Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 4, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – BELFORD DOLPHIN

  • Spanish trawler Acechador sinks off Durban – crew rescued by helicopter and passing ships

  • Cyclone Group appointed as agent for visiting Holland Africa Line Soccer World Cup flotels

  • New harbour tug  sails for Port Elizabeth

  • Piracy - UN Maritime agency pledges support to repress piracy off Somali coast

  • South Africa, Namibia meeting ends with trade and transport agreements

  • Rail regulator investigates KZN grain train accident

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pic of the day – SHASA


    First View – BELFORD DOLPHIN

    The drill ship BELFORD DOLPHIN (40,362-gt, built 2000) off Cape Town yesterday morning. The vessel is owned and flagged in Singapore. Attending her though not in picture were the supply vessel Vickie Tide and supply launch North Star. Picture by Aad Noorland

    Spanish trawler Acechador sinks off Durban – crew rescued by helicopter and passing ships

    Picture by Terry Hutson

    It was a night of drama on Monday after a Mayday distress signal was activated on board the Spanish fishing vessel ACECHADOR, which reported that it was taking water in the engine room and in danger of sinking.

    Andre Fletcher, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Durban duty coxswain picks up the story.

    “At 22h30 NSRI Durban was activated by Transnet National Ports Authority following a VHF radio Mayday Distress call, intercepted by Maritime Radio Services, from the Spanish registered fishing trawler Acechador reporting to be taking on water in the vessel’s engine room 42 nautical miles off-shore of Durban with 17 crew on-board and requiring urgent assistance and advising that the crew were preparing to abandon ship.

    “Our NSRI Durban volunteer duty crew launched the deep-sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer II and the Transnet National Ports Authorities 'Acher Aviation' rescue helicopter, piloted by Commander Rob van Wyk, his co-pilot Captain Marinus du Preez, the flight engineer, Andrew Cockrane and NSRI rescue swimmer Sean Serfontein, responded.

    “Maritime Radio Services broadcast a VHF radio all ships alert requesting ships in the vicinity of the emergency to head in the direction of the position of the casualty vessel and to lend any assistance on arrival.

    “The SA Navy ship SAS PROTEA was diverted from her position at sea to respond to the scene.

    “Sea conditions of 2 to 3 metre swells and a 15 to 20 knot South Easterly wind prevailed at the scene. On the rescue helicopter’s arrival on-scene the casualty vessel was found to be listing and appearing to be heavy laden at her stern and sinking stern first. Two ships, the GRAND ORION (car carrier, 59,217-gt, built 2006) and the PACIFIC SCORPIO (bulk carrier, 27,763-gt, built 1997), were already on-scene and were preparing to lend assistance.

    “The casualty crew had already abandoned ship and were safe and secure in four life-rafts and a rubber-duck which they had moored alongside their sinking ship to prevent them from drifting off into the open ocean.

    “NSRI rescue swimmer Sean Serfontein was lowered from the helicopter into the sea on a winch hoist cable, and swam to the rubber duck where he found two of the casualty crew. One of the trawler’s crew could speak a little English and Serfontein managed to get the single motor on the rubber-duck to work. Assisted by the English-speaking crewman, the rubber-duck was used to collect three crewmen at a time from the life-rafts who were then hoisted into the helicopter in relays of one at a time, before being lowered onto the car carrier Orion Pacific which was standing-by on-scene.

    “A total of 11 casualty crewmen were in this way winch hoisted, one at a time, by the rescue helicopter from the rubber-duck onto the Grand Orion.

    “Three of the trawler crewmen were subsequently hoisted from the rubber-duck onto the hydrographic survey ship SAS PROTEA, which had by now arrived on-scene. The last three casualty crewmen and the NSRI rescue swimmer then motored the rubber-duck over to the SAS Protea where they climbed aboard using the navy ship’s Jacobs Ladder.

    “The rescue helicopter then winch hoisted, again in relays of one at a time, five of the casualty crewmen from the Grand Orion onto the SAS Protea before the rescue helicopter was forced to return to base to refuel. Once refuelled at the Port of Durban the rescue helicopter then returned to the scene and the last six casualty crewmen were winch hoisted from the Grand Orion onto the SAS Protea.

