South African coaster goes aground

Jul 9, 2004
Author: P&S

The South African coaster Pongola (7 970-gt, built in 2000) ran aground on one of Beira’s notorious sandbanks while approaching the Mozambique port earlier this week and by this morning efforts to refloat the ship on the high tide had proved unsuccessful.

Initial reaction is that there are no signs of serious damage to the ship and there is no immediate danger, although possible damage to the hull and steering can only be fully evaluated once refloated.

The Pongola is one of eight general cargo/container ships operating a coastal service between South African ports and those of Angola on the west coast and Kenya on the east for Ocean Africa Container Lines, the new name for Unifeeder. The vessel was on an East Coast voyage with a cargo of containers when the grounding took place.

The supply and salvage tug Toto has left Durban to go to the Pongola’s assistance.

Unifeeder announced last week that the company’s name would change to Ocean Africa Container Lines after having abandoned the previously announced title of United Africa Container Lines.

According to Ocean Africa’s CEO Capt Dave Rennie, the decision to re-brand the company was taken to more accurately reflect its status as an African company with Africa as its home and place of business.

He said that despite the Registrar of Companies giving approval for the registration of the name United Africa Container Lines, as announced at the end of May, Unifeeder received a subsequent objection. This was issued by another company whose operating name could be considered similar to and in possible conflict with that of United Africa Container Lines. It was therefore agreed to amend the company name and these procedures had now been concluded. Unifeeder would in future trade as Ocean Africa Container Lines.

Rennie said that despite the distraction Ocean Africa’s expansion plans have moved ahead at a pace.

“The additional vessels we announced earlier have now arrived in Southern African waters and have been deployed into Ocean Africa’s services. We believe that our services between South African ports, Namibia and Angola have been the most consistent in the market and the additional frequency we now offer further cements our position as market leader.”

Ocean Africa now has a total of eight modern, purpose-built container ships. Five vessels are deployed in the Durban to Luanda range and three in the Durban to Mombasa service, with all significant ports in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya being serviced.

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