Distress Call Leads to Drug Bust

On Sunday, the operator of a small boat called Coast Guard Sector San Diego to report battery trouble and request assistance.

The boat was located about 25 nm off Point Loma, San Diego, in international waters. The small cutter Sea Otter diverted to assist, and she sent a boarding team over to the boat to check out the problem. But rather than helping out with a dead battery, they ended up making a discovery and an arrest: 1,200 pounds of marijuana were allegedly stowed belowdecks. Two people on board were detained and handed over to police for potential prosecution.

The price of commercial-grade marijuana varies, but is estimated to be between $250-$450 delivered San Diego, according to Narcotics News – putting the shipment’s worth at between $300,000 and $540,000.
Possessing commercial amounts of California-grown marijuana is permitted under California law, subject to strict regulations, but the substance remains forbidden under federal law.

“Working together with multiple Coast Guard assets we were able to make another seizure and slow down the flow of illegal drugs into America,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Justin Eaton in a statement. “It’s never an individual effort, but always a team effort, that make these cases so successful.”


Nine Missing After Mercosul Line Containership Collides with Tug and Barges on Amazon River

A containership operated by Brazilian shipping company Mercosul Line was involved in a serious collision with a tug pushing barges down the Amazon River on Wednesday, with nine people reported missing from the tug.

The head-on collision occurred around 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 2, near the town of Óbidos in Pará, Brazil, as the 210-meter MV MERCOSUL SANTOS was heading up river to the port of Manaus.

Nine of the eleven people on the tug are missing after the tug and some of the barges sank. A search and rescue operation continued throughout the day on Thursday.

The tug was reportedly pushing nine barges when the collision occurred.

Some video following the collision shows a barge embedded across the bow of the containership.

The 2,478 TEU Mercosul Santos is one of four vessels operated by Mercosul Line, a Maersk Group company operating in the Brazilian cabotage market.

In June, Maersk reached a binding agreement to sell Mercosul Line to French rival CMA CGM, although the deal is still subject to regulatory approval as well as the closing of Maersk’s acquisition of Hamburg Süd, which is anticipated in Q4 2017. As of now, MV Mercosul Santos is still listed on the website of Maersk Line.

Mercosul Line said it was investigating the accident.


Two Houston Ship Pilots to Receive IMO’s ‘Exceptional Bravery at Sea’ Award

The International Maritime Organization has awarded the 2017 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea to two Houston ship pilots for their role in preventing a major disaster when the ship they were piloting broke down and burst into flames in the Houston Ship Channel.

The Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is the IMO’s highest honor for bravery at sea.

The two pilots – Captains Michael McGee and Michael Phillips – are the first harbor pilots ever to be nominated and named recipients of the award. Remarkably, no lives were lost in the incident, and a major marine pollution incident was avoided through the pilots’ heroic efforts.

The incident occurred shortly after midnight on September 6, 2016, when Captain McGee and Captain Phillips were piloting the 247-meter MT Aframax River, unladen at the time, in the Houston Ship Channel. The size of the tanker meant it required two pilots.

As McGee was conning the vessel during undocking, the ship experienced sudden engine failure and struck two mooring dolphins. As a result of the contact, a port fuel tank was ruptured and diesel fuel spilled into the water, which quickly ignited. Within moments, the ship was engulfed in flames – reaching up to 60 to 90 meters high at times. The raging inferno quickly spread across the channel, threatening other tank ships and nearby waterfront facilities, and enveloped the area in thick toxic smoke.

A video of the inferno was captured by the crew of another vessel in the area:

Despite the danger, and at great risk to their own lives, both pilots remained at their stations on the bridge of the ship. Captain McGee managed to maneuver the stricken and blazing vessel away from surrounding ships and facilities. Meanwhile, Captain Phillips coordinated communications and firefighting efforts with the United States Coast Guard and numerous local fireboats. Captain Phillips rushed to grab a fire extinguisher and put out a fire raging on the port bridge wing.

