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Ports & Ships Maritime News

October 26, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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First View – MSC JADE

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Mediterranean Shipping Company’s MSC JADE (36,514-gt, built 1986) sailed from Durban recently with a near full load of 2,696-TEUs, bound for Middle East ports. Picture by Trevor C Photography www.nauticalimages.co.za


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Van Oord awarded Mombasa dredging contract

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The Dutch dredging company of Van Oord has been awarded the contract to dredge the approaches for the port of Mombasa, after an adjudication process eliminated three other firms.

The contract, worth an undisclosed amount, is due to commence shortly – Kenya Port Authority procurement manager Yobesh Oyaro told a Kenyan newspaper that the tender was awarded more than a fortnight ago and all that remained was the signing of the contracts documents, “…so that the dredging can start by next month or at latest in January next year.”

“We don’t anticipate any hurdles and the dredging will go ahead as planned,” he said.

The dredging contract was postponed a year ago to enable the dredging to coincide with the construction of a second container terminal planned for Mombasa. It is planned to use the material dredged from the approach channels for levelling and preparing the area for the new terminal.

A second container terminal has become necessary with Mombasa becoming increasingly congested and which has seen the port having to turn away transshipment cargo for regional ports because of a lack of stack space. Some of this loss included the transshipment containers destined for the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, where similar overcrowding has occurred, forcing shipping lines to look elsewhere to transship Tanzanian cargo.

Port authorities at Mombasa say that once the second container terminal is completed and in business they will target regional transshipment cargo, in particular for the ports of Seychelles, Mauritius, Tanga, Zanzibar and Maputo.

The Dutch firm of Van Oord was also awarded the contract to dredge the approaches for the Mozambique port of Beira. The contract there is worth € 37 million and commenced in April this year. A total of 8 million tonnes of sand and mud will be dredged from one of the more notorious port entrances along the East African coast. This material will be utilised for the construction of a new coal terminal to service exports from the Moatize coal mine, which is due to come into operation next year.

On the Beira contract Van Oord is using among others two medium size trailing suction hopper dredgers. It has not been disclosed what type of dredger will be used with the Mombasa contract.


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Some background to the visit by VLADIMIR IGNATYUK

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The icebreaker Vladimir Ignatyuk in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Aad Noorland

In our photo report yesterday Pics of the Day we showed the Russian ice breaker VLADIMIR IGNATYUK (4391-gt, built 1983) in port at Cape Town but were unable to provide much other information. Now thanks to Jay Gates, who works with ACSA at the Cape Town International Airport, we have the following to pass on… He writes:

“An update on why this vessel might have arrived at Cape Town this weekend.

“As reported in your news she was a frequent visitor to Cape Town during the previous Antarctic resupply season between November 2009 and March 2010. Then she was chartered to the National Indian Antarctic Programme as an icebreaking support ship to the IVAN PAPANIN which was carrying the 29th Indian Antarctic Expedition to both Maitri, the NIAP base in Antarctica, as well as carrying supplies for the proposed new Indian base, Bharati.

“Bharati is to be built in the Larsemann Hills region at 69S 76E and is to be operational by 2012. Vladimir Ignatyuk accompanied Ivan Papanin to the Bharati site during the last expedition to assist with icebreaking and other support duties.

“We are now at that time of year when the 2010-2011 Antarctic Expeditions are due to sail south, many through Cape Town, and it may well be the reason why Vladimir Ignatyuk is back with us again, i.e. chartered once more by the Indian Government to assist with the forthcoming Antarctic resupply season.

“The 30th Indian Antarctic Expedition advance party is due to arrive in Cape Town shortly to connect with the annual DROMLAN flights that are operated by Ilyushin IL-76 freighters from Cape Town to the Russian Novo Ice Runway in Antarctica, which happens to be situated quite close to Maitri. The aircraft which will be flying the DROMLAN Antarctic support programme is due to arrive in Cape Town on 28 October, with the first flight to Antarctica taking place in the first week of November, and she will remain based in Cape Town until March 2011.

“If I hear any more I will let you know.”


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Piracy: Highjacked Beluga Fortune re-secured by cool-headed crew – ship was heading for Durban when seized

Somali pirates who highjacked the German owned multi purpose ship BELUGA FORTUNE were forced to give up possession after the crew shut down all propulsion units and secured themselves in a ‘citadel’ on board the vessel, where they awaited the arrival of navy units to free the ship.

