Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 16, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – DISCOVERY

  • Wilh Wilhelmsen intends to restructure

  • WFP to help expand Bossasso port

  • Pirates attack German container vessel Lübeck, open fire

  • International navies take the attack to the pirate mother ships

  • Mombasa hit by insurance premium

  • Nigerian government tells contractor to ‘pull finger’ with Onitsha inland river port

  • Cyclone Hubert devastates southeast coast of Madagascar

  • Suez ports shut because of sand storms

  • Pics of the day – ETEL


    First View – DISCOVERY

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    The 600-passenger cruise ship DISCOVERY (20,216-gt, built 1971) of Voyages of Discovery arrived in Cape Town yesterday (Monday) from Richards Bay. Built as the ISLAND VENTURE for Norwegian Cruiseships AS, she also operated as ISLAND PRINCESS with the P&O group, then as HYUNDAI PUNGAK and later as PLATINUM, before taking on her current identity in 2002. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Wilh Wilhelmsen intends to restructure

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    The car carrier MANON (67,264-gt, built 1999) in Durban harbour – picture by Terry Hutson

    Lysaker, 15 March - The board of directors of Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA (WWI) announced today that it plans to restructure the company to enable its shipping and logistics interests to go forward as a separate entity able to raise capital.

    “The reason for the restructuring is to position the group for future growth,” said Wilhelm Wilhelmsen, chairman of WWI.

    In its new group structure, the shipping and logistics activities of WWI will be carried forward in a separate entity, the new Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA (new WW ASA). A newly incorporated company, Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding ASA, will be the new parent company of the WW group, including the majority shareholder of new WW ASA as well as the only shareholder of Wilhelmsen Maritime Services AS (if that doesn’t confuse you, dear reader, nothing will).

    The restructuring facilitates independent business developments of the shipping and logistics segment on the one hand and the maritime services segment on the other.

    “It is deemed preferable to develop our business segments independently because the size and the capital intensity of the segments are different. The restructuring is conducted to facilitate a listing and separate access to the equity market for the shipping and logistics activities of WWI,” says Mr Wilhelmsen.

    “With the restructuring we are creating the only listed pure car/ro-ro and logistics company in the world. The recent market corrections have created opportunities for players with strong balance sheets and we need to ensure that we are prepared to act on opportunities that might arise. A separate listing strengthens the possibility for growing the shipping and logistics activities even further.”

    The restructuring is subject to approval at Wilh. Wilhelmsen’s annual general meeting on 15 April 2010. The group hopes to raise between USD 200 and USD 400 million in the initial offering for the shipping and logistics business, which is co-owner of several companies involved in the shipment of cars and various roll on roll off cargo. These include Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, EUKOR Car Carriers Ltd. and American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier.

    WFP to help expand Bossasso port

    The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has signed an agreement with Somali’s Puntland state to help expand the capacity of the port of Bossasso in Puntland on the Horn of Africa.

    Bossasso serves the Somali peninsular but lacks the ability to handle large ships, thus hindering the ability of the WFP when sending in food and other aid to the region.

    “One of the items in the agreement we signed with WFP include the expansion of Bossasso port so that big vessels can dock without any problem,” said Puntland Information Minister Abdihakin Ahmed Guled after the signing.

    He announced that WFP has also been given the right to establish warehouses in Bossasso to further assist with the distribution of aid parcels.

    Pirates attack German container vessel Lübeck, open fire

    The ship MV Lübeck, previously of the China Shipping Container Lines, and now under German ownership, evaded pirate attack in the Somali Basin some 450 nautical miles NE of the Seychelles in the late hours of 11th, stretching into the early hours of 12 March, reports EU NAVFOR.

    The ship is a container vessel of 33,694 deadweight tonnes and is Liberia flagged.

    The Lübeck was en route to Salalah when it was attacked from the rear of the ship, with pirates opening fire using automatic weapons. The ship sustained some minor small arms fire damage to the funnel and crane forward of the ship’s bridge. All personnel are reported to be safe and well. EU NAVFOR is monitoring the situation and searching for pirate action groups operating in the area.

    EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation ATALANTA’s main tasks are to escort merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid of the ‘World Food Program’ (WFP) and vessels of AMISOM, and to protect vulnerable ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and to deter and disrupt piracy. EU NAVFOR also monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.

    International navies take the attack to the pirate mother ships

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    HDMS Absolom

    The international anti-piracy patrols operating in the area off Somalia have altered tactics with regards the Somali pirates and now intend hunting down the mother ships and destroying them on the water, thus preventing pirates from having free access far from the Somali coast.

    The pirates who attack ships from small motor boats or skiffs are believed to operate from larger ‘mother ships’ – often dhows or tugs captured previously, that are used to fuel and assist the skiffs to reach distances as great as 1,000 miles from the African coast.

    But now international navies appear to have taken the decision to go out and seek these mother vessels and prevent them from offering long-range protection. There have been reports that the Danish ship HDMS ABSOLOM has already destroyed at least one mother ship after which the crew was taken and put ashore in Somalia.