At one point, as the water and the vessel were engulfed with flames and disaster seemingly imminent, Phillips turned to McGee and warned, “We are going to die.” But luckily that wasn’t the case.

The inferno was extinguished after about 90 minutes, leaving both pilots exhausted and suffering minor burns – but alive. Captain McGee, using tugs, was then able to bring the damaged tanker safely to a mooring facility.

In the end, and as a result of their courageous actions, no lives were lost, serious damage to pier structures and petro-chemical facilities was prevented, and a major marine pollution incident was avoided.

“This incident could have been much worse, but was mitigated due to the prompt and effective response of two Port of Houston Authority fire boats,” said Capt. Peter Martin, the Captain of the Port and commander of Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston, shortly following the accident.

In recognition of their heroic efforts, last February, the Rear Admiral David R. Callahan for the USCG 8th District presented Meritorious Public Service Awards to Captains McGee and Phillips for their actions in preventing a disaster on the busiest commercial shipping waterway in the United States.

“Capt. McGee has been a Houston Pilot for 18 years and Capt. Phillips for 24 years. They exemplify the quality of master mariners who comprise the Houston Pilots Association,” said Captain Robert Shearon, Presiding Officer of the Houston Pilot Commission. “We are very proud of them as well as of their achievements and contributions to state pilotage.”

Captain McGee and Captain Phillips were nominated for the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea by the International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA), and the Award was decided by a Panel of Judges and endorsed by the IMO Council at its 118th session in London last week.

Of a total of 33 nominations from 16 Member States and 5 non-governmental organizations, another three nominations will receive Certificates of Commendation, and five will receive Letters of Commendation.

The awards will be presented November 27 at a special IMO ceremony.


North Korean Submarine Activity “Highly Unusual”

North Korea’s submarine force has been unusually active after the “hermit kingdom’s” second ICBM test-launch, according to a U.S. defense source.

American officials told CNN that two older Romeo-class submarines were deployed off Japan for about a week each – further afield and longer at sea than normal – and an additional Sang-O class sub was in the Yellow Sea on a long deployment. The activity level was “highly unusual and unprecedented,” a defense official said.

CNN reports that the U.S. military has evidence that the North has recently conducted an “ejection test” of a cold-launch system for submarine-carried ballistic missiles. A cold-launch system uses steam to forcibly eject the missile from the launch tube and out of the water, preventing damage to the submarine from the ignition of the booster rocket. The test, conducted at Sinpo South Naval Shipyard, would be the fourth of its kind this year.

CSIS’ Nuclear Threat Initiative believes that North Korea has been developing submarine-launched missiles and associated systems since 2013, with much of the effort centered at Sinpo. The program includes a purpose-built submarine called the Gorae (or Sinpo or Pongdae), fitted with a ballistic missile launch tube. In 2016, the North conducted several submarine-launched ballistic missile tests with a solid-fuel rocket, the KN-11 / Pukkuksong-1, including a launch into Japan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

The unusual submarine activity follows shortly after North Korea’s second successful test of a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile. Japanese and American telemetry indicate that the ICBM achieved an altitude of 2,300 miles and a distance of 620 miles – enough for a maximum range of 6,500 miles, according to David Wright, a physicist and co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Global Security Program. Wright noted that when the Earth’s rotation is taken into account, this puts L.A., Denver and Chicago within range, with Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. just beyond reach. He added the caveat that the test missile’s payload is unknown, and that a heavier warhead would reduce its range. North Korean state media claimed that the entirety of the U.S. mainland is within the missile’s striking distance.

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters that “we will handle North Korea. We are gonna be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything.” On Twitter, he accused China of failing to address North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. “They do nothing for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!” he wrote.


Höegh Ro/Ro Saves Yachtsman in North Atlantic

On July 18, the Höegh-Wallem managed ro/ro Höegh Singapore successfully carried out a rescue operation in the mid-North Atlantic.

