Saturday, December 31, 2016

gCaptain’s Picks: Top Maritime Stories Making Headlines in 2016

modern express salvage
A helicopter drops a salvage team aboard the Modern Express, January 30, 2016. Photo credit: Marine National

Congratulations, you've (almost) made it to 2017! As 2016 comes to end, we're taking a look back at some of the top maritime stories making headlines throughout the year, as chosen by our editors and presented in no particular order. Also if you're interested, we have already taken a look back at the Top 10 Most Viewed Posts and Best Maritime Videos of 2016, so be sure to check those out. 

Have anything to add? Definitely email us and we will update. 

El Faro Investigation

el faro wreck

The investigation into the sinking of the American cargo ship El Faro with the loss 33 crew was in full-swing throughout the year. Highlights included when search crews located and later retrieved the ship's Voyage Data Recorder, leading to the release of the tough-to-read bridge audio transcript earlier this month.

Archive: El Faro Investigation

Oil and Gas Slump

Fishermen pass a row of offshore vessels moored in the waters along a row of shipyards northwest of Waterfront City on Batam island, in Indonesia's Riau Islands Province February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo
Fishermen pass a row of offshore vessels laid up in the waters along a row of shipyards northwest of Waterfront City on Batam island, in Indonesia's Riau Islands Province February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

You don't need me to tell you… the prolonged slump in oil and gas prices that began in mid-2014 continued as expected in 2016, impacting virtually every energy-related business and sector out there. Lower rig activity across the globe has really hit the offshore service vessel market. In Singapore, the collapse of Swiber Holdings setting off tremors in Singapore's banking and energy industries. Worst part is we're likely to see a similar environment continue through next year. 

Panama Canal Expansion

The MV Cosco Shipping Panama makes the inaugural transit through the expanded Panama Canal, June 26, 2016. Photo: Panama Canal Authority
The MV Cosco Shipping Panama makes the inaugural transit through the expanded Panama Canal, June 26, 2016. Photo: Panama Canal Authority

After two years of delays, the Panama Canal expansion opened to longer and wider ships on June 26, 2016 amid controversy over the design and safety of the new locks. Since their inauguration, more than 500 Neopanamax ships have successfully transited the larger locks, including the first LNG carriers to ever use waterway.

SEE: Panama Canal Welcomes Largest Ship to Date

 

U.S. Shale Gas Exports

asia vision lng carrier
The Chevron LNG carrier Asia Vision, which carried the first cargo of U.S. natural gas to Brazil in February 2016. shipped the Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana on Feb. 24.

The LNG carrier Asia Vision departed Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass LNG terminal in February carrying the first cargo of shale gas to be exported from the United States. LNG exports from the U.S. represent a major shift in global energy markets and set the United States up to become a net exporter of LNG for the first time in decades.

Hanjin's Collapse

File photo shows Hanjin Shipping Co ship stranded outside the Port of Long Beach, California, September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
File photo shows Hanjin Shipping Co ship stranded outside the Port of Long Beach, California, September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

On August 31, 2016, South Korea's Hanjin Shipping, at the time the world's seventh largest container shipping company, filed for bankruptcy, leaving dozens of vessels and billions of dollars worth of cargo stranded at sea. The bankruptcy was the first among the major carriers, and may prove to be the tip of the iceberg for the container shipping market.

Maersk Split

The Maersk's Triple-E giant container ship Maersk Majestic, one of the world's largest container ships, is seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port, part of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai, China, September 24, 2016. Picture taken September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song
The Maersk's Triple-E giant container ship Maersk Majestic, one of the world's largest container ships, is seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port, part of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai, China, September 24, 2016. Picture taken September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song

In September, Danish business conglomerate Maersk Group, owner of the world's biggest container shipping company, announced that it would be splitting into two separate divisions; Transport & Logistics and Energy. The new strategy will focus more on the company's core transportation and logistics services and away from its oil and oil related businesses, although some question whether the new strategy will lead to more success.

Dry Bulk Market Hits Bottom (Hopefully)

The Baltic Dry Index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, hit an all-time low of 290 points on February 10, 2016, representative of just how far the dry bulk market has fallen since its peak in 2008. While the BDI has recovered slightly since then (it closed this year at 961 points), the market continues to be under pressure from too many ships chasing too few cargoes. 

