Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 7, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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  • First View – SKANDI BERGEN

  • New look coming for PORTS & SHIPS

  • Transnet blamed for recent strike

  • CMA CGM adds Durban as one of its transhipment centres

  • Transnet clarifies its role with DIA dig-out site

  • Piracy: Fatalities mount as crews fight back

  • SELI 1 catches fire, salvage crew rescued

  • Port news: APM Terminals invests heavily in Nigerian facility

  • Surf’s up!

  • Pic of the day – SMIT AMANDLA


    First View – SKANDI BERGEN

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    The Norwegian offshore support vessel SKANDI BERGEN (6,596-gt, built 2007) in Cape Town last week. Picture by Aad Noorland

    News continues below...

    New appearance coming for PORTS & SHIPS

    PORTS & SHIPS, which during the month of May received more than 40,000 visits from readers, who opened and viewed 200,000 ‘pages’ while making 938,000 ‘hits’ during the month, is about to undergo a slight facelift that will result in wider pages and a more immediate reader-friendly front home page. The intention is for the changes to make it easier for users to navigate and the site will continue to look familiar to regular readers.

    We hope to introduce the changes, our first revamp in 8 years, within the week.

    Transnet blamed for recent strike

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    Transnet stands accused of causing the recent Transnet strike.

    In an open letter sent to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Barbara Hogan, which was copied to the CEO’s or acting CEO’s of Transnet Freight Rail, Transnet National Ports Authority and Transnet Port Terminals, LM Pelser, the SA Shipping Council Executive Director says his organisation wants to expose the true reality that prevails at ground level, especially at Durban port.

    Pelser accuses Transnet of having allowed the strike to occur through poor management decisions and an even poorer response afterward when it came to getting the ports back to work.

    Calling them dysfunctional, he says Transnet management must be held to account for having cost South Africa billions of rands which will result in thousands of jobs being lost.

    Identifying Durban as the major affected port of import and export, Pelser said that it currently takes ten hours to move a single container into the port of Durban.

    “The drivers of vehicles are having to ‘live’ – eat, sleep, wash etc in their vehicles,” he claimed, saying that under normal circumstances a transporter can move between 4 and 6 boxes a day from the packing warehouses adjacent to the port whereas now, if lucky, they can only move one box a day.

    He said nearby container depots are filled with containers packed for export but are unable to move them into the port because of the backlogs. The result is that the LCL container depots are unable to pack further boxes.

    “Pity the poor cargo owners. They could not export or import during the strike and now that the strike is supposedly over they remain basically in the same position,” Pelser says, adding that the situation will lead to job losses when manufactured items are not sold offshore.

    News continues below…

    CMA CGM adds Durban as one of its transhipment centres

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    CMA CGM Yantian. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    French container giant CMA CGM has announced a new call in Durban in both directions on its WAX service (West Africa Express) which links Asia to West Africa.

    The service, which is to commence on Friday, 11 June (coincidentally the day that the Fifa Soccer World Cup starts in South Africa), will allow CMA CGM to respond to the expanding trade from China to South Africa as well as the growing demand from South African exporters towards Asia.

    “This new call will meet the strong customer demand for a direct service between Asia and South Africa and reflects the determination of CMA CGM to complement the meshing of its three dedicated services between Asia and Africa and create synergy on this fast growing market,” said Stephane Courquin, CMA CGM’s deputy vice-president for Asia, Indian Ocean and Oceania.

    The new call at Durban on the WAX service comes at the same time as the upgrading of the group’s AFEX service that since 15 May has connected North and South China with Cameroon, Benin and Nigeria, and which stops in Maputo in Mozambique on the return leg to Asia.

    As a result of these developments, CMA CGM now offers its clients three direct weekly services from Asia to Africa, an enhanced port coverage including 11 ports in Asia, 13 in West and South Africa, and competitive transit times.

    The new WAX rotation becomes: Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Fuqing, Chiwan, Port Kelang, Durban, Walvis Bay, Tema, Apapa, Lome, Abidjan, Durban, Colombo, Port Kelang and Qingdao.

