New MOL president calls for innovation

In his inauguration message on 23 June, Mitsui OSK Lines’ (MOL’s) new president Junichiro Ikeda said that the company must continue to innovate in the face of an ever-changing shipping industry.
Ikeda noted that financial year (FY) 2015 is the second year of “STEER FOR 2020”, MOL’s mid-term

Better Crane Safety Needed After Crushing Accident

By MarEx 2015-06-23 20:43:26

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released its investigation report into the serious injury to crew on board Happy Buccaneer citing the need for safer lifting operations.

The accident occurred at Port Hedland, Western Australia, on February 23, 2015. A technician and the bosun had worked together to remove a sling hook from lowest of a pack of four load spreaders. Each load spreader was 4m long by 1.2m wide and weighed 2.4 tons. The pack of four had not been secured into a single unit prior to being lifted.

After removing the hook, and as the two men walked alongside the stacked load spreaders, the bosun signalled to the crane operator to raise the crane’s hook. As the hook was raised a hammerlock (joining link) on the chain sling most likely caught the lip of the topmost load spreader, tipping it off the pack and onto the two men.

The technician’s right leg was pinned under the load spreader, and he had fractured both legs. The bosun was not trapped but suffered fractures to his lower left leg. Both men required extensive surgery and the technician also had his right leg amputated below the knee.

The ATSB identified some simple safety precautions that must apply to crane operations:

• Lifting and handling procedures and practices should use a risk assessment to anticipate the hazards and to minimize the associated risks.

• Crane operators, banksmen (dogmen) and assisting crew should be aware of each other’s location and the movement of suspended loads.

• Rigging gear needs to be guided until it is free of obstacles and equipment.

• Multiple loose items need to be combined and secured to form a single unit prior to lifting.

• Clear communications by hand, radio or other methods must be practiced and emphasized during lifting operations.

Spliethoff’s Bevrachtingskantoor, Happy Buccaneer’s managers, advised that additional (simulator) training and instruction will be given to crane operators.

The report is available here.


Dramatic Rescue from Flaming Yacht

By MarEx 2015-06-23 20:17:06

Two New Zealand sailors and their Mexican skipper have been rescued from a liferaft 280km south of the tiny Pacific Ocean coral island Niue after their yacht caught fire just after midnight last night.

The 15m United States registered yacht SV Sunny Deck was travelling from Rarotonga to Tonga when a fire in the engine compartment engulfed the vessel.

The 36-year-old skipper was on watch, and the two other sailors – both from Hamilton, aged 67 and 70 – were asleep at the time. The crew had no time to dress or grab any equipment before abandoning the vessel to a liferaft but the skipper managed to reach the EPIRB – fire had already melted the lanyard attaching it to the vessel.

As the EPIRB was German registered the alert was received by the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre in Bremen, which contacted the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) with the owner’s details.

RCCNZ identified ships nearby and the Liberian-flagged container ship Cap Capricorn was the closest at just over 38km away and was requested to divert and provide assistance.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Dave Wilson said the ship arrived just after 3am.

“When they arrived on scene they saw the glow from the burning yacht and blasted their whistle to attract the attention of any survivors. After around 30 minutes of searching they saw a distress flare fired in response. The liferaft was located and the ship maneuvered alongside. The three sailors were able to board the ship via the pilot ladder. First aid was provided on board but we understand there are no serious injuries.”

Wilson said conditions in the area were not easy, with waves around 3.5m high and winds of 45km/h. The yacht’s crew were safely on board the Cap Capricorn by around 5.15am.

“It was an excellent piece of seamanship to bring a 228m ship alongside a liferaft in these condition. We’d like to express our appreciation to the master and the crew of the MV Cap Capricorn for their efforts,” he said.

“The crew of the yacht were also well prepared – they had a registered EPIRB, which enabled them to be identified quickly, their liferaft was in good condition, and they had a distress flare to respond when the ship arrived. In the circumstances it was an excellent result.”

