News Digest 24-Jan-2022

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Following Stories compiled in this News Digest for the week from 17 Jan 2022 to 23 Jan 2022 in descending order:


Introducing India’s first ever diving grant

23 Jan 2022
Mumbai-based Vidhi Bubna, the founder of ‘Coral Warriors’, India’s first ever diving grant, is a keen humanitarian and is passionate about conserving marine life. ‘Coral Warriors’ focuses on making diving more accessible to Indian citizens and raising awareness about the impact of climate change and underwater pollution on corals.

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Coral reefs are the basis for the formation of other organisms and are integral to marine ecosystems. They maintain levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and purify by absorbing toxic elements in the water. However, they survive only in specific conditions. Climate change and growing industrialization are negatively impacting the corals at a large scale. Layers of toxic chemicals in the water prevent sunlight reaching the corals, which results in severe damage. Scientists from the University of Hawaii, Manoa predict that over 70% of all living coral will disappear in the next 20 years.

In this interview, Vidhi talks about her inspirations and what it means to be a Coral Warrior.

To start with, could you summarize what Coral Warriors does?

Coral Warriors is India’s first-ever diving grant. We essentially sponsor Indian citizens to go diving; they can choose the location they want to dive at. Our goal is to get more youth involved in diving so they can see the prevalent coral damage first-hand and do something about it. Many Indians don’t know what corals are, and we’d like to create awareness as well as save the corals.

What inspired you to start this organization? Why have you chosen to focus on corals?

I am an advanced scuba diver myself and have witnessed coral damage in Andamans, while learning to dive, as well as in the Maldives. I wanted to do something about this issue because most Indians aren’t aware about marine pollution, and simply aren’t doing enough.

What sort of change does Coral Warriors strive to bring about?

The first change we want to bring about is creating more awareness about corals, so people can help protect them. We also want to see more Indians involved in adventure activities like diving.

How does Coral Warriors select the most deserving candidates for the grant?

Out of the numerous grant applications we receive, we have an independent selection committee that chooses the candidates. Sponsoring all the applicants would be unrealistic because funds are limited. The committee selects the people that are passionate about climate change as well as deserving of the scholarship.

If there were three things you want the reader of this interview to take away, what would they be?

The first thing is that climate change is very real. We should not pay heed to people who tell us otherwise. The second thing is, just because we cannot see marine life and the ongoing underwater pollution, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It is happening as we speak right now. The third thing is that as we know these things are occurring, we should collectively be able to do something about it. These are the three main takeaways I would want readers to absorb. Reference


New Zealand water ship unloads in Tonga as other aid trickles in

22 Jan 2022
Life-saving water supplies from a New Zealand navy ship were distributed across Tonga’s main island on Friday, as other countries battled the logistics of delivering aid to one of the world’s remotest communities.

(© Reuters. Members of the Australian Defence Force embark on HMAS Adelaide at the Port of Brisbane before departure to Tonga, in Brisbane, Australia, January 20, 2022. Australian Department Of Defence/Handout via REUTERS. Image Source:

Six days after the South Pacific archipelago was devastated by a volcanic eruption and tsunami that deposited a blanket of ash and polluted its water sources, the HMNZS Aotearoa docked in the capital, Nuku’alofa.

The ship carried 250,000 litres of water and desalination equipment able to produce 70,000 litres more per day, New Zealand’s High Commission said.

The first flights from Australia and New Zealand landed on Thursday with some water as well as shelter, communication equipment and generators.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption last Saturday triggered a tsunami that destroyed villages and resorts and knocked out communications for the nation of about 105,000 people. Three people have been reported killed, authorities said.

The salt water from the tsunami spoiled most sources of water and Tongans have been struggling to find clean water as they clear away the ash.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has said the force of the eruption was estimated to be equivalent to 5-10 megatons of TNT, or more than 500 times that of the nuclear bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima at the end of World War Two.

Astronaut Kayla Barron said she could see the volcanic ash in the atmosphere from the International Space Station.

