News

Hapag-Lloyd may join Hanjin in bypassing Portland over labor dispute

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on July 1, 2012 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)


Port of Portland officials said they expect German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd to also stop calling on Portland’s lone container terminal until a labor dispute is resolved. Hapag-Lloyd officials didn’t return several calls to its Seattle and New Jersey offices seeking comment. If true, it would mean that Portland would lose service from both of the major carriers that call on the port weekly. South Korean carrier Hanjin announced earlier Thursday that it would cease calling on the port’s Terminal 6.

Port officials have yet to get official word from Hapag-Lloyd like they did with Hanjin, which issued a notification to customers Thursday, said port spokesman Josh Thomas. Bill Wyatt, the port’s executive director, earlier this week said Hanjin handles 2,000 containers per week while Hapag-Lloyd handles around 500. The port also has yet to hear from Puyallup, Wash.-based Westwood Shipping Lines , which calls on the port monthly. Westwood officials also could not be reached for comment. The source of the trouble is a contentious dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and terminal operator ICTSI Oregon Inc. over what union should have the rights to the two- to four-person-per-year job of plugging and unplugging refrigerated containers at the terminal.

ICTSI contends that it’s bound by a terminal management lease with the Port of Portland that requires the work be done by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. . The longshore union believes that ICTSI, as a member of the Pacific Maritime Association , is bound by a labor pact with the PMA dictating that the work goes to the ILWU. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon will hold a hearing in Portland Friday afternoon on a pair of lawsuits related to the dispute. That includes a claim filed by the Seattle-based regional director of the National Labor Relations Board claiming the longshore union has been intentionally disrupting operations at T6. Source: Portland Business Journal


Move to compel ships plying local ports to fly South African flag

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on May 28, 2012 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

The government is considering the introduction of a policy to compel ships to be registered in SA before they are allowed to move goods between the country’s ports a policy regarded by the shipping industry as protectionist and restrictive.

Cabotage, as this practice is called, is one of the levers the Department of Transport is considering to include in a new policy framework for the maritime sector, the department’s director-general, George Mahlalela, said yesterday.

About 12000 foreign-owned, deep-sea trading vessels regularly call at SA’s ports every year and carry about 98% of the country’s internationally bound cargo.

In 2008, the African Union adopted the African Maritime Transport Charter aimed at promoting local shipping in Africa.

It identified cabotage "as one way of promoting local shipping activity", Mr Mahlalela said. SA, Ethiopia and Egypt have started developing policies to meet the goals of the charter.

The Department of Transport is eager to attract ships to its registry in the hope it will stimulate and attract maritime services and supporting industries to invest in SA.

SA no longer has any ships registered under its flag after Safmarine’s Oranje deregistered in January last year.

The loss of tonnage had led to a loss of skills, Mr Mahlalela said. SA’s ship repair and shipbuilding industries were no longer able to offer maintenance and the advanced services shipping lines required.

The biggest reason for the loss of tonnage is SA’s unattractive tax regime. Shipping world leader Singapore uses a tonnage tax that taxes shipping activities at fixed rates according to the size of the ships instead of the company’s operating performance. In SA, shipping companies would be required to pay tax of about 39% — the combined effective tax rate of company and dividend taxes.

Andrew Thomas, CEO of Ocean Africa Container Lines, which offers regional services, said any form of protectionism in the maritime sector would not be positive.

"We don’t think it’s the way to go. We don’t recommend any form of restrictive practice," he said.

"If we wish to create a maritime sector in terms of ship register, we need to focus on being competitive on a global basis. Shipping is a global business."

Mr Thomas said the tax regime, labour policies, work permits and institutional bureaucracy made the maritime sector in SA unattractive.

At any given time, there were between 1700 and 1900 ships off SA’s coast, Mr Mahlalela said.

While billions of rand are spent annually on maintaining SA’s economic exclusion zone, the country was deriving very little benefit from the traffic off the coast.

According to a sector review compiled by the South African Maritime Safety Authority ahead of a conference it will host in Cape Town next month, this represents an opportunity cost to SA.

About R36bn is paid annually for shipping services but this "only accrues to foreign owners and operators", the review says.

Mr Mahlalela conceded the idea of coercing companies to register ships in SA did not enjoy support from "certain parts of the sector".

"Some of our trade institutions are not happy about it, but we are not saying we have finalised. It is part of the conversation we are having on maritime development," he said.

