News Archive - August 2003

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Russian nuclear submarine sinks: Russia's defense minister blamed the sinking of a derelict nuclear submarine on a national trait of carelessness and ordered a temporary halt Sunday to the towing of decommissioned subs. The announcement raised the prospect of further delays in efforts to dispose of more than 100 rotting ships and their reactors, which have been a concern to environmentalists. The K-159 submarine sank Saturday in the Barents Sea as it was being towed to an Arctic scrapyard where its reactors were to be removed and dismantled. Nine of the 10 sailors aboard died. See "Russian nuclear submarine sinks," Richard Balmforth, Reuters at Financial Times, 8/30/03.

Canada uses surface-wave radar system: Canada has started using a unique surface-wave radar system to monitor its coasts. Unlike traditional radar technology, which is limited to relatively short distances and lines of sight, this new system uses the ocean's salty surface as an electronic conduit, and can reach to the very edge of Canada's 200-nautical-mile economic zone. The system is already being used to track threatening icebergs for the operators of the Hibernia oil rig. The system can also be used to track potential drug smugglers, illegal immigrant traffickers, foreign fishing vessels, and terrorists. See "New radar system guards against smugglers, icebergs on Canada's coasts," Dean Beeby, Canadian Press at Canada.com, 8/30/03.

Suspected fish poacher caught: Armed guards have begun escorting the Uruguayan fishing trawler Viarsa back to Australia after a 21-day chase. The crew of the vessel is suspected of poaching the highly prized Patagonian Toothfish in a remote Australian fishing zone and was finally stopped after help from South Africa and Britain. In a strongly worded statement, the Uruguayan government demanded that a scientific observer on board be released at the nearest port. Meanwhile, officials are trying to track down the owners, Navalmar SA. Australian Fisheries Minister Ian Macdonald has suggested the Viarsa is part of an organized fishing ring. See "With the chase over, toothfish trail leads to Spain," Andrew Darby, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8/30/03.

Navy investigates NMCI computer virus: The Naval Network Warfare Command is currently investigating how the "Welchia" worm managed to infect the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. Apparently, the worm was passed to NMCI hours before the updated antivirus signatures to detect and repel the worm became available. Once the worm was discovered, the Navy responded adequately to the emergency. The investigation will focus on what happened before Welchia struck, and should provide a learning experience, to minimize similar incidents in the future. The protection of the Navy's networks will continue to be a priority as the nation's defense base becomes more reliant on networks. See "Navy investigates NMCI's Welchia outbreak," Matthew French, Federal Computer Week, 8/29/03.

Baltic nations sign environmental pact: Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have agreed to improve maritime safety in the Baltic Sea and designate marine protected areas to preserve biological diversity. The countries also promised "special attention" to harmonizing environmental laws between the European Union and Russia. See "Baltic Sea Nations Sign Environment Pact," Associated Press at Yahoo! News, 8/29/03.

Internet options at sea: More and faster Internet options are starting to become available to mariners, thanks to some emerging high-speed wireless services. One such company, Wheat Wireless Services of Reston, Virginia, has begun selling a tweaked version of Wi-Fi Internet access that can broadcast signals 30 miles out to sea. The service requires radio towers up to 300 feet tall atop coastal buildings, and a receiver on the boat. It costs $7,500 for installation and another $500 a month. The service is less expensive than satellite access, and provides much higher bandwith. Although physical barriers like mountains and buildings would cause interruptions on land, the service could also be useful in rural areas where broadband Internet access is hard to find. See "Wi-Fi Sails the High Seas," Elisa Batista, Wired News, 8/29/03.

Cruise lines are responsible for the doctors they hire: The Third District Court of Appeals has recently made several decisions in suits regarding medical care that extend cruise lines' liability. Cruise lines aren't required by law to have doctors on board, but since cruises are the equivalent of taking a small city away from the traditional land-based medical infrastructure for days at a time, a doctor's presence is necessary. A 1988 case determined that cruise lines were not responsible for a doctor's negligence, since the lines don't have the expertise to control a doctor in the practice of medicine. But the appeals court this week found that since passengers have no other choice than to visit the ship's doctor, the cruise line is liable. The same court decided last week that ships are subject to the laws of the ports they visit — the case involved a doctor trying use a ship's foreign registry to shield himself from malpractice claims. See "Cruise lines liable for MDs," Dale K. DuPont, The Miami Herald, 8/28/03.

