Thursday, November 29, 2007

SOLAS will retire classics

Solas 2010 signals death knell for ‘classic’ cruiseships
By Mike Hood, June 2007 Lloyds List

THE fast approaching implementation date of Solas 2010 will have a severe impact on the shape of the existing world cruiseship fleet as the future of a number of ‘classic’ cruise vessels is in doubt. British operator Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is one of the first operators to confirm a ship loss due to the new regulations, saying that its venerable 1966-built Black Prince will have to cease operations by October, 2010. However, Fred Olsen has not said whether this former ferry will be sold or scrapped, although the latter is more likely.

Solas 2010 focuses principally on the use of combustible materials. By 2010 no combustible materials will be allowed anywhere in the construction or conversion of any passengership. Existing cruise ships built under the old Solas 48 rules, which permitted the use of such combustible materials, will be the most affected. The new Solas regulations, coupled with rising fuel costs and the problems with asbestos, will mean the end of the road for a number of ageing cruiseships and repair and maintenance costs to keep them in service become unrealistic. There are at present around 30 such vessels still in operation, built between the mid 1950s and mid 1960s.

These are the vessels threatened the most, although some are getting a new lease of life in the cruise industry such as Orient Lines 22,080 gt, 1966-built Marco Polo which has been sold to Greek owners and will start a long-term charter to Transocean of Germany from the summer of next year. The future for the ageing cruise fleet is very uncertain, with the scrapyard their mostly likely last port of call.

However, a number of vessels will find new careers as floating hotels around the world, like the most famous passenger ship in the world, Cunard’s QE2, which is to end its days at the Palm Jumeirah complex in Dubai. Other existing cruiseships that look likely to follow this course include the 28,891 gt, 1966-built Oceanic II, the former Swedish America transatlantic liner Kungsholm. This vessel, which was German operator Holiday Kreuzfahrten’s Mona Lisa until the company went bankrupt last year, is at present on charter to the floating university Scholar Ship.

However, Swedish entrepreneur Lars Hallgren, owner of Top Industri, has signed a letter of intent with the vessel’s Greek owners to acquire the ship, which was built by Clydeside shipbuilder John Brown & Co. The intention is to restore the vessel to its original appearance, both externally and internally, replacing its twin funnels and aft mast and use the vessel as a floating hotel, restaurant and museum in Gothenburg. Meanwhile, there are reports that Pullmantur’s 38,772 gt, 1965-built Oceanic could end up as a floating hotel in either Dubai or Melbourne.

Other veterans in firing line - AGEING cruiseships that face an uncertain future due to Solas 2010 include:

Aegean II — 12,609 gt, 1957-built , ex Ivory, ex Ausonia, now operated by Golden Star Cruises of Greece

Andrea — 2,632 gt, 1960-built ,former Norwegian Coastal Express vessel Harald Jarl, now owned by Elegant Cruises & Tours of the US

Arion — 5,885 gt, 1965-built vessel operated by Classic International Cruises of Portugal

Athena — 16,144 gt, 1948-built former transatlantic liner Stockholm, now operated by Classic International Cruises of Portugal

Dalmacija — 5,619 gt, 1965-built , now operated by Adriatic Cruises of Croatia

Funchal — 9,563 gt, 1961-built, operated by Classic International Cruises of Portugal

Kristina Regina — 4,295 gt, 1960-built, owned by Kristina Cruises of Finland

Maxim Gorkiy — 24,981 gt, 1969-built former transatlantic liner Hamburg, now operated by Phoenix Reisen of Germany

National Geographic Endeavour — 3,132 gt, 1966-built former stern trawler Marburg, now operated by US specialist cruise company Lindblad Expeditions

Ocean Majesty — 10,417 gt, 1966-built vessel operated by Majestic International Cruises of Greece

Ocean Monarch — 17,074 gt, 1955-built former passenger-cargoship Port Sydney, now operated by Majestic International Cruises of Greece

