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Ports & Ships Maritime News

November 15, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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First View – SONOMA

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The bulk carrier SONOMA (74,786-dwt, built 2001) which called at Cape Town this past week for bunkers. Operated by an Athens-based company with the Welsh-sounding name of Cardiff Marine Inc, the ship is flagged in Malta. Picture by Aad Noorland

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Ngqura was a big mistake, admits top government official

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Port of Ngqura –a ‘big waste’

Others have been saying it for years, but now, for the first time, a senior official in the office of National Planning in the Presidency, has confessed that building the port of Ngqura has been a big mistake.

Kuben Naidoo, acting head of Trevor Manuel’s National Planning Commission secretariat, stopped short last week of saying that building a new port at Coega was a waste of money, instead he called it a ‘big’ waste of money and a “lesson for strategists”.

Naidoo said the country faced a number of major challenges of which transport and energy were primary. “The current five year freight investment plan aims to address investment backlogs and operational improvements rather than large-scale capacity expansions. The Transnet 30-year plan will accommodate large-scale capacity expansions in line with economic and industrial policy developments,’ he said. Building a new refinery at Coega was a decision that would be made on the basis of sound economic analysis taking into account the cost to the consumer, the balance of payments, the effects of the cost of capital, the environment and security of supply.

Which brought him to the subject of building the Ngqura port, Naidoo disclosed that it has cost the state R20 billion to get the project going so far. He said the port had been built to export aluminium ingots from a proposed smelter that was to be the anchor of the port development, until it was cancelled because of the electricity crisis.

“Decisions about how to spec such a port are key industrial decisions, which in this case, we got wrong,” he said.

He indicated that Ngqura/Coega was going to cost a further R7 billion to adapt the project to current circumstances. Source Business Times

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PIL places six multi purpose ships on West Africa MPP service

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Kota Arif, one of PIL’s 130 container ships. Picture by Terry Hutson

When Pacific International Lines (PIL) reintroduced a new multi purpose service (MPP) between China and West Africa in March this year, it was with two multi purpose ships. Such has been its success that PIL is now introducing another four 17,500-dwt vessels which it has acquired second-hand from Schoeller Holdings of Germany.

The four ships have been named KOTA BERANI, KOTA BERLIAN, KOTA BERKAT, and KOTA BERJAYA.

With six vessels on the service PIL will use Xingiang, Dalian and Shanghai as the main loading ports and Bata and Lagos in West Africa as the principal discharge ports, with other ports en route available on inducement. Each ship has on-board crane lifting capacities of 220 tons and are bound to enhance the capabilities of the multi purpose service to handle project cargo and individual heavylift pieces such as transformers, generators, yachts and other items between China and Africa.

PIL’s representative and agent in South Africa, Durban-based PIL South Africa advises that the line has also placed an order with shipyards in China for eight newbuilds in the 24,000 to 27,000-dwt range. These ships are due for delivery from the end of 2011 through into 2013.

PIL is ranked as the 19th largest container carrier and operates with a fleet of about 130 ships and a capacity of 241,000 TEUs. The line offers container services from the Far East to Europe, Canada, the Indian sub-continent, Red Sea and Arabian Gulf, Black Sea, East Africa, South Africa, West Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, East Coast South Amewrica, and West Coast USA. PIL also operate two subsidiary companies, Advanced Container Lines (ACL) and Pacific Direct Line (PDL) providing a dedicated network of feeder services covering ports in South East Asia, the Bay of Bengal, East Coast India and the Pacific Islands.

Twenty years ago we watched the phenomenal growth of a container line named Mediterranean Shipping Company, now the world’s second largest container line. There are a number of similarities with the Singapore-based Pacific International Line, which incidentally appears also to have escaped the worst effects of the recent economic shipping downturn. Recently a senior PIL executive said in Durban that it was PIL’s intention of becoming the biggest port user of Durban. Bold talk maybe, but the company is already there among the leading port users.

