Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 29, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – JUTTEN

  • Transnet says it is weathering the storm

  • SELI 1 shipwreck update

  • Piracy – yacht sighted heading for Somalia

  • Former head of Nigerian ports authority jailed

  • South Africa and Russia to increase cooperation on trade, investment and technology

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Today’s Good Read – Europeans who eat laundered fish

  • Pics of the day – CHUN HO & SAM RATULANGI PB1600


    First View – JUTTEN

    The Saldanha Bay harbour tug JUTTEN (486-gt, built 1976) seen earlier this year in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Aad Noorland

    Transnet says it is weathering the storm

    Announcing that it is weathering the economic storm, South Africa’s Transnet, which administers and operates the country’s ports, railways and pipelines in addition to other ancillary services, yesterday posted a healthy half-year return for the six months ended 30 September 2009.

    Despite the difficult times, the company increased revenue by 3% to R17.3 Billion, producing an EBITDA (profit) of R6.6Bn which is up 1.3%.

    Headline earnings however decreased 28% to R1.3Bn.

    Other highlights show that Transnet generated R7.5Bn in cash from operations for the half-year. The company says it has secured approximately 90% of its required funding for the year, totalling R13Bn.

    During the period under review Transnet expenditure increased 5.4% to R8.7Bn.

    The economic recession and its negative impact on commodity volumes has generally restricted Transnet’s revenue growth to 3%, amounting to R17,3 billion. Immediately prior to this period commodity and container volume growth had been relatively strong.

    Transnet says it is continuing with its planned R80Bn investment programme in new infrastructure and has raised almost 90% or R13Bn of its required funding for the full year.

    Commenting on the results, Mr Chris Wells, the Acting Group Chief Executive at Transnet, said the results were in line with expectations given the fact that Transnet, as a commodity and container business, was a barometer of economic activity in the country.

    “The effects of the global economic crisis, which was felt by Transnet in October 2008, have continued to adversely impact the volumes of freight and key commodities transported by Transnet during the first six months of our financial year. We are seeing some green shoots; for example, the general freight business (GFB), which makes up 65% of Transnet Freight Rail (TFR)’s revenues, experienced its best month in September (2009). Still, we think it is too soon to be confident of steady volume growth. It is early days for these to come through in volume growth.”

    Prof Geoff Everingham, Transnet’s acting Chairman, said it was pleasing to again be able to issue results within a month of the end of the reporting period. “This is important in ensuring that stakeholders are kept informed of our finances timeously, particularly in the current difficult economic conditions,” he said. Everingham commended the executive management for managing the business through the recession.

    “The results reflect the calibre of leadership we have in this executive team. The Board welcomes the sound financial performance and signs of progress in safety as well as efficiency and productivity improvements. These achievements have been recorded during an extremely challenging time for the Company especially for the senior management team. It is essential that we focus on improving productivity and customer service while investing in infrastructure that assists us in doing so,” he said.

    SELI 1 shipwreck update

    Picture by Steve McCurrach

    The Turkish bulker SELI 1, which has been abandoned by her owners and operators, remains aground in the surfline of Table View Beach overlooking Cape Town.

    The ageing bulk ship, carrying a cargo of 30,000 tonnes of coal loaded in Durban, was bound for Gibraltar when she began experiencing engine problems while in the vicinity of Cape Town. On 7 September and during a period of high winds the ship lost all power and was blown aground at Table View. Her crew was safely evacuated by members of the National Sea Rescue Institute and a salvage team went on board shortly after to begin evaluating the ship’s condition and whether it might be possible to pull her clear.

    First priority was given to removing 660 tonnes of fuel oil on board and during that time the ship began taking on water in the engine room. The authorities represented on the Seli 1 Joint Response Committee agreed that the ship and her cargo should be removed from Table View Beach, but with the owner and underwriters having abandoned her it was unclear where the funds to do so would come from

    Meanwhile the condition of the vessel continues to deteriorate and yesterday it was revealed that a small number of hairline cracks had begun appearing on the ship’s main deck. The following statement followed:

    picture courtesy Smit Salvage

    A relatively small number of hairline cracks have appeared on the main deck of the grounded bulk carrier SELI 1, mainly in the vicinity of number 3 and 4 hatches. These cracks are being monitored for deterioration daily by the onboard team.

