Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 1, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – USS NICHOLAS and HSV-2 SWIFT

  • Navies to take up coordinated patrol areas off Somalia

  • US Navy exercises option on Austal’s Joint High Speed Vessel programme

  • News from the shipping lines

  • South Africa looks to increase coal exports

  • Piracy - Senior UN official urges broad-based approach to fight piracy

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Today’s recommended Read – Boxlines are getting the message

  • Pics of the day – OCEANIC IN DISTRESS


    First View – USS NICHOLAS and HSV-2 SWIFT

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    Two US Navy ships arrived in South African waters at the end of last week – the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate USS NICHOLAS (FFG 47) and the high speed craft HSV-2 SWIFT. Both vessels have been on deployment to East African ports during which training of naval personnel from Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique has taken place – the Swift has been equipped with lecture rooms in the hangar area specially for this task. From Durban the ships sailed yesterday (Sunday) bound for Cape Town. PORTS & SHIPS ws informed that while in local waters they will not be exercising with ships of the South African Navy.
    The lower picture shows the wave-piercing vessel HSV-2 SWIFT, with its civilian master, Captain Joe Sohlberg who is no stranger to South Africa, having spent time at a Johannesburg school on a student exchange programme. Both pictures by Terry Hutson

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    Navies to take up coordinated patrol areas off Somalia

    International navies operating in the seas around Somalia have agreed to a suggestion by China that each navy represented in the area takes up a specific area to patrol.

    This was announced as China was expected to take the rotating leadership of the patrol forces operating antipiracy patrols off the Somali coast.

    “We share some common views, but we also have differences. So we reached a consensus to patrol the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) according to set areas of responsibility,” a Chinese Defence Ministry official told China Daily.

    A US Navy recommendation contrasts by calling for naval ships to maintain patrols only in the IRTC, a corridor in the Gulf of Aden which is deemed to be safe for merchant vessels remaining within its confines and under the patrolling care of US-led naval forces.

    The Chief of Staff of the European Union naval operation in the area was quoted as saying that China’s growing participation in an international naval operation was “extremely good news.”

    There are still no African naval participants engaged in the escorting of merchant ships sailing past or to Somalia, despite the fact that a fair percentage of these ships are trading with African countries. The South African government has persistently refused to become involved – some analysts believe this is because the South African Navy cannot afford to send a ship or ships on an extended patrol in the present economic climate.

    US Navy exercises option on Austal’s Joint High Speed Vessel programme

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    JHSV-1 underway – picture courtesy Austal

    The US Navy has exercised contract options funding the construction of two additional Austal Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) as part of an existing 10-vessel, AUDollar1.8 billion program, reports the Australian shipbuilder.

    Austal previously received US Navy funding for long lead-time material, including diesel engines, water jets and reduction gears, for these two vessels in June 2009. The additional work is valued at approximately AUD225 million.

    Intended as the US Department of Defense’s next-generation multi-use platform, the two 103 metre high speed vessels will be constructed at Austal’s US facility, located in Mobile, Alabama.

    Austal was selected as Prime contractor for the JHSV program in November 2008, which included construction of the first JHSV and options for nine additional vessels to be exercised between FY09 and FY13. Construction of the first Austal JHSV commenced in December 2009.

    “By exercising Options 2 and 3, the US Navy has signalled its support of this important and significant multi-vessel program,” said Austal Managing Director Bob Browning.

    “The JHSV program could serve to extend the United States' ability to provide humanitarian relief globally and Austal is pleased to be able to contribute to this effort through the speedy delivery of this highly flexible, low-cost vessel.”

    Similar to the Austal-built WestPac Express operated by the US Marines for the past nine years, but with the addition of a helo deck, the JHSV will be capable of transporting troops and their equipment, supporting humanitarian relief efforts, operating in shallow waters, and reaching speeds in excess of 35 knots fully loaded.

    Two other Austal USA-built high-speed vehicle ferries, ALAKAI and HUAKAI, are currently supporting the ongoing relief operation in Haiti. The JHSVs will be a joint-use platform operated by both the United States Army and Navy.

    Construction is also underway at Austal USA on a second 127 metre Austal-designed and built Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) for the US Navy, with the first, USS INDEPENDENCE, commissioned earlier in the month. The US Navy continues to express a commitment to a 55-vessel LCS program.

    To watch a video of the USS Independence GO HERE

    Meanwhile the two high speed ferry ships mentioned above, MV HUAKAI and MV ALAKAI were preparing last week to sail for Haiti to provide disaster relief following the devastating earthquake of 12 January.

    The two ferries were built as passenger and vehicle carrying ferries in the Hawaiian islands but after the ferry company went bankrupt the vessels were turned over to the US Maritime Administration. In Haiti they will operate under the auspices of the Military Sealift Command (MSC).

    Each vessel can carry 450 tonnes of cargo and 500 passengers at a sustained speed of 35 knots and can operate in shallow draft water.

    The MSC has mobilised 12 ships to assist with relief supplies to Haiti.

