Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 19, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Picture problem – please be patient

  • First View – BOW CHAIN

  • SELI 1 salvage plan down but not yet out

  • Meet TPT’s new boss

  • End of the road in sight for trustworthy old SA AGULHAS

  • Piracy – Greater effort needed on land to fight Somali piracy, says Ban

  • Mombasa port privatization put on hold

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pic of the day –BAHIA NEGRA


    Picture problems – please be patient

    PORTS & SHIPS is still experiencing technical problems with the insertion of images in the news bulletin. With today’s issue we have reverted to using an older system while the IT specialists try to find out where the problem lies. Our apologies for any inconvenience and also for the related problem with yesterday’s Newsletter.

    First View – BOW CHAIN

    The Norwegian Odfjell products tanker BOW CHAIN (23,190-gt, built 2002) in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    SELI 1 salvage plan down but not yet out

    The Turkish bulker SELI 1, abandoned by her owners, charters and insurers and now a shipwreck, remains firmly aground off Table View Beach in Table Bay, with little or no likelihood of the ship being removed in one piece. SAMSA’s Captain Dave Colly brings matters up to date

    A crucial meeting with all the local authorities was scheduled for yesterday (Wednesday) by SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) in order to gauge the level of support for the “local” plan to remove the coal from the SELI 1, which is still an option, albeit a very marginal one.

    Sadly, other than those people already neck deep in trying to resolve the SELI 1 problem (namely SAMSA, SMIT and Shepstone and Wylie) only two authorities sent representatives to the meeting, the Environmental Authorities of both the National and the Provincial levels of Government, which tells its own story.

    We have been informed that the CEO of TNPA (Transnet National Ports Authority) has ruled that TNPA have no legal obligation to assist in this matter and as the SELI 1 does not affect their operations, no assistance will be forthcoming.

    This is certainly a setback for the initiative especially as the local port management was initially fully supportive of the need to remove the wreck from the bay and was fully prepared to assist, pending approval from higher management levels.

    The Environmental Authorities are still convinced of the benefits of the coal removal operation especially as it will reduce the liability to the State if successful and there is nothing to lose if it fails.

    Nevertheless, the coal has been sold to a local entrepreneur and another local sub-contractor has had special machines built with which to unload the coal. The equipment is on board and they are working through any remaining glitches in the unloading operation.

    As far as SAMSA is concerned, the operation is really marginal without the TNPA on board, nevertheless we are prepared to give the contractors time and space to review their options and decide if they want to go ahead without the support.

    Roughly R15million has been committed thus far on oil removal (which still continues), safety on board, restoring some facilities, strengthening and “care taking” and there is obviously a limit to the DOT (Dept of Transport) funds that SAMSA can utilise toward this end.

    SAMSA has decided that it is still in the general interest to continue providing limited “caretaking” and safety services to the wreck, whether the coal removal operation goes ahead or not, which, without TNPA support could take 3 - 4 months, by which time we hope that the wreck removal issue will hopefully have been resolved at senior government level.

    Capt Dave Colly
    South African Maritime Safety Authority

    Meet TPT’s new boss

    The Acting Chief Executive of Transnet, Chris Wells announced yesterday that the CE of Transnet Port Terminals, Tau Morwe, had been asked to act as CE of Transnet Freight Rail pending the outcome of the disciplinary process against TFR’s suspended CE, Siyabonga Gama.

    To caretake TPT in the interim Transnet has appointed Karl Socikwa, Transnet’s current Group Executive: Commercial as acting CE. As many stakeholders may not have much knowledge of Mr Socikwa, here is his CV and background.

    Acting Chief Executive

    Karl-Barth Xhanti Thomas Socikwa [B Comm LLB (Rhodes), MAP (Wits)]

    Karl Socikwa is a graduate of Rhodes University, South Africa, where he read for the Bachelor of Commerce (Economics and Accounting majors) and Bachelor of Law degrees.

    He practiced as an attorney with Deneys Reitz Attorneys in Durban and Johannesburg.

