Shipping and maritime news from the ports of Africa

Apr 14, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • SA wood chip exports slump

  • Wood chip carrier named after Durban

  • French marines take back yacht

  • NSRI has busy time on the coast

  • Later NSRI reports

  • Rift Valley Railway disrupted again by rioting

  • Pic of the day – SALVIGILANT


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    SA wood chip exports slump

    an aerial view of the wood chip plants at Richards Bay, with the harbour in the background. Connecting the two is an extensive conveyor system used to carry wood chips to waiting ships on the finger jetty. Picture by Charles Corbett

    The Zululand Chamber of Business heard last week how the export of wood chips at the port of Richards Bay has taken a considerable dip in recent years, which people in the forestry industry say is caused by a number of factors.

    Since 2004 revenue earned at the three wood chipping plants in Richards Bay, each export oriented, has decreased by 45 percent or a loss of R51.5 million.

    Some of the factors causing the drop-off in exports are said to be higher domestic prices making exports less competitive, forest fires in the KZN midlands during 2007 and several land claim issues affecting both Sappi and Mondi.

    According to the Zululand Observer the number of wood chip ships calling at Richards Bay was 151 in 2004 whereas only 73 are expected this year, with a revenue drop from R139m in 2004 to an anticipated R87.5m this year.

    Central Timber Co-op told the Zululand newspaper that the number of ships affecting the company had decreased from 65 in 2004 to an expected 32 in 2008. Shincell reported a similar trend with vessel numbers decreasing from 24 to 15 over the same periods, while for MondiSilvacel reported a drop from 62 vessels to 26 this year.

    As a result of the drop-off of exports there has been some retrenchment of workers at the chipping plants. Source Zululand Observer.

    Wood chip carrier named after Durban

    The Durban wood chip terminal (long silver-roofed building with gantries in front) with one of the NYK wood carriers on Maydon Wharf berth 7 in front, loading between 30,000 and 40,000 tonnes of wood chips. Timber arrives by road or rail from the KZN midlands and is chipped on site before being conveyed to the terminal storage facility – the long building – to await the next ship.

    The Japanese shipping line NYK and its charter party have honoured Durban by naming one of their new ships Hokuetsu uShaka.

    The 45,000-gt wood chip carrier was completed earlier this year and is now on her maiden voyage to Durban where she is due to arrive this Sunday, 20 April.

    Hokuetsu uShaka will load wood chips at Durban’s wood chip terminal at Maydon Wharf, which will be used in the manufacture of paper at the Hokuetsu Paper Company mills in Japan.

    Durban is likely to become a regular caller for the new vessel.

    Whilst the ship is in port invited guests will be treated to the traditional Japanese Kagami-wari ceremony, which is a ritual breaking open of a barrel of sake, the Japanese rice wine. The cask is broken open using a wooden mallet and sake is taken to commemorate the beginning of special events such as a ship’s maiden voyage or the opening of a new business. This is similar to toasting a new event with a glass of champagne but is carried out with considerably more meaning and thought.

    The function on board ship will be presided over by the president of the Hokuetsu Paper Company of Japan, Mr Masaaki Miwa who will be visiting Durban for the occasion.

    Note: uShaka, which takes its name from the founder of the Zulu nation, is the name given to a waterfront feature and aquarium in Durban overlooking the port entrance.

    French marines take back yacht

    French marines have captured most of the pirates who seized the cruise yacht Le Ponant off the northern Somali coast a week ago.

    The crew of the yacht, which is owned and operated by French shipping company CMA CGM, was released by the pirates after, it is believed, a ransom has been paid over.

    The crew was taken by the French to Djibouti for repatriation back to France. The pirates meanwhile remained on board the vessel along with the ship’s master, Patrick Marchesseau who remained as a hostage until the ransom was paid. The French military had meanwhile set up a monitoring position.

    Once the ransom was paid and with the pirates showing signs of leaving the scene (a small village on the coast of Puntland in northern Somalia), the French marines attacked, using helicopters to prevent the pirates from making a getaway by motor vehicle. French sources claimed no-one was injured but independent reports suggest that several of the pirates and other Somalis villagers who had gathered nearby were either killed or injured.

    In France the rescued crew, consisting of 22 French nationals, six Filipinos, a Cameroonian and a Ukrainian were taken to the Elysée Palace for a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and CMA CGM chairman Jacques Saade. The captured pirates meanwhile are being held on the board French Navy helicopter carrier FNS Jeanne d’Arc off the Somali coast.

    It is expected the Le Ponant will motor to Djibouti with a French Navy crew on board but under the command of the yacht’s master.

    The attack on the pirates which followed the release of the crew is the first time that swift retribution has been carried out on Somali pirates and is one of the more swift conclusions reached. During the period when the Islamic Courts held power in Somalia they outlawed piracy and on one occasion when pirates seized a foreign ship Islamic authorities forced their way on board the vessel when it was brought into port and took the surviving pirates away while releasing the ship.

