Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 7, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – DENEB PRIMA

  • SA port 1st quarter statistics show small decline

  • Navigational advice about Durban port entrance channel

  • This is no fishy story

  • Pirates rampant – more ships seized – latest update

  • SA to introduce new secure passport this week

  • Pic of the day – BRO ALEXANDRE


    First View – DENEB PRIMA

    It is not often than one sees livestock carriers in southern African waters and certainly not the size and magnitude of the DENEB PRIMA (50,947-gt, built 1980) which was in Lyttelton harbour, New Zealand when this picture was taken in 2007. The vessel, then the world’s largest livestock carrier, can carry 25,000 cattle or 120,000 sheep or a combination of both. The 213m long ship was originally a container vessel, and was converted for Siba Ships, one of the leading livestock carrier groups.

    Livestock carriers when they do call at South Africa are always at the opposite end of the size scale and call to load cattle usually for Mauritius. Mauritius-bound livestock carriers also make use of Mozambique ports at times. The last recorded visit in a South African port was to Durban during December 2008. Picture by Alan Calvert

    SA port 1st quarter statistics show small decline

    South Africa’s ports experienced a slight decline of 3.33% in volumes over the first quarter of 2009, compared with the same period in 2008. Container volumes however showed a much more dramatic drop, falling 11.26% for the quarter as compared to 2008.

    This decrease in container traffic is even more pronounced if the anticipated growth of between 8% and 12% is taken into account. That was before the global economic downturn from October last year.

    Cargo handled by tonnes First Quarter 2009 (2008 in brackets)

    Richards Bay                  18.532mt million tonnes (2008 20.454Mt)
    Durban                          16.095 Mt    (2008 18.484)
    Saldanha Bay                 13.197 Mt    (2008 9.447)
    Cape Town                      3.408 Mt    (2008 3.554)
    Port Elizabeth                  1.345 Mt    (2008 3.126)
    Mossel Bay                      0.445 Mt    (2008 0.426)
    East London                    0.625 Mt    (2008 0.700)

    Total Quarterly cargo Jan-March 2009: 53.647 million tonnes (2008: 55.493 Mt)

    Containers (measured by TEUs)
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA)

    Durban                            551,766 TEU (2008: 633,565)
    Cape Town                      192,677        (2008: 185,940)
    Port Elizabeth                    60,239         (2008: 85,486)
    East London                        9,824         (2008: 10,029)
    Richards Bay                          272         (2008: 1299)

    Total containers handled Jan-March 2009: 814,778 TEU (2008: 918,119)

    Navigational advice about Durban port entrance channel

    The widening of the Durban port entrance is moving ahead on schedule and in the next phase the navigational channel that has been in use for well over a hundred years is to be moved northwards to permit dredgers to take up dredging duties in the old (south) section of the channel.

    This move will take place during May when a channel only 110m wide will become available. The northern section will not of course have the traditional leading lights as a navigational aid to pilots lining up ships while entering port, who will instead make use of the latest Precision Entry Light (PEL) system.

    The dredging will also result in some temporary restrictions on ship movements until the southern half has been completed and reunited with the newer northern half of the channel.

    Container ships with a beam of up to 25m will be handled 24 hours a day seven days a week but those with a beam of more than 35m will be handled on a case by case basis as is the norm for oversize vessels at present. All other vessels in excess of 32m beam will be treated similarly.

    When completed the port entrance channel will be 220m wide at its narrowest point, with a depth of 19 metres on the approaches to the channel, shallowing to 16m draught inside the channel itself. Once completed in early 2010 the port will be available to container ships in the 9,000-TEU range.

    The port still lacks any berths capable of handling deep draught ships, with a present maximum depth alongside of 12.5m.

    The Port of Cape Town meanwhile has advised that during the numerous public holidays over the next three months, the port will remain open with normal working hours applying. The holidays are on 10 April, 13 April (Easter weekend), 22 April (election day), 27 April, 1 May, 16 June.

    The normal marine service fleet, pilotage and berthing assistance will be provided except for jobs requiring three or more tugs, which would have to be requested and planned timeously in the normal fashion.

    This is no fishy story

    Remember the coelacanth? That ancient prehistoric fish thought to have gone extinct 70 million years ago and then discovered in a fishing net off East London where it was identified by the curator of the East London Museum, Marjorie Courtenay Latimer. The fish was subsequently traced to and ‘discovered’ in the waters off the Comoros by Professor JLB Smith of Rhodes University.

    That all happened in the late 1930s and 1940s and makes fascinating reading, of how the South African prime minister Dr DF Malan placed an air force Dakota DC3 aircraft at Professor Smith’s disposal to hurry north after the academic had received word that another specimen had been caught in the Comoros, right where he suspected them to be.

    Local fishermen in the Mozambique Channel might dispute the ‘discovered’ tag of course, having known about the fish for generations, but the credit went to Smith and Latimer and later explorers who set out to photograph the fish in its natural state, “Old Fourlegs” as Prof Smith dubbed it. The coelacanth has since been found to have a much wider spread than first thought with related examples being discovered in Indonesian waters and others along the KZN coast. Nevertheless it is now probably the most highly protected species in the world today.

    Now comes news that Tanzania’s Mwambani Bay is also a documented habitat of the fish and because of this efforts to build a new deepwater harbour in the bay may come to a halt. The plan was to build the port at Mwambani Bay which is about five miles south of Tanga, where there are severe draught restrictions necessitating a lighter system to work cargo to and from ships.

    Tanzania Port Authority has ambitions to develop the port as an alternative to both Tanga and Dar es Salaam, with an adjacent industrial development zone but now everything is on hold while the port and government authorities discuss the matter with environmental interests acting on behalf of the living fossil fish.

    Pirates rampant – more ships seized – latest update

    Since our report dated yesterday in which the seizure of a German ship was documented two more ships have been taken by pirates.

    According to Kenyan sources the Taiwanese ship WIN FAR 161 has been taken by pirates while sailing close to one of the Seychelles islands, which opens a new chapter of concern to maritime authorities if shown to be true. This is the second report of an attack in the Seychelles waters in a week – the other involving a yacht also taken by pirates.

    In addition to the above Yemeni authorities have reported that a small tug, AL-GHAITH and her seven man crew was seized on 5 April while in Yemeni waters.

    The British-owned cargo ship MALASPINA CASTLE (21,173-gt, built 1981) and operated by an Italian company has also been taken into captivity by Somali pirates. The ship was seized yesterday (Monday) while in the Gulf of Aden. The Malaspina Castle is believed to have a crew of 24 from the Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria and the Philippines.

    In other pirate-related reports the Canadian warship HMCS WINNIPEG which is on patrol in the Gulf of Aden has reported that she has assisted a cargo ship PACIFIC OPAL which was under threat from pirates operated from an open boat in the Gulf of Aden. The Canadian ship launched a Sea King helicopter which overflew the suspected pirates and displayed a large sign, written in the appropriate Somali language which said STOP, which the suspected pirates duly did.

    This incident took place on Saturday. In another incident involving the same warship, assistance was provided to a boatload of refugees – 51 of them in a 25ft open boat, who were without food and water. The refugees were from Somalia and were trying to get to Yemen.

    In a related matter the European Union (EU) is reported to have made a recommendation that French and British naval bases around the world be placed at the disposal of the EU following the upsurge in pirate activity, which has necessitated the large-scale involvement of European nation warships. The report suggests that British naval bases at Gibraltar, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands be made part of a EU Forward Presence for securing vital trade routes. It stated that the bases belonging to France and the UK ought to be ‘Europeanised’ to enable Europe’s navies to match those of Asia.

    “The EU member states’ military installations – mainly French and British – would provide a formidable asset for the geographical and functional expansion of EU Grand Strategy,” the report stated.

    Written by two UK-based academics, James Rogers and Luis Simon, it continued: “As the world moves towards a dynamic multipolar system and US relative maritime power declines as powers like China and India rise, there is a growing and compelling need for Europeans to take responsibility for the Sea Lines of Communication that link them to the farthest corners of the world, particularly those most vital to European trade and security.”

    “The growing cost of sustaining a comprehensive maritime infrastructure therefore calls for further EU cooperation to ‘Europeanise’ the Anglo-French forward presence and undergird EU maritime security more effectively, while simultaneously protecting European Sea Lines of Communication and maintaining an extended EU forward presence overseas.

    “As the EU assumes a wider role in the security and defence of the entire bloc, institutional reforms will be required so that it can handle the new and demanding tasks. One of these may be for Britain and France to transfer the maintenance and upkeep of their military installations to a central institution, funded by all of the member states.”

    Wasn’t this how colonialism got started – and excuse to guard and protect trade routes and interests?

    SA to introduce new secure passport this week

    by Chris Bathembu (BuaNews)

    Johannesburg - The new South African passport, which has more security features, will come into effect from this week.

    From 8 April, South Africans who apply for a new passport will be introduced to a new document with complex security features which will be more difficult to reproduce illegally.

    Addressing the media, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the document will see a significant improvement in the security of the South African passport.

    “One of the major differences between the old and new passport is the pure polycarbonate data page that replaces the current security paper data page with its overlay film. Personal data will in future be laser-engraved into the data page instead of being printed on the overlay film,” said the minister.

    She said it was a major feat that all the secure material used in the production of the new passport was sourced locally.

    The introduction of the new document forms part of the department's turnaround strategy which will soon change focus from the backlog challenges that existed in the issuing of birth, marriage and death certificates.

    “Another area in which huge improvements are balanced by remaining challenges is the issue of refugees. Despite the far-reaching improvements we have made to our processes, the fact is that our systems were not designed to deal with the number of people entering our country at the moment,” said Ms Mapisa-Nqakula.

    The department is expected to open the Tshwane Interim Refugee Reception centre during April. - BuaNews

    Pic of the day – BRO ALEXANDRE

    The Dover-registered oil products tanker BRO ALEXANDRE (28,226-gt, built 1995) makes an imposing sight outside the New Zealand port of Lyttelton. Picture is by Alan Calvert

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