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29 Aug 2017

Rickmers Maritime wound up; bonds to be delisted

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"Failed container shipping trust Rickmers Maritime has been wound up and its outstanding bonds will be delisted from the Singapore bourse on Aug 30 at 9am. The trust has made final distributions to unsecured creditors, representing a recovery of about 12.1 per cent. There will be no further distributions or payments , cash or otherwise, to the unsecured creditors of the trust, including the holders of the S$100 million 8.45 per cent notes due 2017, the trustee-manager said in an exchange filing on Tuesday (Aug 29). This was the final payment to bondholders before the trust wound up on Aug 16. The notes trustee will be making arrangements with The Central Depository to credit the relevant distribution amount to each bondholder. A number of other Singapore-listed offshore and marine services groups have been hit hard by the slump in oil prices and huge cutbacks in spending by oil companies. Swiber Holdings is under judicial management, Ezra Holdings filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Nam Cheong is restructuring its debt."

21 Aug 2017

"US warship collides with oil tanker near Singapore; 10 sailors missing "

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"A search and rescue operation is under way for 10 US sailors after a US warship and an oil tanker collided off the coast of Singapore on Monday morning (Aug 21). The guided-missile destroyer USS John S McCain collided with merchant vessel Alnic MC east of Singapore at around 5.30am. The warship was heading to Singapore for a routine port call, the US Navy said in a statement. Five US sailors were injured in the collision - four were evacuated by helicopter to the Singapore General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, while the fifth did not need further medical attention, the statement said. No crew members on the oil tanker were injured, according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen confirmed the collision in a Facebook post, which he said happened in Singapore's territorial waters. The McCain is the second US guided-missile destroyer to be involved in a collision in two months. In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippines container ship off the coast of Japan, killing seven navy sailors. The two senior officers and the senior enlisted sailor on the Fitzgerald were removed after the incident."

18 Aug 2017

U.S. Navy blames poor seamanship for the deadly crash USS Fitzgerald

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"The U.S. Navy has removed the two senior officers and the senior enlisted sailor on a U.S. warship that almost sank off the coast of Japan in June after it was struck by a Philippine container ship, the Navy said on Friday. Multiple investigations have yet to apportion blame for the accident that killed seven U.S. sailors aboard the guided missile destroyer the USS Fitzgerald. However, the punishments are the first public admission by the U.S. Navy that mistakes by the crew contributed to the deadliest incident on a U.S. warship since Islamist extremists bombed the USS Cole in Yemen's Aden harbor in 2000. ""The collision was avoidable and both ships demonstrated poor seamanship. Within Fitzgerald, flawed watch stander teamwork and inadequate leadership contributed to the collision,"" the U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a media release. In the first detailed account from one of those directly involved in the collision in the early hours of June 17, the captain of the cargo ship the ACX Crystal said in a report seen by Reuters his crew signaled the Fitzgerald with flashing lights around 10 minutes before the collision. The Fitzgerald did not respond or alter course, it said.. The commercial vessel had the right-of-way under maritime rules and the Fitzgerald, which was hit on the starboard side, was likely at fault. Several U.S. and Japanese investigations are still under way into how the Fitzgerald and the much larger ACX Crystal collided in clear weather south of Tokyo Bay. One pertinent question, said two naval officers who spoke on condition of anonymity, is what was happening at the time in the Fitzgerald's Combat Information Center, where crew members monitor radar that should have detected the approach of a 30,000-ton cargo vessel. Commander Bryce Benson was relieved ""due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead"", the Seventh Fleet said. Commander Sean Babbitt and Master Chief Petty Officer Brice Baldwin ""contributed to the lack of watch stander preparedness and readiness that was evident in the events leading up to the collision"", it said. Several other junior officers have also been relieved, with administrative action taken against other members of the ship's watch teams. ""SERIOUS MISTAKES"" Admiral Bill Moran, deputy chief of naval operations, told a media briefing earlier in Washington that about nine sailors would face administrative punishments. ""Serious mistakes were made by members of the crew, and there was no benefit to waiting on taking accountability actions,"" Moran said. "

