30 April 2012

Historic Navy Ship and CIA Barge to be Auctioned for $100,420

Warm up your credit cards because Uncle Sam is having a garage sale. For the price of $100,420, you could be the proud owner of the Sea Shadow prototype stealth ship. And that’s not all — by ponying up all that cash, you’ll also be agreeing to take possession of the Hughes Mining Barge (HMB-1), which was reportedly built to hide the CIA’s recovery of the downed Soviet submarine K-129. Two great pieces of outdated top secret history for the price of one.

The sale of the two craft is being handled by the General Services Administration’s auction site –think of it as eBay for government surplus. The auction only has five days left, a reserve of $10,000, and a top bid placed just this past Friday of $100,420.

Of course, there are some catches. In addition to the sky-high asking price and needing to take possession of both Seas Shadow and the HMB-1 simultaneously, the terms of the deal require that the winner of the auction completely dismantle the Sea Shadow for scrap. Sorry guys: No pleasure boating. Here’s what the GSA say about the auction:

Operation Sea Shadow. A Stealthy Nautical Reveal! 
The Sea Shadow was built by Lockheed Martin and DARPA in 1985 to test stealth concepts on naval craft and ship automation. The comparisons between it and the angular design of the Lockheed F-117 stealth fighter are immediately apparent to the eye, and the Sea Shadow was built only four years after the aircraft’s first flight.

The Sea Shadow has been paired with the HMB-1 since its inception, and the floating drydock has continued to house the craft after it was removed from service in 2006. Since then, the pair have been quietly rusting in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, with the hopes that an interested museum would want to take on the strange vessel. There were, obviously, no takers.

The HMB-1 has had a bit of a storied history itself. A completely submersible drydock barge, it was built to work in conjunction with the Glomar Explorer as part of an elaborate CIA effort to raise the Soviet submarine K-129 called project Azorian. Built by eccentric mogol Howard Hughes, the barge featured a retractable roof and was meant to fit beneath the Glomar where a large mechanical arm would descend to the ocean floor and pluck the submarine from the depths. Though operation Azorian was only partially successful, HMB-1 found new life as the perfect way to develop and test the Sea Shadow away from prying eyes.

And if all that isn’t enough, the Sea Shadow inspired the ship used in Tomorrow Never Dies. If that’s not enough to get you to plonk down a life’s savings than I don’t know what will.

Source: Mashable. By Max Eddy. 28 April 2012

Five Cool Stealth War Ships:

1. M80 Stiletto

The M80 Stiletto is equipped with four C32 1232 kW (1652 HP) engines manufactured by the Caterpillar, Inc., yielding a top speed in excess of 50 knots (90 km/h) and a range of 500 nautical miles (900 km) when fully loaded. It can be outfitted with jet drives for shallow water operations and beaching. This extreme performance is based on M Ship Co.’s proprietary, globally patented technology, retaking the bow wave using its energy to create an air cushion for more efficient planing. It weighs 45 tons and carries 2,000 sq. ft. of cargo. It cost roughly $6 million but the fully equipped vessel with cost $10 million.

The design and construction of this vessel made from carbon fiber for reduced weight and added rigidity. You will be seeing these vessels operational in littoral or coastal zone. The M80 Stiletto is also notable because it is the largest U.S. Naval vessel built using carbon fibre composite and epoxy building techniques, which yields a very light, but strong hull.

The Stiletto has been popular for its efficiency, low cost, innovation, higher payload fraction, agility, shock mitigation, shallow draft and stealth which are the new priorities for the next generation naval craft.

2. Sea Shadow (IX-529)

A futuristic-looking vessel with a shape reminiscent of Darth Vader’s helmet, Sea Shadow is a test platform for researching advanced technologies in propulsion, automation, sea-keeping and reduced signatures. Sea Shadow provides government and industry an opportunity to test new technologies at sea before committing to using them in new ship designs.Sea Shadow has a SWATH hull design. Below the water are submerged twin hulls, each with a propeller, aft stabilizer, and inboard canard. The portion of the ship above water is connected to the hulls via the two angled struts. The SWATH design helps the ship remain stable even in very rough water of up to sea state 6 (wave height of 18 feet (5.5 m) or “very rough” sea).

The T-AGOS 19-and-23-class oceanographic ships have inherited the stabilizer and canard method to help perform their stability-sensitive surveillance missions. The vehicle cost approximately $50 million to build and the total test program is approximately $195 million over roughly 10 years. It is owned by the Navy and operated by LMSC personnel.