United Nations spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told a briefing Tonga had asked for urgent assistance. Reference


CMA CGM and TotalEnergies Launch Ship-to-Ship LNG Bunkering in Marseille

22 Jan 2022
France-based CMA CGM and TotalEnergies have launched the first ship-to-containership bunkering service in France’s Port of Marseille.

Photo courtesy CMA CGM. Image Source: gCaptain

The new service conducted its inaugural bunkering operation on board the LNG-powered containership CMA CGM Bali, a 15,000 TEU capacity containership, while berthed at the Eurofos container terminal for cargo operations.

TotalEnergies LNG bunkering vessel Gas Vitality, the first of its kind in France, supplied the ship with around 6,000 cubic meters of LNG fuel via a ship-to-ship transfer.

Gas Vitality is TotalEnergies’ second chartered LNG bunker vessel and owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd (MOL).

“This LNG bunkering operation is an important milestone for our group, in many ways,” said Christine Cabau, Executive Vice President Operations and Assets of the CMA CGM Group. “It sets France and Marseille maritime and port cluster on the frontline for the decarbonization of shipping. It enhances LNG solutions as the first step of a broader industrial strategy that will take us to alternative fuels such as biomethane and e-methane. It is also another proof of the commitment of CMA CGM toward Marseilles and its region. We are very proud to act both globally and locally to develop sustainably our business”. Reference


Fully-Autonomous Ship Navigation System Deployed in Japan

21 Jan 2022
This week in Japan, the world’s first fully-autonomous ship navigation system deployed a car ferry during a demonstration test. The demonstration took place using a 15,500 gross ton Ro-Pax ferry, spanning 730 feet, that traveled approximately 150 miles between Shinmoji and Iyonada in a 7-hour period. The vessel’s operating speed reached about 26 knots during the demonstration.

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The vessel was first introduced into service in July 2021 and is equipped with high-precision sensor image analysis systems and infrared cameras to detect other ships (even in complete darkness). The vessel also has a navigation system with an avoidance function and automated port berthing/unberthing technology that can perform turning and reversing movements.

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. crafted the vessel and used advanced technologies like artificial intelligence to navigate the autonomous journey. The company plans to continue to develop technologies in this space in order to achieve safe, high-quality service for passenger ferries, too. The vessel will need to also be equipped with technology to monitor motor conditions during normal operations with passengers aboard.

While there are still many issues to be resolved and improvements to be made, this voyage is a big step towards fully autonomous vessels entering the market much more commonly. These advancements will also hopefully lead to resolution of issues in coastal shipping such as safety, accidents, crew shortages, high crew labor costs, and extensive operational costs. Reference


Remote control fire fighting system ready for crewless ship ops

21 Jan 2022
Survitec’s fire fighting system and safety equipment aboard Yara Birkeland – the world’s first fully autonomous containership – has completed its first annual service ahead of the 3200 dwt ship’s first laden voyage.

Image Source: Offshore Energy

The zero-emission, fully electric Yara Birkeland is preparing to carry its first fertiliser cargo on the Herøya-Brevik route in early 2022.

The ground-breaking vessel, which deployed on its maiden manned voyage in November, operates an automatic and remotely operated fire system designed and commissioned by survival technology firm Survitec.

Survitec’s scope of supply included a Novenco XFlow water mist system for the vessel’s eight separate battery rooms; an Inergen fire extinguishing system for the switchboard rooms, pumps rooms, control rooms and electrical spaces; and an NFF XFlow Deluge system for the cargo holds, open decks, superstructure and other compartments.

A wide range of standalone fire safety and life-saving equipment, including flares, radios, breathing apparatus, immersion suits and lifejackets, also passed the November inspection.

Extra fire safety features built into the ship included additional segregated fire zones and system redundancy. Drain valves have also been integrated into the system to allow for automatic opening and closing to prevent free-surface flooding. Reference


Tsunami Induced Oil Spill in Peru Declared Environmental Emergency

21 Jan 2022
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo declared an environmental emergency on Thursday as clean-up teams struggled to contain a huge oil spill at the country’s biggest refinery, after rogue waves rocked a ship unloading crude there.

