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Ports & Ships Maritime News

15 March, 2011
Author: Terry Hutson


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

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First View – GARZA TIDE

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One of Tidewater’s offshore supply vessel, GARZA TIDE (2,369-gt, built 2009) in the Eastern Anchorage at Singapore on 12 March this year. Picture by Piet Sinke

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East Africa: Refurbishing of region’s two main corridors will cost US$ 20 billion, says EAC

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Port of Mombasa, anchor for Northern Corridor

The cost of overhauling and revamping East Africa’s main transport corridors has been put at close to US$ 20 billion, says the East African Community’s (EAC) Director for Infrastructure, Phillip Wambungu.

He said that the region needs to raise $4.1 billion by 2015 just to provide basic improvements to the Central and Northern Corridors. $2.1bn will go towards the Northern Corridor which is anchored by the port of Mombasa and which serves not only Kenya but Uganda, the eastern DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Southern Sudan.

The balance of $2bn will be used to refurbish the Central Corridor, of which the port of Dar es Salaam acts as the main gateway into Tanzania, northern Malawi, Zambia, the DRC and Rwanda and Burundi.

An EAC Diagnostic Study has identified certain priorities and challenges which include enhancing the capacities and capabilities of the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, reviving the creaking railway systems of the region, notably Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, and upgrading the road infrastructure of the Northern and Central Corridors.

Another factor included in the plan is to improve efficiencies with the respective Customs clearances and the harmonising of transport policies generally.

Wambugu revealed that intra-EAC trade increased from $1.6 billion in 2004 to $3.5bn in 2010, but said the region has the capacity to perform better. – source East African

Rate increase for Rift Valley Railway

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Brown Ondego, RVR chairman. Picture Terry Hutson

The privatised Rift Valley Railways (RVR), which operates the rail service from the port of Mombasa to Nairobi and from there into Uganda, has increased its freight charges which it says is because of increases in the price of fuel, reports Nairobi Star.

“Rift Valley Railway has announced a revision of its tariff structure to reflect the recent global spike in the price of petroleum products whilst offering customers a competitively priced service. The new tariffs take effect immediately,” said RVR executive chairman Brown Ondego. The new pricing structure will increase by 5% when the fuel prices are between Sh85 and Sh90 a litre, and a further increase of 5% if the prices are between Sh90 and Sh95, followed by another 5% increase if they rise to between Sh95 and Sh100 a litre.

Nairobi Star also reported that RVR has withdrawn all applicable concessionary rates after saying that rail rates are the lowest in the country (Kenya). RVR recently increased its daily passenger train frequencies from 8 to 18 services and launched a new route on the passenger network. Source Nairobi Star.

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Japan: Northern ports knocked out and lines lose ships

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The freighter ASIA SYMPHONY (6,175-dwt built 1998) which was washed onto the seafront road in the town of Kamaishi, leaving her high and dry when the waves receded.

As Japan seeks to recover from one of the most devastating earthquakes and tsunamis ever, it’s been revealed that the country’s northern ports have all been knocked out and a number may take several months to reopen. Ports from Tokyo south are however open for business and will have to take up the brunt of Japanese business in the interim.

The north-eastern ports of Hachinohe, Sendai, Ishinomaki and Onahama were all so badly struck by both the earthquake and the tsunami that they are likely to remain closed for several months and maybe even longer. The country’s ninth-largest port, Kashima and the smaller port of Hitachinaka received minor damage and are expected to be back in operation within weeks.

Ports from south of Tokyo have been able to continue operating normally although most closed temporarily at the height of Friday’s natural disaster. Estimates quoted in Lloyd’s List suggest that the closure of the ports may cost Japan as much as US$ 3.4 billion in lost seaborne trade every day.

A number of major shipping lines either lost or had ships severely damaged when the tsunami swept across the northern Japan coast. NYK had three panamax bulkers in difficulty, the SHIRAMIZU (91,439-dwt) at the port of Soma, the SHIROUMA (77,739-dwt) which ran aground at Haramati shortly after discharging her cargo of coal, and the CORAL RING (75,359-dwt) which was busy discharging coal at Onahama and has sustained damage to her hull from colliding with the quay wall. There were no injuries to the crew of 63 from the three ships.

A ‘K’ Line chartered Capesize bulker ran aground when the tsunami came ashore at the port of Kashima, resulting in hull damage to the 175,000-dwt vessel. The ship was at anchor in the port with a cargo of iron ore on board. Again there were no injuries reported.

The MOL-chartered C.S. VICTORY was washed towards the breakwater of the port of Ishinomaki and sank in the shallow harbour as the waves struck. The crew had all left the ship on instructions from the harbourmaster and there were no injuries. MOL has meanwhile responded to the crisis facing Japan by deploying four ships from its MOL Ferry division to assist with the movement of Japan Self-Defense Force members engaged in the search and rescue operations.

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Another ship left high and dry after the waves returned to their normal habitat

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Piracy: Indian Navy intercepts Mozambique vessel VEGA 5 and takes 61 pirates prisoner

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The 61 pirates on board the Indian Navy ship INS KALPENI.

The Indian Navy has intercepted the Mozambique-registered fishing vessel VEGA 5 after a gun battle in the Arabian Sea, and has taken 61 pirates prisoner. Thirteen of the Vega 5’s crew was rescued unharmed. Vega 5 has been used as a pirate mother ship since her capture in December.

