Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 25, 2006
Author: P&S


  • New charges for stowaway crew

  • Drama as new submarine malfunctions

  • Anti whaling ship arrested in Cape Town harbour

  • Mozambique’s sugar crop at risk

  • Bidvest divests of its ferry business

  • Unions and Transnet square up

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

    New charges for stowaway crew

    The master of the bulker African Kalahari and three of his crew appeared again in a Durban court yesterday where they faced less serious charges than those originally brought against them, and as a result may escape with little more than hefty fines.

    The case relates to the death in Durban harbour of two stowaways on 4 January (see our News report dated 6 January and subsequent issues).

    Polish-born Captain Leszkowcz Krzstot-Boguslaw along with Ukrainian ships officers Kuzin Mykola, Kolesnikov Igor and Sergeyev Oleg appeared in a Durban court to be told they now face charges of culpable homicide, which is a lesser charge than that of murder and attempted murder, as well as having contravened several merchant shipping and immigration laws. The four men were granted extensions to their bail.

    In view of the new charges they may face no more than heavy fines, particularly if they plead guilty, after which they will be able to leave South Africa as soon as the fines are paid.

    The other charges relate to contraventions of the Immigration Act by assisting stowaways to unlawfully enter the country by allowing them to remain on the ship; a second charge under the same act of aiding and abetting illegal foreigners; and in terms of the Merchant Shipping Act another of misconduct in that they endangered the lives of the stowaways by ‘letting them into the water’.

    The latter charge reveals a marked and important difference with the original charges of murder and attempted murder which stated that they had thrown or forced the stowaways overboard.

    In terms of the law the ship’s master was also obliged to report the presence of the stowaways on board his vessel as soon as he became aware of this and or when the ship entered a South African port.

    The case has been remanded until a later date.

    Drama as new submarine malfunctions

    Hopes that the new South African Navy submarine, S101 would leave shortly for Simon’s Town from the builders yard at Kiel in Germany, may have been dashed following an unspecified malfunction off the coast of Norway.

    Last week we reported that the combat support ship SAS Drakensberg had sailed for Germany to escort the new submarine back to South Africa. The submarine, the first of three Type 209-1400SAN boats being built for the SAN by the German Submarine Consortium, was undergoing sea training off Norway when a technical problem developed.

    There are no reports of injuries and the submarine is apparently not in any danger and is returning to Kiel for examination.

    See our Naval Review article dated 19 January 2006.

    Anti whaling ship arrested in Cape Town harbour

    According to the E-tv television service, the anti whaling ship Farley Mowat, belonging to the radical activist group Sea Shepherd was arrested in Cape Town harbour today. This surprise development came apparently at the request of the Canadian government and followed complaints raised by the Japanese whaling fleet now operating in the Southern Ocean.

    The vessel Farley Mowat, which is owned and operated by Sea Shepherd, together with two Greenpeace vessels, Esperanza and Arctic Sunrise, have been harassing the Japanese fleet in the Southern Ocean since mid December. Greenpeace claims to have successfully disrupted whaling operations since Christmas, and says it hopes that adverse publicity will bring the world’s attention on Japanese claims that they need to kill 920 whales for ‘research’ purposes.

    Recently the Unicorn Tankers’ supply ship Oranjemund returned from refueling the Greenpeace vessels (see our report in News Bulletin dated 16 January 2006 – also our SEA STORIES column of the same date http://ports.co.za/didyouknow/article_2006_01_16_5018.html)

    However the Japanese have lodged complaints against the methods being used to counter their activities, which they say are endangering the safety of their vessels and crew. The Farley Mowat has mounted on its side what is referred to as a ‘can opener’ device, a blade designed to rip open a ship’s hull by sideswiping another vessel. The Japanese Fisheries Agency threatened to call in support from long range aircraft to provide protection, although it is not known how and from where such aircraft would operate.

    Australia’s environment minister Senator Ian Campbell is reported to have criticised the radical actions of Sea Shepherd which he said was setting back the cause of whale conservation by many years.

    The Japanese are operating with a fleet of six modern whalers and a factory mother ship, which is capable of accepting and processing the catch (cutting up the whales) as well as refuelling the catcher vessels at sea. However another vessel is reported to have recently arrived on the scene to refuel the Japanese fleet, which Greenpeace argues is being done within the boundaries of the Antarctic Treaty’s nature reserve.

    Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd vessels are acting independently of each other.

    Mozambique’s sugar crop at risk

    The heavy rains that fell across central and northern Mozambique in recent weeks have placed a question mark over this year’s sugar crop, after the Zambezi River flooded in the Marromeu district.

    According to Mozambique authorities earlier today the rains are easing and river levels are dropping, except along the lower Zambezi – Mozambique’s sugar cane belt. At this stage levies built to withstand the flooding river have held out flood waters but there are fears that should the rains continue or further water be released from the Cahora Bassa dam, causing the river level to rise further, then the levies may be breached and the fields flooded.

    Bidvest divests of its ferry business

    South African Bidvest Group today announced it has concluded a transaction to sell its UK-based cross channel Dart Line ferry business, including the terminal at Dartford, for an amount of £58.9 million.

    The sale to an undisclosed buyer was effective from 1 January and further details of the transaction will only become available on the release of the Group’s results for the six months ended 31 December 2005, which are due to be released on approximately 27 February 2006.

    The ferry company Dart Line operates a fleet of six ro-ro ferries with scheduled sailings between the London Dart Terminal (the former Thames Europort at Dartford) and the European ports of Zeebrugge in Belgium and Vlissingen in the Netherlands.

    Unions and Transnet square up

    Trade unions, opposed to Transnet’s intention of hiving off or selling certain segments of the company, plan to meet this week to plot the way forward regarding a possible nationwide strike. Unions say that if the go-ahead is given the strike will involve up to 50,000 transport workers across the country, which will almost certainly include the ports and port terminals.

    Meanwhile the verbal slanging match continues with the Transnet spokesman, John Dludlu pointing out that the certificate of non-resolution of the dispute, which effectively gave the four unions the legal right to engage in strike action including a protected strike, does not include a number of Transnet subsidiaries.

    According to Dludlu those subsidiaries are excluded from the action because they are not part of the Transnet Bargaining Council. They are:

    SA Express
    Viamax Fleet Management
    Viamax Fleet Solutions
    Equity Aviation
    VAE Perway

    Dludlu points out that Transnet Ltd is planning to exit from its non-core assets including the aviation interests, which will see the transfer of SAA to the Department of Public Enterprises and that in SAA’s case the conditions of employment will remain the same.

    Apart from pointing this out we cannot see what difference it is likely to make. The major employers within Transnet remain the NPA, SAPO and Spoornet whose workers will be involved with the strike should it take place. Most of the above companies have very small workforces.

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