Tag Archives: safeseas

Strange sinking


Mystery surrounds the sinking of a containership off the coast of St Lucia, as a US salvor examines whether the ship can be salvaged.

Owned by Germany’s Brise Bereederungs, the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged 657-teu Angeln (built 2004) was en route to Guyana when the incident occurred. The accident happened late Sunday night after the ship departed the port of Vieux-Fort.

The cause of the sinking is unknown. According to a statement released by Brise, the weather conditions at the time of the accident were fair, the ship did not touch ground and a collision did not take place.

Brise says the 15-man crew was able to escape without injuries.

No pollution has been reported.

Titan Salvage has been hired to secure the site and assess the possibility of salvaging the vessel and the cargo. It is unknown whether the ship will have an impact on trade routes in the area. A spokesperson at Titan refused to comment on the current operation.

Brise says the vessel’s hull underwriters and P&I club are involved in the ongoing investigation.

The ship was chartered to Miami-based Bernuth Agencies for a Caribbean liner service. Local media reports the containership’s cargo included more than $40,000 worth of printer ink.

The containership has P&I cover from Skuld and is classed by Germanischer Lloyd.

By Aaron Kelley in Stamford


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COSCO BUSAN: Fleet Managent fined US$ 10M


A federal judge in San Francisco has fined Fleet Management $10m, effectively sealing the Hong Kong shipmanager’s plea agreement in the Cosco Busan criminal case.

Judge Susan Illston’s sentencing order comes six months after the company agreed to plead guilty and pay the $10m penalty for the 2007 spill in the San Francisco Bay.

The Busan was spilled bunkers after hitting a San Francisco bridge.

The US Department of Justice says Fleet Management admitted “that it was a cause of a discharge of a harmful quantity of oil into the navigable waters of the United States, that it acted negligently, and that its negligence was a proximate cause of the discharge of oil into San Francisco Bay.”

As TradeWinds has reported extensively, the company was the manager of the 5,450-teu Cosco Busan (now-MSC Venezia, built 2001) when it hit the San Francisco Bay Bridge in dense fog. Pilot John Cota was sentenced to 10 months in jail.

Fleet Management pleaded guilty to violating a pollution law, obstruction of justice and making false statements. Prosecutors say the company’s shore staff attempted to deceive the Coast Guard by creating forged documents after the crash.

“Fleet’s systemic management failures played a significant role in causing the Cosco Busan disaster and they compounded the problem by attempting to cover-up their conduct,” Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno said in a statement.

Illston ordered the company to pay $2m of the fine toward marine environmental projects.

In addition, Fleet Management has to implement a compliance plan that includes training and voyage planning measures.

By Eric Martin in Stamford

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SAFETY: Rag plugs hull

By Eric Martin for TRADEWINDS

A rag.

That is what a port state control inspector found plugging a crack in the hull of a Russian general cargoship at a UK port, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said Friday [19]. Continue reading

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Support still lacking for shipping safety


The shipping industry faces safety issues that “can only be fixed by those ‘upstream’ in the industry” – such as banks and insurers – according to Clay Maitland, managing partner of International Registries Inc, which manages the Marshall Islands Register. Speaking in a personal capacity in London to invited guests at a lunch in December, Maitland said that, although most of the industry had “found the value of quality” in recent few years, “there is still a market for the ‘bottom feeders’ in this industry”.

Maitland was picking up themes he aired in March 2009 but has now added more supporters to his campaign, dubbing his team a ‘ginger group’.

His criticisms were not only directed at small or little-known flag states and organisations, although he singled out the Mongolian register and the International Shipping Bureau for comment. He also criticised some of the better known bodies: the Panama Register, for example, includes a number of non-IACS organisations among its recognised organisations and Maitland highlighted this as a concern. He told shipowners: “By supporting a sub-standard register, you do a disservice to the industry.”

In a written paper distributed at the lunch, he said that “legitimate classification societies should not act as umbrellas or cloaks of respectability for phantom ‘administrations’ by acting as their ROs [recognised organisations].” However, his criticisms are widely spread across ‘upstream’ organisations. “We must recognise that the marine environment and the safety and well-being of ‘the ship and her people’… are the business of all stakeholders,” his paper notes.

“Charterers, lenders, brokers, underwriters, cargo interests and, of course, regulators have a duty not to look the other way; not to take the least expensive solution and not to take refuge in, as they do so often, a supposed lack of transparency.”

