Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shipping's parking lot

I came across these incredible images taken at the beginning of the year in Singapore, simply illustrating the effects of the worldwide economic downturns. Which of course is heavily facilitated by shipping. I did another piece on the Philippines being a hot spot for laying up ships, but I think Singapore takes the cakes for the number of vessels awaiting work. According to Alphaliner, in mid March 2009, "the idle container ship fleet reaches 484 ships for 1,410,000 teu (11.3% of the cellular fleet)."
That must be quite a sight to see in real life, never mind the troubles ashore. Although traffic numbers are down, Singapore remains the world's largest port, handling over 423 million tons of cargo, of which are 23 million TEU. That is a very serious port. ehehehehe.

Below is an brief article from before Christmas on the situation.

A DOZEN 5,000-8,500 TEU ships are said to be laid up in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai in the wake of the global economic downturn, according to AXS-Alphaliner News.

Idle ships in the 3,500-5,000 TEU range are expected to increase in number in the weeks ahead as more news of service closures comes in, said the Paris-based industry research and news agency.

While many more vessels are laid up in the 2,000-3,000 TEU range, most are between 1,000-2,000 TEU, and 50 ships are "believed idle in this size range, awaiting a charter", said AXS Alphaliner, estimating the idle fleet at 150,000 TEU or representing around 1.25 per cent of global cellular tonnage.

Alphaliner recalled that at the deepest of the 2002 downturn, there was 180,000 TEU of idle tonnage, or 3.2 per cent of the then current fleet.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vancouver's loss

Not so good news for the Vancouver port. Below is a news story from local radio station CKNW. Here is another article from Victoria's Times Colonist.

Although posting higher then expected profits for the year, 10% for the fiscal year, year over year, Carnival and rival, Royal Caribbean, are cutting capacity to Alaska in 2009, citing a challenging market - including the Alaska head tax and plunging bookings.

Here's the article from CKNW,

Carnival Cruise Lines is shipping out from Vancouver and heading south. The company is moving its Alaska cruise operation from Vancouver to Seattle next year. Departures from Vancouver to Alaska will drop from ten to one per year.

John Hansen with the Northwest Cruise Ship Association says while it's disappointing news for Vancouver, another Canadian port could get a boost, "Even the ships that are home-ported in Seattle, they still have to call at a Canadian port in the course of an Alaska cruise. So what that means is that Victoria is going to get some visitors. So in the course of the season, that ship will be stopping in Victoria every week. So that's the bit of good news out of that."

Vancouver Port officials say the move by Carnival means the city will lose 18 million dollars in business per year.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Those That Go Down To The Sea

By now most of the readers here will have heard of the Sikorsky S-92 crash off of Newfoundland that saw only one survivor and one body recovered.
Presumably the rest of the 16 men and woman passengers and crew remain onboard in 120m of water.
It is a chilling reminder of what we in the marine industry take for granted. We jump on choppers and small planes regularly to transit to the ships and rigs, without a second thought. As one person said in the articles, it is just like going to catch the bus.
Once again a marine tragedy hits the small communities of Newfoundland, where if a person is not related to another, they have grown up next door to each other.

My condolences and sympathy go to the families and friends of the lost mariners.

J Kane

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Don't think mooring lines are dangerous...

Here is the brand new MSC Fantasia, in Palma de Mallorca Spain, when the bollards failed due to high wind load on the ship and mooring lines, sending them flying. What a fascinating sight to see. A passenger was thrown in the water and four dedicated crew jump in after him. Good on them.

MSC Fantasia crew rewarded for bravery
Tuesday, 10 Mar 2009 11:05, Travel bites

Four crew members who came to the aid of an overboard passenger on MSC Fantasia cruise ship are to be officially commended by the Spanish port authorities and government.

Following an incident at the port of Palma de Mallorca on Thursday March 5th a passenger of Egyptian origin with Italian nationality, believed to be over 80-years-of-age, fell into the water.

Four members of the crew dived in to help the man, who was brought to shore and taken to hospital, where he is currently under observation.

