Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 11, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Bad week for Southern African ships – one catches fire and two are ‘grounded’

  • Cement ship missing in Red Sea

  • President Bush heading back to Africa

  • Uganda opts to send more cargo through Dar es Salaam

  • Seafarers warned about scam involving South Africa

  • Pic of the day – THE WORLD


    Bad week for Southern African ships – one catches fire and two are ‘grounded’

    It’s not been a good week for Southern African shipping, with one ship, the MSC Chaneca catching fire shortly after sailing from Cape Town, and two others experiencing serious problems on either side of the continent.

    According to Darius van Niekerk, NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) Station Commander at Mykonos near Saldanha, the NSRI was activated shortly after 10pm on Saturday night by Transnet National Ports Authority, Cape Town, following a report of a fire on board the 163m long container ship MSC Chaneca (owned by Cosmos Shipping of Greece and under charter to Mediterranean Shipping Company).

    The container ship had sailed earlier that day from Cape Town and was bound for Lobito, Angola. At the time of the report she was lying between 7 and 9 nautical miles off-shore of Saldanha Bay.

    “The 24 crew on-board were reported to be fighting the fire and preparing to abandon ship,” said van Niekerk.

    He said the NSRI at Mykonos had dispatched its rescue craft Spirit of Freemasonry and the NSRI Table Bay station had sent another rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom to the scene. An all ships alert was posted by the Maritime Radio Services requesting vessels in the area to divert to the scene to lend assistance, with the nearest vessel reported as being 40 minutes away.

    Other emergency services including the Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services, NSRI Melkbosstrand, Cape Town and Saldanha Bay Fire and Rescue Services, an NPA tug boat and 2 South African Air Force 22 Squadron Oryx helicopters with the NSRI Air Sea Rescue team (SAAF/NSRI ASR) were placed on alert.

    “While responding to the scene we were informed that the fire, which allegedly started in the engine room workshop, was out of control in the engine room and that the 24 crew were preparing to abandon ship.

    “On our arrival on-scene the ship’s Captain reported that his crew had brought the fire under control and that the NPA tug boat was no longer required and all crew were reported to be safe on-board with no injuries reported.”

    One of the NSRI boats remained on scene to lend assistance if required while other vessels returned to port or continued their voyages. Crew on board the MSC Chaneca, having extinguished the fire, opened hatches to allow smoke to escape, after which the NPA released the remaining NSRI boat to return to base.

    The salvage vessel Smit Amandla had meanwhile sailed from Cape Town and was expected on scene during the early hours of Sunday morning. The extent of damage on board the ship is not known but is not thought to have been serious as a subsequent report from the NSRI indicated the ship was continuing her journey to Angola.

    Further along the west coast, in the Angolan port of Namibe the Ocean Africa Container Lines (OACL) container ship Umgeni is reported to have lost a crane which collapsed across the vessel’s deck. It is not known whether there were any injuries.

    OACL’s problems didn’t end there. On the opposite side of the continent another of their container ships, Border has reportedly run aground in the approaches to Beira harbour. Attempts to obtain details from OACL at the weekend were unsuccessful.

    Cement ship missing in Red Sea

    A cargo ship loaded with cement has gone missing in the Red Sea while en route from Egypt to the Sudan.

    The vessel, the Badr 1 departed from the Suez Canal last week Tuesday and was expected to arrive in Port Sudan later in the week. She had a crew of 14, including nine Egyptians, four Sudanese and a Yemeni. The ship’s master is Egyptian. Her cargo consisted of 1,700 tonnes of cement.

    Rescue ships have combed the 1,300 mile route along Egyptian and Sudanese coastlines and have been joined by a search aircraft but no sign of the missing vessel has been reported. According to an Egyptian Foreign Ministry official no distress signals were received from the missing ship either.

    Badr 1 was built in 1960 and is owned by Afro-Asia Shipping Co.

    President Bush heading back to Africa

    by Charles W. Corey (America.org)

    Washington –- President Bush’s trip to five African nations (15 – 21 February) is going to be “very historic and significant” because it will “solidify one of the strongest components” of his legacy: Africa, says the first and former assistant US trade representative for Africa, Rosa Whitaker.

    In an interview with America.gov, Whitaker, who is now president and chief executive officer of her own US-Africa trade consulting firm, the Whitaker Group, said when you look at President Bush’s trip to Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia, the benefits cannot be measured. “One, he is bringing the global media with him that will shine a spotlight on the promise of Africa and its remaining challenges. The second thing I like about this trip is he is going to consult” with African leaders, she said.

    Under the Bush administration, Whitaker recalled, there have been a number of excellent Africa initiatives, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an enhanced African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and initiatives on education and malaria prevention.

    “These are extraordinary initiatives toward Africa. I think it is great that the president is going to consult with the Africans on how to build on the progress …. because the president is coming in the spirit of partnership and consultation - that is one of the reasons why these initiatives have been effective.”

    The Bush trip - which is his second presidential trip to Africa, Whitaker recalled - is solid evidence that “America is abandoning the traditional tokenism and ‘parachute diplomacy’ of US policy toward Africa. That,” she said, “is now being replaced with a coherent and sustained approach that rewards African nations that are committed to stable democracies and open markets.

    “If you look at the countries he has chosen - they are all stable democracies and open markets. These are precisely the countries that need to be supported, along with others,” she said.

