The NYK owned cruise operator Crystal Cruises has announced plans to become the world’s first luxury cruise line to sail the Arctic Ocean via the Northwest Passage. In August 2016, the 1070 passenger 6 star vessel will sail from Seward (Anchorage) in Alaska for what is being described as a 32 day expedition style voyage terminating in New York. The Crystal Serenity will be accompanied by an escort vessel that will carry additional safety and environmental protection equipment, as well as specifically-trained personnel, and also serve as a platform for a helicopter and zodiacs. Both the escort vessel and cruise ship will run on low sulphur fuel, thereby exceeding current environmental regulations. The itinerary which has been two years in planning includes calls at Kodiak, Alaska, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut in Canada and Greenland, as well as several ship and shore excursions.
On the evening of July 18 the crew of the Seaspan “Hawk” assisted the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) vessel in recovering five people from an overturned boat east of Lonsdale Quay. All five casualties were rescued, treated and later released from hospital. Great joint effort by Seaspan RCM-SAR.
Canada Border Services Agency has published a new “Pre-Arrival Notice” form (BSF732) in an attempt to standardize the format in which the pre-arrival data is provide. CBSA has indicated that use of the new form is not mandatory and that for the time being they will continue to accept other formats currently in place. In addition to the Pre-Arrival Notice, CBSA is also encouraging vessels to submit crew and passenger list in the standard format agreed by the IMO Facilitation Committee.
Under the Beyond the Border Action Plan, Canada and the US have announced created a new Customs Self-Assessment - Platinum program that will allow non-resident importers in the US to participate in the CSA program that will streamline the clearance of goods when a CSA authorized importer, CSA authorized carrier and an approved commercial driver are used. Platinum members will be subject to reduced trade compliance verifications by CBSA. Currently there are 95 CSA members representing $89.3 billion in annual trade.
Transport Canada will be undertaking a review of the Canada Transportation Act and has appointed a six-member advisory group that will be led by the Honourable David Emerson. The purpose of the review will include a focus on Canada's rail-based supply chain for all commodities and review governance and services delivery models for port and pilotage authorities. Recommendations from the review expect to be directed towards achieving a "commercially based, market-driven multi-modal transportation system." The outcome of the review must be provided to the Minister of Transport within 18 months. A discussion paper is available at: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/ctareview2014/discussion-paper.html.
Ms. Marcella Szel has agreed to serve as one of the Advisors and has subsequently resigned from Port Metro Vancouver's Board of Directors.
The Province of British Columbia has released its conclusion on the airshed assessment conducted in Kitimat in October 2013. The study looked at the potential cumulative impact of the various projects planned for the region together with the anticipated increase in marine traffic in the Douglas Channel. The study shows that the industrial growth will not compromise the airshed provided that emission standards are adhered to.
The World Cup Final last Sunday between Germany and Argentina broke all social media records thereby underlining the huge world wide audience for the match. The winning goal scorer Mario Gotze and Golden Ball winner Lionel Messi were most talked about. As the German team claimed victory, it celebrated on its official social media pages with a photograph of the team with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband (above) which was collectively liked more than 250,000 times on Facebook. Germany is to issue a stamp celebrating its team's victory in the Football World Cup – it was revealed that five million were printed before the final match was even held – now that’s confidence.
Despite Lionel Messi’s entreaties to Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict had the last laugh even though he is reported never to have attended a football game in his life. However, speaking of Pope Francis, he surprised everyone during his address from the Vatican last Sunday by expressing his support for seafarers worldwide. "Today we celebrate Sea Sunday. I turn my thoughts to seafarers, fishermen and their families. I urge Christian communities, particularly the coastal ones, to be attentive and sensitive towards them," Pope Francis said during his address. "I call on the chaplains and volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea to continue with their commitment to the pastoral care of these brothers and sisters. I entrust all, especially those who are in trouble and away from home, to the maternal protection of Mary, Star of the Sea." He also called on those who work for the well-being of seafarers and their families to "be the voice of those workers who live far from their loved ones and face dangerous and difficult situations."
The National Energy Board announced this week that it has deferred the deadline for its final report to cabinet until Jan. 25, 2016, a delay of seven months, to allow Kinder Morgan complete further studies into the routing of the proposed new pipeline through Burnaby Mountain. The City of Burnaby continues to refuse to meet with Kinder Morgan or to provide site access or permits. Oral hearings on the project are now scheduled to begin in July 2015. Under the original schedule, the board’s report was due July 2, 2015.
The Port of Prince Rupert issued a press release following the grounding of the Japanese Panamax bulk carrier Amakusa Island on Monday evening off Prince Rupert. The vessel was shifting under pilotage from Ridley terminals to anchorage at the time of the incident and was refloated some four hours after the grounding with the assistance of a high tide and tugs before being safely anchored. The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident in which two ballast tanks were ruptured.
