Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 19, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Chinese arms ship An Yue Jiang ‘nearly home’
  • Nautical school for Eastern Cape
  • Shipping line news
  • Siemens a major sub-contractor in tug building programme
  • UN Food Agency Appeals for Naval Escorts for Shipments
  • Cameroonians become latest victims of armed militants
  • Another Kenyan rail line is closed
  • Developer says Botswana coal port terminal in Namibia is very much still on
  • Mozambique sugar production set to increase
  • Increase in catch ahead as Gamba shrimp stocks reach sustainable levels
  • Mozambique cotton crop looking good
  • Somali opposition opposed to foreign navies
  • Crew wanted for 600 BC circumnavigation of Africa
  • Last Liberty ship sails into the sunset
  • Hovering around Durban
  • Food security tops African Regional Summit agenda
  • Rapid action urged over new fuel pipeline
  • Passing of Durban shipping man
  • Sailors Society reaches out to Myanmar
  • NSRI sea rescue reports
  • For the Record
  • Navy ship in Durban open to the public
  • Pic of the week – MSC MESSINA


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

    Chinese arms ship An Yue Jiang ‘nearly home’

    The COSCO freighter An Yue Jiang at anchor off Durban in April. Picture Clinton Wyness

    After several months of international intrigue and not a little drama, the Cosco cargo ship An Yue Jiang, which is carrying a consignment of arms intended for Zimbabwe, was being last week as ‘nearly home’ by International Transport Federation general secretary David Cockcroft.

    Readers will recall how the ship was ordered by a Durban court to enter harbour and discharge its cargo of arms and ammunition for Zimbabwe, which would then be impounded pending a further hearing of the court. Instead the master of the ship, owned by Chinese national carrier COSCO, opted to ‘run for it’ minutes ahead of a launch carrying the sheriff of Durban trying to deliver the court orders.

    Thereafter the ship played a game of cat and mouse along the southern African coast before appearing in Luanda harbour where it is reported that part of the vessel’s cargo of building materials was discharged. The ship then sailed again and was later reported to be again off the South African coast opposite Port Elizabeth and believed to be heading back to China.

    Speaking recently to an International Labour Organisation audience Cockcroft said to delegates: “Many of you will be aware that a Chinese flagged ship, the An Yue Jiang, was recently discovered planning to unload 3 million rounds of AK 47 ammunition and rocket propelled grenades in the port of Durban.

    “These weapons were destined for the soldiers of Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe at a moment when political tensions there are at their highest. The ITF dockers’ union (SATAWU) refused to unload the ship and as the ITF received reports that it would try to escape the action by unloading in Mozambique, Angola or Namibia, ITF unions in those countries made it clear that the ship’s cargo wasn’t welcome anywhere in Africa.

    “African Union governments also added their support. Contacts also took place between the ITF and the Chinese Seamen’s’ Union and the ACFTU, and with the Chinese government. I am happy to be able to tell you that those weapons are nearly back in China.”

    Nautical school for Eastern Cape

    A former head of department at the Durban University of Technology, Daniel Sadwelera is about to start classes at a new nautical college at Swartkops, near Port Elizabeth, reports the Herald newspaper.

    “We are currently in the process of registering the academy with South Africa Maritime Authority and most of the groundwork has been done,” Sadwelera told the newspaper, adding that courses in navigation, catering, engineering and ship surveying would be included.

    “The academy will be opened on 1 July and we are inviting candidates with matric maths and science.”

    He said the courses would take a year to complete, with eight months set aside for the main subjects and the balance for items such as first aid, fire fighting and sea survival (SOLAS).

    According to Sadwelera after completing the course candidates will be helped to find a ship on which to do their practicals. “They will then write their exams and get a licence to operate, which is an international qualification.”

    Candidates without matric in maths and science could do a foundation course while others without a matric certificate would train to become ratings on board ships.

    The nautical academy will occupy premises of the former Swartkops Yacht Club.

    Shipping line news

    Safmarine goes for the double with two namings

    Guests of honour at the naming of Safmarine Nakuru are from left: Mr Nana Oduro-Owusu, MD of the Cocoa Marketing Company of Ghana; Dr Bertram Liebler, Managing Director of Volkswerft Stralsund GmBH and Mr Nils S. Andersen, Group CEO, A.P Moller-Maersk, with godmother of the Safmarine Nakuru, Mrs Dr Angela Merkel and godmother of the Safmarine Nuba, Ms Berlinda Oduro-Owusu.

    The double naming ceremony of two 2,500 teu container vessels, the SAFMARINE NAKURU and SAFMARINE NUBA on 14 June, represented a first for Safmarine while bringing to seven the total number of owned containerships named by the company this year.

    The naming was performed by Dr Angela Merkel, member of German Parliament and Chancellor of Germany who named the Safmarine Nakuru, and Miss Berlinda Oduro-Owusu - daughter of Mr Nana Oduro-Owusu, Managing Director, Cocoa Marketing Company, Ghana – who named the Safmarine Nuba.

    The ceremony took place at the Volkswerft Stralsund Shipyard in Germany.

    Safmarine Nakuru and Safmarine Nuba now join sister-vessels Safmarine Ngami, Safmarine Nyassa and Safmarine Nile – named earlier this year – as newcomers to the Safmarine fleet.

    Safmarine Nakuru takes her name from a soda lake in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya while Safmarine Nuba is named after a range of mountains in southern Sudan.