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NSRI has busy weekend

It has been another busy weekend period for the South African National Sea Rescue Institute, with East London station responding to a call from Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA), Port of East London to go on alert following a request for urgent medical assistance from a 207m container ship. An 18-year old member of the crew was suffering from a groin complaint and required to be casualty evacuated as soon as possible to the nearest available hospital.

“The ship, 70 nautical miles off-shore of East London, in 40 knot South Westerly winds and a 4.5 metre swell, was ordered to head towards the Port of East London while a Metro EMS duty doctor relayed, via radio phone, medical advice to the ships medical crew,” reports Geoff McGregor, NSRI East London station commander. “A Metro EMS paramedic was arranged to accompany the rescue operation and a Dynamic Ambulance Service ambulance was arranged to be on stand-by at our sea rescue base. “NSRI East London’s rescue craft Lotto Rescuer was launched, accompanied by a Metro EMS paramedic (who is also an NSRI East London crewman), and we rendezvoused with the ship 12 nautical miles off-shore and the patient was stabilised by the paramedic and then transferred onto our rescue craft and brought to shore and he has been transported to the Beacon Bay Life Hospital in a stable condition where he is to undergo further treatment.” McGregor said the container ship had continued on her voyage from Malaysia to the Congo

. In another incident involving this time the Mossel Bay NSRI station, volunteers were activated on Thursday last week following a request for assistance from a local commercial fishing boat Sundancer which reported having a complete gearbox failure 38 n.miles south east of Mossel Bay. The 10m fishing craft, with a crew of five on board was at anchor and in no immediate danger.

Nevertheless, Mossel Bay NSRI volunteers launched the sea rescue craft Vodacom Rescuer and on arrival on-scene, in good sea conditions, was able to rig a tow-line and take up a tow towards Mossel Bay, achieving an average towing speed of 6 knots. At 22h20 that night Sundancer was safely moored in Mossel Bay where she will undergo repairs.

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Spirit of Richards Bay at sea

On Friday, 13 November Richards Bay NSRI was activated by the local TNPA following a request for assistance from the British yacht Comfortably Numb with two crew onboard, a 51-year old male skipper and a 48-year old female crew, reporting to have sustained steering failure following the sheering off of a steering pin. This had rendered the yacht not steerable and although reporting to be in no imminent danger they requested assistance to the Port of Richards Bay.

“We launched our rescue craft Spirit of Richards Bay into 30 knot South Westerly winds and choppy 2 metre swells and rendezvoused with the yacht 26 nautical miles North of Richards Bay and a towline was rigged. The yacht has been safely towed and moored in the Port of Richards Bay where the two sailors required no further assistance. Neither sailor was injured,” said Dorian Robertson, NSRI Richards Bay station commander.

“According to the sailors their last port of call was Port Louis, Mauritius, and they were headed to Richards Bay.” Robertson said it has not yet been determined by the NSRI what caused the steering pin to sheer.

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Piracy: British yachting couple freed but other ships highjacked

British yachting couple released

The British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler, who have been held captive by Somali pirates for 13 months after their yacht was highjacked en route from the Seychelles to Tanzania, have been ransomed and released.

The news broke suddenly yesterday (Sunday) and from all accounts a ransom of more than US$ 1 million has been paid over to the pirates.

The British government steadfastly refused to enter into negotiations for ransoming the couple, saying that paying a ransom was to invite further attacks and highjacking. It appears that friends of the couple in the UK and elsewhere, assisted with a website that promoted donations to the cause, managed to raise a sizeable amount to which was added a further amount from Somalis living in the UK.

The Chandlers arrived in Nairobi yesterday and according to a Somali doctor who examined them periodically while they were in captivity, they are generally healthy. “Aside from the deep emotional and psychological abuse they endured over the past 13 months, they are doing relatively well,” Dr Mohamed Elmi Hangul said.

According to Al Jazeera news service, a final US$ 300,000 was paid over to the pirates on Saturday. The money had been collected by well-wishers, including the Somali community living in London. It is believed that a total of over £800,000 may have been collected and paid over for their release.

