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Ports & Ships Maritime News

October 12, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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First View – INKUNZI

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Cape Town’s floating crane INKUNZI seen here transporting itself across the harbour to deliver equipment required by the pipe layer SAIPEM FDS (20,988-gt, built 2000), which was in harbour undergoing repairs and maintenance. Inkunzi is one of two similar floating cranes, each capable of lifting in excess of 200 tonnes, in service in South Africa that are owned and operated by Transnet at Cape Town and Durban respectively. A third, smaller floating crane IMVUBU with a maximum lifting capacity of 60t is owned and operated by Durban ship repair company Elgin Brownn & Hamer. This picture by Aad Noorland


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Piracy: NYK bulk carrier highjacked but Kenya says no more piracy trials

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EU NAVFOR, the European Union naval force operating on anti-piracy patrol off Somalia reports that the NYK bulker IZUMI (14,162-gt, built 2007) was attacked and captured by Somali pirates on Sunday afternoon.

The ship’s owners initially advised that they received an automatically released distress signal indicating that the ship was under pirate attack. The Danish frigate HDMS ESBERN SNARE of the NATO naval forces was immediately dispatched on an intercept course but on arrival in the early hours of Monday morning, 11 October the master of the Japanese ship advised the captain of the warship that his vessel was already in the hands of Somali pirates.

A EU NAVFOR warship, the French patrol frigate FS FLOREAL has taken over the monitoring of the seized ship which at that stage was 170 n.miles South of Mogadishu.

IZUMI has a crew of 20 on board, all Filipinos. The ship flies the Panama flag.

Yemen and Puntland hold talks on fishing and piracy

From Yemen comes news that talks have been held between Yemen and Puntland, the semi-autonomous region of Somalia, towards strengthening cooperation on fisheries between the two Gulf of Aden countries. Among the topics that were discussed was how to secure the safety of Yemen and Puntland’s fishermen from piracy.

Kenya says no to further pirate trials

The Seychelles is now the only country in the region prepared to handle the arrest, trial and possible imprisonment of pirates captured at sea by patrolling warships of international navies.

This has emerged following Kenya’s cancellation of an agreement with the European Union and other navies, including the United States, to handle the detention and trial of pirate suspects seized at sea by the international forces. The Kenyan statement said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that existed between Kenya and the international community had officially terminated on 30 September 2010.

Kenya said it was exercising a clause in the MoU that required a six month notice to be given of a cancellation, which period had now expired. Kenya accused the international community of failing to fulfil its side of the arrangement, including promises of helping Kenya deal with the influx of additional cases for its courts.

“Arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating pirates here exposes Kenya to these very serious security challenges,” Adan Keynan, chairman of Kenya’s Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Foreign Relations, said when alluding to possible reprisals from Somalia. “It’s not in the interest of Kenyans to try Somali pirates here.”

Kenya currently has more than a hundred Somali pirate suspects awaiting trial. Its jails are reported to be heavily overcrowded leaving the country reluctant to absorb any more prisoners.

The EU says it has spent nearly US$ 3 million on Kenya’s judicial system via the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, of which some of the money was spent on building a new court to try pirate suspects.


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Transnet’s says pipeline will secure supplies to the inland market for next 70 years

Pretoria – Transnet’s new pipeline which is being constructed between Johannesburg and Durban to transport fuel inland will ensure security of supply for the next 70 years or more.

That’s the word from Transnet which says the New Multi-Product Pipeline (NMPP) will replace the existing and ageing Durban to Johannesburg Pipeline (DJP) and is set to be completed in 2011 and operational by December that year.

The state-of-the-art pipeline will operate cost effectively and in an environmentally friendly manner.

The NMPP is the single biggest project in Transnet’s R93.4 billion five-year capital investment portfolio. The pipeline when fully operational will reduce the number of tankers on the road by at least 60 percent - reduce road maintenance costs and congestion on the roads.

It is also the safest, most cost effective, efficient mode of moving petroleum products, says Transnet.

At a media presentation, Transnet explained that in December 2007, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) awarded Transnet the license to build the pipeline, including a 16 inch inland network and two terminals.

