Monthly Maritime News Roundup: January, 2015

It’s only the first month of the New Year and already, January 2015 was full to the brim with maritime industry activity! Kemplon Engineering takes a look at some of the developments that created waves for the first days of 2015, in this edition of the Monthly Maritime News Roundup:

The United States and Cuba. Commercial and diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba have been severed since the 1960s. Last December, historic announcements on restoring ties were made… and the effects are both expected and surprising. Expected? Moves by politicians to loosen travel restrictions to Cuba, and eventually, to end the embargo. Not quite expected? The Coast Guard experiences an uptick in irregular migrants from Cuba heading to Florida by sea, amidst fears of an impending change in immigration policy. Also unexpected, is the arrival of a Russian naval spy ship in Havana on the eve of high-level talks between American and Cuban delegations.

The MV Hoegh Osaka, a car carrier, was deliberately run aground in the Bramble Bank shortly after leaving Southampton, when its crew realized the vessel was listing. The valuable cargo they had hoped to save? Millions of dollars’ worth of luxury cars, including Bentleys, Range Rovers, Jaguars and even a Rolls Royce. The news was first inundated with dramatic images of the beached ship. By the end of the month, the media was focusing on photographs of one luxury car after another being driven off the carrier. The exact condition and upcoming fate of these beautiful cars are for the moment, unknown. In the meantime, plans for repairs to the car carrier are being drawn up.

The Panama and Nicaragua Canals have also been getting their share of the news this January. An expansion project for the Panama Canal has been going on since 2007, in a $5.25-billion endeavor unfortunately plagued by cost overruns, legal disputes, strikes and delays. This January, a strike over worker treatment comes to an end, and a settlement of $233 million is made on a disputed cost overrun. The expanded canal, originally slated for 2014 operations, now has a target date in early 2016. Over in Nicaragua, a controversial challenger hopes to build an interoceanic canal in a $50 billion project, and encounters local and international opposition. Concerns include the lack of transparency over the project, and for negative impacts to the environment and residents.

Anticipation for The Norwegian Escape was sky high in January, as news started pouring in on the 4,200-passenger cruise ship’s stunning features, months ahead of its October, 2015 debut. Travelers can expect a deluge of delights on board, including the largest water park and ropes course at sea, and—believe it or not, announced this January to the fascination of many—an actual Snow Room!

With major developments in border security, shipping and cruising, January was a big month for the maritime industry. Check in with us again in February for next month’s Maritime News Roundup.

References:
US-Cuba Relations
^ Alanez, Tonya. “Coast Guard increases patrols to stem Cuban rafter spike.” SunSentinel, 05 Jan 2015. Web. 30 Jan 2015. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/fl-cuba-concerns-coast-guard-20150105-story.html
^ Council on Foreign Relations. “U.S.-Cuba-Relations.” CFR.org. Web. Accessed 30 Jan 2015. http://www.cfr.org/cuba/us-cuba-relations/p11113
^ Weir, Fred. “Russia sends clear message – and spy ship – on eve of US-Cuba talks.” Yahoo! News, 21 Jan 2015. Web. 30 Jan 2015. http://news.yahoo.com/russia-sends-clear-message-spy-ship-eve-us-184817699.html
Zengerle, Patricia. “U.S. lawmakers seek to end restrictions on travel to Cuba.” Reuters.com, 29 Jan 2015. Web. 30 Jan 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/29/us-cuba-usa-idUSKBN0L21HQ20150129

Hoegh Osaka
^ Hughes, Ian. “Hoegh Osaka: Luxury cars worth £30 million saved from stranded cargo ship.” Mirror, 27 Jan 2015. Web. 31 Jan 2015. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/hoegh-osaka-luxury-cars-worth-5052504
^ “Osaka set for repair.” TradeWinds, 29 Jan 2015. Web. 31 Jan 2015. http://www.tradewindsnews.com/casualties^ /353401/Osaka-set-for-repair
^ Zhang, Benjamin. “$53 Million In Shipwrecked Luxury Cars Will Be Scrapped.” Business Insider, 28 Jan 2015. Web. 31 Jan 2015. http://www.businessinsider.com/jaguar-land-rover-porsches-and-rolls-royce-survive-hoegh-osaka-2015-1

Panama and Nicaragua Canals
^ Agence France-Presse. “Workers end strike in Panama Canal expansion.” InterAksyon, 04 Jan 2015. Web. 31 Jan 2015. http://www.interaksyon.com/article/102300/workers-end-strike-in-panama-canal-expansion
^ Lee, Brianna. “Nicaragua Canal Project: US Embassy Expresses Worry Over Lack Of Transparency.” International Business Times, 08 Jan 2015. Web. 31 Jan 2015. http://www.ibtimes.com/nicaragua-canal-project-us-embassy-expresses-worry-over-lack-transparency-1777552
^ Reuters. “Consortium of Canal Builders Win Settlement in Panama.” The New York Times, 01 Jan 2015. Web. 31 Jan 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/02/business/consortium-of-canal-builders-win-settlement-in-panama.html?_r=0&module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Business%20Day&action=keypress&region=FixedLeft&pgtype=article

Norwegian Escape
^ Satchell, Arlene. “Norwegian Escape to include largest water park at sea.” Sun Sentinel, 16 Dec 2014. Web. 31 Jan 2015. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/tourism/fl-norwegian-escape-features-20141216-story.html
^ Sloan, Gene. “Broadway’s ‘After Midnight’ to debut on cruise ship.” USA Today, 20 Jan 2015. Web. 31 Jan 2015. http://www.usatoday.com/story/cruiselog/2015/01/20/after-midnight-musical-cruise/21989117/
^ Sloan, Gene. “New cruise ships for 2015: Norwegian Escape.” USA Today, 09 Jan 2015. Web. 31 Jan 2015. http://www.usatoday.com/story/cruiselog/2015/01/09/2015-cruise-ships-norwegian-escape/21006535/