Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 26, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Moatize coal project surges ahead, breathes new life into Beira

  • Piracy – Somali pirates get busy

  • Unprecedented increase in Somali pirate activity, ICC reports

  • Sea Rescue – NSRI has busy week

  • Panama issue strong warning over Paris MOU detentions

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Today’s Good Read – Chasing market share will kill the container lines

  • Pics of the day – SAFMARINE LISBON and MOL KOMATI



    The US oil products tanker OVERSEAS PUGET SOUND (27,894-gt, built 1983) paid a visit to Cape Town last week. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Moatize coal project surges ahead, breathes new life into Beira

    About two thousand workers have begun construction of one of the world’s largest open-cast coal mines at Moatize, in Mozambique’s Tete Province, 90% of them Mozambican. With an estimated reserve of 838 million tonnes of coal, Brazil’s mining group Vale has embarked on its first Greenfield project in Africa and expects to produce 11 million tonnes of coal a year as from the first half of 2011, divided into 8.5 mtpa of hard coking coal and 2.5 mtpa of thermal coal for export to Brazil, Asia, the Middle East, India and Europe.

    Additionally, three million tonnes of coal a year will be consumed by a 600 megawatts thermal power station to be built next to the mine.

    The company already has under construction what will become one of the world’s largest coal handling plants, with a capacity of 26 mtpa which will give it the capacity to handle Moatize Phase 2 when that phase comes on stream. Total investment will reach US$1.32 Billion.

    Coal production will be transported along an approximately 600-km long railway from Moatize to a new coal terminal still to be built at Beira. At this stage it is intended to lighter coal from the port onto waiting ships some distance offshore. The Beira coal terminal will most likely be operated by a state-appointed concessionaire and the development is expected to transform the port.

    There is also increasing talk of building a new railway to link Moatize with the Malawi railway network which will give the mine access to the deepwater port at Nacala. This would probably involve Phase 2 of the project and will require the Nacala and Malawi railways being refurbished to handle heavier block trains. A coal export terminal will also have to be constructed at Nacala.

    Piracy – Somali pirates get busy

    Somali pirates appear to be making up for lost time, following the monsoon season which caused a reduction in the number of attacks on shipping off the Somali coast. Since their successful capture of the Chinese bulker DE XIN HAI, reported in these columns last week, pirates have launched an unsuccessful attack on the Italian Ro-Ro vessel JOLLY ROSSO, sailing from South Africa for Italy via the Red Sea, and the Panamanian-flagged bulker AL KHALIZ which they seized along with the crew of 26 – of whom two are Burmese and the balance Indians.

    Jolly Rosso managed to make good its escape by some smart manoeuvering and increase of speed, despite being fired on with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. The ship was some 400 miles east of Mombasa at the time of the attack.

    In the case of the Al Khaliq the bulk vessel was sailing in waters about 180 miles off the Seychelles when pirates in two skiffs came storming on board. A maritime air patrol carried out after the attack confirmed that at least six pirates were in control of the ship, with one of the skiffs already taken on board the ship using the vessel’s own gear.

    There are no reports of any injuries from either ship.

    Meanwhile the seized Chinese bulker De Xin Hai which was captured last week en route from Richards Bay to India with a cargo of coal, has arrived off the Somali coast near Hobyo. Chinese sources report the ship has ample water and supplies and fuel for one month.

    In response to the latest attacks Seychelles President James Michel says he will send troops to the outer islands to help deter the pirates who are now operating closer to the Seychelles. The island country has also called for international assistance to counter piracy in its waters.

    The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) reports that 50% of pirate attacks on ships in Nigerian waters go unreported. The ICC says it has received reports from external sources saying that many attacks are never reported and also that the use of firearms has increased (see following report below).

    Unprecedented increase in Somali pirate activity, ICC reports

    Global piracy figures have already surpassed the total number of attacks recorded in 2008, according to the latest quarterly piracy report released last week by the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB). The report also revealed that the total number of incidents in which guns were used had risen by more than 200%, compared to the corresponding period in 2008.

    A total of 306 incidents were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the first nine months of 2009, while in 2008, the total number of attacks for the year was 293.

    The increase in attacks is directly attributed to heightened piracy activity off the Somali Coast, where 47 incidents were reported compared to just 12 for the same period of the previous year, and in the Gulf of Aden, which had 100 incidents compared to 51 for the same period of the previous year.

    Despite the overall rise in figures, there has been a decrease in the number of incidents recorded in the third quarter of 2009 (63 incidents) compared to the first and second quarters of 2009, which recorded 103 and 140 incidents respectively. The decrease in piracy activity in that period in the Gulf of Aden and off the East Coast of Somalia can be credited primarily to monsoons.

