Following Stories compiled in this News Digest for the week from 24 Jan 2022 to 31 Jan 2022 in descending order:
- Laws Governing Undersea Cables Need Modernising
- New Guidance On Pilot Transfer Arrangements Published
- Maritime warning on Russian navy drills is first for foreign military in 20 years
- US Announces New Open Registry
- GMU and ISWAN join forces to investigate issues related to recruitment and placement of Indian seafarers
- MSC Re-Routes Ships Near Greece to Protect Sperm Whales
- Maersk shares ocean weather observations to aid climate research
- ’World First’ Autonomous Containership Tested in Japan
- Pirates Attack Bunker Tanker Off Ivory Coast
- Methanol is key solution for shipping decarbonisation today, research suggests
- Rising cyber exposure in maritime calls for urgent action
- Starving sailors rescued in Durban
- Billionaire Cruise CEO Resigns After Ordering Ship To Evade US Marshals
- Abu Dhabi marine major Al Seer launches 3D print manufacturing unit
- Singapore Strait Remains a Hotspot for Maritime Armed Robbery
- EU Renews its Commitment to Anti-Piracy Patrols in Gulf of Guinea
Laws Governing Undersea Cables Need Modernising
30 Jan 2022
Laws Governing Undersea Cables Have Hardly Changed Since 1884 – Tonga is a Reminder They Need Modernising.
Since the catastrophic volcanic eruption on January 16, Tonga has been largely cut off from the world due to a break in the undersea cable that links Tonga with Fiji (and from there with the world). A complete fix may take weeks.
Aside from the distress and inconvenience this is causing, Tonga’s predicament demonstrates a more general vulnerability of our global communication system.
Over 95% of the world’s data travels along the 436 submarine cables – around 1.3 million kilometres long in total – that connect all continents except Antarctica. These cables carry data integral to the internet, communication, and financial and defence systems worldwide.
There are natural hazards, as the Tonga eruption so graphically demonstrated. But the greatest threat to submarine cables is from fishing. Despite the cables being clearly marked on maritime charts, about 70% of damage is caused accidentally by gear such as trawl nets, dredges, long lines and fish aggregation devices.
But there is also concern that the cables are increasingly vulnerable to terrorism and cyberwarfare by private and state actors.
Given their fundamental importance to modern global communication, then, it would be natural to assume the international rules protecting submarine cables have been revised to respond to new technology and new challenges.
Not so. The international legal regime for protecting and managing submarine cables has remained largely unchanged since 1884 when the Convention for the Protection of Submarine Telegraph Cables was adopted. It remains in force today, with 36 party states (including New Zealand and Australia, which acceded in 1888 and 1901 respectively).
The convention makes it an offence to break or damage a submarine cable, wilfully or by culpable negligence (unless such action is necessary to save life). It also provides that only the state within which a vessel is registered (the “flag state”) can take action against its vessels and those on board.
If the owner of a cable breaks or damages another cable when laying or repairing their own, they must bear the cost of repairing the breakage or damage. Vessel owners who sacrifice an anchor, net or other fishing gear to avoid damaging a cable can receive compensation from the owner of the cable.
These provisions go back to not long after the first international submarine communication cable was laid between Britain and France in 1850 – it was destroyed by a French fishing vessel within 24 hours.
There are a number of problems with the current rules. First, outside of the territorial sea, the only state that can take action against a vessel that breaks a cable is the vessel’s own flag state.
While some flag states are responsible and have adopted appropriate legislation – as New Zealand has done with the Submarine Cables and Pipelines Protection Act 1996 – many others have not.
Generally, the law does not address issues such as physical separation between different cables or their distance from other undersea activities such as mining. Nor does it cover maintaining consistent information on maritime charts, or co-ordination between industries and states.
Given the potentially catastrophic impact on communications, the economy and defence of losing major cables to accident or nefarious activity, the answer is arguably no. The rules, largely unchanged since 1884, need modernising. Reference
New Guidance On Pilot Transfer Arrangements Published
29 Jan 2022
This guidance is intended to remind seafarers and companies of the vital importance of adhering to the rules and established procedures concerning the provision of safe boarding arrangements for pilots.
