News Digest 28-Feb-2022

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Following Stories compiled in this News Digest for the week from 21 Feb 2022 to 27 Feb 2022 in descending order:

 

Royal Caribbean Offers Support to Ukrainian, Russian Crew Members

27 Feb 2022
Royal Caribbean International has offered open communications, travel options, counseling support, and more to its more than 700 Ukrainian and Russian crew members in light of the regional tensions between the two nations. This support is to assist crew members in keeping in touch with their loved ones, and to strengthen the family-like bonds shared by all cruise ship crew members.

Photo Credit: Cliff Day / Shutterstock.com. Image Source: cruisehive.com

According to a post on his official Facebook page, Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley has announced options offered to Ukrainian and Russian crew members impacted by the escalating conflict. In total, there are more than 500 Ukrainian crew members across the Royal Caribbean fleet, and more than 200 Russian crew members.

While specific communication details have not been announced, all Royal Caribbean ships have WiFi access for email, chatting, and video messages. Crew members may also be able to use cell phones and onboard telephones to contact family members and friends.

In addition, Royal Caribbean is offering assistance for crew members to travel home or close to home if they wish to leave their ships. If future crew members want to leave the region and join their ships early, Royal Caribbean is also working to expedite those contracts and travel plans earlier than scheduled.

In addition to helping crew members communicate with their families, Royal Caribbean is also communicating with passengers booked on sailings with Russian ports on their itineraries.

In a letter sent to booked guests on February 25, Royal Caribbean stated, “At this time, our intention is to sail to St. Petersburg; however, we have secured alternate ports, should we feel that changing our itinerary is the best path forward.“

These measures emphasizing safety and communication from Royal Caribbean are very encouraging, as it shows how the company works to facilitate understanding and cooperation between crew members, safety for all aboard, and how everyone is valued and appreciated. Reference

 

Merchant Ships Attacked and on Fire off Ukraine

26 Feb 2022
Merchant ships continue to be targeted in the escalating Russian war on Ukraine while security analysts are warning vessels to leave the area due to the increased danger. The crew of a small chemical tanker was forced to abandon ship with at least two members of the crew reportedly seriously injured while Ukrainian officials posted pictures of damage from a reported missile that struck a second vessel both anchored off Ukraine.

Millennial Spirit was hit by missles while anchored off Ukraine (General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Ukraine). Image Source: The Maritime Executive

The most serious incident is being reported by Moldova’s national naval agency which says that one of its vessels, a 2,091 dwt chemical tanker named Millennial Spirit, was set ablaze with the crew forced to jump overboard. Ukrainian officials reported that the vessel was loaded with 600 tons of fuel oil at anchor south of Odessa.

Security analysts at Dryad Global are reported that it is believed that the vessel was hit by two missiles, one in the superstructure and a second midships that caused the fire.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1497206869986787330

A Ukrainian SAR vessel reportedly responded rescuing the crew from the water and transporting them to shore. Two crew members are reported to be in the hospital with serious injuries. Earlier, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine using soical media as its means to communicate with the world posted a report of another vessel coming under fire.

As the number of incidents continues to rise. Reuters is reporting that insurers jumped their rates for vessels operating in the Black Sea. Reference

 

Piracy still a multi-layered threat despite decrease in incidents

26 Feb 2022
PIRACY incidents have reached record lows globally, but emerging piracy hotspots are reinforcing the ongoing threat to seafarers, according to Nautilus International.

Boats off Singapore. Image: Goh Rhy Yan/Unsplash. Image Source: thedcn.com.au

Saffiyah Khalique, a writer for Nautilus International, said piracy still has mental and physical impacts for seafarers in high-risk areas, as well as economic impacts for coastal states and shipping companies.

Drawing on data from the International Maritime Bureau, Ms Khalique said monthly incidents have dropped over the past year.

The reduced incidents have been attributed to anti-piracy initiatives, the efforts of shipping organisations, and engagement from international navies.

Progress has been reported off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden, and in the Gulf of Guinea.

Despite the improvements, Somali pirates are still capable of carrying out attacks, and the Gulf of Guinea remains a high-risk area for seafarers.

Ms Khalique noted the Gulf of Guinea continues to account for all kidnapping incidents globally, the IMB describing the pirates operating in the region as well-armed, violent, and with a history of attacking crews far from the coast.

According to the IMB, Southeast Asia now has the highest rates of piracy and armed robbery, with 35 attacks reported in the Singapore Straits in 2021, compared with 23 in the previous year.

