Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 14, 2005
Author: P&S

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

Naval station for Port Elizabeth

The South African Navy will have an operational naval station in place at Port Elizabeth by early 2006.

This was disclosed at the weekend by the chief of the navy, Vice Admiral Refiloe Mudimu. He said the naval station would occupy existing naval facilities within the harbour precinct and would have a full time staff of about 20 members as well as reserve posts utilising local skilled reservists as required.

His announcement fulfilled a forecast made in Ports & Ships about two years ago – see the Home Page for Port Elizabeth in the South African Ports section.

At present the South African Navy operates from a main naval base at Simon’s Town and maintains a naval station manned by about 100 personnel at Durban, where a naval base was downrated in 2002. The navy is however coming under pressure from port planners to vacate the Durban facility on Salisbury Island and to release it for cargo handling.

Meanwhile, SAS Drakensberg, the South African Navy combat support vessel arrived in Durban today (Monday 14 November) on a short visit. The ship is due to call at Port Elizabeth on Wednesday 16 November, arriving at 08.00.

Public kept at arms length from Greenpeace vessels

Two Greenpeace vessels, Esperanza and Arctic Sunrise paid a visit to Cape Town last week while ostensibly campaigning in the Southern Ocean for the giant albatross, which is under threat from long line fishing fleets.

Authorities however were playing safe and not only did they keep the public away from the two craft but security was also increased around the nuclear power station at Koeberg outside Cape Town.

The last time a Greenpeace vessel visited Cape Town activists from the organisation demonstrated Koeberg’s vulnerability from the sea by launching a landing by boat opposite the power station, resulting in some considerable embarrassment among those responsible for the site’s security.

In Cape Town this week both navy and police kept a watch on the comings and goings from the two craft which were berthed at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The public was denied access in an otherwise public area.

Tax incentive planned for SA flag

The government intends introducing tax incentives via a tonnage tax from early 2006 in the hopes of encouraging shipowners to flag their vessels locally on the South African register.

The new regime will be based on a tonnage tax instead of the value of the vessel’s income as at present. It is hoped that the new incentives will encourage a swing towards local registry while also giving impetus towards the concept of shipping South African goods on South African ships manned by South African seafarers.

While the latest news is welcome, there is nothing to indicate the other areas that are also in need of urgent attention, as noted in the minister’s budget vote on 20 May 2005. These include the Shipping Registration Act, the Merchant Shipping Act and mortgaging of ships.

Nevertheless the latest move will be welcomed with the hope that it will be accompanied by attention given towards the other related issues. But what the shipping industry doesn’t require is the clouded thinking that produced the idea in the Department of Transport’s national freight strategy document suggesting the state would begin investing in a fleet of small coasters to deliver cargo to small ports and harbours along the coast.

Where it makes economic sense to do so these so-called small ports are already well served by feeder services and South Africa would be hard pressed right now to justify the development of a state-owned shipping line. And for the record, some of the places mentioned in the document remain highly unlikely candidates for port status.

Study says doing away with liner shipping conferences will increase competitiveness

A new study compiled by Global Insight, a private company producing economic analysis, forecasting and financial information today released a major study on behalf of the European Commission, ‘The Applications of Competition Rules to Liner Shipping’. The study says that repealing the current exemption for liner shipping would result in lower transport prices and improved service reliability on deep sea and short sea trades.

“The repeal would have either a neutral or positive effect on service quality, competitiveness of EU liner shipping firms, EU ports, employment, trade and/or developing countries, and with no significant impact on small liner shipping carriers.’

The report was produced in association with the Berlin University of Technology and the Institute of Shipping Economics ad Logistics in Bremen. The two-part study was commissioned by the Competition Directorate General of the European Commission to analyse the potential impacts if the Block Exemption Regulation for liner shipping conferences were to be repealed.

Both the European Liner Affairs Association and the European Shippers Council have shown support for the findings detailed in the study.

A week to forget

Last week is probably a week that Durban port officials, shipowners and agents would rather forget, with strong swells measuring up to 8m closing the port to all incoming vessels (there was a fear that ships might touch bottom in the channel on the downside of a large swell), gusting winds that interfered with cargo working, and finally a 12 hour port closure after both pilot boats were rendered out of service due to mechanical failure (see our reports dated 12 November).

If that wasn’t enough, a short violent storm struck the city and port on Sunday night (13 November) with the control tower on top of the Bluff being hit by a lightning bolt. This put the tower out of action for a short while until the reserve generators were able to kick in. Altogether a week Durban would rather forget.

In an unrelated drama a seriously ill seafarer on board the Chem Baltic was airlifted to hospital at the weekend after suffering a heart attack. An Air Force helicopter was called in to perform the rescue as the ship lay outside Durban. The Russian seaman was admitted to hospital where he apparently suffered a second heart attack and has been placed in intensive care and is now in a stable condition.

International News - MSC orders two giant cruise ships

Mediterranean Shipping Cruises today confirmed an order first reported in June for two 130,000-gt cruise ships capable of carrying 3,887 passengers together with a crew of 1,300.

