Lloyd's Register (LR) is classing the world's largest-ever container vessels – led by a recent contract to oversee the building of six ultra-large container ships (ULCS) of more than 20,000teu.
Technical teams at LR have investigated the rising heights and weights of the container stacks that today's ULCSs can carry and produced new guidelines to help designers, owners and masters handle the ever-growing cargos.
One of the teams' key findings is based on vessel speed. LR research demonstrates that the speed at which a ship is sailing has a significant and predictable effect on the rolling motions; this is a crucial factor in cargo-carrying. So instead of designing container stows as if a ship is sailing at full speed in the harshest seas of the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, LR has produced a methodology based on a combination of ship speed and stability and the height and direction of the prevailing waves.
Another crucial factor to managing the cargoes is the development of lashing twistlocks. Operators who use the latest fully automatic twistlocks will have the advantage of securing their cargos safely and effectively with minimum intervention from the stevedores. Combined with the introduction of high lashing bridges, they will be able to safely carry stacks of 10 or more tiers of containers on deck.
LR is currently classing four ULCS vessels of 20,150teu for the Japanese company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines which are being built by Samsung Heavy Industries. A further two 20,050teu ships are being built for Shoei Kisen Kaisha on long charter to MOL at Shoei's affiliate company Imabari Shipbuilding at Saijo shipyard, Japan.
The new vessels are due to be delivered in 2017 and have been earmarked to operate on the Asia-to-Europe service.
The US government last Friday opened the door for the country's oil firms to have some limited right to trade crude oil with Mexico in what is essentially a swap deal.
The move marks the latest small step towards the US ending its four-decade-long ban on exporting crude.
Oil firms and politicians in the US, have been pointing to the glut of production domestically as justification for relaxing the restrictions on crude exports and the Obama administration has been edging in that direction. Once in effect the new rules could see around 100,000 barrels imported per day.
It is especially timely coming at a point when Mexico, too, is moving in a more liberal direction by opening up its previously heavily state regulated oil sector to overseas competition.
Permits should be issued by the US Commerce Department before the end of August and be good for a year. Under their terms Mexico will be able to receive oil but it must ship a similar quantity to the US.
Such a swap makes sense because of the differing qualities of the oil; Mexico's being of a lower quality heavy crude that is in demand at some US refineries.
Previously, only Canada was exempt from the ban on US exports.
The Singapore government, in collaboration with maritime businesses and local seafarer unions, on Aug. 13 awarded SG$2.6m (US$1.86m) in maritime scholarships for students taking up maritime studies.
Fifty-eight students received the funding at an awards ceremony held at the Conrad Contennial Singapore Hotel.
The scholarships were distributed under two maritime programmes - Maritime Outreach Network (MaritimeOne) and Tripartite Maritime Scholarships (TMSS) - which aim to nurture young talents in the shipping industry.
"The maritime industry in Singapore has so much to offer in career opportunities and development for our young people. It is a key pillar of our economy, contributing 7% to our nation's GDP," said MaritimeOne chairman Michael Chia.
The state-driven initiatives in promoting maritime industry to young students are well-received by the shipping community, as several new shipping companies have pledged sponsorship for 2015.
Foreign car carrier operators can now operate in Indian waters, according to local media source, Livemint. New Delhi has changed the laws recognizing that moving the cars by sea is far cheaper than by rail or road.
"The shipping ministry has issued an order relaxing cabotage for specialised ships such as roll-on-roll-off, pure car carriers, pure car and truck carriers, liquefied natural gas vessels, over-dimensional cargo and project cargo carriers which are in short supply in the country but which have potential to shift cargo away from the roads and railways to coastal shipping in order to increase coastal traffic movement, for a period of three years," said a spokesman for the shipping ministry.
China's Ministry of Transport and National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has announced a reduction in port charges.
The authorities released the Notice Aug. 4 to Adjust Port Charges and Port Security Charges, which prohibits port operators from imposing fees for services other than pilotage, towage, berthing, oil boom, feeders, special trimming, waste disposal, water, bunker, and power supply.
Pilotage charge units for international services will be increased from 500 net tonnage to 2,000 net tonnage, and pilotage fees (within 10 miles) for ships ranging from 40,001-80,000 net tonnage and ships over 80,000 net tonnage will be reduced to CNY0.45(US$0.07)/net tonnage and CNY0.425/net tonnage, respectively.
Extra charges levied for night time and national holiday pilotage and towage services will see a further reduction of 45% discount, while port security charges for 20ft and 40ft containers will be reduced to CNY10 and CNY15 each box, respectively, the notice added.
The new measure is expected to cut costs incurred by shipping companies, according to Ship.sh analyst Wang Hai.
Although the move may reduce port operators' revenue and profit in the initial stages, reduced charges should spur growth in shipping and gradually bring in more revenue for ports, he said.
The Government of Canada undisclosed plans to invest US$22.7m over five years on a cash basis to improve the safety of marine transportation in the Arctic.
