Despite a public apology by the country’s President, the Korean ferry disaster has now had major reverberations throughout the country and has even prompted the resignation of the Prime Minister. The owners of the Sewol are being investigated, all 15 members of the deck crew have been arrested (picture above left) and a major investigation has been launched involving the Korea Register of Shipping and the Korea Shipping Association (KSA) related to conversion of the ferry in 2012. This has prompted the Chairman and CEO of the Korean Register to also stand down.
A 98 year lease on the world’s largest coal export port, Newcastle, New South Wales, has been won by Australian based Hastings Funds Management and the China Merchants Group. A higher than expected bid of A$1.75 billion ($1.6 billion) sealed the deal, far above the State Government’s valuation of A$700 million. The successful tender is 27 times earnings, matching the 27 times earnings compared to the recent 25 times earnings in a A$5.07 billion deal for 99-year leases for Port Botany and Port Kembla. The Hastings Group has a diverse portfolio of utilities, airports, toll roads and ports in Australia, Europe and the United States. China Merchants owns a wide range of transportation, finance and property assets with A$819 billion assets under management as of end-December. The port exported 142 million tons of coal in 2012/13.
A report by BMT Asia-Pacific, commissioned by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, has proposed the establishment of a new statutory body, independent of government, with a view to kick starting the territory’s declining role as an International Maritime Centre. The report calls for a change of direction in areas of policy, R&D, marketing, training, and communications in order to increase competitiveness with leading IMCs such as London, Singapore and Shanghai. There are currently around 2,300 ships of 87.6 million GRT flying the Hong Kong flag.
Construction of the new Panama Canal locks is again at a standstill after around 700 workers voted to strike last weekend. The country’s most powerful union with around 70,000 members, is demanding annual salary hikes of at least 20% for each of the next four years, while the Panama Construction Chamber is proposing a staggered raise that would see workers’ pay increase by 22% over four years. Negotiations are underway between representatives of the striking workers and the construction consortium GUPC. As of March 31, the US$5.25 billion project was 74% complete.
Please also see the linked presentation on the conceptual Nicaragua Grand Interoceanic Canal by courtesy of the International Chamber of Shipping.
A ton of heroin worth almost £160million has been found hidden inside sacks of cement on a dhow in the Indian Ocean.The crew of the Australian warship HMAS Darwin intercepted the dhow 27 nautical miles east of the Kenyan port city of Mombasa and discovered the drugs stowed in 46 bags.The seizure is largest ever in the history of the Combined Maritime Forces, a joint operation between 30 countries to combat piracy, militancy and smuggling in the waters of East Africa.
The BC Maritime Employers Association in a joint venture with Capilano University has put together a new Waterfront Leadership Certificate Program to focus on developing team leaders on the waterfront. The program will consist of 15 days of training and will cover broad range of topics including business basics, the supply chain, corporate social responsibilities and operations management. The first course will be held in September 2014. For more information visit the BCMEA website.
A crew member was killed during a pirate attack this week on the German owned product tanker SP Brussels. Two pirates were also killed in crossfire with two armed guards on the ship. At the time of the attack, the vessel was in ballast sailing from Port Harcourt to Lagos and the crew were attempting to reach a citadel. In December 2012, pirates attacked and looted the same vessel, also off the coast of Nigeria, taking five crew members hostage.
In what must surely be one of the largest naval procurement orders in history, General Dynamics this week secured a contract with the US Navy to build 10 Block IV Virginia-class submarines at a total contract value of $17.6 billion. Two submarines per year will be built with first steel cutting planned for 1 May 2014 (yesterday) and the last vessel being scheduled for delivery in 2023. The design calls for 12 Tomahawk cruise missiles to be installed in two separate silos. Ten Virginia class submarines are already in service and eight are under construction. Hull length is 115 meters and beam 10 meters with a speeds “in excess of 25 knots”.
The UK government's capital investment fund for science is to order a new £200m polar research icebreaker for delivery in 2019. With a helideck and hangar, robotic subs, ocean-survey and sampling gear the vessel will provide UK science with one of the largest and most capable polar research vessels in the world. Initial specifications:
The UK already operates two polar ships - the Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Clark Ross and the RRS Ernest Shackleton. The former was built in 1990 and the latter in 1995.
