Private Deals Could Boost Mass Rescue Success

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-21 19:17:54

An agreement between passenger ship operators to provide search and rescue services for each other could help save lives during mass rescue operations.

The idea of a formal agreement between operators was proposed by Captain Samir Mahdaly, lecturer at the Arab Academy of Scientce, Technology and Maritime Transport, during the 2015 World Maritime Rescue Congress convened by the International Maritime Rescue Federation.

Mahdaly studied a range of rescue operations to demonstrate how commercial and civilian vessels have contributed to rescue operations. In particular, he cites the ferry Bella that caught fire in 2011. All passengers and crew were rescued even though fire-fighting efforts failed and the vessel subsequently sank.

The ferry was carrying 1,230 passengers and 65 crew on a voyage between Jordan and Egypt. The ro-ro Ayla, with a capacity of 1,150, the fast ferry Queen Nefertiti, with a capacity of 750 passengers, the fast ferry Babylon, with a capacity of 350 passengers, and the fast ferry Princess, with a capacity of 600 passengers, came to assist.

Women, children, the elderly and those with special needs were disembarked to liferafts and the remainder climbed down rope ladders to the rescuing vessels that transferred them to the waiting passenger vessels. After the fire engulfed one side of the vessel, the remaining passengers were transferred to the other side of the vessel to continue the evacuation.

Ayla took around 800 passengers, Babylon took 100 and the remainder were divided between Princess and Nefertiti. The rescue was completed in 96 minutes.

Mahdaly says the success of the evacuation demonstrates the potential of his idea for a formal agreement between operators. This would reduce the demand for search and rescue services in areas where capabilities are low.

He says it would provide a sense of safety for crews and passengers and potentially reduce insurance costs. It would also encourage maritime tourism that would provide economic benefits for the economy of the countries involved.


U.N. Acts on High Seas Biodiversity Treaty

By MarEx 2015-06-20 22:36:38

The U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted a formal resolution to develop a legally-binding treaty for the conservation of marine biodiversity on the high seas.

The resolution identifies “the need for the comprehensive global regime to better address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).”

The treaty has been proposed to include conservation measures such as marine protected areas and reserves, environmental impact assessment (EIA) requirements, control of access to marine genetic resources and benefit sharing, capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.

The oceans contain a vast diversity of life forms, many of which are still being discovered. Some scientists estimate that over 100 million species inhabit the high seas.

This marine life is poorly understood, and scientific knowledge to guide management is very limited. There are many examples of severe, and potentially irreversible, damage to the biodiversity and environment of the high seas under present management and jurisdictional arrangements.

The World Ocean Council says that the U.N. resolution is the first global treaty process related to the ocean in over two decades and the only one targeted specifically on the protection and sustainable use of marine biodiversity.

The resolution follows the Rio+20 conference in 2012 where heads of state committed to address high seas protection.

A U.N. working group worked for two years to take a decision on whether or not to open up a new negotiating conference for a this new treaty.

The resolution allows for a two-year preparatory process to develop the treaty elements, from 2016-2017, with a decision whether to convene a formal treaty negotiating conference in 2018.


China Fines 21 Companies for Anti-Competition Breaches

By Wendy Laursen 2015-06-20 22:24:04

China’s Ministry of Transport has fined 21 companies, including such big names as CSCL and Evergreen, for unfair competition practices.

Fines totaling nearly $700,000 have been levelled for offering rates below current market prices in order to attract customers on the Sino-Japan trade.

The violations occurred during the second half of 2014, and the ministry urged the shipping companies to operate fairly to maintain sustainable growth for the industry.

The companies fined include China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL), Evergreen Line, Wan Hai Lines, Sinotrans Container Lines, Yang Ming Marine Transport, Cheng Lie Navigation, Shanghai Haihua Shipping and MCC Transport, reports Seatrade Maritime.

Last year an investigation was launched by the ministry after Chinese shipowners trading on the route complained to the Shanghai Shipping Exchange about the C3 alliance. C3 was formed by COSCO, China Shipping and Sinotrans in May.

The case has been seen by some as a test of whether China will treat its own carriers the same as it did the attempted P3 Network. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce rejected the planned P3 alliance between Maersk Line, CMA CGM and MSC last year.


