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Monday, 28 February 2011

What next for P&I?

Another P&I renewal has come and gone. Nobody got very excited this time.

A lot of the pleasure has now gone out of the business. This is mostly the fault of the EU, especially all of it, for introducing such red herrings as the Treaty of Rome and the Solvency II regime. In the process it threatens to make the clubs look just like every other insurance company – grey.

If Brussels has its way, even the traditional schadenfreude enjoyed by those who like to identify which clubs have been the biggest winners and which the biggest losers at renewal will be lost, forever.

Many of us were brought up to believe that the only two things you needed to know about the clubs were that they may or may not have been started to insure the bit of the hull that commercial underwriters were too scared to pick up, this at a time when ships were presumably colliding with each other every day of the week. As long as there were more or less equal numbers of people to champion each argument, everything was all right – assuming, of course, that the balance sheet was Micawber-compliant. Other than that, the clubs could be trusted to know what they were doing.

How long before Brussels starts pushing for a change in the traditional February 20 renewal date for all P&I business? February 20 is supposed to be the day that the Baltic Sea unfreezes. But it can’t always do so on that day, can it? Did anybody check this year, for example?


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Wellard celebrates first air shipment to China and maritime shipment from Brazil

Wellard’s first consignment of breeding cattle to China by air has arrived safely and successfully in Hohhot, China.

Widely recognised for the maritime transport of livestock through its ownership of one of the largest and most modern livestock shipping fleets in the world, Wellard completed its inaugural airfreight live export to China when 7 bulls, and 175 pregnant and 74 unjoined heifers were flown from Melbourne, Victoria.

The Wagyu and Angus cattle were sourced from Victoria and were flown to China on board a Qantas 747 400 specialised cargo plane. They were aggregated and prepared for export at Wellard’s AQIS-registered quarantine facility, Turkey Heath, in Western Victoria.

Wellard Rural Exports Managing Director Steve Meerwald said the intense focus on optimal animal welfare outcomes that Wellard applies to its shipping fleet was extended to the air cargo.

“Livestock preparation and care in transit are crucial to maximising animal welfare whether by air or sea, and the great results we achieved with this air cargo reflected our focus on those two key elements,” Mr Meerwald said.

“The aviation transport of livestock is a specialised industry and we expect that this will be the start of more regular flights for Wellard. Our customer has been very happy with the results so far.”

Last year Wellard shipped 16,000 cattle to China on board its specialist livestock vessels. Mr Meerwald said maritime transport was the most efficient method of exporting cattle to China, but in certain cases aviation transport was required. He noted, “This small, specialised cargo of high-value breeding cattle could only be supplied by air, and feedback from our customer is that they are very satisfied with the quality of the animals and that they have travelled very well”

In a week of firsts, Wellard has also just shipped its first consignment of cattle from Brazil. Wellard’s Ocean Drover sailed from Belem, Brazil, with 17,000 Nelore bulls last week. The doubling of Wellard’s livestock fleet from two vessels to four in 2010 enabled Wellard to expand its live export supply chain from Australia to New Zealand last year and to Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia in South America this year.

The Wellard fleet of livestock vessels is one of the largest and the most technologically advanced in the world, enabling it to export and ship livestock at the highest level of shipping and animal standards from every port of loading to every port of discharge all around the globe.

“Wellard is an expanding, international trading business. In recent years Wellard has invested in broadacre farming in Australia, beef and sheepmeat exports, shipping and feedlots in the Middle East and South East Asia, as well as increasing its live export footprint,” Wellard Executive Chairman Mauro Balzarini said. “The first shipment from Brazil continues that growth.”

Mr Meerwald said the addition of South American shipments to Wellard’s large Australian operations and experience would aid the growth of the international live export industry. “The additional shipping capacity we now have built and commissioned will enable Wellard to operate efficiently and professionally in the global marketplace,” he said. “Interest in the international trade is increasing and Wellard has been able to meet that demand for high quality shipping services.”

Wellard General Manager – Cattle, Anthony Fellows, oversaw the shipment on the Ocean Drover. “It was very exciting to work in Brazil and I am happy with how things have developed,” Mr Fellows said. “Of course we have to go through a learning process as it was very different to operating in Australia, where the Wellard organisation is well established after exporting more than 1.5 million cattle.

“However, the cattle industry is very professional in Brazil and the cattle quality is excellent. All the ingredients required to establish a similarly efficient operation to Australia are present in Brazil, which, combined with our expanded, modern fleet, will make our operations here a success.”

Wellard International General Manager Henry Steingiesser helped to establish the Brazilian shipment. “Local Brazilian cattle producers welcome a new player in the market and especially one with Wellard’s reputation for professionalism and high animal welfare standards,” he said. “It gives Brazilian cattle farmers more options for the sale of their cattle.

“Wellard is now seeking to establish a presence in a number of South American countries to utilise our bank of knowledge and expertise which has been built on 30 years of exporting livestock to the highest possible animal welfare standards. The Balzarini family have operated extensively from South America in the past, so I am confident we can build a solid business here to complement our Australia operations.”