    The French foreign minister this weekend called for more UN involvement in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast. He said the international community should “mobilise for a determined fight against acts of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.”

    The French helicopter carrier Jeanne d’Arc on which the captured pirates are being held, seen in this picture in Cape Town last month. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    NSRI has busy time on the coast

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has had a busy time at the end of last week and during the weekend. Some of the deepsea incidents that resulted in rescue units being called out are as follows:

    Table Bay, 11 April – Pat van Eyssen, station commander reports: “At 22h23 we were activated by the National Ports Authority following reports from the 18 metre fishing vessel Daan Viljoen sailing from Namibia to Cape Town with five crew on board drifting North of Dassen Island with no power in 2 to 3 metre swells and a 20 to 25 knot South Easterly wind.

    “We launched our rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom and on arrival on-scene a tow-line was established and the vessel was towed at an average speed of 4 ½ knots safely to the Port of Table Bay arriving at 09h30 today where the vessel was safely moored and no further assistance was required.”

    West Coast, 12 April – Darius van Niekerk, NSRI Mykonos Station Commander made the following report, “At 05h40 we were activated by the National Ports Authority following reports of red distress flares fired spotted 1 nautical mile off-shore at Swart Riet, Jacobs Bay, 15 nautical miles North of Saldanha.

    “Keith Norman, a local resident, had let his dog Sammy out in the early morning for his usual business when he spotted the red distress flares and his wife Leona alerted the rescue authorities.

    “The fishing trawler Boetie Arkie responded to an all ships radio alert to investigate the flares and they discovered the flares to have been fired from the 20 metre fishing trawler Silver Reaper, a Chokka Fishing Boat from Port Elizabeth.

    Boetie Arkie couldn’t get close enough to the scene to conduct a full investigation, due to the rocky area where the casualty vessel ran aground, but they confirmed to Maritime Radio Services that the vessel appeared to have run aground on Jacobs Reef, a small island, but the fate of her crew was still unknown.

    “We dispatched our rescue craft Spirit of Freemasonry, our NSRI rescue vehicle, the SA Police Services and Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services and on arrival on-scene NSRI rescue swimmer Casper Frylinck swam ashore onto the island where crew of the stricken boat could be seen. Casper confirmed that all 11 crew were accounted for and safe, although a little hypothermic, after they had abandoned their sinking vessel and swum onto the rocks about 1 nautical mile off-shore. The sunken vessel could be seen underwater nearby.

    “Casper secured all 11 crew but a water extrication in the 2 to 3 mere swells and the rocky terrain made it too risky and our rescue craft and Casper remained on-scene pending the arrival of the first rescue helicopter while the Norman family supplied hot drinks and rations to rescue crews waiting on the shoreline.”

    Ian Klopper, NSRI helicopter duty controller takes up the story. “At 05h45 we placed the Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter on alert to be ready to fly at first light and the South African Air Force (SAAF) 22 Squadron NSRI Air Sea Rescue team were placed on alert.

    “The Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter accompanied by NSRI rescue swimmer Andre Beuster arrived on-scene at first light.

    “On arrival on-scene Andre was hoisted onto the rock to assist Casper to secure each casualty and to secure a landing site on the small island.

    “A small flat rock was found to be suitable for a landing site and once the helicopter touched down the casualty crew were walked into the helicopter and flown ashore safely, in relays, into the hands of the ambulance crews and rescuers on the shore. Casper and Andre were flown off Jacobs Reef last.

    “All 11 crew have been transported to hospital by Metro Ambulance for treatment for mild hypothermia and observation but they are all in good spirits and otherwise not injured.”

    Durban 12 April – An extensive search involving the NSRI assisted by the Vodacom Netcare 911 Surf Rescue helicopter has failed to find any sign of a missing 50 year old man, Johan Pretorius, who went missing after going out to sea from Amanzimtoti (south of Durban) on board his sea-kayak.

    When Pretorius failed to return at his accustomed time his family alerted authorities and began a search. The man’s vehicle was found parked near the usual launch spot. The sea was calm at the time.

    “A full-scale air, sea and shore search up to 6 nautical miles out to sea and from Durban to as far as Scottburgh in less than 1 metre swells and wind speeds reaching only 10 to 15 knots North Easterly – on-shore winds in good visibility and calm sea conditions has revealed no sign of the man,” reported Brian St Clair-Laing, NSRI Durban duty coxswain.

    “The man has a blue Sea-Kayak and is wearing blue swimming trunks, a black rash vest and black life-jacket. A number of vessels in the area and ships at anchor in the area have been requested to keep watch.”

    Later NSRI reports

    Mossel Bay, 12 April. The Mossel Bay NSRI was called out to evacuate an Ill fisherman on Saturday. Dawie Zwiegelaar, NSRI Mossel Bay Station Commander reports.

