Sunday, August 4, 2013

PETRONAS to Directly Procure Newbuild LNG Ships (Malaysia)

PETRONAS has announced that as part of its strategy to optimize the value of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) business, it has decided to directly procure newbuild LNG ships to meet its LNG transportation requirements.

The move will allow PETRONAS to have direct access to LNG shipping capacity at the lowest possible costs.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

PHL's new warship BRP Ramon Alcaraz on its way to Hawaii from San Diego

After making a stopover in San Diego, California, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz — the Philippine Navy's new warship — set course for Hawaii Saturday morning (Philippine time).
Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said the BRP Ramon Alcaraz left the San Diego anchorage at about 6:30 a.m., state-run Philippines News Agency (PNA) reported.
Hawaii is the second port call of the frigate as it cruises back to the Philippines, the PNA report said.
BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) had docked at San Diego last June 28 for refueling and re-provisioning. Its voyage to Hawaii will involve about 2,400 miles.
Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will likely arrive in the Philippines on August 3.
The PNA report said the newest warship may be commissioned in September.
Last June 18, BRP Ramon Alcaraz concluded her Panama Canal crossing, becoming the first Filipino warship to cross the historic waterway.
Alcaraz widow visits ship
Meanwhile, Concepcion Alcaraz, widow of Filipino naval hero Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, visited the BRP Ramon Alcaraz during its port call in San Diego, California last July 2.
During her visit, she signed copies of the book "Mrs. Alcaraz, A Biography" and "Commodore Alcaraz; First Victim of President Marcos."
With her were granddaughter Hailey Marshall and daughters Ramona and Efigenia. They had a short tour of the Filipino frigate.
"Commodore Alcaraz gained distinction in World War II by shooting down three Japanese Zero fighters who tried to attack his ship, the Abra (Q-112) during the first months of the war," the PNA said. - VVP, GMA News

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

US Senator initiates crackdown on erring cruise liners

No later than this week, people booking cruises on the three largest cruise lines will see something new on the company websites: an index of major crimes reported on board their ships since late 2010, including allegations of rape and murder.

But the announcement did little to pacify one of the industry’s top critics — U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. — who has introduced legislation intended to shine more light on an industry that in 2012 carried 10 million passengers from U.S. ports and resulted in $19.6 billion in U.S. spending.

“Consumers deserve to know what rights and protections they have and, more importantly, do not have on their cruise,” said Rockefeller, who last week hauled industry leaders before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation that he chairs.

Rockefeller has accused the cruise industry of downplaying serious safety concerns — from crime to ship operations — while giving unhappy or mistreated passengers little recourse against the industry.

The decision to post crime rates — information that critics have long maintained should be public record — was announced by cruise leaders at a congressional hearing last week. It will apply initially to the three largest cruise lines, Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, with smaller lines expected to follow suit by reporting statistics to an industry trade group sometime in the future.

It was a pre-emptive effort by an industry that’s had a rough recent history — a Carnival ship stranded for days in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine-room fire and another forced to cut short a cruise because of an onboard blaze — and is facing increasing scrutiny on Capitol Hill.

The US senator’s measure would force the cruise industry to provide a “plain language” explanation of the fine print in cruise contracts and also establish a federal toll-free hotline for passenger complaints. The bill also would require the industry to make public the same crime reports that cruise leaders said they would put on their websites this week.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Napoles willing to open bank records for pork barrel 'scam' probe

Janet Lim Napoles, the businesswoman at the center of the alleged pork barrel scam, is willing to open her bank records for scrutiny in connection with the investigation on the supposed anomaly that has dragged the names of several prominent lawmakers.
"The answer is yes (but) with the appropriate court order," said Napoles' counsel Lorna Kapunan at a press briefing Friday when asked if they would open Napoles' bank records to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which is currently investigating the case.
Napoles is being implicated in a P10-billion scam involving ghost projects allegedly used for kickbacks by lawmakers. Benhur Luy, reportedly a former Napoles employee, claimed the funds allocated for the projects will be deposited to bogus foundations and then withdrawn and transferred to Napoles' bank accounts.

Kapunan dared investigators to unmask the supposed backers of Luy, who is the whistleblower in the case.
For more detail go to GMA network

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Maritime body notes waning piracy but remains a global threat

The number of attacks by pirates worldwide has fallen in the last year but armed robbery and kidnappings at sea have surged off the coast of west Africa, a maritime body said.

Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), urged west and central African leaders to act on an agreement reached last month to tackle the problem.

“This (code of conduct) should be translated soon into action on the water. If these attacks are left unchecked, they will become more frequent, bolder and more violent,’’ he said.

