Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 26, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Final curtain call for Safmarine Agulhas

  • Piracy figures same as last year

  • Bulker Brilliance causes a stir off Cape coast

  • Congestion outside Durban Container Terminal

  • SA disappointed at collapse of trade talks

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    Final curtain call for Safmarine Agulhas

    To all extents and purposes the grounded container ship Safmarine Agulhas is now seen as a shipwreck with no hope whatsoever of removing her from her beached position outside East London harbour.

    A meeting of the Joint Operations Committee is to be held tomorrow (Thursday) at which the subject of what to do with the shipwreck is to be discussed but the word is that salvors are getting ready to acknowledge that there is no longer any hope of getting this ship off or back into service.

    The main problem now will be what to do with the shipwreck. It will be considered unthinkable to leave her where she is, in full view of virtually all of East London and of every passing ship but the first step is to declare her to be a total write-off.

    The next step then would be to decide how best to remove the ship from the western breakwater, or if this proves impossible then to remove as much as possible of the vessel down to the waterline.

    In several recent cases involving shipwrecks along the South African coast salvors have resorted to dismantling anything that might be of interest to souvenir hunters and the curious before setting fire to the accommodation area or even blowing up the ship – Jolly Rubino is a case in point. The close proximity of Safmarine Agulhas to the breakwater and harbour itself renders this course of action highly unlikely.

    However those decisions still have to be made but after Thursday the fate of the shipwreck should have been confirmed.

    Safmarine Agulhas went aground off East London harbour on the night of 26 June. The ship was heading for Durban and experienced engine failure, after which she drifted back towards shore until going aground. Salvors have since removed most of the fuel oil and containers – about 150 of the latter remain in the flooded holds.

    The salvage tug Smit Amandla, which has remained in position assisting with salvage attempts since shortly after Safmarine Agulhas went aground, was called away on Monday to assist with another vessel reportedly in danger off the Eastern Cape coast, the bulker Brilliance. Since then however the Hong Kong-registered bulker has regained full use of her engines and is proceeding with her voyage to Brazil (see separate news report).

    Piracy figures same as last year

    The number of reported piracy attacks world-wide in the first six months of 2006 remained at 127 compared with the same figure during the corresponding period in 2005, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

    In its Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships report, the IMB lists a total of 127 attacks on ships. Ships were boarded in 74 instances and 11 ships were hijacked. There were 156 crew taken hostage, 13 crew were kidnapped and six crew killed.

    Commenting on the 2006 piracy figures Capt Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the IMB said “The decline in attacks over the past two years would appear to have slowed down. New high risk areas have emerged. It is vital that the governments in these areas give priority to this crime and resource law enforcements agencies to tackle it. In those areas, such as the Malacca Straits, where the decline continues, we call upon law enforcement agencies to maintain the initiatives which have been successful. If the pressure lets up, the attacks will rise again.”

    Although the number of attacks overall remain the same, in some key hot spots the situation has deteriorated. Eight attacks have been reported off the eastern coast of Somalia where pirates armed with guns and grenades have attacked ships and fired upon them. The eastern and north-eastern coasts of Somalia continue to be high-risk areas for hijackings. IMB warns that ships not making scheduled calls to ports in these areas should stay at least 200 miles or as far away as practical from the eastern coast of Somalia.

    Indonesia recorded 33 incidents, the highest number this half year followed by Bangladesh with 22 attacks. Violence and intimidation of crew continues to be a hallmark of these attacks, with many of the pirates armed with guns and knives. Malacca Straits has shown an improvement with three attacks as compared to eight for the same period in 2005. However, since the end of June 2006, three further incidents within a two day period have been reported in the Malacca Straits.

    The report identifies ports and anchorages more prone to attacks. Chittagong at 22 attacks was the highest recorded.

    The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) is the only centre of its kind in the world, to which ship’s masters can report pirate attacks at any time, wherever they are in the world. The IMB urges shipmasters to report all attacks to the PRC so that more effective action can taken to bring the attacks down.

    IMB is a division of the International Chamber of Commerce specifically dedicated to fighting all types of maritime crime and malpractice.

    Meanwhile the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre reports a group of pirates, or just plain thieves if you prefer, boarded a bulk carrier 1.5km off the breakwater at Pointe-Noire in the Congo on Monday, gaining access via the anchor with the use of hooks. The thieves stole a quantity of ship’s stores before leaving. No-one was injured.

    In another incident involving a West African port, an individual thief went on board a container ship in the Luanda Bay anchorage last Thursday (20 July) and proceeded to help himself to ship’s stores. A motion sensor on board the vessel alerted the duty officer who raised the alarm and the thief fled into a waiting boat and made good his escape.

