Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 4, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Saldanha ore ship goes aground

  • Piracy - EU plans Somali Coastal Security Force

  • News from the world of shipping – MSC Napoli salvage ends

  • Naval news – Construction of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier begins

  • Customs moves to cut costly delays – 1000 auditors to be employed

  • Pic of the day – SEA BUFFALO



    The Capesize bulker LONG CHARITY (93,000-gt, built 1985) which went aground in Saldanha Bay last Friday, shortly after moving off the berth. Picture - anon

    Saldanha ore ship goes aground

    Ship repair companies and salvage experts readied themselves for possible action last Friday after the Capesize ore carrier LONG CHARITY (93,000-gt, built 1985) went aground inside the port of Saldanha, soon after the ship pulled away from her berth at the iron ore quay.

    According to unconfirmed reports the ship lost engine power almost immediately after she had cleared the berth. The harbour tugs had already severed their connections with the bulker which then drifted into shallow water and went aground. Some hull damage has been reported with the vessel taking water although the ship is not considered to be in any immediate danger.

    On the following day tugs were managed to pull Long Charity clear and the ship is now at anchor inside Saldanha Bay being assessed as to the extent of damage while decisions will have to be made on how to undertake repairs. A cofferdam-type repair is one possibility.

    Apart from this flurry of excitement, ship repair appears to be heading into quieter waters after a busy first half of 2009. If bookings at the respective dry docks are anything to go by there is much less planned work lining up ahead.

    However, for a brief moment or two it appeared there was a chance that the Durban dry dock might soon be playing host to the passenger liner QUEEN ELIZABETH 2, which was provisionally booked from 15 September. However it is now being reported that the ship has met draught requirements in Dubai and is being docked there instead.

    The passenger ship’s planned move to Cape Town later this year remains unconfirmed, with Transnet National Ports Authority not having made a decision on allowing the vessel access for up to 18 months, including the period of next year’s Soccer World Cup.

    Vested interests have been quick to mount their opposition, saying there is no need to bring a ship of this size to Cape Town as a floating hotel and tourist attraction as Cape Town already has sufficient beds for cater for expected demand during the soccer tournament.

    In Durban Dormac Marine reports in its monthly newsletter that work on double-hulling the bunker barge Smit Bongani has been completed with the barge moving across to Smit’s tug jetty where final mechanical work can be completed, after which Smit Bongani will return to Richards Bay.

    Another contract recently completed by Dormac Marine in Durban is the research vessel RIDLEY THOMAS (1241-gt, built 1981). Work with this ship including replacing approximately 40 tons of steel to the hull, tanks and forepeak, overhauling all three auxiliary engines, giving the vessel a full blast and paint job and forward and aft seal bonding. In addition the satellite installation was carried out in tandem with the makers and new refrigeration and air-conditioning systems installed. Other work included the fabrication and fitting of the gondola to the ship’s hull, done in conjunction with EGS, and various pipework.

    The newsletter also reported on the official opening of Dormac Marine & Engineering Namibia in Walvis Bay. The company currently has repair contracts underway involving the oil platform SEDNETH 701, the Rig 140 and another platform WEST MENANG and says further oil rig repairs and vessels are in the pipeline for Walvis Bay.

    Piracy - EU plans Somali Coastal Security Force

    Good news at last on the Somali anti-piracy front as the time approaches when piracy is expected to start peaking once again, with the approaching end of the monsoon which has had an inhibiting factor on piracy off the Somali coast. The European Union has announced it plans to train Somali security forces to better equip them to combat pirates operating from the long Somali coastline.

    According to a BBC news report the EU intends sending a planning team to Djibouti this month (August), where existing training facilities exist at French and US military bases.

    The move is believed to be in response to calls by the Somali Transitional Government to international forces to help with training its security forces to tackle piracy on land at their bases. Somali has already begun forming the nucleus of a coast guard but lacks equipment as well as training.

    A number of observers have repeatedly made the point that piracy can not be defeated at sea and needs to be tackled politically and on land.

    In any event the Transitional Government has but a tenuous control over much of Somalia, and even the capital and main port city of Mogadishu remains partly in the hands of Islamic militants.

    According to the BBC report, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana said the EU was concentrating its training initiative on three issues. One was the provision of training for the security forces, another was the question of having enough money to pay their salaries, and the third was how to co-operate with African Union peacekeepers already operating in Somalia.

    News from the world of shipping – MSC Napoli salvage ends

    Two and a half years after she went aground off the English Devon coast, the container ship MSC NAPOLI salvage operation has been declared complete.

    According to the UK Secretary of State’s Representative for Marine Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP), Hugh Shaw, the work has taken 924 days.

    “I am delighted that together we have all brought this incident to a successful conclusion. Every effort has been made to protect the environment throughout this operation,” he told the BBC News.

