Wednesday, 16 August 2017 08:55

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The Isle of Man registered Supramax bulk carrier Catherine Manx is part of a package of 5 ship purchases announced by Pacific Basin Shipping Ltd. last week. The package include three recently built Supramaxes, one new Supramax to be delivered in 2018 and one recently built handysize.


Built by Tsuneishi Shipbuilding, Zhoushan, PRC, in 2014
Owned and operated by LTU Management, Douglas, Isle of Man, UK
LOA 190m
Beam 32m
GRT 32,360 tons
DWT 57,964 MT
Class NK
Flag: Isle of Man, UK


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Privately held Uglands Rederi, headquartered in Grimstad, Norway, was established in 1930 by ship owner Johan Ugland. Following his death in 1960, his sons Johan and Andreas Ugland assumed control and today, his grandson, Knut N.T. Ugland, is the sole owner of the company. The fleet currently comprises 17 bulk carriers, 5 tankers and 2 offshore service vessels supported by business interests in the operation of tugs and barges. Registered owner and manager of Catherine Manx, LTU Management, is a division LT Ugland Shipping based in the Isle of Man.


Situated in the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man is not formally part of the UK but is a self-governing Crown dependency and makes its own laws and sets its own taxes. A full Maritime Convention nation with a Shipping Register that has existed since 1786, the Isle of Man is also a prominent international finance centre and offshore insurance centre with stringent regulatory controls under its own Financial Supervision Commission. The Isle of Man ship register is now the 12th largest in the world and continues to grow with some 60% of its registered tonnage being under Asian control.


The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Limited claims to be the oldest continuously operating passenger shipping company in the world, celebrating its 187th anniversary this year. The company provides freight, passenger and vehicle services between Douglas in the Isle of Man and five ports in the UK through its subsidiary Manx Ferries.


Under the ownership of Pacific Basin, Catherine Manx will be renamed Pelican Island.


Ship of the Week contributed by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.


Wednesday, 09 August 2017 09:12

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Some of you may have taken time out in the past couple of weeks to see the new movie, Dunkirk. The movie tells the story of the “Little Ships of Dunkirk” when about 850 private boats sailed from Ramsgate in England to the beaches of Dunkirk between May 26 and June 4 1940 as part of so called Operation Dynamo to rescue British, French and Belgian soldiers who were trapped on the beaches by the advancing German army. Because of the shallow waters, British naval craft were unable to approach the beaches, hence the desperate order to assemble a fleet of pleasure craft. Many were requisitioned and manned by the navy without their owners' permission but a few were volunteered on condition that their owners would sail them to Dunkirk. When they reached France, some of the boats acted as shuttles between the beaches and naval vessels while others carried hundreds of soldieors each back to Ramsgate under the make-shift protection of the Royal Air Force. The operation saved about
200,000 British, 130,000 French and 10,000 Belgian troops. Sadly, 60,000 troops could not be evacuated and were captured or killed.

One such “Little Ship” was the paddle steamer Medway Queen
which somehow made seven round trips to Dunkirk, rescuing 7,000 men in the process and earning herself the nickname Heroine of Dunkirk. Although seriously damaged during the seventh crossing, she limped home and is still with us today.

Built by Ailsa Shipyard, in Troon, Scotland in 1924
Owned by the new Medway Steam Packet Company, based in Rochester on the River Medway, England
Returned to cruising after the war for the General Steam Navigation Co who had taken over the New Medway company
1966 - Saved from the breakers and opened as a marina clubhouse on the Isle of Wight
1984 - Returned to the Medway on a floating pontoon and berthed at Chatham
2006 – Dismantled for rebuilding
2009 - Completed hull with refurbished engine to await conditions for a tow to Gillingham

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A major boost to saving Medway Queen from razor blades was received in 2006 when, after several failed attempts to obtain funding from the UK's Heritage Fund, a grant of just over GBP 1.86 m was awarded. The grant, alongside Medway Queen Preservation Society’s own funds allowed restoration to go ahead. The existing hull was dismantled with all usable parts put into storage and structural members reused where possible. In 2008 a contract was awarded to rebuild the hull in traditional riveted form after the resolution of problems arising from a conflict between the need for a "heritage" rebuild and the need to incorporate updated construction practices.

