Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 19, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Frustration over Richards Bay dry dock project

  • Safmarine names new ship – with another eight to follow this year

  • Dramatic NSRI rescue

  • Coega refinery will produce 250,000 barrels a day

  • Fears that cyclone Ivan may reach Mozambique

  • Pics of the day – FGS HAMBURG and FGS BERLIN


    Frustration over Richards Bay dry dock project

    A meeting that was held in Richards Bay last week to provide information about the proposed dry dock at the port has failed to allay concerns among developers over the ongoing delay.

    A number of people who attended the meeting said they went in expectation of learning that the project was to go ahead and perhaps to be given a definite timeline. Instead what they got were reassurances and more than an indication that the developers were themselves frustrated by Transnet’s inability to make a decision.

    The meeting had been called by the consortium which intends building the ship repair facility and South Africa’s largest dry dock. Bris Mathabatha, managing director of Imbani Construction, provided some details of what the project entailed for the region. He said it would create some 4,000 jobs in the ship repair industry, while the building phase would provide jobs for another 7,000 people.

    He explained that the meeting had been called to reassure stakeholders and interested parties that the project was going ahead and that Imbani, together with its Chinese partner China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), remained fully committed.

    The meeting had become necessary because of ongoing delays with the project, which was first announced a number of years ago and which subsequently went through a number of phases before the appointment of the Imbani consortium to develop the site.

    However, it transpired that the consortium remains unable to provide any assurance as to when the project would go ahead. It was, said Mathabatha, in the hands of Transnet, who had yet to make a final decision.

    “Every institution involved from our side is ready; it is now in the hands of Transnet. It is understandably a slow process but investors don’t hang around forever,” he warned.

    His Chinese counterpart in the project, Professor Sun Ziyu pointed out that the project would be of great benefit to the South African maritime industry, in particular with regards to skills transfer. “We are on standby mode and have already done lots of work in preparation, on and off site,” he said.

    Mathabatha said that the consortium was working with Transnet to resolve outstanding issues, but couldn’t give any indication as to when they would be resolved.

    Apart from welcoming the consortium to the meeting, a Transnet spokesman was unable to shed any light on when a decision might be reached.

    A site for the development has been mapped out and once the go-ahead is given – if indeed that ever happens – an environmental impact assessment will be required. In South Africa that in itself can take up to several years to complete.

    The Richards Bay dry dock project has been talked about for more than 15 years, ever since the late Rowley Morgan of Rowley Morgan Engineering first mooted the idea. His tragic death probably robbed the project of its initial drive and impetus and since the project was taken over by Transnet things have slowed down considerably.

    Critics point out that this was inevitable, saying that the transport parastatal has seldom been able to move quickly with any major project. They point to the current indecision over the further development of Durban harbour, where Transnet has stepped back from a project to enlarge the port, saying it is necessary to consider other alternatives (which include developing container facilities at Richards Bay).

    The critics point out that a faster response is required from Transnet if the ports are not to become mired in further congestion down the road and that the same principle applies to the ship repair project


    The Imbani consortium involving Chinese interests was first announced in 2004. At that time the intention was to build a dry dock with a length of 260 metre in addition to a 700m ship repair quay and another 300m quay for work boats and material handling. It was envisaged that the dry dock and repair quay would handle some 40 ships annually, capitalising on either bulk carriers calling at Richards Bay or on ‘passing trade’.

    Safmarine names new ship – with another eight to follow this year

    On Friday (15 February) and in a record achievement for the company, Safmarine named the first of nine new ships for delivery in 2008.

    Seven of the new ships are Safmarine-owned while two are on long-term charter.

    “This year’s ambitious fleet expansion programme - the largest in the history of Safmarine – has been made possible by the good support of our customers. Not only has their support allowed us to invest in new tonnage, in order to meet demands for increased container capacity, but also to operate our vessel fleet in a more fuel-efficient manner,” said Safmarine CEO, Ivan Heesom-Green.

    Hull 466, the SAFMARINE NGAMI, was named at Germany’s Volkswerft Stralsund Shipyard by its godmother Mrs Björg Johansen, wife of Mr Åsmund Johansen, Managing Director and Chairman of Aseco AB, Norway.

    Mrs Johansen named the ship, resplendently dressed in Norwegian national costume, in three languages - her native Norwegian, German and English.

    Aseco has, under the leadership of Åsmund Johansen, been a long-time partner of Safmarine. The company was, for decades, the Agency Representative of Safmarine; today it is a strong forwarding customer.

    The new vessel’s name was inspired by Lake Ngami, an endorheic* lake in Botswana, north of Africa’s Kalahari Desert.

    The Safmarine Ngami has a crew complement of 17. Senior officers are Captain Nigel Golder (Master), Chief Engineer Stewart Marshall, Chief Officer Louise Angel and Second Engineer, Karl Walter.

    The new vessel will enter into service following the completion of sea trails.


    Length: 210.54 m
    Breadth: 29.80 m
    Deadweight: tdw 33,915
    Service Speed: 22.10 knots
    Container Capacity: 2,474-TEU

    * Endorheic lakes are bodies of water that do not flow into the sea

    Godmother of the Safmarine Ngami, Mrs Björg Johansen, dressed in Norwegian national costume, named the vessel using three languages - her native Norwegian, German and English.

    Dramatic NSRI rescue

    The rescue of stranded hikers off South Africa’s beaches does not fall into the category of reports that PORTS & SHIPS usually carries, but we don’t have to bend the rule too far – a rescue boat is involved and there is enough drama to typify the extent to which the NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) volunteers are prepared to go.

