News Archive - June 2003

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Still no refuge for vessels in distress: After the Prestige broke up off Spain's coast last November, Europe's Council of Ministers called on member states to draw up procedures and designate places of refuge for ships in distress. The Council asked states to deliver full details of their emergency planning procedures by July 1. The UK and Germany have submitted information, and Ireland has said they're sending the information. However, no information had yet been received from France or Spain about their plans, despite the oil that still fouls beaches in those countries. Clearly, there is a growing reluctance of states to take responsibility. See "Europe fails to set up havens for ships in distress," Carl Mortished, Times Online, 6/30/03.

Lester Rosenblatt, naval architect and marine engineer, dead at 83: Lester Rosenblatt died peacefully on June 15, 2003, at age 83. He co-founded M. Rosenblatt & Son with his father, Mandell, in 1947. It is now one of the largest naval architecture and marine engineering firms in the US. His son, Bruce, is now President of M. Rosenblatt & Son, an AMSEC LLC Group. Rosenblatt was very active in the marine industry. He was a life member of the Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers, and served as president of the organization from 1979-80. His many awards and honors include an honorary doctorate degree from the Webb Institute, SNAME's Vice Admiral 'Jerry' Land Medal, ASNE's Harold E. Saunders Award, and the University of Michigan's Sesquicentennial Award. A graduate of the University's Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Department, Rosenblatt was selected as the first recipient of the Department's annual award bearing his own name. The New York Times published a notice on June 16, 2003.

ABS initiates legal action against Spain over Prestige claims: ABS has initiated legal action against the Government of Spain, seeking recovery for any claims made against the classification society for damages arising from the Prestige casualty. Spain is seeking more than $700 million in damages in a suit filed against ABS for the pollution caused by the sinking of the tanker. In its filing ABS denies the allegations of fault that have been made by Spain and requests dismissal of the complaint. The ABS counterclaim alleges that the pollution that occurred can be attributed to the Spanish Government's failure to properly activate and implement an effective oil spill contingency plan as required by Spanish law. ABS also alleges that, by filing this lawsuit, the Spanish Government has acted in a manner that is contrary to its own Constitution and to the laws of the Kingdom of Spain. See the ABS press release, 6/30/03.

Japan will help Russia scrap old nuclear subs: Japan has pledged to give Russia $6.7 million to help scrap decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines, which are seen as both an environmental and a security threat. The Japanese funds will help dismantle 42 submarines being taken out of service over 18 months in the Sea of Japan. US funds currently used to maintain the Russian recycling facility are set to run out this year. Russia has decommissioned about 190 nuclear-powered submarines over the past 15 years but, according to officials, 90% of these are still languishing in dock for lack of funds. See "Japan to help Russia scrap subs," BBC News, 6/28/03.

Saint John Shipbuilding Ltd. closes: Canada's Irving family has closed Saint John Shipbuilding, the country's biggest shipyard, in Saint John, New Brunswick, because orders dried up and the facility couldn't compete with subsidized rivals abroad. The yard has been idle since April 2000. The Irvings, who have owned the shipyard since 1958, said they will spend C$10 million on severance packages for the current 600 employees. The Canadian federal government and the Irving family will contribute as much as C$110 million to find alternative uses for the yard. The move leaves Canada with only one shipyard - located in Levis, Quebec - capable of building ships to replace the aging fleet of the Canadian Navy. See "Canada's largest shipyard closes," Kevin Cox, The Globe and Mail, 6/27/03.

The Queen Mary 2: The Queen Mary 2, the largest and most expensive ocean liner ever built, is scheduled for its inaugural voyage to New York in April. It is being built for $800 million by the French shipbuilder Alstom Marine for Cunard Line, now a unit of Carnival Corporation. This is the first time construction of a Cunard flagship has gone to a non-British yard. Carnival is betting that the popularity of ocean cruises, particularly the trans-Atlantic runs between Southampton, England, and New York that will be the Queen Mary's specialty, will boom again when economies recover and the fear of possible terrorist attacks and diseases like SARS diminishes. Last year cruise lines ordered only four new vessels, and only two in 2001, compared with 13 at the height of the boom in 1999. See "Betting big on luxury," John Tagliabue, The New York Times at the International Herald Tribune, 6/27/03.

