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Tuesday, 04 June 2019 09:01

Mis-declared chemical cargoes of calcium hypochlorite and chlorinated paraffin wax are believed to have caused a blast and fire onboard a KMTC containership at port in Thailand that resulted in 130 people being taken to hospital. 

The KMTC Hong Kong was alongside at terminal A2 in Thung Sukhla on Saturday morning, Laem Chabang port when a fire erupted at around 6-45am. 

The blaze burned on the vessel until Saturday evening when Thai authorities were able to successfully extinguish the fire. More than 130 people were taken to hospital, some complaining of irritation in the eyes and throat, others of a burning sensation on the skin, although no serious injuries were reported. Nearby communities were also evacuated as ash rained down from the blast. 

Originally the fire was not believed to have been caused by dangerous cargoes, however, inspection of the 35 containers at the centre of the blaze showed more than half contained chemical cargoes, and it is believed these were the cause of the fire and explosions on the KMTC Hong Kong. 

Port Authority of Thailand director Kamolsak Phromprayoon revealed 18 of the boxes contained chemical cargoes local media reported. Investigators found that 13 containers had cargoes of calcium hypochlorite in 13 cargos and five had cargoes of chlorinated paraffin. The shippers had not declared the dangerous cargoes and on Saturday it was believed the cargoes were dolls. 

“Generally, every shipment of toxic chemicals, including transferring of shipment, has to be declared before they enter our ports. But as the ship’s company had not declared these toxic chemicals, it would be the duty of the shipping company to claim the damage from the shipment’s owners,” Kamolsak was quoted as saying by The Nation. 

The mis-declaration of dangerous cargoes, in particular calcium hypochlorite, have been in the spotlight given the number of container cargo fires in recent years that have led to major casualties, including the fatal Maersk Honam blaze last year and the Yantian Express this year.

Some container lines have taken to simply banning the carriage of such dangerous cargoes, however, this does not necessarily solve the problem with shippers simply continuing to mis-declare the dangerous cargoes.

Thursday, 30 May 2019 04:49

FREE-SPENDING days at AP Moller-Maersk group, the world's biggest shipping company, are over as its CEO Soren Skou looks forward to a challenging markets ahead in world container shipping.

"We have as a company a long history of not being disciplined on our capex [capital expenditure], but now we are focusing on capex," said Mr Skou, reported New York's FreightWaves.

In recent months the company has maintained a tight rein on capital expenditure over the past year with no large terminal projects or costly new ships ordered and this policy will continue until at least 2020, said the company.

The group's chief holding, the container carrier Maersk Line with its four million TEU capacity, expects trade to grow one to three per cent this year.

"The moderation of container demand growth reflects a broad-based slowdown in all the main economies, following the recovery of 2016 and 2017, as well as negative effects from fast-forwarding of US imports in the fourth quarter 2018 when retailers prepared for a tariff hike," Maersk said in a statement.

Even though the company had a strong start to the year with revenue up 2.5 per cent and operating profit increasing a third, Mr Skou reaffirmed earlier caution stated about 2019 results.

"We are still facing considerable uncertainties from weaker macro numbers as well as the risk from trade tensions" and the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation's 2020 mandate for reducing sulphur emissions from ships, he said.

Monday, 27 May 2019 02:05

TAIWANESE carrier Yang Ming slashed first quarter year-on-year losses 67 per cent to US$22 million, a result drawn on quarterly revenues of $1.14 billion, which were up 13 per cent.

Yang Ming, part of THE Alliance along with Hapag-Lloyd and Ocean Network Express (ONE), said it carried 1.29 million TEU in the first quarter, up five per cent year on year.

The improvement came despite the traditional slack season in the first quarter and rising operating costs resulting from an 11 per cent increase in oil bunker prices, said the company.

Yang Ming cited a forecast from Paris research house Alphaliner that it said shows supply in the container shipping industry growing 3.1 per cent and being outstripped by 3.6 per cent growth in demand, said Alphaliner.

"This prediction signals an improving supply-demand market. With a brighter outlook, Yang Ming continues to adapt to market changes and adjust operating strategies in line with the direction of the market," it said.

As illustration, Yang Ming's fleet of new eco-friendly vessels is well prepared to meet with the upcoming IMO (International Maritime Organisation) 2020 low-sulphur regulations. The company's fleet optimisation plan is another example of Yang Ming's efforts to achieve its corporate social responsibility goals, while increase its cost-efficiency and competitiveness in the market."

In December, Yang Ming outlined its plan to renew its fleet with a mix of owned and chartered ships in a presentation to analysts.

In 2019, it will take delivery of four 14,000-TEU chartered ships. In 2020 and 2021, it plans to take delivery of 10 owned ships with 2,800-TEU capacity and 10 chartered ships of 11,000-TEU capacity.

It also said between 2018 and 2020 it will see 18 charters expire - twelve 4,250-TEU ships and six 8,000-TEU ships - resulting in savings of about $50 million.

Yang Ming also said it will form a new subsidiary with partners in Jakarta named PT Yang Ming Shipping Indonesia, noting that Indonesia has the largest economy in Southeast Asia. Benson Chou has been nominated as president director.

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