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Ports & Ships Maritime News

August 31, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

Shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa


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First View – BOURBON LIBERTY 107


The Singapore-registered French-owned offshore supply vessel BOURBON LIBERTY 107 (1517-gt, built 2008) which called at Cape Town earlier in the month to load bunkers. Picture by Aad Noorland


News continues below...

Piracy report: NATO forces prevent pirate attack in Gulf of Aden

A combination of ‘allied’ naval forces involving NATO, the EU and Japanese military cooperated on Sunday to keep pirates at bay in the Gulf of Aden, after two merchant ships came under attack.

A Somali report indicated that one of the ships, the CARIBBEAN CARRIER had come under fire from the skiff before the arrival overhead of a Japanese patrol aircraft from the Japanese Maritime Self Defence unit based at Djibouti, which noted details of the skiff with seven suspected pirates on board. The Japanese alerted a Danish warship under NATO command, the ESBERN SNARE which launched its helicopter to intercept the skiff. On sighting the helicopter the suspected pirates threw their weapons overboard and made signs of surrender. The Danish helicopter was joined by another chopper from an Italian ship also under NATO command.

Subsequently a US warship, USS KAUFFMAN which is also operating under NATO command sent personnel to board the skiff where they found a ladder similar to those used by pirates to board ships as well as other materials including spent and unspent ammunition.

“Once again the cooperation between ships and aircraft from different counter-piracy forces has proven immensely valuable,” said Commodore Christian Rune, commander of the NATO counter-piracy task force.

The Somali report claimed that the same pirates had earlier launched an attack on the car carrier HOEGH OSLO but aborted their attempt after the arrival of a military aircraft.

According to Danish reports the pirates were disarmed and later released.


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2010: The South African Weather Service and the Year of the Seafarer

by Ian Hunter : SA Weather Service

Next month World Maritime Day will be celebrated, with the 2010 theme being ‘2010 : Year of the Seafarer’. Were it not for the 1.5 million men and women that ‘man’ the merchant vessels of the world, the global economy would soon be in tatters. In South Africa the Single Buoy Mooring (SBM) off Durban receives the equivalent of roughly one VLCC tanker’s cargo (Very Large Crude Carriers – average DWT ~ 300 000 tons) a week. South Africa has to import over 70% of its oil requirements – over 80% of this is pumped ashore via the SBM. This is not to mention all the other import and export commodities which the seafarers of many nations unload/ load at our ports.

National Meteorological Services (NMS) are also indebted to mariners - for their voluntary observations of weather and sea conditions. As a recent example a merchant vessel in the vicinity of Cape Agulhas provided invaluable data for the sea-level pressure analysis on Thursday morning last week, 26 August. A cut-off low with its surface reflection over the interior of the southwestern Cape was moving towards the coast overnight. But it was “BATFR38” (*) that confirmed that the centre of the COL had moved offshore (~ 03h00 UTC).

Furthermore, it was only with the 09h00 observation from this ship that it was possible to gauge the true strength of the wind offshore, behind the eastbound cut-off-low. Whereas the coastal station at Cape Agulhas reported a NW’er of only 16 kts, BATFR38 – seaward of the Cape - measured 38 kts. Satellite-derived winds – had there been a pass at the time – would have been contaminated by the land backscatter this close inshore. The Meteosat-9 image below, courtesy EUMETSAT, gives a clear depiction of the COL – now well to the southeast of Port Elizabeth.


(*) this is the callsign of the onboard automatic weather station – the ‘platform’ is a selected ship recruited by France. An increasing number of merchant vessels are being fitting with AWS. There are advantages and disadvantages : parameters such as sea state, weather, cloud cover - are no longer available ; on the other hand the only constraint on the frequency of observations from an AWS is the cost of the (satellite) communications.