The four crew members include: Caso Salvatore (chief crew steward), Naim Samsudin (able fireman), Andrian O'Williams (housekeeping cleaner) and Faamoe Lalopua (able sailor).

All four will be recognised by authorities of Palma de Mallorca, the city mayor, a delegate of the central government in Mallorca and MSC Cruises for their bravery and heroism.

The accident happened as MSC Fantasia was moored and passengers were disembarking in Mallorca. The ship was exposed to strong winds causing three bow mooring bitts to become detached simultaneously.

As a result, the ship moved away from the dock, causing a disembarking guest to fall into the water. The port authorities have accepted responsibility for the accident.

The crew members were also taken to hospital for a check-up and all four have since returned to work on the ship, which continued to cruise to its next destination as usual.

Chris O'Toole

MSC Fantasia
Owner: MSC Cruises
Operator: MSC Cruises
Flag: Panama
Builder: STX Europe, St. Nazaire, France
Christened: 18 December 2008 by Sophia Loren
Class and type: Fantasia-class cruise ship
Tonnage: 133,500 GT (gross tonnage)
Length: 333.30 m (1,093 ft 6 in)
Beam: 37.90 m (124 ft 4 in)
Draught: 4.45 m (14 ft 7 in)
Decks: 13 passenger decks, 18 total[citation needed]
Propulsion: Diesel engines, 40 mW
Speed: 2 propellers
Capacity: 3,959 passengers
Crew: 1,313 crew

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Set for an Expedition

So the big news this weekend, around these parts, is the arrival of BC Ferries' new ro-pax ferry MV Northern Expedition. The new vessel docked in Nanaimo last night, after being at sea for a little over a month and traveling just under 10,000 nautical miles from the FSG Shipyards in Flensburg, Germany, where it was built. The new vessel just about caps the company's massive fleet revitalization program (there is another vessel to enter northern service yet to be built).

The St Vincent and Grenadine registerred vessel is alongside in Nanaimo, at the Departure Bay terminal, until May, for post trip inspections, crew training, and final delivery details from FSG. FSG was already using Nanaimo Shipyards as its base of operations for all guarantee work on the already delivered Super C class vessels.

The Northern Expedition has a standard propulsion system, utilizing the 32 series engine from MAK (Cat Marine), same series as the ones on the Super C, and MAK can be found on a bevy of other vessel for the company. The 150 meter long, 17,800 gt vessel will join the MV Northern Adventure on the Prince Rupert - Pt Hardy run. This will allow the 42 year old, but still operating, Queen of Prince Rupert to retire from its long service history.

It remains to be seen if the Northern Expedition will earn the "Queen of the Fleet" hat held by its predecessor, Queen of the North, before it struck rocks and sank off Gill Island 2 years ago.

You can view an excellent site detailing the construction of the new ferry, and all things related. Here is BC Ferries official press release, with other facts and figures; also check out an overview from a presentation by Mark Collins, of BCF, on the engineering works at BCF given at a SNAME / CIMarE meeting.

MV Northern Expedition

IMO number - 9408413
Call Sign - J8B4038
Type of ship - Passenger/Ro-Ro Cargo Ship
Year of build - 2009
Flag - St Vincent and Grenadines (for now)
Class - American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
Gross tonnage - 17800
Lenght - 150 meter
Breadth - 25 meter
Depth - 5 meter
Capacity - 600 passengers and 130 vehicles, 55 double berth staterooms
Main engines - 2 MAK 9M32C – 4500 KW each at 600 RPM.
Auxiliary power - 3 MAK 8M20 – 1360 KW each at 900 RPM
Speed - 20.5 knots
Cost - $133 millions

$2 million bolts

The lynx is gone, but the legal wranglings continue. The Nanaimo Harbour Lynx faced a critical blow to their cash flow when it blew the starboard engine, just a little under two years ago. The company that ran it, investors from Victoria, went into bankruptcy and ceased to operate shortly after. The boat was subsequently repaired and purchased by a third party, who tried to make a go of it, but instead sold it back to the original builders, Fjellstrand of Norway, citing lack of civic / provincial political and financial backing.

