The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), in a notice to members following the end of a 17-day electronic voting period on Monday (Feb 28), said 96.7 per cent of votes were in favour of strike action. More than 3,000 Teamsters union members who work as engineers, conductors, trainpersons, and yardpersons for Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) have voted in favour of a strike mandate. Citing issues related to wages, benefits, and pensions, the TCRC served a notice of dispute to the federal labour minister in early February. The union said it will continue in the ongoing mediation process with the federally-appointed mediator/conciliator, with meetings planned for March 11 through 16. The union also noted a legal work stoppage can only take place 21 days after the conciliation process is complete. A legal strike could take place after midnight on March 16, 2022 at 00:01 am EST
In early January 2022, more than 1.5 tonnes of cocaine was seized by border services officers in Saint John, New Brunswick (NB), following a sophisticated drug smuggling investigation by the CBSA and RCMP. The narcotics were discovered concealed inside the cargo of a marine container; this represents the largest quantity of cocaine seized from a marine shipping container in Atlantic Canada in three decades. The CBSA has valued the seizure at approximately $198,000,000. The operation began in the fall of 2021, when CBSA Intelligence received information about exported shipments originating from Central America. In December 2021, CBSA began tracking a marine shipping container of interest which contained goods imported by a Greater Toronto Area (GTA) resident and exported from Central America, with a final destination of Saint John, NB. On January 7, 2022, the shipping container was examined at the Port of Saint John, NB, where border services officers initiated a complex and lengthy examination, which led to the seizure of the significant amount of cocaine found concealed inside the container. All evidence was turned over to the RCMP for further investigation. On January 27, 2022, Ontario RCMP Federal Policing executed a search warrant in Brantford, Ontario, with assistance from the CBSA, Brantford Police Service, and several area municipal police services. Six people were arrested at the scene, five were released with no charges pending.
Transport Canada issued Ship Safety Bulletin No. 06/2022 on March 4. This Bulletin now permits shore leave for all seafarers, whether vaccinated or not, for a period of up to six hours. During shore leave, seafarers are encouraged to understand and respect local COVID-19 protocols and follow recommendations such as wearing a mask.
The Bulletin also reiterates the requirements under the Aeronautics Act entitled Interim Order Respecting Certain Requirements for Civil Aviation Due to COVID-19 for foreign national, including seafarers, when departing Canada by aircraft. Unvaccinated foreign nationals, including seafarers, can still board an outbound flight as long as they provide a pre-departure COVID-19 molecular test or evidence of a COVID-19 antigen test result:
If the result for a COVID-19 molecular test is negative, it must be dated within 72 hours of the traveller’s initial scheduled departure time.
If the result for a COVID-19 antigen test is negative, it must have been performed no more than one day before the traveller’s initial scheduled departure time.
If the test result for a COVID-19 molecular test is positive, it must be dated at least 10 days before but not more than 180 days prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure time (e.g., the traveller would be eligible to travel on day 11 after their test was administered, since 10 days have passed). This accounts for those that had contracted COVID-19, have recovered, but may still be testing positive due to lingering amounts of the virus in their system.
In a statement, the World Shipping Council (WSC) pushed back on accusations made during President Biden's State of the Union address on March 1st. The President announced "a crackdown" on ocean carriers and accused them of raising prices while at the same time emphasizing that the pandemic had disrupted the global supply chain resulting in delays and overall higher transportation costs. The WSC's President and CEO, John Butler, was also critical of the legislative proposals currently before Congress, indicating that they would "upend the global transportation system, reduce service for U.S. importers and exporters and raise cost for American consumer and businesses." The full statement can be viewed here. Transport Canada is currently conducting a review of container liner shipping legislation and policy in Canada, although few details have been released to date.