He singled out banks for particular criticism, citing the bankruptcy of Eastwind Maritime as an example. The company had operated more than 100 ships and Maitland said the Marshall Islands had “thrown them out” after numerous vessel detentions. In the re-registering process, banks would have been aware of these concerns “but did the banks do anything? No,” he said.

He has launched a blog (www.claymaitland.com) to spread the message and start a dialogue.

A key member of Maitland’s group is Hans Payer, a former member of Germanischer Lloyd’s executive board. Payer warned that the global financial downturn was having an adverse impact on ship safety – owners and operators were responding to declining incomes by cutting costs, delaying maintenance and repair, and reducing crew levels, he speculated.

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‘Full City’ officers allowed to return home


Two officers charged with criminal neglect over the Full City incident have been allowed to return home to China. Chinese captain Zong Aming and third officer Qilanng Lu were charged with criminal neglect after their 26,758dwt bulker ran aground in rough weather off Norway’s Langesund coast on 31 July last year, leading to a 150km-long oil slick.

The two officers were being held in custody in an Oslo hotel but were allowed to return home on 14 December. A Norwegian appeal court had ruled that the pair may have their passports returned after bail payments of NOK 1 million each. The officers are due to face charges of gross negligence at the Norwegian supreme court in February.

Although we’re very pleased the two officers were able to go home to China, which is a real improvement over previous criminalisation cases, the big issue now is how to stop these prosecutions happening in the first place,” David Cockroft, secretary-general of the International Transport Workers Federation, which campaigned for the release of the pair, told SASI.

Cockroft’s view was one that was condoned by Guy Morel, general-secretary of co-campaigner InterManager, the ship managers association. “I am very pleased with the decision to release the officers in a country like Norway which operates on democratic principles. We were very concerned that they would be held in custody away from their families during the very harsh Norwegian winter,” Morel told SASI.

“Obviously ships’ crews have responsibilities and liabilities but it is also important to take a democratic view, and officers should be deemed innocent until they are proved guilty,” Morel emphasised.

The detention of the two Chinese seafarers has already created controversy. “Norway’s court processes are certainly at variance with the IMO’s fair treatment guidelines,” Andrew Linington, campaign chief of the Anglo-Dutch seafarers’ union Nautilus International, told SASI.

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), the Norwegian Seafarers’ Union and InterManager have also condemned Norway’s actions as “the worst case of seafarer victimisation since Hebei Spirit”.

In the latter incident, a crane barge owned by Samsung Heavy Industries collided with tanker Hebei Spirit on 7 December 2007, resulting in a spill of more than 10,000 tonnes of oil. The tanker’s captain, Jasprit Chawla, and chief officer, Syam Chetan, were detained in South Korea for nearly 18 months before they gained the right to head home in June of this year, albeit with their reputations still tarred by the guilty verdict.

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Year of the Seafarer: ITF academy to focus on rights

The International Transport Workers’ Federation’s Jon Whitlow used the launch of the international ‘Year of the Seafarer’ at the International Maritime Organization to outline plans to put more information in the hands of its members.

“The ITF will undertake a number of activities this year, most significantly an ITF academy for seafarers’ rights,” he said. “The academy will be dedicated to education, training and research into seafarers’ law, rights and benefits, with the aim of improving retention and safeguarding their interests.”

 The announcement came after speeches from IMO secretary-general Efthimios Mitropoulos and ICS/ISF chairman Spyros Polemis. While the former were routine rehearsals of well-worn themes (the looming manpower shortage, piracy, criminalisation and the revision of the STCW 95 convention), Whitlow, head of the ITF seafarer section, took a more targeted approach. Seafarers, he concluded, “expect this year to provide more than kind words. Concrete measures to address real problems are essential. The IMO should be assured that we will co-operate in the process to win back for seafarers the respect they so richly deserve.”

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Criminalisation and piracy put pressure on seafares, BIMCO and ISF say

Twenty years after conducting their first manpower study in 1990, BIMCO and the International Shipping Federation are planning a 2010 update that they say will assess the global supply and demand for merchant seafarers. The study will cover two main areas: current worldwide supply and demand for seafarers and the likely future supply and demand balance of seafarers.

“Now more than ever, the current economic difficulties facing the industry, and the increasing pressures being placed on seafarers such as piracy and criminalisation, make it timely to conduct a survey to identify what needs to be put in place for the future to secure a healthy pool of seafarers in the short, medium and long term,” the two organisations stated.

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