Friday, 07 April 2017 14:06

Tragic ending for the Stellar Daisy

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The 266,000 dwt ore carrier, Stellar Daisy, belonging to South Korea's Polaris Shipping went missing in the South Atlantic about 2,500 kilometres off Uruguay after urgent distress messages were sent to its headquarters last Friday stating that they were taking on water.  An oil slick detected 3700km off the coast indicated that the 322 metre vessel had probably sunk. Only two of the crew comprised of 16 Filipinos and eight Koreans appear to have survived. The Stellar Daisy was enroute to China from Brazil and it is suggested that water ingress caused the liquefaction of the iron ore cargo causing the ship to capsize.  

The International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO) issued a statement Thursday calling for the timely completion of an investigation, "as a means to identify the causes of the incident and enable corrective actions to be taken." It called on the vessel's flag state, class society and P&I club to work together to produce a report as quickly as possible. The Stellar Daisy was initially built in 1993 as a single-hulled crude tanker and was later converted to carry iron ore cargo. 

Friday, 07 April 2017 13:45

Virginia-Georgia port alliance approved

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The Federal Maritime Commission cleared the way for an alliance between the Georgia and Virginia port authorities established under the East Coast Gateway Port Terminal Agreement, the first of its kind in the US.  The approval means that the ports of Virginia and Savannah can jointly acquire operating systems and equipment; meet to share information on cargo handling, gate operations, turn times, staffing and infrastructure; jointly draft agreements with carriers, shippers and other terminal operators; and sync marketing materials to attract joint services, alliance, and carrier network agreements.

Friday, 07 April 2017 13:19

Review of Great Lakes Pilotage Rates

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The US Coast Guard proposes in the Federal Register Vol. 82, No. 64 April 5, 2017 to modify its calculations for hourly pilotage rates on the Great Lakes by accounting for the ‘‘weighting factor,’’ which is a multiplier that can increase the pilotage costs for larger vessels traversing areas in the Great Lakes by a factor of up to 1.45.  Pursuant to the Great Lakes Pilotage Act, the Coast Guard sets hourly rates for pilot services on the Great Lakes. While all vessels must pay these base rates, larger vessels pay a higher rate, as a ‘‘weighting factor’’ multiplies the base rates they pay by a factor of 1.15 to 1.45.  

In past rate-settings, the methodology used to calculate hourly rates on the Great Lakes did not adjust the rates for the weighting factor.  During the 2016 shipping season, under the revised methodology, preliminary estimates of actual revenues exceeded the projected revenues, even when adjusted for increased shipping traffic. Based on the 2016 data, it was determined that is necessary to account for the weighting factors in the hourly rate calculation in the methodology in order for the US Great Lakes pilot associations to more accurately generate total revenues. Until the final rule is produced, the 2016 rates will stay in effect, even if a final rule is not published by the start of the 2017 season. Comments on the proposal must be submitted by 5 May.

Friday, 07 April 2017 12:29

$10M fine issued for Jones Act violation

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Furie Operating Alaska, an oil company that had arranged the shipment of an oil drilling rig, Spartan 151,  from the Gulf of Mexico around Cape Horn to Alaska on a Chinese heavy lift ship in 2011, has agreed to pay a record $10 million civil penalty to satisfy a penalty originally assessed at $15 million by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for violating the Jones Act.  Furie, then known as Escopeta Oil and Gas, had obtained a national defense waiver in 2006 to move a different rig but delayed the voyage and then failed to obtain a new waiver in 2011 when the voyage commenced.  The heavy lift ship did arrive in Vancouver in June 2011 where the Spartan 151 was transferred and then towed to Cook Inlet by three Foss Maritime tugs. After violating the act in 2011, Furie discovered natural gas in the Kitchen Lights Unit in Cook Inlet, helping resolve concerns about a looming gas shortage in Alaska's most populated region. Now Furie produces some of the fuel that heats homes and provides electricity across the region.

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The Heiltsuk Tribal Council (HTC) has just released an investigation report covering the first 48 hours after the grounding of the Nathan E. Stewart.  While some information is not included in the report due to the on-going investigation by the Transportation Safety Board, the report is thorough and presents a detailed chronology of events and findings from the Heiltsuk people. 

Friday, 07 April 2017 10:09

New Canadian Free Trade Agreement

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The Government of Canada today released the text of the new trade agreement, which takes effect on July 1st, Canada's 150th anniversary.  The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) is the result of a strong, collaborative effort among the Government of Canada, the provinces and the territories and is intended to create more jobs, business opportunities and choices for Canadian by establishing greater harmonization of rules and regulations.  A new Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table will also address the regualtory barriers to trade across Canada and examples of these include differences in trucking rules, certification regulations for food and standards for construction industry.  The agreement will also help Canadian businesses be more competitive and will align with Canada's international trade agreements, such as the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) where it was stated that the intent is to ensure that EU companies do not have greater access to opportunities than Canadians.

