Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 28, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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  • First View – TORM HELENE

  • Piracy update – EU warships destroy pirate groups

  • EASSy cable is laid

  • MOL adds Lagos call to its Tangier-West Africa feeder service

  • CPI expected to ease in March

  • Maputo Corridor scores a first with BMW motor cars

  • Wartsila downgrades – 730 laid off in Finland

  • The saga of Saga Rose’s mystery voyage

  • Pics of the day – VINNI


    First View – TORM HELENE

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    The Danish oil products tanker TORM HELENE (99,999-dwt, built 1997) in Cape Town harbour in this August 2008 scene. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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    Piracy update – EU warships destroy pirate groups

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    The Dutch Navy dock landing ship HNLMS Johan de Witt – see below. Picture US Marines

    The Spanish frigate ESPS VICTORIA, operating with the EU NAVFOR off Somalia, yesterday intercepted a pirate action group (PAG) comprising one mother ship, a whaler, and two skiffs.

    The suspected pirates were detected by the frigate’s helicopter 40 miles from the Somali coast north west of the Seychelles. The helicopter crew saw that the mother ship was carrying a large number of fuel drums, and also the normal paraphernalia for hijacking ships (ladders, hooks, etc); there was no fishing gear on board.

    ESPS Victoria closed the PAG position and, following the orders of the EU NAVFOR Force Commander Jan Thörnqvist, a search was conducted amidst no opposition from the pirates. The boarding party confirmed the suspicions that these vessels were being used with the intent to carry out acts of piracy.

    All the suspects were then put into one of the skiffs and given the necessary equipment to reach the Somali coast. Victoria then proceeded to destroy the other vessels.

    On Saturday 24 of April the Dutch dock landing ship HNLMS JOHAN DE WITT (L801), also operating with EU NAVFOR, prevented yet another pirate group from leaving the Somali coast and confiscated their vessel.

    This was the second event in four days of patrolling in the area for the Dutch ship. Two whalers were lifted on board of Johan de Witt and five crewmembers of the whaler were sent safely back to the shore.

    HNLMS Johan de Witt is the newest and biggest ship of the Royal Netherlands Navy. She can operate near the coast, greatly enhancing EU NAVFOR’s new strategy.

    “It’s a new concept and to be honest, the ship was not designed for it. But it shows the flexibility of the ship, the craft and, of course, her crew; they are the ones that do the job!” Commanding Officer Ben Bekkering states.

    In other incidents involving Somali pirates, four ships came under threat of being highjacked. The vessels involved were a Malaysian chemical products tanker, a Yemeni chemical products tanker, a Japanese very large crude carrier (VLCC) tanker and an Indian bulker.

    All four ships managed to escape by using evasive manoeuvring tactics. The attacks took place on Sunday 25 April with the Indian and Yemeni ships being attacked in the southern Red Sea, and the Japanese VLCC near the island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea followed a short while later by a similar attack in the same area on the Malaysian tanker.

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    EASSy cable is laid

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    Ile de Batz in Durban in February this year. Picture by Terry Hutson

    The East African Submarine Cable System, known as EASSy, has been completed. The final section of the 9,000-km long cable, which will link southern and eastern Africa with Europe and stretches between Mtunzini in Zululand, South Africa and Port Sudan in the Red Sea, was completed several months ahead of schedule.

    According to reports the final splicing of all sections took place on 19 April off the East African coast.

    The EASSy project was intended originally to be in place before the start of the FIFA soccer world cup but suffered from delays in the early part of the cable laying.

    The cable will deliver improved connectivity to southern and East African countries. Until recently the east coast of Africa enjoyed no international bandwith connectivity except by satellite transmission. In the past two years however a spate of activity has changed all this and a number of different submarine cables have been laid, enhancing the connectivity of the region and promising not only cheaper capacity but faster and more improved connectivity.

    Countries that will connect directly via the cable include South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar, Comoros, Mayote, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Sudan. A further 13 landlocked countries will be linked with the system – Botswana, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the DRC, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    Interconnection with various other international undersea cable systems will enable traffic on EASSy to seamlessly connect to Europe, North and South America, the Middle East and Asia.

    The two cable laying ships involved were the Ile de Sein and Ile de Batz, both 13,978-gt and operated by Alda Marine. Ile de Batz laid cable in the southern region and Ile de Sein from East Africa northwards.

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    MOL adds Lagos call to its Tangier-West Africa feeder service

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    MOL Honour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) has revised its rotation on the weekly ARN and ARS services at Tema and Apapa with a day fixed weekly departure/arrival from the Far East/Europe/US to Apapa and Tema. An additional direct Lagos-Tin Can Island call has been included.

    The new services offer fixed weekly departures to Lagos-Tin Can Island, Dakar and Abidjan for transshipment from the Far East via Tangier.

    The rotation of the ARN service, which commenced on 22 May with the departure of the 2,135-TEU MOL SASSANDRA, is Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Thamesport, Tangier, Dakar (Senegal), Tema (Ghana), Lagos Apapa (Nigeria), Lagos Tin Can Island (Nigeria), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Vigo (Spain) and Antwerp. The carrier's JEX service will depart from Hong Kong to Europe on May 4 to connect with the ARN service from Antwerp deploying the 6,350-TEU MOL Prestige.