    If the international naval forces find sufficient evidence of piracy while destroying these vessels they intend taking the pirates to either the Seychelles or to Kenya where they will be prosecuted in court. Both countries have agreed to the use of their courts and legal system to prosecute foreign pirates captured on the high seas and in Kenya several cases have already been heard. Last week a number of pirates were sentenced to terms of 20 years in jail after being found guilty of piracy at sea.

    A number of Western governments are providing financial assistance to the Seychelles and Kenya to facilitate the use of the respective legal systems.

    Until now every move made by international forces to counter piracy off Somali has been met with counter strategies that have kept the pirates one step ahead. One of these was the ability to start operating far from land, thus avoiding the problem of anti-pirate patrols in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast. This succeeded in stretching the ability of international forces who admit they do not possess the resources to prevent piracy across such a wide theatre.

    Mombasa hit by insurance premium

    Shipping lines, faced with increased costs while operating in pirate infested waters, have imposed a new premium known as the general cartage insurance on cargo imported into Kenya through the port of Mombasa.

    The premium came into effect on 1 March leaving importers little option but to pass on the additional costs to the end user. According to Gilbert Langat, CEO of the Kenya Shippers Council, the new insurance premiums could add 10 percent to the cost of imported goods.

    Nigerian government tells contractor to ‘pull finger’ with Onitsha inland river port

    Nigeria’s Minister of Transport Ibrahim Bio has served notice on the contractor involved with rehabilitating the inland river port of Onitsha to ensure that it is completed within the stipulated time and in good order.

    During an inspection of the project in Onitsha the minister said operators were anxious to have use of the port facilities for loading and off-loading barges and river craft. The project includes the Niger River dredging project which aims at all-year round navigation of the river from Warri in Delta State to Baro in Niger State.

    He said that when he last visited the port of Onitsha one year ago it was an eyesore. He referred to the history of the project which dated back as far as 1983 but had been abandoned, despite valuable material and equipment being placed on site for the project. This had been vandalized and had deteriorated beyond use.

    Cyclone Hubert devastates southeast coast of Madagascar

    Johannesburg, 15 March (IRIN) - Tropical storm Hubert battered Madagascar on 10 March, cutting off entire communities in the southeast from emergency aid. A limited amount of relief - mainly food items - has been flown in because of damage to infrastructure, and aid agencies are trying to reach people in need of assistance via the river systems.

    Dia Styvanley Soa, spokeswoman for Madagascar's disaster management agency, BNGRC, told IRIN that according to the latest estimates, “36 people lost their lives and some 85,000 have been affected,” and a further eight people lost their lives in mudslides on 15 March.

    "We now have a problem with logistics - many roads have been cut off and many communities are now isolated," she said, particularly in the southeastern province of Fianarantsoa.

    A statement by the BNGRC on 14 March said 20 tonnes of rice and other relief items, like medicines and tents, had been distributed, but more was needed.

    In previous years the BNGRC had managed to store relief items throughout the country in anticipation of the ‘cyclone season’, but this year pre-positioning had not been possible, Soa said.

    Madagascar lies in the main path of storms crossing the western Indian Ocean and is battered by cyclones every year; five have struck in the last two years, affecting over 463,000 people.

    In November 2009, the UN Country Team raised concern over the approaching cyclone season and appealed for USD 6 million in urgent funding to pre-position emergency supplies in the most vulnerable regions of the country. A drought in the south in early 2009 had depleted stocks, but political infighting caused Madagascar's major donors to disengage and funding ran dry.

    The cyclone season typically runs from November to April, but this year it has been relatively mild and Hubert was the first storm to cause major destruction. However, the Malagasy Meteorological Service has warned that there might be more severe storms before the season ends.

    Suez ports shut because of sand storms

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    Five Egyptian ports in the Gulf of Suez including Suez, Zaytiya and el-Sahana were closed this week because of sand storms, and traffic in the Suez Canal has slowed to an almost trickle. Further afield Cairo Airport was affected and forced to close to traffic.

    The affected ports shut down operations on Sunday ‘until further notice’ because of the sandy winds, which reduced visibility and made working conditions unbearable. The winds continued through yesterday (Monday) averaging 40 kph.

    Traffic through the Suez Canal crawled to a halt and 15 ships were prevented from entering or exiting the ports. On Sunday only 26 ships managed to transit the canal, compared with an average of 47 a day.

    Pics of the day – ETEL

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    The rather austere Ukrainian Ro-Ro cargo vessel ETEL (8,454-gt, built 1977) called at Cape Town yesterday. As might be expected from her age, the ship has undergone several changes of identity and ownership, having been built in the Rauma shipyard in Finland for the Russian-owned Latvian Shipping Company, who named her MEKHANIC FEDEROV. In 1991 the ship changed hands and took on the name MEKHANIKIS F JODORVS for the Dogoe Shipping Co registered in Malta, although as the name suggests she remained a Russian vessel. In 1999 and still in Dogoe ownership she was renamed CCTL HAMBURG, with the prefix CCTL being dropped in 2002 on completion of her charter after which she operated simply as HAMBURG. In 2007 the ship was sold to her present owners in Odessa and renamed ETEL. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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