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Migrant Boat Capsizes Off Egypt, Killing at Least 42

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  • As Two Oil Tankers Collide Off Belgium

A boat carrying African migrants headed to Europe capsized off the Mediterranean coast near the Egyptian city of Alexandria on Wednesday, killing at least 42 people, Egyptian authorities said.

The army gave the toll in a statement, saying it had “thwarted an illegal immigration attempt” and that the boat had been 12 nautical miles off the coast when it sank.

In the city of Rosetta, Egyptian families gathered near the harbor urging authorities to do more in their search and rescue effort for their loved ones who were among the lost.

“We have been telling the authorities from 5:30 a.m., that the boat is sinking, and they were saying they had no rescue boats, and no one was moving,” said Hassan Suleiman Daoud, a relative of one of the migrants.

Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said that the total number of dead was still unknown. Local official Alaa Osman from Beheira province said the migrants were from several African countries. He said over 150 people have been rescued so far but that bodies are still being pulled from the water.

Egypt’s official news agency MENA said the boat was carrying 600 people when it sank near the coast, some 112 miles north of the capital, Cairo. Osman said the boat had likely come from Kafr el-Sheik province, further to the east.

Thousands of illegal migrants have made the dangerous sea voyage across the Mediterranean in recent years fleeing war and poverty, mostly via lawless Libya. Thousands have drowned.

The number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Egypt to Europe has increased significantly in the past year, EU border agency Frontex said earlier this month. More than 12,000 migrants arrived in Italy from Egypt between January and September, compared to 7,000 in the same period last year, it said.

Experts say smugglers in Egypt mostly use old fishing vessels, stuffed way beyond capacity both below and above deck.

New and more dangerous smuggling practices and attempts to reach Europe by riskier routes have led to a spike in the number of migrants dying as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean, the International Organization for Migration said in a report last month.

It said newer routes, particularly from Egypt, are longer and riskier, leading to search and rescue efforts often being carried out farther away from land. It said 2,901 people died or disappeared crossing the Mediterranean in the first six months of 2016, a 37 percent increase over the first six months of last year.

Last May, hundreds of migrants died after a wooden boat coming from Libya capsized, even as the Italian navy rushed to the rescue. European rescue boats, including naval vessels, often patrol off the Libyan coast to prevent such disasters.

The migrant crisis has proven deeply divisive in Europe, which has struggled to come up with a unified response. Right-wing nationalist parties opposed to taking in more migrants and refugees have made gains, including in Germany, which has accepted more migrants than any other European country.

Migrants rescued by the Italian navy near Europe’s southern borders are brought to processing centers and offered accommodation while they apply for asylum. But many of the thousands registered each month travel further onwards toward Europe’s richer north, in hopes of settling there.

More than 60,000 migrants and refugees are stranded in transit in Greece — just across the Mediterranean from Egypt — and those who arrived after March 20 have been restricted to five Aegean islands under an EU-brokered deal to deport them back to Turkey. The agreement has been fraught with delays, however, and most of the people in island camps have applied for asylum in Greece, launching a lengthy process during which they cannot be deported.

In the meantime, two oil tankers suffered little damage after they collided in the morning hours of September 21, according to Belgian Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC).

The vessels in question are the 50,215 dwt Ridgebury Katherine Z and the 73,334 dwt Maistros, both built in 2009.

The cause of the incident, which occurred in the Belgian part of the Noth Sea some 30 km off the coast of Ostend, is still unknown, according to the authority.

An investigation into the sequence of events that led to the collision is underway.

MRCC added that there were no injuries to the crew members aboard the tankers, and there were no reports of an oil spill at the site.

Maistros continued its voyage towards the port of Antwerp, while Ridgebury Katherine Z remained at anchor off Antwerp.

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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