Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 5, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Kenya crisis: Army steps in to escort cross border trade

  • Cruise line establishes hub in Mauritius

  • Coastwatch: Pirates go on the offensive

  • French Navy thanked for assistance

  • Cable repairs delayed

  • Pic of the day – SOPHIE THERESA


    Kenya crisis: Army steps in to escort cross border trade

    The Kenyan Army has begun to play a role in helping move cargo and goods across troubled Kenya, following continued roadblocks and sabotage to the country’s railroad system.

    On Sunday the first batch of 400 road trucks arrived at the border with Uganda (Malaba), escorted by units of the Kenya Army and with air cover. The convoy of lorries, which were escorted through the Rift Valley region where most of the unrest has been experienced, follows assurances by President Kibaki that the military would be utilised to keep the trade lines open.

    Drivers reported no incidents on the journey unlike previous trips when they had to run the gauntlet of rioters who placed obstacles in the roads and stopped and looted vehicles. At least 24 trucks carrying cargo and petroleum have been burnt by the rioters.

    According to Uganda’s New Vision the escort consisted of four army Land Rovers and two lorries carrying armed soldiers, along with two Kenyan military helicopters and a third bearing the logo of the United Nations.

    A second convoy under escort has already left Malaba bound for Nairobi and possibly the coast and similar convoys are likely to become a feature until the unrest is ended.

    The economies of Kenya’s neighbouring countries have been severely affected by the unrest, forcing them to consider alternative routes to the sea. At the same time cargo has remained bottled up in Mombasa with the port authority unable to clear space for incoming cargo, mainly containers. Hundreds of rail wagons are reported to be stranded between Mombasa and the Ugandan border until such time as the railway has been repaired and it is safe for trains to operate.

    There are growing fears of commodity shortages as a result of the upheaval. Clearing agents are pointing out that goods damaged by rioting are not covered by insurance against losses due to riot or political risk.

    Rift Valley Railway has reported 11 incidents of sabotage on the railway between Nairobi and western Kenya, all near Kibera and Kisumu. About 6km of track has been torn up and over 400 wagons are stranded at various sidings in section between the port and Nairobi.

    Meanwhile South African news reports say that Cyril Ramaphosa has withdrawn himself from the negotiating team in Kenya after being accused of bias by President Kibaki, who accused the South African negotiator of leaning towards the opposition.

    source - New Vision and own correspondent

    Cruise line establishes hub in Mauritius

    by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip – Port-Louis)

    In the search for new source markets, Europe’s biggest cruise brand, Costa Crocière has extended its reach by incorporating Mauritius into its cruise itinerary.

    As a result the South West Indian Ocean is now Costa Crocière’s latest destination and Port Louis has become the home port for its ‘fly-cruise’ operation.

    The 25,600-ton COSTA MARINA with a guest capacity of 1000 is now sailing from Mauritius every Saturday on six 14-day cruises in the Indian Ocean. The first departure took place on 21 December 2007 and the final cruise is scheduled for 29 February 2008.

    The itinerary includes 2-day stopovers in Mauritius and Mahé (Seychelles), and one day each at Mombasa (Kenya), Mayotte, Nosy Be (Madagascar), Toamasina (Madagascar) and Réunion.

    In addition, the season includes two exciting 27 day positioning cruises (including the flights): one from Savona to Mauritius, which left on 26 November 2007 with calls at Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, the Seychelles, Kenya, Mayotte and Madagascar, while the other will sail from Mauritius to Savona, with departure on 14 March 2008 and the same route in the opposite direction.

    The Costa Marina is expected to bring a total of around 11,000 passengers to Mauritius, mainly Europeans, in particular from Italy, France, Germany, Spain and UK. They will fly from Europe (Milan, London and Paris) to Mauritius for embarking the liner.

    Guests are also expected to arrive from Asia and China, where since March 2006, Costa Crocière has had two representative offices – one in Shanghai and the other in Hong Kong – promoting and marketing all its cruises.

    Coastwatch: Pirates go on the offensive

    Somalia: Pirates seize tug

    The new tug SVITZER KORSAKOV has become the latest victim of Somali pirates, who seized the vessel off the Somali coast last Friday, 1 February 2008.

    The Danish-owned tug was en route from St Petersburg to Sakhalin off Russia’s Pacific coast and had exited the Red Sea on Friday when a distress signal advised the tug was under attack.

    It has subsequently been reported that the tug’s six crew, a mix of Russians and British seafarers are unharmed and still on board the vessel and that the pirates are in contact with the owners. Families of the crew have been informed, according to a company spokesman.

