Canada Post commemorated the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the passenger liner RMS Empress of Ireland yesterday (May 29) with the release of two stamp designs and two picture post cards. Empress of Ireland sank in only 14 minutes in the early hours of May 29 1914 in the St. Lawrence River following a collision with the Norwegian collier SS Storstad in dense fog. Of the 1,477 passengers and crew on board the Empress, there were 465 survivors but 1,012 persons were lost. During eight years of service, the Empress carried an estimated 117,000 immigrants to Canada. As a consequence, Canada Post estimates that one in 30 Canadians can trace family records to a relative that came to Canada on that vessel. At the time of the collision, she was on passage from Quebec City to Liverpool and had just completed a mail stop at Rimouski.
Efforts are underway to lighten the bulk carrier Federal Kivalina after she ran aground on the St. Lawrence Seaway in US waters on Tuesday afternoon this week about 350 meters north of the Thousand Islands Bridge after losing steerage. She is said to be loaded with a cargo of canola seed. The vessel managed to reduced the impact of grounding using her anchors but she is reported to have sustained a minor hole in the bow. Traffic is current blocked due to the narrowness of the navigable channel in this section of the Seaway. No pollution has occurred.
The US Senate has passed by 91 votes to 7 the $12.3 billion the Water Resources Reform and Development Act which is expected to kick start east coast port dredging to accommodate the bigger vessels that will begin transiting the expanded Panama Canal in 2016. The measure authorizes 34 projects including dredging, flood control, hurricane recovery and environmental restoration and will allow ports to pay the cost of dredging up front and seek reimbursement from the government once a project is formally authorized, thereby reducing project completion time by several years.
The San Francisco Superior Court ruled in favor of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA) this week when it awarded the PMSA more than $260,000 in legal fees and costs against the State of California as a result of a Public Records Act lawsuit. The PMSA had been seeking records documenting pilot assignments, working hours and rest periods on San Francisco Bay. The original case was filed in July 2012 and had been contested by the State.
South Korea is stepping up its hunt for Mr. Yoo Byung-eun who through a series of complex cross-holdings owns the company whose ferry the Sewol sank last month with tragic consequences. A reward of $500,000 has been offered for information leading to his arrest. Several members of the religious sect which he is also believed to lead have already been detained.
The small coastal tanker Shoko Maru suffered an explosion yesterday off the coast of Japan while in ballast. The Japanese Coast Guard is reporting that the Captain is missing however seven Japanese crew members were rescued but with four of them seriously injured. There are unconfirmed reports that the vessel was undertaking maintenance at the time.
To close the book on a sad story from last week, the over-turned hull of the missing yacht Cheeki Rafiki was located by the US Coast Guard on March 23rd. Her life raft was found still secure in its storage rack effectively ruling any chance of survival for the four crew members. A helicopter crew dispatched from a US Navy warship located the overturned hull and a boat crew was dispatched to undertake a detailed inspection. Navy crews observed that the sailing vessel’s keel was broken off causing a breech in the hull. Cheeki Rafik, was sailing to the UK after competing in a sailing event in the Caribbean island of Antigua.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore which handles around 128,000 vessel calls per year has released the findings of an investigation into a spate of three minor collisions in the space of two weeks earlier this year. The report lays blame on bridge crew errors, and a lack of situational awareness even though MPA’s Port Operations Control Centre had provided advisories and warnings of the traffic situation. The report also added that “the bridge teams also did not make use of all available means at their disposal, such as the automatic identification system, automatic radar plotting aid, radar, and electronic chart display and information system to avoid the collisions”. Based on its data, the number of incidents over the last few years averaged about 0.012-0.016 per 1,000 vessel movements in the port waters and Singapore Strait. The above real time AIS screen shot captures about 2000 vessels in the proximity of Singapore thereby demonstrating the density of daily traffic conditions.
Greenpeace was at it again this week – the latest target is Norway’s Statoil and the company’s Arctic drilling program. The semi-submersible drill rig Transocean Spitsbergen (owned by Transocean and on contract to Statoil) was boarded by 15 Greenpeace protestors despite the efforts of Statoil to engage in conversation with Greenpeace over the past several months. The protest was performed “irresponsibly and illegally” according to a spokesperson for Statoil.
