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Ports & Ships Maritime News

November 23, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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First View – SCAN BRASIL

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The Ro-Ro general cargo ship SCAN BRASIL (8,831-gt, built 2003) with the offshore construction company OTSL’s Kingston-registered tug/workboat SUN CARIB loaded as deck cargo, seen in Durban on 7 November 2010. Picture by Trevor Jones

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News of ships and shipping lines

Hamburg Süd’s largest ever container ship heads for South Africa

Another large container ship is heading for South Africa, this time a 7,100-TEU vessel in the colours and ownership of German line Hamburg Süd.

The SANTA CLARA (85,676-gt, built 2010) also happens to have the largest reefer capacity of any ship afloat – 1600 reefer plugs – and she is due to dock in Port Elizabeth and Durban on 4 and 6 December respectively. The ship has a nominal capacity of 7,100-TEU and is 300m in length and is the largest vessel ever to sail under the Hamburg Süd flag.

Following a construction period of just under nine months, the Santa Clara entered service straight from the Okpo yard in South Korea in September 2010, the first of ten new Hamburg Süd container ships of the ‘Santa’ class. She was then phased straight into the New Good Hope Express Service between Asia and South Africa/South America East Coast, which Hamburg Süd operates jointly with a partner. The other nine sister ships will follow by the end of 2012. They are all fitted with technical innovations such as common rail technology and pre-swirl stators to further reduce fuel consumption and, with it, ship emissions.

With a cargo volume expected to reach 2.8 million TEU in 2010, Hamburg Süd now ranks among the 20 largest container shipping companies in the world and is one of the leading providers on the North-South trade lanes and an expert in the carriage of such temperature-controlled cargoes as citrus fruits, fish, meat or other sensitive commodities. Hamburg Süd says its diverse transport solutions in the reefer segment are especially in demand on the trade lanes between South Africa and Asia.

“To guarantee our customers optimum cargo care for perishable cargo and the best integrated logistics solutions, the shipping group is investing in cutting-edge vessels featuring a high reefer capacity, as well as in optimising its shipping and ancillary services.

Plans to raise sunken MSC CHITRA from seabed off Mumbai

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Plans are coming together to raise the sunken container ship MSC CHITRA (33,130-gt, built 1980) that sank after colliding with another ship, the bulker KHALIJIA (45,798-dwt) in the approaches to Mumbai, India in August this year.

The collision left MSC Chitra taking on water and listing badly before sinking in shallow water. A considerable number of containers were lost overboard of which some have not been found and are believed to be lying on the sea bed. Salvors and the shipping line hope to recover 596 containers remaining on the ship once she has been refloated. The salvage plan is to raise the ship and pump out the holds while the containers remain on board – this has been delayed so far because of adverse weather and sea conditions.

A total of 314 boxes have so far been recovered either from the ship or from the ocean. MSC said that delays arose from toxic fumes and gases that escaped from some of the containers – with the monsoon having ended there is little wind to blow this away from the area being worked.

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Air Sea Rescue: Patient with suspected heart attack airlifted from MSC SINFONIA

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MSC Sinfonia entering her summer homeport of Durban. Picture by Trevor Steenekamp

A passenger on the cruise ship MSC SINFONIA (58,625-gt, built 2005) has had to be airlifted to hospital in Richards Bay after taking ill while on a cruise to Inhaca and Portuguese Island near Maputo.

The popular cruise ship was returning from Portuguese Island, which is within the Bay of Maputo when the male passenger fell ill. Apparently his condition was serious enough for on-board doctors to decide he needed urgent hospitalisation ashore (the ship was due back in Durban the following morning). As a result a message went out to the NSRI for urgent medical assistance. At the same time Transnet National Ports Authority at Richards Bay, the nearest South African port, requested the ship to make speed for the port and arranged for the port pilot helicopter to rendezvous with the ship some 45 n.miles offshore. The man was airlifted to a hospital in Richards Bay where there has been no word on his condition.

In other sea rescues, NSRI Mykonos station on the west coast was required to go to the assistance of a small cabin boat with two local men on board. They were at Kraal Baai in the Langebaan Lagoon and had reported a loss of battery power and although in no imminent danger they were requiring a tow to safety.

NSRI Mykonos launched its rescue craft Gemini Rescuer II an was able to tow the stricken boat back to the Langebaan slipway where no further assistance was required.

“The men (who were on a fishing trip) reported that they had pondered on their options (for assistance) for quite some time before calling the NSRI out so late at night,” said Darius van Niekerk, station commander NSRI Mykonos. “Our NSRI volunteers are only too glad to go and help under these circumstances. The two men did the right thing by calling us rather than wait for something like this to become a genuine rescue operation, particularly if the weather had turned foul overnight,” he said.

