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Training Requirements – Compliance with 2010 Manila Amendments to Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping Convention 1978

 

Shipowners should be aware that the Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention 1978 was amended by the 2010 Manila Amendments, which contained new training requirements for seafarers. Between 1 July 2013 and 1 January 2017 (as appropriate), all seafarers were required to undertake additional training in compliance with the Manila Amendments and hold the requisite certification. 

However, many seafarers were at sea at the close of the compliance window (1 January 2017) and their certificates may not yet be endorsed correctly. Further there may also be administrative delays to current applications. In the circumstances, a recent IMO Circular (MSC.1/Circ.1560) has requested that Port State Control Officers (PSCOs) take a pragmatic approach to the requirement for seafarers to hold updated certification on board the vessel as per the 2010 Manila Amendments up until the 1st July 2017 (click herefor the IMO Circular). Some Flag States are also issuing similar lettersexpressly endorsing the  IMO Circular (for example Liberia – click here- and Panama – click here). 

Seafarers without the required updated Certification are advised to keep a copy of the IMO Circular with them on board the vessel to assist in trying to avoid action being taken by PSCOs. However, it cannot be guaranteed that PSCOs will not take action. 

20 Jan 2017

Sanctions – US Sudanese Sanctions Regulations – General Licence authorising trade

 

Members will be aware that the US had been maintaining broad trade and financial sanctions on Sudanese goods, persons and entities including wide prohibitions on the assistance/facilitation that can be given by a US person/entity under their Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (SSR) and Executive Orders 13607 and 13412.  However, on 17 January 2017, a new general licence came into effect which now authorises all transactions that were prohibited under the SSR and Executive Orders 13607 and 13412. The further intention is that on 12 July 2017 the sanctions will be permanently revoked.

During the period of the general licence (i.e. 17 January to 12 July 2017), US persons (including financial institutions) are authorised to process transactions involving persons in Sudan (including those that remain on the SDN list under Executive Orders 13607 and 13412) and to engage in imports and exports. 

There are, however, a number of important issues that need to be taken into account before commencing Sudanese trade. These include:

  1. Although transactions in US dollars will in theory be permitted, there is no indication yet from banks as to whether they will clear US dollar payments in relation to Sudan during the general licence period or await permanent revocation in July.
     
  2. There is a risk that the sanctions will not be permanently revoked and instead ‘snap back’ into place in July (or before) if the Sudanese government does not continue to meet the objectives set out by the current US Govt or because a different approach is taken by the new US regime.
     
  3. The current general licence is in respect of the SSR and Executive Orders 13607 and 13412 only.  It does not lift the Darfur related sanctions nor Executive Order 13400 (which lists further SDNs connected to Darfur) nor any other applicable US legislation.
     
  4. EU sanctions currently remain in place, although these are not as broad as the US sanctions were, focussing mainly on a trade embargo on arms and related material (ie. military ammunition, weapons and goods) and a few targeted individuals (click here for the current EU sanctions).

For a more comprehensive general overview on these developments please click here for the views of New York lawyers, Freehill Hogan & Mahar. Members can also check OFAC’s FAQs on the SSR by clicking here as well as OFAC’s factsheet by clicking here

In the meantime, given the above outline of ongoing issues and related sanctions, it is strongly recommended that Members continue to undertake full due diligence and negotiate appropriate sanctions protection in all contracts if considering engaging in Sudan related trade.

19 Jan 2017

Finland and China – Entry into force of Nairobi Convention on the Removal of Wrecks

 

Members will already be aware of the requirements of the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks that entered into force in April 2015 in various countries (click here to access the Club’s News Alert of 19 January 2015).  The Convention will shortly come into force in Finland as of 27 January 2017 and in China as of 11 February 2017.  Members with vessels  of 300GT and above trading to those countries and/or to their respective territorial seas on or after the dates specified should ensure that they have the appropriate Wreck Removal Certificate of Insurance on board.

