Saturday, June 7, 2008

Maritime News Briefs

Maritime news reports that a group of Somali gunman who recently hijacked two ships now say they are not pirates but, "gentlemen who work the oceans" to rid Somali waters of ships that are damaging the environment.
The gunmen hijacked the tug Svitzer Korsakov on February 15t and claim they did so because the tug is, "part ofthe environmental destruction being committed by various foreign ships off the Somali shores".
The 35-meter Svitzer Korsakov is an ice breaking class tug, built in Rus­sia for the Dutch company Svitzer and was on its delivery voyage en route to the Russian island of Sakhalin. It had traveled to Singapore from St. Peters­burg and was hijacked after leaving the Somali port of Bossaso. The tug is one of several supporting LNG production in Far East Russia.
The pirates, calling themselves the Ocean Salvation Corps, are said to be Somali nationals, "who took upon themselves to protect the country's shores". The crew includes a British master, an Irish chief engineer, a Russian chief officer and three Russian crewmembers. All six are reported to be in good condi­tion and safe.

The timber carrier Ice Prince lost part of its deck load, listed, lost power, and eventually sank. A badly injured crewman was helicoptered off. Soon, more than 2,000 tons of its deck cargo of sawn timbers were littering the shore, looking in aerial photos like straw cast on the beaches. On the US West coast, the 45-foot Joe Foss sank while en route to a new home. Its crew ofthree were rescued. On the Canadian East coast, the small tug Check-Mate II sank while en route to a new home. The crew of two were found dead floating in survival suits that "had considerable water inside."

The Danish tanker Hanne Theresa ran aground in the Gulf of Finland on its ways to load a cargo ofliquid fertilizer. In the same Gulf, the RMS Satma ran aground and got holed in the process. The vehicle carrier City of Sun derlan d ran aground off Norfolk, UKbutthetugs Svitzer Trimley and Grey Test pulled it off. The product tanker Mariella dragged its anchor in Weymouth Bay and nearly went aground. Luckily, the large tug A nglian Earl was working on a nearby wreck project and provided a helping line.
In Denmark, the coaster South Michele was blown out of the channel and aground at Naksov. The same ship went aground at Naksov in December, that time due to a drunken Russian master. Also in Denmark, the bulker Trans Pacific with 68,978 tons of potash for US farmers ran aground. It was soon refloated by a fleet of sal­vaging vessels. In Northern Ireland, the RNLI lifeboat Katie Hannan was thrown ashore on rocky Rathlin Island and badly holed during a rescue and its crew of three needed rescuing by a smaller lifeboat. The Hannan will be retrieved from the land side. The Irish Sea ro/ro ferry Riverdance was hit by a freak wave and ended on its side on the beach at Blackpool a winter-time attraction at the famed playground for lower-class Brits. In South America, a big articulated tug/barge loaded with coils of sheet steel ended up on its side on a sandbar at Sao Francisco do Sol in Brazil.

In Peru the navy's bunker barge Bap Sude exploded three times and sank two hours later while transporting crude oil from a commercial oil platform to a state-owned refinery. In the Adriatic the Turkish cargo ship Und Adriyatak loaded with 200 trucks and more caught fire and pollution of Croatian beaches was feared (needlessly, it turned out). The Chinese freighter Jin Hui arrived at Geelong with a cargo of smoldering palm kernels (used for cattle feed). The container ship MSC Chancea had an engine room fire off Saldanha Bay in South Africa and yelled for help but the crew managed to kill the fire without that help.

In Ronne, Denmark, the St Vincent ­registered coaster Rybun and the Danish suction dredger Ahiseli collided, with the dredge getting the worst of it. Both managed to sail into port. In Kola Bay, the tanker Usinsk collided with the large tanker Belokamenka. No leak­ages. Off the Isles of Scilly at Great Britain's western end, the Horncliff lost some containers overboard in Force 10 winds and ran into one of them, badly holing itself. A search was initiated for the floating containers before their cargoes of bananas got too ripe. Off South Korea, a cargo ship and a tug collided; the ship sank.
The boom of a container crane at Southampton collapsed across the container ship Kyoto Express, putting a stop to work there for some time. Egypt sought the cargo ship Badr 1 (named after Pakistan's first satellite?) in the Red Sea after it and its crew of 17 had not been heard from for several days. The Russian cargo ship Captain Ustinov was missing in the East China Sea for more than two weeks but was found by Chinese services. For some time, it was surmised that it might have been taken by pirates.

