Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 20, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – AL MAREEKH

  • Durban buffeted by winds as ships wait outside port

  • Global financial crisis continues to bite

  • New cargo transport convention could impact SA importers

  • Trade news - Cape marine lubricants firm in multimillion-rand BEE deal

  • Hell of a name for a ship

  • CSIR – making harbours a safe haven for ships

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pic of the day – CIELO DI PISA


    First View – AL MAREEKH

    The solid, almost classic lines of the Saudi Arabian reefer vessel AL MAREEKH (13,299-gt, built 1984) which was in Cape Town harbour during July this year. Previously well-known in South African waters as the LINDEROS, the ship was also once named PACIFIC UNIVERSAL. Al Mareekh is owned by Star Marine Transportation. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Durban buffeted by winds as ships wait outside port

    Durban has been blanketed by strong gale force winds for the past three days impacting on port working. As a result the number of ships accumulating outside the harbour has increased and yesterday morning at one stage there were 49 vessels in sight.

    The wind also placed severe pressure on port terminal operations with crane working all but impossible at times, resulting in little or no terminal working. Transnet Port Terminals has issued a statement saying the yard and vessel operations were under pressure and as a result Pier 1 container terminal would be remaining fully operational over the coming weekend to help address the backlog.

    Geared vessels were to be accommodated at berths 103 and 104, the statement added.

    By mid afternoon yesterday (Wednesday) the number of ships in range of Durban’s outer anchorage had risen to 56, making one of the highest numbers in recent years. Inside the harbour were another 36 ships, not including the fishing, harbour and service vessels.

    According to the weather bureau the winds were due to abate during the latter part of the day with a 60% possibility of a rain expected later in the day. By last evening a light rain was falling over the port but fortunately the winds have dropped.

    Global financial crisis continues to bite

    Johannesburg (BuaNews) - The contraction of South Africa's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 3 percent for the second quarter of 2009, indicates the economy is still in recession, says Business Unity South Africa.

    BUSA Deputy Chief Executive Officer Raymond Parsons said the figure released by Statistics South Africa this morning, showed that while the rate of negative growth in the economy has slowed, the country is still in a recession.

    The country's GDP for the second quarter of the year contracted by 3 percent compared to a 6.4 percent contraction in the first quarter.

    “Although the rate of the negative growth in the economy has slowed, the global crisis continues to bite deep in South Africa. The South African economy is lagging behind these international developments and hence the continued recession here,” said Mr Parsons in a statement.

    According to Busa, it remains essential for the country to pursue counter cyclical policies and other measures to soften the impact of the recession on growth and jobs as well as company liquidations.

    “Busa hopes that the economy will bottom out by the end of 2009. The central challenge therefore remains to ensure the timely implementation of appropriate policies, including the possibility of yet another reduction in interest rates,” he said.

    New cargo transport convention could impact SA importers

    A new international convention that governs cargo liability during sea and inland inter-modal transport will be signed by the United Nations, next month (September), which could have far reaching implications for local shippers.

    Accepted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2008 the 'Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea', to be known as the Rotterdam Rules, will have far reaching consequences for shippers, says Mardus Mynhardt of Shepstone & Wylie Attorney’s International Transport, Trade and Energy Department.

    The Rotterdam Rules aim to improve on, and ultimately supersede all the previous conventions which currently govern the international carriage of goods by sea, i.e. The Hague, The Hague Visby, and The Hamburg Rules.

    They intend to bring about global harmony in contracts related to international maritime trade, and to deal with modern aspects of shipping contracts that were previously neglected by the older international conventions.

    The rise in containerised shipping, the demand for door to door transport and the use of electronic shipping documents are a few of the modern aspects of cargo transport that were previously neglected by the older international conventions and which the Rotterdam Rules seek to address.

    South Africa abides by The Hague Visby Rules, which among other things accept that shipping is inherently dangerous and that ship owners cannot have absolute responsibility throughout the voyage. Therefore, ship owners only need to ensure that the ship is seaworthy at the start of the voyage, and there are recognised defences if cargo owners suffer loss as a result of navigational errors resulting from faulty instruments or even by fires caused by negligent crew members.

    However, modern-day equipment, improved communications and stringent safety standards have encouraged the Rotterdam Rules, among other things, to move away from these recognised defences, and to obligate the ship owner to ensure that the ship is seaworthy throughout the sea voyage.

    Clearly the ratification of the Rotterdam Rules will shift the risk involved in sea trade and should be considered when revising or purchasing new insurance policies. It will also be important to keep an eye on which countries adopt the Rules since this could have a significant effect on the carriers', shippers' or consignees' rights under the contract of carriage, depending where litigation may take place.

    According to Mynhard it was unlikely that South Africa would become a signatory to the new Convention immediately as a full consultative process with the shipping industry would first need to be undertaken. But its adoption by other countries could impact on importers.

    Initial indications are that influential countries such as the United States of America and Japan support the new Convention, and in May this year the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) added its support for the ratification of the Rules.