Oceanic — 38,772 gt, 1965-built former Home Lines transatlantic liner, now operated by Pullmantur Cruises of Spain. There is interest in turning vessel into floating hotel in either Dubai or Melbourne

Princess Danae — 16,531 gt, 1955-built former passenger-cargoship Port Melbourne, now operated by Classic International Cruises

Regal Empress — 21,909 gt, 1953-built former Greek transatlantic liner Olympia, now operated by US owner Imperial Majesty Cruise Line

Royal Star — 5,360 gt, 1956-built former Italian liner San Giorgio, now operated by African Safari Club of Switzerland

Saga Rose — 24,474 gt, 1965-built former Norwegian liner Sagafjord, now owned by Saga Cruises of Britain

Sapphire — 12,263 gt, 1967-built former Italian liner Italia, now operated by Louis Cruise Lines of Cyprus

Serenade — 14,173 gt, 1957-built former French liner Jean Mermoz, now operated by Louis Cruise Lines

The Calypso — 11,162 gt, 1968-built former Mediterranean ferry Canguro Verde, now owned by Louis Cruise Lines

The Emerald — 26,428 gt, 1958-built former US operator Grace Line’s liner Santa Rosa, now operated by Louis Cruise Lines

The Topaz – 32,327 gt, 1956-built former transatlantic liner Empress of Britain, now owned by Kyma Ship Management of Miami and chartered to Peaceboat of Japan

Book about a box

An interesting book, a stocking stuffer perhaps...

On the road and inside the box

Janet Porter, October 2007 Lloyds List

WHAT an exotic life the humble container enjoys. Yes, that’s right, that oblong metal box that to many represents the least glamorous side of shipping.

Boxships, their decks piled high with anonymous containers full of everyday consumer goods and confined to scheduled services, have never captured the public’s imagination in the way that supertankers or luxury passenger liners have. Numerous attempts by container lines over the years to raise their profile and impress on the outside world that globalisation would be impossible without this vast network of regular and reliable shipping services have generally fizzled out. Now NYK of Japan has taken up the challenge with a book that traces one particular container as it criss-crosses the world carrying an assortment of cargoes from alarm clocks and electric pianos to whisky, pharmaceuticals, coffee beans and more.

Around the World in 40 Feet follows the progress of Box NYKU596070-1 on its epic 125,000 km voyage as it sets off from Shenzhen with a consignment of household items such as dinner place mats and barbecue tongs, finally returning to that part of the world 200 days later when the container is discharged at Yokohama after calls in all six continents. “The movement of a shipping container is, for most of us, a crucial yet unexciting part of our business,” NYK senior managing director Hiroyuki Shimizu frankly admits in the foreward to book.

“Around the World in 40 Feet provides us all with a wonderful opportunity to see things differently.”

And it certainly does, with British writer Richard Cook and Canadian photographer Marcus Oleniuk bringing to life an adventure that goes largely unnoticed by those who barely give the container revolution a second thought until caught behind a slow moving truck completing the final leg of a door-to-door delivery that has brought goods to a local department store from the other side of the world. For Cook and Oleniuk the book started out as “a vague, almost comic idea,” but one that, “through a combination of our blind determination and the far-sighted vision of NYK’s senior management, eventually became reality”. The project also brought the pair into contact with the unsung heroes of the global economy, seafarers. “No matter the nationality or rank, all of the countless NYK mariners we crossed paths with — and often inconvenienced with eccentric requests as they tried to carry out their daily tasks — showed us nothing but hospitality and respect,” Cook and Oleniuk recall from their long and often gruelling project.

But the real star of the show is Box NYKU596070-1 as, on the first leg of its circumnavigation, it is loaded aboard NYK Kai in Hong Kong and heads off across the Pacific, where it arrives in Los Angeles 12 days later. There its contents are transferred to a domestic trailer and on to a train that will eventually deliver the merchandise to a distribution centre in Knoxville. The container, meanwhile, picks up a cargo of raw cotton, is loaded on to NYK Libra and heads back across the Pacific to Singapore where it is transhipped on to a small feeder bound for Indonesia.

