Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 15 - 2007

 

Sunken cruiseship's 'black box' retrieved

---The Voyage Data Recorder (black box) of the sunken cruiseship Sea Diamond was successfully recovered by a professional diver on Saturday afternoon from the ship's bridge, from an approximate depth of 85 meters, and will be turned over to the Naxos prosecutor.The cruiseship sank into the deep waters of the scenic Caldera -- an underwater depression created by a massic volcanic eruption 3,500 years ago -- just off the popular Aegean holiday island of Santorini last week after it struck a reef.
The 'black box' was located by a deep-sea robot craft on Friday on the bridge of the sunken cruiseship, but the robot was unable to retrieve the data recorder due to difficulties posed by the formation of the sea bed and the wreck's condition, and a professional diver was called in after more than four failed attempts by the robot.
The black box's contents -- a recording of all data particularly during the ship's collision with a charted reef -- will be examined by prosecutors with the assistance of an expert and representatives of the Cyprus-based shipowner and its insurance companies.
Two passengers out of the roughly 1,500 people on board -- a French man and his daughter -- went missing after the boat sank and are still unaccounted for.
Experts said data on the recorder will shed ample light on the causes of the accident and will be turned over the investigating authorities as evidence. The 'black box' - actually painted a bright orange so that it can be easily located - will have recorded everything from the time of the impact, including the towing and eventual sinking of the ship.
Efforts to recover the data recorder were chiefly conducted with the two robot craft supplied by the Greek Centre for Marine Research, which are equipped with electronic arms.
Meanwhile, the Naxos public prosecutor in charge of the investigation into the shipwreck has asked to be given access to the records for mobile phones owned by the skipper of the 'Sea Diamond' and company representatives that spoke with him around the time of the accident.
In a related development, International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos congratulated the merchant marine ministry on its handling of the "Sea Diamond" maritime accident, in a letter sent to Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis on Friday.
According to a ministry announcement, Mitropoulos praises the ministry and noted that the rescue of so many passengers and crew confirms the high efficiency of the ministry's search-and-rescue services, as well as the support provided by local seafarers.
Source: www.ana.gr


Fatal sinking sparks row
The Greek Communist Party (KKE) demanded that the government begin a wide-ranging inquiry into the incident, which began at 1600 on 5 April when the Louis Hellenic Cruise Lines vessel hit a reef off the Aegean island of Santorini. The master has been charged, by a prosecutor on the island of Naxos, with causing a shipwreck through negligence, polluting the sea with 50 tonnes of fuel and failing to apply international safety standards.
Survivor George Smith, 77, told reporters in his native Nevada that passengers were told to stay on deck to balance the ship, but it listed anyway. The master also said that Sea Diamond listed 20 degrees and that the crew put itself at risk.
Source: www.fairplay.co.uk, 12 April 2007


Small impact on Greek cruises from sinking, according to industry
---The sinking of a Greek cruise ship off the island of Santorini last week will do little damage to the Greek cruise and passenger ferry sector ahead of the busy summer tourist season, industry officials said yesterday.
The 22,412-ton Sea Diamond, run by Louis Cruise Lines, hit a reef last Thursday close to the scenic Aegean island, forcing more than 1,500 mainly foreign passengers and crew to evacuate. Two French tourists, a father and daughter, are still missing.
The ship sank early on Friday, surprising the government, which had declared the evacuation operation a major success.
Industry experts said the sinking will have only a small impact on the industry, especially since the operator, Louis Cruise Lines, attracts the bulk of its clients from Europe rather than the United States, a major market for Mediterranean cruises.
In September 2000, 82 people drowned when the passenger ferry Express Samina hit rocks and sank off the island of Paros. The incident did not affect the coastal shipping industry the next season.
Ship fully insured
Shares in Cyprus-based Louis Plc were down 13.7 percent in early yesterday trade on the Cyprus bourse, the first day of trading since the disaster, which coincided with a long Easter break.
Louis said the vessel was also insured in the event of pollution, now a worry for Greek authorities.
Source: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=82244


