Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 1, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – USNS SUMNER

  • Products tanker ELLI breaks in two and sinks near Suez Canal

  • Coal ship in fire scare at RBCT

  • Kenya and Uganda look to World Bank loan to fund Malaba border post upgrade

  • Piracy update – Pirates fire of US navy helicopter; Iran sends more warships

  • Mozambique expects to earn billions from coal exports

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Recommended Reads - Africa: Steamrolling the WTO Doha Negotiations

  • Pics of the day – SASDOCK & SVITZER CELESTE


    First View – USNS SUMNER

    The US Navy oceanographic research ship USNS SUMNER (T-AGS-61) which paid a short visit to Cape Town earlier in August. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Products tanker ELLI breaks in two and sinks near Suez Canal

    About 60 tonnes of bunker and other oils were split into the Red Sea near the southern entrance of the Suez Canal at the weekend, after the Panamanian-flagged Greek-owned oil products tanker ELLI (54,880-gt, built 1986) broke in half and sank.

    The accident occurred on Friday while the ship was cleaning its cargo tanks. The master of the ship is reported as saying the ship “split in two for reasons yet unknown.” According to the Suez Canal Authority however the ship broke up because proper care was not taken during the cleaning of the cargo tanks when the vessel’s equilibrium was not considered.

    M/T Elli was en route from Yemen to Suez when she broke up and sank – the ship was due in Port Suez for dry docking for maintenance and some repairs and was not carrying any cargo.

    None of the 24-member crew was injured and all were safely rescued. By Saturday an Egyptian clean-up crew was at work attending to the oil spill which is not considered serious because of the low density fuel involved.

    Coal ship in fire scare at RBCT

    Coal being loaded into the holds of a handysize bulk vessel at Richards Bay Coal Terminal is reported to have begun burning after the temperature of the coal began exceeding flash point levels, PORTS & SHIPS has been informed.

    The coal was being loaded into the ship AMBITIOUS SKY (32,379-gt, built 2009) when the temperature of the coal reached 70 degrees, well above its flash point. A soon as the hot spots were noticed steps were taken to discharge the coal onto the quayside and a check of the balance of cargo already loaded was made, resulting in a considerable delay to the vessel.

    The Zululand Observer which reported the matter in its edition last week said that RBCT afterwards gave an assurance that it would never contravene the legal requirements of required or acceptable temperatures when loading ships at the terminal.

    The newspaper said that the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) regional manager, Captain Saroor Ali had confirmed the incident but said it was the responsibility of the shipper and RBCT to take temperatures and precautionary measures while loading coal.

    RBCT’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Zama Luthuli was quoted by the Zululand Observer as saying that the ship had been loaded at acceptable temperatures but the coal heated inside the ship’s hatches.

    According to the Zululand Observer spontaneous combustion had occurred ` in one of the terminal stockpiles in the previous week.

    Kenya and Uganda look to World Bank loan to fund Malaba border post upgrade

    Kenya and Uganda are to apply to the World Bank for a US$5 million loan to upgrade the important Malaba border post between the two East African countries.

    This was announced at the weekend by Uganda’s Finance Minister, Syda Bbumba. She said the upgrade will enable the two countries to introduce modern technology which would lead to an effective and improved revenue collection.

    The announcement was made after the conclusion of a visit to the region by World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

    During his visit Zoellick was briefed on various matters affecting the economies of the respective countries. In return the World Bank president challenged the various states to prioritise the projects that could prove viable and would give support to the region’s economic integration process.

    He said the World Bank had doubled its resources for regional integration under International Development 14 and called on the East African Community to take advantage of this opportunity.

    Piracy update – Pirates fire of US navy helicopter; Iran sends more warships

    While it appears that attacks on ships in the Gulf of Aden region have lessened following the monsoon weather and increased naval activity, ship operators shouldn’t be fooled into thinking the pirates have given up so easily. Isolated incidents continue to occur although the number of ships actually boarded and highjacked has decreased – this is however expected to reverse once the weather patterns become more conducive to open boat activity on the high seas.

    To demonstrate that pirates are not all on holiday, the US Navy has reported that one of its helicopters was fired on by pirates holding a ship to ransom off the Somali coast.

    The helicopter overflew the ship, the Taiwanese fishing vessel WIN FAR on an inspection and were fired upon by pirates on board the vessel who used a large caliber weapon. The aircraft was not hit and there were no injuries. The US Navy said that aircraft crew, flying off the USS CHANCELLORSVILLE did not return the fire as innocent seafarers on board the captured ship could have been hit.

    The fishing vessel, which was carrying a crew of 30 when captured, has been used as a mother ship for a number of attacks on other vessels, including the Maersk Alabama.

    According to the US 5th Fleet this is the first time that pirates have shot at a US Navy helicopter undertaking reconnaissance flights over ships being held for ransom.