Pilots have the right to decline to board vessels offering defective boarding arrangements, which can result in serious delay. Pilots are also entitled to report defects in boarding arrangements to port state control authorities, which could lead to a full port state control inspection with the risk of delay and financial penalties.
A pilot who has climbed a correct ladder, well rigged, and attended by an officer and a deck party will be in the right frame of mind to give their best attention to the safety of the vessel.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA) have produced this guidance in collaboration with industry partners; Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs (IGP&I), International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations (IFSMA), INTERCARGO, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and The Nautical Institute.
Maritime warning on Russian navy drills is first for foreign military in 20 years
29 Jan 2022
Russia’s naval drills planned for next week are the first exercises by a foreign military in at least 20 years that have required an Irish maritime warning.
While other navies and air forces regularly transit through Ireland’s exclusive economic one (EEZ), live fire drills are unheard of in recent years, aside from those carried out by the Irish Naval Service.
The department issued a marine notice on Wednesday to all seafarers with the location of the exercises, warning that they “will include the use of naval artillery and launching of rockets”.
“Given the nature of the planned exercises and the presence of naval forces, vessels and crew are advised of serious safety risks in the operational area,” the department said.
Seafarers were advised to “navigate their vessel to ensure safety at all times”, it added.
One fishing industry group, which was involved in discussions with the Russian ambassador Yuri Filatov about the naval exercises in Dublin on Wednesday, said it only discovered after the meeting that Irish trawlers would not be fishing next week in the vicinity of the navy drills.
“The ambassador has listened carefully to the concerns that the Irish fishermen expressed and explained to them that these drills will not do any harm to their interests,” he said. “He also urged them to refrain from any provocative actions which might endanger all involved.”
Up to 60 Irish trawlers are planning to fish in the area to the north of the Russian drills location from February 1st when the prawn quotas open up.
The exercises take place between February 3rd and 8th, according to the department’s marine notice issued on the back of information given by Russia to the Irish Aviation Authority. Reference
US Announces New Open Registry
28 Jan 2022
Next Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington, former US Deputy Secretary of State and the first Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte will be providing opening remarks, and Albert Bryan, Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, will announce a new US Flag open ship registry, in what some maritime experts are calling the most historic moment for US maritime interests this century.
The shipping industry moves more than $4 trillion USD of imports and exports into and out of the United States every year but, for the past fifty years, the U.S. has increasingly relied on shipping lines from other countries to carry most of these goods. Currently, there is only one U.S. flag shipping company in the top 30: Matson, ranked 26th, with only 0.2% of the global market share.
Over fifty percent of the ships that traverse international waterways are registered in just three jurisdictions – Panama, Liberia, and the Marshall Islands. Each of these registries was formed with the support of the US Government and each originally promised commercial advantages along with some degree of protection from the US Navy. Panama and Liberia, however, currently have no protection agreement in place. The Marshall Islands registry is said to have a security “understanding” with the United States, but the details of which are not clear.
“The future is becoming increasingly complex and uncertain,” said Eric R. Dawicki President of Northeast Maritime Institute and an executive member of COPE. Dawicki was quick to point out that, while this is an open registry, it will not be a flag of convenience. The US Virgin Islands is one of only five official Overseas Territories of the United States. “We are looking to help shipowners navigate an increasingly uncertain world,” said Dawicki. “We are looking to help those who want to do good by doing well.”. Reference
GMU and ISWAN join forces to investigate issues related to recruitment and placement of Indian seafarers
28 Jan 2022
Gujarat Maritime University (GMU) and the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) have collaborated on a joint research project to understand the challenges that Indian seafarers face when looking for work at sea and the issues that arise when they are duped by fraudulent crewing agents.
India is one of the largest seafarer-supplying nations in the world, with an estimated 250,000 active trained seafarers. However, due to the imbalance between demand and supply of seafarers, some of them struggle to find work at sea.
