News Archive - October 2004

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UK may store CO2 in the seabed: Elliot Morley, the UK environment minister, will ask the world's leading industrial nations to support a plan to develop underground reservoirs of carbon dioxide around the globe by using disused oil fields and old water sources in the surface of the earth. Storing CO2 in the seabed, known as carbon sequestration, could help to make deep cuts in the UK's emissions of the gas. The technique involves pumping liquified carbon dioxide at high pressure from places such as coal- and gas-fired power stations along pipes on the ocean floor. Theoretically, all man-made carbon emissions could be stored this way. Ministers are optimistic the proposal will be backed in the UK because the technique is already being tested in the North Sea by Norway and by the US. Several environmental groups criticize the plan as being a technically unproven "distraction" from the real task of deeply cutting our use of oil, gas and coal. See "UK to pump greenhouse gas under sea," Severin Carrell, The Independent, 10/31/04.

European shipyard mergers considered: Although many feel that consolidating shipbuilders across European countries would be beneficial, it is proving difficult. Europe still has more than 20 major shipyards, and about the same number of naval defense technology firms. While merging some of these would cut down on fragmented funding, few governments relish the prospect of widespread shipyard restructuring and job cuts. While governments are eager to maintain strategic manufacturing capabilities in defense sectors, competition from countries like Japan, South Korea and Russia has badly eroded their profits, and many yards rely on navy contracts to keep alive. But some fear a merger could backfire by driving up prices. For example, Ethan Kapstein, a professor at France's INSEAD business school, said that unless Europe and the US start buying each other's warships, a mega-merger in European shipbuilding would harm competition. He feels that boat buyers should learn from plane buyers. See "European Shipbuilders Mull Mergers," Laurence Frost, Associated Press at The State.com, 10/28/04.

Massachusetts law overlaps federal tanker rules: In August, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney signed a law requiring tankers to navigate within designated channels, use local pilots to guide vessels, and use tugboats as escorts. The law was in part a reaction to a recent oil spill in Buzzards Bay. But the Coast Guard believes the law oversteps state jurisdiction on maritime commerce, and has asked the Governor's office not to enforce the law. The Coast Guard believes the provisions in the Massachusetts law are preempted by existing federal regulations, and has proposed new rules intended to accomplish the purposes of the state law in Buzzards Bay, specifically. Officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, and the governor's office will meet this week to discuss the issue. Members of the American Waterways Operators operating in Massachusetts waters are complying with the law while they await clarification. See "Coast Guard objects to Mass. tanker law," Glenn Maffei, States News Service, The Boston Globe at Boston.com, 10/28/04.

Canada's port workers fear racial profiling: The International Longshore and Warehouse Union of Canada (ILWU Canada) has charged that proposed new security clearance measures for British Columbia's port workers violate basic human rights. The group is holding a press conference on October 27 to outline its position. The group has also submitted proposed changes to the Transport Canada discussion paper entitled, "Restricted Areas and Marine Facilities Restricted Area Access Clearance Program (MFRAACP): Implementation at Canadian Ports and Marine Facilities." Although the new measures outlined in the discussion paper purport to counteract the threat of terrorism, ILWU Canada asserts that "these proposed measures are for the implementation of a carefully veiled employment discrimination policy." The union represents more than 3,500 workers. See "Proposed security clearance measures for BC ports violate basic human rights, Port Union charges," Canada NewsWire, 10/27/04.

No chance of salvaging BBC China: The cargo ship BBC China, which is grounded off the Wild Coast just north of Port St. John's, will not be salvaged. Cape Town's maritime safety authority has reported the ship's bottom is already breaking up. Although hampered by weather, marine salvage groups are recovering oil and cargo from the ship's hold. The cargo, comprised of batteries, paint and bottles of carbon dioxide, should not pose any threat to communities or the environment. A team is expected to complete oil cleanup operations along the coast soon, and a patrol aircraft and oil containment boat remain on standby. See "BBC China can't be salvaged," News24, 10/26/04.

Some claim unfair treatment of UK shipyards: Defence procurement minister Lord Bach said earlier this month there would be no financial aid to support Swan Hunter when the Wallsend yard runs out of work in 2006; it also wouldn't be possible to bring naval contracts forward to save jobs. But it has emerged that the government gave a contract to build two naval vessels to BAE Systems' yard in Glasgow. Geoff Hoon, secretary of state for defence, described the contract as a "lifeline" to the shipyard at Govan, and that it would provide employees with work continuity. And while BAE was shielded from losses associated with a contract, Swan Hunter was left to shoulder the risks on the same project. Local officials and union members are angry that BAE is getting preferential treatment, and will discuss it with Mr. Hoon. A spokesman for the defence procurement agency pointed out that the two yard have separate contracts, which need to be viewed separately. See "Swan's call for state aid," Guy Anderson, The Journal at icNewcastle, 10/26/04.