Greek tanker saves family in peril on boat
---Strong winds Thursday evening nearly led to a catastrophe for a Chula Vista family en route with their dogs to Catalina in their 30-foot cabin cruiser, Victory at Sea. Buffeted by 15-foot waves and 30 mph winds, Charles and Charlene Victory tried to call the Coast Guard for help but couldn't make contact.
That's when a Greek oil tanker off the coast near Oceanside came to their rescue. In rolling seas, Charlene and their two daughters, Sara, 18, and Alysa, 14, were hauled in a rope rescue basket up the side of the tanker while Charles and his nephew, Matt, 22, stayed on the smaller vessel. They navigated on the calmer, leeward side of the super tanker, the Sea King, as it escorted them down the coast to San Diego and a rendezvous with the Coast Guard.
Water was crashing over the cabin cruiser's bow, its dinghy was ripped away, a Jet Ski sank and, as the boat slammed against the waves, a 5-foot cabin window shattered.
Finally the Victory at Sea pulled into San Diego Bay at 2:30 a.m. A Coast Guard cutter met the tanker at sea yesterday afternoon and brought Charlene and the girls home.
Source: UNION-TRIBUNE April 14, 2007 - http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/bell/20070414-9999-1m14bell.html


---William Kaempffer, Register Staff
The motor tanker Kriton, a 606-foot ship managed and operated by a Liberian corporation based in Greece, was detained for two weeks by the U.S. Coast Guard at the Magellan T-Dock in New Haven Harbor. Authorities released the vessel Thursday after $500,000 bail was posted, but it departed without 12 of its crew who were detained as material witnesses.
"There is significant evidence, including multiple admissions from the crew, along with physical evidence, that employees onboard the Kriton have engaged in repeated, ongoing deliberate illegal discharges of waste oil at the direction of senior ship engineers," according to a March 25 letter from Coast Guard Captain Peter J. Boynton. The letter was filed in U.S. District Court.
The USCG boarding and investigation revealed operators of the Kriton had been bypassing pollution prevention equipment and directly discharging contaminated bilge waste for at least nine months.
According to court filings, the vessel had entered U.S. ports about 21 times in those nine months, and each violation could be punishable by up to six years in prison and fines of up to $500,000 per violation.
Tom Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney, confirmed a criminal probe was ongoing but declined further comment.
Keeping the ship at dock cost Kriton Maritime $20,000 a day, which Chalos said the Coast Guard would be responsible for paying if its concluded the agency overstepped its authority.
New Haven attorneys Jon Einhorn and Mike Dolan were appointed by the federal government to represent two sailors. Others were represented by attorneys hired by the shipping company.
Source: http://www.nhregister.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18187785&BRD=1281&PAG=461&dept_id=7576&rfi=6


Private placement instead of tendering awards for ports of Pireaus and Thessalonica
Source: 11-04-2007 - (Nikos Skenderoglou, Hellenic Shipping News)


Newsfont: Sale & Purchase
---Though it was a generally quiet week for the secondhand market because of the Easter holidays, some interesting deals have been reported.
US-listed Quintana Maritime has linked up with two of its board members, coalmen Corby Robertson, board chairman, and Hans Mende, a director, in a jv Christine Shipco LLC to buy a capesize newbuilding under construction at Imabari in Japan.
At the other ends of the market, Marine Industrial Concerns/Damian Zannaras has made a big profit on a deal involving an older handysize bulker. The 33,026dwt, Minami Nippon-built Evgenia built 1982, has gone to an Indian buyer for $9m, a huge markup on the $3.75m paid for the ship as the Darya Shubh in 2003.
Though brokers insist a deal has been struck Transmed Shipping/Charalambos Mylonas declines to comment on reports it has purchased the single-hull, 261,248dwt Bright Artemis, built 1992, for $42.5m, from MOL of Japan, with indications the VLCC will be converted. Traditionally a dry bulk operator Transmed purchased its first VLCC, the 285,000dwt single-hull Nuri, built 1992, from BW Shipping for $39m. The ship is now to be delivered.
A year ago Transmed made its first move into the wet sector with an order for eight firm 51,000dwt tankers plus seven options at SPP Shipbuilding in South Korea.
Source: www.newsfront.gr, Issue 14 (13 April 2007) of Newsfront Greek Shipping Intelligence newsletter.


Diana Shipping sells additional shares
---Diana Shipping Inc., which owns and sails a fleet of dry bulk carriers, said it will sell an additional 1.58 million shares of stock to fulfill the exercise of an over-allotment option by the underwriters of its recent follow-on share offering.
The company will sell the shares for $17 each, the same price as the 10.5 million shares it sold in the offering that closed April 3. Diana granted the over-allotment option to the underwriters of that offering, J.P. Morgan Securities and Wachovia Capital Markets.
Athens, Greece-based Diana said it will receive net proceeds of $25.6 million from the sale. The company will have 62.88 million shares outstanding after the over-allotment exercise.
The share price of Diana Shipping fell last month when the company priced its offering at $17, which was below the shares' market price at the time.
Shares of the company climbed 31 cents to $18.79 Friday in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Source: NEW YORK http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D8OFQCM00.htm, The Associated Press April 13, 2007, 11:47AM EST


