Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 31, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • When will the witch-hunts end? Transnet places Gama under suspicion

  • Navy gathers at Walvis for exercise Golfinho

  • Two stowaways die on ship off Durban

  • What’s in a name? The Titan Uranus that just won’t go away

  • Four ships heading for judicial sale – Daewoo Frontier tops the list

  • UN expert praises Senegal’s efforts to strengthen rights of migrants

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pic of the day – MSC CARLA



    The offshore supply and towing tug SANKO BEAUTY (2428-gt, built 2009) arrived in Cape Town at the weekend after towing the oil platform PRIDE SOUTH SEAS (10,456-gt, built 1977). On arrival the tug was assisted by several harbour tugs. Pictures by Aad Noorland

    When will the witch-hunts end? Transnet places Gama under suspicion

    Transnet remains without a permanent chief executive for a while longer, following the decision by the Transnet Board to investigate charges made against the chief executive of Transnet Freight Rail, Siyabonga Gama.

    Gama is considered as one of the candidates for the top job in Transnet and according to sources, is the choice of the government as well. His other main contender, Pravin Gordhan dropped out of the race once it was made known that a cabinet position lay in store – Gordhan was subsequently appointed Minister of Finance in succession to Trevor Manuel.

    Acting chief executive Chris Wells has apparently made it clear he does not want the position of chief executive. This left Siyabonga Gama, who previously held the top position within Portnet, at the time of Transnet National Ports Authority and Transnet Port Terminals operating as two departments under a unified ports company. He later moved to the more challenging position of chief executive of Transnet’s rail division Spoornet, now known as Transnet Freight Rail.

    But now accusations have been levelled against him resulting in an enquiry into his role in the awarding of a tender for 212 diesel locomotives, placed with US company Electromotive Diesel in 2006, which had earlier been named as the preferred bidder. The tender was cancelled in February this year following an independent probe that revealed irregularities. Last week Gama was forced to appear before the Transnet Board to answer questions into his role and knowledge of the contract.

    Suggestions have been made in the media that the timing of the investigation suggest this is another witch-hunt, aimed at preventing Gama from attaining the top position.

    Siyabonga Gama

    Transnet issued a short statement confirming the disciplinary process and saying, “This relates to alleged serious breaches in certain procurement contracts. This is an internal company matter and we do not wish to comment further at this stage in due deference to all parties concerned.”

    Transnet also issued a strong statement last week reiterating that the contract had been cancelled, after newspaper reports suggested that it was about to be reissued.

    Gama’s being called to task on the matter is reminiscent of other summary suspensions and cancelling of contracts that has bedeviled the workings of the transport parastatal and its divisions for the past ten or more years, leaving it rudderless and leaderless for lengthy periods of time.

    “It’s not just the changing of the guard but the lack of decision-making at the top that causes us to worry,” said a port stakeholder to PORTS & SHIPS this weekend. “Every time they make a change we have to wait for the new person to settle in, and often they then call for consultant reports which themselves take time, before things start moving again. We had several years of stability with Maria Ramos in charge, but now this happens and all year Transnet has had to make do with no permanent person in charge.”

    Navy gathers at Walvis for exercise Golfinho

    A number of South African Navy ships have begun gathering at the Namibian port of Walvis Bay in preparation of Exercise Golfinho, a multi-national South African Development Community (SADC) exercise which takes place during September. Ships that have already arrived in Walvis Bay include the frigates SAS AMATOLA and SAS MENDI and the strike craft SAS GALASHEWE.

    According to the South African Defence Force the aim of the exercise is to develop the readiness of SADC forces in accordance with the African Union roadmap towards establishing the SADC Brigade.

    Much of the actual exercise will take place at the South African Army Combat Training Centre at Lohatla in the Northern Cape, although the naval element is taking place off Namibian waters, based from Walvis Bay. Admiral Phillip Schoultz said that about 5,000 personnel from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would participate in the exercise.

    He said the objective of Exercise Golfinho, which means Dolphin, is to develop regional cooperation in the field of peace support operations. “The SANDF and the participating countries will demonstrate commitment to participation in regional peace support training,” he said.

    Admiral Schoultz said a previous exercise held about ten years ago was largely funded with foreign support, whereas the current exercise was fully home grown, including writing of the scenarios to the development of all doctrinal aspects such as logistics and communications.

    The event is being co-hosted by Namibia.

    Two stowaways die on ship off Durban

    In confirmation of our news report of Thursday, 27 August, it has been confirmed that two of the four young stowaways who boarded the container ship NORTHERN FAITH (35,595-gt, built 1994) in West Africa died after hiding in the ship’s rudder well on the outside of the vessel.

    Two others, who described themselves as cousins of the deceased, survived the journey lasting longer than a week. They were taken to a Durban hospital suffering from exposure and shock and will more than likely be repatriated once they have been discharged and all police enquiries completed.

    The nationality of the boys was not certain – reports suggested they may have come from Ghana or possibly Ivory Coast.

    The ship was at anchor outside Durban harbour when crew were alerted to two young men swimming in the sea next to the ship. They had apparently left the rudder well to seek help after noticing the ship had become stationary. After the crew helped them on board authorities ashore were notified and rescue personnel went to the vessel where the two surviving stowaways were taken to hospital.

    According to our sources between eight and nine stowaways recently arrived in Durban similarly hiding in the rudder compartment of a ship, after having survived more than a week at sea despite heavy seas en route. They were discovered when the ship berthed in port.