Yacht crash at Sydney Opera House: A former America's Cup racing yacht crashed into underwater rocks near the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday. The crash ripped the keel and ballast off the yacht, chartered by the Financial Times, and threw some of the passengers into the water. None of the people on board were injured. although a tug boat had to drag the yacht, lying on its side, off for repairs. The FT Spirit was known as the Spirit of Australia when it sailed the 1992 America's Cup in San Diego, California. See "Yacht drama in Sydney Harbour," News24, 10/26/04.

Conservationists sue for protections for right whales: Conservationists from the US and Canada sued the National Marine Fisheries Service Monday for allegedly failing to protect North Pacific right whales, which were hunted nearly to extinction more than a century ago and remain among the world's most endangered animals. The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in San Francisco, asks the court to order the NMFS to protect a "critical" habitat for the North Pacific right whale, saying it is required to do so under the federal Endangered Species Act. According to the lawsuit, the agency has known for eight years that Pacific right whales were gathering in the Bering Sea during the summertime, but has done nothing to protect them; instead calling for more research. The whales' range extends from Mexico, along the California coast, to the Arctic. A "critical habitat" designation would not necessarily stop fishing completely, but might lead to changes in the type of gear that fishermen use. See "Conservationists Challenge Bureaucrats' Failure to Protect World's Most Imperiled Whale," press release from the Center for Biological Diversity, 10/25/04.

Switzerland, others, calls for safer disposal plans: The Seventh Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention on the transport of hazardous waste is taking place in Geneva this week. Switzerland, which is at the forefront of recycling electronic goods, is calling for a greater synergy between multinational corporations, environmental agencies, and United Nations bodies. The Basel Convention was originally adopted in 1989 to prevent rich countries from dumping hazardous waste on their poorer neighbors. While "toxic trading" has been largely brought under control since the Convention came into force in 1992, many issues still need to be dealt with. One of the activities needing particular attention is ship breaking, which often takes place in poorer countries like India, Bangladesh and China, and is performed by workers who often don't know they're handling dangerous materials. Beat Nobs, head of the Swiss delegation to the meeting, cites the success of a Swiss initiative — to convince the telecom industry to recycle old phones — as proof that industries can and should share the burden of safe product disposal. See "Switzerland calls on companies to clean up their act," Swissinfo, 10/25/04. The Basel Convention provides the only global forum for dealing with all aspects of the global waste challenge.

DHS fumbles transportation security research: The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report finding that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has spent over $100 million on over 200 transportation security research projects without an adequate strategic plan to guide its spending. DHS and the Transportation Security Administration have no estimated deployment dates for most projects, they have failed to coordinate with other federal agencies and the private sector, they don't have adequate means of tracking the progress of various research projects, and the projects don't include enough basic research. Additionally, some members of the panel brought together by the GAO to investigate recent transportation security R&D believed that aviation issues have been overemphasized at the expense of maritime and land modes. The GAO provides an abstract, and a PDF file of the full report GAO-04-890 (1.2 MB). The report was originally released on September 30, 2004.

Canada, UK in dispute over submarines before the fire: The Canadian Press obtained a document prepared last month for Defence Minister Bill Graham that shows that Canada pressed the British to assume the costs of keeping the HMCS Chicoutimi free of rust. The British government agreed to pay an undisclosed amount for hull maintenance just days before the formerly British boat was re-christened as a Canadian boat on October 2. While the agreement is not directly connected to the October 5 fire, it does underscore the difficulties of reactivating submarines after 10 years. A draft document dated September 14 emphasized that the corrosion on the boat's hull was repaired, and "capable of full operational service." The main issue of the document was who would pay for maintenance costs. The Canadian military is conducting an inquiry into the fire. An all-party House of Commons committee is investigating the lease-to-purchase program the Navy used to acquire the submarines from Britain's Royal Navy. See "Canada and Britain in contract dispute over Chicoutimi, prior to fire," Murray Brewster, Canadian Press at Yahoo! News Canada, 10/22/04.

Plan to fight illegal trafficking in shipping containers: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has partnered with the World Customs Organization (WCO) to create the Container Control Programme. More than 7 million shipping containers move around the globe each day, transporting various merchandise. However, unless specialized controls are available, they can also be used to facilitate the trafficking of people, weapons and drugs. The Container Control Programme is intended to support port control measures in developing countries, and will begin at the ports of Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Dakar, Senegal. The Programme will bring together new teams of customs officials and police, and provide them with training and equipment to target and control illicit trafficking via shipping containers. Similar port control activities should expand to Pakistan and Ghana next year. See "UN launches container control programme to fight illicit trafficking," UN News Centre, 10/21/04.