SS Norway leaves port: Norwegian Cruise Line towed the SS Norway out of the Port of Miami-Dade on June 27. No shipyard has been lined up to perform the repair work, but people speculate the ship will be taken to Europe. Luis A. Perez, lawyer for Winston Lewis, a former steward on the ship who was killed in the May 25 boiler room explosion, wanted maritime experts to inspect the ship before it left. But since Norwegian already had tugs ready to tow the vessel, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Leslie Rothenberg decided to let Perez inspect it at the first port of call. Norwegian must also leave everything onboard as it is. The National Transportation Safety Board has not reached any conclusions about what caused the blast. In a related dispute, lawyers for Norwegian Cruise Line last week filed motions to transfer 14 lawsuits brought by Filipino seamen to their homeland. See "Norway will leave port today," Dale K. DuPont, The Miami Herald, 6/27/03.

More security discussed for Hawaii: Members of Hawaii's maritime industry and state government discussed port security and defense strategies via teleconference with Rep. Neil Abercrombie on June 26. Among the topics was the suggestion that Hawaii's cruise ship passengers should undergo security screenings similar to those required of air travelers. The concern comes as Hawaii's cruise ship industry is experiencing its highest visitor numbers ever, yet cruise passengers are not screened individually before they leave or arrive in the islands. An experimental Florida system that screens passengers at airports and transports them to their cruise line's port without a security breach was discussed. Officials also expressed concern about the level of security for incoming cargo ships, since eighty percent of Hawaii's goods are imported, and 98.6 percent of those arrive by ship. See "Airport-style security checks urged for cruise passengers," Mary Vorsino, Associated Press at The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 6/27/03.

Baltic Sky crew held over explosives cargo: The Baltic Sky remains a mystery. The ship set sail from Tunisia carrying nearly 700 tons of explosives when it was stormed by special forces off Greece's western coast on Sunday. Sudan has criticized Greece for impounding the ship, saying the explosives - ammonium nitrates - were ordered by the Sudanese company Integrated Chemicals and Development Company, and were for civilian use. The captain of the ship, Anatoly Baltak, told the Greek court that he had acted on orders of the ship's owners and thought he was acting legally. The Baltic Sky recently had its Comoros registry and seaworthiness certificates revoked - further complicating the search. Investigators have had no luck finding the owner, identified by its captain as Christian McNulty of Ireland. See "Hunt for bomb ship's Irish owners stalled," online.ie, 6/26/03.

US, Panama and Chile prepare defense of Panama Canal: The United States, Panama and Chile will hold naval exercises in July and August in an attempt to combat possible terrorist threats to the Panama Canal, one of the world's busiest shipping routes. The exercises will help train participants for closer coordination of air, naval and land patrols. One "layer" of defense will include a multinational naval force operating in international waters that could monitor and interdict suspicious vessels. Security improvements to the canal have been under way since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Canal managers already interview the captains of every vessel entering or leaving the canal, and a computer tracking system will be operational next week to identify all ships before they reach the passage. See "U.S., Panama, Chile Ready Anti-Terror Defense of Panama Canal," Bloomberg.com, 6/25/03.

Genetically modified fish may harm ecology: The Korea Maritime Institute recently released a report stating that genetically modified fish could potentially upset the fragile ecological balance. The report warns that if man-made fish escape into the wild, they could breed with wild fish, leading to unintended genetic variation and disruption of evolutionary processes. Additionally, fish genetically modified to have tolerances against certain diseases could develop new types of diseases. The report also points out that the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, currently in charge of supervising genetically modified organisms for the country, are both in short supply of experts and budgets. Since modifying fish genes is much easier than, say, farm animals, the oversight provided by these agencies could prove important. See "Genetically modified fish threaten nature," Seo Ji-eun, The Korea Herald at Hoover's Online, 6/25/03.