“Cooperation and capacity-building among the coastal states in this region is the way forward and urgently needed to make these waters safe for seafarers and vessels.’’

In the first six months of this year, the London-based IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre recorded 138 incidents worldwide, compared to 177 in the same period in 2012.

Hijackings fell from 20 to seven so far in 2013, while the number of sailors taken hostage fell from 334 to 127, the quarterly report said.

Attacks off the coast of Somalia have dropped “significantly’’ in the first half of 2013, largely due to increased military action, the IMB’s report said.

But it warned of increased pirate activity in the Gulf of Guinea, recording 31 incidents in the region – 22 of which took place off the coast of Nigeria.

USA: New Bill Could Shed Light on Crime Aboard Cruise Ships

Rep. Doris Matsua (D-CA) and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) on Tuesday introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act, which strengthens provisions in the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act that Congress passed in 2010. This development comes more than a year after the Investigative Unit first raised questions about the accuracy of crime statistics reported at sea.

The Cruise Passenger Protection Act requires cruise companies to install surveillance cameras in all common areas on-board and gives victims the right to obtain video surveillance records if they are part of a civil action against a cruise line.

For more details, read here:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Norway Is First to Sign Cape Town Fishing Vessel Safety Agreement

The Kingdom of Norway has become the first State to sign the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 on the Implementation of the Provisions of the 1993 Protocol relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977. 

The Cape Agreement of 2012 updates and amends a number of provisions of the Torremolinos Protocol. In ratifying the Cape Town agreement, Parties agree to amendments to the provisions of the 1993 Protocol, so that they can come into force as soon as possible thereafter.

Read more here:

Court hears how 32 died in Italy shipwreck - Costa Concordia

GROSSETO, Italy (AP) -- The Italian court trying the captain of the Costa Concordia heard grim details Wednesday about how the 32 victims of the shipwreck drowned, some after diving or falling into the sea from the capsized cruise liner when lifeboats were no longer accessible.
A court official read out the names of the deceased passengers and crew members, and described how each one died, quoting verbatim from the indictment of the Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino. The veteran Italian mariner is the sole defendant in the trial, which is being held in a theater in the Tuscan town of Grosseto.
Schettino is charged with manslaughter, causing the January 2012 shipwreck off the Tuscan island of Giglio, and abandoning ship with "hundreds of passengers and crew still aboard, unable to care for themselves or in need of coordination as the ship's tilt increased," the official said.
The Concordia, on a week-long Mediterranean cruise, speared a jagged granite reef when, prosecutors allege, Schettino steered the ship too close to Giglio's rocky shores as a favor to a crewman whose relatives live on the island.
The reef sliced a 70-meter-long (230-foot) gash in the hull. Seawater rushed in, causing the ship to rapidly lean to one side until it capsized, then drifted to a rocky stretch of seabed just outside the island's tiny port.
Survivors have described an evacuation that was so confused and delayed that by the time it got under way lifeboats on one side of the Concordia could no longer be launched because the vessel was already badly listing.
The reading of the list of the victims began with the death of a Frenchman, Francis Servel, who "not having found a place on the lifeboat, threw himself into the sea without a life vest." He was "sucked toward the bottom of the whirlpool produced by the final flipping over on the right side of the ship, and then died due to asphyxiation."
Shortly after the tragedy, survivors recounted how Servel had given his wife his life vest because she didn't know how to swim.
The bodies of victims No. 31 and 32 were never found, but after a long, futile search of the ship's interior and the nearby waters, they were declared dead.
One of them was a middle-aged Italian passenger, Maria Grazia Trecarichi, who, with no place on a lifeboat, and "while waiting to be rescued" while wearing a life vest, "slid off into the sea because of the progressive tilt of the boat" and presumably drowned, the court official said, reading from the indictment.
Victim No. 32 was a Filipino waiter, Russel Terence Rebello. The court heard how the crewman "remained on the ship to carry out the lowering of the last lifeboats" and either fell or dove into the sea because of the Concordia's dramatic tilt and was presumed to have drowned.
Other victims drowned aboard, as violently swirling water rose up inside the ship.
The court heard how some passengers were "sucked into a vortex" of water rushing into the ship when the Concordia capsized. This happened after the crew told them to go to the other side of the ship where lifeboats were being launched, and the passengers ended up trying to walk down a tilting corridor.
Wednesday was the first full one-day hearing in the trial, which is expected to last into next year. Last week it was postponed by a lawyers' strike.
Earlier Wednesday, lawyers for Schettino said they were making a last-ditch attempt to reach a plea bargain in the case, which could result in a long prison sentence if the captain is convicted.
One of his lawyers, Donato Laino, told reporters the defense wanted a deal that would see Schettino plead guilty in exchange for a three-year, five-month sentence.
Schettino risks up to 20 years, if found guilty of manslaughter and the other charges.
The bid is essentially a "formality since the prosecution will tell us 'no,'" the LaPresse news agency quoted Laino as saying.
It was not immediately clear when a ruling regarding the plea bargain might come. But prosecutor Francesco Verusio told reporters during a recess that he has opposed it because of the "seriousness of the conduct of the accused."
In May, a different judge in pretrial hearings rejected Schettino's first bid for a plea bargain after the prosecution said no.
But deals have been approved for the five other defendants, including the helmsman and other ship officers who were on the bridge of the ship with Schettino when it rammed the reef. The five included an official of the Italian cruise company Costa Crociere SpA who was managing the crisis on land.
A judge is expected to rule on Saturday on those defendants' requests for lenient sentences, no longer than about two years. In Italy, sentences are often suspended in the cases of first time offenders that result in punishments of a just a few years or less.
That would leave Schettino, who depicts himself as an innocent scapegoat, as the only defendant risking a long sentence.
Prosecutors have alleged he deliberately guided the ship dangerously close to the island's rocky coast. The maneuver "was a favor that the commander, Schettino, wanted to do" for a crew member whose family lives on Giglio "so they could watch an ultra-close passage (of the Concordia) near the coast," Verusio told reporters outside the courtroom.
Some of the 4,200 passengers and crew members who were aboard the Concordia said Schettino shouldn't be the only person tried.
"Frankly, I'm not angry with Schettino," said Gianluca Gabrielli, a 33-year-old Roman who is a surviving passenger. "I'm angry with the whole crew. They were smiling at the beginning, but when they realized that there was danger, they escaped, abandoning us," Gabrielli said outside the Grosseto theater, which is serving as a makeshift courtroom to allow more space for the public.
Many survivors who jumped into the sea and swam to shore have recalled their shock and amazement that Schettino was already there while others were still on the boat.
Most of the last survivors had to be lifted to safety from the capsized wreck by helicopters.
Many survivors and families of the people killed in the disaster have filed civil actions that could allow them to seek monetary compensation from Schettino, if he is convicted.
On Wednesday, Judge Giovanni Puliatti allowed the Italian cruise company Costa Crociere to do the same. In April, a judge in Tuscany fined Costa 1 million euros ($1.3 million) for the shipwreck, the maximum amount allowed under Italian law.
At Wednesday's trial, lawyers for Schettino and for survivors told the judge they objected to letting Costa attach a civil action to the criminal trial. But Puliatti sided with the company, indicating there was no such contradiction.
Most of the seats in the theater Wednesday were empty, as it was widely expected that the hearing would be taken up by procedural matters, with no testimony scheduled.
Those issues include the judge's decision about which of some 150 witnesses will be called to testify and when. Testimony is unlikely to begin before September because courtrooms in Italy generally break for vacation in August.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

