Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 1, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – Durban port entrance

  • African Search & Rescue coverage extended

  • Cape youngsters on historic Tall Ship voyage

  • Dar es Salaam-Kigali-Bujumbura railway to be running by 2014

  • Africa Partnership Station news – training boosts maritime safety

  • Pic of the day – SAFMARINE MULANJE


    First View – Durban port entrance

    A recent view of the widening and deepening project at Durban harbour, where the north breakwater has been rebuilt approximately 100m further north of its old location providing a much wider entrance channel of 222m width and a maximum depth of 19m shallowing to 16m inside the harbour. Construction and dredging is due for completion by early 2010. Picture by Steve McCurrach

    African Search & Rescue coverage extended

    Two new search and rescue sub-centres on the African coast have been established, extending and improving the coverage of existing Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres, in particular the centre in Mombasa.

    The two additional sub-centres, which will operate in conjunction with the Mombasa MRCC, are at Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and at Victoria in the Seychelles. Both were commissioned recently by the Secretary-General of the International maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr Efthimios Mitropoulos and the respective Transport Ministers of both countries.

    The process of providing MRCC facilities along the African coast began at the October 2000 IMO Conference on Search & Rescue and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, held in Florence, Italy. At that meeting African governments agreed to a regional approach in the provision of Search and Rescue (SAR) services in western, eastern and southern parts of the continent. A resolution was adopted inviting the African countries bordering the Atlantic and Indian Oceans to establish five regional centres and 26 sub-centres to cover their entire coastline areas for SAR co-ordination purposes.

    Africa had been identified as being one of the areas worst affected by a lack of adequate SAR and communications infrastructure and the establishment of appropriate SAR facilities on the African coast was seen as a key component in the establishment of the Global SAR Plan, which had been agreed in finality at an IMO Conference held in Fremantle, Australia in 1998.

    Resulting from those resolutions, the commissioning of the first regional MRCC at Mombasa took place in May 2006 and was followed by Cape Town in January 2007 and Lagos, Nigeria in May 2008. The fourth MRCC, in Monrovia, Liberia is scheduled for commissioning in April this year.

    IMO Secretary-General Mitropoulos said that this network of regional MRCCs and sub centres would make an important contribution towards the overall objective of safeguarding life at sea, as well as strengthening the capacity of the region to provide effective maritime security and environmental protection.

    “I have been impressed by the determination of the two host Governments to play their part, responsibly and effectively, in the smooth and successful operation of the Global SAR plan; by the thorough and up-to-date equipment, both terrestrial and satellite, installed in the centres, for which I thank the donors; and, above all, by the commitment and dedication of the well trained personnel that man the centres on a 24-hour basis, 365 days a year,” he said.

    “There is no doubt that, despite the continual advances made in ship technology and in the development of the human element at sea, seafaring remains a challenging and sometimes dangerous occupation. Accidents can, and do, occasionally happen and when they do, the sea can suddenly become a very lonely, isolated and, at times, deadly workplace. The establishment of a comprehensive and effective system for maritime search and rescue has, consequently, long been an important objective for the entire maritime community and, in particular, for IMO, as the United Nations agency with prime responsibility for the safety of life at sea,” he added.

    Cape youngsters on historic Tall Ship voyage

    Ten lucky learners from the Western Cape aged between 15 and 18 will soon be making history as they spend 10 weeks of the school year attending class on board a Tall Ship on a voyage to Namibia, St Helena Island, Brazil, Trinidad and Bermuda – a first for the African continent.

    The South African team under the guidance of two adult female team leaders, will include four youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds on the Cape Flats. The team will join 25 Canadian students onboard the SV Concordia when it docks in Cape Town harbour on 2 April and will set sail on 7 April. The SV Concordia is one of two Tall Ships operating as part of the Class Afloat project, a Canadian shipboard classroom and university programme initiated 25 years ago.

    More than 200 sea education projects in 25 countries affiliated to Sail Training International (STI) operate on all other continents, but this is a first-time opportunity for young people from the African continent. The 10 youngsters have been selected by the Cape Town-based Cape Windjammers Education Trust (CWET) formed in 2005 as the first offshore sail-training programme on tall ships for youth leadership and life skills development on the African continent.

    Dr Antje Nahnsen, CWET programme coordinator, praises Terry Davies, CEO of Class Afloat, for making this unique opportunity available to young South Africans. In addition to providing school curriculum and environmental education on board, the voyage will also offer the youngsters instruction in sail handling, navigation, passage making, safety at sea and ship management.

    She explains that Cape Windjammers and the SA Sail -training for Life-skills Association (SASLA), both affiliated to the STI, are cooperating to promote the empowering sail training experience mainly as a means of helping young people learn about themselves, discover hidden strengths and talents, and understand the value of others and of working as a team.

