Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 20, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • French schooner La Boudeuse arrives in Richards Bay

  • Port of Conakry remains closed

  • Nigerian news – more abductions and customs work 24 hour days

  • SS MENDI remembered – 90 years on

  • Thieves bring road transport woes in Eastern Cape

  • MAURITANIA: Would-be migrants in limbo on land as at sea

  • Pic of the day – TROMSO TRUST

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

    French schooner La Boudeuse arrives in Richards Bay

    The French schooner LA BOUDEUSE arrived in the port of Richards Bay for a ten day stopover yesterday morning.

    The three masted sailing ship is owned by the French explorer’s club Espirit de Bougainville and it is a round-the-world cruise that has brought the ship to South Africa.

    Built in 1916 in the Vigge Shipyard in Vlaardingen, Netherlands under the name MARI, the iron-hulled vessel entered service as a herring logger operating in the North Sea, before changing hands and becoming the SUDERSAND in 1931. At that stage her sails were reduced and a more powerful engine added.

    During World War II the ship underwent ‘stretching’ by an additional 4.2m to a new overall length of 42.4m (hull 34m) and her rigging was removed completely with the ship’s conversion as a motor vessel operating in the Baltic.

    It took a bunch of enthusiasts to return her to a sailing ship during the mid 1970s after which she began sailing round the world taking paying passengers. IN 1992 the French explorer’s club purchased her and fitted her out for their purposes.

    The name La Boudeuse is drawn from one of two ships used by the famous French explorer Louis de Bougainville who began his circumnavigation of the world in December 1766, the other smaller vessel being L’Etoile (a name which is honoured with the French CMA CGM line on one of their container ships operating on the South African service). The earlier La Boudeuse was a frigate of much the same length to the present ship, but carried a wider beam.

    De Bougainville also spent some time exploring in the Indian Ocean and his name is perpetuated by having an island, mountains and plants named after him – the beautiful bougainvillea shrub the most well-known.

    background – www.tallship-fan.de and own sources

    Port of Conakry remains closed

    Following last week’s stat of emergency declared by the Guinean government, the port of Conakry remains closed to shipping and a strict curfew is being imposed on the city.

    The port gates are firmly locked and although a few ships have entered the port and used their own gear to discharge containers, these remain on the dockside and have added to the general congestion of the port.

    On Sunday the curfew was reduced from 20.00 – 16.00 hours to 18.00 – 06.00 but the situation in the city remains tense, according to reports. With the reduction on Sunday of the curfew hours and no further sign of the unrest that prevailed for much of last week, when shooting in the streets occurred and vehicles and petrol stations were set alight, a number of people returned to work yesterday morning.

    Government is obviously hoping that the trade unions will return to the negotiating table.

    Nigerian news – more abductions and customs work 24 hour days

    If it weren’t serious it might be amusing, the state of musical chairs played out by militants and their abductions in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

    Hardly a month goes by without another group of people, usually involved with the oil industry and often employed on ships or other vessels deployed to the offshore oil industry, being kidnapped and taken for ransom.

    Some say it is a way of highlighting the world’s attention on the Delta’s peoples’ ongoing dispute with both the foreign oil companies and the Federal Government. Others say it is rampant crime and the abductions are little more than opportunities to obtain ransom money by criminal gangs.

    Whatever one’s leaning in this regional dispute, for expatriate workers the result is real and serious. Latest to be kidnapped are three Croatians who were seized in Port Harcourt this weekend, while an American oil worker taken hostage earlier was released. The American was seized along with his Nigerian driver and a Briton – the UK citizen being released a few weeks ago on account of his ill health. There is no confirmation as to what happened to the Nigerian driver.

    In happier Nigerian news, the Daily Trust in Lagos reports that the Nigerian Customs have introduced night time and weekend operations in the ports for the first time in many years.

    According to the newspaper ‘old timers in port operation remember the olden days in sea ports where they would not differentiate between ordinary days from weekends, nor day or night operation’, which the rest of the international community refers to as 24-hour operation.