    - source IMB

    Bulker Brilliance causes a stir off Cape coast

    The Chinese bulker Brilliance (75,801-gt, built 1990), which reported engine problems while off the south eastern Cape coast on Monday night, is continuing her interrupted journey to Brazil and is expected to pass Cape Town sometime later today or tomorrow.

    The vessel caused a minor stir among residents of the area between Krom River and Cape St Francis when the ship approached close inshore, although according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Port Elizabeth at no time was she closer than six miles.

    The ship’s master reported having engine problems and asked to go to anchor but this was refused and he was told to instead proceed back to Algoa Bay, where a tug would be placed on standby while the Brilliance completed her repairs. The ship’s master responded that he was awaiting instructions from the vessel’s owners in Hong Kong.

    Later he advised that the ship was continuing its journey – the crew having presumably completed repairs.

    Congestion outside Durban Container Terminal


    There was again severe road traffic congestion in Bayhead and Langeberg Roads leading to the Durban Container Terminal yesterday afternoon, as hundreds of motor vehicles were caught up in a logjam lasting many hours.

    The problem has become a regular occurrence and is caused by too many road vehicles arriving at the container terminal gates at the same time to deliver or collect containers. The problem seems worse in the mid to late afternoon – yesterday’s congestion lasted for several hours before the vehicles began to clear.

    There is unfortunately no solution in sight to this problem – South African Port Operations (SAPO), which allows a limited number of trucks to enter the terminal at any given time to avoid congestion inside, says that what happens outside the gates is not their problem.

    Both the National Ports Authority and the Ethekwini Municipality (Durban), while acknowledging there is a problem, appear unable or unwilling to decide on a solution, apart from vague talk about building a staging facility inland of Durban.

    There is also an acknowledgement that the switch from rail to road transport has exacerbated the problem. While the latter is true it remains wishful thinking to believe that cargo owners will move back to rail without adequate incentive.

    Frustrated road residents and other users of the road system in Bayhead suggest that a relatively cheap solution would be to create a truck stop in the adjacent Ambrose Park, opposite Langeberg Road which leads directly to the terminal. Here trucks could assemble, be given a number and called in rotation without clogging the streets and preventing other people from carrying out their business.

    A similar problem though on a different scale occurs in Maydon Road and has also been reported in Cape Town outside the terminal entrance. Clearly the time has come for the NPA, city and SAPO to stop excusing themselves and take some proactive action.

    SA disappointed at collapse of trade talks

    by Sello Tang (BuaNews)

    Pretoria, 25 July 2006 - Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has expressed disappointment at the collapse of global trade talks.

    The World Trade Organisation Doha Round of talks which started five years ago had collapsed, mainly due to the disagreement on modalities by the European Union and the United States on the slashing of huge agricultural subsidies offered to their farmers.

    Dr Dlamini-Zuma told the media on Monday that although the talks had crumbled, she was confident that another round would be held, saying South Africa had not yet lost hope in the negotiations.

    The Doha talks, she said, were "very important to us as a developing country", noting that the collapse would have a negative impact on developing countries in the long run.

    "But I do not think that we can say that this is the end of trade negotiations...it is an initial reaction, we still have to hold talks with our international colleagues in the trade and industry sector to hear what they have to say on the way forward."

    Minister Dlamini-Zuma was speaking at the Joint ITEC Inter-Sessional meeting held at the Diplomatic Guest House in Pretoria.

    She was accompanied by her Russian counterpart and ITEC co-chair, Minister Yuri Petrovich Trutnev.

    ITEC - the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Co-operation - is a platform for the South African and the Russian Federation governments to discuss bilateral relations for mutual political and economic interests.

    Yesterday's meeting looked at progress made so far in the implementation of agreed trade deals and identified constraints that needed to be ironed out.

    The trade spheres include Minerals and Energy, Trade, Investment and Banking, Science and Technology, Transport - Aviation and Maritime, Social Sector - Health and Education, Agriculture and Water Affairs and Forestry.

    South Africa and Russia have established Joint Sub-Committees tasked with overseeing and monitoring implementation.

    The two Ministers announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin would pay a working visit to South Africa for the first time in September this year.

    President Putin would be in the country for three days, from 4 to 6 September.

    "This visit will look in our relationship in general...of course it will look into the global issues as well," said Dr Dlamini-Zuma.

    She noted that several bilateral agreements worth "hundreds of millions of dollars would be signed during Mr Putin's visit.

    A South African delegation from the Department of Minerals and Energy will go to Russia in a "few weeks' time" to explore opportunities in the gas sector there.

    "This is the sector we are more interested in," Dr Dlamini-Zuma said, adding that it was not to be the only field South Africa was going to explore in Russia.

    A business forum, scheduled to run parallel to the Russian President's visit, will also be held among South African business people and their Russian counterparts.

    "Investment is a key issue, and we are putting more efforts to strengthen the corporation between us," said Dr Dlamini-Zuma.

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