Concern over mercury levels in fish, humans: Interim results of a survey conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, show that one-fifth of women of childbearing age have mercury levels in their hair that exceed federal health standards. Tests showed a correlation between how much fish people ate and their mercury levels. For example, one-third of people who ate canned tuna four or more times a week had mercury levels above Environmental Protection Agency recommendations. Sources such as coal-fired power plants release mercury into the air, which ends up in water, is absorbed by fish, and then enters the body when people eat contaminated fish. The study was performed by researchers at UNC's Environmental Quality Institute, and was sponsored by Greenpeace, Aveda salons and state and local environmental groups. The last major national study of Americans' mercury exposure, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 1999 and 2000, concluded that about 12 percent of women of childbearing age had mercury levels that exceeded the EPA's safety standard. See "Report cites mercury found in childbearing-age women," Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post at The Seattle Times, 10/21/04.

EU makes Spain's Izar pay back aid: Shipbuilding was traditionally one of Spain's strongest industries, but it has fallen on hard times from world competition. The state-owned shipbuilder Izar is currently struggling to stay afloat. On top of worker strikes and protests against plans to privatize parts of it, Izar's European competitors have complained that government payments give the shipyards an unfair competitive advantage. On Wednesday, the European Commission ordered Izar to repay $702 million in government assistance — the amount of assistance deemed illegal that Spain gave to Izar between 2000 and 2002. EU officials may be flexible and give the shipbuilder extra time to pay back the money. See "EU Head Office Orders Izar to Repay Aid," Associated Press at Yahoo! News, 10/20/04.

Court says whales and dolphins cannot sue over sonar: A three-judge panel of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled that the world's whales, porpoises and dolphins have no standing to sue President George W. Bush over the US Navy's use of sonar equipment. Low frequency sonar can cause tissue damage and other injuries to marine mammals. The court said it saw no reason why animals should not be allowed to sue, but said they had not yet been granted that right. The lawsuit was brought against Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on behalf The Cetacean Community by their self-appointed lawyer, marine mammal activist Lanny Sinkin. See "Whales have no standing to sue to stop sonar, court rules," Kim Curtis, The Associated Press at The Seattle Times, 10/20/04.

Canada helps dismantle Russian nuclear submarine: Russian workers have started removing nuclear fuel from the Victor-class attack submarine 608, which has been mothballed for at least a decade. This is the first of 12 boats to be dismantled at Canada's expense, and is part of the country's wider commitment of $1-billion over 10 years to the G8 Global Partnership, an international project to clean up nuclear refuse in Russia seen as a threat to the environment and security. The first three submarines Canada is helping dismantle are already showing signs of their environmental danger, leaching oil and other liquids into the sea and occasionally even discharging radiation into the fragile Arctic environment. The Victor-class boats did not carry nuclear missiles, but often were armed with nuclear-tipped torpedoes. Canadian officials are visiting the Zvezdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk monthly to monitor the work and conduct environmental assessments. They will also keep a close watch on the money trail, after warnings that it could be diverted into weapons-making programs. See "Canadians dismantle nuclear sub," Tom Blackwell, National Post at Canada.com, 10/19/04.

South Korea wants naval hotline between Korean submarines: In June, North and South Korea agreed to have their navies share a radio frequency and use the same flag signaling system to avoid accidental clashes on the maritime border. Although the North has sometimes ignored the South's attempts for communication, the two Koreas have a radio communication for naval ships. But the recent event in which two North Korean submarines allegedly infiltrated South Korean waters has lawmakers paying more attention to underwater military operations. A South Korean official has quoted Minister Yoon Kwang-ung as saying the Seoul government will study measures to bring the submarine hotline issue up for discussion in future inter-Korean military talks. However, it may not be feasible for Seoul and Pyongyang to share the same radio frequency, as submarines require covert actions. See "Seoul Seeks S-N Submarine Hotline," Park Song-wu, The Korea Times, 10/19/04.

US ports to get technology boost: On Monday, President Bush signed the fiscal-year 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which provides $28.9 billion in net discretionary spending for the Department of Homeland Security. The act includes $419.2 million in new funding to enhance border and port security activities. Additional funding includes $80 million to be used to purchase new technology for screening cargo containers entering US ports, which includes radiation-detection monitors for screening passengers and cargo. The act also includes an increase of $20.6 million for staffing and technology acquisition to support the National Targeting Center. The Center's Automated Targeting System integrates information from government, commercial, and law-enforcement databases, and analyzes electronic cargo information related to individual shipments to rank them in order of risk. See 'More Money Will Go Toward Technology To Help Protect Nation's Ports," Larry Greenemeier, InformationWeek, 10/19/04.