    Global piracy statistics reveal that in the first nine months of 2009, 114 vessels were boarded, 34 vessels hijacked and 88 vessels fired upon. A total of 661 crewmembers were taken hostage, 12 kidnapped, six killed and eight reported missing.

    There has been a marked decrease globally, however, in the number of vessels hijacked in the first nine months of 2009, compared to the same period in 2008 – from an average of one in 6.4 vessels in 2008 to one in nine vessels in 2009.

    The third quarter report showed that Somali pirates have extended their reach, threatening not only the Gulf of Aden and East Coast of Somalia but also the southern region of the Red Sea, the Bab el Mandab Straits and the East Coast of Oman. This area still ranks as the number one piracy hotspot, with a total of 168 incidents reported in the first three quarters of 2009, accounting for more than half of the overall number of reported attacks.

    “The naval vessels operating off the Coast of Somalia continue to play a critical role in containing the piracy threat,” said IMB Director Captain Pottengal Mukundan. “Enhanced security measures by vessels have also made it difficult for pirates to succeed in their attacks.”

    Captain Mukundan added: “It is vital that regions in Somalia such as Puntland continue to take firm action in investigating and prosecuting the pirates. This will be a far better deterrent against Somali pirates than prosecution and punishment in a foreign country.”

    A total of 32 vessels were hijacked by Somali pirates in the first nine months of 2009, with 533 crew members taken hostage. A further 85 vessels were fired upon and as of 30 September 2009, four vessels, with over 80 crew held hostage, were still under negotiation.

    Nigeria remains another area of high concern. While only 20 attacks were officially reported to IMB in 2009, information received from external sources indicates that at least 50% of attacks on vessels, mostly related to the oil industry, have gone unreported. The IMB report noted that of the 20 incidents reported, eight were in the waters around Lagos.

    Chittagong port in Bangladesh has also seen an increase in the number of incidents as compared to the same period in 2008. There have been 12 reported attacks so far in 2009 –10 successfully carried out – compared to nine for the same period in 2008, when all the vessels were successfully boarded and looted.

    The South China Sea has once again proven to be an area of concern and enhanced risk, with 10 incidents reported so far in 2009. This is the highest recorded number of incidents in the corresponding period over the last five years. Additionally, all of the attacks were successful and in some of the incidents the bridge of the vessel was left unmanned for some time.

    IMB urges all ship masters, owners and managers, and others involved in the shipping industry, to report piracy or armed robbery incidents to its PRC. The PRC is located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and is the only 24-hour manned centre able to receive and process reports of attacks from around the world. This timely, first hand information from ship masters enables IMB to identify high-risk areas to the governments concerned and is the first essential step in the attack response chain.

    Sea Rescue – NSRI has busy week

    The following reports have been received from the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI):

    Andre Fletcher, NSRI Durban duty controller said: “At 18h22 on 22 October NSRI Durban's volunteer duty crew were alerted by the Transnet National Ports Authority following a request for urgent assistance from the yacht Nirvana, reporting to have sustained full loss of engine power and adrift, unable to maintain momentum under their rigged storm jib, 3 nautical miles off-shore, 30 nautical miles South of Durban, with 2 crew on-board, owner Cecil Orren, from Knysna, and skipper Tom Ambrose, from Plumstead, Cape Town, in an on-shore 15 knot North Easterly wind and 2 metre swells, and although in no immediate danger reporting to be at threat of eventually being swept ashore.

    “The yacht, a recent purchase, sailing from Durban to Cape Town, sustained engine failure. The two men had embarked on their voyage from Durban on Monday but after reaching Port St Johns, following engine failure, they turned around to head back to the Port of Durban as they did not want to enter the Knysna Heads without engine power but on reaching the South Coast the wind caused them to be pushed back in the direction of the Transkei Coast and they requested assistance.

    “We launched our rescue craft Eikos Rescuer II and the Transnet National Ports Authority helicopter was placed on alert and our NSRI rescue vehicle was dispatched to stand-by on-shore and monitor them pending the arrival of our rescue craft.

    “On arrival on-scene the yacht was found to have drifted a further 15 nautical miles and were now 45 nautical miles South from Durban and 1.5 nautical miles off-shore of Sezela, both crew were found to be safe and not injured, and a tow-line was rigged and the yacht has been safely towed to the Port of Durban and she was safely berthed at 06h30 this morning.

    “The owner will effect repairs before re-embarking on the voyage.”

    From Port Elizabeth, station commander Ian Gray reported: “At 17h15 (Thursday 22 October) NSRI Port Elizabeth's volunteer duty crew were placed on alert by the Transnet National Ports Authority following a request for urgent medical assistance from the 225 metre bulk carrier PIONEER PACIFIC sailing past the coast of South Africa en route to Brazil, reporting a 26 year old Chinese seaman on-board suffering from a suspected fractured ankle and requiring a medical evacuation from the vessel to hospital.