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NSRI’s Spirit of Safmarine III, seen here at Cape Town’s V&A, was involved in assisting a Durban yacht to safety at the weekend

Also in Cape waters, NSRI Simon’s Town volunteers were activated to go to the assistance of the Durban yacht Opela which was requiring help after enduring a storm while sailing from Durban to Cape Town.

According to NSRI station commander Darren Zimmerman, the NSRI had been monitoring the yacht’s progress during the early hours of Friday morning (19 November), after the yacht reported to Maritime Radio Services authorities that they were battling up to 50 knot winds and rough seas in the deep-sea between Mossel Bay and Struis Baai, and that they had sustained motor failure and were suffering fatigue and general storm damage to the yacht. They said that although not in any immediate danger they were gradually being driven further out to sea despite their best efforts to get closer ashore.

“NSRI Simonstown were tasked to rendezvous with the 39 foot yacht in the deep-sea off-shore of Betty’s Bay and on arrival on-scene the yacht was taken under tow by the NSRI Simonstown rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine III. The yacht and her three crew, suffering some fatigue from their ordeal, were towed safely to Simonstown harbour in two to three metre swells and a 20 to 25 knot North Westerly wind, at an average towing speed of 6 knots, and the yacht was safely berthed at approximately 20h00 and they required no further assistance.

“The three yachtsman, skipper Kevin Robinson, 54, and his crew Mr C De Fin, 53 and Paul Riley, 44, all from Durban, will effect repairs to the yacht before continuing on to their destination.”

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Piracy: East Coast – NATO may withdraw naval forces

Unconfirmed reports suggest that NATO may have to withdraw its naval ships taking part in anti piracy patrol off the coast of Somali as part of a cost-cutting plan.

The reports coming from the UK say that the likelihood of closing the Somali station is high following defence cuts in the UK and among some of the European members. Nato is said to have promised to cut ‘fat’ from its command structure and to reduce command staff from 13,000 to 9,000 in the new year. The cuts will end the duplication of a number of Nato command structures, where multiple HQs oversee the same operations. Naval operations against Somali pirates is said to fit this description – naval operations against the pirates is run by two command centres, one in Portugal and the other in the UK. The British are convinced that the British headquarters is the one that will have to go.

Denmark recently announced it would no longer be sending its warships to act against the pirates, having considered that it had ‘done its duty’ with a naval presence in Somali waters for some time. The defence spokesman also quoted cost factors.

Samho Dream VLCC used to highjack other ships

They usually operate from small open skiffs and whalers, and the occasional dhow, but according to the highjacked crew of the VLCC SAMHO DREAM which was captured by pirates in April this year, pirates made use of the supertanker to highjack another tanker, the POLAR.

The Filipino seafarers from the Samho Dream returned home last week after being released after a ransom of US$ 9.5 million was paid. They reported that up to 50 pirates armed with AK47 rifles and RPGs stormed the tanker on 4 April, and later used the ship to capture an Iranian fishing boat which in turn was used to seize the Polar, with the tanker acting as mother ship.

Tanker evades pirates

As yet unconfirmed reports say that another tanker has evaded capture by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden region. No details are yet available.

Piracy: West Coast – Nigerian militants attack Russian tanker

The Russian-owned and operated Sovcomflot tanker NS SPIRIT (46,941-dwt, built 2006) came under attack from Nigeria militants/pirates in the approaches to Lagos harbour early yesterday morning (Monday) and at least one crewman is believed to have been injured.

Immediately after the attack the vessel called for urgent assistance saying it was drifting near the entrance buoy but for an extended period received no response from Lagos port control.

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NIMASA CEO Omatseye elected chairman of D-8 group

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Temisan Omatseye, NIMASA CEO and DG, who has been elected chairman of the D-8 Expert Working Group on Shipping. Picture by Terry Hutson

Nigeria’s CEO of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been elected as chairman of the D-8 Expert Working Group on Shipping.

D-8 stands for Developing Eight Countries Organisation for Economic Cooperation. It consists of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey and Nigeria – all developing countries with an Islamic background. The terms of reference include the adoption of a regional policy framework for promoting and strengthening of intra-D 8 shipping services, and to encourage shipping companies, ship owners, ship builders and ship repairers to enter into mutual agreements aimed at promoting and developing maritime transportation.

Other issues to be pursued by the Working Group include the enhancement of maritime safety and security and protection of the marine environment, and enhanced collaboration among member countries of maritime training, particularly with regards the acquisition of sea-time experience by seafarers and cadets.

According to D-8 Secretary General Dr Widi A Pratikto, the D-8 has taken into account the importance of shipping in the expansion of intra-trade amongst member states. It has noted that cooperation in the area of shipping has the potential of raising the group’s share of global trade to over 20% by 2018.