    What’s in a name? The Titan Uranus that just won’t go away

    A new twist to the tale of the good ship (or should that now become ships) Titan Uranus, which we featured last week. Reader Chris Gee writes to say:

    “Without wanting to prolong the subject I would like to add a comment about your ‘What’s In A Name’ column about the TITAN URANUS. The owners in question, Titan Ocean Pte Ltd, Singapore, could not have been too upset by the name as they had an even earlier vessel named TITAN URANUS, IMO 7614252, 1974 built / 4491grt, ex DA QING 213.

    “According to Lloyds they purchased it from China in 2002 and renamed her TITAN URANUS. I understand the vessel was fitted out to be an outside port limits bunkering tanker but she was subsequently sold for scrap several years later. However I took the attached poor scan of a print of her in Singapore Eastern anchorage on 11th May 2001 and I can assure you it has not been Photo-shopped!”

    Four ships heading for judicial sale – Daewoo Frontier tops the list

    Picture by Trevor Jones

    The economic crunch is coming home to roost in a number of ways, not excluding the plight of ships that become the subject of legal claims and judicial judgements.

    The Durban High Court has issued papers for the passenger/Ro-Ro vessel DAEWOO FRONTIER (42,567-gt, built 1988) to be sold by judicial auction in Durban harbour on Tuesday, 29 September 2009. The ship is currently on berth in the port and details of the pending sale have been posted on the auctioneer’s website at www.admiralty.co.za – look under ‘Auctions’.

    Daewoo Frontier is the former Italian vessel named Repubblica di Genova, which sank at her berth in Antwerp harbour in 2007 but was later refloated and taken to Korea for an extensive refit. Her new owners went into financial difficulties and several of their ships are in the process of being sold as a result.

    Several other ships at Durban and Richards Bay face a similar fate – the oil products tanker SERAM WIND (10,949-gt, built 1987) and the car carrier TRUST DUBAI (5,879-gt, built 1987) are both at anchor outside port under arrest and a court order announcing their sale is considered likely. Both ships are due in port within a few days for inspection after which a date for their auction is expected to be set.

    Another ship facing the same fate is the bulk carrier SARA V (31,167-gt, built 2002) which is under arrest and at anchor off the port of Richards Bay. The latter ship is due back in court on 9 September 2009.

    UN expert praises Senegal’s efforts to strengthen rights of migrants

    The number of African migrants who leave the Senegalese coast by boat for Europe and the number who perish during the attempt have fallen sharply during the first half of this year, but the country should still intensify its efforts to monitor the situation, an independent United Nations human rights expert said last week.

    Jorge Bustamante, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, has commended the efforts of authorities in Senegal to strengthen the rights of migrants and urged them to continue their efforts.

    In a statement issued following a five-day visit to the West African country, where he met with senior Government officials, business leaders, labour officials, entrepreneurs, parliamentarians, and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society groups, Mr Bustamante noted that Senegal is a country of origin, transition and destination for migrants.

    The Special Rapporteur said he was pleased by the “climate of openness and integration” towards migrants who want to settle in Senegal, saying their rights have been strengthened by an improved set of laws.

    He also welcomed Senegal’s efforts to spotlight the issue of irregular migration and, through the implementation of bilateral and multilateral accords, to protect the rights of people who try to migrate along dangerous international routes, such as by sea.

    Noting that the number of departures by sea and deaths during such journeys has fallen in 2009, Mr. Bustamante said he wanted to encourage Senegalese authorities to continue their efforts to monitor the situation and to further investigate the cause and nature of such attempts at migration.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    The former South African Navy minesweeper, SAS DURBAN which has been on exhibit at the Durban Maritime Museum for a number of years, ‘disappeared’ recently, leading to speculation and some concern over the ship’s whereabouts.

    All is well however and the minesweeper has spent a few days on the former navy synchrolift at Salisbury Island, now in the hands of Armscor Durban. The little ship is having a general overhaul, including some rotten planking cut away and replaced and rust removed and a new coat of paint, before returning to her place of honour in the water alongside the museum.

    The Durban Maritime Museum is well supported by the general public and especially by children, with thousands of schoolchildren visiting the museum annually, giving many of them a first taste of the sea and ships. Other exhibits include the steam tug JR MOORE and the pilot boat/workboat ULUNDI.

    This year’s National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Marmion Marsh Floating Trophy was awarded to the commander of Station 19, Richards Bay, Mark Hughes. Although it is an annual floating trophy the award is not necessarily given each year unless the award committee feels that there is a worthy contender. Hughes was chosen because of his contribution to the NSRI and Richards Bay in particular over 31 years, including two spells as commander of the station and for having taken charge of planning and raising funds for the new Richards Bay NSRI rescue base.

    The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has de-registered 355 vessels owned by Nigerian operators on account of expired and invalid documents, the Vanguard newspaper has reported. The de-registration of the vessels, consisting of fishing vessels, barges, tankers, and passenger ferries came about as NIMASA sets about ensuring that Nigerian-registered ships comply with international and national rules and conventions covering maritime safety and security. The move has however drawn strong criticism from ship and boat owners in Nigeria.

    Today’s Good Read – recommended as a worthwhile read

    In another addition to the daily news bulletin we recently introduced a link connecting to what we think makes a good and worthwhile read. There is no pattern to the topics chosen – just anything we think is relevant and of interest to our maritime industry. Nor do we necessarily endorse or agree with what is written.

    To go to our latest GOOD READ which today concerns the subject of modern day piracy, click on the link HERE. As with all these highlighted links, to come back to this page use your RETURN button.

    If you have any suggestions for a good read please send the link to info@ports.co.za and put GOOD READ in the subject line.

    Pic of the day – MSC CARLA

    The sleek lines of the container ship MSC CARLA (35,953-gt, built 1986) in Cape Town harbour this past week. The 241m long, 3,022-TEU Panamax ship is a sister ship to two other MSC vessels, MSC JADE and MSC NOA. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

    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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