Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 10, 2005
Author: P&S

EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
WEB SITE: www.hugheship.com

MOL tipped for SAECS spot

Mitsui OSK Line appears to have become the hot favourite to take over a two-ship slot on the South Africa – Europe Container Service (SAECS), although a spokesman for the company has declined to comment. Press reports in Europe have suggested the Japanese shipping major is close to signing on the paper.

The vacancy on SAECS became available following the takeover of P&O Nedlloyd by AP Moller-Maersk and the reaction by the European Commission followed by South Africa’s competition commission tribunal which both agreed to the merger subject to Maersk relinquishing certain conference line contracts held by P&O Nedlloyd. Among these is the weekly named day service between South African ports and northern Europe and the UK.

SAECS is currently served by Safmarine (two ships), Maersk (one ship), P&O Nedlloyd (two ships) and DAL (one ship).

CMA CGM expands with giant ships

The French carrier CMA CGM has signaled its intentions by announcing it will gradually phase in eight 8,500-TEU container ships on the Far East – Europe service. The new ships will replace an existing fleet of eight 6,500-TEU vessels, that will be released for service on the company’s North China Express service (NCX).

In turn eight smaller 5,700-TEU vessels currently on the NCX service will move to the Mediterranean - Asia service (MEX) in place of 4,000-TEU ships currently deployed there.

CMA CGM operates a fleet of 195 vessels on 76 major trade routes, including to Southern Africa, and if there is one thing that the French company excels at its in the naming of their ships. The new 8,500-TEU vessels will reflect the names of famous operas, starting with Otello, to be followed by Tosca, Nabucco, Parsifal, Traviata, Don Carlos, Don Giovanni, and Carmen.

Spoornet spends to fix

South Africa’s rail company Spoornet intends spending R4 billion over the next 18 months on a refurbishment programme aimed at eliminating maintenance backlogs of rolling stock and signaling systems.

The programme is to be self funded by Spoornet and aims at sweating the assets until new equipment can be acquired. According to Spoornet’s CEO Siyabonga Gama it will take too long to wait for new locomotives and signaling systems to be delivered. The first new locomotive is only expected in 2007.

The R4 billion is in addition to the previously announced injection of R16 billion from Transnet aimed at re-equipping Spoornet to get the country’s cargo moving. The latest happy news follows a spate of recent accidents which are generally thought to be the result of port maintenance programmes over the past decade.

Nigeria gets tough with polluters

The Nigerian federal government intends taking action against any ship found to be polluting Nigerian waters.

The minister of transport, Dr Abiye Sekibo paid special attention to the area of the Niger Delta and said that government realised the level of pollution in Nigeria, and while some of it came from oil industry activities, other pollution stemmed from ships using territorial waters.

He said that anyone flying over the delta could easily see the film of oil covering the water surface, and that ministry of environment was concerned about the matter. He charged the agencies to take the MARPOL 73/78 Convention more seriously in future.

Welcome for mercy ship

Despite the rain, about 200 people were on the dockside to welcome the mercy ship Anastasis when it arrived at the LMC Pier in Monrovia this week for a seven month visit.

Mercy Ships has been operating since 1978 in which time more than two million medical services have been performed, with a value of US0 million. The organisation is religiously based and relies on voluntary support and financing, but focuses on bringing hope and healing to the poor, mobilising people and resources worldwide.

During the seven months in Liberia those on board Anastasis hope to provide 1,700 surgeries and 10,000 dental procedures, as well as training more than 100 local health care workers. In addition to medical services, Mercy Ships also operates community development and education projects.

Clipper Race update

Thursday 10 November

Wild, wet and windy seems to be the general consensus on conditions for the fleet at the moment, but this is not stopping them from racing hard. Glasgow have gained over Victoria, and Westernaustralia are continuing their climb back and have edged ahead of New York. In both cases the more southern yacht has gained, something that will not make happy reading for Conor and the crew on Cardiff who seem to be heading towards Namibia at the moment.

Of course in sailing it is often not so much a matter of where you want to sail, as where you are physically able to sail. With the current wind direction each boat is making the best course to windward they can, and unless there is a dramatic change of wind direction they will all need to tack to the south at some point. Any reluctance to do this so far is due to the fact that the course they would be able to sail on the opposite tack would give them no reduction in distance to finish, and possibly even add on miles, so they will all be hoping for the wind to move more to the south as predicted, enabling them to sail more to the west rather than having to tack. The problem is in the timing. Those that wait too long may find that they still need to tack to clear the land (most at present) in which case a southerly wind will end up giving them the same problem as they try to head south.

The boats have three main sources of weather information. The first is the old fashioned one, barometer and visual observation. Watching the pressure trend over several hours or days, combined with mark one eyeball of cloud formation, wind direction, precipitation and even wave and swell direction gives one a good short term idea of what the weather is likely to do next, but for longer term planning you need to know what is going on elsewhere. It is not enough to know what the pressure is doing at your position. You want to get an overview of what it is doing over a much larger area, and what it is predicted to do in the next few days. For this the tools are satellite and long range radio. If one has good SSB radio reception one can pick up regular fax transmissions of synoptic charts, and download them onto PC or printer. The quality is not always great, and the blurred pictures require a good degree of interpretation, but weatherfax has been the offshore staple for years.

The satellite system on board automatically receives EGC (Elective Group Calling) messages that give a synopsis of pressure systems, their movements and sea area forecasts for whichever ocean region one is interested in. Great stuff, and for the past four Clipper races these and weatherfaxes were pretty much the building blocks from which one developed one’s tactics. Unfortunately this race several of the boats have had reception problems with their SSB’s and so have not been able to receive weatherfaxes. Instead we have therefore been sending the entire fleet Grib files at specified times every couple of days. Grib files are little packages of data that are loaded into the Euronav SeaPro navigational software and display pressure, wind direction and wind strength directly onto the UKHO Arcs electronic charts, as have been displayed on some of our previous reports. Not only do these give you a clear picture of what is happening at a particular time, they also show you forecasted changes as well, for whatever period we have set. So, every other day the fleet receives a forecast which shows directly on their charts what is predicted to happen for the next four days. Easy. The harder stuff is still working out where to point the boat with all this information at one’s disposal! And of course as the crews are beginning to discover, no forecast no matter how convincing is guaranteed 100% accurate.

- this report courtesy Clipper Ventures

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