Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 21, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Mystery deepens over An Yue Jiang’s destination

  • Sail Ho... Libertad, the world’s fastest frigate set to sail into Cape Town

  • Last Big White sails quietly away

  • Indian Navy begins arriving for IBSA exercise

  • Cruise ship Melody sails for Europe

  • Kenya calls for increased intra-Africa trade

  • Pic of the day – HARRIER EXPLORER


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    Mystery deepens over An Yue Jiang’s destination

    An Yue Jiang at anchor off Durban last week. Picture by Clinton Wyness

    Mystery surrounds the destination of the COSCO general cargo ship AN YUE JIANG as she heads back along the South African coast amid reports that the ship, carrying a consignment of Chinese-manufactured arms for Zimbabwe, is heading for Angola.

    The mystery deepened early yesterday (Sunday) when the authoritative Lloyds MIU website listed the vessel as being a casualty off the East African coast. Enquiries to the MRCC centre (Maritime Rescue Co-ordinating Centre) at Silvermine in Cape Town however revealed no awareness of any ship having foundered off the east or west coast during the previous 24 hours.

    The MRCC subsequently advised that the An Yue Jiang had been spotted at 17h00 off the Eastern Cape coast of South Africa between Cape Recife and Cape St Francis heading southwest towards Cape Point.

    On Friday the ship had up anchored and sailed from the Durban outer anchorage minutes before the Durban sheriff was able to serve court papers instructing the vessel to dock in Durban harbour and discharge its cargo of arms and weapons. The latter were then, in terms of the court order, to have been held in bond until next Friday when a further hearing of the court would decide if they could be cleared for delivery to Zimbabwe or not.

    The fact that the ship made a ‘run for it’ seems odd and ill-advised considering that the court order would have permitted the shipping line (Cosco) to conclude its contractual obligations and to proceed on its way. The ship would also have been able to discharge other cargo for Durban without further delay. Instead the decision taken gives rise to suspicions that instructions from ‘higher up’ in China may have been influential.

    According to the MRCC the ship is currently sailing within South African territorial waters but it is not clear whether the South African government intends taking any steps to have the ship intercepted and served with the court order. The lack of direction by the South African government so far however does not suggest such action is likely.

    South Africa possesses the means to do so - by early this morning (Monday) the Chinese ship will be passing Simon’s Town, home of the South African Navy with lots of new equipment capable of intercepting the vessel and serving the papers and seeing they are enforced.

    The Justice Alliance of South Africa at the weekend called for the navy to assist in arresting the ship while it was in territorial waters and escorting the vessel to the nearest South African port. It said the arms should then be put in bond until assurances were obtained from the Chinese government that they will be returned to China, saying that any promise obtained from the ship owner is insufficient.

    According to various reports including from SA government circles (which haven’t been accurate so far) the An Yue Jiang is heading for Luanda in Angola. If this is so the logistics of subsequently moving the cargo from Angola to Zimbabwe will not be easy as the two countries do not share common borders and any transit cargo would have to move through Zambia, which is not exactly on the friendliest political terms with its southern neighbour. It was after all the president of Zambia who called the recent summit of SADC heads to discuss the Zimbabwe election crisis.

    A more sensible port of call for the ship would be Walvis Bay, which has close political ties with Zimbabwe with whom it also shares a common border via the Trans-Caprivi Corridor.

    There has also been speculation as to whether the ship is carrying sufficient fuel to reach an Angolan port.

    Adding to the intrigue, the International Transport Federation (ITF) says it has called on its members throughout Africa to refuse to handle the cargo. It was action by the South African trade union Satawu that seized the initiative and effectively stopped any likelihood of the ship entering Durban (this was before the court’s ruling) when Satawu issued a statement on Friday saying that its members would refuse to discharge the vessel and would not assist with transporting it across South Africa.

    Several commentators have pointed out that it took ordinary workers to do what the South African government ought to have been doing all along.

    Sail Ho... Libertad, the world’s fastest frigate set to sail into Cape Town


    The holder of the Boston Teapot Cup for the fastest transatlantic crossing by a sailing ship under sail, the magnificent Argentine Navy sail training ship ARA Libertad, arrives at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront on Saturday (26 April) at 10am for a six day visit.

    During her stay in the Mother City the ship will be open to the public. Libertad will not however be calling at any other South African ports

    The 104m long sailing ship carries a crew of 320 men and women which includes 90 midshipman and 60 sailors. Each year more than 10 junior officers from other nations and from the Argentine Army, Air force and the Naval Coastguard are invited to make the trip with the members of the Argentinean Navy.

    This has included university students from many countries and when the ship leaves Cape Town she will have on board a young female sub lieutenant from the South African Navy as a member of the crew.

    ARA Libertad is a three-masted frigate, with foresail, mainmast and spanker and bowsprit. She displaces 3,765 tons fully loaded and has 2,650 square metres of sail surface spread across 27 sails. The height to the top of the mainmast is 56.2 metres.

    In addition to her sails the ship has two diesel engines each of 1200 hp, driving a single propeller and giving the ship a 12 knot capability under engine power.

    This will be Libertad’s third visit to Cape Town, the first being in 1970 with a second call in 1993. She departs on 2 May at 10am for Mauritius.

    Last Big White sails quietly away

    Maersk Constantia sailing from Durban on one of her many voyages to the city. Initially the four ships of the class were on the South Africa-Europe service but spent their last few years operating between South Africa and the Far East. Picture Colin Hosken

    The departure last week of Maersk Constantia went relatively unnoticed in Durban – surprising perhaps because it marked the final call of one of South Africa’s shipping pioneers.

