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Ports & Ships Maritime News

13 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 chartered container ship AGIOS DIMITRIOS arriving in Durban harbour last week. Picture by Trevor Jones

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Durban Harbour and Island View, with the suburb of Fynnlands overlooking it on the Bluff

Residents of Fynnlands and other parts of the Bluff overlooking the vast Island View complex may wonder what all the noise and activity is tomorrow morning (Thursday, 14 April), when sirens sound and police and fire engines and other emergency vehicles rush to the area. But don’t worry, it’s all an exercise!

The simulation, which will be staged as realistically as possible, is being conducted by the oil company Sasol, in partnership with Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the leaseholders at the Cutler Complex (Island View) and eThekwini Fire and Emergency Services.

Island View holds more than a thousand tanks of various sizes, making this one of the largest tank farms in the Southern Hemisphere. Although the site generally has a good safety record, there have been some incidents including spills into the bay and fires that destroyed several tanks, including a rather spectacular one a few years ago. On each occasion the crisis was brought under control relatively quickly and the danger averted, but with such a large oil complex sited so close to a residential suburb, and with Durban’s CBD separated only by the waters of Durban Bay, risks abound.

These risks are taken seriously by the operators at Island View, and tomorrow’s exercise is an example of this, of simulating as realistically as possible a situation requiring every emergency service to demonstrate their ability to cope with and get on top of the crisis that faces them in the morning.

At least this time round they have adequate warning and are able to ready themselves for the job at hand. When the real emergency occurs they are unlikely to have such advance warning but at least the public and those who work within the complex or close by have the knowledge and some reassurance that these services have practiced and are confident of getting on top of any real emergency.

During the exercise a section of Abadan Road will be closed to traffic from 06:30 until approximately 13:00 on Thursday, 14 April. Metro Police at the scene will direct motorists and employees to available alternative routes.

The organiser, Sasol, asks members of the public not to approach the area in an effort to observe the exercise. The Cutler complex is in any case restricted to authorised and accredited persons and entry to the area will remain strictly enforced. Certain other roads near the complex may be closed for brief periods which will however be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes during the exercise.

Cape Town Syncrolift goes out of order

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Cape Town’s Robinson Dry Dock at the Victoria Basin, at 152m long the smaller of two dry docks at the port. Picture by Terry Hutson

TNPA at the Port of Cape Town advises that the Syncrolift at the repair yards will be out of commission for its planned annual overhaul.

The dates when the Syncrolift will be closed are from between 4 May until 27 May 2011 inclusive.

Stakeholders who have any queries are requested to contact the Chief Dry Dock Master, Etienne Gouws.

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Over the years there have been lots of words expressed about the condition of marine craft operating on the African Great Lakes, and lots of promises from the various governments whose countries border on the lakes. So much so that generally people don’t take any notice when the next politician arrives with words of promise.

Thus it is that many stakeholders will adopt a wait and see attitude to the announcements of Tanzanian Minister of Transport, Athuman Mfutakamba when he said this past week that his department has plans for a major programme of maintenance of ships using the lakes that border Tanzania – Lake Victoria in the north and Lake Tanganyika in the west, and Lake Malawi in the south.

The minister was reporting to Tanzania’s parliament when these statements were made. He said that the Danish government has been asked to fund a feasibility study for building a new ship for one of the lakes – Victoria it would appear. The study would also investigate the best type of ship to be constructed.

Mfutakamba said the government planned to set aside a budget in the fiscal year 2011/2012 for the purchase of the new ship. But while this is building, the government would continue to negotiate with the private sector with regards further investment in marine transportation on Lake Victoria, he said.

He reported that MV NYEHUNGE is continuing to provide a service between Mwanza, the Tanzanian port town on the southern end of Lake Victoria, and Ukerewe Island, the largest inland island in Africa, which is situated about 25 n.miles north of Mwanza.

Another government-owned ferry is MV CLARIAS, which was built in 1961 and although it undergoes routine maintenances “from time to time”, an independent survey commissioned by the ministry had concluded the vessel was in a poor condition although not in any immediate danger to passengers. This vessel also services Ukerewe island from Mwanza and the government has plans to replace this vessel.

A third lake vessel, MV GEITA would be rehabilitated during the 2011/12 fiscal year, the minister has promised, but with the rider that “However, actual implementation of the pledges would depend on the amount of funds allocated and approved in the budget in the fiscal year 2011/2012.”

According to the MP for Buchosa, Dr Charles Tibeza, TSh200 million (US$ 135,000) was the amount estimated as necessary to refurbish MV Geita. Geita is little more than an open ferry, with ramps at either end and an elevated wheelhouse in the centre on one side of the vessel.

Other vessels operating recently in Tanzanian waters of Lake Victoria include MV BUTIAMA and MV CLARIUS – the latter an elderly vessel from the mid to late 1960s. Any update from readers on their condition and activity, or other craft on the lake, would be welcome. Please email anything you have to info@ports.co.za

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The pre-positioning ship USNS Roy M Wheat (T-AK 3016), which is being operated by Maersk Line.

Maersk Line Ltd. has been awarded a contract for the operation and maintenance of two additional ships in the US Navy Military Sealift Command’s Maritime Prepositioning Force, the relatively newbuilds USNS ROY M WHEAT and USNS STOCKHAM.

The US-flag operation of AP Moller-Maersk will provide personnel and mariners, operational and technical support ashore and afloat, as well as all the equipment, tools, provisions and supplies necessary to operate the vessels worldwide.

Maersk Line Ltd. will support Military Sealift Command in the management of government-owned cargo, including, but not limited to, hazardous materials, vehicular, bulk and general cargoes.

