Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 30, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – AFRICAN PROTEA

  • Moatize coal mining gets underway – Vale to produce 26mt annually

  • Trawler runs aground on Long Beach near Kommetjie

  • Piracy update – two ships seized

  • Encouraging young people to pursue maritime law

  • Transnet, Japan sign loan agreement to widen Durban harbour

  • Pic of the day – DAL REUNION


    First View – AFRICAN PROTEA

    The bulk vessel AFRICAN PROTEA (15,888-gt, built 1997) on a visit to Durban, seen here departing with the pilot helicopter already in position to take off the harbour pilot. The ship currently sails as the FREE KNIGHT. Picture Terry Hutson

    Moatize coal mining gets underway – Vale to produce 26mt annually

    Tete Province, Mozambique, 27 March 27 2009 – In a development that is going to have a major impact on the future of the port of Beira, Mozambique President Armando Guebuza on Friday inaugurated the long awaited coal mining project being undertaken by Brazil’s Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (Vale).

    The US$1.3 billion coal mining project is taking place at Moatize in Mozambique’s Tete Province where proven reserves of 838 million tonnes have been identified, including high quality metallurgical coal (hard coking coal).

    Moatize will have a nominal annual production capacity of 11 million tonnes of which 8.5mt will be coking coal and 2.5mt thermal coal. Start up is scheduled for December 2010.

    It is estimated the mines may have a total reserve in the order of 25bn tonnes.

    According to Vale it is building one of the world’s largest coal handling prepartion plants at an operational site in Moatize, wth a capacity to process 26mt of coal a year.

    Coal is to be transported by rail approximately 600km to a new marine terminal – still to be built – at the port of Beira. Although not announced by Vale, it is expected that coal will be transhipped by barges from the terminal some 22 miles offshore to larger ships waiting outside port.

    There has also been some talk of using the Zambezi River to ship coal to the coast but this has not been confirmed.

    The volumes being put forward equate to just over one Capesize ship a week, or two to three Panamax vessels weekly. A consortium has already begun work preparing for the new terminal at Beira with exports likely to go to Brazil, China, the Middle East and Europe.

    Vale said in a statement issued Friday that the Moatize project also involves initiatives dedicated to investment in human capital by way of health, education and professional training, the creation of infrastructure and the development of sustainable economic activity - a model farm for cattle raising and agriculture – that will create jobs and generate income flows for the local population.

    “The model is consistent with Vale’s strategic priority of corporate social responsibility and establishes a new benchmark for project development on the African continent,” the statement said.

    The company described the Moatize project as being in line with Vale’s growth strategy for the coal business, through which it aims to become, in the medium term, one of the largest global producers.

    Trawler runs aground on Long Beach near Kommetjie

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was scrambled on Saturday morning (28 March) shortly after 05h00 following a call from the Transnet National Ports Authority advising that a distress signal had been picked up from the trawler AMBER ROSE, reporting that it had gone aground on Long Beach between Chapman’s Peak and Kommetjie. Red distress flares were being activated from the crew of 12 on board the vessel.

    The NSRI said that it appeared that the vessel may have experienced mechanical steering failure and drifted ashore. An investigation will however be launched by SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) to determine the exact cause of the grounding.

    NSRI Hout Bay launched their rescue craft MTU Nadine Gordimer and Albie Matthews, while land-based rescue vehicles from Metro Rescue, NSRI Kommetjie and CMR responded to the scene.

    NSRI Hout Bay station commander Brad Geyser said that on arrival on-scene, in thick fog, the vessel was located by the NSRI rescue craft, hard aground, in an outgoing tide and 2 metres of breaking surf, about 15 metres off-shore. He said all crew were found to be safe on-board and it was decided to take the crew off the vessel from the land side.

    NSRI Hout Bay's rescue craft remained on-scene to assist if necessary.

    NSRI Kommetjie deputy station commander PJ Veldhuizen said that rescue swimmers were sent from the beach through the surf and they rigged a rope from the vessel to shore and 11 of her 12 crew were taken off the vessel, one by one, with the assistance of the NSRI Kommetjie rescue swimmers and they were waded ashore through the shallow surf.

    The skipper remained on-board the vessel to await a salvage team and the vessel appears in no danger being hard aground almost on the beach.

    The 11 crew who were taken ashore were assessed and no-one sustained any injuries.

