Who Watches Out for the Seafarers and Their Families?

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-22 23:27:49

Maritime writer John Guy recalls the time when he was second mate on a small general cargo ship. He’d been at sea for five years when he learnt the seafarers’ lesson: “No one gets the better of the sea.”

He was on deck securing a cargo of bulldozers when the ship suddenly plunged downwards, dropping like a lift into the trough in front of a huge wall of dark water. “Before I’d realized what was happening, the bow dug in with a solid crash and the wave toppled over onto the ship, burying the foredeck completely.

“I didn’t have time to grab anything before the crest of the wave plucked me off the hatch. The sea was roaring down the deck, covering the hatches, bulldozers and mast houses completely. The huge force of the water tumbled me over and over down the deck. I felt myself smashed against the ship’s side rail and just managed to grab and hold on as the wave threw me overboard. I couldn’t think or breathe; I didn’t feel any pain. I was just holding on for all I was worth.”

John Guy was lucky to survive his encounter with the sea, an example of just one of the dangers that seafarers routinely face.

Another is the threat of piracy.

Chirag Bahri, Regional Director for South Asia of the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme, was recently awarded at IMO for his role in caring for less fortunate seafarers, those taken by pirates. Among his achievements, Bahri was instrumental in the adoption of the Maritime Labour Convention in 2006, but he received the IMO award for his work in supporting seafarers in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka who were survivors of piracy.

Bahri was instrumental in providing support to the crew, and their families, of merchant vessel MT Asphalt Venture following their release last year after more than four years in captivity.

He also personally oversaw the rehabilitation of crews of the Albedo, Iceberg 1 and Royal Grace in South Asia. In these cases, Bahri provided assistance to the seafarer’s families during the time their loved ones were held captive.

Bahri is a survivor of piracy himself. Unlike the 26 high-risk hostages from the Naham 3 who remain missing and in pirate captivity in Somalia today, more than three years after the initial hijacking of their ship, Bahri is fortunate enough to now be free.

Oceans Beyond Piracy’s latest report cites a chronic under-reporting of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. “We have observed that up to 70 percent of piracy-related incidents in the Gulf of Guinea are never reported,” says Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the International Maritime Bureau. This makes it difficult to assess the extent of the threats seafarers face in this region, he says.

Despite this, there is a perceived reduction in the threat of piracy which has resulted in more foreign fishing vessels returning to areas close to the coast of Somalia. Alan Cole, Head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Global Maritime Crime Programme, notes, “These provocations are similar to those that triggered piracy off the coast of Somalia in the first place. We are already seeing an upturn in regional piracy incidents since the beginning of the year.”

A new threat to seafarers is emerging, and, like piracy, it is a human threat rather than a threat associated with the elements of nature. It is that of taking criminals or militants on board as seafarers work to rescue migrants from unseaworthy, overcrowded vessels in the Mediterranean and in Asia.

To assist owners, seafarers and private maritime security companies dealing with this situation, Human Rights at Sea, a U.K. charity, has recently released the first international guidance titled “Deprivation of Liberty at Sea,” which gives details of how to safely and legally handle suspected criminals during a transit, as well as defining the roles and responsibilities of all involved in an incident of deprivation of liberty.

Human Rights at Sea also has an on-going and well-supported international initiative to record cases of seafarers and fishermen missing at sea. Before the establishment of the Missing Seafarers Reporting Programme, there was no international platform or statistics kept on the number of people missing from the ranks of the 1.5 million registered seafarers worldwide.

The charity has conceived and delivered an online database with industry and private funding that aims to fill that gap. It is available to families, flag and port authorities, shipowners and managers, and Human Rights at Sea will support and, where able, undertake investigations into specific cases of abuse, injury and death at sea.

John Guy was lucky, unlike the third officer of Cassiopeia Star, Bondar Oleksandr, who disappeared while his vessel was underway from Spain to Constantza, Romania. The missing seafarers’ register has records for Oleksandr and another 60 missing seafarers and fishermen. This is just the beginning of understanding the extent of the problem, says David Hammond, CEO and Founder of Human Rights at Sea.

A recently publicized case demonstrates the ongoing nature of seafarers going missing at sea. Three crew members died or disappeared over a six-week period from the Sage Sagittarius in 2012. Cesar Llanto, 42, disappeared overboard as the vessel approached Australian waters. Chief Engineer Hector Collado, 57, died as a result of an 11-meter (36-foot) fall on board the bulk carrier, and Japanese superintendent Kosaku Monji was crushed to death on a conveyor belt.