SEE: Owners Say Worst is Over Dry Bulk, But Recovery Still Fragile

Subchapter M

In June, the U.S. Coast Guard finally published its long-awaited Subchapter M Final Rule, which establishes new requirements for the design, construction, onboard equipment, and operation of towing vessels in the United States.

SEE: U.S. Coast Guard Publishes Subchapter M Final Rule

Modern Express Salvage

The car carrier Modern Express adrift and listing in the Bay of Biscay, January 31, 2016. Photo: French Navy
The car carrier Modern Express adrift and listing in the Bay of Biscay, January 31, 2016. Photo: French Navy

The car carrier Modern Express made global headlines in late January after it lost power and stability in the stormy Bay of Biscay. The vessel spent about six days drifting dangerously close to the French coast before salvage crews were able to coral the vessel and tow it into port. Although it was not the biggest salvage job of the year, it was for sure the most exciting to follow.

See: The Amazing Race to Save Modern Express in Pictures

Container Shipping Consolidation

Whether through mergers, takeovers or shipping alliances, consolidation continued to be the name of the game in the container shipping market as carriers struggle to survive the prolonged industry downturn. The biggest deals of the year included CMA CGM's takeover of NOL, Maersk's acquisition of rival Hamburg Süd, and the planned merger of Hapag-Lloyd and UASC. Although the market is believed to have bottomed out, experts warn that consolidation is likely to continue in 2017 amid a slight recovery.

Drone Ships

Internationally, Roll-Royce has been appointed to lead the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications, a project that could pave the way for autonomous, unmanned ships in the not-so-distant future. Illustration: Rolls-Royce
Internationally, Roll-Royce has been appointed to lead the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications, a project that could pave the way for autonomous, unmanned ships in the not-so-distant future. Illustration: Rolls-Royce

The development of unmanned and autonomous ships continued to raise eyebrows in 2016, with a number of new developments too many to list here. But if there's one thing for certain at this point, it's that drone ships are actually happening… it's really just a matter of when and how.

Archive: Drone Ships

Pioneering Spirit

Allseas Pioneering Spirit First Oil Rig Decommissioning Job
The Pioneering Spirit getting ready to straddle the Yme platform in the Norwegian North Sea, August 22, 2016. Photo: Allseas

Allseas' giant installation/decommissioning and pipelay vessel, Pioneering Spirit, was finally put to the test removing the Yme platform from the North Sea. At 382 meters long and 124 meters wide, the Pioneering Spirit is one of the largest ships ever constructed, and sets a number of records for its lifting and pipelaying capacity.

SEE: Pioneering Spirit Removes Yme Platform in North Sea

IMO Sulphur Emissions Regulations

The International Maritime Organization in October set global regulations to cut sulfur emissions from vessels and said they would enter into force from 2020, not 2025. The regulations will see sulfur emissions fall from the current maximum of 3.5 percent of fuel content to 0.5 percent, but many fear the new rules will add costs and cause uncertainty.

Archives: Shipping's War on Emissions 

Asian Shipyards

Shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries is seen in Ulsan, about 410 km (255 miles) southeast of Seoul June 28, 2013. South Korea's growth momentum remained subdued in June, key government and private-sector data showed on July 1, casting fresh doubts about whether the trade-dependent economy can stage a firm recovery in the coming months. The indicators suggest that Asia's fourth-largest economy remains under pressure and that a gradual recovery forecast by local policymakers remains far from a certainty. Picture taken June 28, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: BUSINESS MARITIME)
Shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries is seen in Ulsan, about 410 km (255 miles) southeast of Seoul. File photo. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

Shipyards across Asia struggled in 2016 amid a low demand for new ships and offshore oil rigs. South Korea's Big Three – Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries, and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering – have been hit very hard by the slump with delivery delays, cancelled orders, 20,000 job cuts, and losses amounting to billions of dollars.

SEE: More Asian Defaults Loom in 2017 Amid Korea Shipyard Debt

Cruise Ships

If there was one market that was not struggling this past year, it was international cruise ships. The world's largest cruise lines continued to introduce and order bigger and better ships. In fact, there are 97 new cruise ships on order right now, representing an estimated investment of $53 billion through 2026 – including 26 new ships to debut in 2017 alone.

