Thursday, October 20, 2011

"The envelope please..."

Unless you've been hiding under a rock this past day, you are surely aware that the Canadian government has announced the results of their search for two Canadian shipyard to build major vessels, military and civilian (Coast Guard), for the Canadian government. The Conservative government in June 2010 announced a strategy to get much needed shipbuilding underway under the auspice of the National Ship Procurement Strategy (NSPS).

The military "work package" consisting of 21 vessels expecting to cost about 25 billion dollars was awarded to Halifax / Irving Shipyards, on the East Coast of Canada. The coast guard work package of 7 ships, expecting to cost 8 billion dollars, was awarded to Seaspan, on the West Coast of Canada.

This deal does not mean that steel cutting starts automatically, but it does means that that these two shipyards can now draw up plans and contract for each of the ships, without having all the hassles of trying to submit "lowest bids" and dealing with many layers of bureaucracy and politics. It is expected that the contracts for the first batch of ships will be drawn up shortly, by Christmas, for the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships and the fisheries research vessels.

The government has also set aside 2 billion dollars, for the other shipyards to compete on, to build 116 other smaller vessels for the Navy and Coast Guard, which Seaspan and Irving will not be able to compete for. The deal does not mean it is set it set in stone, but all parties seem to agree that this strategy is, although being much delayed, is a sound one that hopefully will get steel cut quickly and successfully. The process has been applauded for its fairness, with even the federal NDP shipbuilding critic supporting the process, and applauding the government.

There is an additional expectation of the government to spend about $500 million dollars per year on maintenance of the fleets, which all shipyards can compete for, including Seaspan and Irving.

The media was quick to characterize this as a major blow to central Canada in particular Quebec, but lets be real here, Davie shipyard still has three unfinished ships languishing in its yard resulting from their ongoing bankrupcies. No matter what the outcome was going to be, there was bound to be public "outcry" from one region. But as many pundits point out, the bulk of the ships might be built in Halifax or Vancouver, but a great deal of the hull and what goes inside comes from across Canada and in particular from the central region, so it is a good announcement for Canada.

The cost might seem large, and it is, but considering the absence of so many years of shipbuilding foresight, and new ships, led to a major backlog in need. One must also remember the time line of 25-30 years is considerable - so in perspective this might be the one of the single biggest procurement announcement in Canada, but it is for real assets, over a long period of time. I just hope once and for all, the Navy and Coast Guard will have reliable and realistic timetables for ship replacements.

All in all, great news for all of us in the Canadian marine industry, finally a plan that looks to the future where workers and shipyards can make plans on, and government fleets can be replaced on schedule instead of wasting money making patchwork repairs.

Other post on NSPS, reactions here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another day another MSC ship aground

MSC is, once again, at the centre of a maritime accident, this time the the ship is the MV Rena, off the coast of New Zealand; I am sure you are aware of it by now, its still an interesting story.

The ship is officially owned by Daina Shipping of Greece, part of Costamare. According to the press release...

" The RENA was built in 1990, and has a deadweight of 47,230. At the time of the incident the RENA was carrying 1,351 containers. The operators of the vessel are Costamare Shipping Company S.A. (a dedicated containership operator with over 35 years of experience in the shipping industry), while Ciel Shipmanagement S.A are the technical managers. "

The ship is hard aground and listing precariously, they have lost containers over the side, with many of them washing ashore. The hull has cracked, and authorities report state that 380 tons of heavy fuel has leaked from the ship, and made its way onto nearby beaches, outside Tauranga, New Zealand. There is significant impact on the area's wildlife. Svitzer salvage is on site, according to reports, and drawing up a salvage plan.

It is clear from the various media organization and bloggers in New Zealand, that this is clearly considered a major catastrophe for the island nation. There is report that the Filipino community in the area, is being harassed due the grounding. Typically, on deep sea ships, the Filipino crew are generally all ratings, relatively far removed from navigation decisions, but that is besides the point, and shows how strong the feelings are there following the accident.

The public outrage, rightly so, has led to Costamare issuing a very public apology to the people of the area, see below. The ship was chartered to MSC at the time, and MSC, one of the largest container ship operator in the world, is quick to point out in trade publications that it bears no responsibility - of course they don't...

The MV Rena was classed under ABS, and flew the Liberian flag, it was most recently held in detention in Freemantle, by Australian Port State Control (PSC) inspectors, in July 2011, for no less than 17 deficiencies. The items are far more than just the typical certificate issues, a considerable amount of deficiencies in the engineering spaces, and numerous in the navigation, on top of the usual certificate issues.

All point to a very good job done by the Australian, at identifying a problem ship... unfortunately, we are all to familiar with the quick band aid solutions that are then applied by the company to release its ship. But one could say that the PSC inspector in Australia, called it right, in particular with "safety of navigation" deficiencies. Less than three months later, the ship would run aground at full speed.

Although the detention in Freemantle was the first in the ship's history, it has a long history of deficiencies during PSC inspections. There is a noticeable increase in deficiencies starting 2006,  with no less than 39 deficiencies in 11 PSC inspections since then.

Around 2005, the ship was bought by the Offer Brothers of Israel, and run under various names, including Adaman Sea and ZIM America, for ZIM Israel. In late 2010, another name change occurred, with the new owners Daina Shipping of Greece, taking over.

