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ruben.maritime

The first web2.0 spanish blog about Maritime Affairs. El primer blog web2.0 español sobre el sector marítimo.

Igor Ponomarev: Chairman of IMO MSC dies unexpectedly

martes, octubre 31, 2006

 Mr. Igor Ponomarev, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to IMO and Chairman of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has died suddenly at the age of 41.

IMO Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos expressed his deep sadness and shock at the news.

"I would like to express my sincerest condolences and those of the entire IMO membership and staff to Mr. Ponomarev's family," Mr. Mitropoulos said. "Igor was a great friend and a highly talented young man who had all the necessary background, depth of knowledge, courage and wisdom to take on the challenges and the enormous responsibility of chairing the most senior technical Committee of IMO. We have all been shocked at the devastating news of the unexpected, untimely, unfair and unjust loss of a friend and colleague, whose short life was entirely dedicated to his family and to shipping, of which he was a committed, tireless servant. He will be hugely missed by his family, friends and the whole international shipping community."

Mr. Ponomarev had been closely involved with the development of the Russian Federation's participation in IMO's activities since 1993 and chaired various working and drafting groups, including the MSC Working Groups on Tanker Safety and Bulk Carrier Safety from 1999 to 2002.

Designated as the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to IMO in 2003, Mr. Ponomarev was Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) from 2003 to 2005. During his tenure as chair of that Sub-Committee, he successfully oversaw complex technical issues including the revision of IMO Assembly resolution A.744(18) on the Guidelines on the enhanced programme of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers, as well as that of SOLAS chapter XII, which provides additional safety measures for bulk carriers.

Mr. Ponomarev also chaired the Technical Committee of IMO's 24th Assembly at the end of 2005.

Elected Chairman of the MSC by acclamation in 2005, Mr. Ponomarev chaired his first MSC session in May this year. He was due to chair the MSC's 82nd session, which is to be held in Istanbul, Turkey from 29 November to 8 December.

"When closing MSC 81 last May," Mr. Mitropoulos recalled, "I paid special tribute to Igor for his determination and patience in achieving consensus in all of the Committee's decisions, in his usual affable and efficient manner. His great sense of humour and integrity, combined with leadership, professionalism and technical knowledge, are all qualities that will ensure his memory is cherished by all."

Background
Mr. Ponomarev graduated from St. Petersburg State Maritime Technical University as a naval architect and joined the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) in 1988, where he served first as a Senior Surveyor, then as Principal Surveyor/Co-ordinator for IMO-related activities, later as Head of the International Department and, subsequently, from 1999 to 2003, as Vice Director-General of RS.

Mr. Ponomarev was also a Member of the Council of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) and served as its Chairman from 2001 to 2002.

We were very fond of each other. Rest in peace, my friend.

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Igor Ponomarev, the Chairman of the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee, has passed away


 
Farewell, my friend. We'll miss you so much.

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Cruise terror liability breakthrough

jueves, octubre 26, 2006
PARIS 25 October – An agreement during last week’s IMO legal committee meeting in France could help clear the path for ratification of the Athens Convention 2002 protocols. When ratified, the protocols would set strict cruise operator liabilities of roughly $375,000 per passenger per incident (plus an additional $200,000/passenger in negligence liabilities) and allow plaintiffs to seek redress from both ship owners and insurers, thus requiring a ‘certificate of insurance’ from P&I clubs. “The problem was that P&I clubs couldn’t provide certificates of insurance for terrorism or war risk, leaving operators with potential uninsured liabilities of close to a billion dollars per ship per incident,” International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL) president Michael Crye told Fairplay. The first component of a solution came in April, when UK-based insurance broker Marsh agreed to provide cruise operators certificates of insurance for up to $500M/vessel/incident at a price of around $0.10/passenger/day to cover terrorism and war risk. The second component came at the IMO meeting last week in Paris, where it was agreed that signatories could ratify the 2002 protocols ‘by reservation’, agreeing to a reservation that limits shipowner liability for terrorism to $500M/vessel/incident. “Hopefully,” said Crye, “P&I clubs could provide certificates of insurance for non-war-risk and non-terrorism cover”, complementing the Marsh cover. “This provides a way forward, allowing shipowner liability to be linked to insurability,” said Crye, characterising the breakthrough as a compromise, not a victory.

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RAND STUDY WARNS MARITIME TERRORISM RISK EXTENDS BEYOND DANGERS POSED TO CONTAINER SHIPPING

Monday, October 16, 2006
Cruise ships and ferry boats need more protection against terrorist attacks that could kill and injure many passengers and cause serious financial losses, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

“Attacks on cruise ships and ferry boats would meet the interrelated requirements of visibility, destruction and disruption that drive transnational terrorism in the contemporary era,” said Peter Chalk, one of the report's co-authors. “Recognizing this is essential to any comprehensive regime of maritime security.”

The report concludes it is not adequate to base maritime counterterrorism efforts only on increasing port security and the security of cargo container ships, rail cars and trucks that transport goods into and out of United States ports.

“Focusing solely on securing the container supply chain without defending other parts of the maritime environment is like bolting down the front door of a house and leaving the back door wide open,” said Henry Willis, a RAND researcher and a co-author of the report.

The study by RAND, a nonprofit research organization, also says a maritime terrorist attack is likely to create complicated liability issues that will slow efforts to compensate victims of an attack.

“We need to examine closely the challenges that a maritime attack would create for our civil justice system,” said Michael Greenberg, another of the report's authors. “Tort liability is supposed to compensate victims while providing appropriate security incentives for firms. But ambiguous liability standards in the maritime terrorism context raise the prospect that the civil justice system may neither be effective as a compensation mechanism, nor in generating clear incentives for the private sector.”

The report, titled “Maritime and Terrorism: Risk and Liability,” was produced by the RAND Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy.

RAND researchers prepared the report by considering different types of terrorist attacks that could strike maritime activities. The authors assessed each scenario for its likelihood, its potential impact on the loss of life, and the potential economic impacts. They also considered the likely application of civil liability in the aftermath of different attacks.

Researchers point out that their review of more than 30 years of terrorist activity shows that less than 2 percent of international terrorist attacks have hit maritime targets. Historically, this is because it has been difficult to successfully carry out maritime terrorist attacks and because such attacks have rarely caused the large loss of life or generated the heavy news coverage that terrorists seek, the study says.

The report acknowledges that the contemporary relevance of these factors is in a state of flux but that relative prioritization of risks in the maritime domain remains underdeveloped.

The largest maritime disaster would involve the detonation of a nuclear device smuggled through a major domestic port inside a shipping container. However, the report stresses that the likelihood of such an event occurring is far lower than for other types of attacks.