Next comes a consignment of electric pianos to be shipped from Jakarta, through the “surreal” Suez Canal, for final delivery in what, to the British reader at least, may seem the least glitzy of destinations, Milton Keynes.

By then it is Day 57 of the trip, and 48 hours later the pianos will be on display in a central London music store. There is no rest, however, for Box NYKU596070-1, which is soon on a windswept dock in Clydeport ready to be packed with 20,000 bottles of 12-year-old whisky to be exported to Thailand.

In Bangkok microwave ovens are stuffed into the container for a voyage across the Java Sea and through the Selat Sunda Channel, along the eastern edge of the Indian Ocean and on to the Australian ports of Fremantle and Sydney. Thirty days later the container is still in Australia, waiting to be loaded with 28,224 bottles of chardonnay for the Netherlands market.

Day 131 finds the container back in Singapore and being transferred to a Europe-bound ship, NYK Lynx, arriving at NYK’s Ceres Paragon terminal in Amsterdam for discharge before being moved to Germany to be crammed with drums of pharmaceuticals and barged back to Rotterdam, then hoisted on to the Cape Charles for a transatlantic crossing to a freezing New York. Soon, though, the container is heading south to the warmer climes of Brazil on Day 169 of this marathon with a cargo of resin compound.

From Santos the container transits the South Atlantic packed with 440 bags of unroasted coffee beans. The ship runs into congestion outside Durban in South Africa and has to anchor for a couple of days before a berth comes free, but there are few complaints with beautiful weather to enjoy, giant turtles to watch and a family of whales basking nearby.

Finally the container is heading north on the final leg of this journey, arriving in Yokohama on Day 200 and filling the air with the aromatic smell of coffee as its valuable cargo is discharged. The book not only throws light on the hugely complex web of multilateral trade, with a clear illustration of what different countries export, but also shows how much effort goes on behind the scenes to deliver goods to market in the timely, efficient and no-nonsense manner that we all take so much for granted. At each stage of the voyage Cook interviews and Oleniuk photograghs those responsible for making sure these supply chains that stretch half way round the world do not fracture.

As for Box NYKU596070-1, there was just time for a wash, fresh coat of paint and minor repair to a small dent in one corner. Then, as maintenance welder Toshio Kosugi remarked, “It is good for another few thousand kilometres.”

Check out the book at Amazon

Italian yard, busy as ever...

Is it just me or is Carnival going to have to come up with an original ship design sometime soon, they seem to use the same design for all of their brands - from Cunard to Costa. I'm sure it increase shareholder value, which is what the company is all about, but I think they will never win any awards for their "ruler and hatchet" designs.


Costa places $1bn cruiseship order

John McLaughlin, 19 October 2007 Lloyds List

COSTA Crociere has placed orders for two more 114,200-ton cruiseships with Italian state-owned shipbuilder Fincantieri. The Carnival-owned cruise line will pay €510m ($729m) per ship for a total cost in excess of €1bn.

The vessels, sister ships of the Costa Concordia and the recently launched Costa Serena, will be built at Fincantieri’s Marghera yard in Venice, and are due for delivery in 2011-2012.

A fifth sister for the two vessels, the Costa Pacifica, is currently under construction at Sestri Ponente.

The latest move takes Costa Crociere’s complement of orders at Fincantieri to five, and will boost its fleet to 17 ships upon delivery. They will also add 20% to Costa’s fleet capacity based on double occupancy, taking it 36,700 guests. The new ships will have capacity for 3,780 passengers if all upper berths are included, or 3,012 based on double occupancy. They will also have 17 more balcony cabins than their older sisters, and 1,506 cabins in all.

