Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 6, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Nigeria promises stern action as pirates continue attacks

  • Navy ships gather at Simon’s Town

  • Freight rate increase hangs over Port Louis

  • Mona Lisa passengers prepare to evacuate ship

  • India, Brazil, SA navies engage in joint exercises

  • Emirates to begin direct daily flights to Durban from December

  • South Africa, Qatar to advance trade relations

  • Pic of the day – SAIPEM 3000


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    Nigeria promises stern action as pirates continue attacks

    Nigeria’s Federal Government (FG) says it will undertake the protection of 60 percent of West Africa’s seaborne traffic – in particular against attacks by pirates and armed militants operating at sea and off the coast.

    Secretary to the FG Alhaji Babagana Kingibe gave this assurance yesterday when opening the International Conference on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea Conference, which has been organised by the Joint Standing Committee of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) together with the Nigerian Navy.

    But the day before he opened the meeting with these words, armed militants attacked an oil support vessel off the coast about 15 n.miles northwest of the Bonny Channel, taking two crew hostage – the ship’s master and chief engineer - when they made their escape. The attack followed attacks earlier that week on Shell oil installations ashore in southern Bayelsa state.

    Kingibe acknowledged that piracy knew no boundaries and involved acts by criminal gangs as well as politically motivated individuals. He described the situation in the Niger Delta as a “vigorous expression of discontent with neglect and underdevelopment” which was being exploited by criminal gangs.

    The meeting was told of 25 cases of attacks on offshore vessels off the Nigerian coast between January and June 2007 alone.

    Navy ships gather at Simon’s Town

    As the ships from three navies – India, Brazil and South Africa, gather at the Simon’s Town Naval Base this week in preparation for several weeks of intensive exercises along the Cape coast (see separate article further down this page), we bring you this photographic essay showing the arrival of the Brazilian and Indian navy ships during the past week.

    All pictures and descriptions are by David Erickson.

    Smoke drifts up Dido Valley as Simon’s Town Lower North Battery fires a 21-gun salute to welcome the Brazilian frigate F44 BNS Independência on Wednesday 30 April 2008

    Brazilian frigate F44 BNS Independência enters Simon’s Town Naval Harbour

    Brazilian frigate F41 BNS Defensora moored alongside, with the South African submarine S101 SAS Manthatisi in the foreground and South African frigate F147 SAS Spioenkop behind

    Smoke drifts up the Dido Valley again, as the Indian destroyer D62 INS Mumbai approaches Simon’s Town Naval Harbour

    Indian destroyer D62 INS Mumbai prepares to come alongside, with South African frigate F146 SAS Isandlwana to the left of the picture

    Indian corvette P64 Karmukh berthed astern of the Brazilian frigate F44 BNS Independência. The Museum Ship Cable Restorer is on the left and South African frigate F146 SAS Isandlwana is on the right

    A view across Simon’s Town Naval Harbour on Friday 2 May 2008

    Ship Details

    Brazilian Vessel descriptions (arrival date Wednesday 30 April 2008):

    F44 BNS Independência – a Niterói Class Frigate of 3,355 standard displacement tons. Length 129.2 m, beam 13.5 m, draught 5.5 m. Gas turbine & diesel propulsion, 30 knots. Crew: 217.

    F41 BNS Defensora – as above

    Indian Vessel descriptions (arrival date Friday 2 May 2008)

    D62 INS Mumbai – a Delhi Class Destroyer of 6,700 standard displacement tons. Length 163 m, beam 17 m, draught 6.5 m. Gas turbine & diesel propulsion, 32 knots. Crew: 360.

    P64 INS Karmukh – a Kora Class Corvette of 1,350 standard displacement tons. Length 91.1 m, beam 10.5 m, draught 4.5 m. Diesel propulsion, 25 knots. Crew: 134.

    All pictures David Erickson

    Freight rate increase hangs over Port Louis

    Report by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip - Port Louis)

    Three Shipping Lines threatening to increase freight rates due to Port-Louis poor port performance

    The spectrum of an increase in freight rates is once again threatening Mauritian maritime trades. Three shipping lines, Maersk, CMA-CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Company - which control 95 percent of the transshipment traffic - plan to introduce an increase in their freight charges if there is no improvement in terminal productivity by 15 May. The three companies say they have noted a serious decrease in container handling performance at the various terminals.

    At this stage it is not possible to speculate on the percentage increase that will be applied. The decision will be made in the light of the situation’s evolution over the coming days.

    At the end of 2007 the shipping lines threatened a port congestion surcharge on all containers for Port Louis, but later allowed more time under strict conditions which included improvements in productivity.

    MSC, CMA-CGM and Maersk say that since January 2008 no significant improvement has been noted, contrary to expectations. They would have noted, for example, between nine and twelve movements per hour at Mauritius Container Terminal (MCT) instead of 15 per hour. This poor performance has occasioned a substantial increase in the shipping lines’ operating costs which has dramatically affecting their profitability.

