Beirut explosion casts harsh light on international shipping rules

Murky story of a ship called the Rhosus, which began life as a Japanese dredger

Andrew North – August 10, 2020 18:00 JST – Nikkei Asian Review

Boris Prokoshev, right, captain of the cargo vessel Rhosus, and boatswain Boris Musinchak, pose next to a freight hold loaded with ammonium nitrate in the port of Beirut, in a summer 2014 photograph.    © Reuters

Andrew North has reported widely from across the Middle East, South Asia, and Central Asia. He is a regular commentator on Asian affairs.

This is the story of a ship that was built in Japan in 1986.

Named the “Daifuku Maru No. 8,” maritime records show that it began life as a humble dredger, scooping up mud and rock from Japanese shipping lanes so that bigger craft wouldn’t hit the bottom. Then, in 2002, it was sold to South Korea and renamed. So began a journey around the world, during which the ship’s name, owner and the flag flying from its mast changed every few years.

What are known as “flags of convenience” (FoCs) provide a legal way for a shipping company from one country to reduce costs down by “renting” the flag of another country that has lighter labor rules and lower taxes. Many of these flags are run by smaller, and often poorer countries, ranging from Liberia to North Korea, even landlocked Mongolia and Bolivia. It earns these states valuable revenue, but it also provides a way for unscrupulous owners to conceal their identities while running substandard and polluting ships, as well as dodging the law and cheating their crews.

Between 2005 and 2007, the Japanese-built ship was passed between two Hong Kong companies who called it the “Zheng Long” but flagged it to Belize and then Panama, the tiny Central American state that has nearly 9,000 ships sailing under its flag. That’s around 16% of global shipping tonnage, more than any other country.

Once notorious for its lax rules, Panama now keeps closer tabs on who can fly its colors. So it was telling that when a Panamanian company bought the ship and converted it into a cargo freighter, it was reflagged to the Black Sea nation of Georgia — another country known for running a low-cost FoC regime.

There were still more identity changes to come. First, a Cyprus-based Russian business owner bought the freighter. But when it was sent to pick up a shipment from the Georgian port of Batumi in 2013, the Georgian flag had been replaced with the colors of Moldova, a country with no seaside coast but a reputation at the time for allowing its flag to be used for smuggling by Iranian vessels.

Showing its age, the now 30-year old ship had defects that included a hole in its hull requiring water to be pumped out to stop it sinking, but it set sail nonetheless. When the Russian owner didn’t pay wages, the crew walked out, forcing him to find another crew before sending the vessel out to Beirut to earn extra cash by taking on heavy machinery. When the ship’s decks buckled under the weight, inspectors were alerted and it was declared “unseaworthy.”

The former Japanese dredger was by then named the “Rhosus,” which the world now knows as the ship that carried the 2,700 tons of Georgian-made ammonium nitrate that exploded in Beirut port on August 4 with such deadly effect.A former Japanese dredger named the “Rhosus,” carried the 2,700 tons of Georgian-made ammonium nitrate that exploded in Beirut port on August 4, killing up to 158 people, and injuring more than 6,000.    © Reuters

In the aftermath of the disaster, the focus has rightly been on the failings of Lebanon’s dysfunctional government, as the explosive cargo was its responsibility once offloaded. But the murky story of the Rhosus also raises questions as to why an international system almost designed to avoid accountability is allowed to continue.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has been campaigning for an end to FoCs for decades. It lists 35 countries running flags of convenience, blaming the practice for low wages and abusive conditions among merchant navies, as well as the “floating coffins” on the world’s seas.

Some maritime experts argue that the story of the Rhosus shows that controls worked because the ship was eventually stopped in Beirut. According to Natasha Brown, spokesperson for the International Maritime Organization, the UN’s shipping regulation body, more and better inspections have led to a decline in serious incidents in the last seven years.

Japan, the US and Europe all operate a system of white, gray and black lists to classify flags by their record, with frequent inspections for poorer performers. “That makes it more difficult for an owner to keep using a blacklisted flag,” argues Luc Smulders, Secretary-General of the Paris MoU, the organization that oversees European inspections.