    “At approximately 02h30 after all casualty crewmen were accounted for and safely aboard SAS Protea the NSRI rescue swimmer was recovered from the naval ship onto the rescue helicopter which then returned to base.

    “A total of 54 winch hoists were successfully completed by the rescue helicopter crew during this entire rescue operation.

    “On the rescue helicopter’s last run at the scene the fishing trawler Acechador could no longer be seen above water and it is suspected that she has sunk completely although a navigational warning to ships in the area will continue to be broadcast on Marine VHF radio frequencies by the Maritime Radio Services.

    “No one was injured during the rescue operation and no injuries had been sustained by any of the crew of the casualty vessel. The cause of Acechador taking on water in her engine room has not been determined. SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) has been informed.”

    SAS Protea, with the 17 rescued crew on board, arrived in Durban harbour yesterday morning at 07h30 where the Acechador crew were able to go ashore. The two ships which remained on standby and assisted with the rescue, Grand Orion and Pacific Scorpio were released from the scene and have continued on their respective voyages.

    The 40m long, 432-gt longline fishing vessel Acechador, IOTC 000197 was owned by Pesquerias Lumar SL of Coruna, Spain and has been engaged in fishing in the Indian Ocean for a number of years, using Durban as a base to which it would return regularly. The vessel sailed from Durban on the afternoon of the same day that she sank, having arrived in port at the weekend. She crossed the bar at around 4.30pm, while the next sailing from port was ironically the ship which came to her rescue, Grand Orion.

    Picture by Terry Hutson

    Cyclone Group appointed as agent for visiting Holland Africa Line Soccer World Cup flotels

    picture Wiki Commons

    Cyclone Group, a leading specialist in sports tours for major global sporting events, has been appointed as official agent for Africa to the ‘One Ocean Club’ concept on board the luxurious Holland America Line cruise ships during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

    The sister ships, NOORDAM and WESTERDAM are both rated among the Top-20 cruise ships in the world and are worthy recipients of the ‘International 5-Star Diamond Award’ for quality and service.

    During the period of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, Noordam and Westerdam will be sailing between the ports of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban, serving as a prime location for accommodation, entertainment and recreation.

    The One Ocean Club ‘cruise flotel’ is a proven concept from the 2004 Athens Olympics, and for 2010 guests can look forward to being a part of one of the most secure luxury clubs and hotels in South Africa, whilst never being more than 15 minutes transfer time from port to the stadiums, a major advantage for discerning travellers.

    “We are proud to partner with One Ocean Club in order to provide access to exclusive, specialised sports tour solutions for our discerning clientele from across the globe,” said Kirsty Parry, Marketing Manager of Cyclone Group.

    “Cyclone Group guests will benefit from the complete set of infrastructure in place, including 24 hour transfers, shuttle services and VIP security. The cruise ships are a unique and upmarket addition to one of the most beautiful countries in the world during the single greatest sports event,” she told PORTS & SHIPS.

    Besides offering contemporary amenities and modern enhancements, combined with unsurpassed 5-star hospitality and service, each cruise ship has a world-class fitness centre, salon & spa, swimming pools, casinos, night clubs, theatre, library, four restaurants and eleven bars. Guests also have access to a state-of-the-art business centre, conference venue and meeting room facilities.

    There has been enormous interest from across the African continent which is steadily gaining momentum, given recent World Cup qualifiers, including the mighty Elephants from Cote d’Ivoire, after a typical Didier Drogba equaliser saw them qualify in Malawi, and the Ghanaian Black Stars, who are aiming to build on their debut performance in Germany 2006.

    The Algerian Les Fennecs (Desert Foxes), Gabon, Egyptian Pharoahs, Nigerian Super Eagles, Tunisian Carthage Eagles and the Indomitable Lions from Cameroon, are all in the hunt for a place at Africa’s first FIFA World Cup™.

    Demand for accommodation is already running high and supporters who don’t want to miss out should make provisional bookings now, before the draw on 4 December, less than five weeks away!

