Greek Shipping News Cuts
Week 08 - 2006

 

Seamen suspend strike, ferries back in work

---Calm returned to Piraeus' dockside on Thursday as Greece's busiest commercial port resumed business following a crippling weeklong strike by ferry boat seamen overcome only after the government issued a back-to-work mobilisation order early Wednesday for all Greek-flagged vessels.
The seamen's union (PNO), meanwhile, suspended its ongoing 48-hour strike with a unanimous decision early Thursday afternoon by its executive committee. The industrial action was due to end at 6 a.m. Friday.
The decision meant that all tied up ferry boats were to resume service by 6 p.m. Thursday. According to reports, the union may now request that the merchant marine ministry lift the Feb. 22 back-to-work mobilisation order.
According to authorities, seven ferry boats carrying a total of 586 trucks left the port of Piraeus over the past 24 hours towards Crete and other Aegean island destinations. Another 11 vessels disembarked from various islands towards Piraeus, carrying more than 700 trucks and nearly 2,000 passengers.
In a related development, the government on Thursday flatly dismissed same-day press reports claiming it issued the back-to-work order while negotiations were still underway with PNO's leadership on Tuesday.
"Talks between the merchant marine ministry and PNO ended late Tuesday evening after the government was informed by the relevant minister (Manolis Kefaloyiannis) that negotiations failed to turn up any result, whereby it (government) proceeded with the specific decision (mobilisation), and taking advantage of constitutional rights. The talks collapsed at least one hour before the end of the calendar day Feb. 21," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed.
Opposition, Parliament debate
PASOK MP Anna Diamantopoulou, a former EU Commissioner, charged that ruling New Democracy party had reneged on its pre-election promises to the seamen's union and that it remained a deeply conservative party, while she also called the back-to-work order an "extreme measure".
Asked about a PASOK deputy's proposal -- made during a same-day Parliament debate -- to hire foreign flagged vessels and crews in place of the strikers, Diamantopoulou criticised the notion. She merely added that she was unaware of the specific comment and that official party policy is expressed by PASOK's relevant organs.
The proposal, whereby Cretan products are directly shipped to western Europe via Italian ports, was made by PASOK MP Manolis Stratakis, whose election precinct is on Crete, one of the strike's hardest hit areas.
"The merchant marine ministry could have intervened so that it had at its disposal foreign-flagged vessels to transport products without anyone interfering," Stratakis said in Parliament.
In reply, Minister Kefaloyiannis reminded that the government did not duplicate measures used by a previous PASOK government in 2002, when the latter issued a back-to-work order two days into a similar seamen's strike.
Finally, the minister asked whether Stratakis' proposal was an official PASOK position.
Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos, whose tabled question concerning government measures against the "bird flu" virus was the main object of Thursday's on-the-agenda Parliament debate, charged that the government is employing violence and pitting social groups against each other instead of following its pre-election programme.
"If you're not listening to PNO and Synaspismos, then listen to your own union leaders and deputies, who expressed different positions and who criticised you," Alavanos said.
In response, Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos emphasised that it is unacceptable to have two standards for wage-earners "when we have citizens that are cut-off (on the islands), who can't work or whose products are being destroyed. When the government, over six days, has exhausted every margin of dialogue, it has the right to take decisions within the framework of its constitutional privileges."
Finally, the spokesman repeated that the government increased a lump sum pension payment for retiring seamen by 25 percent a year ago, whereas a demand to eliminate taxes all together for lower ranking seamen, from a current rate of 3 percent, was unreasonable.
Source: http://www.ana.gr, 02/25/2006


According to the Union of Greek Shipowners-authored document, the rules are riddled with errors and misrepresentations.
The criticisms will disappoint class societies, which will have hoped controversy over the new rules would quietly fade away.
Source: www.lloydslist.com, Company News


