Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 18, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – EEMS

  • Piracy - France, Belgium and US look at arming ships

  • Universal Africa Lines (UAL) launches Cape office, new routes to W Africa

  • News from the shipping lines – more rate increases

  • Trade News - Dezzi appoints Big Lift Trucks as its distributor

  • Zuma visits Angola with large business delegation

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pic of the day – OCEAN ATLAS


    First View – EEMS

    The offshore tug EEMS (2,535-gt, built 1985) was back in Cape Town harbour last week. Picture by Aad Noorland

    Piracy - France, Belgium and US look at arming ships

    It was inevitable, sooner or later - several countries have either begun or are given serious consideration to arming merchant ships operating in pirate-ridden regions. And among the nations giving thought to taking this next step is the United States.

    In the US legislators have already passed an amendment that actually requires the US Defense Department to place armed forces on board US-flagged ships operating in areas prone to piracy or other high-risk areas. An Amendment has already been introduced that will grant immunity from prosecution in any US court to any ‘owner, operator, time charterer, master, or mariner who uses force, or authorizes the use of force, to defend a vessel of the United States against an act of piracy.’

    It’s not certain that the Amendment will clear the Senate, which is the next step along the way, where it is likely to attract at least some criticism on the basis that civilian seafarers should not be placed in the position of having to physically defend their ship against armed intruders.

    France meanwhile is reported as having placed troops on tuna boats operating in the Indian Ocean – specifically around the Horn of Africa, while Belgium has offered military units to any Belgian-flagged or owned ship operating near the Somali coast.

    A number of international bodies have spoken out strongly against arming merchant ships, citing safety concerns and also that seafarers have enough to do already without being given the task of training and exercising with weapons.

    There are also legal liability concerns that remain unanswered at present. It has been suggested that the lead should come from the International Maritime Organisation which member nations would be obliged to follow.

    Some shipping companies have already taken the initiative by quietly carrying arms or armed personnel on board their vessels while sailing through at risk zones. This became evident with the passage of the MSC MELODY, which is reported to have fought off an attack by pirates by means of former Israeli security forces.

    Meanwhile, NATO has reported that its naval forces operating in the Gulf of Aden were able to prevent an attack on a Turkish bulker, the 58,000-dwt ELGIZNUR CEBI from succeeding. The ship, with a crew of 19 Turkish seafarers was en route to Saudi Arabia when approached by armed men in two motor boats. After calling for help a helicopter from a German frigate flew to the scene and chased off both boats.

    Universal Africa Lines (UAL) launches Cape office, new routes to W Africa

    Universal Africa Lines (UAL) has opened a South African branch and launched a fortnightly shipping route to supply West African oil and gas exploration and production bases from South Africa.

    The company has just taken time charter of the UAL CAPE TOWN for three years, a 12,500-dwt ship with dual deck cranes that can lift a combined 160 tons.

    The ship had her maiden voyage in May 2009. General ports of call will be Durban, Cape Town, Walvis Bay, Lobito, Luanda (Sonils), Soyo, Pointe Noire, Port Gentil, Malabo, Onne (Port Harcourt) and Lagos, for loading and discharge, as well as other ports, upon client request.

    Seaclad CO has been appointed UAL’s general agent in South Africa. The shipping line’s fortnightly service will take mainly specialist equipment and supplies to the oil-and-gas exploration and production industries along the West African coast. But as a conventional carrier it will also ship a variety of break-bulk and container cargo for oil and gas projects and commercial purposes.

    Company CEO Roger Jungblut says South Africa is becoming an increasingly important source of supplies and services, to support bustling activity in the West African oil theatre, stretching from Cape Town to Nigeria. The region produces about 15% of the world’s crude oil, around 5 to 6 million barrels per day.

    The same is true for South Africa’s supply into Africa in general – the African Union is increasingly in favour of contained African trade, with a wealth of in-country laws requiring a large proportion of procurement to originate on the continent.

    “South Africa is preferred for the strength of its manufacturing and mining industries, and its servicing expertise,” says Haakon Røstad, UAL SA managing director. “Of late, South African engineering and technical know-how is in particularly high demand, as there is a big need for servicing of highly specialised equipment.”

    Røstad says the South African manufacturing, mining, engineering, agricultural, building and construction industries are all in a good position to serve West Africa.

    News from the shipping lines – more rate increases

    French shipping company CMA CGM is to introduce a rate restoration increase on its container services between India and West Africa as from 1 September, the company has announced.

    The cost of shipping a container on this trade will increase by US$250 per TEU ($500 per 40ft or high cube container). CMA CGM says the increase applies to all commodities and cargo. This follows a similar increase announced recently by Maersk and its sister line Safmarine also for the India – West Africa service and taking effect on the same date.

