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Ports & Ships Maritime News

25 May, 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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Yesterday we featured a long-range view of Ngqura harbour showing a semi-submersible rig in port, DEEPSEA STAVANGER, which is receiving maintenance and repairs after a time of drilling offshore of Tanzania. Today we have a close-up view of the rig in Ngqura, thanks to Daniel Bottomley of Toprope (see the banner on this and other pages). Photo credit Toprope

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The King is dead, long live the King

German project ship company Beluga may be dead and shut down but it hasn’t taken long for another to emerge in its place, phoenix-like from the ashes. Its full owner is American company Oaktree Capital Management, the same company that took ownership control of and then placed in liquidation the Beluga group of companies. The new project cargo ship operator will be known as Hansa Heavy Lift. Some might say let’s drink to that!

Hansa or HHL will operate initially with 16 multipurpose ships and is taking on approximately 70 former Beluga employees. The operation goes to sea as from 1 June 2011. Nine of the heavy-lift ships seized by Oaktree when the extent of Beluga’s financial and other troubles became obvious last year will be transferred to HHL along with their management and operation. A number of newbuilds under construction will also come into the fleet as they are launched.

Oaktree said the new operation will concentrate on the super heavy-lift market involving loads of over 700 tonnes.

More on the Mauritius Trochetia

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Mauritius Trochetia arriving in Durban. Picture by Trevor Jones

Alain Malherbe in Mauritius writes to say that the passenger/cargo ship MAURITIUS TROCHETIA (5492-gt, built 2001), which arrived in Durban this past week to undergo drydocking on the Elgin Brown & Hamer floating dock, was built in China based on the original plans of the RMS ST HELENA 1.

“RMS St Helena 1 was bought by Indoceanic Maritime Mauritius while she was under arrest and lying at the repair wharf in Durban in 1993. She was then called the AVALON. The Avalon was subsequently renamed INDOCEANIQUE, and completely refitted in Durban, she sailed out for her home port (Port-Louis) on 5 March 1994 to start serving the Islands as a combi passenger/cargo ship.

“The Indoceanique was subsequently sold to breakers (Alang India) where she finished her glorious life in 1996.”

The name of the ship is derived from that of Mauritius’ official flower, the Trochetia Boutoniana (common name Boucle d'Oreille)

World’s first 3,000-metre deepwater pipe layer launched

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The world’s first 3,000-metre deepwater pipe laying crane vessel, OCEAN PEC 201 has been named in a ceremony at the Ronsheng Heavy Industries shipyard in China.

The ship will be operated by Offshore Oil Engineering Co, LTD (COOEC), a listed company held by China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) with which it is associated. A spokesman for CNOOC said the group’s entry in deep water exploration which includes the semi-submersible drilling rig OCEAN PEC 981, creates opportunities for the offshore engineering sector in China and enhances the overall capability of the related manufacturing and metallurgy industries in China.

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A spokesman for the World Bank has warned that unless steps are taken, Guinea-Bissau, which is Africa’s fifth largest exporter of cashew nuts, may lose the use of the port of Bissau because of silting.

“It’s not going to take much time before it becomes unnavigable. There’s hasn’t been one dredging of any single river (in Guinea-Bissau) since the early 70s,” said World Bank Liaison Officer Carmen Pereira.

He was repeating a warning given last year in a report titled Guinea-Bissau: Cashew and Beyond, Diversification through Trade, which pointed out that the port of Bissau which is built in an estuary was currently the only functioning international port in the country.

“As such it is the principal gateway for all exports and imports and its smooth functioning is key to the efficient transport of the vast majority of traded goods exiting and entering the country. Current estimates are that 85 percent of exports move through the Port of Bissau while more than 90 percent of imports do the same. At the present time, the port is operating well in excess of its designed capacity. Originally constructed to move 5,000 containers per year, the port is now moving approximately 20,000, though with considerable delays.”

The report continued that the importance of improving port operations for the success of virtually every other economic activity in the country could not be over- emphasised.

“Almost every interview conducted in the preparation of this study generated comments about the importance of port rehabilitation, with its current state often characterised as “terrible”, the report stated.

The port of Bissau is managed by a government entity, Administracao dos Porto da Guinea-Bissau (APGB), which took over from a private firm, Tertir, in 1999. In 2010 there were still some outstanding financial issues related to this transfer which need to be resolved in order to proceed with any kind of contracting of port services or public-private partnership. Settlement of these issues with Tertir is necessary before re- privatising the operations. “Negotiations have occurred and it is apparent that an agreement is possible, though it has not yet been finalized,” said the report.

