Friday, 28 April 2017 13:22

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                        Seabourn Sojourn entering Valetta Harbour, Malta

For many of us, the first hints of summer are synonymous with the arrival of an armada of some of the world’s leading cruise ships. This year is no exception with the arrival of Holland America’s Zaandam on Wednesday this week, followed by Eurodam today (Friday) and Oosterdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Carnival Legend and Noordam over the weekend. Thursday June 1 will also see the arrival of the Seabourn Sojourn for her maiden Alaska season based out of Vancouver.  

Delivered in 2010 by Mariotti Shipyard, Genoa, Italy
Owned and operated by Seabourn Cruise Line, Seattle, Wa.
LOA 198.0m
Beam 25.6m
GRT 32,346 tons
Speed 21.6 knots (cruising)
Capacity: 450 guests
Crew: 335
Sister ships: Seabourn Odyssey & Seabourn Quest

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Seabourn Sojourn is advertised as being among the most luxurious cruising vessels in the world. Despite her modest size, she has a large two-deck spa facility of over 11,000 square feet, two outdoor swimming pools and six outdoor whirlpool spas. The four restaurants and six bars and cafes have seating capacity for over 800 diners, though the vessel carries just 450 guests. Alaska itineraries are a mix of 11 and 14 days one way cruises from Vancouver to and from Seward Alaska providing time to explore some of the less frequented nooks and crannies of the BC and Alaskan coast lines including six calls to the Port of Prince Rupert.

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Seabourn Cruise Line was originally founded in 1987 by a consortium of Norwegian investors headed by Mr. Atle Brynestad under the name Signet Cruise Lines but adopted the name Seabourn Cruise Line after objections over a trademark ownership. Seabourn Pride entered service in 1988, followed by an identical sister, Seabourn Spirit in 1989. Carnival Corporation purchased an initial 25% stake in Seabourn in 1991, increasing this to 50% in 1996 at a time when the company was developing a reputation for unrivalled service quality.

In 1998, in partnership with a consortium of new Norwegian investors, Carnival purchased the remaining 50% stake in Seabourn, as well as acquiring Cunard Line from Kvaerner ASA, and merged the two brands into Cunard Line until in 2001 Carnival bought out the Norwegian shareholders, and Seabourn's parent company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Corporation. In 2011 Seabourn transferred its base of operations from Miami to the Holland America headquarters in Seattle. The highly acclaimed Seabourn Encore (above right) at 40,350 GRT joined the fleet in December 2016.

The global cruise industry has grown from 19.1 million passengers carried in 2010 to 22.9 million in 2016 and is forecast to reach 25.3 million in 2019. To meet this growth, there are currently 157 significant cruise ships on order stretching to delivery as far ahead as 2026. About 60% of business originates in North America, 25% in Europe and the balance spread over other markets. Cruises to Alaska represents 4.5-5% of the global market.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Thursday, 20 April 2017 22:17

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Although we covered the new trailer ferry Seaspan Swift as our Ship of the Week on her initial arrival in BC in December 2016, Sunday April 9 was a unique event for British Columbia when Seaspan Ferries hosted the dual formal naming of Seaspan Swift and sister vessel Seaspan Reliant. The event was hosted by Seaspan Ferries President Mr. Steve Roth and attended by BC Premier Christy Clark (sponsor of Seaspan Swift) and Ms. Anisa White representing Plains Cree-Metis First Nation (sponsor of Seaspan Reliant). On a rare sunny afternoon, welcome speeches were also given by retiring Seaspan CEO Mr. Jonathan Whitworth and the incoming CEO Mr. Frank Butzelaar before the traditional breaking of champagne bottles on each vessel.  Mr. Kyle Washington and Jonathan Whitworth accompanied the Premier to do the honours on Seaspan Swift.

