Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 28 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Durban bans all bay fishing

  • Interceptor unmanned patrol craft on display

  • Sailor dies on board ship off Cape coast

  • Transnet NPA reminds Richards Bay port users of permit deadline

  • UN relief agencies strengthen their presence in Comoros following invasion

  • US Navy admits shooting Egyptian and says sorry

  • AFRICOM to focus on military, not humanitarian role

  • Pic of the day – SEA LIFE


    Durban bans all bay fishing

    Is Durban a bay or a port? Is there a difference anyway, you may ask. But that may very well become an issue of some contention after port authorities this week enforced a total ban on fishing from boats on the bay.

    The prohibition on fishing in the port of Durban has in fact been in existence for many years and for equally as long has been quietly overlooked by authorities. As a small boy in the 1950s I occasionally went out on the bay to do some fishing with my elders. Post 2004 the National Ports Authority began applying the letter of the law with regards fishing from the wharfside, citing the implementation of the International Ship and Port Security code (ISPS). Fishing continued along the breakwaters at the port entrance but then this came to an end in 2007 with the arrival of construction teams intent on widening the harbour entrance.

    During all this period bay fishing from boats continued, as it probably has ever since the area around the bay was first settled in the 1820s and 1830s. But no longer, says port manager Ricky Bhikraj, in a short and terse letter sent out on Monday (25 March) to all recreational boat clubs in the Port of Durban.

    “This notification serves to re-iterate that, in the interests of safe, orderly and efficient port working, there is a prohibition on fishing from vessels of every type in the Port of Durban, save with the express written permission of the Harbour Master for ad hoc, pre-approved events.

    “Law enforcement agencies have been advised accordingly and compliance will be enforced.”

    A number of boating clubs and associations told PORTS & SHIPS yesterday that they had not been engaged in any discussion with the port authority and that the enforcement had come as a great shock and surprise.

    “There are several thousand craft registered to use Durban Bay (approximately 2,500 actually) of which 99 percent are for recreational use. Many of those are involved in recreational fishing, at weekends or during the evenings, especially during the summer. This has continued for as long as I can remember,” said one boat club representative.

    Another person involved in boating pointed out that boat users were being gradually squeezed by the authorities, including by the city which intends developing the Vetch’s Pier area outside the port entrance as an exclusive high class marina. A large number of clubs using the beach near Vetch’s have been given notice to vacate their clubhouses and will lose the only waveless stretch of beach along the entire KZN coastline.

    The city also plans to develop a ‘unified’ marina along the Victoria Embankment, in which the Royal Natal Yacht Club and Point Yacht Club will have to consolidate into a single clubhouse. The development of this venture has been ceded by port authorities to the city which last year called for expressions of interest from developers. Individual boat owners said then they feared they were being squeezed from all sides.

    Others call this a creeping authoritarianism by securocrats

    No-one from the clubs want to be identified at this stage, nor would anyone spoken to indicate what action is likely, saying it was still too early and that they hadn’t had time to meet with members. One thing is certain however – the last word on this matter is unlikely to have been heard.

    Interceptor unmanned patrol craft on display


    We’ve seen unmanned aircraft, remotely operated from great distances during the current military operations in Iraq, and unmanned underwater systems are hardly new, but now the concept has been applied to surface patrol work. A fourth-generation 6.5m craft which has been specifically designed for security and public service applications, was unveiled at this year’s IDEX industry show.

    First revealed at the 2007 IDEX show, the Interceptor Unmanned Surface Vessel, or USV is under development by AAI Corporation and Marine Robotic Vessels International (MRVI) who believe they have the ideal craft for a variety of patrol work in diverse conditions including the Middle East region.

    While still undergoing trials they are confident that the USV is meeting all expectations and criteria and see their brainchild operating security patrols around oil rig installations, in harbours and on anti-piracy patrols.

    “USVs provide a very efficient method of patrolling coastal and offshore waters,” MRVI president Robert Murphy told the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) Show Daily, where the Interceptor is being exhibited. “Providing effective patrolling 24/7 using a manned operation is expensive in terms of the vessels themselves, crews, infrastructure, maintenance and fuel. An unmanned solution using USVs offers a more effective solution for considerable less capital and running costs.”

