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Summary for January 17- January 21, 2011:
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Top Story

U.S. Treasury targets 24 shipping firms with ties to Iran

The U.S. Department of the Treasury last week targeted 24 shipping companies, including 20 that are based in Hong Kong, that it said were “affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and two entities that are subordinates of Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO).”

U.S. Treasury said in a statement the latest blacklist is part of “efforts to expose the financial and corporate underpinnings of IRISL and AIO, two entities that face international sanctions for their involvement in Iran’s missile programs.”

The Treasury Department contends Iran is attempting to evade sanctions through the use of new front companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, and other deceptive measures to protect IRISL and AIO and to advance its proliferation activities.

“IRISL is under tremendous financial pressure from international sanctions, and it is going to extreme lengths to obscure its network and the ownership of vessels,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey. “Today’s designations expose the latest in a string of deceptive measures Iran is taking to continue its illicit conduct.”

AIO is a subsidiary of Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), the arm of the Iranian military that oversees its ballistic missile program, and oversees all of Iran’s missile industries.

The complete list of black listed companies is:

Address: RM B 12th Floor Two Chinachem Plaza
135 Des Vouex Rd C, Central District
Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong

Address: RM B 12th Floor Two Chinachem Plaza
135 Des Vouex Rd C, Central District
Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong

Address: RM B 12th Floor Two Chinachem Plaza
135 Des Vouex Rd C, Central District
Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong

Address: RM B 12th Floor Two Chinachem Plaza
135 Des Vouex Rd C, Central District
Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo
Center 89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: 15th Floor Tower One Lippo Center
89 Queensway, Hong Kong

Address: Manning House, 21 Bucks Road
Douglas, IM1 3DA, Isle of Man

Address: Manning House, 21 Bucks Road
Douglas, IM1 3DA, Isle of Man

Address: Manning House, 21 Bucks Road
Douglas, IM1 3DA, Isle of Man

Manning House, 21 Bucks Road
Douglas, IM1 3DA, Isle of Man

Address: Pasdaran Avenue, Tehran, Iran
AKA: Shahid Babaie Industries
AKA: Shahid Babaie Industries Complex
AKA: Shahid Babaii Industries Co.
Address: P.O. Box 16535-176; Tehran 16548, Iran

Ryder on the storm

Ryder revenues reached an all-time high of nearly $6.4 billion in 2007, but declined as a freight recession lasting more than two years began to affect the industry. Revenues in 2009 were almost $4.9 billion, down 23 percent from the peak.

Net profits also slumped, falling from nearly $254 million in 2007 to $200 million in 2008 and about $62 million in 2009. But the company maintained a strong positive cash flow and increased dividends to shareholders in 2009. (Dividends have risen annually since 2005.)

“Despite the recession, we remained profitable each year,” said Gregory T. Swienton, Ryder’s chairman and CEO. Swienton said the company first saw a change in the freight business in the third quarter of 2006 as the volume of home furnishings and other items for use in new homes declined.

To deal with the economic slump, Ryder reduced its workforce by more than 5,000 in 2008 and shrank its truck fleet from 167,200 in 2006 to 152,400 in 2009.

Ryder froze salaries and bonuses for executives and other employees. But in 2009-2010, the company provided bonuses to drivers, technicians, warehouse employees and others.

Ryder discontinued operations in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and parts of Europe that did not meet expected profits or fit into the company’s strategic plan. But the company continues to invest overseas in growth markets where it believes it has a competitive advantage.

In 2010, business started to improve as customers moved more freight. In the first nine months of last year, Ryder reported revenues of $3.8 billion, up from $3.6 billion a year earlier. Net profits for the nine-month period of 2010 were $81 million, an improvement over $53.7 million for the same period the previous year.

Over the mid-term, Swienton does not expect a swift recovery, but sees Ryder as well positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities in the enormous transportation market. “It will be a bumpy, erratic economic recovery. If you’re conservative and frugal, you don’t get into trouble.”

