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Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 27, 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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The Estonian-owned and Isle of Man-flagged container ship SAFMARINE HOUSTON (10,069-gt, built 1999) which is currently under charter to Safmarine. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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Dhow breaks in half near Pemba – 17 drown

A dhow has broken in half at sea near Pemba North in Tanzania and seventeen of those on board are feared dead from drowning.

According to the Pemba North regional police commander, Mr Yahya Rashid Bugi, a 15 year old boy appears to be the sole survivor. He was found among mangrove trees near Wete on the island of Pemba and has been taken to hospital where his condition is said to be improving.

The police commander told the Citizen newspaper (Dar es Salaam) that he did not know whether the dhow was ferrying passengers or was on a fishing expedition. It had sailed from Wete on Sunday with 18 on board. – source The Citzen


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Suez Canal Container Terminal completes upgrade – looks now to double in size

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Port Said and SCCT lies at the northern end of the Suez Canal

Port Said, Egypt: 26 January - With 12 super post-Panamax cranes, the most modern equipment, state-of-the-art technology and the most advanced operating procedures, the Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT) has become one of the best performing container terminals in the global APM Terminals network. In eight years since its grand opening, SCCT has grown to handle more than 2.7 million TEU per year. (That’s more than is handled at Durban with over 50% more cranes – editor)

Now, the emerging major transshipment hub is set to complete its Phase 2 expansion next year, doubling in size. With the completion of a dredging project that deepened the terminal's draft to 17 metres and 24 super post-Panamax cranes at the conclusion of the Phase 2 in 2012, SCCT will be capable of handling 5.4 million TEUs annually, making it the largest container terminal in the Mediterranean Sea.

SCCT has upgraded its terminal operating system to keep up with the growth, maintaining it's close relationship with Realtime Business Solutions (RBS) of Australia for implementation of its Terminal Operation System (TOPS). TOPS has supported SCCT's expansion since start-up, enabling seamless growth in volume and the addition of new equipment with total control over operational efficiency.

“SCCT's success is a prime example of how RBS partners with our clients to exceed expectations,” said Harry Nguyen, RBS Managing Director. “TOPS has been the most advanced and robust terminal management solution in the container handling industry for many years with many successful implementations around the globe.”

With an upgrade to the new version of TOPS complete, SCCT is aiming for process optimisation, greater efficiency and productivity, even as the terminal doubles in size. SCCT continues to make the most of the cutting edge features being developed by RBS to improve all phases of the operations, including a global best practices review to benchmark the container terminal's operations against its peers worldwide.


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Sena Railway connecting Moatize with Beira ready to open

The completion of the rebuilt Mozambique Sena railroad will have been achieved by next Monday, 31 January, the director general of Indian company Rites, told Mozambican newspaper O País this week.

On leaving a meeting with Paulo Zucula, Mozambique’s minister for transport and communications, and Rosário Mualeia, chairman of rail and port management company Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM), Bhawan Makhija, who represents the concession holder said that in March the line would have he capacity to transport 2 to 3 million tons of cargo per year. The concession-holder that has rebuilt the line consists of a consortium between Indian companies Rites and Ircon.

The Sena line will be used mainly to transport coal mined by Brazil’s Vale and Australia’s Riversdale Mining in Tete, with the commencement of this operation now expected in the first half of this year.

In his turn, the director general of Ircon, Mohan Tiwari, explained that the two-year delay in concluding the work had been due to financing problems. He gave assurances that within 18 months the line would have sufficient capacity to transport 3 to 5 million tons of cargo per year, with the consortium aiming to increase that capacity to 12 million tons. – source Macauhub


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YESTERYEAR: those classic ships – GLENAFFRIC

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The above picture shows the Glen Lines’ freighter GLENAFFRIC (7,802-gt, built 1952), loading bunkers at Durban’s Island View. The year is 1969 and in the background are the concrete silos and conveyor of Durban Bulk Shipping, now a division of the Bidvest organisation.