Costamare has issued various Press Releases, regarding the accident, on their website.  You can find some great pictures of the calamity here, including the one posted above, by Mike Hewitt of Getty Images. You can visit the Maritime New Zealand's website, for an up to date report of the clean up and salvage efforts.

You can see the first press conference from Maritime New Zealand, which is an interesting study in public relations, knowing how different the situation ended up being quickly after. The ship is now nearly broken in half, and the weather has picked up - there is no obvious easy solution. This will be a major casualty. The Captain, who was celebrating his 44th birthday the day of the grounding, has been criminally charged, as well as the OOW.

You can read previous entries on MSC, made on this blog, surprise, surprise, dealing with similar situations.

MV Rena
Previous names: Andaman Sea, Zim America
IMO Number: 8806802
Flag: Liberia
Owner: Daina Shipping (Costamare of Greece)
Manager: Ciel Ship management Athens, Greece
Chartered to: MSC
Class society: American Bureau Of Shipping
Builder: Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft Kiel, Germany
Speed recorded (Max / Average): 17.7 / 17 knots
Main engine: 8RTA76
Build year: 1990
Vessell type: Container Ship
Hull: Double, Dry Cargo
Maximum TEU capacity: 3351
Gross tonnage: 37,209 tons
Summer Dead Weight: 47,230 tons
Handling equipment: (swl 6,1 Tons)
LOA (Length Overall): 235
Beam: 32

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Capt. Seog's actions recognized by IMO

2011 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea to go to piracy survivor
From the latest IMO News Magazine

The 2011 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea will be awarded to Captain Seog Hae-gyun of the Republic of Korea, Master of the chemical tanker Samho Jewelry. He was nominated by the Government of the Republic of Korea for his heroic actions to keep his vessel and crew safe, while suffering vicious assaults, following a hijack by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The Council agreed that Captain Seog displayed truly extraordinary bravery and concern for his crew after his ship was hijacked in the Indian Ocean in January 2011, going far beyond the call of duty, at great risk and danger to himself. With the pirates onboard, Captain Seog steered the vessel away from the Somali coast, watered down the fuel to prevent combustion, pretended the steering gear was not working properly and reduced the vessel’s speed. He also managed, surreptitiously, to communicate information to naval forces, which facilitated a dramatic raid by commandos from the Republic of Korea’s destroyer Choi Young. As a result, all 21 crew members were rescued. During the hijack, Captain Seog was subject to a number of assaults, causing fractures to his legs and shoulders. He was later shot twice in the abdomen and once in the upper thigh, required several surgical operations and almost lost his life.

Of the other nominees or groups of nominees, eight will receive Certificates of Commendation and eleven, Letters of Commendation. In addition, special certificates are to be awarded to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) Falmouth (United Kingdom) and Stavanger (Norway) for their contribution, on several occasions, to search and rescue operations unfolding in distant areas, far away from their respective countries’ SAR regions, and for their dedicated performance over many years.

A total of 38 nominations from 14 Member States and one non-governmental organization in consultative status with IMO were received. The award ceremony will be held on Monday 21 November, the first day of IMO’s biennial Assembly meeting.

The events on the Samho Jewelry took place back at the beginning of the year. It would appear that the Captain was shot by the pirates, but, also by the rescuing Naval team sent in for the rescue. The Capt is pictured smiling and recovering, a couple months after his scary ordeal. I wish him all the best, for a full recovery.

Here's a little more about the MV Samho Jewelry. You can read more about the Captain's ordeal here, here and here.

News reports state the Somali Pirates have issued statements that in the future, Korean hostages will be executed, or transferred deep inland, in Somalia. (Gulp...)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Strike averted in Seaway

The St Lawrence Seaway has just reached a deal with its employees, avoiding a strike by its workers, planned to start by noon today. The Canadian Auto Workers union, CAW, represents 475 workers of the seaway, had issued a 72 hours strike notice to the Seaway authority last Friday. But the CBC is reporting that a deal has been reach, and the strike averted, about four hours before the deadline.

I was just thinking to myself, the other day, how impressive a port operation is. Montreal for instance is massive, and the countless ships that silently come and go, carry massive amounts of cargo. There was so many ships moving in the harbour, we were delayed 4 hours, waiting for a Harbour Pilot the other day.

Ports are major economic engines, and shipping allows a great deal of the countries goods to be moved around efficiently. The seaway extends the capability of ships to reach many other ports, all around the St Lawrence, and all over the Great Lakes, deep into the heart of Canada and the US.

With Canada's conservative government desperately wishing to cozy up to the US's policies, I suspected they would have once again legislate the workers back to work, should they have gone on strike. I realize everyone should have the right to work, but taking away collective bargaining rights is just wrong. I suspect this government's stance was a contributory factor to a limited extent.

Obviously the Union was using the threat of strike as a bargaining tool, as the sides were evidently not too far apart. Probably why the government was oddly quiet. Strange also,  the seaway was considerably busy, considering the strike notice.

The CAW is 200,000 members strong, but the maritime component(s), including the Seaway's workers, represents less then 1% of the membership. Here's a little more info on the negotiations.

Pictures form various internet sources.