Planet MUNZ Local 10

Maritime Union of New ZealandNo one is safe until we are all safe

Are you a transport worker? Add your name to the open letter from transport workers calling on the UK, Germany and Swiss governments to make vaccines available to all.

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionILWU support letter to IATSE

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionEd Asner, actor, labor leader and longtime friend of the ILWU

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionBellingham longshore workers play key role in Columbia River jetty repair

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionPaul Trani, former President of ILWU Local 63

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionSoCal unions celebrate Labor Day with solidarity, mutual aid

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionILWU stands behind San Diego warehouse workers seeking union recognition

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionVideo message from President Willie Adams: Solidarity with the MUA

Maritime Union of New ZealandNew Zealand maritime workers back Fremantle port workers

The Maritime Union of New Zealand is backing Fremantle port workers in their dispute with Qube Stevedores.

Maritime Union of New ZealandInterisland ferry problems show need for rebuilding coastal shipping

It is urgent New Zealand rebuild a New Zealand flagged and crewed coastal shipping fleet that can provide reliable and efficient service for regional ports and inter-island trade.

Maritime Union of New ZealandNew Zealand shipping answer to supply chain crisis

As concerns about New Zealand’s supply chain grow, the Maritime Union says the answers are there to alleviate shipping and port congestion.

Maritime Union of New ZealandExplanation demanded on Ports’ monster payout to ex-CEO

The Maritime Union of New Zealand is backing efforts to uncover why a million-dollar payment (on top of salary) was made to former Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson following his resignation earlier this year.

Maritime Union of New ZealandAuckland port workers call for worker representation on Board

There are “1.7 million reasons” why this should happen immediately, following revelations on a payout made to former CEO Tony Gibson, who resigned in May.

Maritime Union of New ZealandPorts of Auckland CEO payout “unreal”

A massive payout to the former CEO of Ports of Auckland is an insult to port workers, Auckland ratepayers, and the families of those who have died at Ports of Auckland.

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionMaritime fuel workers win union in Tacoma supply chain

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionAngela Davis made an honorary member of Local 10 in Juneteenth induction ceremony

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionLocal 19 members celebrate Juneteenth to protect the port & save the historic home of Frank Jenkins

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionHonoring Bloody Thursday in uncertain times

Maritime Union of New ZealandVale John Coombs

The Maritime Union of New Zealand has paid tribute to former Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary John Coombs, who died on 1 September 2021.

Maritime Union of New ZealandMaritime Union flags concerns over coastal tanker threat

New Zealand’s energy security is under threat as New Zealand flagged coastal tankers face an uncertain future.

Maritime Union of New ZealandMaritime Union statement on port worker vaccination

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says misinformation is threatening health and safety in ports.

Maritime Union of New ZealandCOVID: Looking after your mental wellbeing

It’s all right not to be all right. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on how we interact with others, our work, study and many other aspects of our daily lives. Everyone reacts differently to difficult events, and some may find this time more challenging than others.

Maritime Union of New ZealandPosthumous medal applications – Merchant Navy

To make a posthumous Medal Application to the NZ Defence Force for World War 2 medals for your Grandfather, a seaman and member of the NZ Seaman’s Union, crewing on a ship of the ‘merchant navy of New Zealand’ on New Zealand coastal voyages, during World War 2.

Maritime Union of New ZealandMUNZ Statement on Vaccination

The Maritime Union of New Zealand Incorporated National Council Meeting held on the 11–12 August 2021 recommends and supports our members being vaccinated for the Covid 19 virus. But also recognises the freedom of choice for our members and encourages them to make an informed decision.

Maritime Union of New ZealandMerchant Navy Day, Auckland Commemoration Service 3 September 2021

This September 3, help commemorate those who served and lost their lives in the Merchant Navy. The New Zealand Maritime

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionThe ILWU urges members to vote NO on the anti-union effort to recall Governor Newsom

Maritime Union of New ZealandImportant COVID vaccination information for Port of Tauranga workers

The Government’s latest border order makes Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for some groups of port workers (those subject to the current testing requirements).

Maritime Union of New ZealandMaritime Union welcomes charges against former Ports of Auckland CEO

The individual facing charges for the 2020 death of a worker at the Ports of Auckland is former CEO Tony Gibson.

Maritime Union of New ZealandMaritime Union welcomes charges against Ports of Auckland following 2020 death

The charges follow an independent health and safety review that found systemic issues with the management health and safety culture at POAL.

