COS Weekly Newsletter - Friday, 15 May 2020


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          COS Weekly Newsletter
          Friday, 15 May 2020

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Local News


Wet’suwet’en, BC and Canada commit to negotiations under a MOU

Hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation have signed a memorandum of understanding with BC and Canada that sets the path for negotiations on legal recognition of their title to 22,000 square kilometres of traditional territory. The elected Wet'suwet'en leaders were not involved in the development or ratification of the MOU and are contemplating a legal challenge.  The MOU hopes to sets out steps for preventing conflict over future resource development by recognizing the traditional Wet'suwet'en governance system that includes the hereditary chiefs.  Earlier this year cross-country protests and rail blockades in support of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs held commuters and the goods movement hostage across Canada.

Grain movements strong amid COVID-19

Despite major setbacks earlier in the shipping season and COVID-19, Canada’s railways are setting grain shipping records. Year-to-date movement to export terminals is two per cent ahead of last crop year’s (2018-19) pace, which ended with a record of 34.9 million tonnes shipped. Drop in demand for other commodities moving by rail helped improve fluidity for grain as in March, Canada's merchandise exports fell 4.7 per cent and imports declined 3.5 per cent, said Statistics Canada. Grain shipments to the Port of Thunder Bay are up 16 per cent year to date and 12 per cent ahead of the three-year average.

Port of Vancouver to seek court order to clear tent encampment from waterfront

The Port of Vancouver plans to seek a court order to clear a tent camp set up last weekend on a waterfront site owned by the port. The site, which is adjacent to the city’s waterfront Crab Park became an alternate location for many who were displaced from Oppenheimer Park, which was recently cleared and surrounded by metal fencing. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has informed the group that they are trespassing and asked them to vacate. The group did not vacate, forcing the port to take steps towards legal action.

Jack Leitch, former president of Upper Lakes Shipping, has died

Jack Leitch, former president of Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. has passed away at the age of 99. Jack's father, Gordon Leitch, founded what started as The Northland Shipping Company in 1932 with one ship. Jack became president in 1954 and took over operations of what became Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., which over the years grew into one of the three largest Great Lakes shipping companies in Canada, including subsidiaries of Port Weller Dry Docks, and Heritage Pointe, a land development company and golf course near Calgary, Alberta. As Chairman of the company, Jack introduced innovative ship designs and pioneered the development of large vessels with self-unloading capability. His activities in the industry have helped to maintain and develop merchant shipping in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. He was also the founding director of the Board of Governors of the Chamber of Maritime Commerce.




Transport Canada Extends Certificates

Transport Canada has issued Ship Safety Bulletin 13/2020 to advise of automatic extensions to all certificate of competency, certificate of proficiency, examiner certificate, training certificate or medical certificate that have or will expire between October 1, 2019 and September 1,2020.   The issuance of discharge books during the COVID-19 pandemic period has also been suspended. The Master of the vessel, the Chief Engineer, or the vessel's Authorized Representative can record, sign and stamp seafarers' sea service using either nautical or engineering testimonial forms which are relevant to the position held. Both forms are readily available through the Transport Canada forms catalogue (Forms 82-0546 and 82-0666 respectively).  Marine counter services remain available on an appointment only basis.  

CBSA reminds travellers of restrictions ahead of the long weekend

With the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend and the warmer weather ahead, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is reminding all travelers that the travel restrictions announced in March are still in place at all of Canada’s international border crossings. This includes the restriction of all non-essential travel which includes travel for tourism, recreation and entertainment, across all ports of entry in all modes of transportation – land, marine, air and rail. Foreign nationals, including US citizens, will not be allowed to enter Canada either. Crossing the border on a boat for recreation or tourism purposes is also currently prohibited.

Minister of Small Business meets virtually with G20 international trade counterparts on economic action plan

The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade has met virtually with her G20 international trade counterparts. During the meeting, they committed to a collective action plan to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on jobs, trade, and the global economy, while ensuring the health and safety of their citizens. The group agreed to a range of short- and long-term steps designed to keep trade flowing and global supply chains open. This includes enhancing transparency; improving air, land and marine connectivity; and strengthening international investment and the multilateral trading system.


US News


US Coast Guard Seeking input on Financial responsibility

The US Coast Guard is seeking public comment on a proposal to expand regulations on vessel financial responsibility for all tank vessels greater than 100 gross tons and make other amendments that clarify and update reporting requirements to reflect current practice and remove unnecessary regulations. This proposed rule would ensure that the Coast Guard has current information when there are significant changes in a vessel’s operation, ownership, or evidence of financial responsibility, and would reflect current best practices in the Coast Guard’s management of the Certificate of Financial Responsibility program. For full details, read the Federal Register Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Charleston Port gets import boost from new solar panel center

Charleston’s inland port is gearing up for the increase in traffic from one of the largest US solar manufacturers opening a new distribution center in South Carolina. First Solar Inc. selected Greenville, South Carolina, for a 450,000-square foot distribution center to serve the East Coast, which includes an agreement to use Inland Port Greer, served by overnight service from Norfolk Southern Railway, the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA).