    Whitaker praised President Bush for being “very attentive” toward Africa, “but in a way that provides dignity to the Africans.” The former assistant US trade representative said she is especially pleased that Bush will use the trip to focus on economic development, “particularly as we are in the process of advancing new AGOA legislation in the Congress.”

    All of the countries being visited on the trip, she said, are AGOA beneficiaries.
    The US Congress, Whitaker said, is now in the process of considering further AGOA enhancements, such as the possibility of making the trade act permanent rather than having it expire in 2015, expanding its coverage by an additional 1,600 products, and providing tax incentives for American companies that make investments in labor-intensive sectors in Africa.

    Whitaker was asked to comment on Bush’s Africa legacy and the fact that his trip coincides with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Department of State’s Africa Bureau.

    “If you look at President Bush’s legacy and where that legacy is strongest,” she said, “it is in Africa. I think we have to thank [Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs] Ambassador [Jendayi] Frazer and the Africa Bureau for a lot of that work.”

    Whitaker recalled that the Africa Bureau has “evolved” over the years from “just paying attention to conflicts and putting out fires in Africa to one that is promoting tangible initiatives on the ground to build economies and sustainable growth. I am very proud of the Africa Bureau,” she stressed.

    Whitaker said she always has believed that “the who is far more important than the what, so it is going to be very important that subsequent administrations have very strong assistant secretaries of state for Africa …. Certainly, Ambassador Frazer is a hard act to follow.”

    Looking to the future, Whitaker said she hopes to see the next US president be even more focused on helping Africa because, despite the president’s dedication to the continent, “a lot of work remains.”

    She expressed confidence that that will happen because there is now a strong constituency for Africa in the United States “like we have never really seen before.”

    What is most important, she said, is that the constituency exists at the grassroots level and is not just made up of celebrities. “Americans do care about this region of the world,” she stressed.

    Whitaker called on Africans to take advantage of the “unique opportunity” that the Bush trip presents to them.

    “Incumbents leaving office [like President Bush] have the opportunity to be very bold, so the Africans should be very bold in really telling the president what challenges remain [and] how some of our US initiatives can be improved. From PEPFAR, to AGOA, to the Malaria Initiative, to our [US Agency for International Development] programs - we need to have some serious discussions and not merely symbolism and photo ops - as important as they might be.”

    Whitaker said she hoped the Africans call for a “stronger AGOA because we are in agreement that trade and investment are the most effective tools for poverty alleviation.”

    “I would hope that they would encourage and inspire the president to use his remaining time in office to get an AGOA passed that would make the trade act permanent and include tax incentives and a serious trade-capacity-building initiative,” she said.

    Uganda opts to send more cargo through Dar es Salaam

    Dar es Salaam - Uganda intends sending up to half of Uganda’s annual imports and exports through the port of Dar es Salaam in future.

    Uganda’s Minister of Transport John Nasasira announced this while meeting with Tanzania Port Authority officials in Dar es Salaam last week.

    “The Government intends to have between 30 to 50 percent of its exports and imports pass through Tanzania. Uganda is committed to developing this Central Corridor route not only in the short-term but also in the long-run,” Nasasira said during a visit that included visiting port facilities.

    Nasasira was part of a Uganda government delegation sent to Tanzania to examine the Dar es Salaam corridor as an alternative for Uganda’s imports and exports. Mombasa currently handles the majority of its landlocked neighbour’s cargo but the recent unrest in Kenya is forcing a rethink by not only Uganda but other neighbouring countries as well.

    “We can handle all of Uganda's cargo and the route is safe although the volume of Ugandan cargo handled by the port [in recent years] has been declining,” the director general of Tanzania Port Authority said in response. Last year Ugandan cargo decreased dramatically, a factor which is ascribed to the loss of the lake vessel MV Kabalega, which was involved in a collision with another vessel and sank, and the choice of private-sector importers and exporters who exercise freedom of choice in using the most economical route.

    As a result the Kenyan port of Mombasa has handled almost all of Uganda’s cargo but with Kenya’s rail and road networks having been blockaded by rioters protesting against the Kenyan election results little has gotten through in recent weeks.

    The transport minister said he believed that volumes moving through Dar es Salaam would increase once the Ugandan government has restored the wagon ferries on the Port Bell – Mwanza (Lake Victoria) route. The other components of the Central Corridor are rail and road transport. Tanzania’s railway network on the Mwanza – Dar es Salaam sector is now in the hands of India’s Rites company, which is refurbishing the line and rolling stock.

    Nasasira said Uganda was looking at using all available means to utilise the Central Corridor.

    source – New Vision

    Seafarers warned about scam involving South Africa

    Filipino seafarers have been warned about a recruitment scam originating in Singapore that promises high-wage jobs in the fishing industry in South Africa (South African fishing people will have a smile or two about that).

    The report quotes the Philippine Embassy in Pretoria as saying it has issued the advisory following the repatriation of seven Filipino fishermen working on the Taiwanese owned fishing vessel Shing An 8 at the end of January. The Filipino men claimed to have been assaulted by other crew members on the fishing vessel.

    The Embassy also reported that another six Filipino fishermen had arrived in Cape Town on 29 January but refused to resume work two days later because of complications with their contracts.

    According to the embassy the fishermen’s contracts had been altered by the Singapore agency.

    source – einnews.com

    Pic of the day – THE WORLD

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    No apologies for showing another image of The World, this time in Durban harbour on Sunday, shortly after arriving from the Cape. Picture by Trevor Jones

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