16 Aug 2017

Philippines says China has agreed no new expansion in South China Sea

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"China has assured the Philippines it will not occupy new features or territory in the South China Sea, under a new status quo brokered by Manila as both sides try to strengthen their relations, the Philippine defence minister said. The minister, Delfin Lorenzana, told a congressional hearing that the Philippines and China had reached a “modus vivendi”, or a way to get along, in the South China Sea that prohibits new occupation of islands. “There is status quo now that is happening in the South China Sea brokered by the secretary of Foreign Affairs,” he told lawmakers late on Monday. “According to him, the Chinese will not occupy new features in the South China Sea nor they are going to build structures in Scarborough Shoal,” he said, referring to a prime fishing ground close to the Philippines that China blockaded from 2012 to 2016. “It would be a very serious thing if China will occupy any of the islands.” Lorenzana did not comment when lawmakers, citing reports from the military, told him five Chinese ships had showed up almost 5 km off the Philippine-held Thitu Island in the Spratly archipelago on Saturday. Congressman Gary Alejano told Reuters that Chinese fishing boats had blocked a Philippine marine surveillance ship in the area two days ago. Thitu Island is the largest of nine reefs and shoals the Philippines occupies in the Spratlys. The military’s public affairs chief, Colonel Edgard Arevalo, declined to comment until the armed forces had the “whole picture on the current situation”. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has berated traditional ally the United States over several issues since he took office just over a year ago, while courting China for its business and investment and avoiding the rows over maritime sovereignty that dogged his predecessors. China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a waterway through which about $3 trillion worth of sea-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims in the area. China has built seven islands upon reefs in disputed areas, three of which, experts say, are capable of accommodating fighter jets. They have runways, radars and surface-to-air missiles which China says are for defence. One of the manmade islands is Subi Reef, visible some 24 km away by the small community of Filipinos who since the 1970s have lived on Thitu. Alejano, a former Marine Corps officer who led a failed coup against the government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2003, urged the government to lodge a diplomatic protest and tell China to leave Philippine territory in the Spratlys. (Reuters) "

15 Aug 2017

IBIA supports continued efforts to protect MFM integrity and expanding application to terminal loadings?

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"The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) believes the benefits achieved from adopting mandatory use of Mass Flow Meters (MFMs) for marine fuel oil deliveries in Singapore must be protected by effective enforcement, and that using approved MFMs to measure quantity being loaded onto bunker tankers as well as that delivered to ship would address a missing link in supply chain integrity. The Singapore regulation that came into effect on 1 January 2017 was widely perceived to be a significant step forward in promoting greater transparency and ensuring the accuracy of delivered tonnage in the port, but it hasn't all been plain sailing. IBIA members and other industry stakeholders have shown a great deal of interest in instances where breaches of the MFM regulations have been suspected, such as the temporary suspension in March of the harbour craft licences of five bunker tankers operated by Panoil while authorities investigated irregularities found on their piping fixtures. IBIA continues to support vigilance and firm action by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and other relevant authorities to deal with suspected irregularities, and considers it important that all proven cases of abuse of the MFM protocol are dealt with as swiftly as possible in order to retain the confidence of the global shipping community in the application of the MFM regulations. MPA has just announced that it has revoked the bunker craft operator licence of Panoil Petroleum Pte Ltd with effect from Monday 14 August 2017 after checks revealed that there had been unauthorised alterations made to pipelines on board the five bunker tankers that had their licences suspended in March. MPA said these alterations had allowed bunker fuel measured by the MFM to be siphoned out, undermining the accuracy of the readings from the MFM system. IBIA is confident that MPA will continue to take appropriate measures to punish and discourage malpractices in this area so as to not harm Singapore's hard fought reputation as one of the world's leading and most reliable bunker ports. Another area of concern that affects suppliers and bunker craft operators, but which falls outside the MPA's jurisdiction, is the potential for variations in delivery volumes between Singapore oil terminals and bunker tankers. Bunker tankers have to accept the delivery volume recorded by the terminals, and IBIA has been informed that MFM-equipped bunker tankers have experienced discrepancies which put bunker craft operators at a disadvantage. IBIA would therefore support a solution which applied the respective MPA approved MFM system bunker tanker figures for oil terminal loadings, and is now playing a role in closing what is regarded by many as a significant loophole in the bunker supply chain. A cross industry group including IBIA, SPRING Singapore, the Singapore Shipping Association and the Singapore Chemical Industry Council is in dialogue with relevant bodies governing the Singapore terminals in an effort to resolve this issue. The MPA is also involved in these discussions. 2017 is proving to be a landmark year for the Singapore bunker industry and IBIA is proud to represent the interests of its entire global membership throughout these processes."

22 Jul 2017

Singapore Exchange approves Rickmers Maritime's delisting

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"Rickmers Maritime, the failed boxship leasor of Bertam Rickmers, will be delisted from the Singapore Exchange (SGX), 10 years after its IPO, back when shipping trusts were all the rage in the Lion Republic. With Rickmers Maritime beign wound up following massive losses, its manager has sought to delist with shareholders braced for a big loss. Rickmers Maritime claimed in a release the trust the trust is unable to make a reasonable exit offer to unitholders, and that no net cash proceeds will remain for distribution to unitholders following the disposal of the property of the trust, repayment of borrowings to its secured creditors and unsecured creditors and retention of certain, unspecified amounts permitted under the trust deed constituting the trust. ''[U]nitholders will not receive any recovery or distribution in connection with the winding up of the Trust,'' the comapny stressed in a release. The bust company also said there was not chance of any corporate rehabilitation. SGX for its part said it had no objection to the proposed delisting. A date for Rickmers Maritime exit from the SGX will be announced shortly."

