Cruise Association “industry is seeing steady growth”

The worlds largest cruise ship, the 361 metres long, Harmony of the Seas, arrives in port for her mayden voyage, in Southampton, Britain May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Peter NichollsIn their 2017 report into the state of the industry, Cruise Lines International Association claimed a steady increase in interest in travel cruising and also significant level of investment within the industry. They stated that they expect further increases next year, and predicted around 25.3 million passengers could be texted to cruise during 2017.

More new ships are due to be added to the fleet in the coming 12 months, with 26 new ships for river cruises, ocean cruises and the growing market for specialty and adventure cruising.  It was further claimed that 97 new cruise ships in all areas would be added over the next 10 years. The President and CEO of the Association, Cindy d’Aoust, reported: “The cruise industry is responding to global demand … resulting in study growth and strong economic impact..”


Panama Canal announces series of milestones

unity-in-panamaOn 19th October the Panama Canal Authority announced that opening of the new neopanamax locks had helped it to record the third-highest annual tonnage passing through the Canal in over 100 years. In the fiscal year which had just ended, over 330.7 million Panama Canal tons had transited safely, on a total of 12,114 vessels. Neopanamax vessels accounted for around 18.2 million tons, once the expansion project opened in June after 9 years’ construction.

lng-carrier-panamaAround 36% of the total passing through were container ships, followed by bulk carriers and tankers. LNG carriers are now also able to use the Canal, and the lifting of a 40-year old ban on crude oil has allowed Panama to export oil for the first time in decades.

A new toll structure was introduced in April, based on the specific type and amount of cargo being carried. The Authority also introduced a Loyalty Reward programme to encourage container ship operators .




Rickmers misses interest payment and scraps ship

pic3bignewOn 15th November Reuters reported that Singapore-based Rickmers Maritime, which operates a fleet of 16 container ships, had been unable to pay interest of $3 million on a $71 million bond. A statement from the company said it faces the risk of going out of business unless it could restructure the debt with bond holders and senior lenders. This followed the company posting a loss of £74 million in the third quarter of this year.

Rickmers also admitted it was in discussions with lenders in an attempt to get waivers on existing senior loans, and that it had requested an immediate suspension of trading in its units and notes. Trading was in fact suspended on the Singapore Stock Exchange on 16th November.

Then, ten days later, Rickmers denied it had recently sold India Rickmers (ex-Hanjin Newport, a seven-year old panamax container ship for scrapping. This  would have been a record for the youngest box ship scrapping to date. It did, however, admit it was considering the sale of the vessel as part of a potential debt settlement agreement.

Finally, on 12th December, Rickmers confirmed that it had in fact sold the containership for scrap, and that the proceeds would be used to partially repay senior loan facilities extended by Commerzbank. We wait to see if there will be more disposals…

deutsche-welle_goenna-ketels-3Meanwhile, also on 12th December, came the sad news that a worker at a shipbreakers in Chittagong, Bangladesh was killed while working to scrap another container ship, the German Viktoria Wulff. The 10-year-old vessel had been sold for scrap when the owners went bankrupt in August.

It was reported that since 2008 nearly 600 ships have been sold following bankruptcies and financial problems, and that most of these ended up at the breakers yards in India and South Asia. This year alone 83 vessels have been sold to Asian scrappers.

In a late update to this story, on 21st December it was reported that investors had rejected a debt restructuring plan that had been put forward. The manager of the trust that operates Rickmers stated it was continuing to work towards maintaining liquidity and will pursue restructuring plans.


A New York harbour
pilot’s all-weather job


pilot-boatFor over 300 years members of the Sandy Hook Pilots Association have been helping ships’ captains to navigate their way through the tricky layout of the Hudson River and New York harbour. A spokesman for the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, which represents local commercial shipping companies, revealed that the natural depth in the harbour runs to a maximum of 26 feet.

pilot-approaches-qm2Over the years, as ships have got bigger and deeper, channels have had to be dredged and cut, and it is the local pilots who know and understand these channels. And it is not only the liners who come through, more and more container ships, tankers and other large vessels pass. Additionally the waterway is crowded with ferries, pleasure craft, yachts, canoes and all manner of small vessels.

