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After Brussels Terror Attack, Obama Says No Need for a ‘Plan B’ Against ISIS

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  • As First US Shale Gas Reaches Europe

A day after terrorists launched a wave of bomb blasts in Belgium’s capital, President Barack Obama was faced with questions Wednesday over whether the deadly attacks have made him rethink his strategy on crushing ISIS — and if he has a “plan B.”

His answers emphasized what he sees as recent successes in the fight to dismantle the terror group, vowing that it would ultimately be destroyed.

But with scores dead and wounded in the heart of Europe’s de facto capital, the president brushed aside critics who say his strategy against ISIS is too cautious against an enemy keen on slaughtering civilians.

“What I have been clear about is when it comes to defending the United States or its allies and our core interests, I will not hesitate to use military force where necessary,” Obama said, deflecting criticism that he’s been too reluctant to deploy U.S. troops on the battlefield.

“But how we do that is important. We don’t just go ahead and blow something up just so that we can go back home and say we blew something up,” said the president, who is making his first official state visit to Argentina.

He would not directly answer a question about whether more attacks are inevitable. But defeating ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the coordinated carnage in Paris last November as well as in Brussels, is the most pressing issue, he said.

“It is the top priority of my national security team. It is the top priority of our military. It is the top priority of our intelligence officers. It is the top priority of our diplomats,” he said. “But we are approaching this in a way that has a chance of working — and it will work.”

The Obama administration’s strategy to dismantle ISIS continues to be an extremely sensitive issue during America’s increasingly contentious election cycle.

In recent weeks, the president and his administration have been trumpeting what they insist has been a turning point in the campaign against ISIS: Retaking 40 percent of the territory ISIS captured in Iraq and Syria; coordinating some 10,000 airstrikes, leaving the leadership “hunkered down”; and reducing the flow of foreign fighters transiting back and forth between Europe and ISIS-held territory.

And Obama has been unsparing in his counterattacks on Republicans such as Donald Trump, who has controversially called for a wall to be built along the border with Mexico and the banning of Muslims from entering the United States.

While in Argentina, Obama also took a swipe at GOP presidential nominee Sen. Ted Cruz, who wants more aggressive patrolling and monitoring of Muslim neighborhoods in America.

“As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which, by the way, the father of Sen. Cruz escaped for America, the land of the free,” Obama said, referring to Cuba, where he had traveled fromfollowing a historic trip.

“The notion that we would start down that slippery slope makes absolutely no sense,” he added. “It’s contrary to who we are.”

Administration officials, meanwhile, said there was no plan to change the president’s itinerary and return to Washington, D.C., as the hunt for those responsible for the Brussels attacks intensifies. He plans to travel Thursday with the first lady and their daughters to the Patagonia region in the southern part of Argentina, a popular tourist destination known for its crystal clear lakes and panoramic mountains, for a day of leisure activities before returning home.

On Tuesday, Obama faced criticism for attending a baseball game in Cuba with President Raul Castro hours after the deadly terror attacks in Europe.

“It’s very important for us not to respond with fear,” Obama said, responding to the criticism.

He noted Boston’s response to the marathon bombings in 2013, saying the people “taught us a lesson” by grieving and apprehending the bombers. In a few days, “folks went out shopping” and filled Fenway Park for a baseball game where attendees proudly sang the national anthem, Obama recalled.

The president insisted that remaining “resolute” and “steady” would ultimately end with obliterating ISIS.

“Groups like (ISIS) can’t destroy us, they can’t defeat us,” he said. “They’re not an existential threat to us.”

In the meantime, the INEOS Intrepid gas carrier, owned by Swiss chemicals company INEOS, has arrived at the company’s petrochemicals plant at Rafnes in Norway, the company confirmed, thus marking the first ever shipment of US shale to Europe.

The ship was loaded with 27,500m3 of US shale gas ethane.

“Shale gas economics has revitalised US manufacturing, it has the potential to do the same for European manufacturing,” says Jim Ratcliffe, the chairman and founder of INEOS.

The INEOS Intrepid is currently one of four specially designed Dragon class ships that will form part of a fleet of eight of the world’s largest ethane capable carriers.

INEOS, which has invested USD 2 billion bringing US shale gas to Europe, intends to use the ethane from US shale gas in its two gas crackers at Rafnes and Grangemouth, both as a fuel and as a feedstock. To receive the gas, INEOS has built the largest two ethane gas storage tanks in Europe at Rafnes in Norway and Grangemouth in Scotland.

It is expected that shipments to Grangemouth will start later this year.

The project has included the design and long term charter of all eight Dragon class ships which are set to create a virtual pipeline across the Atlantic; connection to the new 300 mile Mariner East pipeline from the Marcellus shale in Western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook deep water terminal near Philadelphia, together with new export facilities and storage tanks.

“We are nearing the end of a hugely ambitious project that has taken us five years and cost USD 2 billion, as we begin supply of ethane from shale to our sites in Europe. This is a world first and I am incredibly proud of everyone involved in it. I believe that INEOS is one of very companies in the world who could have successfully pulled this off,” Ratcliffe adds.

NBC with additional report from World Maritime News

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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