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Ports & Ships Maritime News

September 27, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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The offshore supply vessel PACIFIC BARBARIAN (1974-gt, built 1997) which was in Cape Town recently. Picture by Aad Noorland


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Go to sea, young man

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) says it has set aside US$ 2.5 million for the equipping of maritime training institutions in Africa.

According to Juvenal Shiundu, the Deputy Director/Head of Programme Management Section, Technical Cooperation Division of IMO, the announcement was the high-point of maritime activities last week, when the International Maritime Day was celebrated.

Speaking in Lagos on the occasion of World Maritime Day, Shiundu said the fund was being made available during the ‘Year of the Seafarer’ to address deficiencies in maritime trading. The IMO, he said, placed a lot of emphasis on capacity building through training and support to regional and national maritime institutions.

The IMO is aware, he said, that many maritime training institutions in developing countries in Africa, South East Asia, the Pacific and the Central American regions are ill- equipped.

“If Africa is to benefit from the opportunities presented by the envisaged worldwide shortage of seafarers, then the first prerequisite is to develop and build capacities of maritime training institutions in line with global standards.

“There are 13 maritime training centres in Africa, providing training for most of the seafarers in the shipping industry. For many years, one of the major problems to have been identified has been the shortage of sea-time training vessels for cadets attending maritime academies in developing countries, he said.

According to Shiundu more than 90 per cent of international world trade was carried by ships, but the shortage in the supply of seafarers is continuing to cause concern.

Shiundu offered no details concerning the allocation of $2.5m by the IMO for training purposes.

In another statement, the IMO say that the global shortage of seafarers, especially officers, has already reached serious proportions, threatening the very future of the international shipping industry, which is the lifeblood of world trade.

Recent reports have identified a current officer supply requirement of 498,000 in 2008, with an officer shortfall of 34,000. This figure is expected to rise to a projected officer shortfall in 2012 of 83,900, the IMO said.

The ‘Go to Sea!’ campaign was launched in November 2008 in association with the International Labour Organization, the ‘Round Table’ of shipping NGOs – BIMCO, ICS/ISF, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO – and the International Transport Workers Federation.

The specific aim is to promote seafaring as an attractive option for young people of the right calibre, one which can provide them with rewarding, stimulating and long-term prospects, not only at sea but also in the broader maritime industry.

With the ‘Go to sea!’ initiative, IMO has opened an umbrella under which industry and governments can mount their own campaigns to improve seafarer recruitment.

“If the global pool of competent and efficient seafarers is to meet future demand, then seafaring must be presented to younger generations as a viable career choice,” the IMO said.


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Somali pirates back on the offensive – general cargo ship captured

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The Kenyan dhow SHERRY. Picture courtesy EU NAVFOR

Somali pirates are back on the trail of targeting and attacking merchant shipping following the end of the seasonal monsoon, and on the weekend they captured the Greek owned general cargo ship LUGELA (3,120-gt, built 1984).

Flying the Panama flag the ship is not a Mozambique owned vessel of the same name. Lugela was seized with her crew of 12 Ukrainians and was about 900 n.miles east of Eyl in Puntland at the time, en rout for Mauritius with a cargo fo steel bars and wire. She was later reported to be heading in the opposite direction towards the African coast.

In an incident on Friday (24 September), the Spanish frigate SPS GALICIA came across a Kenyan dhow named SHERRY near the Somali coast, which was enough reason for suspicion. Added to that, the dhow was towing two smaller skiffs.

After approaching closer the frigate sent across a boarding team and found 14 people on board the dhow, of which, it turned out, nine were crew and one was a Somalian translator. The balance of four were pirates who were suspected of having seized the vessel earlier.

All 14 men were transferred across to the Galicia for further questioning.

On the same day but in another part of the region, a dhow was found to be drifting in the east part of the Gulf of Aden. A team from the Swedish warship HSwMS CARLSKRONA used interpreters on board their own vessel to make contact with the crew of the dhow before sending across a boarding team. It turned out the dhow, with a crew of ten, was out of fuel.

The Swedish ship was able to supply them with fuel, water and food before allowing them to sail for Yemen.

Responding to the recent attacks and the end of the monsoon, EU NAVFOR, the European Union naval force operating on patrol in the Somali region has extended its area of operation in the Indian Ocean, adding that the procedural change will enable EU NAVFOR units to operate more effectively further east in the Indian Ocean.