The shipment of cattle aboard the Ocean Drover from Brazil was preceded by a shipment of 7,700 cattle on the Ocean Outback from Montevideo, Uruguay, and the transport of 17,000 Colombian cattle to Beirut on the Ocean Drover. Wellard’s other ships are deployed on Australian cattle duties. The Ocean Swagman is enroute to Portland to load dairy cattle for export to China. The Ocean Shearer has just discharged Western Australian cattle in Indonesia and will next transport cattle from Portland and Fremantle to Turkey and sheep and cattle to Saudi Arabia.

For a photograph of the Ocean Drover, email:

Wellard is a world leader in the production and distribution of livestock and grain. Its two largest subsidiaries are Wellard Rural Exports, Australia’s largest livestock exporter and shipowner, and Wellard Agri, a large mixed farming land owner and operator specialising in the production of grains, legumes and livestock. Wellard Rural Exports has supplied quality dairy and beef cattle and sheep and goats to the world for more than 30 years, and its investment in the live export industry is without peer. Based in Fremantle, the company’s operations cover every aspect of the export chain, including feed milling, livestock aggregation, road transport, feedlot facilities throughout Australia and modern shipping.

The company’s flagship carrier, the Ocean Drover (formerly the Becrux), is a purpose-built livestock carrier capable of carrying 75,000 sheep or 18,000 cattle from Australia to major markets around the globe. It was commissioned in 2002. Its Ocean Shearer (formerly the Stella Deneb) can carry 125,000 sheep or 23,000 cattle, or a combination of both. Two new, technologically advanced, purpose-built vessels, the Ocean Swagman and the Ocean Outback, were launched in 2010.

Wellard Agri owns and operates eight farms covering 33,000 hectares across three agri-hubs. The two northern hubs are located at Dongara and Watheroo in Western Australia’s central midlands and one is located at Kojonup in the Great Southern region of WA. The Dongara hub is home to The Grange, a 14,500 hectare property which is considered one of Western Australia’s blue chip farming properties.

For further information please contact:
Cameron Morse
Phone: + 61 8 9386 1233
Mobile: +61 433 886 8714

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RINA co-ordinates EU information highway development

International classification society RINA is co-ordinating, on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Transport, a Euro16m EU-funded project to develop a new information highway for shipping and logistics.

The Multimodal Interoperability E-services for Logistics and Environment sustainability (MIELE) project falls under the TEN-T EA Trans European Transport Network Executive Agency and brings together authorities, ports, terminals and shipping and logistics operators in five countries with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) providers to deliver a pilot system which will speed data interchange throughout the logistics chain, with special emphasis on the ship-shore interface.

Mario Dogliani, head of research and development for RINA, says, “Cutting out bottlenecks in information flows will speed the movement of goods around Europe.

"Today, each port and country has its own information systems. We want to devise a middleware system so that everyone talks to everyone else in the same language. It is a move towards the ideal of a single window communication for logistics information. At the same time as the EU is building the motorways of the sea, we are building an information highway for shipping.”

Partners in the project include RINA, Grimaldi Napoli, The Italian Ministry of Transport, Terminal San Giorgio, Cyprus Port Authority, IPTM (the Portuguese Agency in charge of Ports and Maritime Transport), Gijon Port Authority, Lisbon and Leixoes port authorities, Jacobs University, Spain’s CIMNE, ICT companies Compass (Spain), IB (Italy) and CAP (Italy) and PLAZA (the Logistic Platform of Zaragoza).

NOTE TO EDITORS: On February 28 and March 1 RINA is organising a seminar in Genoa which will bring together the MIELE partners, leaders in the Motorways of the Sea project, EU transport officials and parliamentarians and key shipping and logistics leaders and authorities from the Mediterranean area to discuss development of the Motorways of the Sea project in the Mediterranean.

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact

RINA is one of the oldest classification societies and certification companies in the world. Established in Genoa in 1861 to serve the marine industry, today it spans the globe as a multinational and multi-faceted company, sharing its knowledge and experience through a wide range of services which help industries and the community to improve their businesses and quality of life. RINA’s services cover the environment, energy, transportation, logistics, safety, quality and social responsibility.

For more information:

Mario Dogliani
Head of Research and Development
+ 39 010 5385398

Claudia Filippone
Press Co-ordinator
+39 010 538 5643

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Friday, 25 February 2011

Supply and demand

This will shock you. This will turn you white. Marine insurance underwriters are complaining that rates are becoming unsustainable and that, if things don’t change, they will stay as they are.

This argument has been running longer than The Mousetrap. And the thing that keeps it running is the fact that underwriters keep on writing business at very low rates.

The brokers, on the other hand, don’t agree that rates are low, and are determined to find even lower ones. Some were seen only this week.

What is the answer? (Please use both sides of the paper). Underwriters are perpetually heading for a disaster which is always just around the corner. Brokers are always looking to shave off a bit more than the next man. The only logical outcome is that rates will always go down, and the only logical winner is the shipowner.