Intermanager's KPI Standard dovetails with TMSA
Speaking at the recent Tanker Operator Conference in Athens, the International Ship Managers' Association (InterManager) general secretary Stephen Chapman said: "We do not find that other stakeholders come up with their own definition of how KPIs should be calculated. We must be able to agree on a standard for operational KPIs that gives a representative picture of the quality of a ship's operational performance; is limited in number; is transparent and is economic to collect."
The KPI Project was initiated by a Sponsor Group of 18 shipowners and shipmanagers, spearheaded by InterManager. The project aims to develop a set of KPIs for ship managers which would be acceptable to all "stakeholders" on a pan-industry basis. These "stakeholders" include Imo, ILO, Port State Control organisations, oil majors, charterers and classification societies and other regulatory and enforcement agencies.
Phase I of the KPI Project is complete. It has identified and adopted the "Conjoint Value Hierarchy (CVH)" methodology for developing a set of KPIs based on the requirement of all stakeholders. These KPIs will be easily collectible, measurable and, besides being verifiable by any and all stake holders, will facilitate a self-assessment culture, which would elevate the ship-manager's performance from the present culture of compliance with minimum criteria.
Results from the pilot project indicated good correlation between the output from the CVH method, and what representatives from the group considered to be prime factors for operational safety and environmental excellence in ship management. Having concluded the CVH methodology had good potential to establish consensus and to resolve the differences of opinion that would inevitably emerge, the sponsor group is circulating the findings of the pilot study to the shipping industry.
There are many good reasons why both individual ship management companies, and the shipping industry as a whole, need to adopt common standards. One reason is that KPIs currently in use tend to be limited, often varying widely between companies. As a result, they do not actually help a company to manage itself well, nor are they useful for comparing performance between companies, so called bench marking.
In short, in our experience, the KPI project itself can be the best "change management" tool for communicating the value of the project, for gaining consensus, and for getting an accurate view of the types of KPIs needed by the industry.
One way of ensuring KPIs are more likely to be implemented, is to facilitate an ongoing "multi-stakeholder work group" that would be made up of various interested stakeholders, and that would continue to refine the KPIs and agree to implement them throughout the industry over the next one or two years.
So it seems from the arguments that the InterManager KPI initiative does dovetail closely with TMSA. Chapman says: "If you study the new InterManager guidelines on the interpretation of the ISO9001:2000 as it applies to ship and crew managers, you will see each section is clearly cross referenced with TMSA. These guidelines provide an extensive source of tips and advice distilled from of operating companies both large and small by the InterManager Best Practices Committee".
Source: www.newsfront.gr , Vol. 7 / No. 7, 24 February 2006


Can Greece be a logistics hub?
---Greece has only a year, at best, to decide whether it wants to become a logistics hub in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, experts warn.
The warning comes as Chinese maritime group COSCO has expressed an interest in investing in the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki.
A possible Chinese investment in Greek ports was discussed by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis during his visit to China, where, on January 20, he met COSCO President Wei Jiafu.
On Tuesday, COSCO Pacific sent a letter to the Merchant Marine Ministry outlining its proposal.
Logistics experts say that Greece can, if it wants, still follow the examples of the Netherlands and Singapore, which have become important regional logistics hubs.
Source: By Demetris Nellas - Kathimerini English Edition, 23 Feb 2006, http://www.ekathimerini.com