VOS reports also make up by far the longest record of metocean data over the global oceans. A formal code was devised in 1853 but real-time observations only became possible in the early 20th century with the advent of radio telegraphy. By capturing weather observations from early ships’ logs, international marine data archive centres now have data sets going back as far as 1660 – an invaluable resource for marine scientists of all persuasions.

In each and every Coastal and High Seas bulletin issued by SAWS, an appeal is made to non-VOS vessels to report unexpected/ severe conditions. One of the most interesting came from a container vessel the ‘Yantai’ in October 2007. She was approximately 600 nm WNW of Cape Town when a ‘growler’ (iceberg fragment, visible height less than 1m) was sighted by the duty officer - with the sighting confirmed by the master. The presence of a growler (reported to be 10m in length) this far north (latitude 32° 39,9’ south) - is by no means impossible. Consider the gigantic iceberg sighted from the International Space Station in June 2007 – southwest of Gough Island :


Thus we are reliant on the seafarer to provide data on the maximum equatorward penetration of iceberg fragments. In addition to this valuable service to navigation they also report on a variety of other atmospheric and oceanographic phenomena – physical and biological.


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Port of Nacala now linked to Zambia by rail


Maputo, Mozambique, 30 August – The Northern Development Corridor in Mozambique has since Friday been linked to Zambia with the inauguration of a section of railway between Mitsinje in Malawi, and Chibatam in Zambia, Mozambican newspaper Notícias reported.

The paper said negotiations were underway for transport of goods such as cotton and tobacco from Chipata to Nacala and fertilisers and fuel in the opposite direction.

The link to the sea via this railway represents around 600 kilometres less than the shortest alternative route. However, investments will have to be made in equipment, as there is strong commitment from the Malawian authorities to improve the railway.

At the inauguration ceremony for the line a protocol of understanding was signed by the Transport Ministers of Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia, as part of the Nacala Corridor initiative, which involves the three countries, in what was considered to be the most important act in this regional initiative.

A commercial agreement was also signed between Zambia Railways and Central East Africa Railways (CEAR), under the terms of which the operation of the section of railway in Zambia will be carried out using equipment from Malawi and staff from the railway company.

Fernando Amado Couto, the chief executive of CDN and coordinator of the corridor, said an agreement had already been made with a company that would promote the new possibility of transporting cargo and added that passenger transport was not planned thus far. (macauhub)

Now see the PORTS & SHIPS report of 24 August Rail link opens on Friday

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Marine Bulk Carriers clinches new offshore deal with PetroSA

Bourbon Thetys

Cape Town based BEE shipping company, Marine Bulk Carriers, have clinched a new platform supply contract with PetroSA to provide assistance to PetroSA's offshore installation: FA Platform and the oil rig, FPSO ORCA along South Africa’s Southern Coast.

It is the fourth such contract between MBC and PetroSa, but this time there is an important difference. Seven South African ratings will join the vessel on its arrival in South African waters in what is a further extension of the work opportunities provided for South African seafarers by MBC and its sister company, Marine Crew Services (MCS).

The vessel, AHTS BOURBON THETYS, owned by the French company Bourbon Offshore, is due to arrive at Mossel Bay from Singapore where the new crew members supplied by MCS will join the vessel. Discussions are also under way to provide on board training opportunities for SA cadets on the Bourbon Thetys. She will assume her duties with PetroSA the same afternoon.

Daniel Ngubane of MBC`s offshore operations says the Bourbon Thetys has also been equipped with two fast rescue craft in order to assist with any rescue situation at PetroSA installations off the South African coast. “One of these craft are being built in Cape Town by Gemini and this further advances MBC’s goal of supporting local content and therefore job creation in the maritime industry.”

In MBC’s first agreement with PetroSA, it supplied the MALAVIYA TWENTY ONE in a charter from the Great Offshore Shipping Company of India, to support the Pride South Seas in 2005. The Malaviya Twenty One was subsequently employed by Tullow Oil in the Kudu field off Namibia, whereafter she was returned to her owners.

