Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 14, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – NELE MAERSK

  • Morwe says Durban to remain SA’s premier container port

  • SELI 1 a wreck - unlikely to be refloated

  • Table Bay as a lee shore – the grounding of the SELI 1 and other similar incidents

  • Transnet says it is ‘saddened’ by Sipho Maseko’s decision to withdraw as a candidate for group CE

  • News from the ports of Africa

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Today’s good read – The Boatman Cometh

  • Pics of the day – BELUGA LEGISLATION


    First View – NELE MAERSK

    The Maersk Line container ship NELE MAERSK (27,733-gt, built 2000) in Durban harbour yesterday (Sunday). Picture by Trevor Jones

    Morwe says Durban to remain SA’s premier container port

    The port of Durban will remain South Africa’s main container port and terminal, says Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) chief executive Tau Morwe.

    Morwe was speaking at a Business to Business breakfast held in Durban as part of a countrywide ‘meet the customer’ initiative. “Durban will remain South Africa’s premier gateway container port,” he said.

    This was in response to a statement made in Port Elizabeth by TPT’s chief operating officer, Solly Letsoalo who said that the new port of Ngqura was envisaged as the country’s premier gateway port of the future. See that report HERE

    Morwe said that South Africa’s ports do not compete with each other. The focus on Ngqura, he said, would be on transhipment cargo where TPT saw opportunities for the South African port to become a major transhipment hub for the region. Some cargo for South Africa might move through Ngqura, he conceded, but the majority of containers would continue to go to Durban. South Africa needed to do more than just think about handling more transhipment cargo. Other regional ports were doing similar work and thinking of opportunities.

    “Our hub concept is not about replacing one port with another but seizing the opportunity to attract new business.”

    “Despite being in a recession we have not stopped expanding,” he pointed out. “The growth of our ports remains dependent on their improvements and efficiencies.” He said that TPT was talking with the relevant authorities about expanding into the Salisbury Island area of Durban harbour for future container growth.

    “We also have to question carefully whether we spend billions on digging out a new port.”

    There was also the matter of berth deepening to correspond with the work done by Transnet National Ports Authority in widening and deepening the Durban harbour entrance. Current thinking was along the lines of deepening berths 101, 102 and 103 on Pier 1 (currently used for laybye shipping and bunkering) and incorporating these into the Pier 1 Container Terminal, which would ultimately link up with a Salisbury Island expansion. This would provide the port with three deepwater berths without disrupting existing container operations.

    Morwe said that TPT had consistently met its budgeted target spend on new infrastructure. In the past year R1.9 Billion was expended by TPT on this, with a large chunk being spent in Durban.

    SELI 1 a wreck - unlikely to be refloated

    Salvors are racing against the clock and the weather to remove approximately 660 tonnes of bunker fuel from the Turkish bulker SELI 1 which went aground in Table Bay last week.

    Latest opinion is that the ship is not salvageable owing to severe structural damage incurred when she grounded onto a sandbank opposite Sunset Beach. The engine room has been flooded and salvors say that the ship’s hull appears to have suffered fractures in several places.

    Two vessels, KUSWAG IV and OCEAN PRIDE have been employed to pump oil from the stricken ship by way of a relay system where one vessel remains alongside the casualty taking off oil while the other returns to Cape Town harbour to discharge fuel.

    At the weekend a spokesman said that over the previous 48 hours good progress had been made and 100,000 litres of bunker fuel had been removed.

    The ship is also loaded with 30,000 tonnes of coal which it took on in Durban at the start of her planned voyage to Gibraltar.

    Salvors also plan to remove perishable items from the ship.

    In anticipation of further adverse weather and sea conditions authorities have placed booms at the mouth of the Milnerton Lagoon while response teams remain on standby in case of leakages. The Department of Environmental Affairs’ pollution control aircraft Kuswag 9 is continuing to make overflights of the ship on a daily basis.

    Meanwhile, the public is being repeatedly asked, especially those engaged in recreational activities such as boating, kite surfing, canoeing and paddle skiing, to remain clear of the grounded ship while the fuel removal operation is underway. Helicopters and other airborne craft such as microlights overflying the ship may also disrupt the helicopter operations of the salvage team, delaying progress and endangering others. Even the public engaged in sightseeing from the shore are requested to limit their activities to areas away from those being used by the salvage team, and to be aware that the dunes adjacent to the beach are environmentally sensitive.