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionILWU Statement on the Passing of Richard Trumka

Maritime Union of New ZealandTauranga COVID alarm reinforces need to stay on guard

A COVID alarm aboard a vessel in the Port of Tauranga is a reminder that strict processes at ports are essential to protect New Zealand from exposure.

Maritime Union of New ZealandWomen’s Conference 2021

After months of planning alongside, a strong group of 24 MUNZ Women from around New Zealand attended the Council of Trade Unions Biannual Women’s Conference in Wellington on 19 and 20 July 2021.

Maritime Union of New ZealandCase for New Zealand shipping now urgent

There is a growing realisation that New Zealand needs shipping capability to ensure reliable and secure services.

Maritime Union of New ZealandMaritime Union calls for New Zealand shipping to resolve supply chain crisis

There needs to be innovative responses to ongoing shipping congestion.

Maritime Union of New ZealandCaution required with more COVID cases on overseas vessels

A recent spike in COVID cases amongst overseas crew members is concerning port workers.

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionAll Creatures Animal Hospital workers vote to unionize

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionStronger Together: ILWU comes together at historic virtual 38th International Convention

Maritime Union of New ZealandUnions back mandatory vaccination for port workers

The two main unions representing New Zealand port workers are backing the Government move to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for port workers.

Maritime Union of New ZealandCrew welfare needs to be considered in Viking Bay case

Problems with quarantine for sick crew members aboard the Viking Bay show processes need to be tightened up.

Maritime Union of New ZealandInfected crew members highlight a weak point in border security

Two COVID-positive foreign crew members are self-isolating on the Spanish-flagged deep sea fishing vessel Viking Bay off the Taranaki coast.

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionLocal 6 members at Stratas Foods in Fresno take a stand for fair wages

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionWest Coast ITF Inspectors assist in vaccinating seafarers

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionIBU fights to protect jurisdiction, area wage standards on tugs and barges in LA/Long Beach

Maritime Union of New ZealandPort of Tauranga is responsible for worker harm

The Maritime Union has backed calls by whistle blowers at Port of Tauranga who have come forward after suffering serious workplace injuries.

Maritime Union of New ZealandNew Zealand’s deepening supply chain crisis

New Zealand is facing a deepening crisis in our maritime supply chain, which requires bold thinking and speedy action to fix.

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionILWU May Day 2021: Remembering the past, fighting for the future

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionILWU Statement on VTA rail yard shooting

                    Download a PDF of the statement here    

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionILWU Statement in Solidarity with Dockworkers in Montreal

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionILWU Statement on the Derek Chauvin Verdict

Real justice means an end to systemic racism in this country.

International Longshore and Warehouse UnionPresident’s Message, March 2021

Felixstowe DockersTrouble at Port of Felixstowe leaves UK bookseller with no books

A UK book publisher says congestion at Felixstowe Port has left it with no books to sell in the lead up to Christmas.

Colin Hoad and Matt Green run a publishing company, Idesine, which has 4,000 books stuck on a ship that has been trying to dock since 31 October.

They are one of many businesses encountering problems importing goods.

Importers say congestion issues at UK ports have led to shipping firms quadrupling their freight costs.

"People are contacting us saying they've paid for books on pre-order as gifts, and we ultimately can't guarantee delivery," Mr Hoad said.

Delays at Felixstowe have been caused by a surge in import traffic as companies increased orders after the initial lockdown and some looked to stockpile goods before the end of the Brexit transition period.

The pandemic has made matters worse as large orders of PPE added to the backlog of containers on the quayside.

The port's owner, Hutchison UK, has said it is in the process of recruiting an additional 104 equipment drivers plus a number of engineers to help solve the problem.

But congestion at England's ports is now so bad, some shipping firms have limited the amount of cargo they will bring to the UK.

One of the world's biggest shipping lines, CMA CGM, told the BBC it was allocating less space on its fleet for UK imports for the time being.

"UK ports are currently experiencing yard and port congestion mostly in Felixstowe, and in London Gateway and Southampton to a lesser extent," said a spokeswoman for CMA CGM Group.

"We are controlling import volumes while maximising empty container evacuation wherever possible."

Empty containers waiting to be shipped back to Asia are causing traffic jams at ports across Europe and North America. That could have knock-on effects for companies' Christmas orders, said Peter Wilson, managing director of the UK freight forwarder Cory Brothers.