Costa chief executive Pier Luigi Foschi described the orders as a response to increasing international demand and to the company’s desire to reinforce its market leadership in Europe. For Fincantieri, the orders reaffirm the strength of its relationship with Carnival, for which it is all but the house builder. These new ships aside, the company already had 13 Carnival ships on order for almost 1.5m tons and passenger capacity of 35,300.

The orders also come at a useful time, with Fincantieri gearing up for an anticipated initial public offering early next year. There remains some disgruntlement both in the unions and within the ruling centre-left coalition over the proposed sale of a minority share of the company.

These new orders may buttress their argument that all is relatively well at Fincantieri, and that it has the resources to invest for the future without needing to turn to the stock market. Raising funds to modernise existing yards and push through a diversification strategy is the prime rationale for the share sale. At the same time, the IPO still looks more likely than not and a bulging order book will do Fincantieri no harm in the coming debate on the initial share price.

“This agreement means that, over the course of the last year, we have gained in the cruise sector alone orders for 12 ships, of which two options, for a total value of over €5bn,” said chief executive Giuseppe Bono.

Fincantieri’s total orderbook now runs to 18 ships. Carnival orders aside, it has also picked up orders this year for two vessels from Oceania and one from Silversea. Meanwhile, Fincantieri has struck an agreement with the banking concern Gruppo Unicredit to help ease the pressure of rising costs on its suppliers. Under the arrangement Unicredit, through its subsidiaries MCC and Banca di Roma, will provide “preferential access to credit at competitive costs through specific bank products and factoring”. The Trieste-based builder, which is substantially debt free and consequently has an excellent credit rating, has a network of more than 6,000 such companies representing around €1.5bn a year in billings.

The move comes at a time when Fincantieri is looking to hold down costs in the face of surging raw materials and energy prices. Helping its suppliers and subcontractors to do the same at a time of tightening credit is one battle in that wider struggle.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Death benefits paid out of "Petty Cash" box

$300 for dead seafarers’ families
05 Nov 2007, Safety at Sea International

KUALA LUMPUR 05 November – Malaysia has introduced, on compassionate grounds, a so-called death benevolent fund of RM$1,000 ($298) for the estates of dead seafarers. Datuk Captain Ahmad Osman, chairman of the country’s Marine Department confirmed the ‘one-off’ payout to Fairplay, though when asked if the Marine Department would seek raising payouts during times of inflation he said “not at the moment”. The payouts, which came into effect on 1 October, were originally proposed by the Malaysian Ship Owners Association. Claims need to be made within three months and must be accompanied by relevant documents. These include the death certificate, the seafarers’ discharge book and his registration card. The money will be disbursed by the Central Mercantile Marine Fund (KWPPL). Osman, who is also director-general of the Marine Department, made the announcement at the Seafarers Open Day held last week to mark the end of Ramadan.
I just had to post this, even though I just got off the ship this morning.

I don't know about you, but I sure hope that 300$ is allot of money in Malaysia, because as a society, it would be shameful to think that we place such little value on seafarers. I guess congratulations are in order to the Malaysian government for this step in the right direction. I cannot imagine the unscrupulous companies that fought this initiative.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Politics Warps CG Icebreakers’ Move

From the wilds of Cape Breton, Siver Donald Cameron weighs in on the heavy icebreakers move to Newfoundland from NS.

Published: 2007-11-11 Chronical Herald

SAMUEL JOHNSON was wrong. The last refuge of scoundrels is not patriotism, but "budget constraints." When governments want to do something, they can always find the money. When they don’t want to act — or when they want to do something indefensible — they cite budget constraints.

Last month, for example, Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn announced that Canada’s New Government — which is getting a bit long in the tooth now — was making "an investment of $12.2 million for the restoration of three buildings located on the Canadian Coast Guard base in Quebec City." The objective is to "enhance the area’s architectural landscape" in time for the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding.
Fine. Quebec deserves it. But Canada’s New Government can’t then claim that it doesn’t have $6 million to repair and renew the decrepit coast guard base in Dartmouth, and that it therefore must close the base and move the coast guard’s two largest icebreakers to Newfoundland.