Underwriters could help themselves a bit more. They could find a spokesman to replace Tony Nunn, for a start. Half the underwriters quoted in the paper these days are not really underwriters at all. They are just people photographed coming in and out of Lloyd’s.

Asked if he genuinely believed that rates would go up this year, one underwriter said, “I live in hope”. Interviewed for a response, a broker replied, “I live in Crawley”.


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Thursday, 24 February 2011

London P&I Club issues warning on fire-fighting preparedness

THE London P&I Club says the response to two recent onboard cargo fires has highlighted the value of both fire-fighting training and realistic shipboard drills for ships’ crews.

In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the club refers to a case where smoke was seen by the crew of a containership to be escaping from a container stuffed with bone meal in bulk.

The crew quickly established the best means of fighting a fire involving that commodity and then executed a well-drilled plan to extinguish the fire by flooding the container using a fire-fighting lance connected to a fire hose. The lance was introduced into the box through a hole which the crew punctured in the roof of the container.

The same technique was deployed when the bone meal inside a second container also started to self-heat.

By contrast, another crew’s response to a fire in cotton bales loaded in a tweendecker was significantly less effective.

While the master’s decision to deploy the CO2 fixed fire-fighting system was fully compliant with the IMDG Code recommendations, the crew’s failure to ensure that the cargo space was sealed before releasing the gas rendered the CO2 wholly ineffective.

The master subsequently sent the fire team into the cargo spaces to fight the fire with hoses. Unfortunately, one of the fire team apparently became disoriented in the thick smoke, suggesting that he had not received adequate training in fire-fighting techniques. He fell from the tweendeck level to the tank top, sustaining severe injuries.

The club notes, “Whereas the operators of the containership had a well-developed training programme, which included realistic drills on a range of different fire types and locations, there was no such prudent practice in place on the other ship.

"Owners must be aware of their obligations to conduct regular and realistic onboard emergency drills to the requirements of the flag state, SOLAS Convention and as provided for under the ISM Code Section 8 Emergency Preparedness”.

Elsewhere in StopLoss, the club looks at problems resulting from the carriage of nickel ore cargoes, measures for safe mooring, and new rules for ship-to-ship operations.


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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

String theory explained

What is the point of string theory? It is cropping up everywhere today. There are even some people who are trying to apply it to the shipping markets. Good luck with that one.

The first great achievement of string theory, according to the quantum gravity website which I check every day for news, was to give a consistent theory of quantum gravity which resembles GR at macroscopic distances. It doesn’t say what the second great achievement was. Neither does it help to try and get a mental picture of something which might resemble GR. Nothing springs to mind.

Let us examine this issue more closely. First, quantum gravity. This, we are told, is “a field of theoretical physics which tries to unify quantum mechanics with general relativity in a self-consistent manner or, more precisely, to formulate a self-consistent theory which reduces to ordinary quantum mechanics in the limit of weak gravity (potentials much less than c2) and which reduces to general relativity in the limit of large actions”.

It is difficult not to admire the “more precisely” in that description, as if what follows it is more precise than that which went before it. It isn’t. In fact, if we remove the meaningless words from that definition, we are left with “a field”, which is self-explanatory. The key word in the definition is ‘theoretical’ which, according to the dictionary, means “concerned with knowledge but not with its practical application” or, more precisely, nonsense.

Apparently, “a great hope was created that string theory would be able to unify all the known forces and particles together into a single theory of everything”. This didn’t materialise, however. What rotten luck.

We are told that the average size of a string should be somewhere near Planck length, which is about a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimetre. Hardly worth worrying about really.


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Monday, 21 February 2011

Bureau Veritas and Russian Register sign LNG/FPU co-operation agreement

Leading classification societies Bureau Veritas (BV) and Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) have signed a three-year co-operation agreement covering the development of joint guidelines for LNG carriers and Offshore Floating Production Units (FPUs).

Pierre Besse, Vice-President Research and Development for BV, says, “We are delighted to have reached this agreement with RS, which will greatly facilitate research into two technologically challenges areas of shipping. The agreement is based on the exchange of information for the mutual benefit of BV and RS, and for the maritime industry generally.

“We will now be able to combine the particular strengths of the BV and RS rules, to produce definitive guidelines which draw on the experience and expertise of both organisations. In addition, the co-operation agreement enables us to exchange information from the results of recent research projects, including those relating – but by no means limited - to operations in Arctic conditions.”

Dr. Sergey Koshchy, Senior RS Vice-Director General, noted: “The agreement sets out the key parameters for the co-operation and will help to concentrate our joint efforts in developing guidelines to enhance maritime safety and environmental protection”

Under the agreement, common guidelines for LNG carriers, based on GAP analyses as well as the BV and RS rules and the IMO IGC Code, are expected to be published in first-quarter 2012. These will include the requirement for operating in Arctic areas.

Work on producing common guidelines for FPUs, meanwhile, will start in third-quarter 2011. In addition to the parameters used for the LNG guidelines, these will include feedback gained from work undertaken in connection with a project involving the Shtokman natural gas field in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea, one of the largest in the world.