"We are already seeing that goods due by Christmas… are very unlikely to arrive because they're in their origin ports, waiting for containers," he said.

Causing even further headaches for importers, shipping companies have sharply increased freight prices in response to the congestion at UK ports - some by as much as 300%.

"What the lines are trying to do is to dissuade people sending stuff to the UK," said Alan Joseph, operations director of The Cotswold Company, which imports some of its wooden furniture from Asia.

This week, a freight company quoted a price of $8,000 to transport a 40ft container from Asia to the UK.

"At the end of September, market rates were less than a quarter of that, at $1,700 per unit," Mr Joseph said.

Furniture seller Alan Joseph has seen shipping costs quadruple in recent weeks

He added that while individual businesses will negotiate unique import costs based on the volume of goods they want to move, at the moment, prices are increasing across the board. And there are few alternatives for businesses whose goods are manufactured overseas.

"Airlines are not moving as much cargo because there are fewer passenger flights. The railway from China to Germany is now quoting rates in excess of $10,000 per container - which is not much of an option."

He said two other shipping firms are now refusing bookings for importing refrigerated containers to the UK.

"It's a worrying sign that big shipping lines are drastically reducing UK volumes because so much of the imports in the UK arrive through our ports, and if there's less coming there are less supplies of everything that gets imported."

Importing stock is also becoming increasingly difficult for Joe Burgwin, who is head of supply chain at the garden furniture firm Supremo Leisure, based in Telford. The business has been booming recently as the virus led to people spending more on their outdoor spaces.

Joe Burgwin says his freight costs have more than doubled.

"Previously for us, shipping cost $1,400-$1,500 tops per 40ft unit, which was manageable," he said.

"Now in negotiations with freight companies, prices have more than doubled and there are fears it could move even higher. We're predicting this to last until at least January, which makes business planning pretty challenging."

'Incredibly frustrating'

The ship carrying books belonging to publisher Idesine was originally supposed to dock at Felixstowe at the end of October, but the port was too busy so it was diverted to Europe.

Since Saturday, the ship has been moored outside Felixstowe waiting for a berthing slot.

After launching the company in June, Matt Green now has 2,500 pre-paid orders waiting to be delivered.

"It's incredibly frustrating that we can't get the book into our customers' hands," he said. "We just hope that we can do it before Christmas."

Congestion at Felixstowe Port could last into the new year

Shipping analysts say ports across the world are battling to manage the surging demand for imports, and Felixstowe has struggled to cope.

"At the moment, the port has become a bottleneck because other elements of the supply chain have got out of balance," said Eleanor Hadland, a ports analyst at the maritime consultancy Drewry.

She said getting a berthing slot at Felixstowe "is like trying to get a Tesco delivery in the beginning of lockdown".

"Partly that's because of Covid, partly Brexit preparation and a lot of external factors which have resulted in ports reporting congestion. But Felixstowe could have dealt better with these external challenges," she said.

Hutchison UK has warned congestion at Felixstowe Port could continue into the new year.

Felixstowe DockersVideo: World's First Night-time Drone Delivery From Shore to Ship



Singaporean maritime drone company F-drones has completed what it believes to be the first commercial drone delivery at night. The company flew a package out to the bulker Berge Sarstein, owned by Berge Bulk, marking a new milestone for drone operations at the Port of Singapore.

In the test, F-drones' unit carried a 3D-printed part weighing three kilos out to the Berge Sarstein at her anchorage. The flying distance was about three nautical miles, and the drone completed the flight in just seven minutes. The payload was the world’s first 3D-printed, CE-certified lifting tool (a tripod-shaped jig for lifting engine pistons), which was designed and printed by engine manufacturer Wartsila. It was delivered in partnership with Wilhelmsen Group. 

Globally, commercial drone deliveries are limited to daylight hours due to the technical and operational challenges of night operations. As ports around the world operate round the clock, the capability for night flights would allow drone operators to compete with small-boat operators for vessel delivery services day and night. F-drones suggests that this would improve safety (by reducing pilot ladder operations) and speed up the delivery of critical parts and supplies. 

F-drones is also conducting autonomous test flights of its own new in-house drone design, which is built to handle deliveries of five-kilo loads - the largest payload in its class - over a distance of 25 nm. The company says that it has completed more than 100 autonomous flights with the new drone system since the start of the year. With a top speed of nearly 80 knots, the new unit is designed for rapid deliveries. Commercial launch is scheduled for 2021. 

