Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 20, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Mbeki denies giving order to refuel Chinese arms ship

  • Safmarine names latest ship after River Nile

  • NSRI calls for caution as big swells strike coast

  • Tanzania Railways offers to help Uganda traders

  • Exports set to increase when Dube Trade Port opens near Durban

  • Nigeria: Emergency rice import cancelled

  • Pic of the day – THETIS GLORY


    Watch a short 4.5 minute video clip about ship stowaway searches CLICK HERE and follow the link

    Mbeki denies giving order to refuel Chinese arms ship

    Cosco’s An Yue Jiang – Mbeki denies refuelling the ship. Picture by Clinton Wyness

    by Bathandwa Mbola

    Durban, 19 May - President Thabo Mbeki has denounced media reports suggesting that he gave an order for the Chinese ship, loaded with arms en route to Zimbabwe, to be refuelled.

    A Mozambican online newspaper reported on Saturday that President Mbeki had ordered Deputy Defence Minister, Mluleki George, to send the SAS Drakensberg – the South African Navy combat support vessel, out to sea to refuel the ship.

    The report then went on to say the arms had been offloaded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and transported to Zimbabwe.

    Mr Mbeki said the deliberate campaign to spread lies about the presidency and government needed to end.

    The controversial Chinese ship, An Yue Jiang, is carrying three million rounds of ammunition for AK-47 assault rifles and small arms, 3500 mortars and mortar tubes as well as 1500 rocket propelled grenades.

    On 18 April, the ship left the Durban outer anchorage shortly after the Durban High Court ordered that its cargo could not be transported across South Africa to Zimbabwe.

    South Africa had earlier said it was not in the position to interfere with shipment.

    The ship then travelled to various coastal countries including Mozambique and Angola in a bid to have the cargo offloaded. It is now believed to be at sea just outside of South Africa's territorial waters. – BuaNews

    Safmarine names latest ship after River Nile

    Safmarine Nyassa, sister ship to the newbuild Safmarine Nile, on her maiden visit to South Africa in Durban last week, 15 May 2008. Picture by Steve McCurrach / http://www.airserv.co.za/maritime.htm

    Cape Town, 19 May - Shippers of refrigerated cargo were the guests of honour at the recent naming of the Safmarine Nile, the third in a series of five Safmarine sisterships built at the Hegemann Group-owned Volkswerft shipyard in Stralsund Germany. This time the honour of naming Safmarine’s latest new vessel went to Mrs Gerthy Laham, wife of Mr Jalal Al-Laham, managing director and partner of the Netherlands-based Teeuwissen Holding BV.

    Speaking at the naming event held on Friday, May 16, 2008, Jens T. Norgaard, Safmarine’s newly appointed Global Sales and Marketing Executive, said: “This naming ceremony has provided an opportunity to celebrate the partnership between our two companies, which began in 2004 between Teeuwissen Mercosul Ltda and Safmarine Brazil.”

    Teeuwissen Group, which was formed in 1970 to import products for the pharmaceutical industry, is today one of Europe’s largest importers of meat products from South America. It is also active in the African markets.

    The Safmarine Nile is the fifth vessel to be named in as many months by Safmarine. The company is currently mid-way through an extensive fleet expansion programme, the largest in the Safmarine’s 62 year history. The new vessel will join the Safmarine Ngami and Safmarine Nyassa, named earlier this year, on the South Africa/USA (AMEX) service.

    Also attending Friday’s naming ceremony were customers and their Safmarine counterparts from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and the United Arab Emirates, all of whom are involved in Safmarine's South American trades.

    Captain Joseph Birtles, Master of the Safmarine Nile and his senior crew - Richard Kaese (Chief Engineer), Brian Rowland (Chief Officer), Alrick Steyn (Second Engineer) and Marcin Wiacek (Electrical Engineer) – were also in attendance.


    * The Safmarine Nile is named after the River Nile, the longest river in the world (4,160 miles).

    * Jens T Norgaard, who started his career with Safmarine in 1999, has been Safmarine Executive for the Americas Region for the past six years.