The case of Monji is now closed with no clear resolution achieved over the suspicious nature of his death. Australia is currently holding an inquest into the other two deaths, but so far the causes remain mysterious and suspicious.

Hammond believes that seafarers’ basic human rights remain vulnerable, that there is a lack of education across the maritime environment, and that more focus must be placed on shipping companies’ corporate social responsibility towards the individual. He cites a Crewtoo survey published in March that asked the question: “Do people care about seafarers human rights?” 65 percent responded “No.”

The ongoing Nautilus survey asks, “Do you think the International Maritime Organisation is failing to regulate shipping properly?” and has already recorded over 80 percent agreement. The separate Human Rights at Sea survey, which asks, “Are the human rights of seafarers and fishermen properly understood and well protected?” has recorded over 80 percent of respondents stating “No.” This says much about how seafarers view the support shown by employers and representative bodies alike, says Hammond.

“More worrying is the trend by some shipping bodies and individuals in perpetuating the common myth that the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 is a human rights convention that provides all the protections required for seafarers’ human rights. This provides a false sense of security to seafarers covered by the Convention and highlights at best a misinterpretation by professional bodies and individuals in positions of influence,” said Hammond earlier this year.

As well as renewed action relating to the human element at IMO, Hammond believes a new strategic approach to corporate inclusion of maritime human rights in daily business is urgently required. As the industry celebrates the Day of the Seafarer on June 25, Human Rights at Sea, a supporter of the event, believes that even more needs to be done to protect the seafarers and fishermen whose work takes them into the face of danger every day. – MarEx

Read John Guy’s story (Part 1 and Part 2).

Read more about Chirag Bhari here.

Read more about deprivation of liberty here.

Read more about the Sage Sagittariushere.

See the Missing Seafarers Reporting Programme here.

The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.

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SOLAS Amendments Agreed for Onboard Lifting

By MarEx 2015-06-22 23:04:12

After more than eight years work, IMO member states have agreed there is a need for an amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention covering onboard lifting appliances – cranes, loose gear and winches.

This month’s meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee saw a majority of member states in favor of amending the SOLAS convention to include requirements for lifting equipment, a proposal led by Maritime New Zealand delegates.

A SOLAS regulation will be developed around the design, construction and installation of onboard lifting appliances. In addition, these types of equipment will be maintained in accordance with guidelines that will also be developed to cover design, fabrication and construction; onboard procedures for routine inspection, maintenance and operation of lifting appliances and winches; and familiarization of ship’s crew and shore-based personnel.

Maritime New Zealand staff have been striving since 2007 to get this work started after recording 334 incidents at New Zealand ports on foreign-flagged vessels between 2000 and 2007, of which 64 involved ships’ lifting appliances. Eighteen of these incidents involved serious injury.

Concerns about lifting gear on foreign-flagged vessels prompted a focused inspection campaign and the results were presented in 2007 to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee which instructed New Zealand to submit a request for a new work program item.

In 2011, New Zealand successfully co-sponsored a proposal to add a work program item to the IMO agenda to develop requirements for construction and installation of onboard lifting appliances. Successful lobbying of members states on the issue by Maritime NZ resulted in this month’s outcome.

“Failure of ship cargo handling appliances puts stevedores at risk, as well as the crew of foreign ships handling cargoes in NZ ports. New Zealand imports and exports are also at significant risk of damage due to lifting appliance failure, and this work will help reduce that risk. It is likely to take several years to finalise the changes to SOLAS but we have made a significant step in the right direction,” said Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch.

Since January 2013, seven incidents involving lifting equipment have occurred in New Zealand ports with one resulting in a significant injury to a ship’s crew member.

Offshore Crane Notation Introduced

Separately, classification society RINA has launched new standards for cranes which will be used for transhipment of bulk cargoes at sea and has completely revised and rebased its rules for offshore cranes used in offshore construction, service and demolition.

Under the new rules for lifting appliances, RINA has split the requirements for specific crane types (ship, offshore and transhipping) into free-standing sections to make the rules more user-friendly.

The new RINA rules for transhipment cranes provide for a specific notation, CARGO HANDLING, which takes into account both static and dynamic loads on transhipment cranes used on vessels transhipping bulk cargoes in open waters, and also details how these are related to structural requirements for the vessel and crane and to the operating envelope.

RINA’s revised rules for offshore cranes have been based on European Standard EN 13852, which takes a different and more modern approach to commonly used offshore crane standards. This allows for a more structured approach to offshore crane certification.