On July 17, the Singapore, a pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) manned by Höegh Fleet Services in China, was on her way from Halifax, Canada to Antwerp, Belgium when the team onboard heard a distress call about a sailing boat in trouble. The call came in at 0830 UTC from the Joint Rescue Centre in Halifax. The Master, Captain Wang Shao Ping, immediately ordered for the vessel to change course to assist.

After a full day of searching the area, the sailing boat in distress was finally spotted. At 0100 UTC, the yachtsman (a Canadian citizen) was successfully rescued and brought onboard the Singapore. The sailing boat had experienced a catastrophic failure of the rig, rendering it unable to continue its voyage and reducing its seaworthiness – a situation made even more dangerous by rough sea conditions on scene.

Major Mark Norris, the Commanding Officer of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center Halifax and a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, commended Captain Wang Shao Ping for his assistance. “I want to personally thank you for your quick and efficient response to our tasking. You were instrumental in saving the life of the sailor. You and your crew should be very proud of the service you provided,” Norris said.

After being brought safely onboard the Höegh Singapore, the Canadian citizen was transferred back to Halifax and has recovered well from his ordeal at sea.


Fishing Boat Captain Dives In to Rescue Crewmember

On Monday afternoon, the captain of a capsized fishing vessel jumped out of a boat and back into the water to save a member of his crew.

The small purse seine boat Grayling was fishing for salmon about 30 nm to the northwest of Kodiak, Alaska at the time of the accident. She began taking on water for unknown reasons, and she started to sink by the stern. Two other boats were nearby and responded to Grayling’s distress. The boat Calista Marie offered to use her skiff to tow the Grayling towards a nearby shore, but during the trip, the Grayling capsized with four crewmembers on board.

The Grayling’s captain, Christian Trosvig, and one other crewmember managed to get out and onto the Grayling’s seine skiff, and the Calista Marie picked up a third crewmember. The fourth fisherman was nowhere to be seen.

After about 20 minutes, the missing man came into view, and Trosvig jumped off the skiff and swam about 50 yards to reach him. Another boat came alongside and helped Trosvig pull the man out of the water. Seas were roughly five feet at the scene, with winds at about 15 knots. The water temperature was 47 degrees F.

A Coast Guard helicopter diverted from a training flight to assist, and its crew captured the moment on video. “It’s a testament to how tough those fishermen are and how far they will go to help their fellow Alaskans,” said pilot Lt. Kevin Riley in a statement.

After the rescue, Trosvig administered CPR to revive the victim. The Coast Guard later evacuated the man for treatment, and a spokesman said Tuesday that he survived.

In a brief post on Facebook Tuesday, Trosvig said that he had lost his twin brother to the sea, and he was not going to let it happen again. “To God be the glory for giving the courage and strength to get my man out of the water and bring him back to life,” he wrote.




11 Indian Crew Rescued of Sunken Ship

Eleven crew members of MV ITT Panther cargo ship were rescued after their ship sank some 200 nautical miles from Port Blair, on Thursday, July 20, India’s Defence Ministry said.

The crew managed to send a distress signal to the Coast Guard once their ship started listing beyond control only to capsize shortly after.

The high waves pushed some of the ship’s cargo into the sea, causing the ship to lose balance and sink taking the crew with it.

The Coast Guard dispatched an aircraft and an ICG ship to the scene where the crew was battling with rough seas and bad weather.

As informed, the seafarers managed to cling to some of the scattered containers in the water, before they scuttled to a life raft.

Coast Guard ship Rajkamal rescued the distressed crew members and took them to Port Blair.

The 1,214 freighter is owned by Indian Transport and Travel’s (ITT) shipping arm, ITT Shipping.

World Maritime News Staff


Russia Ordered to Pay $6m for Seizing Greenpeace Ship

The Permanent Court of Arbitration has ordered the Russian government to pay the Netherlands $6 million in damages for seizing a Dutch-flagged vessel in international waters. The panel had already ruled that Russia had violated UNCLOS when its agents boarded the ship without the permission of the flag state. Russia maintains that as the ship was within its EEZ, it was within its rights to act to defend its economic interests, even though the vessel was outside Russian territorial seas.

