Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 24, 2006
Author: P&S


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  • South Africa signs maritime agreement with India

  • BHP Billiton invests big in coal development

  • Mystery remains over missing tug Jupiter 6

  • East Africa: MacAndrews introduces new ship on Indian Ocean Service

  • Biggest container ship named

  • Striking security personnel has little effect on port activity

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    South Africa signs maritime agreement with India

    Cape Town - The already-strong relationship between South Africa and India was further strengthened yesterday (Thursday) when Minister of Transport Jeff Radebe signed an agreement on merchant shipping with his Indian counterpart.

    The agreement on a mutually beneficial relationship on merchant shipping and related maritime transport matters "gives a signal to our private sectors in India and South Africa that now the environment is being laid to cooperate (in maritime relations)", said Radebe.

    With trade between India and South Africa growing steadily, said TR Baalu, India's Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, there would now be direct transport links between the Indian financial capital of Mumbai and South Africa.

    In 2005, according to the Ministry of Transport, trade between South Africa and India was worth over R14.5 billion, with imports from India valued at R7.02 billion and exports to India valued at R7.05 billion.

    This leaves trade between the two advanced developing countries "more or less in balance", an Indian government official said.

    The agreement was several years in the making, according to an official from India's High Commission to South Africa.

    The Ministry of Transport says the agreement will boost efforts towards South Africa's Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (Asgisa) - India is among the top five manufacturing outsourcing destinations in the world and South Africa ranks among the 12 leading sea-trading nations of the world.

    The agreement will also encourage and facilitate the training of black South Africans in maritime skills, said Radebe, saying that an offer in this regard from India was "accepted with both hands".

    A maritime liaison committee has been established to enhance the implementation of the agreement, which will also encourage the exchange of information between the two countries necessary for accelerating and facilitating the flow of commercial goods at sea and strengthening cooperation between the two fleets. - BuaNews

    BHP Billiton invests big in coal development

    BHP Billiton announced yesterday that it intends expanding coal mining operations in South Africa to take advantage of the increasing world demand for coal.

    Addressing the Coaltrans Conference being held in Sandton this week, Mohamed Seedat, president of energy at BHP Billiton said the company would invest R4.3 Billion (USD 700m) in the Douglas and Middleburg collieries as soon as a feasibility study was complete. He hinted that the extra production would be aimed at the Chinese and Indian markets.

    BHP Billiton’s expansive plans coincide with the development of new infrastructure at the Richards Bay Coal terminal, which is gearing up to increase its capacity from 72 million tonnes annually to 92Mt by 2008.

    Meanwhile it was announced earlier this week that South Africa’s Kumba Resources coal division, which is to be separated from the group’s iron ore business, will be renamed Exxaro Resources and listed separately on the JSE in mid year. Sipho Nkosi will become the company’s new CEO as soon as Kumba’s present CEO, Con Fauconnier retires in about a year’s time.

    Anglo American Plc, which owns Kumba Resources announced last year that it intended separating the coal from the iron ore divisions.

    Exxaro is expected to produce about 45 million tonnes of coal a year.

    Mystery remains over missing tug Jupiter 6

    Families and friends of crew members who worked and disappeared with the Indian tug Jupiter 6 are living in hope that someone will be able to tell them what happened to their loved ones. But so far their hopes have been in vain, and wives and friends of the missing men say they have been kept in darkness over the investigation into what went wrong off the South African coast.

    Jupiter 6 sailed from Walvis Bay on 8 August last year towing the bulker vessel Satsang, also known as Pointing and bound for the scrapping beaches at Alang in India. Jupiter 6, registered in Jamaica and operated by an Indian company known as Pelmar Shipping, had made repairs at the Namibian port and last made contact with ‘head office’ nearly a month out of Walvis before disappearing.

    On 8 October, one month later, a brief transmission was received from the tug’s emergency Epirb radio beacon. This was about a week after a passing bulker, Poseidon reported seeing the Satsang drifting alone with tow rope dangling over the side, some 220 miles south of Port Elizabeth.

    The South African salvage tug Smit Amandla was sent out to secure the drifting vessel and investigate the whereabouts of the tug Jupiter 6 but reported no sign of the missing tug or its crew. Smit Amandla subsequently took the bulker in tow until another tug could be dispatched to complete the bulker’s final journey to Alang.

    There the matter has rested, except that in India stories began circulating that the disappearance was linked to some type of financial scam involving stealing the tug and holding its crew to ransom. These stories possibly found favour among the dwindling hopes of the crew’s families, anxious to seize on any hope that their loved ones remained alive.

    According to VM Joy of the Sailors’ Helpline in India, the families simply want to know the outcome of any investigation into the tragedy and what, if any, steps were taken to find the missing seafarers. He said that most of the crew had elderly parents and little children who were dependent on them for their own survival.