3. Sea Fighter

The Sea Fighter is an aluminum catamaran designed to operate effectively in littoral, or coastal, waters. It can maneuver in as little as 11 feet (3.35 m) of water. The hull number FSF-1 stands for “fast sea frame” and is the first U.S. Naval vessel to have a catamaran design. The experimental vessel will be used to test the hydrodynamic performance, structural performance, structural behavior, mission flexibility and propulsion-system efficiency of high-speed vessels.

A multi-purpose stern ramp allows the ship to launch and recover manned and unmanned surface and sub-surface vehicles up to the size of an 11-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB). From its flight deck, the Sea Fighter can operate while supporting two H-60 helicopters or vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (VTUAV) at a time. The ship has a modern computer system to control its systems and for navigation. Steering and throttle control are done by wire rather than mechanical linkage.

Sea Fighter is expected to pave the way for a future line of fast, long range destroyers capable of travelling fast enough to avoid or out maneuver most of the current generation of torpedoes. They have a very low radar signature, making detection difficult. They would be able to respond quickly to targets located by air or satellite and aggressively attack surface and submerged vessels using their speed to evade torpedo and missile attack.

4. P960 Skjold Patrol Boat

The Skjold class patrol boats is a new range of superfast, large stealth missile craft, also known as MTBs (missile torpedo boats). The word Skjold means “shield” in Norwegian. The flexibility inherent in Skjold is interesting also to other navies. They are among the fastest warships in the world and can reach speeds of up to 60 knots / 110 km/t. An important capability of the Skjold is its covert operational capability in littoral warfare, particularly in using Norway’s coastal topography with its islands and fjords, to carry out surveillance and engage hostile forces from a close distance while remaining undetected. The shallow draught of 0.9m to 2.3m allows the ship to access very shallow waters denied to other vessels.

To ensure stealth capabilities radar absorbent materials (RAM) have been used in the load-bearing structures over large areas of the ship. This strategy leads to significant weight saving compared to conventional construction techniques of applying RAM cladding to the external surfaces. The ship’s profile has a faceted appearance with no right angle structures and few orientations of reflective panels. Doors and hatches are flush with the surfaces and the windows are flush without visible coaming (edge of window aperture) and are fitted with radar reflective screens.

5. FNS Tornio

The FNS Tornio has been designed and constructed as stealth ships with minimal magnetic, heat and radar signatures. The shape of the vessel has been designed to reduce radar signature. Metal parts have been covered with radar absorbent material, and the composite parts have radar absorbent material embedded in the structure. Radar transparent materials (kevlar, balsa) have been used where applicable.

“It’s harder to find this vessel and harder for an aeroplane to attack us,” adds LtSG Lehto, commanding officer of the Hamina-class fast attack craft (FAC), FNS Tornio. This vessel is equipped with legacy weapons and combat data system fit that included 40 mm and 23 mm guns and an electro-optronic director. Trials resulted in the improvements seen first in ship two, Tornio, which includes Umkhonto vertical launch surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), RBS 15SF surface-to-surface missiles and a Bofors 57 mm gun, integrated with the Advanced Naval Combat System (ANCS) SQ 2000.

Source: By Tomy John. 30 September 2008

DARPA's Sea Shadow "Stealth Ship" up for Auction:

Sea Shadow
Ship didn't sell at auction once before -

Lockheed is a well-known U.S. defense contractor, and is often profiled on DailyTech thanks to its F-35 Lightning II multi-role fighter. Back in 1984, Lockheed constructed a stealth ship for the U.S. Navy to test called the Sea Shadow. At the time, the craft was the world's first stealth ship; but it wasn't officially announced until nine years later.

Other than testing stealth technology for the sea, the Sea Shadow was also used to test automation systems to reduce the number of people needed to operate a Navy vessel. The U.S. Navy, however, never commissioned the ship.

If you're loaded and have a penchant for a ship that partly inspired the 007 flick “Tomorrow Never Dies”, the Sea Shadow is up for auction on the GSA Auctions website.

The ship has nine days, 6 hours, and 21 minutes left and so far bidding is only up to $10,000. In true “eBay style”, the reserve has not yet been met. The bidding will increase by $100 per bid and once placed, it cannot be removed.

It doesn't appear that there are any limitations on who can bid on this particular auction. There is also no indication of what the reserve price might be, but considering the ship is said to have cost $195 million to build, we would wager that the reserve price is much higher than the current $10,000 bid.

Source: DailyTech. By Shane McGlaun. 25 April 2012

Pakistan government asked to enhance duty on shipbreaking plate:

LAHORE - Pakistan Steel Melters Association (PSMA) has suggested the Federal Government to collect income tax on monthly basis through electricity bills as final discharge of tax liability, exempting it from payment of all prevailing withholding taxes.

In the budget proposals 2012-13, forwarded to the Engineering Development Board (EDB), the steel melters asked the government to enhance duty rate on ship-breaking plate to be used massively in steel re-rolling and steel melting industries. They highlighted that their sector falls in the category involving heavy finances, high turnover but low profits.

