Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 1, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • First View – WESTERN TRIDENT

  • Plans for new inland container park unveiled

  • GAC expands into Mozambique

  • Of ships and shipping lines

  • Deal in sight for armaments ship FEINA

  • Piracy report – security guards jump overboard

  • Pic of the day – Cape Town scene.... tugs DE DA and ROTTERDAM


    First View – WESTERN TRIDENT

    The seismic research vessel WESTERN TRIDENT recently underwent maintenance repairs at the Elgin Brown & Hamer yard in Durban, before sailing last week. The highly sophisticated ship returned to port later in the week and berthed for a few days at the T-Jetty. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Plans for new inland container park unveiled

    A number of years ago Transnet announced a proposal to develop an inland container terminal at Cato Ridge, midway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The objective of the inland terminal was for trucks coming from inland destinations such as Gauteng to drop off their cargo of containers at Cato Ridge and these would move on to the Durban port container terminal exclusively by shuttle train.

    This gave teeth to Transnet talk about moving containers back to rail and the proposal was seen as a very real means of removing between 50% and 60% of container trucks from the Durban streets.

    Following such a development the only road vehicles then accessing the port with containers would be those with cargo originating or destined for Durban addresses – approximately 40% of the total Durban port container traffic is estimated to remain in the immediate Durban area.

    However, these plans or proposals have remained unfulfilled, and there is no indication whether or when Transnet intends taking the matter forward.

    At the same time the national Department of Transport also favours the idea of an inland terminal but in their case it would be situated at Harrismith near the KZN and Free State border, about equidistant from the port at Durban and Gauteng. Once again the matter appears tied down with the interminable bureaucracy that mires most parastatal decision making.

    A private company has now taken the bull by the horns with a privately-owned and operated inland container park at Ladysmith, which is about 230km from Durban on the N-3 highway or 357km on the main railway corridor from Durban and 414km from Johannesburg.

    The idea is the initiative of a company named Nzenga, which was recently merged from the rebranded King’s Rest Container Park, a Durban and Richards Bay-based company owned and run by Des Moir, and Nzenga Junction owned by black businessman Nathi Thusi.

    Nzenga has taken over the former Danskraal container and cargo depot at Ladysmith which possesses excellent rail and road access and something like 80,000m2 storage space under roof in addition to almost 6 hectares of open land for container storage.

    Thusi, who is executive chairman of Nzenga told PORTS & SHIPS that Nzenga is developing an inland port facility along the lines of several in use in Europe and elsewhere – and not, incidentally, dissimilar to what was proposed for Cato Ridge.

    Initially however Nzenga will focus on bulk commodities which will be trucked in from the Northern Cape and other regions and taken to the Ladysmith terminal to be transhipped onto shuttle trains and railed to the Durban port.

    “We have reached agreement with Transnet Freight Rail about the provision of shuttle trains to handle this cargo,” he said, adding that a leading mining house is in discussion with Nzenga and that he expected the first train to roll as early as December 2008.

    Typical cargo will be chrome ore and other minerals, which at present is being trucked all the way from the mines to the ports at Durban or Richards Bay. This will remove a sizeable number of tipper trucks from Durban streets and reduce congestion at Bayhead and Maydon Wharf.

    The operation will also involve transhipping the ore from tipper trucks into containers at Ladysmith – a function that now takes place in Durban with much of the ore being shipped overseas as containerised cargo.

    Thusi said that a second phase involves intercepting containers at Ladysmith and transferring these to rail to be shuttled down to Durban, and vice versa from the port. This also has the potential to significantly reduce the number of container lorries on the roads around the port.

    The benefits to truckers include less mileage, less tolls to pay and most importantly, quicker turnaround times. Long distance trucks that currently complete two round trips a week will be able to include an additional leg in the same period.

    Keep watching this space!

    GAC expands into Mozambique

    The GAC Group has announced that it is now operational in Maputo, Mozambique, with a second office to follow in Beira.