China's economy boosts shipping lines: Shipping lines around the world are enjoying one of their most profitable booms ever, and they have the rapid expansion of the Chinese economy to thank for it. China is importing huge and growing quantities of oil, iron ore, coal and other bulky raw materials from the Persian Gulf, Australia, Brazil and Canada, and exporting rising quantities of finished goods to American and European markets. The growth of the Asian shipping market is also changing the ownership of the global fleet of freighters and tankers; Asian shipping lines now own 40 percent of the world's fleet. Still, at a time of rising trade friction between China and the United States, the newfound prosperity of ship lines illustrates how a big global industry can become dependent on the Chinese economy in just a few years. See "China's Growth Creates a Boom for Cargo Ships," Keith Bradsher, The New York Times, 8/28/03.

US Navy's use of sonar is limited: For more than a year, the US Navy and environmentalists have been in close combat over sonar and its effect on marine mammals. The Navy says it needs a wide berth to test its controversial, ultra-loud, low-frequency sonar system. The Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC, and other green groups counter that the military has to be more mindful of whales and other marine mammals when it runs the tests. A federal judge on Tuesday limited the Navy's use of the low-frequency sonar to areas with few marine mammals and endangered species — except during wartime. The Navy can still appeal. See "Judge Limits Navy's Use Of Sonar," Associated Press at CBS News, 8/27/03.

Scotland bids to become a major European container port: There has been an increasing tendency to use huge ships to transport containers across oceans, transferring them to smaller ships for the final part of the journey to the destination ports. This form of trans-shipment represents 22 per cent of all container movements and is expected to rise to 50 per cent by 2010, because ships are getting larger and calling at fewer ports. Both Scapa Flow, in Orkney, and Hunterston, in Ayrshire, are hoping to become one of the biggest container ports in Europe. While all involved would like to transform the Northern Isles into an important maritime base, the fact that both sites are putting in bids will likely create some political feuds. See "Orkney bids to be container capital," Hamish MacDonell, The Scotsman, 8/27/03.

Bad weather hampers arrest of fish poacher: Efforts to arrest the long-line trawler Viarsa, believed to be carrying Patagonian toothfish, have so far been hampered by dangerous weather. Ships of three nations have closed in on the suspected Uruguayan poacher in the South Atlantic after a marathon chase through mountainous sub-Antarctic seas, Australian fisheries authorities said on Wednesday. Australia's longest maritime pursuit began after the Viarsa was spotted fishing for the increasingly rare toothfish in Australian waters of the Southern Ocean on August 7. See "African tug catches toothfish boat," The Australian, 8/27/03.

Whangarei Harbour won't get offshore oil terminal: Partly in response to two recent oil tanker accidents in the Whangarei Harbour, marine conservation expert Wade Doak suggested creating an offshore terminal, to avoid bringing supertankers into shallow water. However, Thomas Zengerly, general manager of the Marsden Pt oil refinery, has stated that building an offshore oil terminal would be too expensive. See "Marsden Pt offshore terminal scotched," New Zealand News, 8/26/03.

Tasman Spirit oil spill devastating: The Tasman Spirit, stranded off the coast of Karachi, split on Friday, adding to the oil spill. Authorities have maintained that the damage was minor in nature and people should stop worrying, as the worst was over. However, residents of nearby beaches have been complaining of worsening conditions. A resident said that people were having health problems and suffering from nausea, dizziness, indigestion and vomiting, among other complaints. Salvage workers anticipate emptying the ship of oil in another week or so, depending on the weather, and that it would be improper to start beach-cleaning efforts until the oil spilled already stopped reaching the beach. Some maritime experts have claimed the disaster took place only because officials had failed to dispatch an experienced pilot for the loaded oil tanker. See "Beach-cleaning drive not likely this week," DAWN, 8/26/03.

