Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 20, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – OCTOPUS

  • Mixed messages - Shipping line news

  • Walvis Bay sets new productivity record on Maersk ships – 45 container moves an hour

  • West African shipping news

  • Cape Town’s movie submarine on the move

  • Piracy update – Chinese bulker DE XIN HAI seized after sailing from Richards Bay

  • News clips – Keeping it brief



    First View – OCTOPUS

    The sleek lines of Mr Paul Allen’s 125m superyacht OCTOPUS (9,932-gt, built 2003), which arrived in Durban harbour at the weekend. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Mixed Messages - Shipping line news

    CMA CGM seeks delay on newbuilds

    The French container line CMA CGM, which boasts the third largest fleet of container ships, is seeking to delay delivery of 49 super container ships already on order and for which the company would be hard pressed to pay.

    In an interview with Les Echos, CMA CGM’s chief executive Rodolphe Saade said the first objective was to delay the delivery of the ships while also redrawing an agreement on a payment schedule.

    He told Les Echos that the company’s income decreased by almost 30% in the first half of 2009 because of the decline in shipping volumes resulting from the economic crisis.

    “We stood up better than our competitors,” Saade said – this despite his company having recorded a net loss of US$515 million for the half year.

    CMA CGM currently owes $5.6 Billion and is looking to a steering committee that includes banks and other financial institutions to draft a plan that it hopes will return the company to profitability. CMA CGM has an order book of 60 new large container ships for delivery between now and 2012. The company owns 91 vessels and charters 272 giving it a capacity of over one million TEUs.


    Evergreen to order 100 new ships

    At the opposite end of the scale Taiwan container carrier Evergreen says it plans to order 100 new container ships next year that will see its fleet reach 300 ships.

    That’s the word from Evergreen’s founder Chang Yung-Fa, speaking to the United Daily News. Chang said the global financial crisis was coming to and end and it was necessary to have a vision for the future. “Doing the shipping business is not running a grocery store – you have to have a vision,” he said.

    Evergreen is one of a few shipping lines not embarrassed by outstanding orders for newbuilds. Earlier this year the company announced it was shrinking its fleet because of the downturn, saying in a statement that a number of ships owned by Evergreen would be scrapped while others under charter would be returned to their owners on completion of the contract.

    Picture by Ian Shiffman


    Maersk says big ships will change the face of Asia-Europe trade

    Maersk Line, the world’s biggest container carrier which is also experiencing heavy losses from the economic downturn, says that its order book of new large container ships will change the face of Asia – Europe shipping.

    Not unlike its closest competitors, MSC and CMA CGM, Maersk Line has an order book consisting mainly of large super container ships – 10,000 TEU and up in capacity. But when these ships come into service Europe’s terminal operators will be forced to invest heavily in infrastructure or face massive bottlenecks, Maersk Line vice president Vincent Clerc said at the Asia-Europe Development Forum being held in Lithuania.

    Clerc said that shipping lines that invest in the bigger ships for the Asia-Europe trades will have seized a competitive advantage over others. He pointed out also that Maersk Line’s parent company, AP Moller-Maersk has pumped “hundreds of millions of dollars” into terminals to cater for the big ships.

    Walvis Bay sets new productivity record on Maersk ships – 45 container moves an hour

    Recently PORTS & SHIPS reported on how the port of Walvis Bay had improved productivity at the container terminal by achieving 40 container moves an hour on two Maersk Line ships, using mobile cranes.

    This level of productivity has been improved yet again with the arrival of the MAESRK IZMIR which arrived in port on 6 October at 7am and sailed again the following day at 6am, having in the meantime discharged 1,270 containers using four mobile cranes simultaneously.

    This was achieved at a rate of 44.94 moves an hour, up from the figure of 40 moves achieved with Maersk Jena and Maersk Pembroke a few days earlier.