Greeks top list for most bulker buys
---Greek owners have been splashing out on bulkers this year, snapping up 10 units so far.
Greek buyers have dominated the market for secondhand-bulker purchases since the beginning of the year, even though some claim to be pessimistic about the future of freight rates.
Out of a total of 14 panamax bulkers reported sold this year, 10 have gone to Greeks. They have also made a strong showing in the handymax sector and picked up a few capesize units as well.
Pacific&Atlantic (P&A) has spent $89m on four panamax bulkers after having been a major seller over the past couple of years. It is said to have bid on other ships as well but those deals did not materialise.
P&A boss Nick Pateras says he is not optimistic the current upswing in dry-freight rates will last and attributes its decision to buy to lower vessel prices.
"We don't intend buying more expensive vessels. We are creating a benchmark for ourselves now in order to only buy if prices go further down," he said.
The Vafias group's dry-bulk arm, Brave Maritime, has also appeared as an eager buyer this month. After the sale of its 69,400-dwt Sydney King (built 1988) to Chinese buyers for $16.7m, Brave Maritime bought the 72,400-dwt Denak-A (built 1997), which it intends to rename the Brave NV , for a reported $25.2m. The ship was immediately fixed for five to six months. The identity of the charterer and the rate have not been disclosed.
Brave Maritime was close to buying the four-vessel fleet of Eolos Shipmanagement, including three panamaxes.
Brave Maritime has purchased two handymax bulkers, the 46,500-dwt Thomas C , to be renamed the Brave SV , and 46,700-dwt Denise C, to be renamed the Brave Imperiale , (both built 1999), for about $45.5m en bloc. Both ships have the balance of time charters running for a further 12 months, reportedly at a rate of $14,000 per day.
Vafias group founder Nick Vafias says that after having considerably reduced the size of its bulker fleet, the group would like to replace the ships with much more modern tonnage. "If there is a particular ship that makes sense to us, we look into this ship," he added.
Brave Maritime currently controls two capesize bulkers, one panamax and one handy.
"If a company has a target to buy 10 ships, for example, it cannot buy all 10 at the very bottom of the market, neither can it sell at the very top of the market. So we have to buy, say, one or two every quarter," Vafias said.
"Nobody can be sure about the freight market because for sure there is newbuilding tonnage coming in and increasing the supply and on the other hand, there are no scrap sales," he added.
The Restis group, which beat out Vafias at the end of last week to take the Eolos ships reportedly for $130m en bloc, is believed to be more enthusiastic about freight rate prospects.
Nevertheless, market watchers familiar with the Greek "gut feeling" for the right time to move into a particular segment, also note the growing number of bulker-newbuilding resales being snapped up by some Greek companies.
In January, Metrostar was reported to have taken three more 82,000-dwt Kamsarmax newbuildings for delivery in 2006 and 2007, while Tsakos went for four Kamsarmax resales after being linked to the purchase of the 186,000-dwt bulker Hanjin Melbourne (built 1987).
Group founder Captain Panayiotis Tsakos told TradeWinds recently he intends to build up the bulker side of the family operation.
Source: www.tradewinds.no, By Gillian Whittaker, Athens, published: 24 February 2006


Greece's Attica Enterprises FY 2005 net 28.1 mln eur, down 21.1 pct
---ATHENS (AFX) - Greek passenger shipper Attica Enterprises said its 2005 full year group net profit fell 21.1 pct to 28.1 mln eur from 35.6 mln eur in 2004 under IFRS.
The group noted, however, that it booked 20 mln eur in extra fuel costs from rising oil prices in 2005, and in 2004 booked a one-off gain of 8.06 mln eur from the sale of its passenger ferry Superfast 1.
Group sales were 3 pct higher year on year to 385.1 mln eur, but EBITDA was down 5.3 pct to 99.1 mln eur.
Earnings per share fell to 0.27 eur from 0.34 eur per share last year, however, the group said it will propose paying the same dividend as last year, 0.08 eur per share.
The group currently owns eight Superfast ferries, two RoRo class ships, and eight Blue Star ferries. These ships operate on lines between the Greek islands and mainland, between Greece and Italy, Germany and Finland, and between Scotland and Belgium.
Today, Attic Enterprise shares closed up 3 pct at 4.68 eur, and the ASE general index closed up 0.9 pct at 4,221.2 points, which is a fresh five year high.
Source: http://www.forbes.com, 02.22.2006, 11:31 AM Source: Euro2day.gr NewsWire


Quintana Maritime Announces Time Charter for M/V Kirmar
---ATHENS, GREECE -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 02/21/2006 -- Quintana Maritime Limited (NASDAQ: QMAR) announced today that it has entered into a time charter agreement for the M/V Kirmar with Swissmarine for a minimum period of twelve months and a maximum period of eighteen months at a daily rate of USD $26,250 per day. The commencement of the time charter is set to begin in early March 2006. Kirmar is a Capesize bulk carrier built in 2001 with a carrying capacity of 165,500 dwt.
Stamatis Molaris, Chief Executive Officer of Quintana Maritime Limited, stated, "We are pleased to announce that we continue to successfully implement our time charter strategy by securing the M/V Kirmar for a period of twelve to eighteen months at a profitable rate. With this fixture our time charter cover for 2006 is 78.7% and for 2007 is 52.6%, generating net revenues of $64.4 million and $46.2 million respectively. We continue to pursue our strategy to employ our vessels under period charters to maximize the generation of stable and predictable cash flows for our shareholders."
Source: http://www.quintanamaritime.com


