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Ports & Ships Maritime News

8 February 2011
Author: Terry Hutson



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First View – QUEEN MARY 2

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Cunard’s QUEEN MARY 2 visited Durban yesterday on the next port of call during her 2011 World Cruise. The Cunard ship followed another cruise ship into port, the 60,000- ton, 2,000-passenger MSC SINFONIA. Throughout the day thousands of people flocked to the harbour area to gaze on the Cunard ship but the large crowd that gathered later that day to bid her farewell as Queen Mary 2 sailed for Port Louis and then Australia, had an unexpected extended wait ahead of them. Instead of sailing at 6pm the ship was forced to wait on passengers that had travelled overland from Cape Town, and who were delayed arriving in Durban by several hours. The Cunard ship finally sailed at about 8pm last night. Picture by Trevor Jones


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South African port statistics for January are now available

South African port statistics for the month of January 2011, which are now to hand courtesy of Transnet NPA, indicate that the country’s ports have commenced 2011 with a total cargo handled of 19.4 million tonnes, slightly down on the previous year However, in January 2010 the port of Richards Bay had an exceptionally good month with near record coal exports and if this is taken into account the cargo handled by the remainder of the ports during January 2011 show a small growth.

The following explanation gets repeated each month and to regular readers it may have become tedious, but it is important to note that the figures shown in this report reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers in terms of the number of TEUs and no longer by weight - for which PORTS & SHIPS estimates an adjustment of 13,5 tonnes per TEU to reflect tonnages. We consider it important to make this distinction in case the South African ports become otherwise under reported.

The calculation using 13.5 tonnes as an average for a 20ft container remains on the conservative side with 14 tonnes or even more perhaps being a more realistic figure, particularly in view of the increasing quantity of bulk cargo which is now being handled in containers. Were we to use this the actual tonnages achieved would be considerably higher.

For comparative purposes readers can see statistics from 12 months ago by clicking HERE for January 2010 figures.

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Port of East London, South Africa’s only river port. Picture TPT

Figures for the respective ports during January 2011 are (with December 2010 figures shown bracketed):

Cargo handled by tonnes during January 2011


PORT Jan 2011 mt Dec 2010 mt
Richards Bay 6.377 7.506
Durban 5.583 5.574
Saldanha Bay 4.578 4..658
Cape Town 1.009 0.917
Port Elizabeth 0.900 0.753
Ngqura 0.583 0.354
Mossel Bay 0.197 0.096
East London 0.192 0.212
Total all ports 19.419mt 20.070mt

Containers (measured by TEUs during January 2011 (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Tranship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT Jan 2011 TEUs Dec 2010 TEUs
Durban 195,685 202,459
Cape Town 51,497 52,552
Port Elizabeth 22,742 16,580
Ngqura 43,194 26,208
East London 3,529 3,650
Richards Bay 3,695 4,399
Total all ports 320,342 305,848

Ship Calls for January 2011

PORT Jan 2011 vessels gross tons Dec 2010 vessels gross tons
Durban 348 10,504,585 363 10,238,018
Richards Bay 136 4,878,139 158 5,412,978
Cape Town 219 4,378,387 201 3,891,339
Port Elizabeth 92 2,092,272 111 1,919,656
Ngqura 26 1.159,287 29 1,137,514
Saldanha Bay 47 2,810,986 35 2,666,220
East London 20 524,764 29 656,768
Mossel Bay 50 309,582 48 300,917
Total Ship Calls  912 25,498,715 945 25,949,398

- source TNPA, but with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container tonnages

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US$1.8 million ransom demand for Mozambique fishing vessel

The Somali pirates who hijacked a Mozambican fishing vessel, the Vega 5 on 27 December are demanding a ransom equivalent to 59 million meticais (about 1.8 million US dollars) as a condition for the release of the crew, consisting of 19 Mozambicans, three Indonesians and two Spaniards, according to a report in Saturday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.

The paper’s sources are relatives of the Mozambican crew members who say that the pirate gang transmitted the ransom demand to the company that owns the “Vega 5”, the Mozambican-Spanish joint venture, Pescamar.

Pescamar’s management has refused to talk to journalists about the matter.

