Seacurus Daily: Top Ten Maritime News Stories 29/06/2015
1. Hijack Mastermind Being Tracked
Speaking on the hijacking of the "Orkim Harmony" at a press conference at the Malaysian Maritime headquarters, Vice-Admiral Ahmad Puzi bin Ab Kahar indicated the gang may have been behind six other hijackings in the area, which is increasingly becoming a hotbed for armed robbers seeking oil products. The MMEA deputy director general for operations said, "We have narrowed down the scope [of suspected masterminds]. It is a jigsaw puzzle we have to fix and we need to firm up our evidence." He said the robbers had used satellite communication devices during the incident, which facilitated the investigation and the search for the tanker – these have generated information.
2. Owners in Taxation Crosshairs
Greece’s government is willing to implement a higher tonnage tax on its giant merchant shipping industry, meeting its international creditors half way in their demands that the country does away with lucrative tax breaks for shippers. International creditors have asked Athens to impose higher taxes on its mainstay shipping sector—a move the government has long been loath to do for fear of sending shipping companies fleeing Greece. The industry has long been a bedrock of Greece’s economy. Greek owners operate almost 20% of the global fleet of merchant ships, and more than half of the European Union’s fleet. Over decades, the industry has enjoyed big tax advantages.
3. Kenyan Release Fuels Piracy Fears
The Kenyan government has repatriated 62 Somali pirates who have served their jail sentences, despite warnings of a spike in attacks if release trend continues. There are currently 164 pirates still serving time in Kenyan prisons, with another 14 set for release and repatriation next week according to Meshack Okiya, deputy chief at Shimo la Tewa Prison. The release by Kenya comes amid a general waning of support by anti-piracy coalition partners to prosecute and imprison suspected pirates amid record low reports of attacks in the Indian Ocean. Security experts have warned that there may be a spike in incidents in the region following the release of these pirates.
4. Maritime Safety Improving
The maritime industry continued to improve its safety record in 2014 with 75 total shipping losses reported worldwide compared with 110 shipping losses in 2013. The shipping losses declined by 32 per cent and this was driven by a robust regulatory environment according to a new industry report. The report also revealed that more than one-third of total losses in 2014 were in two maritime regions, namely South China, Indo China, Indonesia and the Philippines (17 losses), and Japan, Korea and North China (12 losses). These losses were caused by foundered (49 cases), wrecked or stranded (13) and fire or explosion (four).
5. Manager Denies Low Pay Claims
The fleet manager for the Thai-flagged tanker Tasco Amata detained in Melbourne on 11 May has hit back at claims made by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Australia that the crew were underpaid. Bangkok Tipco Maritime Company fleet manager Kornnarong Khem said the ITF allegations were untrue. "We pay our crew around USD640 (each). The charge by the ITF is not accurate. It’s unfair. We did everything as per Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and we treated the crew fairly," he said. The ILO Joint Maritime Commission set the monthly basic wage figure for able seafarers at USD592, as of 1 January 2015 and USD614, as of 1 January 2016.
6. E-Navigation Back on the Agenda
The IMO has put e-navigation back on the high-level action plan of the Maritime Safety Committee. The program was to finish this year, but the outcomes achieved at MSC 95 earlier this month mean that work will continue for at least four more years. Five of the six planned work items were approved with the opportunity to re-present the sixth next year. E-navigation aims to provide needed information, in electronic format, to a ship’s bridge team to enhance the safety and efficiency of navigation. This involves the integration of new and existing bridge technologies and equipment to enable the provision of globally harmonized maritime services.
7. Cruise Collision Rocks Passengers
A cruise ship and a tanker have collided off the coast of Gallipoli, Turkey, with passengers and crew aboard the cruise liner reported to be injured. The cruise ship "Celestyal Crystal" collided with the port side of the Handymax oil tanker "STI Pimlico" in the early hours of Sunday morning, causing extensive damage to both ships. An official from DNV GL, the class society to which Celestyal Crystal belongs, as describing the damage to the ship’s bow as “akin to a broken nose”. “Her entire bow area has been crushed,” the official, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “The damage is actually less severe than it might have been as she struck the oil tanker head-on with the bow".
8. Shore Excursion Kills Cruise Tourists
All nine people aboard an excursion plane from a Holland America Line cruise ship that crashed in Alaska on Thursday died in the accident, police and the aircraft company said. Eight passengers and the pilot were killed when the plane went down during a tour of the Misty Fjords area of southeast Alaska on Thursday afternoon, flight operator Promech Air said in a statement. “There is nothing I can say that can alleviate the pain and overwhelming sense of loss,” said Marcus Sessoms, president of Promech Air. The excursion flight was sold through Holland America Line, a unit of Carnival Corp. The eight passengers had been on the cruise ship "Westerdam".
9. Courses Gear Shipping for Piracy
A range of new courses are helping shore based employees to understand piracy and to deal with the how they could organise shipboard safety better and protect their employees. The simulated first-hand experience on the "Rettin", a 21-metre police tender, quickly prompts ideas about how to improve the logistical and atmospheric preparedness for a potential siege in tropical waters. In such critical situations, psychological confidence—plus plenty of drinking water and a thick steel door—can be half the battle. Participants see this for themselves in the practical drills. It’s not always possible to get away and they get a taste of time in a citadel.
10. Sea Shepherd Pollution Threat
The vessel that was once considered the flagship of the controversial marine conservation group Sea Shepherd is now threatening the Nova Scotia coast after the ship sank Wednesday night and is leaking. The "RV Farley Mowat" sank last week while tied up in Shelburne Harbor, Nova Scotia after springing a leak. The 1950’s-built "RV Farley Mowat" was originally purchased by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1997 and given the name Sea Shepherd III – The ship served as the group’s flagship until it was seized by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans in April 2008 over Fisheries Act violations during the seal hunt off the west coast of Newfoundland. http://goo.gl/U55oKj
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