Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 5, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – COSTA PACIFICA

  • Moatize coal exports to start rolling in 2011

  • Piracy – pirates strike at two ships, Harriette and Jo Cedar

  • Africa seeks unity before trade talks with World Trade Organisation

  • Students from Durban University of Technology visit the Port of Durban

  • Drifting buoy meanders ashore at Breede River Mouth

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pic of the day – Pics of the day – TIAKI and TOIA


    First View – COSTA PACIFICA

    Costa Cruises newbuild COSTA PACIFICA (114,500-gt, built 2009) seen at Civitavecchia in Italy earlier this week. The ship has a passenger capacity of around 3,000 and was built at Fincantieri’s Sestri Ponente (Genoa) shipyard. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Moatize coal exports to start rolling in 2011

    Coal exports from Moatize in Mozambique’s Tete province are expected to begin rolling during 2011, according to Roger Agnelli, president of Vale, the Brazilian mining company that will be exploiting Mozambique’s major coal reserves.

    Agnelli said that Vale has already invested US$345 million in the Moatize project and that this figure will have risen to over $500m by the end of this year.

    The Vale president was in Mozambique last week where he met with the country’s head of state, President Armando Guebuza.

    Agnelli said most structures were in place and that machinery would start arriving next year in order that production could commence by March or April 2011.

    Vale expects to produce 11 million tonnes of coal a year in the first year of operation, rising to between 24 and 40 million tonnes subsequently. A high percentage of this will be coking coal but thermal coal will also be produced for local consumption and for export.

    Exports will initially be routed along the refurbished railway which extends from Moatize to join the main Beira – Zimbabwe line at Dondo. Because of the shallow draught at the port of Beira, coal will be lightered out some distance to waiting bulk ships offshore. Vale’s exports will be to Brazil, Asia, the Middle East, India and Europe.

    Mozambique and Vale are also currently investigating a second rail link to the northern deepwater port of Nacala, which would necessitate a new section of railway connecting with the existing railway from Nacala that extends into southern Malawi.

    Piracy – pirates strike at two ships, Harriette and Jo Cedar

    According to the Somali news service Garowe Online, rival Somali pirate groups are at odds over the custody of the British yachting couple who were captured along with their yacht Lynn Rival< content=""/> while sailing between the Seychelles and Tanzania about ten days ago.

    The couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, have been taken to the inland town of Bahdo, which is about 125 miles northeast of the coastal town of Haradheere where the yacht is being held. It now appears that a hardline rival group wants custody of the two British sailors and is prepared to use force if necessary in order to take them over.

    "We are hearing that a hard-line group is preparing to launch offensive on our colleagues who are holding the couple in Bahdo, we hope they will not dare it because it will be deadly," said a pirate spokesman speaking by phone from Harardhere. Garowe Online said local Somali elders were trying unsuccessfully to calm the situation. The demand for ransom for the couple and their yacht has been reduced to £100,000, which the British government says it will not pay.

    In other pirate related news, the European Union’s Atalanta anti-piracy naval mission operating in the region of Somalia reports that the US-flagged cargo ship HARRIETTE came under attack on Tuesday from two skiffs while sailing 360 n.miles off the coast of Kenya. The American ship succeeded in keeping the pirates, who were using automatic weapons and grenade launchers to fire on the ship, at bay by employing evasive maneuvers.

    A short time later the Dutch tanker JO CEDAR, which is a regular caller in Durban and Richards Bay, also came under attack by three skiffs, which opened fire using automatic weapons. The Dutch ship managed to escape by also using evasive maneuvers. There were no injuries reported in either incident.

    A German warship, FGS KARLSRUHE was despatched from patrolling in Seychelles waters to search for and neutralize the piracy attack group. FGS Karlsruhe later intercepted a skiff which is suspected of having been involved in these attacks and discovered pirate equipment including fuel drums and grappling hooks, used commonly by pirates, although the occupants of the skiff were seen throwing other items overboard before the Germans came alongside.

