• 2012 November 13 18:45

    Hong Kong to de-flag 19 Iranian ships

    Hong Kong will stop allowing 19 ships linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) from operating under its flag, a government letter showed, in the latest blow to Tehran's sanctions-hit global trade, reported Reuters.

    A letter from the Hong Kong government's marine department (HKMD) dated November 9 and seen by Reuters showed the authority had given notice to the owners of the 19 ships.

    Despite the move to de-flag Iranian ships, China continues to be the biggest taker of Iranian oil – a vital revenue earner for Tehran as it struggles with Western sanctions imposed over its disputed nuclear programme.

    Hong Kong had been urged by US pressure group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) to end the flagging of 19 dry bulk ships, which the group said were owned, managed or operated by IRISL and its front companies.

    "As it is of paramount importance to HKMD in safeguarding the quality of Hong Kong ships, HKMD has therefore taken action already in notifying the owners of these 19 ships for the closure of the registration in Hong Kong within 90 days beginning from the date of the notice being served," S F Wong, Hong Kong Shipping Register's general manager, said in the letter.

    "Whether or not these 19 ships and the associated companies are acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, IRISL would be a question of fact."

    IRISL officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
    Tough sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States have tightened the screws on Tehran, which relies on its shipping trade for imports including food, consumer and industrial goods.

    Many foreign companies have pulled out for fear of losing business in the United States and due to the complexities of arranging deals that are exempt from sanctions.

    IRISL, Iran's top cargo carrier, has been on a Western blacklist of sanctioned entities for years, accused of transporting weapons, which it denies.

    The carrier, whose fleet includes dry bulker and container ships, has tried to dodge sanctions by changing its flags and setting up front companies, the US Treasury and the EU have said.

    The world's top 13 ship classification societies including the Korean Register of Shipping (KR), which provide certification vital for securing insurance and ports access, have pulled out of Iran, adding even more pressure on Tehran.

    Wong said KR had confirmed to HKMD it would not conduct any survey or audit from January 1, 2013 on the 19 ships.

    "Given KR has effectively ceased to provide services or support to the company for managing the Hong Kong ships, HKMD does have concern about the safety and the quality of these ships," Wong said in the letter.

    A spokeswoman with the HKMD said that whenever there is evidence, such as a lack of certification, that the seaworthiness of any Hong Kong-registered ship could be in question, such a vessel may be de-registered.

    "Hong Kong has always committed to discharge international obligations in implementing United Nations' sanctions and will continue its efforts in exercising due vigilance to exclude any company or ship under UN sanctions to be on the Hong Kong Shipping Register," she said.

    China is still Iran's top trading partner. Iranian crude volumes received by China have been below contracted levels since September, however, because Iran's tanker fleet, the sole transporter of its crude to China, has been struggling to meet delivery schedules, trade sources have said.

    "After September 11, Hong Kong has proved itself time and again to be very compliant with all US regulations with regards to supply chain security. It is not surprising they would de-register the ships," a European ship industry official said.

    "The Chinese are still buying oil, and this is a clear illustration of the one country, two systems principle."


2020 September 18

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17:06 SEACOR Marine forms new Sustainability Council to lead enhanced ESG program
16:51 District awards $15.4 million contract to dredge Freeport Lower Stauffer Reach channel
16:48 DP World and Dubai Customs to assess opportunities to develop trade links between UAE and Israel
16:30 Gazprom Nedra and Marine Rescue Service test SeaDrone MG in Arctic conditions
16:09 SG-STAR Fund: First global tripartite initiative to support countries for crew change
16:02 IUMI raises concerns over increased accumulation risk for yachts and inland vessels
15:43 USCG releases new plan to protect global maritime security
15:08 CMA CGM informs of revised port charges in Ghana
14:51 Bunker prices are stable at the Port of Saint-Petersburg, Russia (graph)
14:24 Goods traffic between North Sea Port and hinterland by inland waterways continues to increase
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2020 September 17

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17:54 Damen launches Marine Aggregate Dredger for Hanson
17:52 Verifavia launches industry’s first “3-Way Plug & Play” dashboard
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17:30 ITF and IMEC contribute US$500,000 to the Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience
17:06 Azerbaijan State Marine Academy offers skills development and advanced training courses for ASCO employees
16:43 Ship banned in Australia for AUD $118,000 in unpaid crew wages
16:15 COVID-19 is negatively impacting the offshore energy insurance sector, but market is beginning to harden, says IUMI
16:00 Gasum secures contract with Celsa Armeringsstål AS including LNG deliveries and new terminal
15:42 Diana Shipping announces the sale of a Panamax dry bulk vessel
15:28 FESCO launches regular intermodal service for seafood delivery from Far East to China
15:18 MABUX releases Bunker Weekly Overview
15:09 IMO-Singapore webinar charts ways forward for decarbonisation of shipping
14:15 Bollinger awarded contract for state-of-the-art floating dry dock for the US new Columbia Class ballistic missile submarine
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13:32 LR accepted by MarinTrust as a new registered Certification Body
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09:16 MABUX: Bunker market this morning, Sept 17
09:11 Baltic Dry Index as of September 16

2020 September 16

18:05 Busan Port enhances protection of Gamcehon Port from COVID-19
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