Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 12, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – JASCON 21, FAIRPLAY 30 and ESCRAVOS LPG FSO

  • Seabourn diverts cruise ship from Indian Ocean because of pirates

  • Mystery of burning tanker off Cameroon

  • Calabar re-opens to container shipping

  • 2nd AU Conference of Ministers for Maritime Transport takes place in Durban this week

  • Quay 500

  • South Africa explores trading opportunities with south countries

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pic of the day – KATYA ZELENKO


    First View – JASCON 21, FAIRPLAY 30 and ESCRAVOS LPG FSO

    The two tugs JASCON 21 (1163-gt, built 2008)and FAIRPLAY 30 (778-gt, built 2008) doublebanked in Cape Town harbour with their charge the LPG FSP ESCRAVOS in the background. Picture by Aad Noorland

    Seabourn diverts cruise ship from Indian Ocean because of pirates

    Pirates operating in the area around Somalia have succeeded in chasing away another cruise line from operating in ‘their’ waters. American cruise operator Seabourn announced last week that it has cancelled a series of voyages in the Indian Ocean directly as a result of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and in waters adjacent to the Seychelles.

    The voyages involved the vessel SEABOURN LEGEND which was due to cruise in the Indian Ocean during the southern summer of 2010 and 2011. Instead the ship will reposition to the Caribbean for the northern winter after her summer and autumn season in the Mediterranean.

    Seabourn Legend is the latest cruise line to avoid the region due to piracy. MSC has already re-routed MSC SINFONIA to sail down the Atlantic coast en route to a 2009/2010 summer season in South Africa, and will return to Italy that way in April 2010. This follows the attack made on the MSC MELODY on her positioning voyage from South Africa back to Genoa in April this year.

    German operator Hapag-Lloyd has also chosen to avoid the Gulf of Aden as has Fred. Olsen with its BALMORAL World Cruise in early 2010. Balmoral will instead sail round the Cape of Good Hope, which is good news for South African ports that will now be visited instead.

    Several other cruise lines have however continued sending their ships through the Gulf of den after taking special precautions.

    Seabourn CEO Pamela Conover said she had personally visited Kenya’s game parks and the islands of Seychelles, Madagascar and Zanzibar and was saddened at having to cancel these cruises. “We look forward to a time when the sea routes are controlled enough for us to cruise there for a season," she said.

    The cancellation affects 12 planned cruises in the Indian Ocean region.

    In November 2005 another Seabourn cruise ship, SEABOURN SPIRIT was struck by an unexploded rocket-propelled grenade fired by a Somali pirate. The ship famously used sonic weaponry and water cannons to fight off the attackers.

    Mystery of burning tanker off Cameroon

    Mystery surrounds a small petrol tanker named AFKO 307 which caught alight and burned out off the Cameroon coast near the village of Debunscha last week. Debunscha is about 30 miles from the port town of Limbe.

    The Ghanaian-registered vessel is reported to have sailed from Nigeria on 1 October but her intended destination is not known. Nor is the whereabouts of her crew. When authorities were alerted and arrived on the scene they could find no sign of anyone on board. The fire was successfully extinguished.

    It appeared that the ship first ran aground and then caught fire. The ship’s log indicated that the vessel had earlier made a delivery of 14,000 litres of fuel.

    A Cameroon newspaper quoted an army commander on the scene who said the ship’s manifest had been recovered which gave no clue as to the destination. The vessel’s master was given as Captain Etah Daniel, a Nigerian national and other documents refer to a Ghanaian company, AFKO Engineering Service based in Tema, Ghana.

    Calabar re-opens to container shipping

    The port of Calabar in eastern Nigeria has had its first container ship in more than 20 years, following the dredging of the port.

    The ship’s arrival was also made possible after the introduction of a new service between the Black Sea and West Africa.

    Because of a lack of dredging the port has experienced low traffic levels, leading to criticism that a mobile scanner costing more than US$5 million had not yet been put to much use. Only very small vessels have called at Calabar in recent years and ECM Terminal Ltd, the concessionaire holding the operators license for the port said earlier this year that its $10 million investment has been a waste of money and time.

    The Federal Government however had promised that dredging would soon take place and has now fulfilled that promise, leading to the arrival of a container ship in the port for the first time in more than two decades.

    See our related report of May 2009 HERE

    2nd AU Conference of Ministers for Maritime Transport takes place in Durban this week

    A conference under the auspices of the 2nd African Union (AU) Conference of Ministers responsible for maritime transport is due to get underway this week at the ICC in Durban.

    The theme of the conference focuses on the importance of transport in supporting socio-economic development and regional integration.

    The conference also provides an opportunity for decision makers from AU member states to review the performance of the continent’s maritime transport industry and to adopt the updated African Maritime Transport Charter. This is a continental policy and strategic framework that involves stakeholders both in the public and private sector.