The whole event illustrates the lengthy process after a mechanical breakdown and the importance of record keeping, not to mention corner cutting.

The story I heard about this boat, was that it was originally built for a ferry operation in the Philippines. They ran it until the engine were due for a major rebuild, (30k hrs) then sold it to Harbour Lynx. They used it for a little while and did the major engine rebuild using appropriate MTU technicians - Cullen - the article mentions Cullen in Nanaimo, but I had heard it was Kamloops that did these MTU rebuilds. My sources say the rebuild was done on time, unfortunately not all the MTU required items for the rebuild were done.

I am not entirely familiar with these engines (MTU 16V 396), but from what I gather, it is necessary to renew bolts on the crankshaft counterweights at a set time. This was spec'd, and done according to the service report, but the part list later revealed that indeed the necessary parts for that particular job were not used. The bolts fretted and the play caused them to shear off, sending the counterweight through the block.

This has always been an interesting story for me, from a engineer diligence perspective. Unfortunately mistakes are made, some that seemed to be a minor oversight, has caused great grief to many a good people involved in this venture.

Anyways, here is the local paper's article on the ongoing legal issue...

$2 Million HarbourLynx lawsuit proceeds
Defunct company blames firm for engine failure
Nanaimo Daily News, March 06, 2009

A $2-million lawsuit launched by the former Nanaimo-based HarbourLynx passenger ferry service will continue after a B.C. Supreme Court decision.

HarbourLynx is suing Cullen Diesel Power, which was contracted to overhaul the engines for the vessel in February 2003 through its Nanaimo branch. On Feb. 1, 2006, an engine failed and HarbourLynx ended the venture.

"The plaintiff claims that Cullen Diesel failed to adequately perform the overhaul of the engines and the plaintiff or (Nanaimo Harbour Link Corporation) or both of them have suffered damages, expenses, and losses because of the failure of the starboard engine. The amount of the claim has not been quantified, but is estimated to be in the $2 million range" stated Justice Jane Dardi.

Cullen made several arguments seeking to have the case dismissed, including that under contract law HarbourLynx is barred from seeking damages. They also claimed there was no evidence HarbourLynx could dispute. But Dardi agreed with HarbourLynx that even if Cullen was right about the contract law and a duty of care issue, they had yet to determine what evidence could be disputed since Cullen had not disclosed any documents or testified in discovery hearings.

The suit was brought by HarbourLynx in April 2007, and Cullen had sought a summary trial without disclosing its documents. Part of Dardi's legal analysis over the last year has centred around the legal meaning of the word "equipment" in dismissing the application for the summary trial.

She granted HarbourLynx the right to examine evidence from Cullen.

Picture of the Harbourlynx is from Kevin Stapletons' website go there for more.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Respite care for ship owners

Empty Ships Flock to Subic Bay as Lines Battle Plunging Rates
By Wendy Leung and Francisco Alcuaz Jr., March 5 (Bloomberg)

Subic Bay in the Philippines is the busiest it’s been since the U.S. Navy moved out 16 years ago. The traffic surge is coming from ships all carrying the same cargo -- nothing.

Last week, 19 vessels were anchored in the mountain-lined bay awaiting charters near an empty container terminal. The authorities at the port, 110 kilometers west of Manila, were expecting another eight this week.

“If the downturn continues, we’ll probably get even more,” said Ferdinand Hernandez, senior deputy administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Hundreds of vessels have been laid up worldwide as container lines try to boost rates depressed by U.S. and European consumers paring spending on Asian-made furniture, toys and other goods. Still, with shipyards set to deliver the largest amount of container-ships by capacity in at least 15 years in 2009, lines may still struggle to post profits.

“It’s only a matter of how much they are going to lose,” said Gideon Lo, a DBS Vickers Hong Kong Ltd. analyst. “It isn’t likely they can cover costs in 2009 or 2010.”