Though considerably less catastrophic than worst-case scenario, the report argues that attacks on passenger ferries or cruise ships would be more probable. These attacks might involve on-board bombs or biological contaminants inserted into the food supply, according to researchers.

The report highlights several findings and recommendations that have relevance for understanding the evolving nature of maritime terrorism and addressing potential attacks that might occur.

The study says:
Reducing the risk of an atomic device being smuggled into a U.S. port is a priority, though increasing attention to the control of nuclear weapons and materials may be more important than inspecting containers. Policies must balance the need for reducing the risk with the need to keep shipping open.
There is no observable evidence that terrorists and piracy syndicates are collaborating to attack maritime targets. In fact, their motivations and overall objectives are frequently in conflict.
The potential economic impact of a maritime terrorism incident could be reduced by improving procedures to reopen ports and restore container shipping systems that might be shut down following a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
There is little prospect of terrorists successfully blocking a shipping lane by sinking a ship. Such an attack would not achieve terrorists' desire for maximum public attention through inflicted loss of life, and modern hull design makes it difficult to sink a ship. In addition, if an obstruction were created in a critical shipping channel it could be cleared quickly.
Because cruise liners and ferries must allow passengers to move freely, security improvements should focus on developing more stringent and effective means for screening passengers, crew and luggage.
Negligence liability for maritime terrorist attacks creates a likelihood that firms will be held financially responsible for harm to victims. But ambiguity regarding whether specific attacks are foreseeable, and regarding the steps required to prevent attacks, may undermine the effectiveness of the justice system in setting meaningful incentives for the private sector.

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RAND warns on cruise terrorism

 ARLINGTON, Virginia 24 October – A new study by “non-profit think-tank” RAND Corp argues that terrorism attacks on cruise and ferry vessels are more likely than incidents involving container vessels, thus more attention must be paid by policymakers to defending the passenger sector. “Attacks on cruise ships and ferry boats would meet the interrelated requirements of visibility, destruction and disruption that drive contemporary trans-national terrorism,” RAND’s Peter Chalk maintains, suggesting that the current focus on container supply-chain security has taken the spotlight off the more likely threat. RAND agreed that the worst-case scenario in maritime terrorism was a detonation of nuclear device smuggled through a major port inside a shipping container, but said that the likelihood of such an attack is “far lower” than the passenger-vessel scenario. On the container front, RAND said that pervasive checks on containers moving through the supply chain “is impractical and imperfect”, arguing instead that policymakers should focus on control of nuclear weapons and materials at the point of origin and “planning to facilitate the restart of ports and container shipping systems” following an attack. Commenting on other potential commercial shipping threats, RAND said that there is little prospect of terrorists attempting to block a shipping lane by sinking a ship, because it would “not achieve terrorists’ desire for maximum public attention through inflicted loss of life”. Furthermore, the group says that “there is no observable evidence that terrorists and piracy syndicates are collaborating to attack marine targets”, noting that “their motivations and overall objectives are frequently in conflict”. Overall, in the light of terrorism motivations, RAND maintains that passenger shipping is the most likely maritime target, with attack modes potentially including ramming assaults involving improvised explosive devices, standoff artillery assaults and biological attacks through contamination of food and water supply. To better protect passenger shipping, RAND proposes “improving security measures at ports for passengers and luggage, and implementing rigorous procedures for documenting crew and staff”. RAND further proposes that policymakers should review civil liability standards that currently limit liability for passenger vessel owners, because higher liability “creates private-sector incentives for prevention and mitigation efforts”. Asked for comment by Sea Sentinel, the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL) issued a statement asserting that “the report released by RAND Corporation does not reflect extensive security measures taken by our lines”. The ICCL cited 100% screening of all carry-on luggage and checked bags, intensified screening of passengers, restricted access to sensitive vessel and terminal areas, dedicated onboard security teams, Coast Guard-established security zones around vessels and screening of ships’ stores. A cruise ship is comparable to a secure building with a 24-hour security building in which access can be strictly enforced, the ICCL affirmed.

Via Fairplay.co.uk
Link to RAND report

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2007's New Ship Launches

miércoles, octubre 25, 2006
 If 2006 was a middling year in terms of new ship launches, 2007 is proving to be even more so, with only one truly new design and a paltry seven debuts (eight if you count the 680-passenger Royal Princess, which is Swan Hellenic's reconfigured Minerva II, and nine with Norwegian Pearl (which is actually debuting two months ahead of time, which moves its launch from February 2007 to December 2006).

April is the busiest month of 2007 with three new-builds plus Royal Princess hitting the seas.

With the exception of Cunard's Queen Victoria, all of the brand new ships launching in 2007 are copies of ships already at sea -- so the buzz and excitement over anything new and daring could be as stale as yesterday's room service croissant. But cruise line executives know how to add innovative twists to otherwise identical siblings -- so stay tuned.

It's interesting to note that the smallest new-build to launch in 2007 (again, Cunard's Queen Victoria) holds a whopping 2,014 guests. The largest, Royal Caribbean's 160,000-ton Liberty of the Seas, has a passenger capacity of 3,634 -- just like its sister, 2006's Freedom of the Seas.

Aside from Seabourn, which has announced plans to build two new ships, other cruise lines in the luxury sector (Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Crystal and Seabourn) have been very quiet about plans for new growth or expansion. Sure we've been hearing whispers for a couple of years now (mergers? new ships?), but there's nothing concrete (except Seabourn) to report for 2007. And we're still hearing rumors about Oceania acquiring yet another R-class ship to add to its successful and beloved fleet of three, but so far rumors are all we have.

On the big ship cruise line front, only Celebrity has announced plans for newly designed ships, but you'll have to wait until 2008 for its first (and bigger-than-big) 118,000-ton, 2,850-guest Solstice-class vessel.

Some of this information will change over the next several months (it always does!), so keep checking back. We'll also post additional facts, figures and other relevant material as soon as it crosses our desks.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl

Will Launch In: December 2006

Backstory: Utilizing the platform of its highly popular and successful Dawn/Star duo, this ship, like its sisters Norwegian Jewel and Pride of Hawaii, adds the innovative Courtyard Villas to its already impressive list of suite accommodations.

Quirks and Highlights: Quite apart from the 10 restaurants and 14 bars and lounges this Freestyle ship offers, the newish Courtyard Villas allow for a more exclusive cruise experience without springing for one of the two massive (and exponentially more expensive) Garden Villas. Surrounding a private courtyard pool and filled with goodies like state-of-the-art cappuccino and espresso makers, these 10 suites, like those on 2006's Norwegian Jewel and Pride of Hawaii, are not-quite-budget-busting exquisite digs.

The most quirky addition is the regulation-sized 10-pin bowling lanes found in the sports-themed Bliss (which turns into a dance club at night). Thanks to the marvels of modern cruise ship engineering, the ball should "roll true" except in the wildest of seas.

