Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 20, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – OCEAN EXPLORER

  • Near miss for bulker in difficulties off Cape coast

  • Shippers call for action over congested Mombasa port

  • Piracy update – Somalis repeats call for help in setting up coastguard

  • Maersk announces resignation of chief financial officer

  • Pic of the day – STX ACE 6


    First View – OCEAN EXPLORER

    The factory stern trawler OCEAN EXPLORER (2541-gt, built 1975) shifting from Maydon Wharf berth 12 to Dormac's repair quay in Durban. She flies the Cook Islands flag, port of registry Rarotonga, and is apparently a long way from "home". The trawler was assisted by the Durban harbour tug UMVOTI (295-gt, built 1983). Picture copyright Shiphoto International

    Near miss for bulker in difficulties off Cape coast

    The Cape coast had a narrow escape yesterday (Tuesday) when a bulk ship, PINE TRADER(18,322-gt, built 1979) narrowly missed going aground near Cape Infanta. Swift action by coastguard services and the South African Maritime Safety Authority prevented a possible ecological disaster. The following media announcement from Capt. NT Campbell, Regional Manager: SAMSA Southern Region refers:

    At approximately 11h30 on Monday 18 May 2009, a Coastguard aircraft under contract to the Department of Environment Affairs spotted the Panamanian registered bulk carrier Pine Trader stopped in the water some 30 miles east of Cape Agulhas. Contact was made with the Master who informed the aircraft that he had a small engine problem and would be underway in 30 minutes.

    The situation was monitored by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Cape Town and it was subsequently learned that the vessel had ingress of water into the engine room. The standby salvage tug Smit Amandla, on contract to the Department of Transport and under the direction of SAMSA, was instructed to sail from False Bay to rendezvous with the Pine Trader.

    The Master of the Pine Trader advised MRCC that the vessel had lost main engine power, that there was a small hole in the engine room plating and that flooding was continuing. The vessel subsequently lost electrical power and only the emergency generator was operational. It was then estimated that the vessel would ground at the same time as the Smit Amandla would arrive on scene, in the area of Cape Infanta.

    Negotiations were undertaken with PetroSA to release the Smit Lloyd 33, on station at the ORCA oilfield, to steam to the Pine Trader so as to assist. Shortly after midnight, as the weather moderated and the Pine Trader’s rate of drift slowed, the Smit Amandla was able to attach a tow rope to the casualty. The Smit Amandla commenced towing the Pine Trader in a south westerly direction.

    At 07h00 this morning (Tuesday, 19 May), a senior SAMSA surveyor was airlifted to the vessel to inspect its condition so as to enable SAMSA to consider the best way forward in protecting the lives of the crew members onboard and in ensuring that there is no pollution threat to the South African coast.

    At 08h00 this morning the vessel was approximately 30 miles south of Cape Infanta. The Smit Lloyd 33 is still in attendance. The Pine Trader has 220 tonnes of fuel onboard and is carrying a cargo of 20,500 tonnes of bagged rice, destined for Abidjan. The vessel was built in 1977 and has a gross tonnage of 18,322T. The vessel’s managers are based in Croatia.

    Shippers call for action over congested Mombasa port

    In a hard hitting memorandum, the Kenya Shippers Council, which represents Kenyan cargo owners as well the interests of cargo owners of neighbouring states using the port of Mombasa, says it has issued recommendations to the Kenyan Ministries of Transport and Finance, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) on how to decongest the port of Mombasa.
    According to the Council it has identified cargo-handling capacity, operations and the ineffective use of container freight stations as being the major bottlenecks affecting efficient movement of cargo at the port. Other areas identified include ineffective utilization of available surface transport modes and operational and regulatory challenges facing the road transport sector.

    It calls for the introduction of more sophisticated electronic systems to replace outdated manual cargo handling processes currently in use.

    Acknowledging that a number of initiatives have been introduced in recent years in response to concerns with congestion and delays, the Council says that these have had limited effect on solving the chronic congestion facing the port.

    Among its recommendations the Council calls for further interventions to speed up improvements, and wants the container freight stations to be regulated by a third party outside the KPA and KRA. It also wants more authority to be vested with the Kenya Maritime Authority, as stipulated in the Merchant Shipping Act, and a review of the Rift Valley Railway concession agreement to encourage the participation of other stakeholders.

    Piracy update – Somalis repeats call for help in setting up coastguard

    Somalia has repeated calls for international assistance in establishing its own coastguard as a means of combating piracy in its waters.

    The country’s deputy prime minister, Abdirahman Aden Ibbi said that by having its own coastguard Somalia would be in a position to guarantee the elimination of piracy off its coastal waters. He described this as the only possible solution in dealing with a situation that sees a large number of ships and crew being held for ransom off the Somali coast.

    His comments came amidst reports last night (Tuesday) that Ethiopian troops were again entering Somalia to counter Islamist forces that are threatening to gain control of Mogadishu and other regions. Radio Garowe reported that elements of the Ethiopian Army had entered the central region of Hiran on Tuesday morning and taken possession of a strategic crossroad connecting the southern regions to the northern region of Puntland and the eastern section of the country.

    Yesterday the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB), together with the International Chamber of Shipping, INTERTANKO and BIMCO dismissed recent reports claiming that Somali pirates were targeting ships in advance after making use of a network on international contacts.

    See this report and our comments HERE

    The IMB pointed out that “vessels attacked so far have included a range of vessel types from fishing boats and coastal dhows to bulk carriers and a supertanker. The vessels have been of many diverse flags, crewed by different nationalities, with various cargoes on board destined for a wide range of ports.

    “Pirates have even attempted to attack naval units mistakenly believing them to be merchant vessels. Pirates target vessels that are easy to board and in their vicinity. If an attack is successfully repelled they move on to another vessel. All the evidence indicates that these are primarily opportunistic crimes. The suggestion that vessels are targeted in advance using shore based intelligence is spurious.”

    “Such unfounded speculation is mischievous and unhelpful,” said IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan. “It unjustly detracts from the good work done so far by the international naval forces and other agencies and diverts attention from the important task of providing a practical response to the difficult challenges in the region.”

    The IMB concludes, “Further allegations have been made in the press that London-based information channels have been utilised to provide intelligence to the pirate gangs. There is no evidence to support these allegations. Further, there is no information in the public domain that would enable pirates to precisely locate a targeted vessel at sea and off the Horn of Africa.”

    Maersk announces resignation of chief financial officer

    AP Møller-Mærsk announced yesterday (Tuesday) that the group Chief Financial Officer Søren Thorup Sørensen has decided to resign and will leave the Group at the end of May 2009.

    Sørensen said that after almost three years as Group CFO with AP Møller-Mærsk, he had come to realise that for some time the heavy work load has been damaging to his health.

    “I have therefore decided to leave my position and the Group. The timing seems right after the annual report and the Q1 announcement.”

    Last week Mærsk reported a net loss of US$373 million for the first quarter. This compares with a profit of more than $1 billion for the same period in 2008.

    ”With his comprehensive knowledge and professional competencies, Søren Thorup Sørensen has immaculately performed the position as Group CFO, and deserves great appreciation for the cooperation,” said CEO Nils Smedegaard Andersen. “We will make temporary, internal changes in order to cover Søren Thorup Sørensen’s areas of responsibility, until we find a permanent solution.”

    Pic of the day – STX ACE 6

    The oil and chemical products tanker STX ACE 6 (30,027-gt built 2007) taken alongside at Lyttelton, New Zealand discharging petroleum product from Singapore. Flying the Panamanian flag the tanker is owned and operated by South Korean interests. Picture Alan Calvert

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