For some years now the Army Corps of Engineers, under contract from the Port Authority, have been cutting a new 50-foot deep channel to accommodate the larger vessels expected now the Panama Canal has been expanded. This work has also required the difficult task of raising the Bayonne Bridge to give the vessels sufficient clearance.

The skill of the harbour pilot is knowing where each ferry is going to turn, which sandbars have shifted, and where the tidal currents are strongest. Radar and GPS help but nothing beats local knowledge! And he does this in all weathers, every day of the year.


P&O ferry crew fail
random drug tests

pride-of-canterburyIn a report released on 13th December, it was confirmed that over 10% of the crew aboard the P&O Ferries Pride of Canterbury had failed a random drugs test. The company had conducted the test on all crew during a regular scheduled service from Dover to Calais, when it was found that 13 members failed the urine tests. The results have been sent off for further analysis, and depending on the outcome, the crew members face disciplinary action.

P&O Ferries confirmed in a statement that they had zero tolerance to drugs, and that individuals were likely to be dismissed. They had also notified the Kent Police based at Dover. At present there is no word on what drugs were involved, or whether they had been consumed while at work or were residual traces in their system. No drugs were found aboard the ferry.

Bulk carrier abandoned
off Cape Town

antaiosA bulk carrier, mv Antaios, was abandoned by the crew in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of South Africa, after a serious fire in the engine room. The crew of 19 were later rescued from their lifeboats by the Japanese ore carrier Nsu Inspire, which had diverted to the scene when it picked up the distress calls. They were later taken to Cape Town.

antaios-down-at-sternIt was confirmed on 7th December that the Smit salvage tug, Smit Amandla, had managed to get a line aboard the stricken vessel, and was attempting to get it under tow. A distress call had been put out by the captain after the fire broke out and the engine room flooded, leaving the vessel helpless.

The vessel had loaded with grain, soya flour and corn in Argentina and was heading for Saudi Arabia when the fire broke out. The captain ordered the crew to abandon the ship when the flooding became uncontrollable.

However, the South African Maritime Safety Authority, which was monitoring the salvage, issued a notice prohibiting it from coming within 30 miles of the South African coast until all fuel oil aboard had been removed, for fear of a spillage. An extra tug, Peridot, was sent out with a specialist team to assist with the transfer of the fuel, and to help with pumping out the flooded areas. SAMSA was continuing to monitor operations.

$40 million dumping fine
for Princess Cruises

1280px-caribbean_princess_at_st-_thomas_usvi_lucidAfter pleading guilty to illegally dumping oil at sea, and then trying to cover it up, Carnival’s Princess Cruises was recently fined $40 million. This latest incident involved Caribbean Princess, following information gathered by the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) from an unhappy engineer aboard the vessel when it arrived at Southampton in August 2016.

The MCA shared the information with the US Coast Guard, who inspected Caribbean Princess when it arrived at New York in September 2016. The Chief Engineer and Senior First Engineer had hidden the apparatus used, and made the other engineers agree to lie about the methods. However the Coast Guard established that the dumping had been going on since 2005, initially using an unauthorised valve to dump waste, and later using a “magic pipe”. One of the worst incidents was the dumping of over 4,000 gallons of oil whilst only 23 miles off the English coast.

Similar practices were found on four other Princess ships, and included routinely clearing oily bilge water and bilge waste whilst near land.

ocean_hopeThis court action followed a similar case in October, when two German shipping companies, part of Bockstiegel Reederei, pleaded guilty in the US federal court to illegally dumping waste and were fined $750,000. And in September two Greek shipping companies, Oceanic and Oceanfleet, were convicted of illegal dumping oily waste in the Pacific. In March 2016 two other German companies, part of Briese Schiffahrts, were similarly fined $1.25 million plus a $250,000 community service charge for using a “magic pipe” to discharge oily waste.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is continuously checking all vessels in US waters in attempt to improve water quality and the environment.