“Traditional means of transport are expensive, slow, labor and carbon intensive. F-drones’ solutions aid the maritime industry to reduce 80 percent of the costs, time and CO2 emissions. Besides being efficient, delivery drones can also reduce unnecessary human contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic," said Nicolas Ang, the company's co-founder.

Felixstowe DockersBoris Johnson’s Offshore Wind Plan Will Require $58 Billion from Industry

Dudgeon offshore wind farmA view of Equinor’s Dudgeon offshore wind farm off North Norfolk, England. Photo: Equinor

By William Mathis (Bloomberg) — Boris Johnson’s plan to quadruple the size of the U.K. offshore wind industry will require $58 billion of investment and careful management of what’s a tricky building process in some of the world’s roughest waters.

The prime minister is targeting turbines with the capacity to produce 40 gigawatts of electricity by 2030, up from more than 10 gigawatts now. That would speed the nation’s shift away from fossil fuels and help it meet a goal of zeroing out carbon pollution by the middle of the century.

The difficulty is managing so many large infrastructure projects at once. Turbines these days are massive, with blades as big as a jumbo jet’s wingspan. They require highly specialized ships with giant cranes to do the installation, and developers compete to hire the few vessels that can do that work. The money needed to build all those facilities will require steady government policies that ensure the likes of Orsted A/S and Vestas Wind Systems A/S get paid regardless of political change.

“It’s hard, but it’s possible,” said Tom Harries, offshore wind analyst at BloombergNEF.

More Offshore

The goal Johnson set out in his speech to the ruling Conservative Party’s annual conference also would maintain the lead the U.K. built in offshore wind over Denmark and Germany. The government is keen to highlight that position as the U.K. separates from the European Union and prepares to host the United Nations climate talks in Glasgow next year.

Johnson’s remarks amount to a statement of political intent, a reassurance for industries that policies on whose power feeds into the grid will be tilted in favor of renewables and especially offshore wind power. Just seven years ago, Johnson was skeptical of wind power and favored nuclear energy. Since then, the price of atomic plants has surged while the cost of turbines that work offshore plunged. That forced a rethink within government, which increasinly favors wind as a primary source of clean energy.

Price Plummet

Reassurance is crucial for wind developers. Unlike the oil companies, where drillers probe for for reservoirs and then worry later about how to sell it, wind developers generally leave investment decisions until after they’ve pinned down contracts setting a price for the electricity they will produce.

Words alone don’t guarantee that such a massive building project is delivered on time. The turbines needed to supply 40 gigawatts of power may cover an area of the sea close to 9,500 square kilometers, six times the size of greater London, according to BNEF.

Britain increasingly is competing for the resources to build offshore wind farms. As the industry spreads to new markets, the limited fleet of these specialized vessels and cranes large enough to lift massive turbines is spread thin. A delay in one project or a storm that delays a voyage from one project to the next could create a domino effect of delays.

There’s also the issue of the electric grid. Conventional power plants were built relatively close to population centers in the southern part of England. Wind farms off the east coast and in Scotland are much farther away and will require millions in new spending to improve the network.

“There’s not enough capacity in the grid near the coast to enable that much wind capacity,” said Simon Cox, offshore wind business manager at consultant DNV GL. “There’s going to need to be significant investment.”

The grid could also cause issues with keeping projects on time. To get the power to land, offshore developers have to dig up the coast line to install cables and other infrastructure to link with the grid. Residents of England’s coastal communities are starting to complain about all the disturbance. Those issues and others from the fishing industry and environmental groups could delay permitting processes to push projects to completion after the 2030 target.

The U.K.’s network operator National Grid Plc is currently consulting on a plan to link wind parks together to cut down on the industry’s impact on the countryside. It could save billions of dollars in the coming decades, but likely won’t be in place for projects that will be built this decade.

Green Jobs

Johnson doesn’t simply want to build up electric capacity, he wants to create jobs. Offshore wind already employs about 11,000 people, according to the industry group Renewable U.K. That’s set to rise to 27,000 full time jobs by 2030.

Still, the U.K. has lagged in offshore wind manufacturing. While it leads on capacity, it remains behind Spain, Denmark and Germany among European manufacturers of offshore wind turbine components. The massive steel foundations and platforms known as jackets for the turbines are made abroad in bigger ports.

“At the moment we can do blades, we can do cables, we can do some steel works, but we can’t do much else,” said Gary Bills, regional director for Europe, Middle East and Africa at energy consultants K2 Management. “We’re going to be the world’s leading industry with very little capability in house.”

