Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 37 - 2005

 

Hurricane cruiseship cancelled as Greece gets 'cheaper offer'

---GREECE appears to have cancelled plans to hire the elderly cruiseship Ocean Monarch as part of a package of aid Athens is lining up for the victims of Hurricane Katrina after receiving a cheaper deal from a local ferry company.
The ship's manager, Majestic International Cruises, said yesterday that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had ditched the "confirmed charter" as ferry operator Anek Lines had offered the government one of its vessels "gratis" for the same purpose.
"The owners of Ocean Monarch obviously accepted this cancellation as they fully appreciate that the extremely generous offer of Anek's shareholders is saving the Greek public the total chartering costs of this operation," Majestic said in a statement.
"We will not be running after them," Majestic manager Michael Lambros told Lloyd's List, confirming that the cruise company does not see the scrapping of the charter plans as giving rise to any legal claims.
The 450-berth Ocean Monarch has already acted as a mercy ship once this year when it was dispatched by the owners free of charge to tsunami-devastated Sri Lanka, packed with aid supplies and doctors.
Last week, Majestic had said the ship was being provided to the Greek government at only a modest charter cost, but both the company and ministry officials were pleading with the US authorities for a waiver of potentially lengthy coast guard vetting procedures in order to get the ship in position in the US Gulf by early October.
According to Mr Lambros, though, the US Coast Guard has subsequently replied that the vessel would need its certificate of compliance.
Anek, which is a publicly stocklisted company in Greece, has not yet announced which of its vessels is being offered to the Hellenic Aid-coordinated relief contribution.
Confirming the offer, Anek's chief executive Ioannis Vardinoyiannis told Lloyd's List: "There has been no official acceptance yet and I would prefer to wait for that before we finalise which ship will do the job."
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Passenger Shipping, Company News, By Nigel Lowry in Athens- Wednesday September 14 2005


Rescuing boat people
---States must ease burden on merchant sea captains, refugee agency says.
Wrecked lives. The boat which carried some 150 illegal immigrants shipwrecked two nights ago near Gela, Sicily, on Sunday. A two-day conference in Athens focused on interception and rescue in the Mediterranean Sea.
Hundreds of refugees drown each year in the waters of the Mediterranean in their effort to reach the shores of the safer and more prosperous European nations, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said in Athens yesterday.
At the same time, reluctance by national governments to allow migrants and asylum seekers on their territory is putting off merchant sea captains from responding to rescue calls, officials from the two organizations said at the end of a two-day expert meeting on interception and rescue in the Mediterranean Sea.
Officials stressed that better cooperation is needed from national governments, calling on transit states to take some of the burden off the ship masters by giving migrants the green light to disembark on their territory.
"We don't want the ship master to be in that sort of situation where he is relinquishing years and years of humanitarian tradition," said Vincent Cochetel, deputy director of the UNHCR's department of international protection, noting captains are increasingly "turning a blind eye."
The UN official, however, acknowledged the political limitations of the recommendations to captains.
"It's not for [sea masters] to work out a political solution. Humanitarian assistance to people in distress at sea cannot be a substitute for political solutions," Cochetel told the press conference.
The debate over rescue-at-sea operations, their commercial consequences, and governments' obligations was catapulted onto center stage in 2001 when MV Tampa, a Norwegian vessel that had rescued some 430 Afghans, was denied entry into Australian territorial waters. The captain defied the ban as the desperate human cargo was in dire need of medical treatment. The crisis came to a climax when a squad of SAS troops stormed the boat to prevent refugees from landing on Australian territory. The hardline response of the Australian authorities triggered an outcry from human rights organizations.
In response to new challenges, the IMO has undertaken significant revision of maritime law, including the Convention on Search and Rescue (SAR) and the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
Captain Graham Mapplebeck, head of the Operational Safety Section at the IMO's Maritime Safety Division, said that the aim of the amendments is to ensure that sea captains go to the aid of those in distress at sea. For the first time, Mapplebeck stressed, legal changes will place obligations on contracting states to cooperate with sea masters so that survivors are disembarked in a place of safety. The amendments are expected to come into force on July 1, 2006.
Thousands of people crowd into rickety boats and rafts each year in an attempt to cross the stretch of water between northern Africa and southern European states such as Italy, Spain and Greece. Migrants from Mideast countries also try to make their way into Greece from the eastern sea border. Tighter security controls have lured unscrupulous smugglers, who often leave migrants stranded at sea.
The UNHCR has warned that the growing number of interceptions and human tragedies has taken on the dimensions of a "humanitarian crisis."
Eleven African would-be-migrants were found dead on the beach and in the sea off Sicily's south coast on Sunday. Coast guards rescued 140 migrants who reportedly set off from Libya.
Last year, more that 2,000 would-be migrants drowned while trying to reach Italy from Libya, Cochetel said. Reality is even gloomier, as many deaths go unreported.
The UNHCR official fell short of describing the situation facing Greece as a crisis. He said the number of people arriving illegally in Greece by sea, about 3,000, is "manageable," adding that contrary to popular conception the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq did not add to the flow of refugees.
One would-be migrant drowned as he tried to get off a sinking trawler near the southern coast of Crete last month. Coast guards, police and volunteers saved another 125 migrants from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Egypt.
A second meeting on interception and rescue at sea, focusing on ways to improve regional cooperation and management of migratory movements in the Mediterranean, will take place in Madrid on October 17 and 18.
Officials at the conference stressed that the public backlash against foreigners on the continent and concerns about global terrorism threaten to close the door on those who really need protection against persecution in their own countries.
Cochetel warned that we should be wary of the many cliches circulating about boat people. "Terrorists don't have to take these boats," he said. "Terrorists fly business class."
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com, 14 Sep 2005, By Harry van Versendaal - Kathimerini English Edition


