Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 31, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Cyclone Gula threatens Mauritius and Reunion shipping

  • Nacala Corridor traffic disrupted

  • KPA suspends transhipment cargo for Dar es Salaam

  • Somali pirates strike again

  • Fears for vessel in centre of Cyclone Gula

  • AP Møller-Maersk swaps ships for shares with Höegh

  • Pic of the day – SAIPEM 3000


    Cyclone Gula threatens Mauritius and Reunion shipping

    ship avoidance graphic

    report by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip – Port-Louis)

    Port Louis, 30 January, 15h30 local Mauritius time - Meteorology services have issued a class 2 cyclone warning due to the change of direction of Cyclone GULA.

    GULA was at 22h00 local Mauritius time (Wednesday night) at about 350kms north east of Mauritius in latitude 17.5 degrees south and longitude 60.0 east.

    She is moving in a southerly direction at about 15 kms per hour, thus approaching dangerously close to the island. Wind of 70-100 km/h exist within the centre of the storm and may be experienced early tomorrow morning (Thursday).

    As per usual cyclone approach prevention protocol, the harbourmaster of the Mauritius Ports Authority has ordered all cargo vessels under operation in Port Louis harbor to vacate their berths for high seas.

    All fishing vessels presently in Port-Louis have been shifted to the inner fishing port for suitable shelter from strong winds which are expected within hours.

    Consequently Port-Louis is now a closed port to traffic and will remain as such as long as the storm does not leave our region. Cyclone Gula is expected to pass off the Mauritius east coast sometime in the early afternoon of tomorrow (Thursday).

    As strong swells are normally experienced following such a storm, resuming of port activities may be heavily delayed. Port-Louis port control is keeping close contact with met services for issuance of fresh weather bulletins to all ships.

    Nacala Corridor traffic disrupted

    Rail traffic along the Nacala Corridor between the port of Nacala and the Malawi border has again been disrupted after heavy rains washed away a 30m length of track.

    This is the second disruption to the railway in a month – the previous one lasting between 31 December and 7 January.

    The Maputo newspaper Noticias reports that a technical team has been sent by CDN, the private consortium operating both the Corridor and the port, to repair the washaway.

    The latest washaway occurred in the Province of Nampula-Rapale, which is to the west of the provincial capital Nampula. A concrete culvert extending under the trackbed was washed away when the stream burst its banks, taking away the ballast and soil on either side of the track.

    Noticias reports CDN as advising it will take about five days to repair the track and restore train services. CDN manager Fernando Couto is quoted as saying that the washaway and delay will cost the company more than one million dollars.

    The Nacala railway has been subject to a number of delays owing to washaways and other disruptions, interrupting the delivery of fertilisers from the port to Malawi and consignments of Malawian tobacco in the opposite direction for export. It Is being reported that these disruptions have resulted in several companies switching to the use of road transport to and from the port on account of the urgency with which the fertiliser is required for the Malawian planting season.

    Domestic trade is also affected with local market farmers unable to send their produce to the market in either Nacala or Nampula.

    source – Noticias (Maputo)

    KPA suspends transhipment cargo for Dar es Salaam

    Faced with ongoing congestion at the Mombasa container terminal, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has suspended transhipment cargo destined for neighbouring Dar es Salaam.

    The incidence of transhipment cargo for Dar es Salaam has increased in recent months following congestion at the Tanzanian port which has resulted in ships omitting the port and taking containerised cargo on to Mombasa.

    Mombasa container terminal manager James Rarieya said this week that the suspension would last for between four and six weeks and had become necessary because Mombasa no longer has spare capacity.

    He said that of approximately 1400 transhipment containers in Mombasa this week about 1000 were for Dar es Salaam. Mombasa had no option but to stop their arrival in the port until such time as the current congestion crisis at Mombasa was over.

    Rarieya said the number of container ships waiting for a berth at Mombasa had dropped and the total number of containers in the terminal reduced from over 19,000 to 15,500. The use of freight stations (container depots) outside the port had helped relieve the pressure and most of the import boxes were now taken to the depots on arrival.

    He explained that much of the problem causing delays at Mombasa was a result of too many containers accumulating within the terminal and delaying the discharge of ships on the berths. The country’s election crisis had also resulted in an accumulation of containers which could not be delivered.

    The port of Mombasa has been under pressure from shipping lines which have threatened a container surcharge on account of delays to ships.

    According to ISS-Shipping berthing delays at Mombasa are a regular occurrence and cargo services have been very badly affected, especially for transit containers moving to Uganda. The company’s website reported yesterday that ISS Cargo Services had 88 containers stuck on road transport awaiting delivery to Uganda which was being delayed because of the political unrest in Kenya.

    sources: The Nation, and ISS Shipping Services

    Pirates strike again

    After staying out of the news for a short period, Somali pirates have struck again, seizing an Omani fishing vessel off the Puntland coast near Mudug.


    The latest incident took place on Saturday (26 January) when six armed men went on board the vessel and took possession. The vessel which has not been identified was later moved by the pirates to another part of the coastline in the north of the country.


    In a separate incident five people were killed in an explosion in the port city of Kismayo in southern Somalia. Three of those killed are believed to have been foreign aid workers and included a Kenyan and a French national.


    On the opposite side of the continent thieves went on board a cargo ship in the Luanda inner anchorage last week, according to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. The attack took place in the early morning and the thieves managed to steal ships stores from the forward paint locker without being noticed. It was only after they had left the ship that the theft was discovered but a search of the vessel revealed no sign of intruders. The IMB reports the incident as being very similar to another that took place also in Luanda’s inner anchorage about 10 days earlier.


