Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 20, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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  • First View – FNS TONNERRE

  • Strike Latest: hopes for an end to strike as unions consider Transnet proposal

  • Floating hotel ship visits abandoned

  • Global push for action against piracy starts today

  • RN Marines sink two pirate boats

  • UN tightens noose around IRISL neck with sanctions

  • Coal – Riversdale ups development in Mozambique

  • The ups and downs of South Africa’s coal exports

  • Pics of the day – WILMA and STRADA CORSARA


    First View – FNS TONNERRE

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    After a five night stay in the port of Durban for some R&R, the impressive French helicopter carrier/assault ship sailed yesterday morning. These pictures capturing those moments by Trevor Jones

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    News continues below...

    Strike Latest: hopes for an end to strike as unions consider Transnet proposal

    The ten-day-long strike at South Africa’s ports and railways may be reaching an end, but that’s only if the trade unions involved, SATAWU and UTATU are able to gain the support of members for an agreement that has been thrashed out among negotiators.

    Later today the unions will meet with their constituents to seek agreement for proposals agreed around the negotiating table.

    The bone of the matter was that the unions were demanding 15 percent increases, which they subsequently dropped to 13 percent, whereas Transnet was offering 8 percent, later increased to 11 percent. The strike has been underway since Monday, 10 May.

    Utatu president George Strauss said that the strike would meanwhile continue until labour has decided on the improved package.

    “We have an agreement in principle that we will send to our membership,” he said. “We are not very happy with the outcome of the agreement, but it’s clear we’ll not get a better agreement and not get an increase on what was offered.”

    The negotiators will reconvene later today (16h00) to advise the outcome of the offer and provided there is consensus then the strike, which has cost South Africa billions of rands in lost revenue and costs, could be lifted by Friday or possibly during the weekend.

    Yesterday talks continued through the night and finally ended at 4am Wednesday.

    On the passenger and commuter train side there was also some light at the end of the tunnel with indications that an agreement is close to being reached in that dispute, which could result in passenger trains being back in service by tomorrow (Friday).

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    Floating hotel ship visits abandoned

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    Westerdam, will visit SA on positioning voyage in June/July

    The staging of two Holland America cruise ships in South Africa, NOORDAM in Durban and WESTERDAM in Port Elizabeth has been called off.

    A spokesman for One Ocean Club in Cape Town, which is the organising company for the two ships, confirmed this to PORTS & SHIPS yesterday (Wednesday).

    About 40 percent of the accommodation on Westerdam and Noordam had been taken up but it turns out that much of this was made up of provisional bookings made by European travel agencies. In the last few weeks many of these bookings have been returned with agencies saying that because of the monetary crisis in Europe and other factors, interest in travelling to South Africa for the soccer world cup had not materialised. Under the circumstances One Ocean Club has been forced to cancel the visit of both ships.

    However they remain committed to the planned positioning voyage of one vessel, the Westerdam, which has been almost fully booked for the journey south from Europe to South Africa ahead of the tournament, and likewise for the return journey in mid July

    As a result Westerdam will sail from Barcelona as planned on 28 May, arriving in Cape Town on 9 May for an overnight stopover.

    On 8 July the ship returns to Cape Town to embark passengers for the return voyage to Europe.

    No decision has been taken as to where the ship will be located during the interim period between 10 June and 8 July, although Walvis Bay as a layby port is seen as a possibility.

    PORTS & SHIPS has suggested to One Ocean Club that consideration be given to arranging a short season of cruises out of Durban or Maputo during this period.

    News continues below…

    Global push for action against piracy starts today

    An unprecedented coalition of organisations - including trade unions, shipowners' associations and insurers - has joined forces to back a global e-petition demanding concrete action to end the piracy that is putting lives at risk and threatening world trade.

    The petition, which launches today, is the centrepiece of a new campaign to persuade all governments to commit the resources necessary to end the increasing problem of Somalia-based piracy.

    The intention is to deliver at least half a million signatures to governments by IMO World Maritime Day on 23 September.

    Specifically, the petition calls on nations to:

  • Dedicate significant resources and work to find real solutions to the growing piracy problem

  • Take immediate steps to secure the release and safe return of kidnapped seafarers to their families

  • Work within the international community to secure a stable and peaceful future for Somalia and its people

  • The petition points out that shipping companies and insurers have to pay for increasing anti-piracy measures, extra fuel and ransoms - costs that are eventually passed on to the consumer. Furthermore, the increase in piracy increases the risk of a major ecological disaster due to an oil spill.

    International Shipping Federation (ISF) president Spyros Polemis commented: “Together we must encourage all governments to do everything necessary to protect the lives of seafarers who are subject to increasingly violent attacks, with more than 1,800 kidnapped in the last two years alone. 90 percent of world trade is carried by sea, and governments have a duty to extend the naval protection being provided - which is currently inadequate - and regain control of the Indian Ocean from a handful of criminals.”

    ITF General Secretary David Cockroft said that with one click everyone can now make their feelings about piracy known, and then pass the link on to all their colleagues around the world who feel the same. “In this way we can signal our belief that it is past time for all governments to do what has to be done to protect seafarers, ships and the goods that they carry and on which we all rely.”

