Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 7, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View - HMS SCEPTRE

  • SMIT International merges with Boskalis

  • Piracy - IMB warns shipping lines to be more vigilant further out from African coast

  • Safmarine appoints new Chief Commercial Officer

  • MOL challenges the future and announces three-year growth plan

  • Mozambique improves rail services with refurbished passenger carriages

  • NSRI wants some of its vehicles to carry emergency lights and sirens

  • US will lose a trade war with China - today's recommended read

  • Pics of the day - BALMORAL and AURORA


    OUCH! Our story yesterday of a toll road for Richards Bay turned out to have been an April Fool's joke, and this editor fell for it, hook line and sinker, although he now looks forward to not having to pay a toll fee when next visiting Richards Bay.

    First View - HMS SCEPTRE

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    The British nuclear powered fleet submarine S104, HMS SCEPTRE, slipped quietly into Simon's Town Naval Harbour at 09h56 on Tuesday 4 April 2010.

    The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) has granted a Nuclear Vessel Licence to the SA Navy, which applied on behalf of the Royal Navy. The Licence is valid until 15 April.

    HMS Sceptre is a Swiftsure class vessel, of 4,900 tonnes submerged displacement, length 82.9 metres, beam 9.8 metres and draught 8.5 metres. She has a single Rolls-Royce pressurised water nuclear reactor, which powers her underwater speed to in excess of 28 knots (over 52 kilometres/hour) when dived. The vessel does not have a conventional propeller, instead a shrouded pump-jet propulsor has a claimed 50% efficiency increase plus a reduced noise signature. Her crew consists of 13 officers and 103 ratings.

    Armament includes 5x 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes for Spearfish torpedoes, RN Sub Harpoon and Tomahawk Missiles.

    Story and picture by David Erickson

    SMIT International merges with Boskalis

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    Offshore tug PENTOW SERVICE in Durban Harbour, one of several SMIT tugs in service along the South African coast. Picture by Terry Hutson

    With more than 95% of shareholders having accepted the offer made by dredging company Royal Boskalis Westminster to acquire tug and salvage company SMIT International, the merger of the two is now set to go ahead.

    "The fact that more than 95% of the Smit shares were tendered within such a short period is extremely positive," said Peter Berdowski, chief executive officer of Boskalis. "This paves the way for the Smit Boskalis merger, creating clarity for our employees and all stakeholders. It enables us to expedite the integration of the two companies, realize the market and cost synergies and create the foundation for the leading maritime player we can become."

    Shareholders who have not yet tendered their shares under the offer still have the opportunity to do so during the Post Closing Acceptance Period.

    In the face of some strong disagreement among certain SMIT directors over the takeover/merger, Boskalis has agreed not to split SMIT in separate parts but to retain the towing and salvage company unchanged.

    Piracy - IMB warns shipping lines to be more vigilant further out from African coast

    The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) which monitors crime at sea with special attention to piracy, has issued a warning advisory to shipping companies to ensure that seafarers increase their anti-piracy vigilance.

    This follows the news yesterday of a very large crude carrier (VLCC), the 300,000-dwt SAMHO DREAM which was highjacked on Sunday by Somali pirates despite being almost 1600 km (1000 miles) from the nearest African coast (see our news report yesterday). The 19 Filipinos and five South Korean crew are now hostages and the vessel is heading towards Somalia while the pirates have no doubt begun negotiating a sizeable ransom.

    A South Korean navy ship has caught up with the tanker but it is thought unlikely to take any action that might jeopardize the safety of the crew and ship.

    Samho Dream had sailed earlier from Iraq and was bound for a US port to discharge its cargo of crude oil.

    "Ships that are sailing in the Indian Ocean will have to maintain a strict and vigilant watch despite sailing more than 1,000 nautical miles ¨C so far from the Somali coast," said Noel Choong, director of the IMB's piracy reporting centre said in Kuala Lumpur.

    Meanwhile, in the latest reported attack, the K Line container ship HAMBURG BRIDGE (flying the Panama flag and with an all-Filipino crew), managed to evade pirates while sailing approximately 250 n.miles east of the Gulf of Aden en route to the Suez Canal and Port Said.