Built by SEDEF Shipbuilding Inc. Turkey
Designed by Vard Marine Inc.
Owned and operated by Seaspan Ferries Corporation
LOA 148.9m
Beam 26.0m
GRT 4,762 MT
Capacity 59 x 53’ trailers over 1042 lane meters
Main engine 2 x dual fuel Wartsila 9L34DF generating 4,400 Kw
Thrusters 2 x Schottel SCD 2020
Bow thrusters 2 x 550 Kw
LNG capacity 200 cbm
Diesel capacity 162 cbm
Battery capacity 546 kWh
Class Bureau Veritas

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Responsible for some 50% of all cargo movement to and from Vancouver Island, Seaspan Ferries offers a daily truck and trailer service from the company’s dedicated dock in Tilbury, Delta to and from Nanaimo, Duke Point and Swartz Bay. Seaspan Swift and Seaspan Reliant, mark the first vessels added to the company’s fleet since 2002. Following the formal ceremonies, Seaspan Reliant was open for guests to view both above and below deck. There was no mistaking how proud the crews are of their new vessels. Representatives of the Turkish shipbuilders and designers Vard were also on hand to respond to questions.

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The decision of the company to invest duel fuel LNG and diesel in partnership with Fortis BC is very significant for the future of short sea shipping here on the west coast. Compared to existing vessels, the new tonnage is estimated to represent a reduction of 53.6% in GHG emissions, 62.3% in CO2 emissions and 74.4% reduction in particulate matter emissions compared to the existing vessels. The 200cbm LNG storage tank situated below deck is shown above left. The cake looked so good before it was consumed, I just had to share a picture with you. As a bonus, each guest was also treated to a Lego certified model kit – great for kids of all ages.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 07 April 2017 13:31

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Two casualties spread almost three years apart have dominated the maritime news in the past week. The loss of the 24 year old Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC) Stellar Daisy (picture below right) in the South Atlantic about 2,300 nautical miles off the coast of Paraguay while carrying 260,000 tons of iron ore from Brazil to China was a sharp reminder of the fragility of life for unsuspecting seafarers. Of a crew of 24, only two Filipinos survived having been rescued from a liferaft. Initial reports indicate that the ship broke in two which of course raises many questions.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the wreck of the 140m South Korean ferry Sewol was raised and manoeuvred onboard the semi-subersible heavy lift vessel Dockwise White Marlin. The perfectly managed operation was executed by a Chinese salvage consortium which raised the Sewol between a pair of barges fitted with winches and lifting beams that were secured beneath the wreck to provide lift. Once the wreckage was sufficiently raised, the submerged Dockwise White Marlin was able to maneuver into position between the barges thereby enabling the wreck to be landed intact. The wreckage was then secured and drained in preparation for the short voyage to the port of Mokpo.

Dockwise White Marlin
Built by Guangzhou International Shipyard, PRC
Owned and operated by Dockwise Shipping, Breda, The Netherlands (a subsidiary of the Boskalis Group)
LOA 217m
Beam 63m
GRT 51,065 tons
DWT 62,500 MT

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The Sewol capsized on April 16, 2014 off the coast Jindo Island during a routine voyage, killing 304 people, most of them students on a school trip. She is now being carefully searched for the remains for nine students who are still unaccounted for.  Investigations concluded the disaster was the cumulative result of an illegal redesign, an overloaded cargo bay, an inexperienced crew and a questionable relationship between the ship operators and state regulators. Even though the vessel took around three hours to sink, many of those on board never heard an evacuation order and appeared to have been left to save themselves. South Korean maritime safety regulators were heavily criticized for the series of events leading to the loss of Sewol and for the conduct of the rescue operation, all of which resulted in a complete reorganization of the South Korean Coast Guard.  The Sewol’s Master, Captain Lee Jun-Seok was sentenced to life in prison for "murder through wilful negligence" and 14 other crew members were given terms ranging from two to 12 years.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Friday, 31 March 2017 09:48

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We are winding the clock back this week to take a look at a veteran Laker. SS Alpena was built in 1942 for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company and remains in service on the Great Lakes today. She is employed in moving cement from the Lafarge Corporation plant in Alpena, Michigan to a number of Great Lakes’ ports, including Milwaukee, Green Bay, Chicago, Muskegon, Detroit, St. Joseph, Cleveland, and Buffalo. She makes makes about 100 trips a year, arriving in Duluth-Superior about once a month.


