Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 10, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • First View – AQUAMARINE ACE

  • Boost for Coega as R1 billion contract is signed

  • SA Navy commissions new specialist reaction squadron

  • Russian Navy squadron to round Cape of Good Hope en route to Indian Ocean

  • Sonangol and KBR sign contract to build Lobito refinery

  • Piracy update - Maersk ship identified as the mystery vessel attacked off Dar es Salaam

  • Pic of the day – Scenes around Durban Bay


    First View – AQUAMARINE ACE

    The impressive new pure car carrier AQUAMARINE ACE (60,143-gt, built 2008), operated by Mitsui (MOLShip) was one of several car carriers to arrive in Durban harbour this week.
    Picture by Steve McCurrach

    Boost for Coega as R1 billion contract is signed

    The new refinery at Coega for state-owned PetroSA moved a step closer on Monday with the signing of a R1 billion contract for the first phase of the engineering and design contract, which has been awarded to US energy group KBR.

    KBR will be setting up a local proprietary limited company that will include black economic empowerment participants. Ultimately the R111 billion refinery in its final stage will have its own gas-fired power station and will be connected to Gauteng by pipeline.

    According to PetroSA chief executive Sipho Mkhize, the Coega refinery will play a major role in securing South Africa’s future fuel supplies. Without the refinery the country will probably have to import 10 billion litres of fuel a year by 2015 – equivalent to 200,000 barrels per day which is approximately 20% of the country’s requirement.

    PetroSA says the refinery will create employment for 25,000 people and will produce 400,000 barrels a day, making it the largest in Africa when it comes into production in 2014.

    Not that everything is all cut and dried yet. The feasibility study for the project will only be completed by September next year after which final board approval must be sought, sometime in 2010.

    The positioning of the refinery at Coega means that the port of Ngqura will have to adapt to handling large oil tankers, either directly in port or by way of an offshore mooring facility. PetroSA says it will source crude oil on the international market although the emphasis will be on supplies from South America.

    Providing all goes to plan the refinery promises to be the Eastern Cape’s biggest industrial development ever.

    SA Navy commissions new specialist reaction squadron

    Cape Town, 9 December (BuaNews) - The Navy's new Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) is to be commissioned at a special parade in Cape Town on Tuesday (16 December, 2008), hosted by Chief of the South African Navy, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu.

    According to the Department of Defence, this specialist unit has been trained for deployment in various peacekeeping capacities on the African continent, assisting in boarding operations at sea and assisting in humanitarian operations and disaster relief.

    The unit was formed in 2005 when Vice Admiral Mudimu ordered the formation of a Maritime Reaction Squadron unit which could fulfil a specific mandate within the South African Defence Force (SANDF).

    At the time, many Navy members were involved in peacekeeping operations on the African continent, including VIP Protection, observer missions and using boats to conduct patrols in the Great Lakes region.

    There was a need for a specialist unit to conduct an oversight role and it needed to be positioned within the Navy due to its expertise in riverine and littoral operations (which is the boundary area between ocean and land).

    The MRS members have been benchmarked against defence forces in the US, UK and France.

    They were trained to use small boats and helicopters which can be used to launch assaults from sea and to establish a beach-head on a target area.

    Currently the unit is divided into various sections, namely an operational boat element, operational diving team and a rapid force element. These sections will work together to provide a force that can be rapidly deployed into any situation as required by government.

    One of the Navy projects that will ensure that the MRS is equipped to fulfil all their obligations is Project XENA. The project is divided into various sub-projects, of which one is the acquisition of new boats.

    The new Project XENA boat will also be unveiled to the public for the first time on Tuesday.

    At the event, the media will be invited to board the SAS Drakensberg, which will be berthed alongside in the harbour.

    There will also be a demonstration of the MRS capabilities, teams will be deployed in small boats climbing over the side of the ship and by members fast-roping out of a helicopter onto the forwards flight deck.

    Russian Navy squadron to round Cape of Good Hope en route to Indian Ocean

    A Russian Navy squadron that includes the nuclear-powered battle cruise PYOTR VELIKY (PETER THE GREAT), and multirole destroyer ADMIRAL CHABANENKO and their supply vessels are expected to round the Cape of Good Hope shortly on their way to naval exercises with the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean.

    The ships have been visiting Venezuela on a flag-waving cruise – the first to the Caribbean by a major Russian naval group since the break-up of the Soviet Union, and sailed from the South American country on 1 December. Earlier the ships sailed from the Russian naval base at Severomorsk, conducting exercises in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean en route.