Offshore Wind

Deepwater Wind LLC project off the coast of Rhode Island, the first offshore wind farm in the U.S.. Credit: Deepwater Wind
Deepwater Wind LLC project off the coast of Rhode Island, the first offshore wind farm in the U.S.. Credit: Deepwater Wind

Another bright spot has been in offshore wind. Just this month the first offshore wind farm in the United States opened off Rhode Island as more projects are planned for development. Across the Atlantic, Dong Energy is planning what it has described as the North Sea's offshore wind hub in Grimsby, England. Whether by choice or necessity, more and more offshore companies seem to be turning to wind to find work. 

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Bergdahl goes 0 for 6 at CAAF

No. 17-0069/AR. In re Robert B. Bergdahl, Petitioner.  On consideration of the petition for extraordinary relief in the nature of writ of mandamus and Petitioner's motion to file an order from the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals, add an issue and to construe the petition as a writ-appeal and motion to file an order from the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals on suggestion for consideration en banc, it is ordered that said motion to file an order from the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals, add an issue and to construe the petition as a writ-appeal is hereby denied, that said petition for extraordinary relief is hereby denied, and that said motion to file an order from the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals on suggestion for consideration en banc is hereby denied as moot.

This was Bergdahl's sixth writ petition at CAAF, and was previously discussed here. #5 was discussed here. #4 was discussed here. #3 was discussed here. #2 was discussed here. #1 was discussed here.



Original Page: http://www.caaflog.com/2016/12/09/bergdahl-goes-0-for-6-at-caaf/



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Friday, December 30, 2016

Mary E. Coming Home: Maine Maritime Museum to Acquire Historic Schooner

The schooner Mary E is coming home to the Bath, Maine on the Kennebec River where she was built in 1906. She is believed to be believed to be the oldest Bath-built wooden vessel still afloat, as well as the oldest fishing schooner built in the state of Maine still sailing. The Maine Maritime Museum is purchasing the schooner from her current owner Matt Culen of Pelham, N.Y., who has been operating Mary E in partnership with the Connecticut River Museum, in Essex, CT.

As reported by the CAMM News blog: Built in Bath in 1906 by shipbuilder Thomas E. Hagan (in a shipyard located where Bath Iron Works stands today), and restored in Bath in 1965 by William R. Donnell II (on the grounds of what is now Maine Maritime Museum), Mary E is a two-masted clipper schooner with a sparred length of 73 feet. This is the last of 69 vessels built by Hagan and representative of the type of vessel that would have been seen all over the coast of Maine in the 1900s.

Mary E will be delivered to the museum in spring of 2017, and the restoration work started by her current owner, Matt Culen of Pelham, N.Y., will be completed on the museum's campus, giving the public the opportunity to witness historic shipbuilding techniques first hand.

Following completion of the work, Mary E will be docked at the museum, serving as a historic vessel accessible to everyone. Mary E will also serve as the ambassador of Maine Maritime Museum and of Bath, the "City of Ships," traveling to events up and down the coast.

"This is a vessel of remarkable importance, despite its modest size," said Senior Curator Nathan Lipfert. "We have compiled a list of historic Maine vessels that are still extant, and there is nothing older, or better, that is available to us. I am very excited about Mary E becoming part of the historic collection of the museum, and I am looking forward to continuing research on her long history."

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Original Page: http://www.oldsaltblog.com/2016/12/mary-e-coming-home-maine-maritime-museum-acquire-historic-schooner/



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Waves from “Fat Leonard” Bribery Scandal Continue to Rock Navy


"Fat Leonard" Glen Francis

In a time of major cyber hacks and theft from data breaches, the Navy continues to be rocked by an old fashioned bribery scandal, the worst in Navy history. The scandal that has also revealed a massive national-security leak, which some describe as being the worst to hit the Navy since the end of the Cold War.  

In September of 2013, Navy investigators arrested a 350 pound Malaysian businessman,Leonard Glenn Francis, who was CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a contractor who provided port services to the US Navy. Known universally as "Fat Leonard," Francis was charged with paying bribes, providing prostitutes and handing out Lady Gaga tickets to naval officers in exchange for classified information to be used to help direct business to GDMA.

