Saturday, 13 June 2009

Industry Snapshots

Dead humpback whale found stuck on bulbous bow of oil tanker that arrived in the Alaskan Port of Valdez. The dead whale has now been towed out to sea. The tanker Kodiak, owned by Exxon Mobil, had entered the port with the dead animal stuck on its bulbous bow. Authorities said that the body was not decomposed, indicating that the whale had not been dead for too long. Investigations are in progress by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to determine if the ship broke any laws, since humpback whales are a federally protected endangered species. Details on the incidents are sketchy; experts say that there is a possibility that the whale was already dead when the tanker struck it. "We don't know the condition of the whale when it was struck, or where. What we do know is it was on the tanker bow in Valdez," said Sheela McLean, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spokeswoman. Surprisingly, the whale went undetected by both the crewmembers on the Kodiak as well as the tugs escorting the Kodiak into the terminal. A trawler has now been hired by the owners to tow the carcass out for a whale burial at sea.

Muammar Gaddafi defends pirates at Saharan State summit, says that they "defend their territorial waters". Gaddafi, the present Chairman of the African Union, says the West is to blame for the situation in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, restating the oft quoted rationale for piracy: the West is looting Somali resources and that the attacks on merchant ships are not carried out by "pirates but people who are defending their rights." The Libyan leader has earlier accused many countries of violating international law, saying that, “Greedy Western nations invade and exploit Somalia's water resources illegally … It is not a piracy, it is self defense. It is defending the Somalia children's food.''

Goa casino operators adamant, refuse to move from the Mandovi River despite Captain of the Port Department June 8 deadline. Association of Offshore Casino (AOC) spokesman Narendra Punj said that the ships would not move since the AOC felt that, "The captain of ports has given us a licence to operate in the Mandovi River on the basis of which we purchased our ships. We will face a lot of difficulties if we move from the river." Adds Punj, quoted in the Times of India, "We have maritime studies to back us. The sea near the Aguada bay where the government wants us to go is very choppy. Our customers will get sea sick if we park ourselves elsewhere," Punj added. Punj is the MD of one of the biggest offshore casinos in Goa, Casino Royale. The Goa government wanted the operators to shift to the Aguada bay earlier this year following public criticism of the casinos; instead, the AOC had gone to court against the government’s decision.

Hollywood twists, missing money add spice to Maersk Alabama hijack story: Capt. Phillips, rescued in a dramatic US Navy Seal shootout after the Alabama hijack, continues to hit the headlines: declared a hero in his country, he has now sold the rights to his story to Hollywood in addition to an earlier book deal. Kevin Spacey will produce, and perhaps play Phillips’ character in a movie to be made by Columbia. In another development connected with the hijack, the US Navy is investigating the disappearance of $30000 reportedly taken by the pirates during the hijack. Phillips was forced to hand over the $30,000 in cash from the Maersk Alabama safe during the April attack. Only one hijacker survived, but Abduwali Muse was captured by US forces. Muse, the alleged gang leader, is supposed to have distributed the money amongst the hijackers, but the cash was never listed as recovered by US Navy Seals after the other hijackers were killed and Muse apprehended. The Pentagon says its Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is investigating. Muse, of course, is in the US facing charges of piracy, hijacking and kidnapping.



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