Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 27, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • First View – AN YUE JIANG

  • QE2’s final voyage ends in Dubai

  • Arlona Engineering provides specialised lifting equipment at Durban harbour

  • Counting the cost of piracy

  • Piracy report - Indian Navy sank Thai fishing vessel

  • Pic of the day – CAP CARMEL


    First View – AN YUE JIANG

    Remember this ship? That’s right, this is the ’infamous’ Cosco freighter AN YUE JIANG which for several weeks was the subject of international intrigue concerning her cargo of weapons for Zimbabwe. The ship came in focus while at anchor in the outer anchorage and faced arrest once she entered Durban. A court order instructed the ship to enter port and discharge the weapons for Zimbabwe which would be held pending a further court hearing a week later.

    Instead, immediately before the sheriff of the Durban court could serve the order, she did a ’runner’ by upping anchor and sailing away with her AIS transponder turned off and for several weeks everyone was kept guessing as to where she would next appear. Eventually An Yue Jiang returned to China, still apparently with her cargo of weapons intact and on board, although some reports suggested the ship had been seen in Angola offloading other cargo.

    Amidst all the excitement and charges levelled at the vessel and her operator, a factor ovelooked was that the ship was peforming a legiimate contract to deliver cargo from one continent to another.

    On a number of previous occasions An Yue Jiang has called at South African ports without attracting adverse publicity. Yet it appears now that the vessel is clouded with suspicion, as was the case recently when a rumour spread that the ’death ship’ was again in our waters and appeals were made for it to be tracked.

    The photograph above shows the ship arriving in Durban on another mission in 2004 – a mission of delivering ordinary cargo like any other ship in the port that day.     Picture Terry Hutson

    QE2’s final voyage ends in Dubai

    Perhaps the most famous cruise ship and liner, Queen Elizabeth 2 or QE2 as she is fondly known, has arrived in Dubai at the end of her final voyage.

    The ship steamed into Dubai harbour (Rashid Port) yesterday (Wednesday) on schedule to begin a new career as a floating hotel and entertainment centre berthed alongside a special quay on Palm Island.

    The ship was bought from Cunard for approximately USD100 million – not a bad price for a 40 year old ship that has circumnavigated the globe 26 times and sailed more than 6 million miles. Over 2.5 million passengers travelled on her, either on trans-Atlantic crossings or her famous world cruises.

    Even the British Army got a look in. During the Falklands War of 1982 the ship was converted into a troop carrier to rush thousands of troops to the South Atlantic.

    For most ships aged 40 it is time for the cutting torches of the ship breakers. But for QE2, life begins at 40, says Manfred Ursprunger, the chief executive of QE2 Enterprises, the company which will transform the ship for her new role. That means a dramatic refurbishment of her rooms and public areas to fit her place as a luxury floating hotel alongside such extravaganzas as the new glittering Atlantis Hotel, brainchild of South African hotel and gambling magnate Sol Kerzner.

    The redesign of QE2 is expected to take up to three years but some of her famous features will remain, including the Queen’s Room, the Captain’s Quarters and The Bridge.

    The ship is due to be formerly handed over today to Nakheel, a division of Dubai World.

    Arlona Engineering provides specialised lifting equipment at Durban harbour

    A Dolos clamp, manufactured by Arlona Engineering, is being put in position to lift the 25 tonne dolos blocks, which will be used as armouring for the new piers at the Durban Harbour.

    One of the most important civil engineering projects currently being undertaken in South Africa – apart from a number mega projects in the run up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup – is the widening of the Durban Harbour mouth.

    Arlona Engineering, specialists in the design, manufacture and certification of lifting equipment, was awarded the contract by Group 5, to manufacture a host of specialised lifting equipment that will ensure the 2010 deadline for this major harbour expansion project is safely and economically met.

    “Whilst the manufacture of the 45 tonne concrete Antifer blocks - a vital part of the foundation - is in itself no mean feat, a huge challenge was to manufacture equipment to safely lift and stack these blocks and then to place them accurately on the sea bed,” says Steve Christy, managing director of Arlona Engineering. “Arlona’s ability to react quickly to meet these unusual handling needs, secured the company the contract for this vital part of the expansion project.

    “The company’s involvement in this venture began with the manufacture of four 45 tonne high tensile steel SWL Antifer clamps. Two of these clamps were later fitted with Arlona’s specially designed automatic locking devices, which allowed the blocks to be stacked three high beneath the gantry crane. This feature significantly improves the capacity of the stockyard and solves a looming storage problem. This automated clamp also vastly improves the safety of the operation, as workers no longer have to go to the top of the block to lock and unlock the clamps.”

    An Antifer clamp, manufactured by Arlona Engineering, is being used to carefully and precisely place the large concrete Antifer blocks on the sea bed during the Durban Harbour upgrade.

    In addition to these Antifer clamps, Arlona has also manufactured special clamps to handle the 25 tonne dolos blocks which will be used as armouring for the new piers at the harbour.

    Before being delivered to site, these new clamps were load tested and certified by Arlona to ensure they comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements. Arlona Engineering is a registered LME (Lifting Machinery Entity) and has its own test rig designed to test and certify any lifting equipment up to 100 tonne.

    A number of specially reinforced 40 tonne SWL skips have also been manufactured by Arlona for dumping smaller rocks required to form the foundation for this project.

