Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 23, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Transnet reports to parliament – annual report due Wednesday

  • Navy hydrographic ship visits Port Elizabeth

  • Piracy update – Somali govt claims success

  • Support the Maritime Museums

  • SADC sends Mozambique’s Chissano to help heal Madagascar

  • Pics of the day – AUTO ATLAS and AUTO BANNER



    The Wellington-based steam crane HIKITEA enters dry dock in Lyttelton harbour, South Island, New Zealand earlier in June this year to undergo maintenance and refurbishment. Assisting up front is another historic old steam vessel, the 100-year old tug LYTTELTON, still capable of being in steam! Picture by Alan Calvert

    Transnet reports to parliament – annual report due Wednesday

    Transnet intends spending R21 billion in the current financial year 2009/10 from its planned capital expenditure of R80bn over the next five years. During the recent 2008/09 financial year Transnet spent R20bn on capital investment.

    This was part of Acting CEO Chris Wells’ report to parliament last week, in which he stated that Transnet remained well equipped to weather the economic storm.

    Wells warned however that volumes were under pressure because of the downturn. Transnet’s short-term focus was, he said, on protecting those volumes and preserving cash with the aim of sustaining existing business but port directives and regulations were not conducive to the large investments necessary in the various infrastructure plans.

    On the positive side gearing and cash interest cover remained within set limits over the five years and cash from operations will remain a healthy R10.6Bn during 2009/10, he reported.

    Of existing projects the Durban port entrance channel is now 60% complete and the latest estimate of the total cost is given as R3.756 billion while the estimated final cost of the port of Ngqura, phase 1 is R4.142Bn. Ngqura is due to accept its first container traffic from October this year.

    The ore line between Sishen and the port of Saldanha is undergoing refurbishment and upgrading including the acquisition of new locomotives and rolling stock and the project is now 56% complete. The total estimated cost of this comes to R2.8Bn.

    The coal line to Richards Bay, where similar refurbishment and upgrading of infrastructure including locomotives and rolling stock is being undertaken, has an estimated cost of R4.989Bn.

    Turning to recent reports concerning the appointment of a new chief executive officer parliament was advised that Acting CEO Chris Wells had told the Transnet Board in January 2009 that he was not available to be appointed as CEO. Parliament was informed that this information has been available in the public domain.

    Turning to reports of the leaking of sensitive information, he said normal forensics were in place to find the source as this was a breach of Transnet’s ethics and employment contracts. He said the leaks were intended to bring harm to Transnet.

    Transnet is due to release its annual report for 2008/09 tomorrow (Wednesday).

    Navy hydrographic ship visits Port Elizabeth

    SAS PROTEA sailing from Richards Bay. Picture the late Chris Jenkins

    South Africa’s ageing ‘White Lady’, the navy hydrographic survey ship SAS PROTEA visited Port Elizabeth at the weekend as part of the World Hydrographic Day commemorations.

    Shortly after arrival the ship was visited by journalists and teachers from a number of local schools who took a tour of the ship and had the hydrographic equipment explained to them.

    SAS PROTEA was laid down in July 1970 at the Yarrow yard on the Clyde, based closely on the Royal Navy Hecla class of survey vessel. After commissioning two years later the ship arrived in Simon’s Town for the first time on 14 July 1972, since when she has undertaken extensive surveys of the entire South African coast. SAS Protea is the last ship in the South African Navy to have been built in the United Kingdom.

    Prior to her arrival hydrographic surveys were undertaken by the converted frigate SAS NATAL. SAS Protea has performed faithfully since but is due for replacement in the near future, although as yet no official announcement has been made.

    Also visiting Port Elizabeth at the weekend was the South African Navy Band which gave two concerts.

    Piracy update – Somali govt claims success

    Somalia’s Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister, Mohamed Farah Aden says that strong and clear action taken by Puntland’s security forces is bearing fruit and can be measured by the lowered pirate attacks being reported recently.

    He said that some of the pirates had abandoned piracy after meeting with Muslim scholars. The minister has previously gone on record saying that Somali security forces could prevent piracy by focusing on the landside and preventing the pirates from launching their attacks.

    He repeated his call for foreign assistance in equipping the semi-autonomous Puntland security forces in their efforts at preventing the pirates from operating from bases in Puntland.

    Aden claimed that some foreign warships were “using piracy as an excuse to justify abuse of Somali marine resources,” without specifying any details.