MV Cap Capricorn is en route to Auckland and is due to arrive on June 27.


Recordings Missing from Sage Sagittarius

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-23 19:09:41

Australia’s inquest into the mysterious deaths on Sage Sagittarius, nicknamed the “death ship,” has heard that the ship manager could not find important audio and video data from the vessel.

The inquest is examining the death of Cesar Llanto, 42, one of three men from the Sage Sagittarius to die in a six weeks between August and October 2012. Llanto disappeared overboard as the vessel approached Australian waters northeast of Cairns.

The scope of the inquest also includes the death of chief engineer Hector Collado, 57, who died as a result of an 11-meter (36 foot) fall on board the bulk carrier. The third death, that of Japanese superintendent Kosaku Monji, who was crushed to death on a conveyor belt, is beyond the scope of the enquiry as it occurred when the ship was docked in Japan.

The court heard that Hachiuma Steamship Company had VDR recordings of the day Cesar Llanto, the chief cook, disappeared from the ship on August 30, reports The Daily Telegraph, but, appearing at the inquest via video link from Japan, general manager Kazuhiro Hayashi could not say whether the important data had been stored on the days of the deaths.

Philip Strickland, counsel assisting the NSW Coroner, asked why critical footage was missing and was told by Hayashi that he tried to locate the footage before the hearing but “couldn’t find anything.”

Hayashi had been on the ship with Monji as part of a crisis management team conducting an internal investigation into the first two deaths that occurred on board.

Speaking through a translator, he conceded the company did not notify police in Japan or the local transport safety body about the unusual deaths at the time.

One of the crew members has also spoken out at the inquest saying he feared for his life after Llanto’s disappearance. The man, who cannot be named, told the inquest he believed Llanto’s death was neither an accident nor a suicide.

“I don’t believe he accidentally fell overboard,” he told Glebe Coroner’s Court, reports The Guardian.

The crew member spoke of an argument between the ship’s master Venancio Salas and Llanto a week prior to the cook’s disappearance. The argument was over the captain’s order to give the crew less food, a practice he believed enabled the captain to personally take the money saved.

The inquest has previously heard that Salas was selling guns to the crew and had bullyied a kitchen hand.

Australian Customs and Border Protection officials raided the Sage Sagittarius 13 times in the three years before the deaths occurred. News agency Four Corners has also established that four of the Sage Sagittarius‘ crew, including Salas, had been flagged on a border protection database.

The inquest continues.


Branson Chooses Miami and Fincantieri

By MarEx 2015-06-23 18:16:28

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has announced that Virgin Cruises has selected PortMiami as the home port for its first cruise ship that will set sail in 2020. He also revealed Virgin Cruises has signed a binding Letter of Intent (LOI) with Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri for three new mid-size ships.

Emerging through a cloud of iconic Virgin red smoke, Richard flew across Miami’s Biscayne Bay via helicopter landing at Museum Park. Joined by Virgin Cruises’ President and CEO Tom McAlpin, the two raised a Virgin Cruises flag to mark the cruise line’s official arrival in Miami.

“This is a very exciting day for Virgin and travelers around the globe,” said Branson. “We now have the right partners in place to build a world-class cruise line that will redefine the cruising experience for good. The Virgin Cruises approach will appeal to cruisers and non-cruisers alike, and we look forward to being in Miami and delivering an experience for people who want a new way to cruise.”

Virgin Cruises’ three new mid-size ships, of about 110,000 gross tons each, are slated for delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each ship will feature 1,430 guest cabins to host more than 2,800 guests. There also will be 1,150 crew on board. Embarking from PortMiami, Virgin Cruises plans to offer a range of seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with a Sunday sail date.

Virgin Cruises’ binding LOI with Fincantieri is the first part of a two-step process with both companies committed to signing a contract in Q4 of 2015. The PortMiami agreement will be presented to the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners for their consideration and approval on June 30, 2015.

