Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 25, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Untimely deaths of port people

  • Bulker AMUL sinks in deep water off Eastern Cape coast

  • US destroyer in Durban today

  • Questions over Durban port fire

  • Panalpina suspends services in Nigeria

  • Extending artistic expression into a container classroom

  • Pic of the day – SEA BRILLIANCE

    Untimely deaths of port people

    Three untimely deaths involving port people have occurred in Durban in the past few days. On Thursday last week, 20 September, Captain Robert Zanders, former principal officer with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), passed away after an illness.

    Robert Zanders came to South Africa from the Netherlands and served with Unicorn Lines as a ship’s master before joining the Department of Transport maritime division in the 1980s, where he was appointed principal officer in Durban. In 1992 Capt Zanders studied for and was awarded an Extra Master’s Certificate, an additional academic qualification over and above his master’s ticket.

    In the 1990s he played a role in the transformation of the DoT maritime division into what has become SAMSA, remaining as principal officer until his retirement in recent years when his health began to fail. He was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2006.

    He remained a very private person and was never married, living by himself at Umkomaas on the South Coast and was highly respected and liked by his colleagues and friends and all who came into contact with him. Because he preferred his privacy many people never got to know about his philanthropic activities, in particular of helping under privileged children receive an education.

    At his own request there was no funeral or memorial service, although family from the Netherlands were with him at the end.

    In a tragic incident at Durban yesterday (Monday), one of Durban’s best known ship surveyors, Joe McLoughlin was killed in an accident at Maydon Wharf, when he was struck by a fork lift truck while taking photographs on behalf of a client.

    McLoughlin was a master mariner and founder member of Independent Surveyors cc. He was also a proud member of the General Botha Old Boys’ Association and served in various organisations including the Master Mariners Association.

    He is survived by his wife Dianne and two children.

    Yesterday afternoon (Monday) a worker died while cleaning a crane at Durban Harbour. According to reports he was not wearing a safety harness when he lost his grip and fell into the thresher of a processing machine, which dismembered his body. By last night the man’s identity had not been revealed.

    Bulker AMUL sinks in deep water off Eastern Cape coast

    This picture of the abandoned bulker AMUL was taken by Capt Kevin Tate, master of the tug Smit Amandla. Within a few hours the ship slipped below the waves into 3,600m of water. Picture courtesy Capt Kevin Tate/SMIT

    The unmanned bulk carrier AMUL sank last week off the South African coast in water of approximately 3,600m.

    Earlier the vessel had been en route to India where the ship was scheduled to be scrapped but was forced to enter Port Elizabeth harbour for repairs. While in harbour the ship was detained by port state control until deficiencies had been attended to, including the ship’s registration papers.

    Once these were attended to and repairs completed Amul was allowed to sail but after several days at sea the crew reported they had reached a position along the Wild Coast barely one hundred miles from Port Elizabeth and that the ship was taking water and in danger of sinking and that they were abandoning ship.

    The crew were safely rescued by a fishing trawler and another bulk vessel, leaving the Amul to drift down towards the Eastern Cape coast. The South African salvage tug SMIT AMANDLA which had been despatched to the scene arrived in time to take the abandoned vessel in tow and pull her into deep water.

    The ship was subsequently towed to a point about 40 miles off the coast where a salvage team from Smit Salvage attempted temporary repairs. Negotiations had meanwhile been opened with the vessel’s owners. However despite the efforts of the salvors the vessel continued taking on water and on the late afternoon of Tuesday 18 September, with the movement of the ship beginning to alter the master of the tug Captain Kevin Tate took the decision to release the tow overnight – a decision that proved wise as the vessel sank in the early hours of Wednesday (19 Sept).

    According to Smit Salvage the vessel sank in water of approximately 3,600 metres. The tug Smit Amandla remained on the scene to monitor for any debris but later returned to Port Elizabeth.