In May 1965 to mark the 25th anniversary of Operation Dynamo, a fleet of 43 of the original “Little Ships” returned to Dunkirk to commemorate the evacuation. It was subsequently decided that such a unique assembly should not be allowed to fade into obscurity and the “Association of Dunkirk Little Ships” was formed in 1966. The stated objective of the Association was to maintain the spirit of Dunkirk and to preserve the memory of the role of the Little Ships by forming an association of their present-day owners and of those closely associated. Still today, over 100 Little Ships are entitled to display a plaque marked “DUNKIRK 1940”. Every five years, supported by the RNLI and Royal Navy, they return under their own power to Dunkirk, a major undertaking considering that the average age of the craft is now 85 years. The Association plans to return to Dunkirk in May 2020 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Operation Dynamo with around 50 Little Ships expected to take part.

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UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill initially described the situation in Dunkirk as a “colossal military disaster” but following the success of the evacuation revised his assessment as a “miracle of deliverance”. Medway Queen is today moored at Gillingham Pier in the County of Kent UK and is open for viewing on most Saturdays.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 04 August 2017 09:48

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Expedition cruise ship Bremen

Sitting quietly at the north end of Canada Place on Monday this week preparing for an 18 day cruise to Nome in Alaska was Hapag Lloyd’s expedition cruise ship Bremen. She is one of four specialized cruise ships operated by the company, the others being Europa, Europa 2 and Hanseatic.

Built by Mitsubishi Shipyard, Kobe, Japan in 1990
Owned and operated by Hapag Lloyd Cruises
LOA 111.5m
Beam 17m
GRT 6,752 tons
Propulsion 2 × Daihatsu 8 km-32 (2 × 2,427 kW) connected to 2 shafts and 2 x controllable pitch propellers
Speed 16 knots
Passenger capacity 164
Crew: approximately 100
Previous name: Frontier Spirit (2000-2003)

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Bremen is the smallest ship in Hapag Lloyd's cruise fleet, but arguably the most versatile by way of having an impressive E4 ice rating, thereby equipping her to safely navigate the ice of the Arctic and Antarctic. Bremen provides a contingent of 12 zodiacs (pictures above left and right) allowing her guests to explore virtually any inlet at any time of the day during her high activity cruises.

In 2003, Bremen identified a previously uncharted island in Antarctica which was appropriately named "Bremen Island" the following year. In 2006, helped by satellite images of sea ice, she sailed the Northwest Passage, a route she will take again In late August this year when she will cruise from Nome via the Northwest Passage to Kangerlussuag in Greenland. She will then make a number of cruises as she heads south for Antarctica with a Christmas call scheduled for the Falkland Islands.

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There were two previous Bremens in the German merchant fleet, the first of which was completed in 1929 and which was lost when deliberately set ablaze by a crew member in 1941 while serving as a barracks ship in Bremerhaven. The second was completed in 1939 for Sudatlantique, Bordeaux as the SS Pasteur and in 1940 made a last minute escape ahead of the invading German forces with 200 tons of French gold bullion reserves to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Requisitioned by the UK and operated by Cunard she became a hospital troopship, carrying 300,000 Allied troops around the globe including supplying troops to the Battle of El Alamein. Post-war she remained in French military service from 1945-56, carrying French troops to Vietnam, Algeria, and during the Suez Crisis.

Following lay-up, she was sold to the North German Lloyd Line, refitted and renamed Bremen in 1957. The sale sparked protests in France but to no avail. In 1971 she was sold to Chandris Lines of Greece, the predecessor to Celebrity Cruises. Under Chandris she operated cruises as the Regina Magna (picture above right) until 1974.

Thursday, 27 July 2017 16:18

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With the role of aircraft carriers much in the news in recent months, the United States Navy achieved a significant milestone when after four years of delays, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding, delivered the first-in-class aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) on May 31 following successful completion of final sea trials only the week previously. She was formally commissioned on July 22 at a ceremony held at the Norfolk Naval Station attended by President Trump. USS Gerald R. Ford is the lead ship of its class and the first new design of aircraft carrier delivered to the Navy since the first introduction of the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) class in 1975. She is also the first aircraft carrier to join the fleet since the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) delivered in 2009.