    Piracy update – two ships seized

    Somali pirates made it a busy week with the confirmation of two ships and a yacht being seized for ransom, including two tankers that have been occasional callers in South African ports.

    The 8,742-DWT Greek-owned chemical tanker NIPAYIA was seized while sailing approximately 400 n.miles from the Somali east coast. Her crew of 19 is believed to consist mainly of Filipinos and a Russian master.

    On Thursday (16 March) the Norwegian tanker BOW ASIR (14,627-gt, 23,016-DWT, built 1982), – previously named NCC ASIR on Odfjell bare boat charter - was highjacked by Somali pirates 250 n.miles off the Somali coast approximately opposite the southern port of Kismayo. Bow Asir has a crew of 27 on board, including a Russian master, five Polish and 19 Filipino seafarers and is carrying a cargo of caustic soda.

    The other vessel captured has been confirmed as the Seychellois yacht that we reported last week, which went missing earlier and was feared captured by pirates. Several independent sources have now confirmed her capture along with a crew of two from the Seychelles.

    Three other vessels reported last week that they were chased by suspicious looking small craft which they believed were pirate vessels. The ships were the EXPLORER III, OCEAN EXPLORER and the GENNARO AURILIA all of which managed to out-manoeuvre their pursuers and make their escape.

    Meanwhile it is reported that the German LPG carrier LONGCHAMP (3415-gt, built 1990) has been released after payment of a ransom, which was dropped by parachute from an aircraft onto the ship. The Longchamp was captured on 29 January this year with 12 Filipinos and one Indonesian crew on board and had been sailing in a designated corridor under escort from an Indian warship at the time.

    On 2 February PORTS & SHIPS reported that the method employed by the pirates to seize the Longchamp was to decoy the escorting warships away from their target by means of a dummy attack on two other vessels in the convoy. Once the pirates were on board the LPG tanker it was all but over, with naval ships prevented by their own rules of engagement plus the danger posed by the tanker’s cargo from doing anything to rescue the crew or re-take the ship.

    The amount of ransom paid has not been revealed.

    Meanwhile, a South African company, SecuroQuest, consisting of former South African Special Forces and SAAF fighter pilots, is about to enter the field of guarding services on ships operating between the Suez Canal in Egypt and Oman in the Arabian Sea.

    The company will be based in a North African country to provide armed or unarmed guards as required on vessels making the transit – all personnel will have had combat experience gained in Africa and the Middle East. Back-up services including aerial surveillance by means of UAVs (unmanned air vehicles), of which South Africa’s Denel Dynamics has undertaken pioneering work dating back to the 1970s, fixed wing aircraft and helicopters as well as seaborne vessels.

    The South African company believes it can provide unique experience for the protection of merchant ships from Somali pirates. “We’re able to bring first-world technology and methodology to what is a third world pirate environment, which requires a thorough knowledge of how the pirates think and act. This will not be a gunslinger cowboy approach to a serious international problem but a proactive response aimed at preventing pirates from getting on board merchant ships sailing from the Suez through the Red and Arabian Seas. Some shipping companies have requested that we employ armed guards on board, while others want our people on board to remain unarmed but the ships will be provided with sufficient no-how and surveillance to avoid capture, along with a rapid response team undertaking aerial and seaborne response using helicopter, fixed wing and unmanned aerial vehicles,” said Schalk Fourie, SecuroQuest’s CEO.

    SecuroQuest can be contacted at schalk@securoquest.co.za or tel +27 082 860 1677 or on the website www.securoquest.co.za

    Encouraging young people to pursue maritime law

    A love and passion for Maritime Law prompted a University of KwaZulu-Natal lecturer to write a book about the specialised field.

    Miss Portia Ndlovu, who holds an LLB and a Masters Degree in Maritime Law, said she decided to write the book because most books on the field were outdated and the only updated book, by University of Cape Town Professor Hare, costs up to R1,000. Although this book is fully stocked in the university libraries, it still sells at a hefty price for most students. Her book is titled: South African Law of Carriage of Goods by Sea: Common obligations in charterparties and bills of loading under English and South African Law.

    Maritime Law (also referred to as Admiralty law) is a distinct body of law which governs the regulatory framework of law pertaining to the use of the sea. It is a body of both domestic law governing maritime activities, and private international law governing the relationships between private entities which operate vessels on the oceans. It deals with matters including marine commerce, marine navigation, shipping, sailors, and the transportation of passengers and goods by sea. The relations between state in as far as the use of the sea is also known as the law of the sea.

