Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 2, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Shock for thousands of passengers as MSC Monterey cruise season cancelled

  • Saldanha Iron Ore Terminal at a standstill

  • Cape Town’s turn as US pre-positioning ships call

  • Diamond dredging equipment goes overboard

  • Picture of the day

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    Shock for thousands of passengers as MSC Monterey cruise season cancelled

    Thousands of passengers have had to be re-accommodated after the cancellation of MSC Monterey’s extended Southern African cruise season.

    Clifford Foggit of Starlight Cruises, which markets the Southern African cruises operating out of Durban and Cape Town, said the ship, which was due in South Africa later this month, had encountered boiler problems which prevented the vessel from developing a normal operating speed. While the ship had been able to complete its Mediterranean cruises at reduced speeds, the seas around South Africa require the ship to have full power available at all times and for safety reasons MSC was withdrawing the ship until repairs have been completed.

    However, given the age of the ship and the complexity of repairing an aging boiler it is highly possible MSC Monterey may be withdrawn completely and scrapped. New maritime regulations coming into force make it doubtful that Monterey would have remained in service much longer anyhow.

    The 20 046-gt, 600-passenger Monterey was built as a US Maritime Commission C3 freighter in an American shipyard in 1952 and converted a few years later to a passenger ship for Matson Navigation. After successive ownerships she has been in MSC hands since 1990 shortly when MSC acquired StarLauro Lines and since then has spent a number of summer seasons cruising out of Durban on behalf of both MSC and Starlight. The ship became highly popular with local passengers partly because of her large public areas, accommodation and deck space and was only replaced when her popularity bred success and with it a requirement for a larger ship.

    As recently as early September Monterey, while cruising in the Mediterranean was described as being in pristine condition.

    Monterey was due in Durban later this month (October) and was to remain in local waters until May 2008, undertaking all-year-round cruises from both Durban and Cape Town. These included the longer cruises to Mauritius and Madagascar and from Cape Town to Walvis Bay. It would have been the first time in several years that a cruise ship had operated here throughout the winter and was also the first time that Starlight had offered regular cruises as an option from Cape Town. Thousands of passengers had already booked for the Cape Town cruises and have had to be re-accommodated or reimbursed.

    During December another MSC cruise ship, MSC Melody is due to cruise locally during the summer months only. Her summer season may be extended slightly.

    Foggitt said that MSC had offered to replace Monterey but this was not considered viable as the only available ship – MSC Rhapsody - was too large for the smaller number of passengers expected in winter.

    He said that Starlight has refunded those of the Cape Town passengers who particularly wanted to cruise along the southern Cape coast or to Namibia. Many other Cape Town-based passengers had agreed to transfer to cruises operating from Durban.

    Saldanha Iron Ore Terminal at a standstill

    Following the breakdown of one of the two ship loaders at the port of Saldanha, iron ore exports have been severely affected until repairs can be completed.

    The breakdown of shiploader no.2 last week coincided with the first ship loader being down for routine maintenance. The second loader has suffered structural damage and SA Port Operations is conducting an enquiry into the circumstances.

    Meanwhile arrangements are being hurriedly put in place to return ship loader no.1 to operation so that exports can resume.

    Delivery of iron ore from the Sishen area by rail is continuing normally and being discharged at the stockpile. Iron ore is carried on a conveyor system to the ships side where the ship loader loads it into the vessel. As a result of the maintenance programme the conveyor system has been dismantled and will have to be restored.

    According to Kumba Resources, which exports iron ore from the terminal the restoration may take as long as two or three weeks, although contingency plans may help to reduce this.

    Cape Town’s turn as US pre-positioning ships call

    A week ago the first US pre-positioning ship to call at a South African port in a little while, USNS Fisher called at Durban to load bunkers (see our Naval News report dated 12 September 2006).

    Now it has been Cape Town’s turn with not one but two ships arriving in close succession for bunkers.

    First up was USNS Benavidez (T-AKR 306) of the Bob Hope class which sailed into port last week to refuel and take other supplies. Tomorrow it will be the turn of USNS Mendonca (T-AKR 303), another Bob Hope class ship which arrives.

    The Bob Hope class of Army Pre-Positioning ships totals seven ships in all. Each vessel displaces nearly 63,000 tons fully loaded and has a length of 298m and a beam of 32.3m. They are similar to the Watson class of ship except they are diesel powered. They are capable of speeds of around 25 knots. Apart from the large storage area for wheeled and tracked vehicles the ships are designed to carry up to 300 troops if necessary.

    Diamond dredging equipment goes overboard

    Namibian newspaper New Era reports that diamond dredging equipment costing approximately N $ 28 million (approx R28.7m) has been lost overboard from an unidentified ship off South Africa’s Wild Coast.

    The loss took place last week as the equipment was being shipped from Malaysia to Walvis Bay for NamDebs offshore mining operations along the Namibian coast.

    The ship encountered seas with strong swells and was pounded by waves, resulting in the equipment being swept overboard. Due to the strong currents in the area and the depth of the water there is considered no chance of its recovery.

    The report said the ship was ‘in the vicinity of Durban and Port Elizabeth’ at the time. It added the crew had been so badly traumatised by the incident that they activated a distress signal. The ship later docked safely in Cape Town.

    The equipment was intended for the CSD500SD cutter suction dredge and weighed a total of 255 tons. Diamond production in the section known as Pocket Beaches Areas 11 and 12 between Luderitz and Oranjemund will be set back by about three months while new equipment is acquired.

    - source New Era

    Picture of the day

    Indian destroyer INS Mumbai arriving in Durban harbour, September 2006. Picture Terry Hutson. Click image to enlarge

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