Sunday, February 17, 2008

Drug seizures might be "up" in the Artic

The article below, from Fairplay, reports on the United States foray into the development of a safe and commercially viable northwest passage. But one must wonder of the seriousness or the effectiveness of the effort when they are sending an aging medium endurance, probably not ice strengthened, law enforcement cutter into such a notorious area.

I guess the US wants to jump on the "claim the arctic" bandwagon; the line starts right after Canada, Finland, Denmark, to name a few. And lets not forget Russia, which probably has the most serious fleet and operating experience in the Arctic; should be interesting to see what the future holds, which I am sure, is firmly under mother natures control. On the bright side / other hand, maybe the US government is taking a gentler approach, mmmmm.

- Martin

USCG to assess Northwest Passage

WASHINGTON, DC 15 February – Prospects for commercial shipping use of the Northwest Passage brightened yesterday when the USCG said it will begin assessments of the Pacific-Atlantic shortcut in the spring.

Following his annual State of the Coast Guard address where he reiterated his “Honour the past, don’t operate in it” message, Adm Thad Allen told Fairplay that he plans to send a cadre of vessels and aircraft to the North Slope area following the seasonal thaw to assess the waterway’s use for commercial transits.

He said the taskforce will be led by a 210-foot (64m) cutter and will be joined by a team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal agency charged with marine charting. The commandant said the “prototype deployment” of USCG vessels and aircraft will test their viability in the icy climes, while the primary mission is to access the navigability of the passage. “We have to look at bottom contours, aids to navigation and the overall usability of the passage,” he said. He noted that with the melting ice, the channel appears an attractive alternative for vessels passing between oceans. “We have to make sure it’s safe,” he cautioned, however.

More info about the 210 foot cutter (Reliance Class) and the USCG page on the cutters.

S.S. Caribou’s last surviving crew member dies

A bit of forgotten WWII history.

John Matthews served on ferry sunk by U-boat in 1942
By CORY HURLEY Corner Brook Western Star

CORNER BROOK, N.L. — A man believed to be the last living crew member and one of the last known survivors of a German U-boat attack on the the S.S. Caribou off Newfoundland in 1942, has died.
John Matthews, 84, passed away in hospital last Thursday after years of lung-related complications.
"For me, as a child growing up, it wasn’t something he talked about a great deal," his daughter, Diane Thistle, said in an interview.
"He found it too painful, it was usually a teary subject and he tried to avoid it as much as possible."
At 19, Matthews was a deckwatch hand aboard the passenger ferry that ran between Port aux Basques, N.L., and North Sydney.
In the early morning hours of Oct. 14, 1942, it was attacked by the German submarine U-69.
A torpedo ripped a hole in the vessel, sinking it and sending all aboard into the frigid waters of the Cabot Strait.
There were 137 casualties in one of the most devastating sea disasters off the coast of Newfoundland.
The HMCS Grandmere rescued 101 passengers, crew, and military personnel after hours in the freezing water.
Many survivors reported huddling in what was left of the over-filled lifeboats or rafts, fearing for their safety, or spending hours in the ocean clinging to some hope of rescue.
The sinking was said to have erased the feelings of security that Newfoundlanders felt despite the war raging around the world.
"It was a painful time. He was in the cold water for such a long time and so many of the people went down with the ship, and that was hard for him as well," said Thistle.
"I think his biggest sadness was the big loss of life, and the sounds he heard that night and remembered all his life."
Matthews related the story to family of how he woke his bunkmate and friend after the torpedo hit, but shortly afterwards realized they were separated. He never saw him again.
However, he also told the story of pulling another survivor out of the water — W.J. Lundrigan, a well-known businessman and founder of the Lundrigan construction empire.
After being rescued, the Port aux Basques native ended his career at sea but he stuck with the Newfoundland railway, spending 44 years as a conductor.
With less than half of those aboard the S.S. Caribou surviving the disaster, Thistle said she has always felt lucky to have even been born.
"I heard him say that there were so many of them in the lifeboat that they had to take turns getting out into the water and holding onto the boat so they didn’t sink it," Thistle said.
Over the years Matthews attended some of the events held in commemoration of the sinking.
Diane and her husband are certain he was the last of the 46 crew living, but there is some uncertainty about how many survivors are still alive.

Wikipedias' page on the Caribou, and more info on Granmere

Friday, February 15, 2008

Own a piece of infamy

An interesting article by John Lichfield, of www.independent.co.uk, came across my desk the other day. Its about the ex Iraqi yacht Ocean Breeze, and the "new" owners trying to sell her. I have seen many documentaries on the many effects of this war in Iraq, most highlighting the incompetence and greed (to name a few of the lowest human qualities exhibited) of the many people involved in this debacle. The story below is yet another that may turn into another documentary, that will, of course, amaze us, even if the truth is never fully found.

Martin

The Iraqi super-yacht affair: The yacht that Saddam built

It's the yacht that puts the hyphen in 'dictator-ship': an 82-metre, £18m pleasure palace with heliport, gold taps, missile system and one dead, deposed, former owner. But whose is it now?