But such measures still don’t go far enough. Blacklisting doesn’t stop a ship from sailing, and there are plenty of ports beyond the reach of organized inspectors. Groups such as the ITF say that until there is a “genuine link between the flag a ship flies and the nationality or residence of its owners,” abuses will continue.

Moldova is a case in point. Seven years after the Moldovan-flagged Rhosus was stopped in Beirut, the country is on the official flag performance blacklist. But it continues to run a lightly-regulated shipping registry for all comers. You can do it all online with no mention of any physical checks. (The country’s ship registration agency did not respond to several requests for comment.)

With all that has since emerged about the Rhosus and its past, many have wondered how it was ever allowed to sail with so much explosive material on board. But as things stand, there is little to stop another ship with a shady past from setting sail today.

Global shipping at ‘critical point’ as routes threatened by sailor shortage

in International Shipping News 20/07/2020

The international shipping community is facing a major labour crisis, with sailors stranded on ships or at home because of visa and flight restrictions, maritime groups said.

With crew changes down by 75 per cent, a humanitarian crisis is also developing, with sailors suffering mental health problems, fatigue and accidents from being trapped for months at a time on ships.

With more than 200,000 sailors unable to leave their vessels and a similar number trying to get out to them, international shipping bodies believe the world economy is weeks from another disaster.

Last week, only 13 countries including the UAE, Britain and the United States, signed up to an agreement to designate sailors as key workers, allowing them to fly home without quarantine or visa issues.

But other major seafaring nations such as China and India refused to sign up, adding to the dangerous logjam that could affect the global economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

With ships transporting 80 per cent of global trade, the urgency to resolve the problem has been highlighted by the International Maritime Organisation, a UN body.

In a statement it said: “Three key requirements are needed to stop the crisis spiralling. Seafarers need to be designated as key workers globally, visa requirements need to be dropped, and governments need to get commercial airlines running to transport them.”

Some ship owners have resorted to chartering aircraft to turn around crews, at an estimated $800,000 (Dh2.9m) cost per change.

Another owner sailed his empty tanker from Africa to Britain to facilitate a crew change before taking the ship back to Africa.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, said the global economy was in danger if no action was taken.

“We are weeks away from this becoming a very serious situation. We cannot go on like this indefinitely as every day that passes, the risk rises.”

Crew fatigue was also making ships unsafe. “This will really put supply chains under threat, that’s how serious it is,” Mr Platten told The National.

“If ships can’t sail, they can’t deliver the goods, not merely food or medical supplies at a moment when some economies are recovering and when they really need to keep supply chains running.”

He called on governments to show the political will to prioritise seafarers as essential workers and allow them to travel freely.

In a column for The National, Mr Platten called on other governments to following the example set by the UAE, Britain and America.

“By leading from the front and doing everything in its power to expedite crew change, the UAE can set an example for the world to follow. We cannot overstate the urgency.”

Usually 100,000 workers are repatriated every month but since the pandemic struck in March, only 25 per cent of the normal number of crew changes have taken place.

Former UK transport minister Nusrat Ghani told The National that world shipping was at a “critical point” because without seafarers working “we are in an absolute bind”.

“Seafarers are the ones keeping our supermarket food shelves stocked, they are the ones that ensure medicines are imported, keep industries afloat, without them the rest of the country cannot function.

“Seafarers are out at sea and out of mind but everything in our homes is there because they are at work, shipping goods to us.”

With a further worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus looming, swift action was now required, the IMO said. “The uncertainty around a possible second wave of Covid-19 underscores the need for swift action to allow crew changes and avoid further consequences to the fragile global supply chain.”

There are growing concerns over mental health after sailors missed their own weddings, births of their children and funerals of relatives after they were stuck in port for months. A number have taken their own lives. The onboard issues “could lead to serious maritime accidents”, the IMO warned.

“We are 14 months on board … send us home for vacation to refresh our fatigue and pressure,” wrote stranded sailor Enrique Sumayo on the IMO Facebook page.