    The attack took place at 16h00 local time on Monday, 5 April. Although the pirates, who were in an open high-speed boat (skiff) opened fire and the ship suffered some minor damage, there were no injuries to crew and the Hamburg Bridge was able to out-manoeuvre the pirates and accelerate away from danger. After about 45 minutes the pirates abandoned the attack.

    Acknowledgements to Paul Ridgway for the latter report.

    In a refreshing move, the African Union has called for joint efforts to combat piracy off the African coast.

    The AU is currently meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss the African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIM). In a communique issued ahead of the meeting which started yesterday (Tuesday), the Union said that piracy has become a major threat generating or exacerbating political and social instability in the surroundings. "Drug and human trafficking, financing the purchase of weapons, oil spills and other environmental crimes, are vulnerabilities and threats that weaken the continent," it stated.

    We trust these are not just more empty words from a talktank. Apart from the Seychelles and limited action from Puntland there are no African nations currently participating in international efforts to curtail the action of Somali pirates. South Africa, possibly alone, possesses the means of lending naval support but has studiously kept clear of involvement. President Zuma indicated on one occasion that South Africa had not been invited to take part, but observers believe the real reason is that the navy lacks the finance to mount ongoing patrols so far from the South African coast. One has again to ask why it was necessary to obtain the expensive frigates and submarines.

    An increasing number of ships sailing to or from South African ports have been involved in recent pirate attacks, the latest being the tanker SAVEH (150,000-dwt), which was sailing to Kuwait in ballast after discharging oil at Durban.

    Safmarine appoints new Chief Commercial Officer

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    Safmarine has announced the appointment of Eric Herman as its Chief Commercial Officer.

    Herman, who will be based at Safmarine's head office in Antwerp, Belgium, has extensive commercial experience in the petrochemicals, plastics and automotive supplier industries.

    His experience in the petrochemical industry comes from having been Business Unit Director (Polypropylene) for SABIC, one of the world's top 10 petrochemicals companies and the largest non-oil company in the Middle East. He also has experience in sales, marketing, customer service, quality and commercial management appointments in Asia, Europe and America. He has also lived in the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and China.

    "We are delighted to welcome Eric on board," said Safmarine's CEO Tomas Dyrbye. "His extensive commercial experience outside the liner shipping industry will give us new insight and an extra edge in propelling our commercial focus forward ahead of our closest competitors."

    Eric Herman was born and raised in the Netherlands, where he completed his Masters Degree in Material Science and Engineering at Delft University. He is married and is the father of two young sons, aged seven and three and enjoys watching his childrens' sports activities and is a keen jogger and tennis player.

    He has commenced his new role with Safmarine at the company's global headquarters in Antwerp, Belgium and will lead Safmarine's Sales, Key Accounts, Commercial Planning, Customer Service, e-Business and PR & Communications teams.

    MOL challenges the future and announces three-year growth plan

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    MOL's pure car carrier COURAGEOUS ACE visiting Durban for the first time. Picture by Terry Hutson

    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) says it believes the world economy to be in a recovery stage and has announced a three-year growth plan, together with key revenue and fleet expansion targets through to 2015.

    The Japanese company says it has set three main overall strategies together with plans of consolidated financial figures for each of the three year (FY2010 ¨C 2012) as well as a target for FY2015.

    The three strategies are:

    1] Recovery from the economic crisis and acceleration of business development in a growing market.
    2] Enhance safe operations
    3] Environment strategy

    MOL says it expects to see JPY 1.8 trillion (USD 14.4 billion) in turnover for fiscal year 2012 (up from JPY 1.35 trillion forecast for FY2009), and hopes to increase that amount to JPY 2 trillion (USD 21.4 billion) by 2015.

    It hopes also to increase the fleet from 895 ships in FY2009 to 1050 in FY 2012 and 1200 by the end of 2015, through purchase and long-term charter. The fleet will be increased by 190 vessels during the period 2010-2012 and a further 160 vessels between 2013-2015, for a total of 350 additional ships by the end of 2015.

