Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 30, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – HMS SCOTT

  • RBCT achieves level 3 with broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE)

  • Safmarine withdraws from Europe-Asia trade but strengthens its Med – West Central Asia service

  • Maruba includes Durban in its planned new Round the World schedule

  • Piracy – more ships come under attack

  • Lobito port statistics for 2009

  • Two oil rigs may be heading for Walvis Bay

  • Tanker goes aground in Suez Canal

  • Pics of the day – PEARL K and ATLANTIC BREEZE


    First View – HMS SCOTT

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    The Royal Navy hydographic survey vessel HMS SCOTT (H131) leaves Simon’s Town Naval Base on the morning of 29 March, after completng a scheduled visit to the South African Naval Base for some R&R. See our news bulletin for 18 March for details of this ship. Picture by David Erickson

    RBCT achieves level 3 with broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE)

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    Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) says it has achieved level 3 for its broad-based black economic empowerment policies.

    RBCT is South Africa’s third largest foreign exchange earner and one of the largest coal-exporting terminals in the world, with a capacity of 76 million tons. This is soon to become 91 million tons, even though only 61.14 million tons were exported last year to European, Indian and Asian markets.

    Emex Trust, an independent verification agency, scored RBCT particularly well in the ownership, management and control, skills development, preferential procurement, enterprise development and socio-economic development categories.

    The verification process complies with the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act 53 of 2003, Codes of Good Practice and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) methodology.

    During the past three years RBCT has been transformed from being a level five Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) company to becoming one of the first 21.76% black owned companies in South Africa. In 2004, RBCT was only 0.5% BEE-owned.

    “In 2009 alone we spent about R354 million, which is just above 60% of our operational budget on black owned enterprises,” said Raymond Chirwa, Chief Executive, RBCT. “This places RBCT as one of the most truly transformed businesses in line with South Africa's transformational agenda.

    “BBBEE is not just a tick-box exercise for RBCT but a business imperative which is strategically driven and supported by a team of dedicated individuals, who ensure that the culture of transformation is inculcated throughout the organisation.”

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    Raymond Chirwa, RBCT’s CEO

    Safmarine withdraws from Europe-Asia trade but strengthens its Med – West Central Asia service

    Safmarine has announced the reintroduction of its ME 3 shipping service between the Mediterranean and West Central Asia.

    Safmarine’s Liner Director Jan Scheck says the reintroduction of the service is aligned with the company’s plans to strengthen its presence in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region. “It also supports Safmarine’s renewed focus on its core markets in the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and Africa.”

    Safmarine recently announced its withdrawal from the Europe-Far East services – see below.

    The ME 3 service is being reintroduced as a dedicated product for the Mediterranean – Middle East/India trade after its temporary withdrawal in 2009. While offering best in class transit times, the new ME3 is designed for direct Turkey coverage with a direct call in Ambarli.

    “The focus of the revised ME 3 service is on providing an improved product, rather than on increasing capacity, hence the decision to add a direct call at Ambarli and to deploy smaller vessels on the revised service,” says Scheck.

    The reintroduction of the ME 3 service also complements the product enhancements made to the ME1 service whereby the ports of Gioia Tauro and Port Said have been removed from ME 1 (since these will now be covered on ME3) and replaced with eastbound calls at Algeciras and Aqaba. The ME 1 service will also offer an exclusive, direct North Europe to Aqaba connection which will be the fastest in the market.

    “The combined product changes on ME 1 and ME 3 will also lead to an improved Intra-Middle East service as these services will provide more frequent departures from West and North India to Jebel Ali and the ports served in this region,” says Scheck.

    “Similarly we will be able to offer an additional weekly sailing from the Gulf area to Pipavav and Jawaharlal Nehru. The addition of Aqaba to the ME1 rotation will also enable a fast and direct service from Jordan to Jebel Ali and West and North India.”