    ‘The global shipping, logistics and marine services provider's focus is on
    supporting the country's rapidly growing oil and gas, mining and energy
    supply industries. Oil drilling offshore Mozambique is due to start in
    three blocks next year, as is construction of the new Maputo refinery,’ the company said in a statement on Friday.

    "The global energy market figures prominently on our corporate radar, so expanding into Mozambique is a natural strategic progression," explains Erland Ebbersten, GAC's Regional Director.

    "Increasing bulk cargoes volumes coming through Maputo due to regional port congestion and the country's fledgling coal industry will add up to a busy 2009 and beyond for Mozambique. GAC is now there to support the country's infrastructure
    development and establish Mozambique ports as crucial gateways to the landlocked economies of southern Africa."

    The opening of GAC Mozambique comes hot on the heels of the group's latest new African operation in Algeria.

    GAC Mozambique provides ship owners with offshore support and supply assistance as well as a full range of ship agency services and dry bulk expertise. This is supplemented by a full range of logistics services including air, sea, road and rail freight, ship spares and project cargo logistics, customs clearance and bonded warehousing.

    "With more than 300 offices, 8000 people and 100 languages spoken worldwide, the GAC Group has a truly global presence," says Joao Oliveira, General Manager of GAC Mozambique.

    "Our team has more than 50 years of shipping and logistics experience, providing the local knowledge on which the ability to meet our customers' needs depends. This, coupled with GAC's reliability, efficiency and integrity, makes GAC the perfect partner in Mozambique."

    Of ships and shipping lines

    Tug on fire

    Reports have been received of an unidentified supply offshore tug that is on fire off the Mozambique coast, roughly east of the port of Beira. No further information is available as this goes online.

    Hamburg Süd renames Costa Container Lines

    Hamburg Süd has announced it intends replacing its Costa Container Lines branding with the Hamburg Süd brand as from 1 January 2009. It will be exactly one year and one month since the German company took over the Italian shipping line. Costa, which operates shipping services across the Mediterranean and to the African continent and the Americas, was founded in 1947 and is based in Genoa, Italy.

    CMA CGM and Maersk Line launch common services

    CMA CGM and Maersk have decided to rationalise their common services between Asia and the east and west coast United States as from May 2009. At that time the two container line companies will launch two joint services.

    Port of Ngqura remains ISPS uncompliant

    The fledgling port of Ngqura (Coega) on the South African east coast remains ISPS unfriendly in that it has not as yet been registered for ISPS compliance. The new port opens officially in little more than six months time but already at least eight commercial ships have called – the latest two at the weekend just completed. In each case agents report delays over obtaining the necessary certification for the ships carrying project cargo and preventing them from docking. On Saturday 29 November the vessels MOUNT FISHER and BELUGA RESOLUTION were due to call, with tugs provided from the nearby Port Elizabeth on standby to assist.

    Skysails gets new partner

    German company Skysails, which is pioneering the use of parasails to assist commercial shipping in reducing fuel costs and emissions, has announced that marine engine supplier Zeppelin Power System has become a stakeholder in Skysails as a strategic partner. The statement said that a joint venture would see the building of a global sales and service network for Skysails Propulsion systems.

    A formal announcement is due to be made on board the ship CAP SAN DIEGO in Hamburg tomorrow (2 December 2008).

    Deal in sight for armaments ship FEINA

    Mogadishu, Sunday 30 November 2008 – Somali pirates said today they have reached a deal with the owners of the Ukraine Ro-Ro vessel FEINA for its release along with the crew.

    Feina was captured more than two months ago and became the centre of world attention when it was learned the ship was carrying a cargo of weapons including 33 T-72 Russian-made tanks and associated ammunition.

    The ship had been heading for the Kenyan port of Mombasa when seized - Kenya claimed the tanks were for its use but subsequent independent reports stated the real destination of the weapons was South Sudan. The director of a Kenyan-based agency that provides assistance for seafarers, Andrew Mwangura, co-ordinator of the East African Seafarers Assistance Program, was arrested by Kenyan police and charged with ‘spreading false rumours’ but was later released as further reports came in confirming the weapons were intended for South Sudan.