    Somali prime minister Omar Abdirashid Shamarke told the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in London this week that Somali pirates should be attacked from the landside and not just on the ocean. He was appealing for assistance in dealing with the two main pirate networks by means of information-gathering centres in order to gain a better understanding of how the pirates operate and also to better understand the operation of collecting and spending ransom money.

    Africa seeks unity before trade talks with World Trade Organisation

    African delegates at a trade ministers conference being held in Cairo this week are seeking a unified stance in discussions ahead of a World Trade Organisation ministerial conference later this month.

    The African bloc has acknowledged that continuing delays over a new global trade deal were holding back African development. The African nations are looking for a broader access to developed markets for mainly agricultural commodities, after complaints of subsidies by European and American governments that distort world trade at the expense of poorer nations.

    The WTO ministerial conference which is being held in Geneva at the end of November will not include negotiations and African nations will need to speak with a unified voice, according to those attending this week’s meeting in Cairo.

    Students from Durban University of Technology visit the Port of Durban

    by Fanie Bruwer

    Ninety students from the Durban University of Technology in the field of maritime studies visited the Port of Durban earlier this year. The students visit was to gain first-hand experience of the various roles of port operations as well as to gain a perspective of possible career choices within Transnet.

    The Port Engineer provided a presentation to the students and the visit was concluded with a harbour boat trip using the port launch Isiponono. On the harbour trip the students were treated to a special view of the new Moses Mabhida Soccer Stadium under construction for the 2010 Soccer World Cup to be hosted in the country next year.

    On the 6th and 7th of August 2009 the Durban University of Technology hosted the “World of Work” careers fair. Companies from the region were invited to set up an exhibition stand at the campus. Approximately 70 companies participated in this event and as many as 6,000 enthusiastic students passed through the exhibition hall.

    Transnet was able to market the many career choices that are available to these students and various Transnet representatives interacted with the many students over the two days.

    Drifting buoy meanders ashore at Breede River Mouth

    by Ian Hunter, Lithakazi Mkatshwa & Sydney Marais of SA Weather Service

    Drifting Weather Buoy 14550 drifts from Mozambique Channel into Agulhas Current, ‘docks’ near Cape Infanta, 27 October 2009. 

    For several days towards the end of October the buoy threatened to go ashore somewhere along the Cape South Coast. Fortunately it eventually chose the safe haven of the Breede River Mouth. On the afternoon of 27 October its ‘sea’ temperature reading jumped from a steady 17-18°C to 28.4°C - drifting buoy 14550 had landed!

    This ‘drifter’ was deployed by the French fisheries protection vessel OSIRIS on 25 June 2009 at a position roughly 80 n.miles southeast of Île Europa in the Southern Mozambique Channel. The track above starts mid-July.

    There is much to take note of following the track of this drifter:

    The drogue came off after only 5 days – i.e. the buoy would have responded somewhat more to surface conditions than desired.

    Natal Pulse. This is a much-researched cyclonic meander in the Agulhas Current which propagates down the East Coast at approximately 20 km/day. It is quite possible that the circular track followed by the buoy off the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast was related to this phenomenon – i.e. buoy drawn inshore, then drifting northwards for a time in the inshore counter current.

    Between 11 and 15 September (buoy positions marked by arrows on the map) this buoy averaged 3.6 kts. At times it could well have been in the range 4-5 kts (to put this in context the Olympic record for freestyle over 50m translates to just over 4.5 kts).

    On 17 September the buoy ID’d a perfect case of the instability in the Agulhas Current as it approaches the Agulhas Bank. It swung from 23°E all the way back to offshore Cape St Francis in a large meander. Then it moved offshore again on September 29, only to rotate cyclonically back to the coast, eastwards beyond Cape St Blaize. And thereafter an inshore track into the Breede River Mouth, just east of Cape Infanta.

