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Ports & Ships Maritime News

November 9, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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First View – SMIT ANGOLA

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The newbuild offshore tug SMIT ANGOLA (1438-gt, built 2010) has arrived in Cape Town to take up duties under the management of Smit Amandla Marine. The tug is an identical sister tug to the Durban-based Smit Siyanda which also arrived last week. Picture is by Aad Noorland


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South African yachtsman rescued from yacht pirated off Somali coast

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The yacht Choizil off the coast of Somalia yesterday. Picture EU NAVFOR

Reports that a yachtsman had been shot dead after refusing to leave his captured yacht appear to be incorrect, with latest reports indicating that the yachtsman is indeed a South African (this was denied yesterday by South African government officials) and that he is safe and on board a European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) warship operating in the Somali area, the French patrol frigate FS FLOREAL.

According to EU NAVFOR, the yachtsman, identified only as a South African, escaped being taken ashore and into captivity when he refused to cooperate with the pirates.

Earlier reports emanating from Al-Shabab, the militant Islamic movement in Somalia, said that a yachtsman who had refused to leave his yacht had been shot dead and that his body was in the morgue in Baarawe. His two companions on the yacht, a woman and a child had been taken ashore “and into the jungle”, the reports said.

EU NAVFOR reports that the yacht in question was located by the EU NAVFOR warship FS FLOREAL on 6 November when it was discovered to be sailing suspiciously close to shore. Despite numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact the yacht, including a flypast by the ship’s helicopter, no answer was received and the French warship launched her boarding team to investigate further.

Upon approaching, the team came under fire from the yacht and a Mayday call was received making it clear that pirates were on board and that the crew of three were under their control.

FS FLOREAL remained in the vicinity of the pirated vessel. The yacht eventually ran aground near the shore during the early morning of 7 November. As a result of the grounding, the pirates attempted to remove the three crew members ashore. The South African skipper of the yacht refused to leave his vessel and the pirates subsequently left with the remaining two crewmembers as hostages.

Once the pirates had left the yacht, the skipper was rescued by the EU NAVFOR warship FS FLOREAL. He is confirmed as being safe and is currently on board another EU NAVFOR warship.

EU NAVFOR said that the whereabouts of the other crew members is currently unknown, despite a comprehensive search by an EU NAVFOR helicopter.

There is no confirmation whether the third ‘crewmember’ is a child as has been reported.

Meanwhile, BuaNews reports that South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation is working with its international counterparts in Somalia to investigate whether two people kidnapped there are South Africans.

According to these reports, three people on a yacht in the Indian Ocean were hijacked by Somali pirates and one person was shot dead.


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Piracy Report: Pirates use captured NYK Line ship to attack Spanish warship

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SPS Infanta Cristina

Somali pirates, acting with brazen impunity, have attempted to attack a commercial ship which was being escorted by a Spanish frigate. The strange incident occurred when pirates operating from a captured Japanese general cargo ship IZUMI (14,162-gt, built 2007), attempted to get alongside the MV PETRA 1, which was under charter by the African Union Military Mission in Somalia (AMISON) and was sailing for Mogadishu with an escort provided by the Spanish frigate SPS INFANTA CRISTINA.

Izumi was captured by pirates on 10 October and appears to being used as a ‘mother ship’ by pirates instead of being laid up at one of the anchorages favoured by the Somalis. This is the first occasion that pirates have attacked a EU warship conducting an AMISON escort.

During the incident, the Spanish warship increased speed and manoeuvred immediately in order to place herself between the Izumi and the Petra 1. The attack was disrupted and the pirates in the Izumi fled the scene – the quick reactions of the Spanish warship had foiled the attack.

The Spanish ship was unable to deal more aggressively with the pirates because of the crew of the Izumi that are being held hostage on board the NYK Line ship and who are most likely being forced to run the ship under pirate orders. Therefore minimal force was the order of the day and all ended well. Petra 1 and her naval escort have continued on towards Mogadishu.

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Seychelles court sentences pirates to long terms

EU NAVFOR has welcomed the first judgment in a Seychelles prosecution in connection with the interdiction of a pirate group by an EU NAVFOR warship.

“This first conviction of pirates transferred by EU NAVFOR to the Seychelles marks an important step in the co-operation between European Union and the Republic of Seychelles in the suppression of acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia,” commented Major General Buster Howes, Operation Commander of EU NAVFOR Somalia.

The conviction involved eleven Somali men accused of acts of piracy. Judge Burhan delivered the verdict at the Seychelles Courts, sentencing the eleven Somali pirates to prison sentences of six years each, with a reduction for time spent on remand.

The conviction relates to the attack on the Spanish Fishing Vessel INTERTUNA 2, on 5 March 2010.

Kenya court acquits 17 Somalis on charges of piracy

In another court case in another country, a Kenyan court has acquitted 17 Somali pirates who had been charged with piracy. The 17 were arrested by the US Navy after an attack on the Egyptian bulk carrier AMIRA (74,401-dwt) in May 2009.