Philadelphia shipyard hits Aker Kvaerner earnings: Citing higher than expected costs at its Philadelphia shipyard, Aker Kvaerner Group ASA of Norway said that its second-quarter operating results would be $57 million lower than expected. The announcement comes as the Philadelphia yard is completing the first ship built here in 31 years. The ship is scheduled to be christened on July 12. Gunnar Skjelbred, current president of the Philadelphia yard, cited weather and the devaluation of the dollar as cost factors. However, he stated "productivity on the second ship is already 30 percent better than on the first." See "Rough wave for shipyard," Henry J. Holcomb, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/25/03.

ABS President calls for class overhaul: ABS President and CEO Robert D. Somerville told delegates to the World Maritime Forum in St. Petersburg that if class is to remain relevant, it must remake itself for the modern world. Somerville highlighted the remarkable, and continuously improving safety record of the international shipping industry but conceded that, in the eyes of government and the public, the self regulatory approach no longer meets expectations. See the press release from ABS (6/25/03). The full speech, "Maritime Safety: Facing up to the New Realities," is also available (6/24/03).

What to do with beached whales: Under current rules in Japan, beached whales must be returned to the sea while they are still alive, and when they die their carcasses must be incinerated or buried. But a report produced by a Fisheries Ministry panel argues that these operations are costly, dangerous, and not always successful. Instead, the report suggests that if a rescue attempt on beached whales is deemed impossible, they should be processed into meat and raw materials for other products. Profits from selling the carcasses should be used by local governments to cover the costs, and DNA samples from the beached whales should be taken to prevent poachers from trying to disguise hunted whales as being beached. The move is certain to draw heavy criticism, particularly since the whales would have to be put down early to keep their meat edible. The International Whaling Commission has banned the commercial hunting of baleen whales, although Japan continues to hunt them for "scientific research." See "Japan panel recommends eating beached whales," Mainichi Interactive, 6/24/03.

Nato naval forces are hunting several suspected ships: Nato naval forces said on Monday they had tipped off Greece about the Baltic Sky, which was seized on Sunday by Greek special forces who discovered it was packed with explosives. Active Endeavour is a maritime anti-terror operation that began in October 2001 and covers the Mediterranean Sea. Lieutenant Commander Harvey Burwin, a spokesman for the operation, stated that there are about 20 vessels on their "suspect" list at any time. Some of their criteria include ships that have had frequent changes of flag and ownership. Some 30,000 ships have been monitored under Active Endeavor since its start, although there have only been a handful of boardings. Burwin said he could not say whether the Baltic Sky was on their "Contact of Interest" list, but organizations like Nato, the US Navy and national governments share information on suspect vessels. See "Nato says hunting 20 'suspect' ships on terror list," The New Zealand Herald, 6/24/03.

New Convention on Seafarers' Identity Documents adopted: The International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopted a new Convention on Seafarers' Identity Documents at its 91st annual conference last week. The convention replaces ILO Convention No. 108, adopted in 1958, and establishes a more rigorous identity regime for seafarers. A major feature of the new ID is a biometric template based on a fingerprint. The new Convention also covers shore leave, and transit and transfer of seafarers, including the exemption from holding a visa for seafarers taking shore leave. With the heightened concerns about port security since the 9/11 attacks, a new seafarers' identity document will be seen as a substantial contribution to international security. See "ILO adopts seafarer identity convention," Frank Kennedy, Gulf News Online, 6/23/03.

New shipyard proposed for Olympia: The Santa Maria Shipowning & Trading company, based in Santa Rosa, California, has signed a tentative ground lease with the Port of Olympia in Washington. If all goes well, Santa Maria would build a 40,000-square-foot metal structure next year, and employ up to 60 workers. However, the deal hinges on the company securing a loan from the US Maritime Administration. Port commissioners will discuss the proposal. See "Builder proposes Olympia shipyard," Local Digest, The Seattle Times, 6/23/03.

Rise in piracy sparks call for navy action: The latest figures from the London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reveal more than 100 attacks on merchant ships in the first three months this year - an 18% rise over the same period last year. In response, Numast, the UK marine officers' union, has asked for Royal Navy escorts in the more dangerous shipping lanes. The navy has in the past said a shortage of resources is preventing it sending ships on patrol. The IMB report states that 145 seafarers were killed, assaulted, kidnapped or missing in the first three months of this year in attacks by pirates. Guns were used in 22 incidents and knives in 39. See "Send warships to fight pirates, urges union," Owen Bowcott, The Guardian, 6/23/03.