Dioryx in $500m boxship splurge
---A Greek owner is taking advantage of early delivery slots for boxships.
Dioryx Maritime Corp has sunk close to $500m into containership newbuildings, most of which have remained under wraps for several months.
The company has booked two 4,300-teu boxships at Hyundai Heavy Industries with deliveries slated for the fourth quarter of 2009. It has also purchased six other newbuildings.
Dimitris Papadimitriou of Dioryx says the Hyundai pair have been ordered at "around market prices". Recent orders would suggest a level in the range of $66m to $68m.
TradeWinds reported recently that Hyundai can offer early delivery slots for boxships because of delays on its LNG-carrier contracts.
Papadimitriou also says Dioryx has acquired from CMACGM the first series of 4,300-dwt boxships ordered at Hanjin Heavy Industries's Subic Bay facility in the Philippines.
Six ships booked around last February at a reported $59m each have been credited to CMA CGM.
Market sources say the French owner contracted the vessels but may have sold them on to Dioryx shortly afterwards.
CMA CGM says it is chartering the vessels back for 12 years. Sources indicate the rate may be around $22,000 per day.
Steel cutting for the first ship is scheduled to be carried out next week during a celebratory event to be attended by Philippines president Gloria Arroyo.
The ship is slated for delivery in May 2008 and all six will be delivered up to the end of 2009.
Dioryx, one of the oldest Greek companies operating containerships, was founded in 1947. The company has been keeping a low profile in recent years. It is currently listed with a fleet of six vessels, including two containerships of 1,600 teu and 2,500 teu chartered to CMA CGM, another 1,900-teu boxship and two multipurpose (MPP) vessels of 19,700 dwt and 25,000 dwt.
By Gillian Whittaker and Paul Berrill, Athens and London. published: 13 April 2007
Source: www.tradewinds.no


Excel Maritime into a Time Charter Agreement for M/V Isminaki at $32,000 per day
M/V Isminaki is a Panamax dry bulk carrier of 74,577 dwt, built in 1998 in Japan, which the company acquired in February 2005.
The Company also announced that as a result of an incident that occurred on March 18, 2007 due to adverse weather conditions, M/V Angela Star will be off hire for approximately 20 days.
M/V Angela Star is a Panamax dry bulk carrier of 73,798 dwt, built in 1998 in Japan, which the Company acquired in June 2005. The vessel currently serves under a time charter for a period of 24-26 months at US $26,500 per day to a European charterer.
The charter commenced in October 2006.
Source: press Release. www.excelmaritime.com


Navios Maritime Announces George Achniotis as Chief Financial Officer
---PIRAEUS, Greece, April 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. ("Navios") (NYSE: NM), a large, global, vertically integrated seaborne shipping company, announced today that Mr. George Achniotis will now serve as Chief Financial Officer and Michael McClure as Senior Vice President - Corporate Affairs.
"George's depth of experience in financial matters, and knowledge of the shipping industry will be invaluable as we continue to build our business," said Ms. Angeliki Frangou, CEO and Chairman of Navios. "We look forward to George's leadership and continued contribution as he expands the financial group's function."
Mr. Achniotis joined Navios in August of 2006 as Senior Vice President- Business Development and assisted in a number of financing and other projects successfully completed during the past nine months. Before joining Navios, Mr. Achniotis was a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers where he led the shipping practice in Piraeus, Greece. Mr. Achniotis has over 19 years experience in finance, having worked in England, Cyprus and Greece and is a qualified Chartered Accountant, member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Institute of Certified Public Accounts in Cyprus. Mr. Achniotis also holds a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Manchester.
Commenting on Mr. McClure's new position, Ms. Frangou stated, "During Mike's 29-year tenure with Navios, he has demonstrated consistent excellence and developed as an industry leader through his pioneering work on FFA trading with The Baltic Exchange. We are pleased the Company and investors will continue to benefit from Mr. McClure's leadership and industry knowledge."
About Navios Maritime Holdings Inc.
Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. is a large, global, vertically integrated seaborne shipping company transporting a wide range of drybulk commodities including iron ore, coal and grain. For over 50 years, Navios has worked with raw materials producers, agricultural traders and exporters, industrial end- users, ship owners, and charterers. Navios also owns and operates a port/storage facility in Uruguay and has in-house technical ship management expertise. Navios maintains offices in Piraeus, Greece; South Norwalk, Connecticut; Montevideo, Uruguay and Antwerp, Belgium.
Navios's stock is listed on the NYSE where its Common Shares and Warrants trade under the symbols "NM" and "NM WS", respectively.
Risks and uncertainties are described in reports filed by Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
Safe Harbor
This press release may contain forward looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 about Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. (Navios). Forward looking statements are statements that are not historical facts. Such forward looking statements, based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Navios' management, are subject to risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from the forward looking statements. The information set forth herein should be read in light of such risks. Navios does not assume any obligation to update the information contained in this press release.
Source: Press Relsease, http://www.navios.com/Newsroom/default.asp