However, the company has requested an amendment to its construction license to allow timeline changes.

Transnet had set December 2012 as its earliest completion date while August 2013 was the late completion date for all construction activities. However, it has since changed the dates for the remaining activities, including accumulator tanks, to be completed and ready for operation by 31 December 2013.

The relocation of the construction of coastal terminals from the old Durban International Airport to Island View in the Port of Durban and some delays in obtaining required statutory approvals were cited as the main reason to schedule variations.

The move to Island View resulted in an 11km increase in the length of the pipeline affecting the hydraulics and requiring a change of design.

“Such revisions are common in projects of this complexity, uniqueness and size,” explained Acting Group Chief Executive Chris Wells. “The NMPP, whose construction is about 33 percent complete, is the largest multi-product pipeline in the world and will have a lifespan of over 70 years,” he added. – source BuaNews


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NSRI coxswain and crew honoured by IMO

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The shipwrecked SELI 1 in calmer seas than on the night the crew were so dramatically rescued. Picture by Steve McCurrach www.airserve.co.za

Cape Town, 11 October – A NSRI volunteer coxswain will fly to London to attend an awards ceremony and receive commendations from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in recognition of meritorius services rendered by himself and two crew members.

The recognition comes in respect of the rescue of ship’s crew from the shipwrecked SELI 1 in Table Bay in November 2009.

In his letter to Dr Zola Skweyiya, South Africa’s High Commissioner to London, the Secretary-General of the IMO said: “I have the honour to refer to the nomination submitted on behalf of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, of coxswain Myck Jubber, crewman Kobus Meyer and crewman Kim Germishuys, of the rescue boat Spirit of Rotary – Blouberg, Station 18, Melkbosstrand, National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa, for the 2010 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.

“I am pleased to advise you that the IMO Council, at its 104th session (7 to 11 June), having decided on the winner of the award (exceptional bravery at sea), also decided that the above nominees should receive Certificates of Commendation, in recognition of their actions in evacuating the 25 crew members of the stricken bulk carrier SELI 1 to safety, operating in sea and weather conditions close to the operating limits of their craft.”

In March of 2010 South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute were invited by the IMO to nominate one or more persons for the 2010 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea. The NSRI Awards Committee put forward the names of the crew of NSRI Melkbosstrand’s 5.5 metre rigid inflatable rescue craft Spirit of Rotary – Blouberg which went out to the assistance of the crew of the foundering ship SELI 1 which ran aground at Dolphin Beach, Bloubergstrand, in stormy seas on the night of the 7 November, 2009.

At their meeting, on the 7 June, 2010, the IMO Council resolved that Certificates of Commendation in recognition of meritorius services rendered should be awarded to four nominees for the Bravery Award, including Coxswain Myck Jubber, Crewman Kobus Meyer and Crewman Kim Germishuys of the rescue boat Spirit of Rotary – Blouberg, station 18, Melkbosstrand, nominated by the National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa.

According to Ian Wienberg, CEO of NSRI South Africa, Myck Jubber will attend the IMO Awards Gala in London on the 24 November 2010 to receive the award. “This is because the NSRI has raised only enough sponsorship to get one of the three nominated crew to London to accept this award. We are proud to announce that Myck Jubber, coxswain of NSRI Station 18, Melkbosstrand will attend the IMO awards ceremony in London to accept the Certificates of Commendation on behalf of himself and his two crew,” he said.

Wienberg added that receiving such an award and being recognised in this way showcases the dedication of the 920 NSRI sea rescue volunteers who represent the South African Maritime Rescue capability, “which ensures that ships visiting South African waters, tourists from all over the world who visit our country and all South Africans can be extremely proud to have such a dedicated and efficient group of volunteers looking after their safety on South Africa’s waters and shows once again that we are amongst the best by international standards.”

Rhine Barnes, Sea Rescue Melkbosstrand station commander, said that the NSRI was very excited about the award. “I believe that this is a first for South Africa and certainly a first for the NSRI. The award came as a surprise to our three nominated crewmembers and to the volunteers of our rescue base in Melkbosstrand as we had not been informed that the NSRI Awards Committee had submitted the nomination to the IMO Council until recently.