More details on Sealand grounding released: According to South African Maritime Safety Authority operations manager Captain Bill Dernier, watch officers on the United States-flagged container ship Sealand Express had a "lack of appreciation" of the bay's notorious storms. The vessel started dragging her anchor several hours before she went aground. Despite several warning calls, the first officer did not sense any urgency, and made a mistake. Salvors are hoping to pump fuel oil out of the ship, refloat the stranded ship, or remove the toxic cargo from the ship by helicopter. All activities will depend on favorable weather conditions. See "'Sealand's grounding was a horrible mistake'," Henri du Plessis, Cape Argus at IOL, 8/26/03.

Exxon wins appeal of $4 billion Valdez award: Exxon Mobil said a US appeals court has vacated a $4 billion punitive damage award against the company from the 1989 oil spill by the tanker Exxon Valdez in Alaska. A US District Court of Appeals ordered the trial court in Anchorage to reconsider the damage award. The federal court last year reduced punitive damages to $4 billion from $5 billion after the original award was vacated on appeal. Exxon Mobil spent $2.2 billion on the cleanup of Alaska's Prince William Sound after the Valdez spilled almost 11 million of gallons of oil 14 years ago. See "U.S. court orders $4 bln Valdez award reviewed," David Brinkerhoff, Reuters at Yahoo Finance, 8/22/03.

Mass fish kill in Rhode Island: Rhode Island's governor ordered an investigation into a mass fish kill that apparently was caused by low levels of oxygen in Greenwich Bay. Tens of thousands of dead fish were found along the shoreline. Environmental officials said oxygen levels had dropped to deadly levels because of an abundance of algae, which feeds off pollutants that run into the bay. Heavy rainfall has accelerated the runoff, and the recent hot weather and calm waters contributed to the algae bloom that choked the fish. Officials said the fish kill calls attention to the need to better control water pollution, specifically excessive nutrient inputs associated with sewage treatment plants and storm water runoff. See "R.I. Gov. Orders Probe Into Fish Kill," Associated Press at Newsday.com, 8/22/03.

Stranded Sealand a potential disaster: The stranded Sealand Express will be a fixture off the Milnerton beachfront for the next week, and possibly longer. A third attempt to shift the ship has failed. The operation to remove the fuel oil — a top priority — will take several days, and will depend on the weather. Once the fuel is removed salvage teams will attempt to refloat the ship again. If that is unsuccessful, then the containers will have to be removed; this will be very difficult, since the ship doesn't have an on-board crane. One of the containers on board is already leaking propyl acetate — a highly flammable and volatile substance. In addition, the ship is carrying 50 tons of uranium ore concentrate in "special containers." Additional containers are holding flammables, poisons, and fireworks. See "Ship: On brink of disaster," Carel van Dyk and Marenet Jordaan, News24, 8/21/03.

Navy purchase cards attacked: Defense Department officials have announced that a system containing data for about 13,000 of the Navy's purchase cards have been hacked. In response, the Navy canceled all their purchase card accounts. The DoD's purchase cards have been the targets of fraud and abuse for years; the General Accounting Office has called the Navy's purchase card program particularly weak. Officials don't know how the hackers accessed the numbers this week, or whether any money was spent before the theft was discovered. Two different investigations have been started. See "Navy purchase cards hacked," Matthew French, Federal Computer Week, 8/21/03.

Assessment committee to submit report on Tasman Spirit: Asif Shuja Khan, the Director General of the Federal Environment Protection Authority (EPA), has directed a 15-member committee, formed to assess the impact of oil spill from MT Tasman Spirit on coastal ecosystem, to submit its report within 10 days. The committee, which will have its second meeting on August 27, is required to assess the extent of damage caused to the marine life, mangrove forests and coastal ecosystem, as well as coming up with suggestions for the rehabilitation and restoration of environment affected by the oil spill. Meanwhile, Pakistan has lodged a formal complaint with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) claiming damages from the tanker's owner. The complaint calls for an initial payment of $200,000; the authorities would submit the final claim after "full assessment" of the losses. See "EPA assessment committee directed to submit report in 10 days," The News, 8/21/03.