OceanFreight files for IPO with Banc of America, Cantor Fitzgerald
---If selling commodity shipping IPOs these days is more about packaging cash flows attractively than satiating the demand of investors impressed by industry fundamentals, then there is no reason that deals need be limited to MLP-style offerings with high grade charter counterparties or to bareboat focused trust-type structures.
Guts of the Deal
OceanFreight hired Banc of America Securities and Cantor Fitzgerald, along with Oppenheimer & Co., Ferris, Baker Watts and Fortis Securities to lead the deal, in which the public will be offered 10,750,000 shares at a target price range of $19-$21 per share. In return for his investment, Antonios Kandylidis will own 2,000,000 subordinated shares in the company upon consummation of the offering, while CEO Bob Cowen and CFO James Christodoulou will be issued approximately 60,000 subordinated shares and 30,0000 restricted shares. The underwriters will have an over-allotment option for an additional 1,612,500 common shares.
Altogether, net of expenses, OceanFreight looks to raise $198.4 million in proceeds, of which $4.5 million will be held for general corporate purposes and the remainder will be invested in acquiring the initial fleet.
OceanFreight will bay a 70 basis point arrangement fee and a 40 basis point commitment fee on the undrawn portion of the loan.
The drawn portion of the loan will bear interest at a margin between 115 and 125 basis points over LIBOR, depending on the loan-tovalue ratio. The loan is to amortize semi-annually, with six installments of $4 million, ten installments of $8.4 million, and a $10 million balloon payment.
The Valuation
OceanFreight advertises itself as a cash flow generator, and as such it is most worthwhile to evaluate cash flow multiples and expected dividend yield. Midpoint pricing would put the deal around 7x 2008E EBITDA based on company forecasts, and its forecast dividend pay-outs for 2008 would mean a yield of 10.25% in that year.
Source: www.marinemoney.com v Marine Money Freshly Minted v Thursday, April 12, 2007


Quintana Maritime Expands Presence into Capesize Sector
---04/10/07 ATHENS, GREECE - Quintana Maritime Limited (NASDAQ: QMAR) announced today that it has formed a joint venture, Christine Shipco LLC, together with affiliated companies controlled by the major sponsors of the Company, Corbin Robertson, Jr. and Hans Mende, for the purpose of acquiring and operating a 180,000 deadweight-ton (dwt) Capesize vessel. The vessel is being built at Imabari, a major Japanese shipyard, with delivery expected March 2010. The expected total cost at delivery to the joint venture, including contract costs and financing costs will approximate $76 million.
Each sponsor's affiliated company will control 28.6% of the shipowning company and those affiliates will fund all related installments due to the yard together with related financing costs, until the vessel's delivery. The Company will pay approximately $36.2 million at delivery in March 2010 and will control 42.8% of the shipowning company. The Company will collect, from January 1, 2007 until the delivery of the vessel, $60,000 per annum from the affiliates in their capacity as shareholders in the shipowning company as management fees for supervising the construction of the vessel. Upon delivery, the Company will manage the ship on behalf of the joint venture, and the shipowning company will pay QMAR a management fee based on the Company's budgeted management costs, subject to adjustment in certain circumstances.
The Company's Conflicts Committee, which comprises three of the Company's independent, non-executive directors, has approved the transaction.
The Company has secured a five year charter from the vessel's delivery in March 2010 at a net daily floor rate of approximately $25,250 with a 50% profit sharing (based on the monthly AV4 BCI average, as published by the Baltic Exchange) above the floor rate with EDF Trading, a wholly owned subsidiary of EDF, one of the largest utility companies in Europe. EDF trades on Euronext under the ticker "EDF."
Stamatis Molaris, President and Chief Executive Officer of Quintana Maritime, commented, "We are very pleased to have entered into a partnership with our two strategic sponsors which further cements their long-term commitment to our Company as well as to the sector. Our shareholders will benefit from our further expansion into the fast growing Capesize sector with high quality assets secured at attractive prices, without facing any cash flow dilution during the vessel's construction period and without stretching our balance sheet's ability to deliver profitable growth." He further commented "We are also welcoming the beginning of a relationship with one of the major users of commodities in the world, EDF Trading. Developing long term relationships with major end users and producers of commodities is a key part of our strategy and its success is fully manifested in the quality of our customer base. We are looking forward to a growing relationship with this investment grade customer. The structure of the time charter contract insulates our shareholders' return from downside market risk while providing significant cash flow upside potential in the Capesize sector."
Fleet Table as of April 10, 2007 available at http://www.quintanamaritime.com/press_releases.html?irp=pr2&relid=45227
Source: http://www.quintanamaritime.com