    Apart from the jump in temperature when the buoy was beached and exposed to the afternoon sun (and the subsequent low overnight air temperatures) – the variation in SST was relatively low during the whole track. It stayed between 20 and 23°C from the time of its deployment until 17 September when it exited the Agulhas Current meander and moved into a filament of cold water extending well offshore.

    The day after this drifter went ashore (i.e. 28 October), the owners of nearby Mudlark Lodge very kindly arranged a search for it. The Argos positions were pretty much spot on – there it was on the beach, adjacent to Cape Infanta village. Still functioning 100%.

    Staff off the South African Weather Service regional branch in Cape Town drove to the Lodge the following day to collect the buoy and personally express the gratitude of SAWS.

    The French fisheries patrol vessel that deployed this buoy (i.e. the Osiris – based in La Réunion) was originally the Lince. The latter was seized in January 2003 by a French frigate when it was found poaching Patagonian toothfish in the Kerguelen EEZ.

    journey's end...

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    ACECHADOR salvaged – the ship that didn’t sink

    picture Terry Hutson

    Reports that the Spanish longline fishing vessel ACECHADOR had sunk off the KZN coast on Monday night proved premature and a Durban-based workboat/tug REIER, operated by Subtech was able to go out and place pumps on board and secure the vessel before towing her back to port. According to eyewitness accounts the vessel had all but disappeared from sight under the waves when the rescuers left the scene early on Tuesday morning. The crew of 17 off the Acechador were evacuated by helicopter and ship and brought to Durban after abandoning their vessel. A spokesman for the ship criticized the media for its reporting, saying the vessel didn’t sink. He passed it off as little more than hearing a knock from a car’s engine prior to it breaking down. “It’s the same thing, he said,” without explaining why his crew then found it necessary to post a Mayday signal and abandon the ship.


    Hennie Strydom, who is well-known in the Port of Durban where he held a senior position in port security matters for a number of years, has retired.


    Khangela Bridge opens

    The long awaited Khangela Bridge extending the reach of Durban’s busy Bayhead Road was scheduled to be officially opened yesterday, 4 November. PORTS & SHIPS is unable to confirm whether the opening took place as we were not invited to witness this important event. The bridge is expected to bring much needed relief to road congestion along Bayhead and South Coast Roads leading to the two Durban container terminals and the Island View tank farm complex.


    Nissan goes north, to Maputo

    Nissan South Africa has confirmed it is importing its built up vehicles through the port of Maputo instead of through Durban. A spokesman for the motor company said the decision which was implemented some time ago was cost related. Duran is still being used for completely knocked down (CDK) imports, he advised.


    Mogadishu port workers protest closure of harbour

    Port workers in Mogadishu are protesting against the closure of the port following a dispute between local businessmen and the Somali government regarding security issues. The government has imposed security measures requiring incoming goods to go through a security check and be liable for import taxes, but local business interests have refused to adhere to the rule claiming that their goods are being delayed in the port and are therefore at greater risk from attack by Islamist insurgents or bad weather. After government closed the port workers staged a demonstration saying they were being deprived of lawful work. Under what passes for normal circumstances in Mogadishu, the port is being guarded by African Union peacekepers who are deployed in the war-torn country. – Garowe Online


    No, this is not a fishy story

    The Namib Times reports that a gang of burglars had to flee the scene of their crime, the Walvis Bay offices of the Ministry of Fisheries, after they set fire to an office while trying to burn open the safe using blow torches – apparently a favourite tool of Walvis Bay thieves. In their haste to escape the resultant blaze the thieves left behind their cutting equipment which police hope may reveal finger prints and other evidence of their identities. The office was largely destroyed and other parts of the building damaged.

    Pics of the day – TIAKI and TOIA

    Two New Zealand tugs for a change of scenery. On top is the modern Centreport tug TIAKI (250-gt, built 2007), while the lower picture shows the long serving TOIA (302-gt, built 1972), fresh out of the Lyttelton dry dock at the recent weekend and looking resplendent in her new coat of paint. Both tugs operate at Wellington. Pictures are by Alan Calvert

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