-Miami Herald

For the full story:

Vancouver, Wash. port to demolish buildings for freight access

The Port of Vancouver USA’s board of commissioners announced last week it had unanimously approved the demolition of three port buildings in order to make way for the West Vancouver Freight Access (WVFA) rail project that, when complete in 2017, is expected to reduce congestion on the regional rail system by as much as 40 percent.

The port said the building removal would also speed up potential expansion of its grain export operations.

Demolition of the buildings is scheduled for the first quarter of 2011.

“The surplus and demolition of these buildings is the first step in a $72 million project that we hope to complete over the next several years,” said Tony Flagg, president of United Grain Corporation.

The Columbia River’s shipping channel depth was increased from 40 to 43 feet, allowing approximately 7,200 tons of additional grain can be loaded onto each vessel calling Vancouver, the port said in a statement.

Chesapeake Bay Island restored from Maryland port’s dredge deposits

While most of the Chesapeake Bay’s islands are slowly vanishing beneath the waves, one not far from Baltimore is staging a remarkable renaissance.

Poplar Island, former hunting retreat, hangout for politicos and black cat farm, had nearly washed away by the late 1990s. But it's since been restored to the size it was when it was still a thriving 19th-century farming and fishing community, using muck dredged from the shipping channels leading to Baltimore just 34 miles to the northwest.

Pairing economic necessity with environmental restoration, state and federal government agencies have teamed up to barge 18 million cubic yards of silt to this island just off Talbot County on the Eastern Shore. The stuff has been scraped from the bay bottom so cargo-laden ships won't run aground.

Once deposited and dried out behind dikes protecting the island from the bay, the reclaimed material is being shaped by heavy equipment and volunteers' hands into a combination of salt marsh and wooded uplands.

Begun 12 years ago, the effort has rebuilt the island from a few desolate patches of eroding sand to 1,140 acres, roughly what surveyors measured in 1847.

The massive undertaking is costing $667 million, with the federal government picking up 75 percent of the tab and the Maryland Port Administration the remainder. And it's less than halfway done, with plans to add another 575 acres of land.

-Baltimore Sun

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Busy pirates

Somali pirates hijacked a Greek-owned bulk carrier on Monday after releasing a Greek-owned tanker the day before, the European Union Naval Force said.

The cargo ship MV Eagle was hijacked early Monday by pirates who had fired small arms and grenades, according to a press statement from the EU Naval Force. There are 24 Filipino crew onboard, it said.

The attack occurred in the Gulf of Aden, 490 miles (790 kilometres) southwest of Salaam, Oman. The EU said there has been no contact with the ship since the attack.

On Sunday, the MV Motivator and its crew of 18 Filipinos was released from pirate control, another press statement said. An EU ship had assisted the crew, and "according to the ship's Greek owners, the crew are reported to be as well as could be expected given the circumstances."

The MV Motivator was taken on July 4 and released on Sunday. The average period of captivity is getting longer as pirates negotiate for higher ransoms.

In a separate development, South Korean officials said that 21 crew members aboard a South Korean-operated cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates have been confirmed safe.

Somali pirates seized the chemical carrier Samho Jewelry in the Arabian Sea on Saturday. Eight South Koreans, two Indonesians and 11 Myanmar citizens were aboard.

-Canadian Press

For the full story:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Top Story

Hutchison to spin off key port holdings for $7.1 bil

Li Ka-Shing's Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, the world's biggest container-terminal operator, will sell deep- water port holdings in Hong Kong and southern China, hubs of record global trade, in what may be Singapore's largest-ever initial public offering.

The company will retain a stake of about 25 percent in the trust that will own terminals in Hong Kong and neighboring Guangdong province, port operations along the Pearl River and shipping-support businesses, it said in a statement today.

The Hutchison Port Holdings Trust offering may raise at least $6 billion, Reuters said, citing IFR, an affiliated news service. Hong Kong-based Hutchison is selling the assets, with an operating margin of about 50 percent, as China's efforts to cool its economy threaten to damp exports that have jumped sixfold in a decade.