    “Sailing is generally seen as an exclusive luxury for the wealthy. Our mission is to make the life-changing experience of sailing on a tall ship accessible to young people from all communities”, says Nahnsen, who herself was given the opportunity of a 10-day sail training experience when she was 16. Ten years later she trained and qualified as a crew member.

    “My sail-training experience as a teenager helped me to gain confidence and taught me how to face and overcome small fears like climbing up the tall mast. I also learned how important it was to work in teams, that every project needs to be planned beforehand and that the plan needs to be executed step-by-step. These are life lessons of great value for anyone.”

    According to Nahnsen, Cape Windjammers is run by a team of volunteers who are all committed to the idea that an intensive experience has a great impact on learning - the more intense the experience, the greater and more sustainable the learning effect.

    “For the Concordia voyage Cape Windjammers was able to find two highly motivated and skilled voluntary team leaders, Dayana Dreke and Hilary Ambrose,”said Nahnsen. “While Dayana has a background in youth life skills development, conflict management, intercultural education, marketing and fundraising, Hilary has a background in formal school education and sailing, and has successfully run her own consultancy firm many years. Together they form a brilliant team, each of them bringing their own area of expertise. Without them the facilitation of such a huge project would not have been possible.” Watch this space for their voyage report.

    The sailors

    Shane Barnes (16) from Hanover Park, Asekho Mdaka (18) and Monde Sitole (16) from Khayelitsha, and Brandon Schoor (16) from Kuils River are the four youths from disadvantaged communities looking forward to the experience of a lifetime.

    Barnes is a Grade 10 learner at Christel House, a special school supporting families to break the cycle of poverty in an area often referred to as Cape Town’s ‘gang heartland’. A member of his school’s first soccer team, he enjoys reading and playing chess, and dreams of becoming a surgeon.

    “This experience will inspire me to learn to navigate my life through the many challenges that I may face in my family and my community”, he says in his application, ending with the assertion that “…I’ll be very willing to pass on my knowledge and skills to others”.

    Mdaka, whose parents are both currently unemployed after his mother was injured in a recent car accident, is in matric at Masibambisane High School at this year. Like Barnes, he plays for his school’s first soccer team. He is also an active member of the debating society and has volunteered as a peer educator for the past three years. He wants a career in law enforcement one day and sees the tall ship trip as a way of fulfilling his dream of interacting with people from different countries and communities and developing his leadership skills.

    Sitole, who passed matric last year, has been raised, along with his two siblings, by his mother, a domestic worker. His knack for poetry prompted him 3 years ago to join a group of young volunteers known as ‘Mayibuye Hip Hop Azania’. Among his many other interests are archiving black history dating from ancient times and learning ancient languages such as Sankrit, Aramic and Nama. He dreams of one day being a motivational speaker focusing on youth development.

    Schoor is in Grade 9 at Bellville High School and extreme sport is one of his passions. His parents’ divorce divided the family, with him living with his mother and sister, while his brother lives with his dad.

    The other youngsters who required bursaries are Chrismarie Braun (16) from Hout Bay, Cape Town and Bryan Winston Castle (16) from Stanford in the Overberg region.

    Chrismarie, who wants to become a psychologist, experienced great hardship while living for 18 months with her mum and younger sister in a safe women shelter during her parents’ difficult divorce process. Bryan, who was chosen as head boy of his school in the UK during his family’s 5-year stay abroad, is now in Grade 11 at Hermanus High School. He has been a winner in public speaking competitions, is a keen sportsman and the top swimmer at his school, as well as an avid musician who plays the electric guitar and the alto saxophone.

    This project has been made possible by the generous donation in kind by the Class Afloat project. Generous donations by the Bermuda Sail Training Association, CSM Consulting Services, Rotary Club Pinelands and the great team spirit amongst parents and team members has helped to raise the necessary funds to pay for travel and preparation costs of also those deserving team members, who would never be able to pay for themselves. Other donations in kind were made by CSM Consulting Services, City Sight Seeing, Township Tours SA, First Ascent and last but not least the WC Premiers office who invited the South African and Canadian Team to a lunch at her residence.

    Nahnsen appeals to sponsors to support Cape Windjammers and SASLA to establish a bursary fund that would allow to send many more South Africans on similar sail training voyages in the future.

    Potential donors can visit the website www.capewindjammers.org for contact details.

    Dar es Salaam-Kigali-Bujumbura railway to be running by 2014

    Bold plans to construct a new railway to connect for the first time the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam with Kigali in Rwanda and Bujumbura in Burundi have been revealed.

    The existing railway between Dar es Salaam and Isaka will in the process be modernised and, following the latest trend in African railway, rebuilt from metre gauge to 1435mm gauge, the same gauge used in Europe and the United States.

    However a new railway will be constructed required from Isaka to Kigali and Bujumbura and latest estimates put the final cost at US$2.45 billion, down from an earlier estimate of $3.5bn. The project is being sponsored by the governments of the three respective countries, with the backing and support of the World Bank.