    Another view of the ill-fated ship taken hours before sinking. Picture by Captain Kevin Tate

    US destroyer in Durban today

    The US destroyer USS FORREST SHERMAN (DDG98) is expected in Durban harbour this morning for a short stayover. The guided missile destroyer, one of the latest in the US Navy, is currently on a cruise along the East African coast which has included calls at Djibouti, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Maputo.

    From Durban the ship will head for Cape Town. (see PORTS & SHIPS news reports dated 17, 18 and 21 September). The ship’s commanding officer is Cmdr Dean Vesely and the vessel carries a crew of about 360.

    Displacing some 9,200 tonnes fully loaded, the Arleigh Burke class of destroyer is a modern design with a length of 155m length which is seen as the mainstay of the US Navy surface fleet during the first part of this century. Thirty-four ships in the class have been built or are on order.

    USS Forrest Sherman is part of a newly established task force dedicated to the African East and South Coast region which is known as the Southeast Africa Task Group 60.5 - the task force is under the command of Captain Nicholas Holman.

    During her visit to Durban and Cape Town many of the sailors on board are expected to enjoy some shore leave, and in Durban the US Navy is hoping to arrange a public concert involving musicians from the ship. While in Durban the destroyer, which will berth at the passenger terminal, will not be open to the public.

    The South African frigate SAS AMATOLA arrived in Durban last Friday (21 September) on an unannounced visit.

    Meanwhile the navy has announced that a Soweto-born naval officer has become the second black person to take command of a South African Navy warship. He is Lieut Commander Musawenkosi ‘Kop’ Nkomonde who is the new officer commanding SAS UMKOMAAS, a mine counter-measure vessel based in Simon’s Town. He took over from Cmdr Richard Penn in a change of command parade on Friday.

    Lt Cmdr Nkomonde has served as an officer on several mine counter-measure ships and has completed an international mine-warfare course in Plymouth in the UK as well as a UN military observer’s course.

    The first black officer to take command of a South African Nay ship is Captain Bubele ‘Bravo’ Mhlana, the present officer commanding SAS ISANDLWANA, one of the new frigates. Capt Mhlana also served as O/C of one of the navy’s small ships ahead of his appointment to the frigate - see PORTS & SHIPS Naval Review for 26 February 2007

    Questions over Durban port fire

    The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) intends holding a picket in Durban tomorrow (Wednesday) at 5.30 pm at the International Convention Centre (ICC) to protest against what they say is a failure by the relevant authorities to have an effective emergency plan in place in the event of a disaster.

    This follows the fire at the Island View complex in Durban harbour last Tuesday, when eight tanks caught fire and were destroyed. One man is missing and is feared dead.

    The SDCEA reports that it has taken footage of the explosions and also independent air quality samples in the vicinity of the fire which have been sent to a laboratory in California (USA) to be analysed. “Once we receive these results we will notify all residents of the findings of what was in the air you had to breathe last night,” the statement said.

    “We would like to notify you that we as the SDCEA are calling for an evacuation plan to be immediately processed and be available for all residents living alongside this hazardous facility. SDCEA is planning a picket to voice our disapproval against the failure to have an effective emergency plan.”

    As things turned out, Durban was extremely lucky, not the least because of the swift and excellent response by the emergency services, notably the fire departments.

    For many people familiar with the complex this is a catastrophe of nightmarish proportions that is still waiting to happen. Last Tuesday it was thought that the nightmare was upon them.

    Questions will now inevitably centre on the cause of the fire – there have already been misleading tales about the cause, leading to rumours and speculation. It’s incumbent on Transnet, as landlord and custodian of Durban Bay, to ensure that the public is kept informed of the official enquiry and its outcome – the public is acutely aware that all that separates them from this potential firebomb is a few hundred metres of water to the CBD and beachfront side and an even shorter distance by land to thousands of people living on the Bluff.

