Thursday, January 13, 2000

France demands tougher tanker vetting
Oil companies must modify their procedures for checking ships, says France's Minister for Equipment and Transportation, Jean-Claude Gayssot.

The minister made this clear after receiving a report on the loss of the tanker Erika sent to him by the Bureau of Inquiries into Marine Accidents. The full contents of the report will be made public tomorrow.

The minister wants all of the recommendations of the report to be taken into account.

Many of these concern controls put in place by charterers . The report says that the oil companies' internal control procedures must be better integrated with their structural inspections of vessels and these should become more frequent as vessels age.

Other recommendations concern the controls used by flag states, shipowners and classification societies. The minister says that the report strengthens the case for reinforcing France's capacity for surveillance, control and intervention and for seeking, in the European and international arenas, stricter regulation, harmonized controls and effective sanctions.

New Marad Report shows size, scope of U.S.-Flag Fleet
A large, diverse fleet of U.S.-flag vessels is contributing to U.S. prosperity while meeting the highest safety and environmental standards, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) reported today.

According to data released today by MARAD, the fleet of U.S.-flag vessels actively supporting the nation's commerce includes more than 37,700 cargo and passenger ships, ferries, barges, tugs, towboats and other work vessels.

Speaking before the Washington, D.C., Propeller Club, Maritime Administrator Clyde J.Hart unveiled a new report that portrays the complexity and capability of the U.S.-flag merchant fleet. It draws upon and presents in a new framework information collected by MARAD, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard.

In its periodic U.S. Merchant Marine Data Sheet, MARAD has long reported on the number of large, self-propelled, deep-draft ships in the U.S.-flag fleet. The new report, to be issued at least twice a year, includes that information as well as many other vessel types, ranging from large oceangoing barges to riverboats and ferries. It includes only active vessels.

The report contains fleet information as of Jan. 1, 1999. As of that date, the active U.S.-flag fleet included:

  • 29,545 cargo-carrying vessels, of which 2,948 were larger than 1,000 gross tons;
  • 1,491 passenger vessels, including ferries, together capable of carrying more than 410,000 people;
  • 5,446 tugs and towboats;
  • 1,424 crewboats, and supply and utility vessels serving the oil industry;
  • 25,698 barges and 613 powered vessels carrying cargoes on the inland waterways;
  • 409 vessels serving U.S. foreign trade;
  • 2,433 ships and barges carrying domestic cargoes in coastal trades; and
  • 206 ships and barges operating on the Great Lakes.

To download the report in PDF format from the Marad website, click here. MARAD expects shortly to publish data as of July 1, 1999.

Star Cruises begins offer for NCL Shares
Star Cruises PLC today commenced its previously-announced offers to purchase all outstanding ordinary shares of NCL Holding ASA and all outstanding NCL Holding American Depositary Shares (each representing four ordinary shares) not owned by Star Cruises and related companies (the Star Group) at a price of 35 Norwegian kronor (NOK) per share (140 NOK per American Depositary Share).

The offers -- which involve a concurrent international offer for ordinary shares held by non-U.S. persons and U.S. offer for ordinary shares held by U.S. persons and American Depositary Shares -- are being made through Star Cruises' subsidiary, Arrasas Limited, pursuant to the mandatory offer requirements of Norwegian law.

The offer price of 35 NOK per share is equal to the highest price the Star Group has previously paid to acquire any shares. It also represents a premium of over 40% to the 24.90 NOK closing share price on the Oslo Stock Exchange on December 1, 1999, the last trading day before Carnival Corporation's public announcement that it intended to make a takeover offer for NCL shares, and a premium of over 16.0% to the 30 NOK per share price in Carnival Corporation's now-lapsed offer.

The offers are not subject to any conditions and will remain open for acceptance through February 10, 2000 (unless extended).


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