Monthly Maritime News Roundup: July, 2016

By August 2, 2016 Uncategorized No Comments
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Time sure flies in the dynamic maritime industry! As the month of July comes to a close, Kemplon Engineering takes a moment to pause, look back, and round up some of the most attention-grabbing headlines of the past thirty-one days in this edition of, The Monthly Maritime News Roundup:

The topic of Territorial Disputes with China is no stranger to our monthly news, with major happenings embroiling multiple nations on this contentious issue on a regular basis. In a nutshell, sovereignty over various smatterings of islands in the Asian region is up for grabs among various claimants. Though the territories seem small – some have even been classified as rocks rather than islands – the potential prize is astronomical. What’s at stake could be a wealth in untapped natural resource deposits, re-drawn lines of exclusive economic zones vital to fishing and oil and mineral exploration, international freedom to navigate crucial shipping routes, and strategic military outposts.

These disputes have peppered the news with tense encounters involving coast guards and navies of various nations, have negatively impacted marine life and the livelihoods of small fishermen, and have involved superpowers from distant shores like the United States into the controversy (the country has been conducting freedom of navigation patrols in the area).

This July though, marked what could be a major turning point in one of the disputes. In a disproportional spat of David and Goliath proportions, the Philippines bucks against superpower China’s claims to much of the South China Sea on an international court – and wins.

China’s “Nine-Dash Line” is an attempt to delineate its territory to include most of the South China Sea. This claim is contested by several nations, one of which is the Philippines, which has brought their grievances before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The international body ultimately rules in favor of the Philippines, in declaring that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights in the area; that they had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the country’s exclusive economic zone; and that their controversial activities of land reclamation there was not proper for a nation involved in dispute proceedings.

The clear legal and diplomatic win, however, is far from a readily enforceable one. China neither accepts nor even recognizes the international body’s ruling (they had not even participated in the proceedings), and the country certainly has the military and commercial might to just do whatever they want (for instance, they are holding “routine” naval exercises with Russia in the South China Sea later this year, and plans have also been announced for infrastructure developments and cruising).

Either way, the decision may be a turning point of sorts in the issue, which could possibly see either an escalation of tensions, or could bring the Philippines and China back into bilateral talks on a slightly more level playing field than before. This is certainly one issue Kemplon Engineering will be keeping an eye on; trade valued at over $5 trillion traverses the area every year.

China has seen controversy over in another contested zone in the Asian region this month too, this time in the East China Sea. The disputed area saw an encounter between two Japanese Air Self Defense fighters and two Chinese fighters, which thankfully did not escalate to violence.

More bad news this month for the East Asian region: a recent study conducted by Chinese and American scientists has found increased shipping emissions cause thousands of deaths annually here. The area’s shipping emissions is said to have doubled in the last ten years, with increases leading to a staggering impact on health – an estimated 15,000 to 38,000 premature deaths annually.

In other Environment News, marine life has seen a couple of wins this month. In the United States, an appeals court has ruled that an approval allowing the US Navy to use low-frequency active sonar should be revisited due to whale protection laws that could have been violated. In China, the country’s largest shipping company, COSCO, pledged a total ban on the transportation of shark fin. In stark contrast, 120 pilot whales were killed in the Faroe Islands (a semi-autonomous region of Denmark), as part of the grindarap, a traditional whale hunt the Faroese have been engaged in for three centuries. The hunt is controversial in pitting culture and tradition against animal rights.

It was an eventful month for Marine Archaeology too.  The Italian Navy’s Diving Unit discovers a 1795 wreck from the famous Battle of Genoa; the United Kingdom’s magnificent Mary Rose is fully unveiled following decades of restoration – and almost 500 years after it sank in 1545; and in Sweden, warship Kronan is discovered to hold a unique ‘treasure:’ 340-year-old cheese, sitting in a tin since the ship’s sinking in 1676.

July was big for modern history-makers too. The International Maritime Organization honors Captain Radhika Menon with the 2016 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, for her key role in the dramatic rescue of seven men caught in tumultuous waters of 25-foot waves, 60-knot winds and heavy rain. She is the first female to receive the award. In the United States, the US Navy announced it would name a ship after the late politician and LGBT rights icon Harvey Milk.

Finally, we at Kemplon Engineering are one with our nation in celebrating Independence Day this July, and we sincerely hope the holiday was a meaningful one for all.

If you liked this article, come see Kemplon Engineering’s blog for more news on technology, international affairs, the marine environment, and other topics relating to the maritime industry. We strive to keep the blog relevant and up-to-date, as part of our commitment to meeting the needs and interests of our marine and industrial customers.

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For Further Reading:

Territorial Disputes with China

Bhattacharjya, Samhati. “South China Sea: China to promote tourism in disputed waters, to buy 8 cruise liners.” International Business Times, 21 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

Blanchard, Ben. “Freedom of navigation patrols in South China Sea may end in disaster, Chinese admiral warns.”, 18 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

“China to Hold drills with Russia in South China Sea.” The Maritime Executive, 28 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

Kellogg, Thomas E. “The South China Sea Ruling: China’s International Law Dilemma.” The Diplomat, 14 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

LaGrone, Sam. “Chinese and Japanese Fighters Clash Over East China Sea.” USNI News, 05 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

“PH wins maritime arbitration case vs. China.” CNN Philippines, 12 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

“U.S. Supports China-Philippines Bilateral Talks.” The Maritime Executive, 26 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

Environmental News

Chambers, Sam. “Up to 37,500 East Asians dying prematurely a year from ship pollution.” Splash 24/7, 19 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

“The crimson shore: How the residents of the Faroe Islands are continuing the shameful slaughter of pilot whales despite disgust from the rest of Europe.” Daily mail, 28 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

“E.Asian shipping emissions kill tens of thousands: study.”, 18 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

“Navy sonar broke whale protection laws, says US court.”, 19 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

Lee, Danny. “No to shark fin: China’s biggest shipping line Cosco pledges total ban on carrying product.” South China Morning Post, 24 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

Marine Archaeology

Hardman, Robert. “Unveiled: Mary Rose – the Tudor warship that won the first battle for Brexit – will enthral the public for generations to come after her magnificent £39 million restoration, says ROBERT HARDMAN.” Daily Mail, 20 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

Henley, Jon. “Divers in Sweden sniff out 340-year-old shipwrecked cheese.” The Guardian, 27 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

“Italian Navy Divers Find Wreck from Battle of Genoa.” The Maritime Executive, 22 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

 Modern History Makers

“Indian tanker captain to receive 2016 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.” International Maritime Organization, 07 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.

Shen, Lucinda. “The Navy Will Name a Ship After This Gay Rights Icon.”, 29 Jul 2016. Web. 01 Aug 2016.