US tax bill helps shipbuilders: A new provision, passed in Congress last week as part of a sweeping corporate tax bill, would reduce taxes at two major military contractors by nearly $500 million over the next 10 years. The provision allows major US shipyards, all owned by either General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman, to defer paying most federal income taxes on a Navy project until the contract was completed. Because it takes several years to build large ships, the yards would have more opportunity to offset taxes against future losses. Although the stated intention of the tax bill is to create jobs, critics of the shipbuilding provision point out that employment at naval shipyards is determined almost entirely by federal spending on ships and submarines, rather than by tax incentives. The shipbuilders' tax cut was typical of the scramble by lawmakers to include special provisions for their constituents in the bill. The final bill, which President Bush is expected to sign soon, includes tax breaks for oil companies, corn farmers, wine distributors and dozens of other highly specific industries. See "2 Shipbuilders Get Big Breaks in New Corporate Tax Bill," Edmund L. Andrews, The New York Times, 10/19/04.

Tanker shortage affects cost of oil: Over the last decade, the number of tankers in operation has essentially been unchanged, with new ships slowly replacing older vessels that were scrapped. New tanker rules require ships built before 1982 to be taken out of service by next April, and single-hull ships to be scrapped by 2010. In all, 40 percent of the existing fleet may go. And some ship owners say it seems unlikely that enough new ships can be built to replace them in time. In the short term, the shortage of tankers — and rising charter rates — is adding about 5 cents a gallon for gasoline at the pump in the US. The global growth in oil demand, particularly coming from China, is also affecting prices. Analysts say the strong demand from China, which alone has accounted for 40 percent of that growth in the last four years, has contributed to a 73 percent jump in oil prices in the last year. Fewer oil discoveries and a lack of refineries are also adding to higher costs. See "Oil tanker shortages drive costs higher," Jad Mouawad, The New York Times at International Herald Tribune, 10/19/04.

NTSB delays the release of Staten Island Ferry crash data: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had planned to release what it called "factual reports," including photos and interview transcripts, on the 2003 Staten Island Ferry crash, which caused 11 deaths and more than 70 injuries. But a last-minute request by federal prosecutors has delayed the release, so far indefinitely. The request was made to give the US Attorney's office time to review and comment on the report in light of pending cases. Prosecutors have already secured a guilty plea from Asst. Capt. Richard Smith on charges of seaman's manslaughter, and an agreement with Capt. Michael Gansas in which he will do community service and surrender his maritime license for three years. But the trial of a doctor who allegedly helped Smith cover up his use of prescription medication use, and the trial of Director of Ferries Patrick Ryan on seaman's manslaughter charges are scheduled for next year. See "NTSB delays release of ferry crash info," Graham Rayman and Anthony DeStefano, NYNewsday.com, 10/18/04.

Sunken cargo ship doesn't pose any threat of oil spills: The general cargo ship BBC China was carrying 2,800 tons of sub-assembled steel equipment from Port of Spain, Trinidad, to Durban when it ran aground about 150 yards off Port Grosvenor on the Kwa Zulu Natal Wild Coast. A South African rescue helicopter was called in and 16 members of the mostly Ukrainian crew were airlifted to safety. The vessel was carrying 58 tons of heavy fuel, 60 tons of marine gas oil and 8 tons of lubrication oil. Salvagers expect to be able to remove the oil and cargo safely. However, the ship has a past. A year ago the ship was found carrying several containers filled with parts of centrifuges intended for the use in building uranium enrichment plants. And in February, after being alerted by a crew member that there might be hazardous material aboard, the US Coast Guard searched the vessel. At that time, the BBC China was cleared, but authorities are curious about the current contents of the vessel. See "Concern over ship's cargo," News24.com, 10/18/04.

Martin, Blair discuss submarine disaster: Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and his British counterpart Tony Blair were both at the Progressive Governance Summit held Friday in Hungary. They took the opportunity to meet on the sidelines to discuss the HMCS Chicoutimi disaster. Martin raised the issue of possible British liability in the incident, although he did not specifically say if Canada would press for compensation. Martin also expressed to Blair his annoyance with remarks on the disaster last week by British Defence Minister Geoff Hoon, who said it was up to Canada, as the buyer, to ensure the vessels were up to standard. Both leaders are awaiting the outcome of the board of inquiry. A series of incidents — engine trouble, a faulty hatch, a wave that poured water into the sub, and an electrical "grounding fault" — have been discussed as possibly related to the fire aboard the submarine, but no one is prepared to call any of these the actual cause. Submariners have denied that any human error was involved. See "Martin: Britain on notice of 'costs and liabilities' of submarine fire," Sue Bailey, Canadian Press at Canada.com, 10/15/04.