    “It is believed that the injury was sustained after steel sheets had fallen on the sailor’s ankle. At that stage the vessel was 12 hours sailing, at best speed, from the Port of Port Elizabeth, and the Transnet National Ports Authority arranged for the Maritime Radio Services to establish a VHF radio telephone link between the ship and the Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services duty doctor, Dr Wayne Smith, and medical advice was given by VHF radio link to the on-board ships medic to assist in stabilising the patient until the most suitable means of casualty evacuation could be arranged.

    “Medical monitoring of the patients progress was continued throughout the night by Dr Smith while the ship motored towards Port Elizabeth, and it was arranged at first light (23 October), based on the deterioratng condition of the patient and on the risk of further possible irreparable damage to the limb, for a South African Air Force (SAAF) 15 Squadron, Charlie Flight, BK-117 helicopter, to depart Port Elizabeth at 11h30, accompanied by two Guardmed paramedics and two NSRI rescue swimmers, to fly out to rendezvous with the ship 20 nautical miles East of Port Elizabeth and casualty evacuate the patient by helicopter.

    “On arrival on-scene, in relatively calm sea conditions, the NSRI rescue swimmers and a paramedic were winch-hoisted onto the ship and treatment was administered to the patient who was then secured into a specialized stokes basket stretcher and winch hoisted into the helicopter.

    “On-board the helicopter and while en-route to hospital in Port Elizabeth, the paramedics provided further treatment to the patient who was transported, aboard the helicopter, in a stable condition to hospital where he is receiving further treatment.”

    On Friday 23 October at 11h37 NSRI Richards Bay's volunteer duty crew were activated by the Transnet National Ports Authority following a request for assistance from the yacht Bag End, reporting to have sustained loss of engine power as a result of a blown head gasket while sailing between Mozambique and Richards Bay. The husband and wife crew, Daan and Nancy Chisn from the United States of America required a tow into Port.

    Mark Hughes, NSRI Richards Bay station commander said that the duty crew launched the rescue craft Spirit of Round Table and on arrival on-scene and in 35 to 40 knot winds, a tow-line was rigged and the couple were towed safely on their yacht into port where they required no further assistance.

    Repairs will be undertaken before they continue on their voyage.

    Panama issue strong warning over Paris MOU detentions

    Panama Maritime Authority has issued a formal warning to all parties that any vessel which is detained by any member state of the Paris MOU between the 14 October and the end of 2009 will be subject to an immediate cancellation from the registry and cancellation of navigation documents, such as statutory certificates, registrations and/or radio station licence.

    This follows on from multiple detentions of the Panama fleet which have been taking place at the Paris MOU, which the Panama Maritime Authority says is creating a disagreeable image of the Panamanian registry.

    “In cases where the administration has proved that the inspector who had carried out the survey of the statutory certificates has direct responsibility, or had failed to detect a deficiency that was detected by the PSCO during the survey, will not be able to carry out surveys or issue certificates to any Panamanian vessel.

    “At the same time the Panama Maritime Authority will cancel the inspector who performs an occasional survey on board, if the vessels are detained after the survey.

    “The Panama Maritime Authority advises ship owners, operators, masters, legal representatives and recognised organisations to make sure that their vessels are in fill compliance with all the international conventions and national regulations.”

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Mozambique port volumes improve – CFM

    CFM, the Mozambique state-run transport company and authority, says cargo volumes at the Mozambique ports have reached 12 million tonnes for the first nine months of 2009, up 16% on the same period in 2008. CFM says this is largely because of infrastructural improvements completed on the Ressano Garcia – Maputo railway connecting South Africa with the Maputo port.


    Matadi police arrest ships’ crew over stowaway deaths

    Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) police have arrested a Panamanian-flagged ships’ crew after four Congo stowaways were reportedly beaten and thrown overboard near Matadi after trying to hide away on the ship. Another two stowaways were rescued by naval personnel. According to DRC reports the ship’s crew are mostly Ukrainians. The vessel has been identified only as XLAND.

    Today’s Good Read – Chasing market share will kill the container lines

    Shipping lines need to revamp their failing business model if they are to survive the worst crisis since containerization began, writes Greg Knowler, a former Durban journalist now writing for Maritime Professional.

    Read his thought-provoking comments HERE, as well as a follow-up related story Saade moves to stem French line’s mounting debts HERE

    If you have any suggestions for a good read please send the link to
    info@ports.co.za and put GOOD READ in the subject line.

    Pics of the day – SAFMARINE LISBON and MOL KOMATI

    Two one-time regular callers in Cape Town harbour. The ship in the top picture is the general cargo ship SAFMARINE LISBON (10,383-gt, built 1984) which carried mostly containers on the west coast trade. The lower picture shows the modern container ship MOL KOMATI (21,018-gt, built 2007) of Mitsui OSK Line. Both 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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