Managing Director of the Siddique Iron Industries Private Limited and executive committee member of the LCCI Mian Abdul Rehman Aziz Chan, while talking to The Nation, suggested comprehensive changes in the sales tax, income tax and withholding tax regimes in the upcoming budget (2012-2013) to ensure a balance in the imposition of duties and taxes on the steel melting and ship-breaking industries.

He proposed a revision of the taxation regime to compete with ship-breakers. Stressing the need for providing a level playing field to both, the steel industry claimed that ship-breakers had been given advantage in taxation, which needs to be checked in the coming budget. An equal taxation regime, he said, should be applicable for both the steel sector and ship breaking industry. The melting industry fulfils 80 percent of the needs of the domestic industry, he added.

He said that the steel melters are contributing the most in Wapda’s revenue collection, as they pay electricity bills of up to Rs25 billion annually. The members of the Steel Melters Association submitted Rs30 billion tax last year while Rs18-20 billion have been submitted under the head of only sales tax, he pointed out. He stated that the steel sector has invested around $250m in just last five years.

He said that within 2 years, $100 million investment just from steel sector has gone out of the country, due to FBR’s unjustified policies and double taxation, coupled with the apathy of the EDB and energy issues in the country.

He said that there are two types of steel industries including steel melting units.

In case of composite units, it covers a unit having facility of both, steel melting and steel re-rolling with one electric connection. The suggested rates of final tax on electric bills included Steel Melting Units 62 paisas per unit of electricity consumed and Composite Units 75 paisas per unit of electricity consumed.

“This would help increase revenue collection of the government, the exemption certificate will also be done away with and the tax would easily be collected from those units, which are not following special procedure,” he said.  The stell melters proposed that exemption should be granted from payment of income tax at the rate of one percent on turnover under Section 113 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. The PSMA has also demanded that exemption from payment of withholding tax either at one percent or at 3.5 percent on supplies and purchases under Section 153 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001.

The industry asked to reduce turnover tax from one percent to 0.2 percent in the coming budget 2012-2013 as the industry was undergoing low profits’ phase of business.  It said that the non-documented steel melting units are the beneficiaries under the scenario as the organised steel melting industry is being rendered uncompetitive due to heavy tax burden.

“In order to balance it, the industry suggested that for Association of Persons (AOP), individual limited or proprietorship companies the turnover tax be reduced from 1 per cent to 0.2 per cent,” the budget proposals said.

Source: The Nation. By Salman Abduhu. 25 April 2012

24 April 2012

GMS weekly report on Pakistan shipbreaking industry for WEEK 16 of 2012:

Vessels continued to arrive into Pakistan including several larger tankers and VLCCs, yet very few new deals were actually done for another week.

Gadani buyers seem content with their lot at present, perhaps sensing a bargain or two, as the Indian market lurches from one crisis to the next. The truth is that they have committed to a number of vessels in the preceding weeks and months and many yards are presently satisfactorily stocked as the summer season and monsoon approaches.

Source: Steel Guru. 24 April 2012

GMS weekly report on shipbreaking industry for WEEK 16 of 2012:

Just as prices threatened to touch the USD 500/LT LDT mark and beyond on high spec vessels (tankers and containers), falling steel prices in China, a weakened currency in India, and the continued oversupply of average to poor units saw a price retreat in several of the major ship recycling markets.

Bangladesh was the only market that remained at the forefront of the buying, with demand prevalent for all types of units present. Many Chittagong buyers remain keen to stock their yards before June 2012, when the local budget is expected to bring changes in the tax structure.

Monsoon season is also looming large to the end buyers in the Indian sub continent, this means a shortage of labor and heavy rains adversely affecting both beaching and cutting operations.

Nevertheless, tonnage continues to hit the market at a rapid rate with the focus shifting onto container vessels and reefers of late. Whilst containers continue to find favor with Indian, Chinese and even Bangladeshi buyers now, reefers are becoming increasingly hard to sell due to the un quantified weight of insulation always found on board, which end buyers end up having to pay for without ever finding any use or value of.

Finally, Turkey continued their recent hot streak with the conclusion of several smaller general cargo units this week - the SERGEY S (2,650 LDT), MIKHAIL I (2,650 LDT) and VICTOR K (2,650 LDT) - all built USSR were concluded for region USD 358/LT LDT.

Finally, Turkey continued their recent hot streak with the conclusion of several smaller general cargo units this week - the SERGEY S (2,650 LDT), MIKHAIL I (2,650 LDT) and VICTOR K (2,650 LDT) - all built USSR were concluded for region USD 358/LT LDT.