Shortly after the vessel was reported as being highjacked, an aerial reconnaissance noted that the ship was drifting seemingly without anyone in control, although the pirates were on board. What the crew had done was to turn off the fuel supply, shut down the engines, place the bridge out of action and radio a patrolling military aircraft to advise it of what was taking place. They then secured themselves in a safe room to await developments.

While it is not yet known whether the pirates left voluntarily or whether naval forces had to retake the ship, it appears the former is most likely with the pirates having abandoned their ‘prize’ and sailing off in search of new and possibly less well-trained victims.

In a statement Beluga-Reederei described the behaviour of the crew as ‘cool headed’ which it said left the pirates with no other option than to give up dreams of a million dollar ransom and to flee.

Beluga Fortune was heading for Durban from the UAE when highjacked.

Third vessel captured

A third vessel was highjacked in the past few days, adding to our report of yesterday concerning the tanker YORK and the general cargo ship BELUGA FORTUNE – see those reports HERE and also above.

The third vessel is a dhow named SEA QUEEN which was highjacked with an unknown number of seafarers on board off the Kenyan coast. As with many of the dhow movements little is known of their crew lists, if such things exist, or details of their destination or last port of call, it’s how they have been operating for over a thousand years in this part of the ocean.

The spate of attacks so far south of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden indicates once again the ability of the pirates to operate far from their bases, possibly using mother ships to refuel of even some of the uninhabited islands in this part of the Indian Ocean.

International Sailing Federation briefed about piracy

EU NAVFOR, the European Union naval force operating off the Somali coast to escort ships carrying food and other aid, but also to assist with anti-piracy patrols where possible, recently welcomed a delegation of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) at its operational headquarters in Norfolk, UK, in which the question of creating a better understanding of the piracy threat was aired.

An EU NAVFOR intelligence officer summed up the purpose of the visit:

“It is true that a yacht is not a vessel of choice for pirates, from an economical point of view, but if they don’t find anything ‘better’, they will just attack the yacht. Do not think that there is a better place, better period, or even better way, to transit in the Horn of Africa. The only safe solution is to avoid transiting it.”

Simon Church, EU NAVFOR’s liaison officer with the merchant navy added, “It is difficult for big merchant vessels to see a small skiff arriving alongside his vessel. But it is even more difficult for a yacht, with a lower freeboard, especially when the skiff is painted in blue. Add to this the fact that yachts usually do not have the technical possibility to receive the navigation warnings broadcasted after an attack, and you will understand how dangerous the situation is for them.”

“We do understand the difficulty for naval forces to provide any protection to yachts given their limited assets and their priorities,” a spokesman for the International Sailing Federation said. “Our aim is to make sure sailors who want to transit this area are well aware of its dangers and of the framework of the naval forces operations.”

British couple have been prisoners of pirates for one year

Meanwhile, a British yachting couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler have completed a year as prisoners of the Somali pirates after their yacht was captured on 23 October 2009 while sailing from the Seychelles for Dar es Salaam.

The pirates abandoned the yacht which has since been returned to the UK but took the middle-aged couple into custody at a remote part of Somalia, where they have been held, apparently separated, in primitive conditions. The British government, which has changed whilst the Chandlers have been prisoners, has steadfastly refused to negotiate a ransom for their release, leading, say the captors, to a hardening of attitude towards the couple and a worsening of their living conditions.

The Somali Transitional Government has recently taken up the cause and says it will try to secure their release but just how this will be achieved is anyone’s guess, as the Traditional Government hardly governs any area of the country.

EU NAVFOR strengthens ties with Tanzania

As piracy extends further south and into Tanzanian waters, EU NAVFOR has moved to strengthen ties with Tanzania. The French Flagship, FNS DE GRASSE recently paid its third visit to Dar es Salaam, when Rear Admiral Philippe Coindreau, EU NAVFOR Force Commander used the opportunity to meet with Tanzanian and other regional leaders.

During the meetings the Chief of the Tanzanian Navy expressed his concerns about piracy and talked about Tanzania’s willingness to develop counter-piracy capabilities with EU NAVFOR.

The EU Head of Delegation, Eric van der Linden said that “while EU NAVFOR and other naval forces continue to deter and interrupt piracy at the high seas, countries in the region should also take their responsibility to secure the East African coast.”

Denmark to withdraw from piracy patrols

Denmark has announced that its agreement with NATO to send warships to the Gulf of Aden will not be extended after it expires in December. Denmark has provided ships for anti-piracy operations since 2008 and currently has the warship ESBERN SNARE operating with NATO forces in the area but says it is now time to stop as there are other tasks awaiting its ships. “It’s considerably more expensive to have our ships abroad than here at home,” explained the country’s Liberal defence spokesman, Karsten Nonbo.


