Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 19, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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  • First View – UTHUKELA

  • Wells appeals to striking workers to put South Africa first

  • Piracy: Yemen hands down death sentence as two highjacked ships reach Somali coast

  • Safmarine announces new Horn of Africa service

  • YESTERYEAR: Those classic ships – AFRICA SHELL

  • Trade News: Anchor Industries introduces new Vertex Webbing Slings to the market

  • Pics of the day – ILE DE BATZ


    First View – UTHUKELA

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    The TNPA harbour tug UTHUKELA (378-gt, built 2003) seen in Durban harbour last week. Named for KwaZulu-Natal’s major river, the tug was the third in a series of Voith Schneider propulsion tractor tugs that have been under construction in Durban by Southern African Shipyards. The first two tugs were named PALMIET and ENSELENI, also after rivers in KZN. These two tugs were subsequently transferred to Cape Town to answer a need for more powerful harbour tugs capable of coping with the movement of oil rigs and other offshore vessels now frequenting that harbour. Tugs 4, 5 and 6 were built for Ngqura, with two so far having been delivered and the third almost ready for handover. Picture by Trevor Jones

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    Wells appeals to striking workers to put South Africa first

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    Chris Wells

    Day 10 of the national Transnet strike and still no solution in sight. It has been estimated that the strike has already cost R3.5 billion and that’s not measuring the untold damage it is doing to South Africa’s reputation as a trading partner.

    Yesterday Chris Wells, the acting CEO of Transnet wrote an open letter to stakeholders, employees, and the public in general pointing out that in tabling an 11 percent increase offer Transnet has used more than a R1 billion increase in its wage bill to create a package of earnings for its 49,000 bargaining unit staff.

    “The increases vary between 9 percent and 15 percent for our staff, averaging an 11 percent increase in the wage bill,” he said.

    Wells dismissed claims made by the unions that management paid themselves a 14 percent increase last year. “This is untrue. Last year management received a zero percent increase for the first six months due to the recession. Management agreed to a 5 percent increase from October only – effectively a 2.5 percent increase for the year.”

    He said that Transnet has employees across South Africa who have “…moved trains, repaired sabotaged lines and locomotives, berthed and loaded ships in our ports and moved fuel through our pipeline. We are grateful for their efforts despite serious intimidation and threats. More and more of our employees are returning as the value of our offer becomes clear.

    “Transnet is vital to South Africa’s success. When Transnet stops, South Africa stops. We want to keep our economy moving so that we can create more jobs. Now is the time for all of us to put South Africa first. I invite all our employees to return to work and not lose any more money as our offer is fair and generous. In the meantime, we are working tirelessly to reach an agreement with our unions.”

    Meanwhile in Cape Town strikers marched to parliament yesterday to hand over a memorandum to the Transport Minister, Sibusiso Ndebele.

    Last night (Tuesday) Utatu disclosed that talks between the two unions and Transnet had recommenced after an earlier meeting on Tuesday ended in deadlock. Utatu’s George Strauss said the meeting was being held with a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) official in Johannesburg.

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    Piracy: Yemen hands down death sentence as two highjacked ships reach Somali coast

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    MV Panega

    EU NAVFOR, the European Union naval force in operation on anti piracy patrol duty in the Horn of Africa region has confirmed the arrival of two highjacked merchant ships off the Somali coast.

    The Liberian flagged, ELENI P (72,119-dwt) was hijacked 250 nautical miles off the coast of Oman on the morning of 12 May. The bulk carrier has a crew of 26 (23 Filipinos, 2 Romanian and 1 Indian) and was on route to Kandla in India when taken by pirates.

    The second ship to arrive off the coast is the Bulgarian vessel PANEGA (5,848-dwt) which was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on the afternoon 11th of May, approximately 100 nautical miles east of Aden (Yemen). The ship with a crew of 15 Bulgarians was en route from the Red Sea to India when she was attacked. Both ships have been taken to Garacad.

    On the opposite side of Africa comes the mysterious report about an attack on a Russian general cargo ship, which according to the Russian Professional Sailors Union is managed by a Greek company. The 7,148-dwt ship, which has not been identified, is carrying a cargo of fertilisers and soya and was seized by a group of 20 men who, reports say, took the vessel to the Cameroon port of Douala. Once off the port the ship’s radio and navigation equipment was disabled. Then after stealing personal effects and valuables the crew was told to lie down on the deck before the ‘pirates’ left the ship taking two of the Russians with them, the ship’s master and senior mechanic.

    According to a separate unconfirmed report one of the Russians, presumably the mechanic as he has been described as an engineer, was a member of the crew on board the Latvian vessel ARCTIC SEA when that vessel was supposedly highjacked either by pirates or its own mutineering crew in the Baltic Sea last year. A Russian court last week handed down a five year sentence on one of the crew who had been detained by Russian authorities after the ship was found off West Africa in August.