Bureau Veritas is a global leader in conformity assessment and certification services. Created in 1828, the Group has around 48,000 employees in 1,000 offices and 330 laboratories located in 140 countries. Bureau Veritas helps its clients to improve their performance by offering innovative services and solutions in order to ensure that their assets, products, infrastructures and processes meet standards and regulations in terms of quality, health and safety, environmental protection, and social responsibility.

Established in 1913, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) is a leading classification society. It is recognised by the European Union and is a member of IACS. RS is dedicated to ensuring high standards of maritime safety and minimising the negative impact of human activities on the environment through scientifically based risk assessment and risk management procedures.

www.bureauveritas.com for corporate information
www.veristar.com for marine information.

For more information:

Philippe Boisson
Bureau Veritas
+33 1 55 24 71 98

Pierre Besse
Director R&D
Bureau Veritas
+331 552 4 74 65

Vera M. Fomina,
RS Head Office
+7 812 312 88 78

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Friday, 18 February 2011

All or nothing on tax

Is it right to impose a tax on insurance premiums? Is that not just penalising the prudent?

The UK government doesn't think so, because it put Insurance Premium Tax up from five to six per cent last month. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said it could have been worse, and he should know.

The insurance team at Moore Stephens wrote about tax recently in its Devil's Dictionary newsletter column. Here is what it had to say.

Contrary to what the term implies, being zero-rated is a good thing, unless you are competing on X Factor. It always pays to engage immediately in anything zero-rated.

The real winners are those who take out a range of insurance policies, get their top set fixed at the dentist and enrol for back-to-back evening classes all on the same day. The Revenue can’t touch you for VAT.

Other zero-rated items in the UK include snake-belts and some forms of oxygen. But there is a catch.

In 1994, the government invented Insurance Premium Tax, which is the same as VAT except it doesn’t apply to international railway rolling stock. This is lucky.

If you and your three brothers each provide one-fourth of your mother’s total support, and one of you owns rolling stock, you can register as zero-rated. If you own a lifeboat, claim twice.

Beware, also, new EU rules on the reverse charge mechanism whereby importers must account for output tax on their VAT returns but can recover it on the same form, minus room tax.

The effect is to do away with zero-related items altogether, thus confirming the old Revenue adage, “If it moves, tax it; if it doesn’t move, paint it first and then tax it.”

Jaffa cakes are cakes and not biscuits, and are therefore zero-rated.


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Liberia completes first SRPS audit for MLC compliance

The Liberian Registry has carried out the first SRPS (Seafarer Recruitment and Placement Services) audit for compliance with the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006), ahead of its entry into force.

The audit was performed on behalf of Anglo Eastern Ship Management, at its offices in Mumbai, India, on February 16, 2011. The lead auditor was Anthony Geegbae from the US offices of the Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR), the managers of the Liberian Registry. Two Mumbai-based auditors, representing the Liberian Administration, were also in attendance.

Commending Anglo Eastern and its staff for their professionalism in maintaining a high standard of operations, the auditors recorded no deficiencies, and the Liberian Administration will now issue the relevant certification accordingly.

Liberia has consistently been a strong supporter and advocate of the Maritime Labour Convention. Capt David Pascoe, Senior VP, Maritime Operations & Standards for LISCR, says, “It is vital that we take the initiative on MLC which, for the most part, merely formalises many of the systems, procedures and agreements that quality shipowners already have in place relative to seafarer concerns.

“MLC should bring a new level of openness and communication that will help eliminate many of the frustrations and insecurities that seafarers have with their shipowners, managers and crewing agents, particularly because everything between them will be transparent, open and, ultimately, audited.”

Anglo Eastern, meanwhile, has been at the forefront of preparations for MLC compliance. Two of its trainers have completed the MLC course at the ILO in Turin and are qualified as inspectors and auditors. Anglo Eastern has already started conducting courses for MLC familiarisation and advanced courses for auditors.

The Liberian Registry is one of the world’s largest and most active shipping registers, with a long-established track record of combining the highest standards for vessels and crews with the highest standards of responsive service to owners. It has recently surpassed all-time tonnage records. http://www.liscr.com/

To download a high-resolution photo to illustrate this story, please go to: http://picasaweb.google.com/Merlinclients/LiberianRegistry

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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Future imperfect

As if the whole idea of freight futures is not ridiculous enough, there is something called ‘sleeving’ taking place. We only know about this because the Supreme Court let it slip recently, and it makes you wonder what else is going on.

In Oceanbulk Shipping and Trading v TMT Asia, the Supreme Court dealt with an appeal in a dispute between two parties over a series of FFAs. The seller bet (the judge’s word) that the market rate on the settlement dates would be lower than the contract rate, and the buyer bet (the judge’s word) that it would be higher.

If it was higher on a given settlement day, the seller was obliged to pay the difference between the two rates multiplied by the contract period, which was usually the number of days in the month divided by the distance from the earth to the moon.

If you gamble, you should be prepared to lose. This, however, was not the meat of the appeal. This was concerned with the scope of the ‘without prejudice’ rule, whereby somebody says something but doesn’t want anybody else to know about it.

