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Ports & Ships Maritime News

3 March 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002

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EUKOR’s car carrier MORNING COURIER (57,692-gt, built 2005) in Durban harbour yesterday – picture taken well away from his normal stamping ground of Table Bay Harbour by Aad Noorland

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Ships and shipping line news

NYK includes Cotonou on Asia-Africa service

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NYK PAULA, picture by Ian Shiffman

Japan’s NYK Line announced on Tuesday that its container ships will commence regular calls at Cotonou in Benin on the company’s Asia, South Africa and West Africa service (SWAX).

The new port of call commences from 9 March and the new port rotation will be Shanghai (China) - Ningbo (China) - Shekou (China) - Singapore (Singapore) - Durban (South Africa) - Lome (Togo) - Tema (Ghana) - Lagos Apapa (Nigeria) - Cotonou (Benin) - Durban (South Africa) - Singapore (Singapore) - Shanghai (China).

The first sailing with a Cotonou call will depart from Shanghai on 9 March 2011. SWAX is operated jointly with Nile Dutch Africa Line using ships (three each) with an average container capacity of 2,600 TEU.

Four lines launch second Asia-East Coast South America loop, but no South Africa call

‘K’ Line, NYK, PIL and Hyundai Merchant Marine have announced a second string to their existing ASEA service between Asia and the East Coast South America, using a fortnightly schedule and a port rotation of Ningbo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Singapore, Port Kelang, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Vitoria, Navegantes, Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore, Hong Kong and Ningbo.

The service will be operated with five 3,000 TEU ships, with PIL and Hyundai providing two each and NYK one, at least initially. Another five ships may be added later and bringing the service to a weekly schedule

The four lines’ existing ASEA service has a rotation of Shanghai, Shanghai, Ningbo, Hong Kong, Shekou, Singapore, Santos, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Navegantes, Paranagua, Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Singapore and Hong Kong but from later in March Cape Town will be dropped and Busan added. The service makes use of 11 ships with an average capacity of 4,200 TEU. ‘K’ Line provides four ships, NYK and PIL three each and one is un-nominated.

Mitsui to use new silicon-based anti-fouling paint

Mitsui OSK Lines will become the first shipping company to use a new silicon-based anti-fouling paint when it is applied to a 38,000-dwt class bulker now under construction at the Minaminippon Shipbuilding Co, Ltd Shitanoe Works. When completed, the new vessel will sail under a long-term charter with Doun Kisen Co, Ltd. This new fluoropolymer foul release coating, called ‘Intersleek900’, was developed by International Paint Ltd.

First of two Australian Navy amphibious ships launched in Spain

The hull of the first of two Royal Australian Navy LHD dock landing ships has been launched at the Navantia Dockyard at Ferrol in Spain.

“These ships are officially known as Landing Helicopter Docks or LHDs and are the largest the Australian Navy has ever owned,” Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Crane said at the launch.

In 2010 89 Australian Navy trainees transferred on board the New Zealand amphibious ship HMNZS CANTERBURY to undergo training on a helicopter landing vessel because Australia’s two existing amphibious ships, HMAS MANOORA and HMAS KANIMBLA are currently withdrawn from service.

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SOS Save Our Seafarers launched

by Paul Ridgway, Correspondent, London

Torture and executions prompt SOS calls from global shipping chiefs

Global shipping chiefs called upon the world to help secure the release of hundreds of innocent seafarers snatched by Somali pirates, it was reported from London on 1 March.

The Round Table of International Shipping Associations comprises BIMCO, ICS/ISF, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO and has embarked on a major campaign to encourage over a million people to heap pressure on their national governments to crackdown on piracy.

There is no longer a way for ships coming from the Middle East to avoid the Somali pirate gangs in the Indian Ocean, but with greater political will, governments could, it is believed, resolve this growing Somali piracy crisis in the Indian Ocean that affects so many. Over 800 seafarers are currently held hostage in appalling conditions by armed gangs of Somali pirates. Subjected to physical and psychological abuse for months at a time, they are held ransom for millions of dollars.

Launching their SOS Save Our Seafarers campaign with the website www.saveourseafarers.com the Round Table and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) aim to highlight the plight of seafarers and bring pressure on governments to show more political will and fewer legalistic excuses in dealing with this situation.

As we well know merchant ships are being attacked daily and run a gauntlet of gunfire and rocket-propelled grenade attacks. In addition to the human cost, piracy is strangling key supply routes and is said to cost the global economy $12 billion a year. There is no doubt that piracy is out of control. As pirates use hijacked merchant ships (the so- called mother ships) to extend their reach almost to Indian waters, some 1500 miles from Somalia half the world’s oil supply is at risk. For tankers coming from the Gulf and the Middle East there is no longer an optional route to avoid the pirates – and a hijacked tanker with two million barrels of oil represents 20% of daily oil imports to the USA, it is claimed.

