MASTER FINED: the Russian master of a Dutch ship that ran aground off the coast of Northern Ireland last month has been fined £1,000 after pleading guilty to failing to keep a proper lookout. Captain Aleksandr Iakovtsov, of the general cargo ship Ruyter pleaded guilty to charges brought by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) after the vessel grounded on the north coast of Rathlin Island. MCA officials said they were concerned that the off -watch and ECDIS alarms had been switched off .

AUCTION ALARM: Nautilus expressed concern last month that the auction of the detained Indian offshore support vessel Malaviya Seven had been called off because only one low bid had been made. It had been hoped the ship’s sale would enable crew members to be paid more than a year’s worth of outstanding wages. Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said it was scandalous that the owners, insurers, flag and port state authorities had failed to resolve the case.

LIVERPOOL REMEMBRANCE: this year’s annual Merchant Navy service of remembrance in Liverpool is due to take place in the Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday 12 November, starting at 3 pm. Guests will include the Lord Lieutenant of Liverpool, the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, the High Sheriff of Merseyside, and the Royal Navy’s commanding officer for Northern England and the Isle of Man.

RFA RESCUE: the crew of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Mounts Bay was praised last month for their role in helping to save the lives of three people who had been reported missing off the coast of the Caribbean island of Vieques. A Merlin helicopter launched from the RFA ship airlifted the three survivors to safety from the upturned hull of their vessel.

EMISSIONS CUT: the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has welcomed a report which shows that total CO2 emissions from the world merchant fleet are now less than they were in 2008. The ICS said the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) research showed that the industry is becoming more fuel efficient.

BULLYING VICTIMS: one in five employees dread going to work because they are scared of a colleague, a new workplace bullying survey has found. Researchers said 16% of victims had suffered depression or been signed off with stress, and 5% had walked out of jobs as a result.

SLEEPY WORKERS: one in four British workers believes their performance is being affected because they have had a bad night’s sleep, a survey revealed last month. It found that the majority of people would like to sleep for up to eight hours, but usually, achieve between five to seven.

DRUGS BUST: cocaine worth an estimated £200m was seized from a Comoros-flagged tug after it was boarded in the Atlantic in a joint operation between British, Spanish and Portuguese law enforcement authorities. The crew of the 278gt Thoran, from Turkey and Azerbaijan, were arrested.

CUNARD BOOST: Cunard has announced the addition of a fourth ship to its fleet, with its first new order for 12 years. To be built at the Fincantieri yard in Italy, the new 113,000gt vessel, which is yet to be named, will carry up to 3,000 passengers and is due to come into service in 2022.

ATTENBOROUGH ADVANCE: the British Antarctic Survey has welcomed the ‘milestone’ installation of the last of the engines and gensets on board the new polar research vessel Sir David Attenborough at the Cammell Laird yard last month.

CANAL RECORD: the Panama Canal Authority has reported a record volume of 403.8m tonnes of freight passing through the waterway over the past year. Vessel transits rose 3.3%, to total 13,548 in the same period.

COLLISION ‘PREVENTABLE’: two senior US Navy officers have been relieved of their duties after the US Navy determined that a collision between the guided-missile destroyer John S McCain and the products tanker Alnic MC in the Malacca Straits in August was ‘preventable’. The Navy said the commanding officer had ‘exercised poor judgment and the executive officer exercised poor leadership of the ship’s training programmme’.

AID CHARTER: the US government has chartered the Panama-flagged cruise ship Carnival Fascination for four months to support relief efforts in the hurricane-battered Caribbean. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will use the 70,367gt vessel to accommodate aid workers in the port of St Croix in the US Virgin Islands.

DRINK ARRESTS: the Russian master and chief officer of the Faroe Islands-flagged general cargo ship Atlantic were arrested after the ship ran aground off the Swedish coast last month. Coastguard officials said the watchkeeper had fallen asleep and both men were found to be over the alcohol limit.

BOX BOOM: a German-owned container ship company launched earlier this year has added three feeder ships to its fleet. Based in Norway, MPC Container Ships now has a fleet of 23 vessels and says it plans to eventually operate up to 100 ships.

DRUGS FIND: the Maltese-flagged containership Dimitris C was detained in the Peruvian port of Ilo last month after 120 bricks of cocaine were found during an inspection of the vessel. Crew members were detained but later released without charge.

PIRATES THWARTED: two Iranian warships prevented pirates from hijacking a merchant ship in the Gulf of Aden last month. The unnamed vessel had sent out a distress message after coming under attack near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

CORSICA CONNECTION: the Italian operator Corsica Ferries is launching a new service linking France with Spain’s Balearic Islands. The twice-weekly service from Toulon to Alcudia on the NE coast of Mallorca is due to open in April next year.

SAFETY SYSTEM: two French engineer officers inspired by lessons learned from the 2012 Costa Concordia disaster have patented a system that aims to improve vessel stability after an accident by preventing water ingress.

VARUN BAN: the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has banned ships operated by the Indian company Varun from operating in its waters for following ‘repeated cases of seafarer abandonment’ in the country’s ports.

DEATH PROBE: Australian authorities are investigating an incident in which a Chinese crewman died after being electrocuted on the bulk carrier Efficiency OL in the port of Bunbury.

SINGAPORE SURVEY: the littoral nations of Singapore and Malacca Straits have signed an agreement to conduct a new hydrographic survey of the busy waterway. Data collected in a project being run by Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, with support from Japan, will cover areas of the traffic separation scheme that are less than 30m deep to create largescale, up-to-date navigational charts of the area, which saw close to 84,000 vessel transits in 2016.

