Erika closes Puerto Rico ports

Eastern and northern ports in Puerto Rico were closed early on 27 August by the US Coast Guard (USCG) due to the passing of Tropical Storm Erika.
Ports that are affected by closure conditions, known as Port Condition Zulu, must suspend operations and are closed to all inbound and outbound vessel
Details

SIPG’s 1H15 profit up 5.65%

Shanghai-listed Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) posted a profit of CNY3.1 billon for the first half of 2015, up 5.65% on a year ago.
The company’s revenue and earnings per share also improved in the January-June period. Its revenue climbed 7.08% year on year (y/y) to CNY14.8 billion, while
Details

New Cargo Strategy for Ultra-Large Container Ships

By MarEx 2015-08-27 22:52:15

Lloyd’s Register (LR) is classing the world’s largest-ever container ships – led by a recent contract to oversee the building of six ultra-large container ships (ULCS) of more than 20,000 teu.

Technical teams at LR have investigated the rising heights and weights of the container stacks that today’s ULCSs can carry and produced new guidelines to help designers, owners and masters handle the ever-growing cargos.

One of the teams’ key findings is based on vessel speed. LR research demonstrates that the speed at which a ship is sailing has a significant and predictable effect on the rolling motions; this is a crucial factor in cargo-carrying. So instead of designing container stows as if a ship is sailing at full speed in the harshest seas of the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, LR has produced a methodology based on a combination of ship speed and stability and the height and direction of the prevailing waves.

Another crucial factor to managing the cargoes is the development of lashing twistlocks. Operators who use the latest fully automatic twistlocks will have the advantage of securing their cargos safely and effectively with minimum intervention from the stevedores. Combined with the introduction of high lashing bridges, they will be able to safely carry stacks of 10 or more tiers of containers on deck.

LR is currently classing four ULCS vessels of 20,150 teu for the Japanese company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines which are being built by Samsung Heavy Industries. A further two 20,050 teu ships are being built for Shoei Kisen Kaisha on long charter to MOL at Shoei’s affiliate company Imabari Shipbuilding at Saijo shipyard, Japan.

The new vessels are due to be delivered in 2017 and have been earmarked to operate on the Asia-to-Europe service.

Details

Singapore: Cash Buyer Says Norway’s Stance Paradoxical

By Wendy Laursen 2015-08-27 20:47:22

The recent statement from the Norwegian Shipowners Association (NSA) regarding a ban on the beaching method of recycling ships used in the Indian sub-continent has drawn criticism from Singapore-based cash buyer Wirana Shipping Corporation.

The news was quite disappointing on the face of it, says Keyur Dave, CFO. “We honestly, were quite surprised to read it, as there are some Norwegian ship owners who are taking their vessels to the sub-continent for recycling, albeit only to the “green” yards. We really hope that we have understood it out of context and that there is another angle to it.

“We find it difficult to reconcile it to the fact that Norway has ratified the IMO Hong Kong Convention which does not ban beaching as far as the recycling practices and procedures are environmentally friendly, and yet this statement comes that NSA bans beaching. We hope that the recycling community will hear something positive from the NSA that reconciles the above paradox.”

Conversely, Dave welcomed the statement by Maria Bruun Skipper from the Danish Shipowners Association (DSA), stating that instead of banning any particular method merely on the basis of geography or the method of recycling, owners should look at individual yard standards.

“It would not be prudent to put a blanket ban on beaching without considering the commendable improvements made at some of the yards which are putting in time, money and efforts that are recognized and approved by a world class, reputable and proactive classification society,” says Dave. “In our opinion, the conviction in the DSA’s statement is a direct result of their going down to Alang and seeing the situation first hand. We encourage NSA members too to visit Alang and look at the facilities in the good yards, especially those under the Class NK program and they will be able to see the substantial improvements that have been made.”