    Once they have rounded the Cape the ships are due to rendezvous in the Indian Ocean with a small squadron of other Russian Navy vessels from the Pacific fleet based at Vladivostok. This consists of the Udaloy I-class anti submarine destroyer ADMIRAL VINOGRADOV, two replenishment tankers and a naval tug. The Pacific fleet sailed yesterday (Tuesday 9 December) from Vladivostok.

    “In accordance with an order issued by Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, a naval squadron consisting of the large anti-submarine ships will head to the Indian Ocean, where the Northern Fleet of Russia will take part in joint Indo-Russian exercise 'Indra-2009',” Itar-Tass news agency reported.

    The PYOTR VELIKY, which was commissioned into service in 1998, displaces over 25,000 tonnes, carries 20 Granit anti-ship missiles, including nuclear-tipped missiles, 96 S-300F long-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), 96 Kinzhal (Dagger) short-range SAMs, a 130-mm twin mounting, other short-range anti-aircraft weapons and various ASW weaponry, including three helicopters.

    Extremely large at 251m x 25.5m, the ship is popularly known in Russian circles as ‘The killer of aircraft carriers’ and is the modern equivalent of a battlecruiser. She carries a crew of around 730.

    Another Russian Navy ship operating in the Indian Ocean, the frigate NEUSTRASHIMY (Intrepid) is currently operating in the Gulf of Aden where it is providing anti-pirate patrols alongside a number of warships of the European Union. The NEUSTRASHIMY is to be replaced by the destroyer ADMIRAL VINOGRADOV on completion of Exercise Indra-2009.

    The exercise during January will involve naval wargames with the Indian Navy, including joint manoeuvres aimed at curbing piracy, terrorism at sea and anti-submarine warfare. This is the fourth such exercise to be conducted between the two countries, the most recent being in April 2007 in the Sea of Japan.

    It s not known if the Russian ships rounding the Cape will do so in sight of land or whether they will visit a South Africa port. The Pacific fleet vessels are due to visit ports in Vietnam and China ports on their way home after the completion of the exercise.

    Sonangol and KBR sign contract to build Lobito refinery

    KBR, the Texas-based company that specialises in building oil platforms and which has just recently signed a contract to develop the first phase of the new Coega refinery in South Africa (see report above), has signed with Sonangol, Angola’s national fuel company, to build a new refinery at the port city of Lobito.

    Included in the two-year contract is the development of harbour facilities to service the refinery and other access points. KBR will undertake the supervision of the refinery’s construction.

    Piracy update – Maersk ship identified as the mystery vessel attacked off Dar es Salaam

    The identity of the container ship which was attacked by pirates abut 450 n.miles off the coast of Dar es Salaam at the weekend has been revealed.

    The ship was the Maersk Line vessel MAESRK REGENSBURG (9,957-gt, built 2006) and not a Dutch ship as was first reported. The ship is registered in Hong Kong.

    The vessel came under attack from a small boat carrying a number of men armed with rifle grenade launchers who fired on the ship while trying to force it to stop. One of the rocket grenades started a fire on the ship which was however extinguished and the boxship managed to make its escape.

    The attack took place about 450 n.miles east of Dar es Salaam and roughly 350 n.miles from the Seychelles and is the furthest south that pirates believed to be from Somalia have operated so far.

    In another report involving the Ukrainian Ro-Ro vessel FAINA, which has been in pirates’ hands since 24 September, several of the crew apparently attacked the pirates on board the vessel but were unable to secure their release. Agence France Presse reported a pirate as saying that some crew had ‘misbehaved’. “They tried to harm two of our gunmen late Monday. This is unacceptable and they risk punitive measures,” he said.

    Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has become the latest shipping line to show its concern over operating in the risky waters of the Gulf of Aden. The company has decided that world cruise passengers on board the cruise ship C COLUMBUS will be flown to Dubai to rejoin the ship rather than risk the passage through the Gulf.

    Pics of the day – Scenes around Durban Bay

    Photographer Steve McCurrach is usually in the air over Durban Bay but has been known on occasion to try his hand at what he calls ‘ground-based’ photography.
    One evening this week he judged the lighting to be perfect and here is some of his handiwork. His pictures also serve as a useful reminder that Durban Bay is not just about being a port but has an important aesthetic role to perform in the life of its citizens. This scene was taken at Wilson's Wharf.

    Wilson’s Wharf is the nearest that Durban has to a waterfront and is a delightful place to admire the ships and boats across the large harbour

    The Durban City skyline viewed from Wilson’s Wharf and looking across towards the Durban Marina

    Pictures by Steve McCurrach

    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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