In Mombasa seven Somali pirates were each given five year prison sentences for highjacking a Spanish merchant ship in 2009 near the Gulf of Aden. The men were captured by international naval forces and later transferred to Kenya for prosecution.

Off the Nigerian coast in West Africa comes reports of an attack last week on the 16-man French crew of the anchor handling tug BOURBON ALEXANDRE, in which three Frenchmen were taken away by their attackers.

The tug was operating on the Addax oilfield when several small speedboats approached bringing an armed gang of militants/pirates. So far there have been no reports of a ransom demand. A marine security alert was immediately issued.

In 2008 Bourbon had ten men captured by militants off the coast of Cameroon. The men were released unharmed about 10 days later.

Finally, almost a million people have signed a petition calling on the UN, through the International Maritime Organisation to bring about real action in ending the scourge of piracy off Somalia. The petition was launched four months ago and is part of a campaign to persuade all governments to commit the resources necessary to end the increasing problem of Somali piracy, where currently 354 seafarers and 16 merchant ships are being held hostage.

The petition calls on governments 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; and work within the international community to secure a stable and peaceful future for Somalia and its people. It says there is evidence of pirates being released “unprosecuted to kidnap, loot and maybe kill again” and that it is impossible to use Asia-Middle East and Europe-Asia routes via the Suez Canal without passing through a high risk area.


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Automatic gates for Apapa

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Apapa Container Terminal

APM Terminals, which holds a 25-year concession to operate the Apapa container terminal in the port of Lagos, is about to install an automatic gate system at the container terminal to facilitate a smoother flow of traffic in and out of the busy terminal – West Africa’s largest.

The automatic gate system will make use of four optical character recognition (OCR) and damage inspection portals, 18 driver kiosks with high security access control barriers and a biometric security system which will validate drivers identities at entry and exit. The equipment is being supplied by APS Technology and is the first of its kind in West Africa.

“We are pleased that APM has chosen APS for this ground-breaking project in Lagos,” said Russ Scheppmann, APS Technology President. “This investment shows APM’s continued commitment to West Africa and their industry-leading approach to delivering world class terminal operations to support their customer’s trade growth.” – source PTI online.


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Maersk refinances with revolving credit facility

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Maersk Fukuoka. Picture by Alan Calvert

AP Møller–Mærsk A/S last week successfully completed a US$ 6.75 billion syndicated revolving credit facility (the Facility) with a selected group of 20 banks. The Facility is arranged by the company itself and refinances a US$ 6.5-bn facility maturing in 2012 with 28 banks.

AP Møller-Mærsk has with the refinancing proactively addressed the upcoming refinancing in 2012, taking advantage of current favourable conditions in the global bank loan market and reduced the financial costs.

“We are very pleased with the terms and structure in our new facility and the process with the banks participating. Our banking group is consolidated, the maturity profile of our finance commitments extended and cost related to the facility reduced. We received strong support from our global relationship banks that have all supported the transaction,” says Jan Kjaervik, Head of Group Finance and Risk Management.

The Facility has a maturity of 5 years and will be used for general corporate purposes.


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80-wagon phosphate export train derails

An 80-wagon freight train loaded with rock phosphate from Phalaborwa and bound for the port of Richards Bay derailed last week, Transnet Freight Rail reported last Wednesday.

Saying that the train came off the rails ‘partially’, TFR revealed that it was sufficient to leave the tracks damaged and the line closed. TFR’s statement said the accident occurred on Sunday, 19 September and that the line would remain closed until repairs had been carried out.

“The line will be closed until all repairs have been completed and early indications are that the repair work may take up to eight weeks,” said spokesman Sandile Simelane.

The accident occurred at Brakspruitbrug between Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa. There were no injuries. The affected companies owning or having an interest in cargo on the train are Phalaborwa Mining Company and Foskor and TFR said it was in discussions with them to find solutions (for non-delivery) until the repairs have been carried out.

Another derailment occurred late last week near Durban, with a number of wagons coming off the track in fairly spectacular fashion. As far as is known there has been no notification of this accident and few details are known. This is usual for TFR which customarily reacts only once the media starts to ask questions. The last media release on its website was, for instance, in late July and involved the spectacular derailment along the iron ore railway.


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Pics of the Day – MAESTRO TIGER and MINORQUE

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The bulk carrier MAESTRO TIGER (31,828-dwt, built 1999) arriving in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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A more unusual visitor in Cape Town was this French-owned bunkering tanker MINORQUE (1500-dwt, built 2005). Picture by Ian Shiffman


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