There is one catch. The sale of the Ocean Breeze, formerly the Qadisiyah Saddam, may not be a simple affair. The yacht, now moored among other billionaires' vessels in the harbour at Nice on the French Mediterranean, once belonged to the late Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein.

A shadowy company based in the Cayman Islands is trying to sell the mahogany-and-marble festooned floating palace on behalf of persons unknown. The cash-strapped Iraqi government, engaged in a relentless pursuit of Saddam's hidden billions, has just won an important legal battle in the Nice commercial court. The sale of the Ocean Breeze has been frozen under French law until its ownership is established.

The craft, built in Denmark in 1981, is being sold by the London-based luxury-yacht broker Nigel Burgess. Nothing on the Burgess company's website – www.nigelburgess.com – links the Ocean Breeze to Saddam. The site displays pictures of its opulent living rooms with their giant TV screens, and the master bedroom with its double-canopied bed dripping with gilt.

It describes the yacht as an 82m (269ft), 2,282-ton, twin-screw vessel with one master bedroom, nine further double bedrooms, four twins and 13 singles. "Moored: west Mediterranean. Price on application", reads the advertisement.

There is no mention on the site of the mini-submarine launch pod, the anti-aircraft missile-defence system or the fully-equipped clinic, complete with operating theatre. There is no mention of the mosque and the gold taps and the mahogany and marble interiors. There is no mention of the bulletproof windows and the several swimming pools and saunas.

The Burgess company says that ownership squabbles over luxury yachts are commonplace. As far as it is concerned, it is selling the vessel for its legal owner, whom the company chooses not to name.

The yacht has, in the past 18 years, been reported to be in the possession of first the Saudi and then the Jordanian royal families. According to French sources, the alleged owner is a front company, Sudley Limited, based at Georgetown in Grand Cayman. According to the Iraqi government, the real owners are the people of Iraq.

"Like all the rest of Saddam Hussein's wealth hidden abroad, we want to reclaim this boat to sell it and return the proceeds to the Iraqi government," an Iraqi official said. "We are not going to let go."

The Baghdad authorities have been tracking the yacht's movements around the Gulf and the Mediterranean for the past four years. Soon after the Ocean Breeze put into the port of Nice last November, a lawyer acting for the Iraqi authorities, Maître Ardavan Amir-Aslani, struck legal gold. At his request, French police and a court bailiff boarded the yacht.

A British crew member is said to have told the police that the vessel was a "royal yacht" and they had no right to come aboard. The police insisted. In the bowels of the boat, they found a document issued by Lloyd's of London, the insurance brokers, stating that the Qadisiyah Saddam belonged to the government of Iraq.

It was this document that persuaded the Nice tribunal de commerce to freeze the sale of the boat. No one representing the alleged owners in the Cayman Islands has since come forward to dispute the Iraqi claim – or the freeze on the sale.

The precise movements of the Ocean Breeze since the fall of Saddam – and even before – are something of a puzzle. There is no record that the Iraqi dictator ever set foot on her decks, or slept in her immense, canopied master bed.

The Qadisiyah Saddam, built by the Danish shipyard Helsingor Vaerft, was named after an Arab victory over the Persians in the 7th century. It was intended as a sister ship for Saddam's other yacht, the Al Mansur ("The Victor"), blown up in Basra harbour by US bombers during the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Danish builders signed confidentiality agreements promising never to reveal details of the yacht. Reports of its existence – and its unusual features – leaked out all the same. The boat was nicknamed "Saddam's toy".

The special features built into the vessel, according to Saddam's specifications, are reported to include a secret passageway to a mini-submarine pod to allow the exit of a dictator in a hurry. There is also an anti-aircraft missile system, now believed to have been disarmed. The yacht is also said to contain silver dining dishes for 200 people, but sleeping accommodation for just 42.

In 1986, five years after the Ocean Breeze was delivered to Iraq – in the middle of the country's war with its neighbour, Iran – Saddam is believed to have moved her to the Saudi port of Jeddah, out of the range
of Iranian bombers.

According to one version of events, the Saudi royal family is said to have taken possession of the yacht after Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990. The Qadisiyah Saddam then allegedly became the al-Yamamah. There is no record, however, of the boat ever being used during the next 17 years. It remained in Jeddah, with a Greek crew of 12, sailing to Piraeus near Athens once every two years for servicing.

According to the French press, the Saudis recently gave the boat to King Abdullah II of Jordan as a present. In the autumn of last year, the newly named Ocean Breeze moved from Jeddah to the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba. In November it sailed on to Nice and was put up for sale.

Maître Ardavan Amir-Aslani, acting for Baghdad, refuses to accept that the vessel ever belonged to either the Saudi or Jordanian royal families. "If it belonged to them, why did the Saudis never use it? Can you imagine the King of Jordan selling such a boat just after it came to his home port of Aqaba? None of it makes sense," he said.

The lawyer has no idea as to the identity of the would-be sellers of the boat from the Cayman Islands but suspects that they are connected to members of Saddam's family. The same problem has arisen for the alleged owners of much of the rest of the fortune of about $100bn (£51bn) that Saddam is thought to have amassed abroad, in real estate and secret bank accounts.