Ms Khalique said a general warning issued in December 2019 concerning the Singapore Straits remains valid in 2022. Reference

 

ICS: Russian and Ukrainian seafarers make up 14.5% of global shipping workforce

26 Feb 2022
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), representing 80% of the world’s merchant fleet, has warned of supply chain disruption should the free movement of Ukrainian and Russian seafarers be impeded.

Photo: IMO/Mike Hood. Image Source: Offshore Energy

The Seafarer Workforce Report, published in 2021 by BIMCO and ICS, reports that 1.89 million seafarers are currently operating over 74,000 vessels in the global merchant fleet.

Of this total workforce, 198,123 (10.5%) of seafarers are Russian of which 71,652 are officers and 126,471 are ratings.

Ukraine accounts for 76,442 (4%) of seafarers of which 47,058 are officers and 29,383 are ratings.

Combined they represent 14.5% of the global workforce.

Shipping is currently responsible for the movement of near 90% of global trade. Seafarers have been at the forefront of the response to the pandemic, ensuring essential supplies of food, fuel and medicine continue to reach their destinations. To maintain this unfettered trade, seafarers must be able to join and disembark ships (crew change) freely across the world, according to ICS.

With flights cancelled in the region, this will become increasingly difficult. The ability to pay seafarers also needs to be maintained via international banking systems.

ICS has previously warned of a shortage of merchant sailors to crew commercial ships if action is not taken to boost numbers, raising risks for global supply chains.

This has been compounded by travel restrictions, brought on by the pandemic, that saw seafarers unable to crew change and resulted in 100’000’s overstaying contracted periods at sea. Research carried out by ICS reported that the average ship has a mix of at least three nationalities on board, and sometimes as many as thirty. Three languages were the minimum spoken on the average ship. Reference

 

Russia’s Ukraine invasion set to spark seafarer crisis

25 Feb 2022
Shipowners and managers are facing up to the prospect of huge seafarer shortages following Russia’s explosive invasion of Ukraine.

The crisis in Ukraine could worsen a shipping manpower crunch.Getty. Image Source: businessinsider.in

Ship managers are predicting difficulties in getting thousands of crew in and out of the Ukraine during the crisis, while sanctions are likely to make it difficult for Ukrainian or Russian seafarers to be paid.

The Ukraine has grown as a key labour supply country during the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the last two years officers and ratings from the country have made up the shortfall caused difficulties in securing crew from the Far East.

Russia and the Ukraine are two of the largest labour supply countries to the international fleet.

One manager told TradeWinds the war conditions will make it nearly impossible for seafarers from Ukraine to travel to ships. They also expect a large proportion of Ukrainian seafarers to be conscripted to the military.

The other issue is that the additional sanctions from the US and Europe may make it difficult for shipowners to pay both Russian and Ukrainian crew.

One likely development is that, following escalating military action around the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, the area is likely to be designated as a high-risk area under International Transport Workers’ Federation wage agreements. The designation would entitle crew working in the region to higher pay. Reference

 

War In Ukraine Will Magnify The Global Trade Crisis

25 Feb 2022
Disruptions in global trade are about to go from bad to worse.

Stock Photo: Danial Abdullah / Shutterstock.com. Image Source: gCaptain

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early Thursday, energy costs are soaring, stocks are plunging, Western sanctions are being sharpened, and central bankers already worried about inflation face additional drags from weaker consumer confidence and bigger potential shocks to fragile European economies.

Russia is the world’s 16th-largest goods exporter, with petroleum, coal and gas being the biggest categories. Ukraine ranks 48th, led by shipments of grain and iron ore, according to 2020 data from the World Trade Organization.

These factors help explain the wider view:

  • Energy spike: Oil surged above $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, triggering fears of a disruption to energy exports at a time of already tight supplies.
  • Key commodities: Beyond gas, Ukraine has a vast network of infrastructure that’s key to supplying raw materials from crops and steel to Europe and beyond.
  • Economic headwinds: The energy-cost spike represents a double-blow to the world economy by further denting growth prospects and driving up inflation
  • Punitive sanctions: The U.S. and Europe have pledged a harsh package of penalties that go beyond punishments inflicted on Moscow after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.

In the immediate vicinity, there are already shipping disruptions. Richard Meade, editor of Lloyd’s List tweeted that vessel traffic in and out of the Sea of Asov looks to be affected by the conflict.

Peter Sand, chief analyst with Xeneta, said Russian ports on the Black Sea account for 15% of container imports and exports, its Baltic ports account for close to 50% and its far eastern ports – which are the least likely to get impacted — account for 35%.