Seoul hunts for North Korean submarines: South Korea has admitted conducting a massive operation starting on Sunday off the east coast to search for North Korean submarines. The operation was prompted by intelligence received from the United States. The operation was unsuccessful, the Defence Ministry said. Military officials have since raised doubt about the credibility of the intelligence, but they admitted South Korea has taken seriously any reports on North Korean vessels in the area. The JoongAng Ilbo, a mass-circulation local paper, reported that the South's Navy in fact drove away two North Korean submarines with depth charges, but the Defence Ministry denied that. The situation is further confused by the sinking of a small naval ship on Tuesday, with only one crewman saved. While the ministry said that the vessel went aground because of inclement weather and engine problems, the incident has allowed for further speculation about North Korean submarines. See "Mysterious Incident in East Sea," The Korea Times, 10/15/04.

Federal funding for Asian carp barrier: Asian carp are a significant threat to the Great Lakes because they are large, extremely prolific, and consume vast amounts of food. The climate of the Great Lakes region is similar to their native Eastern Hemisphere habitats, and if they were to become established there they could become a dominant species. With additional funding authorized by the US Congress, and contributions from the State of Illinois and Great Lakes governors, the US EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers will now be able to complete an enhanced barrier to keep the invasive carp out of the Great Lakes. The barrier, scheduled to be completed in February 2005, stretches two rows of electrodes across the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal approximately 220 feet apart. The electrodes pulse DC current into the water; fish will turn back rather than pass through the electric current. Two species of Asian carp escaped into the Mississippi River from southern aquaculture facilities in the 1980s, and have made their way northward ever since. The fish are currently within 50 miles of Lake Michigan. See "Federal Funding Available for Enhanced Protection Against Asian Carp," Yahoo! News,10/13/04.

Report released on levels of radiation in the Arctic: Scientists from the international Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program have been monitoring pollutants that reach the remote Arctic region since 1991. In its 1991-2002 study, released Tuesday, the group said radiation levels had begun to decline on Arctic land masses, but much more slowly than the rest of the world. Tundra vegetation, including mosses, mushrooms and grasses, absorbs more radiation than most plants. In addition, the area has been used as a test site for Soviet nuclear weapons, as a repository for old weapons and nuclear submarines, and received nuclear fallout from the Chernobyl accident. The area has also seen several accidents, for example a nuclear armed US B-52 bomber crashed and burned in Greenland in 1968, and at least two Russian nuclear submarines have sunk while on patrol in the Arctic in the past 15 years. The study points out that the region is extremely fragile, but it would take billions of dollars to clean up all the radiation sources. The Arctic monitoring program was set up to advise the Arctic Council, made up of the governments of eight Arctic nations: Canada, Denmark (with Greenland), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. See "Study: Atomic Radiation Down in Arctic," Doug Mellgren, Associated Press at SiliconValley.com 10/12/04.

South Korean navy ship sinks amid North Korea alert: A small South Korean vessel capsized and sank off the nation's southeastern coast Tuesday night, however the accident was not linked to a possible intrusion by North Korean submarines. The Navy craft went missing off the port city of Ulsan, while returning from a nighttime exercise. One sailor was rescued by other navy vessels searching the area, but the other four crew members were missing from the training ship. Authorities are continuing a search for the four missing men. It was not immediately known what caused the accident. The Navy believes at the moment that the accident occurred due to bad weather conditions and a mechanical problem. Ministry spokesman Nam Dae-yeon said that locations of the sunken vessel and the reported North Korean submarine activity were far apart. See "S.Korea Says Ship Loss Not Linked to N.Korean Subs," Rhee So-eui, Reuters at Yahoo! News, 10/12/04.

Crew of stricken submarine tell their tale: Crew members of the Canadian submarine which burst into flames in the North Atlantic last week have described the 'brutal' fire which filled the vessel with choking fumes and caused the death of one of their colleagues. The fire broke out last Tuesday while the vessel was heading for Nova Scotia, spreading through two decks and cutting out its power; it was eventually towed into Faslane naval base on Sunday after a hazardous rescue operation in rough seas. The crew told a press conference how they fought the fire in complete darkness as the powerless vessel was tossed around in rough seas. Bill Graham, the Canadian Defence Minister, confirmed that his government had not ruled out the possibility of suing the British Government, which sold HMCS Chicoutimi and three other subs to Canada in a controversial deal. However he also stressed that it was important to wait for the results of the formal board of inquiry into the incident. Mr. Graham praised the "extraordinary courage and professionalism" of the crew and thanked the Royal Navy for the rescue operation. See "Crew tell of sub terror," Gerard Seenan, The Guardian, 10/12/04.

