Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 30, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Durban-bound dredger vessel freed by pirates

  • Piracy on the agenda at AU summit

  • News from the world of shipping

  • Navy news – French and US Navy ship visits

  • Sea Sunday – a date to remember

  • Pic of the day – USS GETTYSBURG CG64



    Almost sister ships but not quite. Two Norwegian Farstad Shipping offshore supply tugs FAR SCIMITAR (3,089-gt, built 2008, top) and FAR FOSNA (2,766-gt built 1993, below) called at Cape Town yesterday for bunkers – no doubt re-routed to avoid pirate waters in the Horn of Africa region. Pictures by Aad Noorland

    Durban-bound dredger vessel freed by pirates

    Somali pirates have released the Belgian dredging vessel POMPEI (1,482-gt, built 1988) which they captured on 18 April.

    The ship, which is designed to assist in dredging operations by placing rocks along a prescribed trench or breakwater, was en route to Durban from Dubai to assist with the widening and deepening of the port’s entrance channel, when pirates struck while the vessel was sailing close to the Seychelles.

    After the seizure the Pompei was taken to a location off the Somali coast and held hostage while negotiations opened for the ship and crew’s ransom.

    Although no announcement has been made by the ship’s owners, Herbosh-Kiere and ship manager Jan de Nul, it is understood that a ransom has been paid and was parachuted down to the pirates before the vessel’s release. Originally a ransom of US$8 million was being demanded although it is assumed this figure was negotiated down. At least one report says $2.8m was the figure settled on.

    The crew are reported to be in good health and uninjured.

    Meanwhile another ship has been captured by pirates, ending a brief lull in their activities that is thought to be the result of rough seas during the monsoon season.

    The German ship CHARELLE (2,800-gt, built 1985) was attacked and captured some 60 miles south of Sur in Oman, some considerable distance from Somalia. There was no warning given by the crew of the Charelle and no signal afterwards to say the ship had been taken, so the attack appears to have caught the crew by surprise. Charelle flies the flag of Antigua & Barbuda.

    Piracy on the agenda at AU summit

    Piracy features on this week’s summit of the African Union taking place in Libya. Amidst all the other topics receiving the attention of African leaders, including the question of forming a future United States of Africa, is the matter of piracy off the African coastline.

    The South African delegation is being led by President Jacob Zuma who left Pretoria on Sunday accompanied by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry, Tina Joemat-Pettersson and senior government officials.

    The Summit is scheduled to take place from 1 to 3 July, in Sirte, Libya and is being preceded by the 15th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, from 28 to 30 June.

    President Jacob Zuma is also expected, as the current Chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to report on the outcome of the recent Extraordinary SADC Summit on Madagascar, held in South Africa on 20 June.

    Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Ojo Maduekwe, speaking ahead of the Summit said the continent is under challenge from security issues in Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry and Madagascar.

    “The summit will try to see what to do with the governments of Madagascar and Mauritania which have defied the call by the AU authorities to return to constitutionality. It will also look at plans to comply in Guinea Conakry,” he said.

    The Nigerian minister added that the piracy crisis off Somalia, which he described as a threat to the continent, would also be examined.

    “We will go beyond restating positions. There will be need now to be more proactive on what is to be done to solve the problem. Allowing any failed state in Africa like the case of Somalia can be quite contagious because failed states breed terrorists,” Maduekwe said.

    News from the world of shipping

    French logistics specialist Bolloré Africa Logistics intends opening two new inland terminals in Burkina-Faso in 2010 as it extends its already considerable influence in west Africa.

    The new terminals will be located at Bobo-Dioualasso and Ouagadougou and have been developed though a partnership with the country’s chamber of commerce. Bolloré has invested extensively in a variety of different African countries in recent years, including acquiring the recent concession to operate a container terminal at the port of Pointe Noire in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a joint venture with the local operator Socotrans.

    Maersk Line has announced the launch of a new service calling at the Mozambique port of Maputo as from 2 July 2009. Known as the M-Express service, the service rotation will be Tanjung Pelepas - Port Louis - Toamasina - Maputo - Tanjung Pelepas.