Workers clean up an oil spill caused by abnormal waves, triggered by a massive underwater volcanic eruption half a world away in Tonga, at the Peruvian beach in Ventanilla, Peru, January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares. Image Source: gCaptain

The spill, blamed on unusual swells caused by a volcanic eruption thousands of miles away in Tonga on Sunday, has dirtied waters and beaches along Peru’s Pacific coast, with dead birds and seals washing up on shore.

“We are at a critical moment in environmental matters,” said Castillo, before signing the emergency decree on one of the beaches hit by the spill. “This is the most worrying ecological disaster on the Peruvian coast in recent times.”

“We cannot shy away from responsibilities, it is about assuming them, in this case the company that caused this ecological disaster,” he added.

A spokeswoman for La Pampilla refinery, owned by Spanish energy firm Repsol, has said the firm was not responsible for the spill and blamed the Peruvian Navy for not issuing a tsunami warning after the Tonga eruption.

Unlike other Pacific countries, Peruvian authorities warned of unusual waves only after the eruption.

Environment Minister Ruben Ramirez has said that some 6,000 barrels of oil were spilled in the incident, which has left oil on 21 beaches.

Peru’s Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement (OEFA) said in a statement that as of Thursday the area affected included 1.7 million square meters of land and 1.2 million square meters in the sea.

Repsol said in a statement on Thursday that a team of divers was exploring underwater damage from the spill, and said it had deployed more than 2,500 meters of containment booms and 10 boats to recover oil from the sea.

“We regret not having adequately communicated all our commitments and the actions that have been carried out to address the impact,” Repsol said, after facing criticism for its response. Reference


Hybrid high speed passenger boats to revolutionise sustainable river travel

20 Jan 2022
Uber Boat by Thames Clippers is building the UK’s first hybrid high speed passenger ferries, set to launch in London in autumn 2022 and spring 2023. Leading the way in passenger boat design, the two new vessels, being built at Wight Shipyard on the Isle of Wight, take strides in improving the sustainability credentials of the business as well as propelling the wider marine sector.

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The hybrid design will allow the new vessels to operate solely on battery power while transporting commuters and sightseers through the Capital – throughout the Central Zone, between Tower and Battersea Power Station piers – and recharge while using biofuelled power outside of central London. The technology is not reliant on shore-based charging; the new boats will use excess power from the biofuelled engines to re-charge their batteries for the central London stretch.

The new boats push the boundaries in catamaran design to deliver a future-friendly option that can be made even greener as and when technology allows. As well as being the city’s most eco-friendly passenger boats, these will be Uber Boat by Thames Clippers’ quietest vessels.

This announcement comes on the heels of Uber Boat by Thames Clippers’ hire of a new health, safety, environment & quality (HSQE) manager in Gilmark D Mello, and work is underway on three green marine feasibility projects funded by the DfT (Department for Transport); the outcomes of which are due in spring 2022 and should further help inform the business on their route to net zero. Reference


EU navies to hunt pirates in West Africa

20 Jan 2022
An EU mission using Danish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish warships is to patrol West African waters in coming years to stymie piracy.


EU pilot mission in Gulf of Guinea was partly modelled on Atalanta operation in the Horn of Africa (Photo: eunavfor). Image Source:

France, Italy, and Spain would lead the way, sending ships for eight months each in 2022, the EU external action service proposed in a recent memo to member states’ ambassadors.

The Gulf of Guinea in West Africa “continues to be particularly dangerous for seafarers”, the memo, dated 12 January and seen by EUobserver, noted.

“The region now accounts for just over 95 percent of all kidnappings for ransom at sea,” it said.

“The risk of PAG [pirate action group] actions remains high … from Togo to Gabon, with Nigeria as the centre of gravity,” the EU added.

