Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 28, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson


















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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – ZHEN HUA 21

  • Rail gantry cranes arrive for Ngqura port container terminal

  • Piracy update – an ill wind does blow some good

  • Simon’s Town ceremony to commemorate escape of the DIANA

  • Walvis Bay port road congestion

  • Illegal fishing robbing our oceans

  • Pic of the day – ORIANA




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    First View – ZHEN HUA 21



    The Chinese heavylift ZHEN HUA 21 which arrived in the new port of Ngqura last Friday to discharge a cargo of two rail mounted rail gantry cranes for use at the Ngqura Container Terminal. The terminal is due to open in October this year, whereas technically the port has already been opened although not officially. The tug in the picture is from Port Elizabeth - note the new funnel colours.  Picture TPT



    Rail gantry cranes arrive for Ngqura port container terminal

    Ngqura, South Africa – The ZHEN HUA No.21 heavylift vessel which sailed into the Port of Ngqura from China on the afternoon of Friday, 22 May was an impressive sight as it delivered equipment and components in excess of R72 million in value, all destined for the Ngqura container terminal (NCT) to be launched in October 2009.

    The vessel’s massive 720 ton and 3,2616m3 consignment included two fully erect rail-mounted gantry cranes weighing 660 tons in total, as well as small assembly parts, tools, consumables and breakbulk cargo.

    Hector Danisa, Business Unit Executive at Ngqura container terminal, said special clearance had to be sought to bring the cranes in through the port.

    “Due to the immense size of the cranes and the fact that they are being delivered virtually assembled, it would have been physically impossible to land at the neighbouring Port Elizabeth harbour and deliver overland. With equipment of this nature, it can only be landed at the terminal at which it will be installed and used,” he said.

    Once commissioned the two R36 million rail cranes would be used to transfer containers between internal road vehicles and rail wagons at the Ngqura rail terminal.

    Danisa said the investment would assist in getting more cargo volumes off the road and onto rail, as well as offering faster, cheaper alternatives to customers.

    “The cranes will certainly assist us in meeting NCT’s promised port-rail turnaround of under 6 hours. They offer double the handling rate of reach stackers, which are used in some of our port terminals. Pier 1 in Durban recently received similar cranes and is expecting huge results,” he said.

    In a massive logistical effort involving Transnet and a special team of experts from Chinese company, Covec, the cranes were slipped ashore using rails and jacks, with ships gear used for landing other items in the consignment.

    They would be slipped to an assembly site in the terminal ahead of their commissioning and are expected to be fully operational by mid June 2009.



    Piracy update – an ill wind does blow some good

    The pirates of Somali may have been quiet over this past week, with no ships being reported captured but it hasn’t been for want of any attempt. Several incidents are known to have occurred in which international warships managed to chase off possible attacks on merchant shipping.

    The Swedish warship HMS MALMO engaged with pirates on board a small skiff who had earlier opened fire on a Greek bulk carrier using rocket grenades and rifles. Seven pirates were taken into custody for questioning after grappling hooks, weapons and ammunition were discovered on the boat.

    The International Maritime Bureau has repeatedng warnings to shipping in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia to maintain a close 24-hour watch including the use of radar against pirate suspects. The IMB cautioned that most attacks were now taking place after dark.

    Maersk Line has announced a rate increase on cargo between India and Europe of US $ 100 per dry cargo container as from 1 June 2009. The Danish company also said it is raising its emergency piracy surcharge in order to offset insurance costs on containers moving through the Gulf of Aden. The rates is to increase from $20 to $25 per TEU immediately and from 1 June it will double to $50 per TEU.

    Further north the Suez Canal Authority reports a dramatic decrease in revenue which may reach a 20% decline for the year. "We're bracing for a significant decline in canal revenues this year," Suez Canal Authority (SCA) spokesman Tarek Hussein said, but added that 90% of the decline will be directly attributable not to piracy, but to the dismal economic climate.

    The canal represents one of three main sources of revenue for Egypt, the other two being tourism and earnings sent home by Egyptians working abroad.

    Also in Egypt, an international conference on piracy is taking place this week in which experts in security, shipping and insurance are all having their say. A similar conference is being held in London – this being the second or third in recent weeks in the British capital. It all goes to show that an ill wind does blow some good – at least the conference organisers have something new to promote.



    Simon’s Town ceremony to commemorate escape of the DIANA

    by David Erickson

    A ceremony will be held in Jubilee Square, Simon’s Town at 17h00 this coming Friday, 29 May 2009 – the unveiling of the Diana Commemoration Plinth and Plaque.

    The event will be supported by the Russian Embassy, SA Navy and the Naval Band.

