COS Weekly Newsletter - Friday, 10 April 2020


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          COS Weekly Newsletter
          Friday, 10 April 2020

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Local News


Seafarers struggle to get home

Crew members on board commercial vessels are facing unique hardships during the pandemic. Many are confined to their vessels and unable to return home as borders close, flights are grounded and fear of contagion from outsiders continues to spread. The situation has grown dire enough that ship owners and transport workers have started jointly lobbying the United Nations to facilitate crew changes by encouraging member states to give mariners the right to travel in and out of their countries. International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) estimates that 100,000 seafarers per month are unable to return home or be relieved by new crews because of the pandemic. While Canada is one of the few countries that have exempted maritime crews from travel restrictions to facilitate the flow of world trade, delays in other countries can still leave seafarers trapped on their ships in Canadian ports.  
On Friday evenings at 7:00 pm, ships all along the coast of British Columbia will sound their horns in solidarity to thank all workers in the province and globally who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. This audible celebration of frontline workers by the marine shipping industry is noteworthy, as the essential marine transportation workforce also continues to support the movement of critical cargo, some of which directly supports medical efforts, and ensures the delivery of supplies that keep our communities functioning during the pandemic.This marine workforce includes longshoreman, terminal operators, tug operators, seafarers from Canada and all over the world, marine pilots, port staff, and professional mariners, vessel traffic controllers, and inspectors from Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the Canada Border Services Agency. With the current threat of COVID-19, their workplace challenges are immense, and they are working collaborative to find innovative and safe ways to keep ships and cargo moving.

First Nations plans Supreme Court Appeal

A group of British Columbia First Nations is seeking to challenge the federal government’s second approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project in Canada’s highest court. The Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Ts’elxweyeqw Tribes and Coldwater Indian Band say they have each filed applications with the Supreme Court of Canada. They are seeking leaves to appeal a Feb. 4 decision by the Federal Court of Appeal that found cabinet’s approval of the pipeline project in June, 2019 was reasonable under the law.  Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish leaders said they’re challenging the adequacy of Indigenous consultation leading up to the second approval of the oil pipeline project.






Passenger Vessels under new Restrictions

The Minister of Transport issued an Interim Order outlining measures with respect to all passenger vessels which took effect on April 6th and will run through to June 30th. The Interim Order prohibits commercial marine vessels with a capacity of more than 12 passengers from engaging in non-essential activities, such as tourism or recreation. Schedule 1 identifies vessels that are considered essential and this includes vessels that provide passengers access to their residence or their place of employment, emergency and environmental response vessels. Vessels that are considered essential can either limit the number of passengers to 50% of capacity or implement measures to reduce the risk of transmission on board. This includes denying boarding for any passengers with COVID-19 symptoms from boarding ferries and water taxis.  Guidance documents and Ship Safety Bulletin 10/2020 can be found on our COVID-19 webpage.
BC Ferries has suspended service along some major routes and cutting sailings on others as ridership has plummeted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers are asked to follow the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada to avoid any non-essential travel. Service levels on their routes will be re-evaluated after the 60 day-period. The reductions have also led to temporary layoffs for hundreds of employees.

Decision on Roberts Bank Terminal 2 Project Extended

The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change has extended the time limit for the issuance of the Decision Statement for the proposed Roberts Bank Terminal 2 project by 90 days to recognize the extenuating circumstances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts to communities, businesses, and stakeholders.

CBSA seizes over 100 kg of methamphetamine

CBSA has announced the seizure of a a shipment of 106 kg of methamphetamine at the new Tsawwassen Container Examination Facility (TCEF) in early February.  The estimated value is approximately $13.5 million dollars. In early February, border services officers at TCEF received information from the CBSA National Targeting Centre, which lead to the discovery in a container from Mexico. The file has now been referred to the RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) unit for criminal investigation.  According to RCMP, four men who are all citizens of Mexico have been charged.