Overall, a paucity of open buyers is making resale efforts increasingly challenging as many cash buyers currently hold tonnage, which they are having trouble offloading and will no doubt take significant hits on. The coming weeks will be critical in assessing the direction of prices going into the summer / monsoon season. One suspects that the peak for the first half of this year has already been reached with the outlook now for the next few months at least only likely to head one way.

For week 16 of 2012, GMS demo rankings for the week are as below:

CountryMarket SentimentGEN Cargo PricesTanker Prices
BangladeshBullishUSD465/lt ldtUSD 490/lt ldt
PakistanWeakUSD455/lt ldtUSD 480/lt ldt
IndiaWeakUSD450/lt ldtUSD 475/lt ldt
ChinaWeakUSD410/lt ldtUSD 425/lt ldt

Source: Steel Guru (Source d from GMS Weekly). 28 April 2012

GMS weekly report on Bangladesh shipbreaking industry for WEEK 16 of 2012:

The Bangladeshi market proved to be the only bright spot in an otherwise gloomy international ship-recycling sector as fresh impetus pushed prices onwards and confidence returned to the buying and bidding in Chittagong.

With India, Pakistan and China, all struggling due to capacities, currencies and ailing steel prices - Bangladesh propped up as the only market with some impressive busing - turning many heads in the process (for deals that may have otherwise been focused into competing locations).

The eye-catching deal of the week concerned Hosco's converted VLCC to VLOC, HEBEI AMBITION (38,720 LDT) was committed for a remarkable USD 480/LT LDT. As always, the ship was reported to be in excellent condition - that makes it SEVEN for the year sold from the North China Shipping stable into the Bangladesh market.

Of course, the question on everybody’s lips is how much longer can Bangladesh sustain this sort of impressive showing? With many of the better end buyers swiftly filling their yards, finance could once again become an issue, and the focus will - as always - have to shift elsewhere.

Source: Steel Guru (Source d from GMS Weekly). 28 April 2012

GMS weekly report on INDIAN shipbreaking industry for WEEK 16 of 2012:

The prevailing feeling of doom surrounding the Indian market of late this week materialized into a full-blown crisis with the virtual non-existence of offers form local recyclers, and predictions of further downward corrections now imminent.

Indeed, the lack of offering even began to filter through to cash buyers with very few offers forthcoming from their side, basis India delivery. Only for vessels likelv to be in heavy demand were prices mentioned however for older, poorly maintained bulkers, overpriced units and reefers, soliciting any interest at all from the local market was proving to be incredibly challenging indeed.

That did not stop UASC committing vet another container earlier in the week with the HAMMARABI (13,121 LDT} sold 'as is' Khor Fakkan for an astonishing (especially on today's market) price of USD 498/LT LDT (with sufficient fuel for the voyage over). There was also news of German-controlled container vessel BUXMASTER being committed at similar levels basis "as is' JEBEL ALI, however given the fact that the vessel is nearly half the LDT of the HAMMARABI, would seem as though the vessel was committed to trading Buyers.

Despite steel prices remaining strong, the rupee has continued to struggle and the sheer volume of vessels has left end buyers able to pick and choose the best whilst controlling prices something that has made of the job of cash buyer extremely difficult.

Source: Steel Guru (Sourced from GMS Weekly). 24 April 2012

GMS weekly report on CHINESE shipbreaking industry for WEEK 16 of 2012:

After a hugely busy and impressive last few weeks, the wheels finally came off the Chinese market as sliding steel prices saw prevailing levels for ships tumble.

Several capesize bulkers (including the Japanese owned IRIS FRONTIER - 20,784 LDT), and a large container (YM EUROPE - 18,628 LDT) went for prices in the mid 400s/LT LDT last week as open buyers set about filling their plots.

However, this week saw a complete turnaround in fortunes with prices lower by about USD 20/LT LDT at least. Many buyers have already stocked their yards with tonnage, and the correction in steel prices has left those few buyers that are open to buy, reluctant to commit on new units until a settling of levels comes forth.

The one deal that was concluded was the smaller container X-PRESS TOWER (4,830 LDT) from Korean owners - vet that deal was supposedly facing problems due to some outstanding claims that need to be settled.

Source: Steel Guru (Sourced from GMS Weekly). 24 April 2012

21 April 2012

US senators move to save old ice breaker from scrap yard:

Problem: Ship already sold to Texas firm

The USS/USCG Glacier is far from her prime, but both of Alaska’s U.S. senators have moved to get the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) to save this piece of floating history from the scrapyard.

The ice breaker that helped found McMurdo Station on Antarctica and performed a record-breaking 39 Arctic and Antarctic deployments may become scrap despite more than a decade of repairs and studies aimed at making the ship a museum or medical and scientific ship.