This disparity has paved the way for unscrupulous crewing agents to exploit freshers to their advantage. ISWAN’s SeafarerHelp helpline has received an alarming number of cases in recent years from Indian seafarers who have been duped by fraudulent crewing agents and subjected to extreme traumatic incidents as a result.
The research will examine any potential gaps in the current Merchant Shipping Act, 19581 identified by the findings and suggest suitable amendments to the legislation to address them. The research will also develop a comprehensive Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to help stakeholders initiate action against any errant agents who have duped a seafarer.
Who can participate in this survey?
Any Indian seafarer who may have faced crewing agent-related issues while joining ships or has been a victim of fraud can participate and fill out the survey form.
By completing the anonymous online survey, seafarers can provide GMU’s research team with the necessary information about their experiences with a fraudulent crewing agent. The information collected by GMU will be used to examine any gaps in the current Merchant Shipping Act (as amended), and the stakeholders will be requested to take appropriate action in response to the findings.
MSC Re-Routes Ships Near Greece to Protect Sperm Whales
28 Jan 2022
MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world’s largest container shipping company, will re-route its ships along the west coast of Greece to reduce the risk of collision with endangered Mediterranean sperm whales.
The company’s says the decision comes after discussions with four major environmental non-governmental organizations who urged swift action in order to protect 200 to 300 sperm whales remaining in the region. In re-routing its ships, MSC becomes the first shipping line to take the action to protect the population.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), OceanCare and WWF Greece are working in collaboration with the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, which has been studying the eastern Mediterranean sperm whale population since 1998. The studies have identified the Hellenic Trench, to the west and south of the Peloponnese and southwest of Crete, as critical habitat for the species. Deep diving sperm whales are found there year-round, concentrating around the 1000-meter depth contour, directly in the path of busy shipping routes.
The area of most concern is currently a major container shipping route. More than half the sperm whales found stranded on the Greek coast show evidence of vessel collisions, or ship strikes. Statistically, only a very small proportion of ship strikes are reported and detected. In many instances, mariners on large ships are unaware that they even have hit a whale.
Earlier this year, the Greek Ministry of Defense through the Hellenic Hydrographic Office in collaboration with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy and the Greek shipping industry issued an official notice informing mariners about the presence of marine mammals in the Hellenic Trench. The NAVTEX (NAVigational TEleX) warning instructs mariners to look out for whales and try to avoid collisions with them.
Male sperm whales grow to around 16 meters long (some individuals even up to 20 meters) and can weigh up to 41 tonnes. Outside of the Mediterranean, sperm whales are listed as ‘Vulnerable’, but due to its small size and geographic isolation, the Mediterranean population is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Reference
Maersk shares ocean weather observations to aid climate research
28 Jan 2022
The data which has been collected by Maersk vessels since 2012 increases publicly available ocean weather data by 28 percent.
As explained, the goal is to aid climate research and weather forecasts by providing weather data from the world’s oceans, where ground level data coverage is slim, and most data comes from satellite observations which have their limitations.
Among other things, the observations can give a more precise picture of how surface-level ocean conditions and the interaction with the atmosphere have evolved since 2012.
The data – more than 9 million observations – will be shared via the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), run jointly by UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
GOOS collects ocean weather observations for climate science and provides input to weather forecasts.
With all 300 Maersk-owned vessels sharing data multiple times a day, Maersk shares more than 7,000 observations every day. Some vessels are even live feeding data to weather services around the globe.
In collaboration with the National Meteorological Service of Germany, Maersk has installed automated weather stations on several of its vessels. Reference
’World First’ Autonomous Containership Tested in Japan
27 Jan 2022
Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) is claiming to have conducted the world’s first sea trial of an unmanned autonomous containership.
The trial took place using the 2015-built feeder containership M/V Mikage, operated by Imoto Lines, from January 24-25th. The ship departed on a pre-formulated route from Tsuruga Port in Japan’s Fukui Prefecture, arriving in Sakai Port in Tottori Prefecture – a distance covering a few hundred miles.