    Government spokesmen say the railway will be built to handle high speed trains, which they claim will lead to cargo being delivered from Dar es Salaam to Kigali within one day. They make this calculation by the simple expedience of dividing the distance by the speed made possible by new trains on new standard gauge tracks, while ignoring the matter of getting the cargo onto the trains, and off at the other end, which is where all the delays occur on most railway systems anywhere in the world over and particularly in Africa.

    Africa Partnership Station news – training boosts maritime safety

    by Jacquelyn S. Porth

    The USS Nashville is traveling around the west coast of Africa, serving as a floating classroom, as part of an international effort to promote maritime safety and security in the region.

    But if you think that what the ship is doing for the Africa Partnership Station initiative -- as the collaborative effort is known -- is only about naval exercises, you are wrong. There is a strong civilian-training component with participation by organizations such as the US Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Wildlife Conservation Society, a nonprofit whose mission might seem more tied to land.

    How does the society fit into a maritime environment? In Gabon, for example, society members worked recently with that country's navy and Department of Fisheries on ways to better protect marine life in the Mayumba National Park along the Gabon-Congo border.
    Park staff learned about a radar installation that will help with future enforcement efforts in and around protected areas. Richard Parnell, who worked on the society's project in Mayumba, said it will help park authorities plan future missions.

    The Africa Partnership Station began in 2006 by sending US ships on rotating port visits throughout the region, carrying on-board partners from Europe, South America and Africa. In the summer of 2009, the Dutch navy will send one of its amphibious ships to promote meteorological and oceanographic projects in the Gulf of Guinea.

    Central and Western African nations have requested assistance for all the training projects undertaken as part of the partnership, including how to cope with oil spills.

    The Nashville, which made its latest port call in Lagos, Nigeria, has representatives onboard from 10 countries in and around the Gulf of Guinea, seven from Europe and one from South America. The crew manifest includes specialists in fishery management and environmental conservation.

    The Americans and Nigerians are working on a hydrography project -- measurement of navigable waters -- as well as port security improvements. Italians are taking the lead in fishery enforcement workshops in Nigeria.

    Many of the nations in the region are especially interested in halting the loss of revenue being siphoned off by illegal fisherman. But there are other problems, too, including the transit of narcotics and human trafficking.

    The United States sees the initiative as a way to build enduring relationships in the region and provide fast disaster and humanitarian assistance when needed. The activities are designed so the participants learn from each other and build trust along the way. Similar endeavors are under way in other parts of the world.

    Besides Nigeria and Gabon, the Nashville has sailed to Cameroon and Senegal. Although the ship did not make a full-fledged visit to Liberia, it dropped off some US Marines to work briefly with the military in Monrovia.

    International ‘Cross Training’

    Rear Admiral William Loeffler said there are a number of advantages for personnel supporting the endeavor. The Africans specify the training they want and need, he said, while visitors gain a new understanding of cultures and local challenges through joint hands-on activities. "The computer age is a wonderful thing," he said, referring to the wealth of information about Africa available on the Internet, "but it is just not the same as actually seeing conditions yourself."

    The initiative aims to help countries in the region better understand what is happening in their territorial and adjacent waters using a shared, unclassified automated information system.

    Maritime infrastructure improvements such as dredging in shallow waters, setting up buoys and building roads to move goods rapidly from ports to inland destinations are part of this initiative.

    Training focuses on securing port warehouses and preparing African naval and coast guard personnel for search-and-rescue operations in bad weather or to deal with fish poachers.

    Loeffler told reporters at the Washington-based Foreign Press Center on 26 March that the initiative gives indigenous naval forces the ability to govern their own space effectively. In any number of African countries, he said, resources have flowed readily to land forces, but navies and coast guards have not fared as well.

    The Africa Partnership Station is not confined to a single ship visit: There are follow-up visits, but no repetitive training. Loeffler, who is director of policy and strategy for US Naval Forces in Europe, said planners see each visit as an opportunity to build on the last one and to teach new skills.

    Loeffler said feedback from African leaders has been uniformly positive, not only as a result of the high-profile military training efforts but also as a result of community outreach programs that put sailors and engineers into villages to repair schools and orphanages. The military personnel spend shore time painting, fixing roofs or distributing donated medical supplies.

    And, as word of the initiative spreads, Loeffler said requests are coming in from other African countries wanting to be part of this productive, multinational, maritime partnership. – source America.gov

    Pic of the day – SAFMARINE MULANJE

    The container ship SAFMARINE MULANJE (50,686-gt, 60,700-DWT, built 2007) is now a regular sight in South African ports since being introduced into service with Safmarine on 10 January 2007. The ship has a nominal capacity of 4150 TEUs but is probably capable of carrying up to 4,800 boxes. Picture taken in Cape Town by Ian Shiffman

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