For the full story:

Savannah needs South Carolina for channel deepening

The Charleston Post & Courier reports the proposed $800 million deepening of the Savannah Harbor from 42 to 48 feet is going to need to get past more than environmental obstacles - neighboring port competitor South Carolina also potentially stands in the way. The two states are also supposed to develop a joint container terminal in Jasper County, as a possible political battle heats up.

For the full story:

Damco names new head of carrier management

Third party logistics firm Damco announced Stefan P. Weber is the new head its carrier management group for North America. Stefan assumed this role from January 03, 2011 in Damco's North American main office in Madison, New Jersey, the company said in a statement.

Stefan joins Damco from Kuehne + Nagel where he was involved with route management and ocean freight for the past eight years.

Stefan has also worked for Schenker, GeoLogistics and Panalpina.

"We are extremely pleased to add Stefan Weber as head of carrier management. Stefan brings over 26 years of experience to our company and we feel that his industry insight and background will help us execute our long term strategies which will be instrumental in driving results in North America", said Kurt Pruitt, chief operating officer for Damco North America.

Customs makes big counterfeit cigarette seizure at L.A./L.B. port complex

Customs officials say they have seized more than 22,000 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes valued at more than $1 million at a Southern California port. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release Wednesday that import specialists and officers at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex intercepted the shipment from China and seized more than 4.4 million cigarettes with false Marlboro trademarks.

The statement says the retail value of the 22,170 cartons marked Marlboro Light 100s and Marlboro Gold Pack would have totaled $1.1 million.

Customs officials say the shipment was falsely labeled "hang tags and hang plugs."


For the story source:

Record number of hostages taken by Somali pirates in 2010

Pirates took a record 1,181 hostages in 2010 as ship hijackings in waters off Somalia escalated, a global maritime watchdog said Tuesday.

Attackers seized 53 vessels worldwide last year - all but four off the coast of Somalia - according to the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.

The number of hostages and vessels taken "are the highest we have ever seen" since the center began monitoring attacks in 1991, its director, Pottengal Mukundan, said in a statement.


For the full story:


Wednesdsay, January 19, 2011

Top Story

West Coast ports broke cargo records in 2010

Southern California’s two big seaports and a venerable Pacific Northwest box port, broke containerized cargo records in 2010 on the heels of one of the worst recessions in U.S. history.

The Port of Long Beach posted a whopping 25 percent gain, increasing by 1.2 million TEUs to 6.3 million TEUs – reportedly the largest single increase of any U.S. seaport, and the biggest bump ever recorded by the port.

"This was a tremendous rebound, and happened much faster than predicted," said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Richard D. Steinke. “Best of all, the additional cargo has brought back thousands of port-related jobs throughout the supply chain – and we're very optimistic that the job growth in this industry will continue in 2011,” he said.

The port’s imports rose 23.4 percent in 2010 to 3,128,860 TEUs, with exports up 15.6 percent to 1,562,398 TEUs. Empty container moves were up 33.2 percent for the year to 1,572,241 TEUs.

The port said in a press release that the 1.2 million-TEU increase marks the biggest one-year jump since 1971 when it leased its first container terminal. The previous record was in 2004, when cargo volume increased by 1.1 million TEUs, the port said.

At the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, year-over-year container traffic surged 16 percent in 2010, including a record number of exports.

The port reported its export container business rose 10.3 percent in 2010 at 1,841,274 TEUs compared to 1,668,911 TEUs in 2009, surpassing the previous container export record of 1,782,502 TEUs in 2008.

The port’s imports increased 12.8 percent in 2010 to 3,973,933 TEUs compared to 3,524,386 TEUs in 2009.

“With this 16 percent increase in 2010 container volumes, the Port of Los Angeles is putting people back to work and doing its part to help President Obama meet his goal to double national exports over the next five years,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

“This is good news not only for Los Angeles, but cities across the nation,” said Mayor Villaraigosa.

The Port handled a total of 7,831,902 TEUs in 2010, leaving it at the top spot for container handling in the Americas.

To the north, the Port of Seattle broke its own cargo volume record in 2010 with more than 2.1 million TEUs, surpassing its previous high in 2005 of 2.08 million TEUs.