Dino Cervetto, Director of Technical Services, RINA Services, says, “There is a gap in the market for standards for transhipment cranes. RINA’s new rules contain an operational chart which will allow operators of floating transhipment terminals to widen the weather window in which they can work. It also takes into account the specific wave height and orientation of the terminal. Cranes certified under this new notation will be able to operate safely for longer and give more operational time to terminal operators without fear of breakdowns or overload conditions.

“RINA believes that there is a need in the offshore industry for a clear standard for floating cranes and cranes built onto OSVs which is based on European requirements.”

The first CARGO HANDLING notation has been assigned to the floating crane transhipment unit FC Asia Bella, built by China’s Chengxi Shipyard for the Indonesian owner Pt. Pelayaran Mitra Kaltim Samudera.

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Japan to fund Samoa port project

Japan will provide JPY3.477 billion (USD28.3 million) in grant-in-aid for a project to enhance the safety of Apia Port in the Pacific island country of Samoa.
The diplomatic notes concerning the provision of the aid were signed in Samoan capital Apia on 22 June by Japanese ambassador to Samoa
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Two-Stage Turbocharger Passes First Test

By MarEx 2015-06-22 19:18:42

MAN Diesel & Turbo’s two-stage turbocharging development project, Ecocharge, has passed a significant milestone on its way to a successful market introduction. The company reports that individual MAN TCR20 and MAN TCX17 units – combined as a single, two-stage turbocharging system – have run for the first time on an MAN 12V35/44 gas engine on a test bed at its Augsburg, Germany works.

The Ecocharge system has been developed for both gas- and HFO-burning engines.

Now that the TCX series has proven its strengths and functionality on the burner rig, the new Ecocharge system will run over the coming months on the engine to prove its strengths and functionality. The test is the first real opportunity to prove the thermodynamic calculations on an engine which is key to a successful field test.

MAN Diesel & Turbo sees great potential in two-stage turbocharged engines, which can be seen in the spate of recent orders for such solutions. The combination of a MAN TCR20 – for the low-pressure stage – and an MAN TCX17 – for the high-pressure stage – offers significant potential for today’s demand for more economical and environmentally-friendly engine operation. This is because two-stage turbocharging supplies engines with improved scavenging air pressures ranging from 5 to >10 bar as well as significantly improved turbocharging efficiencies.

The increase in turbocharging efficiencies, in comparison to single-stage turbochargers, is mainly related to the intercooler – positioned between the low-pressure-stage and high-pressure-stage turbochargers – that significantly reduces the energy required to compress the intake air to high pressure. The resulting, higher efficiencies have an instantaneous impact on the engine by advantageously increasing the air pressure over the cylinder during the scavenging process.

Additionally, greater turbocharging efficiency fosters the reduction of NOx emissions through the Miller cycle while the improved scavenging efficiencies provided by the Ecocharge system make the engine more fuel efficient.

The higher power-density generated by the Ecocharge technology presents the opportunity to choose between significantly boosting an engine’s power output or reducing engine size, all the while maintaining engine performance. The Ecocharge system’s increased efficiencies and higher cylinder rating facilitate the use of a smaller engine with the same power output of a larger unit using traditional, single-stage turbocharging.

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European Shippers Speak Out on Alliances

By MarEx 2015-06-22 19:01:25

The European Shippers’ Council released a white paper on container transport competition at the start of the global summit on maritime container transport competition in Brussels this week.

After Washington in 2013, this is the second meeting between authorities from the United States, Europe and China. Competition watchdogs are gathering to analyse recent global evolutions of the competition landscape of maritime transport of containers caused by strengthening of alliances.

Indeed, the evolution of the market towards a monopoly of four alliances with impressive market shares in certain trade lanes (for example, the G6 has over 45 percent market share on routes between North America and North Europe) and their global reach requires a review of the procedures and safeguards in place until then, says the European Shippers’ Council in a statement.

“Shippers can only welcome these improvements in competitiveness and service quality; however they stay alert on the potential risks of concentration such as reducing of number of direct calls, increasing of transit time or artificial capacity management.”

In order to safeguard from competition breach, European Shippers Council has attracted attention of regulators of maritime competition on the necessity to prior control and monitoring for cooperation between ship operators.

Shippers called on participants in the global summit to jointly define the concept of “relevant market” used in competition analysis so that market shares are calculated uniformly.