    Both vessels, which have a crew complement of 17, will be deployed on the trades between West Africa and Europe.

    Hamburg Süd welcomes a second Rio class

    Rio de la Plata, the first of the 5,900-TEI Rio class ships to enter service with Hamburg Süd Picture by Hamburg Süd

    Hamburg Süd’s second of six 5,900-TEU container ships, RIO DE JANEIRO, has been named at a ceremony at the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co shipyard in Okpo, South Korea.

    She follows soon after the naming of the first in the class, RIO DE LA PLATA which Ports & Ships featured recently. These are the largest container ships in the Hamburg Süd fleet.

    Hamburg Süd will phase Rio de Janeiro into its Asia – South Africa – East Coast South America before deploying the class on the line’s Europe – East Coast South America service, with the 5,500-TEU Monte class ships converting from that trade to the Asia – South Africa – East Coast South America trades.

    AP Moller-Maersk takes control of Teekay

    Teekay Corporation and AP Moller-Maersk have announced that AP Moller-Maersk is to acquire Teekay’s 50 percent share in Swift Tankers Management A/S.

    The takeover includes 13 intermediate ships which are time chartered from a number of owners – and in the process means that AP Moller-Maersk has taken over Teekay’s activities in the intermediate market with AP Moller-Maersk becoming sole owner of Swift Tankers.

    Swift Tankers operates 24 intermediate (10-20,000 DWT) product and chemical tankers, from its primary location in Copenhagen as well as a subsidiary office in Stavanger, Norway.

    “In the day-to-day operations there will be no changes to our customers and we look forward to continuing to service the markets with attention on a safe and reliable performance,” said Kristian V Morch, Group Senior Vice President, AP Moller-Maersk.

    Bruce Chan, President of Teekay Tanker Services said Teekay has decided to move its focus away from the intermediate segment to fully concentrate on Teekay’s core activities within the larger products and crude tanker markets.

    The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, takes effect from 1 July 2008.

    TUI chief looks east for a Hapag-Lloyd buyer

    TUI chief executive Michael Frenzel has turned to the Far East to look for a potential buyer for the German company’s container shipping line, Hapag Lloyd.

    The disposal of the German container business has been the subject of much conjecture in recent weeks with reports of TUI wanting to focus on its core travel business by disposing of the container company – the world’s fifth largest container fleet.

    Hapag Lloyd operates with a fleet of 140 ships and recorded sales of USD 9,22 billion last year. According to analysts the fetching price for the container line is likely to be in the region of USD 5 billion.

    There are reported to be a number of would be suitors, both in the Far East as well as in Europe, including a group of German investors who want the line to remain German.

    Siemens a major sub-contractor in tug building programme

    Its hard to imagine that this will soon be one of the most powerful harbour tugs to go into service at a South African port.

    Siemens, one of the main subcontractors to Southern African Shipyards in its R400 million contract to build five powerful tugs simultaneously for Transnet National Ports Authority (NPA), says it intends opening a fully functional electrical facility in the ship building yard at Durban harbour in support of the project.

    Ian Morris, acting regional director for Siemens KwaZulu-Natal says the company will undertake all the electrical and electronic design and installation with their subcontractors on the tugs.

    Each tug will stand 18 metres high, be 31 metres long and 11.5 metres wide, and have a 70-ton and 65-ton bollard pull respectively.

    The Siemens contract includes the design and installation of 15 kilometres of cable, installation of the radar, communication and alarm monitoring systems.

    This is the first time in South Africa that five boats are being built in tandem, said Jürgen Cobarg, General Manager: Shipbuilding Southern African Shipyards. The first tug destined for Coega is expected to be launched in July 2009.

    Locally designed, the physical size and capability of these tugs make them the most powerful harbour tugs in the country, and will enable the NPA to meet the needs of the larger container ships expected to enter Ngqura as well as Durban when the harbour mouth is widened.

    The five tugs make up two contracts – three 70-ton bollard-pull tugs for Ngqura and two 65-ton bollard pull tugs for Durban.

    The shipyard is currently involved in an open tender for another eight 70-ton bollard pull tugs for various ports around the coast. “If that comes off it will keep us building until the end of 2012,” said Prasheen Maharaj, Financial Director Southern African Shipyards.

    Since the reopening of the mothballed shipbuilding yard last year 210 jobs have been created, and this is expected to rise to 260 with the tug contract. It is anticipated that as many as 60 apprentices will eventually be employed.

    “This is considered a bold move but it makes business sense to train artisans now in preparation for further contracts,” said Maharaj.

    Another view of one of the tugs under construction at Southern African Shipyards

    UN Food Agency Appeals for Naval Escorts for Shipments

    SS Wilson, one of the ships used regularly for delivering food aid to Africa. Picture by Rowan Sears

    New York, 12 June (UN News Service) - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) appealed today to naval powers to help protect its food-delivery ships from pirate attacks, saying that as many as two million Somalis could go hungry without this protection.

    A Dutch frigate is scheduled to finish escort services for WFP on 25 June. Despite an upsurge of piracy in Somali waters - according to the International Maritime Bureau there have been 31 attacks so far this year - no WFP ships have been targeted since the escort system started last November.

    “Without escorts, our whole maritime supply route will be threatened,” WFP Country Director Peter Goossens said. “Shipping companies are reluctant to sail unescorted to Somalia, and we have no offers to take over from the Royal Netherlands Navy.”