"The cargo volumes are exciting, and we are proud of our record year," said CEO Yoshitani.

The port attributed its success to strong exports, the addition of Maersk’s and CMA CGM’s container business, and its 'fee free' policies at its container terminals.

"The Port of Seattle has worked hard for its competitive advantage, and these numbers reflect that," said Linda Styrk, managing director of the Seattle’s seaport.

ZIM to launch Mexico-Tampa direct service

Zim American Integrated Shipping announced it is launching a direct container service between Mexico and the Port of Tampa, Florida.

The new weekly Mexico Tampa Express Service (MTX) is scheduled to commence on January 29, 2011, deploying two chartered vessels of 550 and 700-TEU capacity on the following rotation: Kingston – Veracruz – Altamira – Tampa– Kingston.

Zim had previously announced in November its South America Express service, which added new direct connections to Tampa from Brazil and Venezuela.

FedEx Ground to develop DC in Georgia on 50-acre site

FedEx Ground will develop a 50-acre site in Norcross, where it has initial plans for a nearly 215,000-square-foot distribution center - and room for much more.

FedEx Ground, based in greater Pittsburgh, is the fast-growing business segment of Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp. FedEx is also a close competitor of Atlanta-based United Parcel Service Inc. and both are trying to increase their market share in the Southeast.

FedEx Ground has been working on a nationwide network expansion to boost daily package volume capacity and further enhance the speed and service capabilities of its network, a company spokesman said.

FedEx Ground could develop the Norcross site into a major Southeastern hub that employs several hundred, with room for up to 1 million square feet of warehouse and distribution space. FedEx Ground would confirm only that it's building the distribution center. It offered no specifics about the project.

-WXIA TV (Atlanta)

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Hong Kong “striving” to comply with UN sanctions against its Iran-linked shipping firms

Hong Kong said Wednesday it was "striving" to pass legislation to comply with UN sanctions against Iran, after 20 shipping firms in the city were accused of being linked to Tehran's weapons buildup.

Last week, the US Treasury Department slapped sanctions on 24 shipping companies, including four in Britain's Isle of Man, accused of being fronts for Iranian businesses involved in Iran's missile programs.

The firms are allegedly affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which has been slapped with international sanctions.

Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, is awaiting Beijing's final approval to usher in the changes, but China has said it would support the sanctions passed by the UN Security Council in June last year.

At present, Hong Kong cannot seize assets belonging to the IRISL-linked shipping companies without first obtaining a court order.


For the full story:

Five cargo ships take shelter from storm in Aleutians

The Coast Guard granted requests from five foreign cargo ships to seek shelter in a storm along the Aleutians.

The ships were enduring waves of 27 to 31 feet, winds of more than 55 mph and gusts up to 100 mph while sailing along what's called the great circle route north of the Aleutian Islands on Tuesday.

The five ships range from 500 to more than 1,000 feet in length, and their requests for shelter came Friday through the weekend. Two of them sought shelter off of Attu Island, two off Atka Island and one off Adak Island, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard said it has granted 10 "storm avoidance" requests since October.

-Tacoma News Tribune

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Thursdsay, January 20, 2011

Top Story

Rahall announces transport committee Dems

Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), the U.S. House of Representatives’ Democratic leader of the transportation and infrastructure committee, released the membership list of his party’s caucus and subcommittee ranking members on the committee’s six panels.

The House is now officially Republican controlled and the transportation and infrastructure subcommittee is chaired by John Mica (R-FL), who this year assumed the influential position vacated by Rep. James Oberstar, the former longtime Democratic leader of the committee, due to his defeat in his home state of Minnesota in November’s pivotal elections.

“We have assembled an incredible group of Democratic members who will bring to the table extensive expertise and a solid commitment to addressing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure,” said Rahall in a statement.

“Democrats stand ready to work with Republicans to make the necessary investments that will fuel our economy and keep America on the road to recovery. I look forward to working with Chairman John Mica and the members of the committee as we create jobs and get Americans back to work,” he said.