Built by Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding
Displacement approximately 100,000 MT at full load
LOA 337m
Beam at waterline 41m, flight deck 77m
Propulsion: 2 x A1B nuclear reactors coupled to four shafts
Speed: 30 knots +
Complement 508 officers & 3789 enlisted men
Aircraft 75+
Cost $12.7 Billion ($6 Billion over budget)
Sister vessels under construction & planned USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) with delivery in 2020, USS Enterprise (CVN-80) with delivery in 2025 plus 7 more which are so far unnamed.

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The new class of so called super-carriers have a hull design very similar to the Nimitz class, but importantly introduce a number of key new technologies including a revolutionary Electromagntic Aircraft Launch System and an Advanced Landing Arresting System to replace the traditional catapult launch system and wire arrester cables. The new class also has the ability to carry more aircraft, additional weapons and aviation fuel storage. Her design incorporates a new nuclear power plant and a redesigned island, which it is claimed will increase sortie rates by one-third when compared to the Nimitz class. 

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In the UK, HMS Queen Elizabeth (above left), the first of two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy, undertook initial sea trials a month ago while China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning (above centre) recently paid a call at Hong Kong. Originally laid down in 1985 for the Soviet Union as the aircraft cruiser Riga, she was launched in December 1988 and renamed Varyag in 1990. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, construction was halted when 70% complete and Varyag was offered for sale as scrap by Ukraine. The stripped shell was eventually acquired by China in 1998 and towed to Dalian where she was rebuilt and converted to her current role over the course of several years. She was eventually commissioned into the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in 2012 and in 2016 declared to be “combat ready”. China’s first home-built aircraft carrier is under construction and is expected to be followed by a series of sister vessels.

USS Gerald R. Ford honors the 38th president of the United States who came to power in August 1974 following the resignation of President Richard Nixon. President Ford became the first unelected President in U.S. history having been appointed Vice President less than a year earlier by President Nixon. He is widely credited with helping to restore public confidence in government after the disillusionment of the Watergate era.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 21 July 2017 10:37

468 SSNujoma1

After arriving in Cape Town from her builders for outfitting in August 2016, the world’s largest and most advanced diamond exploration and sampling vessel undertook sea trials in November and recently entered service on the coast of Namibia (SW Africa). SS Nujoma, is owned by Debmarine Namibia, a 50/50 joint venture between the Namibian government and the De Beers Group.

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Built by Kleven Verft AS shipyard in Ulsteinvik, Norway
Owned by Debmarine, Namibia
LOA 113m
Beam 22m
Displacement 12,000 tones
Propulsion: diesel electric
Crew 80
Helicopter deck suitable for Sikorsky S61s
Construction cost $139 million

SS Nujoma
is the sixth vessel in the specialized Debmarine fleet, and the first to be dedicated to both exploration and sampling. It incorporates technology that allows it to take larger samples faster and with more information per sample compared to similar vessels and at more than double the speed of its predecessors. Established in 2002, Debmarine Namibia is the only company in the world to mine diamonds offshore and last year collected around 1.2 million carats, generally at depth of 120 to 140 meters. Diamond mining is the single biggest contributor to Namibia’s economy with the partnership between the De Beers Group and the Namibian Government delivering more than N$10 billion in revenue annually.

The history of De Beers is interwoven with that of Southern Africa. In 1870, a 17 year old English boy’s failing health persuaded his family to send him to South Africa in the hope that the hot climate would cure him. Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1906), initially worked on his brother’s cotton farm in the Province of Natal in the fields to pick cotton but when the farm failed they moved on to Kimberley in 1871 to pick diamonds. Within 20 years, Rhodes had gained almost complete domination of the world diamond market and His De Beers diamond company, formed in 1888 continues to do so to this day. Rhodes also entered the Cape Parliament in 1880, and served as the Cape Colony’s seventh Prime Minister from 1890-96. De Beers is credited with having created the pereption that diamonds are a scarce commodity thereby always commanding a high price.

SS Nujoma is named after the founding father and first President of Namibia Dr. Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma, born in 1929, a Namibian revolutionary and anti-apartheid campaigner who went on to serve three terms as the first President of Namibia (formerly known as South West Africa) from 1990 on achieving independence from South Africa, until he stood down in 2005.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 14 July 2017 12:02

467 theworld1

For those who seek to take a cruise without queuing for the buffet, scrambling for a deck chair or being targeted for the platinum drinks package, we have a solution. Sitting quietly alongside at Canada Place earlier this week was the unique cruise ship The World, the largest privately owned residential yacht sailing the seas. The residents, from about 45 countries, live on board in 165 residences as the ship circuits the globe, staying in most ports several days. A few residents live on board full-time while most visit periodically throughout the year.