    When the pirates realised the political and monetary value of the Feina cargo they demanded a ransom of USD 35 million, which was later lowered to USD 3 million, the figure it is thought may have been paid for the ship’s release. However a spokesman for the Somali pirates declined yesterday to confirm the amount of the settlement, and saying that one or two little points still had to be resolved.

    Piracy report – Security guards jump overboard

    The Liberian-flagged chemical products tanker BISCAGLIA (16,282-gt) is the latest ship to be attacked and seized by Somali pirates, after two British security guards on the vessel jumped overboard as pirates boarded the ship.

    The two men were later plucked from the sea by a French Navy helicopter off the French Navy patrol frigate FNS NIVOSE. The remainder of the Biscaglia’s crew – 25 Indians and two Bangladeshis were taken hostage.

    The ship was seized on Friday (28 November) in the Gulf of Aden, bringing to 97 the number of attacks on ships off Somali in 2008. Thirty-nine of those ships were taken hostage and more than half have been ransomed with the remainder still under negotiation.

    The security guards on board the ship are believed to have been there to provide logistical support and non-lethal defensive counter-measures and were apparently unarmed.

    Intertanko, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners says it wants a naval blockade against Somalia to prevent further pirate attacks on its ships. According to Intertanko, the highjacking of the ULCC SIRIUS STAR has extended the at-risk zone right out into the Indian Ocean (Sirius Star was captured in the Arabia Sea south of Salamah), which it says stretches naval forces in the area even further. The effectiveness of a naval presence could be increased by the coordination of a security cordon around the Somalia coastline. Under either a UN or other mandate the ships enforcing the blockade could investigate any suspicious craft and take the appropriate action necessary, while recognising the legitimacy of local fishermen and other trade including humanitarian aid.

    Meanwhile representatives of states bordering the Red Sea met in Cairo last week to establish a common policy against not only the threat of piracy but the effects of it as well. The latter is in reference to concerns that recent deployments of foreign naval forces to patrol the affected areas may constitute an even greater threat to Arab national security.

    Arab states are used to having ships of the US 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain on patrol in the Red and Arabian Seas but more recently these have been joined by increasing numbers of warships from other nations acting under limited UN mandates to protect humanitarian aid deliveries or acting independently to assist or guard individual ships. A UN-task naval force known as Combined Task Force 150 is also based in Djibouti. On two occasions French military forces have acted unilaterally to release French flagged vessels and their crew.

    There is a growing conviction in the region that the solution to rampant piracy off Somalia is not with increased numbers of foreign warships, which are usually powerless to intervene once the pirates have boarded a vessel, but with securing peace and law and order in Somalia itself.

    The Arab forum meeting in Cairo issued a declaration which said that "Piracy off the Somali coast is one of the consequences of the deterioration of the political, security and humanitarian situation in Somalia."

    It called for joint anti-piracy naval operations by Arab states in the region and the creation of a piracy-monitoring centre based in Yemen. While naval support from foreign nations was welcome, the delegates stressed the importance of the national sovereignty of states in the region.

    Pic of the day – Cape Town scene… tugs DE DA and ROTTERDAM

    Cape Town is a haven for tugs making the long journey between the Far East and Europe or the Americas, particularly since the advent of rampant piracy off the Horn of Africa which has made the shorter route highly dangerous, especially for low freeboard vessels such as tugs. Some tugs of course come via the Cape for more straight forward reasons – many are en route to the oilfields of West Africa or to the east coast of South America.

    One of those that called at the ‘Tavern of the Seas’ recently was the Chinese salvage tug DE DA (3,917-gt, built 1979), no stranger to these parts. Aad Noorland was on site to take the picture.

    Another tug to call at Cape Town recently is the Svitzer Ocean Towage tug ROTTERDAM (2,708-gt, built 1975).

    Who is tugging whom? Both pictures by Aad Noorland

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