Built by Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse, MI, USA
Owned and managed by Inland Lakes Management, Grand Rapids, MI, USA
LOA 158.5m
Beam 20.4m
GRT 8018 tons
DWT 19,414 MT
Propulsion: 4,000 HP steam turbine
Speed 13 knots
Home port Cleveland, Ohio
Former Name: Leon Fraser until 1991

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As the Leon Fraser, Alpena was laid up in Lorain, Ohio, in 1982, and remained there until 1989. She was sold to Inland Lakes Management in 1990 and re-named Alpena in 1991 before being shortened by 36m at the Fraser Shipyard in Superior as part of a full converion into a bulk cement carrier. In service she carries around 13,50 tons of cement in her 7 holds. In December 2015, a major fire in the aft end of this vessel caused by aging wiring, while in drydock at Bay Shipbuilding Co., Sturgeon Bay, Wis., could have seen this classic Laker emerging as razor blades but despite her advanced age, the decision was made to repair her and return her to service. You have to wonder if this will be extended to the installation of an expensive ballast water treatment system when the Ballast Water Management Convention comes into force in September 2017, albeit with some wriggle room given the uncertainties created by the delay in the U.S. issuing type approvals to treatment systems.

The vessel’s namesake, Mr. Leon Fraser, was born in Boston in 1889 and was admitted to the New York Bar Association in 1914. After holding a number of distinguished positions in the business world he retired in 1937 as Vice President of the First National Bank of New York. Mr. Fraser was a director of United States Steel (Pittsburgh Steamship's parent company) when the vessel was initially christened in his honor at the peak of World War II.

Incorporated in 1871, the City of Alpena overlooks Lake Huron's Thunder Bay. The city’s wood, cement, and heavy machinery industries stemmed from a long industrial heritage that started with logging in the 1800s.

See the video of Alpena in service:

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Thursday, 23 March 2017 09:47

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Having been delivered in 2015, Seajacks Scylla is considered to be the world’s largest and most advanced Offshore Wind Farm Installation Vessel. The vessel is purpose designed and constructed to meet the environmental rigors associated with working the UK and North West European markets. Operating at depths of up to 65m and with an open deck space of 4,600m2, Seajacks Scylla  is ideally suited to servicing the ever expanding market for off-shore wind farm installation.

Built by Samsung Heavy Industries, Geoge City, South Korea
Owned and operated by Seajacks UK Ltd., Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, UK
LOA 139m
Beam 50m
GRT 12,000 tons
DWT 5,000 MT
Propulsion: 3 x 3000kW stern azipod units
Thrusters: 3 x 3000kW (retractable)
Jack-up legs, length 105m
Speed 12 knots
Accommodation for 130 crew and turbine installation specialists

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Seajacks Scylla is uniquely equipped with a 1,540 MT leg-encircling crane capable of meeting the installation needs of jumbo-monopiles, jackets, and turbines of future wind farms in deeper waters further from shore.

She recently visited the Port of Rotterdam for a mooring system upgrade following her first successful assignment on Phase 1 of the Veja Mate Offshore Wind Farm Project which included the installation of 67 foundation monopiles off the coast of Germany, each weighing approximately 1,300 MT.

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The vessel left Rotterdam for Esbjerg in Norway where she was mobilized for Phase 2 of the Veja Mate Offshore Wind Farm project (location shown in the above map) which includes the turbine installation of 67 Siemens SWT-6.0-154 wind turbines. Each turbine has a capacity of 6MW and a rotor diameter of 154m, to produce enough electricity for 400.000 German homes each year.

Based in Great Yarmouth (UK), Seajacks was acquired in 2012 by Marubeni Corporation and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), a government-sponsored private equity corporation.


Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.


Thursday, 16 March 2017 17:10

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Based at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in North Saanich on Vancouver Island, the Hero Class Mid-Shore Patrol Vessel CCGS M. Charles M.B. was delivered to the Canadian Coast Guard in June 2014. Along with her sister vessel CCGS Captain Goddard M.S.M she arrived at her new base of operations in February 2015 after sailing for 39 days, covering a distance of just over 7,000 nautical miles from Halifax, Nova Scotia via the Panama Canal.


These vessels are designed to conduct Maritime Security missions on the Great Lake and St. Lawrence Seaway in addition to the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. Under the "Mid-Shore" designation, they are approved to operate up to 120 nautical miles offshore.

Built by Irving Shipbuilding Inc, Halifax NS
Parent Design Damen Stan Patrol 4207
LOA 43.0m
Beam 7.0m
Displacement 257 MT
Power 4,992 kW with 2 x controllable pitch propellers
Speed: Maximum 25 knots, cruising 14 knots
Range 2,000 nautical miles
Crew up to 14
Design and construction cost for nine vessels $198 million


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With their steel hulls and aluminium superstructure, the fleet of nine Mid-Shore Patrol Vessels are deployed in support of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Compliance and Enforcement programs with responsibility to:

  • Conduct surveillance of fisheries operations to ensure all regulations and guidelines are being respected
  • Seize, recover, store and transport illegal fishing gear
  • Monitor and patrol the oceans (coastlines and international boundaries) and provide a Canadian presence
  • Discourage smuggling and fish poaching

The nine sister vessels built under the program are named as follows:

  • CCGS Private Robertson V.C., after the late Private James Peter Robertson, V.C. (DND)
  • CCGS Corporal Kaeble V.C., after the late Corporal Joseph Kaeble, V.C. (DND)
  • CCGS Corporal Teather C.V., after Corporal Gordon Robert Teather, C.V (RCMP)
  • CCGS Constable Carrière, after Constable J.L. François Carrière (RCMP)
  • CCGS G. Peddle S.C., after Canadian Coast Guard Chief Officer Gregory Paul Peddle, S.C (CCG)
  • CCGS Corporal McLaren M.M.V., after Corporal Mark Robert McLaren, M.M.V. (DND)
  • CCGS A. LeBlanc, after Fishery Officer Agapit LeBlanc (DFO)
  • CCGS M. Charles M.B., after Seaman Martin Charles, S.C., M.B. (CCG)
  • CCGS Captain Goddard M.S.M., after Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard, M.S.M. (DND)

Of the two west coast positioned vessels, Seaman Martin Charles was a Hereditary Chief of the Nitinat Band in Bamfield BC. He earned the Medal of Bravery for his role in 1976 in a search and rescue incident that began with a sunken fishing vessel and ended with the loss of a helicopter assisting in rescue efforts. Captain Goddard M.S.M. is named for Captain Nichola Goddard who was awarded the Meritous Service Medal for her service in Afghanistan from January 2006, until her death in combat in May 2006.


Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.


Friday, 10 March 2017 10:25

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One of the enjoyable aspects of cruising for former seafarers is the opportunity to see sectors of shipping that we would normally not see here at home. One such occurrence for us was a port call in Auckland, New Zealand, in October last year where we found the sophisticated Chinese research / survey vessel Yuan Wang 5. She and China’s fleet of six similar vessels form the backbone of the country’s world-wide space tracking and intelligence gathering capability.


Built by China State Shipbuilding Corporation, Shanghai, PRC
Operated by the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)
Commissioned in 2007
LOA     190m (approx)
GRT      22,686 tons
Speed  20 knots (approx.)
Crew     470
Registered in Shanghai

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The Yuan Wang (translates to “Long View” in Mandarin) class of ships are used for tracking and support of space flights, satellites and intercontinental ballistic missiles by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The first Yuan Wang class of vessel is believed to have been proposed by Premier Zhou Enlai in 1965, eventually being approved by Chairman Mao Zedong in 1968 with Yuan Wang 1 and Yuan Wang 2 entering service in 1977 and 1978 respectively. The latest in the series, Yuan Wang-7, was launched in July 2016. I took the pictures above left and centre while entering the picturesque Port of Auckland on Celebrity Solstice.