Built by Fosen Mek Verksteder A/S, Rissa, Norway, completed in 2002
Owned by ResidenSea, Miramar, Florida, United States
Operated by ROW Management, Ltd., headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States.
LOA 196.3m
Beam 29.8m
GRT 43,524 tons
Service speed 18.5 knots
Guests 150 – 200 (average)
Crew 280
The ship has 12 decks (12), 1 helicopter pad, 2 swimming pools, 1 tennis court, 6 restaurants, mini-golf course
Construction cost $266 million

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The concept of such a ship was the brainchild of Mr. Knut Kloster, the former Chair of Royal Viking Line and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL). The hull was built in Sweden and towed to neighbouring Norway before being purchased by its residents in October 2003. Since then, The World has continuously circumnavigated the globe, spending extensive time in some of the most interesting ports, allowing residents to wake up in a new destination every few days in lifestyle available only to the mega rich and famous. Not only do residents own their individual residences, but collectively, they own the ship, ensuring that the experiences, onboard and off, are far beyond normally accepted standards of luxury travel.

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The World’s Three-Bedroom Residences (pictures above) offer a modern kitchen, three full bathrooms and generous living, bedroom and veranda space – the ultimate in seagoing comfort and luxury. The vessel also offers countless services & amenities- expeditions and land programs, unique art gallery, chapel, library, concierge, Medical Center, theater, night club and of course video-on-demand. For onboard entertainment there are also classes offered in topics such as navigation, dance, language, cooking, music, computers, arts and crafts, photography. There is even a boutique, a small grocery store & delicatessen.

On January 28, 2017, The World broke the world's record for the most southerly navigation. The vessel reached Bay of Whales (Ross Sea, Antarctica) - coordinates 78°43.997'S and 163°41•421´W. The record was for sailing the furthest south ever on a cruise ship. The vessel will spend her summer in Canada and Alaska before heading down to Mexico and Central America in the company of our migrating humming birds. In November, she will call into Cuba and then spend time in the southeastern United States before welcoming in 2018 with festivities in Miami.

A few Residencies are available for re-sale if you happen to have won the lottery recently.

  • A basic Studio will set you back US$600,000 (initially sold at $90,000).
  • Two Bed (Ocean Residence) apartment $2.95 million.
  • MS The World Suites are available for a mere $13.5 million (initially sold at $6 million).
  • Short-term rentals - you can rent some of The World's cruise apartments (depending on category) from $550 for a studio apartment (per person per night, min for 5 days) to suite rentals - from $20,000 a month.
  • Some of the residences are also available for rent - at $2,100 a day. Discounts are available for repeat guests.
  • The World ship's apartments sizes vary from 1350 ft2 (125 m2) to 3000 ft2 (280 m2)

However, you would be wise to take note that as a residence owner, ship service fees start at $60,000 per year rising to $300,000 a year for the largest suites. The annual fees cover crew, fuel, maintenance, port charges and meals. Oh and by the way, $8 million is the entry fee. This investment buys you a lease expiring in the distant future of the year 2052.  Vessel owners, ResidenSea, do not reveal who the residents are, but they do guarantee that The World does not accept residents with criminal records. Thank goodness for that.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.


Friday, 07 July 2017 09:25

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Following a truly innovative conversion from a humble short sea trading container ship to a ro-ro vessel, the Rotra Vente has caught the eye of many in the European ship building industry. Rotra Vente is the first of two innovative vessels that are specifically designed for ease of shipping wind turbine parts such as masts, nacelles (engine rooms) and rotor blades. The base was an existing container ship’s hull, which was converted into a special service heavy cargo vessel with ramp. The conversion of the original vessel includes the incorporation of a movable bow and extendable ramp, allowing for unhindered ro-ro operations access.