    Two hundred years ago the Imperial Russian Naval sloop DIANA made her audacious escape from Simon’s Bay. Commanded by Lieutenant Vasily Golovnin, DIANA had been detained by the English Fleet for twelve months.

    During this time Golovnin carefully recorded conditions at the Cape and set up an observatory at The Palace (Palace Barracks as it is known to-day) in order to set the ship’s chronometers. On the night of 28 May 1809 the crew cut the anchor cables, DIANA drifted out to the open sea in total darkness, set her sails and escaped.

    A plinth and plaque to commemorate the event will be unveiled by the Naval Heritage Society and the Russian Embassy on Jubilee Square, Simon’s Town, on Friday 29 May 2009 at 17h00.

    The plinth will consist of two solid wooden blocks bound together, and a suspended anchor chain with a cut link. The plinth and the bronze memorial plaque were designed by the Chairman of the Simon’s Town Historical Society, Professor Boet Dommisse, in consultation with the Russian Consul, and were manufactured by Simon’s Town Dockyard (plinth) and Dowd Engravers, of Bellville (plaque).

    The resourceful Lieutenant Golovnin served in the Royal Navy under Nelson, Collingwood and Cornwallis between 1803 and 1806. The Naval Heritage Trust is launching a book on the DIANA, which will on sale later this month.



    Walvis Bay port road congestion

    It’s sometimes quite difficult to evaluate and measure the claims made by the region’s transport corridor marketing organisations as to how successful they really are. Given the rivalry and competitive nature of each region it might be considered normal that meaningful statistics are not readily available, although one accurate measure is surely to be able to compare traffic volumes. One can also get some idea from actual port volumes although that gives little indication of where the traffic goes to or comes from.

    For instance, what effect is the port of Walvis Bay having on traffic levels to Gauteng and Central Africa as it affects the other more traditional east coast ports? The level of effort and work that has gone into promoting this long and dare one suggest, tortuous route across the Kalahari Desert certainly deserves reward, so it was with additional interest that a report in the Walvis Bay newspaper Namib Times caught our attention.

    The article relates a growing truck problem in that windswept and dusty port town of Walvis Bay, which is having a negative impact on certain parts of the town’s traffic system?

    Sound familiar? Readers in Durban and Cape Town will certainly agree, especially those that face the daily challenge of negotiating road systems around their busy harbours.

    The Walvis Bay newspaper relates how the municipal traffic authority has come to the realization that Walvis needs a truck stop, in order “to prevent truck operators and drivers from having to resort to open premises, streets and parking lots to overnight or park their vehicles.”

    Apparently the Walvis Bay Corridor Group had already given its support in principal for the truck stops (so it should, seeing that its marketing efforts is probably responsible for the growing problem), but the Group goes further by wanting to discuss to what extent truck stops benefit the transport industry.

    “The Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) in conjunction with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Massachusetts, USA, conducted a feasibility study recently on the establishment of truck stops along the Walvis Bay Corridors. The purpose for the study was to determine which services are deemed necessary available to truck drivers utilizing the Walvis Bay Corridors and to determine strategic locations for the truck stops along the corridors.”

    It seems that with the increase in traffic along the corridors “it has become imperative to further improve the transport infrastructure along the Walvis Bay Corridors, by establishing truck stops and upgrading existing ones to ensure a comfortable and safe environment for the truck drivers and their consignments, whilst resting,” the report continues.

    There’s more, but the message is clear – the Walvis Bay Corridor Group is firmly in favour of setting up adequate trucks stops to alleviate not only the effect of long distance travel on the truck crews but also as a means of alleviating a growing traffic nuisance around the port itself.

    What it also tells us is that the corridors are clearly influencing the diversion of traffic to the Namibian port, otherwise there wouldn’t be any need to build truck stops.

    But in Durban and Cape Town the problem must be more complex, for no quick solutions have appeared here. The congestion may be less obvious as the economic downturn takes effect and the number of lorries arriving outside the ports reduce but that is surely a temporary relief, and one that the port and municipal authorities could be taking advantage of. Perhaps Durban and Cape Town should ask for copies of the Walvis Bay report, or maybe they have done their own studies? Does anyone know?

    Either way, one thing is clear. Yes, the Trans Kalahari and Trans Caprivi Corridors are having some success, and that is good news for not only the port of Walvis Bay but the entire region as well. After all, competition is good for business, is it not!



    Illegal fishing robbing our oceans

    Illegal fishing in our oceans is vast and it is estimated that the value of fish stolen from South African waters may be as high as R6 billion annually, which is perhaps greater than the total value of our entire South African commercial fishery.