The European Union, Canada, the US, Japan and New Zealand have cabotage rules to protect their shipping industries.

Source: Business Day


ITF declares Faroes second register a flag of convenience

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on November 26, 2011 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

The ITF has declared the Faroe Islands National & International Ship Register (FAS) a flag of convenience (FOC).

The decision, taken by the ITF’s fair practices committee steering group, follows a lengthy process of investigation and negotiations designed to address the problems identified with the register and avert the need for the declaration.

Problems were first identified when Norlines, whose fleet was almost wholly Norwegian-flagged, reflagged to the FAS and began laying off Norwegian crew, who were replaced with Philippine and Polish nationals. Only two of the Norwegian beneficially owned vessels were fully manned by Faroese crew. A similar pattern was identified with Swedish-owned vessels. Eight Swedish companies were found to be flagging to FAS, with the replacement of their Swedish crews imminent. ITF maritime coordinator Steve Cotton commented: “This is a move we take reluctantly, and only after a lengthy search for a solution, in which we involved the Faroese Maritime Unions. However, it has proved unavoidable if the ITF’s Mexico City Policy (which reviewed the ITF’s whole FOC campaign) is to be applied fairly.”

“For the Faroese second register this is likely to mean a new age of scrutiny of their vessels and workings. We stress that the Faroes flag, rather than this newer operation, remains unaffected and free to play its part in ensuring that the seagoing histories of the Faroes is respected and its crews continue to find the work they deserve.”


ATT: Offshore Oil and Gas workers, Merchant Seamen

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on November 24, 2011 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Many expat offshore workers find it difficult to obtain finance, but there is some good news!

Right now the QLD government is giving a $10,000 Building Boost Grant to anyone who takes out a mortgage on building a new property in the boom town of Mackay, Queensland.

Let our professional Australian mortgage broker get you the finance package for an investment property you need.

If you already own a property or are paying tax in Australia or New Zealand, you can easily qualify.

Contact Sam or Dale at [email protected]

 


Port lockout over strike action

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on November 19, 2011 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Ports of Auckland has issued a lockout notice to Maritime Union members, saying it is to avoid planned strike action from dock workers. Chief executive Tony Gibson said the lockout was needed because the union had signalled it would continue to strike every Monday and Friday, which would have a significant impact on shipping customers, exporters, importers and consumers.

"This decision is one which has been made with sincere regret, but is considered crucial to encouraging union members to withdraw the proposed strike and settle a new collective agreement, thereby avoiding further industrial action,'' he said. "I cannot stress enough that Ports of Auckland will lift the lockout notice if the strike notice is lifted.''

Mr Gibson said the port was unable to negotiate under the threat of strike action but would meet the union and the Department of Labour for mediation on Tuesday. The union's proposed strike over collective agreement terms involved the complete withdrawal of union member labour in container handling, road and rail services at the Waitemata seaport on Mondays and Fridays. It affected the Fergusson and Bledisloe container terminals and associated road and rail services. The port's multi-cargo wharves, cruise business, marine services, Onehunga seaport and Wiri inland port were not affected by the proposed strike. The lockout notice starts at 12.01am on December 3 and ends at 10.30pm December 4. Source : otago daily news


HOS plans massive U.S.-flag OSV newbuilding spree

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on November 10, 2011 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Hornbeck Offshore Services, Inc. reports that its Board of Directors has approved a new vessel construction program for its wholly-owned subsidiary, Hornbeck Offshore Services, LLC. The company is now in the process of finalizing negotiations with selected U.S. shipyards and expects to enter into definitive contracts in the near future. It plans to build sixteen U.S.-flagged 300 class DP-2 new generation offshore supply vessels for its Upstream business segment with options to build an additional 16 substantially similar vessels should future market conditions warrant their construction.

 

This will be the company's eighth vessel newbuild program since its inception in 1997, and its fifth newbuild program involving state-of-the-art, technologically advanced new generation OSVs. The company expects the aggregate cost of the first 16 vessels under this program to be approximately $720 million, excluding construction period interest. Construction costs will be funded with cash on-hand, projected free cash flow from operations, other external financing and, if necessary, available capacity under the Company's currently undrawn and recently expanded $300 million revolving credit facility. Delivery of the first 16 vessels to be constructed under this program is expected to occur on various dates during 2013 and 2014, which should coincide with the delivery of approximately 145 incremental floaters and high-specification jack-up drilling rigs, currently under construction worldwide, during the same timeframe. Upon completion of the first phase of this OSV newbuild program at the end of 2014, the company projects that the weighted-average age, based on deadweight tons, of its pro forma 67-vessel fleet of new generation OSVs will be seven years.