    “Because of the weak rate of productivity we have lost 75 percent of our business of coastal traffic between Port Louis and the ports of the area since the beginning of the year. Ships owners and operators opted to instead transship their containers in Madagascar and La Reunion,” said a representative of one shipping line in Port Louis.

    “We are incurring enormous losses. It is unacceptable, as many ships have avoided calling at Port Louis these last three months.”

    Indeed, from December 2007 to March 2008, not less than 23 ships cancelled their calls in Port Louis, in particular ten from CMA-CGM, nine of MSC and four from Maersk.

    The three companies estimate that the increases in transshipment tariffs since the beginning of April are not at all supported by any rise in port productivity.

    Archimed Lecordier, directing general of the Cargo Handling Corporation (CHC), maintains that the tariffs have not been increased for quite a long period of time.

    “A period of time is essential for an adequate adaptation with the two new gantries and it will be wise to wait up to 15 May 2008 to note the results,” he said.

    French instructors from the manufacturers are presently providing training to the operators of the new gantries.

    According to the Port Louis Harbour and Docks Workers Union’s president, Jose Francois, “the trade union has contributed to its maximum capacity to increase productivity.”

    Archimed Lecordier says that corrective measurements have been taken to increase productivity. “The evolution of productivity over the three last weeks indicates that the objectives targeted by the shipping lines will be achieved,” he maintained.

    However, the low productivity rate is mainly caused by the constant shortage of shore equipment, mainly shore cranes, forklifts, reach stackers and trailers. For this reason, Maersk, CMA-CGM and MSC estimate that the choice of a strategic partner is taking too much time. Once concluded, this long awaited partnership will bring necessary investments in the purchase of additional equipment in order to further sustain Port Louis in its ambition of becoming ‘the Transshipment Hub of the Region’.

    “It is vital and it is a question of national interest that a decision is made soon on the choice of the strategic partner as Port Louis has to avoid the risk to seeing shipping lines transshipping their containers in other ports,” voiced Brajen Hazareesingh, president of the Association of Shipping Agents.

    According to a letter received from the three shipping lines, there is a risk of them re-examining not only the transshipment activities but also the conditions of calling Port Louis, which will have a definite negative impact on freight costs.

    Poor productivity in Port Louis is exposing Mauritian exporters to the risk of missing original planned connections to final destinations in Europe and the United States. The result will then be for foreign buyers to look for other sources of supply to meet deadlines, with harmful effects on the Island’s economy in general.

    Mona Lisa passengers prepare to evacuate ship

    Irbe Stait, Latvia, 5 May – Passengers from the grounded cruise ship Mona Lisa were preparing to be evacuated from the ship yesterday after efforts at refloating the 28,891-gt vessel proved unsuccessful.

    The ship carrying 651 passengers and a crew of about 330 went aground about 18km off the coast on Sunday in the Irbe Strait which leads to the Latvian capital of Riga. There were no injuries and the ship has not shown signs of being ruptured and seriously damaged. Attempts at pulling her off the sandbank however failed.

    Latvian coastguard officials said immediately that they would begin taking off the passengers if attempts at refloating failed. Another spokesman said yesterday that some of the crew would probably also be taken off, with everyone being taken to Ventspils which is less than 40 kilometres away.

    It is not the first time that Mona Lisa has gone aground. In 2004 the ship ran aground while crossing the St Mark’s Basin at Venice in thick fog. This led to questions whether ships should be permitted to cross the basin which is close to the world famous St Mark’s Square.

    Mona Lisa entered service in 1966 as the Kungsholm of Swedish America Line. The ship later passed into P&O hands becoming Sea Princess in 1979 and was later renamed Victoria. P&O sold her to the present owners in 2002 who renamed her Mona Lisa.

    India, Brazil, SA navies engage in joint exercises

    by Shaun Benton

    Cape Town, 5 May - The navies of Brazil, India and South Africa are, for the first time in the history of the trilateral IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) initiative, engaging in joint exercises in the seas off the southern coast of South Africa.

    In what Brazilian Naval Captain Onias de Castro Lima at a press conference at Simonstown Naval Base on Monday described as a “historical” and “very special” exercise, the three navies are to be engaging in multi-faceted naval operations.

    These include, according to Captain Charl Coetzee of the South African Navy, developing a “common understanding of interoperability” and to foster mutual trust and co-ordination.

    Other objectives include an exchange of observers between the three navies, and developing and improving tactics, doctrine and operating procedures for surface unit employment and defence against air units, as well as the evolution of overall seamanship.

    The three navies will also be conducting “simulated offensive operations” against “surface and sub-surface threats”, including anti-submarine warfare, according to Captain Coetzee.

    The three countries will also, in “a big learning curve for the supporting navies over such long distances”, be providing log support and other operations.

    Some members of the armed forces of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community regional bloc will also be joining the three navies in the exercises, said Captain Coetzee.

    The overall aim, he said, is to use the navies of the three countries to strengthen multilateral cohesion between South Africa, India and Brazil, under ministerial authority of the trilateral axis.

    Ships, said Captain Coetzee, “have always proven to be a very good way of doing that.”