Six charged in Superferry 14 bombing: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made a statement on Monday revealing that her government has charged six members of the Abu Sayyaf group for the bombing of the Superferry 14 on February 27. The attack left more than 100 people dead. The Abu Sayyaf extremist group claimed it had smuggled explosives onto the ship shortly after the explosion, although authorities had insisted the incident was an accident until now. Arroyo stated that the two men who planted the bomb are in custody although the two masterminds still remain at large. She is instructing the police and the military to intensify the manhunt for the two masterminds — group leader Khadafi Janjalani and Abu Soliman, and their two other accomplices. See "6 terrorist members charged for Philippine ferry bombing," Xinhua at Chinadaily, 10/11/04.

Britain's shipyards may specialize: UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) will meet with senior members of major shipyards this week to discuss the best way to keep the country's shipbuilding industry in good shape. One idea is to merge ownership of all six yards, although this is seeming less likely. Another option could be to share out work strategically between the UK's six naval shipyards. While no one expects this week's discussion will result in major short term changes, in the long term most expect more cooperation between the yards. See "Way ahead for shipyards examined," BBC News 10/11/04.

Swan Hunter's owner, Jaap Kroese, has stated he would consider having his yard specialize if it would enable the yard to remain viable. Under the proposals, larger ships would be built by BAE Systems in Scotland, and ships under 100m long by VT Group at Portsmouth, with Swans building modules for other vessels at Wallsend. Mr. Kroese said, "Our prime objective is to keep the yard in work and have work for the workforce. How that is achieved, we really don't mind and we would be supportive if it means there's going to be work for a long time." See "Swan may specialise," Howard Walker, The Journal at ic Newcastle, 10/11/04.

Crippled sub HMCS Chicoutimi docks in Scotland: The crippled Canadian submarine HMCS Chicoutimi docked at British base Faslane in southwestern Scotland on Sunday, almost a week after a devastating fire knocked out its power systems. The Chicoutimi was left dead in the water Tuesday following a devastating onboard fire while the vessel was in the North Atlantic off the coast of Ireland. One sailor, Lieut. Chris Saunders, died of complications from smoke inhalation, and another eight were injured, two of them seriously. The sub was adrift for days as British ships battled through rough weather to reach the submarine and rescue its 57 crew members. Military officials would not allow interviews with the commander of the Chicoutimi or its crew after Sunday's arrival. See "Canadian sub arrives in Scotland; crew called heroic after ordeal at sea," Murray Brewster, Canadian Press at Canada.com, 10/11/04.

British shipyards may merge some of their operations: Britain is in the middle of the biggest boom in naval shipbuilding since the Second World War, but orders have been placed on a haphazard basis. Tired of the boom and bust trend in the industry, Britain's shipbuilders are calling for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to produce a timetable for upcoming contracts. Ideally, they hope to get a 15-year plan, of which the first 10 years would be made up of relatively firm orders. This will give the yards a better plan for stability. In return, some of the shipbuilders are prepared to consider merging some of their operations — such as human resources, marketing and finance departments — in a bid to cut costs to the MoD. This idea has been raised ahead of next week's Government-sponsored summit on the future of shipbuilding. There are rumors that the MoD will have more orders than British yards can fill, and Britain's shipyards don't want to lose jobs to the Far East and Eastern Europe. See "Shipbuilders bid to end boom and bust cycle," The Independent, 10/10/04.

Thousands of asylum seekers drown at sea every year: A study by Professor Michael Pugh of Plymouth University, recently published in the Journal of Refugee Studies, suggests that up to a third of the people who set out on sea crossings while fleeing persecution or poverty fail to land safely. Pugh derived his figures — which he believes may be the first set of global statistics — from interviews with refugees, records of bodies washed up on shores, wrecks and government statistics. Pugh's research suggests that about 2000 people perish each year in the Mediterranean trying to reach more prosperous European states, and a similar number die on crossings to Australia and the United States, which are the two other main destinations for boat people. The report concludes that the International Maritime Organization should encourage support for ship owners and seafarers who stop to help refugees, rather than penalize them for delaying shipping schedules. Many captains also steer clear of unknown boats for fear of being attacked by pirates. See "4,000 refugees believed drowned at sea every year," Owen Bowcott, The Guardian, 10/9/04.