    Five vessels in the 1400-TEU range will be deployed to the ME 3 service with a rotation of Pipavav (India) – Jawaharlal Nehru (India) – Jebel Ali (UAE) – Salalah (Oman) – Port Said (Egypt) – Ambarli (Turkey) – Gioia Tauro (Italy) – Port Said (Egypt) – Jebel Ali.

    The first effective ME 3 sailings are Westbound: Nedlloyd Asia 6LF/1006 departing Nhava Sheva on 11 April, and Eastbound: Nedlloyd Asia 6LF/1009 departing Ambarli on 29 April.

    The ME 1 rotation commences with Westbound: Maersk Kithira 8KF/1006 departing Jebel Ali - 8 April, and Eastbound: Maersk Kimi 8JF/1007 departing Felixstowe (United Kingdom) - 18 April.

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    Picture by Aad Noorland

    This latest announcement follows an earlier one by Safmarine that it is withdrawing from the Asia – Europe trades. This includes all Asia-Europe strings between Asia and the Northern West Continent of Europe, Iberian, Italian and Balkan Peninsulas and Eastern Europe. The company will continue to serve all the Asia to Africa markets, including North Africa.

    The withdrawal has already commenced, with final cargoes being shipped by Wednesday 30 June. A very small number of larger accounts who have contractual commitments with Safmarine will withdraw their volumes in a phased approach to be concluded by the end of the year.

    This long-term decision has been taken to ensure a sustainable and profitable future for Safmarine as a Regional Carrier providing and developing our market-leading core services to and from Africa, the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent, Safmarine said in a statement.

    Last year Safmarine announced it was withdrawing from the transpacific trade lane at the end of June 2010, citing its unprofitable participation in the trade as the reason.

    Maruba includes Durban in its planned new Round the World schedule

    Argentinean shipping line Maruba, which has recently been much in the news for its financial woes, has revealed a new Round the World service schedule which it intends operating alone and without troublesome partners.

    Eight vessels including Maruba Simmons which was detained for 10 weeks in Rio de Janeiro late last year and into January, will be deployed on the fortnightly service via the Magellan Straits linking the port of Buenos Aires with Puerto Madryn in Patagonia. The service then continues to Chile, Peru and Mexico before heading for Asia. From Asia the ships sail westbound for Durban and then round the Cape of Good Hope for South America.

    A company spokesman said the following rotation was one that was likely to be used: Qingdao (China), Busan (South Korea), Shanghai, Ningbo, Da Chan Bay, Hong Kong (all China), Port Kelang (Malaysia), Durban (South Africa), Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Itajai (all Brazil), Buenos Aires, Montevideo (Uruguay), Rio Grande (Brazil), Puerto Madryn (Argentina Patagonia), San Antonio (Chile), Callao (Peru), Manzanillo (Mexico) and Qingdao (China).

    An official confirmation is expected shortly.

    Maruba is still looking for investors to help pay off its debts that at one stage all but crippled the company. These include the Argentine government and the trade union Somu, as well as a number of private investors. Maruba, in which the Rodrigues family hopes to retain a 40% interest, requires about USD 50 million to clear outstanding debts.

    Piracy – more ships come under attack

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    Piracy off the African coast continues unabated. In West Africa, where such attacks often go unreported, three crew members on a Turkish-flagged tanker at anchor near Lagos were injured when pirates reportedly attacked the vessel last Thursday night. At least eight pirates found their way on board the OZAY-5 (11,490-dwt), firing shots and leaving three crew members injured, before making off with goods and cash. The three injured crewmen were later taken to a Lagos hospital where they are being treated.

    On the other side of Africa the Panamanian-flagged Ro-Ro vessel, ICEBERG 1 (4,500-dwt) was captured by Somali pirates within 10 n.miles of the port of Aden in Yemen. The ship has a crew of 24 seafarers on board.

    The vessel was bound for Jebel Ali but is now on a heading for the Somali coast, according to EU NAVFOR.

