The US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration issued a warning yesterday suggesting Iran is engaged in interfering with ships’ GPS systems as they transit near the Middle Eastern nation. The warning said merchant ships had reported “spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be US or coalition warships.”
“Due to the heightened regional tensions, the potential for miscalculation or misidentification could lead to aggressive actions against vessels belonging to US, allied and coalition partners operating in the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman,” US Central Command (CENTCOM) explained in an emailed statement, adding that a number of ships have reported communications jamming in recent weeks.
The US believes Iran has GPS jammers operating on Abu Musa Island, an island in the Persian Gulf, aimed at getting international ships and aircraft to inadvertently wander into Iranian waters or airspace.
e5 Lab Inc., a venture between Asahi Tanker Co., Exeno Yamamizu Corp., Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. and Mitsubishi Corp is seeking to build the world’s first zero-emission tanker by mid-2021 that will be powered by large-capacity batteries and will operate in Tokyo Bay. Momentum is gathering for fully electric ships, with Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc offering battery-powered ship engines starting last year, and Norway’s Kongsberg Gruppen ASA is developing an electric container vessel. There are still challenges in making the technology applicable to ships navigating thousands of miles across oceans because of the need to recharge batteries.
Custom officers have found 4.5 tons of cocaine onboard a containership at the Port of Hamburg, representing the largest-ever cocaine shipment seized in this country. The shipment consisted of more than 4,200 parcels in 211 black sports bags in a container aboard an unnamed vessel. The cocaine has a street value of around EUR 1 billion (USD 1.1 billion).
Following last week’s article on OOCL's plans to step up inspections on dangerous goods, Hapag-Lloyd has since advised that it will impose a fine of $15,000 for each container of misdeclared hazardous cargoes starting on September 15th. This decision comes after Hapag-Lloyd’s Yantian Express suffered a fire that caused millions of dollars of damage.
The Government of Canada has announced a major investment of $13.1 million to increase capacity at the Stewart World Port (SWP) and improve the shipment of Canadian goods to overseas markets from Northern British Columbia, Yukon, Alberta and Saskatchewan to SWP instead of trucking or shipping by rail to other western marine port locations. The project includes installing bulk loading conveyor systems and power and control facilities at SWP. An estimated 275 jobs will be created in the region during construction and once completed, the improved trade corridor will reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the more efficient movement of cargo.
The digital division of Norwegian maritime services provider Kongsberg Gruppen AS announced a partnership this spring with Fujitsu Ltd. on artificial intelligence (AI) powered software that can optimize routes by learning the habits of captains and the history of their ships. This initiative seeks to reduce emissions and fuel costs ahead of the IMO 2020 global sulphur cap that reduces ship bunker fuel sulphur content to 0.5% from 3.5%. The Vessel Fuel Optimization software, developed at Fujitsu’s new AI headquarters in Vancouver, can reduce annual fuel costs by $1.3 million per vessel, according to the Japanese company. With as many as 50,000 ships on the seas, the cost savings could be in the billions of dollars. The software can be personalized based on preferences of the ship captain and past behaviours to optimize solutions for each voyage.
The Prince Rupert Port Authority has released a new economic impact study which revealed that employment associated with the Port of Prince Rupert has grown from 5200 jobs to 6200 jobs since 2016. In total, the international trade cargo handled in 2018 at the Port of Prince Rupert was valued at approximately $50 billion and the business of transporting that trade through the gateway created $1.5 billion of economic activity in the region.
Singapore-based port operator PSA International has completed the acquisition of Halterm Container Terminal in the Port of Halifax from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners. This will be PSA’s first coastal terminal in Canada. The terminal is currently undergoing further berth expansion, including the delivery of a fifth Super Post-Panamax Quay Crane, which will enable Halterm to handle two mega container vessels concurrently in 2020.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has begun an assessment on the proposed marine shipping terminal to be built in Mine Cove, Little Lawn Harbour by Canada Fluorspar (NL) Inc. The facility, which will be built on the western municipal border of St. Lawrence, will include a waste-rock crushing plant, aggregate stockpiles, concentrate storage buildings, access and haul roads, a wharf, a conveyor, a ship-loader and a 350-metre long rock-filled breakwater. The proposed development would ship approximately 200,000 tonnes of acid-grade fluorspar concentrate and two-million tonnes of construction aggregate per year. The deadline for public comments on the project is Aug.29.