Sealand Express grounded in Table Bay: The Sealand Express, being chartered by Maersk Line, was driven ashore in stormy weather in Table Bay early on Tuesday morning. Apparently the ship ignored repeated warnings from the Cape Town port authority that it was heading into trouble. No crew members were injured. There were 1,037 containers on board; over 30 of the containers are reported to contain hazardous materials, including industrial chemicals. Attempts have been made to refloat the vessel, and to tow it off the beach. Meanwhile, authorities are on standby to combat any oil spill from the ship (it is carrying 3,700 tons of fuel oil), and they are worried that removing the containers will be difficult. See "Agencies on standby for Sealand oil spill," Independent online, 8/20/03.

Cruise ship travel up: The US Maritime Administration says cruise ships are sailing much fuller this year than last on their North American routes. The report states that the top 10 cruise lines carried 2 million passengers on 932 North American cruises in the second quarter of 2003, an increase of 7 percent from the same time last year. The first two quarters taken together showed traffic 9 percent better than the first six months of 2002. See the MarAd press release "Cruise Passenger Travel Increases by 7 Percent," 8/20/03.

Iceland makes first kill in new whale hunt: Iceland, which quit whaling 14 years ago due to international pressure, killed a minke whale Monday as part of what authorities described as scientific research. Commercial whaling has been outlawed worldwide since 1986 because many whale species are endangered. But Iceland received hunting permits on Friday, primarily to study the whales' impact on fish stocks. About 43,000 minke whales are estimated to live in Icelandic waters, eating 2 million tons of fish and krill every year. Environmentalists fear that Iceland's return to whaling, which will continue after this first kill, will lead to resumed commercial whale hunting. See "Protests fail to stop whale hunt," Reuters at CNN.com, 8/19/03.

Navy Marine Corps Intranet hit by computer virus: The Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) is an enterprise wide network designed to connect everyone in the Navy and Marine Corps on a single, secure network. Since users started being moved to the system in 2001, almost 97,000 seats have been shifted from legacy systems. Until now, NMCI officials have always said that their network has never been successfully attacked by a virus. For example, last week's "Blaster" worm affected some legacy systems, but no system moved to the NMCI had been affected. That all changed today, when a so-called "good Samaritan" worm got inside the NMCI network. This worm roots through networks looking for the Blaster worm, removes it and fixes it by automatically downloading the Microsoft patch — this happens at the expense of processing speed and bandwidth. Although the NMCI system experienced severe connectivity problems, the network did not fully crash. See "Virus hits Navy Marine Corps Intranet," Matthew French, Federal Computer Week, 8/19/03.

Search for Patagonian toothfish: In one of the most dangerous and lengthy maritime pursuits in years, the Uruguayan fishing vessel Viarsa, which has ignored repeated radio orders, has been hunted for more than 1,000 miles by the Australian customs ship Southern Supporter. South Africa has now joined the hunt; a good sign that the international community is trying to crack down on illegal fishing. The Viarsa is believed to have illegally poached millions of pounds worth of rare Patagonian toothfish in remote Australian waters. Also known as the Chilean sea bass, Chilean grouper, Black hake, mero, and — because of its price — white gold, the Patagonian toothfish could be commercially extinct in two to four years because of overfishing. Conservationists believe that up to 80% is now caught illegally. See "Southern ocean hunt for ship with cargo of endangered toothfish," John Vidal, The Guardian, 8/19/03.

California considers strict protections from cruise ship pollution: Cruise ships are exempt from many provisions of the federal Clean Water Act. Gray water and treated sewage can be discharged in all but a few places set off-limits, and raw sewage can be dumped anywhere, as long as it is three miles from shore. The cruise ship industry says more specific protective measures should be left to informal no-discharge agreements between cruise lines and local authorities. But this position has been undercut by events that unfolded earlier this year in Monterey, when the Crystal Harmony dumped 36,400 gallons of wastewater into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Although the incident, which occurred 14 miles offshore, was technically legal, it has propelled California lawmakers to promote three bills that would ban all cruise ship discharges within three miles of the state's coastline. If adopted, the legislation would be the toughest law of its kind in the nation. See "Cruise Line Pollution Prompts Legislation," Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times, 8/18/03.