However, the management could not avoid talking to the relatives in the “Vega 5”’s home port of Beira, and told them about the ransom demand. But they did not say whether they were going to meet the pirates’ demands.

“We are only praying that everything goes well”, said one of the relatives, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The money they are asking for is a lot, but we think the lives of those who are in the hands of the pirates are more important than any monetary sum”.

It seems that the pirates have avoided contact with the Mozambican government, preferring to deal directly with the owners of the vessel. This week Fisheries Minister Victor Borges said that the government had been unable to make any contact with the crew of the “Vega 5”, and had received no communication from the pirates. – AIM

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Piracy: Indian Navy captures 28 pirates, frees Thai trawler

In late January the Indian Navy engaged Somali pirates on board a Thai trawler, the PRANTALAY 14, which resulted in the trawler being sunk 200 n.miles off Kochi. In the process 12 Somalis, two Kenyans and an Ethiopian were arrested on suspicion of being pirates.

On Saturday 5 February another Thai trawler, PRANTALAY 11 which was captured by Somali pirates earlier last year and was being used as a mother ship to pirate skiffs, was captured by Indian Navy forces after an exchange of fire. From all accounts some of the 28 captured pirates were injured in the short battle and required medical treatment at Kochi.

Immediately prior to the engagement by the Indian Navy the pirate skiffs and mother ship were suspected of having taken part in an unsuccessful attack on the Greek tanker CHIOS, about 82 n.miles west of Suheli Par in the Lakshadweep archipelago. Using best management practices the tanker was able to evade capture and make its escape. Shortly afterwards a Dornier maritime reconnaissance aircraft overflew the area and identified the skiffs, directing the Indian Navy ship INS TIR to the scene.

Meanwhile, in London the International Transport Federation (ITF) general secretary, David Cockroft has told journalists that ship crews are “increasingly being subjected to physical and psychological torture” from pirates that he said are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

“They’re playing psychological games against the hostages, trying to undermine negotiations by the owner. They’ve even started to phone the ITF,” he said. “The human impact on seafarers cannot be underestimated. Many are at breaking point today due to the stress that just passing through the area generates, and the area is now huge. It includes part of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, the Somali basin and much of the Indian Ocean.”

Cockroft called on the flag states, including Panama, Liberia, Cyprus and Antigua & Barbuda, which he said gained major financial benefits operating a ‘convenient’ shipping register, should take their responsibility to seafarers on their ships more seriously.

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TPT gives rural school a happy start to year

A good news story for Tuesday. ….

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An underprivileged school in the Transkei has started the new year on a positive note after receiving a donation of furniture to the value of R238,000 from state-owned port operator Transnet Port Terminals (TPT).

Gqubeni Junior Primary School, which caters for six hundred learners in the impoverished Mqanduli region in the former Transkei, now has enough desks, tables and chairs to provide a comfortable learning environment for its learners.

The school came to the company’s attention when it was featured on SABC 2’s Morning Live last year. Footage showed learners starting their school year in appalling conditions. Mud classrooms had been destroyed by strong winds in 2005 and learners had since been taught outside where wind, direct sunlight and rain compromised their learning.

Principal Mrs Mabona said the school had a high rate of absenteeism because of its poor conditions.

“Many of the learners just stayed at home when it was cold and wet because they did not want to sit outside for classes. Our annual pass rate was badly affected,” she said.

The school had also not been allowed to use a community hall located in its yard to conduct classes.

The provincial Department of Education stepped in to provide a R3 million temporary steel structure which was completed mid-2010.

Now, with proper desks and school furniture from TPT, the learners might finally be able to play catch-up in their studies.

TPT’s Terminal Executive Manager, Eastern Cape Region Siya Mhlaluka encouraged the pupils to stay focused on their education despite their challenges.

“We are honoured to have been able to help in some small way by working with the provincial Department of Education. We hope that this donation will go some way towards easing the burden faced by these rural learners,” he said.

He said Transnet Port Terminals’ Eastern Cape teams would also be working with the department to assist Mnqaduli’s Gobidolo Primary School.

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News continues below…

Pics of the Day – USS STEPHEN W GROVES

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The US Navy frigate of the Oliver Hazard Perry Class, USS STEPHEN W GROVES (FFG29) paid a short visit to Cape Town yesterday to take bunkers. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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