    In asking governments to consider ratification of the convention the ICC says this should be done in active consultation with international business—including shippers, carriers, forwarders and insurers, noting that these constituencies may have differing views on the regime.

    The Rotterdam Rules have already been adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 11 December 2008. Once signed on 23 September, the Convention will be open for ratification and will come into force on the 20th signature.

    Hell of a name for a ship

    What’s in a name? Plenty or nothing, depending on your outlook. Have readers other examples of ships with misleading names to share?

    Trade news - Cape marine lubricants firm in multimillion-rand BEE deal

    Mo Kajee has been appointed to the position of CEO of Sealub Alliance South Africa (PTY) Ltd., the official Southern African marine lubricant distributors for Gulf Oil Marine Ltd

    Cape Town - Sealub Alliance South Africa - the official Southern African distributor of Gulf Oil Marine Ltd, has announced the conclusion of a multi-million Rand BEE deal which is one of the first to be concluded in the local marine oil sector. The deal has been concluded with prominent local businessman Mo Kajee who will take up the position of Chief Executive Officer with immediate effect.

    Kajee brings more than 30 years commercial experience to the business, with 17 years being spent in the petroleum industry. During this time he has held various high profile positions in the fishing industry as well - first as CEO of Premier Fishing and later as Managing Director of I&J Limited. In June 2006, Kajee rejoined JSE-listed Sekunjalo Investment Group – a company he co-founded in 1997. More recently in his position as CEO, he successfully led Sekunjalo through a major restructure.

    Recently established Sealub Alliance South Africa (PTY) Ltd. forms part of the global marine lubricant distribution network operating as a member of the international Sealub Alliance Network. Currently the Sealub Alliance supplies marine lubricants under the Gulf Oil brand to more than 700 ports in over 50 countries around the world.

    “Sealub has the potential to become a formidable player in the Southern African energy sector and I am excited by the opportunity this presents,” Kajee says.

    Commenting on the appointment, Executive Chairman of Sealub Alliance South Africa, Steve Watson said that Kajee brings a wealth of industry experience and a talent for developing new business and nurturing opportunities in Africa.

    “This is an exciting development; Mo will spearhead the operations of a rapidly growing global business which includes the expansion of operations to ports across Africa and developing other strategic investments within the local fuels sector.”

    Founded in 2008 by Gulf Oil Marine Ltd., the Sealub Alliance is involved in the supply of marine lubricants to the worldwide shipping industry. Members of the Alliance currently serve more than 700 ports in over 50 countries. The Sealub Alliance network aims to supply performance-driven, cost-effective lubrication solutions backed by expert customer and technical services to the worldwide maritime industry.

    Gulf Oil Marine Ltd. is a 100% affiliate of Gulf Oil International, one of the largest independent oil companies. The company provides the shipping industry with marine lubricants high quality products, expert customer service and a large range of technical services. The Gulf Oil Group currently operates in more than 100 countries around the world. Further background may be found at www.gulf-marine.com

    CSIR – making harbours a safe haven for ships

    Stellenbosch - A talent for making the model match the real thing makes Wim van der Molen’s research into the numerical and physical modelling of moored ships a highly sought-after skill in the context of layout and maintenance of South Africa’s port infrastructure. Van der Molen is part of a team of specialised researchers in the field of coastal engineering and port infrastructure (as a subset of infrastructure engineering), which operates from the CSIR’s offices in Stellenbosch.

    A civil engineer by training, Van der Molen specialised in hydraulic and coastal engineering for his postgraduate degrees. He completed both his Master’s and PhD degrees at the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands and has been working for the CSIR since 2007.

    Natural variables: How to roll with the punches

    The productivity of a harbour is measured by throughput of containers and volume of goods such as coal and iron ore. The total throughput in South African ports for 2008 was 185 million tons of bulk cargo and 3,9 million containers (approx. another 55 million tonnes). Operations should ideally run continuously for 365 days per year for optimal maritime trade and return-on-investment in the infrastructure. It costs approximately R10 billion to build a new harbour which includes, amongst others, the channel, the breakwater, the buildings and inland connections.

    However, natural variables common to coastal areas such as storms, wind and waves cause ‘downtime’. This is defined as days lost due to conditions that do not allow safe mooring or safe loading or offloading of containers.

    Waves are the biggest variable in this mix, particularly in South Africa. South Africa has eight major, well-equipped harbours and associated infrastructure located on its coastline, which spans 2,700 km from Namibia to Mozambique.

    In harbours with terminals, it is therefore important to understand the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of waves and particularly, their effect on moored ships.

    Keeping ships tied down tight

    Waves vary greatly in size. The heavy winter storms in the south Atlantic Ocean have been known to whip up waves of 17m over the Cape peninsula. Although wave forces can be dissipated through breakwaters and other infrastructure, moored vessels need to be secure within a harbour environment.

    A large tanker of 200,000 tons and over 300m in length is moored to the quay in a harbour by means of 16 mooring ropes which secure it in the front and at the back. Each mooring rope has a breaking strength of 100 tons; by comparison, a rope used to tow a vehicle has a breaking strength of 2 tons.