    Technical Specifications of Safmarine Nile

    – Length: 210.54 m
    – Breadth: 29.80 m
    – Deadweight: tdw 33,915
    – Service Speed: 22.10 kn
    – Container Capacity: 2,474 TEU (nominal)

    Details on the AMEX Service


    * Weekly named day sailing ex SA ports to USA
    * Strong focus on customers
    * Fast and reliable transit times
    * Eight vessels - average of 2300 teu (nominal) - deployed on the trade
    * An eighth vessel was added into the service to provide further schedule reliability.
    * Ports of call: Southbound: Newark – Baltimore – Norfolk – Charleston – Freeport -Cape Town - Port Elizabeth - Durban.
    Northbound: Port Elizabeth - Durban - Cape Town - Newark - Baltimore - Norfolk - North Charleston - Freeport

    NSRI calls for caution as big swells strike coast

    The Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter flying over Sunset Reef, Kommetjie, conducting a search at approximately 12h30 on Saturday 17 May, after red distress flares were reportedly sighted in the area. No sign of anyone in distress was found and the flare activation is suspected to have been a false alarm. Picture Samantha de Wet
    NSRI helicopter duty controller Ian Klopper, who was the NSRI rescue swimmer on-board the Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter at the time, said that at least 10 surfers were observed in the area making best use of the big waves (see picture below).

    19 May - The NSRI (Nationals Sea Rescue Institute) has issued an appeal to seafarers, bathers and anglers to exercise caution during the prevailing big swells currently being experienced along the (South African) coast.

    As a result of the big swells NSRI Bakoven have evacuated equipment from their rescue base at Bakoven before high tide today. At high tide swells pushed through the rescue base, which is custom built to handle these situations, and no damage has been sustained. Equipment that was evacuated from the base was saved from possibly being damaged.

    A main concern is anglers fishing from rocks who are at risk of being swept off rocks by waves that may swamp areas along the coastline. In places the swell is pushing up to 30 foot (9.144m) in height.

    Anyone launching any kind of craft to go to sea should wear a life-jacket at all times.

    In another appeal the NSRI are urging people not to set off red distress flares unless they are in a dire emergency situation.

    Last week NSRI Plettenberg Bay launched 3 rescue craft to search an area in the vicinity of Robberg where red distress flares had been reportedly seen activated.

    On Sunday night, at 22h34 NSRI Port Elizabeth launched rescue craft to search an area along the coast after red distress flares were sighted by Air Traffic Controllers and yesterday, at 12h03, the Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter, NSRI Hout Bay and NSRI Kommetjie searched an area along the Kommetjie coastline after red distress flares were reportedly seen activated.

    In all these cases the reasons for the red distress flare activations are unknown and no-one was found to be in any kind of distress.

    Everyone is aware that a red distress flare activation along our coastline initiates an immediate emergency search and rescue response and often these searches are prolonged when nothing can be found in an effort to ensure that no stone is left unturned in determining that no-ones life is in danger.

    These prolonged searches place a strain on rescue resources engaged in the operation which may be needed elsewhere in a real emergency, placing others lives at risk, and placing the rescuers themselves at unnecessary risk.

    One of a number of surfers observed making the most of the big waves. Picture by Ian Klopper, NSRI Helicopter duty controller and NSRI rescue swimmer on-board the Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter during a search operation in Kommetjie at around midday on Saturday 17 May.

    Tanzania Railways offers to help Uganda traders

    Ugandan importers have been offered a lifeline following the closure of the main railway from Mombasa near Jinja - see our related News Bulletin for 15 May Floods cut Uganda – Mombasa railway CLICK HERE

    The railway from Mombasa to Kampala is expected to be unavailable for between three and four weeks while repairs are carried out.

    A spokesman for the Tanzania Railways told Uganda importers and exporters that a train consisting of 20 wagons was available at short notice to operate between Dar es Salaam and Mwanza on the southern coast of Lake Victoria. From the port at Mwanza the lake ferry MV Umoja, which is capable of carrying loaded rail wagons, would operate a service to Port Bell on the lake’s northern end.

    This would mean no transshipping of goods from rail to ship and back to rail again, he said, as the wagons could be loaded directly onto the ship.

