Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 7, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – LA PAZ

  • Transocean stacks three African rigs

  • Zambia gets its Walvis Bay dry port

  • Cape Town cracks down on overloading of long-haul road transport

  • Piracy – further attacks reported

  • South African High Court clarifies claims against bareboat charterers

  • Pic of the day – FNS NIVOSE


    First View – LA PAZ

    The Capesize crude oil tanker LA PAZ (158,475-gt, built 1995) ex Evelyn Maersk, riding high and dry in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Sfiffman

    Transocean stacks three African rigs

    US offshore drilling company Transocean Inc, the owner of the drill ship DISCOVERER CLEAR-LEADER which this week sailed from an anchorage off Durban (see report in yesterday’s News Bulletin), announced this week that it has stacked (set aside) two shallow-water oil rigs currently employed in Angola and a third in Egypt.

    According to the Texas-based company a second rig in Egypt is also likely to be stacked due to a contract dispute.

    Two of the three rigs, GSF Adriatic I and GSF Adriatic V had been contracted in Angola by Chevron for $193,000 a day until March, but have since been stacked in Gabon. The contract for the rig in Egypt was terminated early and in terms of the contract the former operator has paid a lump sum remainder based on $122,000 a day for the remaining period until June.

    The announcement comes during a slump in worldwide demand for jack-up rigs and only hours ahead of Transocean’s first-quarter results, announced on 6 May. Transocean reported net income attributable to controlling interest for the three months ended 31 March, 2009 of $942 million, or $2.93 per diluted share, compared to net income attributable to controlling interest of $1.149 billion, or $3.58 per diluted share for the three months ended 31 March, 2008. Revenues for the first quarter of 2009 were $3.118 billion compared to $3.110 billion for the first quarter of 2008.

    Zambia gets its Walvis Bay dry port

    Hopes of creating new trade routes for central Africa through the introduction of transport corridors between the Namibian port of Walvis Bay and neighbouring regions came closer to realisation last week with the signing of a lease agreement between Namport, the Walvis Bay port authority, and the Zambian government for a dry port terminal at the port.

    One thing Namibia has plenty of is land, and Zambia has acquired the use of a 24,730m² piece of land near the port which the landlocked country can use as a dedicated area to facilitate the import and export of goods to and from Zambia.

    Zambia’s High Commissioner in Namibia, Mavis Muyunda said in Walvis Bay that both Zambia and Namibia accepted the need for adequate and efficient trade routes for regional and external trade. Zambia, she said was grateful to Namibia for making this facility available next to the port for the development of a dry port, which demonstrated the good relationships that existed between the two countries.

    She reminded everyone present how Zambia had recently hosted the North-South Corridor Pilot Aid Trade Conference that had been organised under the auspices of COMESA, SADC and the East African Community. This, she said had the intention and aim of improving transport infrastructures while reducing the cost of doing business in the regions.

    Chief Executive of Namport, Bisey Uirab said the signing of the agreement was a practical testimony of how to go about reducing the cost of importing and exporting goods while competing more effectively internationally.

    “Namport’s objectives clearly state that we strive to provide world-class port services to all local, regional and international sea-borne trade through excellent customer services, sustainable growth and social responsibility. The success we have today will be primarily measured against the efficient services we provide to our customers as transport and logistics providers in both countries will benefit from the increased utilization of this efficient trade route,” Uirab said. - source Namib Times

    Cape Town cracks down on overloading of long-haul road transport

    A decision by Cape Town Traffic Services to establish a specialised unit to combat the overloading of long haul, freight transport vehicles, buses and taxis is already paying significant dividends, says Merle Lourens, media spokesperson for the Department.

    The unit consists of four traffic officers, two of whom are qualified examiners of motor vehicles.

    “Not enough attention is paid to heavy duty vehicles involved in the long distance transport of goods and passengers. Their involvement in accidents can often be attributed to driver error or mechanical failure. The road haulage unit pays specific attention to transport interchanges like Joe Gqabi in Philippi and the Cape Town Station, as well as weighbridges on major highways. Sometimes they start work at 03h00 in the morning and they often work through to midnight to apprehend those who knowingly overload their vehicles”, says Lourens.

    “It is estimated that at least 25% of heavy, long-haul vehicles using South African roads are overloaded and that they cause at least 60% of the damage to our road network. The damage they do is estimated at R800 million annually,” Lourens said.

    From January to mid-April, 209 vehicles were suspended from use on a public road as they were found to be unroadworthy. Included in this number were 20 long-distance buses. In addition, drivers of 171 vehicles had fines imposed for defective brakes, 574 for smooth tyres, 259 for unlicenced vehicles and 1447 for other defects.

    Seventy percent of the vehicles pulled off the road were trucks and many were not fitted with load sensor valves, or had had the sensor valves removed. This reduces braking efficiency because the heavier the load carried, the longer it takes for the truck to stop.

    “We find instances where the drivers say that they warn the owners of the defects and request that they be repaired. However, the response sometimes is a threat of ‘Drive the truck or find other work’. Desperate to maintain an income, they then continue driving an unsafe or suspended vehicle, regardless of the dangers it poses to other road users.

    When a suspension notice is given to a driver of a vehicle, he must have the defects repaired and is to bring the vehicle to a Testing Centre for a roadworthy test within 14 days. If he is found driving the same vehicle whilst it is under suspension, a fine of R2,500 is imposed. If the vehicle is not brought in for inspection within the mandatory time, a further fine of R300 is sent through the post.

