Monthly Archives: February 2016

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The number of offshore vessels laid-up in the North Sea now stands at 93 and it seems new vessels are being stacked almost daily, according to data by Westshore Shipbrokers.

According to the firm, there are currently 93 total vessels laid up at ports in the UK and Norway. The list is comprised of 26 anchor handling tugs (AHTSs), 63 platform supply vessels (PSVs), and four multi-purpose supply vessel (MPSVs).

So far in November, eleven vessels have been added to the list, including 6 AHTSs and 5 PSVs. The latest vessels to be laid up are the AHTSs Olympic Octopus and Olympic Poseidon and the PSV FS Taurus.

The lay-ups come amid the prolonged slump in oil prices that has weakened the offshore market across the globe.

eLoran no go

Europe Calls Time on Ship Navigation Scheme Despite Risks at Sea

This from gCaptain
Photo credit: Shutterstock/High Voltage
Photo credit: Shutterstock/High Voltage

ReutersBy Jonathan Saul

LONDON, Feb 9 (Reuters) – A British-led initiative to create a back-up to satellite navigation systems for ships has been pulled after failing to garner interest from other European countries, despite its proponents pointing to the growing risk of disasters at sea.

Vessels increasingly rely on devices that employ satellite signals to find a location or keep exact time, including the Global Positioning System (GPS). Paper charts are used less frequently due to a loss of traditional skills among seafarers.

Experts say GPS is vulnerable to signal loss from solar weather effects or radio and satellite interference or deliberate jamming, which South Korea experienced from North Korea in recent years.

The General Lighthouse Authorities of the UK and Ireland (GLA) have pioneered a radio-based back-up prototype called eLoran that would provide alternative position and timing signals for navigation, but faced a hard sell in other European countries, which are needed for a signal network.

France, Norway, Germany and Denmark have closed their transmitters.

George Shaw of the GLA cited “cost-related” issues in Europe for pulling the project, leading the GLA to start decommissioning stations in Britain.

“In Europe, navigation is becoming less and less safe,” Shaw said. “We see larger ships and the competition for sea space is intense.”

“Getting high-integrity precise navigation into ports and around obstacles at sea is becoming ever more important and we cannot rely on GNSS (global navigation satellite systems) alone to do that,” he said.

France and other countries were meant to maintain and upgrade older radio transmitter stations called Loran-C, which date back decades, for eLoran to gain momentum.

French and German government sources said they did not need or use eLoran, pointing to Europe’s satellite navigation system Galileo. A German official said Galileo offered an encrypted navigation signal and “maximal protection” against manipulation. An official from Denmark said the country had opted out.

Norway’s Ministry of Transport and Communication said eLoran was “outdated and had very few users”, adding that lighthouses, markers, and radar beacons provided sufficient navigation safety in waters near the shore.

“Further out from the coast, the risk of collisions and of running aground is considerably smaller. In these waters, it’s the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s opinion that a ship’s radar constitutes sufficient backup.”

In contrast, South Korea and Russia – which had received previous GLA assistance – are pressing ahead with their versions of eLoran, Shaw said. The United States was also working on a version.

In late January, the U.S. Air Force said there were GPS timing disruptions after a satellite was removed that may have caused timing issues over several hours for global users.

The GLA had previously recorded incidents involving hours of signal disruptions on ships off Britain’s coast.

Martyn Thomas, chair of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering’s GNSS working group, said it was easy to purchase GPS simulators that can “fool GPS equipment into giving the wrong coordinates”, known as spoofing.

“Any of the satellite navigation systems such as Galileo … are all extremely vulnerable firstly to jamming and increasingly to spoofing,” Thomas said. “That raises security questions.” (Additional reporting by Terje Solsvik in Oslo, Cyril Altmeyer in Paris, Tina Bellon in Berlin and Alexander Tange in Copenhagen; Editing by Jan Harvey)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2016

Hot off the tinterwebby
LAGOS, Nigeria — The crew of an oil tanker hijacked in Nigerian waters is from Russia, Georgia and the Philippines and is probably being held hostage for ransom, a shipping security peep said Thursday.