Despite the suggestion of an African connotation to the name of this ship, the ship is named instead for a scenic glen in the highlands of Scotland, not too far from Loch Ness of mystery monster fame. The name Affric comes from the Gaelic and apparently means Glen of the Dappled Woodlands. The Gaelic sounds much nicer.

The ship was originally named Nestor, being the fourth to carry that name with Blue Funnel Line. In 1968 she moved to Glen Lines and was renamed but moved back two years later becoming Orestes. A year later in 1971 she was sold to a Greek company and renamed Aegis Dignity.

Glen Line dates back to 1867 in the days of sail but with the purchase of a second ship a year later the then sole owner Alan C Gow commenced the prefixing of his ships names with the word Glen. The opening of the Suez Canal brought new opportunities and the line grew, before being sold to Elder Dempster in 1910. In 1935 Alfred Holt & Co of the Blue Funnel Line purchased Glen Line which continued operating under its original name although ships were continuously moved around the group.

With further changes of ownership Glen Line ships finally disappeared around 1978 although the company named lived on as a non-ship owning company, ending up ultimately in the hands of Curnow Shipping of Cornwall.

The picture was taken by Trevor Jones


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France to build four helicopter assault ships for Russia

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FS Tonnerre, a sister ship to the FS Mistral. Russia has signed by buy four of these LHDs. Picture French Navy

The French government on Tuesday signed an agreement to provide Russia with four helicopter assault ships similar to the Mistral class. The class of vessel are known as Landing Helicopter Docks – LHD.

The matter has been in abeyance for several years while the United States and several other countries expressed concern over a possible sale of vessels that would provide Russia with amphibious assault abilities that it has previously lacked.

The ships will be capable of carrying a number of helicopters and armoured land vehicles. Two of the ships are to be built by DCNS and STX in France and the other two at the Russia OSK shipyard.

There are bound to be strong concerns felt in Georgia which reeled under a Russian invasion in 2008, which has resulted in a portion of the Caucasus country seceding from Georgia and remaining under the protection of Russian troops. At the time a Russian military commander said that had he the services of just one Mistral ship the war in Georgia would have been over in a matter of hours.


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Shippers say port tariff still too high

The South African Shippers Council has rejected the verdict of the Ports Regulator allowing Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to increase port tariffs by an average of 4.49% as from 1 April 2011.

Fanie Pretorius, chairman of the Shippers Council said that his organisation, which represents the cargo owners that use the ports, remained disappointed. They would have preferred no increase at all, he said, as port fees were already too high. Nevertheless, he said it was still a victory for those who appealed against TNPA’s astronomic request for an almost 12% increase.

At the weekend the Ports Regulator ruled against the requested increase, saying it was not justified and awarding the TNPA an average increase of 4.49% as from the 2011/12 financial year.

Before making his announcement the Ports Regulator described Durban as being one of the most expensive ports in the world, a comment that brought general agreement among the shipping sector.


Piracy: German ship Beluga Nomination seized in Indian Ocean

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The French frigate FS ACONIT is one of the latest ships to go on anti pirate patrol in the Indian Ocean

While it hasn’t been confirmed, it appears that the German general cargo heavylift vessel BELUGA NOMINATION (9,775-gt, built 2006) has been captured by Somali pirates despite the crew having hidden in a ‘citadel’ on the vessel.

The ship came under attack on 22 January, with the crew of 12 Russians, Ukrainian, Polish and Filipinos retiring to a safe room of the vessel to wait out rescue from a friendly naval vessel. Alternately they may have believed that once it was apparent they were in a secure area and could not be reached and with the ship incapacitated, the pirates would leave, as has happened with at least one other ship.

The vessel was boarded about 390 n.miles north of the Seychelles and had been registered with MSC(HOA) – Maritime Security Centre, Horn of Africa - and had reported to UKMTO as recommended. The problem appears to be that there were no friendly naval ships in the area to come to Beluga Nomination’s assistance. It also seems likely that the pirates came equipped and succeeded in breaking into the citadel. If so this is a first for the pirates.