Wirana Shipping Corporation claims to be the oldest cash buyer of ships for recycling in the world. “Wirana has always been an ardent proponent of environmentally friendly ship recycling,” says Dave. “We believe that responsible recycling can be done on the beaches as well. It is not important which method is used – beaching, landing, alongside or drydock. What is important is that the environment is not damaged and workers’ safety is taken care of.

“There are international experts who are ex-classification society employees and understand the subject in depth who are able to, not only confirm that this is true but have helped at least four yards in India who practice the beaching method to raise their standards and they are now about to be certified compliant to the Hong Kong Convention of IMO signed in 2009 by ClassNK.

“One of them is our yard. The upgradation has not happened overnight. It was due to our strong belief that it is the right thing to do, that we kept on making improvements which have now culminated in the yard’s approval. We believe – and hope – that the Norwegian statement has been understood out of context.”

Details

Chinese Human Traffickers Get Life Sentence

By MarEx 2015-08-27 19:42:28

Forty-five people have been sentenced in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in relation to human trafficking and attempts to go overseas to participate in jihadist activities.

Two received sentences of life in prison for smuggling 305 people to Vietnam. The others received sentences of between four to 15 years’ imprisonment for organizing, leading and participating in terrorist cells, sponsoring terrorist cells and organizing for people to leave the country illegally, reports China Daily.

In all, 18 human traffickers were sentenced. Some of the traffickers rented houses in the border area of Guangxi in southern China. The houses were used by people waiting for ships arranged to take them out of the country. However, the traffickers were found out when the vessels were intercepted by the Chinese Coast Guard.

The 2015 Trafficking in Persons report states that some Chinese men, women, and children are subject to forced labor and sex trafficking in other countries. Traffickers recruit girls and young women, often from rural areas of China, using a combination of fraudulent job offers and coercion. They impose large travel fees, confiscate passports, confine or physically and financially threaten victims. Chinese men and women are also forced to work in service sectors, such as restaurants, shops, agriculture and factories in overseas Chinese communities.

Not all of the trafficking cases involved transport by sea. In one case, heard in Kashgar Prefecture Intermediate Court, a man was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he and four others tried to join the East Turkestan Islamic Movement terrorist organization and the Taliban in Afghanistan via Tajikistan.

Details

Watching Waters Rise Right Outside the Front Door

By MarEx 2015-08-27 19:02:39

For the past two centuries, two trends have been steady and clear around the United States. Sea level has been rising, and more people have been moving closer to the coast.

As the ocean has warmed, polar ice has melted, and porous landmasses have subsided, global mean sea level has risen by 8 inches (20 centimeters) since 1870. The rate of sea level rise is faster now than at any time in the past 2,000 years, and that rate has doubled in the past two decades.


Tide gauges have been used to measure sea level for more than 130 years. Satellite measurements now complement the historical record. (NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, based on data from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and NOAA)

That has not stopped people from buying and building along the coast. About 55 to 60 percent of U.S. citizens live in counties touching the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Great Lakes. A recent study by business and finance leaders found that $66 billion to $106 billion worth of coastal property is likely to sit below sea level by 2050.

The nation’s problem is also NASA’s problem, and not just because several satellites and hundreds of Earth scientists are monitoring the rising seas. Sea level rise hits especially close to home because half to two-thirds of NASA’s infrastructure and assets stand within 16 feet (5 meters) of sea level. With at least $32 billion in laboratories, launch pads, airfields, testing facilities, data centers, and other infrastructure spread out across 330 square miles (850 square kilometers)—plus 60,000 employees—NASA has an awful lot of people and property in harm’s way.


It is estimated that more than 50 percent of the United States population lives in coastal counties. (NASA Earth Observatory map by Joshua Stevens, using data from the NASA Socioeconomic Data Applications Center)

For NASA climatologist Cynthia Rosenzweig, the urgency of the problem was crystallized in the summer of 2009. As part of a climate change preparedness workshop, she joined other scientists, engineers, facility managers, and administrators on a tour of launch pads 39A and B at Kennedy Space Center. Since the Apollo-Saturn rocket days, and through 25 years of space shuttles, those two launch pads have been critical to NASA’s mission.