Itineraries: Pearl will alternate five-night (Western) and nine-night (Southern) Caribbean cruises out of Miami, and in the summer offers roundtrip Alaska cruises from Seattle. In between will be necessary trans-canal repositioning cruises in between that include Panama Canal, Southern Caribbean and Pacific coastal sailings as well. .

Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Freedom

Will Launch In: March 2007

Backstory: Carnival Freedom represents the last 110,000-ton, 2,974-passenger Destiny-class behemoth. A relative newcomer to the summer-long European cruising market, Carnival will position Freedom to sail from Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) during the summer; the ship will homeport in Miami starting in November.

Quirks and Highlights: This ship will feature a relatively new Carnival tradition -- the Carnival Seaside Theater (inspired by Princess Cruises' Movies Under the Stars); the big screen (12 ft. high by 22 ft. wide) over the big pool will feature movies, sporting events and concerts. Other than that, this newest "Fun Ship" offers few dazzling innovations (though it will continue with other regularly recent introductions such as bow-to-stern WiFi and a supper club -- but Joe Farcus' (Carnival's designer and ship architect) always-interesting concepts are sure to create some buzz. By the way, the theme for Freedom isn't "freedom" at all, but rather "a journey through the centuries by decade." How the names of the two main dining rooms -- The Chic and The Posh -- fit into that theme is yet to be discovered. Other highlights include a 1970s disco, a 1950s-themed sports bar and a casino inspired by Ancient Babylon.

Itineraries: This is the first Carnival ship to offer a Greek Isles/Turkey itinerary; The European portion includes 12-night Mediterranean and Greek Isles cruises. Carnival Freedom will then move to Miami, where it will sail alternate Eastern and Western seven-night Caribbean itineraries.

Costa Cruises' CostaSerena

Will Launch In: May 2007

Backstory: Piggybacking on the success of CostaConcordia, which debuted in July 2006, Serena will enjoy many of the same attributes, including its size (112,000 tons and 3,004 passengers), the fabulous Samsara spa, and a high ratio of balconied cabins. Using a slightly extended version of Carnival's Destiny-class platform and sharing Carnival's designer, Joe Farcus, this ship will nonetheless have its own imprint, "cruising Italian style," as Costa's tagline suggests.

Quirks and Highlights: Adapting the same technology that Formula One race car drivers use in their own racing simulators, CostaSerena will feature a Grand Prix simulator with "real-time vehicle modeling," including peripheral-vision screens, and accurate braking, accelerating and G-force simulations. CostaSerena also offers the Samsara Suites; these special accomodations, which originated on Concordia, spotlight spa-oriented amenities, from room service cuisine to proximity to the facility itself (via a private staircase).

Itineraries: CostaSerena will begin its service sailing seven-night cruises from Venice to Eastern Mediterranean ports of call such as Dubrovnik, Istanbul and Katakolon.

Princess Cruises' Emerald Princess

Will Launch In: April 2007

Backstory: This ship follows its closest sister -- Crown Princess -- in ambience and orientation. We know that the 116,000-ton, 3,110-passenger Emerald Princess will, like Crown Princess, featured already-classic attributes such as a casual lobby-level wine bar, an international coffee and pastry cafe, and a sunny/shady adults-only retreat (the Sanctuary) located forward on the Sports Deck.

Quirks and Highlights: The spa has been enhanced and expanded, the lobby/atrium area, known here as the Italy-inspired Piazza, features fabulous (and often wacky) artistic performances -- and is also a gathering point due to the coffee bar/bakery (which has on-the-spot pastry chefs and galley and which, as a result, produces the most marvelous warm-and-melty chocolate chip cookies in all of cruise-dom). Sabatini's has been refreshed and redesigned and now sits at the stop of the ship -- with glorious views and a lovely terrace for al fresco dining.

Itinerary: Emerald Princess will spend spring and summer (and early autumn) in Europe alternating 12-night Mediterranean and Greek Isle cruises; it will move to Fort Lauderdale in October where it will alternate Eastern and Southern Caribbean itineraries.

Princess Cruises' Royal Princess

Will Launch In: April 2007

Backstory: Although it isn't a newly built ship like the others on our list (Princess picked up this 30,000-ton, 680-passenger ship, sister to Pacific Princess and Tahitian Princess from Swan Hellenic, where it will sail as Minerva II through March. We're including the "new" Royal Princess (an homage to the much loved original Royal Princess, a circa 1990s ship that has gone to a new home in the U.K.) because it is a welcome addition to Princess' intriguing sub-fleet of "boutique" ships. Formerly R8 in the now-defunct Renaissance Cruises family, this small ship offers an intimate ambience for Princess guests who prefer to avoid the big ship environment but who still want to enjoy Princess' brand of service and dining. Royal Princess is an almost exact replica of the line's existing boutique vessels -- Tahitian Princess and Pacific Princess. Indeed, all three were part of Renaissance's specially commissioned R-series of ships.

Quirks and Highlights: Royal Princess' cabins are significantly smaller than those found on most Princess vessels, but the air of intimacy and country club decor make up for the tight spaces. Princess has configured the dining areas to include Sabatini's and a 24-hour Lido Deck cafe; the library will boast over 4,000 titles, making it one of the best-equipped at sea.

Itinerary: Royal Princess will start service in Europe, with one seven night and then 12-night voyages in the Mediterranean, Greek Isles and Holy Land, and will transition for 14 night Southern Caribbean/Amazon cruises throughout the winter.

MSC Cruises' MSC Orchestra

Will Launch In: April 2007

Backstory: Orchestra, a sister ship to MSC's 90,000-ton, 2,550-passenger Musica, which launched in June 2006, is the second new-build for MSC Crociere to boast over 800 staterooms with verandahs, the latest trend in European cruising. A third ship in the Musica class, MSC Poesia, will launch in 2008, and there's an option for a fourth.

Quirks and Highlights: Few details have been revealed about this ship, other than the fact it will be a virtual replica of sister vessel MSC Musica. That means it will feature a massive pool-area movie screen (particularly important for MSC's Euro-centric crowd during soccer's World Cup), specialty restaurants, a sushi bar and a very generously sized Bali-influenced spa.

Itinerary: MSC Orchestra's will sail Eastern Mediterranean cruises from Venice during its maiden (spring/summer) season.

Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas

Will Launch On: May 26, 2007

Backstory: Royal Caribbean took the plunge when it launched Freedom of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas' older sister, in May 2006. Although at 154,407 tons each, these two ships -- expanded versions of Voyager-class vessels -- come in just higher than Queen Mary 2, until then the biggest ship to ever sail. While size matters, 7,000 tons isn't really significant, but the Freedom and Liberty twins have another distinction: They each hold a small city's worth of guests: 3,634 ... or about 30 percent more than QM2 at double occupancy.