19 Jul 2017

PIL seen as next takeover target after OOCL

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"Pacific International Lines (PIL) is the next most likely takeover target in the fast-consolidating container shipping industry following last week’s $6.3 billion sale of Hong Kong’s OOCL to China Cosco Shipping, with the Chinese carrier seen as the most likely suitor for the Singapore-based company, according to maritime analyst Alphaliner. PIL wasn't immediately available for comment. The OOCL deal has left just four independent mid-scale carriers, each with market shares of between 1.5 percent and 2.8 percent, the industry analyst said. In the market for US imports from Asia, PIL had a market share of 1.5 percent in the second quarter, when the new global container shipping alliances launched, up 0.6 percentage points year over year, according to PIERS, a sister unit of JOC.com. PIL’s volume on the trade rose 67 percent in the same period to 58,407 TEU. Click to Enlarge Three of the carriers — Yang Ming, Hyundai Merchant Marine, and Zim Integrated Shipping Services — are government-linked, which makes them unlikely takeover targets outside their home nations of Taiwan, Korea, and Israel. The carriers’ cash-strapped status will further deter potential buyers, Alphaliner suggested. Yang Ming is in the midst of a recapitalization program mainly supported by the Taipei government, while HMM and Zim were financially restructured in 2016 and 2014, with their creditors acquiring significant stakes via debt-for-equity deals. “This leaves PIL as the only unencumbered candidate, and its niche position, in particular, on Africa-related trades, could make the carrier an attractive target for buyers keen on securing access to this emerging market,” Alphaliner said. Unlike its counterparts, PIL recently had to raise cash from asset disposals and provide collateral to secure bank loans to settle its outstanding debt. PIL is said to have sold two 2012-built capsize bulk carriers this year for just $26 million to 28 million apiece, taking a significant loss, and has pledged its shares in Singamas, the Hong Kong-listed container manufacturer in which it has a 41.1 percent stake, to raise bank loans of around $180 million. The proceeds from the sale of the bulk ships were used to pay off S$300 million ($219 million) of bonds due on July 17. PIL is obliged to sell its Singamas shareholding within 20 months for at least $180 million or at a price acceptable to its creditors, according to a stock exchange filing by the Hong Kong-based company on July 11. PIL, which is controlled by the Chang Teo family, does not publish regular financial reports, but it posted a significant net loss in 2016, due to “very low freight rates and a one-off bunker hedging loss” in the first half of the year. The company carries a total debt of more than $2.6 billion, according to Alphaliner. PIL has a close strategic alliance with Cosco, built up over recent years — it established a partnership with the Chinese carrier on the west and east Africa trades in 2016 and earlier this year signed a vessel sharing deal with Cosco and Wan Hai on the trans-Pacific trade. The carrier is due to take on the first of 12 new Chinese-built and financially-backed 11,800-TEU ships later this year and is expected to “rely heavily” on Cosco to find work for the new vessels, which are targeted at the trans-Pacific trades, including a planned entry into the US East Coast market in 2018. PIL and the other independent carriers have so far limited their efforts in the trans-Pacific to the US West Coast, but SM Line also plans to enter the US East Coast trade next year. In 2008, four Algerian men arrived in Halifax aboard a ship by hiding on a double-decker bus that was being transported to Canada from Liverpool, England. The bus was bound for Toronto, where it was to be part of the GO Transit fleet. In 2001, 36 Chinese stowaways were discovered to have spent two weeks in a container on the M.V. Pretty River after a worker at the Port of Vancouver heard voices coming from the other side of the metal walls. One of the illegal passengers claimed that the stowaways were destined for California, which was the ship’s final destination. Michael Broad, president of the Montreal-based Shipping Federation of Canada, said ships have security officers to track who gets on and off vessels and there is intense security at ports, including fencing, guards, cameras and 24-hour surveillance, in an effort to prevent illegal migrants and other unwanted activity. “It’s been quite some time since this has occurred and I can’t tell you the last time anyone was found in a container,” he said, adding that containers are sealed with a lock before they are loaded onto a ship. Stowaways that arrive in Canada are permitted to make an asylum claim, like any other prospective refugee applicant. But the shipping company responsible for the vessel on which stowaways arrive must pay a $25,000 bond to the federal government. That money is used to pay the costs of deporting the individual if their refugee claim is denied."

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