Construction on $922 million Lake Superior locks project begins

A new lock is being built at the Soo Locks which will be large enough to handle the 1,000-foot lakers that carry taconite from Minnesota and Michigan to steelmakers along the lower lakes. Currently the Poe Lock is the only one that can accommodate those ships, and it has been requiring increased maintenance. Equipment began to arrive last week to deepen the upstream channel above the decommissioned Davis and Sabin Locks, which will be replaced. That work will wrap up by November 2021. The new lock chamber is still being designed and could take until 2030 to open.


International News


Shipping given one more month to resolve crew change issues

Employers and seafarer trade unions have agreed on a one-month extension before crews working beyond their stipulated contracts must be repatriated. The deal gives governments until June 15th to find a way to get their seafarers home. To assist governments with putting coordinated procedures in place, the IMO released a 12-step plan that provides a roadmap to freeing seafarers from the COVID-19 lockdown and allowing appropriate exemptions for them to join or leave ships.

Happiness Index shows Seafarers feel unsupported during COVID-19

Seafarer happiness is low amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is being attributed to extended contracts, lack of shore leave, connectivity, and concerns around mental wellbeing. The index, published on May 4th by the Mission to Seafarers, showed overall seafarer happiness dropping from 6.39 in Q4 2019 to 6.30 in Q1 2020. Crew said this was due to the restrictions on movement put in place during the pandemic, which has caused the extension of crew contracts.

Development of First Fully Autonomous Ship Put on Hold

Development of the world’s first fully autonomous containership has been put on hold indefinitely amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The 120 TEU ship, named Yara Birkeland, was planned cut emissions and reduce road transport by up to 40,000 truckloads per year while transporting fertilizer products from Yara’s Porsgrunn plant to Norway’s Brevik and Larvik ports. The Yara Birkeland was initially planned to start off with manned operations this year before transitioning to autonomous and unmmanned operations by 2022.

Jotun unveils a ‘robotic lawnmower’ to keep ships’ hulls free of biofouling

Norwegian headquartered firm Jotun has developed ‘robotic lawnmower’ as a solution that can offer shipowners clean hulls, even in the most challenging operations and environments. The unique approach named Jotun Hull Skating Solutions combines remotely operated robotic technology, a special antifouling coating and a range of customized services. The most innovative aspect of the solution is the HullSkater, a remotely operated robot that stays with the vessel at all times. The robot is lodged in a custom housing on deck when not in use, roaming the vessel on magnetic wheels when operated through Jotun’s dedicated control centres via 4G connection. The unit is equipped with high definition cameras and sensors, helping to monitor potential biofouling and collect data. The cleaning process will take two to eight hours, depending on the vessel size and condition.

Maersk Expects Container Shipping Volumes to Fall Up to 25%

Maersk is expecting container volumes to fall up to 25% this quarter and plans to cancel dozens of sailings as the demands in consumer and industrial markets continue to drop due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns. Despite many countries starting to take steps towards reopening their economies, Maersk is not expecting a meaningful recovery until the end of the year. Shipping executives expect the world’s top 10 carriers to end the year deeply in the red and industry analysts have said that could trigger some failures as carriers with strong cash holdings and access to credit markets outlast weaker operators.

Royal Caribbean Pledges 28 Ships as Collateral in $3.3 Billion Bond Offer

Royal Caribbean Cruises has launched a $3.3 billion bond offering, pledging 28 of its ships as collateral, as they forecast heavy losses for the first quarter. The company expects to report a preliminary first-quarter net loss of $1.44 billion compared to a profit of $249.7 million a year earlier, as it prepares to write down the value of its Silversea Cruises unit and several ships by $1 billion to $1.3 billion. Royal Caribbean has not specified which ships it had pledged for its debt offering. It had vessels with a net book value of about $22.7 billion as of Dec. 31, including the world’s largest cruise ship – Symphony of the Seas.

CMA CGM lands $1.14 billion state-backed loan

CMA CGM will receive a $1.14 billion loan that will improve their cash position as it struggles with falling demand brought on by COVID-19. The loan is part of France's state-guaranteed loan scheme established at the end of March. The French government will guarantee 70 percent of the loan, which has an initial one-year maturity and an extension option for up to five additional years.


Upcoming Events


May 26 - COS Owners Committee Meeting

May 27 - PACMAR / NANs Committee Meeting

May 29 - COS Liner Committee Meeting

June 3 - COS Board of Directors Meeting

June 11 - VMAA Annual General Meeting

June 16 - ISSC Annual General Meeting

June 17 - ICS Annual General Meeting


Ship of the Week



May 15 – MV ALTA

The MV Alta has made headlines recently as a modern day ‘ghost-ship’ that ran aground in Ireland in February. To date, the vessel owner has not been found, which may leave Ireland to foot the bill for its removal. If no owner is found, the Irish state will face a choice: spend millions of euros removing the vessel or let the elements determine its fate. Built in 1976, the Alta was flagged in Tanzania, changed owner in 2017 and was sailing from Greece to Haiti in September 2018 when it became disabled about 1,380 miles (2,220km) south-east of Bermuda. Unable to make repairs, the 10-strong crew was rescued by the US coastguard and brought to Puerto Rico. The ship was reportedly towed to Guyana and then hijacked, its subsequent fate unclear until August 2019 when a Royal Navy ice patrol ship, HMS Protector, encountered it in the mid-Atlantic, apparently unmanned.
  • Length: 77.32m
  • Breadth: 12.53m
  • Built: 1976
  • GT: 2295