Thursday, 27 November 2014 16:26

IMO formally adopts Polar Code

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At the 94th session of the organization’s Maritime Safety Committee last week, the IMO finally adopted the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters, commonly referred to as the Polar Code, as well as related amendments to SOLAS. The Polar Code is mandatory legislation that specifically addresses potential hazards unique to Arctic and Antarctic environments, such as ice, remoteness and rapidly changing and severe weather conditions. The code also deals with ship design, construction, equipment, operations, training, and search and rescue. The expected date of entry into force of the SOLAS amendments is January 1 2017 for new ships constructed after that date. Ships constructed before 1 January 2017 will be required to meet the relevant requirements of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after January 1 2018.

Thursday, 27 November 2014 16:23

Nicaragua Canal - shovels at the ready

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Despite fears of negative local impacts, it was announced last week that construction of Nicaragua’s $50 billion 278 km Interoceanic Grand Canal, a regional rival to the Panama Canal, will begin on December 22 after feasibility studies have been approved. Construction will be led by Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd (HKND Group). Opponents of the plan are concerned about the canal’s effect on Lake Nicaragua, an important fresh water source for the country, as well as the impact on poorer communities.Chinese businessman Wang Jing (above right speaking) is behind the canal plan, though he has no prior experience developing or financing big infrastructure. Watch this space. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014 16:19

RCCL enters Chinese cruise J/V

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Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the Chinese travel service provider Ctrip have announced a new joint venture to serve the rapidly growing Chinese cruise market. Royal Caribbean and Ctrip will each own 35%, the balance by SkySea’s management and a private equity fund.China’s Ministry of Transport has estimated that China could see 4.5 million cruise passengers by 2020 thereby overtaking the U.S. as the world’s largest cruise market.Royal Caribbean’s brand new Quantum of the Seas will  be based in Shanghai from May 2015. The new J/V is expected be underway by the middle of 2015.

Thursday, 27 November 2014 12:12

Latest Customs Notice on marine carrier codes

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Canada Border Services Agency has issued an update on carrier code eligibility in the marine mode in Customs Notice 14-029.  Effectively all marine carriers inbound with cargo for discharge or in-transit will be required to obtain a CBSA issued carrier code by spring 2015 as marine agent carrier codes will be discontinued at that time.  For more information visit CBSA's website for guidelines on the application process or view our FAQ document on our website.  

Also released earlier this week is the Final Evaluation Report of the Export Programs and various initiatives moving forward for export reporting.  

Thursday, 27 November 2014 11:18

NPESC lends support to our future seafarers

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The Nautical Professional Educational Society of Canada held its Annual General Meeting recently in Victoria and took the opportunity to present a bursary to Simon Winterburn (pictured above right with Lieutenant Commander, Rtd. Gerry Stanford), who is enrolled in the Watchkeeping Mate program at Camosun College.  NPESC works closely with the Marine Campus of the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Camosun College, the Western Marine Institute and other Canadian educational institutions to help further the professional education of Canadian mariners.  For more information on NPESC read their latest newsletter, Seatimes - Nov 2014

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The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, has announced several appointments today. Of particular interest are the following: 

Ms. Moira Jenskins, Ms. Donna Hais, and Capt. Chris Badger have been appointed to the board of directors of the Nanaimo Port Authority.

BC Coast Pilot, Capt. Allan J. Ranger, has been appointed to the Pacific Pilotage Authority for a three year term.

Friday, 21 November 2014 00:07

Update on Chamber and PPA media efforts

A couple of recent media efforts that we encourage you to tweet, like and circulate to your own circle of contacts:

  • Interview with Capt. Kevin Obermeyer, CEO, Pacific Pilotage Authorty in the Vancouver Sun

Thanks also to all who have commented on the recent series of radio ads promoting Safe Shipping – please also check out our new and update Facebook page at

Friday, 21 November 2014 00:05

Seaspan to build new ferries in Turkey

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Seaspan Ferries Corp. this week announced that it has awarded a contract to Sedef Shipyard of Istanbul, Turkey for the construction of two LNG-powered ferries. With an LOA of 148.9 meters each vessel will have a capacity for up to 59 trailers and will be powered by dual-fuel engines capable of running on diesel or LNG. Seaspan advised that the contract process involved discussions with 40 shipyards including consideration to building at home in North Vancouver but given the commitments to government contracts, this was not feasible. The two vessels are scheduled to begin service between Vancouver Island and the Mainland in late 2016.

Friday, 21 November 2014 00:03

Canadian LNG to new Fukushima site?

