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May 25, 2023

An environmental group, SkyTruth, has identified a massive oil slick stretching approximately 150 miles in the Red Sea. The slick, estimated to contain at least 120,000 gallons of oil, was likely discharged by a moving vessel. SkyTruth utilized satellite imagery and AIS data to narrow down potential culprits, including several flagged tankers and bulk carriers. The incident highlights the importance of preventing oil pollution from ships under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

In a demonstration of NATO’s solidarity amidst rising tensions with Russia, the world’s largest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, has made a historic visit to Oslo. The vessel will engage in training exercises with the Norwegian armed forces along the country’s coast.

The visit signifies the strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Norway, emphasizing the credibility of collective defense and deterrence. While the Russian embassy in Oslo criticized the visit, citing the absence of direct military threats, the presence of the USS Gerald R. Ford underscores Norway’s commitment to safeguarding its Arctic borders and energy resources.

A sailing boat encountered severe damage after a group of orcas, or killer whales, rammed into it off the southern coast of Spain. This incident adds to the growing number of encounters between orcas and vessels along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts. The Iberian orca sub-species has already been involved in over 20 interactions this month alone in the Strait of Gibraltar. Guidelines issued by the Spanish Transport Ministry emphasize the importance of avoiding disturbance to the highly social apex predators and reporting all ship-orca interactions. These endangered creatures, belonging to the dolphin family, can reach impressive lengths and weights as adults.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded its investigation into an engine failure and subsequent fire on the offshore supply vessel Ocean Guardian near Seattle. The incident, which resulted in damages worth $1.1 million, occurred during a sea trial when the vessel’s no. 3 diesel generator engine experienced a mechanical failure.

The investigation revealed that an incorrectly sized crankshaft main bearing had been installed during the engine overhaul, causing a decrease in lube oil supply pressure and subsequent failure of multiple engine components. The NTSB emphasized the need for accurate replacement of machinery components during maintenance and the importance of diligent record-keeping to ensure safe and reliable vessel operation. The incident prompted the implementation of a new service tracking system by the local Caterpillar service company to enhance documentation and information sharing among technicians.

The Biden administration is introducing a new initiative through the Department of Energy (DOE) to explore low-carbon alternatives to petroleum-based transportation fuels and chemical feedstocks. The program, known as the Clean Fuels and Products Shot, aims to create fuel alternatives for hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as aviation, rail, and shipping. By 2035, the DOE aims to develop fuels with greenhouse gas emissions at least 85% lower than fossil-based sources. The program will utilize biomass sources like forest trimmings, municipal solid waste, and even waste carbon dioxide to achieve the goal. With transportation being a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, this initiative aligns with the administration’s objective of achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century.

The European Union (EU) has managed to replace diesel shipments from Russia, previously the top external supplier, after a ban on seaborne imports went into effect. The availability of diesel, essential for various sectors including industry, freight, and road transportation, was at risk without viable alternatives. However, deliveries from other countries have surged, with total arrivals of diesel and gasoil expected to reach a four-month high in May. Saudi Arabia and the United States have seen booming flows, compensating for the decline in shipments from Asia due to lower flows from China and Singapore. This successful transition ensures a stable supply of diesel in the EU and UK.

The Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) is seeking a tenant for a 79-acre property located at the Talleyrand Marine Terminal in Jacksonville. JAXPORT is inviting proposals from Qualified Companies with the necessary operational experience, financial capability, and business vision to enter into a long-term lease agreement. The goal is to support the growth of import and/or export cargo volumes at the port. Currently occupied by Southeast Toyota Distributors, the property will become available in 2025. The Talleyrand terminal, covering a total of 251 acres, handles various cargoes and offers rail facilities. JAXPORT aims to find a tenant who can contribute to the continued cargo growth at the port.

Tugboats have successfully moved a large ship that was stranded in the Suez Canal, restoring shipping traffic to its regular operation. The ship, named Xin Hai Tong 23, a bulk carrier, experienced an engine malfunction. The Suez Canal Authority deployed tugboats to move the ship, overcoming a brief delay caused by the failure of the ship’s winch. It’s important to note that the vessel did not run aground, and precautionary measures were taken to ensure the return to normal shipping activity. The incident had disrupted two convoys of ships, but with the successful towing process, the canal traffic has been fully restored. This comes after the notable disruption caused by the Ever Given container ship in 2021.

Tech giant Microsoft has alerted about a Chinese state-sponsored snooping operation called Volt Typhoon that is targeting American maritime assets. The operation focuses on post-compromise credential access and network system discovery, aiming at critical infrastructure organizations in the US. Volt Typhoon, active since mid-2021, has been identified as an espionage and information-gathering actor. The campaign has affected organizations across various sectors, including communications, manufacturing, utility, transportation, construction, maritime, government, information technology, and education. Microsoft advises implementing strong multi-factor authentication, passwordless sign-in, password expiration rules, and deactivating unused accounts to mitigate the risk of compromised valid accounts.

Singaporean terminal operator PSA International has obtained a strategic minority stake in Vietnamese logistics company Sotrans. PSA Cargo Solutions Vietnam Investments purchased the stake from majority owner Indo-Trans Logistics (ITL) in a deal estimated at around $55 million, representing nearly 25% of Sotrans’s capital. Sotrans, established in 1975, is involved in various activities such as ports and inland container depots, freight forwarding, contract logistics, and transportation of heavy lift and project cargo. This investment aligns with PSA’s goal of being a global supply chain orchestrator and supporting sustainable trade. The move strengthens PSA’s network in the region and enhances its involvement in Vietnam’s expanding economy.

You can read previous 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.