Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 19, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Bulker safe in False Bay for now

  • SAPO promises a shake-up for Richards Bay

  • Big boost for Transnet capital expenditure

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    Bulker safe in False Bay for now

    The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) says it has taken all possible safety measures taken with the stricken ore bulker Setsuyo Star, which has gone to anchor in False Bay after a fracture to its number 1 hold was noticed.

    The vessel is another instance of an iron ore carrier developing hull fractures while en route from Brazil to China, which become noticeable by the time the ship reached the Cape of Good Hope. The Alexandros T became the latest casualty when she broke up and sank in May with a heavy loss of life while about 280 miles south of Port Elizabeth. Seven of the bulker’s seafarers were plucked to safety after being washed overboard by a large wave. They were lucky enough to find two life rafts in the sea near them despite it being dark at night. Another bulker that responded to a call for help before the Alexandros T sank picked them up in the morning and later took them to Durban.

    The crew on board the 170,808-dwt, 1985-built Setsuyo Star, formerly the NYK vessel Setsuyo Maru and now managed by Chartworld Shipping on behalf of a Malta-registered company, first noticed the fracture as the ship lay at anchor in Table Bay. SAMSA was alerted along with Cape Town port officials before permission was given for the ship to proceed to False Bay, Cape Town and Saldanha being deemed unsuitable.

    “We have a tug, the Smit Amandla alongside ready to take the bulker in tow and we accept that we are taking a risk as far as the environment is concerned. We gave the owners an ultimatum to appoint a salvage company and they have met that ultimatum and have appointed Tsavliris,” said SAMSA’s Capt Saleem Modak.

    “We took everything into consideration and sent a surveyor out on the Saturday night. He reported back to us later that day, after midnight in fact and we then made the decision to send the ship to False Bay as it is too deep for Cape Town and there were no available berths at Saldanha. The Smit Amandla was sent to accompany the Setsuyo Star just in case and will remain on standby.”

    He said that the safety of the seafarers on board the ship remained the main consideration, followed by the threat to the environment. “By putting the ship in False Bay we’ve placed the environment at risk, yes, but if the ship was made to go to sea then she wouldn’t be floating right now,” he said.

    From available reports the hull plating on No.1 hold has separated from the frames and water is being admitted.

    According to Capt Modal the repairs will take ‘at least a month or two, as they are substantial.” The biggest concern, he said lay with the possibility of the weather deteriorating.

    SAPO promises a shake-up for Richards Bay

    Port users have reacted positively to the news that SA Port Operations intends fast tracking both infrastructure and methodology at the troubled dry bulk and the multi purpose terminals at Richards Bay.

    This follows a meeting with clients held at the port last week, in which Victor Mkhize, Business Unit Executive for the MPT and Ricky Govender, Dry Bulk Terminal Business Unit Manager both acknowledged that shortcomings were affecting productivity.

    Mkhize conceded that the terminal had suffered from a large turnover of skilled managers in the past 18 months. The measures to be taken include the enlistment of former employees on a contract basis while new recruits complete their training, and the fast tracking of equipment and infrastructure.

    “My job and those of my managers are on the line if we do not get it right,” he told the meeting, adding that he was prepared to give a commitment that the multi purpose terminal would deliver.

    Govender announced that an unbudgeted Liebherr mobile crane costing R38 million would arrive shortly and be available for service from August. He said the dry bulk terminal would spend large amounts on refurbishments and new equipment to the value of R400 million – “the money is committed and together with filling staff vacancies and training technical and engineering staff we will meet all challenges.”

    In the meantime the re-employment on contract of former employees would help the DPT in the short term.

    SAPO has agreed to hold quarterly meetings at the port with clients to address their concern.

    Big boost for Transnet capital expenditure

    Transnet has boosted its five-year capital expenditure plan to R64.5 Billion, a parliamentary sub-committee heard last week.

    The largest amount of capex is intended for the rail company Spoornet, which will spend R20.3 Billion on rail operations and R11.2 Bn on rail infrastructure. This is a total of over R9 Billion in excess of what was originally budgeted.

    Ports would receive R18.6 Billion, of which port infrastructure has been increased by R4.8 Bn and port operations by R1.4 Bn.

    Transwerk has been allocated a further R2.6 Billion and an additional R600 million is for sundry items.

    The Public Enterprises portfolio committee was told that state-owned enterprises such as Transnet may have to resort to hedging strategies in order to absorb the depreciating effect of currency on their balance sheets

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