Built by Nantong Mingde Heavy Industries, Nantong, PRC
Converted by Holland Shipyards
Owned by Amasus Shipping BV
Operated by Siemens Wind Power GmbH & Deugro Danmark A/s
LOA 141.6m
Beam 20.6m
GRT 6,564 tons
DWT 8,929 MT
Propulsion: Wartsila 8L38C with 5,400kW output to a CP propellor
Service speed 15 knots
Crew capacity 11
Original name: Flintercoral

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Rotra Vente is the first of two ro-ro vessels designed by the Concordia Group in The Netherlands and converted by Holland Shipyards for Germany’s Siemens Group. For Siemens, the charterer of the vessel, and means of loading and unloading, allows for a highly cost effective operation contributing to the aim of cutting the logistical costs of generating offshore wind power. Rotra Vente was installed with new rudder and propeller systems at Shipyard de Schroef in Sas van Gent before being outfitted at Holland Shipyards with the design and conversion taking 10 months to complete ahead of eventual delivery in December 2016. Now formally classified as a new vessel, she is now trading between Siemens’ new manufacturing plant in Cuxhaven, Germany, and installation sites in the North and Baltic Seas. A second vessel, Rotra Mare (above right) also recently entered service.

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Siemens launched its new offshore logistics concept at European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) conference in 2015 and signed a long-term framework contract with Danish freight forwarding company Deugro in November 2015 for the shipping of large wind farm components using the two new vessels. Rotra Vente is anticipated to reduce logistics costs by 15-20% when compared with the existing transport modes. The bow and extendable ramp are moved hydraulically to enable the movement of large loads to and from the main cargo deck while the large bow door allows easy vehicle  access the restructured cargo deck. The deck itself is protected by a telescoping collapsible roof to safeguard turbine components during sea passages The flexible layout of the deck supports the carriage of up to nine wind tower sections or up to four rotor blade sets per trip. The ship also features a fully automatic ballast and de-ballast system to compensate for the transversal unequal dispersion of load. She was proposed as a candidate for the Nor-Shipping Energy Efficiency Award 2017.

Of interest, Siemens generated revenues of Euro 79.6 billion in 2016 with a net revenue of Euro 5.6 billion. The company has 351,000 employees distributed across the globe.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 30 June 2017 11:09

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Some 23 years after a similar venture failed due to lack of ridership, Saturday May 6 saw the launch of a new passenger only ferry service between the Steamship Building in Victoria Inner Harbour and Vancouver Convention Centre, Coal Harbour. The catamaran V2V Empress is owned by Riverside Marine, a family owned enterprise, based in Brisbane, that has been in business for 91 years and which is now owned and operated by the 3rd generation of the founding Campbell family. The start up cost for the new service was said to be in the region of $15 million including the cost of conversion from a dining and entertainment vessel sailing on the St. Lawrence to her new role at Point Hope Shipyard in Victoria.

Built in 1995 by Goelette Marie Clarisse, La Baleine, Quebec
Owned by V2V Vacations
LOA 39m
Beam 11m
GRT 465 tons
DWT 60 tonnes
Capacity 254 seats
Previous name: Famille Dufour II

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After a disruptive start-up week due to electrical problems, the service is now up and running. One-way fares (taxes not included) start at $120 for adults and $60 for children ages two to 12 in Premium Comfort Class, and rise to $199 each for adults and children in first class. The highest level is Royal Class with a price of $240 each for adults and children. Royal class, with 22 seats, features a three-course meal, the most luxurious seats and the best views. The mid-range First Class option also features a three-course meal and has luxury seating. For those slumming it in Premium Comfort Class, the Air Canada models prevails i.e. food and beverages are sold separately. Personal power ports for charging devices are available in the upper two classes and wi-fi throughout.

Daily sailings depart Vancouver at 8am and Victoria at 2pm. While the company is heavily targeting the service to tourists, there is also a push to attract locals for the 3.5 hour voyage. If the service proves to be successful, the owners have floated the option of an eventual second vessel for the route and thereby offering two departures per day.

Clipper Navigation which already operates a twice daily passenger only service from Victoria to Seattle is also planning to offer a Victoria to Vancouver passenger only service beginning in the Spring of 2018.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 23 June 2017 11:09

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Seen here loading potash at Neptune Terminal Berth 3 in North Vancouver is the recently built Supramax bulk carrier Ultra Innovation.

