Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 23, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – MSC SOCOTRA

  • Eleven marine pilots graduate

  • South Africa to participate in Korea-Africa Forum

  • South Africa looks to have 300 ships on its register

  • Readers write

  • Piracy – Arab ‘arms’ ship freed

  • Somalia: Residents and Sandbank Stymie Pirates' Plan

  • Today’s recommended Read – Piracy off coast not only criminal, but very successful, Security Council hears



    First View – MSC SOCOTRA

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    The well-laden container ship MSC SOCOTRA (60,177-gt, built 1995) suffered minor damage on Friday, 20 November when she collided with the quay wall near the Bluff coaling terminal while navigating her way out of Durban harbour. It is not known at this stage what caused the mishap. The ship later went to berth at one of the coal terminal berths to have the damage to her bow assessed before sailing again. Picture by Hugo Schuitemaker

    Eleven marine pilots graduate

    Eleven marine pilots from the 2008/09 intake graduated at a ceremony held in the Port of Durban on Friday. Their graduation was seen as a mark of success for the pilot and tug master training programme introduced in 1999 by Transnet in response to a growing shortage of suitable candidates.

    The new programme called for the use of simulators as a means of overcoming some of the difficulty of acquiring sea time for the candidates and is being run in partnership with and under tutelage from the Netherland Shipping Training Centre (STC) and the Transnet School of Ports (former Transnet Academy). Trainees also spent time with several of the shipping lines gaining sea time and received mentoring from senior pilots within the Transnet Marine Department.

    The success of the programme means that South Africa’s ports now have almost full complements of pilots available for marine duty, alleviating what had threatened to become a serious problem.

    In addition ten new tug masters qualified from the 2008/09 intake, while ten candidates who qualified from the 2007/08 pilot training programme also received their certificates, as a result of there not having been a graduation ceremony last year.

    Pilots who graduated from the 2008/09 class are:

    Gideon Basson (Port Elizabeth)
    Lulama Tsholoba (Saldanha)
    Pierre Schutz (Cape Town)
    Christopher Hubbard (Saldanha)
    Juandré Viljoen (Cape Town)
    Nompumelelo Mkhize (Port Elizabeth)
    Dale Ledingham (Durban)
    Andrew Ker-Fox (Richards Bay)
    John Haupt (Richards Bay)
    Sivile Socoza (Durban)
    Michael Fitzgerald (Durban)

    Graduates from the 2007/08 intake:

    Pinky Zungu (Durban)
    Stephanus van Rooyen (Durban)
    Kevin Brooks (Durban)
    Ian Waddle (Durban)
    Edmara Masuku (Richards Bay)
    Yoliswa Majali (Richards Bay0
    Quentin Brink (Richards Bay)
    Mzukisi Nqwata (Durban)
    Siegfield Duwe (Port Elizabeth)
    Richard Stoltz (Cape Town)

    South Africa to participate in Korea-Africa Forum

    Pretoria (BuaNews) - South Africa will participate in the second Korea-Africa Forum which will explore ways to strengthen ties on development and cooperation between Korea and the African continent.

    International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim will lead a South African delegation to the forum scheduled for Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea.

    The forum provides a unique opportunity for the two sides to exchange views on issues of mutual interest and explore further ways of strengthening economic cooperation and experience sharing in many areas of mutual interest.

    According to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa participates in the forum within the context of deepening South-South cooperation and to further explore possible areas of cooperation between Korea and the African continent.

    It said the Korea-Africa partnership is in line with government's national priorities and is of strategic importance to South Africa.

    "The cooperation between Korea and Africa should be considered a strategic engagement given that South Korea is one of the first donor recipient countries to turn into a donor country through rapid economic growth and Africa stands to benefit from Korean economic transformation," it explained.

    Among others, the forum will seek ways on how to increase trade and promote Korean investment on the continent.

    Infrastructure development, information and communication technology, agricultural and rural development, are said to be high on the agenda.

    The key outcomes of the forum are the adoption of the Seoul Declaration as well as the Action Plan.