Brahe (ex-USS PCE-830) sold to become museum ship

13ea5eb7-0308-4c2c-9580-605698b549f7Originally built in 1943 as US patrol craft escort/submarine chaser PCE-830 by Pullman-Standard in Chicago, she was transferred the following year to the Royal Navy and renamed HMS Kilchrenan. After war service, in 1946 she was briefly returned to the US navy, as USS Kilchrenan before being sold in 1947 to HSD in Bergen, Norway. She was rebuilt for use as a local freight and coastal passenger ship and renamed Sunnhordland.

1399682_1441301606093098_1280000435_o-1In 1973 she was laid up and then sold the following year to Oy Fager Lines of Helsinki and renamed Kristina Brahe, later abbreviated to Brahe, sailing on the Finnish lakes. She changed hands several more times over the following years, until in November 2016 she was sold to become a museum ship in Leirvik in Norway, between Stavanger and Bergen. She is to be renamed Sunnhordland.

The local enthusiasts are planning to remove cabins that had been built on the car deck, and restore much of the interiors. Once complete, they plan to offer mystery tours and historical cruises.


Hamburg-Süd sold to Maersk

Santa Teresa in RotterdamIt was announced on 1st December 2016 that the Danish company Maersk, said to be the world’s largest shipping company, is to buy Hamburg-Süd.

cap-polonio-3Once one of the premier companies on the route from Europe to South America, Hamburg-Süd was founded in 1871 by a combination of German and British entrepreneurs. It was well-known in the first half of the 20th century for operating such liners as Cap Arcona, Cap Trafalgar, Cap Polonio and Cap Norte.

Cap Trafalgar, whose maiden voyage was in March 1914, was conspicuous for the battle fought with Cunard’s Carmania in August 1914, when both had been converted to armed merchant cruisers.

Cap Arcona was bombed and destroyed in May 1945 when she was carrying several thousand evacuees and inmates from some of the concentration camps. At least 5,000 people were killed in the sinking, making it one of the worst maritime disasters in history.

In more recent years the company became part of the Oetker Group. Maersk stated that the company would keep its brand name, and would remain based in Hamburg.

maersk-containershipsIn a later statement, on 13th December, Maersk confirmed that the acquisition and operation of Hamburg-Süd would hopefully replace around 60% of the revenue that will be lost when Moller-Maersk separates off its Energy Division, to leave itself free to concentrate on transport and logistics. Last year the Energy Division added $9.8 billion to the conglomerate’s revenue: it is anticipated that Hamburg-Süd will generate some $6 billion.

Purser’s Locker celebrates Queen Mary

queen-mary-maiden-itemsOne of the best sources for ocean liner memorabilia and artefacts is The Purser’s Locker, owned by collector and dealer Jonathan Quayle. As well as a beautiful website detailing the many items he has for sale, he also features an occasional blog with fascinating items of information. The latest covers original items from Queen Mary‘s maiden voyage in 1936.

With Jonathan’s permission, here is a snippet from that blog – we highly recommend you head over to and read the full article.

“May 1936, Cunard White Star finally introduced the world to its new ship of state, RMS Queen Mary. It was the event of the year, anyone who was anyone wanted to be onboard that first voyage, from all walks of life, up and down the country.

A myriad of souvenirs were produced. Hundreds of companies celebrated the event by producing countless articles. All of those articles that survive today are highly prized and valuable, but perhaps the best of these are the items that Cunard White Star produced or commissioned themselves to be sold or given out on the day. The list of ‘official’ souvenirs was endless. Some of the more memorable items to find might be a set of 6 solid silver spoons produced by a Southampton jeweller or why not get an ash tray issued by the company who manufactured her four propellers, modelled as one of those props, the blades even turn!”

To read the full article, head to pursers