    Namport is aggressively promoting the use of the port of Walvis Bay as an alternative to South African ports for time-sensitive cargo destined for Gauteng and for Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

    Read related report HERE

    West African shipping news

    Sao Tome ship taken in tow

    A small coastal freighter, AL SALAM (276-gt) from Sao Tome was taken in tow after experiencing engine difficulties while off the Nigerian coast en route to Cotonou in Benin. The ship was adrift for nine days and in some danger of drifting onto oil installations when the West Africa MRCC was alerted by distress signal. The Al Salam had 160 passengers on board and it is not clear why the master did not call for assistance earlier. On notification that the ship was in difficulty NIMASA – Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency – arranged for a nearby ship MOTHER BENEDICTA to provide a tow to the port of Calabar, where the Al Salam is currently undergoing repairs. The 160 passengers including women and children were reported to be in a weak and dehydrated condition when the ship eventually reached port. Al Salam has meanwhile been detained for an inspection.


    Netherland Navy deploys to Senegal

    The first European-led Africa Partnership Station (APS) engagement began in Senegal on 7 October when the Royal Dutch Navy multifunctional amphibious transport ship HNLMS Johan De Witt (L 801) pulled into port.

    While APS started only two years ago and has since had the involvement of over 20 African nations, nine European and one South American country, and multiple non-governmental organizations (NGO), this is the first time that APS has been executed from a non-US ship. This particular deployment is led by the Dutch with the support of Belgium, Portugal and the United States in addition to the many African partners involved.

    “The global interdependence makes maritime safety and security rather a worldwide issue, not a regional issue. The United States and the European nations have been asked by our African partners to play a role in developing maritime safety and security in the West African region,” said Dutch Navy Capt. Ben Bekkering, commanding officer of Johan De Witt. “APS is the instrument through which the international community offers assistance in order to achieve common goals through partnership and collaboration with international, interagency and NGO organizations.”

    Johan De Witt brings with her a team of maritime experts brought in to provide training and engage in exercises with the African partners. Small boat operations, maritime survey, construction, maritime interdiction, boarding, and medical treatment are just a few of the capabilities on board.

    The Johan De Witt is scheduled to visit Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Cape Verde over the next month and half. During these visits, the ship will embark African students to conduct professional exchanges in many areas including seamanship, maritime law enforcement, medical readiness and navigation. The vessel also carries, at the request of several NGOs, a large quantity of relief goods for the African coastal countries to include survey boats, a fire truck and an ambulance, hospital beds, school books and gifts donated by children in Dutch schools.

    Johan De Witt, a landing platform dock amphibious ship homeported in Den Helder, Netherlands, is on a regularly scheduled deployment. This endeavor is conducted in cooperation with Commander, US Naval Forces Africa and will be executed by embarked command and multinational support elements.


    Dutch Navy ship visits Sierra Leone as part of Africa Partnership Station

    The Dutch amphibious ship HNLMS Johan De Witt (L 801) arrived in Sierra Leone last week for a two-day port visit as part of the ongoing Africa Partnership Station (APS) initiative (see report above). Johan De Witt is in Sierra Leone in support of the first European-led APS deployment.

    During the visit, the APS team will conduct engagements both afloat and ashore and embark Sierra Leone students for a four-week, at-sea training program.

    “For many reasons, this is a special visit," said Royal Dutch Navy Capt. Ben Bekkering, commanding officer of Johan De Witt. "As far as I can recall, it has been a very long time since the Dutch have visited here, and I am very glad for the Dutch Navy to return. Also, I am glad to see that Sierra Leone is doing so well in rebuilding the structures needed to ensure maritime safety and security. To play a part in that rebuilding, both to learn and to teach, is at the heart of APS.”

    Both reports by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jason Morris, Africa Partnership Station Johan De Witt Public Affairs, US Naval Forces Africa

    Cape Town’s movie submarine on the move

    We reported recently on a ‘mystery’ submarine that had appeared in Cape Town’s dockland, and thanks to some investigative work by photographer Aad Noorland it was determined that the submarine was a mock-up being built for a movie to be shot in and around Cape Town. A tidal pool was apparently the next destination for the full-scale submarine.