In a plea to other countries to ease restrictions, Nawsad Amin, an engineer, said: “Need to take more steps quickly. Many vessels’ environment is going down day by day, which can result in increasing accidents and fighting.”

Other sailors begged for countries to open up international flights to get people home. In many countries, seafarers provide income for extended families but those 200,000 trapped at home are now without a wage.

A spokesman for Seafarers UK said: “Our big problem is that people have been asked to work beyond their contract’s expiry date and, when they are fatigued, the likelihood of serious accidents increases and inevitably there have been examples of seafarers taking their own lives.

“It will, of course, have an impact on the world food trade because if crews aren’t available, ship movements are interrupted. That impact will be felt most seriously by countries dependent on shipping.”
Source: The National

Containers Lost At Sea – 2020 Update

in International Shipping News 10/07/2020

In 2019, the international liner shipping industry transported approximately 226 million containers, with cargo transported valued at more than $4 trillion. Proper packing, stowage and securing of containers and reporting of correct weight are very important to the safety of a container ship, its crew, and its cargo, to shore-based workers and equipment, and to the environment. However, even with proper packing of the cargo into the container, correct container weight declaration, and proper stowage and securing aboard ship, a number of factors ranging from severe weather and rough seas to more catastrophic and rare events like ship groundings, structural failures, and collisions can result in containers being lost at sea. Since 2011, the World Shipping Council (WSC) has undertaken a survey of its members to accurately estimate the number of containers that are lost at sea each year. The WSC’s member companies operate more than three quarters of the global containership capacity; thus, a survey of their losses provides a valid basis for a meaningful estimate of the total number of containers lost at sea. The 2020 update gathered information from years 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Methodology of the Surveys
In each of the surveys conducted in 2011, 2014, 2017, and 2020 the WSC member companies were asked to report the number of containers lost overboard for the preceding three years. For the 2020 report, all WSC member companies responded and together, they represent 80% of the total global vessel container capacity deployed at the time of the survey. WSC assumes for the purpose of its analysis that the container losses for the 20% of the industry’s capacity that is operated by carriers that did not participate in the survey would be roughly equivalent to the losses reported by the responding carriers representing 80% of the industry’s capacity.

The total annual figure reported by WSC members is adjusted upward to provide an estimated loss figure for all carriers, both WSC members and non-members, to arrive at an estimate of total containers lost. As expected, some carriers lost no containers during the period, while others noted a significant incident where hundreds of containers were lost in a single event.

There are more than 6,000 ships carrying containers around the world at any point in time. In previous surveys, WSC asked members to distinguish between losses that occurred because of a catastrophic event on a single sailing, defined as one where 50 containers or more were lost in a single incident, and non-catastrophic losses. This distinction was in part aimed at getting some insight into the general nature of losses. The conclusion after twelve years is that more than half of all containers lost at sea are attributable to the limited number of major incidents that have occurred during those years.

However, the industry recognizes that all containers lost at sea represent safety and environmental hazards regardless of how and when those containers were lost. Accordingly, the 2020 Update to the Containers Lost at Sea Survey no longer differentiates between catastrophic and non-catastrophic losses and includes only total containers lost at sea. It is this number that the industry seeks to reduce, and we continue to work with governments and other interested stakeholders to identify losses, their causes, and actionable solutions to reduce the losses in the future.

Upon review of the results of the twelve-year period (2008-2019) surveyed, the WSC estimates that there were on average a total of 1,382 containers lost at sea each year. With twelve years of data, it is particularly interesting to look at the trend of three-year averages, reported in each of the survey updates. In the first period (2008-2010), total losses averaged 675 per year and then quadrupled to an average of 2,683 per year in the next period (2011-2013). This was due in large part to the sinking of the MOL Comfort (2013) that resulted in a loss of 4,293 containers and further impacted by the grounding and loss of M/V Rena (2011) resulting in approximately 900 containers lost. Fortunately, there have not been such significant losses in a single incident reported since.