    So says Shaheen Moolla, a director of Feike, in a paper commissioned by the Institute for Security Studies, Cape Town, as reported by the Cape Business News (cbn.com).

    The study was undertaken to get better measure on the illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing of marine resources in South Africa.

    IUU fishing has been blamed for the collapse of the traditional line fishery, abalone and Patagonian toothfish stocks. More recently, IUU fishing has also impacted on the viability of South Africa’s largest fisheries, namely hake and pilchards. There are also increasing numbers of reports of an ‘IUU creep’ in the South African lobster and shark industries.

    The South African hake fishery is the country’s most important and valuable fishery. Hake fishing can be undertaken by deep-sea trawlers, inshore trawlers, by hand line or by long line.

    There are therefore effectively four separate fisheries, each subject to its own set of rules and regulations. Of the four hake fisheries, the deepsea trawl fishery is the most lucrative and important. The legal catch was worth an estimated R2.1 billion in 2006. The fishery employs slightly more than 9,000 people on boats and in factories. The hake fishery has traditionally been well regulated and well managed. The sustainable management of the South African hake deep-sea trawl fishery resulted in it being awarded Marine Stewardship Council Certification in 2004.

    However, subsequent to the allocation of 15-year commercial fishing rights in 2006, the hake fishery has attracted the attention of a number of Spanish operators seeking to enter and control the trawl fishery. The dubious fishing practices of the Spanish coupled with the increasingly visible impacts of overfishing of hake in Namibia and the changing ecology of the Benguela Current, have sounded alarm bells, Moolla reports.

    The South African hake trawl total allowable catch has declined from 124,500 tons in 2006 to 112,700 in 2007 and the projections are that the TAC will have to be reduced regularly in the near term. The reduction in the total allowable catch between 2006 and 2007 is estimated to have cost the industry between R200 million and R230 million.

    In 2004, Marine and Coastal Management uncovered a massive pilchard poaching syndicate that operated out of Mossel Bay on the Cape South East Coast. The surveillance and subsequent investigations indicated that as much as 200,000 tons of pilchards were harvested illegally by a number of quota holders during one fishing season. The amount of 200,000 tons was equivalent to 50% of the pilchard TAC in 2004 and worth more than R600 million. In 2006, the pilchard TAC was slashed by 48% due to overfishing. The pilchard TAC is currently set at 164,436 tons, down from 400,000 tons in 2004.

    IUU fishing of abalone stocks is perhaps the best-documented and most popular example of how a fishery collapsed due to poaching. Abalone is a popular target for poachers because of its exceptionally high demand in South East Asia, which is the destination for more than 95% of South Africa’s legally and illegally harvested abalone, as well as the farmed abalone stock.

    Its demand in South East Asia is complemented by the fact that it is also a lucrative commodity in South Africa, where its sale pays for drugs, human trafficking for prostitution, counterfeit products and organised crime more broadly.

    The poaching of abalone has rapidly increased: the demand for South Africa’s white-shelled haliotis midae escalated with the continued boom of both the Hong Kong and Chinese economies. Demand for abalone in Hong Kong, China and other South East Asian nations has increased by an estimated 20% annually between 2004 and 2007.

    The growth of the South African abalone market in South East Asia has occurred against a backdrop of a collapsing total allowable catch for legal abalone right holders in South Africa and a stagnating abalone farming industry, which produces an average of 900 tons of abalone annually.

    The legal and regulated South African abalone industry – both wild and aquaculture – could have marketed a maximum of 1025 tons (shell weight) of haliotis midae to China and Hong Kong during 2006. However, it is understood that Chinese and Hong Kong consumers purchased approximately between 2000 and 2500 tons of South African abalone in 2005 and 2006.

    These numbers are supported by anecdotal reports by South African law enforcement officials, conservation groups and members of the abalone industry that only about 10% of poached abalone is confiscated by South African authorities. Research undertaken by Feike during 2006 and 2007 shows that in 2006, South African authorities confiscated about one million units of abalone with a value of between R80 and R100 million, according to Moolla.

    Shaheen Moolla is currently a director at Feike, a natural resources management advisory firm based in Cape Town. Prior to joining Feike in 2005, Moolla was Special Legal Adviser to the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (2003–2004) and Chief Director of Fisheries Compliance and Management at South Africa’s Marine and Coastal Management Branch (2004–2005).



    Pic of the day – ORIANA



    The P&O Cruise ship ORIANA at O berth in Durban harbour during 2008, with the MSC MELODY berthed behind her at the adjacent passenger terminal. Picture Terry Hutson



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