Canada’s New Government is awash in cash. Just like Canada’s Old Government, it’s running a massive surplus — maybe a record $20 billion. But if funds were tight? Well, the coast guard isn’t in the business of enhancing the streetscapes of the nation. It’s in the business of search and rescue, coastal patrol, icebreaking and similar difficult and essential marine pursuits. Its most important assets are not buildings but ships and the facilities that support the ships and the men and women who sail them.

If you had to choose, that’s where you’d spend your money. But we don’t have to choose. So what’s going on with those icebreakers?

Go back to 1995, when Canada’s Old Government — claiming budget constraints — merged its two non-military fleets by moving the coast guard from the Department of Transport to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which had a fleet of scientific research and fisheries enforcement vessels. Where the two fleets had contiguous bases, the facilities would be merged. So the Dartmouth coast guard operations would move to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.

Great on paper — but the BIO had no wharves adequate for the big icebreakers Terry Fox and Louis St. Laurent. Very well: new wharves would be built. Whoops: that would cost $6.4 million — almost exactly the same cost as upgrading the original coast guard base. All right, perhaps the Terry Fox could dock at a leased navy facility, with the Louis St. Laurent being moved to Sydney or Mulgrave. Maybe.

Meanwhile, the merger of the two fleets didn’t go particularly well. For mariners, particularly fishermen, the coast guard represents safety and security. They’re the guys who pluck you off your burning or sinking vessel. DFO, however, represents law enforcement. They’re the guys who charge you if you break their regulations. Two different functions, two different cultures. Morale in the coast guard plummetted.

And then, last April, Loyola Hearn dropped a bomb. The two big icebreakers would move from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland "to avoid significant additional infrastructure costs which would be required if they stayed in the Maritimes Region." In Newfound-land, "the infrastructure is already in place."
Louis St. Laurent goes to Argentia, a port where the Coast Guard has no presence and which affords almost no facilities for a ship this size. The only appropriate berth is a deteriorated naval dock which is barred to heavy trucks and cranes. St. John’s is 136 kilometres away — $125 by taxi — so bringing in crews and supplies will be costly and timeconsuming.

And St. John’s?
The Terry Fox visited there this fall, riding relatively high after using up much of her fuel on an Arctic voyage. The harbour pilot refused to take her alongside the shallow coast guard wharves unless she was further lightened. Unless the wharf is dredged, the ship will have to lie elsewhere. She may have to lie elsewhere anyway, since the coast guard base isn’t big enough for the existing fleet plus the Terry Fox.

And does anyone care about the disruption of the lives of 150 families associated with the two ships, or the loss to Halifax of about $15 million a year?

This reeking proposal produced a storm of objections from coast guard retirees, opposition MPs and MLAs, citizens, and even serving coast guard officers like Stewart Klebert, skipper of the Louis St. Laurent — though little from the muted mayor of Halifax and the muzzled premier of Nova Scotia. All hands agreed that the cheapest and simplest option would be to repair the Dartmouth base and keep the ships where they are.
So what’s motivating Loyola Hearn?
With Danny Williams on the warpath, no federal Conservative seat in Newfoundland is safe. The Tories hold three Newfoundland ridings, and this proposal would put icebreakers in two of them.
Canada’s New Government?
The faces look different, but the smell is the same.

This reeking proposal produced a storm of objections, though little from the
mayor of Halifax and the premier of Nova Scotia.

In all fairness to the Mayor of Halifax, Peter Kelly, he has been rather pre-occupied with the one time event of booking Celine Dion for the Halifax Commons concert.

To put perspective on this, if the two icebreakers have an estimated lifespan left of 10 years this is approximately $150 million out of the NS economy.

Celine might bring $100,000 in.
Makes sense??

Maybe to Peter......

Silver Donald Cameron’s award-winning book The Living Beach is available at