New Lake Michigan high-speed ferry service set for 2004: David Lubar and Oyvind Solvang, principals at Milwaukee venture capital firm Lubar & Co., have worked for more than two years to establish a Lake Michigan ferry connecting Milwaukee and Muskegon, Michigan. Lubar and Solvang have raised $8.5 million for their Lake Express project, and have just received a loan guarantee from the US Maritime Administration. Lake Michigan Carferry Inc. already operates a ferry service between Manitowoc and Ludington, Michigan. This trip takes four hours each way. The Lake Express vessel, planned to start service in May 2004, will take about two hours and 20 minutes each way. See "High-speed ferry project to sail in May 2004," The Business Journal, 6/23/03.

Singapore officers charged with causing RSS Courageous collision: Four servicewomen were killed and eight officers injured when the Singapore Navy's RSS Courageous collided with the Dutch cargo ship ANL Indonesia off Malaysia's southern coast on January 1. It has been called the worst naval accident in Singapore's history. Two of the officers, including the watch officer, have been charged with causing the collision, although the exact charges have not been made public. The two are scheduled to appear in court on July 8. See "Singapore Files Charges in Ship Collision," Associated Press at Newsday.com, 6/20/03.

North Korean vessels don't pass inspection: Japanese transport minister Chikage Ogi said her ministry has inspected 78 North Korean vessels this year to see if their lifeboats, navigational charts and oil-spill prevention equipment were in proper order and in compliance with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. Inspectors found that 64 of the ships failed to meet the safety standards. Last year, the ministry inspected 40 North Korean vessels and found that 23 were ill-equipped and not up to safety standards. See "North Korea vessels not up to scratch," Tetsushi Kajimoto, The Japan Time, 6/18/03.

Shipping industry survey results released: Deloitte & Touche LLP and Marine Money magazine have surveyed 43 senior executives of international ship-owning companies. Findings suggest that the international shipping industry has boosted its overall security efforts in meeting international regulatory standards, but that two-thirds are still working on plans, with many holding off on completing security plans until new and more stringent United States security regulations are unveiled in July. Industry leaders say they are optimistic about the growth prospects for their businesses during the next fiscal year, despite the dismal global economic climate. See "Shipping Industry Increasing Security Efforts; Much More Work Needed," PRNewswire, 6/18/03.

Boeing team to demonstrate Operation Safe Commerce: The Boeing Company has been awarded a $4.2 million contract for the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach to demonstrate cargo container security systems for Operation Safe Commerce, a Department of Homeland Security initiative. The pilot program's objective is to accelerate development and deployment of emerging technology to monitor the movement and ensure the integrity of containers through the entire supply chain. The proposed system will integrate real-time, in-transit container information with existing and future networks and databases, reducing security vulnerability and cargo losses. See "Boeing Team Selected for Program to Boost Cargo Container Security," PRNewswire at StockHouse USA, 6/17/03.

Norwegian Cruise Line may transfer lawsuits: The May 25 explosion on Norwegian Cruise Line's SS Norway at the Port of Miami-Dade killed seven workers and injured 17; most were Filipinos. So far, 14 Norway crew members and their families have sued Norwegian in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. More suits are expected. The legal confrontation over the explosion - still under federal investigation - is likely to heat up because Norwegian and its parent company, Star Cruises, stand to lose millions of dollars at trial or in settlements if the Filipinos' suits are allowed to stay in Miami. The company is likely to try to transfer the lawsuits to the Philippines, where damage awards for seafarers are in the tens of thousands of dollars, not in the millions. Norwegian and other cruise lines have a unique relationship with the Philippine government - the government negotiates the seamen's employment contracts, which include a clause requiring that the Filipinos' injury claims be decided by arbitrators in their native country. See "Norwegian suits to Philippines?," Jay Weaver and Luisa Yanez, The Miami Herald, 6/17/03.