The search for sunken treasure: Salvage company Odyssey Marine Exploration has searched 12 years over 1,500 square miles of ocean. Their efforts may have paid off — they think they have found the SS Republic. The Republic sank during a hurricane in 1865 as it was heading for New Orleans from New York with 59 passengers and 20,000 gold coins on board. The money was for the reconstruction of the defeated Confederacy. The wreck may yield the richest treasure ever salvaged from a sunken vessel. Excavation of the site with remotely operated robotic equipment is due to begin next month. See "Paddle steamer haul could be worth over £100m," Owen Bowcott, The Guardian, 8/18/03.

Odyssey Marine Exploration is also working with the British government to excavate the wreck of HMS Sussex, which sank in 1694 off Gibraltar while leading a British fleet into the Mediterranean. The warship was carrying a treasure of silver and gold intended to bribe the Duke of Savoy, and keep him allied with England in its war against Louis XIV. The treasure may be worth as much as $4 billion. The wreck is some 2,500 feet beneath the ocean's surface, so the salvage company will use an ROV to try to get it. Jeffrey M. O'Brien's in-depth article "The Bounty Hunter" explores how technology is opening new profit-making opportunities in ocean exploration (Wired Magazine, Issue 11.09, September 2003).

Oil pumped out of Tasman Spirit: The Tasman Spirit, stranded near Karachi, has a split hull, broken generators, and is leaking oil. Crews have started pumping oil out of the tanker, but strong winds and rough seas have hampered efforts. Draining all the crude oil could take eight to ten days. Oil has already polluted beaches in Karachi. Clifton Beach, for example, is littered with dead and oil-coated fish, crabs and shrimp. Workers are on the beach trying to clean it up. See "Oil pumped out of leaking ship," The Guardian Unlimited, 8/18/03.

Ray Yagle, naval architect and marine engineer, dead at 79: Professor Raymond A. Yagle died on August 17, 2003, at age 79. He earned BSE and MSE degrees in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1944 and 1947. After serving in the US Navy, he returned to the University in 1950 as a Lecturer in the Engineering Research Institute. In 1955 he was appointed Assistant Professor in the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Department. There he centered his efforts on teaching courses in ship structures, a field in which he quickly established an international reputation. He also did pioneering work in computer-assisted design, as well as in ocean engineering. Ray was named a Fellow of the Society of Naval Architects & Marine Engineers. He was greatly appreciated and admired as an academic advisor to undergraduate students. He retired from the University with the rank of Professor Emeritus in 1994.

Harland & Wolff shipyard to be developed: The Harland & Wolff shipyard, builder of the Titanic, will be transformed into the Titanic Quarter — a modern, bustling commercial and residential "town." Said to be one of the most impressive waterfront developments in Europe, the construction will take some 20 years, and will create about 20,000 new jobs in that area of east Belfast. Most of the 185 acre site will be changed, but the shipyard's original offices will be restored. See "20,000 jobs hope for east Belfast," The Belfast Telegraph, 8/17/03.

Ship-to-ship transfers of crude oil questioned: Lyme Bay has been used for ship-to-ship transfers for some time, but in the past they were occasional transfers of less persistent pollutants, or in response to emergency situations. However, in the last two months, there have been two transfers of crude oil: each operation involved up to two million barrels and took up to two weeks, with up to eight smaller tankers loading a large vessel. The oil is similar to that in the 1999 Erika and 2002 Prestige disasters. Regulations governing the area are still in draft form after five years of discussion, so the Devon County Council is raising concerns with the government. Much of the Devon coastline is already protected under World Heritage Site status. The council is now asking for the coast to be recognized as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas and a national Marine Environmental High Risk Area. See "Call for clampdown on tankers," BBC News, 8/17/03.