The transportation and infrastructure committee has broad jurisdiction over U.S. highways, railways, airports, seaports, bus lines, and pipelines, as well as the Economic Development Administration, Appalachian Regional Commission, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other crucial economic development programs.

Following is the membership of the full committee and six subcommittees for the 112th Congress:

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure:

Ranking Democratic Member: Nick J. Rahall (WV)

Democrats: Peter A. DeFazio (OR), Jerry F. Costello (IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Jerrold Nadler (NY), Corrine Brown (FL), Bob Filner (CA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Elijah E. Cummings (MD), Leonard Boswell (IA), Tim Holden (PA), Rick Larsen (WA), Michael E. Capuano (MA), Timothy H. Bishop (NY), Michael H. Michaud (ME), Russ Carnahan (MO), Grace Napolitano (CA), Daniel Lipinski (IL), Mazie Hirono (HI), Jason Altmire (PA), Timothy J. Walz (MN), Heath Shuler (NC), Steve Cohen (TN), Laura A. Richardson (CA), Albio Sires (NJ), and Donna F. Edwards (MD).

Subcommittee on Aviation:

Ranking Democratic Member: Jerry F. Costello (IL)

Democrats: Russ Carnahan (MO), Daniel Lipinski (IL), Peter A. DeFazio (OR), Bob Filner (CA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Leonard Boswell (IA), Tim Holden (PA), Michael E. Capuano (MA), Mazie Hirono (HI), Steve Cohen (TN), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), and Nick J. Rahall (WV) (ex officio).

Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation:

Ranking Democratic Member: Rick Larsen (WA)

Democrats: Elijah E. Cummings (MD), Corrine Brown (FL), Timothy H. Bishop (NY), Mazie Hirono (HI), Michael H. Michaud (ME), and Nick J. Rahall (WV) (ex officio).

Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management:

Ranking Democratic Member: Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)

Democrats: Heath Shuler (NC), Michael H. Michaud (ME), Russ Carnahan (MO), Timothy J. Walz (MN), Donna F. Edwards (MD), Bob Filner (CA), and Nick J. Rahall (WV) (ex-officio).

Subcommittee on Highways and Transit:

Ranking Democratic Member: Peter A. DeFazio (OR)

Democrats: Jerrold Nadler (NY), Bob Filner (CA), Leonard Boswell (IA), Tim Holden (PA), Michael E. Capuano (MA), Michael H. Michaud (ME), Grace Napolitano (CA), Mazie Hirono (HI), Jason Altmire (PA), Timothy J. Walz (MN), Heath Shuler (NC), Steve Cohen (TN), Laura A. Richardson (CA), Albio Sires (NJ), Donna F. Edwards (MD), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Jerry F. Costello (IL), and Nick J. Rahall (WV) (ex officio).

Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials:

Ranking Democratic Member: Corrine Brown (FL)

Democrats: Jerrold Nadler (NY), Elijah E. Cummings (MD), Rick Larsen (WA), Timothy H. Bishop (NY), Michael H. Michaud (ME), Grace Napolitano (CA), Daniel Lipinski (IL), Jason Altmire (PA), Timothy J. Walz (MN), Laura A. Richardson (CA), Albio Sires (NJ), Peter A. DeFazio (OR), and Nick J. Rahall (WV) (ex-officio).

Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment:

Ranking Democratic Member: Timothy H. Bishop (NY)

Democrats: Jerry F. Costello (IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Russ Carnahan (MO), Donna F. Edwards (MD), Corrine Brown (FL), Bob Filner (CA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Michael E. Capuano (MA), Grace Napolitano (CA), Jason Altmire (PA), Steve Cohen (TN), Laura A. Richardson (CA), and Nick J. Rahall (WV) (ex officio).

U.S. business group applauds Hu Jintao’s visit as success

This week’s visit to the U.S. by China’s president, Hu Jintao, was applauded as a commercial success by the U.S. -China Business Council (U.S.C.B.C), including the announcement by both trade giants pledging $45 billion in U.S. export sales to China.

The business group expressed “appreciation to President Barack Obama and his administration for their leadership in making important progress on key issues for American companies,” according to a U.S.B.C. statement.

