Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 16, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Lonhro brings liquidation order against SAILS

  • SAS SPIOENKOP in China

  • Hauliers upset at road congestion outside Durban container terminals

  • Port delays lead to port omissions

  • Piracy Report: NATO gets involved

  • Port Elizabeth harbour spillage linked to oil storage tanks

  • Safmarine containers in Canada

  • Radar reflecting life jackets



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    Lonhro brings liquidation order against SAILS

    International mining group Lonhro is seeking to liquidate South African-based shipping company SA Independent Liner Services (SAILS), in which Lonhro itself holds the majority share. While nothing has been announced it appears that Lonhro considers the shipping division to be insolvent.

    SAILS operated a four-ship container liner service between South Africa, West Africa and northern Europe.

    Many people in the industry were more than a little surprised when Lonhro announced in July 2007 that it had bought a 45% stake in SAILS, founded by the entrepreneurial Ian Wicks who has been involved in several attempts to introduce an alternative liner service between South Africa and Europe.

    Lonhro soon obtained complete control of the company by acquiring 51% of the shares and then increasing this in March this year to 67%. The company had meanwhile introduced four modern vessels with one vessel, the 2007-built TAGA BAY appearing this year with LONHRO branding along the hull.

    Details of the liquidation and withdrawal of the vessels from service have not been announced. However in an apparently unrelated matter one of the SAILS vessels, ORINOCO RIVER was arrested earlier this week in Cape Town harbour in connection with a bunker fuel dispute.

    LONHRO was founded in 1909 as the London and Rhodesian Mining Company and has had a long career mainly in mining in Central Africa.

    SAS SPIOENKOP in China

    The South African Navy frigate SAS SPIOENKOP (F147) is due to arrive in Shanghai, China today (Thursday) on the first official visit by a South African warship to China.

    The visit is the second of a planned series of port calls in Asian countries on this goodwill cruise by one of the four Valour class frigates. The visit to Shanghai is scheduled to last for five days and commemorates ten years of close South Africa – China diplomatic relationships.

    While visiting China the South African Navy will also use the visit to strengthen relationships with the Chinese navy.

    En route to Shanghai the ship made her first port of call at Singapore on 4 October, after an 18-day crossing of the Indian Ocean and down the Straits of Malacca. During the visit SPIOENKOP’S officer commanding, Captain Christopher Manig made a courtesy call on the Deputy Fleet Commander of the Singapore Navy at the Changi naval base.

    Hauliers upset at road congestion outside Durban container terminals

    Container trucks at the laybye facility outside the Durban Container Terminal this week. Apart from these vehicles which have logged into the ‘system’ and will be called to the terminal after a delay, hundreds of other heavy trucks were lined along Langeberg and Bayhead Roads, resulting in severe congestion and inconvenience to other motorists. Picture Danny Raman

    Road hauliers say they have reached the end of their patience over ongoing road congestion outside the two Durban container terminals and intend taking the matter up at the highest level.

    Several companies that PORTS & SHIPS spoke to this week said they were unable to get any explanation or response from Transnet Port Terminals as to why there were delays on different days at both the Durban Container Terminal and the Pier 1 Container Terminal.

    Trucks were forced to back up for several kilometers outside the gates while waiting to be allowed access to the terminals. One company director said it was impossible to continue with the status quo. He pointed out that many long distance drivers are paid by the trip, a typical rate being between R300 and R400, and when they are forced to spend many hours sitting in their vehicles waiting to load or collect containers it becomes totally unproductive.

    “You must also realize the drivers are then forced to drive back to Gauteng in a tired and weary condition, having had no rest as they can no longer afford any more time against what they will be paid. This leads to dangerous conditions with overtired drivers forcing themselves to continue long beyond the point when they should have taken a rest. This leads to accidents,” said the director of one Durban-based company.

    Local drivers, particularly the many owner/drivers find themselves in a similar quandary where they need to make between four and five round trips a day to the port to show a reasonable return on their investment. With the existing congestion they average two trips if they are lucky, meaning they are not even paying expenses on their vehicles.

    Another company operator said that Transnet Port Terminals appeared unwilling to even understand the problem facing the road hauliers and provided no reason for the delays.

    Port delays lead to port omissions

    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) South Africa has announced that severe delays at preceding ports on the South Africa Europe Container Service (SAECS) has resulted in the need to omit the ports of Durban and Port Elizabeth (2nd call, Export) of the vessel ORION (Voyage 804B).

    As a result all Durban imports are being discharged in Port Elizabeth and will be shipped to Durban on the DAL KALAHARI, voyage 807B, which is due in Durban on 25 October 2008.

    All Durban exports will be transferred to the vessel SAFMARINE NOMAZWE (voyage 807B).

    All Lisbon and Le Havre destined cargo will be discharged in Cape Town for loading onto the ORION voyage 804B in Cape Town.

    All Port Elizabeth exports will loaded on the Port Elizabeth call of 16 October 2008.