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Felixstowe DockersVirus Outbreak Halts Shipbuilding at Norwegian Yard

The New Hayard Ship Technology shipyard in Leirvik, Norway. Photo: Havyard Group

Officials have extended the temporary closure of the Havyard shipyard in Leirvik, Norway until at least October 19 after more workers tested positive for COVID-19.

All shipyard activities were originally closed on September 30 after four people tested positive for the virus. On October 2, Havyard said 17 people had been diagnosed with the virus out of 200 tested.

As of today, the number of cases has now jumped to 75 with 495 tested, according to Havyard.

“In order to prevent further spreading of the virus and to gain control of the situation, Hyllestad municipality has today, pursuant to the Infection Control Act, decided to keep the yard business further closed until 19 October 2020. Such a decision may be extended until it is deemed safe to reopen the production,” Havyard said in a statement.

The shipyard in Leirvik , Norway belongs to New Havyard Ship Technology AS, a subsidiary of Havyard Group ASA. According to the company’s website, the shipyard completes around four to six new builds per year and employs 400 to 500 employees and subcontractors.

Havyard’s current backlog stands at six vessels, including three live fish carriers and three wind farm service operations vessels (SOVs), according to its website.

Today’s update said it is “foreseeable” that the extended shutdown will now likely lead to delayed deliveries, and any delay will depend on the extent of the shutdown and what measures that can be implemented to make up for the lost production time.

Felixstowe DockersCargo Ship Breaks Tow, Grounds in Vietnam


Photo shows a severe hog in the ship’s hull.

An end-of-life cargo ship under tow to breakers lost its tow and become grounded along the east coast of Vietnam.

The owners of the MV Jakarta, NKD Maritime Limited, said the vessel went aground on October 10 during very heavy weather and sea conditions.

The vessel was under tow at the time and is not carrying any cargo or fuel. It was also unmanned at the time.

NKD Maritime is a UK-based cash buyer of end of life ships for dismantling in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Reports indicate that the Jakartar was under tow to Alang at the time of the incident.

Images of the vessel aground show a severe hog in the ship’s hull with a large crack amidships indicating that the vessel is at risk of breaking in half.

The MV Jakarta, built in 2002, was formerly the CMA CGM Jakarta.

All crew from the towing vessel are safe and accounted for, NKD Maritime said.

“NKD Maritime would like to thank all those assisting to resolve this situation in a safe manner,” the company said.

Felixstowe DockersUS Navy’s New ‘Affordable’ $1.2 Billion Ship

Navy Broken Fleet Zumwalt LCSAlbatross’s of the US Navy: The $8B+ USS Zumwalt sails alongside a littoral combat ship (LCS). Both classes of vessels have failed to meet US Navy expectations. Photographer: Navy Media Content Service

The successor to the $30b troubled littoral ship project was billed as affordable but the Congressional Budget Office projects $12.3 billion for just 10 new frigates.

The Navy also warned CBO there’s a 50% chance the first two ships would exceed their cost estimates

By Anthony Capaccio (Bloomberg) The first 10 vessels in the Navy’s new frigate program may cost $12.3 billion, or 40% more than the service calculated, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a new sign of looming trouble for plans to expand the U.S. fleet.

US-Navy-Constellation-class-frigate-renderingAn artist rendering of the U.S. Navy FFG(X) Constellation-class guided-missile frigate. U.S. Navy graphic.

The assessment released late Tuesday projects the frigates will cost an average of $1.2 billion apiece in inflation-adjusted dollars in contrast to the Navy’s estimate of $870 million each. It’s an early setback for a ship billed as a more versatile and better-armed replacement for the troubled Littoral Combat Ship, a $30B program that was truncated because of mechanical flaws, light armament and vulnerability to attack.

The Navy is counting on an affordable frigate as a key component in its effort to meet President Donald Trump’s goal of 355 deployable ships by 2035, up from about 299 today. Defense Secretary Mark Esper set out an even more ambitious goal last week of a 500-ship Navy by 2045 that would include unmanned vessels of unknown weight, capabilities and cost.

“If the Navy’s procurement cost estimates” for the frigate “prove accurate, the ship would be, by far, the least expensive surface combatant that the Navy has bought since 1970 — measured in cost-per-thousand tons of displacement,” the budget office said. “That would apply to both the lead ship and the average cost of the first 10 ships.”