    Cyclone Group is making more than just waves in the specialised sports tour market, following the recent announcement of their appointment by MATCH Hospitality as an authorised sales agent in Australia & New Zealand for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ Official Hospitality Programme, said Parry.

    Go HERE for more details.

    New harbour tug SHASA sails for Port Elizabeth

    Picture by Trevor Jones

    The newbuild harbour tug SHASA sailed from Durban harbour yesterday morning for Port Elizabeth where she is expected to take up duty as the first of three tugs at the port of Ngqura.

    As there are no facilities provided as yet for harbour craft at the new Eastern Cape port it is likely that vessels will remain in nearby Port Elizabeth - 20km away, and sail across to Ngqura on demand.

    Shasa is the first of seven new Voith Schneider-propelled harbour tugs under construction at Southern African Shipyards in Durban. The first three vessels, all for Ngqura have a design bollard pull of 70 tonnes, although Shasa achieved 80.7t on her trials. The remaining tugs will each have bollard pulls of 60t. Three of these are destined for Durban while Transnet has yet to announce where the other two will be stationed.

    The tugs were designed by Durban naval architect Pieter Volschenk with input from Transnet Marine Division.

    Piracy - UN Maritime agency pledges support to repress piracy off Somali coast

    The head of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has pledged that his agency will help Somalia repress piracy off its coast and in the Gulf of Aden, including through assisting in the creation of a national coast guard.

    IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos discussed the issue with the Prime Minister of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, during their meeting last week in London, where the agency is based.

    The past year has witnessed an upsurge in piracy off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation, which has been riven by factional fighting and had not had a functioning central government since the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991.

    In January, Indian Ocean and Red Sea countries pledged to cooperate in seizing, investigating and prosecuting pirates off the Somali coast in a stepped-up campaign to curb a scourge that has wrought havoc with international shipping, including UN delivery of emergency food aid.

    The code of conduct, signed in Djibouti, calls for shared operations, such as nominating law enforcement or other authorized officials to embark in the patrol ships or aircraft of another signatory.

    Mr Mitropoulos emphasized the importance of putting the code of conduct - of which Somalia is a signatory - into effect.

    The Prime Minister said that piracy off his country's coast needed to be tackled from the land side as well as from the sea, and requested help to halt attacks from the two main piracy networks (one in the central region of Somalia and one in Puntland) through the establishment of information-sharing centres.

    He also stated that the country is reviewing its national legislation to ensure that pirates are prosecuted within Somalia, and requested the IMO's help in this regard.

    Mr Mitropoulos said that the IMO, in cooperation with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will provide the requested assistance. In addition, it will, through its technical cooperation programme and assistance from Member States, help Somalia to establish a national coast guard. – UN News Service

    South Africa, Namibia meeting ends with trade and transport agreements

    by Chris Bathembu (BuaNews)

    Pretoria, 3 November - South Africa and Namibia have signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of transport and infrastructure development, among others.

    The maritime and shipping agreement signed between Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele and his Namibian counterpart is set to transform relations between Namibia and South Africa in the transportation of goods between the two countries.

    The agreements form part of the resolutions taken during an SA-Namibia Economic Bilateral meeting between President Jacob Zuma and President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

    The two leaders also committed to ensure the speedy implementation of several regional projects the two countries embarked on. These include the Trans-Kalahari Rail initiatives, a project supported by South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

    South Africa also committed to engage power utility Eskom as part of plans to fast-track power agreements between SA and Namibia.

    Earlier in the day, Pohamba raised concerns about the slow implementation of some of the agreements on energy between Namibia and South Africa.

    Another thorny issue that was discussed during the meeting was that of the movement of tourists between SA and Namibia during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

    Pohamba conceded that the benefits to South Africa's neighbours during the tournament were hindered by restricted cross border movement.

    “The potential will not fully materialise if the matter of cross border operations by Namibian tour operators is not addressed,” he said.

    Rail regulator investigates KZN grain train accident

    Pretoria, 3 November (BuaNews) - The Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) says it is investigating the derailment of a goods train in KwaZulu-Natal which occurred earlier this morning.