    At the time of its disappearance stories proliferated that the Arctic Sea was carrying arms shipments intended for Iran, including a quantity of S-300 missiles. Russia denied these allegations and said the ship was loaded with a cargo of timber. After a Russian warship intercepted the vessel and boarded it, it took several weeks before the Arctic Sea reappeared in a neutral port. By then the ‘rescued’ crew of 15 had been flown back to Russia. Eight of the crew from Russia, Latvia and Estonia were subsequently detained for the illegal seizure of the ship while the remainder and their families have come under pressure to say nothing about the incident.

    According to a BBC report the Israeli’s may have been involved with the interception of the vessel at sea.

    Adding to the air of mystery over the entire episode, a well-known Russian journalist who broke the story that the ship was carrying weapons was forced to flee Russia and is thought to be hiding in Turkey.

    In an unrelated matter, a Yemeni court this week sentenced six Somali pirates to death for the highjacking of a Yemeni tanker named QANA in April 2009. Shortly after the ship was seized Yemeni coastguard forces stormed the vessel, killing five pirates and capturing 12 others.

    In this week’s court sentence six of the Somalis received the death sentence while the other six were sentenced to jail terms of 10 years each.

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    Safmarine announces new Horn of Africa service

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    Dirk Geens, Safmarine Africa Trade Director

    The new service will be Safmarine’s first direct shipping service between Far East, Arabian Gulf and the Horn of Africa

    Africa shipping specialist Safmarine has announced the launch of its first direct, fully-containerised shipping service between the Far East, the Arabian Gulf and the Horn of Africa.

    A feature of the new Horn of Africa Service - which will be introduced at the end of June, 2010 - will be direct sailings to the ports of Djibouti and Port Sudan.

    “These two ports are currently served via transhipment via either Salalah or Jeddah and direct calls will allow us to improve the service we offer to our customers by providing a more reliable, on time product,” says Safmarine’s Africa Trade Director, Dirk Geens.

    The introduction of the new service further strengthens Safmarine’s focus as a regional specialist in Africa, the Middle East and the Indian Sub-Continent, says Safmarine Liner Executive, Jan Scheck. “These emerging markets are regions Safmarine knows well. Not only have we been serving them for many decades - both with container and with breakbulk services – but we continue to upgrade our product portfolio in order to better serve these regions. The introduction of the Horn of Africa Service is yet another example of our commitment to serving these growing markets.”

    Capacity is not expected to increase significantly with the introduction of the new Horn of Africa service, which will be jointly operated by Safmarine and Maersk Line. This is because the shipping lines will use the same service to cater for Far East/Middle East volumes.

    Vessels with a nominal capacity of approximately 2,900 TEU will be deployed on the Horn of Africa Service, which will have the following rotation: Tanjung Pelepas - Jebel Ali - Djibouti - Jeddah - Port Sudan - Djibouti - Tanjung Pelepas

    Safmarine says that further details regarding the deployment of vessels and exact sailing dates will be made available in due course.

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    YESTERYEAR: Those classic ships – AFRICA SHELL

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    Unicorn’s coastal tanker AFRICA SHELL (19,010-dwt, built 1956), which was employed to deliver oil along the South African coast, made a fine sight as she headed out from Durban harbour in this 1974 photograph. Picture by Trevor Jones

    In order to continue this series of YESTERYEAR pictures we require additional photographs taken from an earlier time, so open those old boxes and albums, dear reader and share what you have with thousands of others. Email them in jpeg digital format but please, no copies scanned from a book or magazine.

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    Trade News: Anchor Industries introduces new Vertex Webbing Slings to the market

    Anchor Industries recently introduced Vertex webbing slings and tie downs to the market, as part of their range of lifting and rigging products. With offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, they are major suppliers of lifting and rigging as well as marine and offshore mooring equipment and services in Southern Africa.

    “Through the use of new and innovative products we are improving our service offering to clients, while adhering to the highest industry standards of safety. This raises the bar in the industry. With this in mind, all Vertex webbing slings are supplied with the correct markings, certification and safety and maintenance instructions,” says Dale Hutcheson, Anchor Industries Managing Director.

    Made from high tenacity multifilament polyester textile, the slings are used in general day-to-day lifting applications. Colour coded according to the work load limit (WLL), the duplex flat and endless round slings are stocked in various lengths with the capacity ranging from 1T to 8T. With a 7:1 factor of safety, the slings were tested and adhere to the SANS1492-1&2 specifications. Subsequent testing is being coordinated at the CSIR.

    The benefits of using webbing slings are that they are softer than steel wire rope and chain slings, thereby protecting the load from damage such as cuts, scratches and friction caused by other lifting slings.

    Vertex products are available at all Anchor Industries branches or through their distributors.

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    Pics of the day – ILE DE BATZ

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    The French cable layer ILE DE BATZ (13,978-gt, built 2001) which recently helped complete the laying of the EASSy fibre optic cable from Mtunzini on KwaZulu-Natal to Port Sudan in the Red Sea, along with her sister ship Ile de Sein. In these pictures the cable layer is seen berthed in Cape Town harbour on E Mole. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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