The world’s economy relies upon shipping for the safe delivery of 90% of its food, fuel, raw materials, humanitarian aid and manufactured goods and therefore regional stability and the freedom to serve world trade is threatened.

Round Table’s SOS campaign is specifically asking for governments to recognise the threat to the world’s seafarers and the world economy and to take the necessary steps to eradicate piracy at sea and ashore by reducing the effectiveness of the easily-identifiable pirate mother ships and authorising naval forces to detain pirates and deliver them for prosecution and punishment.

Furthermore, the organisation calls for fully criminalising all acts of piracy, and intent to commit piracy, under national laws in accordance with their mandatory duty to co-operate to suppress piracy under international conventions.

In conclusion, SOS calls for an increase in naval assets available in this area, the provision of greater protection and support for seafarers and the tracing and criminalisation of the organisers and financiers behind the pirates’ networks.

Readers are invited to visit www.saveourseafarers.com where they will be able to sign and despatch a prepared letter to their head of government. Also to be found there is up-to-the minute information on the piracy situation, and an SOS TV page with film clips and pictures.

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YESTERYEAR – those classic ships - GAMTOOS

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Smith Coasters famous little trading ship GAMTOOS (794-gt, built 1936) which worked on the South African coast for 39 long years during an eventful period of South African history. During World War 2 the ship was commandeered by the Admiralty as a salvage vessel, becoming HMSAS Gamtoos. The ship was soon engaged in salvage work in Tripoli harbour – a port city now much in the news concerning Libya - but where in 1943 Gamtoos was to play a leading role in clearing the harbour of sunken vessels, becoming in the process the first allied ship to re-enter Tripoli harbour. So pleased were the allied leaders with the rapid clearance of block ships sunk in the port entrance that the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill later visited the ship personally to thank the men for the sterling work performed.

Numerous other wartime adventures followed for the ship and her crew including salvage work during the Italian campaign when Gamtoos was based in Naples. She later moved to southern France to help clear Marseilles harbour and also at Genoa and finally returned to Durban in December 1945 and was paid off as a naval unit the following year.

HMSAS Gamtoos returned to civilian life, after a fashion, in 1947 when the South African government acquired her from the navy and the little ship was used for carrying fertiliser from the guano islands off the West Coast. Almost before this new deployment began she was summoned in late 1947, early 1948 to make a cargo-carrying trip to Marion Island at the time when South Africa was busy annexing the Southern Ocean Prince Edward group – a group of unclaimed and uninhabited islands southwest of Port Elizabeth on the fringes of the Southern Ocean. Operation Snoektown, the highly secret operation was called.

The ship subsequently returned to service with the Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the guano islands but in 1955 she made another cargo visit to lonely Marion Island carrying a prefab building for a new meteorological station.

In 1973, as demand for guano fertilizer fell away, the last coal-fired coaster on the South African coast was laid up. In the winter of 1976 she was scuttled off the coast of Cape Town – some of her useful gear having been salvaged while the steam winch and capstan became exhibits at the South African Naval Museum in Green Point. Does this museum still exist?

Even at her scuttling the doughty spirit of this remarkable ship, which survived numerous escapes and near misses during the war in the Mediterranean, showed itself. On the first attempt the tow behind the frigate SAS President Steyn broke in Table Bay and she had to be hastily collected by a tug and returned to Cape Town harbour. On the second attempt the survived a rocket attack from Buccaneer bombers of 24 Squadron and finally had to be finished off with a depth charge from a Shackleton aircraft. Some ten miles off Robben Island she met her end on 10 June 1976.

Acknowledgements to Allan du Toit’s ‘South Africa’s Fighting Ships’. The name Gamtoos is taken from the river of the same name which flows into the Indian Ocean at St Francis Bay. It is believed to be of Khoekhoen origin and is probably derived from the name of one of the tribes. Picture is from Brian Harrison

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Transnet improves capacity on ore line with 32 additional locomotives

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TFR class 15E electric locomotive – picture by Col André Kritzinger/Wikipedia Commons

Johannesburg, 2 March 2011 - Transnet announced today that it has signed an agreement to buy an additional 32 new class 15E locomotives from Japan’s Mitsui & Co Limited to beef up capacity on the Sishen-Saldanha ore line. The deal is being handled through Venus Railway Solutions, a subsidiary of Japan’s Mitsui & Co Limited and local BEE investors.

The new locomotives will be used on Transnet Freight Rail’s iron ore line which runs between the mines in Sishen in the Northern Cape and the port in Saldanha. The agreement is in line with Transnet’s target of achieving 61 million tons per annum on the ore line.