They also recommend the creation of a harmonized global file submitted by the ship operators to the competition authorities. It needs to include all the information needed to properly analyse the actual scope of cooperation as well as its governance structure and nautical resources used. These files must be filed for all technical and operational cooperation, whatever their sizes, and must be open to feedback from other market players.

The white paper is available here.

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New Trade Deal Will Challenge U.S. Ports

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-22 17:23:11

Currently 25 port complexes are responsible for moving 85 percent of the volume of international goods in the U.S.

The largest four port complexes (New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Houston) move a combined $1.1 trillion in international goods annually, about 37 percent of all U.S. exports and imports.

This intense concentration of international freight movement underscores the importance to the national economy of the largest U.S. ports, which rely on efficient, reliable freight infrastructure to forge key international and domestic connections.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed international regulatory and trade treaty currently being negotiated, is likely to increase the movement of goods at the few ports handling most of the country’s Asian trade.

Trade deals like TPP and other international freight developments like the Panama Canal expansion have the potential to increase the flow of exports and imports across the U.S. However, tracking precisely where these flows would ultimately impact producers, consumers and distributors within the U.S. remains an open question.

“Given the TPP’s focus on Pacific trade, many West Coast port complexes that already handle large amounts of Asian imports and exports, such as Los Angeles, would likely be at the center of these exchanges,” says Joseph Kane, Brookings senior research assistant and co-author of the report, “Metro Modes: Charting a Path for the U.S. Freight Transportation Network.”

Trade Networks Impacted

Kane emphasizes that increased exports and imports stretch far beyond the ports themselves. The economic effects are likely to ripple throughout the domestic freight network, ranging from large metropolitan markets like New York and Chicago to smaller areas in Connecticut, Missouri and beyond.

Seaports, airports and land border crossings in markets like Los Angeles, Miami and Detroit, respectively, tend to handle most international goods ranging from machinery and electronics to transportation equipment. “However, only four percent of these goods ultimately start or end in these local markets. The vast majority of international goods flow to and from other parts of the U.S. once they cross over the border,” says Kane.

“In fact, the average international good travels over 1,000 miles within the U.S. to get from a port to its market, underscoring how international trade relies on an efficient, reliable and integrated domestic freight network. From the perspective of ports, these flows create an enormous logistical burden for serving hundreds of different areas across the U.S. in addition to numerous global regions. Prioritizing federal, state and local freight investments at these major ports, in turn, is crucial to the country’s economy.”

Since the nation’s busiest ports tend to operate in the largest metropolitan areas, overcoming congested roads is a key step for freight policies and investments. The sheer geographic extent of markets like New York, Los Angeles and Miami often forces port-related traffic to move through neighborhoods filled with bustling local economic activity. Historically, many of these ports also developed near the economic cores of cities, so today’s port congestion is the inevitable result.

While a variety of transportation modes help stitch these regions together, including airports, railroads and waterways, trucks serve as a backbone for the nation’s entire freight network, moving more than two-thirds of the volume of all U.S. goods annually.

At the center of these movements are the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, which account for 60 percent ($8.1 trillion) of all goods that travel by truck. In particular, metropolitan areas that adjoin each other and have similar economic specialties can depend on trucks for 90 percent or more of their freight activity, as is evident in places like Kansas City and St. Louis or Baltimore and Washington, D.C., says Kane.

“Throughout the country, regions depend on an efficient, well-integrated infrastructure network to exchange goods with other markets. Freight policies must begin to recognize how certain places and infrastructure assets are central to this network, whether it is trucks moving electronics, pipelines moving energy or air modes carrying high-value precision instruments,” he says.

Improving Reliability Is Essential

“Improving the reliability of domestic port connectors in places like Seattle and Philadelphia is essential,” says Kane. “Likewise, investing in major land border crossings, such as Detroit’s New International Trade Crossing, can help relieve congestion in busy freight corridors linking Canada to U.S. metro areas.”

“Now’s the time for federal leaders to work with state and local officials to boost investment inside and outside major ports,” says Adie Tomer, Brookings associate fellow and coauthor with Kane of a second report, “The Great Port Mismatch: U.S. Goods Trade and International Transportation.” “Public policies must recognize the hierarchy and mechanics of international trade flows. That will require a policy framework that prioritizes specific places to boost trade for the entire county.”

The two reports are part of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase. More information is available here. – MarEx

The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.