“Since then we have been trying desperately to raise the necessary funds to get all three crewmen to London to receive the award at the IMO Gala Event in London on 24 of November), but so far we have only been able to raise enough to send the coxswain, Myck Jubber. Unless we can come up with enough funds to send his two crew members he will have to collect the award on behalf of himself and his two crew members, Kobus Meyer and Kim Germishuys.” Barnes added that no NSRI volunteer joins the organisation with the idea of receiving awards. “We volunteer our time to render a service to our fellow man and we each do this to the best of our ability. These three crewmembers will be the first to tell you that although they went out on the night of SELI 1’s grounding they were motivated only for the safety of the SELI 1 crew. Conditions may have forced them to put their skills to the test and they may have operated the rescue craft to its limit, in those sea and weather conditions, but I’m confident that they will be quick to tell you that it could have been any one of a number of NSRI crew members who would have done exactly the same that night. This is the nature of the 920 volunteer crew members we have in the NSRI.”

If anyone would like to help to get all three of these crewmembers to London for this huge occasion, they can call Rhine Barnes at 082 990 5958 or NSRI Head Office at 021-434 4011.


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New Lake Victoria ferry company gets ready to launch fast service

A fast ferry service is due to begin operations on Lake Victoria within the next month, according to reports from Uganda. The company introducing the ferry expects to have 10 new ferries in service over the next 10 years with the pilot service entering official service from December.

To be operated by Earthwise Ferries Uganda, a division of US company Earthwise Ventures, the ferry will be capable of speeds up to 32 knots while providing a safe and environmentally responsible service that its operator promises will bring further economic development to the Lake Victoria region.

According to Earthwise Ventures, the once-thriving ferry system on Lake Victoria is now virtually non-existent. Currently, only two passenger ferries serve Lake Victoria, and none serve Lake Albert or Lake Kuyugo. There are no fast ferries being offered either on Lake Victoria or on the other waterways in Uganda.

The two ferries serving Lake Victoria are the MV Victoria, and the MV Kalangala. The MV Victoria is owned and operated by the Tanzanian Government and serves the Tanzanian cities of Mwanza and Kubuto. MV Victoria was built in the 1950’s and is deemed to be unsafe by many. Recent reports state that it is down for maintenance more than it is in service. It frequently stalls while at sea and delays or strands passengers. The other ferry, the MV Kalangala, is a Ugandan Government-owned ferry, operated by a private company. MV Kalangala serves the route between Entebbe and the Island of Kalangala, but is limited in capacity to 86 passengers and 9 cars.

The EarthWise Ferry Team says it is committed to bringing high quality, modern ferries to the East African waterways. “These vessels will be fast, safe, and environmentally responsible, and the process of building and operating the ferries in Uganda will bring further economic development to the Lake Victoria region.

“The impact of having the ferries built locally (in Uganda) cannot be overstated. We have calculated that local manufacturing of a single ferry in Uganda will create 24 or more skilled jobs, plus many more related jobs as local businesses become suppliers and sub-contractors. Additionally, it guarantees more ‘up-time’ as in-country manufacturing also permits in-country service and maintenance of the vessels and training of labourers, staff and support personnel.”

The new ferries being introduced by Earthwise are 65 foot catamarans, designed by Kurt Hughes of Seattle, USA and built by Thain Boatworks in Everett, also USA. Each ferry will carry 200 passengers. In time honoured fashion they have been built in the Northern Hemisphere, disassembled and shipped to Africa, this time in containers, where the ferry is reassembled on arrival in Uganda.

Earthwise says it will operate at speeds at least twice that of existing ferry services and will complete the crossing from Mwanza in the south to Kampala in the north in six to ten hours, whereas it used to take 19 hours for the journey.

“In the last two decades, the safety records of ferries on Lake Victoria have been deplorable. Unfit vessels have been operated by incompetent crews, often without life- preserving equipment or adequate insurance. Safety is therefore of utmost importance, not only for the care of passengers and crew, but also for the public perception of the operation,” says the company.