    WFP says that millions of Somalis are suffering from a combination of insecurity, drought and high food and fuel prices.

    “If relief shipments slow down, we could face a major catastrophe,” Mr Goossens added, saying that WFP is trying to scale up food distributions to avoid a disaster.
    Malnutrition is on the rise in Somalia. An unusually harsh dry season and poor April-June rains, which followed a succession of droughts and poor harvests, have led to increasing hunger in the central region of the country.

    The situation is compounded by conflict, hyperinflation, the weakness of the Somali shilling, high unemployment and high food and fuel prices.

    Some 80 percent of WFP food for Somalia arrives by sea. From mid-November until now, a succession of French, Danish and Dutch frigates have escorted 27 ships loaded with 112,500 tons of WFP food - enough to feed nearly 1 million people for six months.

    WFP says that relief food deliveries by sea are essential. High commodity prices in East Africa have prompted WFP to purchase food in South Africa and the food agency plans to ship 220,000 tons of food by sea to Somalia between June and December, to reach a total of 2.4 million people per month by December.

    Experts fear that the number of people requiring food assistance later this year could reach 3.5 million people - nearly half the total population.

    Without urgent new contributions, WFP warned it will run out of food for Somalia in September.

    Cameroonians become latest victims of armed militants

    Five men kidnapped from a boat near the border between Nigeria and Cameroon have been found dead. The Cameroonians, including a local sub prefect came under attack and were seized by a group of Nigerian militants a week ago while they were approaching a fishing village in a small boat. One person was killed on site and the others taken away but earlier this week their mutilated bodies were found by search parties.

    The attack took place in the oil-rich Bokassi peninsula, which passed from Nigerian control to Cameroon in 2006. Attacks by Nigerian militants in the area have stepped up recently.

    Similar attacks have taken place in neighbouring Equatorial Guinea and Benin, both areas where the United States has stepped up naval patrols in recent months as part of its Africom programme. The US acquires an increasing volume of its oil requirements from the region.

    Another Kenya rail line is closed

    map showing the location of Nakuru and Kisumu, where the branch line has been closed due to vandalism. The main line continues from Nakuru through Eldoret into Uganda. Map IRIN

    Another section of Kenyan railway has had to be closed, bringing further disruption to the distribution of cargo by rail in the East African region.

    Earlier a washaway inside Uganda closed the line from Mombasa to the Ugandan capital Kampala for about four weeks while repairs were carried out. The Nakuru – Kisumu branch line became one of Uganda’s lifelines during that period with mainly petroleum products being carried by rail to Kisumu, a Lake Victoria port and rail terminus.

    Now the embattled Rift Valley Railway (RVR) has been forced to announce that the branch line has been closed on account of increased vandalism, which is preventing trains from reaching Kisumu.

    “We have noted a rise in vandalism incidents which have been expertly perpetrated by person(s) with a clear technical know how of the railway system," RVR’s managing director Roy Puffet said in a media statement.

    Vandalising of rail assets has become a major headache affecting the safe operation of RVR and is jeopardizing the company’s chances of increasing traffic volumes by rail at a time when the privatised railway is coming under increased criticism by politicians and business generally.

    Developer says Botswana coal port terminal in Namibia is very much still on

    Delegates to the Botswana Economic Forum have been told that negotiations for a coal port terminal on the Namibian coast connected by rail with Botswana’s Mmamabula Energy Project via the proposed Trans Kalahari rail link are well advanced.

    Eddie Scholtz, Chief Executive Officer of Bon Terra Mining said that both the port an rail proposals were still at the concept study stage and will be presented to the Namibian and Botswana governments as soon as they are ready. He didn’t anticipate problems in the negotiations involving both governments. The report is expected to be ready for presentation during the third quarter of this year.

    Pointing out that there was an international demand for coal he said, “The price is right and we have the coal. So we need that seaport and the rail link.”

    The need for a 1,500km rail route through Botswana to Namibia was highlighted when it was realised that Richards Bay, the original choice, lacked spare capacity for Botswana coal.

    The cost of the project is estimated to be in the region of USD 10 billion. The Mmamabula project is under development by Canada’s CIC Energy in conjunction with the UK’s International Power Plc. The Mmamabula coal field is regarded as the largest untapped source of coal in the SADC after South Africa’s Waterberg reserves.

    Comment: Instead of concentrating on building a 1,500km railway across Botswana to Namibia as well as a new deepwater port facility at Shearwater Bay on the Atlantic coast the developers might also consider looking in the other direction - east towards the almost complete new port of Ngqura, which is crying out for an anchor tenant.

    The Botswana main line runs to within 60km of the new mine and is connected in the other direction with the South African rail network leading to Ngqura in the Eastern Cape. And while the manganese exporters continue to debate whether to relocate from Port Elizabeth to Ngqura (there is a cost factor including having to rehabilitate the ground at Port Elizabeth), perhaps that dry bulk facility at Ngqura should be offered for the export of coal.

    With the likelihood of an aluminium smelter being developed at Coega now appearing ever more unlikely, particularly with the seriousness of BHP Tinto’s bid to take over Rio Tinto, perhaps the time is appropriate for the Coega developers to make a serious approach to the Botswana mining house.