    News from the shipping lines

    UAL opens in Angola

    Universal Africa Lines (UAL), the specialist shipping line to West Africa’s oil and gas theatre, has added to its African investments with an office in Luanda in Angola. Monique Gubler, a former MD of Panalpina in Angola is the new General Manager of UAL Angola.

    Gubler says the office will satisfy demand in Angola for local content and black empowerment and UAL will develop the office and market in partnership with a local entity which has been approved by Sonangol, Angola’s national oil and gas company. She says that UAL’s investment will contribute to the development of a local shipping industry and augment regular shipments from South Africa as well as Europe and the USA into the West African region.

    UAL maintains a regular bi-monthly service from South Africa to the West African oil theatre with many shipments originating in Angola. Oil and Gas equipment from the West African oil theatre will be sent to South Africa for refurbishment after which it will be shipped back to West Africa.


    SAECS confirms additional reefer service

    The South Africa Europe Container Service (SAECS) has confirmed previously reported news of an additional shipping service to cater for anticipated season increases in refrigerated exports, SAECS will introduce the first vessel in the Reefer Express (REX) service from week 7 (February 15, 2010) in Cape Town. The REX service is an additional, ‘purely reefer’ container service designed to provide added capacity for refrigerated exports during the peak reefer season months of February to August and will call on rotation at Cape Town, Rotterdam (Uniport), Tilbury and Cape Town.

    SAECS member lines consist of Safmarine, Maersk Line, MOL and DAL


    Maersk Line launches Middle East-West Africa route

    Maersk Line will launch in February its new direct Middle East-West Africa service (MEW1) with weekly departures from Jebel Ali into the West African main ports of Abidjan, Tema and Apapa. The service is designed to reduce transit times by between 5 and 7 days compared with the current schedule. The new service will use nine ships in the 2,500-TEU range. The rotation becomes Pipadav (India), Jawaharlal Nehru (India), Jebel Ali (Dubai), Algeciras (Spain), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Tema (Ghana), Apapa (Nigeria), Salalah (Oman), Pipadav (India).


    Hapag-Lloyd announces general rate increases

    German container carrier Hapag-Lloyd has announced a range of general rate increases across several services. That which affects Africa is from Northern Europe to South Africa which comes into effect on 15 March when a rate increase of USD200 per 20ft container and USD300 per 40ft container will apply. For other areas please consult Hapag-Lloyd.


    CMA CGM imposes peak season surcharge on Asia-West & North Africa

    French line CMA CGM says it intends imposing a pre-Chinese New Year peak season levy on containers moved between Asia and North and West Africa. The surcharge of USD250 per 20ft container will come into effect from 1 February for cargo moving from Asia to Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. As from 25 January a peak season surcharge of USD200 per 20ft container will apply against cargo moved on the Far East – West Africa trades by members of the Asia-West Africa Trade Agreement, of which CMA CGM is a member.

    South Africa looks to increase coal exports

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    New tandem tippler installed at RBCT. Picture courtesy RBCT

    The news coming from last week’s McCloskey Coal Conference held in Cape Town suggests a growing South African confidence in the ability of existing coal terminals to handle increased volumes. Last year RBCT exported 61.14 million tonnes of coal for export compared with in excess of 69mt in 2005.

    Despite a steady decrease in exports since 2005, Raymond Chirwa, CEO of Richards Bay Coal Terminal said that RBCT was ready to look even beyond the 91mt that the terminal will be capable of handling in 2010 and was aspiring to extend exports beyond the 100mt mark to 110mt a year.

    His optimism may be constrained by the ability of Transnet Freight Rail to match deliveries of coal to the terminal in keeping with RBCT export plans.

    Meanwhile the Durban coal terminal, Bulk Connections reported to the conference that it has plans to increase export capacity of mainly coal to five million tonnes a year.

    Piracy - Senior UN official urges broad-based approach to fight piracy

    A top United Nations official has urged a comprehensive, cohesive and broad-based strategy to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia, noting that the continued spread of the scourge points to the limits of a solely sea-based approach.

    Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B Lynn Pascoe told a meeting of the Contact Group on piracy off the coast of Somalia that improved coordination between the international maritime community and military forces in the region, among other elements, has contributed to a decline in the rate of successful pirate attacks and raised the cost of pirate operations.

    “And yet piracy continues to expand further out to sea, at times more than 1,000 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia,” he noted in remarks delivered to the meeting at UN Headquarters by Charles Petrie, the UN's Deputy Special Representative for Somalia.

    He added that the rising costs of these attacks are met by ever more innovative financing mechanisms, including the establishment of stock exchanges which allow local investors to earn returns on their 'investment' in piracy operations.

    “These developments highlight the limits of an exclusively sea-based approach and emphasize the need for the international community to continue to deal with the issue of piracy in a comprehensive, cohesive and broad-based approach.

    “The United Nations remains committed to addressing the problem of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia holistically, in close coordination with the international community,” he added.

    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a report issued last November, called 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.