“The company’s support of Maritime Preposition Ships goes back to 1983 when it converted five commercial vessels and operated them for the next 25 years. We’re pleased that MSC has recognised the value of our service and has entrusted us with these ships,” said Scott Cimring, Maersk Line Ltd’s senior director of Government Ship Management.

If all options are exercised, the contract periods for the USNS Roy M Wheat and the USNS Stockham will extend into 2015. The approximate contract value, including all option years but excluding reimbursable expenses, is expected to be US$ 66 million.

Based in Norfolk, Va., Maersk Line Ltd is the largest US shipping company engaged in international trade and a major charterer and contract operator for the US government.

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Somali pirates have freed the bulk ship THOR NEXUS (20,377-dwt) after a ransom of US$ 5 million was paid. Another report says $4,7m but maybe someone in the food chain had by then siphoned off his share.

Thor Nexus was seized three months ago 450 n.miles north east of Socotra Island. The vessel is owned by Thoresen Thai Agencies.

The ship was held off the town of el-Dhanaane, according to the news group ecoterra, which says that some 40 ships now remain in custody along with 700 seafarers, but of course these numbers are just a guide and can change daily.

Royal Navy frigate ends 75 day deployment with EU NAVFOR

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HMS Richmond, which has just completed a deployment with the European Naval force Atalanta off Somalia

On 9 April, the Royal Navy frigate HMS RICHMOND finished as an EU NAVFOR warship after 75 days proudly flying the European Flag.

The ship has been hugely successful in all of her assigned tasks and has shown a proactive attitude to face all challenges in order to achieve the objectives of EU NAVFOR, said EU NAVFOR in a statement.

During her days at sea, HMS Richmond spent a good deal of her time protecting the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden and escorted two World Food Programme vessels as they delivered much needed humanitarian aid to the displaced people of Somalia.

To mark the end of her mission, the Spanish Force Commander Rear Admiral Juan Rodriguez visited the ship and had the opportunity to lunch with the Commanding Officer and the crew. He commended the warship’s efforts during her time with the EU Task Force.

“You showed your commitment with a very high rate of days at sea and excellent statistics in terms of MSA (Maritime Situational Awareness) approaches. You made the presence of HMS Richmond felt and contributed much to deterring piracy in the Gulf Of Aden,” he said.

Vessel under attack by pirates yesterday

A merchant ship was reporting yesterday that it was under attack by a pirate action group operating from a single skiff manned by six armed men.

The ship reported seeing ladders on the skiff and said that weapons had been used. However the ship, which has not been identified, later managed to evade the pirates and is continuing its journey.

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Pretoria, 12 April 2011 - President Jacob Zuma has left for China where he will attend the Brics summit for the first time as a full member of the grouping of most influential developing nations.

This is South Africa's first Brics summit, where Zuma will sit down with the leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China for a two-day meeting in Sanya, a resort in China's southern island province of Hainan.

The summit will be held under the theme Broad Vision, Shared Prosperity.

During the summit, the Brics member states will, amongst others, focus on international issues of mutual interest; international economic and financial issues; development issues, which will include discussions around climate change and sustainable development; and the programme of cooperation among member states.

South Africa will also participate in the Brics Business Forum and the Brics Banking Cooperation Mechanism on the sidelines of the summit.

"President Zuma will use the third summit also as an opportunity to convey appreciation for the country's invitation to become a full member state of Brics and to articulate the strategic importance South Africa attaches to this partnership, as well as to ensure synergy of the Brics mechanism agenda, with the development and economic priorities of Africa - such as infrastructure development, minerals beneficiation and value-addition, and agro-processing," the International Relations and Cooperation Department said on Tuesday.

South Africa's participation in the third Brics Summit comes within the context of a significant rise by emerging market economies, which have created a diplomatic initiative to serve as a platform for dialogue and cooperation.

The purpose is also to advance the restructuring of global governance institutions, notably the global economic and financial architecture into one that is more equitable, balanced and rests on the pillar of multilateralism, explained the department.

Zuma will be accompanied by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel and Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies.

Ahead of his arrival, an unusual sight greets those delegates that opted for a quiet wander down Yalong Beach - that of tens of Chinese security personnel standing at attention, each under their own sun canopies at 50m intervals along the white sands and nets.

Out in the bay, two naval vessels patrol, while the beach itself in front of the five-star Hilton and the Marriot hotels at which the various delegations are staying, is divided by numerous nets attached to floats, presumably an attempt to detract any boats from landing here.

Army personnel late yesterday afternoon inspected the outside of buildings and gardens around the Hilton, where Zuma and his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, are expected to stay.

Singh is expected to arrive later today accompanied by some 30 members of the Indian media and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is to jet in with her media contingent tomorrow.

It is not certain when Medvedev will arrive, but he will be accompanied by one of the biggest media contingents of 60 journalists, according to Chinese officials.

The South Africa media contingent is made up of less than 10 members - including etv, SABC television and radio and BuaNews. - BuaNews

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A couple of Pacific International Lines (PIL) ships photographed in Singapore recently, which have both been regular callers here in South Africa and at Durban in particular. Judging from their current appearance they are ’between assignments’ at present. PIL incidentally has introduced larger tonnage to the South African service. The picture above shows the self-geared KOTA MAWAR (16,266-gt, built 1994). Picture by Piet Sinke

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Another regular visitor on the South African service has been the geared KOTA NAZIM (20,901-gt, built 2008), seen here in the Singapore anchorage empty and waiting on orders. Picture by Piet Sinke

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