The upshot is that something called the ‘interpretation exception’ has now been introduced into English law, which means that the courts still can’t hear what you said at the time but Lord Clarke can poke around looking for clues.

This is what most people will remember the case for. It will stick in the minds of others, however, for the description given to the court of sleeving, an ‘arrangement whereby one party (Party B) will, at the request of another party (Party A) enter into a specific FFA trade with a third party (Party C) and Party B will then replicate that position back-to-back with Party B’.

Apparently, they can’t touch you for it. Those who argue that FFAs are not a form of gambling are on a level with the blackjack player who claimed that he wasn’t addicted to gambling, but to sitting in a semi-circle.


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Bureau Veritas speeds deepwater development with Brazilian university

LEADING international classification society Bureau Veritas has agreed a technical co-operation deal with COPPE/UFRJ, the Ocean Engineering department of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, to set up a joint development centre.

The move builds on successful co-operation agreements with nineteen leading universities in China, Russia, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, Taiwan and France and is intended to speed the development of tools and technical requirements needed to facilitate Brazil’s expansion into deep offshore oil exploitation.

Pierre Besse, Vice-President Research and Development for Bureau Veritas says, “We will initially have four people working full time on the Rio university development group, so we can marry up the modelling strengths and structure experience of Bureau Veritas with the academic and practical expertise in the offshore sector in Brazil.

"We expect to see real useable tools and new software and technical developments to help get the next generation of floaters and deep water subsea systems on stream quickly and safely.

"The Ocean Basin at COPPE/UFRJ is equipped with sophisticated multi-directional wave generators and the deepest model basin in the world and we can use those to develop safe and clean technologies to promote deepwater offshore energy exploitation.

"The projects will be mainly linked to the development of technology for the exploration and production of the recently discovered pre-salt fields in ultra-deep waters in the offshore Santos Basin in Brazil.”

Segen Farid Stefen, Director of Technology and Innovation of COPPE/UFRJ, says, “The co-operation agreement is a natural step which reflects the maturity of BV's presence in Brazil and its willingness to join forces with the academic community to develop technology to the benefit of the industry and the country.

"The first development project is already under way, tackling some important aspects in the evaluation of DP (Dynamic Positioning systems) for oil shuttle tankers, in connection with off-loading operations offshore.”

Bureau Veritas currently works jointly with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Tianjin University, Dalian University of Technology and Harbin Engineering University in China, ICOFFSHORE (Hanoi) and VIMARU (Haiphong) in Vietnam, the University of Technology of Malaysia, the National University of Singapore, Pusan National University and Seoul National University in Korea, the University of Western Australia, National Taiwan university and National Kaohsiung Marine University, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, the State Maritime Technology University (St Petersburg) in Russia and in France, Ecole Centrale de Nantes, Ecole Centrale de Marseille, ENSTA Paritech and ENSTA Bretagne.

“Working with universities is a win-win situation,” says Besse. “The universities can engage with the real technological problems facing society and we can tap into high-level academic groups, sharing ideas and expertise and also broadening our cultural outlook so that we can think and approach problems in a truly global way.

"The results so far are impressive. For example, working jointly with Harbin University, we are producing a fully coupled analysis of deep water floating systems, which helps develop TLP/Spars/FLNG projects by delivering the latest in hydrodynamic modelling.

"With St Petersburg we have developed IceSTAR, an impressive tool for modelling the response of structures to ice, and we have a lot more cutting-edge developments in the pipeline.”

Besse says, “We see academic co-operation as much more than linking our name with a university and providing scholarships, although we do that. We work in a large number of joint industry projects with other companies and institutes, and we believe that wide sharing of knowledge promotes faster and safer development.

"Setting up active departments within universities and bringing academics into our R&D teams is an extension of that collaborative approach.”

Bureau Veritas is a global leader in conformity assessment and certification services. Created in 1828, the Group has around 48,000 employees in 1,000 offices and 330 laboratories located in 140 countries.

Bureau Veritas helps its clients to improve their performances by offering innovative services and solutions in order to ensure that their assets, products, infrastructures, and processes meet standards and regulations in terms of quality, health and safety, environmental protection, and social responsibility.

http://www.bureauveritas.com/for corporate information
http://www.veristar.com/for marine information.

For more information:

Philippe Boisson
Bureau Veritas
+33 1 55 24 71 98

Pierre Besse
Director R&D
Bureau Veritas
+331 552 4 74 65


Monday, 14 February 2011

Guidance required

The UK government has delayed bringing in the Bribery Act 2010 on April 1 this year until it can offer businesses more guidance on the subject. This hasn’t gone down too well with anybody, except the businesses.

It is impossible to over-emphasise how many businesses are unprepared for the new Bribery Act. We could try, but suffice to say that a recent survey found that almost two-thirds of UK insurance firms, for example, are not prepared for it.

I was talking to an old friend just the other day (well, it may not have been quite the other day – just after we voted to go into the Common Market, it was) who reminded me of the occasion when, as a marine insurance broker, he was offered a consignment of East European shoes as an inducement to transact a piece of business. He said no, because he was all right for shoes at the time, but this sort of thing goes on every day of the week in insurance.