Neptune Orient Lines Ltd., Southeast Asia’s biggest container carrier, is seeking to raise rates for carrying a 20- foot box from Asia to Europe by $250 from April 1, it said in a Feb. 19 statement. Rates have fallen “drastically” for more than a year, added the company, which expects a full-year loss. A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, the world’s largest container line, Evergreen Marine Corp. and Orient Overseas (International) Ltd. have also announced similar increases.

“We hope rates return to normal,” said Katherine Ko, acting spokeswoman for Taiwan’s Evergreen Group, parent of Evergreen Marine, Asia’s largest container line.

Car Carriers

The vessels in Subic Bay, which also include car carriers and commodity ships, are typically anchored for a couple of months awaiting charters, said Capt. Perfecto Pascual, general manager of the seaport. Companies use the bay to lay up vessels as it’s secure and offers protection from the elements, he added. As many as 22 ships were anchored there recently, compared with an average of about 10 before the economic crisis began, he said.

Globally, 9.1 percent of container ships, or 427 vessels, have been idled, Lloyd’s List said on Feb. 13, citing Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit, a shipping-data provider. Thousands of containers are also going unused worldwide, leaving ports struggling to find space for them. For instance, Busan International Terminal Co., a wharf-operator in Busan, South Korea’s busiest port, is holding at least 30,000 empty boxes.
“The removal of so much capacity should see a restoration of rates,” said Ken Cambie, chief financial officer of Orient Overseas, Hong Kong’s largest container line. “Rate increases are needed on all trades,” he added.

Capacity Surge

Container lines traditionally raise rates in the second quarter after a first-quarter slowdown caused by the Chinese lunar new-year holiday and reduced demand from U.S. and European retailers selling off excess Christmas stock.

Any increases this year may be smaller than past ones as the global container fleet grows amid slowing demand. New ships with a combined capacity of 3.9 million boxes are due for delivery this year and next, about a third more than in the past two years, according to AXS-Alphaliner data. Shipyards are now completing vessels ordered two to three years ago when trade was booming.

Traffic Slump

This year, global container traffic may fall 3 percent, according to Morgan Stanley, as U.S. and European consumers slash spending. China’s exports to the European Union tumbled 17.4 percent in January. The World Bank forecasts a 2.1 percent decline in global trade this year, the first drop since 1982.

Container lines won’t be “able to raise rates much as demand hasn’t returned to previous levels,” said Jack Xu, an analyst at Sinopac Securities Asia Co. in Shanghai.

Lower fuel costs are helping shipping lines, with prices having tumbled about two-thirds from a record in July. Orient Overseas may spend 49 percent less on fuel this year than in 2008, if prices stay at current levels, Cambie said.
Still, while a drop in fuel prices has lowered costs, it’s not enough to return the industry to profit.

Container lines still “have to increase freight rates because they are below cash costs,” said Ryu Je-Hyun, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities Co. “If they don’t, their cash will start to burn out.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Wendy Leung in Hong Kong at; Francisco Alcuaz Jr. in Manila at

Heres some links... Port of Subic Bay, Subic Newslink

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Now We Know What A Life Is Worth!!

It is over 12k at least!
Edited to add:
I was to say the least, skeptical about the 12k number that was used, for the costs of doing a stability test on a fishing vessel. It seemed rather outrageous, so being curious and having the contacts, I called a friend at a local naval architecture company and asked.
Yes indeed, I was told, 12k would be about the price, in fact it was at the low end of an estimate.
I was still skeptical and asked why so much. It appears that most of the fishing vessels have no lines plans or even drawings and they have to be pulled from the water for measurements. Then they are put back in the water and then the inclining is completed and the stability book calculated.
So, even at 12k, is it not unreasonable to know what is going to cause your boat to capsize? Just think, you the owner may not be killed, but it could be your son or best friend's son. Could you carry that around for the rest of your life?
There have been some fairly well publicized fishing boat accidents caused by overloaded conditions on a boat clearly not designed for them. Do your family and would-be rescuers a favor and spend the money. Drive the Ford truck for another couple of years before replacing it, but stay alive.