The voyage utilized Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding’s autonomous ship operation control system, taking into account a number of variables including ship location, external elements such as wind, tides, and current, ship handling elements, and navigational rules and regulations.
Information on other ships and obstacles on the set route was gathered by a Furuno Electric-developed autonomous surrounding information integration system, which measures and displays positions, speed, types of nearby ships, and position of obstacles/debris using radar, AIS, and camera images.
The ship also performed autonomous berthing and unberthing using Furuno Electric-developed berthing/unberthing support sensor, which includes equipment that calculates and visually displays accurate relative distances and relative angles between the pier and hull from information gathered by LiDAR/camera/satellite compass.
“Automated mooring” was another element of the project. During the sea trial, a drone was actually used to carry the heaving line to the pier, as opposed to being tossed by a crewmember.
The trial was conducted as part the unmanned ship project MEGURI2040 led by The Nippon Foundation, which earlier this month also tested the operation of an autonomous car ferry. Reference
Pirates Attack Bunker Tanker Off Ivory Coast
27 Jan 2022
A bunker tanker has been attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea off the Ivory Coast, maritime security firm Dryad Global has confirmed.
“Pirates are understood to have boarded and hijacked the vessel before departing the vessel with stolen cargo,” Dryad said in an update on the incident.
Contact was lost with the vessel, identified as the MT B Ocean, on January 24. The vessel was understood to be operating as a bunker vessel approximately 54 nautical miles south-southwest of the Port of Abidjan when contact was lost.
Incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea are historically low off the Ivory Coast, but recent trends indicate pirates are expanded their footprint in the Gulf of Guinea beyond Nigerian waters, Dryad reports.
The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports that the number of piracy and armed robbery incidents in the Gulf of Guinea fell to 34 in 2021, down from 81 reported incidents in 2020. IMB said the increased presence of international naval vessels and cooperation with regional authorities has contributed to the reduction. Reference
Methanol is key solution for shipping decarbonisation today, research suggests
27 Jan 2022
A new report addressing the reduction of emissions from the global maritime sector has verified the benefits of methanol as a marine fuel highlighting it as a key solution for decarbonisation.
The report, published by clean energy financial services firm Longspur Research, looks into potential solutions for decarbonisation in the shipping market worth $105 billion per year.
According to the report, methanol’s benefits such as fungibility, availability, energy density and most importantly, the ability to significantly reduce emissions immediately put it in the spotlight of maritime decarbonisation.
Shipping is said to generate over one billion tons of emissions through carbon dioxide (CO2) and airborne pollutants such as sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrous oxides (NOx) and particulate matter, and methanol is said to be able to cut these emissions by over 60% thanks to its clean-burning qualities.
Moreover, methanol produced from natural gas offers an initial 10-15% CO2 saving, rising to over 90% when using renewable methanol.
As the IMO and European Union (EU) increase requirements from customers and financial institutions, the shipping industry is pushed towards net zero emissions by 2050.
Recently, the maritime sector witnessed some of the world’s largest shipping names support methanol as the leading alternative marine fuel.
To begin with, Danish container shipping and logistics giant Maersk increased their order from eight to twelve 16,000 TEU methanol-powered containerships. Moving on, technology company Rolls-Royce also revealed plans to set standards in high-speed methanol engines. Specifically, the company’s business unit Power Systems is currently working on mtu engines for use with methanol. Similarly, Swiss integrated energy company Proman teamed up with Swedish shipping company Stena back in October 2021 to develop a retrofit and supply solution that will allow vessels to run on methanol as a marine fuel.
Sponsored by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, the research project aims to develop clean energy technology with a high degree of flexibility and broad applications within the shipping industry, from yacht building to offshore work ships and high-powered dredgers. Reference
Rising cyber exposure in maritime calls for urgent action
26 Jan 2022
Cyber-attacks targeting the marine sector, and critical infrastructure more broadly, are growing rapidly across the world and in Asia. As the maritime industry undergoes rapid digitalisation, ransomware attacks continue to escalate. In fact, hackers are narrowing their focus on organisations in the sector which are seen as tempting targets due to a perceived lack of cyber security investment and potential for significant operational disruption.