    In Nigeria thieves went on board a tanker some 3 miles off Lagos earlier this month, according to another report from the IMB. At the time of the incident the ship was engaged in ship to shore cargo operations. The thieves stole ship’s stores before making their escape unhindered.

    Fears for vessel in centre of Cyclone Gula

    report by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip – Port-Louis)


    Port Louis, 30 January - At 13h20 today (Wednesday) the control centre for the movement of fishing vessels within the Mauritian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), located at Albion, recorded the last known position of the fishing vessel f/v UMA. This was issued after the vessel released her distress beacons at around 04h00 local Mauritius time.


    The information collected by Albion’s Vessel Monitoring System was communicated officially to those concerned and authorities subsequently regrouped under the presidency of the Minister for the Fisheries, Arvin Boolell in order to review the situation.


    When Mauritian authorities received the distress message Wednesday morning the fishing vessel Uma had been fishing on the Nazareth fishing banks since 17 January. Unfortunately no search and rescue operation is presently possible due to rough weather conditions prevailing with the presence of cyclone Gula. It would appear that the f/v Uma was plotted as being about 30 nautical miles from the center of the cyclone.


    Tropical cyclone Gula was at that time reported to be stationary within the vicinity of St-Brandon Island.


    Minister Boolell convened an immediate working session with all the parties concerned, including the Officer in Command of the National Coast Guard (NCG), to review the situation and coordinate any possible rescue operation as soon as possible.


    Uma’s Automatic Distress Signal was intercepted around 0400hours (Mauritius time) by distress tracking systems employed by neighbouring countries who immediately relayed the information to Mauritian authorities as the island is not yet equipped with such a system.


    The adequate protocol in such an event was immediately launched, with Minister Boolell immediately establishing a crisis centre in order to investigate all possible means of rescuing the six crew on board the Uma.


    “Initially we contacted the friendly countries of the area to provide us with their full assistance and support in the rescue operation of the Uma. Cargo ships plying within the region have also been informed of the distress situation,” the minister said.


    According to information available from official sources the fishing vessel, whose owner is a Mr Unnuth, was plotted yesterday (Tuesday) as being in the middle of the cyclone. One of the last positions of the f/v Uma was given at 15h00 (Mauritius Time) about 100 nautical miles to the north-north-east of Saint-Brandon.  At the same time cyclone Gula was plotted as being about 75 nautical miles to the north-east of the same area. 


    Attempts to contact the distressed vessel through conventional radio communication have so far been vain. Authorities say that at this stage they do not envisage deploying search and rescue vessels within the framework of the Search and Rescue Operation.


    At Albion, where the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) is installed, no information was forthcoming regarding the last distress signals from the fishing vessel. “We are not authorised to communicate with the press,” said an employee on the telephone.


    Based on what information is available however, it would seem that contact with the boat was lost two days ago.  Prior to this morning’s news about the release of the automatic distress signal no-one had been prepared to comment on what might have happened.


    “The risks are too high in the actual context. We do not understand how and why this fishing vessel had suddenly found herself in the middle of the cyclone. We duly informed all fishing companies about the risk of going at sea under such weather conditions. The f/v Uma should not have been found in this zone if the captain and or the owner of the vessel had taken into account the emitted warnings “, declared the Officer in Command, Commander Negi this morning (Wednesday). 


    Another drama at sea was avoided at the beginning of this week when a Mauritian flagged fishing vessel encountered very rough seas while experiencing main engine problems. The vessel’s captain and crew used their lifeboats and safely landed on St-Raphael Island which forms part of the St-Brandon archipelago.

    AP Møller-Maersk swaps ships for shares with Höegh

    AP Møller-Maersk has become a 37.5 percent shareholder in Höegh Autoliners in exchange for selling 18 of its pure car and truck carriers to Leif Höegh & Co Limited.


    The combined fleet of 67 ships will be commercially operated by Höegh Autoliners under the Höegh Autoliners branding and vessels already on order will increase its carrying capacity by 45 percent to 85 ships in 2012. Leif Höegh & Co Limited will retain the position as majority shareholder in Höegh Autoliners.


    A year ago the two companies entered into a tonnage co-operation agreement in which AP Møller-Maersk entered its fleet of 12 car carriers into a commercial operation controlled by Höegh Autoliners. The agreement worked well, say both parties.


    “We welcome AP Møller-Maersk as shareholder in Höegh Autoliners,” says Westye Høegh, Chairman of the Board. “When my father, Leif Høegh, ordered his first vessel, M/T Varg from Odense Staalskibsværft in 1927, Mr AP Møller took a stake in the vessel. That was the start of a prosperous voyage, and having AP Møller-Maersk on board again makes a strong company even stronger and well positioned for exciting developments in challenging waters ahead.”


    “We find the outlook for the industry attractive as car manufacturing increasingly takes place in Asia and as new markets in India and China develop,” said Søren Skou, Partner & Member of Group Executive Board of AP Moller - Maersk. “We believe in Höegh Autoliners’ strategy and believe we can contribute positively to the cooperation based on our Group’s capabilities within liner shipping and logistics.”

    The transaction is expected to close in March 2008 once all applicable regulatory approvals have been received.

    Pic of the day – SAIPEM 3000

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    This unusual looking vessel seen at Cape Town this week is SAIPEM 3000, a self-propelled heavylift crane vessel of 20,632-gt which is owned by a Madeira-based company and used in the offshore oil industry. The ship is managed by Equipment Rental & Services of the Netherlands and is 162m in length and has a beam of 38m. Picture by Aad Noorland


    We sure got it wrong with yesterday’s caption to the SAS Spioenkop picture. The ship was of course in Cape Town harbour and not in the Simon’s Town Naval Dockyard. What can we say? – well, we are from Durban and after all what do we know of mountains.

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