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News Archive

23 July 2012

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Fewer pirate attacks worldwide

The number of pirate attacks have fallen sharply in the first half of 2012, led by a drop in Somali piracy according to new figures from the International Chamber of Commerce's International Maritime Bureau (IMB). But the agency warns of a worrying increase of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea.

Overall, 177 incidents were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the first six months of 2012, compared to 266 incidents for the corresponding period in 2011. The report showed that 20 vessels were hijacked worldwide, with a total number of 334 crew members taken hostage. There were a further 80 vessels boarded, 25 vessels fired upon and 52 reported attempted attacks. At least four crew members were killed.

The decrease in the overall number is primarily due to the decline in the incidents of Somali piracy activity, dropping from 163 in the first six months of 2011 to 69 in 2012. Somali pirates also hijacked fewer vessels, down from 21 to 13.

Nonetheless, Somali piracy continues to remain a serious threat.

“Somali pirate attacks cover a vast area, from the Southern Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Gulf of Oman to the Arabian Sea and Somali Basin, threatening all shipping routes in the north west Indian Ocean,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB, which has been monitoring world piracy since 1991.

The report, in part, has attributed the noticeable decline in Somali piracy to the pre-emptive and disruptive counter piracy tactics employed by the international navies. This includes the disruption of mother vessels and pirate gangs. “The naval actions play an essential role in frustrating the pirates. There is no alternative to their continued presence,” said Mr Mukundan. The effective deployment of Best Management Practices, ship hardening and, in particular, the increased use of armed guards, has also contributed to the falling numbers.

As of 30 June 2012, Somali pirates were still holding 11 vessels and 218 crew, 44 of whom were being held ashore in unknown locations and conditions.

The decline in Somali piracy, however, has been offset by an increase of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, where 32 incidents, including five hijackings, were reported in 2012, versus 25 in 2011. In Nigeria alone there were 17 reports, compared to six in 2011. Togo reported five incidents including a hijacking, compared to no incidents during the same time last year.

The IMB report emphasized that high levels of violence were also being used against crew members in the Gulf of Guinea. Guns were reported in at least 20 of the 32 incidents. At least one crew member was killed and another later died as a result of an attack.

Tim Hart, senior maritime security analyst at global business risk consultancy Control Risks, suggests that an evolution in West African piracy has been evident since late-2010. “There are many tactical variations amongst pirate groups in that part of the world but perhaps of most concern has been the spread of Nigerian piracy westward. Groups based in Nigeria have increased their operational range and now threaten the waters off Benin and Togo, targeting product tankers in particular for the purpose of cargo theft via ship-to-ship transfer. Such attacks are quick and well-organised.”

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Lagarde's comments prompt ICS response

Christine Lagarde
Shipping & aviation should provide funds for climate change mitigation schemes

The International Monetary Fund's managing director Christine Lagarde set alarm bells ringing in the shipping industry in June when she said the shipping and aviation industries should provide about a quarter of the funds to used for climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.

Madame Lagarde gave a speech, Back to Rio—the Road to a Sustainable Economic Future, in which she reportedly said “charges on international aviation and maritime emissions would raise about a quarter of the US$100 billion needed for climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries—resources that developed countries have committed to mobilize by 2020”.

Newly elected International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) chairman Masamichi Mooroka has now written a letter explaining in detail the industry's concerns. While very polite in tone, the letter effectively says that Madame Lagarde had not done her homework properly or taken note of the IMF's own paper on the subject.

In his letter Mr Mooroka says that Market Based Measures (MBMs) are very controversial and most shipowners believe, given the severely depressed state of global shipping markets, that now is certainly not the time to impose an additional major cost on international shipping.

However, he also explains the position of ICS and its member national shipowners’ associations that, if all governments so decide, then shipowners, in principle, will have no objection to contributing, at some point in the future, to the Green Climate Fund, or a similar mechanism that might be established by IMO, provided that such money is indeed used for climate change adaptation or mitigation, and that the same charges apply to all ships internationally regardless of flag.

He also makes the point that any contribution by shipping must be proportionate to shipping’s share of total global emissions (less than 3%) and the forum where the details of such a mechanism should be developed is the IMO.

“In particular,” Mr Morooka writes, “your rough calculation overlooks the fact that about two thirds of the world fleet is registered in Kyoto Protocol ‘non-Annex I’ nations. Apart from being inequitable in view of shipping’s small contribution to the world’s total CO2 emissions, to raise the huge monies that you mentioned would therefore require a much larger charge. This would almost certainly be viewed as a tax on trade by those emerging economies that rely on ships operated by ‘Annex I’ nations.”

