Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 21, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Hundreds missing as boats capsize off Yemen

  • Tanzanian president tells Dar es Salaam to sell abandoned containers

  • Shipping line news

  • The Case of the Rose Assassin

  • Pics of the day – ABAN ABRAHAM and SEA ELEGANCE



    A 1991 view of CALIFORNIA STAR at Lyttelton, New Zealand. Picture by Alan Calvert

    CALIFORNIA STAR (17,789-gt, built 1980) was built in 1980 as Willowbank for the Bank Line and traded between New Zealand ports and the US Gulf calling at some West Indies ports as well.

    As California Star she traded between New Zealand ports and ports on the West Coast of North America for Blue Star Line. The ship was later renamed Mandowi and traded between NZ and Middle East Gulf ports before being sold to Pacific International Lines of Singapore.

    In PIL ownership and renamed Sea Elegance she operated on a number of that company’s trades, including to South Africa. Her final renaming was to Golden Gate under the South Korean flag operating for Sinokor Merchant Marine Co Ltd, Seoul.

    A recent internet entry lists her as being sold to breakers at Alang for US $ 280/ldt.

    Readers may recall PORTS & SHIPS reports of Sea Elegance in 2003 when her engine room caught fire while at anchor off Durban. Recall the story HERE and in subsequent news reports.

    Although flames spread to the accommodation area the blaze was ultimately brought under control and extinguished with the help of several Port of Durban harbour tugs as well as fire fighters who went on board the ship to assist. Sadly one seafarer had gone missing at the start of the fire and was presumed drowned.

    The ship entered port a week or so later, with smoke still hanging above the ship. Sea Elegance underwent repairs in Durban harbour and returned to service with PIL. 

    Smoke on the horizon, as Sea Elegance burns in the outer anchorage. It took more than a week to have the fire under control. Picture Terry Hutson

    Sea Elegance is towed into port on 18 October 2003 to have her damaged cargo removed and fire damage repaired. The tug on her stern is the harbour tug UMKHUZE while just out of picture is the tug INYALAZI. Picture Terry Hutson

    Hundreds missing as boats capsize off Yemen

    Sanaa (BuaNews) - Hundreds of people are missing after three boats with a total of some 400 African migrants on board capsized on Saturday near Yemen.

    Two boats carrying some 300 migrants capsized in the Red Sea and only some 30 people have been rescued, according to Laila Nassif, head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Yemen.

    In another incident, a boat carrying 120 migrants capsized in the Arabian Sea and 80 people have been rescued, he said, adding that bad weather had hampered rescue efforts and the missing were feared dead.

    All of the three boats had set off from Somalia. Hundreds of Somali migrants try to reach Yemen via the sea, but many drown while others are attacked by pirates and smugglers.

    According to the UN refugee agency more than 43,500 migrants, mostly Somalis, arrived in Yemen illegally by boat last year. Yemen has reported that more than 1,400 of these illegal migrants either died in the crossing or went missing, presumed drowned.

    The shipping routes near Somalia remain dangerous due to the rising spread of piracy and a number of countries have stationed military vessels in the area to provide protection for their nation's shippers.

    Tanzanian president tells Dar es Salaam to sell abandoned containers

    In a move designed to reduce container congestion at the port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete has given orders that all containers not collected at the Dar es Salaam container terminal within 21 days must be sold.

    The get tough policy follows similar moves in neighbouring Mombasa which is also burdened with thousands of uncleared containers clogging the port terminal.

    In a related move, the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) has been instructed to extend the 24/7 working rule across all port related operations.

    This follows a meeting between TRA, the Tanzania Ports Authority and the country’s president to address the problem of ongoing delays at Tanzania’s main port. Reports in the Dar es Salaam Citizen said the president told the TPA and TRA that in “Durban port it takes less than three days to clear goods, but here in Dar it can take up to 12.”

    The meeting was followed with a communiqué from State Houses saying that the “TPA and TRA have been directed to auction 30 per cent of containers which have spent more than 21 days at the port as a fast way of reducing congestion.”

