Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 5, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Search goes on for missing seamen from bulker Alexandros T

  • ICTSI Madagascar unit to automate terminal operations

  • ANGOLA: Neglected provinces need share of new wealth

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    Search goes on for missing seamen from bulker Alexandros T

    Aircraft of the South African Air Force will resume the search for 26 missing seamen from the ill-fated Greek bulker Alexandros T at first light this morning, in the face of diminishing hope of finding any further survivors.

    A spokesman for sea rescue said last night that with the heavy seas running and prevailing cold conditions, hyperthermia would take its toll on the chances of anyone staying alive in the sea for so long a time, even though the seafarers are all thought to be wearing life jackets. Deteriorating weather conditions are forecast for the area this morning – when the sinking occurred a strong sea with five metre swells was running.

    The Capesize ore carrier sank on Wednesday night after water entered several of the ship’s holds. Alexandros T, which is managed by Overseas Marine Enterprises Inc of Athens, was en route to China from the Brazilian port of Ponta da Madeira and carrying 155,000 tonnes of iron ore as cargo.

    At 17.52 GMT on 3 May a nearby ship, CSE Fortune Express reported that it had established contact with the Alexandros T and indicated that the vessel was sinking. According to initial reports the master of the Alexandros T ordered all hands to abandon ship after his ship began listing to 15 degrees and he realised that there was no hope of saving the ship. Shortly afterwards the vessel turned over and broke in two before going down. It is believed that only a few of the crew managed to escape in life rafts before disaster overcame them.

    The CSE Fortune Express picked up six men off one of the life rafts during the night and a seventh was rescued after he was spotted in the water yesterday morning. A SAAF C130 which flew to the area at first light yesterday began a patterned search of the area and reported seeing other life rafts in the water but with no crew visible.

    According to the ship managers the nationalities of the crew are Greek (4), Filipino (24), Rumanian (4) and Ukrainian (1).

    The ship managers issued a statement yesterday which said that they had contacted salvors but the vessel’s situation had deteriorated rapidly.

    “Lying 300 miles off Port Elizabeth, South Africa, well beyond the range of rescue helicopters, the master ordered the evacuation of the vessel. Shipping in the area having been alerted, a nearby vessel, CSE Fortune Express made contact with Alexandros T and has reported her sinking at 17.52 GMT/3 May.”

    Meanwhile the Smit Amandla, whose owners Smit Amandla had obtained a Lloyds Open Form salvage contract, was on its way to the area.

    The tragic sinking and possible loss of so many seafarers will inevitably lead to speculation about the reason the ship began taking on water and breaking up. The area off the southern coast is notorious for the number of similar incidents that have taken place over the years, with more than a fair share having included ore carriers en route between Brazil and China.

    In some of these cases side shell plating has separated, in others hatch covers have been damaged by heavy seas. With Alexandros T having gone so quickly to the bottom and in such deep water it may be that we will never discover the reason for this latest tragedy.

    According to the website Equasis, in October and November 2003 port state inspections at Velsen in the Netherlands and Norfolk in the United States found the ship to have 28 and 23 deficiencies respectively. On one occasion the vessel was detained for a period of two days while the deficiencies were taken care of. A subsequent inspection in March 2005 by the Tokyo MoU cleared the vessel without any deficiencies found.

    ICTSI Madagascar unit to automate terminal operations

    Madagascar International Container Terminal (MICT) in Toamasina, Madagascar, the island nation’s main international trading gateway, has started computerising the terminal with upcoming installation of new terminal operating software (TOS).

    The terminal is managed by Madagascar International Container Terminal Services Ltd. (MICTL), a subsidiary of International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI)

    Replacing MICT’s in-house operations software is SPARCS, a TOS used in 50 countries, which handled 25 percent of the world’s container volume, including boxes at the Suape Container Terminal (SCT) in Recife, Brazil. MICT and SCT are terminals of Philippine based global port operator International Container Terminal Services, Inc.

    SPARCS is developed by Navis, a US-based software developer for supply chain execution.