Greece took the opportunity at the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 93) last week to reiterate that country’s concerns that energy efficiency regulations and associated guidelines could lead to underpowered, unsafe vessels, a view supported by other IMO delegations. In support of its position, Greece submitted an information paper which it believes demonstrates weaknesses in some of the current assessment methods. The observer delegation of International Federation of Shipmasters' Associationsalsoofferedsupport to the Greek concerns and it was agreed to refer the issue back to the next meeting of the IMO Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) scheduled for mid-October.
Carnival Corporation announced last week that it plans to more than treble the number of scrubber systems being installed in its fleet of 101 cruise ships. In effect, the announcement means that Carnival has now committed to spending around $400 million to install exhaust gas cleaning technology on more than 70 vessels as cruise lines everywhere struggle with the high price of low sulpur fuels.
MSC Cruises (a division of Mediterranean Shipping Company) has committed $1.7 million to develop and construct two revolutionarily designed cruise ships known as Project Seaside in partnership with the Italian builder Fincantieri. With a LOA of 323m and beam of 41 meters, each vessel will have capacity for 5,300 passengers and will be serviced by 1400 crew. As can be seen in the above concept drawings, the promenade deck is almost at sea level and wind deflectors mean that passengers will be able to sit outside when the ship is underway without being troubled by sea breezes. The first vessel is scheduled to be launched in November 2017, the second in May 2018 bringing the company’s new build program up to 7 vessels.
Both the Tokyo and Paris Port State MOUs are to initiate Concentrated Inspection Campaigns (CIC) from September to November 2014. The specific target will be crew hours of rest. Vessels are required to maintain records of individual seafarers’ hours of work and rest as required by STCW 2010 and the ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006. A CIC focussing on ‘Crew Familiarisation and Entry of Enclosed Spaces’ is anticipated in 2015.
As part of the their commitment to the 15-point action plan, TSI Terminal Systems Inc. (TSI) and DP World (Canada) Inc. (DP World) have announced the introduction of night gate operations five nights a week at Port Metro Vancouver's major container terminals, effective July 1, 2014. With the implementation of the night gates, is the introduction of a reservation fee applied to daytime transactions only. The fee is inteded to be set at a value that will cost recover the additional operating hours. The extended operations will create over 377 jobs (including direct, indirect and induced), reduce truck traffic and congestion during peak daytime hours, maximize the use of existing port infrastructure and create more opportunities for growth by offering a wider range of access times at the terminals for container truckers.
As of July 1st day gates for trucks operate from 08:00 to 16:30 and night gates will operate from 16:30 to 01:00 at Vanterm, Deltaport and Centerm.
Following a delay in the publication of the amended Pacific Pilotage Tariff Regulations, the Pacific Pilotage Authority has advised that they Treasury Board has approved the new Pacific Pilotage Tariff Regulations May 16, 2014 effective May 16, 2014.
Despite predictions to the contrary, the gods cooperated last weekend for the naming ceremony of the Canadian Lifeboat Institution’s new Tyne Class boat. She is named Fraser Lifeboat and originally entered service in 1987 as Famous Grouse for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). During her first career, she is credited with 363 launches leading to the rescue of 475 people and the saving of 37 lives. She was carried to Vancouver by Star Lima thanks to the generosity of Grieg Star Shipping and following which she has been extensively overhauled to ensure reliability for her new role. Fraser Lifeboat has a full speed of 17 knots, an optimum speed of 11 knots and will be positioned on the Fraser River as a valuable addition to local marine safety. Jane McIvor will be covering the event in greater detail in the August edition of BC Shipping News.
TransCanada Corp. has submitted an application for an environmental assessment certificate for construction of a 900-kilometre pipeline to deliver natural gas to the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG project (led by Petronas) on Lelu Island, Prince Rupert. This triggers a 180-day public review period by the BC Environmental Assessment Office including a 45-day period (May 26, 2014 to July 10, 2014) where the public can provide comments on the application. Five open houses have been scheduled from 4 pm to 8 pm. with the following dates and venues: June 16 - Terrace; June 17 - Port Edward; June 19 - Smithers; June 23 - Hudson's Hope; and June 25 - Fort St. James.
Speaking at the Provincial Government’s three day LNG Conference this week, the CEO of Petronas, which company is considered to be the frontrunner to build an LNG plant in B.C., warned against “unrealistic expectations” that could jeopardize B.C.’s plans to become an LNG exporter. This was a clear reference to potentially over ambitious taxation plans on LNG exports.