Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 10 - 2004

 

UK shipper wants local route license

---A British company has applied for a permit to operate ferries in Greece's popular Aegean island routes, the first to do so after the expiry of a 12-year exemption to EU rules on deregulation, a source said yesterday.
Under the maritime transport - cabotage - rules in place in most EU states since 1992, shipowners with vessels registered in an EU member state are allowed to provide maritime transport services within any other member state. Greece had been granted a 12-year exception because the size of its network - spanning about 240 ports - meant it would need more time to ease into deregulation.
"A British firm has submitted three applications, one application for each ship they intend to operate," a source in the Merchant Marine Ministry told Reuters.
The source added that the firm, identified as Ocean Star, intended to operate two small ferries in the Saronic Gulf route and one large car and passenger ship in the Cyclades route, that includes the hugely popular destinations of Myconos and Santorini.
The source said that according to the application documents the three ships were still being built. A local representative of the company confirmed the bid, but declined to give any further details.
"It is unlikely that we will see foreign companies rushing in. The Greek market is generally not considered profitable because economy-class tickets are cheaper than in other countries," said a maritime industry source who refused to be named.
Greece has long been at loggerheads with Brussels over a 2001 law deregulating passenger shipping. In a letter sent to Greece's Foreign Ministry in February, Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio said Greece needed to change parts of the law to avoid being hit with legal action for breaking EU rules and putting up barriers to liberalization. The provisions in question include a requirement for crews to speak Greek and a clause providing for a vessel age limit of 30 years, down from 35 previously, to come into effect in 2009. By Ellie Tzortzi - Reuters.
Source: www.ekathimerini.com, 6 Mar 04


Greek action leads to IMO re-think on double-hull regs
---Lobbyist pressure led by Greece and the International Chamber of Shipping and backed by Japan, has resulted in Imo backtracking on an earlier decision to mandate double-hulls for bulk carrier newbuildings. At a Design and Equipment (D&E) meeting with Imo, the ICS and the Greek delegation, backed by Greece's administration, shipowning and technical communities, argued Imo is not the place to decide the matter.
Imo recommended a set of bulker-safety measures last December for entry into force January 1, 2005. But both Greece and ICS contended at the D&E meeting there is not enough experience with double-hull construction nor have double-hull rules been developed to ensure safety is in fact improved. Their stand will add fire to the debate on the issue at Imo's crucial Maritime Safety Committee (MSC78) meeting in May where a set of revisions is to be presented for approval. If approved they will move to MSC79 for adoption, which could cause legal problems for any new requirements will supersede those set to come in at the beginning of 2005.
Greece has always argued the safety and superiority of double hulls is yet to be proven. While supporting the development of double-hull rules and ship design, they believe the design should not made mandatory for bulkers.
The March 4 D&E meeting also agreed to significant modifications to regulations on the Permanent Means of Access (PMA), an issue which has particularly troubled Greeks. Proposed revisions are an improvement aimed at trying to integrate PMA with the ship's structural members.
Greece and ICS refute allegations they are making a last minute attempt to scupper Imo on making double-hull mandatory for bulkers, with a leading member of the Greek technical community pointing out "we have been opposed all along to the way rules have been developing regarding double-hull and have made our views known".
Indeed, Newsfront has attended many presentations over the past 14 months at which developing rules, or the lack of them on double-hulls, have been challenged. Presentations in Greece by IACS members have generally received a searching examination and since December IACS has been working on technical specifications for double-hull bulkers.
One of the Greeks at the D&E meeting said revision of an Imo regulation before it has come into force is unprecedented and reversal of the PMA was only possible by hard technical work by partners of the Round Table of industry associations, IACS and the Greek administration.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, Vol 5, 5 Mar 04


The Commodore mulls acquistion of Valles Steamship
---Any decent size fleet of modern aframax and/or suezmax tankers is probably on the mind of General Maritime and its CMA Commodore Peter Georgiopoulos these days - the company has loads of cash and would probably like to continue to lower the average age of the fleet. The acquisition of Portuguese tanker company Soponata (which is for sale through UBS in London and received bids this week) would make sense, except that the lean General Maritime has shown a greater interest in buying steel than flesh and Soponata is a corporate transaction. Another logical acquisition target or merger partner for General Maritime would be Valles Steamship of Vancouver and there is "broker tawk" talk that both Genmar and Teekay Shipping are considering such a transaction.
Source: www.marinemoney.com, Freshly Minted, 4 Mar 04