    Mozambique sugar production set to increase

    Mozambique’s news agency AIM reports that the country’s four operational sugar mills expect to produce about 295,000 tonnes of sugar this year, compared to the 243,860 tonnes produced in 2007.

    Quoting Joao Jeque, Mozambique’s Sugar Producers Association (APAMO) director-general, AIM said the mills are hoping for the best production in 30 years, surpassing even the 265,000 tonnes produced in 2005.

    Jeque quoted APAMO’s forecasts saying that the Xinavane and Maragra mills in Maputo province should produce 80,400t and 79,690t respectively, while the Sena and Mafambisse mills in Sofala province expect to produce 75,000 and 60,000t respectively.

    Mafambisse and Xinavane mills are owned by South Africa’s Tongaat-Hulett group which has said it intends staking advantage of the European market which allows undeveloped countries to export all goods except arms to Europe free of duties or quotas.

    The two Tongaat-Hulett mills, which are being expanded and modernised, are expected to achieve 177,000 tonnes a year by 2009. – source AIM

    Increase in catch ahead as Gamba shrimp stocks reach sustainable levels

    According to the Maputo newspaper ‘Noticias’, Mozambique fishing authorities are suggesting there may be an increase in ‘gamba’ shrimp fishing until 2009 because stock levels have reached sustainable levels.

    This happy position follows research carried out by the Spanish research vessel Visconde de Eça which has been operating off the Mozambique coast for the past several months.

    As a result it is possible that more operators can be licensed.

    Mozambique exports gamba shrimp to Europe and parts of Asia.

    Mozambique cotton crop looking good

    Mozambique expects to export 120,000 tonnes of unbrushed cotton for the 2007/08 season, according to a statistician at Mozambique’s Cotton Institute, Paulino Sive.

    More than 26,000 tonnes of cotton fibre will be exported in the first quarter of 2008, with the preferred destination being Asia with 82 percent of the total production. Indonesia heads the list of importers from Mozambique, handling 37 percent of the total production followed by Singapore with 34 percent. Other importers include China, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Taiwan, Vietnam, Portugal and South Africa. - macauhub

    Somali opposition opposed to foreign navies

    Somali opposition groups have expressed their displeasure at the UN Security Council’s authorisation permitting foreign navies to take on pirate vessels off the Somali coast, including inside Somali territorial waters.

    According to Abdifatah Mohamed Ali, a leading opposition member of the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS), which is based in Asmara, Eritrea, the international community has an ulterior motive in authorising foreign navy ships to operate within Somali national waters.

    “Pirates are still abducting ships while foreign warships are at sea (outside the territorial waters), that shows the aim is not to protect the ships but to usurp our coast and loot our marine resources,” Ali is reported to have said.

    Of the over 30 ships seized by armed pirates operating from Somalia, most were released after ransom had been paid by ship owners. It is believed that local headmen or ‘warlords’ are involved in the business of sending ‘pirates’ out to sea, often in large mother ships capable of launching smaller high speed attack boats manned by heavily armed pirates who are not necessarily fussy about what type of ship they chase or seize.

    Vessels captured or attacked have included modern cruise ships, cruise yachts, tankers, container, general cargo vessels, tugs, dhows… virtually anything sailing with a value on it.

    Meanwhile, the Islamist group Al-shabaab has threatened to launch an attack on any foreign warship found in Somali territorial waters. The organisation didn’t say what it would use to carry out this threat apart from saying it would fight the ships they same way it fought Ethiopian troops.

    Ethiopia continues to have a considerable number of soldiers stationed within Somalia, assisting the interim federal government.

    The destroyer USS HALSEY on a westbound heading in the Indian Ocean on 11 June 2008. Picture US Navy

    Crew wanted for 600 BC circumnavigation of Africa

    CREW Wanted for 600 BC Sailing Expedition

    PORTS & SHIPS took a keen interest in the Borobodur Ship Expedition of 2003/04, particularly when the ship – a replica of an 800 AD Indonesian sailing ship called at South African ports and harbours while recreating the course of a journey from Indonesia to Ghana in West Africa.

    See our related reports in the archived 2003 and 2004 News pages – start HERE (the archive for 2003 and 2004 is available at the top of the News Home Page).

    Now we bring you news of another new adventure, a recreation of the world’s first recorded epic journey by sea – undertaken by the Phoenicians who sailed round Africa over 2,500 years ago.

    Over two and a half thousand years ago one of the greatest journeys in mankind's history began on the Egyptian shores of the Red Sea. Greek Historian Herodotus tells us how, in 600 BC, Phoenician mariners achieved the first circumnavigation of Africa, a voyage into unknown waters previously considered too dangerous to attempt.

    In 2008-2009 a reconstruction of a Phoenician / Mediterranean trading vessel, built at the ancient Phoenician port of Arwad, will embark on a journey to re-trace the Phoenicians’ route around Africa. Re-creating this historical voyage is the major objective of the Phoenician Ship Expedition.
    – excerpt from the Phoenicia website

    The proposed journey round Africa

    The following message has been received from the organisers:

    Following your interest in the Borobodur Ship Expedition 2003/04 we would like to announce that Philip Beale (Expedition Leader) is organising a new adventure! Philip will lead a crew of 20 over 17,000 miles in an attempt to recreate one of mankind’s greatest journeys.