The Correspondent, Huatai Insurance Agency and Consultant Service Limited, China, has issued a Circular with a summary of the Convention and certificate/blue card arrangements, a copy of which can be accessed by clicking here.
 

11 Jan 2017

China – Emission Control Area extended to eleven key ports

 

Members will already be aware of the Regulations concerning the sulphur content of fuel to be used by vessels at certain times during berthing in specified Emission Control Areas (ECA), Shanghai, Ningbo–Zhoushan, Suzhou and Nantong, as outlined in the Club’s previous News Alerts (click here).

As advised by the Correspondent, Huatai Insurance Agency & Consultant Service Limited, from 1 January 2017 onwards, the requirement to use fuel oil with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.5%mm when berthing has been extended to the ports of Tianjin, Qinhuangdao, Tangshan, Huanghua, Guangzhou and Zhuhai. Together with Shenzhen port, which was added to ECA as of 1 October 2016, this brings the number of key ports in the ECA to eleven. 

A summary of ECA areas and the relevant “berthing” period, or time during which low sulphur fuel needs to be used, is set out in the Correspondent’s Circular which can be accessed by clicking here. This also includes information on the next stages in the ECA, 1 January 2018 onwards, where low sulphur fuel should be used throughout the whole berthing period.

Members should review their bunkering and fuel changeover arrangements to ensure compliance with these Regulations. In particular, Members should ensure that documentary records are in order (as local authorities may inspect them) and fuel samples are kept (as appropriate) to avoid delays and penalties being imposed.
 

04 Jan 2017

Cyber Fraud

 

Members will already be aware the growing threat of cyber fraud as outlined in the Club’s News Alert of 1 July 2015 (click here), which highlighted in particular the interception of genuine emails setting out bank account details and replacement with an email containing the fraudster's bank account. 

The Club is aware of an increasing number of incidents so Assureds are reminded to be vigilant and to be duly diligent by putting in place appropriate procedures in order to combat the risk of cyber fraud. Such procedures include carrying out checks to verify a change of bank account by speaking on the phone with a known contact at the relevant company and/or checking that payment is being made to an existing bank account that has been successfully used previously. Assureds should be extra vigilant when they receive a request to make a payment to a new and/or different account, whether this is for agents, suppliers of goods/services, or payments due under the charter particularly where the bank account is already specified. As mentioned in the Club’s previous News Alert, care should be taken to avoid simply replying to an email that sets out new account details, even if it appears to originate from the correct/usual email address for the contact.

In addition, companies and ships are at risk of cyber-attack generally and it is recommended that Assureds take appropriate action to minimise those risks, including having up to date firewalls and training for staff. A virus can easily be introduced by the simple and seemingly innocuous use of a USB stick in, for example, one of the systems on board or at a company’s offices. The virus may render a whole system inoperable with ransoms being demanded, or may be more low key in gathering information, eg. they may find out when and which ships are sailing without armed guards and know when they are more vulnerable to attack.  For more information, Members are reminded of the Club’s Stop Loss article on Cyber Risks of September 2016 which can be accessed by clicking here.

23 Dec 2016

China - Thefts at Tianjin anchorage

 

Members calling at Tianjin port in China should note that the Correspondent, Huatai Insurance Agency and Consultant Service Limited, Tianjin Branch, has issued a Circular on recent thefts of bunkers, stores and spare parts from vessels whilst at anchorage.

The anchorage is about 20 nautical miles from the port entrance and thieves approach vessels in smaller boats, usually under cover of night and during winter time when high waves may limit radar/phone signal. Whilst some thieves have been caught and the security level at Tianjin port is unaffected, the Master and crew should be aware of the incidents and remain vigilant.

Further details of the above, as well as suggested security measures for vessels whilst at anchorage and recommendations as to what to do in the event of a theft, can be found in the Correspondent’s Circular which can be accessed by clicking here.

