Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 29, 2007
Author: P&S


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  • South Africans feel the loss of the MSC Napoli

  • MOL upgrades with a dropped Durban call

  • Mombasa scores as ships divert from Dar es Salaam

  • Nigerian militants strike yet again

  • Safmarine Agulhas comes ashore

  • Pic of the day – TORM CAROLINE

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

    South Africans feel the loss of the MSC Napoli

    As salvors begin to clean up the oils and remove the containers still on board the grounded container ship MSC NAPOLI, British police belatedly stepped in and took action against looters who had raided containers washed ashore after the ship went aground.

    Shippers and cargo owners in South Africa however are beginning to count the cost of lost and delayed cargo worth millions.

    The task of removing containers from the badly listing ship is proving problematic – as soon as one is moved it affects the stability of the next, and so on. Not an easy task, say the salvors.

    MSC Napoli developed structural cracks to its hull on 18 January during a heavy storm in the English Channel. Crew took to the lifeboats and were later hoisted to safety by helicopters of the Royal Air Force but salvors, who went on board the stricken ship to try and save her, eventually chose to run her ashore off the Devon coast to prevent the ship from sinking.

    There may be criticism of this decision, especially from the environmentalist body, but the decision was taken in view of a very real chance of major pollution if the ship sank in shallow water off the English coast. There was also the consideration that much if not all of the cargo in approximately 2,400 containers could be saved.

    That was before about 100 boxes washed overboard after the ship grounded with about 50 going ashore near Branscombe. Looters arrived and began helping themselves to whatever they could salvage while British authorities seemed strangely reluctant to intervene, but stood by watching proceedings and handing out forms advising looters to declare their goods.

    After considerable criticism police have since taken steps to prevent further looting, and the sight of men wheeling new BMW motorbikes, originally intended for the showrooms of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, is no more.

    An operation to clean up birds affected by 200 tonnes of oil lost overboard is now underway but is meeting with mixed success for in many cases it is too late as birds have died. The Royal Society for the Protection of birds warned last week that up to 10,000 birds could be caught up in the oil slick.

    Back in South Africa, among those counting the cost of the ship’s loss is Volkswagen, the motor manufacturer based at Uitenhage near Port Elizabeth. According to reports the plant will have to stop production on each Friday for at least four weeks to compensate for the loss (or delay) of 130 containers of parts carried on board the ship.

    The motor industry operates on a ‘Just in Time’ basis and often has no little or no backstop for something like a shipwreck.

    Other industries affected include the wine industry, which was expecting delivery of oak wine casks and will now have to make other arrangements so if your favourite tipple tastes different in the future, you may know why.

    The ship was also carrying 160 tonnes of nickel, destined for Columbus Steel to be used in the manufacture of stainless steel.

    Of the 2,323 containers on board the ship when she sailed from Antwerp, 80 percent were headed for South Africa.

    MOL upgrades with a dropped Durban call

    As a result of ongoing congestion at the port of Durban, one of the leading shipping lines calling at South African ports, MOL, has opted to drop Durban from its scheduling on the
    Asia – South Africa –South America (CSW) service.

    Instead MOL will open a new Asia – South Africa route, known as ZAX.

    The company will discontinue calls at Durban on the outward voyage of the CSW weekly
    Service, resulting in a direct service from Asia to the east coast of South America as from April. MOL says by eliminating the Durban call where port congestion is a constant issue, more stable scheduling and faster transit times will be possible. By the same process increased space for cargo bound from Asia to South America becomes available.

    MOL operates the CSW service jointly with PIL (Pacific International Lines).

    The new CSW schedule is: Kobe – Yokohama – Nagoya – Pusan – Shanghai – Yantian – Hong Kong – Singapore – Santos – Buenos Aires – Montevideo – Sao Francisco do Sol – Paranagua – Santos – Rio de Janeiro – Cape Town – Port Elizabeth – Singapore – Hong Kong – Kobe.