    If people are concerned that six days after the fire there had still been no word as to what was container in the tanks that burned, then of even greater concern are reports that on the night of the fire the divisional commander of Durban Metro fire and emergency services stated (in a newspaper article) that he had to fight the fire without knowledge of what the tanks contained - nor did he have any idea of the toxicity of the fumes and smoke.

    Island View has been under construction since 1921, when it began to be developed in response to a move away from coal fired ships to oil fired vessels. The growing demand for oil and oil products in South Africa added to this need for storage facilities and by 1923 the General-Manager’s Report of the SAR&H was able to report that 60 acres had been set aside and several tanks were in service, which contained oils and benzene.

    Since then the site has never stopped expanding and almost every year approval is sought (and inevitably granted) to build more tanks. Today there more than 1,000 tanks within the complex, with a large housing suburb including schools and old age homes within a short distance of the facility.

    Panalpina suspends services in Nigeria

    Panalpina, one of the word’s leading forwarding and logistics suppliers, says it is suspending its services in Nigeria owing to improper payments to Nigerian officials and has commissioned a forensic investigation.

    This follows US authorities requesting that Panalpina produce documents related to the provision of its services to Nigeria for a specific customer and contractor.

    “This request was triggered by the plea agreement of such customer with the US authorities for allegedly making improper payments to Nigerian officials to secure preferential customs treatment,” says a statement issued by Panalpina.

    “Recently, several other customers have announced to US authorities the review of their practices related to Nigerian importation procedures. In the meantime US authorities have extended the scope of their review to Panalpina’s documents related to services into Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia for a limited number of customers.

    “As a consequence Panalpina has initiated its own internal investigations. The international law firm Baker & McKenzie has been retained and a forensic accounting expert company has been appointed to support the internal fact-finding process. The outcome of such investigation will be reported to Panalpina’s Audit Committee. The Audit Committee would be prepared to take immediate measures to the extent required.

    “As the proceeding is at an early stage, no conclusions can be drawn at this time as to what remedies US authorities may seek from customers respectively Panalpina.

    “Panalpina’s Board of Directors and Executive Board are committed to ensure adherence to its Code of Business Conduct, which prohibits improper payments in all countries in which the Group offers its services.”

    Extending artistic expression into a container classroom

    A group of young learners from Nyanga East, Gugulethu are finding artistic expression in a new ‘pottery container classroom’ donated by shipping line Safmarine.

    Safmarine officially handed over the classroom – constructed from two 12 metre shipping containers - to the Lehlohonolo Public Primary School last week Thursday, 20 September 2007.

    The container conversion was completed, using local labour, by Wynberg-based Exclusive Engineering.

    School principal, Mrs Grace Maropeng Zantsi said the introduction of pottery lessons represented an exciting new addition to the school’s curriculum. “Not only do pottery lessons inspire and enable our learners to create beautiful objects, but they also teach them about the relationship between technology, manufacturing and the economy by providing first-hand experience of the link between the market demand for goods and the skills required to meet that demand.”

    Speaking at yesterday’s opening, Russell Gillespie, Safmarine South Africa’s Brand and Marketing Manager said: “The re-use of seafreight containers as permanent, land-based infrastructure is an important part of Safmarine’s contribution to the community. As global trade grows, so too does the world’s global container fleet. Market demand for second-hand containers is high and Safmarine donates many of these containers to provide much-needed, secure infrastructure for educational projects in communities in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.”

    According to Mrs Zantsi, the idea of establishing a pottery classroom was first mooted by an American tourist from Minnesota, who assisted the school in raising the funds required to purchase the necessary pottery equipment. “The idea came from a certain Mr Jeckway who visited the school while on a ‘Township Tour’ and who remains a supporter of the school to this day.”

    She says the Western Cape Department of Education (Metropole South EMDC) has agreed to provide the school with a pottery teacher.

    Pic of the day – SEA BRILLIANCE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The Panamanian-registered bulker SEA BRILLIANCE (22,361-GT), owned and operated by COSCO and seen in Cape Town harbour, picture by Ian Shiffman

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