    Recreate the first circumnavigation of Africa

    The search is on for keen sailors to take part in ‘Phoenicia’ which aims to recreate the first circumnavigation of Africa believed to have been completed by Phoenician mariners almost 3,000 years ago. The Phoenician Ship Expedition will set sail this summer from the ancient Syrian port of Arwad, which is where the 70 ft replica vessel is being built.

    The crew recruitment process has recently launched and we’re looking for people who have a sense of adventure and curiosity to be part of a small team in what will inevitably be challenging circumstances. We want a multinational crew and obviously not everyone can take so long away from work and family commitments so we’d welcome applications from people who could come for part of the voyage.

    We are looking for experienced and novice sailors, as well as those specialist skills such as

  • Medical
  • Carpentry
  • Culinary
  • IT
  • photographic expertise

    If you would like to hear more about getting involved in Phoenicia please visit our website www.phoenicia.org.uk and download a crew application form.

    Kind regards
    The Phoenicia Team

    Last Liberty ship sails into the sunset

    one of the Liberty ships – the Jeremiah O’Brien. Picture Florida University

    The last available Liberty ship, ARTHUR M HUDDELL, is about to head off to become a museum ship in Greece, provided everything goes to plan (reports American Shipper).

    The World War II era ship, which is currently moored at the James River Reserve Fleet site near Fort Eustis, Virginia, will be taken across the Atlantic – once her normal stamping ground – following the signing of an agreement by US Maritime Administrator Sean Connaughton for the Greek government to take over the ship as a floating museum.

    Liberty ships have a special meaning for Greek shipping, as many a Greek fortune began with the purchase of surplus Liberties in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The 14,000 ton ships, with a speed of just 11 knots and less than a third the length of a fairly normal container ship of today, might seem hardly worth a second glance but once they ensured the lifeline to the UK remained open at the height of the Atlantic war – it was said they could be built faster than German submarines could sink them and in fact the world’s first mass produced ships, built along motor vehicle assembly type lines, could be produced in a matter of days instead of months.

    US shipyards built a total of 2,751 Liberty ships – they were intended for a limited lifetime but their welded hulls proved highly durable and many remained in service well into the 1970s. It probably took the advent of container ships to finally knock them out of the water.

    Meanwhile many Greek shipping magnates were building their fortunes with the sturdy ships and with this in mind the Greek government entered into talks with the US to acquire the Arthur M Huddell as a fitting museum memorial.

    Several other Liberty ships already exist as museums and one or two are reportedly still in service – considerably altered and modernised but still Liberties in their core.

    Hovering around Durban

    The hovercraft on the Umkomaas River

    Is it a ship or an aircraft? Those who operate the hovercraft say they ‘fly’ the machine on a cushion of air, whereas to the casual observer it might appear that the craft is skimming along in contact with the water.

    Whatever the answer, the hovercraft has been around for some time, including machines in South Africa but the eThekwini Metro (Durban) has just acquired its first hovercraft to help the fight against pollution.

    This is where the harbour comes into this story. Several times in the past year Durban Bay has been the subject of much debate and controversy following reports of pollution entering the waters of the bay, either through the several rivers and canals that empty into the harbour or from the many storm water drains leading from the surrounding city and suburbs. There has also been the suggestion that some pollutants have entered the bay from within the harbour, ie from a ship. Nothing was ever proved to the satisfaction of the other side but the threat of further incidents continues to exist.

    Meanwhile the city authorities have been charged with the problem of discovering the source of all such incidents and, as was shown on several occasions, found this a most difficult task as some of the suspected or possible sources were in highly inaccessible places in the rivers leading into the bay.

    Chris Fennemore of eThekwini Pollution and Environment says that until now his inspectors had to walk and wade through rivers and swampy areas looking for the source of pollution.

    “Sometimes we could travel at no more than half a kilometre an hour in among some pretty bad places, where it is easy to slip or be hurt, and often we were restricted to walking on the banks because of no access points.”

    This is where the hovercraft comes in. The city has bought a two-seater machine from a Durban manufacturer, Zephyr Projects and according to Fennemore the beauty of the machine is that it can go virtually anywhere quickly. No longer would his staff be forced to wade upstream in inaccessible places in fear of flash flooding, or with the risk of slipping among the not so clean waters or injuring themselves on hidden objects. Often they weren’t able to enter the waters at all due to high river banks and were forced to walk along the banks until thick undergrowth blocked their further passage. Durban is in a sub-tropical region and thick bush is in the order of the day.

    Mud banks or water makes little difference to these machines

    As a result of this new mobility the inspectors can now take readings more frequently and the chances of polluters getting away with dumping toxic substances into storm water drains (that feed into streams and rivers) has become much less likely.

    His department is expecting new monitoring equipment later this month which will provide even faster and more efficient readings and information. This is particularly important now that they have the means of getting to some of these isolated places where the likely origin of the pollution may be identified.

    The hovercraft won’t be seen in use on Durban Bay, not yet anyway for that’s the preserve of Transnet National Ports Authority but the time may come when the two authorities may decide to share their abilities and facilities.

    Food security tops African Regional Summit agenda

    SS Cleveland, one of a fleet of ships used for delivering food aid parcels to Africa. Picture Terry Hutson

    by Rosalia Opondo

    Nairobi, 17 June - Food security is top of the agenda at the 25th Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Regional Conference for Africa.

    This comes at a time when the continent is reeling from a global food crisis, triggered by surging energy and commodity prices.