“The announced export sales of $45 billion supports jobs in the United States. China is the only major market for US. manufactured and agricultural products over the past decade that has averaged the 15 percent growth a year needed to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports in five years,” said U.S.C.B.C. President John Frisbie

“China’s pledge to separate its innovation and government procurement policies is new and potentially significant,” said Frisbie.

“This was one of U.S.C.B.C.’s top advocacy priorities for President Hu’s visit. The use of market-distorting government purchase preferences to foster innovation is counter to international best practices and has tilted the playing field against foreign companies. We look forward to learning more about how this pledge will be implemented.”

Frisbie said his group believes China is starting to make good on its pledges made last month during annual trade talks to ensure the use of legitimate software in government offices by today agreeing to audit government office software use and to publish the results.

“If the audit is thorough, the additional transparency on this issue should result in greater software sales for U.S. companies,” said Frisbie.

Union Pacific posts 41 percent surge in Q4 profit

Union Pacific Corp. on Thursday reported a 41% surge in fourth-quarter profit with a rebounding economy helping to boost freight volumes.

Shares of the railroad operator followed the broader market into the red, down 3% at $94.38. Still, the stock has rallied 48% in the past year.

Union Pacific posted net income of $775 million, or $1.56 a share, up from $549 million, or $1.08 a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Total operating revenue rose 17% to $4.4 billion. Fourth-quarter business volumes, as measured by total revenue carloads, grew 9%.

Report: U.S. cargo theft hit record high in 2010

Cargo theft in the U.S. rose by 4.1 percent in 2010, to 899 recorded theft incidents, the highest on record, according to a firm that tracks and records cargo theft activity around the globe.

At an average of 75 incidents per month, the supply chain industry sustained full truckload/container losses at a rate of 2.5 incidents per day, according to statistics compiled by FreightWatch International.

Of the 899 incidents, 724 were full truckload or container thefts and 31 were warehouse burglaries, the FreightWatch report said. Violence was involved in 1.3 percent of the incidents with 10 hijackings and two warehouse robberies, the report said.

FreightWatch International said it categorizes stolen loads under 11 different commodity types, and tracking by date, location, modus operandi (M.O.) and specific product. The firm’s 2010 report summarized U.S. theft data collected in 2010 and analyzed trends derived from database content, law enforcement information and industry personnel. FreightWatch said it also draws on observations by personnel in the field.

Somali lawmakers to re-draft anti-piracy bill after some in parliament declare pirates “heroes”

Somali lawmakers are re-drafting a bill to make piracy illegal after the parliament refused to pass it.

The power vacuum left by two decades of civil war in Somali has allowed pirates to flourish and demand big ransoms from passing ships.

But some MPs described them as heroes for keeping foreign fishing fleets away from Somali shores, and said they were acting as unofficial coastguards.

The redraft is likely to make foreign trawling in Somali waters an offense.

BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says Somalia once had rich fishing off its lengthy coastline, but years of over-fishing by foreign trawlers has devastated fish stocks.

Trawlers from Taiwan and Malaysia are among the fleet of vessels that have hoovered up the catch, leaving Somali fishermen facing a grim future, he adds.

Earlier this week, the International Maritime Bureau said a record number of people, 1,181 sailors, were taken hostage by pirates in 2010, mostly off the Somali coast.

A separate study recently found that maritime piracy costs the global economy between $7bn (£4.4bn) and $12bn (£7.6bn) a year.


For the full story:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Top Story

Slow steaming likely to continue

Container vessels are sailing at the slowest speeds in at least two years to save on fuel costs, driving up freight rates and the shares of shipbuilders.

The global fleet of about 4,660 [ships] moved at an average of 11.44 knots last month, 7.4 percent less than a year earlier and the lowest since Bloomberg began compiling the data from AISLive in May 2008.

Sailing more slowly saves fuel, the price of which has more than doubled in two years, and curbs the availability of ships, shoring up income for owners.