    Kikwete also looked at the matter of motor vehicles that take up much needed space at the port and asked that these also be cleared to create more space for other cargo. TICTS (Tanzania International Container Terminal Services), which is part of the Hutchison Port Holdings Group and holds the concession to operate the container terminal, has been advised to obtain more equipment and to also make use of TPA equipment where possible to accelerate the movement of cargo through the port of Dar es Salaam.

    The meeting with the president also acknowledged the need for the central railway to be upgraded and improved as a means of assisting the port in competing with other ports in eastern and southern Africa.

    Shipping line news

    The feathered version of Lilac Roller, after which a ship has been named – the ship picture will follow when available.

    What’s in a name?

    MACS line (Maritime Carrier Shipping) which operates several services out of southern Africa, has recently added the former Christian D, now renamed LILAC ROLLER to its East African fleet, joining the WHITE RHINO in operation between South Africa, Mozambique and East Africa ports.

    In keeping with many of the ships in MACS service, a colour features prominently in the ship’s name – in this instance Christian D has been renamed LILAC ROLLER, after the lilac-breasted roller of the same name (coracias caudataus), which is widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, East Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsular.

    The roller prefers open woodland and savanna and is largely absent from treeless places. Usually found alone or in pairs, it perches conspicuously at the tops of trees, poles or other high vantage points from where it can spot insects, lizards, scorpions, snails, frogs, small birds and rodents moving about at ground level. This makes this very beautiful bird a much sought-after picture subject. During the breeding season the male will rise to great heights, descending in swoops and dives, while uttering harsh, discordant cries.

    Turning to the ship now, the LILAC ROLLER joined the company’s MEAS service in early October last year and calls predominantly at Durban, Maputo and Mombasa, but will also call at Dar es Salaam, Nacala, Beira and Majunga on inducement. Her service links in with the MACS (South Africa to Europe) and GAL (South Africa - East Coast USA) service in Durban.

    Some details of the vessel LILAC ROLLER: The vessel is a multipurpose cargo ship, flying the flag of Antigua and Barbuda. She was built in 2001, has a length of 97.7m on a 6.55m draught and is listed at 3,811-gt. The ship has two hatches/holds with two 40 tonne cranes.

    RBS withdraws from Hapag-Lloyd sale

    The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has withdrawn its financial support to a consortium of local German businesses in the sale of the German container carrier Hapag-Lloyd. The sale of the company was originally agreed on for US $ 5.9 billion but as has previously been reported in PORTS & SHIPS, the consortium is now seeking an adjustment downwards to correspond with the downturn in the maritime industry.

    RBS is believed to be making use of a post-nationalisation change-of-control clause to legally withdraw from its agreement which was signed before control of the bank was bought by the British government late last year. In terms of the sale Hapag-Lloyd is to buy back one third of the shipping company in a series of moves intended to keep ownership of the company in European and largely German hands.

    Hapag-Lloyd operates a fleet of 29 ships.

    The bigger you are, the harder you fall

    The old adage is never more true as shipping companies take stock of the economic crisis facing the world and for AP Moller-Maersk, as the world’s largest container carrier and one of the largest shipping companies, the prospects do not look happy.

    The Danish company was already under the financial whip before the world crisis kicked in, and undergoing major restructuring designed to curtail costs and reshape its fortunes. Now, according to some analysts, AP Moller-Maersk will lose half of its profits this year.

    “We expect that the earnings of the group can drop heavily to an annual result of 11 billion DKK in 2009. There is no doubt that every department will be looking high and low for opportunities to save money, in staff as well as other areas,” says Henrik Lund, chief analyst at Carnegie and quoted by the business daily Borsen.

    Lund said that Maersk Line has been hit hard and can expect more of the same in 2009, with fewer containers to ship and cargo rates that have decreased severely. He said that on Maersk Line’s main service between Asia and Europe the rate is now 46% lower than 12 months ago. He pointed out that earnings in 2009 were also being pressed by the decreasing oil prices, the drop in important currencies and low earnings in the Danish Bank.

    MSC increases India – East Africa freight rates

    Mediterranean Shipping Company has announced a general rate increases for cargo on its services between India and East Africa, with effect 17 February.