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U.S. Crude Production Reduces Gulf Coast Imports

By MarEx 2015-06-22 15:26:45

In recent years, higher domestic production of light, tight crude oil has led to a reduction in crude oil imports. Certain types of crude oil have been affected more than others; for example, the increased economic availability of domestic light, tight crude oil has virtually eliminated Gulf Coast imports of light crude oil. In the past year, Gulf Coast imports of medium crude oil have also fallen because of increased production from the Eagle Ford, Bakken, and Permian regions.

One of the key characteristics of crude oil is its density, measured by API gravity as established by the American Petroleum Institute. Less-dense liquids have higher API gravities. Crude oils with API gravities of 35 or above are considered light; 27 to 34 are medium; less than 27 are heavy.

From the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, medium-grade crude oil imports to Gulf Coast refineries decreased 45%, from 1.5 million barrels per day (b/d) to 0.8 million b/d. On the other hand, over that same period there was a 0.4 million b/d (22%) increase in imports to Gulf Coast refineries of heavy crude oil. Improved refining margins from processing additional volumes of heavy crude have resulted in a 3% increase in gross atmospheric distillation unit (ADU) throughput in the Gulf Coast region over this period, from 8.0 million b/d to 8.2 million b/d.

Almost all medium-grade crude oil imports are from Middle Eastern countries. Gulf Coast imports of medium crude oil from Saudi Arabia decreased by 52% from the first quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015, from 0.9 million b/d to 0.4 million b/d. Similarly, Gulf Coast imports of medium crude oil from Kuwait decreased by 46% over this period, from 0.4 million b/d to 0.2 million b/d.

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U.S. Merchant Marine Academy 2015 Graduation

By MarEx 2015-06-22 14:47:22

The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) Class of 2015 Graduated at Kings Point, N.Y. on Saturday, June 20, 2015 and Maritime TV was there to webcast it live, thanks to the support of industry sponsors. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administrator, Paul N. ‘Chip’ Jaenichen, Sr., delivered the 79th Commencement address. This year, USMMA awarded degrees to 227 midshipmen. Click here to view the video.

Graduates represent nearly every state, as well as Malaysia, South Korea and the Republic of Panama. Approximately 2,500 guests attended the event, including family members of the graduating class, and distinguished visitors representing the federal government, flag and general officers from the U.S. Military, senior executives from the maritime industry, community leaders, alumni, faculty and staff.

Paul “Chip” Jaenichen was appointed by President Obama and sworn in as Maritime Administrator on July 25, 2014. Before his appointment, Administrator Jaenichen served as Acting Administrator beginning in June 2013. He joined the U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration in July 2012 when he was appointed Deputy Maritime Administrator.

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5 Pirates Involved in Tanker Hijacking Still at Large

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-22 13:37:04

Five pirates involved in the hijacking of the Orkim Harmony are still at large, according to the latest reports from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

The 7,301 dwt Orkim Harmony and her crew were seized by pirates on June 11 and held for one week. The stolen vessel was located last Thursday and eight Indonesian pirates were apprehended the next day by the Vietnam Coast Guard. The group was reportedly trying to escape from navy ships and aircraft in the Orkim Harmony’s life boat.

However, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) deputy director-general Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar told a press conference June 22, that there were a total of 13 attackers involved in the hijacking.

The five pirates still at large are believed to have been separated from the group apprehended last week. They were responsible for manning a tugboat, which was first used to approach the Orkim Harmony. The tugboat was found abandoned in Batam, Indonesia over the weekend, however there were no signs of the pirates.

Ahmad Puzi said that all 13 assailants are believed to be professional maritime criminals based on advanced communication equipment as well as large amount of money found in their possession. Additionally, the pirates in custody have a high-degree of seafaring knowledge and criminal records for piracy.

Malaysia is in the process of extraditing the eight detained by Vietnamese authorities. The group is believed to be part of a larger piracy network, operating in Southeast Asia. The Malaysian government hopes the suspects will be able to give the whereabouts of the five pirates still at large as well as information about higher-ups in the suspected criminal organization.

The pirates reportedly attacked the Orkim Harmony with pistols and machetes. One crew member was shot through the thigh during the attack, but all others were uninjured.

Additionally, the tanker’s fuel cargo is believed to be the motivation for the attack. The Orkim Harmony was carrying 6,000 metric tons of RON 95 gasoline when it was seized, estimated to be worth $5.63 million.

According to anti-piracy watchdog ReCAAP,‘very significant’ incidents including fuel syphoning have been on the rise in Southeast Asia throughout 2015. This year has already seen more severe incidents of piracy than all of 2011-2014 combined for the same period.

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