Since then the Navy has charged 12 people. An admiral and nine other Navy personnel have pleaded guilty to federal crimes. Five other defendants still face charges and the investigation is ongoing. Here are the latest convictions:

In June, Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau pleaded guilty for attempting to conceal his relationship with "Fat Leonard" by destroying paper and computer files after Francis was arrested, as well as lying to investigators.  Admiral Gilbeau is awaiting sentencing.

In October, former Naval Criminal Investigative Service supervisory special agent John Bertrand Beliveau II was ordered to repay $20 million for his part in the bribery scheme and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.  Also in October, Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord pleaded guilty to a bribery conspiracy charge, admitting that he accepted cash, luxury hotel rooms and prostitutes.

In November, retired Navy captain Michael Brooks pleaded guilty to a bribery charges, admitting to accepting the services of prostitutes, getting free trips, lodging and gifts from Francis as payment for his help boosting GDMA.

In December, Navy contracting officer Paul Simpkins was sentenced to 6 years in prison and ordered to pay $450,000 in restitution, after pleading guilty to accepting bribes and the services of prostitutes.

How could a scandal of this scale have gone unnoticed? According to reporting by the Washington Post, the Navy repeatedly turned a blind eye to evidence of wrongdoing:

Starting in 2006, in response to a multitude of fraud complaints, NCIS opened 27 separate investigations into Francis's company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia. In each of those instances, however, NCIS closed the case after failing to dig up sufficient evidence to take action against the firm, according to hundreds of pages of law enforcement records ­obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of ­Information Act….

Other Navy documents obtained by The Post show that staffers at U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters were so worried about the potential for trouble that they drafted a new ethics policy to discourage Navy personnel from accepting favors from Francis. But their effort was blocked for more than two years by admirals who were friendly with the contractor, according to officials familiar with the matter.

Despite rising signs of widespread fraud, the Navy kept awarding business to Francis's company. In 2011, Glenn Defense won deals valued at $200 million to service U.S. vessels at ports stretching from the Russian Far East to Australia….

Justice Department officials say there is no end in sight to the investigation and that 200 people have fallen under scrutiny. Among them are about 30 current or retired admirals, according to Navy ­officials.

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Original Page: http://www.oldsaltblog.com/2016/12/waves-fat-leonard-bribery-scandal-continue-rock-navy/



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gCaptain’s Picks: Best Maritime Videos of 2016

It's that time of year again, the time when we look back at some of our favorite maritime videos posted online over the past 12 months. The list this year includes some instant classics, including what is probably the most controversial collision video we've ever posted and for sure the cutest video we've ever posted (and just about everything in between). So here are our picks for Best Maritime Videos of 2016 by category:

Best Accident Video

Winner: Capetown dry dock accident

Best Cold-Weather Video 

Winner: Ice covered ship arrives in Duluth

Best 'At Work' Video

Winner: Pioneering Spirits removes Yme topsides in North Sea

Best Collision Video

Winner: Washington State Ferry vs. clueless boater

Best Darwin Award Video

Winner: Dumbass jet skier nearly swallowed by ship

Most Adorable Video

Winner: Girl adorably frightened by ship's horn

Best Cruise Ship Video

Winner: Carnival Vista destroys Italian marina

Best 'Oh S*** Moment' Video

Winner: Cargo ship loses load in seconds

Best Helicopter Landing Video

Winner: Insane helicopter landing during North Sea storm

Best 'Top Gun' Video

Best Collision Allision Video

Winner: Celebrity Infinity slams into Ketchikan dock

Best Salvage Video

Winner: Modern Express salvage by SMIT

Best Near-Miss Video

Winner: VLCC and bulk carrier nearly collide

'Scariest Moment' Video

Winner: Pilot ladder accident

Best Storm Video

Winner: Storm Gertrude



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China Welcomes Onlookers as Aircraft Carrier Skirts Japan

liaoning aircraft carrier
China's Liaoning aircraft carrier pictured during its inauguration in September 2012. Photo: Simon Yang/CC BY-SA 2.0

reuters_logo1BEIJING, Dec 29 (Reuters) – If people want to come and look at China's first aircraft carrier, they are very welcome, the defence ministry said on Thursday, brushing off encounters with the Japanese military as the carrier passed close to Japan this week.

The Soviet-built Liaoning, accompanied by several warships, this week travelled through the passage between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa and into the Pacific for what China has described as a routine exercise.

