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March 27, 2023

Image Source: Michael D. Cole — US Navy

North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Monday, according to South Korea’s military.

The missiles were fired from North Hwanghae province and flew about 370 kilometers before landing outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Both South Korea and Japan strongly condemned the launches, calling them grave provocations that violate UN Security Council resolutions. The launches occurred as the US aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and ships from its accompanying strike group are scheduled to dock at a South Korean naval base in the southeastern port city of Busan on Tuesday.

The carrier’s visit was arranged as part of efforts to have more US “strategic assets” in the area to deter North Korea. Pyongyang has been ramping up its military tests in recent weeks, including the firing of multiple cruise missiles and testing of a new nuclear-capable underwater attack drone.

Image Source: PennyJack Creative — Shutterstock

Republican lawmakers in New Jersey are urging Governor Phil Murphy to halt preliminary work on offshore wind projects following a spate of whale and dolphin deaths along the state’s coast. The Republicans believe that the preliminary work on Murphy’s plans for 100% clean energy by 2035 may be interfering with the animals’ sonar communications and leading them astray. The National Atmospheric and Oceanographic Administration has called the deaths of at least nine whales and 23 dolphins since December 1st “unusual mortality events.”

State utility regulators have agreed to seek proposals for a third planned wind farm, but no offshore wind-related construction activity has taken place.

Image Source: Elio Desiderio — EPA

The Italian authorities have detained a migrant rescue boat financed by Banksy, a British street artist, after it responded to a distress call in the central Mediterranean.

The vessel, named Louise Michel, was impounded in the port of Lampedusa on Sunday for an alleged breach of new Italian rules for rescue boats operated by non-governmental organisations. The crew of the boat said they knew of dozens of boats in distress and that being prevented from assisting was unacceptable. On Sunday, at least 29 people from sub-Saharan Africa died while trying to reach Italy after two boats carrying them across the Mediterranean sank off the coast of Tunisia. The incident comes weeks after an overcrowded wooden vessel carrying as many as 200 people fell apart in stormy seas just a few metres from the beach of Cutro, in Calabria.

The bodies of at least 90 people have so far been recovered by the authorities, including dozens of children from Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Pakistan and Iraq who were seeking refuge in Europe.

Image Source: Douanes Francaises — Getty Images

The 26-year-old oil tanker, Turba, which hasn’t had a full inspection since 2017, is still operational despite the fact that the average age of the global shipping fleet is the oldest it has been in almost two decades.

Most ships are considered for demolition after 15 years of service and are typically sold for scrap after 20 years. However, due to EU sanctions against Russia in December 2022, which have forced vessels to sail further to deliver Russian oil, some older ships are still operational because of the increased demand for freight rates. This lack of proper maintenance and oversight poses an environmental risk since these aging ships are often not properly inspected, leading to potentially catastrophic accidents at sea. There have been at least 40 vessels carrying Russian oil to China and India between December 2022 and February 2023 that lacked insurance or routine safety-management certificates, according to Equasis data.

The Turba, which collected heavy fuel from the same Russian port as the tanker Prestige did, brings up the uncomfortable memory of one of the worst oil spills in European history.

The Prestige tanker broke in half, leaked thousands of tons of heavy fuel oil onto the coast of Spain in 2002, and caused irreparable environmental damage.

Image Source: Inside Lombok — Twitter

On Sunday, a fire broke out on the 5,000 dwt tanker Kristin off the coast of Ampenan, Lombok, which prompted the evacuation of the crew. The tanker was carrying six million liters of Pertalite, a premium gasoline grade, and was under charter to Pertamina. The cause of the fire is still being investigated, and three crewmembers are still missing.

The vessel’s gas cargoes were intended for Lombok and Bali, but local fuel stocks are currently adequate to supply motorists on the islands. The fire was extinguished overnight on Sunday, but the missing crewmembers have not been found.

Image Source: Umweltorganisation Holm Akhdar — dpa — picture-alliance

UN warns of environmental and humanitarian disaster as a super tanker, FSO Safer, anchored off the coast of Yemen with over a million barrels of oil is on the verge of sinking or exploding. The ship was abandoned in 2015 during the Yemen civil war and is now starting to fall apart. The humanitarian coordinator for Yemen has stated that it is not a question of if the ship will sink, but when, which will result in the spillage of one million barrels of oil into the Red Sea, leading to the destruction of healthy coral reefs and mangrove forests, and the loss of millions of marine organisms.

An oil spill would close Yemen’s key Red Sea ports of Hudayah and Salif, halting food aid for nearly six million people and disrupting fuel imports for eight million Yemenis who rely on fuel-powered pumps or trucks to get fresh water.

The UN has crowdfunded the purchase of a rescue tanker for salvage operations, but it is still $34m short of the $130m required to complete the job.

Image Source: Hudong Zhonghua

Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding has delivered its fifth 24,000 TEU-class vessel, the MSC Celestino Maresca, to the world’s largest container shipping company, MSC. The colossal container ship measures 399.99 meters in length, has a molded width of 61.5 meters, and can carry more than 240,000 tons of cargo.

The vessel is equipped with high-efficiency propellers and energy-saving devices, reducing fuel consumption and emission levels by 3-4%. MSC plans to phase in four 24,000 TEU newbuildings, including the MSC Celestino Maresca, from mid-March to early April. However, filling these new giant ships could be a challenge due to weak bookings and a general slowdown in global cargo demand.

Image Source: The Times of India

Five containers of stainless steel from Jindal Stainless Ltd (JSL) have been stuck at the Belgian port of Antwerp for around a year due to EU sanctions imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The containers were sent to Antwerp for shipment but were held up despite stainless steel not being on the EU’s sanctions list. JSL’s exports are expected to reach a five-year high in the next fiscal year due to increased shipments to Russia and planned entries into markets in South America and the Middle East. The matter has been referred to Belgium’s federal customs service.

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.