Quirks and Highlights: Freedom of the Seas generated a year's worth of buzz with the announcement of the first surf park at sea, the FlowRider. Look for the same on Liberty, as well as the unique and nifty hot tubs cantilevered over the ocean, an expanded spa, and new stateroom amenities including enhanced bedding and flat-screen televisions. The H20 Zone, a new water park feature, will be replicated as well.

Itineraries: Liberty of the Seas will homeport in Miami, offering seven-night alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Gem

Will Launch In: October 2007

Backstory: This is the fourth ship in NCL's lovely Jewel class, which blends big ship features with smaller ship options (others in the class include Norwegian Jewel, Pride of Hawaii and Norwegian Pearl). The 93,500-ton, 2,376-passenger ship has all the hallmarks of NCL's signature Freestyle Cruising initiative, including 10 restaurants and 13 bars, 6 hot tubs, 2 pools, kids and teen centers, and colorful decor.

Quirks and Highlights: Not a whole lot is known about Gem as yet -- and we anticipate a new twist or two! -- but bank on a large proportion of balconied staterooms, exquisite suites (including the exclusive Courtyard Villas and the two 5,750 square ft. -- each -- Garden Villas), private karaoke rooms, a "sports center," which will include a regulation-sized 10-pin bowling alley, and outdoor delights such as the corkscrew pool slide and bungee trampoline.

Itineraries: Norwegian Gem will homeport in New York, offering 7-, 10- and 11-night cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean beginning November 3.

Cunard's Queen Victoria

Will Launch In: December 2007

Backstory: Originally slated for debut in 2005, the Queen Victoria that was being built at the time was moved to P&O Lines and renamed Arcadia. The current 90,000-ton, 2,014-passenger Queen Victoria is a modified version of Holland America's Vista-class ships. But it's very modified, with ceilings that have been raised on public room decks and so on. It's by no means a copy of a Holland America Vista-class ship. As well, Queen Victoria will have a sleek, "ocean liner"-style profile.

Quirks and Highlights: Those who bemoan the loss of true ocean liners to modern times (and feel that Queen Mary 2 is just too big) and quite excited about the debut of Queen Victoria. Purists won't be disappointed in the Cunard class system, which will be alive and well. Elaborate, opulent Queens Grill suites offer the rarified atmosphere of "the olden days," with private lounges and butler service. Princess Grill suites are smaller and cozier, but also offer a range of services not available to so-called "regular folk" in balcony, oceanview or inside staterooms.

Look, too, for the exquisite oak-paneled library, complete with circular staircase to a second story; Cunard's fabulous enrichment programs; and an expanded children's facilities and spa.

Itinerary: In January, and in what is quite an honor for a ship in such mind condition, Queen Victoria will sail a world cruise; at one point Queen Victoria will join QE2 for a 106-day world cruise with a unique tandem crossing with QE2 from Southampton to New York.

Via CruiseCriticNews

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easyCruise: Stelios bids for new distribution channel [UPDATE]

martes, octubre 24, 2006
 easyCruise sales and marketing director Paul Ellerby has said that eBay’s success in shifting hotel stock was one of the reasons behind the decision to link with the global auction giant.
‘Our product sits quite closely in terms of price-point with the short-break hotel says that are selling well on eBay,’ he explained.

Another reason was the ‘enhanced distribution in markets we are already active in’ as well as new territories. Ellerby revealed that while the bulk of bookings come from Europe, USA and Canada, easyCruise.com has seen taken bookings from ninety different countries.

The easyCruise inventory is hosted and fulfilled by German-based Cultuzz, which is currently provides the technology for eBay’s hotel auction content. Ellerby conformed that easyCruise2’s river cruise product would be sold through eBay, with easyCruise1’s Caribbean itinerary added shortly.

Next summer the brand will expand further when its franchise partner Louis Cruises begins easyCruises around the Greek islands. This content will also be distributed through eBay.

Via e-Tid.com





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Boluda to open new repair yard

BARCELONA October 24 - Spain’s Boluda Group is to invest euro90M ($112M) in a new repair yard at Barcelona, Francisco Fernández Arderius, MD of Boluda’s Unión Naval Barcelona (UNB) yard, announced today. “The yard will consist of two floating docks of 250m and 180m in length and will be operational by the end of 2010,” Arderius said. “We expect the order for two floating docks to be made in China. No deal has been agreed yet,” he said, adding that the Boluda Group had ruled out placing orders for the docks in Europe because of high prices. The creation of a new yard comes after Barcelona Port Authority (APB) and UNB reached an agreement allowing yacht repair yard Marina 92 to move into UNB’s current site at Barcelona before UNB’s concession expires. UNB will receive a compensation payment from Marina 92. The agreement gives UNB a 35-year concession to operate a 30,000 m² space in the eastern reaches of Barcelona. “Building a new yard will allow UNB to repair larger-sized ships,” Arderius said. UNB will aim to repair medium-sized ferries, merchant and cruise ships. Larger ships will be repaired at UNB’s sister yard at Marseilles.

Via Fairplay.co.uk

 

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Future Cruise Ship Orders

After a lull in new ship introductions in 2004 and 2005, we can expect to enjoy a bit of a boom in 2006 and beyond. Since cruise ships take as much as two to three years to design and build, cruise lines need to plan ahead -- and there's nothing we love more than snagging a peek at those first facts and figures. Curious about what's launching down the line? Mark your calendars....

Line / Ship  / Tonnage / Berths / Launch / Details

Seabourn Unnamed 32,000 450 2009 First new Seabourn ship in almost two decades

Seabourn Unnamed 32,000 450 2010 Sister to 2009 launch

NCL Norwegian Pearl 93,000 2,384 Nov. 2006 A sibling to Norwegian Jewel

Carnival Carnival Freedom 110,000 2,974 March 2007 Last Carnival Conquest-class vessel

Costa CostaSerena 112,000 3,004 April 2007 Sister to CostaConcordia

Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas 160,000 3,634 May 2007 The second Freedom-class ship

Princess Cruises Emerald Princess 116,000 3,100 Spring 2007 A member of the Caribbean Princess class

MSC Cruises MSC Orchestra 90,000 2,550 Spring 2007 A sister ship to MSC Musica

NCL Norwegian Gem 92,000 2,384 Oct. 2007 A sister ship to Norwegian Pearl

Cunard Queen Victoria 90,000 2,000 Dec. 2007 An ocean liner, but cozier than QM2

MSC Cruises MSC Poesia 89,600 2,500 March 2008 A sister ship to MSC Musica

Royal Caribbean Unnamed 160,000 3,634 May 2008 The third Freedom-class ship

Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Splendor 112,000 3,006 Spring 2008 Carnival's biggest ever (by a whisker)

MSC Cruises MSC Fantasia 133,500 3,300 Spring 2008 MSC's biggest-ever new-build

P&O Cruises Ventura 116,000 3,100 Spring 2008 Shares basic design with Crown Princess

Holland America Unnamed 86,000 2,044 Summer 2008 First Signature-class vessel, largest-ever new-build

Celebrity Solstice 118,000 2,850 Fall 2008 A completely new design -- and its biggest ever

MSC Cruises MSC Serenata 133,500 3,300 Spring 2009 Sister to MSC Fantasia

Costa Unnamed 92,700 2,260 Spring 2009 A return to a smaller Costa

Costa Unnamed 112,000 3,004 Summer 2009 Another CostaConcordia sibling

Celebrity Equinox 118,000 2,850 Summer 2009 Sibling to Solstice

Royal Caribbean Genesis (class) 220,000 5,400 Fall 2009 Biggest ship ever -- by a long shot!

