Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 6, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – ESCRAVOS LPG FSO

  • SELI 1 now officially abandoned and declared a wreck – no decision of any salvage

  • EAC entry points to be fully automated

  • Nigerian government moves to engage ex-militants following amnesty

  • Travelling graffiti the Niledutch way

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Today’s Good Read – The Ibrahim Index of Governance

  • Pic of the day – SAFMARINE NGAMI


    First View – ESCRAVOS LPG FSO

    The ESCRAVOS LPG FSO (floating, storage and offloading) platform (40,681-gt, built 1997) was towed into Cape Town harbour yesterday behind the tug FAIRPLAY 30, assisted by a number of harbour tugs. Owned and managed by Chevron, Nigeria the FSO will undergo repairs while in Cape Town. Picture by Aad Noorland

    SELI 1 now to all extents abandoned and declared a wreck – but no decision regarding salvage

    A month after the Turkish bulker SELI 1 lost engine power and went aground in Table Bay, there is still no clarity on how to deal with what has now become an abandoned shipwreck, an issue that again highlights some of the shortcomings of South African maritime law and practice. The following statement has been issued from the Cape Town offices of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), setting out the problem of the shipwreck. It is published here without any editing.

    Picture by Ian Shiffman

    The SELI 1 Joint Response Committee which was convened on the first day in order to co-ordinate and manage the official response to the grounding of the SELI 1 has not met since 23 September, when the immediate threat of large scale oil pollution had passed and when it was obvious that any further action clearly exceeded the mandate of any of the persons comprising the committee.

    There is widespread speculation by local and affected residents regarding the future of the wreck; however the authorities who are directly involved, namely; SAMSA, the Department of Transport, the Department of Environmental Affairs, Transnet Ports Authority and the City of Cape Town, have not yet issued any official communiqués on the future of the SELI 1. This communication is therefore issued in my personal capacity as the SAMSA regional manager and does not reflect the official position of any of the parties mentioned above.

    The Panamanian registered, Turkish owned bulk carrier ran aground at Table View Beach on Monday 7 September. She was carrying 660 tonnes of fuel and a cargo of 30,000 tonnes of coal.

    Notwithstanding the debate over who will be footing the bill, SMIT was instructed by SAMSA to remove all the fuel and oils as well any obvious contaminants such as paint. SMIT remains aboard in a caretaking capacity, also recovering small amounts of oil which continue to rise slowly to the surface in the various tanks and other spaces.

    SAMSA has received confirmation from both the owner as well as the insurance brokers which confirms that the insurance company concerned, namely the ‘Russian P&I Pool’ has withdrawn the cover for pollution and wreck removal, claiming that the owner has defaulted on an express condition of the policy. The owner in turn asserts that as he is no longer covered for these eventualities, he cannot assist financially.

    What this means is the liability to the ‘state’ for the mitigation and damage control services provided to date are estimated to be in the region of US $ 900,000.

    The Joint Response Committee gave both the owner and insurer of the coal every opportunity to retrieve their cargo, but they have declined to do so, presumably on the basis that the cost of retrieving the coal from the vessel and handling it onwards was not worth it financially.

    Therefore, the wreck, consisting of both ship and cargo, has effectively been abandoned.

    The ship itself is not salvageable as it has suffered extensive damage to the hull and has a flooded engine room. In addition, all but two of the cargo holds are flooded with seawater. In fact any attempt at refloating the vessel can only be attempted after the cargo of coal has been removed in order to lighten the vessel and restore buoyancy and even then such an attempt would only be considered if the intention was to sink the vessel in deep water.

    The coal has value and there would be buyers for it, but it would be very expensive to remove from the SELI 1 and handling wet coal alongside the quay in Cape Town would be a messy affair which is a concern for the Ports Authority, aside from any customs and tax considerations of re-importing the coal which was loaded in Durban.

    The Authorities represented on the SELI 1 Joint Response Committee are in agreement that both the wreck and its cargo of coal must be removed from Table View beach; however, where the funds to do so would come from is not clear as there is no precedent in our recent history.

    As a consequence of South Africa’s geographic position astride major international shipping lanes combined with notoriously rough sea conditions our coastline is littered with scores, if not hundreds of wrecks and in only a few noteworthy cases have ‘wrecks’ been successfully removed from the coast. (e.g. the Safmarine Agulhas from the East London breakwater and the Ikan Tanda from Misty Cliffs on the Peninsula where responsible owners and insurers were involved). Due to the impracticality of removing most wrecks as well as the high costs involved, most ‘wrecks’ are abandoned to the forces of nature, helped on their way by the judicious use of cutting torches and explosives.