    At the weekend preparations were made to move the submarine its watery destination, all 78 tons of her, according to Robert Ravensberg, who, being alerted to her whereabouts has been keeping an eye on things. This picture shows workmen preparing to lift the submarine mock-up for the slow move to the tidal pool. Anyone know where? Note the dangerous looking mock deck gun. Picture by Robert Ravensberg

    Piracy update – Chinese bulker DE XIN HAI seized after sailing from Richards Bay

    Chinese bulker DE XIN HAI seized

    Chinese authorities have confirmed that a bulk ship named DE XIN HAI, en route from Richards Bay to India with a cargo of coal, has been highjacked. The vessel, which is owned by Qingdao Ocean Shipping Co and has a crew of 25 on board, was seized yesterday (Monday, 19 October). Chinese authorities say they are doing everything possible to secure its release.


    Royal Navy rescues Yemeni fishermen

    An unidentified Royal Navy ship on patrol in the Gulf of Aden has gone to the rescue of Yemeni fishermen who were under threat of attack from suspected Somali pirates at the weekend.

    The attack took place last Saturday (17 October) while the naval ship was on routine anti-piracy patrol when the fishing boat MAHROM with a crew of 15 came under attack. A total of eight pirates were involved in the attempt. Seamen on board the British ship disarmed the pirates who were later released.


    Puntland sentences pirates to jail

    In Bossaso, Puntland, a Somali court has sentenced six pirates to various terms in jail after finding them guilty of piracy off the Somali coast. Five of the pirates, who received five-year sentences in jail, had been handed over to Somali authorities by French naval forces. The other five were captured in an engagement involving Puntland security forces near the coast of Qaw, some 40km east of Bossaso. They were sentenced to three years each in jail.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Blohm+Voss taken over by Arab company

    Abu Dahbi’s shipbuilding group MAR is to take a controlling stake in ThyssenKrupp’s civil shipbuilding and repair company Blohm+Voss in Hamburg. The German company was involved in the building of South Africa’s frigates currently in service with the South African Navy.

    According to the German group Abu Dhabi MAR has acquired an 80% shareholding in the Blohm+Voss divisions, Shipyards, Repair and Industries. The Middle Eastern company’s share in the naval division of Blohm+Voss is restricted to 50 percent. More than 1,600 employees are affected by the takeover.


    Battle of Trafalgar Union Jack for sale

    The last surviving Union Jack to have flown at the Battle of Trafalgar is due to go on auction shortly and is expected to reach £15,000. The flag, which was discovered in a drawer, was flown on the ship HMS SPARTIATE during the battle 204 years ago and was afterwards presented to Lt James Clephan, one of its officers in the Royal Navy. The 3.5m x 2.1m flag was specially made by HMS Spartiate’s crew and is riddled with holes caused by bullets and splinter fragments from the battle. Clephan was originally a press-ganged seaman who rose through the ranks, eventually reaching captain but was first lieutenant on HMS Spartiate during the famous battle.


    Piraeus strike over

    A crippling strike at the Piraeus container terminal has ended with workers returning to duty, COSCO has announced. The Chinese company holds a 35-year concession to redevelop and operate the terminal but stevedores and other operators went on strike earlier in October saying they feared job losses and loss of workers’ rights. COSCO said on Sunday that it would go ahead with implementing its original plans to improve the terminal facilities and services in order to develop Piraeus into a modern efficient container terminal and the gateway to Greece and southern Europe.


    The offshore processing ship GLAS DOWR (56,924, built 1996), which has been a long time resident in Cape Town harbour, left on Saturday morning under tow for Port Elizabeth, where the FPSO is expected to remain for at least six months. The vessel was towed behind the South African salvage tug SMIT AMANDLA, with the tug’s sister tug WOLRAAD WOLTEMADE in attendance. Pictures by Smit Amandla Marine

    The twin tugs WOLRAAD WOLTEMADE (closest) and SMIT AMANDLA out in Table Bay with the Glas Dowr on tow behind. All pictures courtesy SMIT Amandla

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