Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Above Board

Maritime news from the seven seas


The threat of a dry bulk market depression has been forecast as the number of newbuilds in the world fleet are expected to outweigh market demand over the next three years. While the current fleet remains young and agile, larger, more energy-efficient bulk carriers will be plying the waters but not necessarily grabbing more market share. Estimates reveal utilization will drop by more than 10 percent by 2016 when compared with 2008 numbers.

Deadly Disasters and Other Incidents

Ten casualties were reported when both the Xing Dragon and the Purple Haishun bulk carriers sank in heavy seas. The bodies of five crewmen were found on the 450-ton Eifuku Maru No. 18 after she and the 2,687-ton Jia Hui collided off the coast of Japan.

Marine insurers are looking at projected claims of between $200 and $400 million after the 8,100-TEU container ship MOL Comfort broke apart and sank in the Indian Ocean. The exact cause is not yet known, but first determinations have identified water entering amidships along the hull bottom. Taking no chances, Comfort’s sister ships have been reinforced in this area.

The world watched in amazement as the 19-hour parbuckling of the Costa Concordia was successfully completed after months of planning. The stricken cruise ship is being reinforced for the winter where she lies just outside Italy’s Giglio Harbor. Her captain, Francesco Schettino, still insists he is not solely to blame for the disaster that killed 32 people and mangled the floating playground.

A reportedly drunk captain was responsible for grounding the Curacao-flagged cargo ship Fri Wave off Sölvesborg, Sweden – not the vessel’s intended destination. Two ballast tanks were damaged but no crewmembers were hurt. The captain and seven crew of the Chinese cargo vessel Cheng Lu 15 were confirmed dead after the ship’s anchor was dragged during a storm just off the port of Pohang in South Korea.

In Iceland, 11 crewmembers had to be evacuated after fire broke out in the engine room aboard the 2576-ton ro/ro Fernanda. The ship was towed to port but the ensuing smoke was too much for the public living in close vicinity, so the vessel was taken back to sea.

A typhoon in Yolanda was responsible for the Andrea Princess cargo vessel running aground. Two people died, including the chief officer. Engine failure resulted in the tall ship Astrid sinking off Ireland’s County Cork coast. Thankfully, all 30 people onboard survived.

The brand new towboat, Megan McB capsized and sank near an upper Mississippi dam, drowning one deckhand. The civilian-operated USNS 1st LT Harry L. Martin cargo vessel hit a bridge while under tow. While berthed at the port of Piraeus in Greece, the Magnifica cruise ship with more than 3,000 people on board was damaged when it was thrust against a pier in adverse weather.

Piracy Pulse

According to the International Maritime Bureau, as of late November 2013, there were reports of 234 piracy incidents worldwide; the majority involved armed robberies. A dozen hijackings were also recorded. France is now part of a several-European country move to allow the deployment of armed guards on shipping vessels. Captain Philips, the movie starring Tom Hanks based on the 2009 Somali pirate hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, has been fairly well received by the maritime community.

Offshore Onlookers

The building of what’s being touted as the world’s largest jack-up rigs will begin next year. The state-of-the-art offshore assets will have both accommodation and construction features included. The first to be delivered by Drydocks World for Offshore Innovation Management Ltd. in 2016 will stand 185 meters high and weigh 26,000 tons.

The largest wind turbine nacelle prototype ever developed is undergoing testing in Denmark ahead of its first installation expected in early 2014. Built by Vesta, the 20-meter long nacelle will reportedly be able to produce power for more than 7,000 homes.

Odds and Ends

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested a Canadian naval engineer on charges that he was secretly passing vital information regarding the country’s National Shipbuilding and Procurement Strategy to the People’s Republic of China. Efforts to clear the Oakland Estuary of navigational hazards began with raising an unnamed tug that sank more than 15 years ago.

A Seattle man took the high-speed ferry Victoria Clipper IV on a low-speed joy ride. The vessel was discovered drifting in Elliott Bay by the President and CEO of Clipper Navigation Darrell Bryan. After more than a two-hour standoff, SWAT teams swarmed the boat and placed the suspect in custody. The man told police he took the boat because he wanted to go to West Seattle. He was to be booked into King County Jail for either piracy or grand theft of a vessel.

Kathy A. Smith enjoys writing for US and international fishing and maritime trade journals. She can be reached at


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