    Murphy said that with 60 percent of the world’s oil moving through the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean, the Gulf presents a prime market for such marine surveillance and detection systems.

    “The Middle East has two very important waterways – the Suez Canal and Straits of Hormuz – both of which require constant patrolling,” he said. “There are also very high-profile waterfront developments that require security solutions, in addition to the ‘normal’ assets requiring protection such as oil platforms, harbours, desalination plants and power stations.”

    He pointed out that USVs can loiter indefinitely and are less affected by the state of the weather or sea conditions.

    The Interceptor is designed to operate under the command of an on-board mission computer and navigation system, using a pre-determined course and prescribed tasks, with on-board sensors to alter the programme due to unexpected circumstances. Alternatively the Interceptor can be operated by remote radio control.

    The vessel is powered by a multi-fuel engine coupled to a waterjet propulsor and can achieve speeds of 55 mph.

    Sailor dies on board ship off Cape coast

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), Mykonos Station (Saldanha) was called out on Wednesday to perform a medical evacuation from a ship identified as Panama. Station Commander Darius van Niekerk reports:

    “At 16h15 the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) initiated a medical evacuation operation for two seamen injured aboard the 168 metre ship Panama sailing from Cape Town to Luanda 30 nautical miles off-shore of Saldanha Bay.

    “The cause of the injuries sustained to the 50 year old male and 33 year old male are being investigated.

    “NSRI Mykonos launched rescue craft Spirit of Freemasonry accompanied by SA Paramedical Services paramedics and on arrival at the ship an NSRI rescue team and the paramedics were put aboard where one patient was found to be a walking wounded with minor injuries and the second patient was found to be in a critical condition suffering severe chest and head injuries.

    “Despite extensive efforts by the paramedics the patient was declared dead after all efforts to resuscitate him were exhausted.

    “The ships agent, SA Police Services and the National Ports Authority will make necessary arrangements for the body of the deceased to be taken off the ship and the incident is being investigated by the authorities.”

    Another incident involving the NSRI demonstrates the unpredictable nature of what the volunteers of the NSRI are called to deal with. Pat van Eyssen, NSRI Table Bay deputy station commander reports:

    “We were activated at 15h00 by Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) to assist them by towing the carcass of a large Southern Right whale, found floating 1.6 nautical miles off-shore of Clifton, further out to sea.

    “There were fears that the carcass would wash ashore at Clifton Beach which would hamper a clean up operation due to the terrain at Clifton.

    “NSRI Table Bays rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom was launched and the carcass of the whale, which is in an advanced stage of decay, has been towed further out to sea and a Maritime Safety warning is being broadcast by the Maritime Radio Services.”

    Transnet NPA reminds Richards Bay port users of permit deadline

    The Acting Port Security Officer at the Port of Richards Bay, Wilson Ndlazi has reminded port users of the need to adhere to several ISPS code requirements (International Ship and Port Security code) when accessing the port. In a statement issued yesterday the following points are made:


  • Personal permits, which are compulsory, are available from the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) Security Department at a cost of R20.00 per person

  • Vehicle permits to be displayed on the windscreen – available from TNPA Security Department at no cost

  • Vehicle permits for large trucks are available from TNPA Security at a cost of R195.00 which is valid at all SA ports

    Transnet Port Terminal Permits

  • Vehicle permits for access to the terminals (quayside) to be obtained from the Transnet Port Terminal Security Department

  • Declare all tools and produce a tool list at the security entrance when entering the port

  • Adhere to the speed limit within the port boundary

  • Visitors to sign the register at the entrance gate and return the signed slip to security when leaving the port

  • Fishing is prohibited within the port boundary

    The TNPA security and the law enforcement agency will address all non-conformance with regards to the above, says the statement.

    TNPA Security Department office hours for Richards Bay are Monday to Friday - 08h00 – 16h00; Weekends on request only.

    Deadline is end April 2008.