Nevertheless, the next period (2014-2016) was marked by another vessel sinking with the tragic total loss of the SS El Faro (2015) with the loss of 33 crew members and 517 containers. Even with that, the three-year average annual loss for the period was 1,390, about half that of the previous period. The downward trend continued into the most recent period (2017-2019) when the 3-year average annual loss was almost halved again to 779. There were no individual losses as significant as those noted in the previous periods, which is a welcome development. However, 2018 and 2019 were marked with a few incidents that each lost more than 100 containers.

Active Safety Improvement Initiatives
Containers lost overboard represent less than one thousandth of 1% of the roughly 226 million containers currently shipped each year. Nevertheless, the liner shipping industry remains committed to continuing to partner with governments and other stakeholders to enhance container safety in order to further reduce the number of containers lost at sea, including:

• Amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention: On July 1, 2016 changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention requiring verification of container weights before packed containers may be loaded aboard ships went into effect. This is an effort WSC advocated in support of for many years. The requirement makes container weight verification a legally binding condition for vessel loading. Mis-declared container weights have contributed to the loss of containers at sea, as well as to other safety and operational problems. For more information about this issue, visit: http://www.worldshipping.org/industry-issues/safety/cargo-weight

• Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code): The IMO, the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), with industry support, produced a code of practice for the packing of CTU, including containers, outlining specific procedures and techniques to improve safety, such as how to ensure correct distribution of the weight inside the container, proper positioning, blocking and bracing according to the type of cargo, and other safety considerations. The code was approved in late 2014, and work to revise it is scheduled to commence in the near future. For more information about this and other initiatives related to the improved safety of handling containers, visit: http://www.worldshipping.org/industry- issues/safety/containers

• Revised ISO standards for container lashing equipment and corner castings: In support of the IMO’s efforts to enhance container safety, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), with the industry’s active participation, revised its standards regarding lashing equipment and corner castings and the new standards went into effect in 2015. Both standards are poised to be revised in the near future. For more information about this issue visit: http://www.worldshipping.org/industry- issues/safety/containers

• Discrepancy in container stacking strength: WSC, working together with other industry associations, proposed to the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC) 6 in September 2019 to align the Safe Container Convention (CSC)’s and ISO 1496-1 container stacking strength requirements, noting that the existing discrepancy might have significant safety implications, including collapsed container stacks and containers lost at sea. However, CCC 6 was not able to agree on specific steps but instead invited interested

delegations to develop a proposal for a new output for consideration by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee. WSC staff continues to engage with various parties for how best to address the current discrepancy in container stacking strength.

• Mandatory reporting of containers lost at sea: WSC is a co-sponsor of a submission to IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) 102 by the European Union with a proposal for a new output on the mandatory reporting of containers lost at sea. The liner shipping industry supports such a mandatory reporting requirement and will continue to advocate for an early implementation of an effective and practical requirement.

• Revision of the IMO’s guidelines for the inspection programs for cargo transport units, including containers: CCC 6 agreed, in principle, to amend the IMO guidelines for inspection programs in order to: 1) further clarify that the selection criteria should be applied equally to CTUs carrying all types of cargoes, rather than being specifically applied on those declared to be carrying dangerous goods; 2) to adequately refer to the IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code); and 3) to cover the reports from non-governmental organizations. A drafting group and subsequently a correspondence group have been reviewing the current guidelines, but further work is required before new revised guidelines may be adopted by the Sub-Committee. WSC has been a participant on both groups.

There are over 6,000 containerships continuously operating on the world’s seas and waterways linking continents and providing vital supplies to communities around the globe. The liner shipping industry’s goal remains to keep the loss of containers carried on those ships as close to zero as possible. Carriers will continue to explore and implement preventive and realistic measures to make that happen and welcome continued cooperation from governments and other stakeholders to accomplish this goal.
Source: World Shipping Council

More countries join crew change platform

in International Shipping News 13/07/2020

Thirteen leading maritime nations joined the growing number of states allowing crew changes by signing a pact for exemptions in port controls and more commercial flights to accommodate thousands of exhausted seafarers stuck on board ships around the world.

More than 200,000 seafarers are stranded at sea and have overrun their contracts with another 200,000 waiting to start employment and get paid by working at sea.

The 13 countries – Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the UK, United Arab Emirates, and the US – now recognise seafarers as key workers.