The marine industry being an attractive target for hackers is not new. Since Maersk suffered a devastating US$300 million ransomware attack in 2017, the maritime industry has earned the unfortunate distinction of being the only sector to have all four of the world’s largest shipping companies being hit by cyber-attacks in the last four years, namely – Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company, CMA CGM and COSCO.
Compliance requirements around cyber risk for shipowners and operators have increased since the start of 2021, amid growing anxiety over the financial impact and operational ramifications of cyber-attacks. Shipowners and operators globally, including here in Asia, are now obliged to comply with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s resolutions pertaining to cyber risk management and guidelines. Every Safety Management System must be documented as having factored in cyber risk management and processes for cyber risk assessment, in line with the International Safety Management Code.
Asia Pacific appears to be the most targeted area in the world for ransomware and state-sponsored advanced persistent threat groups, with the region experiencing a 168% increase in cyberattacks between May 2020 and May 2021. The recent cyber breaches of Singapore-based marine services provider Swire Pacific Offshore in November and South Korean shopping company HMM in June this year highlighted this threat.
As ship operations become more interconnected with shore side computer systems, partly driven by the digitalisation wave in the wake of COVID-19, the potential for a cyber event leading to physical damage is high. The reputational implications, if an attack took place on such a critical industry, would be severe.
Maritime operators can also easily become collateral damage of attacks not targeted at them – just look at Maersk and many others who were collateral damage for a cyber- attack targeted at Ukraine a few years ago.
While digitalisation of the industry brings exciting possibilities, due care must be taken to ensure cyber threats are managed. Reference
Starving sailors rescued in Durban
25 Jan 2022
Emergency food has been delivered to 18 sailors stranded aboard abandoned vessels in Durban harbour, the SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) said on Monday.
Some of the sailors have been stuck aboard for months, unable to return home because their vessels have either been arrested under maritime law or abandoned by their owners.
Two of the vessels have been in the harbour for five years and a third arrived earlier this month, Samsa said.
The sailors come from Iran, Bangladesh and India and were within hours of running out of food. The initial plea for help came from the Mission to Seafarers, an organisation dedicated to helping sailors in need.
Meals on Wheels confirmed the sailors were living in poor conditions and largely dependent on charitable donations. Reference
Billionaire Cruise CEO Resigns After Ordering Ship To Evade US Marshals
25 Jan 2022
Genting Hong Kong Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lim Kok Thay resigned, days after the company filed to wind up its business and as US Marshalls work to arrest one of his ships which diverted its final voyage to end in the Bahamas instead of landing on Saturday in Miami as planned.
Lim, who owns 76% of Genting Hong Kong, stepped down with effect from Jan. 21, the company said in a stock exchange filing. Au Fook Yew also resigned as deputy CEO and president. Neither man has any disagreement with the board, the company said.
More than two years into the global health crisis, Lim’s company is headed for liquidation — and there are signs that operations are unraveling. U.S. authorities stand ready to seize a Genting ship in Miami over unpaid fuel bills, while online bookings for some cruises have been suspended. The company’s shares are halted in Hong Kong.
Genting Hong Kong is a stark example of how the virus has brought once-thriving businesses to their knees.
Lim founded in 1993 the company that would later become Genting Hong Kong, partly as a way of diversifying risk away from the Genting group’s flagship casino resort in Malaysia. Some three decades on, the billionaire has resigned and the cruise business is buckling.
Genting Hong Kong’s troubles reflect an Asian tourism industry that’s largely been cautious about reopening. China is pursuing a Covid-Zero strategy, and Hong Kong is battling an omicron outbreak. Cruise operators in other countries, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., are rebounding as markets such as the Americas and Europe adopt an endemic approach to the virus.