Japan said one of its Maritime Self Defense Force ships and a P3C patrol aircraft had spotted six Chinese naval vessels including the Liaoning travelling through the passage, and they also scrambled jets after a helicopter that took off from a Chinese frigate flew near Miyako Island.

China's Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Liaoning sails the water in East China Sea, in this handout photo taken December 25, 2016 by Japan Self-Defence Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan. Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/HANDOUT via REUTERS
China's Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Liaoning sails the water in East China Sea, in this handout photo taken December 25, 2016 by Japan Self-Defence Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan. Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/HANDOUT via REUTERS

Asked about the Liaoning's encounters with Japanese ships and aircraft, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said it was natural people wanted to look at something attractive.

"There is an expression in China – the love for beauty is common to all men," Yang told a monthly news briefing.

"Our Liaoning is both mighty and pretty. If people are interested in it, they can look at it from afar, or peep at it. As long as they don't break relevant laws and rules, or hinder navigational safety and freedom, we don't care," he said.

Yang declined to give details of the Liaoning's mission. It also skirted self-ruled Taiwan, then sailed across the South China Sea to a base in the southern Chinese province of Hainan, according to Taiwan's defence ministry.

However, Yang was less amused about pictures of China's still-under-construction second aircraft carrier that surfaced on the internet this week, including on Chinese websites.

"I think that foreign reporters reporting in China must respect relevant laws and regulations," he said when asked about the pictures, apparently implying that he believed it was a foreign reporter who took them. He did not elaborate.

China last December confirmed it was building a second aircraft carrier but its launch date has not been announced. The aircraft carrier programme is a state secret.

Yang said he had nothing he could reveal about the progress of construction of the second carrier.

China could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years, the Pentagon said in a report last year.

While the Liaoning has taken part in previous exercises, including in the South China Sea, but China is years away from perfecting carrier operations similar to those the United States has practised for decades. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2016.



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gCaptain’s Picks: Top Maritime Stories Making Headlines in 2016

modern express salvage
A helicopter drops a salvage team aboard the Modern Express, January 30, 2016. Photo credit: Marine National

Congratulations, you've (almost) made it to 2017! As 2016 comes to end, we're taking a look back at some of the top maritime stories making headlines throughout the year, as chosen by our editors and presented in no particular order. Also if you're interested, we have already taken a look back at the Top 10 Most Viewed Posts and Best Maritime Videos of 2016, so be sure to check those out. 

Have anything to add? Definitely email us and we will update. 

El Faro Investigation

el faro wreck

The investigation into the sinking of the American cargo ship El Faro with the loss 33 crew was in full-swing throughout the year. Highlights included when search crews located and later retrieved the ship's Voyage Data Recorder, leading to the release of the tough-to-read bridge audio transcript earlier this month.

Archive: El Faro Investigation

Oil and Gas Slump

Fishermen pass a row of offshore vessels moored in the waters along a row of shipyards northwest of Waterfront City on Batam island, in Indonesia's Riau Islands Province February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo
Fishermen pass a row of offshore vessels laid up in the waters along a row of shipyards northwest of Waterfront City on Batam island, in Indonesia's Riau Islands Province February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

You don't need me to tell you… the prolonged slump in oil and gas prices that began in mid-2014 continued as expected in 2016, impacting virtually every energy-related business and sector out there. Lower rig activity across the globe has really hit the offshore service vessel market. In Singapore, the collapse of Swiber Holdings setting off tremors in Singapore's banking and energy industries. Worst part is we're likely to see a similar environment continue through next year. 

Panama Canal Expansion

The MV Cosco Shipping Panama makes the inaugural transit through the expanded Panama Canal, June 26, 2016. Photo: Panama Canal Authority
The MV Cosco Shipping Panama makes the inaugural transit through the expanded Panama Canal, June 26, 2016. Photo: Panama Canal Authority

After two years of delays, the Panama Canal expansion opened to longer and wider ships on June 26, 2016 amid controversy over the design and safety of the new locks. Since their inauguration, more than 500 Neopanamax ships have successfully transited the larger locks, including the first LNG carriers to ever use waterway.

SEE: Panama Canal Welcomes Largest Ship to Date

 

U.S. Shale Gas Exports

asia vision lng carrier
The Chevron LNG carrier Asia Vision, which carried the first cargo of U.S. natural gas to Brazil in February 2016. shipped the Cheniere Energy Inc.'s Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana on Feb. 24.