    The ARS service will commence with the sailing of the MOL STABILITY on 5 June on a Tangier, Abidjan, Tema, Lagos-Apapa and Tangier rotation.

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    CPI expected to ease in March

    Pretoria - The Consumer Price Index (CPI) to be released this week is expected to slow down to 5.1 percent year-on-year.

    “We are expecting it to slow down quite sharply at 5.1 percent year-on-year compared to February's 5.7 percent,” Nedbank economist Carmen Altenkirch told BuaNews on Monday.

    Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) is due to release the March figure today (Wednesday). In February, inflation (which came in at 5.7 percent year-on-year) fell within the central bank's band of between 3 and 6 percent for the first time in three months.

    “The reasons for the slowing down of inflation are the further moderation of food inflation and prices in durable and semi goods because of a combination of the Rand strength as well as weak domestic demand,” she said.

    Market consensus is that CPI will come in at 5.1 percent.

    “CPI is expected to increase by 0.7 percent month-on-month in March and 5 percent year-on-year down from 5.7 percent year-on-year in February,” said Standard Bank in its weekly economic commentary.

    Last week, Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus said the repo rate was likely to remain unchanged for a while.

    Last month, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) surprisingly cut the repo rate by 50 basis points to 6.5 percent.

    “However, the scope for further easing is limited, and the repurchase rate is likely to remain stable for some time,” said Marcus at the time.

    She said the domestic demand was still relatively weak but showed signs of recovery, adding that it was to remain relatively constrained because of high household debt levels, unemployment and credit extension by banks which remains subdued.

    The MPC meets again next month to decide on whether to change rates or keep them as is.

    Altenkirch said the MPC may still cut the repo rate at the July meeting. - BuaNews

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    Maputo Corridor scores a first with BMW motor cars

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    Car carrier Don Quijote. Picture by Terry Hutson

    The first trial train of 160 BMW motor cars to make use of the Maputo rail corridor reached the port of Maputo earlier this week, reports the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI).

    The vehicles were loaded at Rosslyn near Pretoria and transported along the main railway between South Africa and Mozambique before being unloaded in the Maputo Car Terminal. The discharge process took three hours to complete and the vehicles were loaded on the car carrier DON QUIJOTE on Sunday, 25 April.

    The report said that another car carrier, HOEGH COPENHAGEN which was due in Maputo last Saturday would bring 160 motor vehicle units that are being imported into South Africa and that these were to be loaded onto the return leg of the train and taken to Rosslyn.

    MCLI hailed this as a success and “a true demonstration that our corridor can be successful as a bi-directional rail transit corridor.” MCLI said that with effective cooperation, planning and coordination, everything was possible.

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    Wartsila downgrades – 730 laid off in Finland

    The Finnish engineering group and ship’s engine manufacturer Wartsila announced on Monday that it is laying off “temporarily” 730 workers at its production unit in Vaasa, western Finland.

    According to a statement issued by Wartsila, a market leader in the supply of ship’s engines and related services, the layoffs will commence in mid- May.

    A week ago Wartsila posted lower than expected first quarter earnings, affected by slack demand in the key shipping business. The company said it was forced to reduce the number of staff because of lower demand.

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    The saga of Saga Rose’s mystery voyage

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    Saga Rose, the mystery continues. Picture by Terry Hutson

    The mystery surrounding the voyage of the cruise ship SAGA ROSE continues to intrigue ship watchers across the world, puzzled by the direction the aging vessel has taken and still guessing her ultimate destination.

    Saga Rose departed Gibraltar bound for South Africa, with initial reports suggesting the vessel would call at Walvis Bay. Rumours among the ship watching fraternity suggested that the vessel would become a floating hotel in Cape Town during the forthcoming FIFA Soccer World Cup, now little more than 6 weeks away.

    However on Friday the vessel bypassed Cape Town heading for Port Elizabeth, where she was due to load diesel fuel before heading along the eastern South African seaboard for the port of Richards Bay to load heavy fuel.

    This raised further questions – why two port calls when both fuels could have been loaded at either Cape Town or Durban.

    Whatever the reason, and notwithstanding the comments of cruise specialists in various parts of the world, Saga Rose reached Richards Bay on Tuesday (27 April) and crossed the entrance into harbour at 14h30, berthing at the coal terminal.

    At this stage there is no indication where the ship will be sailing to once she leaves the Zululand port. Even at this late stage of her voyage to South Africa rumours, based on little more than speculation, have suggested she will become a floating hotel, this time at Richards Bay. This arose when someone learned that one of the teams would base themselves at Richards Bay for the early part of the tournament (Nigeria).

    However the announcement of the Nigerian team relocating to Richards Bay from Ballito on the KZN North Coast was made after the ship had sailed from Gibraltar, which appears to kick that theory firmly into touch. And if, as expected the ship sails today, ship watchers will again turn to the prospect of the ship going to the breakers, or perhaps…

    Pics of the day – VINNI

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    Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s unconventional car carrier VINNI (23,409-gt, built 1994) seen in Cape Town during December 2008. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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