    She said: “I wanted to prepare an accessible and cheaper book for my students. Books on Maritime Law written in South Africa are very scarce and when it comes to Maritime Law, more is better because it’s a specialised field. I also wanted to expose my students to different ideas.”

    Miss Ndlovu said it took her five years to write the book, spending the fifth year looking for a publisher.

    “I approached all the big publishing houses, but they told me that there wasn’t a market for the book. It was encouraging to know that they liked the book and they were very positive about it, but I wasn’t going to wait for the market and I invested in getting the book out to my students,” she said.

    Miss Ndlovu added that the one person who inspired her while she was pursuing her studies was her supervisor, Professor Hilton Staniland.

    “I worked with him very closely and he was phenomenal. He made me see the importance of the port industry. He would ask me to teach his Masters classes where there would be lawyers and judges and it was quite intimidating at the time, but I’m a thinker and I love to research, so everything fell into place. I am an academic and I love what I do,” she said.

    She added that she has a good relationship with the Maritime sector, which she tries to expose her students to by bringing in guest lecturers who are in the sector. She has also been approached to be a legal advisor for the port regulator to advise on how to revamp and upgrade port laws.

    She said: “I want this industry to be a place where it is normal for a black woman to be in the port industry, that’s why I’m a teacher. I want young people to find their place in this industry and to make a difference.”

    Miss Ndlovu is currently studying towards her PhD and is in the process of completing her dissertation on Diamond Laws.

    “I’m hoping to turn my work into a book as well. It would be a useful contribution and exposure to the industry which would show the riches of South Africa. It’s a lot of work and I work around the clock, but I don’t have any family responsibilities yet, so I’m using my time wisely,” she said.

    Miss Ndlovu retired from athletics after the 2008 Olympic Trials held in Cape Town. She is now coaching the UKZN cheerleading squad and combines dance and athletics.

    Acting Dean of Law, Professor Managay Reddi said: “Miss Portia Ndlovu is emerging as a rising star in the Faculty of Law. Portia joined the Faculty in 2006. In the short period that she's been with us, she has managed to write and have published a textbook on Maritime Law. This has been done whilst she is also studying towards her PhD in Law. Portia is an outstanding role model not only to her colleagues but also to young women who may be considering a career in law, especially in the area of Maritime Law which has long been male dominated.”

    Transnet, Japan sign loan agreement to widen Durban harbour

    by Neo Semono (BuaNews)

    Johannesburg, 27 March 2009 - State owned utility Transnet has signed a R4 billion loan agreement with the Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC) to fund the widening and deepening of the Durban harbour.

    Speaking after the signing of the agreement on Thursday, acting Transnet Chief Executive Officer Chris Wells said the project is primarily intended to enable the port to accommodate larger vessels and benefit Japanese companies.

    “The nature of the loan is that it will be supportive of Japanese projects in South Africa,” said Mr Wells.

    He thanked the JBIC for its confidence in the company as well as the country.

    Loaning the money is in line with JBIC mandates, according to its finance department head, Toshiro Machii.

    The bank has a mandate to secure natural resources for Japan, promote Japanese business abroad to enhance international competition and provide assistance to respond to the financial crisis.

    JBIC has leveraged 40 percent participation of other Japanese financial institutions including the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in the loan.

    “We are very grateful that we could come to the execution of this loan,” said Mr Machii, adding that Transnet had shown strong leadership.

    He said the project will benefit both the South African economy and the Japanese companies.

    “This project has a very significant implication for the South African economy as well as the regional economy but at the same time it brings a lot of benefits to Japanese companies operating in the region,” said Mr Machii.

    He said these companies relied heavily on the harbour, adding that he hoped the project will be implemented smoothly.

    Transnet will make 20 repayments to JBIC over the next 10 years.

    JBIC is in talks with other South African businesses for funding new projects, but these are still in early stages, said Mr Machii, adding that the bank is not yet in a position to disclose details.

    Pic of the day – DAL REUNION

    The Deutsche Afrika-Linien container ship DAL REUNION (27,786-gt, built 2006) may seem out of place sailing from Lyttelton harbour on New Zealand’s South Island, but that is the nature of ships, of moving around to wherever they are best suited and required at any given time. Picture Alan Calvert

    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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