 

Hornbeck says the new 300 class OSVs are particularly well-suited for the increased demands of deepwater and ultra-deepwater customers for high-specification vessels, while maintaining an overall size that maximizes efficiency from an operating cost perspective. These vessels will be built in the United States, which qualifies them for coastwise trade in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico under the Jones Act; however, the company expects them to service the anticipated increase in deepwater and ultra-deepwater drilling activity in all three its core geographic markets of the GoM, Brazil and Mexico.

 

The 300 class DP-2 vessel design contemplated by this newbuild program features offers 6,000 deadweight tons and 20,000 barrels of liquid mud carrying capacity. The length and high load capacity of these OSVs also make them ideal candidates for conversion into deepwater construction service and for subsea inspection, repair and maintenance work. Hornbeck expects these new 300 class vessels to offer double the deadweight tons and more than double the liquid mud capacity of its 240 class OSVs, which should allow the 300 class OSVs to command higher dayrates commensurate with their increased size and capabilities. Source : MarineLog


Late reprieve for Scotland's emergency coastguard tugboats

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on October 2, 2011 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Two emergency coastguard tugs which were due to be scrapped have been given an eleventh-hour reprieve. The coastguard tugs, based in the Western Isles and Shetland, were due to be withdrawn from service at midnight on Friday. Now the UK Government has reversed the closure decision on the tugs and it has now emerged that they will remain in operation for at least three months. STV News understands this is to allow the government to examine other funding options in detail. The current contract to lease two ships for use by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency was not due to be renewed. The initial move to scrap the tugs sparked outrage, with the Scottish Government, MPs and industry leaders calling for a reversal of the decision. It was argued that the tug contract was not good value for money, but a UK Parliamentary committee had recently concluded that the savings made from scrapping the service would be wiped out by a single large-scale incident such as an oil spill. The tugs were introduced in the wake of the Braer accident in 1993 when an oil tanker ran aground off Shetland spilling 85,000 tonnes of crude oil into the sea. The Anglian Prince tugboat was sent to Skye from Stornoway to pull the attack submarine HMS Astute free from a shingle bank after ran aground in October last year. Two days earlier, the government announced that the four coastguard emergency tugs, including the Anglican Prince, would be decommissioned this month to save £32m. Environment secretary Richard Lochhead said he was pleased UK ministers had listened to campaigners' concerns. "If confirmed, this stay of execution is the right thing to do and I am pleased that UK ministers have listened to the case put forward by the campaigners who asked for this," he said. "However, it’s now important that the UK Government identify and fund a long-term solution, otherwise the contract will come to an end bang in the middle of winter which would be dangerous."I will continue to press the UK Government to live up to its responsibilities in this regard." Source : stv

Jet saves cargoship

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on October 2, 2011 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

A Danish fighter jet had to buzz a Norwegian cargoship in danger of grounding after its drunk master left the bridge for a lie -down. Authorities noted the 2,600-dwt Ranafjord (built 1975) had maintained the same course for six hours on Thursday and was 40 minutes from grounding at Hals.

The 54-year-old Norwegian captain had left his post to sleep off a drinking session. After several attempts to contact the crew failed, an F16 jet was sent to fly over the ship at low altitude to alert them, the an.no website reported. After crew averted the danger, police boarded the vessel and found a clearly drunk captain who initially tried to blame his equally drunk first mate. He was arrested and taken ashore after a breath test showed up higher than allowed levels of alcohol. A Danish pilot brought the vessel into Hals, where the mate was allowed to sleep off his binge. Only after he was sober again was the ship allowed to proceed to Aalborg. Owner Finn Olsen Rederi of Norway said it had a zero tolerance policy to alcohol on its ships and was shocked that crew had drunk a large amount. The captain had only worked for the company for a short time. The vessel was en route from Riga. Source : Tradewinds


