Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 2, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Passenger ship MADAGASCAR up for sale on 15 April

  • SA, Australia sign protocol to amend tax treaty

  • IMO’s Mitropoulos lays into shipping’s environmental critics

  • Mozambique – Tanzania ‘Unity Bridge on schedule

  • US Military Sealift Command Ships undertake sea-base exercise with African partners

  • AFRICOM makes progress with African allies, civilian director says

  • Pic of the day – VAAL RIVER


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    Passenger ship MADAGASCAR up for sale on 15 April

    The passenger ship MADAGASCAR arriving in Durban for the first time in October 2005. Picture Terry Hutson

    The cruise ship MADAGASCAR (former Bremerhaven, former Stella Maris II, former Viking Bordeaux) will be offered for sale at a judicial auction on Tuesday 15 April in the offices of Shepstone & Wylie, attorneys, of 35 Aliwal Street, Durban.

    The sale will be conducted at 11am that morning by Captain Roy Martin, auctioneer, of Admiralty Shipsales.

    The ship has languished in Durban harbour since 2005 when she arrived amidst the hopes and dreams of operating a South African cruise service to the Indian Ocean islands of the Mozambique Channel. The venture folded after a couple of cruises, partly as a result of problems experienced with the ship not maintaining her operating schedule. The company that had chartered her from Europe subsequently folded.

    A second attempt by another company also failed to get underway late last year.

    The 1960-built ship, which is registered in Odessa, Ukraine will be sold free of encumbrances and liens by operation of law and subject to the conditions of sale, which can be accessed via the Admiralty Shipsales website at www.admiralty.co.za

    The website also carries pictures of the Madagascar in her current condition along with other details.

    SA, Australia sign protocol to amend tax treaty

    by Luyanda Makapela

    Pretoria, 1 April - South Africa has further strengthened bilateral relations with Australia by signing the protocol amending the tax treaty between the two countries.

    Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, who was acting on behalf of the Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, said the new treaty would go along way in increasing trade and investment ties.

    “It is indeed a pleasure for South Africa to strengthen its trade and investment ties with Australia by means of this amended tax treaty.

    ”We thank the Australian authorities for their cooperation and understanding during the renegotiation process,” Ms Fraser-Moleketi said.

    She said the purpose of the document was to provide certainty with respect to taxation for investors in the respective countries.

    The current tax treaty between South Africa and Australia came into effect in 1999, the minister said, adding that the proposed amendments to the current tax treaty were necessary as a result of changes to South Africa's domestic tax legislation

    She said the key proposed change to domestic tax legislation was the conversion of the Secondary Tax on Companies (STC) to a dividend tax shareholder level.

    Phillip Green, Australia's High Commissioner to South Africa signed on behalf of Australia.

    He said the signing of the tax treaty further strengthened the existing bilateral ties over the past 10 years.

    “I am very impressed with the finished goods, such as cars, we receive from South Africa and raw materials we export from them. This really shows the maturity of our economic relations which has so far reached a milestone.”

    Exports from South Africa to Australia increased from R7.2 billion in 2004, to R9 billion in 2006 and imports from Australia to South Africa increased from R7.2 billion in 2004 to R9.5 billion in 2006.

    The majority of goods exported from South Africa to Australia are finished goods, including high valued motor cars while goods imported from Australia to South Africa are mainly primary products, including aluminum.

    Investment flow between the two countries has reportedly increased, with the latest available figures suggesting that investments by South Africans in Australia exceeded Australia investments in South Africa.

    In total Australia investments to South Africa, the increase ranged from R946 million in 2003 to R2 billion in 2005.

    Total South African investments into Australia amounted to R8.5 billion in 2003 and R8.6 billion in 2005.

    In addition, tourism flows and sport links between the two countries have also been strengthened.

    “It is safe to say that the balance of power on the sporting field has been pretty even, with South Africa edging ahead in rugby during 2007,” said Minister Fraser-Moleketi.

    Australia has, through a Memorandum of Understanding on Development Co-operation signed between the two countries in May 1995, contributed towards developmental projects in South Africa.

    Minister Fraser-Moleketi said negotiations to amend the other eight tax treaties with other countries were also at an advanced stage. - BuaNews

    IMO’s Mitropoulos lays into shipping’s environmental critics

    Mr Efthimios Mitropoulos, IMO secretary general

    London, 01 April 2008 – International Maritime Organisation (IMO) secretary general Efthimios Mitropoulos has attacked people who criticise shipping’s environmental record, especially with regards to its contribution to climate change.

    “The criticism by some politicians, civil servants and certain media representatives is often ill-founded and inaccurate and seems to confuse work on air pollutants with that aiming at reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he said, speaking at the opening of the 57th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in London.

    “The environment is not the privilege of a few; it is the responsibility of all. Nobody can claim monopoly over the environment and international shipping should not be allowed to become a scapegoat for those who find it a ‘soft target’, singling it out from other modes of transport, when data show it as having greener credentials than them, representing, according to Sir Nicholas Stern’s study of 2006, 1/10 of the transport sector as a whole or, in other words, 1.4 percent of the total of CO2 emissions worldwide – although Professor David Lee has recently estimated that shipping constitutes a higher percentage of such emissions.”