    Meanwhile, in the south of the country the Somali transitional government has begun training recruits for the fledgling Somali Navy. A group of 500 recruits began training last week in the Old Port, Mogadishu. Once trained and equipped they will come under the command of the chief of Somali’s Navy, Admiral Farah Omar Ahmed, who last held a command in 1982 before the advent of warlordism in his country.

    The training is being assisted by the United Nations.

    In London the International Maritime Organisation Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has revised its guidance on combating piracy at the recent meeting held in the UK capital. In its statement after the meeting the MSC has come out strongly against arming ships’ crew.

    “The MSC agreed that flag states should strongly discourage the carrying and use of firearms by seafarers for personal protection or for the protection of a ship,” the statement reads. “Seafarers are civilians and the use of firearms requires special training and aptitudes and the risk of accidents with firearms carried on board ship is great. Carriage of arms on board ship may encourage attackers to carry firearms or even more dangerous weapons, thereby escalating an already dangerous situation. Any firearm on board may itself become an attractive target for an attacker. Carriage of firearms may pose an even greater danger if the ship is carrying flammable cargo or similar types of dangerous goods.”

    The statement continues: “The use of unarmed security personnel is a matter for individual ship owners, companies, and ship operators to decide. The carriage of armed security personnel, or the use of military or law-enforcement officers (duly authorized by the government of the flag state to carry firearms for the security of the ship) should be subject to flag state legislation and policies and is a matter for the flag State to authorize, in consultation with ship owners, companies and ship operators.”

    Interpol has issued the following press release:

    Lyon, — Following a call by INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K Noble for greater law enforcement involvement in the fight against maritime piracy, vital police information to identify suspected pirates has now been shared with the global policing community by the Seychelles and Kenya.

    In his address to the G-8 Justice and Interior Ministers’ meeting in Rome in May, Secretary General Noble said that law enforcement could provide the ‘missing link’ to fill the gap which currently exists between the arrests made through military interventions and any eventual prosecutions.

    INTERPOL’s Seychelles National Central Bureau (NCB) in Victoria has now provided the General Secretariat headquarters with details, including fingerprints and photographs, of 23 detained Somali nationals who are suspected of maritime piracy.

    Entered into INTERPOL’s global databases, this information can be accessed by any of its 187 member countries and will provide a reference point for any potential matches of suspects arrested in the future.

    In addition, INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Jean-Michel Louboutin is this week holding a series of high-level meetings with senior law enforcement and government officials in Kenya. As a result, Kenya has agreed to send the photographs and fingerprints of more than 100 individuals who have been arrested and convicted in connection with maritime piracy.

    Discussions also focused on the proposed creation of an international platform to bring together police officers from INTERPOL’s NCB and its Regional Bureau in Kenya as well as national investigators and prosecutors. Equipped with direct access to INTERPOL’s secure global police communications network I-24/7 and its global databases, the platform would facilitate international police investigations and subsequent prosecutions.

    “Sound investigative police work is key to effectively combating maritime piracy. Without systematically collecting photographs, fingerprints and DNA profiles of arrested pirates and comparing them internationally, it is simply not possible to establish their true identity or to make connections which would otherwise be missed,” said Mr Louboutin.

    “INTERPOL's global databases are uniquely suited to support Kenya and other countries facing the threat of maritime piracy, in their efforts to investigate and prosecute offenders and it is the only way to ensure that vital information is shared globally.”

    Mr Louboutin praised the decision by the Seychelles and Kenyan authorities to share the names and fingerprints of recently arrested pirates.

    “This is an important first step by INTERPOL member countries in developing an effective law enforcement response to maritime piracy and is an example of good practice that we recommend all other countries to adopt,” concluded Mr Louboutin.

    As the world’s largest police organization INTERPOL maintains global databases including those on suspected terrorists, international fugitives, Stolen and Lost Travel Documents, fingerprints and DNA profiles.

    Support the Maritime Museums

    The following is ‘borrowed’ from an enthusiast group site, ‘South African Transport Group’ and may be of interest to PORTS & SHIPS readers, who are also reminded that Durban has an active maritime museum situated off the Victoria Embankment, next to the tug and harbour craft basin. Both need support especially by way of visiting the museums when next in the area.

