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April 10, 2023

Image Source: MARIO TAMA — GETTY IMAGES

Following two days of intermittent strikes, workers returned to their duties at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California on Saturday. The unions have not settled on new pay terms since the previous contract expired on July 1 last year, causing concern for shippers regarding potential industrial action.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing the dockworkers’ employers on the US West Coast, stated that the disruptions damaged confidence in West Coast ports and could accelerate cargo diversion to Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. They emphasized that the Southern California and state economy’s health relies on the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach’s ability to curb market share loss.

Lars Jensen, head of container consultancy Vespucci Maritime, described the port disruption as a “train wreck in slow motion.” He mentioned that since the previous contract failed to renew in mid-2022, labor disruptions on the US West Coast have posed a constant risk, preventing some US importers from shifting their supply chains back from the East Coast to the West Coast even after the resolution of pandemic-related issues.

Image Source: Greg Baker — Getty Images

China conducted military drills around Taiwan for the second day, involving aircraft and ships, in response to the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen’s, visit to the US. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry detected 58 Chinese aircraft and nine warships near the island, with 31 warplanes entering Taiwan’s air-defense identification zone. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced drills and patrols in the airspace and waters surrounding Taiwan from April 8 to 10. The PLA spokesperson, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, stated that the drills are a warning against Taiwan’s separatist forces and their collusion with foreign elements. Taiwan’s vice premier, Cheng Wen-tsan, asserted that Taiwan would not show weakness or fear, and maintained that its policies ensure territorial security.

Image Source: Thomas Peter — REUTERS

As tensions rise in the Taiwan Strait, with China sending warships and fighter jets following Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the US, fishing crews in the area are more concerned about their livelihood than politics. Villagers on China’s Pingtan island are finding it increasingly difficult to fish in the strait due to the military drills, which also make them wary of approaching the median line. Increased tensions have led to more arrests of Chinese fishing crews by Taiwan’s coast guard on charges of illegal trawling. Fishermen hope that relations between the two sides will improve, to protect their livelihoods and prevent a potential conflict.

Image Source: REUTERS

The US Navy announced that the USS Florida, a nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine, is operating in the Middle East in support of the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet. The submarine entered the region on Thursday and transited the Suez Canal on Friday. It is capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles and is deployed to ensure regional maritime security and stability.

Image Source: Eagle Bulk Shipping

Gratus Capital LLC has increased its holding in Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. by 5.7% in Q4, now owning 236,575 shares of the company’s stock, equivalent to 1.73% of Eagle Bulk Shipping’s worth. Research analysts are optimistic about the shipping company, with BTIG Research raising its target price from $60 to $70 per share. Eagle Bulk Shipping has also caught the attention of several hedge funds and institutional investors, including Dimensional Fund Advisors LP and Vanguard Group Inc. The company recently declared its quarterly dividend payments to shareholders, representing an annualized payout ratio of approximately 15%. The sustained growth trends and comparative undervaluation of Eagle Bulk Shipping make it an attractive proposition for both institutional investors and individual stockholders.

Image Source: Ecology Southwest Region

A fire on the Kodiak Enterprise, a fishing ship moored at Trident Seafoods in Tacoma, has led to a temporary shelter-in-place order for the Northeast Tacoma, Browns Point, and Dash Point neighborhoods. The Hylebos Waterway has also been closed to commercial and recreational vessel traffic. The fire, which began in the ship’s galley, has been burning since Saturday morning. The Tacoma Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, and various other agencies are working together to address the situation. The ship contains 55,000 gallons of diesel and 19,000 pounds of freon. The fire is about 100 feet from the freon tanks, which could potentially pose a health hazard. However, the U.S. Coast Guard stated that freon released into the atmosphere is not expected to pose a significant threat. First responders have deployed containment booms to protect the marine environment, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Image Source: GasLog Ltd

GasLog has reached a merger deal with GasLog Partners, a New York-listed affiliate, taking the company private by acquiring about 70% of the partnership it does not currently own for $8.65 per share. The per-share purchase price represents a 24% premium on the stock’s closing on January 24 and a 12% increase on the initial proposal. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter of 2023, subject to shareholder approval. The combined fleet will consist of 38 LNG carriers, with four under construction and one vessel undergoing conversion into a floating storage and regasification unit.

Image Source: Platypus Marine

Platypus Marine, a Washington-based shipbuilder, has signed a letter of intent with Dutch shipbuilding company Damen to construct a crew transfer vessel for the US offshore wind industry. The vessel will be designed by Damen and comply with the Jones Act, being built and operated by a US company. Platypus will construct a 16,500 sq. ft. building to accommodate the 88-foot vessel, with construction expected to begin in early 2024 and completion slated for early 2025. The vessel will be able to hold 24 people and reach a maximum speed of 25 knots.

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.