MALARIA DEATHS: two seafarers serving on a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier died in a hospital ashore after being evacuated from their vessel with symptoms of malaria. The two men were flown ashore by helicopter after the master of the 33,261dwt Agios Fanourios requested urgent assistance while the vessel was off the east coast of South Africa while sailing from Abijan to Durban.

SPEEDING FINE: the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Sir William Alexander has been fined C$6,000 (€4,068) for alleged non-compliance with a temporary 10 knot speed limit aimed at preventing whale deaths in the western part of the Gulf of St Lawrence. The penalty is the third to be imposed since the limit was introduced in August in a bid to protect right whales.

DIGITAL PILOTAGE: Finland’s transport ministry is preparing legislation to enable remote and autonomous piloting of ships in the country’s waters. The national pilotage company Finnpilot is joining the One Sea project to create a functional electronic pilotage concept that aims to ‘move pilotage beyond rope ladders to the digital age’.

TAKEOVER BID: a commando-style operation to take a partially-built cable-laying ship from the bankrupt La Naval Shipyard in Bilbao, Spain, failed last month when police prevented attempts by two Dutch tugs to tow the 20,000dwt vessel away. The 161m vessel, ordered by the Dutch firm Tideway, was due to be delivered in the spring.

BULKER SINKS: 11 Indian seafarers were feared dead last month after the Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier Emerald Star sank in the Philippines in heavy weather. The 57,367dwt vessel was carrying a nickel ore cargo from Indonesia to China and 16 other crew members were rescued by two ships which responded to the distress call.

FRENCH ORDERS: the French shipping firm CMA CGM has confirmed an order for nine 22,000TEU box ships to be built by two Chinese yards and due to enter service from the end of 2019. The French officers’ union FOMM-CGT said it hoped that the orders would give a boost to the French flag and seafaring jobs.

ESTONIAN AID: Estonia is the latest country to consider introducing a tonnage tax scheme to support its merchant fleet. The government has drawn up proposals to offer owners a choice between paying 20% corporate tax on earnings from their ships or a flat fee based on the volume of tonnage on the country’s register.

IMO to act on fraud flags

Concerns over an increase in fraudulently-flagged ships have been raised by a senior International Maritime Organisation (IMO) official. Speaking to the International Group of P&I Clubs correspondents’ conference in London, IMO director of legal and external affairs Frederick Kenny promised that action will be taken to combat the problem.

He said at least 10 flag states have reported ships on their books that have been registered through fake offices. ‘The Democratic Republic of the Congo, for instance, says it has 90 ships registered to the country of which they have no idea about. The vessels are being supplied with a raft of documentation, which looks official but is actually fraudulent.’

UK urged to fund a training ship

The UK Government is being asked to fund a seafarer training ship which could also be used to deliver foreign aid and emergency supplies after disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes.

In a joint letter to the Times, Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson, RMT general secretary Mick Cash and Merchant Navy Training Board chairman Kevin Slade noted that the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the Royal Navy have been providing support to Caribbean islands suffering devastation as a result of recent hurricanes.

However, they asked: ‘Why deprive the RFA and Royal Navy of very expensive hardware when we could instead have a pre-stationed, specially outfitted non-military emergency relief vessel (or vessels) in the region, manned by British seafarers, at a fraction of the cost and paid for out of our international relief aid budget?

‘Such a ship could be specifically equipped to act as a disaster relief vessel, acting as a command control HQ and accommodation unit for UK emergency response personnel, without impacting on depleted shore infrastructure and devastated local communities,’ the letter argued.

‘Emergency aid packages could be pre-stowed and supplement the very limited tools and equipment carried by professional emergency relief teams based in the UK.

‘When not engaged in emergency mode, such ships could be used to deliver UK aid cargoes and relief support, as well as acting as a sorely needed training platform for British seafarers, cadets and apprentices, carrying dozens of trainees and dedicated instructors. What better experience for our future professionals?

‘We can be certain that there will be many more disasters in the years ahead,’ they concluded. ‘Why not pre-plan and at the same time ensure we are investing in the future of our maritime skills base?’

Fresh fall in pirate attacks

New figures show a further reduction in the number of cases of piracy and armed robbery involving merchant ships around the world. The latest statistics from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) show a total of 121 incidents in the first nine months of this year, compared with 141 over the same period last year and 190 in the same period in 2015. While welcoming the overall decline, the IMB expressed concern about the number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and in SE Asia. And it also warned: ‘The increase in attacks off the coast of Venezuela and other security incidents against vessels off Libya, including an attempted boarding in the last quarter, highlights the need for vigilance in other areas.’

In total, 92 vessels were boarded, 13 were fired upon, there were 11 attempted attacks and five vessels were hijacked in the first nine months of 2017. So far this year, 80 seafarers have been taken hostage, 49 kidnapped, three assaulted, three injured and two killed during attacks on their vessels.

The IMB expressed particular concern about Nigerian waters, with a total of 20 incidents reported, 16 of which occurred off the coast of Brass, Bonny and Bayelsa. Guns were reportedly used in 18 of the incidents and vessels were underway in 17 of the incidents. Nigerian waters also accounted for 39 of the 49 seafarers kidnapped globally between the start of the year and the end of September.

RNLI warns on Coastguard delays

Concern has been expressed about lifeboat crew complaints that cuts at the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) may be resulting in fatal delays in rescues. According to reports last month in the UK national media, RNLI lifeboat crews sometimes wait so long for a launch instruction from the Coastguard that their rescue work is compromised. Two Cornish crew members said they had recently decided to launch on their own initiative after becoming frustrated by the Coastguard’s slow response. Nautilus professional and technical officer David Appleton warned: ‘Until the MCA is appropriately funded and staffed, lives will continue to be lost.’ (With thanks to the Nautilus Telegraph:

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