Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 11, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Margaret on the rocks

  • Strike threatens Port of Mombasa with congestion

  • Phoenician replica ship sails unexpectedly into Durban

  • al Qaeda threat to close Red Sea to shipping

  • Navy news – the Germans arrive for Exercise Good Hope

  • Piracy – highjacked ship is released

  • Today’s recommended Read – Comparing the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord

  • Pics of the day – SAFMARINE ANDISA



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    Crystal Cruises’ lovely cruise ship CRYSTAL SERENITY (68,870-gt, built 2003) arrived in Cape Town yesterday at the start of her cruise along the eastern seaboard of South Africa that will take her into Port Elizabeth on Friday and Durban on Sunday. Aad Noorland was at the wharfside to take this picture of the ship berthed alongside Cape Town’s Eastern mole.

    Margaret on the rocks

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    the pontoon MARGARET on the rocks at Jacobsbaai, with her deck loaded with river barges. Picture by Colin Clegg

    The pontoon MARGARET, which went aground on rocks at Jacobsbaai on the west coast last June, has resisted both the sea and several man-made attempts to refloat her. The barge is loaded with a cargo of 12 river barges and two floating docks.

    The latest plan to remove the casualty is to topple the cargo into the ocean and recover whatever floats.

    The two docks which were built in China were intended for the firm of LJ Boer in Sliedrecht in the Netherlands. The final destination of the river barges has not been identified.

    The pontoon was being towed from Shanghai to the Netherlands by the POSH/Semco tug SALVALIANT when bad weather off the South African west coast was encountered on the night of 24 June 2009, leading to the loss of the tow. In deteriorating weather the pontoon went aground along a rocky shoreline, directly opposite a number of holiday homes overlooking the scene.

    As far as can be ascertained the pontoon and cargo were not insured and have since been abandoned, leaving the cleanup to the expense of the South African taxpayer. In the last week of January a SMIT Salvage team was mobilised to the site on instruction of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and is currently preparing the barge with the plan of toppling her cargo of river barges and the two docks in a systematic manner, in the hope that some of them will float free and be recoverable. It is assumed that any unrecoverable remains will be taken into deep water and allowed to sink.

    With the top priority during the operation being one of safety of salvage personnel, a comprehensive safety management plan has been put in place. Local residents have also been briefed and are being kept updated on a daily basis.

    SELI I

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    SELI I aground in Table Bay. Picture by Steve McCurrach http://www.airserv.co.za/maritime.htm

    In other salvage news out of the Cape, the salvage firm of SMIT Amandla Marine is continuing to provide caretaking support as well as the management of marine and safety matters regarding the grounded bulker SELI 1, which is aground in Table Bay. The company holding the contract to remove the cargo of 30,000 tonnes of coal, which was originally loaded in Durban, has so far removed about 8,000 tonnes and the operation is continuing subject to suitable weather conditions.


    Work on removing some of the cargo on board the ore carrier ALINA II is proceeding in Saldanha Bay. Approximately 17,000 tonnes of coal is being taken off in a ship-to-ship cargo removal operation. The salvage firm of SMIT Amandla Marine is providing suitable vessels, fenders, marine advisors and crew to assist with the transfer.

    Alina II suffered structural damage shortly before sailing for China from Saldanha’s iron ore terminal and developed a small list. Subsequent inspection revealed an ingress of water in the number two double bottom tank where divers later found a crack. The ship has remained in port while repairs are carried out and some of her cargo is removed.

    Strike threatens Port of Mombasa with congestion

    The Kenyan port of Mombasa is again facing a crisis as port workers entered their second day of strike yesterday, leaving stakeholders to fear that congestion would result from any further delay in resolving the dispute.

    More than 2,000 loaders went on strike over demands for better pay. Already violence has flared on several occasions and 36 strikers were arrested after motorists were harassed and shops looted.

    A spokesman for the strikers, Kennedy Ojika said that all loaders in the Shimanzi and Changamwe go-downs were out on strike and would continue that way until their demands were met.

    The loaders are demanding that they be paid KSh17 per bag offloaded from the trucks – they currently receive Sk11 per bag. They are paid Sh2,500 to load a 20ft container but want double this. – source Daily Nation

    Phoenician replica ship sails unexpectedly into Durban

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    PHOENICIA in Durban harbour on Wednesday. Picture by Terry Hutson

    The replica of a Phoenician sailing ship that is currently circumnavigating Africa, sailed unexpectedly into Durban harbour yesterday.

    The vessel named PHOENICIA is manned by a team of volunteers headed by Philip Beale, and had sailed from Richards Bay bound for Cape Town. The purpose of the voyage is to prove that a voyage such as this was possible, as had been claimed by the Greek historian Herodotus.

    According to her published schedule the ship, which was built in Syria using methods similar to those used by the ancient Phoenicians, was to have sailed direct to Cape Town, a journey of about 900 nautical miles.

    The unusual ship, which is equipped with a single sail is berthed at the international section of the Durban yacht marina.

    al Qaeda threat to close Red Sea to shipping

    These days any threat from a terrorist organisation is taken seriously, no matter how implausible it may seem at the time. According to a recording posted on the Internet on Monday, the Yemen-based division of al Qaeda has called for a regional jihad or holy war and a blockade of the Red Sea – with the intention of preventing US aid to Israel.

    Al Qaeda regional leader in Yemen, Saeed al-Shehri called on Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamist insurgents to help return the Bab al Mandab Strait, which separates Yemen from the Horn of Africa, “to the lands of Islam.”