The presence of Yuan Wang 5 in Auckland attracted a good deal of local attention and no small amount of criticism with many locals objecting to a vessel with such high level military capabilities enjoying New Zealand hospitality. It was only in November 2016 that US warships returned to New Zealand after an impasse of 30 years following the decision of the country’s parliament in 1985 to ban warships carrying, or capable of carrying, nuclear weapons. This led to New Zealand being suspended in 1986 from the ANZUS collective security agreement first signed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States in 1951. Throughout this period, the United States stuck rigidly to its policy of "neither confirming nor denying" if a ship was nuclear armed or powered which kept American naval vessels out of New Zealand’s ports. There now appears to be a loose “don’t ask, don’t tell” form of compromise since New Zealand still formally requires US ships to declare their nuclear status, and the United States continues to refuse to do so.


Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.

Thursday, 02 March 2017 21:04

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Last month, one of the world’s first purpose built LNG bunkering vessels, ENGIE Zeebrugge, was delivered to the Gas4Sea Partnership, a brand name generated to market ship to ship LNG bunkering services worldwide. The French energy and utility company ENGIE, Mitsubishi Corporation and NYK are the partners to this new venture which will set up shop initially to service the Port of Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Built by Hanjin Heavy Industries, Yeongdo Shipyard, Busan, South Korea
Owned by Gas4Sea Partnership
Operated by: NYK Energy Transport (Atlantic) Ltd & (NYK LNG Shipmanagement (UK) Ltd.)
LOA 107.6m
Beam 18.4m
GRT 7,403 tons
Capacity 5,000 CBM
Main engine: Dual Fuel (marine gas oil, marine diesel oil, and LNG)
Registry: Belgium
Class: Bureau Veritas


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ENGIE Zeebrugge is operating on LNG for her maiden delivery voyage to Zeebrugge via the Suez Canal. Just this week she called at the Port of Singapore’s LNG terminal hub for a recharge. The picture above right is an artist’s impression of the new vessel in operation once she arrives in Europe.


In October last year, Gas4Sea signed up the company’s first commercial customer, the Marseilles based container line CMA CGM. In Zeebrugge, two LNG fueled pure car and truck carriers (PCTC) operated by United European Car Carriers will be the first customers in the company’s ambitious plans to develop a comprehensive European LNG bunkering chain and gradually displace the global heavy fuel bunker market of around 250 million tons per year as low sulphur fuel standards tighten up.


The chicken and egg nature of the challenge in growing LNG in the global bunker market is to develop a credible supply infrastructure to support the increasing number of LNG fueled ships that will undoubtedly come into operation over the next decade. In this respect ENGIE Zeebrugge marks something of a milestone since LNG fueled ships have thus far been largely dependent on fixed bunker locations or the limited bunkering capacity of LNG trailers.

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In the Baltic Sea, Viking Line’s super ferry Viking Grace which entered service in January 2013, recently recorded a milestone with the 1000th ship-to-ship LNG bunkering operation using a dedicated bunkering vessel operated by Seagas – picture above.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.


Friday, 24 February 2017 08:56

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A recent loader at Kinder Morgan’s Vancouver Wharves was the new Ultramax bulk carrier SBI Tethys, with a distinctive Axe Bow (vertical bow) design, one of several such vessels owned and operated by Scorpio Bulk Carriers. The company is incorporated in the Republic of The Marshall Islands and has principal executive offices in Monaco and New York.