    However, tying down a ship may not always be enough. Documented cases of mooring ropes breaking due to wave forces come from Australia and New Zealand, with loss of life and major recovery cost implications. Mooring lines have had to be replaced in the Port of Saldanha, in a strictly controlled process.

    Understanding how waves penetrate harbours and how they affect moored ships is therefore essential to realise the benefits of maritime transport. Tight criteria are in place on wave heights. To this end, Van der Molen’s specialities – moored ship modelling and manoeuvering modelling (a new field) – are invaluable in enabling decision makers to plan and implement harbour infrastructure and operations effectively.

    The smaller the waves, the better ...!

    Van der Molen and his colleagues have a number of research techniques at their disposal. “Numerical modelling is a useful starting point,” he explains. “Using specialised software it is possible to make runs for different environmental conditions, factor in uncertainties and to play around with different layouts.”

    The next step is to build a physical model to check the findings from the numerical modelling in a ‘real’ environment, in this case, the hydraulics laboratory at Stellenbosch. A port layout is constructed precisely to scale for testing, while wave generating equipment allows researchers to generate waves of a predetermined height.

    The innovative keofloat system is one such physical model that has earned Van der Molen accolades from his peers. The novel wave measurement system is used to verify attenuation or weakening of waves in a port. The system relies on the use of small cylindrical polystyrene blocks called 'keofloats' (4 cm in diameter) to measure small waves in a harbour basin constructed in the hydraulics laboratory at a scale of 1:100. The keofloats are agitated by waves produced by a wave generator and monitored by a video camera.

    Data captured by video image processing specialists are analysed using a computer algorithm. It is possible to determine the vertical position of the keofloat at sub-pixel accuracy. The estimated accuracy is 0,2mm or better for waves smaller than 1cm, whereas conventional probes guarantee 0,5mm to 1mm accuracy.

    He explains, “We are able to accurately determine the size of small waves in a specific harbour layout taking into account the physical wave phenomena of diffraction around breakwaters, refraction (curving of wave propagation) around shipping channels and in shallow areas, and wave reflection against revetments and quay walls.”

    Other modelling techniques include Keoship, the building of model ships to scale (carriers, tankers or container ships), which includes mooring lines and fenders, with measuring devices. Specific methodology is used to monitor and capture the effect of waves on these ships.

    Taking expertise abroad

    The CSIR has used keofloats in a project for a marina in the Seychelles and a port in the Persian Gulf. Van der Molen keeps up his contacts with international clients, notably consultancies based in The Netherlands, the UK, the US and Australia with whom he worked on projects in Nigeria, Australia and Southeast Asia.

    As a relative newcomer to South Africa who was ‘recruited’ by longtime staff member, Hans Moes, he enjoys the good South African weather to pursue his passion for sport – cycling, running and golf. He is keen to travel more and discover other parts of the country in the foreseeable future, even places with no ports! – source CSIR eNews

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    The French carrier CMA CGM was recently awarded with the 2008-2009 ‘Ocean Carrier of the Year’ by the US company Walmart, in recognition of its commitment to excellent service. The citation with the award said that the award was being given based on CMA CGM’s ability and willingness to provide efficient value added services and offer flexibility when needed.

    Another grey area involving the handling of pirates captured at sea by Danish warships has been resolved with an accord between Denmark and Kenya that allows any pirate suspect captured at sea to be handed over to Kenyan authorities for prosecution and trial. “There are clearer rules and this will make efforts easier. On the other hand, there is real concern in Kenya that it will become a dump for pirates,” security researcher Lars Bangert Struwe said in a Danish newspaper report. Denmark is one of the European nations to maintain a warship in the Gulf of Aden region to assist with anti-piracy patrols.

    A fire on board the cruise ship ZENITH (47,413-gt, built 1992) in Stockholm harbour on Tuesday resulted in the evacuation of remaining passengers and non-essential crew on board – many of the 2,300 passengers were on shore excursions at the time. The fire was caused by a welding repair near the front of the cruise ship which was berthed at the Frihamen terminal, resulting in dense smoke pouring from the lower forward end of the vessel. Two crew members were treated for smoke inhalation. The fire was quickly brought under control and the matter is under investigation by the Malta Maritime Authority, under whose regime the Zenith is registered.

    A US Navy nuclear submarine, USS SAN JUAN (SSN 751) of the Los Angeles class is heading for Simon’s Town at the end of October, provided permission is granted by the South African National Nuclear Regulator. US Navy authorities applied through the South African Navy for the USS San Juan to visit the South African naval base between 25 October and 15 November for a routine visit. Any objections have to be lodged with the regulator before 6 September.

    Pic of the day – CIELO DI PISA

    Shipping from New Zealand for a change – the Japanese general cargo ship with a very unlikely name, CIELO DI PISA (20,236-gt, built 2008) seen sailing from Lyttelton harbour in South Island, New Zealand, after discharging a cargo of urea. Picture by Alan Calvert

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