    Issues that are likely to be deliberated on include:

  • Consideration of the African Maritime Transport Charter

  • Review of the Plan of Action on Maritime Transport

  • Port management and development in Africa

  • Capacity building

  • Multimodal transport in Africa

  • Maritime Safety and Security in Africa

  • Integrated coast guard initiatives for Africa

  • Djibouti Code of Conduct

  • Exchanging experiences on the challenges and prospects in maritime transport

  • Consideration of the Draft Resolution on Maritime Safety and Security in Africa

    The conference will also be used to showcase the South African Maritime industry, including training facilities and the provision of ports and maritime services to neighbouring states.

    Other issues expected to be highlighted during the week are piracy, human trafficking, dumping of toxic wastes on Africa’s coastal waters, and illegal fishing across almost the entire African coastline.

    The first Conference of Ministers was held in Abuja, Nigeria in February 2007, and the first such to be held under the auspices of the AU. Since then the AU Commission has been working with a group of experts to revise the African Maritime Transport Charter and a Meeting of Experts was convened in October 2008 to review the final draft. The Commission has also drafted a declaration on maritime safety and security, addressing in particular the issue of piracy and in this regard the new Charter and declaration will be presented this week for consideration and possible adoption at the Durban Minister’s conference.

    In addition to the expected outcomes and adoptions on the Maritime Charter and the declaration on safety and security, the conference may also adopt comprehensive strategies for enhanced competitiveness of ports.

    Quay 500

    A recent scene at Cape Town’s Quay 500, showing a collection of tugs and workboats. Within the range of the lens are the following vessels - Smit Amandla, Smit Lumba, Pentow Skua, Wolraad Woltemade, Sarah Baartman (fishery patrol vessel), Osayame, Kuswag 3 (pollution patrol vessel). Picture by Aad Noorland

    South Africa explores trading opportunities with south countries

    President Jacob Zuma says South Africa, and other African countries, have begun exploring more trading and export opportunities with countries in the South.

    He said while South Africa had primarily been an exporter of raw materials to Europe and north America and its main trading partners have been the countries of the North, this was starting to change.

    “Africa is beginning to explore the potential for trade and investment among countries of the South. More than ever before, the nations of the developed and developing world are considering how best to work in concert as Africa's partners,” said Zuma.

    The President said additional ties were being forged through gatherings like the Africa-South America Summit which was recently held in Venezuela. “Africa is finding new partners among the emerging economic powerhouses of the South,” he said.

    It was not surprising that African countries had established trade and investment cooperation framework arrangements with countries from Asia and South America because of the tremendous opportunities for investors across the globe, he said.

    Zuma was speaking at the South Africa - Brazil Roundtable Business Forum on Thursday where he is on an official state visit.

    He was accompanied by a South Africa a delegation representing 45 companies interested in expanding both trade and investment relations in Brazil. The areas of interest include sectors such as energy, information technology, mining, finance, infrastructure and pharmaceuticals.

    While South Africa is now among the biggest investors in sub-Saharan Africa, in sectors such as mining, electrical power, financial services and telecommunication, Brazil is the driving economic force for the South American continent.

    “This makes the relationship between our two countries important not only for the advancement of our own national interests, but also for the broader development of the regions in which we find ourselves.”

    He said the relationship could only further stimulate dynamic engagement between South America and Africa.

    “South Africa and Brazil should undertake more collaborative projects. We should use our respective positions as entry points into each other's continents.”

    While bilateral trade between South Africa and Brazil reached $ 2.52 billion in 2008, which is an increase of 10 percent over the previous year and South African exports to Brazil have been growing at a steady rate for the past six years, there was still room for improvement.

    “There is clearly great potential for South African products to find markets in Brazil,” said Zuma.

    He described Brazil as a pioneer in the way it had tackled its developmental challenges, using the establishment of a home-grown pharmaceutical industry as an example. “This has had a profound impact on the country's efforts to improve the health of its people.”

    The President urges South African companies to learn from such examples, and to seek partnerships with Brazilian companies to exploit the many opportunities that now arise. (BuaNews)

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Environmentalists have expressed concern over the proposed building of an oil refinery at Coega near the port of Ngqura ad have criticized the signing of a memorandum of understanding between PetroSA and the Coega Development Corporation, both of them government parastatals, pointing out that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) has only just begun. The Wildlife and Environmental Society said that when the EIA for the Coega industrial park was performed there was specifically no suggestion of the petrochemical industry being involved.


    A total of 294 reported pirate attacks have taken place worldwide this year, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre. Of these 34 ships and crew were seized with a total of 559 hostages being captured. In the Gulf of Aden 97 ships were attacked along with a further 47 in other Somali-related waters. Four attacks were off the coast of Oman. Four crew have died in the worldwide attacks. The IMB director Pottengal Mkundan said that the fact that last year’s figures have been surpassed three quarters of the way through the year showed that pirates, particularly off Somalia, still pose a significant threat to shipping.

    Pics of the day – KATYA ZELENKO

    The Ukrainian ro-ro cargo vessel KATYA ZELENKO (8466-gt, built 1980) was a recent caller at Cape Town. It is thought that the ship may have been on her last voyage to the breakers. 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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