International Transport Workers’ Union not opposed any longer to armed military personnel on ships, says spokesman Sam Dawson. He told Fairplay, however, that the ITF continued to be against armed seafarers or private guards, and wanted the Master to remain in command at all times, even if attacked by pirates. The organisation has hitherto been of the view that armed personnel on ships were a no-no; in fact, it has opposed, so far, any arms on board on the grounds that these may raise the level of aggression and violence, besides the matter falling within grey legal areas. At the end of last year, the ITF had said in a policy document that “The unions' and industry's firm position is that seafarers should not be armed, and that there should be no arms onboard, not only because they introduce massive legal and liability issues but also because they can potentially raise the level of violence used by pirates and further endanger seafarers.” A recent statement after a Berlin conference contradicts this view: the ITF now agrees “to support the inclusion, where appropriate, of armed military personnel on ships in addition to the commitment by flag states of naval vessels”, says a statement after the conference. "However, the decision on whether or not to carry armed personnel is the prerogative of the flag state and the owner."
Thuraya set to launch broadband maritime terminal in partnership with Comtech. The telecom giant, founded in 1997 by a consortium of leading national telecommunications operators, announced last week that it is developing a state of the art broadband terminal for the maritime industry in partnership with Comtech. The Cometch terminal will be launched in the last quarter of the year, and will provide high quality voice services as well as a broadband service that reaches a speed of up to 444 kbps. At this speed, ships will be able to access high speed video streaming as well. Compact and cost effective, the Comtech terminal has a specialised antenna that guarantees connectivity even in rough seas. “The Comtech broadband solution has the strengths and features of both Thuraya’s superior and congestion-free satellite network along with Comtech's technology and product know how," says Thuraya's Chief Executive Officer Yousuf Al Sayed, who went on to highlight the practical and user friendly interface of the terminal, including for data transmission, video streaming and personal telephone calls. Added Mr. Dan Wood, President of Comtech Mobile Data Corporation, "The technology used for this new maritime terminal is very advanced and the outcome will be a superior marine grade solution that will develop Thuraya's standing in the maritime sector." Thuraya covers the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Mediterranean, Arabian Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, large parts of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and international waters in the Asia Pacific, and claims to cover nearly two thirds of the world population.
Port capacity to touch 1.5 b tonnes by 2011-12, says Shipping Minister, indicating that this will overshoot the 1 billion set target by a considerable margin. Mr. G.K. Vasan was speaking at the CII Logistics Outsourcing Summit. The Government has earmarked, by the end of the Eleventh Five Year plan, about Rs 1,00,000 crore for the development of the Port and Shipping sector under the National Maritime Development Programme (NMDP). A whopping Rs 55,804 crore is to be deployed for the Port sector, with the balance Rs 44,535 crore to be invested in the shipping and the inland waterways sectors. “The focus in the Eleventh Five Year Plan has been capacity augmentation and on developing the ports and related infrastructure to bring them to international standards. It is proposed to enhance the capacity of the 12 major ports from 574.77 million tonnes to one billion tonnes by 2011-12, the end of the Eleventh plan. We propose to increase the total capacity of the approximately 200 non-major ports to 580 million tonnes. Thus, the combined capacity is projected to reach over 1.5 billion tonnes. Most of the capacity augmentation has been planned through the Public-Private Partnership mode,” said the Minister. Not included in the outlay is a plan for road/rail connectivity that cost another Rs 500 crore. The Minister revealed that Indian ports handled about 95 per cent of India's total trade by volume and 70 per cent in terms of value, with the 12 major ports together accounting for as much as 70 per cent of the total volume.