To date, TFR has admitted into service 28 class 15E locomotives and 40 class 19E locomotives built by Mitsui. The company (Mitsui) will build the locomotives at Union Carriage and Wagon (UCW) – a Johannesburg based engineering company. Some components will be supplied by other local entities.

This is part of Transnet’s efforts to localise its capital investment programme in order to promote industrial development and job creation. It is an initiative that also supports government’s New Growth Path. Transnet participates in the government-inspired Competitive Supplier Development Programme (CSDP). To this end, the CSDP obligations of this contract are in excess of 40% of the total value of the contract. The agreement will also ensure the continuity of over 730 existing jobs.

In addition to the local manufacture of the locomotives, the CSDP aspects of the agreement with Mitsui include investigating the possibility of South African suppliers joining Mitsui’s global supply chain, stringent skills transfer and development targets. These include training of engineers, students, apprentices and operating a welding school to produce nearly 700 welders. The majority of beneficiaries of these programmes will be historically disadvantaged individuals.

“This is a very exciting transaction for us,” said Transnet group chief executive Brian Molefe. “In addition to the obvious benefits of our locomotive fleet renewal programme, we are particularly excited and thrilled at being able to leverage on the localisation of our capital investment programme, to protect, develop and create local employment opportunities and transfer technology into South Africa.”

Transnet’ s comprehensive fleet renewal progamme is intended to improve efficiency, productivity, reliability and safety of the company’s locomotive fleet.

“As we progressively implement Transnet’s fleet renewal strategy to augment our fleet throughout the business, we expect service levels to our customers, including safety, to improve significantly,” Molefe said.

Transnet has pioneered the CSDP initiative since its inception and is committed to expanding it to all elements of its capital investment programme, where foreign spend comprises a significant portion. This includes the acquisition of port handling equipment. In 2009, Transnet concluded an agreement to buy 100 locomotives from General Electric to be used primarily on Transnet Freight Rail’s general freight business (GFB). In terms of the GE transaction, 90 of those are being produced at Transnet Rail Engineering’s facilities in Pretoria. This will result in significant localisation benefits for the South African Supply chain.

Transnet is committed to spending over R110 billion on its investment programme over the next five years. This is in addition to the R73 billion already spent over the last five years on expanding capacity and improving infrastructure in port, rail and pipeline assets. According to Transnet this spending is on the strength of its balance sheet and is without explicit government guarantees. The rail freight division accounts for roughly half of the programme.

Production of the 32 locomotives will commence in December 2011 with the first unit ready for delivery by May 2012 and the last rolling out of the factory floor by August 2013.

TFR’s fleet renewal update

100 class 43 Diesel-electric locomotives from GE (under construction at TRE).

44 x class 15E Electric locomotive from Mitsui (under construction at UCW): 28 accepted.

110 x class 19E Electric locomotive from Mitsui (under construction at UCW): 40 accepted.

50 like-new class 39 diesel-electric locomotives from EMD - already delivered and in service since December 2009.

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Mozambique News – Country to crack down on illegal fishing

Mozambique commits to elimination of illegal fishing

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a legitimate Mozambique fishing vessel, the KRUSTAMOZ VIII. Picture by Terry Hutson

Mozambican Fisheries Minister Victor Borges said in Maputo on Monday that the country is committed to the international initiatives to combat and eliminate illegal fishing, reports AIM.

Speaking at the opening session of the Third Global Fisheries Enforcement Training Workshop, Borges said that Mozambique will not tolerate illegal fishing, and “we need ever greater cooperation to win the battle against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.”

Borges stressed that, because around two thirds of the Mozambican population lives along the country’s 2,780 kilometres of coastline, fishing and connected activities “are of primordial importance for economic development and for the survival of coastal communities.”

The fisheries sector is responsible for two per cent of Mozambique’s gross domestic product and three per cent of the country’s exports by value. But these figures almost certainly understate the importance of artisanal fishing.

Of the 150,000 tonnes of fisheries products produced in 2009, said Borges, about 85 percent came from small scale fishing. But the strategies for monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) of fisheries have traditionally been designed for commercial fishing.

“This year we are starting an approach to an MCS strategy for small scale fishing, and this will obviously be a challenge given the characteristics of our coast,” said Borges.

To deal with illegal fishing, Mozambican has revised its licensing procedures “to ensure rigorous screening of the history of vessels involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, guaranteeing that such vessels will not be licensed inadvertently.”

Borges added that the new standards of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for inspecting fishing ships in port and on the high seas are under implementation, and the country is ensuring 150 days per year of maritime patrols of fishing activities in Mozambican waters.

He said that Mozambique is participating in regional patrol missions “extending from South Africa to Kenya, and with satisfactory results for South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya.”