It made the observation that the port authority APGB had become a conduit for patronage appointments over the years, which had resulted in a highly paid and redundant staff. One observer said that no more than one third of the approximately 800 employees were needed to run the operations of APGB.

The costs at neighbouring ports like Dakar are said to be about one third that of Bissau.

The government has shown some interest in pursuing a public-private partnership to manage the port with the International Finance Corp, which is a branch of the World Bank. Pereira said there was also a plan to build a new port at Buba to the south of Bissau. This would be in partnership with the Angolan mining company Bauxite Angola but its purpose would be primarily that of bulk cargoes and would not be suitable as an alternate port for Bissau.

Bissau has a population of 1.7 million people and its main port competes with the ports of Banjul in Gambia and Dakar in Senegal. The majority of Guinea-Bissau’s fuel is trucked into the country from Dakar, a distance of 400 kilometres.

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Commander Zhou Zhicheng. CO of the Chinese frigate Maanshan (left) exchanges gifts with Commander Gonzalo Parente de Castro of the SSPS Santa Maria

While there have been no reports of highjackings taking place in the Somalia region during the past 24 hours, merchant shipping has been warned to stay alert and that the pirates are active with several mother ships thought to be at sea.

Meanwhile, in the port of Djibouti recently the Commanding Officer of the Chinese frigate MAANSHAN paid a visit to EU NAVFOR warship ESPS SANTA MARIA. Maanshan is part of Task Force 526 with her sister ship WENZHOU – the Flag Ship, and the tanker QIANDAOHU, which have been operating in the Gulf of Aden since March. The Chinese warships are due to remain deployed in the area for four months.

The main purpose of the Djibouti visit was to exchange impressions and ideas about counter piracy and general navy topics. EU NAVFOR says the meeting was conducted in a cordial and frank atmosphere highlighting the co-operation and common understanding among different Task Forces operating in the area.

al-Shabaab says it has dispersed pirates in Haradhere

The rebel Islamist movement al-Shabaab says it has cleared the port town of Haradhere in central Somalia of pirates. Sheikh Yusuf Sheikh Isse, al-Shabaab’s governor of Galgudud region in central Somalia said this was done as part of restoring law and order to the region under its control. His claims have not been verified by other sources.

Warning that oil tankers are on al-Qaeda list

Reports are coming out of the US that the terrorist group al-Qaeda, of which the late Osama Bin-Laden was leader, may be targeting oil tankers which would be highjacked and then detonated in waters of non-Muslim nations.

According to the FBI, documents seized in the raid on Bin-Laden’s home in Pakistan revealed that the terrorist group had been acquiring information on the size and construction of oil tankers. They had determined that blowing the tankers up from the inside would be the easiest method of damaging the hulls, which meant first capturing the ships by means of highjacking.

A Department of Home Security (US) confirmed the interest by al-Qaeda but said there was no specific or imminent threat.

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India has become a member of the global cruising fraternity in a number of ways, with Indians increasingly embracing the cruising opportunities coming their way. And as the world’s second most populous nation, with a growing middle class with disposable income, the sub-continent appears to be an emerging market with plenty of potential.

What is believed to be the country’s first cruise ship is about to make her maiden voyage on 8 June. This is the AMET MAJESTY (16,546-gt, built 1975) which will operate a regular service covering India and Sri Lanka as well as neighbouring destinations such as Anadaman, Phuket in Thailand, Lashdweep, and the Maldives, all close-by destinations.

India’s Directorate General of Shipping has given his blessing for the ship to train 90 nautical cadets and 120 engineering cadets for a period of six months of their required sea-training.

The proposed cruise routes are: Chennai-Andaman-Phuket-Chennai; Chennai-Vizag-Chennai; Chennai-Trincomalle-Karaikal-Chennai; Mumbai-Lakshadweep-Mumbai; Kochi-Lakshadweep- Kochi; Kochi-Maldives-Colombo-Kochi.

Amet Majesty was previously owned and operated by Star Cruises as their WASA QUEEN – ostensibly to operate a high class ferry passenger service between Hong Kong and Xiamen, but because of poor passenger support she reverted to become a gambling ship for the same company. She later operated short cruises from Port Klang in Malaysia before being put up for sale in 2007.

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Have you got news for us?

If you have a story that impacts on the maritime and freight logistics industry, we would like to hear from you. info@ports.co.za


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MACS Line’s general cargo ship RED CEDAR (23,132-gt, built 2001) is a regular visitor to both Durban and Cape Town, where these pictures were taken. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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