A non-profit group has invested millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours to fix up some of the ship's systems and test the Glacier’s hull soundness. The ship was once the most powerful U.S. icebreaker in the fleet and the flagship of polar explorer Rear Adm. Richard E. Byrd.

Yesterday the running clock on a "Save the Glacier" website ticked down to 11 hours and change for the non-profit Glacier Society, as MARAD was poised to decide whether Glacier would join 58 other vessels marked for scrapping, the website said.

A complicating factor: The decision may already have been made. The ship was sold to ESCO Marine Inc., a Brownsville, Texas firm for scrapping on Feb. 16 by MARAD for $146,726, according to a copy of a contract sent to the Empire Tuesday by the Virginia office of a recycling firm.

"Of course MARAD will have to sign off, if you read the contract, they sell it for scrapping, no other use and will fine ESCO if they do something otherwise," Polly Parks of Southern Recycling - EMR wrote. "I’m surprised (Sen. Lisa) Murkowski and (Sen. Mark) Begich are willing to spend political capital on a Florida destination; for something where (money)has already passed hands."

The Glacier floated among the 58 vessels in MARAD’s Non-Ready Reserve fleet in California’s Suisun Bay until Tuesday, when it was towed to a drydock. Many other vessels, most rotting hulks, have been stripped of toxins and towed through the Panama Canal for scrapping in recent years.

A MARAD spoksperson said the ship is too far gone to save.

"For the past fourteen years, the Maritime Administration strongly supported the Glacier Society's goal of securing sufficient funding and a permanent berth to convert the former Glacier into a museum, even extending the deadline in the hopes that additional funding would arrive. Unfortunately, the Glacier's condition deteriorated during this time to the point that it could not be donated and the ship was sold under a recycling contract in February. As part of the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Park Service has surveyed and documented the vessel," according to MARAD spoeksperson Kim Riddle.

She said the report will be deposited at the Library of Congress, th San Francisco Maritime Museum and the California State Historic Preservation Office and posted on the Maritime Administration website.

The staff at Murkowski’s Washington, D.C. office were “huddling up” Monday and getting to work on the issue, said Communications Director Matthew Felling.

Begich’s office fired off a letter to Maritime Administrator David Matsuda in the ship’s defense.

In his letter to Matsuda, Begich stated the Glacier Society has sunk $3 million into the project, structurally surveyed the heavy-hulled ship and made plans for rehabilitation at a Bay Area shipyard.

The "title is currently held by MARAD as part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet. MARAD is authorized as disposal agent for decommissioned military and merchant vessels," said Press Secretary Julie Hasquet.

Glacier’s final destination under current plans would be Florida, where it would serve as a museum.

The ship “has a storied history of service to our nation through its polar exploration and establishment of our base at McMurdo Sound. I request MARAD return the Glacier to donor status, save it from the scrap heap, and expedite its transfer to the Glacier Society,” Begich wrote.

Efforts to save the old ship have come close before to success, but perhaps never so close to failure. Earlier plans were for the Glacier to become a medical ship serving remote communities in the Arctic Circle, as well as a floating research platform. At one point the government was poised to sign the ship over to the Society.

Glacier Society Chairman Ben Koether began a public relations blitz last month at the culmination of a 14-year rollercoaster effort to break the ship out of mothballs. His message a month ago was one of desperation.

“We are at a critical time in the life of the storied Glacier, perhaps more difficult than any passage the storied ship has made in unforgiving environments,” said Koether, chairman of the Glacier Society and once a rookie Glacier navigator. The Society credits him as discoverer of “Koether Inlet” in the Bellingshausen Sea, Antarctica.

Last night Koether was busy sending off letters and venting some steam.

“MARAD just told me to drop dead,” Koether said of his recent negotiations. Koether said a shipyard offered to trade another vessel for the Glacier and deliver the Glacier to its new home port in Miami, but MARAD refused. Current plans call for the ice breaker to be towed from Suisun Bay through the Carquinez Strait as soon as tomorrow to a former Navy shipyard in nearby Vallejo, Calif. for cleanup. Within 30 days the ship could be towed under the Golden Gate Bridge and to a Gulf Coast scrapyard, he said.

Koether said Tuesday he has been in contact with the ship's new owner, and he strongly disputed MARAD's contention the vessel had deteriorated beyond criteria for donation status.

In a prepared release, the scientist in charge of the Glacier Society’s museum project said the “ship has a unique role in U.S. history and its future.”

The vessel was a cold warrior, serving in “Operation Deep Freeze” in competition with Russian ice breakers as America rushed to explore the polar regions. It was flagship for Byrd during that 1955-56 mission. The Glacier was in the U.S. Navy for years before donning Coast Guard orange in the 1960s, making its last trip to a pole in 1985. It was decommissioned by 1987.

