China Looks to Brazil for Increased Investment

By MarEx 2015-05-19 15:07:47

Brazil and China are engaging in talks this week to increase trade cooperation between the two nations and expand Brazil’s infrastructure network.

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held a joint press conference in which the countries announced over $53 billion in trade, finance and investment deals with China. The money will largely help Brazil upgrade its dilapidated infrastructure networks to facilitate increased commerce.

Chinese companies are increasingly looking abroad for new opportunities to invest as China’s economy slows. “China wants to get involved in Brazil’s large plans to build freight railroads, electricity and telecommunications networks,” wrote the Chinese premier, who arrived on Monday night before beginning his official round of meetings on Tuesday.

Rousseff, who has been forced to cut spending on public works to put government finances in order, is preparing a package of concessions to attract private investors to build or modernize Brazil’s railways, roads, ports and airports. It will be announced in early June.

The two countries also agreed to start feasibility studies on a railroad that will cross the Andes and link Brazil’s Atlantic coast to Pacific ports in Peru, allowing Brazilian exports to China to avoid the Panama Canal.

The news comes the same day that China Ocean Shipping Companies (COSCO) and Brazilian miner Vale completed a $445 million sale of four VLOCs and announced an agreement to sell an additional four other ore carriers to China Merchant Shipping Co.

The world’s largest mining company has been forced to raise cash in the midst of an iron ore price slump. The 400,000-dwt vessels are some of the largest ships ever built and were designed to help reduce the cost of shipping ore to China from Brazil, helping Vale better compete with Australian rivals who are closer to the largest market for the steelmaking ingredient.

Last year alone Chinese banks lent over $22 billion to Latin America up 71% from 2013. Additionally China’s President Xi Jinping has committed to investing over $250 billion into Latin America over the next decade. China is looking overwhelming to Latin American countries to provide iron ore, soybean and food product imports to the Chinese market.


‘Old Ironsides’ Arrives in Dry Dock

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-19 12:25:00

The world’s oldest commissioned warship still afloat has been moved to dry dock this week to begin a planned three year restoration project.

The USS Constitution was moved into Dry Dock 1 at the historic Charleston Navy Yard after two hours of flooding Sunday. On Monday evening, Navy divers declared the vessel safe to move and by around 11:30pm the ship was safely in dry dock. Water was then pumped out of the dry dock at a rate of about three feet an hour well into Tuesday morning. The movement of ‘Old Ironisides’ marks the beginning of a three year multi-million dollar restoration project that is aimed at preserving this important piece of maritime and U.S. history for future generations.

Commander Sean Kearns commented on the project by saying, “We’re now positioned to carry out the restoration work which will return Constitution to the water, preserving her for the next generation of Americans to enjoy and learn about our nation’s great naval heritage.”

The USS Constitution was first launched in 1797 and is one of the original six ships that George Washington ordered constructed to protect the fledgling country’s maritime interests. Constitution’s crowning achievement came, however, in the war of 1812 when the ship defeated four British frigates earning her the nickname “old ironsides” because cannonballs could not penetrate her thick hull. Since 1907 the ship has been on display for the public.

According to Naval History and Heritage Command Director Sam Cox, the USS Constitution still carries on an important mission by bringing awareness to the importance of maritime and naval history. “Her mission today is to preserve and promote U.S. Navy heritage by sharing the history of ‘Old Ironsides’ and the stories of the men and women who have faithfully served with distinction on the warship’s decks for 217 years. When a visitor sets foot on the deck of USS Constitution, he or she is making contact with the beginnings of the U.S. Navy, a navy that has kept the sea lanes free for more than 200 years. Keeping her ready to do so is incredibly important,” said Cox.

The Constitution was last dry docked in 1992 for a multi-year series of renovations made in preparation for the ship’s bi-centennial. The current renovation will consist of replacing planking in the lower hull, repairing the ship’s rigging and upper masts and replacing the copper sheathing on the vessel’s hull. For this last repair over 3,400 sheets of copper protecting the ship’s hull below the waterline will be replaced in order to keep worms and sea life from attaching to the vessel’s underside.

The work is extremely sensitive and requires extensive knowledge of 18 century shipbuilding techniques as well as specially crafted tools. It is being undertaken by the Naval History and Maintenance Department in Boston. Richard Moore Boston’s detachment director explained that the work onboard the Constitution required specialized talents. “We do work with modern tools but we still use some of the old methods; the hull planks are still pinned through the deck but we use hydraulics and pneumatics to pull them out.”

However, despite the difficult undertaking they have been tasked with Moore notes the enthusiasm and pride his team feels for the job. “They realize the undertaking they’re on. They’re all proud to work on this vessel, they take such great care and their workmanship is great. I’m very proud to work here and so are they.”

Restoration work on ‘Old Ironsides’ was originally slated to begin in late March, but was pushed back to May due to harsh winter weather conditions. The USS Constitution will reopen for tours beginning June 9 and visitors will have the opportunity see the active shipyard site and learn about the repair process from the ship’s crew.


Thailand canal deal with China denied

Thailand has denied reports that a deal has been signed with China to build a canal across the south of the country allowing ships to bypass the Malacca Straits.
“It’s nothing to do with the government,” Chula Sukmanop, Director-General of the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning told IHS Maritime on 19 May. “It

People Smugglers Dodge Kidnapping Charges

By Reuters 2015-05-19 10:24:27

Two smugglers arrested over the deaths of hundreds drowned in the Mediterranean’s most deadly shipwreck in decades will not be charged with kidnapping because assertions migrants had been locked below deck had proved wrong, an Italian prosecutor said on Tuesday.