Listless Deb?
---Listing on the Athens Stock Exchange is not the normal style of Greek owners either. In fact they have firmly resisted the blandishments of both Government and Exchange so far because of what they see as the too-restrictive conditions attached to listing. Now the Alafouzos-controlled Argonaftis is the first to take the plunge.
However a certain lack of enthusiasm for the cold waters of public ownership seems to be evident.
The group announced its intention two years ago and Argonaftis was the first company created in line with the requirements back in 2002. It has the minimum fleet of four ships, it has just scraped in before the April 2004 deadline, and it is selling the bare minimum of 25% of its shares. Seems there is more to this than meets the eye. Argonaftis is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alafouzos's media group Kathimerini.
Profits made by the tanker company have kept the ailing media operation in the black and other competing media companies are unhappy about it.
Doubtless this listing will help keep the ASE off the Alafouzos's backs. By Ian Middleton
Source: www.tankertrends.com, issue 32, 5 Mar 04


ATHOC resolve ROC cruise ships accommodation issue for Olympic family
---On 25 February 2003, after a relevant invitation to tender, ATHENS 2004 signed berthing agreements with ROYAL OLYMPIA CRUISES for cruise ships OLYMPIA EXPLORER, OLYMPIA VOYAGER and OLYMPIA COUNTESS, which were going to be used as floating hotels to meet accommodation needs during the Olympic Games (ATHENS 2004 has not entered into any other agreement concerning other cruisers of the same company).
As soon as it was made known that the above ships had been placed under seizure by credit institutions in foreign ports, ATHENS 2004 gave notice of termination for the corresponding agreements on 11 February 2004, and proceeded to recover the total sum of the advance payments made to ROC, as the letters guarantee obtained by ATHENS 2004 were forfeited.
In order to meet the resulting needs, alternative solutions were sought, which were subsequently proposed to the parties concerned and were accepted, while finalisation and signing of the relevant agreements is expected to take place very soon.
Following the above:
1. The French NOC, which had made reservations for 105 cabins, will be accommodated on the OCEAN EXPLORER I cruise ship, together with French Rights-Holding Broadcasters.
2. The United States Olympic Committee (60 cabins) will be accommodated on the OOSTERDAM cruise ship.
3. NOCs of 18 countries, which have reserved a small number of cabins each (81 cabins in total), will be accommodated in hotels that have signed the Olympic Hotel Agreement with ATHENS 2004.
4. An answer is expected concerning the reservations made by the Italian National Olympic Committee and by the Torino 2006 Organising Committee for the Winter Olympic Games, pending examination of two proposals submitted (reservations had originally been made for a total of 66 cabins).
Once the new allocation of the above accommodations is finalised, ATHENS 2004 will have fully met its contractual obligations to the members of the Olympic family, who had reserved cabins in ROC cruisers.
It is worth noting that 90% of cabins and suites aboard the QUEEN MARY 2 have already been allocated. Some cabins and suites are still available on the RO?TERDAM (4*), AIDA AURA (4*) and OOSTERDAM (5*) cruise ships, for reservation by interested spectators and visitors.
Source: www.athens2004.com, 3 Mar 04


