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Ports & Ships Maritime News

6 April 2011
Author: Terry Hutson


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

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This seal was resting up on the bulbous bow of a large bulker in Cpe Town harbour this week. It was one of those quiet days that all ports have and the photographer, used to more ship movements, later claimed this to be the most interesting thing he’d seen on the docks that day. Picture by Aad Noorland


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Antarctic supply ship leaves Cape Town for Tristan da Cunha

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Ivan Papanin in Cape Town, November 2009. Picture by Aad Noorland

The Russian-owned Antarctic Ro-Ro supply ship IVAN PAPANIN (14,184-gt, built 1990) was due to sail from Cape Town on Tuesday evening for Tristan da Cunha. Recently back from a supply trip to the Antarctic she was due to return to Europe until the following Antarctic ‘season’ and was handily available for charter by the P&I Club to join the clean up and salvage team operation already at the island.

The other vessels under charter to P&I Club are the Svitzer salvage tug SINGAPORE and Cape Town supply vessel EDINBURGH, which are both on station off Nightingale Island, where the bulker OLIVA recently went aground. Oliva has since broken apart in several sections and bunker oil is continuing to escape. Heavy weather in the region is meanwhile hampering efforts to rescue sea birds including thousands of penguins that have been soiled from oil surrounding the island and in the neighbouring sea. Rough seas currently being experienced are expected to help break up the oil and assist with its dispersal.

Captain Alan Reid , managing director of the P&I Club and based in Durban said the Ivan Papanin has on board the ‘most useful tool’ so far to take part in this operation – a helicopter. This will prove invaluable in transferring people and equipment between the islands and the assisting ships, he said. Until now transfers have had to be done using rubber inflatables and other small craft and was subject to the vagaries of the weather and the condition of the sea.

Maersk Constellation arrives at Mombasa

The general cargo ship MAERSK CONSTELLATION has arrived in Mombasa complete with the four containers that were the subject of investigation and enquiry and an extended delay for the ship in Lobito, Angola.

Angolan authorities detained the ship for several weeks while they investigated the origin and purpose of the containers’ contents. The container documents showed the containers, which came from a South African non-governmental organisation providing relief work in Angola, as carrying soya, but in reality they contained guns and ammunition. Kenya later admitted the weapons were for them and there have also been reports that the origin of the weapons and ammunition was the United States.

Just why, then, the cargo had to be moved in such a clandestine fashion, needs to be answered. Maersk Constellation is a US-flagged ship, a factor not lost on observers, although the operators said they were not aware that the four boxes contained weapons. The documents reflected the cargo as being soya.

Arrilah-1 crew hid in citadel to evade pirates

The crew of the UAE newbuild ARRILAH-1, which was seized by pirates and then retaken later by UAE forces, hid in a citadel on board the vessel, we have since learned.

In yesterday’s news bulletin we reported the attack and rescue of the ship, which entered service as recently as January this year, and stated it was not known whether the crew of 21 plus three guards, had found sanctuary in a safe place or not.

Now it appears they not only entered a safe room but were forced to don breathing apparatus. The pirates on discovering that the seafarers had locked themselves in a citadel, began shooting at the door and then pumped in smoke in an effort to asphyxiate the crew and force them to surrender. The crew not only had breathing apparatus with them but food and water as well as equipment to communicate with nearby ships or aircraft. They also had the ability to disarm the ship and prevent the pirates from sailing her, and had all undergone regular anti-piracy drills.

They were released from their hideout after UAE armed forces and, it is reported, US forces stormed the ship, overcoming the pirates who surrendered.

Vega-5 crew return to Mozambique

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The ill-fated Mozambique fishing vessel Vega-5

Twelve members of the crew from the Mozambique fishing vessel VEGA-5, which was seized by Somali pirates off the Mozambique coast on 27 December last year, returned to their homes in Beira after having been rescued by the Indian Navy earlier last month. They had been detained in India to give evidence in court against their captors. A 13th crewmember, an Indonesian is presumed to have returned to Indonesia.

Shortly after their capture the fishing vessel crew was forced to sail it to Somalia, where two Spanish crewmembers were taken ashore because the pirates believed only the Spanish government would pay ransom. The pirates claimed that Indonesia and Mozambique had shown no interest in freeing the seafarers, which the Mozambique government denied saying it never received any demand. The remaining crew, made up of 19 Mozambicans and an Indonesian remained with the vessel and were forced at gunpoint to sail it wherever the pirates ordered.

According to the survivors, the pirates headed to the Indian coast where they staged an attack on a patrolling Indian warship, the INS Kalpeni, after mistaking her for a civilian vessel. The Indian navy ship fired on the approaching skiffs, destroying them in the water and most pirates on board are thought to have died. The Vega-5 was then hit by a projectile from the Kalpeni and it was either then or later in the water that seven of their colleagues disappeared and are believed to have died. Twelve survivors were picked up by the Indian ship and taken ashore.