As part of these investments, Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Canadian Hydrographic Service will acquire and install four multibeam sonar systems aboard Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers in order to increase the amount of seafloor surveying in the Arctic.
The Canadian Coast Guard also plans to enhance emergency response and search and rescue capacity in the Arctic by increasing the current Coast Guard Auxiliary presence in remote locations. The Canadian Coast Guard will also conduct reviews to identify ways to enhance Arctic marine navigation services and infrastructure, including aids to navigation.
Transport Canada said it would work closely with Aboriginal groups and local communities on ways to improve marine transportation in the North.
Moving forward, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Hydrographic Service and Transport Canada are working together on the Northern Marine Transportation Corridors Initiative to determine what the appropriate mix of navigational services, infrastructure, and emergency response services could be across Canada's Arctic waterways.
"By improving the charting of Arctic waterways and developing options to improve navigation systems and infrastructure, our Government is taking the necessary steps to support incident prevention and marine safety in the Arctic, " Gail Shea, Canad's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans said.
Nearly 95 perent of goods transported in the Arctic are shipped by sea, making the Canadian Coast Guard an integral part of the Arctic way of life.
Leading classification society ClassNK has released its Guidelines for Compressed Natural Gas Carriers.
In its press release, ClassNK says, "Global economic and population growth is bringing about increased energy production and consumption. In its latest forecast, CEDIGAZ, an international not for profit association dedicated to natural gas information, predicts that global natural gas demand will grow by 1.8% a year from 2013 to 2035 with the largest portion of this growth coming from Asia-Oceania and the Middle East. Natural gas share in world primary energy supply is projected to increase from 21.3% to 23.6% over the same period. As the demand and supply of natural gas increases, the volume of transportation of natural gas will also expand."
Currently, the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk (IGC Code) outlines safety requirements for LNG carriers. However, there are no applicable international rules for CNG carriers that take into account the hazards associated with the handling and transport of CNG. Utilizing its wealth of technical expertise and extensive experience in gas carrier R&D and ship classification, ClassNK has developed its Guidelines for Compressed Natural Gas Carriers which provide safety requirements for the design and construction of CNG carriers. The guidelines consist of safety requirements applicable to CNG carriers based on the IGC Code as well as additional requirements taking specific hazards arising from the handling of CNG into consideration.
Dhaka is taking steps to regulate its sprawling shipbreaking industry, including dishing out fines and prison sentences for companies found not to be following the correct procedures.
The Bangladesh Ship Recycling Bill, 2015 is being discussed at the moment in the capital. The prime minister has approved the bill in principle. It will soon go before parliament.
Cabinet secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said that the law's aim was to address occupational health hazards of the industry's huge workforce, ensure safe working conditions, better waste management, and protect the coastal environment.
Bangladesh is the world's second largest ship breaking nation – the industry employs tens of thousands of people along its southern coast, often working in appalling conditions.
The Shanghai government has released a green port plan for the next three years as part of the Shanghai International Shipping Center development plan.
Under the plan, Shanghai will start trial operations of shore power use at Yangshan Guandong International Container Terminal and Wusong International Cruise Terminal, and will build six sets of shore power facilities to cover 12 berths by 2017. It also plans to replace 75% of the energy consumption at the container terminals with clean energy, while also implementing a gradual replacement of container trucks with LNG-powered ones.
Lastly, the plan also encourages inland river cargo vessels to switch to LNG power with an acceleration of the development of LNG bunkering stations, while standards for marine oil will also be increased in order to reduce ship emissions.
Stuart Edmonston, Loss Prevention Director, UK P&I Club comments on the increased demand for using low-sulphur fuels in shipping: "There are increasing demands on shipowners to comply with mandates regarding the use of low-sulphur fuels in ships. The move towards using cleaner fuels supports a global drive to reducing carbon emissions, with many countries forming new or reforming old regulations.
"Shipowners need to be aware of the differing rules and costs across jurisdictions as they face significant fines for non-compliance. Hong Kong and Australia are the latest to introduce their own bespoke requirements. Low sulphur fuel (0.1% or less) will be mandatory for all cruise ships berthing in Sydney Harbour after Oct. 1, 2015 and in all New South Wales (NSW) ports after July 1, 2016. Owners can be fined up to US$44,000 and the Master up to US$22,000. In Hong Kong, all ocean-going vessels (above 500gt) are required to switch to low-sulphur fuel (or LNG/or similar approved fuels) during the periods the ship is at a berth, excluding the first and last hour of the berthing period. The sulphur content of the fuel may not exceed 0.5%.
"The requirements impose criminal sanctions against the owners (including any bareboat charterers and ship manager) and the Master. A contravention of the provisions relating to fuel use attracts a maximum fine of HK$200,000 and a maximum imprisonment of six months.
"Industry concerns include technical issues such as low viscosity, lack of lubricity, low density, etc., of the new fuels. Other issues are the higher costs of these fuels, as well as difficulties in obtaining them in some parts of the world. To avoid such problems, shipowners should consult their engine and boiler manufacturers for advice on operating with low-sulphur fuels and the need for equipment and system modifications."