    Ray Farnham, NSRI Plettenberg Bay Station Commander reports:

    “At 12h49 (18 February) we were activated following reports of three foreigners, volunteer workers doing voluntary work in the area, trapped on a rock, surrounded by water, between Salt River and Brak River on a Natures Valley hiking trail, Plettenberg Bay.

    “We launched our rescue craft Ian Hepburn and Sally Joan and on arrival on-scene found a female and two males, Arianne Berger, 20, from Princeton, New Jersey, USA, William Karey, 19, from West Harington, United Kingdom and Daniel Copperman, 19, from Brooklyn, New York, USA, trapped on a rock surrounded by 3 metre swells and a rising tide.

    “Five NSRI rescue swimmers were deployed into the surf to swim to the rock and secure the three casualties.

    “Based on the rough sea conditions faced and for safety reasons all three were swum off the rock individually, one after the other, secured into life-jackets and assisted by the rescue swimmers to the waiting rescue craft. Two rescue swimmers stayed on the rock to secure the remaining casualties while three rescue swimmers assisted each casualty individually out through the breaking surf. The coxswain of the rescue craft timed the breaking swells to motor in and scoop up the casualties out of the breaking surf while they were being swum out. The rescue swimmers then, each time, returned through the surf to the rock to fetch the next casualty and one by one they were brought onto the safety of the rescue craft.

    “As the last casualty was swum off the rock the rock was engulfed by two large breaking swell sets.

    “They were brought to our NSRI rescue base and treated for hypothermia and (being) no worse for wear following this ordeal they were released requiring no further assistance.

    “They are volunteer workers staying at a local back-packers and have been here for over a month and are due to return home around the end of March.

    “It appears they were under the impression that they were embarking on a beach walk and were all bare foot and ill prepared for what is actually a full-on hiking trail normally requiring hiking boots, a day pack and maps.

    “They said the trail took longer than they had anticipated and they had unexpectedly gotten trapped on the rock after misjudging the tide.

    “Once trapped on the rock, for almost two hours with the tide bringing the water higher and closer, they tried to call for help using a cell-phone but with only an intermittent and weak cell-signal they kept being cut off. As an afterthought they sent an SMS message to their back-packers lodge which stated – “trapped on a rock, surrounded by water, S.O.S., send coastguard” but they weren’t sure if the message had actually been sent until they saw the NSRI rescue craft arriving on the scene.

    “The back-packers lodge raised the alarm.”

    Safe and happy after their ordeal are William Karey, 19 of Harrington, UK (left), Arianne Berger, 20 of Princeton, New Jersey USA, and Daniel Copperman (right), 19, of Brooklyn, New York USA. Picture by Ray Farnham, NSRI Plettenberg Bay Station Commander

    Coega refinery will produce 250,000 barrels a day

    The proposed oil refinery to be built at Coega by PetroSA, the state-owned oil company, will produce in the region of 250,000 barrels of fuel a day.

    That’s the word from PetroSA after having been granted preferred investor status by the Coega Development Corporation.

    The CDC is also a state-owned marketing entity.

    The Coega refinery development will cost an estimated R39 billion and is intended to come on stream in 2014/15. According to chief executive Sipho Mkhize the design of the refinery is well advanced and the company is in discussion with several local and international parties “who have expressed interest in possible financial and operating partnerships.”

    PetroSA says it examined the merits of five different sites before selecting Coega as the most suitable. However the final investment decision will only be made in 2010. It is estimated that South Africa’s demand for refined fuel will begin to exceed its current capacity to produce within the next five to seven years. Provided all goes ahead as planned the project will generate about 5,000 direct jobs and something in the order of 15,000 indirect positions during the construction phase.

    PetroSA evolved from three state-owned companies – Mossgas Pty Ltd, Soekor (Pty) Ltd and the Strategic Fuel Fund Association.

    Fears that cyclone Ivan may reach Mozambique

    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE – map by Europa Technologies

    Tropical cyclone Ivan which swept across Northern Madagascar at the weekend is reported to be weakening but fears have been expressed that it may strengthen once the storm emerges into the Mozambique Channel.

    Mozambique’s National Meteorological Institute (INAM) issued a warning yesterday saying that Cyclone Ivan, a category 4 storm had strengthened over the Indian Ocean and could cause damage to an area of northern Mozambique already affected by heavy rains and flooding.

    INAM said that it was monitoring the situation very closely before an alert was issued. It said that Cyclone Ivan had gathered winds of up to 90 miles per hour and was just 340 miles (547 kms) east of the Mozambican channel and could strengthen further.

    Other reports however had indicated the cyclone had weakened on crossing Madagascar and was expected to dissipate.

    The cyclone was registered with winds reaching 200km/h when it reached the north east Madagascan coast on Sunday. There are as yet no reports of damage or casualties.

    Pics of the day – FGS HAMBURG and FGS BERLIN

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The German Navy frigate HAMBURG (F220) is maneuvered into her berth in a crowded Simon’s Town Naval Base yesterday (Monday) morning. The ship arrived to a 21-gun salute from the shore battery. Details of the frigate and her consorts will be posted later today in the NAVAL NEWS section of Ports & Ships. Picture David Erickson

    The German Navy combat support ship BERLIN A1411 is taken to her berth on the outer wall at Simon’s Town Naval Base on arrival from Europe and West Africa. Four German ships are in South Africa for joint exercises with the South African Navy – see our NAVAL NEWS section for details. Among the other warships in this scenic picture of ‘Simon’s Bay’ are three Valour class frigates of the SAN to the left of the picture and the hydrographic survey ship SAS PROTEA (white hull). Picture by David Erickson

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