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Ports & Ships Maritime News

5 April 2011
Author: Terry Hutson


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

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The Chinese Navy People’s Liberation Army Navy frigate ZHOUSHAN (FFG-529) arrived in Durban yesterday together with sister frigate XUZHOU (FFG-530) for a stayover of five days. The visit is at the invitation of the South African Navy and the ship’s were welcomed in traditional manner with a South African Navy guard of honour on the dock, headed by the navy’s chief of staff, Rear Admiral R Higgs and several other admirals and senior officers. The two Chinese ships meanwhile were dressed with crew at attention as the ships entererd port, looking very smart and impressive.

In his speech of welcome, Admiral Higgs drew attention to this being the third visit to South Africa of ships of the Chinese ’Navy’ – the first being the fleet under Admiral Zheng He in the early 1420’s (see Gavin Menzie’s 1421 – The Year China Discovered the World as reference). The second visit was from two destroyers in August 2000 and this makes the third.

During their five day stay in port both ships will be open to the public today (Tuesday, morning and afternoon), and tomorrow (Wednesday, morning only). They are returning from the Horn of Africa where they have participated with other Chinese ships and navies on anti-piracy patrols and escort duties. During this time the Chinese ships accompanied 38 convoys involving the protection of 578 ships. They were also involved in a number of ’actions’ against pirates.

From Durban they head out to the Seychelles and then on home. Pictures by Terry Hutson

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With 30 ships either in port or lined up outside Durban harbour at the weekend, the last thing that stakeholders in the ports of Durban and Richards Bay want to hear about right now is strike action, but that is exactly what is being threatened by a trade union.

The spectre of yet more industrial action hangs over the Ports of Durban and Richards Bay this week, following the issuing of a regulatory seven day notice to strike with effect from Thursday 7 April, issued by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu).

The planned strike aims at including all union members employed by Transnet National Ports Authority, Transnet Port Terminals, and all private companies including those in the stevedore sector, as well as casual labourers employed with the assistance of labour brokers.

The notice issued on 30 March 2011 says the strike is in terms of section 56(1)(2)(a)(b) & (c). “Take note that on the expiry of seven days notice and failure of the two parties to resolve the dispute within seven days, all employees employed in the maritime sector or industry or employed in the stevedoring (sic) will embark on a secondary strike action on Thursday morning at 06h00 on the 7th April 2011 in furtherance of a strike and in support of their fellow employees employed by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) in KZN.

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Pretoria, 4 April - In implementing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1975 (2011) South Africa is freezing the assets and other economic resources of the former president of Côte d’Ivoire, Simone Gbagbo, and others in the country’s presidency.

“The South African Government is implementing the United Nations Security Council Resolution which was adopted with immediate effect on Wednesday, 30 March 2011,” Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said.

The resolution requires of financial institutions in member countries to freeze the funds and other financial assets of persons who pose a threat to the peace and national reconciliation process in Côte d’Ivoire.

The resolution is against Gbagbo, chairperson of the Parliamentary Group of the Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI); Désiré Tagro, the Secretary-General in Gbagbo’s presidency; Pascal Affi N’Guessan, Chairman of the FPI; and Gbagbo’s advisor Alcide Djédjé.

“Financial institutions should note that the resolution applies to the above mentioned individuals listed in Annex 1 of the Resolution and also to the funds, other financial assets and economic resources owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the designated persons in an earlier UNSC Resolution, namely in paragraphs 9 and 11 of UNSC Resolution 1572 (2004).

“Accordingly, I have instructed the Financial Intelligence Centre to caution financial institutions not to become involved in any transactions or business relationships which may facilitate the provision of funds to persons or entities listed pursuant to UNSC Resolution 1975 as amplified by paragraphs 9 and 11 of UNSC Resolution 1572 (2004),” said the minister.

The Reserve Bank also indicated that it will use measures available to it to prevent any such funds from leaving the country.