He then explains: “Most importantly, you seem to overlook the fundamental principle of international shipping, and its regulator the IMO, which is that our global industry requires a global regulatory framework. If any carbon charges were only to apply to ships registered in Kyoto Protocol ‘Annex I’ nations these ships would be at a major competitive disadvantage to the ships registered in ‘non- Annex I’ nations. Because of the serious market distortion that would be created, many of these ships would simply change their flag to a jurisdiction where the carbon charge did not apply.”

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Survey reveals pay rises across maritime sector

The latest Faststream Maritime Employment Review shows that despite shipping industry woes, salaries across the sector continue to rise.

Based on the responses of 4000 shipping professionals working in all the main shipping centres as well as seafaring officers worldwide, the survey by specialist maritime recruiter Faststream shows that half of the respondents reported a 5% + salary rise over the past 12 months. However, 30% of seafarers reported a decrease in their salary.

Other key findings of the survey include:

• Average salaries for Master Mariners working on passenger vessels remain the highest at $153K
• Benefit packages offered by ship management companies have caught up with those on offer from shipowners
• Asia based ship operators and shipbrokers are 20% better paid than their European counterparts
• 9% of shore based shipping professionals reported a salary drop in 2012
• Officers who move from sea to shore after 6-10 years at sea can expect a significant rise in income over their career

Commenting on the results, Faststream Group CEO Mark Charman said: “Even though the shipping industry is being buffeted by poor vessel earnings, rising costs and ever more stringent regulations, salaries continue to rise. The sector suffers from a skill shortage and the pool of highly qualified people continues to shrink. This is both the legacy of a lack of training in the 1980s during the previous downturn and the often perceived low status of jobs in the shipping industry.”

Click here to download a full copy of the 16 page report.

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Further support for container weight verification initiative

Overweight containers: a serious problem for ports and ships

FONASBA, the international ship brokers and ship agents federation, has given its full backing to international government and industry efforts aimed at ensuring that shipping containers for export are accurately weighed.

The initiative, which is being led by the World Shipping Council in concert with shipowners’ association BIMCO, the International Association of Ports and Harbours, the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers Federation, as well as the maritime administrations of Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States, will be launched at the 17th session of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC 17) in September.

The problem of under-declared and unverified containers is a serious one for ports and ships. A paper to be put forward at the IMO meeting revealed that in recent containership accidents, some boxes had been up to ten tonnes heavier than the manifest weight, leading to stack collapse, capsizes and even contributing to the break up of the vessel.

Onshore, under-declaration has led to crane, straddle carrier and forklift failures as well as stack collapse, overturned trucks and damage to trains, roads and bridges.

With the ship agent being central to the movement of cargo to and from the vessel and port, issues arising from the handling of containers of unverified weight, especially those which are under-declared, can affect the agent anywhere along the transport chain.

FONASBA general manager, Jonathan Williams FICS said: “Ship agents see the problems which inaccurately weighed containers cause ports and ships every day. It is extremely worrying that there is currently no obligation for containers to be accurately weighed anywhere along the transport chain. FONASBA hopes that this initiative will rectify this anomaly and bring considerably more certainty, resulting in increased safety levels for all parties in the container shipping sector.”

World Shipping Council President and CEO Chris Koch welcomed FONASBA's support for the initiative and said the Council and the other partners were looking forward to the Federation's input to the discussions in IMO and elsewhere.

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UK Chamber on the move

The UK Chamber of Shipping has revealed that its new home will be 30 Park Street, London, SE1. The British Ports Association and UK Major Ports Group will also be moving to 30 Park Street with the Chamber. 30 Park Street will include flexible event space that can accommodate over 100 people.

UK Chamber's chief executive Angus Frew said: “We’re delighted to be able to announce our move to London Bridge and look forward to welcoming our members there once we have completed the fit out. Our staff are all thrilled to be moving to the new purpose built offices, which are in a really vibrant and exciting area with excellent connections through London Bridge main line and tube stations.”

He added: “The Chamber’s new premises are bright and contemporary, and will make an excellent venue for our many meetings and events. We hope to launch the Chamber’s new brand and website there in the coming months - this move completes the reorganisation that has revitalised the UK Chamber over the last 2 years.”

The Chamber sold its current premises in Carthusian Street, EC1, in October 2011. These had been purchased in 1994, following the IRA bomb that destroyed its former offices at St Mary Axe in 1992. The date for the move is yet to be finalised, but is likely to be late September 2012.

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Bureau Veritas simplifies ship certification system

France-based international classification society and Maritime London member, Bureau Veritas says it has put in place a completely new IT-based certification and ship status system. It is aimed at reducing the workload of shipowners and operators and simplifying access to ship information and status.