    According to the Svitzer website the crew consists of a British Master, an Irish Chief
    Engineer, a Russian Chief Officer and three Russian crew members. The tug is an
    ice class vessel of 34.5 metres and was recently built in St Petersburg and was on
    her delivery voyage to Sakhalin Island

    The NATO fleet operating in the region has been officially notified of the vessel’s seizure – ironically the Danish Navy is about to take over all escort duties involving UN food aid ships into Somalia (see report below).

    Piracy results in withdrawal of Nigerian fishing fleet

    The Nigerian Trawler Owners’ Associations says it has withdrawn its fleet of trawlers following another violent attack by outlaws and pirates on the Nigerian coast, which resulted in the death of five fishermen.

    So far seven fishermen have been killed by pirates this year and the national vice president of the Nigerian Trawler Owners’ Association says things are getting worse ‘by the second’. She said the pirates come fully armed with AK47 rifles and steal equipment worth millions of naira, including taking the boats into the creeks and stealing the catches. This is then disposed of into surrounding countries, indicating an organised operation. “We don’t have the money of the oil companies and so we’ve decided to withdraw our boats because we fear for our lives,” she said.

    The fishing industry is Nigeria’s third largest export industry after oil and cocoa and employs an estimated 50,000 people.

    Large Liberian drug bust

    French Naval forces have intercepted a ship named BLUE ATLANTIC off the coast of Liberia which was later found to be carrying 1.2 tons of cocaine. After searching the vessel and discovering the drugs the ship was taken in tow into Monrovia harbour.

    French Navy thanked for assistance

    United Nations, 3 February 2008 – Hailing the French navy for protecting its ships carrying aid supplies from pirate attacks in the waters off Somalia since mid-November, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has thanked Denmark for agreeing to take over the operation for the next two months.

    WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said in a statement yesterday from the agency’s headquarters in Rome that “safe travel through Somali waters has made an enormous impact on our ability to reach more than a million hungry, vulnerable people.

    “As food security continues to deteriorate in Somalia, and the number of hungry people is set to rise, I urge other governments to step forward in the same spirit of cooperation.”

    Since French navy ships began their escort operation in November, nine shipments carrying over 30,000 tons of food – or enough to feed 300,000 people for six months – have travelled safely from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to either Mogadishu or Merka in Somalia.

    WFP has also been able to build up its in-country stocks of food and, if shipments continue, now expects to feed 1.8 million people in the Horn of Africa nation this year, up from 1.53 million in 2007.

    The escort operation began after an escalating series of attacks of piracy were reported off the Somali coast last year, including some in which crew members were taken hostage. In total, 31 acts of piracy were reported, including three against ships ferrying WFP supplies.

    The UN agency said the situation in Somalia remains grim, particularly in Mogadishu, where the fighting has been fiercest in the past year. In other parts of the country, locals have endured their worst cereal harvest in 13 years.

    Without new donations of food, WFP estimates that it will exhaust its existing supplies as early as March, and it is calling for million to buy almost 20,000 tons of food to cover shortfalls until June.

    Cable repairs delayed

    Bad weather has prevented a cable repair ship from sailing to attend to one of four underwater fibre-optic cables that has been damaged in the past week.

    According to Flag Telecom, which is a subsidiary of India’s mobile operator Reliance Communications, a ship loaded with spare parts is waiting in Abu Dhabi for an improvement in weather before sailing to Dubai to attend to the break. Two of the damaged cables are owned by Flag Telekom.

    Poor weather conditions have forced the closure of the Abu Dhabi port, the company reports on its website.

    Large parts of the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent was affected when not one but four cables were cut or damaged in various areas, bringing communications grinding to a halt (see our report in yesterday’s News Bulletin).

    The major break occurred off Alexandria where two cables were cut, but Egyptian authorities are now denying that the damage was caused by a ship going to anchor or by any other vessels.

    The Egyptians have not offered any explanation as to what might have caused the break, which resulted in technicians throughout India and the Middle East having to frantically re-route and restore internet and other communication networks.

    A ship carrying equipment to repair the Alexandrian break has sailed from Catania in Italy and is expected on site this morning (Tuesday).

    According to the International Cable Protection Committee, an 86-member group that works with fishing, mining and drilling companies to prevent damage to submarine cables, about 95 percent of the world’s telephone and internet traffic is carried by undersea cables.

    Pic of the day – SOPHIE THERESA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The small tanker SOPHIE THERESA is currently on station in Cape Town to provide bunker deliveries within the port limits. The little ship was built by Dearsan in Tuzia, Turkey in 2004, Hull No.27 IMO number 9297151. For the technically interested the total cargo tank capacity is 3991.91 cbm in 11 tanks. Cargo pumps - 3 x 257m³/hr and a loading rate of 400 m³/hr each tank. The discharge rate is 250 m3/hr each tank. Picture and information by Aad Noorland.

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