    The SA Transport Group’s correspondent Willem writes:

    A number of months ago I ‘sniffed out’ the Maritime Museum in the V&A Waterfront complex (Cape Town), situated on the first floor of the Union Castle Building (how befitting!), near the bank teller machines foyer.

    The entrance is not quite that visible, given a throng of tourists and sundry people mulling around. However, there are still beautiful historical ships models - some quite large scale - including a number of the former Union Castle and Safmarine mailships, Japanese cargo-liners from the 1930's, sundry vessels of SA significance, as well as a research centre that may be of significance to shipping, maritime and SA transport aficionados.

    The receptionist explained to me that they receive very few visitors and, at that stage, many more exhibits were still stored somewhere else, after the museum had to relocate from its erstwhile highly visible premises in the large shed just opposite the Two Oceans Aquarium. This shed now houses the crafts market and when I visited, also a huge blank space with some plastic chairs, during which some sort of fashion show or the like was rehearsed.

    I do not know what the future of this branch of the ‘Iziko’ Museums of Cape Town may hold. Maybe it will once again have to relocate, maybe to the Outeniqua Transport Museum in George to continue to display its valuable wares. Fact is, from what I have observed, commercial interests of all kinds are now reigning supreme in the Waterfront. The Maritime Museum seems to be at its tethers. Thus, by visiting it and by promoting it to family and friends visiting Cape Town, maybe we can extend a life line to a branch of our museum industry which has all too long received scant interest and investment, compared to other maritime nations.

    He adds that there are beautiful large-scale models of the RMS Queen Mary and the Union Castle mailship Pendennis Castle at Fisherman's Wharf, Hout Bay.

    SADC sends Mozambique’s Chissano to help heal Madagascar

    by Chris Bathembu (BuaNews)

    Johannesburg - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has appointed former President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, to lead an inclusive dialogue between the warring political parties in Madagascar.

    A SADC Extra Ordinary Summit was held in Johannesburg on Saturday to discuss the deteriorating political situation in the Indian Ocean island. Deliberations between the African leaders went on late into the night.

    Mr Chissano, assisted by a high-level team of mediators, will lead and coordinate inclusive dialogue among the parties.

    The team will also liaise with other stakeholders such as the African Union and the United Nations in a bid to restore constitutional order in Madagascar, which the summit said was urgently needed.

    Southern African leaders suspended Madagascar from SADC in March for what they described as an unconstitutional change of government.

    Former President Marc Ravalomanana fled the island country after his political rival Andry Rajoelina ousted him in a military coup. Since then, more than 100 people have died in Madagascar as a result of the political struggle between the two men.

    Opening the summit on Saturday, South African President and current Chairperson of SADC, Jacob Zuma, said the body regretted the current political situation in Madagascar.

    “We believe that peace will be achieved if all parities to the conflict are committed to the process,” said President Zuma.

    The summit urged all stakeholders to commit to a peaceful negotiated settlement through dialogue and desist from any violent solutions and inflammatory statements which may jeopardize and undermine current efforts in bringing constitutional normalcy.

    It was crucial that there be an inclusive political dialogue in Madagascar where all the relevant parties and stakeholders have the opportunity to be part of finding a resolution.

    “The foundation to an equitable solution to Madagascar should draw from the constitutional and democratic principles that are enshrined in the SADC Treaty and in the AU Constitutive Act,” said President Zuma to applause from the floor.

    The summit also considered reports from different assessment missions, in particular the SADC Special Envoy to Madagascar and of the Ministerial Troika of the Organ on the political situation in the country.

    These missions were set up by the last SADC Extra Ordinary Summit in Swaziland.

    “We are cognisant of and applaud the work undertaken by the Organ Troika as well as other stakeholders beyond our region,” said President Zuma.

    He further urged SADC member countries attending the summit to present a united front at the upcoming AU Summit. An ordinary SADC summit will be held in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo in September.

    “We remain convinced that the important objective of integrating the continent rests on strong regional pillars.”

    The summit also urged the Malagasy people, through their main political structures and representatives to be encouraged to take active ownership of the inclusive dialogue and refrain from any forms of exclusion in the process.

    Pics of the day – AUTO ATLAS and AUTO BANNER

    Twin Visit: Two STX Pan Ocean sister ship car carriers, AUTO ATLAS (52,422-gt, built 1988) and AUTO BANNER (52,422-gt, built 1988), called at Cape Town on the same day last week for the purpose of loading bunker fuel. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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