Powerful Brazilian CEO Arrested in Petrobras Probe

By Reuters 2015-06-19 16:13:19

Brazilian police on Friday arrested Marcelo Odebrecht, the head of Latin America’s largest engineering and construction company Odebrecht SA, and accused his family-run conglomerate of spearheading a $2.1 billion bribery scheme at state-run oil firm Petrobras.

In pre-dawn raids that netted 12 arrests in four states, police also apprehended Otavio Marques Azevedo, CEO of Andrade Gutierrez, the second-largest Brazilian builder.

Odebrecht, Azevedo and other top executives arrested in Sao Paulo were driven to the airport in a van to be flown to the southern city of Curitiba, where Brazil’s largest-ever corruption scandal is being investigated.

A lead prosecutor, Carlos Fernando dos Santos Limas, said he had “no doubt” Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez led what he called a “cartel” that overcharged Petrobras for work and passed on the excess funds to executives and politicians.

The arrest of 46-year-old Odebrecht, who has personal ties to former President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, could bring the scandal closer to the political heart of the ruling Worker’s Party.

“There is a larger connection between Lula and Odebrecht and we see (Odebrecht’s) possible indictment as a big risk,” said Cameron Combs, Latin America researcher with Eurasia Group.

President Dilma Rousseff, who was the head of Petrobras board during Lula’s presidency, has denied knowledge of corruption and urged a thorough investigation. Neither she nor Lula have been implicated.

Last month federal prosecutors opened a separate investigation into whether Lula improperly used his connections to benefit Odebrecht, saying he had frequently traveled abroad at Odebrecht’s expense since 2011.

Lula’s institute, the Instituto Lula, denied wrongdoing at the time and declined to comment on Friday.

Odebrecht is the third generation leader of the privately held company and has been instrumental in the company’s expansion throughout Latin America, in Africa and the United States.

A lawyer for Marcelo Odebrecht did not return calls seeking comment. It is not known if Odebrecht or Azevedo will seek plea deals with prosecutors, as 17 other suspects have done.

Odebrecht SA said in a statement that the arrests were “unnecessary” because it was collaborating with investigators.

Odebrecht bond prices fell on Friday. Shares of Braskem SA, a petrochemical producer Odebrecht controls, were the worst performer on Brazil’s Bovespa index as they slumped 10 percent.

Andrade Gutierrez said it was also cooperating with the investigation, but had no connection to the alleged corruption at Petrobras.


Neither Azevedo nor Odebrecht have been charged, and it was not clear how long they would be detained. Arrests of other top Brazilian executives resulted in months-long pre-trial incarceration in Curitiba.

The so-called Lava Jato probe, centered on Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the oil major is formally known, has led to the indictments of more than 100 people and implicated dozens of lawmakers, most of them from Rousseff’s Workers’ Party.

The treasurer of the Workers’ Party is currently in jail awaiting trial for corruption though the party denies campaign donations it received were bribes.

Eight engineering companies under investigation donated 64.6 million reais ($20 million) to Rousseff’s re-election campaign in 2014, almost double what her challenger Aecio Neves received from them, according to the electoral court. Andrade Gutierrez donated 21 million reais to Rousseff’s campaign.

Federal judge Sergio Moro said investigators had evidence Odebrecht paid bribes “in a more sophisticated way” than other contractors, using overseas accounts.

The scandal has blocked the construction firms, including Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez, from doing business with Petrobras and economists say the subsequent paralysis contributed to Brazil’s descent into recession.

Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer said there “must have been a reason” to arrest the executives but that it was important to distinguish between the executives and the companies, which are major employers in Brazil.

The arrests, although somewhat expected, raised hopes among Brazilians that the investigation would not spare the elite in a country where the wealthy have enjoyed relative impunity.

“The objective of the operation is to bring a clear message that the law applies to everyone, no matter the size of the company, its place in society or its economic power,” federal police agent Igor Romario de Paula said.


Mega Canal, Mega Mistake?

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-19 15:44:27

Nicaragua’s mega canal could become a mega mistake an international panel warns.

The group of experts, brought together by Florida International University, claim that $50 billion proposed canal could prove disastrous for Nicaragua if a proper evaluation of the canal’s impact is not undertaken.

A report released this week summarizes the comments and concerns raised the panel of experts who reviewed an early draft of the environmental impact study for the Nicaragua canal. The panelists reviewed ecological and hydrological assessments for project back in March. They found the evaluations were narrow in scope and did not take into account the full impact of the construction and operation of canal facilities.