Delivered in 2016 by
Owned by Shoei Kisen Kaisha
Chartered by Ultrabulk A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark
LOA 199.98m
Beam 32.2m
DWT 61.188 MT

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Ultra Innovation
hit the headlines last month when, following issuance of a court order, she was detained in the Panama Canal when carrying a Moroccan phosphate shipment for Canada’s Agrium from the disputed territory of Western Sahara after the Polisario independence movement claimed the cargo had been transported illegally. She is second bulk carrier to suffer a delay in the Panama Canal related to this geo-political dispute The status of Western Sahara has been in dispute since 1975 when Morocco laid claim to the territory. The two sides have been locked in armed struggle and a diplomatic stand-off ever since and repeated U.N. negotiations have failed to reach a deal.

Ultrabulk A/S is wholly owned by Ultranav, which is the ship owning and operating arm of the Ultramar Group of Chile – a well known name that anyone who has traded to that part of the world will recognize instantly. The original company which was founded in by Captain Albert von Appen in 1952 was entirely focused on ship agency and service companies but lift off soon came after Captain von Appen’s sons Sven and Wolf joined the company. Expansion into the world of tugs, terminals and off-shore supply vessels, not only in Chile but throughout Latin America, ensued. Today the company is further diversified into mining, energy, oil and gas under the leadership of Mr. Dag von Appen and  Mr. Richard von Appen. So far as shipping is concerned, the company’s scope extends to containers, gas, checmicals and dry bulk cargo in the form of Ultrabulk.

In 2010, the company acquired a majority shareholding in Eitzen Bulk A/S, a holding which it increased in 2010 to become sole owner. Today, the company operates a fleet of modern tonnage in the Panamax, Supramax and Handy-size sectors serviced by company headquarters in Copenhagen and branch offices in offices in Hamburg, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore. A new office has been opened this year in Cape Town. The company motto is “A Partner you can trust”.

Port of Vancouver potash export shipments were 8 million tonnes in 2016, an 8% decline on 2015 due to tough market conditions.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 16 June 2017 11:54

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While it is a distant problem to most Canadians, a new wave of refugees and illegal immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East is challenging the countries of southern Europe again this summer. This involves hundreds and sometimes thousands of people being rescued from the Mediterranean each week including many children. One such mission last month involved the Medecins San Frontieres chartered offshore supply vessel Vos Prudence which in a single operation rescued 1,449 migrants from 12 different boats and delivered them to Naples after being forced to sail for an extra two days following refusal of a request to land them in Sicily due to heightened security surrounding the G7 summit.  Among the refugees rescued were 207 women, 22 of them pregnant, and more than 140 children, the youngest being just a week old.

Built by Fujian Southeast Shipyard, Fuzhou, PRC and delivered in 2013
Owned and managed by Vroon Offshore Services
Registered in Ancona, Italy
LOA 75m
Beam 17m
GRT 2948 tons
DWT 3324 MT

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Since the beginning of 2017 there has been a steady increase in the number of those who have lost their lives while trying to reach Europe by sea, not having any safe or legal methods by which to do so. Despite the risks, desperate people are rolling the dice, the mortality rate being 0.37% in 2015. However, in the first 5 months of 2017 this has risen to 2.3% compared to 1.2% in the same period of 2016.

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Founded in 1971 by a small group of French doctors and journalists, Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) also known as Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian NGO widely known for its work in the many war-torn, disease ridden and famine affected regions of the world. The organization is supported by some 30,000 volunteer personnel comprising doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, logistical experts, water and sanitation engineers and administrators spread across roughly 70 countries. Private donors provide about 90% of the organization's funding, while corporate donations make up the rest, giving MSF an annual budget of approximately US$1.6 billion.

The organization emphasizes "independence and impartiality," and explicitly precludes political, economic, or religious factors in its decision making. For these reasons, it limits the amount of funding received from governments or intergovernmental organizations.

Founded in 1890, Vroon B.V. is headquartered in Breda, The Netherlands, and employs some 4,000 people globally including the manning of a diverse fleet of approximately 200 vessels. The company operates through a number of subsidiaries in the sectors of offshore-support vessels, offshore installation, maintenance and engineering services, dry-cargo vessels, container vessels, product & chemical tankers, asphalt & bitumen tankers, car carriers, livestock carriers and ship management services.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.