Greek shipping companies to pay $4 million criminal fine for polluting in Texas

Compagnies maritimes grecques condamnées à 4 millions pour avoir pollué



Two Greek shipping companies, Avin International LTD, and Nicos I.V. Special Maritime Enterprises, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Beaumont, Texas, to charges stemming from several discharges of oil into the waters of Texas ports by the oil tanker M/T Nicos I.V.

Avin International was the operator and Nicos I.V. Special Maritime Enterprises was the owner of the Nicos I.V., which is a Greek-flagged vessel. The Master of the Nicos I.V., Rafail-Thomas Tsoumakos, and the vessel's Chief Officer, Alexios Thomopoulos, also pleaded guilty to making material false statements to members of the United States Coast Guard during the investigation into the discharges.

Both companies pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of an agency proceeding, as well as one count of failure to report discharge of oil under the Clean Water Act, and three counts of negligent discharge of oil under the Clean Water Act. Under the plea agreement, the companies will pay a $4 million criminal fine and serve a four-year term of probation, during which vessels operated by the companies will be required to implement an environmental compliance plan, including inspections by an independent auditor. Mr. Tsoumakos and Mr. Thomopoulos each pleaded guilty to one count of making a material false statement and face up to five years in prison when sentenced.



Renault partners with startup Neoline, designers and operator of sailing cargo ships.

Renault s'associe à la startup Neoline, concepteur et opérateur de cargos à voile.



During the recent Assises de la mer, French car manufacturer Renault has signed a three-year partnership with compatriot start-up Neoline to get more of the group's vehicles and parts moved by sail technology, the latest in a recent flurry of important sail-related developments to hit the commercial shipping scene.

Jean-Philippe Hermine, vice president, strategic environmental planning at Groupe Renault, commented: "Groupe Renault's objective is to reduce the environmental impact of each vehicle throughout its entire life cycle, from parts transportation up to delivery and end-of-life processing. In the context of our strategy to explore new sustainable mobility solutions and to continue along the road to reducing our carbon footprint, the solution designed by Neoline, which combines energy efficiency and operational relevance, has truly captured our attention."



Ferry completes fully autonomous  dock-to-dock trial with Wärtsilä technology


McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit  won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel.  She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan;  Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).

Technology group Wärtsilä has successfully completed a further round of test procedures of its automated dock-to-dock solution. In an unprecedented operation, in the presence of the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA), the system was further tested on the ferry 'Folgefonn', this time for full dock-to-dock capability, with the autonomous operation being utilised uninterrupted for the entire route, visiting all three ports serviced by the ship.

"This represents a huge step forward in validating automated shipping solutions, and an important progression within our Smart Marine programme. This emphasises once again Wärtsilä's recognised position as the global technology leader in marine innovations. We continue to lead the way in developing the 'intelligent' products and systems needed to move the marine industry towards a new era of super-high efficiency, safety, and environmental sustainability," says Joonas Makkonen, Vice President, Voyage Solutions, Wärtsilä.

The success of these latest tests cannot be underestimated. Once the operator selected the next destination berth, the operation was started by simply selecting "Sail", which authorizes the autonomous controller to take control of the vessel. The ferry was able to leave the dock, manoeuvre out of the harbour, sail to the next port of call, manoeuvre through the harbour entrance, and dock alongside the terminal - all without human intervention. It is believed to be the first ever attempt at fully automated dock-to-dock operation, in complete hands-off mode, for a vessel of this size.

Navigation of the vessel is controlled through the use of a series of tracks and waypoints, which guide the ship to the next destination. The autonomous controller, which is based on Wärtsilä's existing Dynamic Positioning system, controls the vessel's speed, position on the pre-defined track, and heading. GNSS is used as the primary sensor, while a Wärtsilä Guidance Marine CyScan AS is being tested as a secondary position sensor for the approach to the berth.


Kongsberg's unique GNSS Positioning System wins second industry award this year



The state-of-the-art DPS i-Series GNSS Positioning System has won the 'Innovative Dredging Technology of the Year' category at the Dredging and Port Construction Awards 2018.

The judges highlighted the unique system as a powerful tool for dredging contractors who can now leverage the same abilities for high-precision applications as offshore operators; using sensor technology combined with satellite positioning systems to improve not just the position of dredging vessels but also their efficiency.