The vessel has 10 Fairbanks/Morse Diesel engines, harnessing 21,000 horsepower among them. The vessel once had a maximum speed of 17 knots.

“No other ship afloat can speak so well to the environmental issues we face both locally and on a global scale, such as rising CO2 levels affecting the Polar regions,” said Charles Green, founder of the environmental museum initiative and lead adviser to The Glacier Society. “The Glacier will be the most important museum in the world for people that want to discover information on environmental, oceanographic, polar and earth-sciences.”

Koether said the ship’s historical significance and environmental importance must be recognized and celebrated through its use as an interactive museum.

“We have never failed in our efforts and we are confident we will be able to continue, with the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) support of the legislative right, extended to us by Congress to complete our transformation into a museum role. We look forward to honoring the Coast Guard that is crucial to our waters as well as becoming a world symbol of environmental progress,” Koether said in the release.

Last night, as the clock ticked, Koether vowed to keep working toward getting help from Congress or the Obama Administration to make that happen.

Source: JUNEAU EMPIRE. By JOHN R. MOSES. 17 April 2012

Ship Scrapping Company, Owners, Plead Guilty to Environmental Crimes


NORFOLK, Va. – Steven E. Avery, 56, of Bohannon, VA, Billy J. Avery, 81, of Virginia Beach, VA, and the corporation Sea Solutions, Inc., all pleaded guilty yesterday in Norfolk federal court to various environmental crimes stemming from their activities in the ship scrapping business. 

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement that the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen.  The three will all be sentenced on July 12, 2012.  Steven and Billy Avery each face a minimum 30 days and a maximum of 1 year in prison, Sea Solutions, Inc., faces up to a $500,000 fine and five years of probation. 

According to court documents, Steven E. Avery and Billy J. Avery operated the defendant corporation, Sea Solutions, Inc.  In February 2010, Sea Solutions, Inc. purchased a vessel known as M/V Snow Bird for the purpose of scrapping with the knowledge that it contained a quantity of petroleum products and other pollutants.  Despite knowing that these waste products were onboard the M/V Snow Bird and needed to be removed, the defendants commenced scrapping operations with the pollutants onboard.  Over the course of several months, witnesses complained of pollutants emanating from the M/V Snow Bird.  Finally, in October of 2010, the defendants caused a major spill of oil, oily water, and other pollutants from the M/V Snow Bird into the Elizabeth River.  The cleanup operation removed several thousand gallons of oily waste from the Elizabeth River and the shoreline at the cost to the United States of over $66,000.

“America’s waterways must be protected from companies that look to cut corners by discharging oily waste water illegally,” said David G. McLeod, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criminal enforcement program in Virginia.  “Improper waste disposal endangers not only the environment but human health.  EPA is committed to making sure criminal violations of environmental laws are not tolerated.” 

This case was investigated by agents from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph L. Kosky and Melissa O’Boyle are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.

Source:  US Department of Justice. 13 April 2012

Reports Focus on Indian Shipbreaking:

Shipbreaking yard at Alang beach, Gujarat province, India, 2009.
Alang beach in India's Gujarat province is one of the world's biggest shipping graveyards, an access-restricted, mafia-controlled funerary ground for hulking steel-container vessels marooned for demolition.

80 percent of the world's international trade crosses the globe by ship, and each year hundreds of these massive retired freighters are physically dismantled in ocean-shoreline breaking yards.

Two reports released in New Delhi this week are renewing focus on the industry's near total lack of environmental or labor oversight, and its connection to organized crime.

According Federico Demaria, an Italian economist affiliated with New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, even gaining permission to watch shipbreaking in progress can prove extremely difficult.

"Access to Alang is not permitted for foreigners, for journalists, for researchers, for anyone who can actually find out what is going on on the ground," he says, explaining that he got a glimpse of Alang in 2009, only after posing as a scrap trader.

"You are supposed to ask permission, [and] I have been waiting for it for three years now, and I've [still] not got it."

What he did get, however, was first-hand exposure to an aspect of trade and international commerce that few ever hear about.

A surreal scene:

At Alang, he says, defunct trans-oceanic vessels stand like decrepit, abandoned city skyscrapers that have washed ashore, awaiting the arrival of laborers who, armed with torches, enter the structures to manually deconstruct them.

On any given day, he says, one might see a two- or three-ton slab of steel fall to the beach below, or sometimes onto workers.

While advocates of Indian shipbreaking say the industry recycles cheap steel into the economy, fueling development and providing jobs, critics object, citing lack of health care, adequate housing or compensation for debilitating accidents that frequently befall its labor force.