    Korea held its first bilateral forum with Africa in November 2006, when Seoul vowed to increase its official development assistance and increase the number of volunteer workers to Africa, as well as invited some 1 000 workers and students from the continent by the end of this year.

    Seoul in recent years has been stepping up its diplomacy efforts towards Africa, with its credit and grant-type aid to the continent rising to a total of USD107.1 million in 2008, compared to USD42.4 million in 2005

    While in South Korea, Deputy Minister will meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea and will visit the "Saemaul Undong" Rural Development Project, among others.

    Rural Development is one of the 10 Government priorities as highlighted by President Jacob Zuma.

    The bilateral meeting between South Africa and South Korea, scheduled for Wednesday, will seek to examine ways to enhance existing bilateral relations, particularly deepening cooperation in the area of technology.

    South Korea has been participating in South Africa's Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) program since it was put in place.

    South Africa looks to have 300 ships on its register

    The head of SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) has reiterated a statement made in March this year that South Africa requires at least 300 ships on a local register to secure its shipping lifelines and to build skills capacity for the maritime sector.

    In a message read on his behalf at the pilot graduation ceremony held in Durban last week (see report above), Cmdr Tsietsi Mokhele repeated this saying that with the introduction of a tonnage tax, expected in 2010, as well as a revised maritime transport policy and the SA Registration Act the time would be right to begin building a South African Register.

    According to Cmdr Mokhele having 300 ships flying the South African flag would create a significant number of jobs at sea. Sixty of these ships could be reflagged by the end of the 2010/11 financial year with the introduction of new legislation, he maintained.

    Addressing the graduating pilots, he said that in 1999 40% of the marine pilots in South African ports were foreigners while another 15% of pilots were over age but had been compelled to remain in the service because of the difficulty of obtaining replacements. He said South Africa could not afford the risk of dependence as was the case with Kuwait.

    “The worst crime a country can commit is to become dependent on outsiders,” he said, “especially for a country that relies so heavily on sea trade for its international business.”

    Mailbag – readers write

    Old trawl nets wanted

    I am the coach for the KZN Ice Hockey Association. We are looking for old trawling nets so we can replace the netting on our goals. In the past finding netting strong enough and tightly woven enough to suit our needs has been incredibly expensive, however a few years ago we had a club member donate old trawling netting to us and it is the best net we have ever used. unfortunately that member of the club has long since left and we are in desperate need of new nets.

    If there is anyone who is willing to help us out our simply can point us in the direction of a net manufacturer then please email me on kieren@global.co.za
    Kieren Edge


    Does anyone remember the sinking of the Mendoza in 1942?

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    Mendoza sinks after being struck by between one and three torpedoes. Picture J Bax courtesy W Weaver

    Bill Weaver, who now lives in Australia is hoping that someone may have a photograph showing a South African whale catcher towing a lifeboat into Durban harbor in November 1942. He was on that lifeboat, being a survivor of the Blue Line passenger ship MENDOZA which was sunk by torpedo from the German U-boat U-178 on the afternoon of 1 November 1942, some 70 n.miles ENE of Durban. Weaver remained in the lifeboat with another sailor who had broken legs when others were transferred onto the whaler. He wants to know if anyone might have been on the breakwater that day when his lifeboat was towed in and perhaps took a picture, or knows the name of the actual whaler concerned. Replies please to Bill Weaver, c/o info@ports.co.za

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    With Mendoza sinking in the background one of the lifeboats pulls away from the sinking ship. Bill Weaver is the figure standing at the tiller Picture J Bax/W Weaver

    Piracy – Arab ‘arms’ ship freed

    Somali pirates have released the UAE-registered ship AL MIZAN which was captured earlier this month and was reported to be carrying weapons and ammunition destined for Somalia.

    The release was negotiated between the pirates and traders from Mogadishu who have expressed concern that the vessel may be attacked again. The spokesman for the Mogadishu businessmen declined to say whether a ransom was paid but denied allegations that the ship was carrying arms.

    Outside sources say however that the ship is operating under a false name and is used regularly to ferry arms to Somalia despite the UN arms embargo.