    The conference, taking place from Monday until Friday, is discussing ways of boosting agriculture and food security, such as by improving water management.

    Kenyan Agriculture Minister William Ruto, who officially opened the conference on Monday, said increased funding to the sector would foster economic development in African countries.

    “I am confident that the results of the deliberations will provide the organisation and its partners with recommendations and necessary guidance to help boost agricultural development and food security in Africa,” FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said.

    Food prices have doubled in three years, according to the World Bank, sparking riots in many African nations. Brazil, Vietnam, India and Egypt have all imposed food export restrictions.

    Minister Ruto, who is the conference chairman, also blamed sluggish agriculture for the current food crisis.

    “Food and nutrition insecurity is a growing problem brought about by the slow growth of the agricultural sector.

    “The [food] insecurity is further exacerbated by the global rise in food prices brought about by the rising demand for cereals, weather-related supply shocks, high cost of energy and increased prices for fertilisers and other inputs.”

    An FAO food crisis summit early this month in Rome resulted in pledges for .5 billion in emergency food relief and vows to halve global hunger by 2015 by taking "urgent" action over the global food crisis.

    A recent FAO report estimated that in order to meet rising demand, food production must double by 2030.

    Despite record production in 2008, food prices are expected to remain high, impacting on the world's poor and sparking riots in countries reliant on imports, the FAO report said. - BuaNews-NNN

    Rapid action urged over new fuel pipeline

    by Shaun Benton (BuaNews)

    Cape Town, 18 June - The Department of Minerals and Energy has recommended to Cabinet changes to improve South Africa’s capacity for streamlining its oil demand which may lead to costs of up to R1 billion, much of which would need to be borne by industry.

    Deputy Director-General for Hydrocarbons and Energy Planning in the department, Nhlanhla Gumede on Wednesday mentioned this figure to reporters after briefing Members of Parliament about the recommended changes contained in the energy master plan.

    However, Mr Gumede said that the costs to the economy could be far higher if the recommendations were not implemented, and warned that South Africa could face shortages of liquid fuel if infrastructure was not boosted.

    By 2025, South Africa's energy demands would likely have doubled, said Mr Gumede, with the country importing far more than it produces.

    Already, the country, as of the middle to the close of 2006, has run out of refining capacity, the DME official told members of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy.

    Outlining a number of factors placing pressure on supply ahead of the completion of a new pipeline from Durban to Gauteng by 2010, Mr Gumede said that currently, the country has capacity only for about eight to ten days of fuel storage.

    In the case of airlines, the storage times are even shorter. The Oliver Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) has, for instance, only five days of storage capacity, while the international best practice standard is 30 days of stored fuel supply.

    Proposed solutions to this tight supply situation include enforcing obligatory stock holding levels in the airline industry, with every “customer group” being made to pay for its own stock holding, he said.

    If nothing is done about the current situation, road freight would be severely over-utilised, said Mr Gumede, outlining a scenario by 2010 where road tankers carrying fuel from the port of Durban to the country's industrial heartland of Gauteng would be at the rate of more than 10 an hour.

    By the third quarter of 2009, South Africa would not be able to supply inland demand unless major changes are made, he said.

    In the meantime, the new pipeline being laid between Durban and Gauteng - with initial capacity of 1100 cubic metres of fuel per hour - would be expected to alleviate the situation.

    By 2025, when all the pump stations along the Durban-Gauteng route are completed, the pipeline would have the capacity to carry about 3000 cubic metres of fuel per hour, the official said.

    However, the rail system would have to be improved in the meanwhile to ensure security of supply, with a proposal for a consolidation of the network by using, for instance, block trains as well as route substitution.

    The turnaround time for a container travelling from Durban to Johannesburg and back is currently around 14 days, said Mr Gumede, adding that this needs to be boosted to four days, with an ideal of two days over the longer term.

    The country currently has “no choice” but to reduce this turnaround time down to four days at the most, he said.

    Investments in infrastructure such as rail sidings would have to be made to make this possible, he said, adding that the additional costs would need to be carried by the oil industry.

    Other changes would also be needed, such as increased overtime and weekend work, while government would need to examine the question of a more efficient rail system in the light of the country’s competition law.

    Outlining other possible solutions to refining capacity, Mr Gumede said that, while South Africa has a substantial capacity to manufacture coal-to-liquid fuels, a new coal-to-liquid plant - such as those operated by Sasol - would be needed every three to four years to supply 85,000 barrels of fuel per day.

    In the recommendations, the DME has stated that at least 30 percent of the country's petroleum products be made from indigenous raw materials, be it from gas-to-liquid technology, biofuels or coal-to-liquid technology.

    In the meantime, the approval and implementation of the Multi-Product Pipeline Project is a matter of urgency, Mr Gumede told MPs. - BuaNews

    Passing of Durban shipping man

    One of Durban’s most respected shipping agents, Mike Evans, died of cancer in a local hospital last Friday (13 June 2008) after a long battle with cancer. He was 53.

    Mike Evans is remembered as a strong minded man (some might say he had a stubborn streak) but one who always stayed true to his principals and what he believed in. He is fondly remembered by those who worked with and for him.

    His career spanned more than 30 years in the shipping industry, having started work as a boarding clerk in Mitchell Cotts Maritime before working for Transatlantic, Bridge / Barbican Line, Timber Carriers, General Shipping Services, and GAC until his illness dragged him down. In the late 1990s he was instrumental in establishing GAC, an international ships agency, in Durban, where he remained in management for almost a decade.

