Friday, 6 February 2009

Industry Snapshots

“Biscaglia” released with 25 Indians on board. The twenty year old 27000 dwt chemical tanker was hijacked on a passage in the Gulf of Aden in November while en route to Indonesia from Spain. During the hijack, three British security personnel employed on board had jumped overboard to escape the pirates and were later picked up by a German warship. All 28 Bangladeshi and Indian crew are now reported to be safe and unharmed. Although there is no confirmation from the owners, it is believed that a ransom was paid. "This is wonderful day for the crew and their families as this ordeal comes to an end with the entire crew in good health and spirits," says owner Industrial Shipping’s James Christodoulou. "Very soon the men will be reunited with their families. I am grateful for the sacrifice of the crew and their families, who exhibited courage and dignity under extreme circumstances. Our team worked tirelessly to secure the safe release of the men and the ship, and we are extremely fortunate to put these events behind us."

US Navy and IMB make guarded statements about reduction in Somali hijackings, saying it is too early to be sure. US Naval officials and IMB director Mukundan confirm that patrols by International warships and more alert crews have reduced the number of successful hijackings in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters. "The number of successful hijackings has come down for the second month. It is encouraging but let's wait and see what happens over the next two or three months," Mukundan told Reuters at a UN piracy conference. "We attribute this to the actions of the navies there. We think it is having an effect. What we are calling for is sustained action of the navies." Vice Admiral Moeller of the US navy agreed, but said that January’s figures may be attributed to the weather, although naval patrols undoubtedly had an impact. Those numbers show 15 reported attacks, 2 hijackings and 43 crew taken hostage last month: an improvement on last year’s averages, which were the worst in seventeen years. Meanwhile, in fresh developments, the Japanese navy will add its strength to the flotilla of warships in the region, and South Korea is contemplating similar action. It was also announced on Thursday that the maritime safety corridor would be altered further away from Yemen’s coastline with a ‘buffer zone’ for more effective patrolling by the multinational forces in the area. The danger is far from over, though. At the time of writing this report early on Friday, unconfirmed reports were tricking in saying that Somali pirates had hijacked a tanker and its crew of 12 Filipinos and 1 Indonesian in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday.

Truck rams through door of ferry bound for Belfast. The Stena HSS Voyager had close to 200 passengers and crew aboard when the accident occurred. The ferry had just started its trip from Stranraer to Belfast when a lorry broke free in the hold, crashed through a stern door and was left “dangling outside the vessel”. No one was injured in the incident, but passengers are reported to have panicked after a loud bang was heard near the stern of the ferry soon after the voyage began. They then saw the truck hanging out of the stern of the vessel. Recent reports suggest that the Clyde Coastguard is monitoring developments closely, and that the ship will have to inspected and repaired before it is declared fit to sail. The company has confirmed the incident.

Boxships between a rock and a hard place. says Seatrade Asia, quoting French consultants Aphaliner saying that 255 ships of a total capacity of 675,000 TEU were idle as of Jan 19. This figure represents almost 6 percent of the world’s container fleet, and the number of lay ups is increasing. This seems to confirm the terrible Christmas season the container trade was suspected to have undergone a month ago, which analysts are now calling ‘the worst in many years.’ Alphaliner says, worryingly, that considering the new builds all set to enter the market in the next two years, it is very unlikely that anticipated demand will absorb this supply at present rates of scrapping. To add to industry woes, slow steaming is becoming uneconomical at present bunker prices. Meanwhile, Drewry, the UK consultancy, confirms that freight rates continue to decline and that there are no signs of recovery in the near future. Expect lay ups to increase, seems to be the expert consensus.


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