    In another incident the Zim line vessel AFRICA STAR came under attack for a second time while sailing about 350 n.miles from the Somali coast. The vessel was en route from Mombasa to Djibouti. Armed guards on board the Israeli ship opened fire on the attackers in two skiffs and managed to beat them off. There were no injuries on the ship – it is not known whether any of the pirates were injured.

    Two days earlier Africa Star came under attack while the ship was close to the port of Mombasa. Once again the Israeli guards were forced to open fire, driving off the attackers.

    In 2009 the same ship, then flying the Maltese flag came under attack from pirates while about 700 n.miles from Somalia. There were no injuries on that occasion and the ship escaped unscathed.

    In yet another incident, this time on Saturday 27 March, the Malta-flagged tanker SAVEH (150,000-dwt) came under attack from a typical pirate group consisting of two skiffs and a mother ship about 300 n.miles north east of the Seychelles. Saveh had sailed from Durban in ballast and was bound for Kuwait. By taking evasive action over a period of about two hours the master of the ship was able to steer to safety. The European naval presence in the area, EU NAVFOR said later it was searching for the pirates.

    Speaking to a group of African journalists, French Rear Admiral Christophe Prazuck said the pirates were becoming more organised and coordinated. Whereas before a ship coming under attack was able to speed off, the pirates were now increasingly operating with three vessels, of which two are used for attacking and the third to carry fuel and supplies, he said. One boat is used to fire weapons at the ships while the other attempts to place a ladder against the side and to climb aboard.

    If a warship intervenes the pirates simply throw their weapons into the ea and claim they were fishermen. Without proof and jurisdiction there is little the naval forces can do. He said attacks were now being made further afield, with one that was even closer to India than to Somalia, and were increasing in number. Even with 30 naval ships on patrol it is proving impossible to secure the entire area from pirates, he said. The solution, he maintained, lay in Somalia and not on the high seas.

    Lobito port statistics for 2009

    The Angolan port of Lobito handled a total of 2.4 million tonnes of cargo during the 2009 financial year, Angola’s news agency ANGOP has revealed.

    Quoting the port’s director general, José Carlos Gomes, it said the port handled 24,668 containers (TEUs, presumably) and 2,502 motor vehicles.

    During the year a total of 572 ships called at the port.

    Gomes said that Lobito was undergoing a modernisation of its infrastructure and equipment, including the creation of a dry port and the paving of more than four hectares within the port precinct.

    Two oil rigs may be heading for Walvis Bay

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    Pride South Seas in Cape Town, by Aad Noorland

    Walvis Bay is looking ahead to the possibility of having two oil rigs making use of the port’s facilities and services, one in cold stack mode and the other under repair for service.

    According to the Namib Times the semi submersible drilling rig PRIDE SOUTH SEAS is likely to be moved to Walvis Bay in the near future where the rig, which has been in operation off the South African coast on behalf of PetroSA, will be shut down and mothballed, or placed in cold stack with just a skeleton crew to look after it.

    Apparently the owner and operator, Pride International is looking for future contracts in West African waters and Walvis Bay, with good ship repair facilities is considered ideal to stage the rig.

    Meanwhile, another semi submersible rig, Transocean’s ALEUTIAN KEY is currently off Gabon and is to be towed to Walvis Bay to prepare the rig for being returned to service for a new drilling contract later this year.

    Tanker goes aground in Suez Canal

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    An oil tanker, MARE MONROVIA (54,000-dwt) ran aground in the Suez Canal on Sunday.

    The grounding took place in the eastern channel of Crocodile Lake, about halfway along the 163-km canal, according to witnesses. There were no oil spills or leakages and traffic was rerouted through Crocodile Lake’s west channel while emergency response teams attempted to refloat the tanker.

    Pics of the day – PEARL K and ATLANTIC BREEZE

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    The Bulgarian general cargo ship PEARL K (14,348-gt, built 1987) in Cape Town earlier in March. Picture is by Ian Shiffman

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    The Hong Kong-flagged products tanker ATLANTIC BREEZE (47,128-dwt, built 2007) in Cape Town during March. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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