Friday, 07 April 2017 09:18

Truckers take a political stance

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More than 600 members of Unifor-Vancouver Container Truckers' Association (VCTA) and the UTA met in Surrey last Sunday to voice their frustration with the provincial government's lack of enforcement of the Joint Action Plan and the Container Trucking Act implemented following the strike in February 2014.  On March 31st the Office of the BC Container Trucking Commissioner (OBCCTC) advised that 61 audits have been completed or are underway (over half the licence holders) resulting in $2.2 million in pay returned to the container truckers. The OBCCTC also indicated plans to expand its auditing resources to ensure compliance with the Container Trucking Act, Regulation and CTS Licence.  However, this appears to be too little too late as the drivers voted on Sunday to support the NDP in the 2017 provincial elections.  

Friday, 07 April 2017 08:55

Draft Plant and Animal Health Strategy

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A draft of the Plant and Animal Health Strategy released by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is now available online for consultation.  Given the increasingly complex and constantly changing risks to Canada's plant and animal resources, the goal of the Strategy is to ensure their ongoing protection, thereby contributing to economic growth and the protection of human health and the environment. This will be accomplished by increasing collaboration and coordination among all those who play a role in plant and animal health, as well as by making prevention a priority.  Members are encouraged to participate in the on-line survey or join one of the upcoming webinars.  The consultation will be open until April 30, 2017. 

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The provincial goverment is providing $480,600 as part of a Sector Labour Market Partnership project with the Association of BC Marine Industries (ABCMI) to conduct an assessment of the labour force in BC’s industrial marine sector.  ABCMI will work with industry partners in identifying labour-market trends and develop an inventory of current talent and existing training programs available within the industrial marine sector.  The project includes engagement with six subsectors: shipbuilding, refit and repair, marine products, small craft marine, ocean science & technology, marine industrial services and marine professional services, to compile detailed information on employment training, attraction and retention for this broad sector. The outcome of this project will provided recommendations on how to meet the challenges of industrial marine sector’s labour force.

In addition to funding ABCMI, the provincial government is providing $253,500 to Quadrant Marine Institute to identify and assess the obstacles associated with apprenticeship training in BC’s recreational-marine industry. The Quadrant Marine Institute will continue its efforts in evaluating the best training practices for apprentices within the recreational-marine industry. The challenge of this industry is the wide-ranging scope of skills and knowledge needed to work on everything from small outboard skiffs and sail boats, to luxury yachts. The majority of the industry is populated by small businesses that specialize in certain aspects of service and repair, making it difficult for employees to offer the skills needed to match the demand. The recreational marine industry is a subsector of the manufacturing sector, which is a key sector of the BC Jobs Plan and a significant economic driver for the province, generating $15 billion for BC’s economy and supporting more than 170,000 jobs.

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The BC Ferries Commissioner has approved BC Ferries’ application to acquire a suitable used vessel to start a seasonal direct ferry service between Port Hardy and Bella Coola to support Aboriginal tourism and the mid-coast economy.  BC Ferries is now finalizing an agreement to buy the used Greek ferry, Aqua Spirit, built in 2000 and with a capacity 35 vehicles and 150 passengers and crew.  BC Ferries takes possession of the ship in August 2017 and the purchase price for the vessel was 8.75 million Euros (with conversion approximately $12.6 million CAD).

It will undergo major upgrades from the fall of 2017 through the spring of 2018. All passenger areas will be refurbished including lounges, the galley, washrooms and outer deck spaces. Mechanical modifications will include overhauling the main engines and generators; regulatory surveys; upgrading machinery and navigation equipment; and replacement of lifesaving equipment. The vessel already fits BC Ferries’ northern berths. Several smaller terminals will be modified to the northern configuration to accommodate the new ship. Summer service is scheduled to begin in 2018 and will run from mid-June through midSeptember on the direct route between Port Hardy and Bella Coola five times per week. 

The voyage between Port Hardy and Bella Coola will take approximately 10 hours and will be conducted in the daytime to maximize tourism potential. BC Ferries will be engaging with the mid-coast community regarding the exact sailing schedule, naming of the vessel and onboard amenities. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.

Thursday, 06 April 2017 13:13

USCG cautions against counterfeit items


The US Coast Guard has issued Safety Alert 03-17 following a recent investigation of a ferry propulsion failure where investigators discovered evidence of falsely identified fasteners being used as part of the drive train system. Several installed bolt heads separated from their shanks and, as a result, a splined hub coupling loosened and disconnected from the reduction gear / transmission. This then overstressed the stern tube seal, allowing water to leak into the engine room.  Bolt heads generally include markings that indicate grade and manufacturer. The grade is associated with a bolt’s mechanical properties and composition. In this instance one fastener was marked with a manufacturer listed on the Department of Energy’s Suspect / Counterfeit Part Headmark List and not listed in the Department of Commerce’s Fastener Quality Act Register of Active Fastener Insignias.

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The Review Panel for the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project has requested additional information from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA).  The Panel’s requests (now Package 4) contains 39 items that require additional information or clarification from VFPA and included in these items are requests for further clarification on the projected size of vessels that will call Terminal 2, further information on the findings from the ECHO (Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation) Program, and modelling of the underwater noise while berthing a 398 m container ship with three tugs and a line boat.  

The Review Panel continues to collect the information that it needs to proceed to a public hearing for the Project. The Panel’s consideration and analysis of the environmental assessment information, including the submissions received during the comment period, is ongoing. The Panel expects to issue additional information requests to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and will also require information and advice from other parties that are participating in the environmental assessment.

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