EU commits not to ban Filipino seafarers

Vice-President Jejomar Binay

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) has assured Vice President Jejomar Binay that the European Union has no plan to blacklist Filipino seafarers.

Binay, presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ concerns, has said the assurance came from ECCP vice president for external affairs Henry Schumacher.

Schumacher told Binay that Filipino seafarers will continue working in EU-flagged vessels.

“I am relieved to hear such reassurance that 80,000 of our seafarers in Europe are safe from the blacklist,” Binay said.

He said he was alarmed by news reports that the EU is poised to ban Filipino seafarers because of the Philippines’ failure to comply with the 1978 International Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers.

The STCW Convention sets qualification standards for officers and personnel on seagoing merchant ships.

The Philippines failed to meet EU standards on maritime education, training and competency certificates, according to the results of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) audit conducted in April.

Last month, Binay visited Hamburg, Germany upon invitation of Lloyd Shipping.

He assured EU shipowners employing Filipino seafarers of the Philippine government’s commitment to fully adhere to the STCW requirements.

EMSA is scheduled to conduct a follow-up inspection of Philippine maritime schools in October and no recommendation or decision will be made until the result of the audit is known.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Saudi Arabia Considers Purchase of 30 Mark V Patrol Boats

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress July 9 of a possible Foreign Military sale to Saudi Arabia of 30 Mark V patrol boats and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $1.2 billon.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of Saudi Arabia which has been, and continues to be, an important force for stability in the Middle East. This sale of Mark V patrol boats will give the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) an effective combat and threat deterrent capability to protect maritime infrastructure in the Saudi littorals. This acquisition will enhance the stability and security operations for boundaries and territorial areas encompassing the Saudi Arabian coastline.

Read more here: