Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 28, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – MSC MELODY

  • Piracy roundup – another ship highjacked and cruise ship Melody attacked

  • News from the shipping lines

  • New MAFI yard tractors for Transnet Port Terminals

  • Knysna to welcome SA Navy minesweepers

  • New range of variable reach trucks available in southern Africa

  • Pic of the day – EFDIM JUNIOR


    First View – MSC MELODY

    The cruise ship MSC MELODY (35,143-gt, built 1982) which came under attack from what is thought to be Somali pirates, while 600 n.miles off the Kenya and Somali coastline. See report below. This picture was taken in an earlier time in Livorno, Italy by Trevor Jones.

    Piracy roundup – another ship highjacked and cruise ship Melody attacked

    As this report is under preparation news was received of a German-owned bulker PATRIOT (19,795-gt, built 2002) which was attacked and highjacked by Somali pirates. The attack on the Maltese-flagged vessel took place on the night of 24 and 25 April in the Gulf of Aden, again highlighting an increase in the number of night attacks on ships – which military observers put down to improved technology available to the pirates. The ship is carrying a crew of 17 – there are no reports of injuries and everyone on board is assumed to be unharmed.

    The MSC Cruises ship MSC MELODY, returning to Genoa from a successful season of cruising out of Durban during the past southern summer, came under attack on Saturday night (25 April) from pirates presumed to be Somalis. This occurred shortly after leaving the Seychelles with the ship en route to her next port of call in Aqaba, Jordan. According to Italian radio reports the Melody came under attack from six pirates operating in a small white motor boat who approached the passenger vessel brandishing weapons. The Melody was at that stage about 600 n.miles off the southern Somali coast and a mere 200 n.miles from the Seychelles.

    The master of the Melody, Captain Ciro Pinto issued orders for security crew – believed to be 12 former Israeli special forces personnel, to be armed and passengers were ordered to their cabins. As the pirates approached the Melody firing broke out, with the pirates spraying the ship with automatic fire and the security guards returning the fire with hand guns while also manning the water fire hoses to ward off the attackers. After the pirates aborted efforts to board the ship they continued to follow the vessel for another 20 minutes or so before breaking away.

    The Italian ship’s master was reported as saying it felt like they were in a war.

    The ship is carrying close to 1,000 passengers, mostly from Europe but including a number of South Africans who all boarded the vessel in Durban on 17 April for her re-positioning cruise back to Italy. The Melody also has a crew of about 500 on board.

    A US Navy spokesman said the attack on the Melody was a further indication of the pirates increased skill and a shift in their tactical capabilities. Other observers have been critical of the Melody having armed security on board, noting that this marks a dangerous escalation that may have dire consequences as pirates escalate their willingness to cause bodily harm to passengers and crew on board ships under attack. They say non-lethal weapons ought to be used instead, such as the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), developed by the Americans and used successfully against Somali pirates.

    Meanwhile the Melody is continuing her voyage to Aqaba but is now under escort with the Spanish warship SPS MARQUES DE ENSENADA in attendance.

    Another vessel to come under attack by Somali pirates during the recent weekend is the Turkish cruising vessel ARIVA 3, which was attacked on Sunday (16 April) off the Yemeni island of Jabal Zuqar. The small craft with a crew of six on board came under fire from pirates who then abandoned the attack for no apparent reason, allowing the Turkish vessel to make its escape.

    Meanwhile the Yemeni oil tanker QANA which was seized by pirates on Saturday (16 April) was recaptured by Yemeni military forces in the Gulf of Aden the following day. The tanker was sailing empty at the time bound for Aden. Also on Saturday another Yemeni ship, the SEA PRINCESS II, which had been in pirate hands since 2 January this year, was released after payment of a ransom. This leaves 19 ships still in the hands of the pirates, together with more than 270 crew members.

    The Norwegian tanker STOLT STRENGTH, which was released by pirates last week ran out of fuel off the coast of Somalia and faced being captured once again, until the US Navy arrived to assist by supplying the ship with sufficient bunkers to make for a friendly port.

    In a related matter, the US plans to introduce legislation that will bar ships from companies that have paid ransoms to pirates from entering any US port in future. The move is designed to discourage ship owners from paying ransoms which the US authorities say is feeding the piracy business. The US Council of American Master Mariners (CAMM) has denounced the proposed legislation saying that it would dramatically impede commerce.

    At last week’s European Commission summit global donors agreed to provide more than US$250 million to fight piracy and bolster security in Somalia. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the money will help Somalia build up its security forces to restore law and order and stamp out piracy.

    News from the shipping lines

    United Africa Feeder Line (UAFL), which was founded in 2000 to provide regional feeder services in Africa and the Indian Ocean islands, has announced it is accepting cargo from Indonesia into East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.

    UAFL also provides three core services:

    1] The Indian Ocean islands linking Mauritius, Reunion, Madagascar and the Comoros with the Far East (now also including Indonesia) and with the Indian sub continent, the Middle East and Europe.
    2] South Africa and Indian Ocean islands service linking South Africa with Madagascar, the Comoros and East Africa, and
    3] South Africa and Mozambique service making use of the line’s cabotage license permitting extensive coverage of the Mozambique ports.

    Details are available from UAFL’s agent Ben Line Agencies at +6221 527 3290 or email jkt-marketing3@benline.co.id.

    MACS (Maritime Carrier Shipping) has taken off two ships from its Europe – South Africa service – the 26,000-DWT/850-teu container bulkers STELLENBOSCH and ALGOA BAY, leaving five multipurpose vessels remaining on this service.

    Stellenbosch and Algoa Bay, both former SA Marine vessels have been transferred to MACS’ Southern Africa – Mexico – USA service known as Gulf Africa Line (GAL), where they replace the ageing container bulkers BLUE MASTER and SILVERFJORD. The latter two ships, each of 30,000-DWT and 1,100-TEU are each 38 years old and will be going to the breakers’ yard. MACS operates the GAL service jointly with Dannebrog.

    Japan’s K LINE will shortly be welcoming her latest charter vessel, the container vessel RUDOLF SCHEPERS (40,451-gt, built 2009) which will join the Far East – East Coast South America service via South Africa operated jointly by K Line, CMA CGM and Maruba.

    New MAFI yard tractors for Transnet Port Terminals

    German manufacturer MAFI has announced it has secured an order for 59 yard tractors from Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), with delivery expected from mid-August.

    From that time 53 of the machines will be delivered to the TPT Cape Town Container and Multi Purpose Terminals, with another six units being delivered to the Durban Multi Purpose Terminal. The 59 units are of Yard Tractors type MT 25 YT.

    The 53 Yard Tractors designated for Cape Town will be equipped with a 3.5 inch 5th wheel and the six units for Durban with a 2 inch 5th wheel. All tractors will be equipped with Cummins engines QSB 6.7, Euromot 3a and ZF gear boxes 3WG 171. Nominal load on 5th wheel is 32 tons.

    The delivery of this batch is scheduled to start during mid-August 2009.

    Knysna to welcome SA Navy minesweepers

    In a tradition going back many years two minesweepers of the South African Navy will ‘sweep’ past the Knysna Heads on Tuesday, 7 June to help celebrate Knysna’s annual Oyster Festival held at the southern Cape town and former port.

    The minesweepers will be under the command of the Chief Director of Maritime Strategy, Rear Admiral B Teuteberg and on the evening of Thursday 9 July an Admiral’s Ball will be held in honour of the navy.

    The visit by the two little ships of the South African Navy (weather permitting) is a highlight of the annual function for the small but popular town that lost its port status in 1954 and as a result seldom sees anything larger than a yacht or occasional fishing vessel in the large lagoon. Since that time ships of the South African Navy have made it a point to visit the town as regularly as possible and these have included various mine hunting and sweeping vessels, the missile strike craft and several survey ships.

    The Knysna Oyster Festival is scheduled for 3 – 12 July 2009.

    New range of variable reach trucks available in southern Africa

    Meclift ML 1612R variable reach trucks are available from Big Lift Trucks with a double fork system that enhances the flexibility and performance of cargo handling.

    MecLift variable reach trucks, available exclusively in Southern Africa from materials handling specialists, Big Lift Trucks, are designed for swift, efficient and safe container stuffing and handling.

    “Unlike conventional forklift trucks, this robust Meclift ML 1612R series, which has a lift height of 6m, is able to drive into containers or reach inside a container for easy loading and unloading,” says Clinton van den Berg, products manager for Big Lift Trucks. “These compact reach trucks increase efficiency during container handling and reduce operating times. They also ensure enhanced safety on site.”

    An important feature of the ML 1612R series is the double fork system that enhances the flexibility and performance of cargo handling. This special double forks attachment offers many benefits when loading and unloading containers or trailers. For example, four pallets or a similar load can be easily handled at the same time and it is possible to fully load a 20ft (6m) container with only two lifts. The weight of the load is not a problem because these double forks can handle the same maximum load of 16 tons, which is the lifting capacity of the machine. Double forks use the same fixing points as normal forks, which means switching between the two is effortless.

    Fork positioning can be altered from inside the cabin, without the operator having to get out to manually adjust the gap between the levers. Forks are available in different lengths, widths and thicknesses according to exact requirements.

    Meclift reach trucks are powered by a diesel engine and are economical to run, requiring minimal maintenance. The lift carriage has an hydraulic side shift for accurate and effortless positioning.

    The cabin’s hydraulic vertical movement facility of 650mm enables the operator to comfortably drive into a container. Horizontal booms extend the performance of these machines and also ensure excellent visibility for the operator. By extending, lifting and lowering these booms, containers can be safely handled at a distance from the cabin. The reach trucks are also able to stack empty containers three high. Other safety features include service, parking and emergency brakes.

    Optional accessories consist of an automatic stability control and display, air–conditioning units and cameras for extra visibility. This series can also be fitted with coil rams and clamps for the efficient handling of steel coils.

    Big Lift Trucks, which supplies a range of specialist materials handling equipment to diverse industries throughout Africa, also offers a technical advisory, spare parts and support service. Operator training and a condition monitoring service for equipment are also provided. Big Lift Trucks can be contacted at (article supplied)

    Pic of the day – EFDIM JUNIOR

    The Greek general cargo ship EFDIM JUNIOR (10,274-gt, built 1979) made an attractive sight in Cape Town harbour on 9 April. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    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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