    The action plan, dubbed 'Gear up MOL! Plan' is set to begin immediately and places strong emphasis on business intelligence, responding accurately to customer needs, becoming a leader in world transportation, and making further global commitments to the growing market.

    MOL says it will remain on a return to a growth path by identifying and acting on solutions to the challenges facing the shipping industry. This includes in particular the introduction of a strategy on the environmental issues foreseeing the future development in such a field.

    Mozambique improves rail services with refurbished passenger carriages

    CFM, the Mozambique state-owned port and railway company has invested in the refurbishment of 29 railway carriages, four restaurant cars and one baggage car to improve passenger services on the national railway.

    It is believed the new carriages will enter service on the Maputo - South Africa service and possibly also the Maputo - Zimbabwe service, both of which are operated by CFM.

    During 2009 passenger services on CFM grew 26% to 2.6 million passengers, according to the Maputo newspaper Noticias. The passenger services remain heavily subsidised by the railway company to the amount of 85 percent of fares charged.

    CFM has introduced the use of railcars on its suburban services from the cities of Maputo and Matola.

    NSRI wants some of its vehicles to carry emergency lights and sirens

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in Cape Town is to ask the Western Cape Provincial Authority for certain NSRI volunteer vehicles to be equipped with emergency lights and sirens.

    Ian Wienberg, chief executive officer of the NSRI said the matter was urgent ahead of the 2010 World Cup and the need for key members of the rescue service of NSRI Table Bay, which is based at the V&A Waterfront, to get through traffic and pedestrian congestion during a call-out. This he said was an urgent priority since seconds lost in a sea rescue could determine life or death.

    He pointed out that the NSRI volunteers cannot sit waiting at the NSRI base for a call-out. They do the job for free and have normal jobs in which they earn a living but during a call-out they are expected to arrive at the base timeously. With traffic levels increasing and increased road works prior to the soccer world cup, lives could be lost at sea while volunteers battle to get through traffic the join their rescue boats.

    On several occasions recently volunteers have had to stop traffic or police officers and ask for an escort simply to get through heavy traffic.

    Current legislation prevents the use of emergency lights and sirens except by emergency medical vehicles, police (police, law enforcement, metro police and traffic police) and the fire services.

    In the meantime the NSRI is appealing to fellow motorists to be on the lookout for NSRI volunteers who have a red and white SEA RESCUE clipboard on their dash-boards and who are making use of their orange hazard lights, and to give way to them on the understanding that these will only be used in dire life-threatening emergencies.

    US will lose a trade war with China - today's recommended read

    In light of the number of manufacturing and goods producing jobs lost in America over the past decade, it's no wonder why many in Washington and on Main St. are clamouring for a trade and currency war with China.

    The raucous has grown so loud that Congress, Treasury and the Commerce department may soon be forced to declare China a currency manipulator. Senators Lindsey Graham (R) South Carolina and Chuck Schumer (D) New York have introduced legislation that would compel the Treasury to cite the Chinese as currency manipulators, which would allow the Commerce Department to impose duties and tariffs upon them.

    Read more of this 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 - BALMORAL and AURORA

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    Fred Olsen's cruise ship, the delightful BALMORAL has been a welcome visitor in South Africa this month with Cape Town being her final port of call. Not many ships can boast a finer lookout point than the lounge up topside. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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    Cape Town had no less than four passenger ships in port during the recent long weekend. They were EXPLORER, P&O's AURORA, MSC's MSC SINFONIA, and the mail ship RMS ST HELENA, which was waiting to enter the dry dock. The first three ships were supposed to sail on Sunday but a strong easterly wind with gusts of up to 90 km/hr caused all three ships to be delayed in the Mother City for another day. They finally managed to sail on Monday, MSC Sinfonia leaving first at 05h00 and followed by AURORA at 08h30. Explorer which was berthed in the V&A was only able to sail at 16h30 that day. This picture shows AURORA sailing that morning. Picture and details by Ian Shiffman

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