NCL F3 (class) 150,000 4,200 2009 NCL's largest new-build

Aida Unnamed 68,500 2,050 Spring 2010 Newest Aida ship

Celebrity Unnamed 118,000 2,850 2010 Sister to Solstice and Equinox

NCL F3 (class) 150,000 4,200 2010 Sibling to 2009 F3 launch

 
Via CruiseCriticNews

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easyCruise Offers Cruises on eBay -- from Under $2!


In a new twist on selling last minute cruise cabins, easyCruise announced today it has "partnered" with eBay. eBay users will be able to buy cruises on both an "auction" and "buy it now" basis. While auction prices will start at just 1 GBP ($1.87 according to latest exchange rates) in the U.K., "buy it now" prices will start from 30 GBP ($56) per person, for a two-night break and 39 GBP ($73) per person for a three-night break, based on two people sharing.

You can still troll the easyCruise Web site as well -- it has special offers that are competitive with "buy it now," such as a French and Italian Riviera trip from 39 GBP per person for a three-night cruise. But more typically, fares for those travelers who must plan ahead run about 99 GBP per person for a three-night weekend in the Caribbean.

The offers, right now available only on eBay's main site, will be expanded to the company's more regional sites in the U.K., Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, India, USA and Australia. Itineraries will be expanded to the Caribbean when that season begins for easyCruiseOne.

So far the deals would make even the most parsimonious cruiser's eyes light up -- an inspection of the current "completed" easyCruise auctions on eBay.co.uk showed someone winning a three-night cruise for two to the French Riviera for 1 GBP! But the concept is clearly based on attracting bids from folks who don't need to worry about long-term planning or the need for airfare. That 1 GBP pound cruise fare may quickly escalate when airfare and transportation costs to the port are factored in.



 Via CruiseCriticNews

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Stelios bids for new distribution channel

lunes, octubre 23, 2006
23 Oct 2006

A new deal announced this morning enables eBay users in eight global markets to book easyCruise on the auction site.

Stelios Haji-Ioannoum, easyCruise founder, said: ‘easyCruise is a pioneering brand which consistently fights against the norm in the cruise industry, both in terms of our offering and our prices, so to be the first to offer this service on eBay is a natural continuation of the brand for us.’

The deal will see eBay users being able to buy cruises on both an ‘auction’ and ‘buy it now’ basis. It will be available on eBay’s sites in UK, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, India, USA and Australia.

The easyCruise offer on eBay covers its summer Med cruises, with its Caribbean itinerary available within the next few weeks. Hlland and Belgium river cruises are also for sale.

The exclusive deal has been facilitated by Cultuzz, the only global technology company able to launch content live on multiple eBay market places simultaneously. Michael Hughes, Global Director of Sales & Marketing commented: “This deal will see easyCruise available in local currencies and local languages simultaneously.’

Karim Lankarany, Senior Category Manager, Travel at eBay said: "The cruise offers by easyCruise will make an excellent addition to the growing range of travel products on eBay."

Via e-Tid.com

 

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Star Princess probe complete

SOUTHAMPTON, UK 23 October – The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) concluded that the March fire aboard Princess Cruises’ Star Princess was made possible by inadequate balcony flammability regulation, but congratulated the industry for its rapid response. According to the MAIB, the fire started on a Deck 10 balcony and was “probably caused by a discarded cigarette”. The fire then spread rapidly to adjacent balconies and to Decks 11 and 12, as well as into staterooms as heat shattered glass balcony doors. The MAIB noted that the Star Princess balconies met requirements of Solas II-2, which allowed for highly combustible polycarbonate balcony partitions, non-fire-rated glass doors and no balcony fire detection or suppression systems. Since the fire, in which one passenger died of smoke inhalation, cruise lines and regulators have moved quickly to enact far more robust fire prevention protocols for balconies. Related amendments to the Solas Convention are up for adoption this December, and the MAIB has no further recommendations beyond those already proposed for consideration. MAIB chief inspector Stephen Meyer praised the cruise industry for the speed with which action has been taken, noting that Carnival Corp began replacing all combustible dividers on its 26,400 balconies immediately after the fire, and expects to have 100% non-combustible partitions installed by the year end.

 Via Fairplay.co.uk

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Seabourn Cruise Line Orders Two New Ultra Luxury Ships

viernes, octubre 20, 2006
MIAMI, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Seabourn Cruise Line announced today that it will build two new, ultra luxury ships, for delivery in spring 2009 and 2010. Seabourn, a division of Miami-based Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL)(NYSE: CUK - News), has signed a letter of intent for the project with shipbuilder T. Mariotti S.p.A. of Genoa, Italy. The sister ships will have an all-in U.S. dollar cost of $250 million each.

Each of the 32,000-GRT ships will accommodate all guests in 225 luxury suites, ninety percent of which will offer private verandas. Combined, the two vessels will more than double Seabourn's current fleet capacity of 634 berths.

"Our brand has been experiencing more demand in the marketplace than we could fulfill for quite some time now," stated Deborah L. Natansohn, president of Seabourn. "The new ships will allow us to bring the unique Seabourn experience to a larger number of people, particularly the highly affluent and active baby boomer generation just now heading towards the more leisurely years of their lives."

The letter of intent to build the ships is subject to a number of conditions including definitive contracts, financing and other terms.

According to Micky Arison, Chairman and CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc, "This order represents our confidence in the luxury segment of the cruising market, which has shown significant and consistent revenue growth in recent years, with robust future potential. Through our own and independent research, we know that the luxury consumer views the Seabourn brand as the absolute ultimate in leisure travel. This new generation of yacht-like ships will secure its position at the top of the cruise industry pyramid for many years to come."