While the full impact of western trade sanctions remains to be seen, they’re likely to have “less bite than a decade ago,” according to University of St. Gallen professor Simon Evenett. Over the past 10 years the percentage of Russia imports sourced from the European Union has fallen to 34.2% from 38.3%, while the share of Russian imports sourced from China has risen to 21.4% from 15.7%, he said. Reference

 

Over 45,000 incidents of maritime corruption reported in past 10 years

25 Feb 2022
Over the last decade the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) has collected reports of over 45,000 incidents through its anonymous reporting system.

Image Source: Ships & Ports

The incidents collated through MACN’s Anonymous Incident Reporting platform took place across 1,195 ports in 149 countries, showing both the scale and spread of the issue.

The corruption is mainly petty in nature with cigarettes topping the list of demands and being asked for in some 64.5% of incidents reported. Other items demanded include alcohol, soda drinks and cash.

The most common actor is from port authorities involved in 23.4% of incidents reported, while delay of the vessel was implied consequence in 74.5% of incidents if demands were not complied with. Delays to vessel’s can have serious knock-on consequences for the crew and vessels keeping to their contracts.

The reporting system has allowed for the identification of hotspots, prompting specific action to be taken such as was seen in Argentine ports where a significant risk as seen prior to 2017.

The anonymous reporting system is seen as giving seafarers and voice and a confidence that the issue being taken seriously and will be tackled.

Reported incidents of corruption in maritime peaked in 2017 and the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a drop in incidents as crew and shore interactions decreased coupled with a rise in the use of electronic communication and systems. Reference

 

UK approves Ghana seafarers Certificate of Competency

24 Feb 2022
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the United Kingdom has approved the Certificate of Competency (CoC) issued to seafarers by the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA), even as the agency has continued to reject the CoC issued by Nigeria.

Image Source: Ships & Ports

A CoC is a mandatory document required for mariners to work on ships. The certificate ensures that the concerned seafarer has sufficient knowledge and skills to sail on ocean going vessels.

In a recent post on LinkedIn, the Ghana Maritime Authority said it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the United Kingdom to enable its seafarers serve on UK-flagged ships.

The post was greeted with commendation by Ghanaian seafarers and members of the maritime community in that country.

Already, Ghanaian seafarers have become much sought after in various parts of the world and are preferred by employers over and above their Nigerian counterparts. Reference

 

WinGD to upskill crews for the ’vessels of tomorrow’

24 Feb 2022
Swiss based marine engine technology developer WinGD has expanded its global training network through a partnership with DCS Power in Singapore to deliver training for optimizing engine performance and preparing crews for the fuels of the future.

Photo: WinGD. Image Source: Offshore Energy

The new training partnership, which was commemorated on 22 February, will combine the skills and expertise of WinGD with those of machinery specialist DCS, further enhancing the global training network for the engine developer.

Strategically located in Singapore, one of the busiest ports in the world, this partnership offers optimal convenience for WinGD’s expanding customer base in the region.

Preparing crews for the new future-fuel ready vessels will be delivered through a variety of both virtual and classroom-based training courses. The training will cover the full portfolio of engines, as well as the operational aspects of the future fuel landscape, prioritizing safety and engine optimization.

A full mission engine room simulator (FMS) equipped with WinGD’s virtual-reality engine room Xpert is a key feature of the training program, to allow the crew to train as a team for responding to real-life emergency scenarios involving the engine itself and all engine room systems.

WinGD operates four training centers located in Winterthur, Switzerland; Busan, Korea; Shanghai, China; and Athens, Greece. Authorized, third-party training partners are also located in Szczecin, Poland; Subic Bay, Philippines; and in Mumbai, India. Reference

 

India: Solar-powered Cruise Boat set to Launch in Kochi

23 Feb 2022
Buoyed by the global acclaim that its solar-powered ferry that operates from Vaikom won, the Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD) is readying to launch its air-conditioned, solar-powered 100-passenger backwater cruise vessel in Kochi in April.

A sketch of the solar-powered ferry. The commissioning of Solar Cruiser in April may coincide with the expected commissioning of the first batch of five Water Metro ferries. Image Source: The Hindu

The double-decker vessel, christened ‘Solar Cruiser’, got the mandatory Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) approval recently. “Guests will be able to enjoy the cruise from the lower deck, while meetings and events can be hosted in the upper deck. It will provide guests an affordable, non-polluting cruise experience from Marine Drive in the city, in a backwater-cruise sector which is dominated by fossil fuel-powered private boats which levy varying tariff and offer differing qualities of service,” said Shaji V. Nair, SWTD Director.

