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April 4, 2023

Image Source: REUTERS

China’s nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines are continuously patrolling the South China Sea for the first time, increasing pressure on the US and its allies to counter China’s growing military. With a new, longer-range ballistic missile, the subs can hit the continental US, and their “deterrence patrols” allow them to threaten a nuclear counterattack even if land-based missiles and systems are destroyed, according to a Pentagon report. This situation is piling strain on the resources of the US and its allies as they intensify Cold War-style deployments.

Image Source: US Navy

The prime contractor for the USS Gerald R. Ford, HII, may be close to resolving a claim against subcontractor General Electric over who will pay for fixing a defective engine gear that forced the aircraft carrier to return to port in 2018. Negotiations continue as the Ford prepares for its first maritime mission, and no current estimates of the cost were available.

Image Source: Aaron Mehta — Breaking Defense

U.S. Navy Undersecretary Erik Raven emphasized the importance of the United States Coast Guard and the United States Maritime Administration in naval planning and strategy at the US Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference. Raven highlighted the role of the Maritime Administration in providing maritime logistics and fulfilling the nation’s strategic sealift requirements, as well as its investment in the domestic shipbuilding industrial base. He also praised the Coast Guard’s fleet modernization efforts and underscored its central role in fostering international partnerships.

Image Source: BEKS

Turkish tycoon Ali Bekmezci’s Beks Ship Management has acquired seven older tanker units this year, with one ship shipped out. The outfit has now acquired the STX-built, 74,000 dwt Energy Champion for just under $20m. The ship was sold by Greek owner Victor Restis and his Enterprises Shipping and Trading and has since been renamed Beks Lily. VesselsValue estimates that Beks’ fleet is now valued at just under $700m.

Image Source: US Mission to NATO — Twitter

The U.S. Navy is conducting tests for its Project Overmatch initiative, a part of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) program, with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group off the coast of California. The project aims to enhance connectivity and information sharing within the Navy fleet to provide commanders with real-time information, enabling more effective decision-making about potential threats. The initiative, which costs $192 million for fiscal 2024, is crucial for maintaining the Navy’s competitive edge against rivals like China and Russia. Project Overmatch’s ability to connect unmanned systems with sailors and ashore command centers becomes increasingly critical as the Navy integrates more unmanned systems into its operations.

The project is still undisclosed due to its secretive nature, and it could integrate with other military branches and international partners for sharing information across domains.

Image Source: Fazry Ismail — LA Times

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim expressed his willingness to negotiate with China over the maritime dispute between the two countries, just days after a Chinese coast guard vessel was reported to be patrolling close to a Malaysian offshore gas project. China claims almost the entire South China Sea, which Malaysia and several other Southeast Asian countries also claim some overlapping areas. Anwar did not specify the dispute or the location in the South China Sea that was discussed with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week. As Malaysia operates oil and gas fields in the area, Anwar said they are willing to negotiate, but did not elaborate. Petronas, the Malaysian state oil company, operates in the South China Sea within Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and has had several encounters with Chinese vessels in recent years, including a month-long standoff with a Chinese survey ship in 2020.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) reported that a Chinese coast guard vessel had been operating near Petronas’ Kasawari gas development off Malaysia’s Sarawak state for the past month and came as close as 1.5 miles of the project.

Image Source: NOCC

Norwegian Car Carriers (NOCC) has been fully acquired by US banking giant JP Morgan, with Klaveness Marine selling its 50% stake in the company for a reported price in excess of NOK1bn ($96.3m). Klaveness Marine took NOCC private in a joint venture with JP Morgan in 2014, and the private company has now exited the vehicle shipping segment through this sale. NOCC was established in 2010 and currently operates three ships in its fleet, two of which are fully owned.

Image Source: COSCO

Cosco Shipping Specialized Carriers plans to raise up to RMB3.5bn ($509m) to expand its fleet. The funds will be used for the leasing of 29 multipurpose pulp carriers between 62,000 dwt and 70,000 dwt, as well as for a 65,000 dwt semi-submersible heavy lift unit at Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI) worth $121.8m. Last year, the company reached an agreement with three Chinese leasing companies worth around $1.1bn to charter 12 70,000 dwt multipurpose pulp carrier newbuilds for up to 15 years and booked its tenth 65,000 dwt semisub at GSI.

You can read yesterday’s issue of ‘Currents’ here.

Disclaimer: ‘Currents’ is an online shipping news service by Earl’s Rock Trading (Pvt) Ltd that reports on the latest developments and trends in the maritime industry. We do not take any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in our news stories or for any opinions expressed by the people quoted in them. Our aim is to provide our readers with up-to-date news and insights from reliable sources. However, we do not endorse or take any responsibility for any actions taken by our readers based on the information provided in our news articles. We also want to make it clear that we do not own any of the images used in our news stories, unless stated otherwise. All images belong to their respective owners, and we use them solely for illustrative purposes. If you are the owner of any image used in our news stories and want it to be removed or credited, please contact us, and we will take the necessary action.