Monument to Kursk sailors: An explosion shook the Russian Kursk submarine on August 12, 2000. All 118 men on board were killed. On the disaster's third anniversary, friends and relatives of the sailors gathered at a St. Petersburg cemetery to unveil a monument to the men. Made of a black granite cube carved with waves, the monument is topped with a storm petrel. It is inscribed with the words "Don't despair!" - a quote from a letter written by Lieut. Dmitry Kolesnikov after the explosion while many of the sailors were still alive and waiting for a rescue that did not come. Not everyone is satisfied with the official investigation into the disaster, or with the response to it. See "Monument to Kursk sailors unveiled," Associated Press at CNEWS, 8/16/03.

Oil spill off Karachi: The Greek-registered Tasman Spirit ran aground off the southern port city of Karachi on July 28, and started spilling crude oil extensively this week. 12,000 metric tons of oil have already spilled into the Arabian Sea, and another 35,000 tons are still on board. About 20,000 tons of oil have been removed from the ship. Pakistani authorities have tried to play down fears of extensive damage, but environmentalists have questioned whether the Karachi Port Trust and the relevant safety organizations have enough booms and pumping equipment for the job. See "Pakistan tackles huge oil spill," BBC News, 8/15/03.

Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard lays off workers: The Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard laid off 20 personnel in nonproduction areas of its operation. It attributed most layoffs to the transition from the start-up phase, now that it is preparing to deliver its first ship, to normal operations. "While we are confident that orders for a series of additional vessels will occur, we cannot continue to support a larger-than-necessary workforce until these orders are firm," Gunnar Skjelbred, president of the yard, wrote in a letter to employees. The yard is preparing to deliver its first ship, and is working on its second, both ordered by Matson Navigation Co., of San Francisco. Work has started on a third ship, even though no firm order has been placed. See "Business news in brief," The Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/15/03.

More pirate attacks: Proof that there are still problems in one of the world's busiest sea lanes comes from two pirate attacks in the last week in the Strait of Malacca. Three people from one of the ships are still being held hostage. Because both incidents appear to involve pirates operating from bases on the Indonesian side of the strait, the International Maritime Bureau's regional piracy center in Kuala Lumpur has urged vessels passing through the strait to stay close to the Malaysian side of the waterway. See "New wave of piracy hits Asian sea lanes," Keith Bradsher, The New York Times at the International Herald Tribune, 8/14/03.

Arctic ice cap is melting: Observations of the Arctic by satellite show that the polar ice cap has shrunk significantly over the last 20 years. The ice cap has shrunk by about 3-4 percent per decade since the area was first monitored back in 1978. Even if that melting rate doesn't change, a new international study suggests that by the turn of the century, there won't be any ice at the North Pole during the summer. The complete melting of the ice cap would reduce warm surface ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream, which would greatly change the world's climate. Other changes would include the creation of shipping routes along Russia's northern coast. See "Arctic ice cap facing meltdown," ABC News Online, 8/14/03.

Progress on clean-up on Huangpu River: Officials report that 2,761 tons of oil-contaminated waste from the cargo vessel Changyang has been cleared up in this past week. Jiao Yang, a spokesman for the Shanghai Municipal Government, said that a total of 483 vessels, and 206 trucks were dispatched to the polluted area to clear oil-contaminated waste. He has also stated that the oil-clearing has entered the "final phase." See "Oil-contaminated Waste Cleared up on Huangpu River," People's Daily, 8/13/03.

US Navy networks: The Naval Network Warfare Command — or Netwarcom — was established by the US Navy about a year ago to coordinate its IT operations and to support the concept of one naval network. Vice Admiral Dick Mayo is the group's commander. Its primary role is to monitor the Navy's hundreds of different networks for security purposes. For example, determining that only authorized personnel are using restricted services, that appropriate authentication and encryption is in place, and that equipment such as firewalls is properly configured. One of their biggest challenges are legacy networks. Netwarcom is installing monitoring equipment from Securify as its primary tool. The Air Force and Army are also looking at the security-monitoring equipment, so the potential exists for a coordinated security policy across the services. See "Navy unifies its monitoring networks," Ellen Messmer, Network World, 8/11/03.