“Because of the unprecedented magnitude of the project and the limited information available about some of the constructions plans, the effects of the proposed disturbances on the ecological processes, as well as the level and significance of many of these impacts cannot yet be fully analyzed,” the report says.

In particular the experts raise concern over the short time-table of the study. The study was conducted in 1.5 years, while similar smaller-scale projects typically look at large time periods to conduct their assessments. A proposed 1970s sea-level canal through Panama spent 10 years determining environmental feasibility before scrapping the project.

Similarly, the Three Gorge Dam project in China, which was smaller in scope than the Nicaraguan canal, went ahead based on an environmental study of roughly the same magnitude. The experts claim that the Three Gorge Dam project, has since become a prime example of the unanticipated environmental costs of megaprojects, from frequent landslides to water pollution and even increased seismic activity.

They go on to say that larger regional effects of habitat and species loss must be considered, instead of just the impact of the construction area. Additionally, the panelists raise serious concerns about the lack of data available regarding water quality and flow of the canal, which will pass through Lake Nicaragua, the world’s largest fresh water source.

The experts’ misgivings are based on a preliminary draft of the environmental impact study, however the completed study has not been released to the public. The final Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was delivered to HKND, the Chinese construction firm responsible for the project, as well as the Nicaraguan government May 31.

“Unfortunately, aside from a few optimistic reports in state-sponsored media claiming that the project is “viable,” the contents of the ESIA remain unknown to Nicaragua’s people and the international community,” the experts say in a written release.

They go on to add, “It’s time for the Nicaraguan government to make [the] assessment of the canal’s environmental and social costs available to the public. Holding it in secrecy not only undermines the power of the Nicaraguan citizenry to assess the project, it calls into question the legitimacy of the entire ESIA process.”

Costa Rican president Luis Guillermo expressed frustration early this month over a lack of information given to his government. Most notably the leader wanted to know about the possible effects of sedimentation in the San Juan River, which runs through both Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

The report of the panelist findings can be found here.


Cruise Ship Allides with Lock Wall, 30 Injured

By Kathryn Stone 2015-06-19 12:35:51

A small cruise ship allided with a lock wall in the St. Lawrence Seaway Thursday evening, injuring 30 people.

The Saint Laurent, a 286-foot cruise ship struck a wall in the Eisenhower Lock in Massena, New York. There were 274 people aboard the ship at the time of the incident. Rescue crews assisted in removing the twenty-seven injured passengers and three injured crew members. Two people are believed to have sustained serious injuries. All other passengers remained on the ship overnight.

At approximately 9:15pm the Saint Laurent hit an approach wall bumper as it entered the U.S.-operated Eisenhower Lock. The U.S. Coast Guard was notified of the incident at 9:45 pm and dispatched a response boat as well as a marine inspector to the scene.

Damage to Saint Laurent’s Bow Image Courtesy of Michael Folsom via Twitter @theshipwatcher.

The cruise ship sustained heavy damage to the bow area and began taking on water. A Coast Guard spokeswoman reported that crews quickly shut the lock doors and removed water to prevent the ship from sinking.

The Coast Guard has said that the ship will remain in the lock with both doors shut until it can be transported to another location. As of 9:30am Friday, The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation reports no traffic is being permitted through the Eisenhower locks. Seven commercial vessels have been delayed by the incident.

Saint Laurent in Einsenhower Locks Image Courtesy of SeawayNNY via Twitter @SeawayNNY.

The Saint Laurent is owned by International Shipping Partners and was on enroute to Toronto. The cause of the allision is still under investigation.

The ship is reported to be stable with no indications of pollution.


Seaway cruise accident injures 30

Emergency workers used ladders and cranes to evacuate 27 passengers and 3 crew injured when a cruise ship struck the side of a lock in the St Lawrence Seaway.
The accident occurred at 2130 h local time on 18 June as the Haimark Lines’ Saint Laurent attempted to enter the Eisenhower Lock near

P&I reserves go up

Two more P&I Clubs of the International Group have posted positive financial results for 2014/15, beefing up their free reserves.
Newcastle-headquartered North P&I – the International Group’s second-largest mutual, on a par with the UK P&I Club – reported a net surplus of USD25million which allowed

ECB audit may curb bank lending

European commercial loans to ship owners could be further reduced by a new regulatory audit, according to bankers speaking at the annual Marine Money Week conference in New York.
Most European shipping banks use their own internal models under the Basel II regulatory regime to rate the risk of