Source: www.shipgaz, 2 mar 04


UPDATE II - Tragic Loss of Bow Mariner
---The following press release was issued 6th of March 2004 by the site team in Norfolk, VA, on behalf of Ceres and Odfjell:
Salvage Operation on Sunken Tanker To Focus On Locating And Recovering Missing Seamen
Norfolk, VA Saturday March 6 - A formidable array of marine salvage expertise and equipment is converging in the Hampton Roads area to conduct a two-pronged operation to locate and recover the missing seamen and to remove any remaining ethanol and fuel oil from the sunken tanker.
The tanker, Bow Mariner, sank on February 28, in the Atlantic Ocean 50 nautical miles off the Virginia coast in 264-feet of water after experiencing several explosions and fire. Six crewmen survived, 3 bodies have been recovered and 18 are still missing.
"One of the main purposes of the salvage operation is to locate and retrieve the missing seamen," said Captain Michael Shuker, Director of the Safety, Security and Compliance Division of Ceres Hellenic Shipping Enterprises, Ltd., the managers of the tanker.
"Naturally the other mission will be to determine if there is any cargo or fuel oil still inside the vessel, and to see if it can be pumped into containers without damaging the marine environment," said Knut Dybvik, Vice President of Odfjell USA, who represents the vessel's owners.
The equipment being assembled includes the 252.64-foot Mystic Viking, a dynamic-positioned diving support vessel that will be the working platform for the salvage operation. The Mystic Viking can stay in one position without anchors using multiple propellers that are computer-controlled using GPS technology. The vessel's crew has been augmented so it can conduct round-the-clock saturation diving operations if necessary.
The vessel is equipped with an array of high-tech gear including flexible hoses and pumps that can be inserted into the sunken vessel's tanks to remove cargo or fuel without harming the environment. It is currently enroute from the US Gulf and is scheduled to arrive at the site next weekend from the Gulf of Mexico.
On Monday, 226-foot offshore supply vessel Powhatan is scheduled to arrive in Hampton Roads to conduct a comprehensive visual survey of the Bow Mariner using an ROV - remotely operated vehicle.
The ROV, which is controlled from the surface, can take both still and video photography and has the ability to manipulate objects on the seabed. Depending on the size of the opening it also can also be steered inside the vessel.
"The Mystic Viking and the Powhatan are among the most sophisticated vessels of their kind," said Jesse Lewis, a spokesman for Ceres Hellenic. "And their crews are highly trained and experienced".
"If any of the missing seamen are located," Lewis said, "their remains will be treated with great dignity, and will be carried to the surface with care."
Ceres Hellenic and Odfjell issued a joint statement in which they expressed their appreciation to the US Coast Guard for "professionalism and bravery."
"We recognize that the human cost of the casualty would have been much greater had it not been for the prompt response and courage of the US Coast Guard," the statement said.
"In particular, we would like to mention the actions of rescue swimmer Dave Foreman, who went into the water to rescue one of the seamen under hazardous conditions. What he did was heroic."
The statement went on to say:
"We are aggressively investigating the cause of the incident. We are determined to know what happened, in what sequence and why".
"There has been a tragic incident involving three confirmed deaths and 18 missing seafarers. We think it is important to focus on responding to the needs of the families of the deceased and missing crew, and address the needs of survivors, who are eager to return to the Philippines to rejoin their families. That is where our joint efforts - and our prayers - are directed."
Odfjell is a leading company in the global market of transporting and storing of chemicals and related logistical services. The fleet totals 89 ships, trading both globally and regionally, of which 47 is owned by the group. Odfjell additionally owns and operates tank terminals and tank containers.
Ceres Hellenic Shipping Enterprises is managing a wide range of various vessels. Currently the managed fleet is 42 vessels.
Source: www.odfjell.com, 7 Mar 04


Spain still passing buck for Prestige oil disaster
---YOU may remember the Prestige, the tanker that sank off the Spanish coast in 2002. Some 80,000 tonnes of noxious fuel as thick as treacle seeped out of the vessel, fouling hundreds of kilometres of Spanish and French beaches, and creating Europe's worst environmental disaster.
What you may not know is that the Greek captain of the Prestige, 69-year-old Apostolos Mangouras, remains detained in Spain, under investigation some 15 months after the incident.
To the Spanish prosecutors, Mangouras is a villain, responsible for an economic disaster in Galicia, an impoverished Spanish province dependent on tourism and fishing. However, it is the Spanish authorities that are mainly to blame for the scale of the pollution. After months of investigation, there is little doubt that the Prestige broke apart because it was refused access to a port when it got into trouble.
When Mangouras signalled to the control tower at Cape Finisterre that his vessel was taking in water, it was his first SOS for 32 years as a ship's master. In a force 10 gale and with 25ft waves crashing over the bows, he stayed on the Prestige with two others after the rest of the crew was evacuated, trying to secure a tow-rope to a tug.
The Spanish authorities say he refused to obey instructions, a charge Mangouras denies, but the main argument is over the port authorities' refusal to let the Prestige into a Spanish port to unload the cargo. The port would not risk a pollution incident, but an investigation by the European Parliament concluded that it was the decision to tow the ship into the storm in the Bay of Biscay where it was battered to bits that spread the pollution over such a wide area.
Mangouras has been treated shabbily, if not scandalously by a Government desperate to shift blame. In the initial confusion, the Spanish authorities even leaked a story to the press that the elderly captain had no master's certificate, an allegation that was later admitted to be untrue. Since the Prestige incident there has been the usual flurry of EU legislation, including the prohibition of single-hulled tankers and directives over the procedures governing safe havens.
Having gambled and lost with the Prestige, Spain wants to throw the die again. In practice, the demand for such a financial guarantee is equivalent to closing all Spanish ports to distressed vessels. Take the Prestige, a vessel built in Japan in 1976, managed by Universe Maritime in Athens and chartered to Crown Resources, an oil trading firm controlled by Mikhail Fridman, the Russian oligarch. The owner of the Prestige is Mare Shipping, a Liberia-registered company with one asset and when the boat went down it was flying the Bahamian flag, its master was Greek and its crew Filippino.
A demand for a half billion dollar bond from the owners of the Prestige would probably be as useful as a trip to war-torn Liberia to visit the headquarters of Mare Shipping. Ownership in this industry is diffuse, some would say deliberately obscure. A cynic might conclude that the Spanish authorities, having abandoned hope of pinning liability on a fat wallet, have foisted a villain on the public in the form of Captain Mangouras.
Other avenues are being explored, including a lawsuit against the American Bureau of Shipping, an agency that verifies ships are complying with safety standards. The suit alleges that ABS failed to properly inspect the ship and claims evidence of faxed messages from a previous Prestige master to ABS warning of dangerous corrosion. ABS says it never received any faxes.
In the end, that lawsuit too may be a distraction because without definitive proof of why the Prestige broke up, the Spanish Government will find it difficult to prove that ABS failed to spot the defect. That is because the evidence is lying on the seabed at depths of three kilometres.
Instead of seeking scapegoats, perhaps the Spanish Government should seek international solutions, such as more transparency. Why is it so difficult to identify the owner of a vessel? Why are the details of inspections not made available for public view, on the Internet, for example.
In order to secure its borders from Middle Eastern terror, the US has introduced stringent rules on security. US customs can now prevent container vessels from leaving for the US if the coastguard is unhappy with the cargo manifest. But in the case of the Prestige, it is about money and the cost of transporting oil. It is only when the politics of terror distort the argument that safety becomes a primary concern. In the real world, safety is about risk and when risk is just rust, it becomes an equation of cost versus rate of return.
The Spanish courts must decide whether, in a frightening storm in the Bay of Biscay, a ship's master committed a crime while he was trying to rescue his crew, his ship and himself. You might think that their task is really quite simple. By Carl Mortished
Source: http://business.timesonline.co.uk, 3 Mar 04


