Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 22, 2005
Author: P&S

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

SOUTH AFRICA – Spoornet to double container trains

Spoornet has announced it hopes to double the number of container trains operating daily on the busy main railway line between the port of Durban and Gauteng.

Reporting this in the Johannesburg trade paper FTW, Spoornet general manager Ravi Nair said negotiations were underway with two major companies who are keen to shift their containerised cargo from road transport to rail.

Spoornet currently operates about five container trains per day in each direction of 50 wagon or 100 TEU capacity and hopes to increase this to eleven trains daily within the next three to six months. The rail route, which is South Africa’s busiest main line, remains vastly underutilized at present with plenty of spare capacity. In the article Spoornet said that the Johannesburg – Durban route was 40% utilised and the opposite direction from Durban was running at an average of 60% utilization.

An independent study conducted on behalf of the KZN Department of Transport a couple of years ago found that the main line then was less than 40% utilised. It recommended that better operating procedures be also introduced.

In the mid to late 1990s Spoornet operated a total of seven container trains daily in both directions between Durban and Johannesburg.

SOUTH AFRICA – weather closes Durban to ships

The Port of Durban is again experiencing delays this week with ships being held outside the port due to adverse weather conditions.

According to a statement issued by the port manager, Basil Ndlovu, extraordinary weather conditions are being experienced, including sustained wind and swell conditions that have only rarely been experienced in previous years and then for short periods of time.

“The occurrence of these unique weather conditions has forced the temporary closure of the port on a number of occasions over the last few weeks, resulting in a negative impact on the operations of the port,” he said.

According to Ndlovu the decision to close the port was taken in a carefully considered operational manner by senior marine personnel acting in the interests of safe port working and those of the port’s clients.

“The risks that are faced in continuing to handle marine vessels in such weather conditions are many and the potential for catastrophe is great as one of the outcomes could result in the grounding of a vessel in the entrance channel which would have a negative effect on the entire economy of the country.”

He said that the procedure before closing the port is that the senior pilot on duty consults with the harbourmaster in making an assessment of the situation, before making the decision whether or not to close the port. In the event that the port is closed the situation is re-assessed every two hours, with the senior pilot traveling to the port entrance on the pilot boat to make the assessment. As soon as conditions begin to improve, the re-assessment gaps are reduced to every 30 minutes.

However, the weather has not been the only factor causing the port to close in recent days. Twice in the past week the pilot boat Tsitsikama has broken down and been unable to ferry pilots to waiting ships. The marine helicopter is currently undergoing a major overhaul and is not available, and ships agents say it is ludicrous that a port as busy as Durban, with an average of more than 30 movements each day should not have a replacement craft available in the event of the pilot boat not being available. They pointed out that there are several privately owned craft in the harbour that are suitable for this duty in an emergency.

“When we have ships delayed at a cost of US,000 and more each day, then that’s an emergency,” said one agent.

Ironically the Tsitsikama was sent to Durban as a replacement for the former pilot boat Ballito, which was considered unreliable.

SOUTH AFRICA – China Shipping Container Line goes it alone

The China Shipping Container Line (CSCL) and CMA CGM joint venture WAX II service from the Far East to Durban and on to West Africa will be coming to an end shortly, after which CSCL will continue the service on their own with four vessels on a fortnightly service.

The first vessel on the new service will be the 2,500 TEU CSCL Fuzhou loading in the Far East on 10 December 2005. The other three vessels will be the Panama, Ocean Hope, and Paris, all of which are operated by CSCL in the current WAX II service.

Cargo will be accepted from all Far East ports on a feeder basis and the port rotation will be Port Kelang, Colombo, Durban, Tema, Abidjan, Lome, Cotonou, Lagos before returning to the Far East. At this stage there is still no eastbound call from Durban to the Far East although this may become a reality during the year ahead.

The joint SEAS service with CMA CGM & Maruba linking the Far East, Durban, and South America will continue in its current form.

SOUTH AFRICA – Container ship in difficulty off Saldanha

The container vessel Prosperity has gone to anchor about five miles off Saldanha Bay after experiencing a loss of engine power.

Earlier in the week the vessel reported it was having difficulty but when it began to drift close to the coast SAMSA (SA Maritime Safety Authority) gave instructions for the ship to go to anchor. In addition the salvage tug Zakher Delmon has been instructed to remain on standby near the vessel, which is attempting to make repairs without incurring a salvage tow.

SOUTH AFRICA – Doria fined for oil spill

The master of the container ship Doria, currently on the Eldock floating dock in Durban has admitted guilt with regards a spill of between 80 and 100 tonnes of oil into Durban harbour earlier this month. The spill was described at the time as Durban’s worst.

The vessel had grounded off the West Coast but after refloating was able to proceed to Durban for repairs where the ship’s master neglected to advise that he still had about 300 tonnes of bunker oil in the fuel tanks before going onto the floating dock.

As the vessel began to raise cracks in the hull opened allowing the oil to spill into the harbour, where most of it was held behind floating booms. However a SW ‘buster’ blew up that night causing some of the oil to spill over the booms and spread across the Bayhead area of the harbour.

In another incident the MSC Daniela has been fined for spilling bilge oil into the sea off the KZN coast recently, after an aircraft operated by the Coastguard took photographs of the oil slick coming from the vessel.

EAST AFRICA – MOL & Delmas introduce new Asia-East Africa service

Following the sale of P&O Nedlloyd to AP Moller-Maersk, Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) and Delmas have announced they will continue operating a joint service linking East Africa with Asia.

This replaces their existing joint service involving MOL, Delmas and P&O Nedlloyd.

The rotation of the ‘new’ weekly service is as follows: Port Kelang, Singapore, Colombo, Male*, Mahe*, Mombasa, Tanga, Dar es Salaam, Mahe*, Colombo, Port Kelang.
* denotes fortnightly calls

The new service commences with EAX Sincerity’s sailing from Port Kelang on 24 April, 2006.

Clipper Race – R&R in Durban

Tuesday 22 November

With the conclusion of the 3rd leg of the Clipper Race at Durban, competitors are now able to relax in the sun and surf of South Africa’s favourite holiday playground and enjoy a well-earned rest. The race resumes on 14.00 local time Sunday, 27 November – until then if any reader wants to stay in touch with what is happening during the Durban stopover please go to http://www.clipper-ventures.co.uk/plc/index.php for a daily update.

Ports & Ships will pick up the race again from Sunday.

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