BREAKING NEWS…. Chinese ship An Yue Jiang turns round – heads south

Apr 19, 2008
Author: P&S

The Chinese ship An Yue Jiang, which sailed hurriedly from Durban’s outer anchorage on Friday evening shortly before the Durban sheriff could serve papers ordering the vessel to enter port and discharge its cargo of arms and weapons, is reported to have turned and is now sailing south back along the South African coast.

Although the ship’s destination cannot be confirmed some reports are suggesting the next port of call will be in Angola.

Sky TV in the UK on the other hand is reporting that the ship is heading for East London, although this seems improbable as the vessel would be subject to the same court order in any South African port.

Legal advisers told PORTS & SHIPS today there is no reason for the ship not to adhere to the court order and return to Durban, which would carry a number of distinct advantages for the ship and ship owner/operator, COSCO Shipping.

They suggest it’s unlikely that any court would find the vessel’s master was aware of the court’s decision before he sailed the vessel from Durban, as the sheriff was unable to serve the papers. The master could easily claim he only heard the news sometime later and has turned his ship to return to Durban.

Such a move would allow the vessel to work all cargo for Durban and proceed to the next port of call without further disruption, leaving the contentious cargo of arms in bond and subject to the court’s final decision at its next hearing.

Should the reports that the vessel is heading for Angola be true the cargo owner (the Zimbabwe defence force), would have logistical problems in getting the cargo delivered overland as Angola does not share a common border with Zimbabwe.

A more logical choice of port would be Walvis Bay, where Namibia has strong sympathies with the Mugabe government. The cargo could be delivered to Zimbabwe by road using either the Trans-Caprivi or the Trans-Kalahari corridors – although the latter requires it to be carried through Botswana as well.

The drama has captured the attention of major news services across the world with up-to-date reporting on latest developments.



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