    After his illness went into temporary remission he revealed his resilience and bounced with the establishment of a new ships agency company called Renaissance Shipping, formed in partnership with the Renaissance Group, only for the cancer to take hold again earlier this year.

    A friend and colleague described his attitude to his illness by saying that he stayed true to his stubborn self and fought valiantly all the way with a very positive attitude “and although in lots of pain and with no voice, was still able to chase nurses out of his room when it suited him!”

    He is survived by his wife Elaine and four children from his marriages, Leanne, Justin, Byron, Nicholas as well as several grandchildren.

    Sailors Society reaches out to Myanmar

    Report by Yvonne de Kock

    Soon after receiving reports of the devastation and loss of life caused by the typhoon and storm surge in Myanmar, chaplains of the ISSSA (International Sailors Society of Southern Africa) stood by to provide care and assistance for Burmese crews in South African ports.

    The main problem facing Burmese sailors was the lack of information available due to the unserviceability of the communication systems in their country.

    Instead they had to rely on news/media reports and await news via relatives and friends in adjacent areas wherever contact was possible. Efforts to bus people out of disease stricken and water contaminated areas further complicated efforts to trace relatives.

    ISSSA approached the SA Institute of International Affairs and Thailand Embassy for information and official support.

    Since that time, it has been learned that members of ships crew have been able to make contact.

    Sea Sunday Service : July 2008

    The Annual Sea Sunday Service will be held in N shed (Passenger Terminal), T Jetty, Port of Durban on Sunday 13 July 2006 at 11h00.

    The preacher will be Fr Sylvester David, OMI from the Catholic Church.

    The maritime profession, whether it entails working on vessels as they cross the oceans, or working in ports, at sea or on shore must be one of the most demanding and often dangerous professions.

    The United Kingdom has historically been a maritime nation and over the years has suffered many maritime disasters resulting in loss of life. Hence during the last century, organisations which concerned themselves with seafarers such as various Missions including the International Sailors Society instituted a day where tribute is paid to – as they put it – to “those who go down to the sea in ships”.

    Since 1946 this day has been commemorated internationally on the second Sunday in July. It takes the form of a church service, but it must be emphasised that it is completely interdenominational and tribute is paid to all seafarers, irrespective of their beliefs.

    The service has been organised by Durban port chaplains with the kind assistance of the Transnet National Ports Authority of SA, Port of Durban providing the venue. Years ago the service was previously held at various churches in Durban until it was decided that the most appropriate venue was in the Port of Durban.

    Various missions and maritime organisations participate. All are welcome – for further details kindly contact Linda van Schalkwyk on 031 3014380.

    NSRI sea rescue reports

    NSRI rescue craft at sea

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has again been involved in several dramas at sea while rescuing people in difficulty and was hard pressed earlier this week with the sudden flooding in southern KZN.

    The following reports are of interest:

    Cape Point, 15 June. Four crewmembers rescued from life-raft after yacht capsizes

    Darren Zimmerman, NSRI Simonstown Station Commander reports: “At 21h55 NSRI Simonstown and NSRI Gordon’s Bay were activated by the National Ports Authority following a request for urgent assistance from a female reporting that her husband and daughter and two men on a 37 foot Catamaran yacht, Genii II, had called her reporting to be taking water fast, sinking and drifting about 5 nautical miles off Cape Point and urgently needing rescue.

    “The Skipper’s wife, Roda Jelberts, said that her husband Hans had told her that electrical and VHF radio failure prevented him from calling a Mayday Distress and he asked her to urgently alert a rescue.

    “After giving his estimated position and a brief description of the emergency and the urgency of the situation the Skipper’s cell-phone went dead and no further communication with the cell-phone could be made.

    “NSRI Simonstown launched rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine III and Eddie Beaumont II, NSRI Gordon’s Bay launched Sanlam Rescuer. NSRI Hout Bay was activated and the Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services, a South African Air Force (SAAF) 35 Squadron Dakota fixed wing aircraft and the SAAF 22 Squadron NSRI Air Sea Rescue helicopters were placed on alert.

    “NSRI rescue vehicles were dispatched to Cape Point and Maritime Radio Services and Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) were informed.

    “Roda confirmed to us that the yacht has a life-raft and red distress flares on-board.

    “Attempts by NSRI to contact the crew aboard the yacht via VHF radio or on any three cell-phones belonging to the three men on board were unsuccessful.

    “Shortly after launching the three NSRI rescue craft a 1,000 foot parachute red distress flare was sighted 2 nautical miles East of Cape Point Lighthouse by coast watchers.

    “On arrival in the vicinity of the red distress flare sightings a search commenced and a second 1,000 foot parachute red distress flare was sighted by NSRI rescue crew.

    “Further red distress hand-held flares were then sighted in the same direction and all four survivors were found safe and uninjured aboard their life-raft and all four survivors were brought to NSRI Simonstown’s rescue base.

    “The life-raft was recovered and brought to NSRI Gordon’s Bay aboard Sanlam Rescuer.

    “The casualty yacht is adrift semi-submerged in the capsize position and Maritime Radio Services are broadcasting a Navigational Warning to vessels in the area.

    “The cause of the yacht taking water is as yet unconfirmed.