“The South African Government has expressed its deep concern for the situation in Côte d’Ivoire and called upon the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support efforts to find a political solution to the violence and conflict in that country,” said Gordhan.

Gbagbo’s refusal to step down after Alassane Ouattara was pronounced as the winner of the country's November 2010 polls plunged the country into political crisis. – BuaNews

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Shippers told to beware of disguised Iranian cargoes

The US Treasury this week identified another three Iranian ships on its sanction list, bringing the total to 156 IRISL or former IRISL ships identified and listed. According to the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), IRISL, the state-owned shipping line is employing a range of tactics aimed at avoiding sanctions.

The latest vessels to be identified and targeted are the bulker SALIM (31,117-dwt), the general cargo ship KADOS (3,816-dwt) and the general cargo ship DORITA (2,495-dwt).

In addition 21 IRISL ships that have been given new names were re-designated by OFAC, The American treasury organisation said that another tactic being used by IRISL is to omit prefixes or to fabricate new ones and also to name ‘non existent vessels’, while some documentation has been found referring to another shipping line – IRSU and XBIU were quoted.

US shippers, exporters, importers and freight forwarders were warned to take care they “do not unwittingly process fraudulent documents or facilitate prohibited activities” involving trading with IRISL and Iran.

K Line to take full control of heavylifter SAL Group

Japan’s K Line says it intends acquiring full control of German heavy lift shipping company SAL Group by acquiring the remaining 50% of shares. The transaction will be complete by the end of June, K Line said.

“With the current economic rebound, heavy lifter business is considered an essential tool for the development of big projects such as those in the oil and gas industry, which is expected to grow even further,” the Japanese company said, while adding that it plans to retain the SAL trading name and current personnel.

SMIT Amandla returns to Cape Town as Nightingale cleanup continues

As clean up operations continue on Nightingale Island in the South Atlantic, the South African salvage tug SMIT AMANDLA has returned to Cape Town. Nightingale Island is where the 75,300-dwt bulker OLIVA went aground last month, breaking in half and spilling a large amount of oil into the sea and onto the nearby Nightingale Island. Thousands of penguins and seabirds have been affected.

SMIT Amandla arrived at the island too late to prevent the bulker, which was carrying a cargo of soya beans from Brazil to South East Asia, from breaking her back almost immediately on the rocks on the northern end of the little island, one of the Tristan da Cunha group.

From reports it appears that no oil is currently escaping the shipwreck and the focus has turned to save the thousands of penguins and other birds that make the island their home. Oiled penguins have been taken to the main island of Tristan da Cunha to be cleaned and returned to the sea away from the oil spill, although heavy swells are hampering efforts to collect oiled birds and transfer them to safety.

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UAE special forces have freed a Abu Dhabi-owned bulk ship which was highjacked in the Arabian Sea on Friday, 1 April.

The bulker, the two-month old ARRILAH 1 (37,000-dwt) was captured by pirates 278 n.miles south-east of the Indian port of Veraval. The ship was en route to Jebel Ali when she came under attack from two skiffs carrying a total of six pirates. The following day special forces from the UAE, supported by air force and air defence units, staged a counter attack on the bulker, resulting in the surrender of the pirates and the restoration of the ship to its crew.

It is not known whether the crew had taken refuge in a citadel but all crew members are reported to be safe and in good health. Meanwhile, the pirates are to be handed over to authorities at Jebel Ali.

“The decisive operation is evidence of the determination of the UAE Government to respond swiftly and deal firmly with any acts of piracy,” a UAE official stated.

Dutch warship rescues dhow from pirates

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Pirates on the Iranian dhow hold their hands up in surrender as armed forces from the Dutch warship HNLMS Tromp approach. Picture: Dutch Ministry of Defence

In another incident off the Somali coast this time, the Dutch warship HNLMS TROMP, which is also acting as the NATO forces flagship in the area, engaged pirates in a gunfight after going to the aid of a merchant dhow which had been captured by pirates.