But “none of the coastal navies, with the partial exception of Nigeria, can operate the required high-sea patrol boats to respond to attacks,” the EU said.

Danish, French, Italian, Portuguese ships have already been doing “exercises” under a “pilot” EU project called the Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) Concept in the region since January 2021.

And the foreign service proposed extending the CMP until 2024.

It remained to be seen how well the EU’s ambitions go down in Nigeria, the regional power, however.

Zooming out, the EU also has military missions in the Central African Republic (CAR), Libya, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, and Somalia, as well naval ones in the Central Mediterranean and Horn of Africa seas.

But Europe is competing for influence against Russian and wider aggression as well as Chinese buy-outs of strategic assets in Africa.

“The purpose of the CMP [the EU’s West Africa anti-piracy mission] is to increase the EU’s capacity as a reliable maritime security provider,” the EU memo said. Reference


World’s 1st zero-carbon terminal gets Carbon Neutrality Certificate

20 Jan 2022
The Second Container Terminal of Tianjin Port, also known as the world’s first zero-carbon terminal, has received the “Carbon Neutrality Certificate” issued by the China Classification Society, becoming the first carbon-neutral port enterprise certified by an authoritative organization in the national port industry.
Tianjin Port Courtesy of Tianjin Port Development.

Image Source: Offshore Energy

China Classification Society, a greenhouse gas verification agency authorised by the United Nations Environment Program and the National Development and Reform Commission, carried out on-site inspections on the container terminal and issued the certificate on 17 January.

At the ceremony, the “White Paper on Port Carbon Neutrality Practice” was issued through an online form. It is a combination of green port construction practices by Tianjin Port, through the analysis and elaboration of the carbon neutrality practice path in the port field, aiming to share the exploration experience of promoting the construction of low-carbon ports and zero-carbon ports with the industry.

The paper pointed out that the source of carbon emissions in the port industry mainly comes from the fuel and electricity consumed by loading and unloading production, auxiliary production and auxiliary production.

It states that the realization path of port carbon neutrality is mainly through renewable energy substitution, energy efficiency improvement and electrification level, carbon offset, and similar.

As disclosed, 100% of the electricity at the port comes entirely from wind power and photovoltaics and is 100% used and 100% self-sufficient. Reference


Supply Chain Chaos Helped Ocean Carriers Reap $150 Billion in 2021

19 Jan 2022
Ocean shipping rates are expected to stay elevated well into 2022, setting up another year of booming profits for global cargo carriers — and leaving smaller companies and their customers from Spain to Sri Lanka paying more for just about everything.

FILE PHOTO: Container ships wait off the coast of the congested Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in Long Beach, California, U.S., October 1, 2021. REUTERS/ Alan Devall/File Photo. Image Source: gCaptain

The spot rate for a 40-foot container to the U.S. from Asia topped $20,000 last year, including surcharges and premiums, up from less than $2,000 a few years ago, and was recently hovering near $14,000. What’s more, tight container capacity and port congestion mean that longer-term rates set in contracts between carriers and shippers are running an estimated 200% higher than a year ago, signaling elevated prices for the foreseeable future.

Large customers of sea-borne cargo like Walmart Inc. or Ikea have the heft to negotiate better terms in those deals, or absorb the added expense. Smaller importers and exporters — especially those in poor countries — that rely on carriers to haul everything from electronics and apparel to grains and chemicals, can’t easily pass those costs along or weather long periods of stretched cash flows. The situation is throwing a spotlight on the market concentration of shipping lines, and their legal immunity from antitrust laws.

Meanwhile, the backbone of the postwar march toward globalization is coming through the pandemic in the strongest position in its history — a stark reversal of years losing money in the capital-intensive business. Ocean-freight carriers pulled in estimated profits of $150 billion in 2021 — a nine-fold annual jump after a decade of difficulty eking out any gains.

The extended windfall has touched a raw nerve across the political spectrum as economists warn that persistently high transportation prices are stoking inflation and clouding the recovery. High costs for freight that used to fan only temporary spells of inflation upticks are becoming longer-term features of economies in the U.S. and elsewhere.