The executed Iraqi dictator erected a labyrinth of holding companies within holding companies to protect his wealth. "Each time we almost get a judgment in one country, it turns out that the real title holder is
another company in another country," said Maître Amir-Aslani.

Governments around the world have been reluctant to order their banks to release cash and assets – even when substantial proof has been accumulated that they belonged to Saddam.The Iraqi government scored a success recently in winning ownership of a villa near Cannes that belonged to Saddam's half-brother. First, lawyers had to dismantle a chain of paper ownership starting with a front company and ending with the cook, chauffeur and bodyguard who occupied the house.

Maître Amir-Aslani says that he is ready to fight a similar legal battle, however lengthy, to win control of the Ocean Breeze.

Many mysteries remain. Who is paying the Greek crew? Who ordered the boat to move through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean to Nice last November?

"We are convinced that behind this company in the Cayman Islands there are members of Saddam Hussein's family," Maître Amir-Aslani said. "We have proof that that yacht was built with money belonging to the Iraqi state, which is, therefore, its sole rightful owner.

"Anyone who claims to own the boat has to come forward with proof. Where is the bill of sale? Where is the proof of payment? If they say that it was a gift from Iraq, that can only be legal if there was a law or decree. And no such thing exists."

In any case, the lawyer asks, why have the alleged owner, or owners, not come forward?

The French court placed a freeze on the sale of the Ocean Breeze some 10 days ago. Since then, nothing has been heard from Sudley Limited, BP 309, Hugland House, Georgetown, Grand Cayman. The Ocean Breeze, still with its Greek crew of 12, may be moored at the harbour side in Nice for a little time to come.

Here's the sale ad from Burgess

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Marine Safety Introduces the Regulations Query System

I hope it is easier to navigate then their site !!


As you are aware, the new Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001) came into force on July 1, 2007. The CSA 2001 replaces the old Canada Shipping Act as the enabling legislation governing safety in marine transportation and recreational boating as well as for protection of the marine environment. To facilitate compliance with the CSA 2001, Transport Canada Marine Safety has developed an innovative tool that will help marine stakeholders better understand and follow the new Act and its supporting regulations.

This new tool, called the Regulations Query System (RQS), is a unique, online search engine that allows users to easily obtain up-to-date, relevant information about the CSA 2001 and its regulations.There are two ways to search the RQS for information:

The “Guided Navigation” search feature allows users to select from a list of keywords relative to specific topics, or enter a text search query.

The “Fast Track” search feature allows users to navigate through the CSA 2001 by selecting a combination of search criteria including the vessel type, sub-type, size, voyage classification and topic of interest (e.g. safety, registration, licensing, construction, etc.).
The RQS is now available at: www.tc.gc.ca/MarineSafety/RQS_Query.

The “Help” feature in the RQS provides detailed information on how to use the System. If clarification or further information is required however, users can click on the RQS “Contact Us” feature. Should you wish further information concerning the new CSA 2001 regime, please visit the Canadian Marine Advisory Council website (www.cmac-ccmc.gc.ca). You can also call toll free 1-866-879-9902, or 613-998-7764 in the National Capital Region

Original Signed By

William J. Nash
Director General / Directeur général
Marine Safety / Sécurité maritime

Friday, February 08, 2008

Western Maritime Institute sets up shop on VI

Well he has done it.

Capt Bob Kitching has closed the deal and Canada has a new maritime training facility called "Western Maritime Institute". I was excited to hear about this new endeavor back in November, as it represents a great investment in our maritime community, and allows people to access training without having to spend an absurd amount of money in related housing and traveling expenses as it is now in Vancouver, where the principal maritime school in western Canada is situated.

I spoke with Capt. Kitching, by phone in late November 2007, he stated that an offer had been made on the recently close Waterloo Elementary School, near the Nanaimo Regional Airport, in the area know as Timberlands. The compact facility is set in a rural area between Nanaimo and Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, with easy access to the ferries, bus, train, and of course the airport. The campus is located in a flat slightly wooded area, surrounded by an older housing subdivision. It is about 10 minutes south of Nanaimo just off the main highway, and about one hour north of Victoria, with plenty of room for parking and future growth.

The deal was finalized in mid December and possession of the property was in early January 2008. There is already a couple classes running out of the building, with clean up and modifications well underway. Several shipping containers are already on the property with plans to erect them into a ship mock up for marine firefighting simulation.

I am located just minutes from the campus, and excited for our community as a whole, not just the maritime industry. I believe there is a need for this facility on Vancouver Island to serve the west and the arctic region and certainly it is commendable for Capt Kitching to have the vision and balls to pull it off, so kudos goes out to him and his team. Since it is so close to my home, I am sure you will be hearing more about this place in the future.

In the mean time, below is an article that I found in the local (non marine) magazine, Take 5, about the new maritime school. I also took some panoramic photos today, to show you what the ground looks like. Top looking North, above looking west, and below looking south.