But when Rosenzweig got off the bus and looked around, she could see that the shrinking dunes and damaged shoreline were just a stone’s throw from the launch pads. “Every NASA center has its own set of vulnerabilities, and some are more at risk than others,” Rosenzweig said. “But sea level rise is a very real challenge for all of the centers along the coast.”

The Coast is the Place to Be

“NASA is on the coast because that’s the right place to launch from,” said Kim Toufectis, a facilities planner in NASA’s Office of Strategic Infrastructure.

The U.S. government long ago made the choice to fly most of its rockets and experimental aircraft from the coast because failures happen, and they are less dangerous to the public when they happen over water than over land. But launching from the coast requires testing, storage, and spacecraft assembly facilities to be nearby. So if you are going into space from the United States, you are going to have to face down the challenge of rising seas.


The majority of NASA centers and facilities are on or very near the coast.

As at Kennedy, the launch pads and buildings at Wallops Flight Facility stand just a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean. Langley Research Center is situated along the Back River, near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. Ames Research Center is tucked into the south end of San Francisco Bay. Johnson Space Center sits on Clear Lake, an inlet off of Galveston Bay. Those centers all stand between 5 and 40 feet (2 and 12 meters) above mean sea level. The math is nearly upside down at Michoud Assembly Facility, which sits behind levees near the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain.

In a review of the agency’s vulnerability to sea level rise, NASA’s Climate Adaptation Science Investigators (CASI) Working Group recently wrote:

Sea level rise of between 13 and 69 centimeters by the 2050s is projected for NASA’s five coastal centers and facilities…Even under lower sea level rise scenarios, the coastal flood event that currently occurs on average once every 10 years is projected to occur approximately 50 percent more often by the 2050s in the Galveston/Johnson Space Center area; 2 to 3 times as often near Langley Research Center and Kennedy Space Center; and 10 times more frequently in the San Francisco Bay/Ames Research Center area. NASA coastal centers that are already at risk of flooding are virtually certain to become more vulnerable in the future.


The maps above show the amount of forecasted sea level rise at coastal NASA centers. The rings represent the relative amount of rise in each place, and do not show inundated areas. (NASA Earth Observatory maps by Joshua Stevens, using data from the Climate Adaptation Science Investigators (CASI) working group)

If you think about the height of the sea surface like the height of the water in a calm bathtub, then a rise of a few tens of centimeters over a few decades doesn’t sound like much. But sea level doesn’t rise evenly; it piles up more in some places because of natural wind and current patterns. And turbulence matters: Think about that bathtub with a child sloshing around in it. Waves can roll up one side and then the other, sometimes splashing over the brim. The higher the flat-water line, the greater the chance that the water will slosh out of the basin when it is stirred up by storms and winds.

Sea level also matters in a horizontal direction. An old rule of thumb is that one inch of vertical change in sea level translates into 100 inches of horizontal beach loss on a flat beach or marsh. In this way, a little bit of sea level rise can translate into a lot of water moving inland with storms or abnormally high tides.

“Sea level is important because it gradually moves the high-tide line farther up the beach and closer to buildable land,” said John Jaeger, a coastal geologist from the University of Florida. “It also allows storm surges to penetrate farther inland.”

Launching from a Sandbar

The high-tide line has been moving landward for some time at Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s east coast. Located within the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and adjacent to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, NASA’s most famous center covers more than 66 square miles (170 square kilometers) and holds about 20 percent of the agency’s constructed assets. Most of it is built on coastal marshland about five to 10 feet above sea level.

Conservative climate models project that the seas off Kennedy will rise five to eight inches by the 2050s, and nine to 15 inches by the 2080s. If ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica continue to melt as quickly as current measurements indicate, those numbers could become 21 to 24 inches by the 2050s and 43 to 49 inches by the 2080s.