    However, certain navies are bringing particular expertise to the maritime exercises. For instance, the Indian navy is bringing its wealth of experience in combating piracy to the joint operations.

    According to an Indian naval officer, India will be sharing its expertise in “visit board search-and-seizure” operations, including its experience in dealing with cases of non-compliance on the part of ocean users.

    After extensive planning, the three navies will be dividing their time between Simonstown Naval Base and Cape Town's Waterfront - where the ships will be open to tourists and visitors - as well as spending time at sea between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point in Africa.

    The ships involved in the exercises - known as IBSAMAR - with Brazilian Naval Ships BNS Independencia and BNS Defensora participating along with Indian Naval Ships INS Mumbai and INS Karmukh.

    South Africa's ships include SAS Drakensberg, SAS Umkomaas, SAS Galeshewe, SAS Isaac Dyobha as well as two of the four new frigates, the South African Navy Meko-class A200 Frigate Sub-Guided (FSG) vessels, the SAS Isandlwana and SAS Amatola.

    Indian Captain Ajit Kumar said it was “a proud moment” for the Indian Navy to be participating in the inaugural naval exercises, adding that while India's ships had stopped in Durban for a few days, the experience of the oceans off Simonstown will be “another feather in our cap.” - BuaNews

    Emirates to begin direct daily flights to Durban from December

    Emirates airline is to begin daily direct flights between Dubai and Durban from 1 December, it was announced yesterday.

    The service will use an Airbus A330-200 aircraft offering 14 tonnes of cargo space in addition to 27 Business and 251 Economy class seats each day.

    Durban becomes the airline’s 16th passenger destination in Africa totalling 93 flights each week. From December, 35 of these will be to South Africa – three flights daily to Johannesburg and one to Cape Town being the other existing destinations.

    The flight from Durban will take 8 hours and 40 minutes.

    South Africa, Qatar to advance trade relations

    by Bathandwa Mbola

    Pretoria, 5 May - South Africa and Qatar are to advance South-South co-operation by consolidating bilateral political, economic and trade relations.

    President Thabo Mbeki, accompanied by the First Lady Zanele Mbeki, will on Monday depart for Doha, Qatar, for a two-day state visit.

    President Mbeki with his high powered government and business delegation will visit Qatar within the context of South Africa's priority to strengthen relations between both countries, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

    On Tuesday, His Highness Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, will hold bilateral discussions with President Mbeki.

    The discussions are expected to include Qatar's support for the South African government's Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) and the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA) programmes which aim to halve unemployment and poverty by 2014.

    In Qatar, President Mbeki will also hold a briefing on the status of conflict resolution and peacekeeping in Africa which will also include an update on the situation in Sudan and Somalia.

    A briefing by the Amir on developments in the region including the conflict between Israel and Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran will also be included.

    On Wednesday, Mr Mbeki is also expected to participate in a South Africa - Qatar Business Seminar.

    Qatar is strategically of great importance to South Africa as it contains oil reserves of 15.21 billion barrels, while its natural gas reserves exceed 25 trillion cubic meters.

    Partnership between the two countries has seen the establishment of USD 900 million Oryx Gas-to-Liquid plant is a joint venture between SASOL and Qatar Petroleum.

    It is one of the largest joint venture projects involving a South African company in the Middle East.

    The project has enhanced South Africa's stature as world-leader in the field and a reliable technology partner.

    In addition investment from Qatar has totalled USD 400 million into South Africa and Africa in the PME Infrastructure Management Limited Fund.

    The fund is investing in infrastructure in Africa and is concentrating on the areas of transportation, communication and energy.

    According to the Government of Qatar, the fund gives priority to investments in South Africa, as it is the most suitable country to invest in compared to other African countries.

    The fund is considered to be the first investment by the Qatar Investment Authority in South Africa.

    The South African delegation is expected to include Ministers Mosiuoa Lekota, Mandisi Mpahlwa, Buyelwa Sonjica, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad and South Africa's Ambassador to Qatar Vincent Zulu.

    The government delegation will be accompanied by senior business representatives from Ukubona Holdings, the Industrial Development Co-operation, Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal, National African Federated Chambers of Commerce, Sekunjalo Investment, the National Empowerment Fund, Bravura Empowerment, Coega Industrial Development Zone, Tristar Holdings, UNIGAS, PetroSA and Standard Bank, among others.

    President Mbeki is expected to return to South Africa on Thursday. - BuaNews

    Pic of the day – SAIPEM 3000

    We’ve said before that Cape Town harbour is host to an amazing collection of interesting and unusual ships, thanks mainly to the oil industry along the West coast of Africa but also to its strategic position at the foot of Africa. Another example of this is SAIPEM 3000, seen shifting across the harbour under the shadow of Table Mountain after having spent several months in the dry dock undergoing maintenance and repairs. Saipem 3000 is a self-propelled heavylift crane vessel of 20,632-gt, owned by a Madeira-based company and used in the offshore oil industry. The ship is managed by Equipment Rental & Services of the Netherlands and is 162m in length and has a beam of 38m. Picture by Aad Noorland

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