The vessels have been specifically designed to enable Seabourn's award- winning staff to deliver the highly personalized service experience that is a hallmark of the brand. "They will be spacious, with the sleek lines and relaxed, personal feel of an oversized yacht," Natansohn said. "We've essentially taken the signature elements of our existing yachts and added some exciting new features that the larger hulls will allow."

Marco Bisagno, President of T. Mariotti S.p.A. noted, "When they were introduced, the three existing Seabourn ships embodied a new class of cruising vessel, and they spawned an entirely new niche in the market. We are proud and excited that Seabourn has enlisted Mariotti to craft what will be the next generation of intimate, ultra luxury cruising vessels, to be built in Genoa by our skilled team."

With this order, Mariotti confirms its leadership in the small/medium size ultra luxury ships market. The design specifications call for hulls 650 feet long, with a beam of 84 feet and a draft of 21 feet. The ships will be powered by diesel-generated electricity and operate with twin screw propellers, with a service speed of 19 knots. They will be equipped with two bow thrusters to enhance maneuverability and two stabilizers. The ships will also be "green ships" employing advanced wastewater treatment technology.

Natansohn said that past guests and luxury-selling travel agents worldwide will be ecstatic at the word of new ships for the brand. "The Yachts of Seabourn have always been the highest-rated ships in the world when it comes to cuisine and service," she stated. "With an increased ability to deliver Seabourn's superior cruise experience to even more travelers, on state-of-the- art vessels, we will continue to define the standard for ultra luxury cruising."

 

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Iran to fund shipbuilding expansion

martes, octubre 17, 2006
 TEHRAN 16 October – Iranian politicians are pushing for an investment fund to promote the country's shipbuilding industry. According to reported details, about fifty members of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) have agreed to table the Maritime Industry Development bill on priority basis to get it passed by the parliament without further delay. The bill calls for the creation of a High Maritime Industry Council and investment of IR400Bn ($43M) in Iranian investment fund to boost the local shipyards. It is said once the bill is passed, potential ship customers would be able to get 90% of the required credits for purchasing ships made in Iran. Moreover, those ships which meet international standards would be exempt from value added tax for 10 years; there would also be subsidised repair and maintenance facilities available.

Via Fairplay.co.uk

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TUI seeks friendly backers

HAMBURG 17 October – Managers at TUI, the German tour operator, are seeking friendly investors to buy a total 25.1% stake to prevent a take-over and break-up of the company. German media reports say Hamburg city senators have been approached with a view to acquiring a 10% stake. However shareholders in German tourism giant TUI, who are reported to be pushing for a division of the company, can point to the market numbers to back their case. TUI acquired Hapag-Lloyd, the container and cruise ship owner and operator, in 1998 at a time when the share price was beginning to turn down from a high of euro50. The current level of just euro17 is an improvement of euro10, which was reached a couple of years ago. TUI’s website reveals that two-thirds of market analysts contacted expect the stock to underperform the wider DAX general share index in Frankfurt, and recommend their clients should sell. Only 16% forecast TUI’s stock will outperform the DAX index and recommend acquisition.

Via Fairplay.co.uk
 

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REGULADAS LAS RADIOCOMUNICACIONES MARÍTIMAS EN LOS BUQUES CIVILES ESPAÑOLES

lunes, octubre 16, 2006
  El Consejo de Ministros ha aprobado un Real Decreto por el cual se regulan las radiocomunicaciones marítimas en los buques civiles españoles a efectos de salvaguardar e incrementar la seguridad marítima, de la navegación y de la vida humana en el mar. Se establece la incorporación del sistema de radiobalizas con GPS a toda la flota de pesqueros españoles y la utilización obligatoria de radiobaliza de hombre al agua.

Mediante la ordenación y el control de las empresas instaladoras y de mantenimiento en materia de radiocomunicaciones, esta norma tiene por objetivo mejorar la seguridad de las instalaciones radioeléctricas de los buques civiles españoles.

Asimismo, el Real Decreto mejora las condiciones de seguridad de las embarcaciones de recreo y de los buques de pesca menores de veinticuatro metros de eslora, mediante la incorporación de equipos de radiocomunicaciones digitales, siguiendo las recomendaciones de Organización Marítima Internacional (OMI).

Cabe destacar la incorporación a toda la flota de buques pesqueros españoles de radiobalizas con GPS y la utilización obligatoria por sus tripulantes de radiobaliza de hombre al agua. Estas medidas suponen un importante avance para mejorar la seguridad de las tripulaciones en caso de búsqueda y rescate por supuestos de naufragio de buques.

Este reglamento de radiocomunicaciones viene a completar los convenios internacionales sobre esta materia y proporciona un soporte normativo, en materia de radiocomunicaciones marítimas, para aquellas categorías de buques no cubiertas por normativas específicas de la Unión Europea.

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Boluda repairers secure Aker deal

martes, octubre 10, 2006
 BARCELONA 10 October – Spanish ship repair company Union Naval Barcelona (UNB), part of the Boluda shipping group, has secured an exclusive agreement to repair, maintain and refurbish Aker-built cruise vessels operating in the Mediterranean. Boluda will put two shipyards at the disposal of Aker Yards Lifecycle Services, UNB in Barcelona and UNM (Union Naval Marseille) in Marseilles. UNB currently operates two drydocks, of 215m and 120m respectively, while UNM has two larger facilities of 250m and 350m each. It is also hoped that UNM will be able to re-use drydock 10 which was built in Marseilles in the early 1970s to accomodate 550,000-dwt ultra large crude carriers. A spokesman from UNM welcomed the news and greeted the significant business brought by Boluda, only a few weeks after the Spanish group took over the bankrupt yard, which used to operate under the name Compagnie Marseille Reparation. UNM says four to five large Aker-built cruise vessels will be drydocked at Marseilles every year. In a separate field, UNM also expects to drydock vessels belonging to the Boluda group, in particular the container vessels of Pinillos, when the Barcelona facilities are unavailable.

Via Fairplay.co.uk

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Hurtigruten cruise company signs credit facility

BERGEN 27 September – Hurtigruten, the Norwegian coastal shipping company formed from the merger of Troms Fylkes (TFDS) and Ofotens og Vesteraalens (OVDS), has agreed a credit facility of up to NK3.30Bn ($508M) with its banks and chartered out three ships on short-term contracts. The loan facility, which has been tailored to meet the needs of the merged company, offers a 15-month period without repayments, which saves the company NK250M compared with the loan facilities that it replaces. The syndicate comprises of the company’s existing financiers, but also some foreign banks that have not done business with Hurtigruten before joined the syndicate. The company did not disclose other details regarding the facility. Managing director Henrik Andenes said in a statement that the facility will remove uncertainties related to the financing of the company and the management can now pay its full attention to reach an earlier set objective of a break-even result in 2007. Meanwhile, Hurtigruten has chartered three ships, Kong Harald, Narvik and Midnatsol to the oil company Norsk Hydro for use at the Ormen Lange gas field construction site. The charters run from three weeks to three months and add NK30M to the company’s 2006 result.