    Dubai-based United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) intends increasing its regional presence with a resumption of its AEC2 services to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran, which was suspended in December 2008. The service from China to Europe using nine UASC ships in the 6,900-TEU class will include a call at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Khor Fakkan on Sharjah’s east coast.

    UASC’s AEC1 service will now include calls at several other Gulf ports – Jubail in Saudi Arabia and Damman in the Gulf and Bandar Abbas in Iran.

    Singapore-registered shipping company Rickmers Maritime Trust, in which Rickmers Linie of Germany is a minority owner, has announced a decrease in profits for the second quarter of 2009 of 43%, down to US$5.33 million compared with $9.2m for the same period last year. Revenue for the second quarter was up 59% to $37.55m, the company said. The company took a temporary impairment charge against a possible redelivery of one of its charter vessels. The company has 16 container vessels on its books all chartered out for periods of between seven and ten years with no early termination options, apart from one vessel, the MAERSK DJIBOUTI which could possibly be redelivered in February 2010. The charterer, AP Moller-Maersk has however not given any indication of its intentions for this ship.

    Trade News - Dezzi appoints Big Lift Trucks as its distributor

    This Dezzi tractor/trailer unit is used to haul empty containers at the Durban Harbour

    Big Lift Trucks has been appointed by Desmond Equipment as a distributor of the Dezzi range of bulk handling equipment, which is used extensively in the Durban Harbour region.

    “Big Lift Trucks now supports Dezzi front end loaders, articulated dump trucks, graders and various tractor trailer combinations, as well as robust hauler tractors, used at harbours and terminals,” says Clinton van den Berg, products manager for Big Lift Trucks. “This range of locally manufactured bulk handling equipment extends the Big Lift Trucks service to a broader customer base, particularly in shipping industry and in sugar, timber and agricultural sectors across our borders.

    “What’s important for users is the Dezzi range has been locally designed and manufactured for efficient operation in difficult conditions, extended service life, easy repair and low maintenance requirements. Dezzi units are also specially designed for specific applications as required by customers.”

    Dezzi shunting haulers and tractors are used at the Durban Harbour and terminals for towing trailers that haul containers, cargo and any specialised commodity handled at the port. These tractors are also used at the harbour to tow and shunt rail cars.

    A range of Dezzi trailers includes quick turn and tip dump trailers, designed for different applications at the harbour.

    Big Lift Trucks supports the range of Dezzi equipment, in its areas of operation, with a technical advisory and service facility.

    Zuma visits Angola with large business delegation

    Pretoria, 17 August 2009 (BuaNews) - President Jacob Zuma is to pay his first official visit to Angola on Wednesday, said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

    The President will be accompanied by eleven of his Cabinet ministers, including International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Home Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

    A South African business delegation will also be part of the trip that is aimed at consolidating strategic bilateral and economic relations between South Africa and Angola.

    "This will be the largest business delegation to take part in a state visit since 1994. There is a growing sense that stronger relations will be mutually beneficial, both at a political level as well as in the private sector," the department said.

    While in the capital city Luanda, President Zuma will hold bilateral, political and economic discussions with his counterpart President Eduardo dos Santos.

    Among the issues expected to be discussed are the forthcoming Southern African Development Community Summit, scheduled to take place in the DRC, as well as the political situation in the region.

    President Dos Santos will also host President Zuma and his delegation for a state dinner while a business conference is expected to take place.

    "The two Presidents will also address the combined and business communities. A joint programme of action will be unveiled by the business sector to both Presidents, aimed at elevating economic diplomacy.”

    Angola has great resources and there was a massive interest by the South African private sector to get involved in the Angolan reconstruction process, especially the southern part of the country which was severely devastated by wars.

    Angola also views South Africa's human resources potential and its strong infrastructure as added benefits in the relationship.

    In 2006, SA exports to Angola amounted to R5 billion whilst Angolan exports to South Africa stood at R3 billion.

    Earlier this year, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane also visited Angola as a Special Envoy of President Zuma to President Dos Santos.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    In its latest newsletter, French news and analyst company AXS Alphaliner says the liner industry may be facing a shortage of feeder ships in the coming years, despite the over-capacity being reported at present. The report says this is because smaller vessels of between 1,000 and 2,000-TEU account for a mere 10% of the order book. Another factor is that much of the scrapping in the past year involved ships in this size category, while little is being built.

    Nigeria’s former Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service and its immediate past Customs Area Comptroller from the Apapa office have appeared in a federal high court on 46 charges of import duty evasion involving the importation of rice. Several other Nigerian business people appeared on the same charges. Each of them entered pleas of not guilty.

    Pic of the day – OCEAN ATLAS

    The American general cargo vessel OCEAN ATLAS (7,252-gt, built 2000) which called in Durban recently. Owned by Pacific-Gulf Marine of Terrytown, the ship is registered in New Orleans. The ship first entered service in 2000 as the Industrial Challenger. Picture by Trevor Jones

    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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