Coast Guard Suspending Search for Missing Crew

By MarEx 2015-10-07 12:01:53

The U.S. Coast Guard announced on Wednesday that it will end its search for the El Faro’s 32 missing crewmembers at sunset.

Thus far, USCG rescue teams have only recovered the body of one crewmember and scattered debris. On Tuesday, the USCG admitted that deep seas have complicated its efforts to retrieve the sunken vessel which was caught in Hurricane Joaquin’s path.

A U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) team arrived on Tuesday in Jacksonville, Florida, the port the El Faro departed from last week en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The ship disappeared in what maritime experts have called the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel in more than 30 years.

Before leaving Washington, NTSB member Bella Dinh-Zarr said the investigation would be difficult given that the ship sank in an unknown location, possibly in 15,000-feet (4,750-meter) deep waters. Its last known location was off Crooked Island in the Bahamas.

“It’s a big challenge when there’s such a large area of water and at such depth,” Dinh-Zarr said. “We hope for the best and that the ship will be recovered.”

The ship was crewed by 28 U.S. citizens, as well as five Polish nationals who were members of a so-called “riding gang” commonly hired to perform repairs and maintenance.

The 790-foot (240-meter) ship was loaded with containers and also with trailers and automobiles below deck, according to Coast Guard officials.

The El Faro issued a distress call about 36 hours into its journey, saying it had lost propulsion and was taking on water as it sailed into the path of Joaquin.

Tote told reporters in Jacksonville the vessel was undergoing engine room work before it sank. But company officials have said they do not believe the work was related to a propulsion problem reported by the captain before the El Faro sank.

“The contractors were on board doing some work in the engine room space, they were not performing any work on the engines,” said Philip Greene, who heads the ship management subsidiary Tote Services.

“They were doing preparatory work in order for the ship to be converted for service in the Alaska trade,” Greene said.

He acknowledged at a news conference that engine failure sealed the fate of El Faro, however, making it impossible to steer in the face of a brutal storm.

“I think what’s regrettable in this is the fact the vessel did become disabled in the path of the storm, and that is what lead to ultimately the tragedy, Greene said.


China Eyes Kenyan Ports

By MarEx 2015-10-07 11:51:55

China has an ambitious called the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which is driven to take a larger role in global affairs including increasing its export volumes. China has been focusing on Port of Mombasa and Port Lamu in Kenya to expand its vision Maritime Silk Road vision.

The Port of Mombasa is the busiest in East Africa and serves Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Port of Lamu, whose construction is underway, is part of the larger transportation corridor between Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda. When completed, the corridor will be named LAPSET and is expected to facilitate the transport of crude oil and other goods.

While China’s main initial is Asia, it believes LAPSET will eventually benefit about 63 countries duing the next 15 years.

China unveiled the “One Belt, One Road” initiative in 2013 and President Xi Jingping projected an investment of nearly $900 billion.

The project includes a network of railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids, Internet networks, maritime and other infrastructure links across Asia including trade with Greece, Russia and Oman, which will help increase China’s connections to Europe and Africa as well.

Earlier this year, President Jinping said he hoped China’s annual trade with the countries involved with the “One Belt, One Road” initiative to surpass more than $2.5 trillion during the next decade.

The Maritime Silk Road would mimic the voyages made by the ancient Chinese sailor Zheng He to Mombasa and Malindi.


India Modernizing Shipping Sector

By MarEx 2015-10-07 11:41:55

Despite its 4,300-mile coastline, India’s coastal shipping sector is considered to be still be its infancy. Inida is now investing in modernizing its major ports and its shipping ministry unveiled a five-year $10.7 billion plan as part of the nation’s Sagar Mala project.

The program intends to modernize ports to increase connectivity for industrial and coastal development. The plan will develop the country’s waterways and ports.

India’s ports have struggled to increase trade because of the lack of port and terminal facilities, which often increase vessels port time calls and forcing them to wait for docks. As a short-term solution, the government will expedited berthing procedures move ships through faster.

The average wait time for vessels calling Indian ports can be as long as four days compared to just an average of four hours in Singapore and other major ports in the world. India cannot accommodate large and mega-box ships either. And, in most cases, feeder ship services are required to move cargoes.

India wants to build its economy and intends to focus on expanding its transportation assets including roads, inland waterways and coastal routes.

Additionally, India’s Merchant Shipping Act requires Indian-flagged ships to be manned by Indian crews, and there is currently a shortage of trained personnel. In July, government announced plans to open a maritime training college in Bihar State.


MISC eyes secondhand tanker purchases

Malaysian carrier MISC, rejuvenated by improving tanker freight rates, could purchase secondhand oil tankers if these are backed by charter contracts.
The company’s new chief executive officer, Yee Yang Chien, made this revelation at a recent briefing for analysts.
CIMB Securities analyst Raymond