    “At such a time the Bab (al Mandab) will be closed and that will tighten the noose on the Jews (Israel), because through it America supports them by the Red Sea. Due to the importance of Bab al Mandab, this would be a great victory,” said Shehri in a sound byte posted on a website used by Islamist groups.

    Yemen has been engaged in a major struggle over several years with the al Qaeda-led insurgent movement. The group claimed responsibility for the explosion that damaged the US Navy destroyer USS Cole some years ago, and also more recently for a failed bomb attack on a US aircraft bound for Detroit.

    Shehri is a former inmate of the infamous US prison at Guantanamo Bay.

    Navy news – the Germans arrive for Exercise Good Hope

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    FGS WESTWERWALD arrives in Simon’s Town on 4 February. Picture by David Erickson

    South African Navy warships, which have been mostly confined to base in recent months, will again head out to sea from later next week when they engage with ships of the German Navy in annual exercises off the Cape coast.

    With the arrival in Simon’s Town over the next few days of the four German ships, the Type 123 frigate FGS BRANDENBURG (F215), the Type 122 frigate FGS NIEDERSACHSEN (F208), the Type 702 multipurpose replenishment ship FGS FRANFURT/MAIN (A1412) and the Type 760 supply ship FGS WESTERWALD (A1435), Exercise Good Hope will be able to get underway as planned from 15 February.

    According to the South African Navy the exercise will conclude on 15 March. The first phase from 15 February to the 21st involves planning and integration, and the second phase will include a series of missile firings from 1 to 5 March.

    South Africa will deploy the following ships: the Valour class frigates SAS AMATOLA (F145) and SAS SPIOENKOP (F147), the Heroine-class submarine QUEEN MODJADJI I (S103), the River Class mine countermeasure ships, SAS UMZIMKULU and SAS UMKOMAAS, the inshore patrol boats SAS TOBIE and SAS TERN, and elements of the Maritime Reaction Squadron.

    In addition aircraft of the South African and German Air Forces will take part, including Oryx M1 helicopters, AgustaWestland Superlynx 300 maritime helicopters, Hawk Mk120 fighter trainers, Pilatus PC7 Mark II Astra trainers, Douglas C47TP maritime patrol aircraft, Cessna C208 Caravan light transports fitted with Carl Zeiss Optronics LEO observation systems, and from the German Luftwaffe, Panavia Tornado fighter bombers.

    Meanwhile, the two US Navy warships that recently visited Durban and Cape Town, HSV-2 SWIFT and the frigate USS NICHOLAS have arrived in the Mozambique port of Maputo on the next leg of their extensive Africa East Coast cruise.

    In other international naval news, it has been confirmed that the French are negotiating with the Russians over the sale of one or more Mistral class landing ships. The 200 metre ship, which displaces 20,000 tonnes has the capacity to carry up to 35 helicopters, four landing craft including hovercraft-types, 70 land-going military vehicles and up to 900 troops. Provided the sale goes through this will mark the first time a NATO member has sold warships to Russia.

    The possibility has however raised considerable concern among several former Soviet nations, including Georgia which was recently invaded by Russian troops who provided support to a separatist movement in the Caucasus country.

    Several Baltic states have also expressed their concern saying that such a sale would leave them exposed to Russian pressure. While the French have promoted the use of the Mistral class ship as being for mainly humanitarian purposes, Russia has made no such pretence. In September 2009 the chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said that if Russia had a Mistral-type ship she could have defeated the Georgians in 40 minutes instead of 26 hours.

    Analysts have agreed that if the Russians acquire the Mistrals it would give them the ability to influence or ‘bully’ former dependent states, especially those in the Black Sea.

    Piracy – Highjacked ship is released

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    FNS SURCOUF escorts SEA DIAMOND through pirate-threatened waters. Picture courtesy EU NAVFOR

    Somali pirates have released the bulk carrier AL KHALIQ and her crew of 26 after a ransom was paid. The Panama-registered bulk carrier was highjacked on 22 October 2009 while sailing some 180 n.miles off the Seychelles. The ship was taken to anchorage off the coast of Somalia and negotiations for the vessel and crew’s release began. The crew consisted of 24 Indians and 2 Burmese. According to EU NAVFOR no escort has been provided for the released vessel by request but a tug, the ALPHA PINA is providing the vessel with supplies.

    Meanwhile EU NAVFOR reports that the French Navy ship FNS SURCOUF has arrived off the Somali port of Mogadishu as escort for two World Food Programme (WFP) relief vessels, ABDUL RAHMAN and SEA DIAMOND. The French ship picked up the escort duty at the Kenyan port of Mombasa and waited in the area of Mogadishu until the arrival of an AMISOM security team that took over responsibility for the two merchant ships. FNS Surcouf then returned to Mombasa, her next port of call.

    The main purpose of EU NAVFOR SOMALIA Operation Atalanta force warships is to provide escort facilities for merchant ships carrying humanitarian aid on behalf of the WFP. However, the warships also take part in other activities aimed at deterring piracy in the region.

    Today’s recommended Read – Comparing the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord

    Willemien Denner, a graduate of Stellenbosch University and a tralac Researcher, provides a comparison between the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord. Denner holds a B Com Honours degree in Economics and a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB) from the University of Stellenbosch. She has been a researcher at tralac since February 2009 with research interests in trade data and modeling, international arbitration and mediation, regional integration and international trade policy.

    Find the comparison 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 –SAFMARINE ANDISA

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    The Swiss-owned container ship SAFMARINE ANDISA (9,938-gt, built 2008) which was in Cape Town harbour this week. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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