In his judgement the magistrate said that the prosecution had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, as was required by law.

“Consequently, I find that the accused persons are not guilty of the offence with which they were charged and acquit them,” he said.

Kenya is now left with the problem of what to do with the released Somali’s, as the court made no ruling on them being repatriated or deported back to Somalia.

SAMHO DREAM brings record US$ 9.5m ransom

Somali pirates have revealed that they received an amount of US$ 9.5 million for the release of the supertanker SAMHO DREAM and its crew of 19 Filipinos and five South Koreans.

The tanker, loaded with $ 170m worth of crude oil bound for the United States, was highjacked in the Indian Ocean in April this year. According to reports the pirates initially demanded $ 20m for the ship and crew.

Another ship recently released, the GOLDEN BLESSING went for a reported ransom of $2.8 million.


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Cape Town terminal introduces simultaneous loading and discharging of container ships

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Maersk Dryden, one of the Maersk Line ships used in the Dual Cycle operation at CTCT. Picture by Ian Shiffman

Transnet Port Terminals says it is aiming to further improve productivity and efficiency at its Cape Town Terminal with the implementation of Dual Cycle operations, where containers are discharged and loaded simultaneously from a vessel using ship-to-shore cranes.

Says Hector Danisa, TPT’s assistant terminal executive of the Western Province terminals, “This methodology involves planning the discharging and loading of containers on the same bay of the vessel. So, instead of finishing a discharge across the vessel before doing a load operation, this is done simultaneously.”

This internationally recognised practise lends itself to faster operation and savings by minimising minimum empty trips for both haulers and cranes. Shipping lines also enjoy the benefits of increased productivity, vessel turnaround time and efficiency.

Danisa said the challenges associated with Dual Cycle included identifying suitable vessels with an even split of exports and imports and ensuring they are planned properly to facilitate this type of work. In addition, resourcing the terminal appropriately for quicker productivity and smarter planning of the stack could become a challenge.

Dual Cycle was piloted at the Cape Town Terminal in early October as a collaborative initiative between TPT and shipping line Maersk. The terminal has since worked three vessels with the Dual Cycle operation, with the most recent being the MAERSK DRYDEN on 3 November.

The terminal achieved excellent performance on this vessel by reaching a GCH (container moves per gross crane hour) of 34 GCH and ship working hour (SWH) rate of 82 moves.

This represented a 41% improvement on the terminal’s average GCH of 24. SWH is the number of containers moved by the cranes working on a vessel in one hour, which is a key performance indicator for shipping lines to measure productivity.

“Some glitches are expected in the initial period but the most important thing is that a new way of operation has been introduced and eventually only benefits can accrue from it,” said Dakalo Mboyi, Operations General Manager Maersk Western Cape.

She added that the productivity improvement and other initiatives witnessed in the last few months at the terminal had been “great.”


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Dual handling of containers at Cape Town now the way to go

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MSC SINFONIA arrives in Durban this week for extended cruise season

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MSC Sinfonia arriving in Durban for the first time last year. Picture by Trevor Steenekamp of www.nauticalimages.co.za

The magnificent cruise liner MSC SINFONIA returns to her Southern African home port of Durban this Friday (12 November) for the start of a second summer cruise season in the Indian Ocean.

The popular nine storey, 2 100 capacity ship, which enjoyed a bumper 2009/2010 maiden season out of the balmy KwaZulu Natal port city, will immediately embark on a full six month schedule of cruises to Mozambique, Mauritius and Reunion through to May next year.

One of the MSC Cruises stable of 11 cruise liners and by far the finest floating hotel ever to operate locally, MSC Sinfonia was last seen in KwaZulu Natal at the end of April this year. She has spent the European summer cruising in the Mediterranean Sea.

Her 17-night southbound voyage from Genoa in Italy on 23 October enjoyed ports of call in France, Spain, Morocco, Senegal and Namibia while sailing from the Mediterranean, down the West Coast of Africa to Cape Town – her first port of call in South Africa.

A highlight of her one-day stop in Cape Town today (Tuesday 9 November) is the hosting aboard ship of a special fund raising luncheon in aid of a Cape home for abandoned and abused children.

The initiative forms part of MSC Cruises long term international commitment to support community projects for less advantaged youth. All funds raised at the luncheon will go to the Building Blocks Children’s Home in Pinelands, Cape Town. It is the first of a proposed nationwide network of similar homes.

MSC Sinfonia’s departs Cape Town at sunset the same day on her opening three night coastal cruise to Durban, where she is expected to dock at 9am on Friday 12 November.

The ship’s first cruise out of Durban will be a weekend voyage to Mozambique with a stop at the pristine, uninhabited Portuguese islands and the promise of a range of water sports or simply blissful lazing about in warm turquoise seas.

The rest of the season will predominantly feature the popular three and four night cruises to Mozambique with stops in the capital city of Maputo, the trendy water sports resort of Barra Lodge and the Portuguese Islands.

In addition the special festive season six night Christmas cruise and 11 night New Year cruises promise to embrace all the wonders of Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and Reunion while indulging all that elegant top class cruising has to offer.