    The revised schedule for the vessel ORION, voyage 804B is:

    Port Pilot Berth Sail
    ELS 15Oct 15Oct 16Oct
    PLZ 16Oct 16Oct 17Oct
    ELS2 18Oct 18Oct 19Oct
    CPT2 21Oct 21Oct 21Oct

    Piracy Report: NATO gets involved

    Ukrainian Ro-Ro vessel FAINA, still under the watchful eye of the US Navy. Picture by Jason Zalasky/US Navy

    As reports are received of yet another tanker having been highjacked by pirates off the Somali coast, so NATO has decided to send ships to the area to provide escorts and assistance to certain commercial shipping.

    On Monday reports were received that a chemical tanker, believed to be the Panamanian-registered ACTION has been seized by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and is being taken to an anchorage somewhere off the coast of Puntland. ACTION is carrying a crew of 20 but so far the owner and agents have not confirmed these reports.

    Another ship in the news is the Ukrainian Ro-Ro vessel FAINA which has attracted widespread interest because of her cargo of 33 Russian tanks that are thought to be destined for South Sudan. Pirates holding the ship under the guns of US and other warships have threatened to blow up the vessel if their demand for ransom is not met, but so far at least one deadline has come and gone without the ship being harmed. The pirates are demanding USD20 million for the return of the ship and crew. The US warships are remaining in close contact with the FAINA because of US fears that militant groups on the mainland might get control of the weapons on board.

    In another incident, Somali armed forces attempted to storm the Somali-flagged ship AWAIL, which was captured recently by pirates. One of the Somali (Puntland) militia men was killed in the skirmish along with two pirates and the attack was aborted with the ship remaining in the hands of the pirates.

    Perhaps the most significant news in recent weeks is that NATO announced last week that it intends deploying seven warships to Somali waters to escort UN ships delivering food aid and supplies to Somalia or adjacent areas. The NATO ships would also be available to aid and assist other merchant vessels forced to operate in the area. Among the ships will be HMS NORTHUMBERLAND, a type 23 frigate of Britain’s Royal Navy.

    The decision came after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a request for patrol ships to ensure the delivery of food aid parcels to the troubled region. Without the food aid thousands if not millions of people in the region will face starvation. The UN World Food Program (WFP) organisation had said it will be forced to stop sending ships into Somali ports unless escorts were provided. This was after several unescorted ships under charter to WFP were seized by the pirates.

    "Substantially more than 40 percent of the population depends on the food aid being delivered by ship by the World Food Program," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said in an interview with the Voice of America.

    A number of other navies including Korea and Malaysia are considering sending warships to the area. The US-led coalition force known as Task Force 150 is already operating in the region and a Russian warship is on its way.

    Meanwhile International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos held talks with the heads of the Round Table (BIMCO, ICS/ISF, Intercargo and Intertanko) last Friday to discuss the crisis.

    Port Elizabeth harbour spillage linked to oil storage tanks

    Port Elizabeth harbour has been polluted by an oil slick which is thought to have emanated from the oil storage tanks near the harbour entrance.

    The slick spread across a wide region of the harbour waters and has fouled fishing and other boats.

    The incident occurred soon after a report by the former national environment department director-general, Dr Chippy Olver which stated that the tank farm and adjacent manganese ore dump in the harbour posed a health risk.

    According to the Herald newspaper at least 20 chokka fishing boats are lined up near the slipway waiting their turn to be taken out of the water and be cleaned. Fishermen say they fear that the fishing industry is under jeopardy because of strict environmental standards regarding the export of fish catches. They pointed out that chokka (squid) catches drag against the hull as they are hauled on board and any fouling remaining on the boat will be detrimental to the catch.

    Reports said the oil leakage appeared to be seeping from underneath the Dom Pedro Wharf. - source The Herald

    Safmarine containers in Canada

    Safmarine container in Western Canada. Note the double-stacking of the other container wagons. Picture by Patrick Schafli

    This is hardly ‘hard’ news but makes for something different, for a change. Patrick Schafli, a former South African now settled in Western Canada sent this picture of a Canadian container train carrying, among others, three Safmarine containers.

    “I photographed them in (Port) Coquitlam this Sunday past, while on my way home from the airport,” he wrote.

    He adds that he hopes to finally get his N Gauge 20ft Safmarine container models soon (for a model train layout) – they’ve been waiting for him to pick up from a hobby store in White Rock for most of the summer but he has not been able to get down there. At least he now has pictures of the original to compare with the model’s accuracy!

    By way of explanation, Patrick Schafli is one of the many train enthusiasts and didn’t need any encouragement to have a camera handy, but the sight of some Safmarine containers on a train on America’s west coast ensured the camera was put to quick use.

    Radar reflecting life jackets

    Why has it taken so long? Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has begun introducing life jackets fitted out with improved radar reflectors.

    The material used in the jacket is an improved micro prism reflective material that offers six times the reflective quality set by international standards, yet is light and compact. It will offer improved safety and visibility while the seafarers are working on deck and in the event of being swept overboard will ensure faster detection.

    The material has been developed in the USA.

    Pics of the day – BOA BARGE, BOA MIGHTY, BOA GALATEA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Boa’s aplenty as the tug BOA MIGHTY (red tug) hauls into Cape Town harbour BOABARGE 30 which is carrying as cargo the uncompleted BOA GALATEA. Picture by Dave Johnson

    Close up the barge and cargo. Picture Dave Johnson

    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

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