The vessel, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, was involved in a protest in September 2013 in which activists attempted to climb onto Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform in the Pechora Sea, about 30 nm off the Arctic coast of Siberia. The confrontation escalated, and Russian federal security officers boarded the Sunrise, seized the vessel and arrested 30 members of her crew. The activists were held until November, and the vessel was detained until the following June. Greenpeace said that she showed signs of damage when she was returned.

The court awarded the Netherlands compensation of $5.5 million for wrongful arrest and material damage, plus an additional $740,000 for costs incurred by the Dutch government. Greenpeace told Reuters that it expects that the Dutch government will pass on any funds paid in connection with the judgement.

“The Court’s ruling offers ships in international waters the guarantee that a country cannot board them and arrest their crew if it doesn’t have the right to do so,” said Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders at the time of the initial ruling. “And that also applies if the crew are exercising the right to protest.”

Russia is not a party to UNCLOS, and it boycotted the arbitration proceedings. It has already ignored orders to pay deposits in the case, and it could decide to ignore the outcome altogether, analysts say. It would not be the first nation to turn its back on the court: China has largely ignored last year’s Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling against its sweeping claims in the South China Sea.


Oil Leaking from Grounded Bulk Carrier in Mexico

Oil has been spotted in the water surrounding the grounded bulk carrier Los Llanitos in Punta Graham, Mexico, the country’s environmental agency PROFEPA said Thursday. 

Officials were in the area recently for a routine inspection of the ship when the sheen of oil was discovered in the waters surrounding the vessel.

The Los Llanitos ran aground along the rock coastline of Jalisco, Mexico on October 23, 2015 during Hurricane Patricia and began to break up. Damage to the vessel was so bad that officials determined that it was too risky to try to remove the ship from the coast, rather it would need to broken up on-site.

The operation to remove all oil and other pollutants from the ship was supposed to completed in May 2016.

PROFEPA said no oil has been observed on the beaches and coastline near the ship, but there is an ongoing concern that ship could break up even further as more storms hit the area.

The agency has ordered the responsible party to contain the oil that was most recently observed.

SOURCE: http://gcaptain.com/oil-leaking-from-grounded-bulk-carrier-in-mexico/


Nigerian Maritime Workers Strike Over Port Reforms

Two Nigerian maritime unions went on a brief “warning” strike on Tuesday over labor provisions in new federal legislation that would alter the existing Nigerian Ports Authority Act. Union leaders believe that if enacted, the National Assembly’s new Ports and Harbour Authority Bill would lead to job losses among their membership.

The protest was organized by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and the ports branch of the Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations. The unions had written to Nigeria’s National Assembly to protest the measures, and they decided to strike when they got no response. The six-hour walkout reportedly delayed drayage operations at Lagos and Tin-Can ports.

“We have carefully perused the bill and the existing Nigerian Ports Authority Act of 1955, as amended, and we cannot see any deficiency in the present NPA Act that warranted the bill, except for the latent intention of its promoters to corner for themselves harbour operations,” contended Felix Akingboye, secretary general of MWUN, in an interview with local media. “Harbour operations are a major revenue earner for the NPA and by extension, the federal government, without taking into consideration the security implications to the country and of course the job losses, as done during the concession exercise.”

Nigeria moved to a landlord port model in 2003 and signed concession agreements for 25 privately operated terminals nationwide, with lease terms ranging from 10-25 years. It also consolidated its major port complexes from eight locations down to six. The concessions took effect in 2006, and unions say that they resulted in the loss of 12,000 Nigerian Ports Authority jobs.

Akingboye warned that the bill provides no guarantee that its proposed new Ports and Harbour Authority would hire the current employees of the existing Nigerian Ports Authority. In addition, he objected to language that would give the new authority the right to employ workers without granting pensions.

SOURCE: http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/nigerian-maritime-workers-strike-over-port-reforms