    “The vehicle operator/owner is charged as well. He/she must appear in court and the magistrate will impose a fine,” Lourens added. – cbn.co.za

    Piracy – further attacks reported

    Several ships sailing in the Somali region have been reported highjacked, including in areas much further away than previously recorded.

    One of the ships seized by pirates is the German-owned general cargo vessel VICTORIA (7,767-gt, built 2004), flying the Antigua and Barbuda flag which under pirate control has already arrived off the coastal town of Eyl. Victoria has a crew of 11 Romanians and was sailing in convoy with other ships in the Gulf of Aden, south of Yemen when captured. By the time a helicopter from the nearest warship had arrived the ship was already in pirate hands.

    A second vessel captured is another general cargo ship named AL MEZAAN (2,886-dwt, built 1979), which was seized close to the Somali coast while en route to Mogadishu. She has already gone to anchor close inshore and is under pirate control.

    Further to our report of 5 May regarding the highjacking of a vessel named ARIANA, of which there was some doubt over identity, it appears the bulk ship may have been a UK-registered bulker of that name which was captured 250 n.miles southwest of the Seychelles, about halfway to Madagascar. This is the furthest from the Somali coast of any ship attacked and captured so far and is further evidence of the pirates’ ability to operate long distances.

    It hasn’t all bad news – some ships did manage to ‘get away’ and avoid being highjacked – one being a North Korean ship that came under threat from pirates but was rescued by a warship from South Korea. Just as well that international politics plays little or no part when it comes to safety and good neighborliness on the high seas.

    In another case of what might be regarded as misguided enthusiasm on the part of Somali pirates, a ship they set out to attack turned out to be a French warship with a bite instead of being another soft easy target. The ship was the French patrol frigate FNS NIVOSE, on patrol with the international forces – those familiar with this ship, which has been a regular caller in South African ports, will know that she is a frigate built to commercial standards although there is little reason for not recognising her very military lines (see picture below). Perhaps some of those pirates are simple Somali fishermen after all!

    The same warship was instrumental in apprehending 11 suspected pirates in a 10m boat accompanied by two smaller open skiffs. The frigate was dispatched after a Spanish patrol aircraft spotted the suspicious boats in the open sea midway between the Seychelles and Mombasa. Although the men in the skiffs tried to escape a helicopter and motor boats off the Nivose soon had them rounded up for detention and questioning.

    Another successful intervention by one of the patrolling warships involved the Italian frigate MAESTRALE, on patrol off the Somali coast which sent a helicopter to assist the gas tanker NEVERLAND which reported being approached by suspected pirates. The same helicopter later went to the aid of a second ship, the Greek-owned MICHAEL S which also reported being harassed by men in an open boat.

    South African High Court clarifies claims against bareboat charterers

    Since its inclusion in the South African Admiralty Jurisdiction Regulation Act, the proper interpretation and meaning of the provision which deems a bareboat charterer to be the owner of the ship, for the purposes of an action in rem, has been an issue of uncertainty and debate.

    On Tuesday (5 May), the High Court of South Africa (Western Cape Division) clarified the issue when it handed down judgment in favour of the applicants, represented by Bowman Gilfillan, in an application to set aside the arrest of the m/v PACIFIC YUAN GENG. The ship was placed under arrest on 1 April in the port of Saldanha Bay at the instance of Glory Wealth Shipping.

    The Pacific Yuan Geng was arrested on the basis of it being, inter alia, an “associated ship” of a ship which is the subject of a claim by Glory Wealth Shipping under a separate time charterparty (the “guilty ship”).

    The arrestor asserted that the Pacific Yuan Geng was, at the time of the arrest, deemed to be owned by the same company which owned the guilty ship. The provision in issue was section 1(3) of the Admiralty Act, which states as follows:

    “For the purposes of an action in rem, a charterer by demise shall be deemed to be, or to have been, the owner of the ship for the period of the charter by demise.”

    The arrestor argued before the court that, on a literal interpretation, this deeming provision is applicable not only to the guilty ship but also to associated ships. Prior to the hearing of this application, the point was a novel one and had hitherto not been considered by our courts.

    The court was not persuaded by the submissions of the arrestor and held that it was unlikely that the Legislature intended the deeming provision contemplated in section 1(3) to be applicable to the issue of association. Moreover, the court found that the interpretation contended for by the arrestor would have far-reaching results which was probably not contemplated by the Legislature. The arrest was, accordingly, set aside by the court.

    The significance of the judgment lies in the guidance it gives to would-be arrestors and their lawyers as to the practical application and limitations of the South African associated ship provisions.

    As matters now stand, the provision which deems the bareboat charterer to be the owner of the ship for the purposes of an arrest in rem is limited to direct claims against the bareboat charterer of the guilty ship. This accords with section 3(1) of the 1952 Arrest Convention, which is the source of the provision.

    Pic of the day – FNS NIVOSE

    The French Navy patrol frigate NIVOSE (F732) in Durban harbour in 2004 and preparing to enter Elgin Brown & Hamer’s Eldock for routine maintenance and dry docking. At the time French naval ships based at Reunion in the Indian Ocean were routinely visiting Durban for maintenance purposes. The small frigate is built to commercial standards and is more usually deployed on patrols among fishing fleets, but recently joined the international fleet of anti-pirate patrol vessels off Somalia (see report above). Picture Terry Hutson

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