    In 1995 Mr Socikwa joined Transtel as Head of the Legal unit. In 1999 he was appointed joint-deputy Chief Executive Officer and as Chief Executive Officer from 1 April 2001.

    In September 2005 he was invited to take on responsibility as Head of Restructuring for Transnet, primarily responsible for closure, transfer and disposal of all non-core businesses and investments of the Group.

    With the successful conclusion of all the major disposals, closures and transfers he was appointed as Group Executive: Commercial charged with the establishment, launch and roll-out of this new unit which is a key enabler of Transnet’s new growth strategy.

    He has authored research papers in topics covering the areas of business, business law and ICT.

    He has sat on numerous discussion and judging panels, and has delivered papers at conferences and seminars around the world.

    Mr Sojicwa is a Governor on the Board of Governors of his alma mater, Rhodes University and serves as director on the boards of listed and unlisted companies.

    End of the road in sight for trustworthy old SA AGULHAS

    SA AGULHAS in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

    Ships are in many ways like people. They have a time to live and a time to die and while we can seldom choose the moment or manner of our ending, for a ship there is often (but not always) far more certainty as to when the time has come to bring things to an end.

    If this sounds lyrical or even sentimental then let it be so, for there are many that believe that ships, just like steam locomotives and certain other man-made objects do have lives of their own, in a manner of speaking, each with its different and peculiar characteristic and quirk. Just like a human.

    These thoughts come to mind with the news that South Africa’s oceanographic research ship, AGULHAS, call sign ZSAF and better known as SA Agulhas, is due to be retired by 2012, which is tantamount to a death sentence for a 30-something ship engaged in working in rough and heavy sea conditions for most of its life.

    The Department of Environmental Affairs made this announcement in Cape Town this week, saying that they had signed a contract with Finnish shipbuilder STX Europe to build a new oceanographic research vessel costing € 116.3m that will replace Agulhas, which will then be sold.

    According to the department’s chief director of research for Antarctica and the southern islands, Dr John Augustyn, having a new ship is essential if South Africa wants to maintain its strategic presence in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. He said the department required a ship with better laboratory facilities that can handle different fields of science, in particular those that deal with climate change and with marine biology.

    The new ship will be equipped for passengers (SA Agulhas was used regularly to carry personnel to the South African and other Antarctic stations on the ice) as well as a sizeable amount of cargo and of course, several helicopters.

    Like the SA Agulhas the new ship will be ice strengthened – Dr Augustyn said it would be required to break through thicker ice and travel at higher speeds than is the case now with SA Agulhas. He said this would help extend the season for scientists on the ice by up to a month.

    SA Agulhas was built in 1977 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan and has spent her entire life as a government ship operating in the Southern Oceans and in Antarctica. She is equipped to carry two Oryx helicopters and is also engaged to provide a passenger service to the South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha as well as to the South African weather station on Gough Island and to Marion Island in the southern Indian Ocean.

    In her rightful element, SA AGULHAs at the ice shelf. Picture courtesy SMIT

    Piracy – Greater effort needed on land to fight Somali piracy, says Ban

    The Somali Government and the African Union force in the country (Somalia) need more help on land to fight piracy in the waters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report released this week.

    “One of the ways to ensure the long-term security of international navigation off the coast of Somalia is through a concerted effort to stabilize the situation ashore, as pirates have become more sophisticated in their methods and techniques of attacking,” he states.

    In the report to the Security Council on the situation of piracy and armed robbery in territorial waters and high seas off the coast of Somalia, Mr Ban noted that the expanding maritime presence by Member States is playing a critical role in stabilizing the situation in the Gulf of Aden.

    At the same time, he calls for an integrated approach that would strengthen the capacities of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on land.

    The approach should include further development of law and security institutions to complement the ongoing peace process in the strife-torn nation, including for the investigation and prosecution of those suspected of acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.

    In this regard, the Secretary-General welcomes the initiative by INTERPOL and Member States to look into the financial mechanisms that provide funding for piracy activities.
    He also noted that it would be important for Somali authorities to continue to provide sustainable livelihoods to their people in order to address the roots causes of piracy and armed robbery at sea.