Liberian flag may be investigated: Liberia has long served as a "flag of convenience" for ship owners looking for light regulations and good prices. Some 1,700 foreign-owned ships are registered there; ship registry fees and taxes generate about $18 million a year. Only Panama, another widely-used "flag of convenience" registers more ships. But the departure of Charles Taylor as Liberia's president is likely to bring scrutiny to many of the contracts awarded by his government, including that of the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR). This small Virginia company handles the daily operations of registering ships under the Liberian flag, turning over the taxes and fees it collects to the Liberian Treasury. But critics have claimed that the Liberian registry has been used to conceal arms purchases, diamond smuggling and tax evasion. It's unlikely that the current dispute would have a major impact on shipping operations. The new government would be unlikely to jeopardize the revenues generated by registry fees and shipping taxes. See "Liberian shipping draws scrutiny," John W. Schoen, MSNBC, 8/11/03.

Maritime terrorist scenarios: Some 80 different potential maritime terrorist scenarios were studied by the Coast Guard. The riskiest on the list are "large" ferries (ships that can carry more than 2,000 passengers), and a ship carrying hazardous cargo near an urban area. These risks were ranked far ahead of such well-publicized threats as smuggling a weapon of mass destruction into a port on a shipping container — since containers are tracked. Cruise ships also were considered less risky than large ferries because they have extensive passenger and baggage screening. And smaller ferries were not as risky as large ferries simply because they have fewer people. The Coast Guard report and recent Homeland Security Department warning underscore what experts say is a longstanding but overlooked vulnerability, although only the Staten Island Ferry and the Washington State Ferry system fit into the Coast Guard's definition of "large." See "A Risk on the Water," Thomas Frank, Newsday.com, 8/10/03.

Senegalese ferry disaster decided: The ferry Joola capsized and sank last September as it was sailing between southern Senegal and the capital Dakar to the north. The ferry had a capacity of only 550 passengers. The death toll of the tragedy — 1,863 dead and 64 survivors — placed it among the worst disasters in maritime history. Families of the victims of the disaster have already accepted a compensation deal, which will amount to about US $18,500 per victim. The Public Prosecutor has stated that the ship's captain broke all the rules by allowing so many people onto the boat. But as the captain had himself perished, there will be no criminal charges made against him. See "No criminal charges over Senegalese ferry disaster," ABC News Online, 8/9/03.

Risks associated with taking water from the ocean: The California Coastal Commission has reported that allowing desalination plants to proliferate could threaten marine life, spur development in sensitive habitats and turn what has long been considered a common good — the ocean — into a commodity. The report says desalination poses risks to marine life because it can trap plants and small sea creatures while drawing in water, and it releases large amounts of salt back into the ocean. The study also warns that companies that are permitted to build and run desalination plants are likely to seek profit over protection of coastal resources. The report urges California to join other states to petition the federal government to ensure that international free-trade agreements do not infringe on the ability of states to protect coastal resources. See "California agency warns of risks in tapping ocean for water,"Associated Press at CNN.com, 8/8/03.

Oil spill on Huangpu River hits water supply: The Shanghai Maritime Authority has reported that the oil spill from the Changyang on the Huangpu River is the most serious accident on the river since 1996. The cargo ship — damaged by an unidentified ship on August 5 — spilled 85 tons of fuel into the waters of the upper reaches of the river, where there are 13 water supply stations serving both industrial and residential users. The effects of the spill will likely be felt for one or two years. See "Oil Spill on Huangpu Threatens Water Supply Sources," People's Daily, 8/7/03.

High Court imposes Australian rules on foreign ships: The full bench of the High Court in Canberra has delivered a landmark ruling that enforces new rules on foreign crews working in the domestic shipping industry. The unanimous decision gives the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) jurisdiction over foreign ships and crew and makes them subject to local conditions and rates of pay. The case was sparked after an Australian company replaced its local crew with overseas workers. The decision is considered a victory for the shipping industry and the rights of Australian seafarers. See "Unions claim big win in shipping dispute," The Age, 8/7/03.