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Safmarine takes delivery of new multi purpose ship SAFMARINE SUMBA

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Safmarine took delivery last Friday (22 October) of a new Multi-Purpose Vessel, the 18,000-dwt SAFMARINE SUMBA.

The new ship becomes Safmarine’s first multi-purpose ship newbuild since Safmarine became a member of the AP Moller-Maersk group in 1999. The ship, which was named Safmarine Sumba, is the first of six new similar vessels to be delivered between 2011 and 2012-13.

The first two ships in the class, Safmarine Sumba and a sister vessel were and are under construction at the Jiangsu Sugang Shipbuilding yard in China. The other four are being built at the Wuhu Shipyard also in China.

The six ships have been designed and specified for the West African trades, in which specific requirements include the use of multi-purpose vessels rather than straight container ships. “Safmarine’s investment in this new tonnage is a clear indication of our long-term commitment to the breakbulk trade to West Africa,” said Grant Daly, Safmarine head of Multi-Purpose Vessels.

Safmarine currently has six regular multi-purpose services linking West Africa with Europe, Asia, North America and South America. Direct calls are made at more than 60 ports on these services, which accommodate the full range of cargoes, including containers, breakbulk cargoes (principally cocoa and coffee), neo-bulk (timber and steel), project modules and oil and gas-related cargoes.

Safmarine’s latest, owned ship joins a fleet of 14 chartered vessels already on these services.


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Ex-Nigerian Navy chief warns of piracy and bunker thieves

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Nigeria’s former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ishaya Ibrahim has told his successor to focus on curbing piracy and tackling rampant illegal bunkering taking place off Nigeria’s coast.

Speaking at a parade held in his honour of his retirement from the navy, Admiral Ibrahim said the Federal Government needed to make more patrol vessels available to counter the activities of the pirates and illegal bunkerers. The navy had a constitutional duty to protect the country’s waterways, he said, but required the necessary tools to do the job.

Nigeria was losing billions of naira each year to these activities. “I fear that maritime activities in Nigeria may soon come to a standstill if the Federal Government fails to heed the call as the criminal activities of pirates are now forcing those in the industry to divert their business to other African countries.”

He pointed out that Nigeria’s economic wealth lay mainly offshore with the oilfields.

There are already indications that fishing trawlers that once operated from Nigerian harbours have begun relocating to neighbouring West African countries because they no longer feel safe in Nigeria. – source Daily Trust


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The semi-submersible heavylift ship MIGHTY SERVANT 3 is back in Cape Town, this time in a happier condition than her previous visit, while carrying a normal load, for her, of a jacked oil rig platform. For any reader perhaps unfamiliar with the concept, semi submersible vessels are able to submerge themselves by flooding buoyancy tanks which lowers the deck of the ship under the water, allowing the object to be carried, such as this rig, to be floated onto the deck before the submersible resurfaces. Specialists will pardon this crude definition, but that is what didn’t occur when this particular ship was floating off a platform outside Luanda in Angola in December 2006. You can read the report and see images from that occasion HERE.

Mighty Servant 3 was eventually refloated due to the efforts of the salvage team of Cape Town’s Smit Salvage, and brought to Cape Town for assessment. The job of rebuilding the ship was awarded to a Dubai shipyard and as far as is known this is her first call in South African since that occasion. This picture is by Aad Noorland

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While referring to the firm of Smit Salvage, it is also appropriate to show this photograph of one of South Africa’s favourite ships, the salvage tug SMIT AMANDLA (2899-gt, built 1976), which is now owned and operated by an associate company, Smit Amandla Marine.

The tug was built in Durban 34 years ago at the Elgin Brown & Hamer shipyard and when launched was given the name JOHN ROSS. A sister tug, WOLRAAD WOLTEMADE was built at the same time at a Scottish yard but spent much of its time doing salvage work internationally. At the time of their launching the twin tugs were the most powerful in the world. They were also unique in introducing a concept since duplicated elsewhere around the world, of having standby tugs on permanent call in case of an emergency – especially one involving one of the large supertankers sailing around the coast. At that time it was customary to rely on foreign tugs that might or might not be nearby should any supertanker or other vessel find itself in difficulty. With the busy Cape of Good Hope route in use by much of the world’s tanker fleet this was a wise and far-seeing step. After a long career in salvage WW went to the breakers only recently but for Smit Amandla, nee John Ross there is the likelihood of several more years of life left before her days at sea will end. When that day comes, if ever there was a case to be made for preserving a ship as a national monument, this is her. This picture by Aad Noorland


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