Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Above Board

Maritime news from the seven seas


Heavy investments in Britain’s North Sea oil and gas industry continue amid worries that recent output declines have slowed the flow of economic stability and growth. Citing high project costs as a key factor despite high spending last year, energy consultants Wood Mackenzie say the current level of investment may not be sustainable after 2015.

Deadly Disasters and Other Incidents

A gas leak from a barge under construction at Shanghai Huarun Dadong Dockyard resulted in the death of two workers, with another two injured. A man fell overboard and died during a Royal Caribbean cruise aboard Rhapsody of the Seas, which was sailing near Brisbane, Australia at the time. In the Philippines, disaster was headed off when the M/V Trans Asia 5 passenger ferry, with nearly 700 people aboard, was rendered adrift for 12 hours in the Bohol Sea by a broken gear shaft. There were no injuries and the vessel made it safely back to port under tow.

Several people with injuries had to be evacuated by the Coast Guard and partnering organizations, after Adventure, a 64-foot ferry ran aground near Southport, North Carolina. An 81-year-old deckhand who was not wearing a life jacket, died after falling off an Ohio River ferry into frigid waters. Buffalo, a large coal freighter bound for Muskegon Lake, Michigan, became locked in reportedly unseasonably thick ice before the tug Meredith Ashton was able to set her free.

A crewman working on the OSV Miss Aubrey Ann near Louisiana was quickly medevaced after his foot was severed in a line accident. An autopsy found that a pre-existing medical condition caused a chief engineer aboard the tanker MCT Altair sailing the St. Lawrence River to fall down a flight of stairs.

A mysterious drowning of two mariners who worked aboard the general cargo vessel Marietje Andrea occurred on a calm sea near Trelleborg, Sweden. The search was called off after nearly eight frantic hours of searching by the Marietje Andrea, the Swedish Coast Guard, four other merchant vessels, three helicopters, two rescue craft and two planes.

Piracy Pulse

In the UK, questions are being raised about the large number of guns supplied to British security firms in an effort to mitigate piracy in East Africa, prompting a government business departmental review. Over the past 15 months, about 44,000 guns, which include assault rifles, pistols and rifles have been issued, some of which have reportedly ended up in South Africa and Russia. MPs fear a potential security risk as many of the weapons could already be in the hands of pirates, repressive or dictatorial regimes.

In the Gulf of Aden, an Iranian oil tanker under attack by 12 pirate boats was defended by the country’s 28th naval fleet, which fired on the pirates, sending them packing.

Pirates working in the Province of Equatorial Guinea kidnapped three mariners after the brazen capture of the cargo ship San Miguel which was sailing close to port of Bata on January 3. Pirates smashed the navigation system in an attempt to ward off detection, then released the ship two days later with six crew, keeping three, including the captain, for ransom.

Eye on LNG

A proposed 210-meter long passenger vessel is being proclaimed as the world’s largest LNG-powered ferry. Being built for Brittany Ferries by STX France’s Saint Nazaire Shipyard, the vessel, which will hold 650 cars, 40 trucks and 2,400 passengers, will boast dual-fuel engines and a high-efficiency electric propulsion system that will greatly reduce CO2 emissions and all but eliminate NOX and SOX emissions.

A series of four new semi-refrigerated LNG and Ethylene carrier vessels are currently under construction for Denmark’s Evergas company. Each ship being built by China’s Sinopacific yard will hold two bilobe Bureau Veritas-classed gas tanks, reportedly the world’s largest, each with a 9,686 cu m capacity.

BC Ferries is in the process of reviewing shortlisted bids to build three new ferries which will run on both LNG and diesel fuel. The move to LNG could help the struggling company reduce fuel costs by up to 50 percent. Seaspan Vancouver Shipyards is the only North American shipbuilder of the five construction companies being considered.

After a lengthy journey under tow from Dubai to Italy and three months of testing and preparation, FSRU Toscana, a 288-meter containership conversion, considered the world’s first floating LNG platform, is in operation near the Tuscan coast.

Odds and Ends

A lawsuit between Del Monte Fresh Produce and Seatrade Group heated up after a large cargo of brown bananas arrived at Gloucester City, New Jersey from Santo Tomas, Guatemala aboard Green Brazil.

Failure to report a known hazardous condition on board the cargo ship Ken Cape led to a $5,000 notice of violation fine. Inspectors from Sector Columbia River’s Marine Safety Unit in Portland, Oregon found a badly maintained fuel oil vent pipe on the Liberian-flagged vessel had leaked nearly 120,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil and Ballast Water into one of the ship’s cargo holds.

No more sailing for the San Francisco pilot who was responsible for the 2007 allision between the M/V Cosco Busan and the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge. In December 2013, John Cota’s lawsuit to gain back his Coast Guard-issued credential was dismissed by a US district court judge. Previously, Cota spent 10 months in jail after pleading guilty to spilling approximately 53,000 gallons of oil into the Bay, which resulted in the loss of thousands of birds. According to a National Transportation Safety Board report, Cota’s use of prescription medications was cited as a factor that affected his ability to work. Additionally, the NTSB said the US Coast Guard was partially responsible because they did not properly supervise Cota, whose medical issues were known to them.

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


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