Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 2, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View - ENSELENI

  • Safmarine responds on naming of container ship Safmarine Bayete

  • Ship damaged at Richards Bay Dry Bulk Terminal

  • Durban ship held as police investigate drug bust

  • Piracy update – LPG tanker seized

  • Cruise ship alerts NSRI to mystery object and body in sea outside Durban

  • Pics of the day – MAERSK ASSERTER and AURORA OPAL


    First View - ENSELENI

    The Port of Cape Town harbour tug ENSELENI seen approaching her berth at the V&A Waterfront in the Mother City. Enseleni was the second of two new Voith Schneider-propelled tugs built in Durban in 2000 by Southern African Shipyards. Each of these as well as a second order has a bollard pull of around 55 tons.

    A third batch of five tugs is currently under construction at the same shipyard with the first being due for launching later this year. Three of the new tugs are destined for the new port of Ngqura and will have bollard pulls of 70 tons each, while the remaining two are intended for Durban to handle the new generation of larger container ships that have already begun enterng service. They will have a bollard pull of 65 ton each.

    Another feature of the new batch is that all five tugs are under construction in Southern African Shipyards’ hangar at the same time in an assembly line measuring close to 180 metres.

    Safmarine responds on naming of container ship Safmarine Bayete

    On Thursday last week (29 January) Ports & Ships carried a story about the naming of the new Safmarine container ship SAFMARINE BAYETE

    The article reported that a number of readers were raising the question of the suitability of the name ‘Bayete’ for a ship, a word which is normally reserved exclusively as a greeting of respect for his Majesty the King of the Zulu nation.

    The article concluded by saying that the matter had been referred to Safmarine. The following response has been received from the shipping company:

    “Safmarine has, ever since the formation of the company in 1946, drawn on its proud South African heritage when selecting a name for a new vessel.

    “We regard our vessels, which call at ports around the world, as an opportunity to promote our country and our Continent.

    “The salutation ‘Bayete’, selected after due process was followed, was chosen because it represented a greeting from the people of South Africa to the people of the world.

    “Safmarine has enormous respect for the views of your readers and assures you that its intention in selecting the royal salutation, Bayete, when naming its newest containership, was both honourable and noble.

    “We intend consulting His Majesty the King of the Zulu nation on this matter.”

    Ship damaged at Richards Bay Dry Bulk Terminal

    A boom on the Hitachi pneumatic discharge appliance at the Richards Bay Dry Bulk Terminal at berth 609 collapsed suddenly on Thursday afternoon (29 January), falling across the vessel after completing the discharging of a cargo of alumina.

    Fortunately there were no injuries to anyone working nearby but damage to the Hitachi was substantial, with the boom a likely write-off.

    The ship, the Japanese bulker BLUMENAU (73,992-DWT, built 2000) received damage to the ship’s hatch cover and hatch coaming, while the stevedores’ payloader was also damaged when some pipes fell on it. The ship’s hold had already been emptied so no damage to cargo occurred.

    However, the Blumenau was due to move across to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal to begin loading coal and this will now have to be delayed to enable repairs to be undertaken.

    Transnet Port Terminals Dry Bulk Terminal utilised one of the cranes being used to dismantle the old Demag, which is on the end of berth 609, to get the damaged boom off the ship. This was done in double quick time.

    Initial indications suggest that the accident was a result of brake failure which led to the boom falling. There have been repeated allegations of insufficient maintenance with the port equipment but this cannot be identified at this stage as a cause of the accident.

    Durban ship held as police investigate drug bust

    The general cargo/container ship SENATOR (13,746-gt, built 1980) is remaining in Durban harbour while police decide on the next step in their investigation into more than 200kg of uncut cocaine, worth an estimated R300 million, which was found hidden in a seaman’s cabin.

    Acting on a tipoff from their South American counterparts the Durban police went on board the ship shortly after the Senator arrived from South America last week and conducted a thorough search of the vessel, before the drugs were found under the seaman’s bed and hidden in a cupboard. The cocaine had been compacted and wrapped in plastic and packed in rucksacks.

    Since then the ship has been confined to M berth at the Durban Car Terminal, a particularly secure berth where access is closely monitored.

    The Croatian seaman involved was due to appear in a Durban court last Friday. Meanwhile it is reported that the ship’s master was co-operating with the police, but at the weekend it emerged that there is a possibility of the ship being arrested and confiscated. This would entail the SA Revenue Services and the SA Police Services bringing charges against the shipping line and/or the ship’s operator or owner on charges of being involved in criminal activity and might be difficult to prove.

    A police spokesman said at the weekend that there that evidence that drug smuggling through the South African ports was rife. He pointed out the difficulty of searching each and every ship coming into a port like Durban, which has over 400 ship movements every month. With container movements averaging over 200,000 a month it was even more difficult to prevent some drugs getting through.