Borges warned that, in addition to illegal fishing, countries of the Indian Ocean now face the threat of piracy, which is a menace not only to fishing, but to shipping in general. One Mozambican fishing vessel, the ‘Vega 5’, owned by the Mozambican-Spanish joint venture, Pescamar, was seized by Somali pirates in late December, and is currently being held somewhere on the Somali coast.

The five day workshop is sponsored by the International MCS Network, FAO and NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), and is attended by representatives of more than 50 countries. It is the first time that such an event has been held in Africa. - source AIM

Mozambican coal at heart of struggle for Riversdale Mining

Sydney, Australia, 2 March – India’s Tata Steel has increased its stake in Australian mining company Riversdale Mining from 24.2 percent to 27.1 percent, according to a regulatory filing made Tuesday in Sydney.

The Indian company spent over 100 million Australian dollars (US$ 101 million) to buy the shares which, apparently, make the US$ 3.9 billion takeover bid launched by Anglo- Australian group Rio Tinto more complicated.

The second-largest shareholder in Riversdale Mining, Brazilian group Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN), also recently increased its stake in the company, and now owns 19.9 percent of its shares.

Tata Steel and CSN now control 47 percent of Riversdale Mining making it extremely difficult for Rio Tinto to convince minority shareholders to sell their shares and gain a 50.1 percent stake in the Australian company, which is the minimum stake required for the takeover to be successful.

The struggle for Riversdale Mining is due to the fact that the Australian company has two coal concessions in Mozambique with estimated reserves of billions of tons of coal. – source macauhub

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The story of Davy Jone’s Locker

On Monday the question was posed as to the origin and meaning of the term ‘Davy Jones’ Locker’.

There are possibly several versions of this legend each having equal claim as the rightful explanation and who is to say which one is correct? One of the responses that we enjoyed is that Davy Jones in nautical slang means the spirit of the sea i.e. sea devil, and according to sailors mythology he presides over the evil spirits of the deep. Therefore Davy Jone's locker is the bottom of the sea where sunken ships, things lost or tossed overboard and/or men buried at sea lie. In sailor's language, when someone dies and is buried at sea, they say 'he's gone to Davy Jone's locker'.

No arguments with that, but the one we like, perhaps because it a] has a ring of authenticity about it; b] has a topical slant concerning the piracy angle; and c] because it’s our response, is: In the 17th Century piracy was rife in the Indian Ocean as well as the Caribbean and in south east Asian waters. Many of the perpetrators were from England and Europe, often operating under letters of commission from their respective Crowns. We’ve all read how ships of the Spanish Main were targeted for their rich pickings. One such example of a Royal commission still extant was that in 1630 when King Charles 1 of England gave a commission to the 100-ton ship SEAHORSE “to range the seas the world over for the purpose of taking prizes”.

One imagines that a similar version applies today to former Somali fishermen turned pirate, without Royal blessing but with the backing of the Elders.

But of special interest to us is that in many instances pirates of those days long ago targeted local vessels, such as dhows and other trading craft and fishing vessels, and the men on board the pirate ships were seldom too worried about the fate of their captives, who were frequently tortured to reveal where money had been hidden in the boards of the vessel. One such individual was a Mate on the sailing ship ROEBUCK, under the captaincy of William Ayres. The mate’s name was David Jones “and his habit of sending vessels and crews entire to the bottom is supposed by some to be the origin of the famous ‘Locker’ – ‘A History of the Merchant Navy, by H. Moyse-Bartlett.

The author relates how things got so serious that the (British) East India Company sent a vessel, the BLESSING in pursuit of this particular band of pirates, who made their escape and returned to England rich in haul, while the company was forced to pay compensation to the local traders and seamen.

True or not? You make your own mind up, but you can see again that history has a habit of repeating itself and what we are witnessing today in the western Indian Ocean is little different, other than the players, from what has gone before across the same region of ocean. Not for nothing is the lovely island of Sainte-Marie off Madagascar, where still exists a famous pirates’ cemetery, well known for having been a favourite lair of the pirates of yesteryear.


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One of the very interesting little ships to call at Durban in recent weeks is the 71m SEAWAY INVINCIBLE, which is quaintly described as a ‘standby safety vessel’ or a special purpose ship, which description can cover just about anything. She is a converted trawler, built in 1970 and converted for serving in the offshore industry as a ROV support vessel, and as such carries a great deal of sophisticated equipment, including a dynamic positioning system. The ship was acquired by Hallstrom Holdings in 2005 and transferred to Seaway Offshore Ltd and subsequently underwent an extensive repair and refit programme. Seaway Invincible is currently at the Durban ship repair jetty. Pictures taken by Trevor Jones

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