A demand proposed by Cyprus and other maritime hubs when the strict lockdown measures were imposed in March.

As ‘key workers’, seafarers would be in the same category as front-line workers in the health and security services of any country, as well as professionals employed in utilities, necessary to keep an economy functioning.

A source at the Deputy Ministry of Shipping said that Cyprus was not among the signatories because it had already adopted crew-change protocols ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit global shipping and Covid-19 travel restrictions were put in place, preventing crews from disembarking.

This was confirmed by an official at the Cyprus Shipping Chamber who said the flag state was among the first to demand and implemented measures allowing crew changes.

“We don’t have many airports to accommodate commercial flights to expedite repatriation efforts, nor is Cyprus a major labour supplier.

However, as a leading hub with Cyprus-owned or managed ships, we had been calling for the relaxation of strict controls on seafarers around the world,” CSC Director General Thomas Kazakos told the Financial Mirror.

The Chamber, whose members employ up to 60,000 seafarers onboard their vessels around the world, had called on governments to follow the example of Cyprus and facilitate crew changes, issuing a statement saying it was disappointed over global delays.

The initiative for the international crew change summit convened in London on Thursday came from the UK’s transport secretary Grant Shapps, according to news reports.

“It is unacceptable that there remain thousands of people stranded at ports around the world and we owe it to them and their families to change things,” Shapps said at the summit.

“Today marks a new chapter for seafarers and alongside our international partners we are taking, a stand to end the bureaucracy preventing men and women around the world from returning home.”

All need to make visa, quarantine, and border exceptions for seafarers now, not tomorrow, not next week, he said.

“This summit is a welcome show of political leadership at a time when seafarers across the world need it most,” said Guy Platten, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Shipping.

“Governments must now use this summit as a catalyst to implement with the solutions the shipping industry has provided, applying the political will needed to put them into practice.

This issue doesn’t require money and did not need complicated negotiations. This summit is a catalyst for action.”

According to the shipping news site, Splash 247.com, the International Maritime Organisation has created a 12-step process for states to adopt to make crew changes safe and efficient.

Reacting to the news from the keenly anticipated summit, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) called on the governments to act swiftly to give seafarers visa, border and quarantine exemptions to make crew changes possible and resolve the present crisis.

“Governments today adopted a statement pledging to urgently take forward a range of actions to avert the global crisis that is unfolding at sea for the more than 200,000 seafarers who are trapped working on ships beyond their contracts, and desperately wanting to return home,” said ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton.

“After months of this crew change crisis getting worse, governments must do their bit.

“That means that port states where ships dock; flag states where ships are registered; transit hubs with airports; and the home countries of seafarers, all need to make visa, quarantine and border exceptions for seafarers now, not tomorrow, not next week.”
Source: Financial Mirror

MSC Continues To Invest In Decarbonising Shipping

in International Shipping News 08/07/2020

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, a global leader in shipping and logistics, is heavily investing in its fleet and low-carbon technology to support the industry’s transition towards zero carbon future.

Shipping can be accurately described as the most environmentally sustainable form of cargo mass transportation. Nonetheless, MSC is acutely aware that international shipping has an impact on the climate and our decision to invest in low-carbon technology is complementary to the company’s broader strategic approach to sustainability. The company operates a modern fleet and is running the biggest fleet investment programme in the industry to further reduce emissions.

MSC fully supports the IMO’s policy goals to decarbonise shipping and is actively exploring and trialling a range of alternative fuels and technologies – pioneering large scale usage of up to 30% biofuel blends for container ships, for example – on top of some significant energy efficiency improvements across its fleet.

Around 90% of the world’s trade is transported by sea. To meet the market demand while minimising emissions, MSC was the first shipping company to deploy 23K+ TEU, ultra-efficient vessels on some of the world’s busiest trade lanes (incl. the Mediterranean). In 2019, MSC set a new standard for sustainable container shipping, by introducing the MSC Gülsün with one of the lowest carbon footprints by design, at 7.49 grams of CO2 emissions to move 1 ton of cargo 1 nautical mile.