On February 28th, the Justice Department and the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) reaffirmed their continuing commitment to jointly enforcing competition laws and strengthening their cooperation to promote competition in the ocean freight transportation system. The FMC is a bipartisan, independent Executive Branch agency whose mission is to ensure a competitive and reliable international ocean transportation supply system that supports the U.S. economy and protects the public from unfair and deceptive practices. The Justice Department is the Executive Branch agency charged with promoting economic competition through enforcing and providing guidance on antitrust laws and principles. Building upon the July 2021 MOU, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Chairman Daniel B. Maffei announced new steps the two agencies will take to strengthen this partnership. The Justice Department will provide the FMC with the support of attorneys and economists from the Antitrust Division for enforcement of violations of the Shipping Act and related laws. The FMC will provide the Antitrust Division with support and maritime industry expertise for Sherman Act and Clayton Act enforcement actions.
The Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have designated areas in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov as ‘Warlike Operations Areas’ triggering an increased security level and other entitlements for seafarers in the war zone. The designation was agreed at an emergency high-level meeting on the rapidly escalating crisis in Ukraine between the social partners. Repatriation, payment of wages, safe transit and respect of individual seafarers’ rights, particularly for seafarers from the region, were the focus of discussions. The escalation in hostilities and conflict in Ukraine has put enormous pressure on seafarers of all nations and an industry already labouring under the demands and challenges of the pandemic. The parties agreed that the welfare of seafarers and the protection of their rights in this unprecedented situation was paramount to the spirit and intent of the IBF agreement. IBF Warlike Operations Areas were designated for the Sea of Azov (north of latitude 46°N), the Northern Black Sea Region and all ports in Ukraine. Under this classification seafarers onboard IBF covered ships are entitled to receive bonus equal to basic wage, payable for 5 days minimum + per day if longer; doubled compensations for death and disability; right to refuse sailing, with repatriation at company’s cost and compensation equal to 2 month’s basic wage and recommended to operate at ISPS Level 3. Due to the rapidly developing situation these designations will be re-visited on a two-weekly basis to review the period of validity and, if necessary, the terms and conditions as well as the coordinates.
Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority reported that the Estonian-owned general cargo vessel Helt has been sunk in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine following an explosion. The vessel is believed to have hit a mine approximately 20 nautical miles off Odessa. The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine had indicated that the vessel was being used as a shield by the Russian Navy. All six crewmembers were able to abandon the ship and were rescued. This comes the day after the bulker Banglar Samriddhi, which was stranded at Olvia port in the Black Sea was hit by a missile, in which one of the crew members died.
PSA Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR’s) Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) have signed a research collaboration agreement to jointly develop a large-scale fleet management solution for automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to move containers efficiently and securely in the Next Generation Port at Tuas. Tuas Port will be the largest fully automated container terminal in a single location with an annual handling capacity of 65 million TEUs. AGVs currently play a significant role in automating yard and wharf operations for the Tuas Port, due to their versatility and maneuverability in picking up and transporting containers. These driverless electric vehicles are also greener and more sustainable compared to using diesel prime movers, reducing carbon emissions by about 50 per cent. The fleet of AGVs is expected to increase in tandem with large-scale port operations. To meet the demands of a larger AGV fleet, PSA requires an intelligent, advanced fleet management system that is responsive and can handle the computational load. This new fleet management solution for AGV operations is also expected to achieve significant cost savings through the reduction of infrastructure and operational costs. PSA and A*STAR’s IHPC will co-develop advanced automation and digitalisation solutions that can address these needs.
On February 28, the world’s first LNG dual-fuel VLCC M.V. YUAN RUI YANG was delivered to COSCO SHIPPING Energy, which marks COSCO SHIPPING’s leading position in the world in the application of green, eco-friendly and energy-saving technologies for large tankers. In the context of global energy transformation, this landmark event plays a positive role in demonstrating and leading the drive for energy conservation and emission reduction of large vessels and the realization of emission peak and carbon neutrality in the shipping industry. The YUAN RUI YANG will be operated by COSCO Shipping Energy Transportation Company and has a length of 333 m, molded breadth of 60 m, and molded depth of 30.5 m. Using LNG as its main fuel, it is equipped with the dual-fuel engine, power generators and boiler. In gas mode, the ship's endurance can reach 12,000 nautical miles, with a combined endurance for fuel and gas of 24,000 nautical miles. It makes the design energy efficiency index (EEDI) about 39.3 per cent lower than the baseline value.