Of course one man’s bribe is another woman’s kindness. Expensive lunches can be construed as bribes if they are a means by which to gain an unfair business advantage. But how do we define unfairness?

Following the recent furore about the Pakistan cricket betting scandal, somebody suggested that we will have to think of an alternative expression to ‘It’s not cricket’ to describe something which is unfair. The answer is obvious – just leave out the word ‘not’.



Friday, 11 February 2011

Multraship’s Kees Muller is knighted by Netherlands for services to maritime sector

KEES Muller, of leading towage and salvage specialist Multraship, has received a knighthood from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in recognition of his contribution over many years to promoting the maritime sector in general - and Multraship and the port of Terneuzen in particular - and for his charitable work.

Kees (Cornelis Levinus) Muller received his decoration as a Knight in the Order of Oranje Nassau from Jan Lonink, Mayor of Terneuzen, on February 4, 2011, during the christening celebrations for Multraship’s two latest tugs, Multratug 3 and Multratug 18. The Royal Order is traditionally bestowed on the official birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands, but an exception was made on this occasion to mark Kees’s 50th anniversary in the industry.

Multraship is 26 years old this year, having been started by Kees Muller and his wife, Heleen, who has provided unwavering help and support through good times and bad. Now 66 years of age, Kees has transferred the daily management of Multraship to his children and family, but still retains a strong interest in the business and in the industry it serves.

Multraship managing director Leendert Muller says, “We are all delighted that Kees has been recognised in this way, which is also an acknowledgement of the achievements of Multraship and of the Muller family, which has been involved in the towage and salvage sector now for over a hundred years.”

Multraship is a leading Dutch towage and salvage company. It draws on a century of experience in the maritime sector. Multraship’s core operations include salvage, wreck removal, harbour towage, coastal and deep-sea towage, services to the dredging, offshore and wind-farm industries, and support for inland navigation. It operates and manages a large fleet of tugs, salvage vessels, floating sheerlegs and other craft equipped with modern towage, salvage and fire-fighting equipment and manned by experienced and highly-trained masters and crew.

For more information contact:
Eline Muller
Multraship B.V.
Tel. +31 (0) 115 645 000

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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Supreme but hip

It was good to see that the Supreme Court in London recently handed down a decision which clarifies the law relating to perils of the sea and inherent vice. It needed clarifying, and some of us had been thinking of doing it ourselves if nothing happened soon.

What is more difficult to get used to is the knowledge that the UK has a Supreme Court in the first place, or the second place for that matter. Some of us, even now, are waiting for the perils of the sea decision to go to the House of Lords. But we will have a long wait, because it is no longer the highest court of appeal in the land.

The world is changing. Just the other day the Supreme Court justices said they were happy for journalists and members of the public to tweet news of the court proceedings to their chums on the outside. It is just possible they had no idea what they were talking about.

There are few cases that would get people tweeting about shipping, where the most exciting news can be the 500th attempt of the Hoboken courts to define what constitutes a package under the Hague Rules. But it does show how the law is changing. Not so long ago, judges were expected not to know who The Beatles were. Next they will be wearing shorts.


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Multraship christens its two latest tugs

Multraship christens its two latest tugs

LEADING towage and salvage specialist Multraship christened its two newest Azimuth stern-drive multipurpose tugs in a special ceremony at the Portaal van Vlaanderen in Terneuzen, the Netherlands, on February 4, 2011.

Joan Nuijten-Muller of Multraship performed the christening ceremony on Multratug 18, which was delivered in 2009 by the Vega Shipyard in Bandirma, Turkey. Multratug 18 is 35.7 m loa, with a moulded beam of 11.50 m, and is designed for a multi-role capability for harbour, escort and sea towage as well as fire-fighting and salvage roles. It is chiefly employed in a deep-sea role, but can be deployed as and when needed in the River Scheldt area.

Multratug 18 has FiFi 1 fire-fighting, salvage, escort towage and oil recovery notations, and is powered by two ABC diesel engines, which deliver 70 tons bollard pull. It has a double drum winch aft and a single drum winch forward and a free running speed of 13.5 knots. It is classed by Italian classification society RINA and is registered under the Dutch flag.

Eline Muller of Multraship, meanwhile, christened Multratug 3, which was built in Vietnam by Damen Shipyards and delivered to Terneuzen in late December 2010. Multratug 3 will mainly operate for Antwerp Towage NV, a 50/50 joint venture between Multraship and Fairplay Towage, but will also be available for emergency response work, including fire-fighting, in the River Scheldt area.

With FiFi fire-fighting, a maximum bollard pull of 94.7 tonnes, an overall length of 32.14 m, and a beam of 13.29 m, the vessel is capable of a speed of 14.7 knots. It is classed by Lloyd’s Register and is registered under the Dutch flag. It is currently the strongest tug in the area.

Also on display at the christening ceremony was Multraship’s floating sheerlegs Cormorant, recently upgraded to 600 tonnes lifting capacity and with its new A-frame proudly in place.

