Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 19/06/2015
1. Pirates Found and Fled
Pirates who commandeered a Malaysian-flagged tanker in the South China Sea for a week have escaped from the vessel in a lifeboat, giving warships the slip under cover of night, the country’s naval commander said Friday. Royal Malaysian Navy chief Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar also said the 22 crew members of the MT Orkim Harmony were unscathed except for an Indonesian seamen who was being treated for a gunshot wound to the thigh. All eight robbers escaped by using the MT Orkim Harmony’s lifeboats," Abdul Aziz said in a statement, adding that a range of Malaysian naval and coast guard assets were now searching for the pirates.
2. ITF Welcomes Flag Review
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has welcomed the Australian Senate’s decision to launch an inquiry into flag of convenience shipping. The Inquiry by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee will examine the national security, fuel security, environmental, social and economic impacts of FOC shipping and revisit the 1992 Ships of Shame Inquiry. It follows the recent damning exposé on Australia’s Four Corners television programme into three mysterious deaths at sea on board the MV Sage Sagittarius.
3. Wages Still a Massive Concern
The issue of unpaid wages constituted the second largest number of calls to a UK-based seafarer helpline last year. In a breakdown of calls to Seafarerhelp, calls about unpaid wages totalled 394 reports. Cases of unpaid wages are always referred by ISWAN to the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) for follow up. Asked by IHS Maritime as to its success with obtaining owed wages for seafarers, an ITF spokesman said that the ITF had assisted in a total of 1,589 cases of owed wages referred to the ITF in 2014, and had "recovered USD 59,372,806 in back pay for the seafarers involved".
4. Norwegian Rig Worker Threat
Some 574 Norwegian rig workers could go on strike from next Thursday, potentially reducing oil production, unless a wage settlement is reached during talks with a state appointed mediator, three labour unions said on Thursday. Some 101 workers on the Petrojarl Varg oil production vessel, which operates on behalf of Repsol, and 88 people on the Petrojarl Knarr, producing oil for BG, will go on strike if the talks fail, the Safe union said in a statement. Both vessels are owned by Teekay Corporation’s Norwegian unit Teekay Petrojarl. Varg produced 6,000 barrels of oil per day in March.
5. Criminals Riding High
Crime on the high seas seems to be doing fine, all things considered. The menace of piracy on the Asian seas continues largely unabated. So far, 2015 has seen increase in the number of thefts, primarily aimed at tankers. Based on reported incidents, one may imagine that Asian seas resemble dark woods filled with robbers taking the riches of traders and promptly reselling them for handy profits. To add insult to the injury, those acts are not happening thousands and thousands of miles away from land. They are happening practically at the doorstep of key maritime nations.
6. Disease Effects Shipping
South Korea’s current outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has been the focus of much international attention. The local impact of the outbreak has been severe, leading to nearly 3,000 schools being closed and over 5,500 people being quarantined as a result of possible contact with infected persons. The virus has so far infected over 150 people in the country and the World Health Organization (WHO) anticipates that cases will continue to surface despite indications that the outbreak is now being brought under control.
7. Master Pleads Guilty
The master of a cruise liner, which was damaged going over rocky shoals has pleaded guilty to two charges at Belfast Magistrates court on 16th June. Captain Joao Manuel Fernandes Simoes (58) pleaded guilty to failure to properly passage plan in breach of SOLAS and failure to report the incident contrary to the Merchant Shipping vessel traffic monitoring and reporting requirement regulations. On 11th May 2015 the Bahamas registered cruise liner mv Hamburg called in to Tobermory enroute from Dublin to Hamburg. He was fined £400 for each charge and £13 costs – a total of £813. Which makes you wonder what the fuss was.
8. UK to Withdraw Migrant Ship
HMS Bulwark, which has rescued more than 2,900 migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean over the past six weeks, is to be withdrawn from the role, George Osborne has confirmed. The chancellor insisted Britain will continue to play “our full part” in search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean, but what exactly will replace the 19,000-tonne warship, which is capable of carrying two helicopters, is unclear. Defence sources confirmed HMS Bulwark’s temporary deployment was only for an initial 60 days, which will expire in three weeks.
9. Watching Ship Slicks from Space
Scientists from NASA joined in on Norway’s annual oil spill cleanup exercise in the North Sea this year to test out some new oil detection equipment that could significantly help cleanup in the case of a major spill. During the exercise held this month, NASA equipped one of its research aircraft with a specialized Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar, or UAVSAR, to monitor the release of oil into the sea, testing the radar’s ability to distinguish between more and less damaging types of oil slicks. The potential for the UAVSAR’s to classify the oil in an oil slick was first observed during the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
10. Japan Extends Indian Ocean Mission
Japan plans to extend by another year the deployment of Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel to combat piracy in waters off Somalia in East Africa, a Japanese government source said Tuesday. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet is expected to approve the extension in early July to help ensure the security of an important sea lane for Japan and as Tokyo’s proactive contribution to maintaining international peace and stability, the source said. MSDF escort vessels and P-3C patrol aircraft have been deployed since 2009 to help protect commercial vessels from pirate attacks in waters off the East African country.
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