TSB: Small, overloaded fishing boats capsizing
By ALISON AULD The Canadian Press, Tue. Mar 3, 2009

Fishing crews continue to put themselves at risk by heading out to sea in small, unstable boats, the Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday in two accident reports that highlight ongoing regulatory deficiencies and the industry's weak ``safety culture.''

The federal agency released results from investigations into a pair of capsizings in 2007 that claimed the lives of two men in New Brunswick and Newfoundland, and were caused largely by recurring problems.

``The issues are the same for both of these vessels — the lack of stability analysis and an inadequate safety culture ... for the industry as a whole,'' Christopher Morrow, an investigator with the TSB, said in an interview.

``The safety culture is the crux of the problem.''

The investigators said the two tragic accidents mirror many they have examined in recent years, with the most common cause being the poor stability of boats under 15 gross tonnes that are often overloaded with fishing gear.

There were 53 capsizings in the last decade, with 17 of those occuring in the Maritimes, according to the TSB. The bulk of all accidents involving fishing vessels in the same period — 1,065 out of 3,072 — involved small boats under 15 gross tonnes.

Morrow said boats under a certain size, like the ones in the incidents in Newfoundland and New Brunswick, are not required to undergo stability analysis by Transport Canada.

An analysis would inform crew if they might be in danger of capsizing, particularly when then are loaded with goods or are taking on water.

The TSB raised the same stability issue in reports following the 2004 sinking of the Ryan's Commander off Newfoundland and the capsizing of the fishing vessel Cap Rouge II in British Columbia before that.

``These accidents keep happening and communities continue to lose lives to the sea because the stability of their vessels has not been assessed,'' said Capt. Pierre Murray, the TSB's manager of marine investigations for the Atlantic region.

Transport Canada is drafting new Fishing Vessel Safety regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, but they're not expected to be presented before this fall. No one from the department was available to comment.

Morrow said the board is hoping government will require small boats to undergo stability analysis, but also encourage broad education for fishermen who might not be aware of the dangers they're putting themselves in.

``As iterated in the recommendations for Ryan's Commander, we did think that things were dragging on a little too long,'' he said in reference to Transport Canada regulations.

``But regulations are only part of it and it really boils down to awareness and education.''

In the most recent cases, Dennis Chaulk died when his boat, the Sea Urchin, went down in Newman Sound, N.L., during tropical storm Noel.

His 10-metre boat was heading back to the wharf after participating in a Canadian Coast Guard exercise on Nov. 4, 2007, when wind and waves lashed its port side.

A net resting unsecured on the deck slid to one side of the boat, causing water to flood the wheelhouse and overturn the vessel. The three crew, none of whom was wearing flotation gear, were rescued but Chaulk later died in hospital.

Investigators concluded that the boat had poor stability that was further degraded by the rough seas.

In the other incident, Clifford Nodding of Beaver Harbour, N.B., died when his lobster boat, Big Sister, capsized and sank off Grand Manan Island on Nov. 13, 2007. Three of his crewmen were rescued.

His 10-metre boat was laden with 140 lobster traps as it sailed through choppy seas for the opening day of the season. A crew member spotted water under the traps and issued a distress call before the boat began to flip over, but it was too late for all four men to get off.

The TSB found that the traps hid the water that was flooding onto what was already an unstable vessel.

The board didn't issue fresh recommendations, but reiterated ones it issued in previous reports that found stability to be the central cause of sinkings.

It stated that all new boats should be required to submit stability data for approval and that all existing boats be subjected to stability tests.

The board also recommends that a ``code of best practices'' for loading and stability be introduced to the fishing industry and be encouraged through education and awareness programs.

Fisherman Hubert Saulnier said forcing fishermen to have stability analysis would be costly at about $12,000 and that there is little way to enforce the proper loading of vessels.

``It's very hard to legislate common sense,'' he said from Saulnierville, N.S.

``Even though you have a stability test on your vessel for that amount of money, there's probably no enforcement in stopping me from overloading my vessel anyway.''