Tag Archives: year of the seafarer

SHIPPING | IRISL crew stranded at Antwerp in sanctions row

European banks refuse to honour Iranian P&I club’s guarantee out of fear they may be breaking the law

LLOYD’S LIST

AROUND 60 crew were running out of food and water today after their vessels were arrested in the port of Antwerp as a result of European Union sanctions against Iran.

The ships’ agent said he could not deliver cash to the masters of the breakbulk vessels controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines without authorisation from the Belgian finance ministry, which said it first needed to consult with other EU member states.

The two vessels, the 15,670 gt Garland and the 16,694 gt Lavender, were running low on provisions, said independent Antwerp agent Eiffe.

“This is not a good situation,” said Eiffe manager Werner Bogart. “If we have permission we can contract a ship’s chandler and give cash to the master and we will do so straight away.”

The Belgian ministry reportedly said it could take up to 14 days to reply.

The vessels, thought to be among the first victims of the Iran sanctions, were not specifically targeted by the Belgian authorities but became caught up in a cargo claim.

The ships’ cargo of steel for European interests is understood to have suffered sea water damage and therefore underwent a standard survey upon arrival.

Complications arose when it was discovered that the P&I club insurer was Iranian. European banks have reportedly held back from accepting the club’s guarantee out of fear that they may be breaking the law.

The EU Iran sanctions published at the end of August impose a blanket ban on insurers and banks doing business with Iran, Iranian companies, individuals and their intermediaries.

EU sanctions have come in several waves and have specifically mentioned IRISL in the past. The regulation of July this year stated that “the obligation to freeze economic resources of designated entities of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines does not require the impounding or detention of vessels owned by such entities or the cargoes carried by them insofar as such cargoes belong to third parties, nor does it require the detention of the crew contracted by them.”

Sanctions have nevertheless created confusion within both the transport and insurance industries. Uncertainty remains over their implementation. This has stemmed from the fact that sanctions were drawn up by foreign affairs officials without industry consultation. Not even the European Commission’s transport ministry was consulted.

Question marks remain over issues such as the requirement for pre-arrival and pre-departure information for Iranian imports and exports. Without clarity shipping lines are concerned they could face penalties even if they are unaware, as is often the case, of the contents of containers they are carrying.

Lavender and Garland are listed by Lloyd’s List intelligence as Maltese-flagged. Sapid Shipping of Iran is given as the beneficial owner.

Volunteers, possibly religious bodies, are thought to have been delivering emergency supplies to the ships, said Mr Bogart.

European banks refuse to honour Iranian P&I club’s guarantee out of fear they may be breaking the law

AROUND 60 crew were running out of food and water today after their vessels were arrested in the port of Antwerp as a result of European Union sanctions against Iran.

The ships’ agent said he could not deliver cash to the masters of the breakbulk vessels controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines without authorisation from the Belgian finance ministry, which said it first needed to consult with other EU member states.

The two vessels, the 15,670 gt Garland and the 16,694 gt Lavender, were running low on provisions, said independent Antwerp agent Eiffe.

“This is not a good situation,” said Eiffe manager Werner Bogart. “If we have permission we can contract a ship’s chandler and give cash to the master and we will do so straight away.”

The Belgian ministry reportedly said it could take up to 14 days to reply.

The vessels, thought to be among the first victims of the Iran sanctions, were not specifically targeted by the Belgian authorities but became caught up in a cargo claim.

The ships’ cargo of steel for European interests is understood to have suffered sea water damage and therefore underwent a standard survey upon arrival.

Complications arose when it was discovered that the P&I club insurer was Iranian. European banks have reportedly held back from accepting the club’s guarantee out of fear that they may be breaking the law.

The EU Iran sanctions published at the end of August impose a blanket ban on insurers and banks doing business with Iran, Iranian companies, individuals and their intermediaries.

EU sanctions have come in several waves and have specifically mentioned IRISL in the past. The regulation of July this year stated that “the obligation to freeze economic resources of designated entities of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines does not require the impounding or detention of vessels owned by such entities or the cargoes carried by them insofar as such cargoes belong to third parties, nor does it require the detention of the crew contracted by them.”

Sanctions have nevertheless created confusion within both the transport and insurance industries. Uncertainty remains over their implementation. This has stemmed from the fact that sanctions were drawn up by foreign affairs officials without industry consultation. Not even the European Commission’s transport ministry was consulted.

Question marks remain over issues such as the requirement for pre-arrival and pre-departure information for Iranian imports and exports. Without clarity shipping lines are concerned they could face penalties even if they are unaware, as is often the case, of the contents of containers they are carrying.

Lavender and Garland are listed by Lloyd’s List intelligence as Maltese-flagged. Sapid Shipping of Iran is given as the beneficial owner.

Volunteers, possibly religious bodies, are thought to have been delivering emergency supplies to the ships, said Mr Bogart.