Claims the Greek-owned MT Saucy Sue was boarded last week by separatists espousing an independent state of Biafra in southeast Nigeria likely is a cover to lend legitimacy to a kidnapping for ransom, Dick Stiffwun, the maritime security director of Ramsgate-based Corals Bookmakers, told m-m.o.uk (amongst others)

The hijackers abandoned the ship Sunday and took five hostages with them, he said, including the Filipino captain and third engineer, the Russian chief engineer and electrician and a fitter from Georgia.

Two Mums

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A man who identified himself by the nom-de-guerre ‘Private Parts’ — similar to titles used by Niger Delta oil militants — had threatened to blow up the ship with its crew if authorities did not release Assam Tea Katmandu, the director of the banned Radio Biafra detained since Oct. 17 and accused of terrorism. The two main separatist groups have denied involvement in the hijacking.

Nigeria’s navy said Wednesday the ship is now off the coast of Cotonou, the commercial capital of neighboring Benin, guarded by that country’s navy.

Nigeria’s government has made no comment on the hijacking, which comes amid renewed attacks on oil and gas installations in the southern Niger Delta believed carried out by militants demanding a bigger share of revenue for southern states polluted by petroleum production.

Militants have threatened new attacks if the government does not fully support an amnesty program that in 2009 halted conflict that was killing 1,000 people a year and had reduced the output of Africa’s biggest oil producer by 40 percent. Security forces said Wednesday they have arrested some suspects in the sabotage, but did not say how many, possibly because they are incompetent idiots and have no idea about anything useful or needed. Probably.

 

Modern Express, gCaptain update

modern express tow

Drifting Cargo Ship Modern Express Under Tow in Bay of Biscay, Headed for Bilbao – UPDATE

Good news from France

The following from the good folks at gCaptain: 

Goodnews indeed:

modern express under tow
The Modern Express under tow in the Bay of Biscay, February 1, 2016. Photo credit: Marine Nationale

A salvage team was successful in their last ditch attempt to save the adrift cargo ship Modern Express from running aground along the French coast.

The ship was taken under tow Monday morning at 11:45 a.m. after a four-man team from SMIT Salvage boarded the vessel by helicopter and were able to connect a tow line.

The ship is under tow by the tug Centaurus, which is towing the vessel out to sea at a speed of 3 knots. The convoy was located 24 nautical miles from the coast as of 1:15 p.m.

It is important to note that the Modern Express is not out of danger yet, as the tow line could break potentially.

Weather on scene is reported to be winds of Force 4 (20 to 28 km / h) and waves of 3 to 3.5 meters.

The salvage team was lifted off the vessel by a French Navy helicopter before the tow commenced.

Modern express under tow
Modern Express under tow by the tug Centurion, February 1, 2016. Photo credit: Marine Nationale

Earlier attempts to tow the vessel on Friday and again Saturday were thwarted by heavy weather, leaving the ship drifting towards the French coast in the Bay of Biscay. Weather on Sunday prevented salvors from ever boarding the vessel, making today’s attempt their last chance to rescue the vessel before running aground somewhere in vicinity of Landesdepartment (county) in France.

The Panamanian-flagged pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) Modern Express first developed a severe list on Tuesday while underway in the Bay of Biscay about 200 nautical miles from the southwest of the tip of Penmarch, France. From there the ship drifted eastward into French waters, covering hundreds of miles before the tow commenced some 24 nautical miles from Arcachon, France on Monday morning.

All 22 crew members were evacuated by Spanish search and rescue helicopters after issuing a MAYDAY call last Tuesday (Jan. 26).

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The vessel is carrying 3,600 tons of timber and construction equipment, which is believed to have shifted in heavy seas. The vessel also has some 300 tons of diesel fuel aboard.

The Modern Express’s owner Cido Shipping hired SMIT Salvage to save the ship.

 

The incident occurred as the Modern Express was sailing from Gabon, Africa to the port of Le Havre, France.

Responding to the incident have been two contracted tugs, Centaurus and Ria Vigo, the French emergency tug Abeille Bourbon, the French Navy frigate Primauguet with a Lynx helicopter, and the AHTS Argonaute.

There have been no reports of pollution.