“All ferries provided by the EFT will meet US Coast Guard standards, be safe, and all operators will be highly trained and properly certified. Our navigational software will integrate with the internal system of the ferries to avoid overloading, veering off course and collision. Constant feedback to Kampala will occur on a real time basis and early notification of problems will allow for immediate action to be taken.”

“Additional safety features include: fire suppression systems in each engine room and a sprinkler system in the passenger area; load monitoring systems are designed to shut the vessel down if the vessel is overloaded or has more passengers than the number of tickets sold. This will assist in safety by preventing overloading, and promote accountability and honesty, and lastly ‘unsinkability’ due to the use of foam core floors, walls and roofs. There is more foam and sealed areas than the vessel weighs, and therefore it simply cannot sink, claims Earthwise.


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Giant hospital ship docks in Mombasa

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A Chinese hospital ship, the 14,300-gt PEACE ARK has arrived in the Kenyan port of Mombasa and is preparing to offer free medical services to local residents and servicemen during the remainder of this week.

The introduction of the ship by the Chinese in 2008 has been the cause of much discussion in various circles, with China’s motives for wanting a hospital ship being called into question. The consensus seems to be that this is another projection of China’s move into ‘soft power’ internationally and to Africa in particular. One analyst described China as having been “embarrassed” over the call for assistance during the tsunami of 2004, when the Asian counrty had no ship or vessel capable of rendering useful help.

Ship 866, Type 920 (Peace Ark) was a result, Bob Work from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments maintained in World Politics Review. “The tsunami embarrassed them. The Chinese respond to embarrassments in very focused ways. In this case by building a hospital ship.”

Other analysts disagree and see the ship as simply another expression of China’s development as an international naval force, able to express itself in any way in international waters.

Whatever the motive for building the ship, it is here in African waters and in Mombasa right now. The floating hospital provides 300 beds and over 217 kinds of medical treatment, according to Kenyan media who were able to visit the ship. Reports from elsewhere suggest the ship can ‘bed’ 600 patients, but perhaps that’s in a purely military context. There are two ICU units each with ten beds, six lifeboats and an ambulance helicopter. The ship has 32 medical departments and is able to provide training and guidance in standard medical procedures, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.

Serving as a reminder of the ‘hard edge’ the ship also has on board 428 soldiers, officers and other medical staff, according to the Chinese embassy in Nairobi. Their statement presumably means that the soldiers are in fact medical staff serving in the army. The embassy said the Peace Ark is on its “Harmonious Mission 2010” which aims at improving friendship and cooperation between China and other countries. In reality however the hospital ship has been sailing since September in the Gulf of Aden with other ships of the Chinese Navy escort flotilla, on anti-piracy patrol. During the ‘tour’ Peace Ark is due to visit Djibouti, Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, the Seychelles and later on its return to China, Bangladesh.

Come the next tsunami, or other natural disaster, one suspects that China will be better prepared this time.


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Queen Elizabeth launched on her way

Southampton, 11 October - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II today named the latest Cunard liner QUEEN ELIZABETH in time honoured fashion by breaking a bottle of white wine over the bows of the 90,900-gt ship in Southampton harbour.

“I name this ship Queen Elizabeth. May God bless her and all who sail in her,” the queen said as she named the ship, while pressing a button to send the bottle of Rothschild wine on its way to crash against the ship’s bow.

The latest Cunard liner, built to a similar but not exact design as another ‘Queen’, QUEEN VICTORIA, is due to sail on her maiden cruise tomorrow (Tuesday, 12 October) for the Canary Island via Portugal. When tickets for the maiden cruise went on sale in April 2009 they were sold out, online, within half an hour.

The latest (third) ship to bear the name Queen Elizabeth, she will go on her first world cruise early in the new year.


Pics of the Day – MSC VIVIANA

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Mediterranean Shipping Company’s 6,724-TEU container ship MSC VIVIANA (73,819-gt, built 2003) in Cape Town harbour. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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