In addition, to help bridge the gap between shipping today and the zero-carbon future, MSC was the first major shipping line in 2019 to offer clients an option to fully compensate the remaining currently unavoidable carbon emissions caused by the transport of their cargo through participating in MSC’s Carbon Neutral Programme.

Inaccurate analysis of CO2 emissions from shipping

In addition to our massive investment in reducing emissions, MSC fully supports reporting CO2 emissions transparently and precisely in the European Union (EU) Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system, as mandated by EU legislation. As said in an earlier statement in December, it is vital that the raw data reported in the system are analysed accurately and take operational realities fully into account, to give a realistic picture of the related emissions.

Another recent analysis by Transport & Environment on shipping emissions in the EU, fails yet again to take a number of operational aspects of MSC’s services fully into account, and thus does not offer a complete assessment of our role and impact in terms of emissions. Nor does it support a constructive dialogue around decarbonising shipping.

To provide a comprehensive and accurate conclusion, CO2 emissions should be compared on an equal basis. An analysis focusing on shipping emissions in the EU should only take into account emissions which actually occurred in the geographical area of the EU, if it is going to be compared to other sources limited to the same area. This is particularly relevant for a global company such as MSC, which operates in all the world’s major shipping lanes. A complete analysis would show that only 40-45% of the emissions reported by MSC in the MRV were actually in the EU. In addition, a correct analysis would also show that MSC has achieved 2.5% YOY reduction in absolute emissions under the MRV scheme in a single year.

Further to the company’s own efforts to minimise environmental impact, MSC contributes to the work of industry groups and associations to accelerate decarbonising the shipping industry.
Source: MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company SA

World’s first full scale ammonia engine test – an important step towards carbon free shipping

in International Shipping News,Shipping: Emission Possible 01/07/2020

The technology group Wärtsilä, in close customer cooperation with Knutsen OAS Shipping AS and Repsol, as well as with the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre, will commence the world’s first long term, full-scale, testing of ammonia as a fuel in a marine four-stroke combustion engine. The testing is made possible by a 20 MNOK grant from the Norwegian Research Council through the DEMO 2000 programme.

“This is a great example that illustrates the importance of dedicated petroleum R&D. This DEMO 2000 project is another steppingstone for reaching our ambitious climate targets and it is also aligned with our recently published hydrogen strategy. We need to develop and use new technologies that reduce emissions. We are very happy to support development work that can lead to increased use of ammonia as a fuel in shipping and in the offshore sector. Know-how from this project will also provide important input to the development of regulations for the use of ammonia and other low-carbon fuels”, says Tina Bru, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy.

Ammonia is promising as a carbon-free fuel for marine applications, in view of the maritime industry’s need to fulfil the International Maritime Organisation’s vision of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by at least 50 percent by 2050. Furthermore, ammonia has huge potential for providing green energy to remote power systems, such as offshore installations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

Development work by Wärtsilä, as it prepares for the use of ammonia as a fuel, continues with this testing programme, which will be the world`s first full-scale four-stroke combustion engine test. The project will commence in the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre’s testing facilities at Stord, Norway during the first quarter of 2021.

“We are really excited to further develop and understand the combustion properties of ammonia as a carbon free fuel in one of our multi-fuel engines”, says Egil Hystad, General Manager, Market Innovation at Wärtsilä Marine Business.

“Ammonia storage and supply systems will be designed and developed for maximum personal safety, and in parallel with the Fuel Gas Handling System under development as part of the EU project ShipFC. This project is coordinated by NCE Maritime CleanTech, and it involves an ammonia driven fuel cell which will be tested on the Eidesvik Offshore supply vessel, Viking Energy”, Hystad continues.The project leaders pictured at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre’s test facility at Stord, Norway from left to right: Egil Hystad, Wärtsilä, Willy Wågen, Sustainable Catapult, and Kjell Storelid, Wärtsilä.

The project leaders pictured at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre’s test facility at Stord, Norway from left to right: Egil Hystad, Wärtsilä, Willy Wågen, Sustainable Catapult, and Kjell Storelid, Wärtsilä.