Via Fairplay.co.uk
 

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PEARL SEAS CRUISES LINES JOINS CRUISE LINES INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION

lunes, octubre 09, 2006
NEW YORK (October 09, 2006) -

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) welcomed Pearl Seas Cruises as its newest member on Friday, October 6, 2006, said Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of CLIA, the cruise industry’s chief marketing organization.

Pearl Seas Cruises will bring to 20 the number of CLIA-member cruise lines, which collectively represent 97 percent of the cruise capacity marketed in North America. CLIA (www.cruising.org) is also comprised of nearly 17,000 travel agencies, making it the largest travel industry association based on agency membership.

Pearl Seas Cruises, an offshore affiliate of American Cruise Lines, Inc., will sail to the Canadian Maritimes, Newfoundland, New England and the Caribbean aboard intimate, luxury vessels that are small enough to visit off-the-beaten path destinations as well as larger, more widely visited ports. The line’s first ship, which will carry 165 passengers, is scheduled to be delivered by Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in time for a July 2008 maiden voyage. A larger 210-passenger sister ship will join the fleet in 2009.

Plans call for Pearl Seas’ innovative new vessels to have elegant public rooms and luxurious accommodations amid a relaxing and inviting onboard ambiance. Facilities include a spacious dining salon offering one unhurried sitting, several lounges, a well-stocked library and a state-of-the-art spa. The ships’ spacious staterooms (each measuring 240-510 square feet) will all feature flat-screen satellite TV and DVD player, individual climate control, Internet access and private balconies with large picture windows that actually open.

“We are very pleased to welcome Pearl Seas Cruises to the CLIA family,” said Dale. “The line’s new ships will offer vacationers a new choice in the luxury segment of the market. Moreover, the itineraries will showcase some of the Western Hemisphere’s most desirable coastal attractions.”

According to Pearl Seas Cruises President and CEO Charles Robertson: “CLIA-member travel agencies are widely regarded as the consumer’s very best resource when planning a cruise vacation. Pearl Seas is pleased to be affiliated with the leisure travel industry’s gold standard association.”

Via CLIA

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Barcelona port in road transport terror

BARCELONA 09 October – Spanish shipowners have revealed that transport of containers by road to and from the port of Barcelona has been controlled by a violent organised gang for almost ten years. Quoting a source close to a judicial enquiry into the road transport system at the port, the owners' association Anave said today that the group has regularly demanded euro18,000-20,000 ($25,200) from individual truck owners for permission to operate at the port. Owners who do not pay risk having their vehicles set on fire or their tyres slashed. Anave says a judge has now lifted a veil of secrecy on the judicial inquiry that was put in place after Barcelona port authority asked for the matter to be investigated last November. A port authority internal report - revealed by Anave - says: "It is impossible to resolve this conflict completely as any initiative taken to undermine the activity of this player [a road haulage association] would result in the blockage of trade at the port [by striking lorry drivers].

via Fairpla.co.uk

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La fiscalía actúa contra la red mafiosa que extorsiona a camioneros en el puerto de Barcelona

Un “grupo violento organizado” mantiene un “monopolio del negocio del transporte terrestre de contenedores en el puerto de Barcelona desde 1997”, según fuentes conocedoras de la investigación dirigida por la fiscalía de Cataluña a raíz de una denuncia de la Autoridad Portuaria en noviembre de 2005, de la que se ha levantado el secreto del sumario. Este grupo pedía a los camioneros como “donativo” cantidades entre 18.000 y 20.000 euros para poder trabajar sin que se les quemasen los camiones, pinchasen las ruedas o lanzasen bolas de acero contra las lunas. “El transporte terrestre de contenedores en el puerto sufre una situación de conflicto permanente”, señala un informe de la AP. “Es imposible resolver este conflicto de forma contundente, ya que cualquier iniciativa estimada como perjudicial a los intereses de los distintos agentes es respondida con el paro de la actividad portuaria.”

vía ANAVE


 

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Japan considers North Korea ship ban due to the planned nuclear tests

viernes, octubre 06, 2006
 Japan is considering imposing further sanctions against North Korea, including shipping, if Kim Jong Il’s government goes ahead with a planned nuclear test. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s newly appointed prime minister, yesterday told the Diet in Tokyo that he considered the test, which would follow on from a series of missile test launches in June this year, was “definitely not permissible”. The previous administration, of which Abe was a member, included a shipping ban on a list of potential sanctions against North Korea. After the June tests Japan banned the passenger/cargo ship Man Gyong Bong, which operates the only scheduled passenger service between the two countries, from calling in Japan for a period of six months. A legal framework already exists to extend the ship ban to all North Korean-registered vessels, a threat implied in Abe’s comments and a move which could have serious consequences for North Korea’s fragile economy.

 Via Fairplay.co.uk

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Entevista entre el Director electo de IMSO y el Secretario General de OMI

miércoles, octubre 04, 2006
El español Esteban Pacha, Representante Permanente ante la Organización Marítima Internacional de las Naciones Unidas (OMI) se entrevista hoy con el Secretario General de la Organización, Efthimios Mitropoulus, ya como Director electo de la International Mobile Satellite Organization IMSO.

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Caribbean passports for the Cruise Industry delayed up to June 2009

martes, octubre 03, 2006
 The North American cruise industry has dodged a bullet with the passage of the so-called Stevens-Leahy Amendment, which delays new US passport requirements from January 2007 to a future time up to June 2009. Serious concerns had arisen over the looming deadline of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which would have required passengers cruising to the Caribbean and Bermuda to own passports beginning next year. Given the low rate of passport ownership among American travellers, it was feared that the WHTI would affect bookings badly, particularly for low-priced, three- and four-day Caribbean itineraries. Approved last Friday as part of the FY2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, the Stevens-Leahy Amendment substantially delays that deadline while also providing an economical alternative to passports for both sea and land border-crossings: the PASScard.

