Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 13, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • First View – ATLANTIC IMPALA

  • Scare as gas leak causes evacuation of Port Elizabeth Container Terminal

  • Zimbabwe signs MoU to use Walvis Bay harbour

  • Piracy report – warships engage with pirates

  • Nato Navy Escorts Protect UN-Shipped Food Aid Against Pirates

  • A Leopard named Seal -
    The Truth Behind Russia’s “Ultramodern” Military

  • African economists meet at UN-backed conference in Tunis

  • For the record...

  • Pic of the day – P&O NEDLLOYD TESLIN


    First View – ATLANTIC IMPALA

    The Maltese-registered Ro-Ro vessel ATLANTIC IMPALA (16,075-gt) arriving in Durban in July this year. The ship formerly sailed in local waters as the ROTORUA. Picture by L Rip Riphagen

    Scare as gas leak causes evacuation of Port Elizabeth Container Terminal

    A leaking gas cylinder on a ship in Port Elizabeth caused the port’s container terminal to be hastily evacuated on Tuesday.

    According to Transnet Port Terminal personnel a loud popping noise was heard which some thought might have been a small explosion on board a container ship being offloaded alongside the terminal.

    As workers evacuated the scene fire department people arrived and discovered the problem was a leaking gas cylinder container non-hazardous argon gas that was destined for a local company, Air Liquid.

    Fire department officials later confirmed the gas was not dangerous to humans and non flammable.

    The incident resulted in a short delay in operations at the container terminal.

    Zimbabwe signs MoU to use Walvis Bay harbour

    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between Namibia and Zimbabwe over the use of the port of Walvis Bay by Zimbabwe-based importers and exporters.

    According to the Namibian newspaper a delegation from the Zimbabwe Ministry of Industry is expected in Namibia this week to discuss further the proposal of using Walvis Bay as a preferred port for the landlocked country.

    A detailed document has been sent to Zimbabwe’s various business organisations for study and comment before final signing of the agreement takes place. However representatives of Zimbabwe industry and traders however say that a number of questions need answering before they buy into the proposal.

    The chairman of Zimbabwe’s Shipping and Forwarding Agents Association said that while the proposal had merit, his association was not convinced that the route to Walvis Bay would be cost effective when compared with existing routes to Beira and Maputo.

    The shortest and most cost effective route at present was to the Mozambique port of Beira, he said, although there were a number of logistical problems resulting in delays through that port. As a result some Zimbabwe businesses were continuing to use either Maputo or Durban.

    He said that until they could see the advantages of using Walvis Bay, they believed that their customers would prefer to not to use that port.

    Piracy report – warships engage with pirates

    Two of the warships on patrol in the Gulf of Aden, HMS Cumberland and the Russian frigate Neustrashimy went into action yesterday (12 November) when armed pirates attempted to highjack a ship identified as the POWERFUL.

    According to reports issued by the Russian Navy the two frigates launched helicopters which were used to drive off the pirates who were armed with assault rifles.

    Earlier this week an Indian warship, INS TABAR launched a helicopter which was successful in driving off pirates in open boats that were attacking a bulker, the JAG ARNAV about 60 n.miles east of Aden (see our News Bulletin on this incident dated yesterday (12 November).

    In West Africa Cameroun militants have released 10 oil workers who were taken hostage from the supply vessel BOURBON SAGITTA on 31 October (see our News Bulletin dated 3 November).

    Their release follows talks between Cameroun authorities and the militant group involved. The men who were released were not harmed.

    Nato Navy Escorts Protect UN-Shipped Food Aid Against Pirates

    UN News Service (New York) 11 November 2008 - Naval escorts from the Netherlands and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are providing vital protection from pirate attacks off Somalia for United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) ships loaded with life-saving aid for the war-ravaged country.

    "More than 2 million Somalis could go hungry without this protection," WFP said in its latest update on the pirate-ridden waters off the coast of the Horn of Africa country, where the seizure of a weapons-laden Ukrainian ship made headlines earlier this year.

    Chartered WFP ships have been a frequent target for ransom-seeking privateers but since the naval escort system began in November 2007, no pirate attacks have been launched against ships loaded with WFP food despite 2008 being the worst year ever for piracy off Somalia.

