Interesting ship arrivals in port

Dec 16, 2004
Author: P&S

The two KwaZulu Natal ports, Durban and Richards Bay remain full of interest and incident despite a seasonal lull in shipping.

One example was the enforced closure last week, albeit temporary, of Durban harbour after the boom from a crane broke off and fell into the entrance channel. The Durban company Sub-tech Diving, which has the contract to remove the remaining three anti-submarine caissons from the entrance channel, was in the process of removing caisson pieces on the south side of the channel, having successfully removed the first caisson from the north side during October 2004. (The latter was towed to a position off Umhlanga and sunk to form an artificial reef.)

The weight of one of the large pieces of concrete being lifted caused the boom of the crane to break off and fall into the channel. Fortunately the barge, upon which the crane is located, did not topple over. As a precautionary measure the entrance channel was temporarily closed to vessels to allow the NPA floating crane to assist with the recovery of the missing boom. The entrance channel re-opened later in the morning and with shipping relatively quiet at this time no vessels were unduly delayed.

In addition to the arrival of four cruise ships during the week (Rhapsody, Minerva II, Royal Princess and The World), Durban can also look ahead to the arrival of two Kenya Navy ships that are due on December 27. The two purpose-built patrol ships, Shupavu (P6129) and Shujaa (P6130), will undergo maintenance refits at Salisbury Island Naval Station.

The name Shupavu means firm, compact, well knit and Shujaa stands for a warrior, or brave man - thanks to Mercury reader Neil Warrack for this explanation.

Both ships, which were built in 1998, displace 480 tons fully loaded, are 58 m long and have two diesels driving two shafts to produce a speed of 22 knots. Neither vessel is armed but carry a crew of 24 for offshore patrol work.

Richards Bay played host this past week or so to the well-known semi-submersible heavylift ship Mighty Servant 1, which is reported to have developed cracks in her ballast tanks. Because the vessel was unable to make use of the tanks to adjust ballast, Mighty Servant 1 was forced to undergo repairs outside port at the outer anchorage.

The Mighty Servant vessels are no strangers to these parts having called at both Richards Bay and Durban on a number of occasions – Mighty Servant 2 making perhaps the most noteworthy of those calls in May 1996 when the vessel arrived in Durban with a massive oilrig on board – of which one leg had collapsed across the ship’s deck, fortunately with no injuries.

The incident took place in mid-Indian Ocean forcing the master to make a decision whether to race to Durban hoping that the other legs would remain firm, or to travel dead slow. He chose the former method and after arrival an inspection uncovered several fractures in the remaining rig legs that required extensive repair before Mighty Servant 2 could continue her journey.

On a single day last week Richards Bay had no less than seven Island View Shipping (IVS) vessels in port at the same time – believed to be a record for one company and the port. The seven ships, Thor Enterprise, Atalanta, Lucky Transporter, Mariner, Athloforos, Algoa Bay and Priada all worked cargo at the port which otherwise had a total of about 13 ships on the various berths. Durban-based IVS, which has become one of the worlds leading bulk ship operators, is one of the most frequent users of Richards Bay.

The US military vehicle cargo ship USNS Cape Rise (AKR9678) arrived in Durban at the weekend for bunkering at Island View. Cape Rise sailed for the United States on Monday 13 December.

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