Friday, 21 February 2014 10:52

Maersk Alabama security guard deaths

298 MaerskAlabama

Two US security officers attached to the infamous container ship Maersk Alabama were found dead in Port Victoria, Seychelles, this week. The two were discovered in a cabin. Maersk Alabama gained notoriety when she was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009 resulting in a five-day standoff with the U.S. Navy. A post-mortem examination has been scheduled to determine cause of death and the US Coast Guard has reportedly opened an investigation.

Friday, 21 February 2014 10:49

VLCC Limburg 2002 bombing conviction

298 Limburg

A Saudi national being held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 pleaded guilty this week to involvement in the suicide bombing of the French flagged VLCC Limburg in 2002 off the coast of Yemen in which one crewmember was killed and 12 injured. Although not directly involved in the actual bombing, the accused was convicted of helping to plan the bombing, including buying the boats involved even though at the time of the attack he was already in US custody.

Given the state of the market, the large number of containerships being offered for demolition is starting to put pressure on the scrap market. Around20 Panamax containerships are believed to be on the chopping block already with many more available at the right price as owners focus on modern and more fuel efficient tonnage. As can be seen from the graphs, rates other than in China are at the healthy $450-500 per light deadweight ton (ldt) level, however should it be sustained the tsunami of scrapping that is currently underway is sure to put downward pressure on rates. 

Friday, 21 February 2014 10:46

Suez tolls rise again

298 Suez

Ever desperate to milk the cow that feeds it, and most of the population for that matter, the Suez Canal Authority has announced new tolls for tankers with increases of up to 2.6% effective May 1. Last year, fees for tankers rose between 2.5% and 5%. On a more positive note and following completion of a dredging program the Canal has decided to allow containerships of up to 13,000 TEU to join the second southbound convoy of the day, a move which could reduce eastbound transit times by half a day. Qualifying vessels will have a maximum LOA of up to 370m, beam 50m and a draft of 14.6 meters, larger vessels have to pay a surcharge. The similarity with maximum dimensions for container ships transiting the Panama Canal once the lock expansion program is complete are unmistakable. 

298 HumanFactor

A newly formed IMO subcommittee focusing on the human element at sea has been in session this week. On the agenda was the Polar Code, reviewing  maritime distress systems and developing what will eventually become the gas-as-fuel code for vessels running off low-flashpoint fuels such as natural gas and methanol. The Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping subcommittee was formed in 2013 in response to significant disagreements on such issues as standards of vessels and qualifications of crew operating vessels in polar regions including the ability to understand the risks of operating in or near ice if they have no prior experience. IMO Secretary General Mr. Koji Sekimizu wants the mandatory polar code to be completed this year and to come into force in 2016.

Friday, 21 February 2014 10:42

Chicago seeking Asian Carp solution

298 AsianCarp  298 AsianCarp2

Chicago is reportedly considering drastic measures to prevent the Asian Carp infiltrating the Great Lakes. One option under consideration is to completely block the city's canal system at an estimated cost of $18 billion to stop Asian carp entering Lake Michigan. The species was originally introduced to southern US states more than three decades ago to control algal build-up in sewage treatment plants but they escaped into the Mississippi River and populations rapidly expanded before making their way north. At more than one metre in length, they have largely displaced indigenous fish species along the way.

Friday, 21 February 2014 10:40

Marine Exchange to host Shipping 101

The Marine Exchange of Puget Sound is hosting Shipping 101 – “Global Commerce, International Transportation and Trade” in Seattle on March 3 thru 7, 2014. 

  • A five-day intensive course that covers the material you need to know and understand to effectively trade and ship in the global marketplace.
  • The course includes the evolution of international trade and transportation, all critical work processes, compliance requirements and different modes of transportation.
  • This course will enhance your competitiveness in the global marketplace as a seller, buyer or service provider.
  • The course includes a text book, work book, shipping geography and a tour of the Port of Seattle’s container and intermodal facilities. Shipping 101 carries 3.2 CEU Credits from Old Dominion University (ODU).  It also carries 20 CCS/CES Credits through the National Customs House Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association.

This course was hosted about a year by the Marine Exchange in Seattle for the first time in this region. The course information is all posted on the Marine Exchange website –, more specifically at

297 Panama

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is demanding that the Spanish-Italian-Belgian-Panamanian consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) which suspended construction two weeks ago in a contract dispute over $1.6 billion of cost over-runs resume work on the third set of locks. In response, the consortium has issued a statement claiming that  “GUPC has been making proposals and responding to proposals on an almost continual daily basis. GUPC has continued to make efforts on the a proposal sent to ACP to reach agreement and allow completion of the expansion project in the shortest time possible.” For its part, ACP has frequently referenced a Plan B but in reality the appointment of a replacement consortium at short notice would be a tall order. There are actually three levels of independent arbitration set out in the original $3.1bn contract signed in 2009 between ACP and GUPC but the current dispute has yet to pass the second stage. In a press conference on Thursday morning ACP claimed that it has  reached a partial agreement with GUPC to end the dispute (whatever that means) even as it continues to seek alternatives to complete construction. 

Friday, 14 February 2014 10:11

Congress seeks to reform FMC

297 Congress

A bipartisan Bill from Congress The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 seeks to reform the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and require the Maritime Administration to create a National Maritime Strategy. The Bill would reauthorize the FMC at current funding levels ($22.8 million) but prevent FMC commissioners from serving more than one year after their five-year term expires, limit their tenure to two terms and defines conflicts of interest. The push back from Congress is a reflection of the perceived unnecessary intrusion of the FMC on a number of files whilst simultaneously over-seeing continued shrinkage of the U.S. merchant fleet.

297 ArcticShip

Russia’s Ministry of Defense is promoting a plan to develop a “Center of Arctic shipbuilding” in Murmansk either through the development of a new shipyard or re-investment into existing yards. These yards have long supported  Russia’s Northern Fleet which is in expansion mode but needs re-investment to support offshore oil and gas development of the Russian arctic and the rapid expansion of trade through the Northern Sea Route during summer months.

297 Italians

The Italian government has blasted an Indian decision to try two Italian marines accused of killing two fisherman under the country’s anti-piracy and anti-terrorism act. The decision can only serve to further strain relations between the two countries and appears to be in response to street protests calling for harsh penalties for the marines. The anti-piracy and anti-terrorism act provides for capital punishment but it has been made clear by India that death sentences would be excluded as a possible penalty. Italy’s justice minister responded by saying “the government will fight the use of the law in all ways possible and our commitment to bring home Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone is stronger than ever.” The two men are on bail living in the Italian embassy in New Dehli but cannot leave India. NATO this week warned India that using anti-terrorism legislation to try the marines would undermine international efforts to combat piracy.

297 MOL

Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) has initiated legal action against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) the builder of the 8,100teu MOL Comfort, which broke in half and sank in the Indian Ocean in July last year. The company is also seeking compensation from MHI for the cost of strengthening the hulls of six sister ships, after inspections by ClassNK found “buckling-type deformations” on their bottom shell plates. Should the claim succeed there is the likelihood of thousands of consequential claims related to responsibility for the loss of 4,382 containers. 

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