    Table Bay as a lee shore – the grounding of the SELI 1 and other similar incidents

    by Ian Hunter (SA Weather Service)

    The bulk carrier SELI 1, carrying 30 000 tons of coal ran aground off Cape Town’s Sunset Beach late on Monday night 7 September 2009. Of much more concern than the coal is the fuel oil of which there is over 600 tons on board. Because of its viscosity bunker oil is capable of doing considerable harm to the marine ecosystem – Capetonians need only think back to the sinking of the TREASURE (June 2000).

    picture Ian Shiffman

    The old square-rigged sailing ships were unable to beat into the wind – even later versions had little chance of sailing very close to the wind. But a modern motor vessel that has lost all engine power – and finds itself on poor holding ground for the anchors to ‘bite’ into – is no better off. With a strong wind blowing onshore, it will find itself drifting steadily towards the beach (hopefully not rocks). Vessels such as passenger ships and car carriers are particularly vulnerable because of their high superstructure.

    The wind rose above is the July average from an automatic weather station located in the container berth (eastern side of the harbour – very badly located for SE’ly gales). Note the strong onshore wind components, mostly associated with incoming frontal troughs.

    Although the frequency of SE’lies increases significantly towards September, the NW’lies hold their own, particularly in a year where frontal activity remains unusually high.

    This vessel tracking services chart comes courtesy of MarineTraffic. The position of vessels carrying VTS are updated real-time. Thus this is the actual position of the Smit salvage tug SMIT AMANDLA standing by the casualty earlier on the morning of 11 September 2009. Unfortunately wave conditions deteriorated overnight. Soon after the grounding the deep sea significant wave height was in excess of 6m (~ SW’ly) – probably 3-4m in the Bay, due to wave refraction.

    The bones of dozens (hundreds ?) of vessels are scattered along the west coast of the Cape Peninsula. A popular dive site is the wreck of the RMS ATHENS. This sail/ steam ship combination dates back all of 144 years (!) – to the “Great Gale” of 1865. Many other vessels were driven ashore in the same (NW’ly) storm.

    Another category of grounding is the case where a vessel is under tow, the cable snaps in adverse weather – and the tug is unable to reconnect. The BOSS 400, southwest of Oudeschip is a typical example. This was a particularly intense frontal system (by comparison the event earlier this week was not that extreme : sustained wind speeds in the Bay did not remain above gale force for more than a few hours).

    Perhaps there is a (partial) solution to the problem of a ship drifting helpless onto a lee shore :

    These sail-assisted merchant ships have been a reality for a few years now, with fuel savings of up to 35% being claimed. But of more significance in this particular case is the fact that the kite is apparently able to tow a vessel upwind. Well, within 50° of the eye of the wind. Probably not much help when you’re already well into a semi-enclosed bay. But certainly a possible life-saver if the vessel is still well offshore – or where the coastline is fairly straight and the wind angled to the coastline.

    Transnet says it is ‘saddened’ by Sipho Maseko’s decision to withdraw as a candidate for group CE

    Transnet says in a statement that it regrets but understands the decision of Mr Sipho Maseko not to stand as a candidate for Group Chief Executive of Transnet.

    Maseko, who currently holds the position of CEO with oil company BP Africa announced last week that he was withdrawing his name as a result of the continuing furore concerning the suspension of Transnet Freight Rail Chief Executive, Siyabonga Gama. Maseko was Transnet’s preferred choice to replace Ms Maria Ramos who left the company earlier this year.

    Gama, who previously led the port administration within Transnet and more recently as CEO of Transnet Freight rail, was also regarded as a candidate with strong labour support as well as from certain sectors within the ANC government, although the Transnet Board did not appear to have shortlisted him in the list submitted to the minister.

    “We confirm that Mr Sipho Maseko has indicated to us that, in view of the furore that has apparently been triggered by an internal disciplinary process initiated in relation to the chief executive of one of Transnet’s operating divisions, he would under these circumstances no longer be available as the preferred candidate for the vacant position of the Group CE at Transnet Limited,” Transnet said in its statement.

