Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 29, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • IMO urges East Africa to follow Asian anti-piracy initiative

  • Durban ferromanganese smelter expansion put on hold after explosion

  • Djibouti-based task force change of command followed by drug and alcohol busts

  • End of an era with Plymouth naval base set to close

  • Giant hydraulic grab goes into service in Durban

  • Pic of the day – MKHUZE


    IMO urges East Africa to follow Asian anti-piracy initiative

    The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) suggests that a Japanese-initiated anti-piracy group set up for Asia be used as a model by East African countries to counter rising piracy activity in the western Indian Ocean.

    According to Koji Sekimizu, the director for maritime safety at the UK-based IMO, an UN agency responsible for improving maritime safety, East African countries should be encouraged to set up an anti-piracy co-operation mechanism along the lines of the Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, known as ReCAAP.

    ReCAAP was established in 2006 following a spate of piracy incidents in Asian waters, particularly in the Malacca Straits. The initiative consists of 14 Asian countries, Japan, China, South Korea, India, Singapore, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Brunei, although two major role players have thus far remained outside – Malaysia and Indonesia both took part in the inaugural meetings in 2004 but have so far declined to sign the agreement.

    Since its establishment the region has experienced a reduction in acts of piracy and armed robbery in Asian waters even though the seas around Indonesia remain a trouble spot.

    Sekimizu says he acknowledges that the situation off East (and West) Africa is different from that off Asian countries and that there would of necessity have to be a different approach. Nevertheless he says ReCAAP provides an excellent model for the consideration of African states.

    Figures released by the International Maritime Bureau last week reveal that pirate attacks against ships rose by 10 percent last year to 263 cases, with Nigeria and Somalia rivaling Indonesia as the most violent waters in the world. However the drop in Asian waters was measured as being 23 percent, from 135 attacks in 2006 to 100 cases last year.

    Durban ferromanganese smelter expansion put on hold after explosion

    Durban, 28 February 2008 (BuaNews) - Following the explosion at Assmang’s Cato Ridge's ferromanganese plant on 24 February 2008, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT has suspended its environmental impact assessments (EIAs).

    According to the department, the EIAs were being conducted ahead of the commissioning of two further furnaces at the site which has been in the spotlight following the death of six miners in an explosion.

    The Department of Labour has subsequently closed the facility following the incident pending the outcome of a risk assessment.

    The plant was, however, already under investigation by the labour department for exposing workers to poisonous fumes.

    The ongoing inquiry into the exposure of workers to toxic manganese fumes at Assmang brought sharp focus on the plant's workplace hygiene conditions.

    The investigation was launched in November 2006, after it was reported that five workers were suffering from manganese poisoning.

    Government officials from DEAT, along with officials from the eThekwini municipality (Durban) met with Assmang representatives on Wednesday to indicate they will be suspending the EIA for expansion at the site.

    The EIA for expansion at the site will be suspended until Assmang can demonstrate compliance with all environmental legislation, and after substantial improvements at the site have been carried out.

    In 2007, Environmental Management Inspectors from a number of departments conducted an inspection at the site, and found serious non-compliance with environmental legislation and permits pertaining to the site.

    Assmang has since been issued with various compliance notices by the authorities, and had to persuade the authorities why its disposal site permit should not be suspended.

    Final notices, which also contain instructions and timeframes for the implementation of various projects, including a major dust and fume extraction system on the site, will be issued in the coming weeks.

    eThekwini Municipality is currently processing an application from Assmang for a permit in terms of the city's Scheduled Trade Bylaws.

    This integrated permit will deal with air, water, waste and occupational health and safety issues, and is intended to reflect best international practice for plants of its kind.

    In the coming weeks, DEAT, together with the municipality and other role players will liaise closely with investigators from the labour department, who have shut down all of Assmang's furnaces, and are conducting a full investigation into the 24 February incident.

    “Coming in the wake of enforcement action already taken against Assmang since 2007 with respect to environmental non-compliance, the tragic death of six Assmang employees is of extreme concern to all three departments.

    “In these circumstances, authorities cannot continue to talk to Assmang about an expansion until we are assured that the company has permanently turned around its unacceptable safety and environmental record,” said DEAT spokesperson Mava Scott.