“We consider sea-level rise and climate change to be urgent,” said Nancy Bray, spaceport integration and services director for Kennedy.

Even as the space center was founded in 1961, management and scientists were aware that seas were rising and could someday pose a threat. But in that era, the challenge was to get to the Moon as soon as possible. There was an established Air Force station nearby with access to orbits that could not be obtained from anywhere else in the United States. The choice was easy, and it was right for the time.

But time has not been kind to this stretch of sand. Based on historical records and aerial photos, the beach in front of Kennedy has thinned and moved inland by as much as 200 feet (60 meters). The losses have been most acute and persistent along a stretch near the center’s two most prized launch pads. Complex 39A was recently leased for 20 years to Space X, which intends to use it for its Falcon heavy lift rocket. NASA’s new Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft are slotted for Complex 39B within the next decade. The Atlantic Ocean stands less than a quarter mile from both.


Crashing waves and sandy shoreline are not far from the launchpads at Kennedy Space Center. That distance is decreasing each year. (NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey)

In 2004, three hurricanes crossed the Florida peninsula. And while none made a direct hit on Cape Canaveral, they collectively caused $100 million in damage to the space center. Then a nor’easter in 2007 sat offshore for two weeks and battered the beach; Tropical Storm Fay then raked the beach again in 2008.

In response to the persistent storm damage, Kennedy facilities managers contracted to build a 15-foot-high, 725-foot-long dune as a proof of concept for a managed retreat. Center scientists and engineers also worked with the U.S. Geological Survey to map the shape of the beach (topography) with laser ranging and detection (LiDAR). Then they enlisted coastal geologists John Jaeger and Pete Adams of the University of Florida to figure out why sand dunes near launch Complexes 39A and B were so persistently being washed away.

For five years, Jaeger, Adams, and graduate students pulled GPS mapping gear up and down 6 miles of beach at least once a month—more often in the wake of storms. The goal was to build a three-dimensional model of the area. They found that the beaches were retreating due to the shape of the seafloor just offshore, where gaps between the sandbars channel wave energy toward certain areas. But they also found sand piling up (accreting) in other areas, mostly near Launch Complex 40. The beach is migrating south, even if NASA’s infrastructure is not.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy offered a glimpse of the new normal along the Atlantic coast. The storm passed 200 miles offshore from Kennedy, but it moved so slowly that the heavy surf scoured the beach for three or four high-tide cycles. By the time the skies cleared, the dunes along a 2-mile (3-kilometer) stretch near Complexes 39A and B had retreated as much as 65 feet (20 meters). Nearly 650 feet (200 meters) of railroad track in the vicinity of 39A were undermined by the storm surge. The high-tide line moved closer to a service road, under which lay some of the center’s natural gas, communications, liquefied rocket fuel, and water lines. That road sits just 4 feet (1.2 meters) above sea level.


Hurricane Sandy had wind, wave, or water impacts on five NASA centers along the U.S. East Coast. (NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data provided by NOAA CLASS)

Rising to Future Challenges

So what does NASA do as the seas rise around its facilities? Cynthia Rosenzweig has an answer: flexible adaptation pathways.

“What makes sense for us to do now? And what might we have to do later?” she said. “We have to consider and understand the risks, and then build something that can be adjusted.”

Rosenzweig conducts her research at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University, both of which stand on the Hurricane-Sandy-hardened streets of New York City. For years she worked with city and state leaders to assess the impacts of climate change and to develop risk reduction strategies. In 2009, she was asked to bring her experience to NASA’s Climate Adaptation Science Investigators Working Group, an effort prompted by a presidential order to evaluate “risks and vulnerabilities” at every federal agency.

“It may be the first time NASA’s scientists and managers have worked together to manage climate risks to our facilities and natural resources,” Rosenzweig said. Together with state and local officials—as well as federal, military, commercial, and conservation partners—CASI has set out to brainstorm what kind of information is needed by facilities managers, as well as what kind of response might be required.