    “At 14h10 we launched our rescue craft Vodacom Rescuer I and Vodacom Rescuer II to casualty evacuate 55 year old Capetonian Keith Sapto suffering severe Gout pain aboard the fishing trawler Desert Diamond which had sailed from the fishing grounds to 6 nautical miles South of Mossel Bay at Cape St Blaze to rendezvous with our rescue craft for the patient transfer.

    “Two ER-24 paramedics accompanied the operation aboard our rescue craft. On arrival on-scene the sick fisherman was transferred aboard our rescue craft and treated en-route to our NSRI rescue base where he has been transported to hospital by ER-24 ambulance in a stable condition.”

    NSRI Port Elizabeth, 13 April – Port Elizabeth station commander Ian Gray reports:

    “At 17h15 NSRI Port Elizabeth launched our rescue craft Spirit of Toft to rendezvous with the 60 metre Saldanha Bay fishing trawler Harvest Lindiwe reported to have an unconscious 45 year old fisherman on-board following the trawler being struck by lightening 40 nautical miles off-shore of Port Elizabeth.

    “Spirit of Toft with a Netcare 911 paramedic on-board rendezvoused with the trawler off Cape Recife and the semi-conscious fisherman was stabilised, transferred aboard our rescue craft and brought to Port where he has been transported to hospital in a stable condition by a Netcare 911 ambulance.”

    Kleinbaai, 13 April, 2008 – Three tourists have died after the shark-watching boat they were traveling on capsized at sea. NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon reports:

    “At 10h15 NSRI Agulhas, NSRI Hermanus, Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services and Overberg Fire and Rescue Services were activated following reports of the 36 foot Ge-Cat White Shark Projects capsized half a nautical mile off-shore of Kleinbaai near Gansbaai with an estimated 19 crew on-board (10 tourist and videography passengers and 9 crew).

    “Sea conditions were a South Easterly wind of 10 to 15 knots and approximately 2 metre swell.

    “NSRI Hermanus launched the rescue craft South Star and NSRI rescue vehicles were dispatched. The Overberg Fire and Rescue Services Alouette III helicopter and Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter, that were at the time both engaged in a routine rescue exercise in Hermanus, were diverted to the scene. The Overberg and Overstrand Fire and Rescue Services, Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services and the SA Police Services responded.

    “On arrival on-scene it was estimated that of 19 people on-board 17 people had been rescued out of the water by local private boats and 5 of the rescued had been taken to local doctors rooms by locals for treatment for injuries sustained and one male was declared dead on the scene after extensive efforts by paramedics to resuscitate him were terminated.

    “Of the 5 that sustained injuries it is confirmed that two female patients went by private transport to a hospital, one for a fractured foot and one for a fractured arm.

    “Local boats brought in the remaining two passengers, both males, who were both declared dead on arrival by paramedics.”

    With uncertainty that all passengers were accounted for the search continued until it was confirmed by the boat owners that there were a total of 19 people on-board at the time of the accident and all 19 were accounted for.

    According to eye-witness reports the boat capsized after being unexpectedly broadsided by a large wave.

    Two of the deceased males are Americans and one is Norwegian.

    “The NSRI commend the actions of local boats that rushed to assist those in peril bringing to shore all passengers and crew of the capsized boat,” said Lambinon.

    “NSRI Hermanus rescue craft South Star is towing the casualty boat in the capsized position to Gansbaai Harbour and is estimated, with a current towing speed of 2 knots, to arrive at the harbour at 18h00 today (Sunday).

    Rift Valley Railway disrupted again by rioting

    Kenya’s Rift Valley Railway has again had its operations disrupted by rioting youth who pulled up a section of railway near Nairobi, forcing the cancellation of freight and passenger trains.

    The affected railway forms part of the route to Western Kenya and its neighbour Uganda, along which imported and exported cargo moves to the port of Mombasa.

    This is the second time the railway has been ripped up by people objecting on political grounds to the election results. After mediation involving world leaders including the Elders it was agreed that the ruling party would share government with the opposition which had claimed extensive cheating by government during the election. The resultant action left Kenya transport systems all but crippled and these have only recently returned to some sense of normality.

    A spokesman for Rift Valley Railway said the damage caused to the tracks in the latest incident would probably cost in the region of KSh 10 million (USD160,000). It was hopeful of having the railway back in operation over the weekend, he said on Friday.

    Roy Puffet, Rift Valley Railway’s managing director has called on political leaders to educate supporters as to the economic importance of the railway network. – source East African Standard

    Pic of the day – SALVIGILANT

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    the tug SALVIGILANT made a bunker call at Cape Town on Friday 11 April 2008. Owned by Semco Salvage & Marine of Singapore, the 2,658-gt anchor handling and towing tug was built in Japan in 2007 and is employed primarily in the oil industry. Picture by Aad Noorland

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