Breathtaking Study of Shipping's First Glory Days - 1950 to 1974.
Marine Money Publishes Exhaustive History of Shipping's First Glory Days
September 13, 2005, Stamford, CT. - Marine Money is pleased to announce the publication of an in depth 65-page case study showing the financial returns of the shipping industry during the "super-cycle" that took place from 1950 to1974 - a period of time that has been ignored by current analysts and investors.
The findings of this one-of-a-kind study are relevant not only to shipping companies but also to many commodity related, highly cyclical industries such as mining and steel, which share similar characteristics and underlying drivers as shipping.
The implications are particularly crucial to tanker companies like Teekay (NYSE:TK), Frontline (NYSE: FRO), General Maritime (NYSE: GMR), OMI (NYSE:OMM) and OSG (NYSE: OSG), dry bulk companies like Excel Maritime (AMEX:EXM), DryShips (Nasdaq: DRYS), and Diana Shipping (NYSE: DSX) and newcomers to the U.S. equity markets including Aries (Nasdaq: RAMS), Eagle Bulk (Nasdaq: EGLE) and Quintana (Nasdaq: QMAR).
"We have found the analysis of the figures breathtaking," said Matt McCleery, president of Marine Money. "The study shows that over the period under review, financial returns in commodity related sectors were ultimately driven by the raw material reconstruction and growth needs of Japan and Europe following World War II. Today, China and India create similar demand-led pressures on the raw material markets as they too seek to grow rapidly," McCleery said.
McCleery continued, "Unlike the post 1975 low profitability era with which most of today's investors are familiar, the period of 1950-1975 showed returns of about 25% per annum."
Andreas Vergottis and Konstantinos Frangos, authors of the study, commented, "In view of the arrival of China and India on the scene, living memory is increasingly becoming irrelevant to forward looking decisions that may be informed better with an understanding of the largely forgotten and unrecorded 1950-1974 era."
The publication provides an exhaustive analysis of the financial performance of the shipping industry during the 1950-1974 period that addresses the following key issues:
a) average financial returns on investment
b) volatility of financial returns from peak to trough
c) month by month and year by year relative comparisons over the period
d) underlying growth dynamic
e) optimal investment and financing strategies in the context of the super-cycle
f) in depth explanatory narrative of underlying demand and supply factors
To order a copy of the full report, please contact Mia Jensen, Marine Money Greece, Tel: [+30) 210 9858 809, Email: mia@marine-marketing.gr or visit our website at www.marinemoney.com.
Source: Marine Money International, www.marinemoney.com


Greek owners take the plunge
---INTERESTINGLY, Greek owners are bucking the general summer trend in the newbuilding sector (see story opposite). The Greeks have stepped up their newbuilding programmes, with orders for 16 newbuildings worth $520M in the month of August alone.
Greek owners were said to be poised for a flurry of new orders this summer after just 60 ships were ordered in the first half of the year compared with 79 in 1H04. Confirmed orders from August seem to focus on South Korean container ships and Chinese-built Panamax bulkers.
Danaos and Cosmoship Management confirmed new container ship deals while Iolcos, Gleamray and Cardiff Marine ordered bulkers and Roxana Shipping, part of Kristen Marine, ordered its first newbuildings - two 38,000dwt product carriers.
Source: Newbuildings, Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 15 Sep 2005