It will be the first time in the country that such a big vessel fully powered by solar energy is being introduced in the tourism sector. The 24-m long, 7-metre-wide vessel will have push-back seats, Mr. Nair added. It can store 100 Kw power. This makes it apt for longer cruises, including at night. The commissioning of Solar Cruiser in April will coincide with the expected commissioning of the first batch of five Water Metro ferries by Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL).

“The Solar Cruiser will be able to carry a total of 200 guests, although there are seats for 100 people, since it is a catamaran [has double hull] and is thus very safe. Its trial run will be conducted in March, followed by launch in April,” said Sandit Thandassery, the CEO of NavAlt, a joint venture of two French companies and a Kochi-based company, which is constructing the vessel at its yard in Aroor. Reference

 

Fire Subsides on Adrift Car Carrier

23 Feb 2022
A fire aboard a ship carrying cars in the mid-Atlantic is dying out, a Portuguese navy officer said Tuesday, and the huge vessel is expected to be towed to the Bahamas.

In this undated photo provided by the Portuguese Navy, smoke billows from the burning Felicity Ace car transport ship as seen from the Portuguese Navy NPR Setubal ship southeast of the mid-Atlantic Portuguese Azores Islands. The ship’s crew were taken by helicopter to Faial island on the archipelago, about 170 kilometers (100 miles) away on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. There were no reported injuries. Photo Credits: Portuguese Navy via AP. Image Source: mbtmag.com

The blaze on the Felicity Ace has burned for six days near Portugal’s Azores Islands. A Portuguese Air Force helicopter evacuated the 22 crew members last week, leaving the 200-meter-long (650-foot-long) vessel adrift.

Two ocean-going tugboats with firefighting equipment have hosed down the ship’s hull to cool it, according to the port of Horta harbormaster, Capt. Joao Mendes Cabecas, on the Azores island of Faial,

The cause of the fire is not known, Mendes Cabecas said, though suspicion has fallen on lithium batteries in electric vehicles the Felicity Ace was taking from Germany to the United States.

The fire broke out on a cargo deck where the vehicles were stowed, according to Mendes Cabecas, but when the alarm went off there was already too much smoke to make out where the blaze had started.

Flames were no longer visible from outside Tuesday, and the ship is stable, he said. A salvage crew hopes to get aboard the ship on Wednesday and hook up a tow line. Reference

 

Nearly Every Major Cruise Line Is Dropping Its Mask Mandate

23 Feb 2022
With Covid-19 cases plummeting around the country, the last few weeks have seen a tidal wave of cruise lines dropping mask mandates. Each of the three largest cruise operators — Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines — has either already stopped requiring that facial coverings be worn in most indoor settings or will do so beginning next month. The same goes for all of their subsidiary lines, like Carnival-owned Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean satellite Celebrity Cruises, and Norwegian’s sister brands, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Virgin Voyages is also dropping its mask requirement.

Cruising in 2022: Masks are out, booster shots are in. getty Image Source: forbes.com

Two other key players, MSC Cruises and family-focused Disney Cruise Line, have yet to announce that they are dropping the indoor mask requirement.

While mask mandates are on the way out on many cruise ships, the new goal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is that the vast majority of passengers and crews will be not only fully vaccinated but boosted as well. So far, that appears to be a goal too far.

The CDC’s new voluntary Covid-19 Program for Cruise Ships Operating in U.S. Waters has an updated ship-rating system that now takes booster shots into consideration. There are three tiers regarding a ship’s level of vaccination. “Not highly vaccinated” ships have less than 95% of passengers and 95% of crew fully vaccinated. “Highly vaccinated” ships have at least 95% of passengers and 95% of crew fully vaccinated, but have less than that percentage “up to date” with booster shots when applicable. The top tier, “Vaccination Standard of Excellence,” is reserved for ships have at least 95% of passengers and 95% of crew fully vaccinated and boosted when applicable.

While the program is technically voluntary for cruise ships, opting out would mean getting a “gray status” designation, indicating the CDC cannot confirm the ship’s Covid-19 public health measures. Consequently, 110 ships have opted into the program and none have opted out, according to the CDC’s dashboard.

Notably, virtually all ships are categorized as “highly vaccinated” and none meet the top tier criteria of more than 95% of passengers and crew not only fully vaccinated but also boosted. Reference

 

India’s maritime strength in full display at Presidential Fleet Review

22 Feb 2022
Warships, submarines, fighter jets, anti-submarine corvettes, and helicopters of the Indian Navy in full display, showcased India’s maritime firepower at the 12th edition of the President’s Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam on Monday.

A glimpse of Presidential Fleet Review | Images: Twitter/@rashtrapatibhvn. Image Source: India Today

The mega naval display is an old tradition that takes place once during a President’s tenure.

