The sad tale of Costa Conordia continues with the death of a Spanish diver last weekend. The diver was working as part of a large team tasked with attaching 30 large tanks which are to be filled with air to lift the vessel off the cradles resting on the seabed where she now sits. The largest maritime salvage operation in history is expected to conclude in June this year.
Still with an Italian flavor, the two marines as part of a security team on the tanker Enrica Lexie, who in 2012 shot and killed two Indian fisherman mistaken for pirates, are continuing to languish in an Indian prison. However, matters are coming to a head after the Indian supreme court this week gave the government a week to decide if it will invoke a maritime security law that carries the death sentence against the two men. India’s Home Ministry last month gave the country’s National Investigation Agency permission to prosecute the Italians under the law but that decision was then put under review. Defense lawyers for the marines this week protested that “not even a single piece of paper has been filed and nothing has been done and it is almost two years. Our main demand is that they should be allowed to go home.” India has meanwhile cancelled a 560-million-euro helicopter contract with Italy.
The Government of Canada has released its first Scorecard Report outlining the substantial progress made in cutting red tape for Canadian business, under the Red Tape Reduction Action Plan.
Canada Border Services Agency has issued Customs Notice 14-002 to advise that the requirement for the electronic notification of cargo arrival at sufferance warehouses under an amendment to the Customs Sufferance Warehouses Regulations will not be mandatory in fall 2013 as previously communicated in Customs Notice 13-018. Updates regarding the status of the regulatory process will be made public through the CBSA Web site when available.
Changes to Canada Border Services Agency’s D-Memo 19-2-1 have been made to accurately reflect Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) role in assisting the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to administer the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and Regulations. This memorandum replaces the previous Memorandum D19-2-1, Atomic Energy Control Act and Regulations, dated April 6, 1994.
IMO Secretary General Koji Sekimizu stated last week that the 2018 low sulphur fuel availability study required under MARPOL Annex VI which is a precursor to the global standard on 0.5% in 2020 or latest 2025 should be carried out "as soon as possible". The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) recently confirmed that it will once again put a proposal to IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC 66) when it meets in April, calling for the fuel availability review to get underway soonest since even if MEPC agrees to begin the study now, it would probably take at least two years to complete.
Also in contention is an amendment to MARPOL Annex VI, proposed at MEPC 65 in May 2013 under which there was tentative acceptance of a Russian proposal to delay implementation of the Tier III NOx standard from 2016 to 2021. The US, Canada, Germany, Denmark and Japan are said to be "preparing a strong defense" of the original 2016 implementation date which in any event applies only to Emission Control Areas.
The final draft of the mandatory International Code of safety for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code) drawn up by the IMO has been published and immediately faced heavy criticism from environmental groups who are arguing that the draft “fails to address the looming danger of having non ice-strengthened and poorly prepared ships in supposedly ice-free polar waters.” The Code is intended to cover the full range of shipping-related matters relevant to navigation in waters surrounding the two poles – ship design, construction and equipment, operational and training concerns, search and rescue, and the protection of the environment and eco-systems of the polar regions. Agreement in principle has been reached on definitions for the different categories of ship to be covered by the Code, as follows:
Category A: ship means a ship capable to operate at least in medium first-year ice which may include old ice inclusions in accordance with an ice class at least equivalent to those acceptable to the Organization.
Category B: ship means a ship capable to operate in sea ice conditions other than those included in Category A with an ice class at least equivalent to those acceptable to the Organization.
Category C: ship means any ship which is not a Category A or Category B ship.
Separately, the US this week released its plan to promote safety and security in the Arctic by building ports, improving forecasts of sea ice, and developing shipping rules just as Shell announced that it is cancelling drilling in the region this coming summer as part of efforts to cut spending. The U.S. Navy Oceanographer has commented that current sea-ice trends are expected to continue in the near-term, with the Bering Strait expected to see open conditions about 160 days a year by 2020. In the long-term, beyond 2030, environmental conditions are expected to leave waterways open for longer periods, driving a significant increase in traffic in the summer months.
There were two minor spills off Singapore this week following two separate collisions south of Jurong Island and off Marina South. The first occurred on Wednesday between the chemical tanker Lime Galaxy and the containership, Feihe about 1.6 miles south of Jurong Island. The second collision occurred on Thursday when the containership NYK Themis collided with a barge being towed by the tug AZ Carnation. A combined total of 20 spill recovery craft were deployed by the Maritime Port Authority and oil spill response companies.
Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas was forced to cut short a Caribbean this week after an apparent outbreak of norovirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that around 600 of the ship's 3,050 passengers and 50 of the 1,165 crew members showed symptoms of the illness. Royal Caribbean decided to terminate the cruise and return the vessel to her home port of New Jersey where she arrived on Wednesday (picture above) to undergo extensive sanitizing. All guests on the affected cruise will receive a 50% refund of their cruise fare and an additional 50% future cruise credit plus reimbursement of any additional travel costs incurred.
Last week we reported on the fact that communication had been lost with the loaded product tanker Kerala off the coast of Angola. Last weekend, contact was re-established after pirates hijacked the vessel and undertook a ship to ship transfer of around 13,000 tons of her cargo of diesel oil. The local navies are never short of a good story and this time it was the turn of the Angolan navy which accused the vessel of turning off communications to fake an attack and stated categorically that “there are no pirates in Angola’s waters”. Back on planet earth, the International Maritime Bureau has advised that one crew member has been hospitalized with stab wounds – perhaps he faked too.