Maran Gas, Metrostar, Stealthgas build on confidence
---Three of Greece's leading shipowners are showing great faith in their decision to go heavily into new sectors.
The John Angelicoussis-controlled Maran Gas has further boosted its gas carrying fleet ordering another two very large gas carriers (VLGCs) to lift its investment in gas ships to almost $1bn. The latest order is for two 84,000cumtr ships at the Daewoo shipyard in Korea making four VLGCs booked at the yard since March for a total investment of over $360m. The Athens-based company has just taken delivery of the first of four 145,000cumtr LNG ships building at the same yard for a total investment $610m.
The latest ships, which are set for delivery in 2008 and 2009, represent taking up an option on the earlier order plus a fresh contract. Employment for the larger ships have secured long-term employment with Ras Laffan Liquified Natural Gas 2 while employment plans for the new VLGCs has not known.
Former major energy operator Metrostar Management continues to show its faith in the decision to switch 'in a big way' to the dry market. The Theodore Angelopoulos-controlled company is reported to have purchased a 176,000dwt double-hull newbuilding with delivery from the Universal shipyard in Japan set for the end of 2006. The caper is reported to have cost $66m and lifts Metrostar's bulker newbuildings to 13 - two capesizes at Imabari for delivery in 2006 and 2008 and 10 Kamsarmax bulkers of 82,000dwt at the Tsuneishi shipyard. Currently, Metrostar has three Tsuneishi-built 76,000dwt bulkers, built 2004 on long-term t/cs to Bunge. After selling its tanker fleet in 2004, Metrostar now only has two VLCCs, the 305,000dwt newbuilding Crude Progress and the 317,000dwt Crudestar, built 2003.
Meanwhile, another convert, the Vafias family, best known as an operator of bulkers and oil tankers, is kicking-off its roadshow to sell a $115m IPO to support the rapid growth of the group's new LPG operation, Stealthgas. Led by Harry Vafias and underwriter Cantor Fitzgerald, the US launched IPO will underwrite the company's LPG fleet, established last October and which seeks to expand from the current nine units to near 20 in the new year. StealthGas seeks to price 7.7m shares in a target range of $14 to $16.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, 16 September 2005 Vol. 6 / No. 34


Centurian splashes out
---A newly established Greek shipowning group, Centurian Maritime, is beginning to make its presence felt in Piraeus by spending just over $60m on two bulkers in the past few months.
The group has bought the 45,000-dwt bulker Venetico Breeze (built 1996) from Stamford Navigation of Greece for $26m, according to Stamford.
Very little is known about Centurian, which now controls six bulkers. It was established around three years ago. The fleet includes the 149,400-dwt bulker Prosperous (built 1990), which was reported sold by Stamford a few weeks ago for some $31m.
Stamford boss Michael Zolotas says the Prosperous was sold for $36m to Centurian.
Centurian director Stelios Ioannou, however, says the company only acts on behalf of foreign-based Greek interests, without revealing any more details.
The other four bulkers owned by the group are the 62,600-dwt Turnberry Glory (ex-North Emperor, built 1987), 45,000-dwt Fortune Pearl (ex-Ocean Rainbow, built 1996), 38,200-dwt Fortune Queen (ex-Axon Queen, built 1984) and 28,400-dwt Ocean Pearl (ex-Helen, built 1994). The four ships cost a reported total of around $58.7m between 2002 and early 2005.
One of the bulkers, the Turnberry Glory, had been linked to Antonis Lelakis, the former head of Regency Cruises in late 2002, who was said to have been making a comeback in the bulker sector.
At the time, the ship was reported sold to Falkon Maritime, which was linked with Lelakis.
However, Ioannou says brokers had misspelled the name of his company, Falcon Maritime, creating confusion over the two companies. He says he decided to change the company name to Centurian to avoid misunderstandings.
Yiota Gousas Athens published: 16 September 2005
Source: www.tradewinds.no