The PMA and ILWU were back to the business of trying to negotiate a contract this week as pressure on BC’s container terminals remains particularly heavy as a consequence of cargo diversions and the beginning of peak season for imports. The Mayor of Los Angeles brokered a cooling off period last weekend with three harbour trucking companies and their striking drivers while the LA Harbor Commission looks into allegations related to worker safety, poor working conditions and unfair labor practices. The drivers are actually attempting to affiliate with the Teamsters union who continue their attempts to “organize” trucking companies across the US. Of some concern is a ratcheting up of pressure by ILWU locals related to local disputes on the Columbia River where it remains to be seen how far they will use the big picture negotiations to exert leverage on grain terminals from where they remain locked out.
In statistical terms, intermodal traffic into North America increased by over 8% year over year in Q2 2014, after expanding only 2.6% in Q1, at least in part due to an acceleration of imports ahead of the west coast contract negotiations. CN Rail intermodal volume is up 15% year over year with U.S. bound cargo through PMV and Prince Rupert so strong that CN has resorted to issuing strict equipment allocations to ocean carriers.
The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved a $858 fiscal year 2014-15 budget that includes $579 million in capital expenditures. The major cost items are the replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge to allow the biggest container ships to gain access along with redevelopment of the Middle Harbor container terminal.The budget also includes plans to spend a further $30 million on environmental projects.
The wreck of the Costa Concordia was successfully lifted this week from the under-sea platform it has been resting on for the past year in one of the biggest maritime salvage operations in history. If all goes to plan, next week she will be towed to Genoa for razor blades. After striking a reef off the Italian island of Giglio in January 2012 and subsequently capsizing with the loss of 32 people, the wreck was hauled upright in September 2013 and left to rest on a bed of six platforms since. Taking advantage of calm summer weather, the vessel was refloated by pumping air into purpose built and positioned sponson tanks attached to the port and starboard sides of the vessel – see the tank arrangement above right). We will cover the voyage to Genoa next week.
A consortium led by Royal Boskalis Westminster has won a $768 million reclamation project to develop a new Port of Singapore 65m TEU “megahub”container terminal in Tuas on the west coast of Singapore. In addition to Boskalis, the successful consortium comprises Van Oord, Hyundai, Samsung and Penta Ocean. Singapore plans to ultimately relocate the current terminals in Brani, Keppel, Tanjong Pagar, Pasir Panjang Terminal 1 and Pasir Panjang Terminal 2 to the new site, which is expected to open in 2027. Reclamation is expected to complete in 2018.
Holding symbolic yellow umbrellas and accompanied by their parents, more than 30 student survivors of April's ferry disaster this week marched 30 kms to the South Korean parliament to press demands by victims' relatives for an independent inquiry into the tragedy. Of the total passengers, 325 were teenaged students from the same Danwon High School in Ansan and only 75 survived. The march was primarily in support of the swift passage of legislation that would set up an independent inquiry into the causes of the tragedy but this is now stuck in parliament because of a split over the legal foundation of the proposed investigation. Some family members have embarked on symbolic hunger strikes to push their demands and have collected a petition with 3.5 million signatures calling for the bill to be adopted. A report by the state auditor published just last week said the sinking was a "man-made disaster created by negligence, corruption and greed.” Just this week, a helicopter participating in the search for those still missing from the Sewol crashed into a residential area of the city of Gwangju killing five firefighters on board.
The mishandling of a container in the port of Laem Chabang, Thailand, this week resulted in dozens of people being hospitalized with nausea, eye and nose problems and in one case unconsciousness. Butyl acrylate is reported to have leaked from a dropped container on the Pearl River Bridge resulting in the vessel being ordered out of the port and away from the coast.
As the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean grows worse by the day, the 43m Phoenix 1 has been pressed into service by a Malta based philanthropist couple to rescue migrants from numerous overcrowded and hopelessly unseaworthy boats trying to make it to Malta or Italy. Phoenix 1 is manned by a professional crew, paramedics, rescue dinghies and drones to “provide an eye in the sky”. So far this year, more than illegal 63,000 migrants have arrived in Italy alone thereby adding to the major humanitarian crisis in that part of the world.
In a bid to show serious intent in dealing with the recent upsurge in Indonesian piracy, Malaysia has announced the deployment of the auxiliary warship Bunga Mas Lima in the east coast of Sabah Province (shown in green above far right). The vessel was previously assigned to anti-piracy patrols in supports of anti-Somalian pirate operations in the Indian Ocean. Over 2,000 tons of marine gasoil was hijacked from the tanker Moresby 9 off the coast of Malaysia just two weeks ago and just this week, pirates hijacked the Malaysian tanker Oriental Glory in the South China Sea, stealing its gasoil cargo before setting it adrift with a damaged engine.