    He went on to pledge continued drives towards improving shipping’s environmental performance, describing it as the industry’s duty as responsible citizens of this planet.

    “In his book ‘The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth’, Benjamin M. Friedman recognises that economic development often brings undesirable side effects, like damage to the environment. And asks whether we have the right to burden future generations, or even other species, for our own advantage. I think we do not. That is why I expect the response of this Organisation to challenges that threaten the environment, to be a resounding “yes” to all measures needed to protect and preserve it – as long as they are realistic, pragmatic, workable and cost-effective and as long as efforts to improve one aspect of a ship’s performance do not lead to deterioration in other areas of transport and energy.

    “That is why we need, within the timetables already agreed and those to be agreed upon, to debate the issues before us thoroughly so that, in the end, we make balanced decisions – an approach that only this Organisation, with its global membership and global mandate, can make on a global issue of global dimensions.

    “Undeniably, our credentials are good – let us use this session of the Committee to make them better. History will acknowledge it and future generations will recognise our efforts to ensure that they, too, are able to enjoy the benefits and pleasures the seas so generously give us in abundance. The omens are good – and good is the news that, in all my meetings with representatives of Governments, shipowner organisations, oil companies, chambers of shipping and others, never have I sensed a feeling of reluctance or hesitation from any of them to play their part in any effort undertaken by this Organisation to protect and preserve the environment, as well as the health of the seafarers and people living in port cities or along the coast.

    “Neither have any of them ever hinted that commercial considerations should be given precedence over environmental ones – a position they have also always maintained when safety issues are on the table for consideration.”

    “The statements issued, earlier this year, by the Heads of the Round Table industry organisations and those of OCIMF, IPIECA and the United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping express quite clearly the position of the entities they represent: while unambiguously supporting the work of IMO and urging its Members to continue their efforts to find, within the current year, appropriate and pragmatic solutions to benefit the environment on a global basis, they also advocate that shipping can only be effectively legislated for at a global level. This is what IMO has been doing over the half century of its existence; this is what we should do again this time – this is what would render redundant anyone’s thought or desire to adhere to regional or unilateral measures.” - MGN

    Mozambique – Tanzania ‘Unity Bridge on schedule

    Construction of the 720 metre long Unity Bridge spanning the Ruvuma River between Mozambique and Tanzania is on schedule and due for completion early in 2009, reports the East African newspaper.

    The USD 40 million bridge, which will link Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique with the Mtwara region of Tanzania, is being built by a Chinese company, the China Geo Engineering Corporation.

    According to Mussa Mataka, regional manager of Tanroads (Tanzania Roads Department) the construction company has until December this year to complete the project. He said the rush was on to complete the bridge decking before the long rains begin next month. The builders have already completed 19 piers in preparation for this.

    The Umoja Bridge is the brainchild of the late Mozambique president Samora Machel and Tanzania’s former leader Julius Nyerere and is part of a multimillion dollar project involving the development of roads, railways and ports to form the Mtwara Corridor. Harbours that will greatly benefit include Mtwara in Tanzania and Mbamba Bay on Lake Malawi. Mtwara will become the principal port and gateway to the sea, providing access for traders and exporters in southern Tanzania, northern Malawi and northern Mozambique – regions whose abundant natural resources have remained unexploited due to poor transport systems. These resources include coal, natural gas and oil.

    Other projects included in the Mtwara Development Corridor include the Mchuchuma Coal-to-Electricity Project, the Mtwara port expansion and modernisation, the Mtwara-Mbamba Bay road, the Mbamba Bay port development on Lake Malawi, a heavy-capacity ferry link between Nkhata Bay and Mbamba Bay (on opposite sides of Lake Malawi) and the Selous-Niassa Transfrontier Conservation Area. – East African

    US Military Sealift Command Ships undertake sea-base exercise with African partners

    The Military Sealift Command roll-on, roll-off container ship USNS 2nd LT John Bobo (T-AK 3008) is moored to the causeway of the Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS) as the INLS causeway ferries, right, and roll-on, roll-off discharge facility, center, stands by to transfer Marine vehicles to the high speed vessel Swift (HSV 2), left, as part of the Navy's West Africa Training Cruise 08 (WATC), a sea basing initiative in conjunction with Africa Partnership Station. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elizabeth Merriam (Released)

    Naples, Italy - Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships USNS 2nd Lt. John P Bobo (T-AK 3008) and USNS LCPL Roy M Wheat (T-AK 3016) arrived off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia, in the Gulf of Guinea last month to participate in a sea-basing and humanitarian aid distribution exercise in conjunction with US Marines and Africa Partnership Station ships USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and HSV-2 Swift.

    Bobo and Wheat are US Navy cargo ships that are part of Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron (MPSRON) 1, one of three squadrons that preposition US military equipment in strategic locations at sea for rapid delivery ashore in response to military or humanitarian crises. These squadrons are commanded by a US Navy captain with an embarked military staff, while the ships themselves are crewed by US merchant mariners under contract to MSC.