    If left unattended, they could have a negative influence on the structural integrity of the vessel - which has been aground at Table View Beach since Tuesday 8th September.

    A naval architect has been employed to design appropriate strengthening measures. This is currently underway and these strengtheners will be welded in place as soon as weather permits.

    No vessel is designed to withstand the impact of grounding forces for a prolonged period of time. As a result, it is obvious that the longer the SELI 1 is aground, the greater the impact of these forces on her structural integrity. Further deterioration will depend entirely on the relevant flexing of the vessel and conditions that the vessel is subjected to.

    Residual oil continues to be removed by the small team that remains onboard. Despite having 660 tonnes of oil onboard when SELI 1 ran aground (which was removed), there has been no negative impact on the environment. 30,000 tonnes of coal remains onboard.

    SAMSA and other relevant authorities continue to work with Joint Response Committee members, Cargo Underwriters and relevant decision makers with respect to finalising all legal and logistical requirements prior to the start of the cargo removal operation, for which a cost-effective plan has already been conceptualised.

    Piracy – yacht sighted heading for Somalia

    A yacht, which it is thought may be that belonging to the British couple who sent out a distress call last Friday while sailing from the Seychelles to Tanzania, has been sighted on a heading for the Somali coast with a skiff similar to those used by pirates being towed behind.

    The yacht, Lynn Rival with a British yachting couple on board, Paul and Rachel Chandler, is thought to be in the hands of Somali pirates after an EPIRB distress signal was briefly sounded last Friday. Yesterday search and rescue teams looking for the missing yacht said a helicopter off one of the European warships in the area had spotted a yacht towing a small craft, or skiff, some 200 miles south-east of the Somalian pirate lair of Haradhere.

    The observation was made in fading light and no confirmation that it was the missing Lynn Rival could be made. Earlier in the day, reports began circulating that a pirate who identified himself as Hassan had contacted the Reuters news agency to say that, “The British couple are in our hands now” and were in good health and that a ransom would ne necessary.

    The middle-aged yachting couple are said to be retired and living aboard their yacht while seeing something of the world. They had been in the Seychelles for about seven months and had expected to be at sea for up to two weeks before reaching the African coast in Tanzania. A family member said they were sailing on a shoestring budget after taking early retirement.

    Meanwhile, European naval forces report having captured seven Somali pirates on Tuesday (27 October) shortly after they had mounted an attack on a French fishing vessel east of Mogadishu. The pirates were on two skiffs and opened fire on the French craft while some 350 miles from the coast. When guards on board the French vessel returned their fire the pirates held off. Shortly afterwards a helicopter from the Spanish frigate ESPS CANARIAS arrived overhead and the pirates were seen throwing their weapons overboard. A German warship, the FGS KARLSRUHE arrived on scene and took the seven pirates into custody after they had been identified by crew from the French fishing vessel.

    Former head of Nigerian ports authority jailed

    The former chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Chief Olabode George and five members of his previous board have been sentenced to terms in jail without any option of a fine on charges of corruption and fraud.

    The six men faced a total of 68 charges involving various offences involving awarding of contracts and including abuse of office. A judge of the Ikeja High Court, Justice Jospeh Oyewole found them guilty and sentenced them to prison terms of two years each on seven counts and six months each on another 28 counts. They were found not guilty on another 21 charges. The sentences will run concurrently resulting in each man having to spend two and half years in prison.

    They have indicated their intention of appealing at Nigeria’s Court of Appeal.

    In his judgement Justice Oyewole said, “When public office is abused, the entire system is assaulted. This must not be condoned or treated with kid gloves if the quality of services in our public life is to attain an appreciable standard of civilised world. For the right deterrent to be served therefore, sufficient firmness must be demonstrated.” – source The Vanguard

    South Africa and Russia to increase cooperation on trade, investment and technology

    Pretoria, 28 October (BuaNews) - South Africa and Russia have agreed to increase their cooperation in various fields, including technology, energy, trade and investment.

    International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane and the Russian Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Petrovich Trutnev held talks in Cape Town on Tuesday, where they discussed amongst other things, ways to enhance cooperation and relationships that already existed between the two governments, their people and businesses.

    The meeting, ahead of President Jacob Zuma's state visit to Russia in 2010, looked at ways of ensuring smooth bilateral cooperation, departmental spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota said.