The ships will be 333m in length and are scheduled for delivery in 2008 and 2009 and will become the largest cruise ships in MSC’s expanding cruise fleet.

Clipper Race update

Sunday 13 November

The Durban Clipper is 788 nautical miles away from home and 222 miles behind current race leader Western Australia in the Clipper 05-06 Round the World Yacht Race. The Durban Clipper is in a frustrating position lying in eighth place with light and variable winds offering little hope of catching up to the lead boats who have reached a stronger band of following winds.

As Durban Skipper Craig Millar approaches home waters he will be relying on every ounce of local knowledge to boost his chances. In the tricky waters of the South African coast the remaining miles will provide plenty of opportunities for the current positions to be turned on their heads, and in many ways the most exciting racing yet to come.

Westernaustralia seem to be building a reputation for consistency, and worryingly for the rest of the fleet that consistency is being in the lead. Perfectly positioned for the route around Cape Agulhas they will be a hard boat to beat for the rest of the race into Durban. “The rich get richer whilst the poor get poorer” is an expression often used in ocean racing, and is aptly demonstrated at present with the strong winds for the leading boats. The net effect of this is to seriously stretch out the distances between the fleet with the difference between first and last now more than 200 miles, or over a day’s sailing.

On a more positive note, the Durban Clipper can look forward to the wind picking up soon which should provide them with the same conditions as those at the front. There is also a small possibility that the boats at the front, most particularly WA, may slow down again as further up ahead the wind is actually blowing from the north east, with a variable area of light winds where the two airflows meet. If they are too quick they may become the victims of their own success and end up sailing into lighter winds or even into headwinds.

Mark Taylor and the crew on Jersey arrived safely in Cape Town just before midnight on Saturday, November 12. The yacht is undergoing maintenance and safety checks before joining the race to Durban.

The Clipper 05 – 06 Round the World Yacht Race takes ten identical 68ft ocean-racing yachts, all backed by international cities and countries, on the world’s longest circumnavigation race (approximately 35,000n.miles) visiting every major continent en route. The race started on 18th September 2005 from Liverpool, UK and is expected to finish on 1st July 2006 back in Merseyside.

Clipper 05-06 Round the World Yacht Race Current Table
DTF = Distance to Finish (nautical miles); DTL = Distance to Leader (nautical miles)

1. Westernaustralia 566
2. New York 659 93
3. Singapore 704 138
4. Qingdao 708 142
5. Cardiff 719 153
6. Liverpool 740 174
7. Victoria 747 181
8. Durban 788 222
9. Glasgow 533 224
10. Jersey in Cape Town N/A N/A

For a detailed leader board please go to http://www.clipper-ventures.co.uk/n05_06/homepage.php

Monday 14 November 2005

As the fleet travels east along the southern coast of South Africa the yachts are seeing the classic progression of a southern hemisphere low pressure system, which has seen them have strong headwinds from the east, going round to strong tailwinds from the south and west. These winds have been part of a quite vigorous cold front which is sweeping along the coast, also bringing heavy rain and moderate visibility. This does not seem to be damping the enthusiasm of the crews at all – New York’s skipper Joff Bailey was having a whale of a time yesterday, with speeds of over 20 knots under a poled out headsail. Danny Watson and the crew of Qingdao pulled out 133 miles in the 12 hours up to the 16.00 schedule yesterday afternoon, just pipping New York’s 132.

This cold front is traveling faster than the yachts, however. Western Australia and New York should keep the southerly winds longer than the rest of them, but whether this will be enough to see them home to Durban remains to be seen. The forecast wind for tomorrow (15 November), together with a rough guesstimate of fleet positions, shows a continuation of the “rich get richer” theme, with the leading five yachts just keeping in the forecast south westerlies, but the others perhaps being left in the light and fluffy patch between the departing low and the arriving Atlantic high. Local TV weather forecasters were waxing lyrical about the incoming sunny weather last night - great for sun tans, not so good for sailing to Durban.

For the moment, however, progress has improved dramatically throughout the fleet. Cardiff Clipper have been the biggest gainers, now up to 4th place and hot on the heels of Danny Watson and his crew on Qingdao. Singapore Clipper have slipped down over the last 36 hours, from 3rd to 5th – as Richard Falk and his crew have sailed their yacht well so far, this could be a sign of sail damage. Depending on how tense the racing is, the yachts often do not tell of sail damage until they have repaired it on board, so as not to let their immediate competitors know of a temporary disadvantage. Western Australia and New York are still a significant distance out front; it is too soon to be making predictions, however, and both Dave Pryce and Joff Bailey will be stamping down hard on any optimistic mutterings amongst their crews. Not that sailors are in any way superstitious, you understand…

Jersey Clipper is going for a test sail today with the rigging manufacturers aboard, after yesterday was spent checking the fittings and setting the rig again.

- these reports courtesy Clipper Ventures and Olivia Jones Communications

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