    HSV-2 Swift, a high-speed vessel, is chartered by MSC, and is operated and crewed by US Navy Sailors.

    Africa Partnership Station (APS) is a US Naval Forces Europe initiative that provides maritime training to partner nations in West and Central Africa aboard Navy ships operating in the region.

    During the late March exercise, Bobo, Wheat, Swift and Fort McHenry congregated off the coast of Monrovia. Sailors embarked aboard Bobo and Wheat assembled the MPSRON's Improved Navy Lighter age System (INLS) (see picture) which is a roll-on/roll-off discharge platform comprised of barges and ferries that allow ships to off-load cargo at sea and deliver it ashore when traditional harbor facilities are unavailable.

    Once the INLS is assembled, cargo from Bobo, Wheat and Fort McHenry, including trucks, equipment and humanitarian aid supplies, was transferred at sea from Bobo to Swift while the high speed vessel was docked on the discharge platform. Swift then ferried these supplies to Monrovia where they were to be delivered to a number of schools and medical clinics in Liberia.

    “We were excited to be able to participate in APS,” said Capt Clay Saunders, MPSRON 1's commander. “The opportunity to validate our seabase concept and exercise our ship-to-shore capabilities while supporting a non-exercise humanitarian aid operation really demonstrated the broad capabilities of our prepositioned force.”

    The exercise, which showcased the real world application of the Navy's seabasing concept, also gave the ships, sailors and marines involved the opportunity to train alongside Liberian military personnel who participated in the operation. - Sealift Logistics Command Europe.

    AFRICOM makes progress with African allies, civilian director says

    Warrenton, Virginia (USA), 31 March - US Africa Command is making progress in gaining acceptance in Africa, the command's deputy for civil-military activities said in an interview on 31 March 2008 at a conference outside Washington, DC, attended by representatives of 43 African nations.

    “We're doing OK,” AFRICOM's Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates said in a tone that indicated she'd like to do better. In a unique command arrangement, Yates is co-deputy of Africa Command, sharing duties with a Navy vice admiral. She is the first civilian to hold such a position in a US regional command.

    Africa Command is scheduled to become the Defense Department’s sixth independent regional command by 1 October 2008. The going hasn't been easy, AFRICOM officials said, as many African leaders questioned the formation of the command - calling it a US grab for African resources - while others felt the command represented the militarisation of US foreign policy.

    The US position, Yates explained, is that the command is a reorganisation that allows the US military to help the Africans themselves provide security and to support the far larger US civilian agency programs on the continent.

    “What we are finding is that the more we explain, the more understanding (there is) that it is a reorganisation,” Yates said, “and that we want the security relationships to continue as they are and find ways to enrich and enhance this.”

    The command will coordinate US military-to-military relationships with continental Africa and its surrounding island nations, with the exception of Egypt. The continent currently is split among US European Command, US Central Command and US Pacific Command. AFRICOM will take over responsibility for programs those commands are currently running in Africa.

    Africa Command also is breaking new ground in that it includes civilians from federal agencies outside the Defense Department. In addition to Yates, leaders from the US Agency for International Development, the departments of Treasury, Justice and Commerce, and other agencies are integral parts of the new command.

    “We believe the new interagency approach is the way we can build more,” the ambassador said. “We can buttress what we're doing to have the programs more effective.”

    Civilian agencies have the expertise in Africa, Yates said, adding that it's the right time for such a step. “The biggest difference I have seen in my 20 years of being involved in Africa is the Africans are taking more responsibility for themselves,” she said.

    Africans want to fight the nearly endemic corruption, she said, and they understand that democracies are less likely to go to war. They also realise they need help in fighting the spread of AIDS. They understand the relationship between security and economic progress, and they believe they are up to the challenge, she added.

    “They'll decide which programs they want to enrich their security and stability, and we, hopefully, will be ready and have built a more effective 21st-century structure to work with them,” Yates said.

    Africa Command is a “listening command,” Yates said, and command officials have taken every opportunity to explain their mission to African leaders and the African people.

    At meetings at the Airlie House in Warrenton, Virginia in late March, US officials laid out their concerns about problems, and Africans shared their perspective. Then both sides looked at the common ground.

    “What's really important is for us to realise we are different, and we look at things differently,” Yates said. Even the Africans differ depending on their region, their tribe, their history and their resources, she noted.

    The ambassador said she believes more dialogues with more people would be helpful - that Americans cannot stay in their stovepipes, but rather must reach out for the cross-fertilisation of ideas. If that doesn't happen, she said, “we're not going to get it right.”

    “One of my biggest ‘takeaways’ (from the talks here) is that we have to find more ways for routine consultations,” she said. “It’s one thing for the Americans to interact with the Africans; it’s also wonderful to have the Africans interacting with each other and learning from the debates that go on between them.” - American Forces Press Service

    Pic of the day – VAAL RIVER

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The container ship VAAL RIVER, resplendent in her green livery is a recent addition to the list of ships on charter to Lonrho SAILS and deployed between South Africa and North West Europe via West Africa. The picture was taken on 30 March in Cape Town by Robert Ravensberg

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