Built by Chengxi Shipyard, Co Ltd; Jiangyin, PRC
Owned and operated by Scorpio Bulkers Inc (SBI)
LOA 199.99m
Beam 32.29m
GRT 34,447 tons
DWT 61,190 MT
Liberian flag

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Scorpio Bulkers Inc. embarked on an ambitious expansion program in recent years and now operates a fleet of 40 modern bulk carriers in the Kamsarmax and Ultramax sectors, the oldest of which was delivered in 2015. A further five vessels are scheduled for delivery in 2017. Underlining the continuing struggles of the dry bulk sector, the company’s CEO Mr. Emanuele Lauro last year confessed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that when the company placed a large number of new build orders at rock bottom prices in 2013-14, they were confident of a significant market recovery by 2016-17, which as we know has yet to happen. As a consequence, the company recorded a loss of almost $125 million in 2016. Also, in the period from November 2013 to March 2014, the company purchased 28 Capesize vessels for a total cost of $1.5 billion but all were eventually sold at a combined recorded loss of $400 million.

CEO Mr. Emanuele Lauro, grandson of the late Italian ship owner Mr. Glauco Lolli Ghetti, is the Co-Founder of Scorpio Bulkers Inc. and has been the company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since 2013. He has also been the Vice President of the Chamber of Shipping of Monaco since 2006. In 2013 Mr. Lauro was voted No.2 in the Llloyds List top 100 most influential people in shipping on the back of the company placing more newbuilding orders than anyone else in the dry bulk and tanker sectors that year. Unfortunately he was subsequently quoted as saying “there is never a more appropriate time to take action than when you realize you made a mistake”.

Located in Jiangyin city, Jiangsu Province, Chengxi shipyard Co. Ltd. is one of the largest shiprepair and newbuilding enterprises under China State Shipbuilding Corporation with capacity to build vessels of up to 300,000 DWT.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.


Friday, 17 February 2017 14:19

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An immaculate and pretty impressive sight as she passed under the Lions Gate Bridge on Monday (Family Day) this week on her inbound leg to Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Terminal was the Greek owned Aframax tanker Aqualegend.

Built by in 2012 Samsung Shipbuilding & Heavy Industries, Geoje, South Korea
Owned and operated by Unisea Shipping, Athens
LOA 249m
Beam 44m
GRT 61,237 tons
DWT 115,571 MT

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Aqualegend is seen alongside Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Terminal, above left, and under the escort of a Seaspan tug off Victoria, above right.

Unisea Shipping was established in 2005 to operate tankers and bulk carriers with an emphasis on safe, secure, efficient and environmentally friendly shipping. The company manages its activities through the Greek office located in the Athens suburb of Kifissia and through Unisea Philippines Inc., Manila.

Following recent project approvals received from both the Federal and Provincial Governments, the board of Kinder Morgan is shortly expected to make a Final Investment Decision on expansion of pipeline capacity from Alberta to the Westridge terminal from 300,000 barrels/day to around 890,000 barrels/day. Construction would then begin in September 2017 with a view to completion in late 2019  and having the terminal operational in early 2020. In addition to an additional (and larger diameter) pipeline to be built, mostly along the existing right of way, the project includes expansion of oil storage capacity and the construction of three new load berths.

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Crude oil tanker spot rates continue to be subject to variable supply and demand pressures. As shown in the above graph, a fleet utilization of around 94% in 2015 was a bumper year for owners but has since tailed off to below 90%. This is placing pressure on rates but within the numbers there are considerable regional variations. Fleet growth and reduced demolition is also a problem.

Despite the country’s well documented economic challenges, Greece retains its position as the world’s leading ship owning nation having control of around 18% of the world fleet with 333m DWT in service and a further 40m DWT on order. While Greek owners have diversified into other shipping sectors, primary focus continues to be on the tanker (35%) and dry bulk ( 47%) sectors. The balance of the fleet consists of container ships (11%) and gas carriers (4%), the balance being mostly ferries in the domestic trades.

The Greek fleet is valued at a staggering $90 billion which is third in the rankings behind the US due to the value weighting of the cruise fleet. Greek owners also continue to be the number one buyers in the sale and purchase market.

Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.