The latest inductions of the Indian Navy warship INS Visakhapatnam and submarine INS Vela were part of the Presidential Fleet Review that had around 60 vessels, including 44 warships and 3 submarines.

Fighter jet MiG29s of the navy, the P8i reconnaissance aircraft, the multi-role Dhruv helicopter, and Kamov helicopters used for anti-submarine warfare were part of the mesmerising flypast that zoomed past over the ships. In all, 55 aircraft participated in the flypast.

The Presidential yacht sailed past 44 ships anchored in four lanes and was accorded the ceremonial salute one by one.

In his address, the President congratulated the Indian Navy for the splendid conduct of the Fleet Review, overcoming all challenges and restrictions imposed by the pandemic. He said that as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, this was a moment of immense satisfaction for him. “The nation is proud of our brave navy personnel,” he said. Reference

 

The world’s biggest cruise ship is making its debut

22 Feb 2022
It’s been three years in the making, but the world’s largest cruise ship is finally ready to welcome passengers.

Record-breaking ship: Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, is finally ready to welcome passengers. Sigrun Sauerzapfe/Royal Caribbean. Image Source: CNN

Measuring a staggering 1,188 feet, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas was delivered last month and is due to begin its maiden voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to the Caribbean on March 4.

The 18-deck cruise ship was built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, and has capacity for 6,988 guests and 2,300 crew members.

The ship will begin operating five- to seven-night cruises from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to the Caribbean in March before launching Western Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona and Rome in May.

Wonder of the Seas comprises eight neighborhoods, one of which contains over 20,000 real plants, and its on-board features include what’s described as the “tallest slide at sea,” as well as a 10-deck-high zip line and a huge poolside movie screen.

The ship was originally scheduled for delivery in 2021, but this was pushed back due to delays brought about by the global pandemic.
The cruise line industry has faced constant disruption over the past two years as a result of Covid-19. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pushed cruise travel up to the highest-risk level in late December, indicating that the risk for Covid-19 was “very high” due to an increase in infections among cruise passengers and crew after the emergence of the Omicron variant. Reference

 

Shipping industry faces higher costs as marine fuel rises 23% this year

22 Feb 2022
The shipping industry is starting to feel the full force of surging diesel and petrol costs.

Ship fuel can be made from some of the same ingredients that refiners can also put into diesel and petrol. Image Source: irishexaminer.com

Ship fuel can be made from some of the same ingredients that refiners can also put into diesel and petrol. But soaring margins of the latter two fuels are making their production more attractive, resulting in tighter supplies for the maritime sector.

Fuel is shipping’s single biggest expense, so any price surge adds more inflationary pressure to already strained global supply chains. The cost of marine fuel in Rotterdam peaked at the highest since at least late 2019 at the start of the week, up 23% since the beginning of the year.

Much of the price increase in ship fuel has been due to a rally in crude oil, which is used to make most marine fuel. Rules implemented in 2020 forcing shippers to burn much lower-sulfur product have also helped push up costs. Reference

 

World’s First: Ships Will Charge Up at Offshore Wind Farms

21 Feb 2022
To support decarbonization of the maritime industry by eliminating idle emissions, Maersk Supply Service is launching its offshore vessel-charging venture, Stillstrom. The new venture will demonstrate the world’s first full-scale offshore charging station for vessels at an offshore wind farm, working together with Ørsted, both Denmark’s largest energy company and the world’s largest offshore wind developer.

Image Source: ens-newswire.com

“Stillstrom,” which means “quiet power” in Danish, is an early-stage technology spin-out, whose full-scale product launch will be the first-to-market in offshore charging, enabling idle vessels to power up with clean electricity.

Stillstrom will deliver offshore electric charging solutions to vessels at ports, hubs and offshore energy operations. Electrifying outside ports, energy islands, and near-shore locations, also addresses in-port congestion and limited space, the company explains.

Maersk Supply Service, a part of A.P. Moller-Maersk, says offshore charging for idle vessels is critical to facilitating the decarbonization of the maritime industry, since it allows vessel owners to replace fossil fuels with electricity while being safely moored to the charging buoy.

The first full-scale charging buoy will be demonstrated with Ørsted in the third quarter of 2022.

The charging buoys will enable clean power and charging stations with safe mooring for vessels servicing offshore floating and fixed-bottom wind parks.

The charging buoy itself is large enough to charge an SOV-sized battery or hybrid-electric vessel. The same solution will be scaled and adapted to supply power to larger vessels, enabling vessels of all sizes to turn off their engines when lying idle. By substituting green electricity for fossil fuels, virtually all emissions and noise pollution are eliminated while the charging buoy is in use. 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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