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The Greek government is launching a new package of measures to stop 'leakage' of ships and tonnage from the Greek flag to registers outside the European Union. The new measures also aim to strengthen the competitiveness of the Greek seafarers.

According to the Greek Shipping Ministry, fourteen years after the previous legislation, the government is proceeding with necessary steps to modernize the institutional framework of the Greek shipping industry.

The new measures remove disincentives and the streamlining of procedures regarding the selection of the Greek flag. They will also be included into the existing stable and constitutionally enshrined institutional framework for the registration of oceangoing ships.

The aims are to provide more flexibility in crew employment conditions, reflecting international best practices in the foreign crew tax regimes, as well as promote maritime training.

Commenting on the new measures, Shipping and Island Policy Minister, Ioannis Plakiotakis, said that:

Although Greek shipowners maintain the country's world leadership, today only 16.7% of the Greek-owned tonnage flies the Greek flag. This has adverse consequences for the image of the country, as well as for maritime employment and maritime know-how

He also added that the package sets new bases for the development of Greek shipping, to meet with the modern conditions.

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In January's monthly report, the Swedish Club reports of an incident where a container that although was allowed to be loaded in the cargo hold, it should not have been loaded below deck or in the position it was stowed in, led to a fire.

The Incident

During early morning hours, the Master was at the bridge of the vessel when they observed a large cloud of smoke issuing from the forward part of the vessel. At the same time the fire detection system for cargo hold 3 sounded on the bridge.

According to the Master, the smoke was first white and then greyish. Yet, the Chief Officer, however, described the smoke as being “dark grey, almost black”.

Following, the ventilation fans for the cargo holds were stopped. The fans for cargo hold 3 were not operating at that time but natural ventilation was being provided for the holds as the covers for the vents were open. Crew members closed the covers of the vents for cargo hold 3 and no crew member
entered the cargo hold.

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A Post-Panamax containership operated by Danish shipping giant Maersk has come under an attempted piracy attack in the Gulf of Guinea.

The 4,496 TEU Maersk Cardiff was approached by a small vessel some 150 nautical miles southwest of Bonny in the evening of 13 January 2021, Dryad Global said.

“We can confirm that on 13 January 2021 at app. 20.30 local time, criminals attempted boarding of the Maersk Cardiff while en route from Tema, Ghana to Cameroon,” Maersk said separately in an emailed statement.

Crew members managed to alert a patrol ship before retreating to a citadel. However, the perpetrators had already left before the guard vessel arrived.

“We were able to get a guard vessel to the scene who confirmed that no criminals were in the vicinity of Maersk Cardiff,” Maersk added.

All crew members were reported safe and the Singapore-flagged ship was ready to continue its voyage.

“We are fortunate that our crew on Maersk Cardiff are safe, and we will continue to seek solutions to an unacceptable situation where the security risk in Gulf of Guinea is increased,” Palle Laursen, Chief Technical Officer A.P. Moller – Maersk, commented. 

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In view of the ongoing crew change crisis, due to restrictions imposed by Covid-19 the IMO Secretary-General wishes to draw the attention of Member States to the matter of designation of these professionals as key workers. In its latest circular IMO urges Member States and relevant national authorities to designate seafarers as ʺkey workersʺ providing an essential service, in order to facilitate safe and unhindered movement for embarking or disembarking a vessel.

49 member states and associate members have notified the IMO that they have designated seafarers as key workers.

IMOʹs Seafarer Crisis Action Team (SCAT) has been made aware of a worrying development that is preventing crew changes on certain ships and that does not allow ships to deviate to ports where crew changes could take place. Certain charterers are demanding the inclusion of ʺno crew changeʺ clauses in charter parties, that is, no crew changes can occur whilst the charterers cargo is aboard.