“Virgin is a customer built brand that listens carefully to what customers want and then works hard to deliver for them. We are committed to making waves in the cruise industry, and partnering with Fincantieri and PortMiami sets Virgin Cruises up to do just that,” said McAlpin.

“Today’s announcement brings together important ingredients in our future success — Miami’s vibrant culture paired with the excellent Port infrastructure and Port team; and Fincantieri’s expertise in prototyping, their creativity and understanding of our vision.”

Virgin Group announced the formation of Virgin Cruises in a venture with Bain Capital, one of the world’s leading private investment firms, in December 2014. Ryan Cotton, a Managing Director of Bain Capital, and Virgin Cruises board member said: “As lead shareholder, Bain Capital is excited to contribute our deep experience in building and growing great consumer brand companies. We believe there is a large, underserved market and strong growth prospects for a cruise line that delivers a superior experience for young-at-heart customers.”

Virgin expects the experts at Fincantieri to bring these ideas to life. Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated: “I am honored our company is the selected partner for Virgin Cruises for such an important development in the cruise industry. I’m convinced this choice will contribute to the expansion of the cruising audience, especially considering the market segment still has wide growth margins.”

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez said, “With the largest cruise port in the world, Miami is an exciting city that offers companies and brands an excellent environment for business. We are delighted to be selected by Virgin Cruises as their home port and I can’t wait to see their beautiful ships become part of Miami’s spectacular skyline.”


Commercial Ship Rescues Over 200 Migrants

By Reuters 2015-06-23 14:38:01

A refined product tanker owned by Danish shipping company Torm rescued more than 200 migrants off the coast of Libya on Sunday and took them to Italy at the request of the Italian coastguard, the company said.

The tanker picked up 222 migrants from two distressed boats off Zawiya, a coastal region west of Tripoli, and deposited them at Port Reggio Calabria, on the southern tip of mainland Italy, on Monday, the company said.

Migrant rescues by commercial vessels are increasingly common in Mediterranean waters as more and more people leaving the Middle East and Africa try to cross the Mediterranean to Europe this year, often on unsafe vessels.

Just under 2,000 migrants have died trying to make the crossing in boats so far this year, compared to about 425 in the same period a year ago.

Denmark’s Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company, said on Tuesday it had conducted six rescues so far this year in the Mediterranean involving over 2,200 refugees. A fellow A.P. Moller-Maersk unit, Maersk Tankers, said it had rescued another 750 people so far this year.

European Union leaders agreed in April to boost naval search mission in the Mediterranean after a boat sank, killing as many as 900 migrants off the coast of Libya.


Ship Officer Shortage Receding

By MarEx 2015-06-23 14:25:39

Shipping will require an additional 42,500 officers by the end of 2019 to cope with the expected growth in the main cargo carrying fleet, equivalent to 7% growth over the five year period. But the persistent shortage of officer crew is receding, according to the latest Manning report published by global shipping consultancy Drewry.

Current officer supply is in the order of 615,000 and there is a nominal shortfall of approximately 15,000 officers, which is expected to remain the case until 2019. In the main the shortfall is made up by officers working longer shift patterns.

“There is still a shortage of officers but the gap between demand and supply has narrowed as the recent growth in fleet size is coming to an end”, comments Malcolm Jupe, Lead Analyst at Drewry.

Although ratings remuneration packages tend to follow the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) standard terms, officer earnings are more market driven; North West Europe is however the principle exception to the rule. In the current market, most ship owners cannot afford significant increases in wage rises and any increases which have been seen between 2014 and 2015 have been modest in nature.

It is also the case that ships are getting bigger and larger ships provide more shipping capacity for the same number of vessels. This is also helping to ease some of the pressure on manning.

“Manning is normally the single largest cost head in ship operations. Keeping these costs under control remains very important to all ship owners, especially when trading conditions are weak, as is the case in some of the key shipping freight markets – such as dry bulk carriers”, concludes Jupe.