Canadian submarine under tow: The Canadian submarine HMCS Chicoutimi is being towed to safety by a British tug after a fire that broke out on Tuesday. Rescue ships had struggled for two days with stormy conditions off the coast of Ireland. The submarine is expected to reach the port of Faslane in Scotland by Monday or Tuesday, but Canadian Navy officials have warned that the arrival time depends on the weather, tides and currents, and whether the towing assembly works properly; one line already snapped Thursday evening. The submarine's captain hopes to reduce the remaining crew of 54 by transferring some members to a nearby British frigate on Friday. Six sailors who suffered from smoke inhalation will be the first to leave. One sailor has already died; two more are in an Irish hospital, Master Seaman Archibald MacMaster is said to be in serious but stable condition. The submarine is one of four bought from Britain in 1998. The purchase has been questioned by government opponents, as all of the boats have had problems. See "British tug making slow progress towing Canadian sub to shore," Steve Macleod, Canadian Press at Canada.com, 10/8/04.

Protection urged for Patagonian toothfish: Environmentalists urged fishing nations to do more to protect the rare Patagonian toothfish at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Many are disappointed that no member state has proposed to list the toothfish on one of the CITES appendices, which would clamp tighter restrictions on the global trade of the species. Scientists say the deep water fish, which is highly prized in Asia and the US, could become commercially extinct by 2007 due to illegal fishing. "Commercially extinct" means that stocks have been so depleted that it is no longer viable to harvest the species. See "More Protection Urged for Rare Toothfish at CITES," Ed Stoddard, Reuters, 10/7/04.

Canadian crewman dies after submarine fire: Lt. Chris Saunders has died after being injured in a fire on the Canadian submarine HMCS Chicoutimi. Saunders was one of three men airlifted to a hospital in the Irish Republic. The others are said to be stable. The submarine, adrift in the Atlantic, still has 54 crew members on board. A fire broke out in the electrical systems causing damage which prevented them from restoring the submarine's power propulsion system, although the vessel's steering has been restored. High winds and waves have hampered rescue efforts, and the remaining crew are facing a third night in the drifting sub. Rescue teams have brought food, fuel and medical supplies, although the weather has prevented a delivery from being made. About 400 people are involved in the rescue effort and hope to get a towline to the tug by sunset, start towing it on Friday, and arrive in Scotland on Sunday. See "Crew face third night on fire sub," BBC News, 10/7/04.

Environmentalists call for UN moratorium on bottom trawling: Environmentalists appealed to the United Nations on Tuesday to stop the devastating fishing practice known as bottom trawling. The practice simply drags a heavy net across the ocean floor, and it is indiscriminate. 95 percent of the material caught by the steel nets is simply thrown overboard again, dead, destroyed or dying. The trawls also destroy the seabed, and have been compared to bulldozers. Cold water reefs, recently discovered to be more numerous and ecologically richer than previously expected, could be destroyed. A single trawl can lay a deep seabed habitat to waste, and destroy the cold water corals which have been growing for millennia. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) is advocating a moratorium on all bottom trawling on the high seas. The DSCC includes Conservation International, Greenpeace International, World Conservation, the Marine Conservation Biology Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the New England Aquarium, among others. See "Deep-sea trawling's 'great harm'," Richard Black, BBC News, 10/6/04.

US Coast Guard will use weather buoys to help track vessels: Part of the security program put into place after the 2001 terrorist attacks requires large vessels to carry transponders to emit unique radio signals. But only ten stations can currently receive the signals — even some major ports can't receive the information yet. In response, the US Coast Guard plans to expand radio coverage by installing receivers on 70 buoys that currently send weather and environmental information to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's data center. Under current plans, the Coast Guard should be able to receive vessel transponder signals along the nation's entire periphery by 2008. The Coast Guard also plans to test how a receiver would work from a low-flying satellite in December 2005. See "Buoys to Help Coast Guard Track Ships," Leslie Miller, Associated Press at Las Vegas Sun, 10/6/04.

Canadian sub likely will not be towed before Friday: Officials have reported that the fire on board Canadian submarine HMCS Chicoutimi caused far more damage than first estimated. The vessel is not able to regain power and sail out of danger on its own. In addition, high seas and gale-force winds mean there may not be a chance to tow the boat until Friday. A medical officer and physician from the Royal Navy's HMS Montrose managed to transfer on to the submarine to examine the crew who suffered smoke inhalation, and determined that no medical evacuations would be required. Once the weather abates, it is planned to tow the sub to HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane. See "Submarine Fire 'Worse Than Feared'," Jennifer Hill, Scottish Press Association at Scotsman.com, 10/6/04.