Dr Pratikto said that while most D-8 countries have ports for trading, only a few of them have large ports capable of handling this trade. He pointed out that the lesson to be learned by D-8 members is that of having a good plan of action and to have a prime mover secretariat that functions to monitor and evaluate the agreed cooperation among member states. “If we learn these lessons we stand to achieve some progress in our shipping industry,” he said.

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Port and Terminal news around the world

Richards Bay Terminal says Capex has been approved for new ship loader and unloaders

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Richards Bay Terminal

Richards Bay Terminal executive Victor Mkhize says that the capital funding for new ship loader and ship unloaders has been approved and the equipment is set to arrive in 2012. “This is one project that will elevate production levels at a staggering rate,” said Mkhize.

His comment accompanies a statement issued by terminal management that despite setbacks from the strikes 2010 has been approached with solid plans for improved efficiency. Challenges that were being faced include improving customer service, improved productivity, efficiency and volume growth. From a practical perspective the terminal had faced strike actions, the frequent breakdown of equipment, snapping of conveyor belts, and electric supply problem, train derailments, delayed refurbishment projects and environmental management issues.

Despite these TPT says it has made progress. More than 70% of the terminal’s 40+ kilometres of conveyor belt network has been replaced and is brand new and TPT remained committed to finding solutions [to the other challenges] as it continued working towards achieving business targets set by its shareholder.

“At the heart of this commitment is our interest in pursuing immediate changes that have a positive impact for all TPT Richards Bay stakeholders,” said Mkhize.

Sri Lanka’s new Hambantota Magampura port opens

Sri Lanka’s new £226 million port on the island’s south coast has been officially opened by President Mahinda Rakapaksa, followed by the ceremonial arrival of a traditional yacht, the Pradeepa 2 and then Sri Lanka’s passenger ship JETLINER. Large crowds had gathered on the waterfront and quaysides to witness the event.

Operations at the port became possible in August this year with completion of Phase One of the project, well ahead of the scheduled Phase 2 completion set for April 2011. The port forms part of the country’s strategy to make Sri Lanka, now free of a three-decade long terrorist war against the Tamil Tigers, an import and export, marine services and transhipment hub of the Indian Ocean and the Indian sub-continent. The new port lies within 10 n.miles of the world’s most important trade route between Europe and Asia, along which more than 200 ships pass each day.

Hambantota is designed to handle vessels of up to 100,000 deadweight tons and includes provision for a high quality passenger terminal, cargo handling, warehousing, bunkering, provisioning, maintenance and repair, medical supplies and customs clearing facilities. Adjacent to the port is 2,000 hectares of land to be developed as an industrial development zone (IDZ), with 65 domestic and international investor businesses having already expressed interest. Once Phase 2 is completed in April 2011 the new port should gear up to provide 40% of government income by 2020 and 10,000 direct and over 60,000 indirect new job opportunities.

Tristan da Cunha port of Edinburgh to receive repairs from storm damage

Storm damage to the small harbour serving the island of Tristan da Cunha, known as Calshot, is to receive urgent attention to prevent the island from being cut off from outside supplies and from local fishing, the island’s main commercial activity, as well as occasional tourism.

This follows an agreement by the British government to help fix the damaged harbour before the next winter storms cause further complications. It was two storms this past winter that resulted in the harbour becoming vulnerable to the open ocean. A number of 10t dollosses will be cast and set in place to help break the force of heavy seas – a crane has also to be acquired to help place them in position. Such is the remoteness of Tristan that such items as cranes have to come in by ship – there is no local crane operator available.

Shanghai International Port Group acquires 25% of Zeebrugge Port

Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) has purchased a 25% stake in the port of Zeebrugge in Europe, being the first step in Shanghai’s programme of internationalisation. “Our international strategy is crucial in our march towards becoming a leading port group in the world. We see there are risks in international investment, so we will hold a cautious attitude to internationalisation and therefore we are co-operating with partners to control risks [as in this case]," said SIPG secretary Jiang Haitao. SIPG will be allocating management personnel to Zeebrugge.

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SAFAIR takeover now final

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ASL Aviation Group this week finalised the acquisition of the former South African aviation company Safair (Safair Operations and Safair Lease Finance) as announced on 20 September this year.

The acquisition enhances ASL’s three core activities – airlines, aviation support, and leasing services. As a result ASL now has a staff of 1,200 worldwide, a fleet of about 90 aircraft and an annual turnover of approximately €400 million. The Group flies about 75,000 flight hours annually.

ASL is a joint venture between CMB and 3P Air Freighters, a private equity fund managed by Petercam. Safair was established in 1969 by Safmarine and was acquired by Imperial Holdings in 1998.

Safair regards itself still as Africa’s leading aviation operation with more than 40 years experience of enabling airlines and operators to successfully navigate a changing business climate. This is achieved through leasing, finance and operational services on a global scale.

Pics of the Day – GRAND BANKS

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The diamond mining ship GRAND BANKS (6648-gt, built 1972) which recently sailed from Cape Town. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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