"How much do you count for a worker's life?" Demaria asks. "For example, I was not allowed to enter one ship in the Alang beach explicitly because the shipbreaker told me, 'If an accident happens, you'll be too expensive. I can't pay you.'"

Yet compensation for Indian workers, he says, is cheap. "If they [compensate their own employees for work-related injuries], they would give something like $1,000 to $2,000, which is insignificant."

A formerly regulated trade:

Shipbreaking used to take place mainly in Europe, under more controlled conditions, but globalization has opened the market for unregulated operations like those in Alang, where shipping companies sell older vessels to intermediary companies that exist only on paper, who then sell the steel structures to shipbreakers.

Gopal Krishna, an Indian environmental activist, says the industry is hazardous not only to laborers, but to the entire ecosystem and people whose livelihoods depend on it.

"Most of the ships, which are 25-30 years old, are asbestos-laden. They are laden with persistent organic pollutants like PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls; with waste oil; with ballast water," he says, none of which is managed in an environmentally sound manner.

Prying eyes of industry observers, he adds, are shielded by local mafias driving the enterprise.

"It is a source of black money in the country, one of the least acknowledged sources of black money," says Krishna. "There is collusion between the ruling party and the opposition party. Business interest, the profit motive alone, guides the political parties, which provide patronage to shipbreakers. There is no rule of law in Alang."

Demaria and Krishna warn that the industry's lack of oversight could impact the West in the form of contaminated and radioactive imports wrought of improperly treated steel.

New Delhi's failure to regulate and modernize shipbreaking, they say, will probably cause India's share of the industry to be subsumed by China's shipbreaking market within a decade.

Source: VOA. By Kurt Achin. 18 April 2012

After one year of ban Chittagong shipbreakers import 42 large ships in Feb-Mar:

Chittagong-based shipbreakers imported 42 large-sized recyclable ships in February and March this year at a cost of US$ 45 million.
Industry sources said the ships will be able to supply about one million tonnes of MS rod -- a major construction material -- against the annual national demand for four million tonnes.
The government earlier suspended import of recyclable ships for about a year to reduce related accidental and environmental hazards. Later on, it introduced new rules for ship breaking, and formed a Ship Breaking Cell at the Ministry of Industries to implement the rules.
Both the industry people and ministry officials said they are now working together, with their limited workforce, to ensure cent per cent compliance with the new ship-breaking rules.
"We have denied import permissions to 12 companies for their inadequate preparations in terms of training of workers and available facilities for yard during the period of suspension of import, so that accidents could be avoided and environmental issues are were complied," said Khorshed Alam, additional secretary of shipping ministry and the chief of the Cell.
He said as the manpower and capacity of the cell is poor, they hired engineers from Chittagong Dry Dock to inspect the imported ships and ship-breaking yards of the companies.
Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association President Hefazatur Rahman told the FE that suspension on importing ships had led to reduction of supplies of MS Rod in the market and thus created uncertainty in local real estate sector by pushing up the cost of this essential item.
He welcomed the ongoing monitoring of the Ship Breaking Cell, saying that it would help create awareness among the yard-owners and reduce the number of accidents as well as dumping of poisonous waste.
The government last year introduced "The Ship Breaking and Recycling Rules 2011" and issued a circular in this regard on December 14, 2011.
Bangladesh established itself as a leading shipbreaking country in the international market within a short period of time. Over 50,000 people are directly involved in this industry and more than 100,000 people are indirectly dependent on operational activities in the sector.
The shipbreaking industry that has developed in Chittagong, is the main source of raw materials of some 500 private sector re-rolling mills and 50 steel mills to produce mild steel rods, bars, and angles at affordable prices.
The industry is currently supplying about 60 per cent of the raw materials for local steel production. On the other hand, the country's growing demand for steel products has encouraged a good number of private sector entrepreneurs to invest in the steel sector that has been proved quite rewarding, in terms of profitability and new employment generation.
The industry is also contributing to the local ship-building sector through supplying used machineries and materials.
Besides, construction industry, oxygen plants, cable, ceramic, and furniture factories are benefited from recycling of ships.
Source: The Financial Express. By Jasim Khan. 20 April 2012

18 April 2012

GMS weekly report on ship breaking industry for WEEK 15 of 2012:

Despite the Bangladeshi market formally opening last week, most looking to sell to the local market expected a resurging of prices and demand after an absentee hiatus. Unfortunately, neither has happened so far. In fact, prices from Bangladesh started to retreat causing many owners to sail from Chinese ports, skipping Bangladesh altogether and heading further West for the shores of WC India or Pakistan range.