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YEAR OF THE SEAFARER | Seafarers urged to share nautical sayings

Seafarers past and present are being asked to contribute some of the sea-inspired sayings and words they use in everyday life to a new book on maritime language.

Maritime charity the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society has launched a nationwide campaign designed to capture modern-day seafaring sayings to mark the Year of the Seafarer (2010).

As part of the campaign, the society is teaming up with former Royal Navy surgeon-captain Rick Jolly OBE, who is author of naval slang and jargon guide Jackspeak, to produce a new compendium of modern nautical terms for the next edition of his book.

The society is calling on serving and retired members of the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy, fishermen and port workers nationwide to get involved in the Royal Alfred Gung Ho Language Workshop, inviting them to send in modern words and sayings they use in everyday language, inspired by their time at sea.

Common sayings such as giving someone “a wide berth”, getting “carried away”, and “letting the cat out of the bag” are just a few examples of everyday language that originated with mariners.

Dr Rick Jolly said: “The beauty of nautical language, just like all language, is that it is constantly evolving.

“Shaped by changing times and technologies, the expressions used often carry that classic mariner sense of humour – inherent in sayings such as ‘kecks’ which are underpants (or trousers in Liverpool!) and ‘spondoolicks’, a 19th century word for money.

“Projects like this are vital in preserving the significance and awareness of nautical language and we look forward to hearing from today’s seafarers who may have their own ‘first rate’ suggestions or may really ‘know the ropes’ when it comes to modern-day sailor speak!”

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society canvassed its retired resident seafarers at its nursing and residential home in Surrey for their top 10 favourite phrases coined from a life at sea.

Their top five were: “the cat’s out of the bag”; “brass monkeys”; “batten down”; “splice the mainbrace”; and “three sheets to the wind”.

Commander Boxall-Hunt, chief executive of the society, said: “Seafarers do literally have their own language which is evident every time our residents socialise together, but it’s astounding how much of this language is used by everyone – every day.

“This heritage must not be lost or forgotten, which is why we are embracing today’s generations of seafarers alongside the generation we care for at our residence in Surrey, to take that understanding to the wider public and celebrate it.”

Maritime sayings and words can be submitted online at http://www.royalalfredseafarers.co.uk or by post to The Royal Alfred Gung Ho Language Workshop, Head Office, Weston Acres, Woodmansterne Lane, Banstead, Surrey, SM7 3HA.

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society was established in 1865 and provides care predominately to retired seafarers from across the UK, but welcomes those of non-seafaring backgrounds when able to do so. For more information visit http://www.royalalfredseafarers.co.uk.

Fonte: http://www.communitynewswire.press.net

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YEAR OF THE SEAFARER | UK cadets forced to take second jobs

Unions estimate up to 10% of officer cadets have to take second jobs to survive

A SIGNIFICANT number of UK officer cadets are so short of money that they are taking second jobs to make ends meet during their training, according to a survey from seafarer union Nautilus International.

A spokesman for the union said the exact figure was not available, but estimated that 5-10% of a sample of 260 volunteered the information without being prompted. That might understate the extent of the phenomenon, as an additional number may not have mentioned the matter.

However, the research found that cadets are generally satisfied with their training and are optimistic about their career prospects, although some clearly take a more cynical view.

The research was designed to expand and update a similar survey carried out ten years ago, and the union intends to use the results to press the case for better terms and conditions with shipowners and training organisation.

The respondents represent around a quarter of all cadets currently in training in Britain and Ireland, and consisted of 25 questions covering such matters as pay, leave, accommodation, travel costs and uniforms.

Among the findings was wide disparity between the salaries on offer to the best paid cadets and the earnings of their less fortunate colleagues, with some support for the idea of a standardised wage.

One cadet wrote: “This creates a tier system amongst cadets and and puts the poorer ones at a disadvantage as they have to fit in other jobs to earn extra money and just to survive, whereas other cadets have no such need to do so.

“That leaves them more time for study and other advantageous activities relating to their training programme.”

Almost 80% of respondents said that the work they undertake at sea while training should be paid in line with the national minimum wage, and three-quarters think their pay should rise in line with officer salary hikes.

There were also complaints that some companies demand up to £3,000 if cadets drop out of their course, and there were a number of complaints about late payment.

Respondents attended ten different training colleagues and institutions. Almost 50% stated the quality of their training as good, while a further 37% described it as adequate and 13% said it was poor.

Another cadet complain about finding himself the only English speaker on a ship. “This is something that can greatly affect your training and experience as a cadet,” he wrote.

“I am aware that I am only on board for tax reasons and am unlikely to be offered a job. It’s a little bit of a morale killer.”

Another commented: “Working at McDonald’s would not have been so much fun, but at least for the last two years I would have been earning the minimum wage and not wasting my time earning a qualification that I will be hard pressed to use in an economically declining world that is growing ever more dependent on cheaper and ever less skilled foreign labourers.”