“In a world where so much is now done online ships’ certificates are the last great area of outdated paperwork,” explains Claude Maillot, ships in service director. “We have seen the ship’s classification certificate grow from one simple page into a document with many pages and annexes which are built up of both printed and handwritten entries. It has become unwieldy, error-prone, open to confusion and difficult to maintain. Bureau Veritas’ new certification system once more makes the ship’s Certificate of Classification a simple one page document. Everything else is online in a standardised and easy to access format. That cuts down the chances of error, confusion and fraud and enables us to add new services to make life more efficient for ship owners and operators.”

The new Bureau Veritas Certificate of Classification contains only the key identity of the ship and notation information. It is printed on recycled paper embossed with a logo to prevent fraudulent copies. All the other information which used to be attached as annexes is now updated electronically and can be accessed by owners and by charterers and port authorities if given access by the owner.

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“Safe havens” for shipping lenders

The Cardiff-based Graig Group and Global Maritime Investments say they will provide lenders with workout solutions, safe havens and exit routes for distressed assets and under-performing shipping portfolios. The two companies say the joint approach brings together the long-term ship management experience and bank contacts of Graig and the outstanding freight market expertise of GMI.

Graig Group CEO Hugh Williams says, “This is a slow burn crisis for shipping banks and it is by no means over. Banks are currently only really lending to offshore and LNG projects, while nursing portfolios of tankers and bulkers which may be under the water in value terms and in many cases are under-performing as loans. They want a lot of ships off their books or under better commercial and technical management and with GMI alongside us we can deliver that. We know there is a queue of ship managers outside every banker’s door offering technical ship management, and there is private equity in the market place looking to pick up opportunities. This link up with GMI brings the two together in a powerful combination which can apply technical know-how and commercial presence to help banks clean up their portfolios.”

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New Danny FII protest

Danny FII survivor
44 lives were lost when the livestock carrier Danny FII sank in December 2009

Maritime professionals' union Nautilus International has lodged fresh protests with the Panamanian authorities over what it says is a continued failure to publish a report on the investigation into the loss of the livestock carrier Danny FII in December 2009. Two Nautilus members were among the 44 crew who died when the vessel sank off the coast of Lebanon and the union has expressed concern that the register has still to produce a report on the incident, despite repeated claims that publication is imminent.

Soon after the ship’s loss, a number of concerns were raised – including its port state control record and references to deficiencies including stability, structure and related equipment, and Nautilus says it is essential that a report is published in the results of technical investigations into the potential effects of any alterations to hull or equipment, and the factors affecting the stability of the vessel, the cause and nature of the initial ingress of water into the ship, and the life-saving appliances provided and used, and any difficulties experienced in their use.

Nautilus has written to the Panamanian authorities voicing concern at the continued delays in the publication of an accident investigation report. The Union has also written to UK shipping minister Mike Penning to call for diplomatic pressure to be exerted on the issue.

General secretary Mark Dickinson commented: ‘It is now more than two and a half years since this ship was lost and I believe it is utterly appalling that there is still no full and public report on the causes of the incident.”

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Standard Club adds coverage

The Standard Club is adding to the coverage available to members by offering three additional insurance products – Kidnap and Ransom (K&R), Traders’ Transport Liability cover and Professional Liability cover. T

he club says the move follows feedback from members who are keen for the club to develop the range of services we provide. All three policies may be purchased in addition to existing P&I cover, and are supported by reinsurance purchased through Lloyd’s and the London market.

The Club says that they are intended to provide additional cover to existing club members, but may be of interest to others who may consider becoming members of the Standard Club.

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Hubbard heads up Braemar's London container desk

Braemar Shipping Services has appointed Nick Hubbard to be head of its London container desk.

Sebastian Davenport-Thomas, managing director of Braemar's shipbroking division, welcomed the appointment saying: "I am delighted that Nick is joining us and he brings with him a wealth of experience and a depth of knowledge of the key container broking sector."

Mr Hubbard has over 25 years' experience in shipbroking including over 20 years as a container specialist and was formerly with Galbraiths and Howe Robinson.

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Plymouth comes to London

A series of one-day conferences looking at some of the challenges facing the global shipping industry are being organised by Plymouth University, but taking place in London. Over the course of six events, experts from the University’s Plymouth Business School will be joining industry professionals to advise ship managers and operators about some of the issues they may encounter on a daily basis.

The first conference – titled Maritime Crisis Leadership – will focus on building crisis capability, leadership, team effectiveness and risk management strategy and will be held on 3 October on HQS Wellington.

Paul Wright, lecturer in Nautical Studies at Plymouth Business School stated: “This is a new and exciting venture bringing Plymouth University into the heart of the world’s maritime capital. Already renowned for its undergraduate and postgraduate courses in maritime business and international shipping, and linked with the City of London through its own alumni association PYNDA, Plymouth Business School’s conference series will help deepen the relationships presently established. It’s a great move forward.’’

Other conferences in the series will address management communications, sustainable shipping management and leadership and team working.

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