Oil workers' deaths still a mystery

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on October 2, 2011 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Fremantle-based Mermaid Marine is one of three companies accused of actions ''tantamount to murder at sea'' in a US lawsuit filed by the family of one of four oil workers who died last month during a violent storm in the Gulf of Mexico. Two of the six men who survived the catastrophe have also filed lawsuits alleging ASX-listed Mermaid Marine Australia and US companies Geokinetics Inc and Trinity Liftboat Services were grossly negligent. They claim the crew of Mermaid Vigilance, one of Mermaid Marine's fleet which was contracted to provide services to Houston-based Geokinetics, turned for shore instead of helping the oil workers as they abandoned the disabled Trinity II mobile platform on September 8. They contend the Mermaid Vigilance's action in deserting the workers was both cowardly and intentional, and they allege Geokinetics was the ''ringleader''. One of the workers who died was Aaron Houweling, 33, from Narangba in south-east Queensland. Mr Houweling drowned after shedding his life vest and pushing himself away from the tiny cork life raft that represented the last hope of survival for the oil workers. His body was not found until September 16 after an extensive search by the Mexican navy, the state-owned oil producer, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), various cargo ships and oil industry support vessels.

For three fearful days, in torrential rains and pounding waves, the men clung to the sides of the life raft as it was whipped into open seas in swift currents. Without food or water, without any form of emergency beacons or communications devices, and with no survival suits to protect them from the wind and the wet, three other workers either drowned or died of hypothermia. The survivors drank their own urine to slake their raging thirst. They feared sharks, became delusional and had to urge each other to hang on.

When the hapless raft was finally spotted on September 11, it had drifted more than 200 kilometres. In its webbed centre was the body of Craig Myers, a slight young man from Louisiana. His colleague Nick Reed, the son of the president of Trinity Liftboat Services, Randy Reed, had also died. Kham Nadimuzzaman of Bangladesh died soon after he was rescued. Exactly who bears responsibility for the tragedy is one of the issues likely to be decided in the US District Court in Houston next year. Mermaid Marine is involved in some of the biggest oil and gas exploration and production operations in Australia, including Chevron's Gorgon project. It has substantial bases at Dampier and Broome providing marine supplies for oil and gas companies operating off the north-west coast of Western Australia. Mermaid Marine, which says it is Australia's biggest provider of marine-based services to the oil and gas industry, has the slogan ''Safety is our Priority''. It confirmed in a statement to the ASX on Wednesday that claims had been made against it and other parties in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas. It said it had notified its insurers of the allegations which it denies, and which it will defend. Mermaid Vigilance, a 70-metre vessel conducting seismic work in the relatively shallow waters in the southern reaches of the Gulf, also served as a standby vessel for workers who were stationed on a portable jack-up platform or ''liftboat'' called the Trinity II, which stores supplies for offshore oil operations. In its ASX statement, Mermaid Marine said none of the four workers who died were employed by it, and they were not on a Mermaid Marine vessel. The managing director of Mermaid Marine, Jeff Weber, said in the statement: ''We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the four personnel and our thoughts and sympathies are with their families, friends and colleagues.'' The company has sent a team to Mexico to investigate the incident. The 29-metre Trinity II was a substantial structure, weighing some 185 tonnes, but on the morning of September 8, as tropical storm Nate developed into a cyclone, one of Trinity II's support legs collapsed. So dire was the situation that the 10 workers believed it was better to abandon the platform than stay on the crippled structure. The Vigilance was nearby and had been in constant communication over several hours as Captain Jeremy Parfait on the Trinity II urged the vessel to come closer and pick up the workers. But for reasons that are far from clear, the vessel turned for shore. In its statement, Mermaid Marine said the Vigilance was carrying a total of 30 crew and passengers when it was caught in the storm that produced wind gusts up to 93 knots and waves in excess of 20 metres in height.

