Losing no time in bowing to the public outcry, the Korean authorities have this week placed 15 crew members of the capsized ferry Sewol on trial over the deaths of at least 292 people, most of them teenage school children. The vessel’s master, 69 year old Captain Lee Joon-seok and three others face the most serious charge of "homicide through willful negligence". Eleven others are being prosecuted on lesser charges of criminal negligence and maritime law violations. With the trial taking place in Gwangju, the city closest to the location of the tragedy, many relatives of the victims were in court to see the opening of the trial. The picture above left shows the Captain being helped off the vessel by the Korean Coast Guard and (centre) after being detained in custody.
Thousands of South Korean police have also raided a religious compound associated with the fugitive billionaire owner of the Sewol, Mr.Yoo Byung-eun. Some 6,000 officers with helicopter support stormed the complex in Anseong city. A separate trial of senior executives blamed for procedural lapses is due to start later this month.
Italian officials in the Department of Civil Protection met in Rome this week to discuss plans laid out by the owners of the Costa Concordia, Costa Crociere, related to the refloating of the wreck and its transfer to Genoa, where she will be scrapped. Current plans call for the wreck to be refloated on July 20 from where she will take five daysto be towed to Genoa. The project requires the approved of the Italian Council of Ministers prior to implementation with the deadline for a final decision delayed to June 25.
Eleven crew members of the Malaysian registered ship container ship Albedo which was hijacked by Somali pirates in November 2010 have been freed after three and a half years (1288 days) in captivity, apparently without a ransom being paid. The crew who are from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran were flown to Kenya for medical checks and debriefing before being repatriated. Seven of the ship's crew were released two years ago when a ransom was paid but sadly not before one had been executed by their captors. Four others died when the vessel sank (picture above) after two years at anchor. Approximately 38 crew members from a variety of hijacked vessels still remain unaccounted for.
A search has also been on since Wednesday last week for the Greek coastal tanker Fair Artemis that lost contact 40 miles off Ghana with a 24-strong crew and a cargo of gasoil. The vessel sent a distress call on June 6 saying that she had been hijacked and was being looted as it was forced to sail through the waters of neighboring Togo. Naval forces from Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria all engaged in the search and she eventually turned up on Wednesday this week – minus cargo of course.
Whilst already well known for shutting down port operations during national soccer games, Brazilian stevedores were set to go the full Monty during the World Cup with a complete shutdown in protest against Government attempts to implement much needed reform. At the 11th hour, a shutdown was postponed until June 27 after the government agreed to listen to stevedore complaints following many months of ignoring them. Now is peak soya-bean exporting season when ports are even more congested than normal hence damage to the country’s agricultural sector would be immense.
The bulk carrier Antonio suffered a serious cargo hold fire this week in the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas. Smoke enveloped a wide area of the port and local area with one shore fire-fighter being taken to hospital with heat exhaustion. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The Canadian Shipowners Association and the US based Lake Carriers Association have announced an agreement on five shared principles for ballast water control measures on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canadian Eastern and Arctic waters to the limit of the Canadian exclusive economic zone (Operating Area). The purpose of the agreement is to establish fair, equivalent and flexible ballast water regulation on both sides of the border.
A big sigh of relief for Canadian ports as the new US Water Resources Reform and Development Act signed into law on Tuesday excluded a proposed 0.125 per cent tax on cargo arriving in Canada and Mexico destined for the US. In lieu of any tax, the new Act does offer $25 million to ports that contribute to the National Harbor Maintenance Tax, such as Seattle and Tacoma.
Chair of the Board, Craig Neeser, presented Blue Circle awards for environmental performance beyond compliance following this week’s Annual General Meeting of Port Metro Vancouver. The 2013 award recipients were APL (Canada), COSCO Canada, CMA CGM (Canada), Disney Cruise Line, Eukor Car Carriers, Grieg Star Shipping (Canada), Hapag-Lloyd AG, Holland America Line, Hyundai Merchant Marine, K Line; Maersk Line, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Mediterranean Shipping Company (Canada), Orient Overseas Container Line, Princess Cruises and Westwood Shipping Lines. Company representatives nominated to accept the award are shown together in the pictures above.
Financial highlights announced by CFO Allan Baydala prior to a lively Q&A session with members of the general public were:
PMV also paid out $1.2 million in harbour dues discounts to vessels participating in the EcoAction program as recognized by the Blue Circle Award.