The LNG carrier Asia Vision departed Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass LNG terminal in February carrying the first cargo of shale gas to be exported from the United States. LNG exports from the U.S. represent a major shift in global energy markets and set the United States up to become a net exporter of LNG for the first time in decades.

Hanjin's Collapse

File photo shows Hanjin Shipping Co ship stranded outside the Port of Long Beach, California, September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
File photo shows Hanjin Shipping Co ship stranded outside the Port of Long Beach, California, September 8, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

On August 31, 2016, South Korea's Hanjin Shipping, at the time the world's seventh largest container shipping company, filed for bankruptcy, leaving dozens of vessels and billions of dollars worth of cargo stranded at sea. The bankruptcy was the first among the major carriers, and may prove to be the tip of the iceberg for the container shipping market.

Maersk Split

The Maersk's Triple-E giant container ship Maersk Majestic, one of the world's largest container ships, is seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port, part of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai, China, September 24, 2016. Picture taken September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song
The Maersk's Triple-E giant container ship Maersk Majestic, one of the world's largest container ships, is seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port, part of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai, China, September 24, 2016. Picture taken September 24, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song

In September, Danish business conglomerate Maersk Group, owner of the world's biggest container shipping company, announced that it would be splitting into two separate divisions; Transport & Logistics and Energy. The new strategy will focus more on the company's core transportation and logistics services and away from its oil and oil related businesses, although some question whether the new strategy will lead to more success.

Dry Bulk Market Hits Bottom (Hopefully)

The Baltic Dry Index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, hit an all-time low of 290 points on February 10, 2016, representative of just how far the dry bulk market has fallen since its peak in 2008. While the BDI has recovered slightly since then (it closed this year at 961 points), the market continues to be under pressure from too many ships chasing too few cargoes. 

SEE: Owners Say Worst is Over Dry Bulk, But Recovery Still Fragile

Subchapter M

In June, the U.S. Coast Guard finally published its long-awaited Subchapter M Final Rule, which establishes new requirements for the design, construction, onboard equipment, and operation of towing vessels in the United States.

SEE: U.S. Coast Guard Publishes Subchapter M Final Rule

Modern Express Salvage

The car carrier Modern Express adrift and listing in the Bay of Biscay, January 31, 2016. Photo: French Navy
The car carrier Modern Express adrift and listing in the Bay of Biscay, January 31, 2016. Photo: French Navy

The car carrier Modern Express made global headlines in late January after it lost power and stability in the stormy Bay of Biscay. The vessel spent about six days drifting dangerously close to the French coast before salvage crews were able to coral the vessel and tow it into port. Although it was not the biggest salvage job of the year, it was for sure the most exciting to follow.

See: The Amazing Race to Save Modern Express in Pictures

Container Shipping Consolidation

Whether through mergers, takeovers or shipping alliances, consolidation continued to be the name of the game in the container shipping market as carriers struggle to survive the prolonged industry downturn. The biggest deals of the year included CMA CGM's takeover of NOL, Maersk's acquisition of rival Hamburg Süd, and the planned merger of Hapag-Lloyd and UASC. Although the market is believed to have bottomed out, experts warn that consolidation is likely to continue in 2017 amid a slight recovery.

Drone Ships

Internationally, Roll-Royce has been appointed to lead the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications, a project that could pave the way for autonomous, unmanned ships in the not-so-distant future. Illustration: Rolls-Royce
Internationally, Roll-Royce has been appointed to lead the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications, a project that could pave the way for autonomous, unmanned ships in the not-so-distant future. Illustration: Rolls-Royce

The development of unmanned and autonomous ships continued to raise eyebrows in 2016, with a number of new developments too many to list here. But if there's one thing for certain at this point, it's that drone ships are actually happening… it's really just a matter of when and how.

Archive: Drone Ships

Pioneering Spirit

Allseas Pioneering Spirit First Oil Rig Decommissioning Job
The Pioneering Spirit getting ready to straddle the Yme platform in the Norwegian North Sea, August 22, 2016. Photo: Allseas

Allseas' giant installation/decommissioning and pipelay vessel, Pioneering Spirit, was finally put to the test removing the Yme platform from the North Sea. At 382 meters long and 124 meters wide, the Pioneering Spirit is one of the largest ships ever constructed, and sets a number of records for its lifting and pipelaying capacity.