RMS Mulheim disaster explained: The official report on the accident that caused the RMS Mulheim to ground on a rocky beach in Cornwall last March has been released. The chief officer stood up from his chair to check the vessel's position. As he did so his "trouser hem became caught on the footplate control lever." He fell to the deck, and passed in and out of consciousness several times. By the time he woke completely, the ship was closing in on the shoreline. The master and bosun heard a change in the sound of the engine, but they were too late to prevent the tanker from grounding. Marine accident investigators have criticized practices on board, since the chief officer was the only person on the bridge, and the addition of a lookout would have averted the disaster. See "How trousers steered ship on to rocks," Andrew Clark, The Guardian, 8/7/03.

Kaohsiung may join the US Container Security Initiative: The Container Security Initiative (CSI) is aimed at protecting the US from potential dangers from cargo containers shipped into the country. Taiwan's southern port city of Kaohsiung is now expected to be linked up to the CSI, after China's Shanghai and Shenzhen. Chen Chien-jen, representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the US, has stated that US and Taiwan authorities have agreed the talks will take place within a month. Kaohsiung Harbor is the world's fifth-largest container port, and according to the US Customs Service, ranks fourth in terms of the volume of container traffic destined for the US. See "US wants Kaohsiung in shipping security program," Taipei Times, 8/7/03.

Alstom may get bailout: Alstom, maker of trains, cruise ships and gas turbines, has secured a potential bailout that staves off bankruptcy, and hands the French government a large stake in the company. Chairman and Chief Executive Patrick Kron stated the government was keen to safeguard national industrial icons like Europe's top shipyard, Chantiers de l'Atlantique. Both Alstom and the French Finance Minister insisted the state had not broken competition rules and were confident they would reach an agreement with Brussels. But the European Commission could still stop the bailout if it decides it is illegal state aid. See "Alstom wins huge bailout as French govt takes stake," Rebecca Harrison, Reuters at Excite Money & Investing, 8/6/03.

Oil spill on Huangpu River: A small boat hit a cargo ship on the Huangpu River, damaging the cabin and spilling 85 tons of fuel. About 20 tons of oil-bearing water has already been collected, but despite efforts to keep the spill in a restricted area, some of the fuel has already polluted the riverside. The Huangpu River flows eastward through the heart of Shanghai, China's most important industrial and commercial center, and empties into the East China Sea. See "Serious Oil Spill Reported on Huangpu River," People's Daily, 8/6/03.

Navy will use Linux-powered Macs for sonar imaging system: Defense contractor Lockheed Martin has awarded Terra Soft Solutions a contract to supply 260 Apple Xserve servers for a sonar imaging system. The Apple servers will run Terra Soft's Yellow Dog Linux operating system, not the Mac OS. Joe Fanto, Lockheed Martin's lead project engineer, said the Terra Soft approach was appealing in part because of the open-source flexibility. See "Navy to draft Linux-powered Macs," Ina Fried, CNET News.com, 8/6/03.

Finland considers new fines for polluting ships: Ships that pollute the seas in Finnish territory are usually fined based on the offender's income. But because it can be difficult to track down the income of the ship's owner, renter, or shipping company, a "quick-issue" fine has been proposed. A ship that has received a quick-issue fine would not be allowed to leave Finland until the fine has been paid. Finland is also considering introducing an economic zone, and issuing fines even outside its territorial waters. See "Quick-issue fine planned for ships that pollute seas," Helsingin Sanomat, 8/4/03.

Tricolor is raised from the English Channel: The wreck of the Tricolor, which sank in the English Channel last December, is being raised by more than 100 marine salvage experts. The ship will be cut up into nine sections, and lifted by two floating cranes. The first section has been raised already. The operation is being supervised by Smit Salvage. One of the largest vessels ever to be lifted, the wreck has leaked a small amount of oil, but it is not considered a serious spill. An oil recovery ship is on site. See "Sunken Tricolor raised from the Channel," Times Online, 8/4/03.

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