Euroseas Ltd. to present at Roth Capital Partners Conference
---02/21/06 Maroussi, Athens, Greece - Euroseas Ltd. announced today that on February 22nd it will present at the 18th Annual OC Conference organized by Roth Capital Partners. The conference will take place at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, CA from February 20th - 22nd.
For more information about the conference please visit
http://www.rothcp.com/index06%20DP.html
After the conference, investor may access the presentation at: http://www.euroseas.gr/ir_presentations.html
Information about Euroseas
Euroseas Ltd. Euroseas Ltd. was formed on May 5, 2005 under the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to consolidate the ship owning interests of the Pittas family of Athens. Euroseas Ltd., through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, owns and operates eight drybulk vessels, including four Handysize bulk carriers, three Handysize containerships, and one Panamax drybulk carrier. Euroseas will continue to operate in the drybulk and container shipping markets, with operations managed by Eurobulk Ltd., an affiliated ship management company. Eurobulk will be responsible for the day-to-day commercial and technical management and operations of the vessels. Eurobulk Ltd. is an ISO 9002:2000 certified ship management company and represents four generations of ship management tradition and expertise of the Pittas family dating back to the late 19th century.
Euroseas' five drybulk carrier vessels have total cargo capacity of 190,904 deadweight tons (dwt) and its containerships have cargo capacity of 66,100 dwt and 4,636 twenty-foot equivalent units (teu). Euroseas employs its vessels in the spot and time charter market and through pool arrangements. Presently, six of its vessels are employed under time charters, one is under voyage charter and one vessel is employed in the Baumarine pool that is managed by Klaveness, a major global charterer in the dry bulk area.
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release contains statements that are forward looking as that term is defined by the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on current expectations that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ. Readers are referred to Euroseas' most recent reports filed with the SEC.
This announcement shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities, nor shall there be any sale of securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction.
Visit our website at www.euroseas.gr
Company Contact, Tasos Aslidis, Chief Financial Officer, Euroseas Ltd., 2693 Far View Drive Mountainside, NJ 07092, Tel. (908) 301-9091, E-Mail: aha@euroseas.gr
Source: press release, www.euroseas.gr


Genmar in Bosphorus scare
---ONE of the nine OBOs being sold by US owner Genmar to Singapore-based Tanker Pacific suffered steering gear failure on Tuesday and came to close to hitting a historic Ottoman palace in Istanbul, Turkey.
According to local reports the 100,001 dwt OBO Genmar Star, sailing from Russia to the US with kerosene, lost steering and veered towards 19th-century Dolmabahce Palace. The Liberian-flag ship dropped anchor and was held some 50 metres off the palace.
Meanwhile Genmar has reported Q4 and full-year results that reflect the lower freight rates available last year and particularly in Q4. It made a Q4 net profit of US$104 compared to US$140.5m in Q4 2004. Full year figures were US$212.4m against US$315.1m.
Genmar chairman, ceo and president Peter Georgiopoulos said, "2005 was both a significant and transforming year for General Maritime. In addition to posting strong financial results during a comparatively softer rate environment, we took decisive and significant steps that have redefined General Maritime in terms of its fleet profile and capital structure. At the same time, we unlocked value for shareholders by declaring a cumulative dividend of $4.86 per share and implementing a share repurchase program. General Maritime enters 2006 with a significantly strengthened balance sheet, positioning the Company to continue to serve shareholders well in both the near-term and long-term."
He continued, "The opportunistic vessel sales that General Maritime has entered into in 2005 and during February 2006 have enabled the Company to monetize the value of non-core assets and further modernize our fleet. In addition to realizing both a sizeable book gain and return on our initial investment, with the vessel sales General Maritime's fleet becomes 100 percent double-hull and its average age is significantly reduced. Including the recent OBO sales and the newbuildings that will be delivered between March of 2006 and 2008, General Maritime has successfully reduced the average age of its fleet to seven and a half years."
Source: www.mgn.com, Thursday, 23 February 2006