Over the weekend, the Crystal Symphony, a vessel operated by Genting Hong Kong, diverted its final voyage to end in the Bahamas instead of landing on Saturday in Miami as planned. Reference
Abu Dhabi marine major Al Seer launches 3D print manufacturing unit
24 Jan 2022
Al Seer Marine, an Abu Dhabi-listed marine company and a subsidiary of International Holding Company (IHC), on Thursday announced the launch of its 3D print manufacturing business unit.
Commonly referred to as 3D printing, additive manufacturing uses computer aided design software or 3D object scanners to produce lighter, stronger parts and systems.
The technology provides numerous advantages during the manufacturing process, enabling engineers to design parts with increased complexity in drastically shorter timeframes, Al Seer Marine said in a statement.
The move comes as Grand View Research said the global 3D printing market has been valued at $13.78 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 21 percent from 2021 to 2028.
The company added that the new business unit will leverage the latest additive manufacturing technologies for the company’s in-house manufacturing of unmanned vessels and vehicles.
The business unit will also develop large-scale additive manufacturing products and parts that are in high-demand regionally and globally.
Founded in 2003, Al Seer Marine provides vessels construction services, operation, refurbishment, and yacht management to private customers, as well as fulfilling public sector vessels contracts. Reference
Singapore Strait Remains a Hotspot for Maritime Armed Robbery
24 Jan 2022
The Singapore Strait remains as the most dangerous route for commercial shipping in Asia after 41 incidents of armed robberies were reported against ships last year, up from 34 in 2020.
The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre based in Singapore shows that despite a decline in maritime piracy and armed robbery attacks in Asia, the busy traffic lane stretching some 114 kilometers remains a major hotspot for illegal activities. Approximately 2,000 merchant ships traverse the waters on a daily basis, making it an attractive area for targets.
Despite the increase in the number of incidents along the strait, the level of severity was not high and the perpetrators have not been arrested, increasing the possibilities that such incidents will continue to occur. According to researcher Adri Wanto of the University of Hamburg, spare parts stolen from passing ships are widely traded at Batu Ampar, Batam, and the local police believe that they lack jurisdiction to intervene.
ReCAAP data shows there were a total of 82 incidents of armed robbery against ships reported in Asia in last year, comprising 77 actual incidents and five attempted incidents. This represents a 15 percent decrease compared to 2020.
Apart from the Singapore Strait, the Manila Anchorages and the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah also remain as areas of concern in terms of maritime insecurity in Asia.
For the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah, there has been no abduction of crew incident reported since January 2020. However, as the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf Group are still at large, the threat of the abduction of crew incidents remains high. Reference
EU Renews its Commitment to Anti-Piracy Patrols in Gulf of Guinea
24 Jan 2022
The European Union (EU) intends to carry on with the deployment of its member states’ warships in the Gulf of Guinea to stem the recurring menace of piracy.
After a review of the Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) pilot program in which member states have been deploying warships to the region over the last two years, the EUfeels it needs to maintain its presence, considering the ongling threat of piracy and other illegal activities in the Gulf of Guinea.
The bloc is proposing a two-year extension of the CMP mandates starting January this year and has outlined deployments of Danish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish warships into the region.
Denmark will patrol West Africa’s waters for four months, Spain for seven and a half months, France for eleven months, Italy for eight months and Portugal for three and a half months. The deployment will ensure a continuous EU presence in the Gulf of Guinea with at least one ship in the area.
The Gulf of Guinea experienced a nearly 50 percent increase in kidnapping for ransom between 2018 and 2019, and around 10 percent increase between 2019 and 2020. Although the region accounts for just over 95 percent of all kidnappings for ransom at sea, the number of incidents in piracy and armed robbery remained consistently lower in 2021 than in 2019 or 2020.
The EU launched the CMP in 2019 and commenced its implementation a year later, responding to urgent pleas from European shipping interests. Last year, five member states deployed naval ships in the region, granting the continuous presence of at least one ship throughout the year. The bloc believes that the pilot program has proven that the CMP concept can be an effective and useful instrument to contribute to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
This year, the EU believes that the risks of pirate activity remains high, mainly in the coastal waters of Togo and Gabon, with Nigeria as the center of gravity. Reference
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