Martin

Ever thought of going to sea?
A new school in Timberlands is about to make it happen

By Rob FINKERTON, Take 5 Magazine

An exciting new educational institution is opening in our area. Those of us in the marine industry know that to take schooling for training as a deckhand, a certificate of competency as a navigating officer or a Marine Emergency Duties (MED) course involved going to Camosun College in Victoria or the Pacific Marine Training (PMT) campus in North Vancouver. The resulting transportation and housing costs in the cities made this an expensive commitment. In February the Western Marine Institute (WMI) working in conjunction with Malaspina University College will open in the former Waterloo Elementary school in the Timberlands area.

The Western Marine Institute aim is to eventually offer all courses taught at PMT. This is a very ambitious undertaking. MED courses require a pool large enough to launch a lifeboat from gravity davits and life rafts from a slewing overhead davit as well as a facility to teach marine firefighting. Timberland residents will be pleased to learn that smoky grease (galley) and oil (engine room) fires are now prohibited by law at training facilities. These fires are simulated with gasoline and burn cleanly.

Captain R.C.E. (Bob) Kitching, the drive behind this enterprise, told me that 38% of students who study at PMT come from Vancouver Island. His new location is not the only way he intends to make marine education easier for Island people. Courses will be scheduled to suit the students. For example, Fishing Master courses will not interfere with herring season and Watchkeeping Mate courses will begin after summer when BC Ferries employees can get time off. As instructors will work a full 40 hour week, courses that take 12 weeks at PMT campus will take seven weeks at WMI. If a company, anywhere in Western Canada or the Arctic wants a group of employees to take a course, WMI will send their Coast Guard approved instructors to them, saving huge transportation and accommodation costs.

A revised Canada Shipping Act came into force in 2001. Transport Canada now requires every person operating a commercial vessel of any size to hold the appropriate certificate. Small harbour vessels, commercial fish boats and even the Ladysmith harbour tour boat operators must have certificated people. There is also a shortage of qualified deckhands for the tow boat and ferry fleet.

The new training facility on Hallberg Road, near the Timberlands Pub will be refitted in the next few months and will open in February with limited courses. Bridge Watchman program, MED A I, A2 and A3 and Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boat (old MED B 1) will start right away. Advanced Fire Fighting (old MED B2) and STCW Basic Safety (old MED Al & B2) and MED for Senior Officers (old MED C & D) are in the development stages and should be ready later this year. This involves building the pool capable of holding a lifeboat and the mock-up of a ship's superstructure for firefighting. Fishing Master, Master Limited (under and over 60 gross tons) and Small Vessel Operators Proficiency Certificate for vessels under 5 gross tons will be offered.

Basic Skill Training for 4th Class Engineers is available and Watchkeeping Engineering courses will be offered as demand requires them.

Accreditation is pending for the new 150 ton Master certificate, Watchkeeping Mate and the 500 and 3000 ton Master certificates. Simulated Electronic Navigation Ltd. will be offered with the full SEN and ECDIS expected in the future. On-line courses will also be available. All these are Canadian Domestic Certificates that are valid in Canadian and U.S. coastal waters.

Captain Kitching is justifiably proud of this enterprise and speaks of his instructors as an "incredible group of extremely well qualified mariners". He invites you to pay a visit and have a chat at 3519 Hallberg Road. Check out the website at www.maritimeed.com or contact the Western Maritime Institute at 250 245 4455, Email info@maritimeed.com.

We welcome Captain Kitching to the community and wish him success in this intrepid venture.

Capt. Bob Kitching - at the helm

Many mariners have probably met or have been taught by the man behind this new marine institute. Captain R.C.E. (Bob) Kitching went to sea at fourteen years old as an apprentice in the Royal Navy on HMS Worcester. Two years later he left "if - navy and signed on with the British India Steam Navigation Company and eventually acquired his certificate as a Foreign Going Master. While working for the South Africa Marine Corporation as Chief Officer, his Captain had a heart attack and Bob, promoted to Captain, took the ship from the Persian Gulf to England.

He came to Canada in 1967 and worked ashore for Seaspan, Alaska Cruise Lines, Vancouver Wharves, Port Supervisor and VP of Transport for Labrador Lineboard, a Newfoundland company and Chief Executive for the Port of Prince Rupert. In 1990 he started teaching advanced courses at PMTI . At the same time he commuting to Nottingham, England where he received a Masters Degree in Navigational Technologies in 1994.

Captain Kitching retired as head of the Pacific Marine Training Campus in 2000 and started his own company, the Maritime Educational Association (MEA) with another respected teacher, Captain Brian Silvester. Captain Silvester has recently retired. Captain Kitching lives with his wife in Nanaimo.

Between a rock and a hard place... is the ocean

Mark Wilson, of Canadian Sailings, introduces us to a booming trade in aggregate from British Columbia, made possible by ocean shipping. The article is a bit dated - the Orca project outside of Port McNeil is up and running; pictured to the right - but otherwise a fine insight on the recent developments of aggregate industry in BC. You can also visit the BC Government's website to read a summary of the aggregate business in BC.

B.C 'rocks' California's world
Aggregates shipments for construction industry set to increase

British Columbia advantage in supplying sand, gravel and crushed rock to the California construction industry
Ais the depletion of conveniently located local sources and the high cost of trucking from further afield. The volume of ship deliveries from Canada's west coast to the huge market to the south is set to increase.