    The Portuguese Navy says it has arrested five men suspected of being pirates after they tried to highjack a local fishing boat. The fishing vessel appealed for help after which the Portuguese ship launched its helicopter which overflew the scene and effected the arrest.

    Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev said in Moscow last week that an international criminal tribunal is required to combat piracy off Somalia.

    “Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, proposes formulating coordinating counter-measures in this area, including the establishment of a special criminal tribunal on piracy,” he said.

    The European Union meanwhile has decided to extend its mandate on action taken against piracy off Somalia until the end of 2010. The EU maintains a fleet of warships operating as Operation Atalanta to provide escort services for merchant shipping in the area and to assist vessels in distress from pirate attack. EU warships have been in the Somalia area since December 2008 and act independently but in co-operation with other naval forces in the area including those of NATO.

    The primary task of Operation Atalanta has been to guard ships delivering food aid to impoverished regions, including Somalia and which had come under attack from pirates.

    Somalia: Residents and Sandbank Stymie Pirates' Plan

    Nairobi (IRIN) — Residents of a coastal town in Somalia's self-declared autonomous region of Puntland saved the crew of a fishing boat when they foiled an attempt by pirates who had captured the boat.

    The pirates had commandeered the boat off the Somali coast on 1 November and sailed it to the town of Eil in Puntland, northeastern Somalia. However, the boat, manned by nine Indians and Bangladeshis, hit a sandbank and ran aground in Eil, prompting the inhabitants to demand the mariners' release.

    "I think when they realized they were all Bengalis and Indians they decided to use the boat to hunt other ships and use the crew to run it," Abdirahman Hassan Koronto, a businessman in Eil, said.

    He said the pirates tried to refloat the boat but residents stopped them. The pirates resisted for about five days but finally surrendered the crew, Koronto added.

    "This is one case were their plan did not work out the way they wanted," said Koronto.

    "If they went back to sea they were going to use them [the crew] so we decided that we would not let them harm these poor people," said Asha Abdikarim, a resident.

    The residents asked the Puntland authorities to send forces to help them keep the boat, she told IRIN.

    "I think when they saw the whole town - women, men and children - were out and confronting them, they thought better of it and released the crew to us," said Abdikarim.

    "For once we showed them that they cannot do their ugly deeds in our town." She said residents of coastal towns were fed up with pirates. "No one wants them here," she said.

    Elders took the nine crewmen to a hotel in town where they stayed until Puntland forces arrived.

    Abdimahdi Abshir, the director of administration of the Puntland presidency, told IRIN the boat and crew were now in the hands of the authorities.

    "The boat is being repaired and will be brought to Bosasso," he said, adding that the crew had been taken to Garowe, the Puntland capital, where they were under the care of the administration.

    "They are doing well and we are trying to arrange for them to be sent home," he said.
    Abshir said the authorities had asked humanitarian agencies to help repatriate the seamen.

    Phuban Das, a member of the boat's crew, told IRIN they were in Garowe and safe.
    "We are free and here," he said.

    [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

    Today’s recommended Read – Piracy off coast not only criminal, but very successful, Security Council hears

    Piracy off the coast of Somalia was not only a criminal activity, but it was, first of all, a very successful business, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Political Office there told the Security Council.

    Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said that, although international naval deployments and the self-protection measures of vessels had reduced the number of successful piracy incidents, attacks continued, with pirates using more sophisticated methods. They were still ready to take risks. The approach to combating piracy could, therefore, not be limited to an international naval force, but must be part of an overall plan to address the root causes.

    He stressed that, as piracy was a symptom of wider problems ashore in Somalia, the only sustainable solution would be effective governance, the establishment of the rule of law and security institutions, and the creation of alternative livelihoods in Somalia for stable and inclusive economic growth.

    Read the rest of this lengthy but interesting report 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.


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    Two quite different Ro-Ro vessels. One (above) is EUROCAR ISTANBUL, the Roll on-Roll off car ferry of Grimaldi Lines seen here in Civitavecchia, Italy early in November 2009. The second picture below shows a more conventional car carrier, albeit of an earlier vintage, the Hoegh Line CITY OF MUMBAI (27,887-gt, built 1987) arriving in the same Italian port. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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    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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