Multraship is an established and widely respected provider of towage and salvage services, including harbour towage and other port-related services in Terneuzen, Ghent, Flushing, Antwerp and nearby areas as well as in the Black Sea port of Bourgas. Together with Fairplay Towage, it also operates Antwerp Towage NV, which has been a great success since it was launched in 2008, and continues to build on its client base. As a result of the ongoing fleet investment typified by these two latest tugs, the established expertise and leading-edge technology of Multraship is available to respond to the needs of its clients, in port or at sea, where and when it is needed.

Multraship is a leading Dutch towage and salvage company. It draws on a century of experience in the maritime sector. Multraship’s core operations include salvage, wreck removal, harbour towage, coastal and deep-sea towage, services to the dredging, offshore and wind-farm industries, and support for inland navigation. It operates and manages a large fleet of tugs, salvage vessels, floating sheerlegs and other craft equipped with modern towage, salvage and fire-fighting equipment and manned by experienced and highly-trained masters and crew. www.multraship.com

For more information contact:
Eline Muller
Multraship B.V.
Tel. +31 (0) 115 645 000

To download a high-resolution photo of the christening ceremony or the ships, please go to: http://picasaweb.google.com/Merlinclients/Multraship

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Monday, 7 February 2011

IBIA team expands in Singapore

IBIA team expands in Singapore

THE International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) has appointed Kwok Fook Sing as the new full-time regional manager of its Asia branch in Singapore.

Kwok Fook Sing will be responsible for increasing technical support to members, both regionally and globally, as well as developing the IBIA training courses and the Asia membership.

Fook Sing has over twenty years’ experience in the maritime industry. Before joining IBIA, he was employed as Marine Engineering Manager at Wavelink Maritime Institute Pte Ltd, where he developed, implemented and managed the IBIA Bunker Surveyor Course as well as other courses for the Maritime Port Authority, Singapore.

This experience will now be used to manage the IBIA training course portfolio and to help IBIA offer technical advice and support to its members.

Fook Sing says, “Bunkering plays a vital role in the maritime industry. It has evolved into a specialised business, managed by suitably qualified and experienced people. I am passionate about training, and I am looking forward to using my experience, both as a seagoing marine engineer and in the shore-based sector, to improve still further the training and competence levels throughout IBIA”.

Ian Adams, chief executive of IBIA, says, “Over the last two years IBIA has experienced a big increase in its membership, and we have to ensure that our staffing levels are sufficient to meet the members’ expectations. I am very confident that we have found the right person in Kwok Fook Sing to help develop our Singapore branch and to increase the level of technical skills available to our members globally, and particularly in the Far East and Australasia.”

Note to editors
Founded in 1993, IBIA is the trade association of the global bunker industry. Its membership is drawn from bunker buyers, traders, brokers, suppliers and service companies worldwide. IBIA is dedicated to promoting quality and professionalism in international bunkering, and is engaged in a series of long-term initiatives designed to raise standards in the industry.

For more information:
Ian Adams
+44 (0) 2380 226 555

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Friday, 4 February 2011

Global environmental and safety certification first for Ignazio Messina

Ignazio Messina & C. S.p.A has become the first Italian shipping group with an integrated logistics system to attain Environmental (ISO 14001) and Health and Safety (OHSAS 18001) certification for all its activities. Certification was provided by Italian certification company and classification society RINA.

This considerable achievement is the culmination of a long process of intense activity aimed at preventing industrial accidents as well as environmental pollution, which the company’s top management have pursued with determination and perseverance.

The process began in 2001 when the company obtained its first Occupational Health and Safety Certificate for the Nino Ronco Terminal in the port of Genoa - an initiative which, at the time, represented a real cultural evolution towards transparency and the desire to provide and operate in total safety. Ignazio Messina thereafter decided to extend this process to the Group’s complex activities, resulting now in a new first for the maritime sector.

With its ninety years of history and over a thousand employees, Ignazio Messina & C. S.p.A. has implemented an integrated Environmental, Occupational Health and Safety Management System in compliance with the international voluntary standards ISO 14001/2004 and BS OHSAS 18001/2007 at the Ronco port terminal and at the administrative and commercial offices of the company’s headquarters in Genoa and local offices situated throughout Italy.

Implementation of an integrated Environmental and Safety Management System and its subsequent certification enables the company to activate a process of constant self-checking relating to its performance. It also leads - through a dynamic approach to the problems identified - to continuous improvement in the conditions recorded and to a new definition of the objectives, following a review of the results obtained, thus increasing the company’s credibility with clients, institutional bodies and the local community.

The advantages associated with Environmental and Safety certification can be summarised as follows:

• promotion of industrial accident prevention, and continuous environmental performance improvement and protection of the health and safety of employees, third parties and the community;

• reduced environmental risks during the performance of the company’s activities;

• reduced management costs linked to the prevention of undesired events, such as industrial accidents and environmental impacts, both of which entail high economic and social costs;

• more effective management of mandatory legal requirements in the health, safety and environmental fields;

• the company’s credibility and visibility are guaranteed by voluntary certification, issued by a certification body accredited in accordance with international standards.