    Piracy update – LPG tanker seized

    No sooner had a US navy officer made the claim (last week) that pirate activity was slackening in the Gulf of Aden as a result of heightened naval activity, than the pirates hit back in no uncertain manner by seizing a German LP tanker from the midst of an escorted convoy.

    The Bahamas-registered but German-owned LONGCHAMP (3,415-gt, built 1990), with a crew of 13 made up of 12 Filipinos and an Indonesian, came under attack on Thursday (29 January) while sailing in convoy with other ships and being escorted by naval ships.

    The method employed by the pirates was simple but effective - to divert the naval forces away from the Longchamp by staging dummy attacks on two other ships in the convoy, which left the German ship vulnerable. Once the pirates were on board the matter was all but over, with naval ships now unable to do anything to rescue the crew or re-take the ship.

    The latest seizure indicates again the need for a rethink by international naval forces operating in the region and a revised ‘rules of engagement’ – at present except for the ships of Combined Task Force 151, none of the naval units are authorised to take aggressive action against the pirates but rather to act in a defensive mode. This makes their task that much more difficult and fallible.

    It is also likely to swell the number of shipping companies that have opted to divert their vessels away from the Red Sea and to take the longer route around the Cape.

    Longchamp was sailing from Asia to Europe at the time of the attack. Her cargo of flammable gas makes any attempt to rescue the crew or ship highly unlikely.

    At a recent IMO-attended meeting held in Djibouti coastal states affected by acts of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Somali coastal regions as well as other hot spots along the East African coast have agreed to establish three information centres. These will be used to co-ordinate anti-piracy activities and will be centred in Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Sanaa, with a regional training centre in Djibouti.

    Japan, which last week announced it is sending navy ships to provide anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden region, has instructed its navy to draw up rules of engagement for its warships on patrol. The Japanese decision to send navy ships to Africa drew considerable interest last week because it extends beyond Japan’s pacifist doctrines set in place at the end of World War 2. However the Japanese government explained that Japanese ships and crew were at risk and the action of sending ships into another ocean was being regarded as a defensive one.

    The Japanese ships would only protect Japanese cargo and Japanese-flagged ships, said a spokesman.

    Cruise ship alerts NSRI to mystery object and body in sea outside Durban

    A few hours after sailing from Durban on Friday (30 January), en route for Bazaruto in the Mozambique Channel the cruise ship MSC MELODY alerted Durban Port Control that an unidentified object had been seen floating in the sea seven nautical miles off-shore of Westbrook Beach (Tongaat, north of Durban) which the crew suspected could be an upturned hull of a boat.

    According to Clifford Ireland, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Durban deputy station commander, the crew aboard Melody couldn't quite make out what they had seen but there were apparently suspicions on-board that it could even be a human body floating in the water.

    NSRI Durban launched their rescue craft Eikos Rescuer II and Megan II and on arrival on-scene a search commenced. Following an extensive search of the area a FAD (Fish Attracting Device) was found and after a description of what was found was given to the crew of the Melody it was confirmed this was what they had seen.

    FAD's are an illegal device and the find was reported to the Transnet National Ports Authority and the Police Border Control has been informed.

    Also on Friday at 20h15 the NSRI Wilderness station was alerted to reports of lights being flashed towards shore from a vessel at sea thought to be in difficulty - flashing lights towards shore in a possible attempt to raise the alarm.

    Eye-witnesses reported that they had observed men on-board the vessel waving towards shore in what appeared to be distress signals and then lights from the vessel being flashed towards shore in what appeared to be distress signals.

    NSRI Wilderness launched their rescue craft Serendipity and NSRI Knysna was alerted and their rescue craft Spirit of KYC III was towed overland to the scene by their NSRI rescue vehicle and launched.

    NSRI rescuers dispatched to an observation point confirmed that it appeared that the men on-board were signalling a distress.

    Callie Niemann, NSRI Wilderness acting station commander, said that on arrival on-scene the four men aboard the ski-boat Camelot denied that they were in distress.

    He said that on enquiring about all the signals observed the men sheepishly denied that they had made the distress gestures leaving Niemann to report that the intentions of the ski-boat men are unknown although their behaviour was suspicious.

    The matter has been reported to the Transnet National Ports Authority and will be monitored.

    Pics of the day – MAERSK ASSERTER and AURORA OPAL

    The AP Moller offshore supply tug MAERSK ASSERTER (6,536-gt, built 2004) in Cape Town harbour last month. Cape Town, long known as the Tavern of the Seas has also become something of a haven for supply and salvage tugs in recent years and none more so now with the troubles in the Gulf of Aden causing many ships, particularly those vulnerable through having low freeboards, to make the longer route round the Cape. Picture by Aad Noorland

    The bulk carrier AURORA OPAL (19,340-gt, built 1984) at the dolphin berths of Durban’s Island View berth 1, taking bunkers and stores one early morning in 2003. Since that time the ship has undergone several name changes, presumably under different charters and currently sails as SIFNOS PRIDE under the Maltese flag. 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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