An established major supplier to the San Francisco Bay area is Construction Aggregates Ltd. (CAL), whose sprawling operation at Sechelt, B.C., mines both sand and the granite that underlies it. The sand is a relic of a glacier that once filled what is now Sechelt Inlet and its subsidiary fjords.

CAL ships 1.5 million tonnes of sand and crushed rock to California out of an annual output of six million tonnes. The U.S. customer is Hanson Aggregates North America, which pays for the marine haul from Sechelt.

The ship traffic currently provides employment for two CSL International vessels - the CSL Acadian (74,517 deadweight tons) and the Pioneer (37,448 DWT). Both ships are selfunloaders.

The CSL Acadian, which is owned by the shipping line, was built in 1982 and received a new forebody this year. While CSL Acadian was off undergoing surgery, she was temporarily replaced by the 23-year-old Nelvana (74,974 DWT).

Nelvana is two years younger than Pioneer, which is one of the ships in the CSL International fleet that are managed and operated on behalf of other owners.

In 2000, CAL installed a quadrant-style shiploader at Sechelt, replacing a barge loadout. The present facility has a loading rate of 4,500 tonnes of sand, crushed rock or small stone an hour and is fed by a 1.1 kilometre conveyor from the mine.

The company, which employs 100 people in a three-shift operation, has reserves to last 50 years, at the current rate of extraction.

Competitive transportation costs are only part of the explanation for CAL being a player in the California market. Another is the strength of the crushed rock that the company supplies; this allows for a lesser amount of cement to be used in producing high-strength concrete, and cement is the expensive ingredient in concrete.

Sechelt aggregate was specified for the Skyway section of the multibillion-dollar San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge. The Skyway section is a pre-cast segmental bridge 3.2 kilometres in length and it required the highest strength concrete ever used by CalTrans (the California Department of Transportation). Due to the mass of the bridge's concrete foundations, tight limits were set on the rate of heat release during curing.

Sechelt aggregate also went into the 452 pre-cast bridge spans, some weighing 708 tonnes, which were lifted into place to form the Skyway deck.

The CAL mine, which was worked between 1942 and 1963 and reopened in 1974, gained expanded sales markets with the installation of a shiploader as bulk carriers made it economical to serve California. The company has even shipped sand to Hawaii.

from Australia or China. In 2002, the bulk carrier Skaustrand loaded 16,824 tonnes of sand from the Sechelt mine for a now golf course being built in Kekaha, Hawaii. The sand, which met U.S. Golf Association standards, was used in the construction of greens, tee boxes and bunkers on a private golf course for the Charles Schwab Group. Previously, most of the golf course sand in Hawaii was importedThe Sechelt sand, which was delivered to Kawaihae Harbour, on the Big Island, after a voyage of two weeks, took four days to unload.

In addition to ocean-going ships, the Sechelt mine produces sand and aggregate for the Vancouver-area construction industry. Tugs and barges for this movement are provided by affiliate Ocean Construction Supplies. Lehigh Heidelberg Cement Group, the North American operation of Heidelberg Cement AG, of Germany, owns both companies. At the north end of Sechelt Inlet, a subsidiary of French cement colossus Lafarge SA has a sand and gravel operation that supplies the Vancouver area by barge. The pit has been worked intermittently since the 1950s.

On the spine of the peninsula separating Sechelt Inlet from the Strait of Georgia are two potential mine sites that Pan Pacific Aggregates PLC plans to develop, pending provincial government approval. The company proposes shipping limestone, dolomite and industrial minerals to California, using deep-sea vessels. Pan Pacific has the option of barging from Sechelt Inlet to a shiploading terminal on the outer coast. Alternatively, the company can deliver directly to a shiploading terminal by means of an 11 -kilometre conveyor.

Another development plan is that of Polaris Mineral Corp., of Vancouver, which has raised $80 million towards opening a sand and gravel mine on Vancouver Island and building an unloading dock in the target market of California.

The attraction is the San Francisco Bay area where aggregate prices have risen to nearly US$11.50 a ton as sand and gravel pits within easy reach have been depleted. There is a similar situation in the Los Angeles basin, where aggregate prices have increased 11 per cent.

Polaris's initial plan is to mine a property near Port McNeill, at the north end of Vancouver Island, for sand and gravel. Production may start this year. A longer-term venture is to quarry granite near Port Alberni, which sits at the head of a long fjord on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Development costs for the Orca project are estimated at more than $50 million, with another $36 million needed for the unloading dock in California.

And then there is Texada Island, where three limestonequarrying operations are helping fulfil an Indian legend that the island will disappear. Texada, the largest of B.C.'s Gulf Islands, is visibly being carved apart, in part to supply the U.S.

Ash Grove Cement West Inc., at Blubber Bay, is the second largest limestone quarrying operation in Canada. The company supplies limestone to its cement plant in Seattle and also delivers aggregates and agricultural limestone to Puget Sound. Chemical-grade limestone goes to Portland, Ore.

Imperial Limestone Ltd., near Van Anda, is another U.S. company, based in Seattle. It has created the notched profile of the northern end of Texada Island that can be viewed from the mainland at Powell River. Lafarge Corporation Texada Quarrying Ltd., north of Gillies Bay, ranks next to the Blubber Bay quarry in size and is a source of limestone for Lafarge cement plants in Seattle and near Vancouver.