    Djibouti-based task force change of command followed by drug and alcohol busts

    A French admiral has taken over command of the Coalition Task Force known as Combined Task Force 150, which is operating in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and parts in north western Indian Ocean. The force’s logistical base is at Djibouti in the Red Sea.

    Rear Admiral JL Kerignard received control of the task force from Pakistan Navy Commodore Khan Hasham Bin Saddique in a routine rotation on board the Pakistan Navy ship TIPPU SULTAN. Admiral Kerignard will retain command for the next four to six months.

    Task Force 150 consists of an average of 14 warships drawn from the navies of France, the UK, US, Canada, Germany and Pakistan with active participation also from ships of the Australian, Italian, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish navies. The purpose of the task force is to carry out patrols in the area allocated to help and ensure safe maritime activity in a region noted for acts of piracy, particularly in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.

    Meanwhile coalition warships this week made one of the biggest drug busts in the northern Arabian Gulf when 4.3 tonnes of hashish was seized on board a Pakistan-registered fishing dhow operating at sea.

    If that wasn’t enough, on the following day another bust was made in which a fishing dhow was found to be carrying over 10,000 bottles of alcohol. The crews of both dhows were arrested and taken to Pakistan for questioning.

    End of an era with Plymouth naval base set to close

    It was with a sense of mixed feelings tacked to a sharpened awareness of history when it was learned earlier this week that Britain’s oldest naval base, Plymouth is to close down and relocate.

    Plymouth was the port in Devon in south England from which Drake’s navy set off to do battle with the Spanish Armada. Many other momentous departures took place to the Spanish Main and other destinations, including Captain Cooke’s voyage to the Pacific, but such history amounts to little once time has caught up and ‘those in command’ have decided it is time to go.

    From all accounts it was something of a toss-up between Plymouth or Portsmouth as the naval dockyard to close, with the Devon port having drawn the short straw.

    The closure will come after 2012 once the last remaining older type nuclear submarines receive core replacements. The new Astute class are being fitted with nuclear cores that will last the lifetime of each boat and for this reason alone Plymouth’s future has been decided. Frigates and other surface ships based there will be transferred to Portsmouth while five of the frigates are likely to be axed in still to be announced defence cuts.

    The two remaining dockyards, at Portsmouth in the south of England and Rosyth in Scotland will absorb what was previously done at Plymouth. Remaining older class submarines in the Royal Navy will ultimately transfer to the submarine base at Faslane in Scotland.

    The announcement this week by UK defence sources is in contrast to assertions by Prime Minister Gordon Browne, made last year that all three naval dockyards still had a future.

    Giant hydraulic grab goes into service in Durban

    The new 25 m³ hydraulic grab for Bulk Connections in action with a coal ship at Durban’s Bluff

    Arlona Engineering, a specialist in fabrication, machining, proofloading and maintenance, has recently completed the design and fabrication of a 25 m³ hydraulic grab for Bulk Connections (the Bluff coaling terminal), which is currently being used at Durban Harbour for discharging vessels.

    “This robust grab, which is designed to handle many different free flowing bulk materials, including cereals, mill scale and coal, is the largest grab of its kind made by Arlona Engineering,” says Steve Christy, managing director of Arlona Engineering, which marks over 30 years of business in bulk handling and lifting equipment. “Special materials were used in the manufacture of this robust grab to ensure high strength and extended service life in arduous operating conditions.”

    Hardox 400, which is a wear-resistant steel that is manufactured by SSAB Oxelösund in Sweden, has a useful life that exceeds ordinary structural steel. Although this material has a greater hardness than structural plate, it has excellent forming and welding properties that make it an ideal manufacturing material for this demanding application.

    Arlona’s fully computerised fabrication facility is equipped to design and manufacture grabs, hoppers, container spreaders and lifting equipment, as well as a wide range of cargo handling equipment – all to exact specifications. There is also a demand for the fabrication of lifting equipment replacement parts which meet the specifications of original equipment manufacturers.

    Before any bulk handling and lifting equipment manufactured or repaired by Arlona is delivered to site, it is load tested at Arlona’s specialised proofloading facility that is equipped with a test rig certified to proofload up to 100 tons.

    Pic of the day – MKHUZE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    A Saturday morning scene in Durban harbour as the harbour tug MKHUZE escorts the MACS line general cargo ship STELLENBOSCH down the Esplanade Channel with the bush covered Bluff peninsular in the background. Picture by Steve McCurrach

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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