It was also announced last week that a $6.5 million contract has been awarded to Babcock Canada Inc. for critical refit work for Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent. The shipyard portion of the work will be carried out by Chantier Davie Canada Inc., a sub-contractor to Babcock Canada. Commissioned in 1969, CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent is Canada's largest and heaviest icebreaker.
The provincial government has released its latest proposal on land-based spills.
Three major policies are being proposed to ensure both government and industry can respond to heavy oil and other hazardous material spills on land in a timely and effective manner, including:
The public will have until June 26, 2014, to review the paper and submit feedback. The paper can be found at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/codes/spr_eep/response.htm
Canada Border Services Agency clarifies its interpretation of "Open Vessel" in tariff items 8901.90.10 and 8906.90.11 and 8906.90.19. An "open vessel" for the purpose of tariff classification is considered to be a vessel that has no deck. Barges are not considered to be an "open vessel".
The B.C. government last week approved an amended permit to allow Lafarge to store 800,000 tons of coal at Texada Island, double the previous amount. This will enable the company to handle thermal coal from the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD) coal-handling facility which is currently seeking an environmental permit from PMV. If approved, the FSD project would initially involve receiving and shipment of up to four million tons of thermal coal annually from the US Midwest, transfer to barges and ship to Texada Island for loading on Capesize bulk carriers. A second phase would involve expansion to eight million tons a year, subject to further review.
The National Energy Board has approved Triton LNG’s application for a 25-year licence to export LNG from an as yet to be determined location on the B.C. coast. Triton LNG involves AltaGas of Calgary and Idemitsu Kosan Co., Japan's third-largest refiner.
It was also announced this week that China National Offshore Oil Corp.(CNOOC) has signed a preliminary agreement with BG Group to be a possible partner in the proposed Prince Rupert LNG project. Spectra Energy has previously been contracted to deliver the feed-gas. BG Group has filed plans to build an LNG plant with annual capacity of around 21 million tons per annum.
BP has meanwhile agreed to sell interests in four oilfields it operates on the North Slope of Alaska to concentrate on the LNG project it is developing with ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, TransCanada Corp. and the Alaskan authorities. BP said it was selling its non-natural gas assets to Hilcorp, one of the largest privately-held independent oil and natural gas exploration and production companies in the US. However, BP plans to continue as operator and co-owner of the Prudhoe Bay oilfield.
It sounds familiar to everyone’s ears in Vancouver but trucking companies in Oakland are complaining that turn times at container terminals can sometimes take several hours, making it impossible for many drivers to earn a living. Because of this, Chris Lytle, the port’s Executive Director has been chairing regular meetings with truckers, terminal operators, carriers and beneficial cargo owners since he took office last year. He has acknowledged that as with other busy container ports, it is the smaller percentage of exceptionally long turn times that skew average times and raise the level of discontent. The Port of Oakland has published a hot linethat truckers can call whenever they have service issues. By common consent, all terminal operators in Oakland are losing money with the consequence that terminals are giving the level of service that they can afford to provide and which frequently does not meet what the truckers and ocean carriers expect. As a result, the port is considering a plan where a fee would be charged on all containers with the proceeds used to fund a program of consistent and predictable extended gates.
As the search for bodies on the sunken Korean ferry Sewol continues, an offshore crane from Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) Shipyard has been brought in as preparations begin to salvage the vessel (above right). The Vice Principal of the South Korean high school who accompanied his pupils on the ferry trip has committed suicide and several crew members, including the Captain have been arrested on charges of professional negligence. It has emerged that the first distress call was made by a frightened boy onboard the vessel – not the crew.
In an emotional speech, President Park Geun-hye said this week that the instruction to the young passengers to remain in their cabins was tantamount to an “act of murder as many children would not have dared to question their elders and therefore paid for their obedience with their lives”. As of this morning, of the 476 people onboard at the time of sinking, 183 passengers have been confirmed dead, with 121 still missing. A total of 174 passengers were rescued. On a visit to Seoul today (picture above right), President Obama expressed his condolences for South Korea's "incredible loss" and offered America's solidarity. As for the cause of the accident, local investigators are considering whether recent modifications made it top-heavy and inherently unstable. She would therefore have been vulnerable to sharp alterations of course.
Two workers were killed in a fire at the Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea, this week. The first started at one of the building docks used to construct LPG carriers. The fire was extinguished within an hour and a half later with 18 fire trucks and 60 firefighters on site however people living in surrounding areas were forced to evacuate their homes.