    In other related news Iran is sending additional ships to help patrol and protect Iranian commercial vessels under threat from pirate action. The report was made at the weekend by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency which said the warships would join two others already stationed in the Gulf of Aden.

    Mozambique expects to earn billions from coal exports

    Mozambique says it expects to earn billions of dollars from coal mining in the country by 2015, when several mining operations in the central provinces are in full operation.

    The mining, which is being undertaken by coal majors Brazil’s Vale company and Australia’s Riversdale Mining are expected to generate annual coal revenues of US$1.5 Billion by 2015, said Mozabique’s National Director of Mining, Eduardo Alexandre.

    The mining operations will be underway by as early as 2011 by which time the railway to Moatize, in the heart of the mining area, and the port of Beira will have been completely refurbished and rebuilt.

    According to Riversdale the Benga deposits are in the order of over four billion tonnes of measured resources, 730 million tonnes of indicated resources and almost 3 billion tonnes of inferred resources.

    Together with the Moatize basin Mozambique is said to have coal reserves of about 10 billion tonnes.

    While coal will be exported to neighbouring countries, including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, the DRC and Tanzania, the majority of coal will be exported overseas through the port of Beira, where a system of using lighters to load bulk carriers anchored outside the river port is expected to come into use.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    The bodies of the two missing stowaways off the container ship NORTHERN FAITH (35,595-gt, built 1994) were discovered in the rudder well compartment after the ship docked in Durban harbour on Sunday. Earlier, another two young stowaways were taken to safety on board the ship after it had gone to anchor in the outer anchorage. They were later removed from the ship and taken to a Durban hospital - according to their statements they had been in the rudder well for about eight or nine days before reaching Durban.

    Mitsui OSK Line has advised clients of a review of the applicable bunker surcharge as compared with the current fuel oil prices. “MOL wishes to announce a revision to the present bunker surcharge applicable in the Europe/Southern Africa/Europe trade,” the statement said. On 1 October the revised bunker surcharge will become US$462 per TEU for general purpose cargo and $629 per TEU for reefer cargo.

    The US Coast Guard has proposed new standards to control foreign organisms in ship’s ballast water, involving new procedures for approving onboard equipment to clean ballast water before discharge. The new regulation will set upper limits for the number of organisms per unit of ballast water. At present ships approaching the US coast are only required to make mid-ocean ballast exchanges, which has been criticised as too inadequate to prevent the introduction of alien species to US waters. The full proposal is available in the 28 August 2009 (US) Federal Register HERE

    One of the world’s largest container terminal operators, Dubai-based DP World says tough conditions lie ahead. The group made this prediction after announcing a net profit decrease of over one third for the first half of 2009. Net income dropped 34% to $187.7 million while revenue fell from $1.59 Billion to $1.38Bn. Container traffic decreased 10% to 12.3 million TEU. DP World operates 49 container terminals worldwide and says it expects a marginal increase in container volumes for the second half of this year which will be offset by non-container declines.

    Recommended Reads - Africa: Steamrolling the WTO Doha Negotiations

    Doha negotiations have been dragging on for almost a decade with developing nations rightly remaining cautious about concluding a ‘bad deal’. Negotiations continue to be unbalanced with developing countries still being offered a raw deal, suggests Michelle Pressend, Policy, Advocacy, and Research Coordinator of Biowatch and Coordinator of the Trade Strategy Group.

    Pressend suggests that the stalemate is largely over developed countries’ reluctance to make considerable reductions in their trade distorting agricultural subsidies and unbalanced proposals for further reductions in industrial tariffs. Developed countries are only prepared to make meagre concessions to reduce their trade distorting subsidies. However, developing countries are being asked to make trade-offs to gain market access for their agricultural goods in exchange for opening up access to their industrial and service sectors.

    Read the full article Africa: Steamrolling the WTO Doha Negotiations HERE, in the latest of our suggested GOOD READS. As with all our highlighted links, to return to this page use your RETURN or BACK button.

    If you have any suggestions for a good read please send the link to info@ports.co.za and type GOOD READ in the subject line. There is no suggested theme or pattern to the topics selected – just anything we think to be relevant at this time to our maritime industry. Nor do we necessarily endorse or agree with what is written, it is for you the reader to decide.

    Pics of the day – SASDOCK & SVITZER CELESTE

    The floating dock named SASDOCK (for Southern African Shipyards – Dock) arrived in Durban harbour yesterday morning, on tow behind the tug SVITZER CELESTE and after having been delayed outside port for several days waiting for calm weather and sea conditions. Later this month the floating dock will enter service as a launch platform for a series of harbour tugs now nearing completion at Southern African Shipyards but will also be available later for small ship repair. Pictures by Chris McCann

    SASDOCK with the Durban city skyline in the background - all pictures by Chris McCann

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