During the three day visit of a high ranking delegation from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to Vancouver this week, Canada was urged to extend trade links to this fastest growing region on the planet comprising a market of 600 million people. The visit was coordinated by the Department of Foreign Affairs with the delegation being hosted by a International Trade Minister Ed Fast along with Provincial Ministers and the Premier. The delegation head reminded us that there is currently only one direct flight a week from ASEAN countries to Canada and that needs to change given that the region has around 1,200 airports and will require 3,000 additional aircraft between now and 2032 to meet the projected increased demand for travel. ASEAN is a thriving 10-nation political and economic organization made up of Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. In terms of shipping, the region holds registration of 17% of the world fleet and currently handles around 78m TEU per year.
BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong and a group of officials, has been on a sixnation tour of Europe this week to discuss BC’s economy and opportunities for LNG investment. In addition to meeting with potential investors in London, the Minister will meet with the UK Treasury. Tour stops include Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, France (for D-Day commemoration), Amsterdam, London and New York when Mr. De Jong will attend a June 11 conference on North American energy.
Just last week, the federal Natural Resources Minister the Honourable Greg Rickford announced plans to establish a Major Projects Management Office (the MPMO West) in Prince Rupert to work with West Coast First Nations on proposed Provincial energy projects in the province. The tripartite forum will be designed to facilitate interaction between the federal and B.C. governments with First Nations related to aboriginal participation in energy developments as recommended by The Prime Minister’s special advisor on First Nations engagement, Mr. Doug Eyford.
The Kitimat LNG project led by Chevron Corp. and Apache has signed an agreement with TransCanada Corp. for about 1.9 billion cubic feet per day capacity pipeline to supply the venture. This in turn will spur a major extension to the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) pipeline. This new pipeline of 260 kilometres of 48-inch diameter pipe will carry natural gas sourced through the NGTL System via the proposed Pacific Trail Pipeline (PTP) that will terminate at the Kitimat LNG plant at Bish Cove.
Following a period of extensive study, the board of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA)has elected not to pursue shore power for cruise ships on account of the often very short period of port stay. "Industry commitments to clean fuel and on-board scrubber technology have eclipsed shore power as a viable air-quality strategy for Victoria," commented Curtis Grad, President and CEO of GVHA. The port is scheduled to handle 205 calls at the Ogden Point cruise terminal this year as Victoria continues to rate highly with passengers as the Canadian port of call for Seattle based ships under the Jones Act coastal trading requirements.
After being closed for two days, the St. Lawrence River reopened late last week after tugs successfully pulled the Federal Kivalina off the bank on which she was grounded near the Thousand Island Bridge. Routine precautions were taken in case of bunker oil leakage but thankfully non occurred.
The marine tragedy of the year claimed another victim last week when a second diver searching for bodies in the sunken ferry Sewol was killed. The diver was pulled from the water where he was involved in the cutting open of the hull in the hope of reaching the bodies of 16 people still missing nearly two months after the vessel sank, Meanwhile a car reportedly owned used by the fugitive businessman believed to be the owner of the Sewol has been located. All 15 of the surviving crew members, including the 69-year-old captain, have been arrested and face charges of gross negligence after video footage emerged of some abandoning the vessel while the passengers were still on board.
The small Thai coastal products tanker Orapin 4 went AWOL in the Singapore Strait last week when on passage from Singapore to Pontianak (Indonesia). She eventually turned up last weekend but minus her cargo of 3,377 tons of diesel fuel. Despite the efforts of local governments, the incident highlights the ongoing problem of hijacks and hit and run attacks on shipping being carried out by heavily armed Indonesian pirates.
The European Union has this week approved both the P3 (Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM) and G6 (Hapag-Lloyd, APL, Hyundai, MOSK, NYK and OOCL) shipping alliances and neither will face anti-trust proceedings. Both are expected to become operational in Q4 of 2014.
In an eccentric episode of summer fun, a local flyboarder chose to greet the arrival of the cruise ship Queen Victoria in Liverpool last week by jetting 45ft into the air. Mr. Jay St John entertained a huge crowd of onlookers with his stunt and was formally acknowledged by Commodore Christopher Rynd, the ship’s Master. Flyboarding works through sucking up water through a tube and exhausting it through two jets. The rider starts by lying face-down in the water, bending their knees, and setting off. Nozzles attached to the hands act as ski poles. Created in 2011 by jet ski rider Franky Zapata, the flyboard became a success after he posted a video on YouTube. There is now a Flyboarding World Cup every November, which this year will see Mr. St John competing against riders from across the globe. For the official video see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM8kEHjQz9U. By coincidence, some of you may have seen a flyboarder practicing his skills in English Bay last weekend.