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14 | telegraph | nautilusint.org | March 2012


INTERNATIONAL shortreports


SHIP SEIZED: a products tanker was arrested by the French authorities last month on suspicion of causing pollution in the Mediterranean. The 5,573dwt Trefin Adam was held at Fos-sur-Mer subject to payment of €350,000 bail after being spotted on 27 January at the head of a 12km-long pollution slick in the Bonifacio Strait between Corsica and Sardinia, France’s Mediterranean maritime prefecture in Toulon said.


OILY FINE: the US shipping company Americas Marine Management Services has been fined US$1m and sentenced to five years’ probation after pleading guilty to an oil pollution charge and falsifying logbook entries. The case was brought by the US Department of Justice after Coast Guard officers discovered oil and fuel leaks onboard the 3,359dwt Panamanian-flagged general cargoship Titan Express last August.


SPANISH SERVICE: Dutch-based shipping company Transfennica has boosted its Zeebrugge-Bilbao shortsea shipping service with the addition of new capacity to the route. The Dutch-flagged ro-ro cargoships Kraftca and Trica—which can carry up to 200 trailers and more than 600TEU — are now operating three sailings per week on the service.


AMSTERDAM BOOST: the Port of Amsterdam —which includes IJmuiden, Beverwijk and Zaanstad — posted a 2% combined increase in transhipment volumes in 2011, to 92m tonnes. Port boss Dertje Meijer attributed Amsterdam’s success in defying a ‘disappointing economy’ to significant increases in oil and coal volumes.


FRENCH SLUMP: French ports last year again saw an overall loss in traffic — with only Marseilles, Dunkirk and La Rochelle making up losses from the previous year. But Calais, the fourth-ranking French port for traffic, reported a 1.75% increase to 38.4m tonnes despite competition from Eurotunnel and the collapse of SeaFrance.


SALE ORDER: a court in the French port of Saint Malo has ordered the sale of a flag of convenience ship which has been under detention following an accident two years ago. The court says the Antigua & Barbuda- flagged general cargoship Angela should be auctioned at a base price of €500,000.


AIRBUS ADDITION: the aircraft manufacturer Airbus is adding a fourth dedicated vessel to its fleet with the addition of the Finnish-flagged Bore Sea to carry components and raw materials between the French port of Saint Nazaire and the Mediterranean.


GREEN ROUTE: the Spanish shipping firm Naviera Armas has applied to the European Commission to operate a shortsea route linking Sète, Cartagena and Spain’s Moroccan enclave of Melilla.


RECORDFINE: the US operator Horizon Lines has agreed to pay $1.5m after admitting two counts of false oil record-keeping involving the containership Horizon Enterprise.


Crews stranded as ferry firm founders


Unions go to the aid of seafarers stuck in ‘deplorable’ onboard conditions by Jeff Apter


P


Maritime unions have gone to the aid of hun- dreds of seafarers who


have been stranded on ferries in ‘deplorable and inhumane condi- tions’ as a result of financial prob- lems affecting the Moroccan ferry operator Comarit-Comanav. Crew members on some ships


were said to be facing shortages of food and water after the com- pany’s fleet of 11 ships were seized in French, Spanish and Moroccan ports last month as a result of unpaid bills.


The Moroccan government


has appointed an inter-minister- ial committee to try and save Comarit-Comanav, whose ferries run services between Morocco, France, Spain and Gibraltar, but unions accused the government of dragging its feet in crucial talks with the banks on re-capitalising the operator.


of rationed food, water and heat- ing, he added. Local unions and aid associations have been pro- viding assistance for the seafar- ers.


The International Transport


Workers’ Federation, working with Morocco’s Union Marocaine du Travail (UMT), has been trying to help four crews stranded in Alge- ciras, who were described as hav- ing reached their limits. During inspections of the four


Comarit ferries have been stopped from sailing Picture: Eric Houri


A total of 1,800 seafarers and shore staff are affected by the cri- sis. Unions have appealed for the company to pay all its crews, and for the Moroccan government’s maritime authority and transport ministry to intervene to ensure that its obligations are honoured. A French inspector visiting the ferry Marrakech in the port of


Sète noted that conditions onboard were at the ‘limit of acceptability’ —with the engines switched off because of a lack of fuel and the 85 seafarers and hotel staff lacking electricity, heating or the wherewithal to pre- pare food.


On another ship, Bri N’Sar, the 45 crew were suffering as a result


vessels there (the Moroccan- flagged Ibn Batuta, Al Mansour, El Boughaz and Banasa) crew members told union o•cials that some of them had not been paid for up to five months —put- ting their families at risk of losing their homes — and provisions, fuel and water were nearly exhausted. Following union intervention,


su•cient diesel for crew needs for another four or five days was put onboard.


Chinese mega-ships ban hits Brazilian firm


HTop-level political negotiations are taking place between


China and Brazil after China announced a ban on ‘mega’ ships in its ports —warning that it will no longer accept vessels exceeding a 350,000dwt limit. The move —which was claimed


to be based on safety grounds — is being seen as a sign of protectionism following calls from the China Shipowners’ Association for a ban on the new 400,000dwt bulk carriers owned by the Brazilian mining firm Vale SA, pictured left. The association expressed concern


after the 388,000dwt Berge Everest delivered an iron ore cargo for Vale to the port of Dalian in December. The Chinese owners questioned whether such large ships should be allowed in to the country’s ports because of the potentially huge pollution that could be caused if they were involved in an accident.


The Chinese ban is a big blow for Vale, which is mid-way through a


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US$1.6bn order for 12 VLOCs and is planning on an eventual fleet of 35 of the ‘Valemax’ vessels. In a statement issued in response


to the Chinese decision, Vale said it would abide by the country’s legislation. ‘Adapting ports to receive the


giant ore carriers is a highly technical issue, to be addressed in accordance with the local and international maritime legislation, requiring detailed engineering studies and, in many cases, additional investment to train operators, reinforce berths, and conduct dredging,’ it added. ‘Six VLOCs are already in


operation and have already conducted 15 berthing manoeuvres for loading and unloading in six different ports in the world, with high productivity and operational safety,’ it stressed. The issues were raised in talks


between Brazil’s vice-president Michel Temer and China’s vice- premier Wang Qishan last month.


EU owners accused over scrapping AGreece has topped a list of And Norway, the UK and the


Netherlands are runners-up on the league table of countries accused of flouting European waste shipment regulations by selling their ships to the ‘infamous scrap beaches of South Asia’.


The figures —which show Greece European countries sending


‘toxic’ ships to be broken up in SE Asia.


sent more than 100 end-of-life ships to SE Asia, Norway 24, the UK 13 and the Netherlands 12 — are revealed in the third annual report by the NGO Shipbreaking Forum. ‘Each year, approximately 800


ocean ships reach the end of their service life and are broken down to recover steel,’ states the report. ‘Yet only a fraction is handled in a safe, sustainable manner. ‘About 80% of all end-of-life ships


are simply run ashore on tidal beaches in developing countries such as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, where unscrupulous shipbreaking companies exploit minimal enforcement of environmental and safety rules to maximise profits.’ The report points to the ‘alarming’


statistics of the trade, with the European Commission estimating that up to 1.3m tonnes of toxic material (including 3,000 tonnes of


asbestos) onboard end-of-life vessels, are exported each year to South Asia from the EU alone. ‘Forceful and sustained action at


the European level is especially urgent because the global phase-out of single hulled oil tankers and the current backlog of old vessels still in operation mean that the number of retired ships that are sent for breaking is reaching an all-time high,’ the organisation warned.


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