Carrier court date set
---HALIFAX (CP) - Six years after the bulk carrier Flare snapped in two and sank south of Newfoundland, killing 21 seafarers, the families of the dead sailors are finally heading to a Canadian courtroom to settle a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit.
The lawyer for the families and three survivors, all of them Filipinos, confirmed Tuesday that the Federal Court of Canada has set July 12 as the date for the trial to begin in Montreal.
Laurent Fortier said the suit, which is seeking $5.7-million in damages from the owners and operators of the Flare, could send a strong message to the shipping industry.
"Ship owners must know that if they are negligent . . . they will have to face financial consequences of their negligence," he said.
The MV Flare, a 180-metre ship registered in Cyprus, was en route to Montreal from Rotterdam when it was pounded by large waves on Jan. 16, 1998.
The ship's hull eventually spilt in two.
Its stern section, which contained the crew's quarters, floated for 30 minutes before plunging beneath the waves.
Four of the ship's 25 crew members survived by clinging to an icy, capsized lifeboat for six hours.
In October 2000, the original statement of claim argued the ship's owners "showed disregard for the preservation of life" when they knowingly allowed the Flare to sail without enough ballast on board.
The document also said that the bow of the empty ship was riding too high in the water, leaving it vulnerable to slamming by the big waves that are common on the North Atlantic.
The claim, which hasn't been proven in court, also alleges the owners and operators knew the 26-year-old vessel was "in a deteriorated condition" due to lack of repairs and corrosion.
Ship owner ABTA Shipping Co. Ltd. of Nicosia, Cyprus, and operator Trade Fortune Inc. of Piraeus, Greece, filed statements of defence saying the sinking was mainly due to extreme weather conditions.
Daniele Dion, the Montreal-based lawyer for the defendants, said she expects the case will focus on the condition of the ship.
"This whole issue is whether or not a ship owner can operate a ship that is recognized as being in good condition by authorities," she said.
"I mean, ships do sink without any apparent reason. One of them is basically weather that can contribute to this kind of casualty. And frankly ,there isn't much a ship owner can do, apart from what was done here, to ensure a ship is seaworthy."
She said the vessel had passed examinations by Lloyds Classification Society, which inspects ships on behalf of insurance companies. The Flare had also undergone work to strengthen its steel structure, she added.
The owners have also argued that determining proper ballast levels was the sole responsibility of Flare's skipper.
In 1999, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada completed an independent investigation that confirmed a lack of ballast made the Flare highly vulnerable to pounding in rough seas.
The board, which does not lay blame in such investigations, said the Flare crashed into waves as big as five-storey buildings early in its voyage.
The trial is expected to last 40 days.
Source: http://cnews.canoe.ca, 2 Mar 04


