32 Missing After Ships Collide Off China’s Coast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

The Panama-registered tanker "Sanchi" is seen ablaze after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China's eastern coast on Jan. 7, 2018
The Panama-registered tanker “Sanchi” is seen ablaze after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China’s eastern coast on Jan. 7, 2018
Korea Coast Guard/AP

By GERRY SHIH / AP

9:49 AM EST

(BEIJING) — An Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s east coast, leaving the tanker’s entire crew of 32 missing and causing it to spill oil into the sea, authorities said Sunday.

Chinese authorities dispatched police vessels and three cleaning ships to the scene after the collision, which happened late Saturday. The South Korean coast guard also sent a ship and a plane to help search for the missing crew members — 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.

The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 257 kilometers (160 miles) off the coast of Shanghai, China’s Ministry of Transport said.

All 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States, were rescued, the ministry said. The Crystal’s crew members were all Chinese nationals.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collision.

State-run China Central Television reported Sunday evening that the tanker was still floating and burning, and that oil was visible in the water.

It was not clear, however, whether the tanker was still spilling oil. The size of the oil slick caused by the accident also was not known.

Earlier Sunday, Chinese state media carried pictures of the tanker on fire with large plumes of smoke.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 metric tons (150,000 tons, or nearly 1 million barrels) of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, according to Chinese authorities.

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez was carrying 1.26 million barrels of crude oil when it spilled 260,000 barrels into Prince William Sound off Alaska in 1989.

The Sanchi has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the U.N.-run International Maritime Organization. The IMO listed its registered owner as Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping Ltd., on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Co., a publicly traded company based in Tehran. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.

An official in Iran’s Oil Ministry, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said 30 of the tanker’s 32 crew members were Iranians.

“We have no information on their fate,” he said. “We cannot say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services.”

The official said the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. and had been rented by a South Korean company, Hanwha Total Co. He said the tanker was on its way to South Korea.

Hanwa Total is a 50-50 partnership between the Seoul-based Hanwha Group and the French oil giant Total. Total did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s the second collision for a ship from the National Iranian Tanker Co. in less than a year and a half. In August 2016, one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship in the Singapore Strait, damaging both ships but causing no injuries or oil spill.

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China’s Permanent Space Laboratory One Step Closer To Reality

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News)

Tiangong-2 to be launched tonight

CHINA will launch its second experimental space laboratory late today, part of a broader plan to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.

China will launch its Tiangong-2 space lab from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China’s Gobi desert at 10:04pm.

Engineers have begun injecting propellant into the Long March-2F T2 rocket, which will carry Tiangong-2 into space, said Wu Ping, deputy director of the manned space engineering office, yesterday.

“All systems are ready for lift-off,” she said.

“The launch of Tiangong-2 will lay a solid foundation for the building and operation of a permanent space station in the future,” she said.

Once in space, the 8.6-ton Tiangong-2 will maneuver itself into an orbit about 380 kilometers above the Earth for initial on-orbit tests.

It will transfer to a slightly higher orbit about 393 kilometers above the Earth’s surface before the Shenzhou-11 manned spaceship ferries two astronauts into space to dock with the lab.

The two astronauts will work in Tiangong-2 for 30 days before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

In April 2017, China’s first cargo ship, Tianzhou-1, will also be sent into orbit to dock with Tiangong-2 and provide it with fuel and other supplies.

Wu said experts will verify and evaluate key technology involved in on-orbit propellant resupply and equipment repairs as well as that related to long-term stays in space by astronauts.

They will also use the lab, which is designed to operate for at least two years, to conduct space science experiments on a relatively large-scale compared to China’s previous efforts.

Measuring 10.4 meters in length and 3.35 meters in maximum diameter, the Tiangong-2 is much like its predecessor Tiangong-1, which was launched in 2011, but its living quarters and life support facilities have been improved to allow for longer stays by astronauts.

Originally built as a backup for Tiangong-1, it can enable two astronauts to live in space for up to 30 days and is capable of receiving manned and cargo spaceships.