The Vega 5 was spotted by an Indian Navy reconnaissance aircraft on Friday, 11 March and the order was given to an Indian Navy ship, INS KALPENI and the corvette INS KHUKRI to intercept. The aircraft, a Dornier patrol plane was responding to appeals for help from the merchant ship VANCOUVER BRIDGE that it was being attacked by pirates. On seeing the aircraft the pirates broke off the attack and headed away. INS Kalpeni made contact with Vega 5 late on Saturday afternoon and as the navy ship closed in it came under fire from two skiffs accompanying the Vega 5, said the Indian Navy, with the Kalpeni returning fire and setting the Vega 5 on fire. The pirates and original crew remaining on board the burning vessel jumped overboard and were picked up by an Indian ship while the skiffs appear to have been captured. The incident took place 700 n.miles off Kochi in southern India.

Indian authorities said afterwards it was not clear if the pirates were from Somalia or Yemen. This would be ascertained after they had been taken ashore and questioned. According to the Indian Navy the pirates were carrying about 90 weapons including small arms, rifles and some larger weapons. These were presumably among those on the two skiffs as the others, when abandoning the burning Vega 5 would have abandoned their weapons.

Vega 5 was captured by pirates in the Mozambique Channel 200 n.miles east of Quelimane in late December 2010, in one of the most southerly attacks so far recorded. The vessel which belonged to a Spanish/Mozambique company, Pescamar, was originally reported as having a crew of 24, but the vessel has been to Somalia at least once since being captured and it is possible that non-essential crew for navigating the vessel were put ashore in Somalia. The Indians are reporting only 13 crew having been on board.

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The Mozambique registered fishing vessel VEGA 5. Picture AFP/Getty Images

Meanwhile Somali pirates have released the Bangladeshi ship JAHAN MONI after a ransom of US$4.2 million was paid for the ship and crew of 26 Bangladeshis. The vessel was originally seized some 300 n.miles from India’s Kerala coast in early December, while voyaging from Indonesia to Greece with a cargo of nickel alloy.

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Jahan Moni

In an unrelated item of news, the Spanish tuna fishing vessel IRIA FLAVIA (IMO 6516788) has sunk near the Comoros islands in the Mozambique Channel. The Seychelles-flagged vessel reported that it was taking on water and that the pumps were not coping and the crew of 11 was taking to the lifeboats. They were later picked up and taken to the Madagascan port of Antsiranana (Diego Suarez).

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Nigeria approves national shipping carrier

Abuja, Nigeria - The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been given approval to establish a national carrier, a top government official has said.

Minister of Transport Yusuf Suleiman told a news conference in Abuja last Friday that a national carrier would redress the problem of low indigenous participation in international shipping business.

The minister said that the agency had contributed 13 billion naira (US$ 106.5 million) to the take-off of the cabotage Vessel Financing Fund and that modalities for the disbursement of the fund were being worked out.

He said that the cabotage regime would facilitate more indigenous participation in shipping.

Mr Suleiman said that the Cabotage Act was enacted to develop the local capacity and grow the indigenous shipping industry. He said that the fund would help to increase indigenous participation in the domestic water transportation services and to assist the growth of local ship building and repairs.

Mr Suleiman said that the scheme would be under a public-private sector partnership.

“The modalities for the successful take-off of this scheme are being finalised with the constitution of an inter-agency committee,” the minister told reporters.

He said that 1,371 vessels had been registered by the Nigerian Ship Register Office with a gross registered tonnage of 1.9 million tonnes as at December last year.

Mr Suleiman said that intervention projects like Maritime Policy Advisory Group and the Nigerian Maritime Data Bank were being implemented. He said the maritime data bank would serve the data needs of the maritime industry in West and Central Africa.

The ministry had directed that more maritime academies be established under public-private sector partnership, he added.

The minister expressed optimism that the seafarers training program of NIMASA would produce robust pool of Nigerian seafarers to serve domestic and international shipping services. – source Xinhua

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SAMTRA conducts its first STCW Tanker Oil & Chemical Specialisation course

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The South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) in Simon’s Town

SAMTRA recently conducted its first STCW Tanker Oil & Chemical Specialisation course at its Simon’s Town campus. The course, which was facilitated by Robin Gratjios of Safeship (Pty) Ltd, was attended by students from Stena, Marine Crew Services and Transnet.

This training programme provides specialist training in subjects appropriate to the duties of any person with immediate responsibility for loading, discharging, care in transit or handling of bulk oil or chemical cargoes. The course complies with the STCW Code chapter V A-V/1 (2 -21).

The 6 day training programme, which is SAMSA accredited, covers the following:

  • Regulations and codes of practice
  • Design and equipment of oil tankers
  • Cargo characteristics
  • Ship Operations
  • Repair and Maintenance
  • Emergency Operations
  • Surveys and oil major inspections
  • Marius Strydom of Smit Amandla Marine sat in on the course in order to understudy Robin Gratjios, with a view to his taking over the facilitating of the course in South Africa.

    Feedback received from participants was extremely positive and constructive.

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    Robin Gratjios (2nd from Back, Left) and Marius Strydom (kneeling, front) with students attending the STCW Tanker Oil and Chemical Specialisation course.

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    Labour broking: SAMSA has draft awaiting promulgation


    The article on labour brokers Does the bell toll for labour brokers? refers - PORTS & SHIPS 10-11 March.

    In order that South Africa is ready for the entry into force of the Maritime Labour Convention (expected in 2012) SAMSA have drafted the Merchant Shipping (Seafarer Recruitment and Placement) Regulations.

    These have been published for comment, in 2007, and await promulgation by DoT.

    Captain NT Campbell
    Regional Manager : Southern Region
    South African Maritime Safety Authority [SAMSA]

    Pics of the Day – ANTHIA

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    The bulk carrier ANTHIA (28,740-dwt, built 2002) in Cape Town recently. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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