The two face homicide charges over the sinking of the 20-meter fishing boat last month that killed some 800 migrants and raised international alarm about attempts by thousands to flee across the Mediterranean in often ramshackle boats from Libya.

In initial testimony, one survivor had told prosecutors the doors to the lower deck had been blocked; but Italian prosecutor Giovanni Salvi said further testimony and underwater video of the shipwreck showed that was not true.

“Many people were below deck, but they weren’t locked in,” Salvi told reporters at the Catania, Italy, courthouse.

Charges of kidnapping would therefore no longer be pressed against the captain, a Tunisian, and the Syrian crew member.

The Catania court on Monday confirmed the arrest of the two smugglers, who survivors said had been in charge of navigation, on charges of multiple homicide and people smuggling.

Prosecutors accuse the men of mishandling the boat and causing it to collide with a Portuguese merchant ship – the “King Jacob” – which was coming to its assistance.

As the passengers rushed away from the side of the boat that struck the merchant ship, the grossly overloaded vessel capsized and sank within minutes. Salvi said the King Jacob had been “cleared of any responsibility” for the disaster.

Video shot by an Italian navy submersible showed that many bodies remain inside the vessel, sources have told Reuters; but Salvi said on Tuesday he has no reason to request recovery of the vessel, which has been located in 375 meters (1,235 feet) of water some 135 km (85 miles) north of Libya.

Italy recovered the bodies of hundreds of migrants who drowned in October 2013 off the island of Lampedusa, but that was a much simpler operation because the shipwreck was in 30 meters of water and only 2 km from the coast.

Since the court will not order the recovery, it will be up to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to decide whether to undertake what would be an expensive and difficult operation. Earlier this month, Renzi said he would do all he could to recover the bodies.

Of the 24 bodies that have been recovered, only two have been identified, and the court has the probable names of two others. Twenty-eight, including the two alleged smugglers, survived.


Savannah scores record month

Box volumes in April at the Port of Savannah increased by 25.8% year on year to 335,337 teu: a new monthly record for America’s fourth-largest container port.
Savannah’s previous monthly record of 333,058 teu was recorded in March.
Georgia Port Authority (GPA) executive director Curtis Foltz

Cosco Guangdong wins OSV order

China’s Cosco shipyard’s group has won a contract for its Guangdong shipyard to build a multipurpose offshore support vessel.
This latest order is for a 65 m TAERRV (tanker assist/emergency response/rescue/field support vessel). It was placed by Aberdeen-based Sentinel Marine after the owners were

Port of Antwerp Provides Green Technology Incentives

Local pollution

Despite all efforts so far, shipping still makes a significant contribution towards local pollution, mainly in the form of SOx, NOx and particulates. Various regulatory initiatives to improve this situation have already been taken. One of these is the introduction of standards for sulphur emissions by seagoing ships in the so-called Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs). To meet these stricter standards, ships must either improve the quality or type of fuel used (for example, by switching to low-sulphur fuel such as Marine Gas Oil or LNG), or must install post-combustion systems (e.g. exhaust gas scrubbers) to reduce emissions to acceptable levels. Most shipping companies have let it be known that they prefer to use low-sulphur fuels so as to comply with the stricter sulphur emission standards in the short term. However, the use of LNG or scrubbers offers better environmental performance than low-sulphur fuel, since in addition to reducing sulphur emissions it also cuts other emissions such as particulates and NO2.

Particulates Action Plan

Antwerp Port Authority seeks to attract ships that make use of innovative, sustainable technology, encouraging them to come to Antwerp as the city and its port both suffer from high concentrations of air pollution such as particulates. The Particulates and NO2 Action Plan for the Port and City of Antwerp brings together the various measures that can be taken to reduce emissions of these polluting substances. The new discount system is one of the measures for tackling the environmental impact which ships have on the air quality in Antwerp.

Particulates discount

Ships can claim the discount as of 1 June if they can demonstrate that they either make effective use of scrubbers (in closed mode) or are powered by LNG for a period of at least 24 hours before they call at the port of Antwerp. Ships powered by LNG can receive a discount of 20%, while those that make use of closed scrubbers can get a discount of 15%. The percentages will be gradually reduced as of 2016 in order to reward the “early adopters” who make the necessary investment now. The percentages for 2016 are set at 15% and 10% respectively, and for 2017 they will be 10% and 5%.

ESI discount

In addition to the particulates discount, more environment-friendly ships in the port of Antwerp have benefited from the ESI discount for some time now. The ESI (Environmental Ship Index) is based on a system of credits ranging from 0 to 100 that ships can earn for having environmental performance better than required by the regulations for NOx, SOx and CO2. Ships that obtain 31 or more credits can have their bill for port dues reduced by 10%. The ESI system is currently supported by 25 ports and so far has benefited 3,067 ships.

Sustainable port

The introduction of the new discount forms part of the Port Authority’s sustainability policy, one of the main aims of which is to achieve a sustainable shipping industry.


Seafarer found dead on Malta ship

A Filipino seafarer was found dead on the Maltese-registered MV Elbella at Marsaxlokk Freeport in Malta on Sunday night.
The sailor’s body was discovered in a pool of blood with several stab wounds.
It was reported that two kitchen knives were found near the body of the victim, who was employed in

BP and Sinopec form JV in Singapore

British oil major BP and Chinese oil company Sinopec Fuel Oil will form a 50/50 marine fuels bunkering joint venture (JV) named as BP Sinopec Marine Fuels.
The JV will be based in Singapore, the top bunkering of the world, and leverage both companies’ ‘existing bunkering locations and activities to