    That’s the date when the MSC MARMARA arrives in the Indian port of Jawaharlal Nehru from East African ports, when an increase of US $ 300 per TEU will apply. According to MSC the increase is necessary to cover a substantial increase in operational costs and to enable MSC to provide reliable services to customers.

    The Case of the Rose Assassin

    Concern over the unacceptable level of seafarer deaths in confined and enclosed spaces has been highlighted by the recent release of a report by the UK's Maritime Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB, into the fatality of a second bosun aboard the passenger liner SAGA ROSE in Southampton while a safety management audit was underway.

    Maritime Accident Casebook, MAC, has put its audio podcast version story of the incident The Case Of The Rose Assassin online, together with an illustrated transcript as a free safety awareness aid for seafarers and those who train them.

    While Saga Rose was docked in Southampton a second bosun was tasked with finding out whether a ballast tank, unopened for three years, contained fresh or salt water. Because the tank was expected to be full and it was believed the testing could be done without entering the tank no permit to work was thought to be required. The tank was not full and the second bosun entered the tank and collapsed and died due to lack of oxygen. A motorman who attempted a rescue without the right equipment was rendered unconscious.

    No responsible officer was monitoring the situation because, in addition to the usual workload of the port call, the officers were occupied with a safety management audit and the completion of a tank inspection by Det Norske Veritas, while the bosun was busy with passenger luggage and the chief officer was resting before taking the watch later that day.

    Says Bob Couttie, administrator and narrator of Maritime Accident Casebook: “Basically, the nature of the second bosun's job changed but he didn't adjust for that change. He knew the safe procedures for entering an enclosed space but didn't fall back on them. He was probably so focussed on doing his job that he didn't appreciate that when a job changes, so do the hazards.

    “We have to teach seafarers that when something about a job changes unexpectedly you've got to stop, step back and review what your doing.”

    A further dark lesson is that untrained or ill-equipped would-be rescuers may take away a chance of life for the person they are trying to rescue. “We don't know whether or not the second bosun could have been revived because the emergency response team had to concentrate on the motorman, who was semi-conscious. It’s unnervingly common for would-be rescuers to die or require attention before treatment can be given to the original victim, removing any margin for saving that seafarers life.”

    MAIB has asked the Maritime & Coastguard Agency to make representations to the International Maritime Organisation and the Maritime Accident Investigators International Forum is putting concentrate effort into bringing attention to the issue.

    Like all MAC podcasts, The Case Of The Rose Assassin reveals the circumstance around a real event through an audio podcast and online materials available for free at the Maritime Accident Casebook website, www.maritimeaccident.org.
    As with the preceding episodes, the podcast is backed by an illustrated online transcript that seafarers can read, discuss and share with their crewmates and other seafarers. Those with training and safety responsibilities can use the broadcasts and the transcripts freely.

    Maritime Accident Casebook, MAC, is a unique, free, informal educational resource, supported by donations, for seafarers and maritime trainers which seeks to empower seafarers through knowledge to keep themselves alive and their ships safe. Using audio podcasts that can be played on any computer, MP3 Player or MP3-capable cellphone and online downloadable hard-copy transcripts, MAC encourages seafarers to discuss lessons learned from real-life events and apply them to their own vessels and working practices to create a safety-conscious community.

    For further information about Bob Couttie's Maritime Accident Casebook see the website at http://maritimeaccident.org email mac@maritimeaccident.org

    Pics of the day – ABAN ABRAHAM and SEA ELEGANCE

    The drill ship ABAN ABRAHAM (12,386-gt, built 1976) is one of the latest oil industry vessels to arrive in Cape Town, where she docked this week. Registered in the Bahamas the drill ship is owned by a Singapore-registered company of the same name as the ship. Picture by Aad Noorland

    Another look at the SEA ELEGANCE (former Willowbank and California Star) as she entered Durban harbour that October day in 2003, with a fire still smouldering in her belly (see report above). Accompanying the PIL freighter are the harbour tugs UMKHUZE and INYALAZI which played a part with others in helping bring the fire under control while the ship was at the outer anchorage. 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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