US News


Hospital Ship USNS Comfort  Accepting COVID-19 Patients

Initially intended for non-Covid-19 hospital patients, the US Department of Defense has now opened the hospital ship USNS Comfort to patients with COVID-19 in order to relieve pressure on New York area hospitals. Comfort is planned to focus on high severity COVID patients, with more mild cases being handled by Javits Center.
Allowing COVID-19-positive patients on board has raised concerns about the safety of workers, both medical staff and its crew members. Keeping the virus off the Comfort has already proved challenging as one crew member tested positive on Monday and was being kept in isolation.  An additional five patients on board for other ailments later tested positive, but officials said the crew member had not interacted with any patient.  The ship has been divided into a “red zone” where patients are located and a “green zone,” where the ship’s non-medical crew operates to help mitigate those concerns.

Cruise ship crews stranded

As the news highlights stories of cruise ships working to offload passengers, there is growing concern for the tens of thousands of crew members, mostly foreign nationals, who remain stuck on board these ships in or near US territorial waters. Over the past several weeks, the Coast Guard says it has processed more than 120 vessels, collectively disembarking 250,000 passengers onto US soil. However, the US Coast Guard has indicated that there are still 114 cruise ships carrying 93,000 crew members either in or near U.S. ports and waters.


International News


Severe decline in global trade predicted by WTO

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has released a report predicting a severe decline in international commerce this year, forecasting a contraction of between 13% and 32%. The wide range of possibilities reflects the uncertainties about the health crisis, though the impact on trade is likely to exceed the slump caused by the 2008 financial crisis. A decline of 13% in trade in goods is described in the report as a relatively optimistic scenario. It reflects a steep drop in trade followed by a recovery starting in the second half of 2020. The report includes a much more pessimistic case which reflects a steeper initial decline and a more prolonged and incomplete recovery. International trade will be an important and necessary part of the economic recovery after the crisis.

Carnival to Put Ships in Prolonged Layups

Carnival Corporation expects to put the vast majority of its ships in prolonged layups during the global pause of its cruise operations resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. During this time, the ships will be manned by a limited crew, costing approximately USD 1 million per month. Some ships will be put in a warm layup and will be manned by a full crew, costing between USD 2 million – USD 3 million per month. Due to the overall situation, the company believes deliveries of its new build vessels will also be delayed.

ICS and ITF urge G20 to support the essential movement of seafarers

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have issued a joint call on behalf of seafarers to governments to facilitate the essential movement of seafarers and marine personnel. If not addressed, this issue has the potential to become a massive problem for the global economy. The solution would require governments to coordinate a global strategy with key stakeholders, including major airlines, to ease restrictions and facilitate the changeover of ships’ crews.

ONE Issues Electronic Bill of Lading

ONE (Ocean Network Express) has issued its first electronic Bill of Lading. Part of a digitalization initiative, the container line teamed up with technology expert essDOCS specializing in the facilitation of paperless trade. ONE went live using a CargoDocs electronic bill of lading for a shipment of containerized synthetic rubber from Russia to China. Moving forward, the company plans to enable its customers to use electronic bills of lading on a regional and subsequently global basis commencing in Q2 2020, as part of ‘ONE eCommerce’ initiatives.


Upcoming Events


Apr 10 - Easter Friday - Office Closed
Apr 13 - Easter Monday - Office Closed

Apr 14 - ICS Board of Directors Meeting
Jun  8 - VGE Golf Tournament


Ship of the Week



April 10 – World's largest Ro-Ro

Construction of World’s Largest LNG-Fueled RoRo Ship has begun at the China-based Yantai CIMC Raffles Shipyard. The vessel, ordered by Wallenius SOL, is scheduled to be delivered in August 2021. The ship will be both LNG fueled and have an ice class 1A Super. It was designed to handle the tough, sometimes Arctic, conditions in the Gulf of Bothnia.
  • Length: 242m
  • Beam: 35.2m
  • Capacity: 5,800 lane metres