Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 17, 2005
Author: P&S

Mystery deepens over missing tug Jupiter 6

Mystery surrounds the disappearance of the Indian tug Jupiter 6, which has not been seen or heard from since early September, shortly after sailing from Walvis Bay with the bulker Satsung in tow and destined for the Alang scrap yards.

On board Jupiter 6 were 13 seafarers – 10 of Indian nationality and three from either Croatia or Ukraine – no one seems sure. Near the end of September a passing bulker, Poseidon reported seeing the drifting hulk of Satsung approximately 200 n.miles south of Port Elizabeth and fearing a navigational hazard South African maritime authorities instructed the South African salvage tug Smit Amandla to sail from Durban to find the vessel and take it in tow.

Smit Amandla arrived on the scene on 1 October but took several days to locate and pick up the tow in heavy sea conditions. There was no sign of Jupiter 6 and the tow ropes hanging from the ship’s bows appeared to have snapped.

Since then there has been no word of the missing tug and its crew until on Saturday, 8 October Jupiter 6’s emergency Epirb radio beacon signal began a brief transmission. An aircraft and two vessels were sent to the given position but all that could be seen was a patch of oil on the surface and some isolated wreckage.

Meanwhile in India families of the missing seafarers are angry at what they see as a news blackout from the ships agents and owners, saying that it was only last week that they were notified the tug was missing.

The agents say they notified South Africa’s Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre near Cape Town on 8 September, two days after the tug failed to report in by radio. They also say that an air search was conducted off Cape Town’s coast on 23 September. India’s head of the coastguard for the Western sector said the proper authorities in South Africa had been notified as well as the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre in Malaysia.

Questions over Indian seafarer’s suicide

Another mystery linking an Indian seafarer off the African coast unfolded last week with the suspected suicide of a ships officer on board the MSC Carmen about 25 miles from Mombasa. The ship was en route from the Indian sub-continent to Mombasa and then to Durban, where it is due on 21 October.

According to a report in yesterday’s Delhi Newsline, MSC Carmen was about 25 miles out from Mombasa when the junior officer, Hasan Zaheer jumped overboard. However his father in India has disputed this saying his son would not commit suicide and not by jumping overboard. He said his son was a strong champion swimmer who had represented Delhi State in swimming championships on numerous occasions and was now fulfilling his dream of becoming an engineer. He suggested that foul play might have occurred.

The Indian High Commissioner in Kenya was urged to investigate the matter.

Mozambique and Swaziland scrap visas

Visa requirements between Mozambique and Swaziland have been scrapped as from Saturday, 15 October.

This was announced today in a communiqué from the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI) which said the move paved the way for increased friendly relations between the two SADC countries.

This followed a similar accord between South Africa and Mozambique that was signed in April this year, which MCLI says has already resulted in an increase in trade between the two countries.

It also follows accords signed between South Africa and Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia and another between Angola and Namibia, among moves by SADC countries to bring about a fully free trade region by 2012.

The port at Maputo is regarded by many as having enormous potential to handle increased amounts of South Africa’s exports and imports, being much closer to Gauteng and the provinces of Mpumalanga and Limpopo than Durban or Richards Bay. However until now red tape including Visa requirements has seen lengthy delays at the border post between the two countries which has dampened enthusiasm for this route.

Ferrostaal commits to offset investment

German industrial company MAN Ferrostaal is set to make two major investments in South Africa as part of its weapons offset obligation programme, both of which will add value to South Africa’s export drive.

According to Business Day, Ferrostaal is to develop a steel precision strip mill at Coega near Port Elizabeth in addition to an oil rig manufacturing plant at Saldanha Bay along with an oil rig repair facility at Cape Town. The report says that a Singaporean oil rig maker will become its technology partner of the latter project. The Saldanha project will require Mittal Steel to produce marine steel, which can also be exported or used in local production and repair.

Somalis free seized ship

The latest ship to be seized by Somali pirates, MV Miltzow was released by its highjackers late last week. Miltzow was seized on 12 October while delivering a cargo of food aid on behalf of the UN World Food Programme, and followed three other ships similarly highjacked.

MV Miltzow was last reported to be sailing to Merka to discharge its cargo, the port where it was seized and forced to sail to Barawa further down the coast.

Latest on Clipper Race

The position this afternoon of the yachts competing in the 2005/06 Clipper round the world race is that Clipper Durban is now close behind New York and chasing the 4th position although New York appears to hold the better inside track.

Still holding a handsome lead in first position is Westernaustralia with a little over 60 miles to go to the end of the stage at Salvador in Brazil. Cardiff is lying second some 17 miles behind and followed by Liverpool in 3rd position.

The competing yachts will enjoy a short stopover at Salvador before leaving on 25 October. They will sail across the South Atlantic heading for Africa and the Indian Ocean, rounding South Africa and sailing up the east coast until they reach Durban, where they are expected later in November.

Meanwhile, preparation of the yacht basin at Durban is at fever pitch as the city and harbour prepares for the ‘invasion’ of 10 identical yachts, each representing a different city and country, as well as their supporting cast of well-wishers and friends. The yacht basin is being dredged – some say for the first time in memory - and new observation platforms built, while the road along the mole is to be re-surfaced (as someone who makes use of it regularly, hooray!).

The ten competing yachts are (in order of current position) are Westernaustralia, Cardiff, Liverpool, New York, Durban, Singapore, Jersey, Victoria, Qingdao, and Glasgow.

Did you know that Ports & Ships lists ship movements for all ports between Walvis Bay on the West Coast and Beira on the East Coast

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