Its fiscal 2021 cost estimates for the second through 10th frigates “are at the very low end of the range” established at the outset of a competition that was won by Fincantieri SpA in April, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Navy also told CBO there’s a 50% chance the first two ships would exceed their cost estimates and a 60% chance the third through 10th ships would as well.

Littoral Ships

Esper’s vision calls for a fleet of 60 to 70 “small surface combatants” that includes the frigates — which will be equipped with guided missiles — and Littoral Combat Ships, a quantity the Congressional Research Service said implies buying more than the 20 frigates currently planned.

Despite the decision to cut short the Littoral Combat Ship program, the Navy still has 35 on contract, with 19 delivered as of March. The LCS is built in two versions: One by Trieste, Italy-based Fincantieri in a joint venture with Lockheed Martin Corp. based in Bethesda, Maryland, and the other by Henderson, Australia-based Austal Ltd.

CBO compared the frigate’s estimated cost with ships of similar tonnage and examined arguments supporting the Navy’s estimate, such as Fincantieri’s long experience building small surface combatants vessels including, in this case, a design that’s been in production for years for the French and Italian navies.

It also looked at elements that “suggest the Navy’s estimate is too low,” such as the service’s star-crossed history in which “costs of all surface combatants since 1970, as measured per-thousand-tons, were higher” than initial estimates.

“Historically the Navy has almost always underestimated the cost of the lead ship, and a more expensive lead ship generally results in higher costs for the follow-on ships,” the budget analysts said.

The report cited the cost growth over initial estimates for the lead ship in other Navy programs, from 155% for one version of the Littoral Combat Ship, 84% on the San Antonio-class amphibious warfare vessel, 44% for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyer and 25% on the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, the costliest warship ever.

Compared with the design on which it’s based, the frigate “will be more densely built and will have somewhat more complex weapon systems,” CBO said.


Felixstowe DockersHere’s One Way To Avoid COVID19 – Set Your Ship Adrift In Arctic Ice

Research Vessel Polarstern Return

Research Vessel Polarstern returns from Arctic ice research. Photo via The Alfred Wegener institute

After more than a year in the Central Arctic, this Monday, 12 October, the research icebreaker Polarstern returned to her homeport in Bremerhaven. The event marked the end of a record-breaking expedition: never before had an icebreaker been near the North Pole in winter. Drifting with the ice, they endured the extreme cold, Arctic storms, a constantly changing flow while the rest of the world battled the coronavirus pandemic.

On 20 September 2019 Polarstern departed from the Norwegian port of Tromsø, bound for Arctic ocean ice. Once there, the ship allowed itself to become trapped in the ice, and began a one-year-long drift across the North Pole, completely at the mercy of natural forces – the route and speed were solely determined by the ice drift, powered by wind and currents.

Over the five legs of the expedition, a total of 442 researchers, Polarstern crewmembers, young investigators, teachers and press took part. Seven ships, several aircraft and more than 80 institutions from 20 countries were involved. The researchers, who hailed from 37 countries, had a common goal: to investigate complex interactions in the climate system between the atmosphere, ice and ocean, as well as life in the Central Arctic, to build better climate models.

Even when virtually every other expedition around the globe was canceled because of the pandemic, the entire team, this expedition was able to continue. In the early summer, Polarstern did have to briefly leave the ice floe for a personnel transfer. Four weeks later, a new team commenced fieldwork on the ice, continuing their efforts right up to the last day, when the floe (as predicted) reached the ice edge to the east of Greenland, began breaking up under the influence of the waves, and completed its typical lifecycle.

To explore the last piece of the puzzle in the sea ice’s annual cycle – the formation of new ice at summer’s end – the expedition then headed farther north, crossed the North Pole, and moored to a second floe in its vicinity.

““Climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity,” said Anja Karliczek, the German Federal Minister of Research. “Throughout their long months in the Arctic ice, the experts retrieved a unique wealth of data that will help to fill critical gaps in our understanding of the region, allowing us to more accurately evaluate our current climate models.”

The total cost of the expedition was ca. 150 million euros, with roughly two-thirds being contributed by Germany.

Felixstowe DockersCrew Kidnappings Surge in Gulf of Guinea


somali piracyFILE PHOTO: EU NAVFOR warship chasing down a suspected pirate ‘mothership’ off the coast of Somalia. File photo. Credit: EU NAVFOR

The number of seafarers kidnapped by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea has surged so far this as pirates abduct bigger groups of seafarers further offshore, the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reported Centre revealed today.