    * Arlona Engineering, is one of the leading designers and manufacturers of bulk handling and lifting equipment for the shipping sector in Southern Africa and is based at the Durban Harbour.

    Picture courtesy Willem Kruk

    Counting the cost of piracy

    by Quintus van der Merwe

    "Ho ho ho and a bottle of rum …" Dramatic scenes of adventure on the high seas by the likes of Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Blackbeard and the likes in a bygone era may spring to mind. Alas, piracy is alive, thriving and out of control.

    Some of the more publicised incidents of piracy by Somalian pirates include the MV Feina that was laden with armoured tanks and the fully laden super tanker, the Sirius Star, that were both held by Somali pirates. There are, however, many others that have not been publicised.

    The Straights of Malacca used to be the notorious "hotspot" but piracy there has now been curbed, either because the devastating 2004 Tsunami wiped out the pirates' infrastructure or because of more effective policing.

    The Horn of Africa has taken over as pirates' paradise. There have been in excess of 90 attacks this year alone – that is nearly one attack every 4 days.

    Complex international conventions dealing with the law of the sea have not allowed for the effective fighting of piracy because it was not possible to pursue the pirates into another nations' territorial waters. This has been partially solved by a UN resolution now allowing for the authorities to pursue pirates into such territorial waters provided the country involved consents.

    It remains very difficult to do anything once the pirates have control of a vessel. Despite the huge Nato naval presence in the area, piracy has continued seemingly unabated. The reality is until one is able to attack or take action against the pirates' land based infrastructure, it is going to be difficult, if not impossible, to prevent piracy. The oil trading nations have called for a sea embargo on all vessels to see if they can prevent the pirates "mother vessels" from sailing in the area. It remains to be seen if this will be successful.

    Since the attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and are carried out hundreds of miles from land, all shipping through the Suez Canal is at risk because it must run the gauntlet past the top end of Somalia.

    As a result, some crews are refusing to sail into the Red Sea/Suez. Insurance premiums have and will continue to rise, given the high risk of piracy and huge payouts made to secure the release of the vessels and crew. It is these payouts that fuel piracy.

    Already some vessels are choosing the much longer southern route around the Cape rather than run the gauntlet. Increased insurance premiums and longer routes will lead to increased freight rates and consequently increased commodity prices.

    If piracy persists, we are likely to see an increase in shipping through our waters. While not good from an international point of view, this could have a positive spin-off for companies that supply provisions and bunkers to the vessels in South Africa.

    There is a further risk that the cancer of piracy may grow. Greed and avarice will ensure that other thugs, warlords and illegal syndicates who get the sniff of easy money may look to other ungovernable or inaccessible areas to set up basis from which to raise the Jolly Roger and pray on shipping.

    It is in the interests of international trade that the UN or a similar international resolution should allow for a concerted land and sea based effort to be made to effectively thwart the threat of piracy. If one can attack the pirates land based strongholds and impound their illicit gains, one may make inroads against this scourge of the sea.

    Quintus van der Merwe is a partner in the International Transport, Trade & Energy Department of the Durban law firm Shepstone & Wylie

    Piracy report – Indian Navy sank Thai fishing vessel

    In a bungle with tragic consequences it now appears that the pirate mother ship that was attacked and destroyed by the Indian Navy frigate, INS TABAR was in fact a Thai fishing vessel that had just been taken over by pirates. Among those killed on board were her crew, innocent fishermen.

    Last week the Indian Navy announced that INS Tabar had intercepted a pirate mother ship accompanied by several small motor boats and had observed men on board the larger vessel armed with rocket launchers and other automatic weapons.

    Believing they were about to come under fire the Indian ship fired on the fishing vessel, sinking it. Later reports said that pirates were observed making their escape in the smaller boats but there were no reports of fatalities or survivors from the so-called mother ship. The Indian Navy later claimed the fishing vessel contained explosives which detonated when the ship was fired on.

    Now the owner of the Thai-registered fishing vessel Ekawat Nava 5 says the fishing boat was still under attack by the pirates at the time of the Indian ship’s approach. The owner, Wicham Sirichaiekawat concedes that the pirates may have fired at the Indian ship as they were boarding the fishing vessel but says that most of them (the pirates) had managed to escape in their smaller craft.

    The crew of his fishing vessel were not so lucky. Fifteen men are believed to have died but one other has miraculously survived and was picked up in the ocean six days after the event. He has been taken to a hospital in Yemen where his condition is said to be satisfactory and from where he has been able to tell the story of what really happened that day in the Gulf of Aden.

    The Indian Navy insists that its ship fired in self defence. “We acted against a pirate ship on the high seas," Navy spokesman Nirad Sinha said in New Delhi yesterday.

    Meanwhile it has been learned that the Yemeni ship attacked and seized last week, which was identified as the ADINA (see our News Report Bulletin for yesterday, Wednesday 15 November) is actually the ARENA (530-gt, built 1960), The Arena flies the Sierra Leone flag and is owned by a Yemeni national and was captured between Tuesday and Thursday last week.

    Pic of the day – CAP CARMEL

    The container ship CAP CARMEL (15,709, 2003-built) seen sailing from Durban harbour. The ship which is under charter to Hamburg Süd is German–owned and managed by Columbus Shipmanagement GMBH. 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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