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April 7, 2023

Image Source: REUTERS

Taiwan is bracing for intensifying pressure on the “median line” that has helped maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait for decades as China begins inspecting civilian shipping across the waterway. China’s maritime safety administration launched a special patrol and inspection operation in the north and center of the Taiwan Strait, which Taiwan sees as retaliation for President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. While China has never officially recognized the median line that a US general devised in 1954, China’s military had for years respected it.

The imaginary line’s role was thrown into question last year after then-US Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, leading China to send navy ships on exercises to both sides of the line. Taiwan’s defense minister said any Chinese boarding of Taiwanese ships would be illegal, and Taiwan’s military would not allow China to unilaterally board them.

Image Source: US Navy

Top Navy leaders highlighted the growing significance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in warfare during the annual Sea Air Space conference. The US Navy is investing in AI software and autonomous warships to become more efficient and to engage multiple fleets simultaneously.

However, Vice Admiral Scott Conn emphasized that AI must obey ethical principles and safety measures set forth by developers and operators. The Navy’s focus is on understanding the effects of AI on unmanned systems to accomplish assigned tasks. Scientists are struggling to understand AI decision-making as systems grow more complex, raising concerns over the cost of obedience. While the US Navy is prioritizing control systems, the role of the world’s leading scientists in contributing to AI control systems remains unclear.

Image Source: Sian Prior — Twitter

Say No to LNG, a global shipping campaign supported by ClimateWorks Foundation, aims to urge policymakers, industry stakeholders, and financial institutions to rule LNG out of any shipping decarbonization scenario. While LNG remains the number one alternative fuel chosen by owners when ordering new builds, detractors of the fuel argue that upstream methane leakage and high methane slip of some LNG-powered engines more than offset the CO2 emission benefits of LNG.

Methane emissions are responsible for 25% of global warming and pack a stronger short-term punch than CO2. Advocates of LNG as a marine fuel tout the benefits of LNG in considerably reducing sulfur and particulate pollution and cutting CO2 emissions during fuel combustion, hence argue that LNG is the only transition fuel available at scale today for reducing shipping CO2 emissions.

Image Source: Getty Images

The Yuan Wang 5, a Chinese ship capable of tracking rocket and spacecraft launches, docked at a South African port for refueling, fresh water, and replenishments. While the vessel’s objective in South African waters is unclear, the African nation’s port operator said that it is a research vehicle and not a surveillance vessel. The ship’s berthing comes less than two months after South Africa held naval exercises with China and Russia, drawing criticism from the US and its allies. Despite the criticism, the bulk of South Africa’s total trade remains with Western nations.

Image Source: DutchMFA — Twitter

Former Euronav tanker, Nautica, purchased by the UN for a mission to prevent a catastrophic oil spill off Yemen’s coast, has departed from China after undergoing maintenance and modifications. The Nautica is expected to arrive in the Red Sea in early May to transfer over a million barrels of oil from the decaying FSO Safer supertanker. The Safer has been moored off Yemen’s coast since 1988 and there is a risk that it could explode or break up at any time, causing a significant oil spill that could have devastating environmental and economic consequences.

The UNDP has contracted marine salvage company SMIT to carry out the operation, which still urgently needs funding to execute. The UN is appealing to Member States, private entities, and the global public through a crowdfunding campaign to fill the funding gap of $34 million.

Image Source: ILKHA

A cargo ship named Joe 2, en route to Ukraine from Turkey, sank off the coast of Antalya, Turkey, on Wednesday. Of the 14 crew members on board, three were found dead, three are still missing, and eight were rescued by the Turkish coast guard. The cause of the ship’s sinking is not yet clear, and the chief prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into the incident. The vessel was carrying aluminum, and the rescue efforts were slowed down by the storm. All 14 crew members are Syrian nationals.

Image Source: DNV

Vahana Aryan, a self-propelled jackup built in 2018 by Vahana Marine Solutions DMCC, has become the first liftboat to receive DNV’s abate-ready notation. The Norwegian class society designed the Abate notation to help offshore owners and operators identify and implement measures that could lead to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The Singapore-flagged jackup can work in water depths of close to 70m and accommodate 200 people. Altera Infrastructure was the first FPSO owner to pilot the DNV notation on the Petrojarl Knarr vessel. DNV expects the abate class notation to become a key part of the offshore industry’s carbon reduction commitments in the coming months and years.

Image Source: RWE

Lidl and Kaufland, retail divisions of the Schwarz Group, have signed a 10-year power purchase agreement with RWE to procure roughly 250 GWh of renewable energy per year from the Kaskasi offshore wind farm in the German North Sea starting in 2028. Schwarz Group companies aim to cut CO2 emissions by up to 55% by 2030 and have been procuring the majority of their electricity from renewable sources since 2022. In September 2021, another German food retailer, REWE, signed up for 100 MW of green electricity from Ørsted’s Borkum Riffgrund 3 offshore wind farm, which is set to become operational in 2025 and is the company’s largest renewable energy offtake agreement.

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.