While rates for dry bulk carriers hauling coal are at their lowest since 2009 and those for oil tankers fell 90 percent in a year, container costs more than doubled in 12 months, an index from the Hamburg Shipbrokers’ Association shows. With trade growth forecast by the International Monetary Fund to weaken in 2011 and oil prices 16 percent higher than a year earlier, owners have little incentive to speed up.

Forward freight agreements traded by brokers and used to speculate on or hedge future shipping costs anticipate container prices will keep rising. Rates will average about $2,135 a box this year on the benchmark Shanghai-to-U.S. West Coast route, or 8 percent more than now, according to the derivative contracts from London-based Freight Investor Services Ltd.


For the full story:

Dollar Tree to expand in Savannah

Dollar Tree plans to expand its distribution center in Savannah, a move the discount retailer says will create 68 jobs.

Gov. Nathan Deal announced Thursday that Dollar Tree will invest $18 million in its south Georgia expansion.

The company intends to grow its Savannah center from 600,000 square feet to 1 million square feet. Dollar Tree will need the extra space because it plans to nearly double the amount of merchandise its imports through Savannah's port by the year 2014.

Virginia-based Dollar Tree is known for its stores that sell everything for $1 or less. The company's distribution center on the Georgia coast opened in 2000.

-Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Last call for strong Great Lakes shipping season

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officially announced the end of the Great Lakes shipping season Thursday after the last vessel traversed the Soo Locks.

The season’s final vessel, the tug Invincible, with the integrated barge McKee Sons, a 579-foot vessel, cleared the Poe Lock downbound at 3:42 a.m. Wednesday. It was loaded with iron ore at Silver Bay and bound for Cleveland.

As reported earlier in the News Tribune, traffic was up considerably in the 2010 shipping season, with 9,982 passages through the Soo Locks, carrying 74.5 million tons of cargo, compared with 3,098 passages and 53.3 million tons in the 2009 shipping season.

One of the Soo Locks stayed open three days past the traditional closing date of the navigation season, at the request of the shipping industry. The locks are scheduled to reopen March 25.

-Duluth News-Tribune

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Ship with cargo of uranium bound for Vancouver, B.C. port for cleanup

A ship whose cargo of uranium concentrate spilled during bad weather at sea last month will likely be moved to the Port of Vancouver for cleanup, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission says.

The Altona left Vancouver on Dec. 23 en route to Zhanjiang, China, carrying 770,000 pounds of uranium concentrate in roughly 840 drums.

On Jan. 3, after traveling through days of bad weather, the crew of the Hartmann-Reederei-owned ship notified Saskatoon-based Cameco Corp.'s that several of its sea containers had shifted and a number of drums had fallen out.

It was traveling between Hawaii and the Midway Islands Cameco asked the Altona to turn around and set a route back to Canada.

Uranium concentrate is considered to be "mildly radioactive." The radiation a person standing four to five meters from a drum would receive would be the same as everyday background radiation levels, officials have said.

-Vancouver Sun

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South Korean forces stage daring raid on Somali-held vessel in Arabian Sea

At dawn, South Korean special forces packed into a small boat approached a hijacked freighter in the Arabian Sea. Commandos scrambled up a ladder onto the ship, aboard which Somali pirates were armed with AK assault rifles and anti-tank missiles. A South Korean destroyer and hovering Lynx helicopter provided covering fire.

When Friday's operation ended five hours later, 21 hostages had been rescued, eight Somali pirates killed and five assailants captured. Pockmarks from artillery fire blanketed the ship's bridge. One of the hostages was wounded, but all were alive — a remarkable ending for a risky rescue. Only a handful of rescues in recent years have involved such peril to the crew.

Friday's operation in waters between Oman and Africa came a week after the Somali attackers seized the Samho Jewelry, a 11,500-ton chemical carrier, as it was sailing from the United Arab Emirates to Sri Lanka.

During the rescue, the South Korean captain was shot by a pirate. He was taken by a U.S. helicopter to a nearby country for treatment, but the wound is not life-threatening, Lt. Gen. Lee Sung-ho told reporters. The 20 other crew members — seven South Koreans, two Indonesians and 11 citizens from Myanmar — were rescued unharmed and were in good condition, he said.


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