Currents Shipping Digest Logo

The shipping industry is constantly changing, and it’s essential to stay in the loop. That’s where ‘Currents’ comes in handy! It’s a daily summary of the most important news stories from the shipping world, so you can keep up-to-date without wasting time sifting through endless articles.

You’ll be the first to know about the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities that could impact the maritime sector. With ‘Currents,’ you can stay informed, make smarter decisions, and stay ahead of the competition.

You may submit your contact details below to receive ‘Currents’ daily in your inbox.

May 30, 2023

As Typhoon Mawar approaches Guam, concerns arise over the vulnerability of crucial US military installations to extreme weather events and rising sea levels. The storm prompted the Navy to move ships out to sea, but repeated flooding in Guam has already affected operations and activities. Guam’s strategic location in the Indo-Pacific region and its role in maintaining a free and open area are crucial for US defense commitments. The Pentagon is encouraging military planners to address climate risks and has allocated funds for climate-related war games and developed a climate assessment tool to simulate potential changes at defense sites worldwide.

Chinese ports, including Qingdao, have intensified their inspection measures, particularly for foreign tankers older than 10 years that have changed ownership in the past three years. Instances of tankers being detained for safety violations have raised concerns about the condition of vessels operating in the opaque market, often carrying Russian, Iranian, and Venezuelan crude. While the grey fleet continues to expand, the growth rate has slowed down recently, indicating a potential shift in attitude towards aging vessels. Major class societies, managers, and insurers have distanced themselves from substandard tonnage, creating strains on shipping insurers globally.

Malaysia’s maritime authorities discovered cannon shells believed to be from World War Two on a China-registered bulk carrier ship detained for unauthorized anchoring. This comes amidst reports of scavengers targeting British World War Two wrecks off Malaysia’s coast. The illegal salvage activities have drawn condemnation, considering the wrecks as maritime military graves. The discovery of scrap metal and cannon shells on the detained ship may be connected to a separate seizure of unexploded World War Two-era artillery, possibly scavenged from the wreckage of HMS Prince of Wales. Authorities are working to identify the ammunition found.

The United Nations’ World Food Programme facilitated a second shipment of Russian-origin fertilizer from the European Union to Africa. The shipment, consisting of 34,000 tonnes, arrived in Kenya, following a previous delivery of 20,000 tonnes to Malawi. The fertilizer, stored in Riga port since last year due to European Union sanctions on Russia, was released by Latvia, allowing Russia to participate in a Black Sea grains deal. The seized fertilizer, mostly owned by Russian producers Uralchem and Uralkali, is being donated to developing countries, with Uralchem covering the delivery costs.

North Korea has informed Japan of its plan to launch a military satellite between May 31 and June 11, signaling its efforts to enhance surveillance technology and strengthen its ability to strike targets in potential conflicts. The satellite launch announcement follows a series of missile and weapons tests by North Korea, including a new intercontinental ballistic missile. While Japan’s prime minister’s office has urged North Korea to refrain from the launch, it also emphasized cooperation with relevant countries such as the United States and South Korea. Japan is committed to collecting and analyzing information from the launch, expressing concerns about North Korea’s advancements in surveillance capabilities.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a panel to investigate allegations made by the United States that a Russian ship collected weapons from a naval base near Cape Town last year. The panel, consisting of three members, has been given six weeks to conduct its investigation and establish who was aware of the ship’s arrival, the contents that were loaded and off-loaded, and whether all obligations were met regarding the cargo ship’s arrival. The allegations have strained diplomatic relations between the U.S., South Africa, and Russia, and have raised questions about South Africa’s non-aligned stance on the Ukraine conflict.

Amid escalating tensions, a Chinese research ship, accompanied by five escort vessels, entered Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near gas blocks operated by Russian firms in the South China Sea. This incursion represents a significant event, with China claiming vast areas of the energy-rich waters, including parts within Vietnam’s EEZ. The ships’ presence has caused concerns, and Vietnam has urged them to leave. While China asserts its sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and surrounding waters, other countries with claims in the South China Sea, such as Vietnam and the Philippines, perceive China’s actions as hostile.

Taiwan’s defense ministry reported that the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong, accompanied by two other ships, sailed through the Taiwan Strait, further heightening military tensions. China considers Taiwan its own territory and has not ruled out the use of force to bring it under its control. Taiwan’s military closely monitored the group’s movements, responding appropriately to the situation. This recent sailing follows China’s ongoing military activities in the region and its consistent violation of the strait’s median line. Taiwan, under President Tsai Ing-wen, strongly disputes Beijing’s sovereignty claims and insists on the right of the island’s people to decide their future.

Container shipping companies are leveraging the tactic of slow steaming to navigate challenging market conditions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, sailing speeds increased due to high demand and port congestion. However, in the first quarter of 2023, the average sailing speed decreased to 13.8 knots, down 4% year-on-year, with predictions of a potential 10% further reduction by 2025. This strategy allows carriers to absorb surplus capacity and manage structural overcapacity and rising fuel prices. The industry faces both issues as it copes with new capacity additions, sluggish demand growth, and environmental regulations. Liner operators have adjusted their fleets to go slower, while expecting persistent challenging conditions in the foreseeable future.

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.