Here is Polaris Minerals website, and here is another article on the subject.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Impacts of fuel prices and requirements

Heres an interesting article on fuel and its future impacts on maritime shipping.
----------------

Marine fuel prices soar after industry hits turning point
By Rudolph Kassinger, 18 January 2008 Lloyds List

HISTORIANS in the years ahead will note that 2007 marked a turning point in marine fuels. The full impact of more stringent environmental controls cannot be predicted now, but they are likely to be profound.

Last year fuel prices and their volatility, the introduction of environmental constraints on fuel composition and the threat of ever more stringent regulations were the pre-eminent issues.

Early last January light sweet crude was priced in the $58-a-barrel range, or $438 per tonne. By the end of the year prices had closed around $99 a barrel range and they finally broke the $100 threshold on January 3.

Marine bunker fuels, which follow crude oil prices closely, increased to unprecedented levels.

Bunker fuel prices in Singapore rose 70% last year. The increase in all other bunker ports was at the same level. This put bunker fuel in the $500–$520 per tonne range by December.

Some traders are already speculating that bunker prices will reach $600 per tonne some time this year.

By-product residual fuel prices have for many years been about 65% of average crude prices. Without any significant reduction in crude prices marine bunker fuel will likely remain in the $500 per tonne range, but $600 is certainly possible.

Although bunker prices have been steadily increasing, in any given month or week prices are also known to swing widely. An examination of weekly and monthly prices in the main bunkering ports showed prices varying by $20-$60 per tonne.

Not surprisingly, price hedging mechanisms are now widely offered by most leading bunker brokers and are an important tool in controlling fuel cost.

Other than the latest North Sea and English Channel Sulphur Emission Control Areas, the state of California effected a requirement from January 1 last year to burn low sulphur distillate fuel in auxiliary and diesel electric engines within 24 nautical miles of its coast.

It was legally challenged by a marine industry association and briefly overturned, but has been reinstated by the courts and is now in force. We anticipate that there may be more legal challenges on the marine environmental regulations, but California will prevail.

While the average quality of the principal marine fuel grades remains relatively unchanged, low sulphur fuels in the Secas have from time to time exhibited quality deficiencies, including poor ignition and combustion quality, higher levels of abrasives — catalytic fines — and poor fuel stability.

There is now insufficient data to determine if this will be a short-lived phenomenon or a regular risk associated with low percentage sulphur fuel.

We suspect it has something to do with the lack of familiarity with blending low sulphur fuels, as well as the selection of residues and blend stocks to achieve the stipulated sulphur limit.

Fuel manufacturers, after all, have had more than 50 years’ experience in optimising high sulphur fuel blending but only year or so with low sulphur fuel blends.

The IMO Bulk Liquids and Gases Working Group, charged with Marpol Annex VI revision, is evaluating six different options, ranging from a continuation of the present Annex VI regulations — albeit with the likelihood of an increase in the number of Secas — to a complete phasing out of high sulphur residual fuels and replacement with 0.5% sulphur distillate.

All options under review will require a reduction in average marine fuel sulphur content and stack scrubbing.

A review of DNVPS fuel quality data over several years confirms that, regardless of bunker port or supplier, more than 80% of all fuels tested fall within a very narrow range of physical properties.

In terms of viscosity the bunkers supplied are between 150 and 400 cst at 50 deg centigrade and density commonly ranging from 965 to 991 kg/m3.

Based on an analysis of electric utility low sulphur residual fuels, we believe that as marine fuel sulphur levels go down the range of fuel viscosity and density will be greatly expanded.

In fact, we see fuel sulphur content displacing viscosity and density as the parameter that controls blend composition.

In a sulphur-constrained fuel environment, future fuels could fall into the 10-50 cst viscosity range and 900 –930 kg/m3 density range.

This will represent a significant departure from the bunker industry’s past 60 years of operation.

If they come true, the predicted changes will have a profound effect on refinery configuration and investment and will therefore require at least a decade to achieve.

...and another article on fuel

Bio-diesel plant to fuel tanker boom
Marcus Hand, 16 January 2008 Lloyds List

ASIAN chemical tanker demand is set to be boosted by the world’s largest bio-diesel plant, which is to be built by Neste Oil in Singapore.

Finnish oil company Neste is building the 800,000 tonnes per year capacity plant in western Singapore at a cost of S$1.2bn ($840m). Construction will start in the next few months and the facility is due to be operational by mid-2010.

The plant will be capable of using a wide variety of feedstock, including palm, vegetable and animal oils. Palm oil is set to be its main source in the initial stages.

“We are not dependent on one raw material — palm oil or rape seed oil — we can use any vegetable oil or animal fat,” said Neste president and chief executive Risto Rinne.

“The estimate is at least half of the feedstock will be palm oil.”

The palm oil would be sourced from neighbouring countries Malaysia and Indonesia, which are among the world’s largest producers of the oil. At present, the company’s main supplier is IOI Group in Malaysia.

If all 800,000 tonnes a year of bio-diesel are produced using palm oil, the plant will require 1m tonnes of palm oil annually.