In the Mediterranean, the gigantic (13,500 TEU) newbuild container ship Elly Maersk had engine problems and needed tug help. The cargo ship Suva docked at Dover with two crewmembers dead from unknown causes. The cargo ship Susie asked French authorities to evacuate one of its crewmen who was suffering from giddiness. Helicoptered ashore, he was dead on arrival. Then another crewman needed evacuation same symptoms. The cause may have been phosphine intoxication from an anti-germination coating on the ship's cargo of peas. A big wave hit the bulker Grand Glory off Canada's West Coast and five were injured, two seriously enough to be hospitalized. And a lifeboat dropped on crewmembers on theMSC India for no apparent reason and killed two.

Drinking and driving? The Ukrai­nian master of the coaster Helen was found with three times the legal limit at Southampton so he had to decide between paying a fine of £500 or 14 days in a British gaol. And the first mate of the Wilson Garston, which went aground at Helsingborg in December, was sen­tenced to three months in a Swedish jail. He was drunk and fell asleep on duty, although pharmaceuticals may have helped him doze.
The US government frowns heavily on discharges of oily substances into the sea so an Italian shipping company and the chief engineer of the Windsor Castle pled guilty while the former chief engineer of the vehicle carrier Tanabata got six months in jail. And eight Filipino seamen split a $730,000 cash award for blowing the whistle about illegal discharges of oily water from two ships.

A Greek court ruled that the master and two others from the reefer Coral Sea must stay injail without charges. They were suspected of drug smuggling when 51.6 kilos of cocaine were found in two of more than 27,000 pallets of bananas while unloading at Aegion. Orders to head for that port arrived while the ship was at sea, some 13 days out from Guayaquil, Ecuador. In Liberia, 90 barrels of "first class pure" cocaine (about 2.4 tons or half a billion US dollars) were destroyed after the French Navy intercepted a satellite radio call and arrested the Liberian-flagged Blue Atlantic. A French navy vessel also stopped the Panamanian-flagged Junior in international waters and found 107 cases, each with 30 kilos of cocaine.

For more than two weeks, Green­peace's Esperanza chased Japanese whalers in the Antarctic to keep them from shooting at whales. But fuel ran low and so Esperanza headed for Aus­tralia. Once there, Greenpeace changed its mind, saying it has limited resources and had decided to take the fight directly to Japan, The group also noted that the situation is different from previous years. The Japanese government clearly feels under pressure; it abandoned the kill of 50 humpbacks after a formal protest by 31 nations, and the government urged Australia to take action against Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Two members ofthat latter group were held on board a Japanese harpoon boat for two days after delivering a letter of protest.
The Scottish minister of the envi­ronment was "very concerned" about the damage rats could do to a remote Western Islands island. They may have got ashore when the trawler Spinning Daze ran onto rocks offSt. Kildaand 14 fishermen had to be winched to safety by a helicopter.
Jacques Cousteau's Calypso will be rebuilt to roam the seas again now that his second wife and widow has won a vicious fight with Cousteau's son over who owned the vessel. The World War II ex - US Navy wooden minesweeper will need a complete rebuild after years of neglect and a sinking.

Two teen-age Kenyan stowaways survived eight days on a tiny ledge above the rudder of the bulker New Auspicious only because the ship was lightly loaded and the platform was well above water. Some people are just not grateful for a free ride. Police were called to the Caprojo anchored in the North Sea off England. Conditions were rough so six policemen were helicoptered out and winched down through 35 mph gusts to the deck. Their quarry? A Turkish stowaway who had emerged on deck and gone berserk, throwing things at the crew and threatening to set fire to flammables. They finally spotted him on top of a 52-meter crane. He was talked down and arrested. He will be deported.