For the first time, the pandemic demonstrated just how adept the carriers have become at managing the market’s supply of cargo capacity, by curtailing it when Covid-19 first shook the world’s economy and then ramping it up when demand rebounded strongly, driving prices higher than ever. Shippers have chafed at how the alliances’ lock on capacity — the ships, their schedules and speeds, and the millions of steel boxes in circulation — has translated into asymmetric pricing power.

The roaring demand severely disrupted supply chains. Major ports in the U.S. couldn’t process imports fast enough, trucking companies fell short on drivers, and warehouses ran out of space. Fully loaded ships idled off California beaches for weeks because of port congestion. Suddenly, an industry that had plied the seas largely unnoticed by the general public had become a highly conspicuous target.

Regulators from the U.S., the EU and China met in September and determined there was so far no evidence of anti-competitive behavior in container shipping. Still, governments are on high alert as global supply chains are being pushed to the breaking point.

Regardless of who’s to blame, customers are anguishing over the situation. Smaller importers and exporters have seen their cargo getting “rolled”— bumped like passengers from an oversold flight — and sometimes canceled outright despite contractual obligations with carriers. Reference


South Korea: 23 shipping companies fined $81M for price fixing

19 Jan 2022
The antitrust regulator in South Korea has sanctioned 23 domestic and foreign container shipping companies for fixing maritime freight rates.

Illustration. Image Courtesy: HMM. Image Source: Offshore Energy

On 18 January 2022, the Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) said it has imposed a fine of KRW 96.2 billion (about $80.7 million) on Korean and foreign carriers along with corrective order.

The companies were reportedly involved in collusive conduct over the past fifteen years, unlawfully fixing higher freight rates on Korean-Southeast Asian sea routes.

Specifically, twelve local and eleven foreign companies colluded to set the prices of container cargo services on Korean-Southeast Asian import and export routes 120 times between 2003 and 2018. According to KFTC, they collectively agreed on all freight rates, including the minimum level of the basic freight rate.

In 2016 and 2017, the Fair Trade Commission also imposed penalties on a number of companies for LNG bid fixing and car carrier services antitrust law violations.

KFTC is a ministerial-level central administrative organization and, under the authority of the South Korean Prime Minister, functions as a quasi-judiciary body. Reference


Maersk Tankers setting up decarbonisation hub

18 Jan 2022
Danish tanker shipping firm Maersk Tankers has revealed its plans to establish a knowledge hub focusing on the decarbonisation of the shipping sector.

Image Source: Offshore Energy

As disclosed, the hub is expected to be fully established during the coming months and will gather intelligence and create solutions to help shipowners and cargo customers cut emissions.

According to the company, the hub will bring experts, shipowners, cargo customers and other stakeholders together to develop a suite of solutions that will reduce emissions from cargo customers’ supply chains and shipowners’ operations.

It will function by gathering and sharing share external and internal intelligence on regulations and developments in tanker shipping’s decarbonisation, and provide emission transparency on the transportation of cargoes.

Frederik Pind, head of Decarbonisation at Maersk Tankers, will lead the cross-disciplinary team at the decarbonisation hub that will be based in the commercial department at the company. Reference


Port of Hamburg readies for automated drones

18 Jan 2022
HHLA Sky, a subsidiary of port and transport logistics company Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA), and the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) have entered into a technology partnership.

HHLA/ Nele Martensen. Image Source: Offshore Energy

Together, the companies want to make it possible to use automated drones within the Port of Hambur.

As explained, the technology will assist in finding many promising solutions for logistical, sensory or coordinative processes.

“In the event of storm surges, accidents or other unforeseeable disruptions, flying, floating or self-driving robots can be on-site considerably faster and provide high-resolution videos and pictures for an exact overview of the situation. The time saved can be decisive in an emergency,” Jens Meier, Chairman of the Executive Board of the HPA, said.