    SS Mendi remembered – 90 years on

    Memorial services were held in several places at the weekend commemorating the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi, in which over 600 black South African soldiers perished in the English Channel in 1917.

    Over 800 troops of the South African Native Labour Contingent were on their way to France when their ship, SS Mendi collided with the liner SS Darro in the darkness ahead of dawn in the English Channel, not far off the English coast. SS Darro was sailing at maximum speed without any warning signals and failed to stop and render assistance after the collision.

    Of those on board 607 of the black soldiers and a number of white officers and ships crew went down with the ship. The bravery and discipline of the men under these circumstances, under the leadership of the Reverend Isaac Wauchope Dhyoba, has since been commemorated in several ways, not the least of which is having two warships of the South African Navy named after the event.

    SAS ISAAC DYOBHA, the missile strike craft of the SA Navy named in honour of the man who inspired his fellow soldiers to a brave death in the cold waters of the English Channel. Picture Terry Hutson

    The first is with the missile strike craft SAS Isaac Dyobha (P1565), based at Simon’s Town and the second is the new Meko class frigate SAS Mendi (F148) which is currently fitting out in Simon’s Town.

    SAS Mendi shortly after arrival in South Africa in 2004. Picture Terry Hutson

    Thieves bring road transport woes in Eastern Cape

    According to a report in the EP Herald road transporters operating between the port cities of East London and Port Elizabeth are complaining of rampant theft from their laden lorries as they negotiate the Keiskamma River Pass.

    The coastal road between the two ports has sharp bends and is steep in places through the Keiskamma River Pass and thieves use the opportunity of boarding the heavily laden trucks as they negotiate the pass, running behind the slow moving vehicles and undoing the tarpaulin covers or breaking open doors and throwing cargo overboard to be scavenged later.

    This is most often done during the night and if drivers are aware they will seldom stop to confront the thieves. Some road transporters, who say they have been targeted on numerous occasions, have taken to riding in convoy or else to accompany their trucks in another vehicle through this section to help deter the crooks.

    They complain that reports to the police have brought no action and the theft is continuing. Apart from goods being stolen the thieves cause damage to the trucks by breaking the locks on rear doors and damaging tarps.

    According to the report police have acknowledged the complaints and say they have carried out patrols of the area but had made no arrests.

    Some transport companies are now avoiding the route.

    MAURITANIA: Would-be migrants in limbo on land as at sea

    Nouakchott, 15 February 2007 (IRIN) - Three hundred and seventy two would-be migrants to Europe who had drifted for weeks off the coast of North Africa in a disabled cargo ship, disembarked at the Mauritanian port of Nouadhibou on Monday, yet humanitarian workers said they did not know what will happen to them next.

    “The obstacle now is that many are refusing to reveal their identities,” Ahmedou ould Haye, the regional delegate for the Red Crescent in Nouadhibou said. “Many speak Urdu and we think they come from Kashmir (a region which straddles Pakistan or India) but we don’t know which the side of the border.”

    The ship had been unable to dock earlier while the governments of Spain and Mauritania negotiated over who should take responsibility for the passengers. Didier Laye, head of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Mauritania, said refugee law does not apply in this situation, and that none of the passengers had requested asylum.

    “They don’t refuse to avail themselves of protection, it’s just they don’t want to return [to their home countries,” Laye said.

    According to UNHCR, 37 of 372 passengers from countries in sub-Saharan Africa, have been flown to the Cape Verde islands, while 35 from Afghanistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka were sent to the Spanish Canary Islands for processing by the Spanish police.

    “The rest are now sleeping in a warehouse at the port guarded by Spanish police,” the Red Crescent’s Haye said. “Spain has refused to allow them to go to the Canary Islands for processing.”

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

    Pic of the day – TROMSO TRUST

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The crude oil carrier TROMSO TRUST arrived in Cape Town for bunkers at the weekend and was expected to sail yesterday. The 79,718-gt ship is managed by Unicom Shipping of Cyprus and flies the Liberian flag. Picture Ian Shiffman

    NB Shipping pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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