Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 24/08/2015
1. Pirates Hit Ships for Six
Pirates hit six vessels in the Malacca and Singapore Straits in less than 30 hours on Friday and Saturday, successfully boarding five. According ReCAAP all the incidents took place in the eastbound lane of the traffic separation scheme with pirates hitting three vessels in the early hours of 21 August – the first at 2-30am, one late in the evening, and a further two in the early hours of 22 August, the sixth incident taking place at 5-35am. The vessels involved were the tankers Advantage Summer, Navig8 Stealth and Elbtank Denmark; the containerships Maersk Lebu and Atout; and the bulk carrier Peace Bright.
2. Somali Pirates Past Catches Up
Authorities in Germany say they have arrested a Somali man suspected of being among a group of pirates who seized a German freighter four years ago. The MV Susan K, operated by a German shipping firm, was hijacked off the coast of Oman in 2011. Pirates held the crew hostage for more than two months until their demand for a ransom of $3.5 million was met. German news agency dpa quoted Osnabrueck prosecutor Alexander Retemeyer as saying Friday that the unidentified Somali had admitted taking part in the hijacking. He was arrested three weeks ago in a home for asylum seekers in the southern town of Reutlingen.
3. Cracks in Panama Concrete
A crack has formed in the concrete of the new locks of the expanded Panama Canal, which could potentially threaten the delivery of the project as scheduled. The crack formed in the sill of the new Cocoli Locks on the Panama Canal’s Pacific side. A new video has emerged which shows water seeping through the concrete. The project has been beset with disputes between the Canal Authority and contractors – these new problems are likely to strain that relationship further, and could potentially lead to legal disputes or additional delays.
4. Port Hit by New Fires
Four new fires have erupted at the Tianjin port blast site in China, according to Xinhua news agency. The fires have been reported within the 3-kilometer area that has been evacuated amid extremely high contamination level of cyanide, estimated to be around 356 times higher from the level safe for human health. Fire fighters have been rushed to the site to extinguish the fires, one detected at a car logistics site and the remaining three within the central blast area, Xinhua said. The two blasts ravaged the port on August 12 and have taken the toll of 116 people, with more than 700 people injured and 70 more still missing.
5. Canal Tug Boat Safety Fears
One hundred and one years ago this month, the first ship sailed through the Panama Canal which links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The 77km-long (48 mile) waterway has been called one of the seven wonders, and a new lane is being built to allow ships which can carry more than double the current capacity. However while problems have been highlighted with the construction, there are operational safety fears too. The new locks will do away with the electric "mules" which have pulled vessels – this worries local tugboat captains, because he says they lack the hands-on training on how to manoeuvre real ships.
6. High Point as Forecast Continues
The Shipping Forecast will continue as usual after The Met Office said it would go on supplying data to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency who produce the broadcast. The programme, which was first broadcast by the BBC in 1924 to help seafarers, now has hundreds of thousands of followers. There were fears that the forecast could end after The Met Office lost its BBC contract but Steve Noyes, operations manager reassured listeners that it was not under threat. A spokesperson said, "We’ll continue to provide the Shipping Forecast to Maritime & Coastguard Agency who will make it available to broadcasters”
7. Seafarers Denied Human Rights
A foreign crew in Mackay, Australia, has been denied basic rights such as access to food and has been forced to work without pay. One crew member on board the Korean bulk carrier, the C. Summit, was found to have malnutrition and a further four have since left the ship claiming they feared for their lives. The accusations have been substantiated by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), following an inspection of the vessel last week. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has also joined the ITF in inspecting the vessel.
8. New Advice on Yemen
The UK Club has issued advice to members concerning the Yemen. According to correspondents, the naval forces of the Saudi Arabian Coalition have restricted access to Saleef port and it is reported that all ships were ordered out of Saleef port at 02:35 am 21/08/2015. It is also reported that naval forces have arrested ships at Bab Al Mandab and are preventing vessels from entering Yemeni ports. The situation in Yemen remains unstable and Members should exercise caution when calling at ports in the region. The Club will continue to monitor events, for more information Members should get in touch with their usual Club contact.
9. New Gas Class Notation
International classification society DNV GL has developed a new class notation for gas bunker vessels that ensures safe fuel transfer operations from one ship to another and will address concerns held by many port authorities. This notation addresses safety concerns in this field and covers gas bunker vessels design and additional requirements to support the development of gas fuelled shipping and bunker operations in ports. The rules are flexible and include a variety of gas fuels as well as the configuration of bunker transfer systems. Until now, the development of standards guiding gas fuel transfer operations in ports has lagged behind.
10. GARD Announces New Guard
Gard announced the creation of three new roles in underwriting management – Chief Underwriting Officers (CUOs) for the Shipowners and Industry segments (Specialty) and for Asia, all reporting to Bjornar Andresen, Group Chief Underwriting Officer. Appointed to the roles are: Audun Pettersen – CUO Shipowners, Magne Nilssen – CUO Specialty, André Kroneberg – CUO Asia. Bjornar Andresen, Senior Vice President, Chief Underwriting Officer said “The group has agreed goals for 2020, and long term growth is a key part of our strategy – this is a vital component of being a successful company".
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