Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 11, 2008
Author: P&S










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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – KIWI AUCKLAND

  • Outcry expected as HEBEI SPIRIT officers are jailed

  • Qatar agrees to finance new Kenyan port at Lamu

  • Shipping trends – lines consolidate and start cutting back

  • Another angle on piracy - coke goes overland to Norway

  • The Russians are coming!

  • Pics of the day – ARKAAN and BANGLAR MAYA




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    First View – KIWI AUCKLAND



    Making a bunker call at Cape Town yesterday was the car carrier KIWI AUCKLAND (37,841-gt, built 1985) which is owned and operated by Hoegh Autoliners. Picture by Aad Noorland



    Outcry expected as HEBEI SPIRIT officers are jailed

    International condemnation is expected at the news that a South Korean court has jailed the master and chief officer of the VLCC HEBEI SPIRIT, saying they were partly to blame for Korea’s worst ever oil spill.

    The judgment followed an appeal against an earlier lower court decision which found the two men not guilty. The retrial saw the ship’s master, Capt Jasprit Chawla and chief officer Syam Chetan being sentenced to 18 months and eight months in prison respectively, in addition to receiving fines equal to USD14,000 and USD7,000. The owner of the Hebei Spirit, Hong Kong-based Hebei Ocean Shipping was fined USD21,000.

    In addition guilty verdicts were confirmed against the tugmasters involved in the accident, in which a barge carrying a construction crane broke free from the tugs towing it and rammed into the anchored Hebei Spirit. The giant ship was punctured in three places, leading to a massive oil spill of nearly 11,000 tonnes of crude oil. The tugmasters’ sentences were however reduced slightly. The barge master, who earlier had been acquitted by the lower court, was found guilty and given an 18 months jail sentence.

    The sentences come in the face of mounting anger among international shipping circles and lobbyists who have campaigned to Korean authorities to allow the two men from the Hebei Spirit to return home to India.

    Earlier this week the independent tankers body Intertanko sent a letter to the president of South Korea, Lee Myung-bak urging that the court consider carefully all of the evidence. In the letter Intertanko asked the court not to rely solely on evidence and decisions made by the Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal (KMST), which it said was technically flawed.

    “It would be highly regrettable if the outcome of these court proceedings were to prove detrimental to Korea’s international reputation and to its status as a tanker shipping nation, to its shipyards which rely on business from international tanker owners and to its refining and chemicals industry whose oil is delivered by the international tanker fleet,” the letter stated.

    Condemnation of the continued detention in Korea of the two ships’ officers has com from a wide number of organisations and bodies, and is expected to increase now that the higher court has reversed the verdict and issued sentences.

    In its response prior to the verdict being given the South Africa Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), which is affiliated to the London-based International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), said it strongly believed that the two seafarers had been unfairly caught up in an effort to address the crisis caused by the incident. “SATAWU supports bringing justice to wrongdoers, but cannot support the continuity of criminating (sic) the seafarers,” it said in a statement.

    The two Indian officers are members of an Indian affiliate of the ITF.

    SATAWU said that it and other ITF affiliates were determined to campaign against the criminalisation of seafarers in all corners of the world.



    Qatar agrees to finance new Kenyan port at Lamu

    The emirate of Qatar has agreed to finance the construction of a new port facility at the island of Lamu, some 240km north of Lamu.

    Costing US$ 3.5 billion, the port will act as an entry port for new trade corridors to Ethiopia as well as the northern regions of Kenya.

    A new port will also help release some of the pressure on Mombasa, which has become severely congested.

    According to one report Qatar will lease about 40,000 ha south of Lamu for the growing of crops such as rice. – source Bloomberg



    Shipping trends – lines consolidate and start cutting back

    One of Japan’s largest s shipping lines, NYK, says that in the face of a rapidly deteriorating global shipping market, it will be forced to revise downward its planned fleet expansion by around 25%, equal to between 50 and 60 ships.

    A company spokesman revealed that NYK will also be introducing a full-scale review of its current medium-term ‘New Horizon 2010’ management plan that was launched last March which set business performance and fleet size targets. The revised plan will be released next March. New Horizon 2010 runs from April this year through until the end of the fiscal year 2010.

    As part of the revised plans NYK will probably scrap older vessels earlier than originally intended. The current plan calls for an expansion of the fleet by 223 ships (29% of the fleet) to 1,000 vessels by the end of the 2010 year. These were to include 630 bulk and LNG carriers, 150 car carriers and 220 liner vessels. Instead it now expects to downgrade the targeted increases for a total of 950 ships.


    AXS-Alphaliner reports in its latest edition that 135 container ships, totalling 300,000 TEU have been laid up, which is an increase from the 270,000 TEU of two weeks and 150,000 TEU of six weeks ago. This represents 2.5% of the world cellular fleet.

    Alphaliner says these numbers will increase in the coming weeks as more vessels are withdrawn.



    Another angle on piracy - coke goes overland to Norway

    The pirates of Somaliland may be small in number but the effect they have on international trade is becoming a major problem. Ports & Ships has featured reports of several shipping companies opting to send their vessels the long way round Africa via the Cape – Odjfell and Svitzer are just two while Maersk Line has identified which of its ships are more susceptible to attack and have rerouted them also.

    Now comes news, courtesy of barentobserver.com that a Norwegian smelter plant, Finnfjord AS, having already had one bad experience when a ship carrying coking coal intended for the smelter was highjacked and held for ransom for 51 days, has decided to ‘ship’ its coke in future by rail from China.

    The overland route will run from Xinjang in Western China through Kazakhstan and Russia to the port of Arkhangelsk in the Barents Sea, from where it will finally go on board a ship for the final leg to Norway.

    Studies show the journey time will be halved. The smelter plant says it will save 20 days and over 17,000 km of travel by using rail. Director Jacob Steinmo said language problems and bureaucratic obstacles had already been overcome and he forecast that others would look seriously at this as an alternative to shipping cargo by sea.

    He said transport costs were the same by ship, but when ships have to sail round Cape Horn to avoid pirates then it becomes more expensive.

    The port of Arkhangelsk authorities says the port can handle the increase in cargo – only half of the port’s capacity is currently in use.



    The Russians are coming!



    Our report of yesterday Russian Navy squadron to round Cape of Good Hope en route to Indian Ocean has raised considerable interest.

    The report referred to the impending movement in Cape waters of the Russian nuclear powered battlecruiser PYOTR VELIKY (Peter The Great), as well as an accompanying destroyer and supply ship.

    It appears that the ships will indeed be calling at Cape Town between 11 -1 4 January, providing regulatory matters are dealt with in time. These relate among other things to the fact that the cruiser is nuclear-powered but given the precedent set by the US aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on her visit in Table Bay recently it can be hoped that all requirements will be speedily dealt with.

    Notices for a permit application appeared in Cape Town newspapers at the weekend advising of the Russian ships’ visit and Ian Shiffman reports that a spokesperson at the Russian embassy has confirmed to him the intention of the ships to call.



    Pic of the day – ARKAAN and BANGLAR MAYA




    The Maltese-registered bulker ARKAAN (15,028-gt, built 1982) still looked well preserved in this 2005 picture of the ship arriving in Durban. Picture Terry Hutson



    Not so for the Bangladeshi general cargo ship BANGLAR MAYA (11,764-gt, built 1980) which appeared a trifle scruffy when she sailed later the same day. Picture Terry Hutson


     
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