    A fully loaded grain train from the Free State derailed as it was approaching the Pietermaritzburg station, causing extensive damage to the infrastructure.

    Eighteen wagons of the train and its locomotives were derailed and the train crew sustained minor injuries.

    “The RSR will be conducting a comprehensive investigation into the state of the rolling stock, infrastructure, and operating procedures to ascertain all the factors which could have contributed to the accident,” spokesperson Lawrence Venkile said on Tuesday.

    He said the preliminary investigation suggested that speed may have been the immediate cause of the accident, resulting in a situation where the driver may have lost control of the locomotive.

    As a result of the accident, railway traffic on the Natal main line was affected, and it was not clear at this stage when it will be re-opened.

    Venkile said RSR will ensure that all causal factors to accidents of this nature were fully addressed in a sustainable way and that there was no recurrence of similar accidents in future.

    “We remain concerned that incidents of this nature not only have a direct bearing on the cost of doing business through escalating maintenance and accident costs, but also have a serious impact on the economy,” he added.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    US nuclear submarine due in Simon’s Town this morning

    US Navy picture

    The Los Angeles-class nuclear powered submarine, USS SAN JUAN (SSN-751) is due to dock in Simon’s Town this morning (Wednesday 4 November 2009), making this the third nuclear powered ship to visit Cape waters in a year. The arrival of the submarine follows permission having been granted for the visit by the National Nuclear Regulator.


    SAECS adds additional container service for seasonal demand

    The SAECS (Southern Africa Europe Container Service) Lines have announced they will introduce an additional container service to accommodate primarily the seasonal increase in refrigerated exports from South Africa to Europe during the period February to August 2010.

    The service - to be known as the SAECS Reefer Express - will be flexed in terms of frequency and ports of call according to the seasonal demands of the perishable/refrigerated products market and will supplement the capacity provided by the main weekly SAECS Core Service. Further details regarding the new service - which is planned to start early February 2010 - will be announced in due course. SAECS member lines are Safmarine, Maersk Line, Deutsche Afrika Linien (DAL) and MOL.


    Lines move towards slow steaming

    picture by Ian Shiffman

    With the end of the busy shipping season a number of lines are expected to follow in the footsteps of Maersk Line by reverting to slow steaming as a means of reducing fuel consumption and costs, as well as absorbing some of the excess vessel capacity. Maersk Line announced recently it will introduce slow steaming on the company’s Asia – Europe services, which commenced at the beginning of November.


    Nigerian concern over slow passage of Port Amendment Bill

    Concern is being expressed in Nigeria over the slow passage into law of the Port Amendment Bill by the National Assembly. The Maritime Industry Advocacy Initiative (MAIN) points out that the draft bill has yet to be passed three years after a significant number of port terminal operations were handed over to private concessionaires. MAIN executive director Sesan Onileimo said that the absence of a new set of statutes to protect the investments of private port operators and also guide post-concession interplays was causing anxieties within the port system. “It’s been an endless wait for the National Assembly,” he said. - Daily Champion


    Uganda says it has funds to repair lake ships

    Some may say they’ve heard it all before, but Uganda says it now has the funds to refurbish the grounded lake ships, MV PAMBA and MV KAWA. Transport minister John Nasasira said funds have been raised with the World Bank and other sources and consultants have already been engaged. “Revamping these vessels is one of the interventions the Government is putting in place to promote water transport,” the minister said, adding that water transport was cheaper compared to other modes of transport. He said the two vessels were expected to start operations in 2010 and 2011 respectively. – New Vision


    Piraeus port workers go back on strike

    Dock workers at the Greek port of Piraeus have decided to renew their strike in protest against an agreement between the concession-holder, Cosco and the Port Authority and what they see as threats to their employment. The workers have engaged in several strikes, the most recent being called off on 17 October when workers warned that it may be resumed if their demands were not met.

    Pic of the day – SHASA

    Transnet’s latest tug, SHASA which was launched recently at the Durban Southern African Shipyards has successfully completed sea trials and departed for Port Elizabeth yesterday. The tug is to be based at the Eastern Cape port for duty at nearby Ngqura. Picture by Trevor Jones.

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