marine fuel oil, according to Singapore’s Supreme Court records.
The 2011-built, 6,141 dwt vessel was arrested in June 2015 under the instruction of local law firm Rajah & Tann

MH370, Polar Code Spark SAR Rethink

By Wendy Laursen 2015-10-12 23:48:40

Silversea Cruises recently announced that it will convert its elite cruise ship Silver Cloud into an ice-class ship during an extensive refurbishment scheduled to start in August 2017. As an expedition ship, the Silver Cloud will then spend much of its time in Polar waters carrying a guest compliment of 200 people.

The move follows other cruise lines’ expansion in to the Arctic. In August next year, Crystal Serenity will sail from Alaska, through the Canadian Arctic to Greenland and then New York with 1,050 guests and 650 crew members on board.

More people are wishing to explore icy environments, says Peter Hellberg, manager responsible for the SAR process at the Swedish Maritime Administration. Hellberg is part of an IMO/International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) working group that is re-evaluating search and rescue (SAR) operations in Polar waters as a result of this push.

The working group includes both a maritime and aeronautical perspective, and it has identified a need for more detailed guidance for SAR organizations which will be achieved through an update of the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR) planned for 2019.

While the IAMSAR manual is not mandatory, it is followed by most SAR organizations around the world. It provides the framework for setting up a multi-national SAR, giving different parties guidance on the necessary arrangements for Arctic areas.

The guidance will be expanded on based on the Polar Code and other recent IMO regulatory updates, and from an aeronautical perspective, from lessons learned after the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines’ MH370.

This disaster led ICAO to propose a distress tracking concept which could apply to SAR air operations including the carriage of emergency locator transmitters, automatically deployable flight recorders and extended duration cockpit voice recordings.

“There is actually very little written in the IAMSAR manual about the operational procedures in areas remote from SAR activities,” said Hellberg. “The Arctic is a remote area, and there is a lack of SAR facilities, a lack of rescue units, so if cruise ships go into Polar areas, they are very much reliant on themselves if there is a problem. It’s going to take time to reach them if they are in distress. It could take a couple of days to move assets to the location, and there is not so much written about the procedures to be used in this type of SAR operation in the IAMSAR manual.”

Hellberg says that, from a SAR perspective, the most important thing about the Polar Code is that it creates a framework and highlights the challenges that a ship and its crew will face when traveling in areas remote from SAR facilities.

“The IAMSAR, in three different volumes, is the SAR operational link between the Polar Code and ship safety. It is designed to make sure that the global SAR service has the operational capability to conduct a SAR mission in areas remote from SAR facilities, to give a global guidance for this and also to set a global SAR standard on how to do it. The IAMSAR manual will also assist and guide developing countries around our globe to set up a SAR service in areas remote from SAR facilities. The IAMSAR manual also shares SAR experience between countries which is important for the development of the global SAR service and the further development of IAMSAR manual.”

Meanwhile, there is some work to follow up the Polar Code itself. IMO is working on the development of guidance on a methodology for determining limitations for operation in ice. An MSC correspondence group, under the coordination of Norway, is examining the Polar Operational Limit Assessment Risk Indexing System (POLARIS) developed by IACS which has been endorsed as one acceptable system for meeting the guidance. The correspondence group will report on the matter to MSC 96 in May 2016.

Also, there are additional performance standards that are yet to be included in chapters 8 (Fire safety/protection) and 9 (Life-saving appliances and arrangements) of the Polar Code. The Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) has been instructed to consider the issues and advise MSC 97 on the best way to proceed.


Beijing Forest Police Smash Wildlife Trafficking Ring

By MarEx 2015-10-12 21:15:03

China’s Beijing Forest Police have arrested 16 suspects in a major wildlife trafficking case code-named “May 21”, which led to the confiscation of wildlife products including 804.4 kg ivory, 11.3 kg rhino horn and 35 bear paws.

Beijing Forest Police told a press conference the seizure was the biggest ever in terms of the scale of the smuggling operations behind it. Police said the total value of the haul was in the region of RMB24 million (almost $4 million).

The criminal gang behind the trafficking were said to possess their own processing factory, warehouses and vehicles for transportation. The three month operation uncovered a trafficking ring that led from Japan through Hong Kong to mainland China, where the gang was said to operate across a network that ranged from Guangdong to Shandong and Beijing, using antique shops as cover for their operations and using online illegal trading and couriers for their distribution. Some of the goods were transported by sea to their destination.

The Beijing Forest Police announcement came just days after China and the United States made a joint political commitment “to take significant and timely steps to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory” during the recent visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the US. In July, the United Nations passed a General Assembly Resolution on Tackling the Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife.

“The Beijing Forest Police operation is a clear demonstration of the Chinese Government’s commitment to crack down on illegal wildlife trade and support international efforts to protect endangered species. As a Chinese proverb aptly says: Action is far more powerful than words,” said Zhou Fei, Head of environmental organization TRAFFIC’s China Programme.

It is possible all the wildlife products in the case originated in Japan, where the popularity of legally owned items such as ivory and rhino horns from the 1980s and earlier has plummeted and people have been selling family heirlooms and other goods into the marketplace.

Information from the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) database, which TRAFFIC manages on behalf of Parties to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) indicates that ivory trade between Japan and China was first recorded in 2005 but really began developing from 2009. Through 2014, some 56 seizure cases have involved nearly a ton of ivory, and rhino horn and a bear skin have been seized on at least two occasions.

According to information released at the press conference, since 2013, Beijing Forest Police has cracked 222 cases involving illegal wildlife trade and arrested 108 suspects. 1321 wildlife products worth around USD7 million, including 1527 kg of ivory have been confiscated.

Beijing Forest Police have reminded members of the public not to consume illegal and endangered wildlife products and to report any suspicious activity to the police or forest police. They also confirmed their commitment to monitoring online and physical markets for illegal wildlife sales and to preventing poaching and illegal exploitation of wildlife.