    What makes the SELI 1 different is the immediate proximity to the city, the port, our public amenities as well as the aesthetic considerations of a having to live with a rusting hulk against the backdrop of our magnificent mountain. Whether these considerations are sufficient to warrant spending many more millions of US dollars on the wreck is for the relevant authorities to decide, and the Joint Response Committee is standing by, ready to reconvene when there is clarity on the way forward.

    So what happens if the wreck is left in situ?

    The short term ramifications of the wreck are not serious. The vessel looks like any other in the bay albeit somewhat closer to the shore than usual. For now SMIT is caretaking the wreck and mopping up, which cannot continue indefinitely, and when they are removed the immediate result will be an invasion of ‘wreckers’ looking for souvenirs and anything else of value, with obvious health and safety consequences.

    In the medium term, there is a chance that the coal may spontaneously ignite in the holds not yet flooded, but this could be controlled by flooding the remaining dry holds. The vessel will rust as the paint wears off and become a real eyesore, besides becoming ever more dangerous with the passing of time for people exploring the wreck. The vessel will begin to suffer structural failure which will release coal into the sea, a certain amount of which will find its way onto the beaches, especially after storms where the public will be happy to gather it up. Small amounts of trapped oil will be released from time to time, but I know that this will be swiftly dealt with by the City if past experience is anything to go by.

    In the medium to long term the vessel will slowly be rendered apart by the sea and comprise of a twisted and jagged jumble of steel, presenting an extreme hazard to surfers, kite-surfers, swimmers and boaters. All the coal will eventually be released and finding coal washed up onto the beach will be common. There will also be flotsam released from the wreck as it breaks up which will also litter the beach from time to time.

    In the long term, nothing will remain, perhaps only the occasional polished black stones being washed ashore, and perhaps someone will even remember where it originated.

    Capt Dave Colly
    South African Maritime Safety Authority

    EAC entry points to be fully automated

    Following the success of the one-stop Malaba Customs border post between Uganda and Kenya, the East African Revenue Authorities say they intend developing the region’s remaining entry points into one-stop centres.

    The Malaba crossing was chosen as a pilot project that aimed at clearing cargo in a faster manner than has been the case and the success of the Malaba crossing has now empowered the region to continue with the programme, according to the region’s customs officials.

    Entry points identified as future one-stop crossings include Katuna between Rwanda and Uganda, Namanga on the Tanzanian-Kenya border, and Rusumo between Rwanda and Tanzania.

    The East African Business Week recently quoted the success of the Malaba project saying that it had shown that goods could be cleared within three hours “unlike before when traders had to fill in forms and wait for five days for their goods to be cleared.” With the new system everything is handled electronically and under one roof at each entry point.

    The project is also said to have helped with improving the culture of paying taxes and harmonising trade information about the region, said a Tanzania Revenue Authority official, as quoted in the paper.

    Nigerian government moves to engage ex-militants following amnesty

    The Nigerian Federal and State governments are having to move fast to engage with former militants who accepted the amnesty offered them by the Federal Government recently.

    It was announced at the weekend that three leading militants had accepted the amnesty and had agreed to hand over their arms and stop attacking oil installations and shipping in the Niger Delta region.

    Among those who accepted the deal were Farah Dagogo, who is said to be the overall field commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which has carried out most of the attacks on shipping and oil infrastructure. Another of the militant leaders, Ateke Tom handed himself over along with about 5,000 of his followers who handed in their arms at a ceremony held on the beach in Port Harcourt.

    A third leader known popularly as Tompolo handed himself over with his followers at Warri on Saturday, after arriving in a government aircraft from Abuja.

    The surrender of the three militant leaders brings the promise of peace and greater stability to the Niger Delta, and will be welcomed by local inhabitants as well as the oil companies operating in the area. However, not every militant has given up the fight, which they claimed was to prevent the oil companies from destroying the environment. Remaining elements of MEND and other movements say they have already replaced the leaders who handed themselves over to government forces. They will continue the struggle, they stated, because the cause of the trouble has not been removed or dealt with.

    Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, General Godwin Abbe said the government would begin an immediate programme in consultation with the ex-militants on how to fast-track the development of the oil-rich Niger Delta. Also at question is how to reintegrate the militants into society.

    Dagogo said the laying down of arms by MEND was being done with the hope that it will usher in a time of reconciliation exemplified by dialogue. He appealed to those who chose to fight on to first consider the option of dialogue and said he was praying for a just and peaceful Niger Delta.