UPDATE 1-Stealthgas leaps, Stolt-Nielsen declines comment
---(Adds Stealthgas comment)
OSLO, April 13 (Reuters) - Shares in Nasdaq-listed gas shipper Stealthgas (GASS.O: Quote, Profile, Research) leapt on Friday on a report that Norwegian chemical tanker shipping group Stolt-Nielsen (SNI.OL: Quote, Profile, Research)(SNSA.O: Quote, Profile, Research) was considering acquiring the company.
Stolt-Nielsen declined to comment on the report in shipping weekly TradeWinds, which cited unnamed sources close to the company and said a move into gas shipping would be consistent with a long-term aim of Chief Executive Niels Stolt-Nielsen.
"We don't comment on market rumours," Stolt-Nielsen spokeswoman Nicola Savage said.
Stealthgas CEO Harry Vafias said his company was not in talks on a takeover. "We are not negotiating with anyone at the moment," he said, adding: "Some People are knocking on our door but we haven't had any offers."
He said: "We are traders at heart, so if we see a very generous offer we would take to our board".
Stealthgas shares traded up 5.6 percent at $15.95 at 1450 GMT, after setting a new all-time peak of $16.07 earlier in the session. The current share price would value all of Kifisias, Greece-based Stealthgas at around $230 million.
Stolt-Nielsen's Oslo-traded shares closed down 0.8 percent at 181 Norwegian crowns and its Nasdaq-listed stock dropped 1.9 percent to $30.42. "The process has advanced to the point that Stealthgas management has instructed masters in its 30-unit fleet of (liquefied petroleum gas) carriers to allow Stolt-Nielsen surveyors on board for due-diligence inspections, sources indicate," TradeWinds said.
Stolt-Nielsen has struggled for the past four years to emerge from under the shadow of a 2003 U.S. and European antitrust case which has already cost it tens of millions of dollars in legal fees and settlements.
On Wednesday, Stolt-Nielsen and rival Odfjell (ODF.OL: Quote, Profile, Research) confirmed that they had received charges from the European Commission concerning infringements of European competition rules in the transport of bulk liquids at sea in 1998-2002.
The European case stems from the same alleged activity as the U.S. antitrust case.
Source: Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:27PM EDT


Athens Under Russian Pressure To Reduce Its Stake in Burgas-Alexandroupolis Pipeline
---By Kakia Papadopoulou
The Russians are rolling up their sleeves for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline. They want the project done soon, fast and tailor-made.
By taking stake in the pipeline, Kazakhstan will be able to further increase crude exports, shipping to world markets via the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.
Russia and Kazakhstan have long been at loggerheads over plans to double the pipeline's capacity to 1.34 million barrels per day. The expansion is vital for Kazakhstan to increase its oil exports to some 3 million barrels per day in the next decade. Russia, however, has resisted the move, which would put millions of tons of oil in competition with Russian oil for the limited number of tankers allowed from Novorossiisk through the overcrowded Bosporus.
Izmukhambetov said Russia had indicated a willingness to expand the CPC pipeline in parallel with the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline.
Athens has been committed to the construction of the Greece-Italy gas pipeline, a project which is seen completed by 2011. Still, there are supply problems which poses serious impediments for the operation of the pipeline.
The pipeline which would carry gas from the Caspian region through Turkey to Greece and then to Italy and from there the fuel would hit the western markets, supposedly would transport gas from the huge Shah-Deniz field in Azerbaijan started production in the beginning of 2007. But it is highly unlikely, for Baku to have adequate gas supplies for export before the second phase of the project in 2014.
The company said that Miller discussed the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline on his trip to Athens, but gave no further details.
By the way, Athens should be prepared for more visits from Russian top government officials until the deal is done. After all, the Russians are keen and effective players of international diplomacy.
Source: (12/04/2007) http://www.energia.gr