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Sep 28, 2023

The U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan will make a rare visit to Central Vietnam’s port city of Danang, signaling an effort to strengthen ties between the two countries. This visit comes at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and China in the South China Sea.

The ship’s arrival marks only the third time a U.S. aircraft carrier has visited Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War. The visit is part of Washington’s push to upgrade its formal relationship with Vietnam, as the country continues to have territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea. The United States frequently deploys carriers in the region, which is crucial for global trade routes. This visit serves as a strategic move amidst China’s claims over the waters and its increasing presence in the region.

The U.S. Coast Guard has initiated a Marine Board of Investigation (MBI) into the loss of the Titan submersible and its crew. The Canadian-flagged expedition vessel Polar Prince, carrying the Titan, lost contact during a dive, leading to an extensive search and rescue operation.

The wreckage of the Titan was located on the ocean floor near the Titanic wreck site. The MBI, the highest level of investigation conducted by the Coast Guard, aims to determine the cause of the incident, assess potential misconduct or negligence, identify any violated laws, and recommend measures to prevent similar incidents in the future. Captain Jason D. Neubauer will chair the investigation, supported by a team of experts from the Coast Guard and other international authorities. The findings of the investigation will be compiled into a report with conclusions and recommendations for the Coast Guard Commandant.

The Saade shipping clan’s family office is undergoing management reorganization in response to the significant financial gains generated during the pandemic. Michel Sirat, former CFO of CMA CGM, has assumed leadership of Merit France, overseeing the family’s wealth. Joseph Dakkak, who previously held a prominent role in the family office, has resigned but will continue working in a regional office of the transport company.

The Saade family, which controls CMA CGM, experienced unprecedented profits during the pandemic due to soaring transport rates. CMA CGM expanded its offerings and diversified its portfolio, including ventures into air cargo and logistics. The company made notable acquisitions, such as Bollore SE’s logistics arm, and is expanding its media assets. The family’s net worth is approximately $21.6 billion, with majority ownership of CMA CGM through Merit. Alongside his role at Merit, Sirat oversees M&A and strategy for CMA CGM, while Ramon Fernandez has taken over as CFO. The restructuring reflects the evolution and growth of the Saade shipping empire.

The Panama Canal Authority has announced the postponement of depth restrictions that were set to affect the largest ships transiting the waterway, due to recent rainfall providing much-needed relief. These measures, originally scheduled for June and July, would have required ships to carry less cargo or reduce weight, impacting trade at one of the world’s busiest commercial crossings. Neo-Panamax and Panamax ships can continue to operate at the previous depth limits. The canal authority will monitor water levels and announce future adjustments accordingly.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has initiated a formal investigation into the loss of the Titan submersible, which had five people on board. A team of TSB investigators is en-route to gather information, conduct interviews, and assess the incident. The privately operated submersible, deployed from the Canadian-flagged vessel Polar Prince, lost contact approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes into its dive to the wreck of the RMS Titanic. A search and rescue operation led by the U.S. Coast Guard was launched, and it has been confirmed that the sub experienced a catastrophic loss of pressure. The TSB will investigate the circumstances of the operation and prepare a comprehensive report.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) and Chevron have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a strategic alliance aimed at lowering the carbon intensity of marine fuels and advancing decarbonization technologies in the shipping industry. The companies will conduct joint research into next-generation fuels and safety measures, collaborating on various business opportunities that contribute to a lower-carbon future. Chevron aims to lead in lower carbon intensity oil, products, and natural gas, while MOL plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The MOU was signed with Chevron’s regional supply and trading business in Singapore, and previous collaborations between MOL and Chevron focused on liquified carbon dioxide shipping for carbon capture projects.

The Canadian government has announced mandatory measures to address the dumping of greywater and sewage by cruise ships in Canadian waters. The measures aim to balance the economic benefits of the cruise industry with environmental responsibility. Cruise ships contribute significantly to Canada’s economy, generating jobs and revenue. However, it is crucial to ensure that these benefits do not harm the marine ecosystem.

The new regulations prohibit the discharge of greywater and treated sewage within three nautical miles from shore, with enhanced standards for discharge between three and twelve nautical miles from shore. Compliance with these measures will be enforced, and fines for non-compliance have been established. The regulations also apply to cruise ships passing through Marine Protected Areas and marine refuges. The implementation of these measures aligns with the goal of conserving a significant portion of Canada’s oceans. The government’s commitment to protecting the environment while supporting economic opportunities is underscored by these actions.

GoodBulk, led by John Michael Radziwill, has sold its eighth ship this year, the 2011-built Aquaenna. The capesize vessel, constructed by Jinhai Heavy, was purchased by Costamare for $22 million. This sale follows the previous disposal of the Rosebank, a slightly older vessel, for $23.2 million. Prices for secondhand dry bulk tonnage have experienced a decline in recent months.

Braemar, a British shipbroker, anticipates the suspension of its shares on the London Stock Exchange as it delays the publication of its annual results. The company’s auditors have been investigating a transaction from 2013 involving payments made until 2017. Braemar acknowledges concerns about the representation and liability recorded in its balance sheet related to this transaction. The investigation is ongoing, with FRP assisting and a specific committee overseeing the matter. While the delay in publishing the results will not affect the company’s underlying trading profit or cash position, Braemar will request a suspension of its ordinary shares trading until the investigation is concluded. The company expects to report record revenue and profitability for FY23, with increased dividend recommendations to shareholders.

Maritime analysts are pessimistic about the outlook for liner shipping due to disappointing progress in inventory de-stocking in the US and Europe. The June Horizon containerships report by MSI predicts a challenging second half for the sector unless demand significantly improves to offset capacity increases.

The global macroeconomic environment is not favorable, and significant monetary tightening may lead to recessions in Europe and the US. Freight rates are expected to experience only a small rise late in the third quarter, with risks skewed towards a downward trend. Container spot rates on major trade lanes, such as Asia-North Europe and transpacific routes, have been declining. However, carriers servicing the Asia-Mediterranean route have reported healthy demand, while the transatlantic market appears to be stabilizing after weeks of decline. Despite these observations, average rates may not accurately represent the current market conditions, as major carriers are offering lower rates to maintain competitiveness.

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.