Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 15/05/2015
1. Iran Fires on More Shipping
Another cargo ship has come under fire from Iranian authorities sending jitters through the shipping industry as the vital Strait of Hormuz becomes increasingly unstable. According to CNN, five boats from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard opened fire in international waters on the 46,105-dwt chemical tanker Alpine Eternity this morning. The Singapore-flagged ship only managed to escape further shots by changing course and headed into United Arab Emirates waters where three local coast guard vessels came to protect the tanker. None of the crew were harmed, initial reports claim. The ship is now moored at Jebel Ali port.
2. Pattern of Libyan Ship Bombings
The shelling of a Turkish cargo ship by the Libyan military verifies a pattern of chaos and descent into violent anarchy. Just as a Greek oil tanker was bombed twice by Libyan air force jets in January the connection between these incidents reflects the fragmentation of the Libyan administration. There is also an emerging wave of piracy incidents and the Italian navy is engaged in daily search and rescue operations for undocumented migrants mainly departing from Libya. With the additional fear of proliferating support for Islamic State (IS) in Libya, analysts fear that the country is becoming a “Mediterranean Somalia” in proximity to EU’s coast.
3. Crude Storage Could See to Problems
Commentators estimate that 40-50 older VLCCs have been commissioned on long-term charters to store crude. Lawyers are looking at the legal concerns with tankers being used for floating storage. While tanker owners see less risk in their tankers sitting stationary than sailing the high seas, they need to ask where they will anchor, for how long and whether this changes the applicable regulatory regime. If a ‘storage tanker’ is actually a floating storage unit (FSU), there is increased permitting required and a reduced ability to limit liability under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage. There are insurance issues too.
4. Has Piracy Judge Overstepped the Mark?
A US federal appeals court heard arguments on whether a judge overstepped his authority when he imposed less than the mandatory life prison term for five Somali pirates whose mistaken attack on a Navy ship left one of their own dead but caused no harm to any of the sailors. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard that Congress determined that life imprisonment is the appropriate punishment regardless of whether anyone dies at the hands of pirates. While an attorney for the pirates claims, there is no question that life sentences would be “extraordinarily harsh and grossly disproportionate.”
5. Nigeria Cracks Down on Young Pirates
A seventeen-year old youngster was among four suspects paraded by officials of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) for alleged involvement in sea piracy and other crimes in the waterways of Bayelsa State. The four suspects are alleged to be responsible for most of the daring sea pirate attacks in the State. Colonel Ado stated that the suspects were behind a series of attacks and sea robbery activities on the Mbikiri and Nembe 1 waterways of the State. “These criminals take advantage of the difficult terrain and maneuver in the creeks to attack and unleash terror on their victims".
6. Big Blue in the Big Black
Maersk Line reported a Q1 2015 result that is USD 260 million higher than Q1 2014. Revenue in Q1 2015 was USD 6,254 million, which is 3.2% lower than Q1 2014 (USD 6,463 million), the company said in its press release. Maersk Line achieved this by lower bunker costs and a strong US Dollar. In the same time, volumes decreased by 1.6% to 2.207 million FFE and unit costs increased by 2.1%. The higher unit cost is the result of a lower vessel utilisation. The return on invested capital was 14.3%. Maersk Line’s medium and long-term target for return on invested capital is 8.5% and 10% respectively.
7. COSCO Presses Ahead with Scrapping Plans
China COSCO Holdings pushed ahead with its fleet scrapping plan in April by dismantling two container ships and two bulk carriers. The scrapping of the vessels incurred about CNY59 million (USD9 million) in losses, a stock filing of the company said on 13 May. The demolished vessels were 1993-built container feeders Xiu He and Ya Ye, 1998-built Capesize Tian Fu Hai, and 1967-built Handysize Ming Hai, according to IHS Maritime Sea-web.com. The four vessels’ capacity totalled 261,800 dwt. The average age of China COSCO’s self-owned vessels has been reduced after the scrapping, the company said.
8. What Colour Should You Paint a Tanker?
In his 2007 book The Tankship Tromedy, Former MIT Naval Architecture professor and ship owner Jack Devanney has strong opinions on the best color to paint tankers: white! The most effective way of controlling deck dribs and drabs is simple: white decks and topsides. Most tanker owners paint their decks a dark color, usually a brownish red. This does an excellent job of hiding rust, dirt and oil. That is its purpose. If the decks are wet, even the rustiest, dirtiest red deck can look beautiful from a distance. A common trick when a tanker is going to have her picture taken is to wet down the decks – but hidden problems are still problems!
9. More Magic Pipe Convictions
A US federal grand jury in Mobile, Alabama has returned a seven-count indictment against a Norwegian shipping company and four of its employees with violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), conspiracy, obstruction of justice and witness tampering in relation to the use of a so-called ‘magic pipe’. Det Stavangerske Dampskibsselskab AS, or DSD Shipping for short, is a Norwegian-based shipping company that operates the oil tanker MT Stavanger Blossom, which is used in the international transportation of crude oil. Also indicted were four engineering officers.
10. Thailand Turns Back Migrants
Thousands of migrants adrift in Southeast Asian seas have nowhere to go after Thailand declined permission for a boat to land on Thursday and Malaysia said it would push boatpeople back out to sea. Smugglers have abandoned ships full of migrants, many of them hungry and sick, following a crackdown on human trafficking in Thailand, the most common first destination for Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Thailand would not permit a boat with 300 migrants, including many women and young children, found drifting in its waters on Thursday to land, officials said. “We declined them entry".
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