    While saying it was saddened, Transnet added that it empathised with his reasons for doing so and wished him well in his future endeavours.

    “It is important to point out that we understand fully the frustrations brought about by the delay in the selection process. However, we are doing all we can to ensure that the matter is speedily resolved.

    “We wish to thank all interested and concerned parties, especially our employees, clients, customers and investors, for your patience and understanding.”

    The statement added that Transnet’s acting Group CE, Mr Chris Wells, and the executive team are well positioned to ensure the continued success of Transnet and to take full advantage of the emerging signs of an upturn in the global economy.

    News from the ports of Africa

    Grindrod intends increasing the capacity of its Matola Coal Terminal at Maputo. According to Matola’s general manager Carl Grinyer the expansion programme will be concluded in September 2010, by which time Matola’s capacity will have been increased to 6 million tonnes of which 4.5mt will be for coal and the balance for magnetite. Grindrod says it is planning feasibility studies to take the terminal capacity to between 10 and 12 million tonnes annually as a realistic and achievable target.

    Four international companies have expressed interest in the development of a privatized second container terminal at the Kenyan port of Mombasa, embracing berths 11 -14, which were originally developed for general cargo but have gradually moved across to handling containers and which is now earmarked for a second container terminal area.

    The port of Lobito in central Angola handled 1.5 million tonnes of cargo in the first six months of 2009, it has been announced. The port’s director general Jose Gomes said that Lobito was on track to exceed last year’s total cargo working of 2.5mt.

    Nigeria’s President Umar Musa Yar’Adua said the Federal Government remains committed to the social-economic advancement of the country and that the start of a dredging programme of the lower Niger River was an indication of this. He said the plan to dredge the lower river was first mooted 43 years ago. “Today’s flag-off is a clear manifestation of my government’s unwavering commitment to ensure that Nigeria is among the 20 most industrialised nations by 2020,” he said. Dredging of the upper Niger River and the Benue River would commence on completion of the lower Niger contract. He said the project was critical in reducing transport pressure on the country’s roads. The president also announced that a maritime institute would be established at Onitsha in addition to the river ports of Warri, Idah, Lokoja and Baro. – source This Day

    OT Africa reports that two new weighbridges have been installed at the entrance to the port of Lome in Togo. As of 1 September all trucks exiting the port are required to be weighed. There is no fee involved but if a truck is found to be overweight it will face a penalty fine and will be impounded until the overweight items have been removed. The measure has been introduced in an effort of reducing the deterioration of the region’s roads.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Japanese carrier Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) has revealed plans for a general rate increase for all cargo moving southbound from Europe, both northern Europe and the Mediterranean, to West Africa. The new rate comes into effect on 15 October 2009 and will amount to an additional €150 per TEU, including reefer containers.

    Manila’s International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI) has announced the appointment of Mr Manuel Fernandez as senior vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Fernandez has worked as a DHL Express vice president, and for American President Lines and for Sealand.

    BAE Systems says it has developed a sophisticated electronic early warning device aimed at combating the high levels of piracy at sea. BAE says it worked in partnership with a number of major ship owners to assess the commercial requirements of the equipment and now has a suite of technology that enables a crew to detect a ship or craft at distances of up to 25km and identify whether these pose a threat. The early warning system gives the crew the time to evade the threat before the pirates even come into view.

    Today’s Good Read – The Boatman Cometh

    An interview with Michael Chastanet, one of the Caribbean’s leading businessmen and ship owner, titled The Boatman Cometh. This interview is in two parts – the second part will be published on the Jamaica Observer website on Friday 18 September. Read the first part HERE

    If you come across something relevant that you thought was a good read, why not share it with other readers. Send us the link with the words GOOD READ in the subject bar. You, or we, don’t necessarily have to agree with or endorse whatever is written, it can simply be thought-provoking or interesting. Send the link to www.ports.co.za

    Pics of the day – BELUGA LEGISLATION

    The project cargo vessel BELUGA LEGISLATION (8,999-gt, built 2007) which was in Cape Town at the weekend. 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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