    In a related development, the Security Council was briefed on Monday in a closed meeting by Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, who chairs the sanctions committee for Somalia.
    Council members strongly condemned the recent increased fighting and loss of life in Somalia, in a statement read out to the press after that meeting by Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting of Austria, which holds the rotating Council presidency for this month.

    They "reiterated their continued and full support to the Transitional Federal Government, its efforts to achieve peace, security and reconciliation through the Djibouti Peace Process, and the work of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)," said the statement. – source UN News Service

    Talks to secure release of Chinese seafarers going well

    Somali government officials say that talks between Chinese officials and Somali pirates to free 25 Chinese seafarers is going well, although the use of the word free seems hardly appropriate, as the talks will involve how much ransom the Chinese are prepared to pay.

    Somalia says it is not involved in the negotiations. Pirates have captured six Chinese-linked ships in the past 12 months with all crews being released within a period of months after a ransom was paid. This resulted in China sending a number of warships to help patrol the area and provide escorts for Chinese-linked vessels.

    Thieves fall out

    Shabelle radio in Somalia is reporting that heavy fighting has taken place in the coastal town of Haradere in the Mudug region, one of the main strongholds of pirates operating into the Gulf of Aden and Somali basin.

    According to the radio station the fighting broke out shortly after Spanish officials handed over ransom money for the release of a Spanish fishing vessel, the ALAKRANA and its 36 crew. The Spanish ship was released on Tuesday and has since sailed from the area

    Tanker named THERESA VIII captured

    The Kiribiti-registered chemical tanker THERESA VIII (12,726-gt, built 1981) has been seized by pirates while sailing about 180 n.miles northwest of the Seychelles. The Singapore-operated ship was en route for Mombasa but has now turned towards the Somali coast. According to a report from the pirates, the master of the ship was killed by gunfire during the attack. The vessel was carrying a crew of 28 North Koreans.

    Second pirate attack on MAERS ALABAMA

    Somali pirates attacked the American-flagged MAERSK ALABAMA for the second time in seven months on Tuesday. Guards on board the ship were able to return fire on the pirates and repel the attack. Maersk Alabama later berthed safely in Mombasa.

    Mombasa port privatization put on hold

    The privatizing of the port of Mombasa has been placed on hold, reports The Nation newspaper in Kenya.

    This follows growing opposition to government plans of offering concessions at the port – East Africa’s biggest and busiest. According to Privatisation Commission chairman Professor Peter Kimuyu the matter will be held in abeyance while the government tries to convince its critics of the value of bringing in outside operators.

    Professor Kimuyu said privatization was crucial to boosting the port’s competitiveness in the region, but it was also necessary to have consensus among all stakeholders.

    Mombasa’s Dock Workers Union (DWU) has come out strongly against concessioning vowing to resist through strikes if necessary. The DWU welcomed the decision by government for a moratorium and said it now had an opportunity of presenting government with alternatives to the benefit of all parties.

    The union has demanded that an advertisement announcing the privatization process be withdrawn.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Canadian group starts drilling onshore Mozambique

    Canadian oil prospecting company Artumas Group Inc has begun drilling for oil in Mozambique’s onshore Rovuma Block, which is operated by an American company, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. Drilling commenced in October at the Mecupa-1 well, the first in the Rovuma basin since 1986. A deepwater drill ship is also due in Mozambique waters during November to begin drilling offshore in December in four planned deepwater wells.


    CMA CGM expects to return to profit in 2010

    French shipping giant CMA CGM says it expects to return to profitability in 2010 and will break even during December. The company says this will be achieved through cutting costs, increasing volume and raising rates. CMA CGM is still negotiating with banks to restructure the group’s USD5.6 Billion debt. In the first half of 2009 CMA CGM lost USD515m from a revenue of USD4.8 Billion. One of the methods of lowering costs will be through sailing at reduced speeds to conserve energy and fuel, the company said.

    Pic of the day – BAHIA NEGRA

    Hamburg Sud’s Bahia-class container ship BAHIA NEGRA seen sailing from Durban in 2007.
    Picture by Steve McCurrach

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