Top buys two, leases three
---TOP Tankers has acquired two double-hull vessels for $108M and entered a seven-year sale-leaseback agreement for three other vessels. Top will acquire the1993-built 150,038dwt Suezmax Minerva Symphony from Minerva Marine, to be renamed Stormless, and the 2003-built 46,346dwt Handymax product tanker Jag Prakash from Great Eastern Shipping, to be renamed Ioannis P. Both are to be delivered by the end of next month. Top will finance the purchase through its cash reserves and secured credit, placing the Stormless in the spot market and the Ioannis P on five-year charter to Glencore. Under the charter with Glencore, Top will receive $18,000/day for the first year, plus upside profit sharing, and $17,750/day for the remaining years, plus profit sharing. Meanwhile, the Relentless, Victorious and Invincible have been sold and leased back until 2012, and will remain on charter to Glencore until 2009. As part of the leaseback arrangement, Top will retain all operational and commercial management, bareboat chartering the ships at a rate of $11,500 per ship/day and generating a $9M gain amortised over the term of the lease.
Source: Fairplay Daily News - Email Products 15 Sep 2005


Quintana Maritime Limited Launches Its Corporate Website
---09/14/05 ATHENS, Greece - Quintana Maritime Limited (NASDAQ: QMAR) announced today that it has launched its corporate website, which can be found at www.quintanamaritime.com
Stamatis Molaris, the company's President and CEO, commented "We are committed to maximizing shareholder value not only through the quality of our shipping operations but also through the quality of our corporate-governance and investor-relations practices.
"Our corporate website plays an important role in our communications with the investment community and helps us provide investors with updates on Quintana. Our website has been designed to provide investors with easy access to information about our company, and it also allows investors to sign up to receive news and updates and to communicate with us."
Source: www.quintanamaritime.com


Excel Maritime Carriers (EXM) Commences Trading on NYSE
---PIRAEUS, GREECE (September 15, 2005). Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd (NYSE: EXM), an owner and operator of dry bulk carriers and a provider of worldwide seaborne transportation services for dry bulk cargoes, announced today that it completed the transfer to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and its shares commence trading on NYSE as of today. The shares trade under the same symbol - EXM.
Christopher Georgakis, the CEO of Excel Maritime, commented: "This is a very important moment in our company's continued development. We believe that being part of the New York Stock Exchange, the leading U.S. market of choice for companies from all over the world, will improve the liquidity and visibility of our company with tangible benefits for our shareholders."
About Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd
The Company is an owner and operator of dry bulk carriers and a provider of worldwide seaborne transportation services for dry bulk cargoes, such as iron ore, coal and grains, as well as bauxite, fertilizers and steel products. The company's current fleet consists of 18 vessels (one Capesize, ten Panamax and seven Handymax vessels) with a total carrying capacity of 1,112,070 dwt. The Company was incorporated in 1988 and its common stock was listed on the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) since 1998. As of September 15, 2005 Excel Maritime is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), trading under the symbol EXM. For more information about the company, please go to our corporate website www.excelmaritime.com.
Source: http://www.excelmaritime.com, 15 September 2005


Navios Maritime Holdings to Present at Jefferies Shipping Conference in New York
---SOUTH NORWALK, Conn., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Navios Maritime Holdings Inc ("Navios") (OTC Bulletin Board: NMHUF.OB, NMHIF.OB, NMHWF.OB) announced today that Ms. Angeliki Frangou, the company's Chairman and CEO, will be presenting at the Jefferies Second Annual Shipping Conference, which will take place in New York City on Thursday, September 15, 2005 at 8:45 a.m. EDT.
A live audio webcast of the Navios presentation will be available on the Jefferies' website at http://www.jefferies.com/0905shipping and will be archived there for a period of 30 days. The slide presentation will also be available on Navios' corporate website at http://www.navios.com together with a direct link to the Jefferies webcast site.
About Navios Maritime Holdings Inc.
Navios Maritime Holdings, Inc. is one of the leading global brands in seaborne dry bulk shipping and is a trusted partner for industrial end users, shipowners, financial business partners, agents and brokers. As a public company, Navios is committed to providing best-in-class service to both customers and business partners. Navios maintains offices in South Norwalk, Connecticut; Piraeus, Greece, and Montevideo, Uruguay. Navios's stock is listed on the OTCBB where it trades under the symbols "NMHUF.OB," "NMHIF.OB," and "NMHWF.OB." Risks and uncertainties are described in reports filed by Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. with the United States Securities and ExchangeCommission.
SOURCE Navios Maritime Holdings Inc., Web Site: http://www.navios.com, http://www.jefferies.com/0905shipping
Source: http://www.prnewswire.com