“Furthermore, they make the maintenance and expansion of the port infrastructure significantly more efficient – for example, in the case of facilities that are difficult, time-consuming or dangerous to reach.”

HHLA Sky has a developed control centre for the operation and monitoring of drones, and has introduced it on the global market. It connects the various HPA applications within the scope of the technology partnership to streamline processes that were previously labour-intensive so that devices can be operated more efficiently. Reference


Yemen’s Houthis reject UN call to free UAE-flagged ship

17 Jan 2022
Yemeni Houthi rebels have rejected a UN request to release an Emirati-flagged vessel they seized earlier this month, along with its 11-member crew, saying the ship was carrying “military assets”.

The port of Hodeidah, held by Houthi rebels, is Yemen’s principal port on the Red Sea [File: Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters]. Image Source: Al Jazeera

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has described the Rwabee as a “civilian cargo vessel” that was leased by a Saudi company and had been in international waters carrying equipment to be used at a field hospital.

Houthi official Hussein al-Azzi has claimed it was transporting military assets. “The Rwabee vessel was not carrying… toys for children but weapons for extremists,” he told the Houthis’ Al Masirah television.

The UN Security Council on Friday demanded the “immediate release” of the Rwabee and its crew and stressed “the importance of freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea”, a strategic route for international shipping.

In a statement drafted by the United Kingdom and adopted unanimously, the 15-member Security Council demanded “the immediate release of the vessel and its crew” and underscored “the necessity of ensuring the crew’s safety and well-being”.

It also called on “all parties to de-escalate the situation in Yemen”, including by working with the UN’s special envoy to return to the negotiating table.

Al-Azzi responded by accusing the UN of siding with “murderers who violate international laws”.

The Rwabee “belongs to a country participating in the aggression against our people and at war with Yemen, and entered (Yemeni) territorial waters unlawfully”, he said.

The Iran-backed Houthis seized the Rwabee on January 3, off the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, and then released a video purportedly showing military equipment on board, including military-style inflatable rafts, trucks and other vehicles and what appeared to be a collection of rifles. Reference


Massive Tonga Volcano Eruption Triggers Pacific Tsunami

17 Jan 2022
An underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday, triggering a tsunami warning for several South Pacific island nations, with footage on social media showing waves crashing into homes.


The eruption of an underwater volcano off Tonga, which triggered a tsunami warning for several South Pacific island nations, is seen in an image from the NOAA GOES-West satellite taken at 05:00 GMT January 15, 2022. CIRA/NOAA/Handout via REUTERS. Image Source: gCaptain

Tsunami waves were observed in Tonga’s capital and the capital of American Samoa, a U.S.-based tsunami monitor said.

The eruption at 0410 GMT of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano, located about 65 km (40 miles) north of Nuku’alofa, caused a 1.2-meter (4-ft) tsunami, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said.

The agency said it continued to monitor the situation but no tsunami threat had been issued to the Australian mainland, islands or territories.

Tsunami waves of 2.7 feet (83 cm) were observed by gauges at theTongan capital of Nuku’alofa and waves of 2 ft at Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Fiji issued a tsunami warning, urging residents to avoid the shorelines “due to strong currents and dangerous waves.”

Jese Tuisinu, a television reporter at Fiji One, posted a video on Twitter showing large waves washing ashore, with people trying to flee from the oncoming waves in their cars.

New Zealand’s emergency management agency issued an advisory on tsunami activity for its north and east coasts with the areas expected to experience strong and unusual currents, and unpredictable surges at the shore.

On Friday, the volcano sent ash, steam and gas up to 20 km (12 miles) into the air, Tonga Geological Services said in a Facebook post. It has a radius of 260 km (160 miles).

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu said a tsunami advisory remains in effect for the U.S. state of Hawaii, where tsunami waves were reported early Saturday morning.

The center also said tsunami advisories are in place for Attu island in western Alaska and along the California-Mexico border. Reference


Note: All above news items compiled in this digest should be considered as news in brief. For detailed news, please refer to reference link, mentioned with each item.

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