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An announcement last week by Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. (Japex) that it plans to build a new LNG import terminal at Soma near Fukushima by 2018 has raised expectations for Canadian LNG exports. The company has announced a so called "social mission" to bring stable energy to those affected by the 2011 tsunami and accompanying nuclear disaster. The new import terminal would be the country’s 33rd regasification facility as it continues to be the world's major LNG importer. Japex has a 10% interest in the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project at Prince Rupert. Japan has a pressing need to develop new LNG import facilities as all of the country’s 48 nuclear power generating reactors remain inoperative despite a local governor in southern Japan having recently given final approval to restart one nuclear power plant under new safety rules drawn up after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. 

Friday, 21 November 2014 00:01

Los Angeles & Long Beach overwhelmed

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Despite the intervention of the Mayor of Los Angeles, “Justice for Port Truckers”, a Teamsters union affiliate this week expanded their protests at Los Angeles-Long Beach against drayage companies. The drivers are protesting unpaid wages and misclassification of their status as independent contractors. The Teamsters have sponsored a number of driver disruptions this year, but in reality they represent only a minor percentage of the more than 100 drayage companies doing business in LA/LB.  Simultaneously, with Black Friday in the headlights, the ILWU continues to stage-manage a major slow down of cargo handling at all major West Coast Coast ports and in many cases is refusing to fill gang orders at all. Despite having been petitioned by pretty much every entity with a stake in the game and calls for a federal mediator, President Obama says he's confident U.S. West Coast longshoremen and waterfront employers can reach a labor contract.  However today the ILWA announced that they have decided to curtail "big table" negotiations starting today through the end of the US Thanksgiving weekend.  Making matters worse, the ILWU has also refused to agree to a temporary contract extension.

The Port of Oakland was closed yesterday when the ILWU declared a “24 hour safety stand-down” in respect of a 56 year old longshoremen who died in on a ship in Benicia following an asthama attack.

Thursday, 20 November 2014 23:58

Panama Canal Authority answers pilots' concerns

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The Panama Canal Authority has issued a detailed reply to recent criticisms from pilots of the decision to use tugs rather than the traditional side wall locomotives (mules) to assist vessels through the new locks, due to be opened in 2016. The Authority points out as follows:

  • Detailed studies were conducted regarding the methodology of transits through the new locks, evaluating the effects and consequences of transits with and without the assistance of locomotives. After extensive evaluation, the decision was eventually made to adopt transits through the locks with only the assistance of tugboats, a method successfully used worldwide at locks in various water routes.

  • These studies were performed by a multidisciplinary team in charge of the successful management of the Panama Canal operations, a team composed of highly-skilled engineers and pilots. This team has in the past been responsible for several modifications to transit methodologies, which have resulted in an improved efficiency and safety of operations. Eventually, these changes in methodology were implemented and accepted, resulting in improved efficiency in the current transit operations that have benefited our customers directly. These improvements have been recognized and praised worldwide.

  • In current transit operations, locomotives are used to help maintain the vessels positioned in the locks and avoid contact with the chamber walls. Recognizing that we do not want to have vessels making direct contact with the chamber walls of the new locks, and at the same time addressing the implementation of the new transit methodology, these locks were designed with two continuous rows of rubber fenders capped with an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (slippery surface to reduce wear) layer on the walls that will serve to reduce the risk associated with vessels coming in contact with those structures. Additionally, a vertical column of fenders of the same type mentioned earlier were also added every 33 meters to the new lock chambers.


The Authority also points out that it has invested more than 360 million dollars since 2007 in the acquisition of 35 new tugboats having state of the art technology and between 63 and 82 tons of bollard pull . In addition to new navigational aids the Authority is to invest in new Pilot Portable Units. The expanded canal is scheduled to open for business in Q1 2016 but don’t book that cruise just yet folks.

Thursday, 20 November 2014 23:55

New South Korean National Safety Agency

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In the continuing fall out over the loss of 304 people on the ferry Sewol, the South Korean government this week announced the formation of a new government agency designed to handle emergency rescue and safety management. The subject of much criticism, the Korean coast guard is being broken up and its search and rescue duties are being moved to the new “Ministry of Public Safety and Security” that will have more than 10,000 staff and incorporate national fire and emergency response teams.

Stung by criticism of the country’s poor record in confronting regional piracy, the Indonesian government also announced this week that it is to form a new coastguard. This was a key undertaking of the new Indonesian President Mr. Joko Widodo during his campaign.

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