    Christian Gonzalez, MICTL Chief Operating Officer, said that management decided to purchase SPARCS to bring their technology and equipment up to a world class level. The MICT will rely on Navis’ software to ensure the right balance between service improvement and sustainable growth.

    “We believe that there is great potential in our workforce, and it is our policy to give employees the best tools necessary to tap this potential,’’ Gonzalez said. “Given Navis’ position as a global leader in TOS systems and our Suape terminal’s successful experience with SPARCS in the past, we feel Navis is best fit for this project. Our talented workforce has the opportunity to boost productivity tremendously with proven software.”

    MICTL chose SPARCS based on its success at the SCT, where the TOS optimised vessel and yard planning as well as providing accurate container management information. MICTL has a directive from the Malagasy government to bring the terminal operations up to world class levels. SPARCS’s implementation is the first step toward meeting that goal.

    The MICT is located at the island’s largest port, Toamasina, which currently accounts for more than 90 percent of all container traffic in Madagascar, handling 102,000 TEU in 2005.

    Gonzalez says he expects port operations to improve significantly when SPARCS goes live at the MICT at the third quarter of 2006. Despite increased organization in quay and yard productivity, Mr. Gonzalez expects SPARCS to help his staff improve the overall business experience and create a more efficient environment for clients to conduct business.

    Navis CEO John Dillon agrees with Gonzalez’s expectations: “Our software will help Madagascar simplify its working environment and boost client, partner and workforce efficiency by implementing industry best practices that fit the operation.”

    ANGOLA: Neglected provinces need share of new wealth

    Luanda, 3 May 2006 (IRIN) - A senior UN official has warned that Angola risks losing its post war gains if it does not create more jobs and increase investment in the neglected interior of the country.

    “The highest priority is to create employment. Without it they [the youth] don’t get the benefits of peace,” said Pierre-Francois Pirlot, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative.

    Oil industry making windfall profits – picture courtesy IRIN/Sonangol

    Angola is sub-Saharan Africa’s second largest oil producer after Nigeria, pumping 1.4 million barrels a day – a figure the government expects to rise to 2 million barrels by the end of 2007. The country is currently in the middle of a reconstruction boom fuelled by high oil prices after a ruinous 27 year civil war ended in 2002.

    “The government is starting to look to the interior, but the challenges are enormous,” Pirlot said.

    Despite being one the world’s fastest growing economies and reaping the windfall of record-beating crude prices, the majority of people still live on less than USD 1 a day, according to UNDP. Critics add that most investment, so far, has taken place either in the country’s lucrative offshore oil industry, which employs less than 1 percent of the population, or in the country’s coastal urban centres where most of the government’s support resides.

    “The provinces have been neglected for decades, during the war and during the colonial period,” said Pirlot. “For example, [approximately] 98 percent of medical doctors are in Luanda – it’s as astronomic as that. How do you attract doctors to the provinces, where there are no roads, no schools, no markets?”

    Angola’s government coffers have seen a huge rise in external credit recently - a primary factor in the government’s bumper 2006 budget of around USD 25 billion compared to just USD 13 billion in 2005 – and much of this is earmarked for rebuilding the country’s shattered infrastructure.

    According to the Minister for Public Works, Higino Carneiro, the country’s road rehabilitation programme approved last year aims to repair 1,200km of roads. One such project includes the rebuilding of a road linking the southern ports of Lobito and Benguela. A separate Chinese-built USD 240 million highway will connect Luanda to northern Negage, 400km to the north, and is expected to be completed next year.

    Work has already started on the Benguela railway linking the interior to Lobito and Benguela. The 1,354km railway used to be a major artery for the transportation of minerals from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the coast. It also served as a catalyst for the growth of Angola’s provincial cities of Huambo and Kuito.

    Analysts say rebuilding infrastructure in the interior would also help diversify the economy away from its overwhelming reliance on oil and stimulate the country’s once thriving agricultural sector, providing jobs and relieving social pressures on the overcrowded capital.

    “You need long-term investors…not lines of credit,” Pirlot said. “With more than 60 percent of the population under 25, if you don’t create employment you’re looking for trouble.”

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

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