Since the beginning of last year, vegetable oil is required to be shipped in IMO type II chemical tankers with double-hulls. This has raised freight rates due to a shortage of such tonnage in the region.

While Neste does have its own fleet of 30 tankers, all ice-class vessels, it is almost certain to use third parties for shipping to and from its Singapore plant.

“I think we are not bringing our own ships here,” said Mr Rinne.

In terms of exporting bio-diesel, the main market is expected to be Europe, although deputy chief executive Jarmo Honkamaa said: “There is quite a lot of interest from Japan and California.”

He said that individual shipments will likely be in the range of 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes.

Neste will be utilising the existing jetty at the neighbouring Tuas Power plant, with some expansion planned at the site. In terms of storage capacity, itwill be leasing two 35,000 cu mtanks, as well building its own storage facilities.

The company is confident in the future demand for bio-fuels. This is despite growing concerns that they may not be as environmentally friendly as first hoped, are pushing up the price of basic foodstuff, and driving the unsustainable use of farm land.

According to Mr Honkamaa, Neste expects demand of 13m-15m tonnes a year for biodiesel by the time the new plant starts production.

The high price of bio-diesel compared with petroleum products means demand will mainly come from countries where the use of biofuels is government subsidised

Lots of new cruisers out there

With the US market maturing, its amazing to see so many new builds being delivered this year. The trend seems to expand into untapped markets. Royal Caribbean is "home porting" ships all over the globe. The Vision is going in South America, Rhapsody in Asia, and a whack in Europe, including a Freedom class boat in the UK. I am theorizing them building a non US income stream to pay for all the new vessels.

The article below gives a great overview of the activities this year.

Martin
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Cruise Industry set to welcome 10 newbuilds
Mike Hood, 21 January 2008 Lloyds List

A TOTAL of 10 new cruiseships will debut this year, including the very first post-panamax ships for Celebrity, MSC Cruises and P&O Cruises, as the world cruise industry goes from strength to strength, writes Mike Hood.

With the cruise market in the UK and the rest of Europe booming, it is no surprise that four of the newbuildings are specifically aimed at the European market, including the largest ship yet built for the British market, P&O Cruises’ 3,092-passenger capacity Ventura. Other ships destined for Europe include a second Sphinx-class vessel for Aida Cruises, the 2,050-passenger capacity AIDAbella; and two ships for MSC Cruises, the 3,300-passenger capacity MSC Fantasia and the 2,568-passenger capacity MSC Poesia.

This year will see Carnival Cruise Lines introduce its new 3,006-passenger capacity Carnival Splendour, Celebrity its 2,850-passenger capacity Celebrity Solstice (pictured) and Holland America Line its Signature-class 2,100-passenger capacity Eurodam.

The largest vessel to debut in 2008 will be RCCL’s 3,643-passenger capacity Independence of the Seas (pictured below) , which will operate out of the UK for the summer, while the smallest ship to enter service during the year is the as yet unnamed 210-passenger capacity newbuilding at Canada’s Irving Shipbuilding for US owner Pearl Seas Cruises. The last vessel to be delivered in 2008 will be Princess Cruises’ 3,100-passenger capacity Ruby Princess.

Four of the 10 new cruiseships for 2008 are under construction at Italy’s Fincantieri — Carnival Splendour, Eurodam, Ruby Princess and Ventura; two are being built at Aker Yards France — MSC Fantasia and MSC Poesia.

Meyer Werft Germany is building the AIDAbella and Celebrity Solstice, Aker Yards Finland is building Independence of the Seas and Irving Shipbuilding in Canada is building Pearl Seas.

Not running out of steam yet

Mitsubishi steams into fight with diesel electric
David Tinsley, 29 January 2008 Lloyds List

JAPANESE engine maker, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has redesigned its steam turbines to provide more efficiency as it fights against diesel electric in the LNG sector, writes David Tinsley.

Reliability, easy maintenance and use, along with the possibility of a steam turbine installation to easily use cargo boil-off, ensured that LNG carrier propulsion remained almost entirely a steam province for 40 years.

However, with technical innovation and LNG cargo prices, a seachange has now taken place. Low-speed diesel propulsion machinery in combination with shipboard reliquefaction systems has become the technology of choice for the emergent generation of ships over 200,000 cu m, and the dual-fuel diesel-electric solution has wrested huge newbuilding market share from conventional steam turbine power in the under 200,000 cu m range.

Japanese engineer Mitsubishi has now revitalised the steam offering, with a higher-performance steam turbine claimed to confer efficiency improvements of upto 15%.

The safety record of steam-powered LNG vessels has been one of the best throughout the shipping industry.

However, a need by gas tanker operators for more flexible powering arrangements, coupled with higher power densities to suit a new generation of larger LNG carriers, stimulated the uptake of alternatives, and ended the dominance of the steam turbine in the newbuilding market.

Wärtsilä was the prime mover in introducing LNGC electric propulsion based on dual-fuel medium-speed engines of the 50DF type, and dual-fuel diesel-electric has become the system of choice for many operators.