SEE: Pioneering Spirit Removes Yme Platform in North Sea

IMO Sulphur Emissions Regulations

The International Maritime Organization in October set global regulations to cut sulfur emissions from vessels and said they would enter into force from 2020, not 2025. The regulations will see sulfur emissions fall from the current maximum of 3.5 percent of fuel content to 0.5 percent, but many fear the new rules will add costs and cause uncertainty.

Archives: Shipping's War on Emissions 

Asian Shipyards

Shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries is seen in Ulsan, about 410 km (255 miles) southeast of Seoul June 28, 2013. South Korea's growth momentum remained subdued in June, key government and private-sector data showed on July 1, casting fresh doubts about whether the trade-dependent economy can stage a firm recovery in the coming months. The indicators suggest that Asia's fourth-largest economy remains under pressure and that a gradual recovery forecast by local policymakers remains far from a certainty. Picture taken June 28, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won (SOUTH KOREA - Tags: BUSINESS MARITIME)
Shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries is seen in Ulsan, about 410 km (255 miles) southeast of Seoul. File photo. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

Shipyards across Asia struggled in 2016 amid a low demand for new ships and offshore oil rigs. South Korea's Big Three – Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries, and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering – have been hit very hard by the slump with delivery delays, cancelled orders, 20,000 job cuts, and losses amounting to billions of dollars.

SEE: More Asian Defaults Loom in 2017 Amid Korea Shipyard Debt

Cruise Ships

If there was one market that was not struggling this past year, it was international cruise ships. The world's largest cruise lines continued to introduce and order bigger and better ships. In fact, there are 97 new cruise ships on order right now, representing an estimated investment of $53 billion through 2026 – including 26 new ships to debut in 2017 alone.

Offshore Wind

Deepwater Wind LLC project off the coast of Rhode Island, the first offshore wind farm in the U.S.. Credit: Deepwater Wind
Deepwater Wind LLC project off the coast of Rhode Island, the first offshore wind farm in the U.S.. Credit: Deepwater Wind

Another bright spot has been in offshore wind. Just this month the first offshore wind farm in the United States opened off Rhode Island as more projects are planned for development. Across the Atlantic, Dong Energy is planning what it has described as the North Sea's offshore wind hub in Grimsby, England. Whether by choice or necessity, more and more offshore companies seem to be turning to wind to find work. 

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Takes Second Action Against Military Credit Services for Improper Contract Disclosures

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Takes Second Action Against Military Credit Services for Improper Contract Disclosures

Bureau Orders Lender to Pay $200,000 Civil Penalty

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today sued Military Credit Services, LLC (MCS) for making loans with improper disclosures. This is the CFPB’s second enforcement action against MCS. In 2014, the CFPB, along with the states of North Carolina and Virginia, sued the company for similar violations, and the company was ordered to revise its contract disclosures in 2015. In today’s action, the CFPB ordered the company to ensure that its contracts comply with the law. It also required the company to hire an independent consultant to review its practices and to pay a $200,000 civil penalty.

“Today’s action sends a clear message that lenders cannot ignore their responsibilities under the law,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “This is the Consumer Bureau’s second action against Military Credit Services for improper disclosures. We are imposing further penalties, and we will continue to closely monitor their compliance in the future.”

Military Credit Services is a Virginia-based company that extends credit to consumers through retailers nationwide and, through a commonly owned company, collects debts owed under the credit contracts. The CFPB found the company violated federal law by failing to properly disclose the terms of preauthorized transfers and interest rates on the loans it offered. Without those legally required disclosures, consumers cannot make informed decisions about important financial decisions they face.

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB is authorized to take action against institutions engaged in unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices or that otherwise violate federal consumer financial laws.

Under the terms of the CFPB order released today, Military Credit Services is required to:

  • Cease its unlawful conduct: The company is ordered to ensure that its contracts comply with applicable laws.
  • Pay for an independent review: The company must hire an independent consultant with specialized experience in consumer-finance compliance to conduct an independent review of the company’s issuance and servicing of credit. The independent report will be provided to the company and to the CFPB.
  • Pay a $200,000 civil penalty: The company must pay $200,000 to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.