Ignazio Messina & C SpA
Daniel Bo
Mob: +39 3481 309352

Claudia Filippone
Mob: +39 3346 052004

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Liberia’s IMO contribution is single largest payment from a member state

THE Republic of Liberia has paid in full its Annual Assessment Contribution for 2011 to the International Maritime Organisation. On Wednesday, February 2, 2011, Binyah C Kesselly, Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority and new Permanent Representative to IMO for Liberia, presented IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E Mitropoulos with a cheque for the sum of £2,826,000 ($4.52m) to cover the 2011 payment. Mr Mitropoulos confirmed that this is the single largest payment the IMO has received at one time from a member state.

The IMO assessment is based on the size of the fleet under the registers of individual countries. The Liberian fleet now exceeds 112m gross tons, making it the world’s second largest ship registry.

Mr Kesselly says, “The prompt payment of such a significant sum of money, at a time of continuing worldwide economic downturn, underlines the Liberian government’s recognition of the vital role that shipping plays in Liberia’s economy, and the equally vital role that Liberia plays in world shipping. It also demonstrates the importance that Liberia attaches to the work of the IMO in promoting safe and efficient shipping as well as the invaluable work of the IMO Secretariat.”

Mr Kesselly took the opportunity to thank Mr Mitropoulos for the support provided by the IMO in setting up and opening the Maritime Training Institute in Liberia. For his part, Mr Mitropoulos wished Liberia well in its efforts to once more become an IMO Council member.

Also present at the official payment ceremony were Margaret Ansumana and Emmanuel Reeves, Deputy Commissioners for Maritime Affairs of the Liberia Maritime Authority, and Jonathan Spremulli, General Manager of the Liberian Registry’s London Office.


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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Liberian-flag fleet doubles in ten years as ship numbers reach 3,500

The Liberian-flag fleet posted record growth figures in 2010 and has now doubled in size in the ten years since the management of the Liberian Registry was assumed by the US-based Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR).

The Liberian-flag fleet was boosted by 586 new registrations last year. Of these, 149 were newbuildings. Net growth was 338 vessels, aggregating 13.6m gt. The average age of the 586 new registrations was 5.46 years, compared to the 17.32 average age of those vessels removed from the registry. The average age of the Liberian-flag fleet is now just 12 years.

Scott Bergeron, Chief Operating officer of LISCR, says, “The phenomenal growth under LISCR management is testament to the quality of service and responsiveness provided by the Liberian Registry. Furthermore, throughout the course of this rapid expansion, Liberia’s Port State Control performance and its safety record with all independent rating bodies has been outstanding. We will continue to seek further selective, planned growth of our quality fleet, the average age of which is falling significantly as more and more owners join the registry”.

Liberia passed the 3,500-vessel mark with the registration of the 319,000 dwt oil/ore carrier G Whale, built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in Korea to Lloyd’s Register class for operation by Today Makes Tomorrow (TMT) Shipping of Taiwan. Bergeron says, “We are delighted to share this milestone registration with Mr Nobu Su’s innovative company, TMT, and are particularly satisfied to see continued growth in our Far East client base.”

The Liberian Registry is one of the world’s largest and most active shipping registers, with a long-established track record of combining the highest standards for vessels and crews with the highest standards of responsive service to owners.


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A sense of direction

In the January 31 edition of Lloyd’s List, Michael Grey laments the decline of education standards – and particularly those relating to the teaching of geography - in the UK. He is quite right. Our generation grew up knowing the important things about geography. We knew what was north of Cape Hatteras, we knew that Greenland wasn’t really as big as it looked on the map, and we knew that Chile was the long thin one in South America. Set us down on a bald man’s head, and we could find our way anywhere.

That is not the case today. We live in a society in which contestants on TV quiz shows tell us that Peru is the capital of Chile, and that Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Austria. And it is not only geography teaching which is in decline. Ask those same TV quiz contestants a question relating to anybody or anything which is more than twenty years old and they will declaim, “Oh, that was before my time”, as if this were some sort of justification for wilful ignorance. The present generation finds it quaint that we used to learn about things that happened hundreds of years before we were born, and then used that information to inform our understanding of contemporary issues. It was called history.

Geography needn’t be dull. There are few things more fascinating than a good atlas, even if a third of the countries of the world are no longer coloured in pink. Geography is about more than finding your way about the place, too. It is about intuition, and instinct. Henri Charriere, in his book Banco, recalls how he once stopped on a street in Caracas and asked a local how long it would take him to get to the address he was heading for. The man drew in his breath, reflected for a moment, and said, “Oh, about two cigarettes”.

The only comparable directions I can recall are those offered on numerous occasions by Michael Grey himself, across the desk we shared at Fairplay. Michael used mercatorial projection theory in reverse to make his calculations. Wherever I was trying to get to, be it Harrow or Montmartre, he would say, after only a moment’s consideration, “Right. That’s only half an hour from your house”.


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