    Also from April MOL will commence a shuttle service between Singapore and Durban (South African Express – ZAX) to replace the Durban calls eliminated from the CSW service. MOL will operate this new service independently and on a weekly basis, utilising four container ships in the 1,600 – 1,700-TEU class.

    “This service offers more flexibility in ship scheduling, as well as increased cargo spaceto better serve Durban’s expanding market. The route restructuring also allows MOL to respond more effectively to port congestion at Durban,” said MOL president Akimitsu Ashida in a statement on Friday.

    “The company will offer the same quality of service to Durban from Japan and other parts of Asia, thanks to its extensive service network.” He pointed out that MOL was greatly increasing the frequency from Durban to Asia with a weekly service instead of every 10 days.

    MOL plans a similar upgrade for the West Africa service in the future.

    Mombasa scores as ships divert from Dar es Salaam

    According to a Kenyan newspaper (The Nation) ships are diverting from Dar es Salaam for Mombasa as a result of congestion at the Tanzanian port.

    The report said that from November ships have had to wait in the outer anchorage for between 6 and 10 days with little indication when the situation will improve.

    A build up of containers in the terminal is thought to be the reason for the congestion, with their slow removal clogging the stacking area and hindering day to day operations.

    The Tanzanian terminal, which is privately operated, is about half the size of the Mombasa terminal – 6,000 TEU compared with 13,000 TEU.

    As a result of the diversion Mombasa is having to store the Tanzanian-bound containers until they can be shipped to Dar es Salaam. However Mombasa also has a storage problem which recently led to some drastic measures to relieve the buildup.

    Nigerian militants strike yet again

    Nationality has no boundaries when it comes to the Nigerian insurgency in the south of the country. If you are in the oil business and in the Niger Delta, you are fair game.

    That seems to be the attitude of militants in the troubled West African oil producing country as militants struck again last week, this time at the Chinese National Petroleum Co in Bayelsa State, taking an undisclosed number of Chinese workers hostage.

    The attackers also helped themselves to money from the oil company’s offices, before making their escape.

    A few days earlier a German ship manned by 24 Filipinos was attacked and all 24 crew taken hostage. There has been no release of the Filipinos but according to the German ship owner a ransom for the crew as well as the ship has been demanded.

    During the week it was the turn of an American and a Briton who were taken hostage while ashore. On 5 January five Chinese telecommunication workers were seized but were released last week.

    In the meantime a pair of Italians and a Lebanese, who were captured by militants about two months ago, remain in custody somewhere in the Niger Delta region. Presumably their employers haven’t yet paid the required ransom.

    Safmarine Agulhas comes ashore

    The day of the Big Pull’, when contractor Mammoet brought the hulk that was once the container ship Safmarine Agulhas ashore at East London. Picture courtesy Willem Kruk, EB&H

    With the aid of four hydraulic pullers firmly anchored on dry land, the forward section of the hulk of the container ship Safmarine Agulhas has been pulled clear of the sea which claimed her as another victim.

    The job of hauling the heavy hull onto dry land took the best part of one night and most of the following day. Even then the sea tried its best not to give up its victim, with the hull becoming stuck on the seabed and requiring salvors to pump air into the remains of the ships holds to aid buoyancy and free up the vessel.

    Safmarine Agulhas broke in two sections after running aground off the western breakwater at East London harbour in June last year. Earlier the ship experienced engine trouble and before tugs could take a hold the vessel had run aground, fortunately on the outer side of the breakwater.

    Despite ongoing efforts by salvors the ship resisted efforts to be pulled clear into deep water and eventually one morning, with a loud crack the ship broke in half. Attention then turned towards removing the remainder of the cargo and cutting the ship up and removing her in totality from the scene. This contract was awarded to Dutch company Mammoet and is expected to be complete by April.

    Pic of the day – TORM CAROLINE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The handysize Danish-flagged products tanker TORM CAROLINE arrives in Durban fully laden and right down to her marks. Picture Terry Hutson

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