Ports across North America are struggling with the pre-Chinese new year increased container volumes and the continuing severe weather across most of the continent. In the Canadian central and eastern provinces, both CN & CP are experiencing almost uniquely difficult conditions affecting the movement of most rail traffic. The situation has manifested itself most obviously in the container terminals which have become log jammed to the extent that some vessels are being delayed in berthing and only then working at partial capacity due to dock space constraints. Consequently, container dwell times are well above normal levels both in Vancouver and Prince Rupert.
With respect also to delays in the movement of grain PMV’s Director of Trade Development, Katherine Bamford has advised that “the port handled near-record grain volumes in 2013 and is currently fluid for grain handling, with available terminal capacity, berth capacity, and rail unloading capacity among the separate grain terminals at the port. As of 6 am on 30 January, the port registered six grain vessels at berth and 16 grain vessels at anchorage which is an average number of grain vessels in port for this time of year, as grain shipments tend to peak in the late autumn and early winter. With respect to rail, Canada's record 2013 grain harvest coupled with changes to market access, have resulted in high rail car demand. In recent weeks, the combination of shorter winter-length trains and sustained extreme weather conditions across the Prairies has challenged rail delivery of grain to tidewater”.
Work at Portland’s Teminal 6 container terminal operated by ICTSI was disrupted yet again last week, reportedly due to the company’s refusal to offer side deals during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day working holiday. The consequence was a shortage of labor last Monday as labor’s demands for compensation beyond the entitlements under the west coast’s collective agreement proved to be inadequate to get people to work. ICTSI is reported to be desperate to reduce its operating costs in Portland where it is losing serious amounts of money and has therefore been attempting to eliminate side deals. ICTSI is also trying to pursuade Hanjin not to give up on the port as it has threatened to. Were that to happen, 70% of Portland’s container volume would be lost.
Also frustrated by chronic delays at container terminals, financially hurting truck drivers at the Port of New York and New Jersey are becoming increasingly restless with the lack of progress in addressing their issues.
Delays peaked again this month when cold weather brought already over-subscribed terminals to a complete halt. Several drivers said “terminals could improve operations immediately through such steps as improving traffic flow and cracking down on poor treatment by International Longshoremen’s Association personnel”. High seas, snow, freezing rain and icy roads also resulted in port closures over a broad area of the South-Eastern U.S. from Virginia to Texas.
CN said today that the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference - Conductors, Trainpersons and Yardpersons (TCRC-CTY) has advised the Company that the tentative labour agreements negotiated with the union in October 2013 have failed to ratify. The TCRC-CTY represents approximately 3,000 CN train conductors, trainpersons, yardpersons and traffic coordinators on CN's network in Canada.
Jim Vena, CN executive vice-president and chief operating officer, said: "Last fall, after extensive negotiations, we reached progressive agreements with the union leadership of the TCRC-CTY representing our Canadian employees. We are disappointed to learn that those agreements failed to ratify. We have agreed to meet with the TCRC-CTY leaders next week to review the ratification results and discuss solutions on how we move forward from here."
Port Metro Vancouver undertook Pre-Design Consultation for the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project between October 7 and November 12, 2013. Opportunities for providing input included small group meetings, open houses, as well as a feedback form which was available both in print and online. A total of 196 people attended consultation events, 84 feedback forms were received and 44 submissions were received through email or mail.
Public and stakeholder input for this phase of consultation has been summarized in the Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project Pre-Design Consultation Summary Report. This report and its appendices are available for download and viewing here.
The Globe & Mail this week ran a feature on Port Metro Vancouver and the Port of Prince Rupert’s environmental programs including incentives to go beyond compliance in using cleaner fuels and efficient engines. Sir Richard Branson, a founder of the Carbon War Room, a not-for-profit focused on helping businesses find low-carbon solutions commented that “these Canadian ports are the very first ports in the world to work with us on this, and it’s just great … delighted that Canada is leading the way.” Sir @richardbranson tells the @globeandmail how BC ports are leading the way in clean shipping. http://ow.ly/sZxY0
The Carbon War Room also seeks to convert the Caribbean to a carbon neutral zone over the next 10 years and in pursuit of which Sir Richard plans to host a meeting of the region’s political leaders on his private island (Necker Island) in the British Virgin Islands this year. A call to enquire whether this means we get a discount on Virgin Atlantic flights to London this summer was not returned.
EU naval forces have made the first arrest of pirates off Somalia in 2014 in response to an unsuccessful attack on a product tanker. Five suspected pirates were detained by French forces last Saturday following the interception of a dhow. The attack on the tanker was repelled by a private armed security team embarked on the vessel however a Japanese aircraft and a helicopter from the Japanese naval vessel JS Samidare arrived on scene in time to identify the pirates’ dhow. The EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) French flagship FS Siroco took over from there and conducted the boarding and arrests.
Not so fortunate this week was the modern Panamax product tanker Kerala loaded with gas oil which is believed to have been hijacked six miles off the coast of Angola. Should this be confirmed as a hijack it would mark a significant territorial expansion in the operating zone of Nigerian pirates. The Angolan navy is reported to be searching for the vessel – good luck on that one.