    Maersk Constantia was one of the famous Safmarine Big Whites and is now on her way to Singapore where she will be paid off with her most probable next ‘port’ being the breakers yards in India or Bangladesh.

    Ordinarily this wouldn’t excite much interest as ageing ships go to the breakers all the time once they’ve served out their commercial lives. The Big Whites – SA Sederberg, SA Helderberg, SA Winterberg and SA Waterberg (now Maersk Constantia) can be regarded as different in that they heralded the container age into South Africa back in the late 1970s.

    At the time they were also among the largest container ships in the world and special container terminals had been constructed at Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town to accommodate this new way of handling cargo.

    Despite their great size – between 49,000 and 52,000-gt and almost 260m in length, the four ships are considered small by today’s standards – not so much in physical size but in the number of containers each ship can carry. They were designed for a maximum of 2450 TEU (twenty foot container equivalents) - today a ship of that length and tonnage is expected to carry at least double that number of containers.

    There are other factors that make the ships obsolete, including the large crew and the lack of automatic monitoring and control of the important reefer boxes on board, which on the Big Whites requires a team of electrical engineers to ensure nothing goes wrong with the perishable cargo. Today’s ships are monitored from the bridge.

    The Big Whites, which were sold to other interests in 2002 and chartered back by Safmarine, helped issue in a new age of international shipping that changed the face of the industry, both at sea and in the ports and harbours. That at least is their legacy.

    Indian Navy begins arriving for IBSA exercise

    Two ships of the Indian Navy are due to arrive in Durban on this Friday (25 April) and will be open to the public during two days of the coming long weekend.

    The ships, the INS Mumbai (D63) and INS Karmukh will berth at the N-Shed passenger terminal en route to Simon’s Town where they are to take part in a large naval exercise with ships of the South African and Brazilian Navies – the so-called IBSA exercise.

    On Sunday and Monday (27 and 28 April) the Durban public will be welcome to visit the two ships between the hours of 10h00 and 16h00.

    INS Mumbai is a modern Delhi class destroyer making her second visit to Durban. She was built in 2001 and displaces 6,700 tons. Her crew numbers around 360 and the well armed ship equipped with two Sea King helicopters and a range of missiles, guns and torpedoes carries a powerful punch. INS Mumbai is Indian-designed and built and a product of that country’s growing ability to provide its own naval requirements.

    INS Karmukh only recently completed fitting out. She is a large missile corvette of the Khukri class and displaces 1350 tons but is large enough to host a helicopter flight deck to strengthen her patrol abilities at sea. Armaments include missiles and some lighter guns and the ship has a crew of about 80 personnel.

    Cruise ship Melody sails for Europe

    MSC Rhapsody on a previous cruise to Durban. Picture Terry Hutson

    The cruise ship MSC MELODY sailed from Durban on Saturday (19 April) after completing her summer cruise season in South African waters

    Melody, which is operated in South Africa by Starlight Cruises and MSC will return later in the year to keep company with another ‘old face’, the cruise ship MSC Rhapsody, Such is the growing demand for local short sea cruising that the organisers are having to bring in a second ship to supplement the service and cater for slightly longer cruises to Mauritius, Madagascar and also to Cape Town and Walvis Bay.

    The Rhapsody returns to Durban in October travelling from the Mediterranean via the Red Sea and East Coast. In November after a few local cruises out of Durban Rhapsody will depart for Cape Town, where she will undertake cruising operations along the Cape coast and to Namibia before returning to Durban in December in time for the longer and popular Christmas cruise to Mauritius.

    Other cruises in the New Year include Madagascar and the Seychelles. Rhapsody will depart for the Med via Zanzibar and other places in March 2009 after having undertaken 23 cruises locally.

    In the meantime the MSC Melody will return to Durban in November to begin another season of popular short cruises lasting until April 2009.

    Cruising in the Indian Ocean is beginning to hot up and become more widely known – in Mauritius Costa Cruises will return for a second year of cruising the Indian Ocean islands operating fly/cruise packages from Europe, having enjoyed a good response the first time round. As was reported by our Mauritius correspondent Alain Malherbe last week, a second operator intends staging a ship at Port Louis in the coming summer as well.

    Meanwhile there are several other operators thought to be considering options in the Indian Ocean region.

    Kenya calls for increased intra-Africa trade

    by Judith Akolo

    Nairobi, 18 April - Kenya has called for an increase in intra-Africa trade in order to provide a market for exports from the African countries.

    Kenyan Trade and Industry Ministry Permanent Secretary, David Nalo said this will in turn help boost economic development on the continent.

    He was addressing the re-launch of the Proctor and Gamble Company's products on the local market on Thursday.

    Mr Nalo said over the last 10 years, Kenya's trade within African states had been on the decline.

    Exports from Africa to the rest of the world grew by 12 percent while growth of trade within Africa of only 9 percent was recorded.

    Mr Nalo said trade between the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) with the rest of the world grew by 14 percent while trade within Comesa registered growth of some 11 percent.

    This showed that trade within the trading bloc was low despite the available opportunities.

    He called for the deepening of trade within the regional blocks in Africa, adding that Kenya offered good opportunities for investment.

    United States Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger called for a change in the common perception that multinational companies were out to exploit developing countries.

    Mr Ranneberger said multinational companies with corporate social responsibility, strategies and budgets were helping in raising the living standards of people in most developing economies. - BuaNews-NNN

    Pic of the day – HARRIER EXPLORER

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The offshore supply ship HARRIER EXPLORER (2652-gt) in Cape Town harbour this week. Picture by Aad Noorland

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