    MSC Napoli was on a voyage from Europe to South Africa when she suffered a cracked hull during a heavy storm in the English Channel. After her crew was airlifted from the stricken vessel a salvage crew made the decision to run the ship aground opposite Branscombe in Devon to avoid the vessel breaking up in the channel and causing massive pollution.

    In this they were successful except the 62,000-ton ship took further damage in the heavy seas and suffered further structural damage. A significant number of containers were washed overboard, with some going ashore where thousands of scavengers descended on the beaches to help themselves to whatever they could find.

    This included breaking open containers and stealing the contents. Among these were new BMW motorbikes, empty oak wine barrels for the South African wine industry and many other items. Approximately 50 containers washed overboard.

    The salvage included cutting the ship in two sections, with one half being floated free and towed to Ireland for scrapping. Before that all fuel and the remaining 2350 containers were removed. Finally the remains of the wreck was taken apart and removed.

    The cost of the salvage has been given at £50 million. source BBC News

    Naval news – Construction of the Royal Navu’s new aircraft carrier begins

    Picture: Royal Navy

    Construction of the British Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers got underway earlier in July with the first steel cutting, performed by Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal at the BVT Surface Fleet’s shipyard in Govan, Glasgow.

    Two of the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers are to be built and are set to become the Royal Navy’s largest ever warships. Together with the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and the new Type 45 destroyers, the aircraft carriers will form the cornerstone of Britain’s ability to jointly project air power worldwide from land or sea at a time and place of UK’s choosing, said the British Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies.

    “The MoD is committed to ensuring the UK’s Armed Forces are modern, versatile and well equipped for present and future operations. The versatility of the design together with the long service life of these ships will ensure that we will be able to deal with the uncertainties of the future for years to come, and they will deliver the support to deployed UK forces around the globe.

    “It is an honour to mark this historic moment with Her Royal Highness here in Govan. We also must not forget the ongoing work of legions of people in industry in regions across the country who are all delivering vital elements of this truly national project,” he said.

    According to Britain’s First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, the QE class of aircraft carriers are not just spare airfields, “they are an instrument of national power: the ‘big stick’ which can be waved by the Government in areas of strategic interest to influence, coerce and deter.”

    “Together with the supporting aircraft forming the Carrier Strike, they represent a step upwards in defence’s capability, enabling Britain to deliver airpower from the sea wherever and whenever it is required. This strategic effect, influence and, where necessary, direct action will give us an unprecedented range of options to deal with the challenges of an uncertain world at a time and place of our choosing,” he said.

    While the steel cutting was performed in Glasgow, three other major sections are to be assembled at yards in Portsmouth and Rosyth, with other fabrication undertaken at the Appledore shipyards in Devon. Each section, or block, will be transported to Rosyth dockyard where they will be joined together to form the hull of the ship. - source Royal Navy News

    Illustration: Royal Navy

    Customs moves to cut costly delays – 1000 auditors to be employed

    Within the next two months shippers and forwarders should see significant changes in Customs processes as the Department of Customs and Excise rolls out the first phase of its modernization programme that it believes will encourage cross border trade nationally and increase revenue.

    A key aspect of the modernization programme, which it is hoped will reduce frustrating Customs clearance delays at all ports including airports, is a shift in focus to pre- and post inspection audits. This will reduce the number of inspections during Customs clearance and streamline the procedure, says Mark Boucher of Customs@Wylie, an initiative of Shepstone & Wylie Attorneys.

    As many as one thousand additional auditors will be employed by Customs to carry out the increased number of pre- and post inspection audits. In addition, Customs will use a new risk engine which they believe will improve consistency in branch office decision making as, in most instances, it removes the discretionary powers of officers.

    Client information will be automatically updated on the risk engine thus forming a comprehensive, reliable and factual database free of human bias. According to Customs this will prevent repetitive, unnecessary stops and queries which are costly and time consuming for both customs and the client.

    The programme also aims to eliminate manual submissions. Documents called for by customs when details pertaining to a shipment are queried, will be submitted via facsimile, e-mail or online through the SARS' website. This seems to indicate that manual submissions of any kind will not be permitted and clients will have to use the EDI facility, says Boucher.

    Vouchers of correction, as they are known, in the import/export sector are also soon to be a thing of the past. Although details are sketchy, the intention is that corrections will be done online, says Boucher.

    Furthermore Customs are working on a single registration document for all client types, thus significantly simplifying the current licensing and registration process.

    It is expected that the modernization programme will save customs clients millions in storage costs as a result of delays, with the greatest effect on air cargo which is usually expensive and urgent and where there are strict time constraints.

    “Theoretically it makes sense to focus on pre- and post audits and free up Customs officials to focus on other important issues including criminal activity such as smuggling, but whether it is practical or viable remains to be seen,” says Boucher. For more information contact Megan Pennefather, Shepstone & Wylie Attorneys tel 031 302 0333.

    Pic of the day – SEA BUFFALO

    The diminutive South African-owned and operated reefer SEA BUFFALO (2,526-gt, built 1980) which was in Cape Town harbour at the weekend. Picture 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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