    The notice is issued by Wilson Ndlazi, Acting Port Security Officer, Richards Bay. Cell 083 975 8020

    UN relief agencies strengthen their presence in Comoros following invasion

    26 March 2008 – United Nations relief agencies are strengthening their presence in the Comoros in case of humanitarian problems that might emerge after the Government of the Indian Ocean archipelago, backed by African Union troops, launched an attack yesterday (Tuesday) on the island of Anjouan to remove its renegade president.

    Staff from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) are standing by to respond in case of need, the UN Country Team in Comoros said in its latest update.

    While there have been no reports so far on any civilian casualties or of major population movements, the UN Country Team noted that many inhabitants on Anjouan fled their homes last month due to widespread rumours of an imminent attack and only some had subsequently returned to their homes.

    A mission by the WHO to Anjouan earlier this month voiced concern about the health situation on the island and the capacity of existing health-care services to cope with any influx of patients. UNICEF has also voiced concern about the potential for malnourishment among residents, given that local production of rice has been limited.

    Yesterday’s morning attack has successfully deposed Colonel Mohamed Bacar, the self-declared president, from leadership on Anjouan, one of the biggest islands of the Comoros. – UN News Service

    Meanwhile an interim government is to be established on Anjouan by this weekend, paving the way for an election. The Union government, backed by African Union troops quickly overran the paltry resistance put up by forces loyal to the renegade leader, Mohamed Bacar. The latter managed to escape – some say dressed as a woman – and later turned up on Mayotte, the archipelago’s fourth island which remained part of the French community when the others chose independence in 1975. Bacar has since requested asylum from French authorities.

    A spokesman for government forces said the priority now was to establish law and order and prevent anyone from embarking on revenge against former Bacar supporters.

    The government is also anxious to prevent any disruption at the port of Mutsamudu, the main and only deepwater port of not only Anjouan but also the Comoros group of islands. The 424 square kilometre island of Anjouan has a population of about 280,000.

    US Navy admits shooting Egyptian and says sorry

    The Commander of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, Vice-Admiral Kevin J Cosgriff has expressed regret for the death of an Egyptian citizen who was shot dead when his boat approached a US cargo ship in the Suez Canal. (See our report American ship opens fire on bum boat in yesterday’s News Bulletin"> CLICK HERE)

    “We express our deepest sympathies to the family of the deceased,” said Vice Adm. Cosgriff. “We are greatly saddened by events that apparently resulted in this accidental death. This situation is tragic, and we will do our utmost to help take care of the family of the deceased.”

    US military authorities initially denied knowledge of anyone having been killed in the incident, saying that warning shots had been fired in front of the approaching boat and that these shots had been monitored and accounted for.

    Cosgriff gave the assurance that the US will work through the investigation thoroughly in full co-operation with Egyptian authorities including the Suez Canal authorities.

    “We will work through the investigation very thoroughly, coordinating with authorities and the embassy, to get a full and transparent account of what happened,” Cosgriff said.

    The shots were fired by a US security team that had embarked on the chartered American freighter Global Patriot.

    AFRICOM to focus on military, not humanitarian role

    Washington, March 2008 (IRIN) - In a key briefing to Congress earlier this month, General William ‘Kip’ Ward, head of the US Command for Africa, AFRICOM, devoted only 15 seconds of his four-and-a-half minute opening remarks to a possible humanitarian role.

    Focusing instead on military training, security and counter-terrorism, his remarks came in sharp contrast to a year ago when officials announced that the command would concentrate on humanitarian assistance, alarming many aid agencies, which were concerned that US military involvement in humanitarian aid would undermine their neutrality.

    Ward told the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee: “Our forces also support humanitarian efforts. US military programmes complement the US Agency for International Development [USAID].” US forces had also conducted de-mining activities and promoted HIV/AIDS awareness programmes in African militaries, he said.

    Even with the switch in focus, however, many NGOs remain wary of AFRICOM’s potential humanitarian dimension. Linda Poteat, director for disaster responses at InterAction, a US-based coalition of non-profit organisations, said she was still waiting to hear what the mandate was, noting that the command's mission statements had still not been issued.