308,000 marine mammals die annually in fishermen's hauls: A new study conducted by American and Scottish biologists and published by the World Wildlife Fund, suggests that accidental captures, known as "bycatch" in the fishing industry, may be the biggest immediate threat to cetaceans - even more than ship collisions and pollution. Biologists analyzed cetacean deaths in 125 marine-mammal populations between 1990 and 1999. Most of the deaths occurred in US waters. To reach the worldwide estimates, the researchers multiplied the US statistics. They acknowledged their results were "very crude" but said mortality figures in more remote countries were not available. See "Scientists raise alarm over sea-mammal deaths," Joseph B. Verrengia, Associated Press at The Seattle Times, 6/16/03.

International Whaling Commission holds meeting: The International Whaling Commission opened its annual meeting Monday. The latest clash between pro-whaling nations and those pushing for more conservation involves a 31-page proposal to form a committee within the 50-nation IWC charged with "strengthening the conservation agenda." The measure calls, among other things, for working with global wildlife groups to better protect the marine mammals. Japan, a leading whaling nation, says the proposal focuses too much on conservation at the expense of attaining sustainable harvests, and has threatened a walkout if the measure passes. Japanese kill hundreds of whales annually under an IWC exemption for limited "research" hunts - which many consider to be commercial whaling in disguise. See "Global Whaling Meeting Opens With Clash," Geir Moulson, Associated Press at the Las Vegas Sun, 6/16/03.

IMO Maritime Safety Committee discusses 'goal-based' standards: A controversial proposal from Bahamas and Greece was discussed at the recent meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee. Sources indicated that the IMO Council would not be considering regulations specifying the amount of corrosion that steel should withstand, the quality of the materials used or the life expectancy of a ship. However, the United Nations agency would now consider developing rules stipulating objectives now also deemed the responsibility of naval architects and IACS. These could include minimum standards covering a ship's ability to withstand wind forces or wave heights. They might also include a minimum ship's life expectancy or set a minimum time limit for a vessel's ability to withstand corrosion. See "IMO backs controversial safety and security initiatives," Lloyds List at Hoover's Online, 6/16/03.

Massachusetts wants to zone the sea floor: Faced with pipes, phone lines, electrical cables, shipwrecks and the occasional unexploded bomb littering its coastal waters, Massachusetts is now considering zoning public waters. A 25-member task force will consider better controls over the state's marine waterways, and will produce a state ocean plan by the end of 2005. Concern over the growing number of competing ocean uses is taking hold around the country. Recently, the Pew Oceans Commission called for an overhaul of the nation's fragmented system for managing the seas, and a federal commission is expected to reach similar conclusions in the fall. However, these groups largely focus on marine waters 3 to 200 miles from shore that are under federal jurisdiction. The Massachusetts task force will concentrate on the coastal waters that stretch out 3 miles from shore. See "All not calm beneath offshore waves," Beth Daley, The Boston Globe, 6/15/03.

Controversy over pay on British ships: David Jamieson, Britain's shipping minister, has been pushing regulations through Parliament that would pay foreign seafarers much lower wages than British workers. Many MPs have protested the move, which amounts to reneging on a decade-old Labour pledge by John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, to give foreign seafarers the same pay as British workers. Mr. Jamieson made several statement supporting the fairness of his proposals, but most of them were immediately refuted by other MPs. See "Anger at go-ahead for 'slave pay' on ferries and liners," David Hencke and Rob Evans, The Guardian, 6/14/03.

US Container Security Initiative expands to Middle East: The Container Security Initiative, begun in January 2002 under the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, first focused on the world's top 20 ports, and signed agreements with 19 of them to allow US agents to work at their facilities. The top 20 ports account for about two-thirds of all cargo containers shipped to the United States. The Initiative will now be expanded to other ports that ship substantial amounts of cargo to the US, such as areas of the Middle East, including Dubai, Turkey and Malaysia. The US is also coordinating agreements with Sri Lanka, as well as key ports in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. US agents do not have the power to enforce laws on foreign soil, instead they help target potential threats. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has also announced $170 million in port security grants and $58 million in funding for a pilot program to analyze security procedures. See "U.S. Customs Agents Will Search Cargo in Middle Eastern Ports," The Washington Times at Hoover's Online, 6/13/03.

