Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 28, 2005
Author: P&S

Enough, says World Food Aid

The United Nations organisation World Food Programme (WFP) has had enough of trying to ship emergency relief aid into tsunami hit regions of Somalia by ship, following a spate of piracy attacks on vessels carrying food aid.

Instead it will turn to road transport as a means of attempting to get the aid parcels through in safety, although it accepts this can only be a stop-gap measure as it is uneconomic.

During October no less than five ships have been highjacked by gangsters operating with impunity from Somalia. Another two vessels have been seized since June this year and a total of over 20 vessels of all kinds attacked since March.

In some instances ships were able to beat off the attacks, which come in the form of fast motor boats with armed pirates brandishing semi-automatic weapons and even rocket launchers, which are fired at ship’s wheelhouses if they refuse to stop. The pirates appear to have advance warning of the ship’s whereabouts, having made their attacks as far as 90 miles from the coast.

Meanwhile the Kenya press reports of an attack on a fishing vessel on Lake Victoria, which they said came from pirates/gangsters operating from Uganda. Uganda’s marine police have been accused of failing to take adequate measures to prevent such attacks.

Hundreds of logs may be in the Agulhas Current

An East London newspaper, the Daily Dispatch (www.dispatch.co.za) reports today that between 500 and 600 logs from the grounded log ship Kiperousa remain unaccounted for.

The newspaper reports Allan Reid of P&I Associates in Durban as saying there were only 4,671 logs on board the ship when she sailed from Gabon for China, and not the 8,000 or 9,000 previously estimated.

The ship struck a submerged object south of East London in June and began taking water. After the crew abandoned ship Kiperousa ran aground close to the holiday village of Hamburg. Despite efforts to pull her clear by the Tsavliris tug Nikolay Chiker, the vessel remains firmly aground and has since broken up in the surf.

Reid said that the ship’s manifest showed that 1,578 logs were stowed on deck and another 3,093 in the four cargo holds. Since then 3,100 have been salvaged using helicopters or from the sea.

A count has revealed another 700 logs lying ashore along Eastern Cape beaches, where salvors are busy collecting them, but hundreds remain missing. If they remain in the sea they pose a hazard to shipping and small boats, while those washing ashore become a danger to swimmers along the beaches.

But meanwhile the Chinese merchants who purchased the logs for USm don’t seem too interested in what happens to the cargo, although local and other foreign buyers are keen.

Maputo spells advantage

There are numerous advantages to using the port of Maputo and its MIPS-operated container terminal, says Jackie McGee, logistics manager of Manganese Metal Company.

Her company is the world’s single largest producer of electrolytic manganese metal, and operates from plants in Nelspruit in Mpumalanga Province and Krugersdorp in Gauteng. Electrolytic manganese is the purest form of manganese which comes form ore mined in South Africa via a hydrometallurgical extraction process, with the finished product used to manufacture a range of products of which the majority are exported worldwide.

McGee told this week’s Exporters Club in Gauteng that Maputo offered her company the most benefits. Among them were lower costs regarding both rail and port. Added to that Maputo’s container terminal had no stack dates, which she said eliminated early and late arrival costs.

“The shorter rail transit means we can rail as late as 48 hours before the ship arrives in port, knowing there is zero port congestion and we will enjoy 30 day free storage if needed.”

Government optimistic about Coega smelter

South Africa’s trade and industry minister Mandisi Mpahlwa says the Canadian aluminium manufacturer Alcan was likely to decide early in 2006 whether to build a smelter at Coega.

Earlier this year public enterprises minister Alec Erwin said he expected a decision on the matter before the end of 2005.

Officials from Alcan visited South Africa three months ago to hold talks with Eskom regarding the servicing of a smelter with electric power – Eskom had already agreed to provide the large amounts of electric power that a smelter would require.

Mpahlwa says that following these talks he is confident of a favourable decision from Alcan which would see the 660,000 ton capacity smelter built on the Eastern Cape coast.

Government was equally confident of a ‘done deal’ with French manufacturer Pechiney shortly before the project was derailed with the French company being taken over and absorbed by Alcan. The Canadian firm held back from making a decision saying it wanted to look at various options, which included a smelter in Australia or one in the Middle East.

Southern Africa already has three smelters in operation and operated by BHP Billiton – two at Richards Bay and another at Matola outside Maputo in Mozambique. The Coega smelter has long been regarded as the ‘anchor tenant’ for the new port, from which other industries would be encouraged to make use of the IDZ facilities and the new deep water port still under construction but nearing completion.

The Zululand Observer reports that work on the proposed R2 billion dry dock and ship repair facility at the port of Richards Bay could be underway by early in 2006.

It quoted a director of Imbani Construction as saying the National Ports Authority had approved the business as feasible and was now finalising the lease agreement. “The details are a mere formality,” he said.

The dry dock and ship repair facility would be built on vacant land between the present multi purpose terminal and the small craft basin although the project is still subject to a full environmental impact assessment (EIA).

A Chinese consortium is to partner back empowered interests to build and operate the project, which would provide South Africa’s only deep water ship repair facility.

Clipper Race update

Ahead of the Clipper fleet (which sailed from Salvador in Brazil on Tuesday, bound for Durban in South Africa) lie the Ilha da Trinidade and the island group of Ilhas Martin Vaz.

These are small volcanic outcrops administered by Brazil, and of some ecological significance, being the home to the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), supporting some 1,800 nests per year on 3 km of sandy beach. Usually turtles do not trouble racing yachts, and even if they are unseen at night they tend to be pushed away by the bow wave, rather than caught with a thump. They do seem to have a very quizzical expression as they pass by the stern of the yacht, however.

Also, this archipelago is the only place in the Atlantic where great frigate bird (Fregata minor) and lesser frigate bird (Fregata ariel) occur. The islands were discovered in 1512 by the Portuguese Juan da Nova Castelle, and visited in 1514 by J.de la Cosa, who named the rocks Santa Maria Esmeralda. In 1768 the Frenchman La Perouse wanted to claim the rocks, but two of his sailors lost their lives during the landing. In honour of a dead midshipman, La Perouse named the eastern group as Martin Vaz

The significance of these islands for the fleet, however, is not so much for ecological or historical influence, but the effect that the seabed topography will have on the ocean currents. The islands mark the end of the Vitoria-Trinidade Seamount Chain, which effectively form a barrier rising up from over 4,000m depth right to the surface. This is directly in the path of the Brazil current, and causes all manner of localised swirls along the chain.

The net effect of this could be some yachts encountering a 1 knot countercurrent, with others having the benefit of a 1 knot current with them. The position of these swirls is impossible to forecast, however, and so the crews and skippers will have to trust to Neptune to give them a favourable direction.

The northern group of yachts, headed by Singapore Clipper who has a two mile advantage over Western Australia, are working on the theory that if they all keep in the same part of the ocean then the current will be the same for all of them. Victoria Clipper has moved up to the northern edge, with New York and Durban Clippers level with yesterday’s front runner Jersey Clipper. In terms of ocean racing, however, you could throw a blanket over them and cover them all. Liverpool and Glasgow are a little further back, but not much, and Tim Magee and Graeme Johnston will be encouraging their crews to narrow the gap.

The two southern yachts, Qingdao and Cardiff, are a significant lateral distance away from the main group, 20 and 30 miles respectively to the south south west. They may well be experiencing different current effects, and will be hoping that being in a different body of water, and perhaps wind, will allow them to have the benefit of more speed to overcome the factor of taking a slightly longer route.

The fleet as a whole are making very good ground so far.
- this report courtesy Clipper Ventures

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