    There have been more than 80 such attacks so far this year, including 32 hijackings, compared with 31 attacks in 2007, according to the London-based International Maritime Bureau. More than 500 crew members have been taken hostage so far this year.

    Under the protection system, two vessels loaded with a total of 18,500 metric tons of WFP food arrived safely in Mogadishu from the Kenyan port of Mombasa on 26 October under the escort of the Dutch frigate HNLMS De Ruyter. HNLMS De Ruyter is due to escort WFP ships to Somalia into December.

    On 28 October, the Greek frigate HS Themistokles, one of three vessels in a NATO task force off Somalia entrusted with escorting WFP ships and other anti-piracy missions, escorted a ship loaded with 2,700 tons of WFP food to the beach port of Merka, 100 kilometres southwest of the capital Mogadishu.

    NATO and Dutch naval vessels are continuing their escort missions in November to Mogadishu and Merka. With three naval vessels available for escorts, WFP will have a succession of ships delivering food assistance to Somalia, which requires 40,000 metric tons of WFP food every month.

    European Union foreign ministers agreed on 10 November to dispatch five to seven frigates and support aircraft to the Horn of Africa in December to protect merchant ships and WFP vessels bringing food to Somalia.

    Editor’s Footnote: Somali insurgents belonging from the Al Shabaab group, which is considered to have links with Al-Qaeda, yesterday (12 November) took control of the port of Merka (mentioned in the UN report above) after facing hardly any resistance from government forces.

    A Leopard named Seal - The Truth Behind Russia’s “Ultramodern” Military

    source: TheOtherRussia.org

    Russian defense expert Aleksandr Golts pores deeply into the latest disaster to strike the Russian Navy, an accident on board an atomic submarine which took 20 lives. Golts goes on to explore the state of the Russian armed forces as a whole, suggesting that Russia’s “ultramodern” re-equipped technologies are little more than outdated designs from the Soviet Union. The article first ran in the Yezhednevny Zhurnal online newspaper.

    If it were up to me, I would strictly forbid Russian commanders from making statements about the constantly growing might of our armed forces. Remember, all it took was for Vladimir Putin to call a Security Council and declare the coming ascent of our defense capabilities, when the Kursk submarine sank. Afterwards, speaking with his subordinate public in 2006, Putin boasted that a new class of missile carrying submarines would be introduced in the near future. Then it became clear that there were no missiles for them. Yet another test of the Bulava rocket ended in failure. And now it appears that that this increased “foresight” gets passed on with the Kremlin Cabinet.

    Already we see Dmitri Medvedev declaring in his Address to the Federal Assembly: “Regarding the re-equipment of the army and navy with new, modern equipment, I have already taken the relevant decisions.” And two days later, [Russia's] “newest” atomic submarine, the Nerpa [(Russian for seal)], has an accident during its sea trials resulting in the deaths of twenty people. To all appearances, the fire-extinguishing system turned on my mistake. In this case, all compartments are closed off, and all the space is filled with inert gas. Those located in the compartments were doomed to death.

    Representatives of the naval forces rushed to assert that the boat had not been handed over to the navy, and that its crew was from the factory. The subtext is very simple – nothing can be blamed on the Admirals, all the more so since most of those killed were civilians. However, the fact that the military officers dodged the bullet extremely dexterously (they have a wealth of experience –they explained that the Kursk was sunk by the Americans, and that the Bulava had an “electrical discharge”) does not provide an explanation for the accident.

    In truth, the tragedy illuminates all the problems of re-equipping our armed forces. It just so happens that I saw this atomic submarine eight years ago, in October 2000. Though truth be told, it was named the Bars [(Russian for leopard)] then. And it was the most dangerous unfinished construction project in the Russian Federation. Fifteen submarines of this class were built in the USSR. The Bars was pledged either in 1991 or 1993 at the Amur shipbuilding facility. And construction middled along until the mid-90s, as long as stockpiles of components built during Soviet times still remained (it was assumed that armaments must be built even during atomic warfare). Afterwards, both money and components dried up.