    InterAction’s president for humanitarian policy and practice, Jim Bishop, has had extensive discussions with US officials on AFRICOM’s mandate. Last month, he said AFRICOM continued to assert that it was going to be engaged in activities that were more appropriately the responsibility of civilian branches of the US government and NGOs. “The face America should present to those who are in need of economic development and humanitarian assistance should be of an aid worker with a baseball cap, not a soldier or marine with a helmet,” he told IRIN, after a formal discussion on the militarisation of aid with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February.

    Shift of emphasis

    J Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa Programme for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and co-author of a recent CSIS report on AFRICOM, said there had been a change of emphasis. “They haven’t walked away from the notion that, certainly on public health and emergency relief matters, the US military has some special capacities that can be brought to bear.

    “What they’re tiptoeing around is … they don’t want to be seen as seeking in any way to displace or usurp civilian agencies that carry out humanitarian or development work. They want to refocus a lot of their energies on the kind of bilateral security partnerships that they do best, their core business,” he added.

    Ever since AFRICOM was launched as a separate US military command for a continent that had previously been divided between the European, Central and Pacific commands, it has raised concern over the emphasis put on its humanitarian and developmental dimensions. It has more diplomats and aid experts than other headquarters.

    Last month, Ambassador Mary Yates, deputy to AFRICOM’s Commander for Civil-Military activities, told IRIN the new structure was more concerned with planning for operations and logistics at headquarters. “We’re changing our own structure because we believe this new paradigm will help us be more effective and efficient on the continent,” she said, adding that misunderstandings may have arisen during the initial stages of planning.

    “We definitely are going to be in a supporting role with humanitarian and developmental initiatives that are already [under way] on the continent,” she noted, but she stressed that most development work is done through USAID and NGO partners. “We would just continue supporting what they are already doing,” she said.

    As a scenario for humanitarian intervention, Yates cited natural disasters, when civilian officers with expertise at headquarters can make operational and logistics planning more effective. The US military has a long history of humanitarian assistance in such cases, as with the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

    Helping NGOs

    As an example of other interventions, she mentioned a US Navy ship’s providing medical treatment to 2,000 people a day in Ghana, hoping that such programmes could be expanded, with staff from the Health and Human Services Department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention being seconded to AFRICOM.

    Ward referred to the project at the Committee hearing, noting that the NGO Project Hope “had been a part of the exercise when we’ve gone in and worked with a host nation in addressing their medical capacity requirements”, describing this as “a blending of soft power with what we do”.

    Project Hope sees US military help as a hand to be seized but for other NGOs this “blending of soft power” is precisely the concern, as it can lead to local misperceptions as to humanitarian and military roles.

    InterAction’s Bishop thinks AFRICOM should engage in humanitarian response “only when they are the provider of last resort and refraining from engaging in development activities. We think they have a supporting role to play when it comes to humanitarian assistance. We don’t see any supporting role for them in development assistance. It’s not their business, they have no comparative advantages, they have very little expertise,” he said.

    Following Ward’s remarks, Morrison of CSIS said the command might be able to offer unique services in a disaster setting. “If you’re talking about situations that are urgent and acute and require very rapid response under unstable circumstances, the military has special capacities and NGOs will recognise that and will benefit from the speed and the sort of security blanket that comes with these kinds of operations,” he said.

    “I think what they don’t want to see is the military taking on a lead role under more stable circumstances when civilian agencies should be definitely in the lead … I think it really comes down to the question of what are the broad circumstances in which they’ll be operating and what kind of partnerships will they be taking on,” he said. - IRIN

    Pic of the day – SEA LIFE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The general cargo ship SEA LIFE heads down the Maydon Channel in Durban harbour on 22 March, assisted by the port tug Mkhuze. Sea Life (17,200-gt) was built in 1984 as Almirante Padilla. As is pointed out by the photographer, by some coincidence her only surviving sister out of a class of 5 or 6, Nayab 1, built as Arturo Gomez J for Grancolombiana, was also in port at the time. We’ll feature a picture of Nayab 1 in another News Bulletin. Picture Trevor Jones

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