    According to a company statement the westbound service will provide direct access to the Indian Ocean Islands, through Port Louis, Mauritius and Toamasina in Madagascar, as well as access to landlocked African countries via Maputo.

    The eastbound service provides access from southern Africa to the Far East markets via Tanjung Pelepas.

    Internationally, AP Moller-Maersk says it expects container volumes to continue dropping by possibly another 10% this year and there to be no container growth in 2010 as the company suffers what Maersk Line’s container unit CEO Eivind Kolding described as a “completely unprecedented” decline.

    “We will have a substantial loss this year and next year will be equally difficult. We have been quite disappointed by the market development s in April and May.”

    Kolding said the forecast by analysts company Drewry Shipping Consultants of a 10.3% decline in container volumes was a fair estimate although the drop may prove to be even larger after volumes declined 15% in the first five months of this year.

    Navy news – French and US Navy ship visits

    The French landing dock ship FNS MISTRAL is due to arrive in Ghana’s Tema port on 2 July as part of a routine cruise along the west African coast.

    Under the command of Captain Didier Piaton and with a crew of about 170 personnel this will be Mistral’s first visit to the West African country. The French Embassy in Accra said in a statement that the purpose of the visit is to reinforce existing ties between the French and Ghanaian Navy. Mistral will be in port for four days.

    The American guided missile cruiser USS GETTYSBURG (CG64) has completed a four-day visit to the Republic of Seychelles as a representative of the Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, the anti-piracy task force operating to counter piracy in the seas around Somalia.

    During the visit Turkey’s Rear Admiral Caner Bener, commander of the CTF151 force and Captain Richard Brown, commanding officer of the Gettysburg, paid a visit to the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces’ Chief of Staff, Col Clifford Roseline to discuss the importance of counterpiracy operations, information sharing and the negative impacts that piracy has not only on the Seychelles but on nations worldwide.

    CTF’s Chief of Staff Turkey’s Captain Faruk Dogan called on the commander of the Seychelles Coast Guard, Col D Gertrude and also visited the Indian warship INS TRISHUL which was in the port of Victoria at the time.

    Ports & Ships has learned that the US Navy destroyer USS ARLEIGH BURKE (DDG 51) will be visiting the port of Durban during her forthcoming visit to South Africa and will arrive in the KZN harbour on 13 July for a visit of between four and five days.

    This has however, not yet been confirmed by either the United States Consulate or the South African Navy, both of whom having been approached for confirmation. See our last week’s report HERE

    Sea Sunday – a date to remember

    An annual event in the maritime industry calendar to make note of, provided you live in or will be in the Durban area, is the Sea Sunday service which is to be held, as usual, in the N Shed Passenger terminal on the T-Jetty on Sunday, 12 July, commencing at 11am.

    Whether it involves working on ships at sea, or in the many port services, the maritime industry must be one of the most demanding and dangerous professions, even more so now with the onset of piracy in several parts of the world including Africa.

    Historically the United Kingdom has been a maritime nation and over the years has suffered numerous shipping disasters resulting in loss of life. As a result, during the last century several organisations which concerned themselves with seafarers instituted a day where tribute is paid to – as they put it – “those who go down to the sea in ships”. Since 1947 this day has been commemorated internationally on the second Sunday in July and takes the form of an interdenominational church service paying tribute to all seafarers, no matter what their faith or belief system.

    For some years the service was held in various Durban churches by rotation, but in recent years has been held in the Port of Durban itself, in the passenger terminal hall. The service is organised by Durban port chaplains with the kind assistance of Transnet National Ports Authority and with the participation of various seafarer missions and maritime organisations.

    This year the sermon will be given by Dean Rod van Zuylen. A Zulu choir from the Catholic Church will participate, as will the Army band and after the service refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome. For details please contact Linda van Schalkwyk on (031) 301 4380.

    Pic of the day – USS GETTYSBURG CG64

    The US Navy cruiser USS GETTYSBURG (CG 64) which made a 4-day visit to the Seychelles recently as part of Task Force CTF151 – see report above under Naval News. Picture by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric L Beauregard (US Navy)

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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