Help arrives at stricken Canadian submarine: The crew of disabled Canadian submarine HMCS Chicoutimi braved a rough night adrift in heavy seas off Scotland as weather conditions delayed British rescue efforts. But Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose reached the stricken sub on Wednesday afternoon, nearly 24 hours after a fire broke out on board. Two other rescue vessels are on the way, although sea conditions remain choppy. The Chicoutimi is the fourth Victoria-class submarine Canada has purchased from the British navy. The sub was on its maiden voyage to Canada when a fire broke out in an electrical panel in a passageway. It wasn't immediately clear if the sub was on the surface or submerged when the fire broke out. Nine members of the crew suffered smoke inhalation, but no one was seriously injured. Commodore Tyrone Pile, commander of Canadian Fleet Atlantic, said there was no danger of losing the sub or its crew. The fire is the latest in a long list of problems with the used vessels, which were built in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and leased from Britain. See "Rescue ship reaches submarine," BBC News, 10/6/04.

Shipping lane change saves right whales: The three main factors affecting the right whale population — which are the world's most endangered — are declining reproductive rates, entanglements in fishing gear and collisions with ships. In 2003, through the cooperative efforts of Irving Oil, members of the shipping and fishing industries, right whale researchers and the Canadian government, the International Maritime Organization agreed to move the shipping lanes by four nautical miles to reduce the risk of collisions between whales and ships. Affected lanes were in the Bay of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, which is in the summer habitat of right whales. New England Aquarium researchers have found that one year later, the new shipping lanes appear to have reduced the risk of collisions between ships and right whales by over 95 percent. See "One year later: Shipping lane change reduces chances of ship/whale accident by 95 percent," Canada NewsWire, 10/5/04.

Global warming may expand Denmark's territory: As global warming makes high Arctic regions more accessible, more countries are trying to claim resources. Claimants to the area include Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway. The United States may also make a claim. Denmark is currently planning to send an expedition to the area to try to prove the seabed beneath the Pole is a natural continuation of Greenland, the world's biggest island and a Danish territory whose northern tip is just 450 miles from the Pole. Science Minister Helge Sander said success would give Denmark access to "new resources such as oil and natural gas." The Danish bid rests on a UN convention allowing coastal nations to claim rights to offshore seabed resources. If a scientific claim can be proven, then Denmark would start the political process. Experts say it could take years to sort out overlapping claims in the Arctic. Samantha Smith, director of the WWF environmental group's Arctic Program, hopes that nations around the Arctic will sign a treaty to regulate access to oil, fisheries and possible new shipping lanes through the Arctic as the ice retreats. Countries are also beginning to look at territory in Antarctica. See "Denmark to Claim North Pole, Hopes to Strike Oil," Reuters, 10/4/04.

Shipowners encounter difficulties implementing the ISPS: Nordin Mat Yusoff, technical committee chairman of the Malaysian Shipowners Association, has noted eleven common problems encountered by shipowners since the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code was implemented on July 1. Many of the problems stem from misconceptions, a need for a more uniform implementation of the Code in different countries, and a need to respect the rights of seafarers. Problems mentioned by Nordin were: crew shore leave, restrictions on stores and spares, the US Coast Guard's verification of the ISPS Code, differences in interpretation of the code, confidentiality of security documents to be maintained on board, Ship Security Alert System (SSAS), Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Long-Range Identification System (LRIS), dockyards, port barges and small craft security, differences in security level between vessels and ports, port area parameter security, and crew security identity. See "11 major woes due to ISPS Code," Au Yeong How, The Star, 10/4/04.

Singapore's plan to phase out single-hulled tankers: Starting January 1, 2005, the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will only issue new harbor craft licenses to bunker tankers of 600 dwt and above which have double hulls. New licenses will be issued to smaller tankers only if they are less than 5 years old. Taking into consideration concerns about lack of shipyard space, the MPA will give a two-year grace period to single-hulled tankers over 25 years old, but trading will only be allowed with the provision that the owners show plans to scrap the old bunker tankers and build new ones. Singapore is the world's largest supplier of bunker fuel to ships. See "Singapore to phase out single-hulled bunker tankers," Business Times, 10/4/04.

US Dept. of Labor proposes new safety rules for Hexavalent Chromium: The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for occupational exposure to Hexavalent Chromium in the Oct. 4, 2004 Federal Register. OSHA is proposing three separate standards that cover exposure to hexavalent chromium (CrVI) in general industry, construction, and shipyards. OSHA is proposing to lower its permissible exposure limit (PEL) for hexavalent chromium (CrVI) and for all CrVI compounds from 52 to one microgram of CrVI per cubic meter of air as an 8-hour time weighted average. The Agency is accepting public comments on the proposed standards until Jan. 3, 2005, and will hold an informal public hearing in Washington, D.C., beginning on February 1, 2005. See "OSHA Proposes Revised Rule on Hexavalent Chromium" from OSHA's Office of Communications, 10/1/04. This page also provides contact information for sending comments, and a Fact Sheet outlining major provisions of the proposed standards.

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