Via Fairplay.co.uk


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US $2Bn port security bill passed

Securing the logistic chain it's gaining a growing importance.
The Republican-led US Congress has passed landmark port security legislation aimed at securing the maritime cargo stream. First, the House voted 409 – 2 to approve the $2.2Bn five-year bill that will provide $400M annually in port security grants. The Senate then quickly followed suit with an affirmative voice vote. In addition to the port grants, the bill also mandates accelerated implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card for workers at the country’s 361 ports and the hiring of additional Customs inspectors. It also provides for installation of radiation detectors at the country’s 22 largest ports by the end of 2007 and implementation of a pilot project to move toward non-intrusive inspection of all US-bound containers. Port Security Council director Jay Grant said that the bill is the first major step away from funding only “guns, gates and guards” and toward a long-term approach to port security.
Via Fairplay.co.uk

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XLV SESIONES TÉCNICAS de INGENIERÍA NAVAL: UN SECTOR MARÍTIMO DINÁMICO E INNOVADOR CLAVE PARA EL CRECIMIENTO DE ESPAÑA

lunes, octubre 02, 2006
 
La Asociación de Ingenieros Navales y Oceánicos de España (AINE) organiza en Madrid, del 4-5 Octubre, unas jornadas con el título “Un sector marítimo dinámico e innovador clave para el crecimiento de España”. Estarán dedicadas a la presentación, discusión y promoción de la industria y el sector marítimo en su más amplia acepción, así como a la necesidad de impulsarlo, en un momento en que se debate el Libro Verde de la Comisión sobre “Futura Política Marítima Europea".

La página de las sesiones está aquí. Asistirán el Alcalde de Madrid: Alberto Ruíz Gallardón, la Presidenta de la Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid Esperanza Aguirre, la Ministra de Agricultura y Pesca Elena Espinosa, la Ministra de Fomento Magdalena Álvarez, además del Secreatrio General de Transportes Fernando Palao junto a los directores y subdirectores de la Dirección General de la Marina Mercante.

Se celebrarán en la Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Navales de Madrid, dirigida actualmente por Jesús Panadero.

El programa de la sesiones es éste.

Los temas fundamentales serán el futuro y la seguridad del negocio marítimo, la pesca y la naútica de recreo, la alternativa energética y diversas custiones medioambientales.


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Dieciocho detenidos por extorsión, asociación ilícita y coacciones en el Puerto de Bilbao

Al menos 18 personas fueron detenidas ayer por orden de la Audiencia Nacional acusadas de los delitos de extorsión, asociación ilícita y coacciones y amenazas, por fijar de forma irregular el reparto de las cargas y los precios del transporte de mercancías por carretera en el Puerto de Bilbao.

Las investigaciones son una ampliación de las iniciadas el pasado año por la Ertzaintza, después de que el Gobierno vasco presentara una denuncia por lo que denominó "prácticas ilegales" en el Puerto de Bilbao.

La denuncia se refería funcionamiento del transporte de mercancías en su recinto, especialmente contenedores: un sistema cerrado controlado por Sintrabi (sindicato al que están afiliados 800 de los 1.200 camioneros que trabajan en exclusiva en el Puerto de Bilbao) y unas pocas empresas que obliga a las consignatarias a trabajar con los transportistas que se les asigna. A su vez, el transporte de cargas se restringe a los camioneros que están dentro del sistema. La compra de licencias para acceder a las cargas llega a alcanzar ahora los 84.000 euros por camión, 24.000 más que hace tres años. 

Entre los detenidos figuran Miguel Aguirre, presidente de la patronal de empresas estibadoras y consignatarias y consejero delegado de la firma Marítima Candina; el vicepresidente José María Egurrola, que es además director de TMB, una de las dos terminales de contenedores que operan el recinto portuario bilbaíno, y Juan Antonio Mendizabal, máximo responsable de la compañía de transporte de contenedores CB Bilbao. Otros dos arrestados son Felipe Ampudia y Juan Carlos Fullana, presidente y secretario general, respectivamente, de Sintrabi.

Vía El País.es Fairplay.co.uk.

Un polémico sistema que cumple 12 años
El cuestionado sistema de funcionamiento del transporte de mercancías en el Puerto de Bilbao se remonta a 1994. La crisis del sector llevó a cerrar a varias grandes empresas y forzó a los conductores a convertirse en empresarios, en muchos casos con un solo camión. Se firmó entonces un convenio entre el sindicato de camioneros autónomos Sintrabi, la Asociación de Consignatarios y Estibadores y 40 empresas de transporte, que definía un sistema de reparto del trabajo cerrado. Su primer cuestionamiento oficial llegó en 2002 con un fallo del Tribunal de Defensa de la Competencia que señalaba que Sintrabi imponía ilegalmente tarifas y ejercía una función de "policía" en el Puerto de Bilbao para controlar quiénes eran los camioneros que trabajaban.

Defensa de la Competencia impuso a Sintrabi el pago de un multa de 1,2 millones de euros, que está pendiente de los recursos presentados. En esos años hubo varios conflictos en el Puerto, como en 2004 cuando la entrada y salida de contenedores estuvo parada dos semanas cuando una consignataria quiso prescindir de la empresa de transporte que tenía asignada y contratar a otra. Desde 2004, cuando el Gobierno creó una mesa con todos los implicados para garantizar la libre competencia, las tensiones se han atenuado gracias a un pacto de no agresión entre las partes implicadas.

Sintrabi asegura que las restricciones a la libre contratación y fijación de tarifas en el Puerto es una práctica que se da en otros sectores económicos. "Aquí ninguno de nosotros se hace rico y no hay ninguna mafia", afirman sus responsables.

El sindicato Egas, que agrupa a algo más de 300 de los 1.200 camioneros del Puerto, defiende el numerus clausus, pero cree que sí hay comportamientos mafiosos por parte de Sintrabi. Dice que las agencias comercializadoras, uno de los intermediarios en las cargas, controlan el traspaso de licencias y exigen una comisión a los camioneros "con el visto bueno" de Sintrabi.

El Gobierno, que nombró el pasado año a un observador para mediar y buscar soluciones, se ha mostrado lacónico y lo único que ha asegurado es que el nuevo modelo que se establezca no incluirá indemnizaciones por las licencias. El observador, Rafael Puntonet, sólo ha elaborado un documento, que es una mera declaración de intenciones. En menos de 15 líneas, expresa que las instituciones defienden que haya libre contratación y competencia en el Puerto y que las empresas tengan más dimensión y bajen los precios. Y que todo ello sea compatible con "mantener el medio de vida de los transportistas autónomos que operan, por cuyos intereses el Gobierno prometió velar".

Para la nueva fase de la comisión, abierta el pasado día 11, Puntonet había planteado que se concreten acuerdos sobre la atomización del transporte y se vaya a una concentración empresarial que posibilite una oferta distinta, la libre competencia y el libre acceso. El observador fijó también un calendario: los acuerdos deben tomarse este mismo otoño para que en 2007 se pongan en marcha las medidas y el nuevo sistema comience a funcionar en 2008. El pasado día 11 se celebró la primera reunión, sin ningún avance.

En el fondo de este conflicto está un goloso negocio, lo que explica la resistencia de los camioneros a modificarlo y el interés de las consignatarias en cambiar el modelo. Sólo el movimiento de contenedores supone más de 60 millones de euros cada año.


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