''The master of the vessel was forced to take evasive action to protect the personnel on board,'' Mermaid Marine told the ASX. It is not clear if the Trinity II workers were already in the water at that point but they were certainly in peril, not least because the canister-style inflatable life rafts blew away before the workers could deploy them into the ocean. Instead they took to a tiny cork life raft that had an inflatable rim. The central area of the raft was webbed with netting to hold supplies, but the raft was not capable of supporting 10 men. Some of the workers tethered themselves to the life raft and others hung to the sides as storm winds gusted to more than 100km/h and the ocean currents intensified. The Mexican navy and Pemex sent helicopters and planes and the workers initially were sighted about 13 kilometres offshore. But conditions deteriorated before they could be rescued. Cargo ships and oil support vessels were swung into the search and on September 11 a ship located seven of the workers. In documents filed with the court, the two US survivors and the Myers family claimed Mermaid Marine and Geokinetics jointly controlled the Vigilance, but that the vessel's name was ''a contradiction'' in terms of what happened. ''The vessel abandoned the crew of the Trinity II to their horrifying fate in the storm ridden seas of the Bay of Campeche, and cut and ran for base and shelter,'' the plaintiffs allege. ''All of these actions took place with the full knowledge of the circumstances of the Trinity II's crew's horrifying position, given the collapse of the Trinity II's leg, and despite her 'mayday' calls. ''These intentional and conscious actions, and inactions, constitute negligence and gross negligence as those terms are defined in law and morality, or were intentional acts as the injuries and deaths were substantially certain to be caused by the actions and/or omissions of Mermaid and/or Geokinetics.'' The Myers family and the two survivors allege the actions by the Vigilance vessel were ''anything but vigilant, but rather cowardly and tantamount to murder at sea'' and that they were done ''in conjunction with'' Geokinetics. They argue that Geokinetics was ''the ringleader of these conscious decisions to doom the crew of the Trinity II to their deaths and horrifying and debilitating injuries''. Attempts by BusinessDay to speak with Geokinetics were unsuccessful. It is claimed Mr Myers suffered ''severe and disabling personal injuries, mental anguish and pain and suffering before dying three days later, while floating with his fellow crew members, abandoned in high seas in the Bay of Campeche''. Frank Spagnoletti, the Houston lawyer representing the two survivors and the Myers family, said while the lawsuits sought financial damages, the main issue was to ensure the entire industry paid closer attention to safety issues. ''Obviously they have filed them for a number of reasons,'' Mr Spagnoletti told BusinessDay. ''They saw these guys, that they were working with, dying, and they do not want it to happen again. They don't want their deaths to be meaningless. ''If they can compel the smallest change - to have survival suits made compulsory, or to have an extra $US300 spent per man for individual EPIRBs [emergency position indicating radio beacons] - that would help how men or women are treated in the workplace.'' Mr Spagnoletti conceded mistakes happened in the workplace, but he said the procedures in this case were especially inadequate and, so far at least, inexplicable. He argued that the most basic rule of maritime decency was broken when the Vigilance did not stand by and mark the position of the workers as they floated in the roiling seas. ''While the companies might be first-world, the circumstances are not always first-world,'' he said. Source : Canberra Times


RMT warns of new jobs assault on UK ferries

Posted by Mr Sam Kelly on September 3, 2011 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

MARTIME UNION RMT warned that the UK ferry industry faces a fresh wave of assaults on jobs and services as the economy tilts towards a double-dip recession and operators seize the opportunity to axe and curtail routes to protect their profits. The warning comes after Stena Line announced that it is planning to axe the fast ferry service between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire and to restrict the route to a seasonal service only. Stena claim that the move is in response to rising operational costs and falling volumes despite giving previous assurances to the union that they had no plans to cut the services. RMT is demanding an extended consultation period, rather than the cursory 30 days proposed by the company, to reflect both the number of staff at risk - at least 88 and with the union forecasting over a hundred - and to allow time to evaluate Stena’s grounds for the cuts. RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “RMT is in no doubt that the Stena proposal across the Irish Sea is just an early warning of an all-out assault on jobs and services in the UK ferry industry that is about to let rip as we head into the winter months. RMT believes that operators are cynically planning to use the threat of a double-dip recession to dump routes and fatten up their balance sheets. “We also have a massive threat to services still on the cards in Scotland, and the Isle of Man Steam Packet is a constant target for predators seeking to undermine that route. RMT will continue to fight every attempt to decimate the UK ferry industry.” RMT National Secretary Steve Todd said: “RMT is angry and disappointed at the way that the Stena announcement has been handled. They told us face to face that they had no plans to cut these services and then bounced the newsout at short notice. Their grounds are flimsy in the extreme - fuel costs are falling, they recently negotiated a new and favourable deal with Dun Laoghaire Harbour and they should have picked up addition freight volume from the closure of the Liverpool Dublin service. “We want both anextended consultation period to reflect the number of jobs involved and the complexity of the situation and we also want a cast iron guarantee on no compulsory redundancies.”