On the supply side, the market remains rife with tonnage. As owners and brokers continue to push the envelope in order to bang out the better deal for their aging beauties, most end buyers remain aware of the plethora of offerings in the market and decidedly maneuver towards vessels more within their (price) reach. As such, in the absence of a juicy piece of tonnage, most sales are at existing levels.

Demand too prevails, but as stated above, most end users are not looking to break records off the bat. Nowhere is that decidedly more evident than in Bangladesh, where ship recyclers are happy to walk away from exciting tonnage. Additionally, as the existing gap in levels between India and China lies at about $60-S70 per tonne, the Chinese too have been watching tonnage slip away from their fingers. Only Pakistan and (especially) India remain the voracious negotiators of ongoing deals and nearly all of this week's deals are headed for WC India and Pakistan range.

Overall, with a fortnight of April now behind us, the recycling sectors continue to trudge on with no impactful change other than wet and (majority of) dry tonnage now fetching above the USD 5XX per tonne mark.

For week 15 of 2011, GMS demo rankings for the week are as below:

Source: Steel Guru (Sourced from GMS Weekly). 18 April 2012

GMS weekly report on BANGLADESH shipbreaking industry for WEEK 15 of 2012:

The Bangladesh status as market leader remained unchanged for another week with several more deals concluded to add to a burgeoning inventory tor local buyers in recent weeks.

The renewed confidence that has entered the market comes off the back of a greater clarity in addressing the new delivery procedures and documentation coupled with the emergence of several more financially stable buyers.

Two handymax bulkers this week went for decent prices with the KS Maritime KS PHILIA (8,471 LDT) going for about USD 470/LT LDT and the Korean owned GREEX SKY (8,985 LDT) getting a rather speculative USD 480/LT LDT.

With business currently booming in the ship recycling sector in Chittagong, there is some concern over how much longer this can continue with the number of solvent buyers swiftly running out as ever more tonnage floods the market.

The number of beachings this week highlights the potential of available buyers drying up.

Source: Steel Guru (Sourced from GMS Weekly). 18 April 2012

GMS weekly report on INDIAN shipbreaking industry for WEEK 15 of 2012:

A certain stability descended over the market after a turbulent last few weeks, but there was little impact on the price as many end buyers refused to offer aggressively and levels remained stagnant.

A proliferation of reefer vessels was hardly the tonic to encourage end buyers back to the table. Moreover, the lack of bidding-motivation was further dampened thanks in part to the seasonal migration of many workers back to their hometowns ahead of the impending monsoon season.

This has left many yards with a chronic labor shortage at one of the busiest times of the year with well over 50 NEW ships per month arriving at anchorage for recycling.

Furthermore, with a flood of container vessels expected to come, the supply of vessels is not expected to let up any time soon and it may well be that we see a number more unsold units that are seeking buyers.

On the sales front, the Chinese owned converted bulker (from suezmax tanker) VISTA (17,385 LDT) went for USD 465/LT LDT whilst the Marmaras handymax bulker fetched an extremely firm USD 482/LT LDT for delivery WC India - Pakistan range.

Source: Steel Guru (Sourced from GMS Weekly). 18 April 2012

Ship Scrapping Duo Plead Guilty to Environmental Crimes in Virginia

Boom is placed around a salvaged container ship after an oil leak is discovered on the south branch of the Elizabeth River, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
A Virginia ship scrapping company and 2 of its owners have plead guilty to various environmental crimes stemming from their activities in the ship scrapping business.

According to court documents, Steven Avery, 56, of Bohannon, VA, and Billy Avery, 81, of Virginia Beach, VA, operated Sea Solutions, Inc., a VA-based ship scrapping business, and in February 2010 purchased the vessel M/V Snow Bird for the purpose of scrapping with the knowledge that it contained a quantity of petroleum products and other pollutants. Despite knowing that these waste products were onboard the vessel and needed to be removed, the men commenced scrapping operations with the pollutants onboard. Over the course of several months, witnesses complained of pollutants emanating from the M/V Snow Bird and finally, in October of 2010, the defendants caused a major spill of oil, oily water, and other pollutants from the operation into the Elizabeth River. The cleanup operation removed several thousand gallons of oily waste from the Elizabeth River and the shoreline at the cost to the United States of over $66,000.

“America’s waterways must be protected from companies that look to cut corners by discharging oily waste water illegally,” said David G. McLeod, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criminal enforcement program in Virginia. “Improper waste disposal endangers not only the environment but human health.  EPA is committed to making sure criminal violations of environmental laws are not tolerated.”

Steven and Billy Avery each face a minimum 30 days and a maximum of 1 year in prison and, through Sea Solutions, Inc., could be forced to pay a fine of up to a $500,000 and 5 years of probation. The sentencing will take place on July 12, 2012.

Source: GCaptain. 18 April 2012