This was followed by two powerful anchor handling vessels, the 12,600 horse-power EEMS, and the 10,880 horse-power OCEAN SUPPORTER, being deployed on PetroSA contracts in 2008.

MBC’s Daniel Ngubane says the new contract with PetroSA is evidence of a strong relationship developing between MBC and PetroSA. “We believe that our previous contracts with the Malaviya Twenty One, Eems and Ocean Supporter have proved MBC’s commitment to and ability to fulfill the service level requirements that PetroSA expects from us.”

Marine Bulk Carriers was established in 2004 to boost South Africa’s role in the bulk cargo business. Since then the Cape Town based BEE shipping company has extended the bulk carrier fleet under its management which now includes Cape, Panamax and Supramax vessels. At the same time it has also gained a strong foothold in the offshore business with high levels of excellence and service.

“The past two years have been tough for everyone in the shipping business, but MBC, through key partnerships in the international shipping world, has weathered the storm and is now set for a new period of growth,” says MBC director Jan Rabie. “The new PetroSA contract indicates the confidence our customers have in our ability to deliver on key contracts.”


South African ratings ready to join Thetys


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NSRI performs another offshore medical rescue


Shane Kempen, National Sea Rescue Agulhas station commander, reported last night: “At 10h17 (yesterday) our sea rescue Agulhas volunteers launched our rescue craft I&J Rescuer III to rendezvous with the Chokka fishing boat Cape Natal to casualty evacuate 31 year old Abram Yutse, from Mission Bay in Port Elizabeth, who was requiring treatment for diabetes.

“The skipper of Cape Natal, Keith Hendricks, had called sea rescue the night before to request assistance after Abram ran low on his diabetes medication and after the skipper confirmed that they had enough medication to last them the night we requested that they make their way towards the Struis Baai area this morning.

“At 10h15 they reported to be in the Bay and we launched our sea rescue craft I&J Rescuer III and on arrival on-scene, in 3 metre choppy seas and light winds, we transferred Abram onto our rescue craft and brought him to shore where we were met by a Metro ambulance and the patient was transported to a local clinic in a stable condition.

“Later in the day, the owners of Cape Natal, the Van Niekerk Fishing Company, requested sea rescue to transport Abram back to the Chokka Boat after he had been released from the clinic and after he was provided with his stores of diabetes medication and our volunteer sea rescue crew obliged.

“Once Abram was safely back on his vessel no further assistance was required and they have continued on their fishing voyage.

“At 14h02 our sea rescue volunteers were activated following a request for urgent medical assistance from the Chokka fishing boat Nomvuyo reporting their 52 year old crewman, Craig Balfour, from Port Elizabeth, to have sustained a laceration to the head after falling on the deck while fishing at sea.

“The skipper of Nomvuyo, Boschoff Jordaan, reported that they were at the 6 Mile Bank and that the crew had bandaged the laceration and that although Craig appeared to be in a satisfactory condition they required medical assistance and medical evaluation.

“We requested that Nomvuyo motor towards Struis Baai while we launched our rescue craft I&J Rescuer III and we rendezvoused with the casualty in the Bay where, in rough 3 to 4 metre choppy sea swells and a 10 to 15 knot Westerly wind, our sea rescue medics found Craig to be in a stable and satisfactory condition but requiring sutures to a laceration on his head.

“Craig was brought ashore aboard our sea rescue craft and we took him to our local doctors surgery where he was sutured and released.

“Sea Rescue Agulhas then transported Craig back out to sea aboard I&J Rescuer III where he was reunited with his fishing boat and no further assistance was required.”


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Pics of the Day – WANG GEON

The Republic of Korea (ROK) destroyer WANG GEON (DDH 978) has been visiting South Africa to take part in the commemoration of the Korean War, in which the South Africa Air Force took part sixty years ago. The ship has visited Simon’s Town and last week entered Cape Town harbour for the first time. The first two pictures are by Ian Shiffman

The picture below is by Steve Shipside


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