The "Balkan Star" Captain will appear before the prosecutor
---The captain of the cargo ship "Balkan Star" will be led before the prosecutor in the Aegean island of Siros today. Three undeclared rockets were found in the ship under a St. Vincent and The Grenadines flag.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Merchant Marine, the Algerian Defense Ministry appears as the sender of the cargo and the receiver is a Ukrainian state-run company.
The ship was en route to Ukraine when it sailed into the port of Siros coming from Algeria with a ten-member crew all from Ukraine.
An investigation on the affair is underway by the Siros island Coastguard.
Source: www.mpa.gr, 1 Mar 04


Seller of Spirits admits big profit
---GREEK shipping line Attica Enterprises has never been shy about talking up its profits from the sale of Superfast vessels.
In public statements, the shipping line has claimed $50 million profit on the sale of three Superfast ships.
In its most recent statement to the Athens Stock Exchange, Attica claimed a profit of $11 million on the sale of Superfast II - Spirit of Tasmania III.
At the end of last month, the sister ship to Spirit of Tasmania III was sold to an Italian shipping line, Atlantic Navigazione of the Grimaldi Group.
While a price was not disclosed, a statement on January 15, 2004 said: "The sale of Superfast I concludes the sale of four first generation vessel of Superfast Ferries of which the first three have been acquired by Australian buyers generating substantial profit for the Attica group."
It was reported that Spirit III cost TT-Line about $105 million when bought in September 2003. TT-Line said in its annual report for 2003 that it expected a loss of $3.4 million on a currency hedge in relation to Spirit III.
The TT-Line 2002 annual report valued Spirit I and II at $290 million.
Source: www.themercury.news.com.au, 05mar04


EVENTS DIARY (Piraeus/Athens)
News and Announcements are welcome at: news.desk@marine-marketing.gr
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Environmental Management Systems - Introduction & Auditing
Date: 10-11-12 March 2004, DNV Maritime Service Centre Greece
Course description is available at http://www.marine-marketing.gr/users/dnv
For more details, please contact Ms. Vassilia Dimitrakou, Det Norske Veritas, Tel: 210 4100 200
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Bulk Carrier - Hull Inspection
Date: 23 March 2004, DNV Maritime Service Centre Greece
Course description is available at http://www.marine-marketing.gr/users/dnv
For more details, please contact Ms. Vassilia Dimitrakou, Det Norske Veritas, Tel: 210 4100 200
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INTERNATIONAL FORUM - PORTS & SHIPPING
Date: 31 March & 1 April 2004, Inter-Continental Hotel Athens, Greece,
Organiser: Hazlis & Rivas Co. Ltd, Tel. (+30) 94 08 750-2, Fax (+30) 94 08 753, hans@hazliseconomist.com, http://www.hazliseconomist.com
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POSIDONIA WEEK 2004
Posidonia Cup - Friday 4 June 2004
Venue: Faliron Bay, Athens - Piraeus
Posidonia Congress - Monday, June 7 2004 (morning)
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority, Conference Centre
Exhibition - Opening Ceremony - Monday, June 7 2004 (evening)
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority Exhibition Center
Exhibition - Tuesday, June 8 2004 to Friday, June 11 2004
Venue: Piraeus Port Authority Exhibition Center
Information: Posidonia Exhibitions SA, posidonia@posidonia-events.com
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GREEK SHIP FINANCE FORUM - 6th Ann MARINE MONEY CONFERENCE
Date: 14 October 2004, at Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel
The 2003 forum attracted a total of 162 individuals during the day including presenters. From our records this includes 48 shipowners and shipowers representatives, 54 bankers and financiers, 13 lawyers and many others besides. That is substantially better in numbers and in quality than any other comparable conference in Greece.
For the 2004 conference, the organisers expect nothing less, so make your plans now.
For more information please go to http://www.marinemoney.com or contact Marine Money Greece at: Tel: +30 210 9842 136, 210 4190 164 E-mail: marine.money@marine-marketing.gr
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Digital Ship Athens
Date: 2-3 November 2004
Conference: Maritime software, satcoms, electronics
Digital Ship Ltd, Tel (+44 207) 510 4935, Fax (+44 207) 510 2344, http://www.thedigitalship.com, editor@thedigitalship.com
Source: Organisers Announcement