In the first nine months of 2020, the IMB reported a 40% uptick in the number of kidnappings reported in the Gulf. Worldwide, piracy and armed robbery at sea has also risen. The Bureau’s latest global piracy report, released today, details 132 attacks since the start of 2020, up from 119 incidents in the same period last year. Among the 85 seafarers kidnapped from their vessels and held for ransom, 80 were taken in the Gulf of Guinea in 14 separate attacks reported off Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana.

Combined with the on-going crew change crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers are currently facing “exceptional pressures,” the IMB said.

“Crews are facing exceptional pressures due to Covid-19, and the risk of violent piracy or armed robbery is an extra stress,” said Michael Howlett, Director of IMB, whose Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) has responded to reports and shared data since 1991, supporting seafarers and fishers worldwide. “While IMB liaises with authorities swiftly in case of a pirate attack, we encourage all Coastal states and Regional Cooperations to take responsibility for ensuring maritime security within their EEZ to achieve safer seas and secure trade.”

Gulf of Guinea Piracy

With approximately 95% of global kidnappings reported from within Gulf of Guinea waters, IMB warns that pirate gangs in the area are “well organized and targeting all vessel types over a wide range”.

The furthest attack from shore also involved the most crew kidnapped from a single vessel in 2020. On 17 July 2020, eight pirates armed with machine guns boarded a product tanker underway around 196 nautical miles southwest of Bayelsa, Nigeria. They held all 19 crewmembers hostage, stole ship’s documents and valuable items, and escaped with 13 kidnapped crew. The tanker was left drifting with limited and unqualified navigational and engine crew onboard. A nearby merchant vessel later helped the tanker to sail to a safe port.

Regional Authorities were notified and the 13 kidnapped crewmembers were released safely one month later.

A more recent example was on 8 September 2020, when armed pirates attacked a refrigerated cargo ship underway around 33nm south-southwest of Lagos, Nigeria. Two crewmembers were kidnapped, but the rest of the crew managed to retreat into the citadel – one of the industry’s recommended best practices endorsed by IMB. A Nigerian naval team was dispatched, who boarded, conducted a search, and then escorted the ship to a safe anchorage for investigations.

The IMB piracy report includes a special thanks to the Nigerian Authorities, particularly the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA who “continue to provide timely information, actions and valuable cooperation between Agencies”.

The IMB report also highlights knife attacks in the Singapore Straits. The Bureau recorded 15 attacks to ships underway in the area. It notes, that while most are considered low level crimes, two crew were threatened, one injured and another taken hostage, indicating a continued risk to the crew. Knives were reported in at least ten of the incidents, the Bureau said.

Indonesia Brighter

On a good note, the IMB reported a sharp quarterly decrease in the number of incidents within the Indonesian archipelagic, with four reported in Q3, down from 14 in Q2. These are also viewed as low level opportunistic thefts with most reported on anchored vessels.


In Somalia, once a hotbed for ship hijackings, no incidents of piracy have been reported around Somalia since 2019 and, in August, pirates released the last three of the thousands of hostages who have been held captive in the region over the years since ship hijackings peaked in 2011. Despite this, however, the IMB still urges vessels to continue implementing the industry’s best management practices (BMP5), and encourages the continued, stabilizing presence of navies in the region.

Call for More Reporting

The IMB report also warns that all vessel types in the Caribbean, Central and South America – including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico and Peru are being targeted at anchor as well as underway, and during river passages under pilotage.

In one incident on 26 September 2020, a container vessel was boarded by armed perpetrators during its river passage at Guayaquil. The attackers fired their weapons towards the accommodation and bridge, then opened containers and stole the contents before leaving.

Due to many more cases go unreported, the IMB is urging all ship masters and operators to inform, in a timely manner, the 24-hour IMB Piracy Reporting Centre of any attacks to their vessels or crew.

“Understanding the true risk in the area is an important step towards improving safety for all seafarers,” said Howlett. “IMB PRC not only relays reports to appropriate response agencies and broadcasts incident information to ships via GMDSS, but we also use the reported statistics to raise awareness of these crimes and be a catalyst of change.”

Felixstowe DockersShipping Industry Calls on EU for Plan to Safely Disembark Migrants

shipping leaders call on EU to ensure migrants disembark promptly
Migrants aboard the Maersk Etienne - courtesy Maersk Tankers

With the EU leaders putting forth a new plan to address Europe’s migrant crisis, leaders from the shipping industry are calling for provisions that guarantee that ships which undertake humanitarian efforts can quickly and safely disembark the people they are rescuing. 