Meanwhile there is no further news concerning the whereabouts of the South African yachting couple who were taken off the yacht on which they were crewing last week and taken into custody inland. A third person, the owner and skipper of the yacht refused to leave and was later rescued by a French warship, FS FLOREAL.

Reports at the weekend say the South African government has a similar policy to that of Britain, of not paying ransom to pirates. BuaNews reported that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s Albie Laubscher told 702’s Eye Witness News that while government would do everything possible to secure their release, it could not negotiate with terrorists.

He said government demands nothing less than the unconditional release of its citizens.

Chemical tanker Hannibal II highjacked

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The Tunisian chemical tanker HANNIBAL II (24,105-dwt, built 1983) was highjacked last week by Somali pirates while sailing through the Somali Basin en route from Malaysia to Suez.

Hannibal II is carrying a cargo of vegetable oils from Pasir Gudang. According to the ship’s master the vessel came under attack some 860 n.miles east of the Horn of Africa, a position considerably closer to India than Africa. The ship is carrying a crew of 31 consisting of 23 Tunisians, four Filipinos, one Croatian, one Georgian, one Russian and a Moroccan.

BBC Orinoco crew evade pirates by hiding in citadel

The crew of the German general cargo ship BBC ORINOCO (17,110-dwt, built 2008) evaded capture by pirates last week after taking refuge in a citadel within the ship, where they were able to turn off the vessel’s engines and block the steering.

BBC Orinoco was in the Arabian Sea about 450 n.miles west of Mumbai on the Indian north-west coast when they came under attack. The immediately sounded the alarm and took refuge in the ship’s engine room and steering control room where they communicated with their agents via email and awaited rescue from the Indian Navy. This came in the form of a missile corvette, INS VEER, which had on board a squad of commandos. The frigate INS DELHI was also dispatched to rendezvous with the merchant ship while a long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft was deployed for aerial surveillance.

The crew of five Ukrainians and nine Filipinos were unhurt from their ordeal. The ship was en route from Aqaba in Jordan bound for Singapore and the crew no doubt considered themselves to be in safe territory after safely negotiating the Gulf of Africa. There is no report concerning the fate of the pirates.

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Recreational fishing dates announced

Pretoria - Water and Environmental Affairs has announced the new recreational fishing season for West Coast rock lobster - also known as crayfish.

The new season opens today (Monday) and closes on 25 April 2011.

Between the period 15 November to 21 November, fishing will be allowed every day of the week, while from 27 November to 12 December fishing will be restricted to weekends and public holidays only. Fishing will again be allowed every day between 13 December and 31 December.

In the New Year to the 16 January, fishing will only be allowed on weekends and on public holidays then again from 22 April to 25 April.

The bag limit is four lobsters per person per day and the size restriction is 80mm carapace length.

The department said no person catching west coast rock lobster with a recreational west coast rock lobster permit may sell it. Any west coast rock lobster caught, collected or transported must be kept in a whole state.

Fishing times for West Coast rock lobster will be from 8am until 4pm. The rock lobsters must be landed by 4pm.

For those who want to transport the lobsters, a maximum of 20 rock lobsters may be transported per day on condition that all the persons who caught such rock lobster are present in the vehicle, vessel or aircraft during transportation, and that such persons are in possession of recreational west coast rock lobster permits.

West coast rock lobster permits will only be sold to persons above the age of 12 years. – BuaNews

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Pics of the Day – MSC MAEVA and SKY OCEANUS

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One final image of MSC MAEVA sailing from Durban on her maiden call to the port, departing with a cargo just over 7,000 TEUs on board, making this the biggest single cargo of containers to be uplifted from Durban. Picture by Trevor Steenekamp of www.nauticalimages.co.za

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An aerial view of the heavylift vessel SKY OCEANUS which spent a couple of weeks in Durban harbour undergoing repairs recently. Sky Oceanus is loaded with two ship to shore cranes. Picture by Steve McCurrach www.airserve.co.za

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