BP Shipping’s 155,000 cu m British Emerald put down a new milestone for the industry last year, as the first LNG carrier to incorporate dual-fuel diesel-electric propulsion.

The GTT MkIII membrane-type tanker has four Wärtsilä DF50 engine-based generators, feeding electrical energy to a pair of 14.8 MW synchronous propulsion motors. MAN secured an opening contract for its 51/60DF dual-fuel engine targeted at the LNG carrier market. Five engines of the 51/60DF type have been selected to power a 173,600 cu m newbuilding booked by a Spanish owner from STX Shipbuilding.

Just as Japan’s position as the world’s leading maker of steam turbines for commercial marine applications underpins Japanese shipbuilders’ still widespread use of such plant, South Korean yards’ adoption of alternative systems can be expected to accelerate with the scheduled launch later this year of a new factory in Korea to produce the Wärtsilä DF50 engine.

The joint venture Wärtsilä Hyundai Engine Company will serve clients throughout Korea, Japan, China, and Taiwan, effectively bringing the entire field of large LNG tanker production within the ambit of the joint undertaking.

Since achieving its breakthrough in the LNG carrier market in 2004, MAN’s electronically controlled, two-stroke ME engine family has been specified for every project involving ships in excess of 200,000 cu m capacity. Recent months have seen the commissioning of the initial vessels in the total of 45 Q-Flex and Q-Max newbuildings entrusted to Hyundai, Samsung and Daewoo, and destined for the Qatar export trade.

Each of the 210,000 cu m Q-Flex and 266,000 cu m Q-Max ships has been specified with two MAN low-speed engines and onboard reliquefaction plant.

As well as maximising the value of the delivered cargo, onboard reliquefaction paves the way to the use of diesel propulsion and diesel engines of up to 50% thermal efficiency, compared with approximately 30% for a steam turbine plant.

The higher efficiency results in lower energy consumption and reduced operating costs. Determining the relative worth of boil-off can be difficult under conditions of varying gas and fuel oil prices. Some operators, owners, charterers and supply companies may opt to burn the evaporated gas in the engine.

MAN is therefore also promoting its dual-fuel, electronically-controlled ME-GI engine for LNG ships, which is able to run on either natural gas or heavy fuel oil.

They are seafarers, just throw them in jail

Seafarer criminalisation ‘threatens safety’
4 February 2008 Lloyds List

THE threat posed by the criminalisation of seafarers has continued to increase in the past year despite efforts to work with authorities to tackle the issues.

The wide-ranging investigations launched after the containership Cosco Busan struck the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge last November, some of which were reported to carry criminal law implications for the ship’s crew and pilot, have been cited by one leading P&I manger as a case in point.

Ian Gooch, a director of A Bilbrough & Co, managers of the London P&I Club, said Cosco Busan is a further unfortunate example of what appears to be a growing inclination on the part of some authorities and government agencies around the world to bring a criminal dimension into the investigation of shipping accidents.

Mr Gooch adds that such an approach is to the potential detriment of maritime safety and environmental protection for a variety of reasons — including the likelihood of it deterring the sort of able people that the industry needs from pursuing a seafaring career.

“The treatment of Capt Mangouras, master of the Prestige, and of members of the crew and salvage team of the Tasman Spirit are well-publicised examples of what seems to be an increasing tendency to focus on blame and the pursuit of individuals following shipping casualties,” he said.

“Other more recent cases also seem to illustrate the spread of ‘criminalisation’, including the very troubling — and widely deplored — prosecution and imprisonment of Capt Schroder of the containership Zim Mexico III in Mobile, Alabama.

“Now there are reports that inquiries into the Cosco Busan casualty include a criminal law aspect — and subsequent news from the National Transportation Safety Board that the ship’s crew have hired lawyers and declined to speak with the experienced accident investigators from that agency. Without such evidence, efforts to get to the bottom of the cause of the accident and to establish what can be done to stop it happening again have hit what has been described as a road block.”

Mr Gooch added: “The difficulty with this sort of blame culture is that while it may deliver short-term relief to those who have suffered as a result of an accident, it jeopardises the full investigation needed to understand what happened and to learn the lessons necessary to avoid repetition and suffering to others in the future.”

He contrasts the approach of the maritime industry with that in the aviation field, and the determination there to support an organised, well-ordered and open safety environment including, for example, an effective near-miss reporting system.

Mr Gooch said: “The focus in aviation is on the learning of lessons and on preventative intelligence which would otherwise remain invisible.

“The industry seems to have succeeded in persuading governments of the importance of prioritising the collecting of safety-related information and avoiding compromising the ability of investigators to get to the root cause of an accident.

“Take the recent crash-landing of a Boeing 777 passenger jet at Heathrow Airport. The complete focus of the response there — without the distracting shadow of any other inquiry — seems to have been on supporting the work of the Air Accident Investigation Branch’s investigators in gathering all the information required, including the evidence of the plane’s pilot and crew.”

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In a related news event, the ITF has started a campaign of awareness regarding this stupid trend of "seafarer criminalisation". They have published a poster (pictured) and related website with links to the IMO ILO documents outlining your rights a seafarer involved in maritime mishap. You can download these assets, and read more about it from the ITF website.