The incident is reminiscent of another in which a Yemeni fishing vessel that had been captured by pirates, was blown out of the water by an Indian Navy frigate. There were no apparent survivors and the Indian Navy announced it had successfully destroyed a pirate ship after being fired upon. Some days later a lone seafarer was picked up in the water, clinging to some timber, and was taken to hospital in Yemen. When he was able to talk he gave details of how the pirates had abandoned their fishing dhow but that the Indian ship fired on it anyway, leaving the pirate skiffs to escape in the confusion. The man was one of the original Yemeni crew and the sole survivor of what was only afterwards seen as a trigger-happy navy, with an apparent shoot first and ask questions later policy.

Had the survivor and his dead crew mates come from the western world, or had the crew from Vega-5 likewise come from the United States or Europe, no doubt there would have been a loud and urgent cry for a more measured and careful approach to such matters, but with both cases involving so-called ‘third world’ people, it is more easily swept away with the next tide.

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Pretoria, 5 April - Over 50 shipping containers have been detained at the China Shopping Centre south of Johannesburg following a crackdown by South African Revenue Service (SARS) officials.

The 56 containers contain clothing suspected of being illegal imports, the revenue service said.

The discovery is a result of a joint operation between government officials including SARS tax officials, the SAPS and the Departments of Labour, Health, Trade and Industry and the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) as well as the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police.

“The goods in the shipping containers as well as other goods seized are valued at an estimated R10 million. Shipping files were seized from various clearing agents suspected of being involved in the irregular importation of clothing and textiles,” said SARS spokesperson Anton Fisher.

Last Thursday, 12 people were arrested for illegal immigration offences after the same operation seized computers and hard disks suspected of being used in the production of false Identity Documents and passports.

Customs officials at SARS also removed equipment suspected of being used in the production of counterfeit CD’s and DVD’s.

“As a result of government’s concern about the illicit economy and its impact on the local clothing and textile industry in particular, SARS was mandated to initiate an intergovernmental response to deal with the illegal importation of clothing and textiles,” said Fischer.

Under-invoicing of import clothing and textile consignments resulting in low revenue flows into the fiscus is one of the biggest remaining threats. “Coupled with this is the significant loss of jobs in the local clothing and textile industries over the past years,” said SARS. – BuaNews


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Efthimios Mitropoulos

IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, who was in Kenya for the spring session of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, has commissioned in Mombasa the first of three information-sharing centres (ISCs). These were envisaged by the Djibouti Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.

The other two centres, which will operate under the same Code, are those established in Dar es Salam and Sana’a, Yemen. The centres have been established to facilitate practical measures for the suppression of piracy and armed robbery against ships by ensuring the coordinated, timely, and effective flow of information. It is intended that the ISCs should be capable of receiving and responding to alerts and requests for information or assistance at all times.

The Mombasa ISC will be co-housed with the Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), which operates on a 24-hour basis and covers extensive areas of the western Indian Ocean (including the Seychelles). It was commissioned by Mr Mitropoulos in 2006.

The Mombasa MRCC and the Dar es Salaam MRCC sub-centre (the latter was commissioned in 2009) are already sharing basic information for the purpose of the Djibouti Code of Conduct, using existing infrastructures, but full operational capability as ISCs will enhance their capacity to discharge their duties under the Djibouti Code of Conduct and contribute to efforts to suppress piracy in the region.

Countries reporting to the Mombasa ISC include the Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya and later on Somalia. The Centre will exchange information on the movement of pirates with the Sana’a and Dar es Salaam Centres as well as with European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) and the Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO) Bahrain.

Speaking to the staff of the Mombasa ISC, Mr Mitropoulos paid tribute to their services on search and rescue and expressed the hope that they will be equally successful in discharging their responsibilities under the piracy assignment. He also thanked the Government of Kenya for its support to the Centre and co-operation in the accomplishment of its objectives.

He said he considered the establishment of the three information-sharing centres as an important component of the action plan in the context of this year’s World Maritime Day theme ‘Piracy: Orchestrating the response’.


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Lagos – Nigerian ports facing new strike

Nigerian ports face another dock strike threat as talks fail between the unions and management.

The dispute between management and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) is all about wage increases, but little progress has been reported in labour talks since the one-day strike held on 8 March this year. Nor has there been any news concerning the results of a wage review that has been due since June 2010.

Terminal operators in the Nigerian ports, which are mostly privately run, say they are concerned with the increasing likelihood that workers will shortly down tools.

According to the MWUN it intends giving the Nigeria Ports Authority one month to resolve the outstanding issues and come up with a set of proposals “or face industrial consequences without notice.”


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MSC Maeva sailing from Durban with 7000 containers onboard. Picture by Trevor Steenekamp of www.nauticalimages.co.za

Gianluigi Aponte, President of the MSC Group, has been presented with the Seatrade Personality Award for 2011 (sponsored by ClassNK).

The award is in recognition of his outstanding achievement in developing over 40 years, one of the world’s leading shipping groups, combining the world’s second largest container shipping fleet with a modern fleet of cruise vessels operating worldwide, a growing presence in the Mediterranean ferry sector and in port and terminal operations too.

“It is an honour to receive this award – which is maybe due to my age and also my staff. They have done a great job and I dedicate this award to them,” said Mr Aponte.