The Association of Pacific Ports (APP) has names Ian Marr, CEO of the Port of Nanaimo, as their new President. The APP is a trade and information association founded in 1913 as the Pacific Coast Association of Port Authorities (PCAPA) for the purpose of promoting increased efficiency and effectiveness of the ports of the Pacific. There are currently 27 members of the APP and 47 associate members in Canada and around the globe.
The Government of Canada brought into force the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act on July 30th. The Act prohibits vessel abandonment and brings into Canadian law the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, 2007. It increases owner responsibility and liability for their vessels, addresses irresponsible vessel management, and enables the Government of Canada to proactively intervene to address problem vessels that pose hazards. Not complying with the Act can result in an administrative monetary penalty of up to $50,000 for individuals and up to $250,000 for companies or corporations. Convictions of more serious offences could result in a maximum fine of $1 million for individuals and up to $6 million for companies or corporations.
Note the new insurance requirements for Wreck Removal applies to all vessels and barges in Canadian waters over 300 gross tonnage in Ship Safety Bulletin No. 08/2019.
The Government of Canada has announced that it will be procuring six new program icebreakers to replace the current aging fleet of CCG icebreakers. A new competitive process, through an Invitation to Qualify, to add a third Canadian shipyard as a strategic partner under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) is being launched. Through the Invitation to Qualify, the Government of Canada will establish a short list of pre-qualified shipyards that will be eligible to submit a formal proposal to become the third strategic partner under the NSS, joining Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards. Interested suppliers have 15 days, starting today, to respond to the Invitation to Qualify.
The Government of Canada is investing in a marine science initiative led by the University of Waterloo in Iqaluit, Nunavut. With the changing environment due to the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss and persistent chemicals that are present in the North, more science, data and Inuit knowledge are needed. The data collected under this project, will help characterize the current state of the coastal ecosystem of Iqaluit. The project, which received an investment of nearly $108 000, is measuring the concentration of contaminants like mercury and methyl mercury in species like molluscs, starfish and cod. This research initiative is part of the $50.8 million Coastal Environmental Baseline Program.
In early July, the Alaska Governor, Mike Dunleavy, announced he would eliminate funding for the Ocean Rangers program that monitors cruise ship traffic in the Alaskan waters. The Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner says the program is unnecessary and burdensome to the industry and is proposing an automated monitoring system that does not rely on inspectors. Voters approved the program in 2006.
Meanwhile, Alaska's ferry system was shut down for a second straight day last week, due to 420 members of the union taking strike action to protest stalled contract talks amid big budget cuts imposed by the Governor. A tentative agreement has since been reached. The Governor vetoed line items equalling $444 million in reductions to Alaska’s operating budget.
Georgia’s Savannah port posted another record fiscal year for container traffic for the 12 months ending in June. Container traffic hit a record 4.5 million TEUs, up 7.3 percent from the prior fiscal year. Automotive and machinery units shipped through the state’s Brunswick port were up 4 percent during that time. The Savannah port also saw substantial growth in shipping by rail. In 2018, the ports authority launched its Mason Mega Rail Terminal, a sprawling new rail yard designed to improve the Savannah terminal’s connection to the main CSX and Norfolk Southern rail networks. The Mason project will ultimately reduce the time for products arriving in Savannah to reach Nashville, Memphis and Chicago by rail. That project is about 40 percent complete.
Starting this month and until November 30, 2019, the Panama Canal will promote the implementation of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) annual recommendations on speed and maritime transit aimed at protecting cetaceans, which include whales, dolphins and other large aquatic mammals, during their nearby seasonal migration. With these measures, ships should proceed at a speed of not more than 10 knots in specified areas. Panama has monitored this requirement since December 1, 2014 when maritime traffic separation devices (TSS) were installed by both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean entry points to the Canal. The initiative is part of the Panama Canal’s broader efforts to incentivize environmental stewardship and includes watershed conservation initiatives, innovative water-saving basins, and other programs aimed at implementing technologies and standards to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Iran reiterated last weekend that it will pursue a “toll” on all ships travelling in the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian lawmakers demanded that each vessel in the strait pay a fee for safe passage just 48 hours after Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commandos in black ski masks rappelled from a helicopter onto a British oil tanker and took control of the vessel. The ship, the STENA IMPERO, and its 23 crew members remained in detention at an Iranian port Sunday as the West scrambled to figure out how to respond to Tehran’s latest provocation.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) and the Asian Shipowners' Association (ASA) jointly urge immediate action by the international community to stop the escalation of tensions and fully respect international law. Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General, commented that Freedom of Navigation is vital for global trade and is a fundamental principle of international maritime law. Seafarers and ships must be allowed to operate in safety, and it is simply not acceptable for them to be used as bargaining counters in any way.