The full text of the CFPB’s consent order is available here: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201612_cfpb_MilitaryCreditServices-consentorder.pdf 

More information about the original lawsuit and resulting stipulated final judgment in 2015 is available here: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-and-states-take-action-against-freedom-stores-for-illegal-debt-collection-practices-against-servicemembers/ 

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit consumerfinance.gov.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

This Week in Military Justice – December 26, 2016

This week at SCOTUS: A cert. petition was filed in Sterling last week (noted here). I'm not aware of any other military justice developments at the Supreme Court, where I'm tracking two cases:

This week at CAAF: The next scheduled oral argument at CAAF is on January 10, 2017.

This week at the ACCA: The next scheduled oral argument at the Army CCA is on February 22, 2017.

This week at the AFCCA: The next scheduled oral argument at the Air Force CCA is on January 4, 2017.

This week at the CGCCA: The Coast Guard CCA's oral argument schedule shows no scheduled oral arguments.

This week at the NMCCA: The next scheduled oral argument at the Navy-Marine Corps CCA is on February 15, 2017.



Original Page: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/caaflog/~3/A4BRUPC8reU/



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Navy Takes Delivery of Future USS Gabrielle Giffords

150613-O-ZZ999-603 MOBILE, Ala. (June 13, 2015) Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords waves to a crowd in front of the littoral combat ship, USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), named for her. Giffords was on the stage as Dr. Jill Biden christened the ship at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. The 419-foot ship was built at the Austal shipyard and is the Navy's 10th littoral combat ship designed to operate in shallow waters near the coast. It is 16th U.S. naval ship to be named for a woman and only the 13th since 1850 to be named for a living person. (Photo courtesy Austal USA/Released)
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords waves to a crowd in front of the littoral combat ship, USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), named for her. Photo courtesy Austal USA/U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy has taken delivery of its ninth littoral combat ship which is named after former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords.

The future USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) was handed over to the Navy on Friday during a ceremony at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. It is the ninth littoral combat ship to be delivered to the Navy overall and the fifth Independence variant delivered by Austal since 2009.

"We are pleased to receive the future USS Gabrielle Giffords into the LCS class," said Capt. Harrison, commander, LCS Squadron (COMLCSRON) 1. "Gabrielle Giffords will join her sister littoral combat ships in their homeport of San Diego in 2017, commencing testing and training for deployed operations upon arrival."

The selection of Gabrielle Giffords for the ship's namesake honors the former U.S. Representative from Tucson, Arizona who is known for supporting and advocating for the military and veterans, gun control, renewable energy and border security. She is a survivor of an assassination attempt in 2011 which left her with a brain injury after she was shot during a shooting rampage that left six people dead and more than a dozen injured. Giffords was on stage as Dr. Jill Biden christened the ship in June 2015. 

The USS Gabrielle Giffords is notable because it's the 16th U.S. naval ship to be named for a woman and only the 13th since 1850 to be named for a living person. Following commissioning the vessel will be homeported in San Diego, California.

The Independence variant of the LCS class, noted for its trimaran hull and large large deck, is designed and built by two by Austal USA at their shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. The vessel is the fifth ship under an 11-ship contract worth approximately $4 billion.

The USS Gabrielle Giffords will be homeported in San Diego along with USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), USS Coronado (LCS 4), USS Jackson (LCS 6) and USS Montgomery (LCS 8).

In 2016 Austal USA has delivered four vessels to the U.S. Navy, including two Littoral Combat Ships and two Expeditionary Fast Transport ships.

150613-O-ZZ999-601 MOBILE, Ala. (June 13, 2015) Dr. Jill Biden christens the future littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. It is 16th U.S. naval ship to be named for a woman and only the 13th since 1850 to be named for a living person. (Photo courtesy Austal USA/Released)
Dr. Jill Biden christens the future littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama in 2015. U.S. Navy Photo
150224-N-EW716-002 MOBILE, Ala. (Feb. 24, 2015) An aerial view of the future littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) during its launch sequence at the Austal USA shipyard. The launch of the Gabrielle Giffords marks an important production milestone for the littoral combat ship program. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
(U.S. Navy photo/Released)


Original Page: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Gcaptain/~3/CXBpmmIKCo8/



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