Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 16, 2006
Author: P&S


  • Western Cape transport strike over, but further stoppages remain on horizon

  • Angolan oil platform hits 250,000 barrels a day

  • French aircraft carrier Clemenceau recalled

  • South Africa hones its skills on disentangling whales

  • Somali pirates go on trial

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

    Western Cape transport strike over, but further stoppages remain on horizon

    A one-day strike across the Western and Northern Cape provinces ended last night with transport workers expected to return to work this morning, but unions are warning that the rolling action will continue.

    Yesterday all commuter rail services in and around Cape Town came to a virtual halt, leaving thousands of frustrated and often angry workers unable to get to their places of work. Ironically the lack of trains also meant that a mass march by Transnet Union members to present a memorandum to a government representative outside parliament failed to attract more than 200 marchers because others couldn’t get into town.

    Only sections of the port of Cape Town operated by SA Port Operations and the NPA were affected. Other terminals such as the fruit terminal, which is privately owned and whose personnel are not members of the striking unions continued to operate normally although marine movements were restricted. The container terminal was shut and little work took place within its closed gates. At Saldanha where both the iron ore and multi purpose terminals are operated by SA Port Operations, things came to a general halt.

    Meanwhile unions have advised that the Eastern Cape ports (East London and Port Elizabeth) as well as commuter train services in the province will be affected as the strike is extended for one day on Friday (tomorrow). On Monday (20 February) it is the turn of Gauteng and the remaining provinces that have not yet felt the effect of Transnet union stoppages. The Gauteng strike is due to last for three days.

    Unions said they would meet again tomorrow (17 February) to chart the way forward and decide whether a national strike on 6 March is still necessary. A union spokesman said the prognosis was not good and he blamed an arrogant approach by Transnet as offering little hope for settlement.

    Angolan oil platform hits 250,000 barrels a day

    The Girassol oil platform which went into operation off the coast of Angola five years ago is now producing 250,000 barrels of oil a day.

    According to Girassol’s operations director, production levels should remain stable for at least another five years. He said that future discoveries within the Block 17 production zone in which Girassol is operating could be anticipated.

    French aircraft carrier Clemenceau recalled

    The French government has recalled the former French Navy aircraft carrier Clemenceau back to French waters after the controversy over the amount of asbestos cladding still remaining within the vessel.

    Readers will recall the ship was initially denied entry to the Suez Canal ( see our News Bulletins dated 13 and 16 January 2006) but was later allowed to make the transit and head under tow for India where she was supposed to be scrapped. However before her arrival the Indian government then interceded by appointing a two-judge commission to examine matter and decide whether the vessel could be beached.

    French President Jacques Chirac’s decision announced yesterday means the ship, which is already in Indian waters, will now have to be towed back through the canal and taken to a berth somewhere in France.

    The change in heart comes after intense pressure placed on France by Greenpeace and other environmentalist groups. The ship is said to contain between 500 and 1000 tonnes of asbestos although France has officially owned up to only 45t.

    The Indian commission was expected to deliver its decision tomorrow (Friday).

    Perhaps a quiet scuttling of the 45-year old ship somewhere in the northern Indian Ocean might not be the worst solution?

    South Africa hones its skills on disentangling whales

    The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, as one of the members of the newly established South African Disentanglement Network, will participate in a two day workshop today and tomorrow (16-17 February 2006), focusing on how to efficiently and safely disentangle whales and monitor scientifically entanglement rates of whales in South African coastal waters.

    Other partners involved in the South African Whale Disentanglement network are the Dolphin Action & Protection Group, The Sharks Board, NSRI, SAPS Divers, Border Police, Mammal Research Institute and the Table Mountain National Park.

    South Africa has developed as one of the whale watching areas of the world. Its policy regarding the utilisation of its whale resources is to reserve these exclusively for non-consumptive use, namely boat and shore- based whale watching. Whale watching has grown tremendously in South Africa and is regarded as one of the eco-tourism priorities.

    Increasingly on an international level, entanglement of whales is becoming an area of concern.

    In South African waters, the main entanglement challenges of large whales existing at present are entanglement in rock lobster ropes and buoys on the west and southwest coasts and entanglement in shark gillnets on the KZN coast.

    In September last year (2005) scientists and divers from the department, with officials from the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and SA Police Services have saved an entangled Southern Right whale. The 8 metre whale was entangled with 7 large rock lobster buoys and ropes in the False Bay area

    The buoys and ropes were removed by cutting the ropes with departmentally designed and produced knives, specifically for such purposes. The operation lasted for approximately 3 hours.

    A whale disentanglement expert from the Center for Conservation Studies in the United States of America, Dr Bob Bowman, will the main speaker at the workshop and will also give volunteers practical instruction on the second day.

    by JP Louw
    Chief Director: Communications, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

    Somali pirates go on trial

    Ten Somalis, who are accused of having seized an Indian ship off the Somali coast, appeared in a Kenyan court this week on charges of piracy.

    The master of the Indian ship, Capt Ali Suleiman told the court that he and his men had been subjected to six days of torture at the hands of their captors and of having been denied food. He said the Somalis had come on board his ship without permission on 16 January. They were armed with a variety of weapons including handguns and assault and grenade rifles. Later they demanded a ransom of 0,000 for the ship and its crew of 16 and regularly beat his crew whenever they tried to free themselves.

    The vessel, a motorised dhow named Safinat Biscarat was rescued after being intercepted by a US Navy destroyer, USS Winston S Churchill, which forced the vessel to stop and arrested the alleged pirates. The ten Somalis were subsequently taken ashore at Mombasa and handed over to Kenyan authorities.

    The case has raised added interest because of questions concerning whether Kenya has jurisdiction over Somalis who seized an Indian ship at sea and were arrested by an American navy vessel. So far the Kenyan magistrate has declined all appeals by the defendants’ legal team to have the case dismissed on these grounds.

    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?

    this is a free service – please support the advertisers who make it possible by visiting their sites. Just a click will do

    affordable rates
    contact info@ports.co.za for details.


    Web ports.co.za

    Click to go back

      - Contact Us

      - Home