During the engagement another pirate vessel, the previously highjacked container ship ALBEDO approached the Tromp but quickly retreated when the Dutch ship fired warning shots across her bow. The engagement took place on Saturday, 2 April.

“Ten pirates tried to escape in a skiff, but were quickly captured. Five were wounded and subsequently received medical care on board the Dutch warship. Two pirates were killed,” NATO said in a statement.

The dhow and its freed crew were later escorted to safer waters.

Pirate vessel boarded south-east of Mombasa

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SPS Infanta Elena and the pirate whaler

The Spanish frigate SPS INFANTA ELENA intercepted a suspected pirate whaler 89 n.miles south-east of the Kenyan port of Mombasa on Sunday afternoon.

The interception took place shortly after a message was received that a merchant ship had come under attack from a pirate group a little earlier and in the same area. On approaching the whaler it was seen to have two suspected pirates on board and a large number of fuel barrels – usually a giveaway for a pirate ‘mother ship’ vessel from which faster skiffs can operate.

The whaler also had other items of equipment usually associated with pirates but there was no sign of the two skiffs thought to be operating from the whaler and believed to have been involved in the earlier attack. The Spanish ship has detained the two suspects who will be returned to Somalia while the whaler was destroyed.

Pirate group operating off Tanzania

An unnamed merchant ship is reported to have escaped from an attack by pirates in two skiffs at position 05 35S and 040 20E, which places them near the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. The skiffs held three people each who were armed with small arms and RPGs, while ladders were seen by crew on the merchant ship before it made its escape. NATO reports that this pirate group is still in the area. They may be connected to the whaler destroyed by the Dutch frigate Tromp (see above).

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It’s been learned that six nominations have been made by their governments for the top position of secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is a body of the United Nations.

The current secretary-general, Efthimios Mitropoulos completes his second four-year term on 31 December this year. Before that however an election will be held during the 106th session of the 40-member strong IMO Council when it meets between 27 June and 1 July 2011.

South Africa is a member of the IMO Council.

The decision of the council will then be submitted for approval to the IMO Assembly for its approval when it meets for its 27th session between 21 and 30 November this year. The persons nominated are:

Andreas Chrysostomeu (Cyprus)
Koji Sekimizu (Japan)
Neil Frank Ferrer (Philippines)
Lee Sik Chai (South Korea)
Esteban Pacha Vicente (Spain)
Jeffery Lantz (USA)

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Barloworld Logistics, the South African supply chain specialist says it has enhanced its performance in Europe with a formal tie up with Danish freight group Ship-Log. The cooperation already enjoyed by the two has prompted them to confirm a mutual agency agreement.

Barloworld specialise in the Middle and Far East as well as Europe and their home territory. Ship-Log has a strong presence in Thailand and an extensive European network throughout Germany, France, Netherland, the Scandinavian countries and Eastern Europe.

The Middle East operation of Barloworld Logistics has already experienced excellent service from Ship-Log, which led to further exploration of synergies between the two organizations. Stephen Temple, MD of Barloworld Logistics South Africa’s Freight management and services, said that the new relationship would provide the group’s clients with a more flexible and efficient service in fields ranging from customs clearance and warehousing to ocean freight and event cargo management.


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The Chinese guided missile frigate XUZHOU (FFG-530) seen arriving in the Durban port entrance channel yesterday morning. Picture by Trevor Jones

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The sister vessel to Xuzhou, the frigate ZHOUSHAN (FFG-529), which is acting as flagship to Admiral Huachen Zhang, was the first to enter port and to make her way to M Shed at the T-Jetty. Here she is seen just inside the harbour entrance. Picture by Trevor Jones

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Making for an unusually busy ‘navy’ day at the port, the US Navy frigate USS STEPHEN W GROVES (FFG-29) of the Oliver Hazard Perry class also made an entry into harbour. Not connected with the visit by the Chinese ships, USS Stephen W Groves’ visit is purely operational and the ship went on berth at the Salisbury Island Naval Station. Picture by Trevor Jones

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