02 Dec 2016

Cuba – US sanctions - Non US flagged vessels calling in Cuba - Waiver of 180 day rule for Cuba calls for certain agricultural commodities or manufactured products

 

Members will be aware the US Authorities previously implemented a rule under which vessels calling Cuba are prohibited from calling in the US within 180 days thereafter. However, the New York Correspondent, Tisdale Law Office, advises that a waiver of this rule has been introduced for non US flagged vessels, although the waiver only applies to certain agricultural commoditiesor manufactured products. 

For an agricultural commodity to qualify for the waiver, it must appear in both

  1. the definition of agricultural commodities in Title 15(B)(VII)(C) Part 772 ("Definitions") of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, which includes various food and feed products carried in bulk.  For the full definition, click here;  and
  2. the list of commodities eligible for shipment to Cuba maintained by U.S. Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service (also called the FAS Schedule B list).  For the list, click here.

For a manufactured product to qualify for the waiver, it must appear in both:

  1. the Commerce Control List ("CCL") as  maintained in the CFR in Title 15 (B)(VII)(C), Part 774 ("Appendix"), and
  2. be denoted as “AT" as the "reason for control" on the relevant entry on the CCL list  (AT demonstrates that the listing in the CCL is only for anti-terrorism reasons).

The CCL list largely contains manufactured or processed goods that would not normally be transported in bulk. For the CCL list, click here.

The waiver came into force on 17 October 2016.Tisdale Law Office advise that OFAC have orally indicated to them that the waiver will be applied retroactively (i.e. OFAC consider  that  the waiver will be effective for any qualifying vessel calling the US on or after that date even if the vessel has called in Cuba in the 180 days previous to 17 October).   

Members who are US nationals or US flagged entries, should continue to comply with the pre-existing US sanctions regime in place in respect of Cuba.

28 Oct 2016

Argentina – Visa Requirements for Supernumeraries

 

Members calling at ports in Argentina should note that the Correspondent, Pandi Liquidadores SRL, has recently issued a Circular regarding the potentially onerous cost consequences of supernumeraries and other passengers not meeting immigration requirements for Argentina.  Whilst crewmembers do not require visas, Owners are advised to take care that any supernumeraries or passengers on board are properly equipped with valid visas.

In addition to the usual immigration fines imposed in the absence of a valid visa, ranging between USD400 to USD10,000, the Migration Authority is also requiring Owners to pay for security guards to remain on board the vessel for the duration of its stay.  This can be expected to increase daily costs by around USD3,500, depending on the number of guards placed on board.

A copy of the Correspondent’s Circular with further details can be accessed by clicking here.

20 Sep 2016

China – Zika Virus – 2nd Update on Mosquito Eradication Certificates

 

Members will already be aware of the Zika prevention measures required by the Chinese Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau (CIQ).  These measures include the provision of a Mosquito Eradication Certificate (MEC) in circumstances where the vessel’s last port of call was in a Zika affected area.  For Members’ guidance, the areas initially identified as “Affected Areas” were outlined in the Club’s News Alert of 16 March 2016 (click here) and clarification provided by the Chinese authorities regarding controls, enforced locally by CIQ, were also outlined in our News Alert of 18 March 2016 (click here).

We have recently received a further update from the Correspondent, Huatai Insurance Agency & Consultant Service Limited, advising that Singapore has been added to the list of Affected Areas. Notably, an MEC will be required if personnel are either embarked/disembarked from the ship or if cargo operations are performed.  However, there is no requirement for an MEC the vessel is only stopping for bunkers unless personnel are transferred between barge and ship.  Vessel operators may wish to take this development into consideration when arranging bunkering operations or  change of crew.

As CIQ requirements may vary from port to port and there is no prescribed wording for the MEC certificate, the Correspondent recommends that Owners consult their local agents once the Chinese port of call is known to verify the specific requirements of that particular port. The correspondents also suggest an appropriate wording to be included in any MEC to assist with a possible inspection in China.

A copy of the Correspondent’s Circular with further details can be accessed by clicking here

13 Sep 2016

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