    Another alternative is for cargo owners to send their goods from Uganda to Mwanza by road. At Mwanza cargo would be loaded onto the train for Dar es Salaam.

    Meanwhile the management of Rift Valley Railway in Kenya has reiterated that it has re-directed Kampala-bound rail traffic from Mombasa to the lake port of Kisumu on Kenya’s east coast of Lake Victoria, from where the cargo can be carried by ship to Port Bell and Kampala. Repairs to the damaged bridge near Jinja were already underway and it was hoped to have the railway restored to service within the four week period.

    Exports set to increase when Dube Trade Port opens near Durban

    by Bathandwa Mbola

    San Lameer (KZN South Coast), 19 May - Exports from KwaZulu-Natal are set to increase with the new Dube Trade Port situated to the north of Durban adjacent to the new International Airport.

    Dube Trade Port is the biggest single government infrastructure investment in the province, involving an initial investment of R6.5 billion, and is on schedule to be ready in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

    “The catalytic impact of this project will not be confined to the growth node in the coastal area north of Durban, but will reverberate across the entire province and position KwaZulu-Natal as a destination of choice for domestic and international tourists,” the province’s Premier, Sibusiso Ndebele announced.

    Mr Ndebele announced this during his keynote address at the International Investment Council which was held at San Lameer over the weekend.

    On completion the Dube Trade Port alone will contribute R12.4 billion to the economy and will create thousands of new jobs.

    “By all accounts, these are signs that we are moving in the right direction. There is good reason to be hopeful,” Ndebele told the council. (BuaNews)

    Nigeria: Emergency rice import cancelled

    Kano, 16 May 2008 (IRIN) - A decision by the Nigerian government to reverse an earlier decision to import 50,000 metric tonnes of rice from Thailand to ease supply pressures on rice in Africa’s most populous country has been met with mixed reactions.

    Yau Aladuwa, a 60-year old peasant in the farming village of Buntusu in northern Jigawa state, told IRIN: “This decision not to import the rice has thrown us into despair because we thought the [rice] import would ease the food shortage we are experiencing”.

    Harvests from last season were poor and higher food prices this year have forced many into begging and menial jobs, Aladuwa said.

    However Ahmed Rabiu, vice president of Kano Chamber of Commerce, told IRIN the massive order never made sense.

    “It would have taken a minimum of three months to import and distribute the rice to the people that needed it and by then many farmers will have started harvesting their crops which will make the import worthless,” he explained.

    The Nigerian government had on 1 May announced it would import 50,000 metric tonnes of rice worth USD600 million as an interim measure “to cushion the impact of global food crisis on vulnerable Nigerians”.

    One week later, on 7 May, agriculture minister Abba Sayyadi Ruma rescinded the import decision and instead approved the investment of USD85 million in a credit scheme meant to support local rice processing as part of measures to attain food sufficiency.

    The government also suspended duties on rice imports for six months and ordered the release of 11,000 metric tonnes of grains from its strategic food reserves for sale at one-sixth its market value.

    Sabo Nanono, head of Kano chapter of Nigeria’s commercial farmers union said the decision to invest in the domestic agriculture sector was the right one, even though it will not achieve as much populist enthusiasm as the rice imports.

    He estimated that Nigeria has conditions favourable enough to become a net exporter of rice, given the right tools, seeds and irrigation.

    “It is a wise decision that the government reversed the idea of importing the rice,” Nanono said.

    Poor harvests in some parts of Nigeria in 2007 were due to shorter than necessary rainfall and a locust invasion. In some cities in northern Nigeria, streets are now swarming with child beggars, sent out to earn by impoverished families struggling to afford enough to eat as they wait for the rainy season to start.

    According to the agriculture ministry, 91 million Nigerians representing 65 percent of the country’s population are food insecure.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    Pic of the day – THETIS GLORY

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Durban continues to play host to ships making their maiden calls, with one of the latest arrivals this past week being the 48,425-gt Maersk LPG tanker THETIS GLORY (54,789-DWT) which berthed at Island View 1 to take bunkers. Picture by Steve McCurrach /

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