    Travelling graffiti the Niledutch way

    At her regular ports of call, Antwerp, Rouen and Lisbon, local artists as well as those in the Netherlands were invited to use the ro-ro cargo ship NILEDUTCH KWANZA (32,498-gt, built 1979) as a legitimate canvas.

    As a result 29 Dutch, 6 Belgian, 7 French and 5 Portuguese artists have transformed the hull of the NileDutch Kwanza into a mega piece of graffiti, showing off their different respective styles. 

    This project started on 23 March this year in Antwerp where all the artists were gathered to start painting both sides of the ship. The vessel went then to Rouen on the 26 March where the artists continued working on the project during the loading and discharge operations. The last port of call was Lisbon, where the project was completed on 1 April. Joost van Lubeek (Super Cargo of NileDutch) supervised this operation.

    It was intended that the ship become a sailing exhibition until her next drydocking and repaint. In this connection the Niledutch Kwanza will be in Durban on approximately 13 October to discharge cargo and take bunkers. The ro-ro ship is on her way to China for a planned drydocking during which her unique paintjob will unfortunately disappear.

    Niledutch says that within the company there is a long-time commitment to contemporary art. Modern art is contemporary and progressive, it says. “Graffiti is the foundation and inspiration of many artists. Graffiti is still evolving and we do find many graffiti artists at art academies all over the world. NileDutch finds it important to give young artists a chance to present their art and therefore offers the NileDutch Kwanza as a canvas. NileDutch values graffiti as progressive, modern and active. Values NileDutch strives for itself.

    “These are tough economic times. But even under these circumstances NileDutch maintains its positive values. We look to the future with confidence. And that is exactly the theme NileDutch has for this project: upbeat creativity, optimistic determination, trust in a good future, successful cooperation. This message will ultimately be visible in the artwork on the hull of the ship.

    “After the completion, the NileDutch Kwanza will be a sailing exhibition for at least 6 months. Then the temporary artwork will be covered in the NileDutch signature colours.”

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Ships that are delayed at their discharge points in Nigerian ports or jetties will be subject to demurrage charges after a prescribed number of days. This was announced by Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources, Rilwan Lukman who said the measure came into effect from 1 October and is aimed at reducing congestion at Nigeria’s harbours. He also directed the Nigerian Ports Authority to immediately outlaw all old and outdated vessels at the seaports, saying that some of the problem of overstays lay with the inability of some vessels to discharge cargo on time. Lukman gave petroleum jetties and depots until 31 December 2009 to complete the upgrade of their facilities. He noted however that many of the jetties were situated in shallow waters which coupled with the use of old and outdated vessels made operations slow. – source The Independent


    Singapore now has about 130 ships laid up outside its harbour, reflecting not only the extent of the global downturn but also on the dangers the many vessels pose just by being there. There is concern too that the ships are tempting targets for pirates, as evidenced by an unsuccessful attack made on the Cyprus-flagged GOOD LUCK on 31 August. Analysts say that even if reports of an emerging economy in South East Asia prove accurate, there will be a sizeable time-lag before the surplus vessels laid up are taken back into service.


    In a related issue, analyst firm Marsoft Inc says that container lines will need to boost revenue by 20% and mothball even more ships if they are to end the crippling losses being experienced. The lines should also end their price war and push harder for rate increases. The firm said freight rates are about 33% lower than one year ago, as shipping lines cut prices in an effort to attract more business, but the key issue is that demand has tumbled.

    Today’s Good Read – The Ibrahim Index of Governance

    Cape Town — Southern Africa is the continent's best-governed and Central Africa its worst-governed region, according to a new ranking of Africa's quality of governance published yesterday (Monday, 5 October).

    If you are an African who ranks health, education and freedom from poverty as your top priority, you are best off in the Seychelles, and worst off in the Central African Republic.
    But if you value human rights and participation in government highest, you are best off in Mauritius. You're worst off in Somalia, but Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Libya and Sudan are not much better.

    These are among a host of findings revealed in the 2009 Ibrahim Index of Governance, which was launched at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town on Monday (5 October). The index is named after Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-born cellphone entrepreneur who has launched the foundation of the same name to improve the quality of leadership in Africa.

    Read the article HERE and you can also go to the Ibrahim Index HERE

    If you have any suggestions for a good or interesting read that is available on the web please send the link to info@ports.co.za and put GOOD READ in the subject line.

    Pic of the day – SAFMARINE NGAMI

    The Safmarine container ship SAFMARINE NGAMI (25,904-gt, built 2008), seen working cargo at the Cape Town Container Terminal yesterday while the bunker barge SOUTHERN VALOUR alongside transfers fuel on board. Picture by Aad Noorland

    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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