MSC Sinfonia will be joined in December by the more intimate 1,500 capacity MSC MELODY cruise ship which will be offering new Atlantic and Indian Ocean destinations from Cape Town and Durban.

Together the two ships are expected to set a new cruising record in South Africa this summer with a bumper 69 departures scheduled out of local ports.

MSC Sinfonia enjoys the trademark Italian design and style of all MSC Cruises’ ships. This combined with the most contemporary infrastructure, accommodation, fine cuisine in a range of restaurants, top class around the clock entertainment as well as sport and leisure options sets a new standard for South African cruising.

Her extensive range of top class facilities in an elegant, contemporary environment, feature 777 cabins, of which 134 are suites with private balconies and 503 outside cabins, three restaurants and a buffet out on deck, 7 bars, a cigar lounge, disco, casino, business and conference centre. There is also a Spa and beauty centre, 2 swimming pools, a sports centre, golf simulator, library, card room, children’s playroom, teenagers club, a shopping area with duty free shops and boutiques, an internet cafe and a medical centre.

Visit either www.msccruises.com or www.starlight.co.za for more information and to make bookings.


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Dromlan – from Cape Town to Antarctica

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The IL-76TD aircraft at Cape Town. Picture by Jay Gates

by Jay Gates The first two flights of the season on the annual DROMLAN programme have departed for Antarctica.

The Ilyushin IL-76TD aircraft that has been chartered by Cape Town based ALCI (Antarctic Logistics Centre International) to conduct the annual DROMLAN Antarctic Resupply flight programme from Cape Town to Antarctica arrived in Cape Town on 30 October. She then loaded up and finally departed from Cape Town International Airport, late on 3 November, on her first flight of the season to Novo in Antarctica.

The inaugural flight departed with 22 ALCI support staff and 10 tonnes of freight. This first flight was delayed by over 24 hours due to poor weather in Antarctica. The second flight departed this weekend with 56 Expedition staff from the Russian, British, German, Norwegian and Indian Antarctic Expeditions and 3 tonnes of freight.

The Ilyushin IL-76TD aircraft is operated by TransAvia Export Airlines of Minsk, Belarus, and is registered as EW-78799. Interestingly, she is named ‘Igor Vashkevich’ after a Captain of the airline who lost his life when his aircraft was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile shortly after departure from Mogadishu Airport, in Somalia, on 23 March 2007.

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picture by Jay Gates

ALCI will be conducting a minimum of 12 flights between now and the end of February 2011 on what is known as the DROMLAN programme. DROMLAN, set up in 2002, is an acronym for the Dronning Maud Land Air Network, as the area flown to in Antarctica is known as Donning Maud Land, in the Norwegian Sector. The land was named by famed Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, in honour of the then Queen Maud of Norway.

DROMLAN operates two specially prepared 3,000m long Ice Runways in Antarctica, one at Novo Air Base located at 70.49S 11.37E (managed by the Russians) and the other at Troll Airfield located at 72.00S 02.32E (managed by the Norwegians) which are purposefully designed to allow operations by large intercontinental jet aircraft, such as the IL- 76TD.

For the 2010-2011 season, apart from one flight to Troll, all other flights from Cape Town are destined for Novo. From Novo the scientists and cargo will meet up with other smaller ALCI aircraft, as well as aircraft and helicopters that are based in Antarctica and operated by various national Antarctic Expeditions, to be flown onwards to their respective research bases or field locations, i.e. the Air Network!

Countries using the DROMLAN connection to support their own National Antarctic Research Programmes are the South Africans, Russians, British, Germans, Belgians, Dutch, Norwegians, Indians, Finnish, Swedish and Japanese who operate 13 bases and various field programmes between them. So far, 636 passengers have been booked by various National Antarctic Expeditions, Polar Research Institutions, Non-Governmental Organisations and others to be flown to and from Antarctica on the 12 flights, together with almost 82,000kg of cargo.

The IL-76TD aircraft, being designed as a dedicated freight aircraft, has an unusual cabin arrangement for these flights as the Passengers and Cargo will share the same cabin space, with passengers seated in front and cargo loaded in the rear of the cabin!

Flight time from Cape Town to Novo is approximately 5 hours over a distance of 4,120km, or 2,225nm. This is in direct comparison to a 10 day voyage by ship! Many of the passengers are going down to Antarctica in the ALCI IL-76TD, and in advance of their icebreaking polar supply ships, as DROMLAN offers them an extended research season.

As with previous years, there are expected to be more flights added to the programme due to Medical Evacuations and other ad-hoc operational requirements. The entire flight schedule, although planned to operate at set dates and times throughout the season, is very much weather dependant as shown by the first delayed departure.

See related article HERE


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Pics of the Day – MOL HERITAGE and MSC ANTARES

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The Mitsui MOL container ship MOL HERITAGE (15,929-gt, built 1998) in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Mediterranean Shipping Company’s MSC ANTARES (66,289-gt, built 2000) also in Cape Town recently. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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