From testing to real operations

Wärtsilä, as part of its development work on future fuels, has studied the use of ammonia as a future carbon-free fuel through the ZEEDS initiative. The company’s first ammonia combustions tests were commenced in Vaasa, Finland, in winter 2020, and will continue with this long-term testing at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre facilities in Stord.

“We are extremely pleased to be part of this project that will prove for the industry the robustness of ammonia as fuel. The project confirms our test facilities’ and Norway’s leading position within the testing and development of solutions for the use of maritime carbon-free fuels”, says Willie Wågen, CEO of Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre. The centre is part of the Norwegian Catapult programme that facilitates a national infrastructure for innovation. The programme is run by SIVA in close cooperation with Innovation Norway and the Norwegian Research Council and financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.

The full-scale fuel testing programme can pave the way for ammonia engines to be used in real vessel operations within few years, and several shipowners have shown interest in this possibility. It will also provide important insights into the long-term effect of an ammonia fuelled engine in relation to other systems and components in a vessel, including the required safety measures.

Close cooperation between the government and industry

“A future implementation of ammonia as a carbon free fuel, combined with clean energy production from offshore wind or other renewable energy sources can be the start of a new industrial era for the Norwegian industry”, Egil Hystad points out.

“The Norwegian culture for collaboration and knowledge sharing across different companies and sectors, is a great support in closing big technology gaps. The assistance, cooperation and funding from governmental institutions are essential to drive the change towards a carbon free future”, he continues.
Source: Wärtsilä

Volkswagen launches world’s largest low-emissions LNG car transport ship

Volkswagen isn’t just trying to reduce emissions in its cars.

The automaker has launched the first of two LNG-powered overseas cargo ships that will replace two of the nine heavy oil-burning ships it currently uses on routes between Europe and North America.

(VW)

The China-made Siem Confucius left Emden, Germany, on Tuesday with 4,800 cars onboard bound for Veracruz, Mexico. According to the automaker, which is still trying to clean up its image in the wake of the “dieselgate” scandal, the 200-meter-long ship reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent, nitrogen oxide by 30 percent, soot by 60 percent and Sulphur oxides by 100 percent compared to the conventional ships. It is the largest vehicle transporter of its size.

VW Group’s “goTozero” program is targeted at reaching carbon neutrality across the company by 2050 and reducing the lifetime greenhouse gas emissions of the production and operation of its vehicles by 30 percent compared to 2015 levels.

According to VW, the ships cruise at 16.5 knots (~19 mph) in eco mode and can also run on egas or biogas if necessary. The company currently schedules approximately 7,700 shipments annually around the world and will continue to update its fleet.

Shipping is Waiting for the Global Economy to Bounce Back

 Hellenic Shipping News 27/06/2020

The recession currently underway globally is bound to have a negative impact on demand for ships. However, the scale of the recovery will also be key for the shipping industry, as some countries will bounce back quicker than others. Which ones will manage to do this, could be key for shipping. “The World Bank estimates that the global economy will fall by 5.2% this year, underlining that the Covid-19 pandemic has had rapid and massive consequences despite the implementation of unprecedented programs to support local economies”, Intermodal said in its latest weekly report.

Source: Intermodal

According to Intermodal’s SnP Broker, Mr. Zisis Stylianos, “in its report on the Global Economic Outlook the World Bank points out that in the developed economies the decline will be in the order of 7%, while in emerging ones 2.5%. This is the deepest recession the planet has known since World War II, and 70 to 100 million people may find themselves below the poverty line. This revised forecast shows that the damage to the global economy will be worse than estimated in April by the International Monetary Fund that estimated a global contraction of 3% for 2020. China has announced it will not set a growth target for 2020, as the country will focus on stabilizing employment and ensuring the living standards of its citizens”.

The shipbroker added that “while addressing the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, said the decision not to set a development goal was related to the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the report shared at the conference, China will focus on maintaining security in the financial sector, foreign trade, foreign investment and domestic investment. The report also listed six areas the world’s second-largest economy should focus on, namely; job security, basic living needs, the functioning of market bodies, food and energy safety, stable industrial and supply chains and the normal functioning of first-level functions”.