The shipping industry says that its ships are fulfilling their moral and legal requirements to save the migrants but then are being put in jeopardy due to the lack of agreements on how to promptly disembark the people.

The challenges faced by merchant ships in the migrant crisis came to the forefront recently when a tanker, the Maersk Etienne was called on to go to the rescue of 27 migrants in distress in the waters south of Malta. Responding to calls from a human rights group the tanker saved the migrants including women and children. The vessel was then caught in limbo for nearly six weeks with no port willing to let the ship land the people. 

Citing the situation that has just been resolved with the Maersk tanker and other incidents the leaders of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations, European Transport Workers' Federation, International Chamber of Shipping, and International Transport Workers' Federation signed an open letter to the president, vice president and commissioners of the European Commission calling for action to ensure a similar situation did not happen again.

Reporting that since the height of the migrant crisis in 2014, merchant ships have helped rescue over 80,000 distressed persons in the waters of the Central Mediterranean, the industry is calling for action from the EC. While acknowledging that there had been a decline in the number of migrants, they cited new data from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, known as Frontex, that reports an 85 percent increase in the number of migrant transits this year over last year. 

“This is deeply alarming to the shipping industry, as the migrant routes pass through international shipping lanes, increasing the likelihood of merchant ships being called on to conduct rescues. As recent incidents such as the Talia and Maersk Etienne demonstrate, there is no guarantee that those ships will receive prompt and adequate assistance when fulfilling their humanitarian responsibilities,” the letter says.

They go on to cite the obligations that ships face in these situations noting that once they take the migrants on board the ships act based on instructions received from the Search and Rescue (SAR) Authority coordinating the SAR operation.

“Merchant ships will not shrink from their legal and moral responsibility to render assistance to those in need of assistance at sea,” they say while pointing out that vessels such as the Maersk Etienne are not designed or equipped to take these numbers of people aboard. In addition to the safety issues of boarding the people, they point out that the ships do not have provisions for first aid, medical care, and food and water for large groups of distressed persons. 

"It is therefore essential that the rescued persons can be disembarked at the earliest opportunity in a place of safety – as the law demands.” They call for clear rules without attempts to criminalize or complicate the situation further. “States must ensure that the vessels and the masters of those vessels carrying persons in distress whom they have rescued at sea are relieved as soon as reasonably possible in accordance with international law.”

The letter concludes by saying that the ECSA, ICS, ETF, and ITF call on the EU and Member States to facilitate such an outcome without any further delays, taking full account of the need to ensure the safety and security of merchant ships, seafarers, and the distressed people they help.

Felixstowe DockersReefer Ship Attacked Offshore Nigeria. Two Crew Members Kidnapped

Image by Roli B - MarineTraffic.Com

Maritime security intelligence agencies have reported that the Water Phoenix reefer vessel was boarded Tuesday morning off Nigeria by an unknown number of persons and that two Russian nationals have been kidnapped.

Per Praesidium International, a risk consultancy and maritime security company, the incident happened at 5:50 a.m. UTC Tuesday, approximately 34 nautical miles south of Lagos.

"According to the initial reports, the perpetrators managed to board the vessel and kidnap the master and another crew member, both Russian," Praesidium said, adding that the crew includes 18 seafarers, of which seven Russians and 11 Filipinos.

Apart from the two crew members who have, reportedly, been kidnapped, the rest of the crew managed to retreat into the citadel.

The Water Phoenix is a reefer owned by the Dutch company Seatrade Groningen.

"AIS tracking indicates that the vessel was on route to Lagos at 14kts and undertook evasive maneuvers before coming to a stop and is currently drifting," maritime safety intelligence group Dryad Global informed.

Praesidium said Tuesday that the same vessel had been involved in another piracy incident in April 2019, around 80 nautical miles southwest of Brass, Nigeria. The attack was foiled after warning shots forced the perpetrators to abort their attempt.

Nigerian maritime authorities have dispatched the NSS Ekulu to provide assistance, Presidium said.

According to Dryad, the attack on Tuesday was the 13th reported incident in waters of the Lagos Port Complex and Anchorage in the past 12 months "most of which have manifest as boarding for theft."

"This is the 3rd offshore incidents in the waters south of Lagos within 2020,"

Per Dryad, 93 personnel have been kidnapped from vessels in incidents off West Africa in 2020, so far.