    I caught the factory’s management at a practically catch-22 situation. The ship was built to 85 percent –but nobody wanted it. Moreover, the submarine was already equipped with an atomic reactor. As result, the small amount of money sent to the plant from the [federal] budget was spent on maintaining the necessary temperature in the docks. And since it had become dangerous, getting rid of it was anything but simple. “Salvaging it is more expensive than finishing it,” the factory’s general director, Nikolai Povzyk, had asserted then. “To cut out the reactor, the ship must be hauled by sea to Bolshoi Kamen, to the plant where Pacific fleet submarines are reclaimed. And that’s more than a hundred kilometers. Besides, then the ship would need to be hauled back. Their plant isn’t designed to take apart such gigantic ships.”

    The whole city was full of rumors that the ship would be sold at any moment, or would be leased to India. Ten years later, the rumors started to match with reality. Stories appeared in both Russian and Indian newspapers that the sub had been leased to India.

    But by all accounts, the ship was not completed with Indian money. Some good fortune happened. Not with the Amur shipbuilding facility. With the whole country. Oil prices rose. The government had enough money to complete the Bars, now renamed the Nerpa. Roughly the same thing happened with all the other weapons systems, which have now been declared “ultramodern.” [The authorities] decided to produce them. However, the Topol-M rocket, the Su-34 and Su-35 aircraft, the tanks and mechanized infantry vehicles were all developed in the 80s. That is to say 20 years ago. This military hardware can only be called modern because up until now, no one manufactured it. There is even less basis to consider military hardware like the Nerpa, which was built painfully and at great lengths over 15 years, to be up-to-date.

    Only God knows what happened to the submarine’s equipment, as it sat in the slip dock for several years. Even more questions come up regarding who worked on completing it and how they did it. The Nerpa is the only submarine from the Amur factory to be launched in fifteen years. During this time, the work crews changed more than once. Those who built atomic submarines one after another in the 70s and 80s have either quit or gone into retirement. The average age of workers in Russia’s defense establishment is nearing 60. And that’s on average, in all branches, including those with reasonably good wages.

    What can one say about those working at the factory, who scraped by on bread and water for more than ten years.

    Does this mean that any attempt to re-equip the Russian army is doomed to failure? Not in the least. We simply need to cease competing with the US, define the priorities of military construction and concentrate on them. Then, we will have the means to resolve and debug any element of military hardware in a quality way before we start using it.

    translation by theotherrussia.org

    African economists meet at UN-backed conference in Tunis

    United Nations, 12 November 2008 – Economists and policymakers from across Africa have gathered today in the Tunisian capital for the start of a three-day United Nations-backed conference designed to boost the continent’s economic performance.

    The Third African Economic Conference, jointly organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank, will focus on the theme of “Globalisation, Institutions and Economic Development of Africa.”

    The Tunis conference’s aim is to allow participants to exchange ideas about the latest research and information on economic issues, particularly the impact of the current global financial crisis on Africa, according to a press release issued by ECA this week.

    The commission’s Executive Secretary Abdoulie Janneh is among the high-level figures scheduled to address the joint opening session of the conference and the ministerial forum.

    Africa has enjoyed higher economic growth this decade than it did in the 1980s and 1990s, thanks in part to high commodity prices, especially oil, better economic policies implemented by national governments across the continent and the end of hostilities in several countries.

    But the global financial crisis, particularly its impact on international credit markets, means the economic outlook for Africa remains uncertain, ECA stressed.

    For the record…

    In a news article (10 November) we reported that the tug SMIT AMANDLA had entered dry dock in East London for emergency repairs. Smit Amandla Marine points out that the tug was in fact booked in for routine maintenance and should not be considered as having required emergency repairs.

    In the same news bulletin that day we accredited a picture of the Unicorn Tanker RAINBOW to Chris Savage, who points out that he only provided the picture and did not take it. He thinks it should be credited to Gary Pulford. The picture was taken while the tanker was undergoing maintenance repairs at the Dormac Marine yard in Durban.

    Pic of the day – P&O NEDLLOYD TESLIN

    Another picture taken from that eventful January morning in 2005 was of the container ship P&O NEDLLOYD TESLIN, arriving in Durban. See also yesterday’s Pic of the day. Picture Terry Hutson

    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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