    The service makes use of 11 ships each of 2,600-TEU capacity and offers worldwide transit connections to CMA CGM services from Durban, in addition to those already available from Port Kelang or Colombo.

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    Transnet clarifies its role with DIA dig-out site

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    Proposed new seaport on old Durban airport site. Picture courtesy Transnet Capital Projects

    Transnet has issued a statement clarifying its position regarding the future of the former Durban International Airport site to the south of Durban, which is viewed as a possible future port for an expanding Durban.

    In its statement the company says: “Transnet Limited expressed interest in acquiring the Durban Airport site for possible commercial port development when it became known that ACSA intended offering it for disposal in the open market. However, based on projected capacity requirements and taking into account our short term needs, we informed ACSA that we would not be making a bid for the land.

    “As part of Transnet’s ongoing national infrastructure planning, and in conjunction with the Ethekwini Municipality (Durban), the Durban airport site has been identified as well located for future port expansion on the eastern seaboard, which will be needed in the future, as set out in Transnet’s National Infrastructure Plan.

    “We have therefore proposed to the Department of Public Enterprises that, due to the strategic nature of the land, consideration should be given to retaining it under government control for possible future port related development.”

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    Piracy: Fatalities mount as crews fight back

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    QSM Dubai

    Somali Puntland forces stormed the highjacked cargo ship QSM DUBAI (15,220-dwt) last week after receiving reports that pirates had killed the ship’s master.

    The vessel was seized by a group of pirates while sailing within the International Recommended Transit Corridor. It is not clear when the Puntland forces decided to recapture the ship, but Puntland minister Said Mohamed Raage said the pirates had refused to surrender and had then killed the ship’s Pakistani captain. “Our troops stormed the Panama-flagged vessel and engaged the pirates. There was brief fighting before we defeated them,” the minister said. He added that seven pirates had been arrested.

    Meanwhile the crew of the Libyan-owned vessel RIM have abandoned their ship on the advice of the master, and were taken on board a nearby Dutch warship, HNLMS JOHAN DE WITT and are being transported to a safe port.

    This followed the retaking of their ship by the crew after pirates had highjacked it. During the recapture one of the crew was seriously injured. Five of the six pirates were killed in the fighting.

    EU NAVFOR says the incident took place south east of Garacad, off Somalia’s northern coastline. The closest EU NAVFOR warship, the SPS VICTORIA, was immediately tasked by the Force Commander Jan Thörnqvist to meet up with MV RIM in order give medical assistance. SPS VICTORIA launched her helicopter immediately.

    Confusing reports that the ship had been attacked by pirates for a second time came prior to the helicopter reaching the scene of the incident. It was quickly established that the crew were still in control of the vessel but there were pirates in the vicinity who were attempting to impede the EU NAVFOR operation by utilising another hijacked vessel, the MV VOC DAISY. When SPS VICTORIA’s helicopter approached the MV VOC DAISY she changed her course – no warning shots were fired.

    It is not clear why the crew of the RIM saw fit to abandon their ship.

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    SELI 1 catches fire, salvage crew rescued

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    Seli I aground opposite Cape Town. Picture by Steve McCurrach

    On Thursday last week the National Sea Rescue Institute issued the following report.

    At approximately 15h00 NSRI Melkbosstrand were activated following reports of a fire broken out on the SELI 1 wreck lying off-shore of Bloubergstrand (Seli 1 ran aground 9 months ago).

    NSRI Melkbosstrand dispatched a rescue craft and a rescue vehicle to the scene to investigate.

    NSRI Table Bay, the Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, Cape Town Traffic Services, Disaster Management, the SA Police Services, Metro Police and the Police Dive Unit were activated after it was confirmed that the aft of Seli 1 was ablaze.

    NSRI Table Bay dispatched the rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom.

    The Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter was placed on alert and the Discovery Medicopter was dispatched to give an aerial assessment and to investigate if there were persons aboard.

    It was confirmed that 24 people were on-board and the Transnet National Ports Authority dispatched the vessel NORTH STAR and on arrival on-scene all 24 people were taken off the ship safely and they were transferred aboard the NSRI Spirit of Vodacom and brought into the Table Bay Port. None of the 24 crew was injured and required no medical attention.