State of Hawaii gets security funding: The state of Hawaii, along with four companies (Tesoro Hawaii Corp., Matson Navigation Co., The Gas Co., and Chevron Products Co., Hawaii Refinery), will receive federal funds totaling more than $7 million to help fight potential terrorist threats at local ports. The grants will address different areas of port security, including physical upgrades such as barriers, security systems and training programs. Others receiving awards include: the New York City Department of Transportation, $7 million; the port of San Francisco, $3.4 million; and the Alaska Department of Transportation, $2.2 million. See "$7 million for safer ports," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 6/13/03.

Delaware River port system gets security funding: Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced a number of grants designed to shore up defenses at the nation's 361 ports during a trip to Port Elizabeth, New Jersey. Ridge stated that "The protection of our ports - and the thousands of cargo containers that flow through them each day - is a critical focus area." The Delaware River port system is among the higher-risk ports because of the large concentration of oil and chemical tankers that use it. The local maritime industry has struggled to finance improvements in security, so the $12.3 million in federal funding targeted for the area will be welcomed. See "Security funds flow to Delaware River," Jennifer Lin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/13/03.

Cruise lines fear bond hikes: The Federal Maritime Commission currently requires cruise lines to carry a maximum $15 million bond if their ships have more than 50 berths and leave from a US port. The ceiling was raised from $10 million to $15 million in 1991. However, a new proposal would eliminate the ceiling and require a bond based on advance deposits. The cruise lines have called the change a potentially huge financial burden and wonder if they can even get such bonds in the post-9/11 era. The Commission is expected to make a recommendation later this year. See "Cruise lines fight possible bond hikes," Dale K. DuPont, The Miami Herald, 6/12/03.

Ports still underfunded, despite boost for Charleston: The Port of Charleston will get a $1.7 million grant for security from the Homeland Security Department. Criticizing the White House, US Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings has said that port security remains dramatically underfunded, despite the grant. The grant is only a small portion of the $170 million that was included in fiscal year 2003 appropriations legislation for port security. See "Hollings announces port security money for Charleston," Associated Press at The State.com, 6/10/03.

Clues about the Norway explosion: "Significant material failure" has been found in the water wall header of the Norway's boiler system, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, although the cause of last month's explosion is still unknown. Engineers are still collecting evidence from the boiler and the engine room, and the debris is undergoing numerous tests. See "Norway inquiry yields big clue to blast," Lisa Arthur and Curtis Morgan, The Miami Herald, 6/10/03. See also the NTSB Advisory "Update on NTSB Investigation into Norway cruise ship boiler explosion in Miami, Florida," 6/9/03.

Seafarers in Canada face new security measures: As of Wednesday, June 11, 2003, international seafarers traveling to Canada to join ships as crew members will require a valid passport for entry as well as a seafarer's identity document. They will also require a temporary resident visa, unless they are citizens of a country that is exempt from the requirement. A 48-hour grace period ending at 23:59 EDT on Thursday, June 12, 2003, will be given to accommodate seafarers who are in transit. The idea behind the temporary resident visa is to improve security and ensure visitors aren't trying to get into the country illegally. See "Seafarers face security measures," CNews, 6/9/03.

Russia doesn't heed warnings about single-hulled tankers: People worldwide have demanded that the Russians use safer, double-hulled vessels and better-trained crews when they transport oil in the Baltic sea, but so far their pleas have been ignored. Finnish prime minister Anneli Jaatteenmaki, particularly worried about the narrow Gulf of Finland, even took the opportunity of St Petersburg's 300th anniversary celebrations last week to warn President Putin of the dangers Russia's oil traffic was posing to its Baltic neighbors. The EU has insisted on the use of double-hulled tankers by 2010, but the Russians say they do not have to do anything until the IMO's date of 2015. The Russians canceled a visit to St Petersburg last Thursday, possibly because the government feared criticism of its oil transport policies. See "Putin warned over tanker threat to Baltic," Paul Brown, The Guardian, 6/7/03.

Ship owners say EU tanker ban may harm consumers: Under the EU's new laws, single-hulled tankers carrying heavy crude oil or fuel oil will be banned from European waters altogether, while any single-hulled tanker will only be able to operate up to 23 years of age and no later than 2005. Peter Swift, managing director of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko), has stated that the move will create "higher costs for oil companies and consumers alike." He also fears there might not be sufficient double-hulled oil tankers in Europe to replace the barred single-hulled fleet. See "Shipowners say tanker ban by EU will hit consumers," Reuters at Gulf News Online, 6/7/03.