    “The skipper estimates that they capsized about 4 nautical miles off-shore of Cape Point Lighthouse after taking water on the port side from as yet unconfirmed causes. According to the skipper they abandoned ship and drifted about 2 nautical miles in their life-raft while setting off 1,000 foot parachute red distress flares at intermittent intervals. Once they spotted the rescue craft in the area they ignited hand held red distress flares to guide the rescue craft to their position.

    “They had departed Hout Bay at 18h00 headed in the direction of Gordon’s Bay.

    Port Edward and Ifafa, 17 June

    Andrew Stevens, NSRI Durban Deputy Station Commander reports: “At around midday today (17 June) NSRI Shelley Beach were alerted to track the progress of the yacht Eggnog sailing from Port Edward to Durban and reportedly battling in heavy weather but the skipper had not called an emergency and they were trying to sail through the weather. NSRI Shelley Beach was placed on full alert.

    “At 14h34 NSRI Durban were placed on full alert to be on stand-by as the yachts skipper, Yaron Padagio, and crew, Annelie Norris from East London and Neil van der Walt, from Pretoria, reported that they were battling to keep control of the yacht and were deciding whether or not to declare an emergency.

    “NSRI Durban’s rescue craft Eikos Rescuer II was prepared for a launch to go to their aid and at approximately 16h45 the crew aboard Eggnog declared an emergency and requested to be rescued off the yacht and stated that they were preparing to abandon ship.

    Eikos Rescuer II launched and a National Ports Authority Agusta helicopter was activated from the Port of Durban with NSRI rescue swimmer Andre Fletcher, Pilot Rhys Mason, Co-Pilot Douglas Nichols and Flight Engineer Gerhard Coetzee on board.

    “An NSRI Shelley Beach crew were activated to stand-by at the Mhlungwa River Mouth to assist if it was necessary to bring the casualty crew ashore immediately.

    “On arrival on-scene, approximately 1.6 nautical miles off-shore of the Mhlungwa River Mouth, south of Ifafa in the area of Hibberdene, in zero visibility conditions, a rain squall, 30 to 35 knot South Westerly winds and a confused sea state with 3 to 4 metre choppy, windswept rough sea swells and breaking surf, NSRI rescue swimmer Andre Fletcher was winch-hoisted from the helicopter into the sea from where he beckoned and shouted instructions to the first crew member to abandon ship by jumping into the water to be secured and hoisted into the helicopter, but in the driving rain and against the noise of the helicopter the three casualty crew failed to understand the instructions so Andre was hoisted back into the helicopter which then hovered above the yacht while the flight engineer used hand signals to explain to the casualty crew what was expected of them.

    “On the second attempt Andre was again hoisted into the water and Neil jumped off the yacht into the sea and Andre secured him and they were hoisted into the helicopter. Two more similar runs were made – on the second run Annelie was hoisted while being secured by Andre and then on the third run the skipper was hoisted while being secured by Andre.

    “Andre said that during the hoisting operation and each time he was lowered into the surf to receive the next victim breaking waves and extremely rough sea conditions were driving him back and forth putting his swimming skills to an extreme test.

    “None of the crew were injured and they were brought safely to Durban aboard the Agusta helicopter.

    “The unmanned yacht is reportedly at the back surf line off-shore of the Mhlungwa River Mouth and according to eye-witnesses she appears to be close to running aground.”

    Earlier in the week the same yacht had been assisted by the NSRI at Port Edward when the Eggnog ran out of fuel. One of the yacht’s crew had attempted to reach shore on a paddle-ski but got into difficulty in the rough seas. After rescuing him the NSRI arranged to refuel the Eggnog, which was sailing from East London to the Seychelles. After delivering fuel to the yacht using the NSRI Rescue 32 Alpha the crew were wished well on their way. The following day the rescue reported above took place.

    For the Record

    A171 HMS Endurance entering Simon’s Town harbour while below her is the buckled bow of the Uruguay frigate ROU-2 Comandante Pedro Campbell, awaiting repair following a collision with her sister frigate ROU-1 Uruguay. The collision took place while en route to South Africa from Portugal Picture by David Erickson

    Captain Glen Knox, Harbour Master at Simon’s Town Naval Base has advised that the two Uruguayan naval ships collided while on their way to Simon’s Town from Portugal, rather than during the ‘Atlasur’ naval exercises as we had reported in last week’s News bulletin.

    Navy ship in Durban open to the public

    Durban, 19 June - In news just announced by the South African Navy, the frigate SAS AMATOLA will arrive in Durban on Friday morning to help celebrate the World Hydrographic Day.

    The ship is to berth at the Passenger Terminal on N berth and will be open to the public over the weekend Saturday to Sunday (21 and 22 June).

    Pic of the week – MSC MESSINA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Under four gantries – what everyone has been waiting to see. MSC Messina on berth at the Durban Container Terminal with four post-panamax gantry cranes in attendance. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

    Did you know that Ports & Ships lists ship movements for all ports between Walvis Bay on the West Coast all the way round to Mombasa on the East Coast, and has Port Louis in Mauritius as well?

    Colour photographs and slides for sale of a variety of ships.

    Thousands of items listed featuring famous passenger liners of the past to cruise ships of today, freighters, container vessels, tankers, bulkers, naval and research vessels.


    South Africa’s most comprehensive Directory of Maritime Services is now listed on this site. Please check if your company is included. To sign up for a free listing contact info@ports.co.za or register online

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