    It appears that the 24 men on board of the vessel were part of an authorised salvage team using cutting equipment to remove steel as part of the SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) ongoing effort to strip the wreck.

    It is suspected that a fire broke out during work being done on the vessel and after it was ascertained that the fire could not be controlled the work crew moved away from the fire by moving forward on the deck and out of harm’s way. It has been confirmed that they were well away from any imminent danger when they were picked up by the vessel North Star.

    Shortly after the men were removed from the vessel emergency response teams were released from the scene and a small contingent of emergency vehicles from Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services remained on the land side to continue to monitor the blaze but no efforts were employed to fight the blaze and the wreck was expected to burn out naturally. This situation will continue to be monitored by City Authorities.

    There is reportedly no immediate environmental impact expected and only small amounts of coal are reportedly still on the vessel which poses no immediate threat.

    Small explosions occurred during the early part of the blaze and these explosions may continue and are suspected to be related to the type of cutting equipment that was being used by salvers but which reportedly pose no immediate threat.

    Sightseers have been asked to keep a safe distance and paddlers, boaters and surfers were requested to not approach the vessel while it continued to burn.

    A dedicated water borne police unit will be deployed to usher any boaters or paddlers (who get too close to the vessel) away for safety reasons.

    The Transnet National Ports Authority and SAMSA will continue to monitor the situation.

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    Port News: APM Terminals invests heavily in Nigerian facility

    APM Terminals, which is Nigeria’s biggest terminal operator, has invested over USD 192 million over the past four years in upgrading facilities in the Apapa port terminal, AllAfrica reports.

    The investment includes the acquisition and installation of IT infrastructure, training in handling the newly acquired modern cargo handling equipment, and the construction of a modern facility.

    A further USD 70 million has been earmarked for investment at the terminal in the second phase of development.

    So far, the Nigerian government has realised over USD 159 million from the operations between 2006 and 2009. This amount is exclusive of the commencement fees and throughput fees paid by the company into the coffers of the Federal Government.

    According to the Managing Director of APM Terminals Apapa, Martin Dirks, USD 116.5 million has been paid by his organisation to the Federal Government as lease fees while USD 3.8 million was paid as company income tax.

    With 29 hectares of fully operational yard space, a total berth length of 1005 metres and four berths, Apapa Container Terminal is a multi-user facility. - cargonewsasia

    Saudi ports under single manager

    In other news the Saudi Ports Authority has announced that a private company will manage all eight Saudi ports. Studies for the privatization of Saudi ports has been completed and the decision taken that an independent entity will run all the ports.

    Meanwhile Saudi Arabia’s transport ministry says it is developing a new port at Al-lith on the Red Sea coast as a back-up for the Jeddah Islamic Port in Makkah Province.

    Surf’s up!

    A Texan surfing pioneer, James Fulbright has launched a new business that specialises in taking surfers out to ride the several miles long waves created by passing oil tankers and other large ships such as container vessels. Fulbright and his friends have been surfing the tanker waves for the past 13 years and have decided to ‘share the wealth.’

    “We have had our decade in the sun. So many people from all over the world had contacted me over the years, wanting to experience this unique surfing adventure, so I finally decided to get my Captain’s license and do it right. I have more time and knowledge than anyone, hands down, pertaining to tanker surfing, so who better than me to offer someone a surfing experience of a lifetime, riding the tanker waves. Now I can do it legally and safely. I’ve studied this to the point of being neurotic and my friends and I have probably already surfed to Europe and back!”

    The above report is reminiscent of stories overheard among former SA Navy strike craft personnel about the times they went surfing behind the high speed strike craft patrol ship, when out of sight of land and ship, that is… or is that just another of those stories?

    Pic of the day – SMIT AMANDLA

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    The South African salvage tug SMIT AMANDLA (2,918-gt, former John Ross) still presents a fine sight even while on standby in Cape Town harbour. The tug was built in Durban in 1976. Picture by Aad Noorland

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