Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 12, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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  • First View – OCEAN SEDNA

  • Strike set to continue as second union joins in

  • Mystery over ship in difficulty off Wild Coast

  • MOL increases BAF between SA and USA

  • Pirates release captured reefer ship

  • YESTERYEAR: Those classic ships - DANMARK

  • Somalia: Hizbul Islam rebels reject UN anti-piracy plan

  • Today’s recommended Read – The Greek economic crisis and the powerful force that unpredictable exogenous events can have on economies

  • Pics of the day – OXL AVENIR


    First View – OCEAN SEDNA

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    The Singapore chemical and oil products products tanker OCENA SEDNA (50,44-dwt, built 2006) seen in Cape Town last week. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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    Strike set to continue as second union joins in

    The nationwide strike affecting Transnet operations in the country’s ports, railways and pipelines looks set to continue for several more days after negotiations broke down on Tuesday.

    According to Satawu (South African Transport & Allied Workers Union), Transnet presented a final ‘take it or leave it’ offer of 11 percent wage increases. The unions are demanding 15 percent. Utatu (United Transport & Allied Workers Union), which had initially indicated its acceptance of the offer, informed Transnet yesterday afternoon that it was rejecting the offer and would join the strike, leading to a greater number of workers that are now officially on strike.

    Mass marches are planned for Durban and Polokwane today (Wednesday), following marches that were held yesterday in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Richards Bay, Mafikeng and Vryheid. During the marches memorandums were handed to Transnet management which included claims that workers on minimum wages within Transnet are paid R3,307 a month, while skilled train drivers and the operators of multi-million rand ship to shore cranes in Durban harbour received less than R10,000 a month.

    The memorandum compared this to the Acting CEO of Transnet’s salary of R3.6 million a year plus bonus, saying that it would take the lowest paid worker 121 years to earn the equivalent.

    Jane Barrett, spokesperson for Satawu said the strike would continue until there further negotiations settle the issue.

    Meanwhile concern is being expressed among shipping companies and shippers about the cost of delays brought about by the strike action. Hundreds of containers carrying perishable fruit and other commodities are piling up in cold stores, depots and at the container terminals. Another concern centres around deliveries of essential commodities including coal to Richards Bay, iron ore to Saldanha, and motor vehicles and CKDs to the motor industry.

    Around the country reports indicate that the port terminals operated by Transnet are at a virtual standstill, although privately operated terminals in some of the ports are continuing operating. Clashes were reported earlier in Port Elizabeth over picketing rules but no further reports of violence were reported on Tuesday. In Port Elizabeth Satawu said that management attempted to enforce revised picketing rules.

    Despite this limited activity was being reported from either Port Elizabeth or Ngqura yesterday. This followed a violent confrontation near Durban’s Maydon Wharf on Monday in which police opened fire using rubber bullets to disperse strikers (see yesterday’s News Report).

    In the port of Cape Town a single gang was at work at the multi purpose terminal, possibly a makeshift gang drawn from office workers.

    The delivery of fuel along the main pipelines is also causing concern.

    While suburban trains are operating fairly normally, mainline passenger trains have stopped running and freight rail is also at a standstill.

    Observers said that if Transnet’s stated contingency plans were in operation they are not very obvious.


    In late breaking news Transnet said its “generous” wage offer remained on the table. In a statement issued last night the company said its offer at 11.28 percent is at the limit of affordability and reasonableness and had been made as a “progressive move to avoid a strike.”

    It said that management was now focusing its energy on protecting Transnet’s business, its assets and people. “We are doing everything possible to move strategic freight for our customers. It is imperative that we continue to act in the best interests of the company and the country.”

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    Mystery over ship in difficulty off Wild Coast

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    Mystery surrounds a ship feared in difficulty off South Africa’s Wild Coast yesterday, after reports were received of a red distress flare having being fired. An eye-witness told the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) that he saw the flare come from a ship which appeared to be drifting abeam of the swells approximately 10 nautical miles off-shore of Coffee Bay.

    The witness said the ship was drifting towards Coffee Bay.

    Two Oryx helicopters from 15 Squadron South African Air Force Base in Durban were dispatched to search the area, while the NSRI East London also launched its rescue boat and headed northeast. NSRI Port St Johns was assisting with visual location and NSRI Port Elizabeth, NSRI Durban, NSRI Port Alfred and NSRI Port Edward went on alert to assist if necessary. The South African Police Force at Hole in the Wall and at Coffee Bay were also placed on alert in case survivors were brought to shore.

    According to the NSRI an exhaustive search later revealed no sign of any ship in distress although the NSRI reported that the eye witness had relayed credible information.

    It is unknown why a red distress flare was deployed from the ship but it can be confirmed that the ship is no longer in the vicinity of where it was when the red distress flare was deployed, but there was every indication that the ship had moved on and left the scene, said the NSRI last evening.