    “These families have received no financial or emotional support from the Ministry of Shipping since the tug was reported lost, and now have only the Chennai-based Sailors’ helpline to turn to.”

    In a letter to Indian MPs the organisation said that at any given time there are 40,000 Indian officers and 70,000 Indian seamen at sea and that it was high time for the government to safeguard their interests and those of the next of kin. The Merchant Shipping Act of India makes it mandatory for the office of the Director-General of Shipping as well as the owners to inform the seamen’s employment office and next of kin about death or disability within 48 hours.

    Yet according to the young wife of lost sailor Hassan Faikage, married for just three months before he said goodbye to leave on his fateful voyage, the company has not provided any information or comfort. “They never kept in touch with us, and when I keep calling them the reply is ‘When we have good news, we shall inform.’”

    Likewise the Director-General of Shipping’s office is said to be similarly unhelpful and refuses to speak out on any progress made with the investigation into the loss.

    Sailors Helpline can be contacted at email sailorshelpline@yahoo.com

    You can read our News Reports on this tragedy dated 30 September, 3 October, 17 October and 19 October 2005.

    East Africa: MacAndrews introduces new ship on Indian Ocean Service

    MacAndrews has upgraded the existing tonnage on its Swahili Express Service, which provides a regular container service between the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East/Gulf and East Africa, with a more modern, faster vessel.

    The new ship, MacAndrews Swala, is 1100 TEU capacity and is one of two vessels in the service which has a nine-day sailing frequency and calls at Khor Fakkan, Karachi, Nhava Sheva, Jebel Ali, Dar es Salaam and Mombasa with a 28-day round voyage time.

    MacAndrews Swala, latest ship introduced on the company’s Swahili Express Service between India, the Middle East and East Africa – picture MacAndrews. Click to enlarge

    With 100 reefer plugs, the new vessel supports MacAndrews' increasing commitment to carrying fresh produce in refrigerated units.

    "We've only just celebrated the first anniversary of our Swahili Express Service,” said Jim Robb, General Manager, Indian Trades.

    "When we launched the service, we promised to show our commitment to the trade between East Africa, the Indian sub-continent and Middle East, by investing in the service product. With this new vessel, which is significantly faster than the vessels with which we launched the service, we will be in a better position to fully satisfy customer requirements.

    He said that over the last 12 months, MacAndrews has established a good market position in this trade whilst witnessing strong growth in cargoes moving between the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East and East Africa.

    From Nhava Sheva, typical transit times for MacAndrews' Swahili Express Service are three days to Jebel Ali, 10 days to Dar es Salaam and 13 days to Mombasa. Northbound, from Mombasa the service offers an 8-day return transit to Karachi.

    MacAndrews Swala is flagged in Panama and was built in 1994. The ship has a deadweight of 15,170 tonnes, a nominal capacity of 1,107 TEU (including 100 reefer plugs) and a speed of 18.5 knots. Self-sustained, it is 157.7 metres in length and 21.75 metres in breadth.

    Biggest container ship named

    The world’s biggest container ship – for now – has been named in a ceremony at the vessel’s namesake, the Chinese port and city of Ningbo.

    The 9,500 TEU ship, which exceeds the former largest vessel MSC Pamela in terms of container capacity, has been named Cosco Ningbo and will enter service under charter to the Chinese line COSCO.

    The vessel is owned by Greek interests and was built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea. She is the first of five similar vessels under construction.

    The advent of these really large container ships coincides with a degree of uncertainty arising from fears of increasing overcapacity and indications of pressure on rates. At the same time the container industry is experiencing ongoing consolidation among carriers and a re-positioning of vessels partly as a consequence of consolidations but primarily to accommodate the larger newbuilds. 2006 and 2007 promise to be interesting years ahead for the container trade.

    Striking security personnel has little effect on port activity

    The two-day strike by private company security guards, which began yesterday, had little apparent effect on the security status of South African ports, according to a snap survey conducted by Ports & Ships.

    According to a National Ports Authority spokesperson there was 100 percent attendance at the port of Durban with all entry gates properly manned. A check with the other ports revealed a similar situation, with no comparison to what was happening elsewhere in the country as 90,000 or the country’s 280,000 registered security workers reportedly downed tools over a wage dispute.

    The port spokesperson explained that port security staff are all employees of the National Ports Authority and are not affected by the call to go out on strike.

    Private terminals and warehouses also appeared to have few if any problems, and where there were any other staff were simply delegated to man the doors or gates.

    Did you know that Ports & Ships lists ship movements for all ports between Walvis Bay on the West Coast and Beira on the East Coast?

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