Ines Nastali, the editor of Dredging and Port Construction, a tightly focused business and technical journal for the dredging industry celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, said:

"Congratulations to Kongsberg Maritime for this well-deserved DPC award in the category Innovative Dredging Technology of the Year, for the DPS i-Series. Kongsberg's entry stood out to me because it improves positioning systems for dredging vessels through sensor fusion, leading to increased operational efficiency and safety, and more accurate positioning."

The ability for dredgers to precisely operate within the confines of a predetermined area, minimising the impact on the environment, was a key consideration in selecting the DPS i-Series for the award. The judges also said that Konsberg showed the technical skill to address industry needs and that they have created a product that will see assured demand.

Vidar Bjørkedal, VP Sales & Customer Support at Kongsberg Seatex, was at the gala event in Amsterdam last night representing Kongsberg. He said:
"We're very proud of the reception that our DPS i-Series has had in diverse maritime industries, and confident that its integrated nature can deliver the resilience needed for safety and efficiency improvements for any applications that require high-precision data."

This is the second award that the DPS i-Series has won this year and it will take pride of place alongside the Offshore Support Journal Dynamic Positioning award received in February. Find out more about the DPS i-Series here.


New Soo Lock construction to start in 2019

La construction d'une nouvelle écluse Soo débutera en 2019


Long advocated by stakeholders, a major project for upgrading the strategic, half-century-old Soo Locks on St. Mary's River at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan has passed a final hurdle and will proceed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a work plan on Nov. 21 for the 2019 fiscal year that allocates US$32 million for the design and construction on a new, super-sized lock capable of handling the biggest freighters on the Great Lakes. Work begins in 2019. More funding is to follow as construction continues over 10 years.

"This is the moment we have been waiting for more than 30 years," said Jim Weakley, President of the Cleveland-based Lake Carriers Association. "It is a great day for Michigan, the Great Lakes region and the entire nation. We are elated."

Following backing in principle voiced earlier in 2018 by President Trump, Michigan lawmakers have been strongly pushing the project. And in June, the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington passed Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan's bipartisan amendment expressing support for the construction of a new lock for national security and economic reasons.

Michigan has offered US$50 million in state funding to help finance what could be a one billion dollar project.

Approximately 80 million tons of commercial commodities pass through the Soo Locks each year. Part of the St. Lawrence Seaway that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, the locks link Lake Superior with Lake Huron.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a failure of notably the Poe Lock - through a terrorist act or a structural breakdown - would result in the loss of 10 million jobs and force mines, mills and manufacturers to shut down.


Depuis longtemps préconisé par les parties prenantes, un important projet de modernisation des écluses stratégiques Soo, vieilles de 50 ans, sur la rivière St Mary's, à Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, a franchi un dernier obstacle vers sa réalisation. Le Corps des ingénieurs de l'armée américaine a publié le 21 novembre un plan de travail pour l'année fiscale 2019 qui prévoit 32 millions de dollars US pour la conception et la construction d'une nouvelle écluse géante capable d'accueillir les plus gros cargos des Grands Lacs. Les travaux débuteront en 2019 alors que des fonds supplémentaires suivront au long de la construction que s'échelonnera sur 10 ans.

"C'est le moment que nous attendons depuis plus de 30 ans", a déclaré Jim Weakley, président de la Lake Carriers Association, basée à Cleveland. «C'est un grand jour pour le Michigan, la région des Grands Lacs et la nation entière. Nous sommes ravis. "

Suite au soutien de principe exprimé plus tôt en 2018 par le président Trump, les législateurs du Michigan ont fortement encouragé le projet. Et en juin, la Chambre des représentants des États-Unis à Washington a adopté l'amendement bipartite de Rick Nolan, membre du Congrès du Minnesota, dans lequel il exprimait son soutien à la construction d'une nouvelle écluse pour des raisons économiques et de sécurité nationale.

Le Michigan a offert un financement public de 50 millions de dollars américains pour aider à financer ce qui pourrait être un projet d'un milliard de dollars

Environ 80 millions de tonnes de produits commerciaux passent par les écluses du Soo chaque année. Partie intégrante de la voie maritime du Saint-Laurent qui relie l'océan Atlantique aux Grands Lacs, les écluses relient le lac Supérieur au lac Huron.

Selon le département américain de la Sécurité intérieure, la fermeture de l'écluse Poe - par un acte terroriste ou une rupture structurelle - entraînerait la perte de 10 millions d'emplois et imposerait la fermeture des mines, usines et manufacturiers.

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