    All rescue resources have stood down and returned to their respective bases.

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    MOL increases BAF between SA and USA

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    MOL Dominance in Cape Town, picture by Ian Shiffman

    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) has increased its bunker adjustment factor (BAF) on the trade lanes between South Africa and the USA via Europe.

    Traffic to and from South Africa and the United States via Europe will attract a surcharge of USD 602 per TEU from US Atlantic ports, and USD 773 per TEU to and from US West Coast ports.

    Forty-foot containers (12m) will attract an increase in the surcharge of USD 1,204 per container from US Atlantic and Gulf ports, and USD 1,546 per container to and from US west coast ports.

    The increase in the BAF comes into effect as from 15 June 2010.

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    Pirates release captured reefer ship

    Somali pirates have released the Arabian Reefers’ refrigerated ship TALCA (10,298, built 1988) after receiving payment of a ransom. The vessel and crew of 22 was captured on 23 March this year while sailing 120 n.miles from the coast of Oman.

    A ransom drop by aircraft was performed on Saturday but the ship was only released yesterday (Tuesday, 11 May). EU NAVFOR, the European naval forces operating in the region reported that the ship is now heading for Salalah.

    It is not known how much ransom was paid.

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    YESTERYEAR: Those classic ships - DANMARK

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    The three-masted Danish sailing ship DANMARK seen departing Durban. The steel-hulled ship was launched in 1932 as a training ship for officers of the Danish Navy and was a visitor to the New York Trade Fair in 1939 when World War 2 broke out. Declining to return to Europe the ship and her crew entered service with the US Coast Guard where the Danmark was to have a considerable effect on US naval training. After the war the vessel returned to Denmark where she is now in the service of the Danish Marine Authority.

    What we don’t have is the date when this fine tall ship visited South Africa – do any readers perhaps know?

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    Somalia: Hizbul Islam rebels reject UN anti-piracy plan

    A Somali insurgent group has lambasted a UN-backed anti-piracy mission off Somalia's long coast, saying that foreign fleets patrolling the waters were part of the piracy menace because they protected trawlers looting Somali fish stocks, Radio Garowe reports.

    The Somali Islamist political faction Hizbul Islam said the internationally backed campaign against the Somalia-based sea gangs is having a huge impact on the local fisheries sector.

    “The UN plan is meant to fight against Somali fishermen, and increase the political pressure in the country,” said a statement from the group.

    “Having naval fleets in Somali waters is not the solution for the country and its people, but would instead increase the piracy menace.”

    Last week, Hizbul Islam rebels seized the town of coastal town of Harardheere, a notorious pirate hub in central Somalia. The pirates fled north to Hobyo as the Islamist rebels vowed to take more pirate towns along Somalia's coast.

    “Harardhere was experiencing insecurity and that is why we captured it and implemented Sharia Law,” the statement read.

    Hizbul Islam is involved in a bloody conflict with the Western-backed Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which controls few blocks in the capital Mogadishu with the aid of a 5,300-strong African Union peacekeeping force.

    The faction is led by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, an Islamist figure considered a terrorist by some Western intelligence agencies.

    The piracy menace along Somalia's coastline has been a thorn on the flesh for the international community after Somali pirates went on a hijacking spree for multimillion dollar ransom payments.

    Some experts have argued that there are links between Somali pirates and Islamist factions who dominate the country's south-central regions. However, the Islamists have denied such claims and the pirates have fled [to Hobyo] in the face of an Islamist onslaught. - GAROWE ONLINE

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    Today’s recommended Read – The Greek economic crisis and the powerful force that unpredictable exogenous events can have on economies

    Two recent events that impact world-wide on economic development deserve comment. The first concerns the Greek economic crisis, while the second is the powerful force that unpredictable exogenous events can have on economies, also those in Africa.

    Consideration of the Greek crisis can be linked to the six-part series of observations on monetary integration published as tralac hot-seat comments a few months ago. The current Greek Tragedy is not a play of antiquity but a real life drama, which could in the end also play out in Portugal and Spain and perhaps even Ireland, with devastating impact on the world economy. Greece is facing bankruptcy, not being able to service and cope with its huge government debt without massive help from fellow euro countries and the IMF.

    Earlier, when still outside the euro currency union, Greece could have depended…

    Are there lessons that Africa, with its inclination to adopt ambitious integration plans to the level of monetary union, can learn from the evolving European experience?

    You can read the rest of this thoughtful article by Colin McCarthy, a tralac Associate 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 – OXL AVENIR

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    The German-owned and managed general cargo ship OXL AVENIR (9,990-gt, built 2005) arriving in Durban harbour this week for a visit to the repair yards. Pictures by Terry Hutson

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