The CASI team translated international reports and projections—such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the U.S. National Climate Assessment—into practical, regional-scale advice for the NASA centers. They conducted environmental impact studies and modeling to project how much sea level could rise near each facility. They examined past and future land use changes around centers, even considering how sea level rise might affect the endangered and threatened species that find havens on NASA property.

“How do we fight Mother Nature for another fifty years?” said Kim Toufectis. His colleagues at each center and in the Office of Strategic Infrastructure—people with skills in civil and chemical engineering, urban planning, real estate, facilities construction and maintenance—must now weigh their options and develop long-range plans.

In some places, they will need to design smarter buildings; in others, they will retrofit and harden old infrastructure. If a facility must stay within sight of the water, then maybe the important laboratories, storage, or assembly rooms should not be on the ground floor. For the launch facilities, which must remain along the shore, beach replenishment, sea wall repair, and dune building may become part of routine maintenance.

But across the space agency, from lab manager to center director to NASA administrator, people will have to continually ask the question: is it time to abandon this place and move inland? It’s a question everyone with coastal property in America will eventually have to answer.

By Michael Carlowicz

Source: NASA

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

Details

North Korean Blacklisted Ships Call Russia

By MarEx 2015-08-27 16:53:42

Several sanctioned North Korean vessels owned by Ocean Maritime Management (OMM) have been seen using Russian ports. OMM was sanctioned for its involvement in smuggling weapons through the Panama Canal in 2013.

Marine traffic records indicate the M/VHui Chon is a regular visitor of Russia’s Port Vanino and was inspected multiple times in other Russian ports in July. Earlier this month, the M/V Kang Gye was seen transiting back to North Korea after calling Port Nakhodka in Russia.

The Hui Chon and Kang Gye are suspected of being two of several OMM-owned vessels that have changed their names and ceased transmitting their AIS positions.

OMM has also been under U.N. and U.S. sanctions since 2014, and the U.S. Department of Treasury alleges that OMM operates through a variety of front companies to evade those sanctions.

In July, the Treasury also blacklisted Senat, a Singapore shipping firm for connections to OMM. The Treasury alleges that Senat supported OMM in arranging the previously mentioned arms shipment on the M/V Chong Chon Gang ship, which was seized in Panama in 2013.

Senat contends it has no more connection with OMM and has not done business with the North Korean company since the seizure of the Chong Chon Gang.

Details

Tianjin Port Officials Arrested

By MarEx 2015-08-27 14:33:07

The fallout from the August 12 explosion that decimated China’s Port Tianjin and killed more than 145 people continues. Government authorities have arrested 11 municipal officials and port executives accused of corruption. Wu Dai, head of Tianjin Municipal Transportation Commission, and Zheng Qingyue, president of Tianjin Port Holdings Co., Ltd and various safety officials are now charged.

Prosecutors allege the 11 officials were negligent in their supervisory role over Riuhai Logistics Co. Ltd, the company that illegally transported and storage hazardous chemicals in the port. The safety officials are accused of failing to regulate and oversee Riuhai for safety infractions and illegal operations.

Riuhai was opened in 2011 and operated without licenses for several months. Three of the company’s executives were arrested within a few days of the explosion. Chinese police are also investigating Tianjin Zhongbin Haisheng, a company suspected of assisting Riuhai acquire permits.

The explosion exposed safety issues regarding the proximity of chemical storage warehouses to local residential areas. In addition to the warehouse at the center of the explosion, Riuhai also operates two other warehouses that are within one kilometer of schools, hospitals and residential areas. China’s safety regulations forbids chemical storage warehouses within one kilometer of the protect zones.

Last week, Tianjin’s Port Group denied ties to Riuhai saying it was not responsible for overseeing their operations. But, there are reports that indicate the Port Group approved Riuhai’s warehouse facilities as it does with other companies operating within the port structure.

Click here for MarEx’s previous coverage of the Tianjin disaster.

Details