    “This will facilitate economic competitiveness, develop skills, generate sustainable jobs and contribute towards an improvement in the livelihoods of the peoples of South Africa and Russia.”

    It emphasised the importance of making further progress on the signing and implementation of bilateral agreements.

    A South Africa-Russian Federation Business Council, which formed part of the talks, discussed trade relations and committed to frequently getting together to discuss potential business opportunities, as well as the possible transfers of skills, such as in technology sectors.

    The ministers noted with satisfaction that the annual ITEC sessions serve as an invaluable platform for enhancing bilateral trade, economic and technical cooperation between South Africa and Russia.

    “The ministers expressed the view that ITEC, which facilitates mutually beneficial programmes and projects that contribute towards the achievement of the national development priorities of South Africa and Russia, is a leading example of a dynamic North -South partnership,” explained Kota.

    The next such meeting would be held in Moscow in 2010.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    New oil strike in Angola

    A new oil strike has been confirmed off the Angolan coast by French oil producer Total, which said its subsidiary TEPA Ltd and Angola’s Sociedade Nacional de Combustiveis de Angola (Sonangol EP) has made a successful discovery on block 17/06 off the Angolan coast. The rig Gardenia-1 struck oil in a water depth of 977-metres, making this the first find in the block. The well was producing 4,000 bpd from one of the levels.

    Mozambique woos Botswana for rail link

    Mozambique has approached Botswana with a proposal that a railway be built to link Botswana with the port of Maputo where a dry port could also be created, along similar lines to proposals involving Botswana and Namibia. The proposal suggests a line linking Serule in Botswana with Maputo, crossing South Africa and presumably making use of existing Transnet Freight Rail track. A dry port would also be constructed in Maputo on behalf of Botswana.

    Botswana recently signed a lease agreement with Namibia involving a dry port at Walvis Bay, although evidence shows that very little trade currently flows either to or from Botswana to the Namibian port.

    Maersk to chop jobs in France

    Maersk France intends dismissing up to 105 people at its Paris, Le Havre and Marseilles offices, says a French trade union. Other employees would also face being moved from the Marseilles office which now faces closure.

    Ghanaian navy personnel complete training on board Dutch Navy ship

    HNLMS JOHAN DE WITT - picture courtesy Africom

    Fifteen maritime professionals from Ghana have concluded three weeks of at-sea training with a graduation ceremony held on the flight deck of the Dutch Africa Partnership Station (APS) platform HNLMS Johan de Witt in Sekondi, Ghana. The Ghanaian class is the first of three to graduate on this APS platform since the training commenced in Dakar, Senegal. Additional maritime professionals from Senegal and Sierra Leone will remain aboard Johan de Witt to receive additional training and are scheduled to graduate in early November.

    The APS Johan de Witt deployment began in September and will run through November. Port visits will include stops in Cape Verde, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

    Johan de Witt, a landing platform dock amphibious ship home ported in Den Helder, Netherlands, is the first non-US ship to execute an APS deployment. APS is an international effort aimed at improving maritime safety and security for the continent of Africa through training and other collaborative activities with African partner countries.

    Today’s Good Read – Europeans who eat laundered fish

    Europeans are eating “laundered” fish, harvested illegally from African coastal waters by pirate Asian trawlers while governments deny African fishermen the right to sell their catch within the European Union.

    The double standard, which allows factory ships from China and South Korea, cloaked in EU permits, to loot Africa’s shoreline but prevents Africa’s artisanal fishermen from earning a living, was condemned this week as a “travesty” by President Koroma of Sierra Leone.

    Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels are exporting their catch, often processed in filthy conditions, into Europe and onto European plates. The pirate vessels “launder” the IUU fish by transferring the catch to other vessels carrying import numbers issued by DG Sanco, the European Commission’s directorate-general for health and consumers…

    Read the rest of this arresting report HERE

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    Pics of the day – CHUN HO & SAM RATULANGI PB1600

    The Chinese bulker CHUN HO (13,695-gt, built 1989) sails from Durban after loading sugar at the Maydon Wharf sugar terminal. Picture Terry Hutson

    The Indonesian container ship SAM RATULANGI PB1600 (18,247-gt, built 2001) departs Durban in glorious winter sunshine. Pictures by Terry Hutson

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