Marine fuel sulfur content to be limited: The European Parliament has voted for a 1.5 percent limit on marine fuel sulfur content, with a limit of 0.5 percent to take effect two years later. These limits go beyond proposals suggested by the European Commission. The current marine fuel sulfur content is around 2.7 percent. The limits would apply to shipping registered anywhere in the world and regardless of their originating port. The parliament's position could well spark conflict with EU ministers, and if confirmed in law then with major flag states at the International Maritime Organization. See "European Parliament Backs Tough Marine Sulfur Rule," Environment News Service, 6/6/03.

Title XI program criticized: The Title XI program, which assists private companies in getting loans to build commercial ships, has been criticized by the Department of Transportation and the General Accounting Office. Since 1998, the US Maritime Administration has had to pay $402 million on defaulted loans. The Bush administration has proposed killing the program, but US shipbuilders say they cannot compete with heavily subsidized foreign companies for commercial work without federal assistance. See "DOT and GAO criticize shipbuilding loans," David Lerman, The Daily Press, 6/6/03.

Shipbreakers gain small victory: American/Norwegian ship owner Stolt Nielsen, which has sent contaminated ships to India to be scrapped in the past, has committed to ensuring that one ship slated for demolition will only be sent when the vessel has been properly decontaminated of hazardous substances. The vessel, the Stolt Sincerity, will be the focus of a study and report to Greenpeace, the International Maritime Organization, and other shipping organizations, investigating pollution and health threats associated with the breaking of ships. The IMO is committed to adopting guidelines on ship recycling by the end of this year, but the proposed moratorium on exporting ships for scrap has seen setbacks - especially with the United States planning to back out of it. See "Light at the end of a toxic tunnel in Alang," The Economic Times at Hoover's Online, 6/6/03.

Joint fishing zone suggested for North and South Korea: With the blue crab season coming up during this spring season, a group of non-governmental organizations including the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy has urged South and North Korea to establish a joint fishing zone along the Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea. It is hoped that this will avoid possible clashes among fishermen between the two Koreas. See "North, South Korea urged to set up joint fishing zone along maritime border," BBC Monitoring International Reports at Hoover's Online, 6/5/03.

ExxonMobil exempted from Indonesian ban: Acehnese waters have been closed to all maritime traffic sailing under foreign flags since May 30. The reason behind the decision was not stated, but the Indonesian government has long suspected Acehnese rebels of smuggling weapons from Thailand and Malaysia. However, ships belonging to energy companies in Aceh - including ExxonMobil and PT Arun NGL - were not affected by the policy. Indonesian authorities have stated that while warnings would be given, even without warnings it would be legal to sink a vessel that violated the proclamation. See "ExxonMobil exempted from Indonesian foreign ship decree," Eric Watkins, Oil & Gas Journal, 6/4/03.

Oil slick approaches Sweden: The Chinese freighter Fu Shan Hai collided with the Cyprus-registered Gdynia May 31 in the Baltic Sea, and sank. The Chinese ship's 27 crew members were rescued, and there were no injuries on the Gdynia. The Fu Shan Hai leaked more than 55,270 gallons of diesel oil as it sank. While recovery ships were able to collect much of the oil, the remaining 16,500 gallons could wash up on Sweden's southern coast and its beaches. An oil slick currently covers about 15 square miles. As many as 160,000 vessels sail through Danish straits annually, on the main route for sailing between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. See "Oil From Sunken Ship Approaches Sweden," Tommy Grandell, Associated Press at Yahoo! News, 6/2/03.

Ocean polluters targeted: According to the US Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Portland, Oregon, operators of the motor vessel Grumant will plead guilty to a single felony count for violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Grumant's operator, Ukraine-based Grid Odessa Ltd., will pay a fine of $275,000 and be placed on probation. The ship is number 13 in a string of vessels charged in the past 14 months under the pollution act. See "Local Coast Guard officials crack down on polluters," Shelly Strom, The Business Journal, 6/2/03.

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