Source: LLOYD’S LIST

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YEAR OF THE SEAFARER | Chief engineer sues owner

Greece’s Mamidakis group and related interests are targets of a whopping $23m lawsuit in Texas by a Greek chief engineer who accuses the ship’s owners of sacrificing him to US prosecutors as part of a plea-bargain deal to cover up their own deliberate policy of dumping oily waste at sea.

Besides accusing his former employers of setting him up for a fall, Ioannis Mylonakis is claiming that the Mamidakis family, the principals behind the Jetoil-Mamidoil SA group, deceived US authorities about the extent of their wealth and the connections among the legally separate corporate entities that make up their group.

Besides group companies and the vessel itself as an “in rem” defendant, the suit names as personal defendants president Kyriakos Mamidakis, technical director Emmanuel A Mamidakis, general manager Alexandros G Prokopakis and two other board members, Nikolaos Mamidakis and Alexandros N Mamidakis.

Styga Compania Naviera, the Mamidakis-controlled entity that manages the 69,900-dwt products carrier Georgios M (built 1995), admitted in its October 2009 plea agreement to a history of dumping sludge on the high seas, using permanently installed and elaborately concealed equipment for the purpose. In return for its plea, Styga paid a $1.25m fine and agreed to a three-year probationary environmental-compliance inspection programme.

“The agreed fine is disproportionately small considering the magnitude of the actual wealth of the Mamidakis defendants and Helford,” wrote Houston lawyer George Gaitas of Chalos & Co, accusing the group principals of evading responsibility for criminal acts by deceiving the US government about their wealth and the ownership structure of the group. Helford is the one-ship Mamidakis group company that owns the Georgios M.

“Styga… was thereby used as a lightning rod to deflect responsibility from the other defendants,” Gaitas wrote.

In the plea deal, Styga also agreed to assist the government in its prosecution of former employees, mentioning three chief engineers as having personally conducted “magic pipe” operations on the company’s behalf since December 2006.

But in May of this year, a Houston jury acquitted Mylonakis, one of two former chief engineers being tried after Styga pled out. The jury found the testimony of Filipino whistle-blowers less than credible.

Mylonakis had served on the tanker for less than three months before his arrest and his lawyers successfully argued that he never learned of the ship’s pollution-enabling installations beneath the engine-room floor plates and that their concealment made it impossible for him to have discovered them through ordinary due diligence as chief engineer.

Mylonakis had been detained in the US since the original 19 February 2009 call of the tanker at Texas City, Texas.

During that time he had suffered medical problems. His retirement pension and health insurance had lapsed as well, as a result of his not working as a seafarer during the period.

Mylonakis’s lawyers demanded the shipowner’s help with medical treatment but in correspondence that has been released as part of the $23m lawsuit, US lawyers for the owner wrote that “Styga declines Mr Mylonakis’s request for additional benefits over and above the generosity the company has already shown your client to date”.

As illustrations of this generosity, the owner’s Boston lawyer, David Hetzel of Dewey & LeBoeuf, mentioned that Styga had paid its chief engineer’s salary and also “provided him with continuous lodging and maintenance throughout the period of his detention by the US government”.

But Mylonakis’s claims for medical expenses and lost personal income are tiny next to his demands of $14m in other compensatory damages, $7m in punitive damages and $1.5m in civil penalties to the US government, a sum to be split with the plaintiff in such lawsuits.

Source: TRADEWINDS

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YEAR OF THE SEAFARER | Officers convicted of drug smuggling in Venezuela

TWO UKRAINIAN officers have been sentenced to nine years in a Venezuelan prison after drug smugglers attached cocaine to their ship’s hull, Fairplay has been told.

B Atlantic captain Volodymyr Ustymenko and second officer Yuriy Datchenko have been detained in Venezuela since the August 2007 discovery of cocaine on the bulker’s hull in Lake Maracaibo. Attorney Aurelio Fernandez of Clyde & Co – who represented the owner in the case and has knowledge of the criminal proceedings – confirmed to Fairplay that the officers have now been sentenced.

Asserting their innocence, Fernandez called the convictions “purely political” and added that “in any other country in the world they would have been acquitted”.

Fernandez said the latest two convictions follow eight-year sentences for two Greek officers of the tanker Astro Saturn. Cocaine was found attached to the Astro Saturn in Puerto La Cruz in November 2008.

Venezuela continues to detain vessels used by drug smugglers. The tanker Aqua has been detained in Lake Maracaibo since February, and the Chinese bulker Jin Yao was arrested this month.

“Any owner that travels to Lake Maracaibo or Venezuela in general, and has the bad luck to have one of these criminal organisations attach a drug device underwater, is at risk of losing the vessel and crew,” warned Fernandez.

“We have to convince the Venezuelan government that the situation has to be reversed, or else we’ll have 10 vessels laid up in Lake Maracaibo and owners won’t want to travel to Venezuela,” he said

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