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Shipwreck Corpses Brought Ashore in Malta…. As Another Boat Sinks Off Greece

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European Union foreign ministers met on Monday under pressure to produce more than words and save desperate migrants drowning in the Mediterranean, as bodies of the deadliest known wreck of its kind were brought ashore in Malta.
The death toll from Sunday’s disaster off the coast of Libya was uncertain but likely to be the highest in modern times among migrants trafficked in rickety boats across the Mediterranean. Officials said there had been at least 700 people on board, some reportedly locked in the hold. It comes days after another wreck believed to have killed around 400 people.
Hundreds of kilometres (miles) to the east, coast guards were struggling to save migrants from another vessel destroyed after running aground off the Greek island of Rhodes.
Greek coast guards said at least three people were killed there. Television pictures showed survivors clinging to floating debris while rescuers pulled them from the waves.
The International Organization for Migration said three more vessels had sent out distress calls on Monday.
European officials are struggling to come up with a policy to respond more humanely to an exodus of migrants travelling by sea from Africa and Asia to Europe, without worsening the crisis by encouraging more to leave. [ID:nL5N0XH18S]
An Italian naval operation in the southern Mediterranean, known as “Mare Nostrum”, was cancelled last year because of its cost and domestic opposition to sea rescues that could encourage more migration.
It was replaced in November by a far smaller EU mission with a third of the budget, a decision that seems to have made the journey much deadlier for migrants packed into rickety vessels by traffickers who promise a better life in Europe.
“This is a humanitarian emergency that involves us all,” the International Organization for Migration’s Italy Director Federico Soda said, calling for a mission equivalent to the Italian operation to be relaunched immediately.
As many as 1,500 migrants have already died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year, on course to far exceed the 3,200 people the IOM estimates died making the journey last year, given that the summer peak has not yet begun. Fewer than 100 of last year’s deaths took place before May.
The IOM says more than 21,000 people have made the journey so far this year, comparable to 26,000 by the end of April last year, but with a death toll so far around 15 times as high.
REALITY HITS US IN THE FACE
“The reputation of Europe is at stake,” said Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni. “I have been saying for weeks and months that Europe has to do more, now unfortunately the reality has hit us in the face.”
The vessel overturned and sank off the coast of Libya on Sunday when passengers rushed to one side to attract attention from a passing merchant ship. A Bangladeshi survivor told police there had been 950 passengers onboard, according to the IOM.
In the Maltese capital Valletta, coast-guard officers brought ashore the 24 corpses found so far. Wearing white protective suits, they carried the victims in body-bags off the Italian ship Gregoretti and deposited them in hearses as survivors looked on from the deck.
Twenty-eight survivors rescued so far will be taken on the same boat to the Sicilian port of Catania.
In Greece more than 90 people were rescued from the boat that was wrecked off the coast of Rhodes.
“We have recovered three bodies so far – that of a man, a woman and a child,” a coast guard official said.
Europe’s politicians face criticism from aid and human rights groups that they have been abandoning those in need of help to pander to anti-immigrant sentiment among the electorates in their home countries.
European foreign ministers held a moment of silence at the start of their meeting in Luxembourg.
However there are differing views among them about what needs to be done, from ramping up costly search and rescue operations to trying to intervene in lawless Libya, where the vast majority of migrant boats depart.
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Monday the United Nations should mandate a force to intervene directly in Libya to disrupt or attack people-traffickers and stop the boats from setting off. France called for a bigger search and rescue at sea.
Lawlessness in Libya, where two rival governments are fighting for control, has made it almost impossible to police the criminal gangs who can charge thousands of dollars to bring mainly sub-Saharan Africans to Europe.
Only last week around 400 migrants were reported to have died attempting to reach Italy from Libya when their boat capsized.
Northern European Union countries have so far largely left rescue operations to southern states such as Italy. According to the IOM, Italian coast guards have rescued 10,000 migrants in the Mediterranean in the past few days, reports Reuters.

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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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ADEBAYO SARUMI: Doyen of Maritime Industry Marks 80th Anniversary, Saturday 

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