Once inside Tiangong-2, the two astronauts will carry out key experiments related to aerospace medicine, space physics and biology as well as on-orbit equipment repairs in areas such as quantum key transmission, space atomic clock and solar storm research.

More than 40 space science and application experiments will be conducted aboard Tiangong-2.

Its payload includes POLAR, a collaboration between Swiss, Polish and Chinese institutions to study gamma ray bursts.

The space cold atomic clock, which scientists say only loses one second about every 30 million years, is expected to make future mobile navigation more accurate.

Also piggybacking on the Tiangong-2 launch will be a micro satellite that will orbit close to the space lab.

Earlier reports said Tiangong-2 will also carry three experiments designed by the winners of a Hong Kong middle school design contest.

According to Wu, Tiangong-2 is China’s first space lab “in the strict sense.”

In a manned space mission in 2013, three Chinese astronauts spent 15 days in orbit and docked with an experimental space laboratory, the Tiangong 1, or “Heavenly Palace.”

Tiangong-1 was mainly tasked with verifying technology involved in space docking and serving as a platform for a limited number of scientific experiments, Wu said.

Tiangong-1 ended its data service earlier this year.

The manned space engineering office said in March that the orbit of Tiangong-1 will descend gradually over several months until the orbiter eventually burns up in the atmosphere.

South Korea: Is Hanjin ‘To Big To Let Fail’ Or Is Failure Exactly What Shipping Industry Needs

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News Paper)

Hanjin Group vows US$90m to help resolve shipping cargo woes

HANJIN Group said yesterday it will inject US$90 million, including US$36 million from its chairman Cho Yang-ho’s personal assets, to help resolve disruptions to container cargo transport caused by Hanjin Shipping Co’s financial troubles.

The move follows South Korean government demands that the parent firm do more to help as Hanjin’s vessels remain stranded outside ports after the company filed for bankruptcy protection last week.

Hanjin Shipping is seeking protection from creditors in dozens of countries, hoping to minimize seizures of its assets. With its assets frozen, its ships are being refused permission to offload or take on containers at ports worldwide, out of concern tugboat pilots or stevedores may not be paid. Out of 141 vessels the company operates, 68 were not operating normally, were stranded or seized, as of Sunday.

The world’s seventh largest ocean shipper, Hanjin Shipping is part of the Seoul-based Hanjin Group, a huge, family dominated conglomerate, or chaebol, that also includes Korean Air.

The Hanjin Group said in a statement yesterday that it will provide its stakes in overseas terminals, such as the one Hanjin operates in Long Beach, California, as collateral to borrow 60 billion won (US$54 million).

That still falls short of the fees that Hanjin Shipping must pay for services it needs to offload cargoes already on its vessels. According to local media reports, that amounts to 600 billion won.

It was unclear if banks or the government might provide more financing to resolve the immediate crisis.

In the meantime, South Korean regulators said they are directing Hanjin Shipping vessels to unload cargoes in a few key ports, including in Singapore and Hamburg, Germany.

With the country’s largest ocean shipper idled and the shipbuilding industry also in crisis, a government task force is directing moves to salvage the container shipping sector, which like ocean shipping worldwide has been battered by weak demand and overcapacity.

“The government is making all-out efforts to minimize damage and loss of consignees,” Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho said late Monday. “Korean government-led response teams will be formed in the selected offshore ports to swiftly receive stay orders or guaranteed protection,” Yoo said in Hangzhou where he was attending a Group of 20 summit.

Officials appear set on a consolidation, without committing huge sums of taxpayer cash, of Hanjin and its smaller rival, Hyundai Merchant Marine, which already is being restructured.

Hanjin Shipping was handling nearly 8 percent of the trans-Pacific trade volume for the US market, and with its container ships marooned offshore, major retailers have been scrambling to devise contingency plans to get their merchandise into stores.

The shipping company has posted net losses every year since 2011. Last week, creditors led by the Korea Development Bank rejected a plan by Hanjin Group to spend another 500 billion won to rescue the shipping firm, way short of Hanjin Shipping’s more than 6 trillion won in debts.

Hanjin’s shares rose 20 percent yesterday on hopes for government help for the firm.