Source: Intermodal

Stylianos also noted that “in the oil sector, the U.S. government is seeking to put an end to oil exports, Venezuela’s main source of revenue, in order to weaken President Nicolas Maduro government. It may even extend its sanctions to a dozen more tankers. So many oil companies are reviewing their plans to charter tankers found in Venezuela over the past twelve months. According to Reuters, Chinese oil companies may soon cease chartering any tanker that arrived in Venezuela during the last year. The aim is to avoid blacklisting if the US decides to impose sanctions on more ships that engage in commercial activities with Caracas”.

“As far as the dry bulk sector is concerned, we are witnessing a very impressive increase in the BDI index in the past two weeks, with the strong momentum pushing the index above the 1500 points barrier. It is worth noting that on June 1st the BDI closed at 520 points and the Capesize index at 82 points with average daily earnings for the big bulkers at $ 3,648/day. Within 15 days both the BDI and BCI increased by more 139% 2,893% respectively, while the average daily fare of Capes went up by 448.9%. Based on the positive market sentiment and the momentum that is inspiring it, the recovery of the ground lost in the past months appears to be even closer now”, Intermodal’s analyst concluded.


Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

Threat to global shipping as crews remain stranded

The global shipping industry is warning of a potential risk to international trade given that nearly 400,000 shipping crew are stranded at sea or at home due to travel restrictions, reports the Financial Times.

“Maritime transport is the engine of globalisation. Around 80 per cent of world trade by volume is carried on vessels that range from container ships to fuel tankers and dry bulk carriers, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development,” notes the report.

“However, the smooth operation of the freight trade is being hindered by travel restrictions. These bar crew from disembarking to return to their home country, or from travelling to a port where their ship is waiting for a crew change. Many seafarers are also struggling to obtain entry or exit visas, while the suspension of commercial flights increases the difficulties in moving crew around. Those affected make up more than a fifth of the 1.8m seafarers who crew the world’s 96,000 commercial vessels,” it adds.

HMM launches world’s biggest box ship – but its first voyage may be the last

(photo 3)

By Gavin van Marle 23/04/2020

As South Korean shipping line HMM today formally launched the world’s largest containership, the country’s government outlined an enormous financial package to prop up its maritime industries.

According to a report in The South Korea Herald, the ministry for oceans and fisheries has set aside SKw1.25trn (US$1bn) to help shipping lines, shipyards and other maritime players.

Minister Moon Seong-hyeok said: “The shipping firms are expected to suffer more serious damage after the second quarter, considering the time lapse between the global economic turmoil and the decline in their performances.”

The Herald additionally reports that the Korea Development Bank and state-owned Korea Ocean Business Corporation will also spend SKw470bn to repay HMM’s maturing debts.

The fresh injection of cash coincides with the launch of the 24,000 teu HMM Algeciras at the DSME shipyard in Okpo in a ceremony attended by President Moon Jae-in.

“It is very meaningful that HMM takes delivery of the most technologically advanced containership in this difficult time. I would like to celebrate it and hope that HMM continues to secure a competitive advantage as a Korean national flagship carrier,” he said.

The vessel is set to be phased into The Alliance’s FE4 Asia-North Europe service, currently operated by 12 14,500 teu Hapag-Lloyd vessels.

However, its first sailing could also be its last, at least for a while, as the demand slump in North Europe for containerised goods, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, has led The Alliance partners to merge the FE4 and FE2 strings. FE2 is currently operated by 12 18,800-21,200 teu vessels from Hapag-Lloyd and ONE, according to eeSea data.

In terms of current capacity allocation on the FE2, eeSea estimates that Hapag-Lloyd takes 40% of slots, ONE 36%, Yang Ming 15% and HMM 9%.

However, the South Korean carrier is set to add significant capacity to the alliance over the next year, with an order dated September 2018 for 20 vessels from three shipyards – DSME, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI).

DSME and SHI are building build seven and five 24,000 teu box ships, respectively, scheduled for delivery through to September, while HHI is building eight 16,000 teu vessels to be delivered from the second quarter of next year.