    Outlining some of the UN's initiatives, Mr Pascoe noted that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has begun work in the Horn of Africa nation to develop a prison system to enable the transfer of Somali pirates convicted in regional States to Somalia to serve their prison terms.

    In addition, the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) has recently offered to provide technical assistance to Somalia in the review of its maritime zones legislation, to place it in a better position to address the conditions that nurture and favour piracy. source - UN News Service

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Suez Canal Container Terminal hits 2.7 million TEU

    Few container terminals have been able to increase the amount of boxes handled in the past 12 months – Suez Canal Container Terminal being an exception. In 2009 SCCT handled a record 2.7 million TEUs, an 11 percent growth on 2008 and taking the terminal into the position of the African continent’s leading container terminal port, ahead of Durban. The 11 percent growth comes on top of a 34 percent growth recorded in 2008 and the terminal now handles one out of every five containers transshipped in the Eastern Mediterranean region.


    Nigerian tracking surcharge criticised

    The recent introduction of a new tracking document and fee at Nigerian ports is drawing mounting criticism from cargo owners who say it constitutes 20 percent of freight costs which turns Nigeria’s ports into among the most costly in West Africa. They claim the fee, which was introduced on 11 January and will come into effect in March, was announced without any prior consultation among relevant stakeholders. See our earlier report in PORTS & SHIPS dated 20 January Nigeria introduces tracking fee HERE


    Phoenicia arrives in Richards Bay

    The replica of a 2900 year old Phoenician galley has arrived in South Africa after an epic voyage down the East African coast, having started out in the Mediterranean. The unusual craft was met outside port and escorted in by over 20 yachts and power boats. Phoenicia, which is manned by a team of volunteers was built in Syria using similar materials to that used in the days of the Phoenicians, then the leading maritime nation of the Mediterranean. The expedition hopes to circumnavigate the continent of Africa to demonstrate that the story of a similar navigation given by the Greek historian Herodotus of a voyage made at the behest of Pharaoh Necho was feasible. The galley leaves the Zululand port for Cape Town this coming Wednesday and does not intend making other calls along the coast.

    Mozambique railway to Zimbabwe washed away

    Mozambique’s port and rail company CFM reports that the railway between the port of Maputo and Zimbabwe, which was washed away last Friday after two days of heavy rain, will be restored shortly. The line was washed away along a seven metre section near the urban area of Ferroviario, leaving a four metre hole beneath the tracks. The Mozambique news agency AIM reports that the problem arose when a culvert collapsed under the weight of water. It said that locals had blocked the culvert entrance to prevent the drainage system from working as they did not want the floodwaters to flow into their gardens.

    BRIGHT DREAM towed back to Durban

    The multipurpose Ro-Ro vessel BRIGHT DREAM, which was sold at a judicial auction held in Richards Bay in December, has been towed back to Durban by the tug HAKO 18 after developing engine failure while on her voyage to India and the breakers yard. PORTS & SHIPS is unsure of where the ship broke down after sailing from Richards Bay last week but the tug and tow was noticed passing Hibberdene on the KZN South Coast late last week heading up the coast for Durban, where they arrived later on Thursday. It is presumed the ship may have drifted some considerable distance south after losing engine power as the South Coast is some way off a direct route from Richards Bay to India.

    Today’s recommended Read – Boxlines are getting the message

    Super-slow-steaming strategies and idle vessels are evidence that boxship operators are finally learning how to manage capacity, claimed Jorn Hinge, president and CEO of United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) last week.

    With some 1.44 million TEU of capacity at anchorage, according to the latest figures from Alphaliner, he said that container lines deserved credit for cutting back global capacity and saving the industry from financial meltdown.

    But he lamented that it had taken so long for his peers to see that the collapse of volumes and rates required unprecedented corrective action. “This is the first time we’ve all behaved sensibly,” he said. “It’s just a shame we didn’t do it 12 months earlier. We could have saved a fortune.”

    Read the rest of this report in the British trade paper IFW 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.

    Pics of the day – OCEANIC IN DISTRESS

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    The visit to Cape Town last week of the Peace Boat, otherwise known as the OCEANIC, did not pass without incident, reports Ian Shiffman. The ship was due to depart at 3pm on Thursday (28 January) but a 45-knot South Easter kept her port bound. During the night the wind peaked at 60 knots, forcing the harbour to be closed and container working was halted.

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    By Friday morning the wind had dropped under 20 knots and the pilot in charge, with the assistance of three harbour tugs, did a magnificent job of turning the ship in the Duncan Dock in the wind and then heading out into Table Bay. Once the pilot had disembarked and the tugs had begun to make their way back to the dock, the OCEANIC appeared to have engine failure and collided with one of the buoys on her starboard bow, causing some damage to the buoy but no apparent damage to the ship.

    The pilot and three tugs rushed to assist and with smoke bellowing out of her funnel the passenger ship drifted in the southeaster. Luckily the engines started and she headed off for Walvis Bay – a lucky escape which could have had a different ending. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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