Commissioner William P. Doyle Report from Athens, Greece
In mid-April 2015, I participated in the European Maritime Law Organization (EMLO) spring seminar in Athens, Greece. I also had the opportunity to meet several public and private international maritime stakeholders while in Athens. Below is a summary of the groups with whom I met:
I would like to thank the Honorable David Pearce, U.S. Ambassador to Greece, for spending time with me discussing vessel and port alliances, the Panama Canal expansion project and other matters related to oceanborne commerce. In addition, I commend the Embassy staff for assisting me while in Athens, in particular, Defense Attaché Captain Bob Palm and Economic Officer Annika Betancourt.
Ministry of Shipping Maritime Affairs & Aegean Hellenic Coast Guard
I appreciate the time Commandant Athanasios Athanasopoulos Vice Admiral (Hellenic Coast Guard) spent discussing matters pertinent to world trade and safety of life at sea. The Commandant’s staff, led by Captain Anastasakos Agisilaos, Director of the Directorate for Shipping hosted an informative bilateral meeting. The Greek-controlled fleet is growing and it now controls over 15% of the world’s fleet. Greek interests control 25% of the world tanker fleet. The Hellenic Coast Guard and commercial Greek operators are increasingly involved in the search and recuse operations of people trying to escape the desperate and tragic events occurring in Africa by making the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea aboard inadequate vessels.
Union of Greek Shipowners
A special thanks to Constantinos Martinos, Vice President of the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS). The UGS has been around since 1916 representing Greek shipping companies. The organization is a member of the European Community of Shipowners’ Associations, and is also a member to several other global maritime associations including INTERTANKO, INTERCARGO and BIMCO. The Union of Greek Shipowners conveyed to me their pride as a traditional and strategic ally of the United States in a geopolitically changing world. The UGS strongly supports combating maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea and they do not want complacency to set in during times of dormant pirate activities.
International Propeller Club of the United States, Port of Piraeus, Greece Chapter
Thank you so much to George Xiradakis, President of the Piraeus Propeller Club. The Piraeus chapter is the world’s largest chapter in the International Propeller Club. The meeting was well attended by the Board of Governors and members of the Club. Mr. Xiradakis stated that the Propeller Club of Piraeus (PCP) is the link to Greece for the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER). AMVER is a computer-based voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. According to PCP, more than 3,000 people were rescued by the Greek-owned fleet in 2014 and the number of rescues may be significantly exceeded this year.
Piraeus Container Terminal S.A.
I would like to thank Captain Fu Chengqiu, Managing Director of the Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT) and Mr. Tassos Vamvakidis, Commercial Manager for allowing me to tour their port facility and view the port operations.
PCT is known as the “Gateway and Transshipment hub in Greece, Mediterranean and Europe.”
PCT has four berths at its existing Pier II, which will be expanded to six berths once construction at Pier III is complete. Piraeus is the largest port in the Mediterranean with an annual capacity to handle more than 3.16 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs). COSCO Group, the fifth-largest container terminal operator in the world, has invested 4.3 billion euros on a 35-year management lease for the two piers at Piraeus Port, which it has been operating since June 2010.
Again, I thank the U.S. Embassy staff in Athens for their assistance and thank the wonderful maritime professionals in Greece who took the time to meet with me.