The ship’s owner has issued a press release expressing his concern and irritation at the lack of any response by the navies on patrol. However, it also appears that there were no naval ships in the vicinity and able to respond urgently. A reconnaissance aircraft from the Seychelles overflow the heavylift ship on Monday and was able to observe that the pirates were still on the ship and appeared by then to be in full control.

So there is yet another twist to the ongoing saga of the Somali pirates. Various navies have ships in the region to help protect merchant shipping, in particular those of their own nationality. But are they to be held accountable when pirates board and capture a vessel and crew? Are they obliged to sail long distances to rescue crew hidden in so-called ‘safe’ places? This is not the first Beluga ship to come under pirate attack – once bitten twice shy goes the old expression, but wouldn’t that have been a wiser response by the ship owner? Security teams are available to help guard ships transiting the area, and there is also the longer but safe route around the Cape, but it seems that neither choice had been taken. Sooner or later more countries are going to say enough is enough and withdraw their navies from the area because of cost or frustration. What then?

UN wants special courts to fight piracy

Meanwhile the United Nations has issued this long statement proposing special courts to try pirate suspects.

New York, 25 January - The United Nations special envoy on maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia today proposed the setting up of two special courts inside the country and one in Tanzania to try suspected pirates, saying the problem in the Indian Ocean was getting out of hand and required “strong and decisive action.”

Jack Lang, the Special Adviser on Legal Issues related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, said the international community should work towards “Somaliazation” of responses to piracy by helping local authorities in the regions of Puntland and Somaliland to enhance their judicial and prison capacities in order to prosecute and jail captured pirates.

In his report to the Security Council, Mr Lang also proposed the establishment, for a transitional period, of a Somali ‘extraterritorial jurisdiction court’ in the northern Tanzania town of Arusha to deal with piracy cases.

He told the Council, as well as a news conference following the meeting, that the raiders who seize ships and sailors and demand huge ransoms are becoming “masters of the Indian Ocean” with their increasingly sophisticated means of carrying out the criminal actions.

The cost of the measures he has proposed is estimated at about US$25 million, a “relatively modest” expense compared to the estimated $7 billion which he said was the cost of piracy.

The international component of the cost to train judges, prosecutors, lawyers, prison guards is “essential,” Mr Lang said, adding that the UN, the African Union, the European Union and other organizations should contribute.

He also proposed strengthening the forensic element of gathering evidence and the imposition of sanctions against the leaders of piracy gangs.

“We cannot be satisfied with the status quo,” he said, noting the “extreme gravity” of the situation which he said requires “solutions of extreme urgency.”

Mr Lang said his report is the result of “extensive consultations with 50 States, international organizations, private companies and research institutes.”

The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Stephen Mathias, said the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international legal instruments, including the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, may also be relevant in the fight against piracy.

In the case of Somalia, legal measures were complemented by a number of Security Council resolutions, Mr Mathias said.

He cautioned States that “apprehension, detention, prosecution and imprisonment must all take place in accordance with a State’s international human rights and other obligations.”

In November, the Security Council renewed for another 12 months the authorizations granted to States and regional organizations cooperating with Somalia’s transitional government to fight piracy off the country’s coast.

As set out in previous resolutions, this includes the authorization for States and regional organizations to enter Somalia’s territorial waters and use “all necessary means” – such as deploying naval vessels and military aircraft, as well as seizing and disposing of boats, vessels, arms and related equipment used for piracy.

Also in November, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B Lynn Pascoe told a meeting of the Council that the growing problem of piracy off the Somali coast demands more than just military efforts, and called for simultaneous action on three fronts – deterrence, security and the rule of law, and development – to combat the scourge.


Pics of the Day – E.R. LUISA

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The ‘brand new’ Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) vessel ER LUISA which arrived in Cape Town this week and took up temporary residence along No.2 Quay at the V&A Waterfront. The ship, owned by German shipowner and operator ER Schiffahrt, was commissioned as recently as last month, December 2010 and doesn’t yet appear on several ship lists consulted. She has a deadweight of 3,600 tonnes and is 86m in length. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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