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Gianluigi Aponte

The 23rd Seatrade Awards Ceremony Dinner took place on Monday night at London’s Guildhall in the presence of IMO Secretary-General, Efthimios Mitropoulos, Chairman of the panel of judges of the Seatrade Awards. Over 350 members of the maritime community celebrated the outstanding contributions made over the last year for safe, efficient and environmentally friendly shipping. Guest of Honour, HRH The Princess Royal presented the awards.

“The Seatrade Awards are a fascinating way of keeping in touch with what is happening and the technology in the maritime sector,” said HRH The Princess Royal. Praising Seatrade for recognising the importance of the human element through its awards for investing in people and Young Person in Shipping, she also highlighted the importance of the counter-piracy award. “Over 600 seafarers are currently being held hostage by pirates and there are more incidents on a weekly basis. Finding a suitable answer to piracy is an international problem and a solution must be found internationally.”

Paul J Ioannidis was presented with the Seatrade Lifetime Achievement Award (award sponsored by DNV) in recognition of his exceptional work in introducing aviation style standards of training and safety management to the shipping industry and also for his support for the Alexander S Onassis Foundation.

“I wish to praise Seatrade for its focus on safe, efficient and environmentally friendly shipping within the industry,” said Ioannidis. “I wish to stress that the problem of environment is of the utmost importance and for global companies, it is vital that they act promptly before the point of no return. We owe it to the generations to come.”

There was a special Seatrade Award for Countering Piracy (sponsored by DP World), which was awarded to Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General, UN. The award was accepted on his behalf by Radm Efthimios Mitropoulos, Secretary-General, IMO.

This year a special Seatrade Award was presented to honour the seafarers of the world who have been endangered by Maritime Piracy. The award was accepted by David Cockroft, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) on behalf of international seafarers.

Ms Gunvor Ulstein, CEO of Ulstein group, was awarded the Seatrade Young Person in Shipping 2011 Award in recognition of her exemplary career in the shipping and offshore sectors, as a role model for young people considering a career in the maritime sector.

The Seatrade Global Performer 2011 award (sponsored by China Ship Fund) was presented to China Development Bank.

IMO Secretary-General, Efthimios Mitropoulos commended Seatrade’s choice of award categories, which closely reflected the IMO’s own aims and objectives. The Seatrade Awards programme recognises those who have made exceptional contributions over the last year for safe, efficient and environmentally friendly shipping, recognising and celebrating innovation and commitment to improving maritime standards:

CATEGORY I - SAFETY AT SEA (Award sponsored by Lloyd’s Register) Winner:
Nadiro A/S, Denmark
Nadiro Drop-in-Ball

Runners up:

Dasic Marine Ltd, UK
Nemesis 5000 – Anti Piracy System

McMurdo Ltd, UK
Smartfind S5 AIS SART

Westmark BV, The Netherlands
P-Trap Passive Non-Lethal Anti Piracy Self Protection Measure

(Award sponsored by ABS)

Marinfloc AB, Sweden

Runners up:

Aalborg Industries A/S, Denmark
Aalborg Industries’ Green Technology Product Range

Couple Systems GmbH, Germany
Dry Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (DryEGCS)

(Award sponsored by General Organisation of Sea Ports)

APM Terminals Management B.V., The Netherlands
Fastnet Crane System

Runners up:

Samson Rope Technologies, USA
Vulcan Emergency Tow-Off Pendant

Wärtsilä Corporation, Finland
Wärtsilä Low Loss Concept

(Award sponsored by Arab Shipbuilding & Repair Yard Company)

Royal Caribbean International, USA
Fleet Building On Talent (BOT) – Leadership Development Program

Runners up:

Great Offshore Ltd, India
Development of People and Infrastructure

The Nautical Institute, UK
Alert! Vodcast

In keeping with the non-profit making motives of the Seatrade Awards scheme, Seatrade will make a donation from the proceeds to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and The Mission to Seafarers.

The pre-dinner reception was sponsored by DNV and the Souvenir Menu & Seating Plan were sponsored by Rolls Royce.


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The first crude oil tanker was due in the port city of Tobruk in Libya last night to begin loading export oil – the first time this has been possible since the civil war in the North African country intensified almost three weeks ago.

The loading is taking place at the Marsa el-Hariga terminal in Tobruk harbour and oil is being loaded into the tanker EQUATOR (149,997-dwt, built 2006).

The tanker is scheduled to take on 130,000 tonnes of crude which has been made possible because of a European Union sanction ruling that allows exports provided they bypass the family of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and associated companies.

It is also reported that Qatar has offered to assist the rebels with exports through terminals under their control though no-one knows how the oil will be marketed.



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What we think is the largest capacity container ship to make use of the former multi-purpose terminal at Maydon Wharf (berth 11), but now more frequently in use as a container berth, is the 3,650-TEU CMA CGM AFRICA TWO (40,500-gt, built 2010) which arrived well-laden on Monday, 4 April 2011. The self-geared CMA CGM Africa Two is deployed on the company’s West Africa Express service and is 227m long with a beam of 36m.

We’d be interested to know whether any larger box ship, also well laden, has sailed down the Maydon Channel to berth at Maydon Wharf. Pictures by Terry Hutson

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