    The campaign is being backed by:

  • Baltic & International Maritime Council (BIMCO)

  • International Chamber of Shipping (ICS)

  • International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (IFSMA)

  • International Maritime Employers' Committee (IMEC)

  • International Parcel Tankers Association (IPTA)

  • International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo)

  • International Ship Managers' Association (InterManager)

  • International Group of P&I Clubs (IGP&I)


  • International Shipping Federation (ISF)

  • International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF)

  • International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI)

  • Society of International Gas Tankers & Terminal Operators (SIGTTO)

  • source - BIMCO

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    RN Marines sink two pirate boats

    In a sign that international navies are adopting more aggressive policies aimed at preventing piracy, Royal Navy Marines have sunk two pirate boats and dispossessed ten suspected pirates of their weapons and means of piracy.

    The incident took place about 150 n.miles off the coast of Tanzania and involved the Royal Navy frigate HMS CHATHAM, a Lynx helicopter which spotted the pirates in a ‘mother ship’ boat towing two smaller boats, and British marines from the Chatham who boarded the larger of the boats and discovered a large quantity of petrol and numerous weapons. The latter were thrown overboard into the sea and the fuel was confiscated, apart from a small quantity sufficient to get the pirates back to Somalia (where no doubt they will find two more small boats to return to sea and piracy).

    In another incident, this time on land, authorities in Puntland in eastern Somali have arrested 11 Somali pirates after the men received ransom money from a ship they had highjacked. The arrests took place not far from the town of Garad. Among the items seized were a few handguns, three motor cars, money and cell phones.

    One of those arrested is said to be a senior Somali pirate named Boyah who is responsible for organising groups of pirates who go to sea. The area’s regional commissioner said the pirates will be brought before the courts to face justice.

    News continues below…

    UN tightens noose around IRISL neck with sanctions

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    The IRISL bulk carrier AQUARIAN (43,309-dwt, built 1985) is one of the ships targeted by US officials which has undergone reflagging to the Hong Kong registry and has been renamed from her previous name DIGNIFIED. The ship was in Durban when this photograph was taken

    New York - The US announced a long-sought deal with Russia and China on Tuesday on a new list of sanctions to punish Iran for its nuclear program, and the United Nations took them up within hours, in a move to reassert control of nuclear diplomacy after Tehran tried to pre-empt sanctions a day earlier.

    Among the measures Iran’s container line, IRISL, is to be subjected to far greater scrutiny.

    The proposed sanctions list includes a prohibition of sales on a wide range of conventional weapons - from fighter planes to missile systems - as well as a ban on countries from providing harbour to ships suspected of carrying contraband goods headed to Iran.

    The US initially hoped to blacklist two of Iran's major transportation companies, the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and IranAir Cargo. The current draft, however, calls for closer scrutiny of the companies' operations.

    In recent months, important insurance clubs in the UK and Bermuda have ceased doing business with IRISL, the Wall Street Journal reported. - Seatrade Asia Online

    See our related stories Watchdog releases list of 78 renamed Iran ships
    and US introduces sanctions on IRISL

    News continues below...

    Coal – Riversdale ups development in Mozambique

    Australian coal miner Riversdale has begun looking into fast-tracking the development of its Benga coal mine in Mozambique with the aim of increasing annual capacity to 20 million tonnes.

    This has been made possible after Riversdale Mining increased its assessment of coal reserves by a staggering 84 percent. The Australian mining company said that the mine now has a proven and provable coal reserve of 502 million tonnes while the measured, indicated and inferred coal resource was 4.03 billion tonnes.

    Tests show that the Benga coal is equal to high quality coal from Queensland’s Bowen Basin.

    Riversdale shares the concession at Benga with India’s Tata Steel on a 65/35 percent basis and expects to have completed phase 1 by the second half of 2011, by which time the mine will be producing 5.3 mt a year.

    The company anticipates that at an eventual annual rate of 20 million tonnes the mine can produce 10 million tonnes of thermal coal and coking coal for export each year with the balance for the planned Benga power station.

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    The ups and downs of South Africa’s coal exports

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    Coal exports to India through the giant Richards Bay Coal Terminal fell to 1.7 million tonnes in April, compared with 2.5 mt in March. But while this might appear worrying, it still represented 44 percent of the total exported, exporters point out.

    Figures like this are significant because India has become South Africa’s largest single market for thermal coal and is taking up the shortfalls of the depressed European market.

    But while South Africa is reported to have exported no coal to China during April, reports from that country indicate that China could be importing up to 170 million tonnes during 2010, which is likely to have a significant effect on world prices.

    Last year China imported 100mt of coal, after having forecast that it would require 50mt for the year.

    Coal prices increased by USD 10 a tonne in May to top USD 90 per tonne delivered into Europe and FOB RBCT, raising European concerns of tight supply. The price is also considered a reason for the decrease in Indian imports from South Africa.

    Pics of the day – WILMA and STRADA CORSARA

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    An interesting ship with some interesting deck cargo and powerful cranes. The general cargo heavy lift vessel WILMA (8,338-gt, built 1997) was in Cape Town in 2008 when this photograph was shot. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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    Another interesting ship to call at the Mother City that year was the aging Italian Ro-Ro ship STRAD CORSARA (11,125-gt, built 1979), carrying a deck cargo of buses.

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