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Ports & Ships Maritime News

27 June 2011
Author: Terry Hutson


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The offshore tug BOURBON VIKING (2,410-gt, built 2003) at her berth in an otherwise quiet Cape Town harbour. Picture by Aad Noorland


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Captain Salvatore Sarno, chairman of MSC South Africa

Captain Salvatore Sarno, chairman of MSC South Africa has emphasised that he remains chairman of the company and says he will remain in that position for the next 10 years. “I have seen your report in the Ports & Ships Maritime News website (23 June 2011) stating that I have stepped down as MD of MSC South Africa. I would like you to please rectify your information because I have always been and still am the Chairman of MSC South Africa and will remain in this position at least for the next 10 years.

“The nomination of my son Rosario to MD is an improvement in the organisation of MSC South Africa. For better clarity, this means that whilst before there was only one Mr Sarno to lead the company, now the company is led by two Mr Sarno’s.”

Captain Sarno announced that Rosario Sarno had been appointed managing director during a gala celebration held in the Durban N-Shed Passenger Terminal last Thursday. “I am introducing to you a young man who will continue the MSC family tradition and who will follow in my footsteps.

“My son Rosario, 35 years old, a Doctorate in Law and already part of MSC Management who as from today is the Managing Director of our organisation in South Africa.

“Unfortunately for some, Captain Sarno will continue to be there!” he added.

The gala celebration was held to commemorate 40 years since the first MSC ship, the 100m long MV RAPHAELA called at Durban on 22 June 1971. The story of the little ship’s voyage around Africa, from the west coast of North Africa around the Cape of Good Hope, and making use of a page torn from an atlas as a ship’s chart, gave a foretaste of the ‘can do’ attitude of MSC in business.

When the ship arrived in Durban that June day in 1971, Captain Sarno says that he immediately fell in love with the city and port.

He was to return in 1990 as chairman of the company as it expanded into South Africa, with a head office established at Durban – a 7-storey building soon followed – and then progressively by owned offices and container depots in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and the ports of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London. Two depots had also been opened in Durban, close to the Durban Container Terminal.

“It was very hard work,” said Sarno. “In whichever business you are involved there is only one way to succeed: You have to love your job, you have to work endlessly with passion, sacrificing your family, your holidays, your friends and your….golf.

“We did! We fought for years against our powerful competitors. We invested in people, young people without experience; we formed them, we motivated them. A lot, the weak ones, left, most remained and are still there with their grey hair but stronger than before. We lost some battles, very few. We won the most important and we won our war applying our MSC philosophy: Be proud of your company; Be always honest and fair; Keep the word given; Have no compromise; Respect and work with your colleagues as part of the same family.” He said that by doing this MSC is today the second biggest container carrier in the world and that it does not have any intention of stopping in its quest to grow further.

The special commemoration was being held in the N-Shed Passenger Terminal because it was a few hundred metres from where MSC berthed for the first time forty years ago, he said.

“Why? Because this port, which is the heart of our country, is as well part of our life and the life of this entire city. A lot has been done for improving the infrastructure of the port itself and the container terminal. A solid good investment programme for the very near future has been put in place by Transnet top management backed by the government.

“The entire shipping community is very pleased for these initiatives and is congratulating Transnet and all its management.

“I would like to recall once more that a good improvement of the infrastructure without the necessary investment in people will not bring necessarily a better productivity. Please note that when I refer to people, I mean the workers, the crane drivers, the straddle carrier drivers and all the people who form a working gang.

“Make them proud to be part of your organisation. In getting the best from them we will get rid of this congestion and our container terminal will be the number 1 in Africa.”


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Type 2208 tugs in Cape Town. Picture by John Beadon

By John Beadon

The second of two type 2208 harbour tugs, built in Cape Town by Damen Shipyards, sailed for the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam on Saturday, 25 June.

Named SATO, the tug has a bollard pull of 40 tons and a LOA of 22 metre LOA, a beam of 8 metres and a draught of 3.4m.

The tug, yard number 501, is powered with two Caterpillar 3512B diesel engines, each producing 1014 kW. The generators are motored by two Caterpillar C4.40 engines of 64.5 kVA and the tug has 4-blade fixed pitch propellers of 2.2m diameter, encased in nozzles.

Five fuel tanks hold a total of 32 tons of diesel, and two water tanks hold 8 tons of fresh water. There is a dedicated diesel-driven fire pump which supplies the two fire- fighting monitors on the ‘monkey island’.

SATO will refuel in Richards Bay, and then steam straight through to Dar es Salaam, with an ETA of around 8 July. The eventual port of operation for the SATO will be the port of Tanga to the north of Tanzania.

Another type 2208 tug named DUMA was launched by Damen in Cape Town last year.


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The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) reported on Sunday night that a yacht named SO LONG was missing in rough seas off the Eastern Cape coast. NSRI coast watchers along the coast have been asked to keep a lookout for the missing yacht and its sole occupant.

According to the NSRI, its East London station was placed on alert by the Transnet National Ports Authority following a request for assistance from a male solo sailor aboard his yacht So Long who was reporting mechanical problems in very rough sea conditions some 12 nautical miles off-shore in the vicinity of the Kei River Mouth, (22 nautical miles North East of East London), on the Eastern Cape Coastline.

“Sea swells at the time were rough 7 to 8 metre swells and very strong winds,” said Geoff McGregor, NSRI East London station commander.

“Due to the very large and rough sea conditions no rescue operation was immediately launched as the sailor had requested only assistance and he was not declaring a full-blown emergency distress.

NSRI East London was placed on high alert along with an NSRI Air Sea Rescue team with the AV8 helicopter company (East London) and the SA Air Force 15 Squadron, Charlie Flight, in Port Elizabeth. Maritime Radio Services continued to monitor communications and the position of the yacht via VHF Radio communications and satellite telephone.

“At approximately 05h00 this morning, Sunday 26 June, 2011, no further communications could be reached with the yacht and at 07h00, with sea and weather conditions having subsided considerably, a fixed wing aircraft and NSRI East London's deep-sea rescue craft Spirit of Lotto was dispatched to search for the yacht.

“No sign of the yacht and the solo sailor has been found and vessels along the coast have been requested to keep a look-out and NSRI coast watchers along the coast are keeping watch. Efforts are continuing to attempt to raise the yacht on communications.”

McGregor said that the active search operation was suspended late Sunday afternoon and will be resumed only if there is any new information.

Fishing trawler aground near Mossel Bay

The Mossel Bay NSRI volunteer duty crew was activated on Sunday morning at 03h21 following reports that a local 40m long fishing trawler Emmanuelle with 12 crew on board was drifting towards shore and was at risk of running aground at De Bakke, near Mossel Bay.

“A Transnet National Ports Authority tug boat was placed on alert and NSRI commanders responded to the scene to investigate,” reports Ian Hamilton, NSRI Mossel Bay station duty controller.

He said that NSRI volunteers reported to the rescue base ready to respond aboard the NSRI sea rescue craft, while Metro EMS ambulances and rescue crews were dispatched to join NSRI rescue team on the shore. Others alerted to stand-by included the SA Police Services and the Mossel Bay Fire and Rescue Services.

“Sea swells were 2 to 3 metre rough seas with a 5 to 10 knot wind and the tide was low at the time of the incident,” said Hamilton.

“By 04h08 it was confirmed that the casualty boat had drifted onto rocks at De Bakke, about 50 metres off-shore, in the wave line, and the crew of the trawler sent out Mayday distress calls reporting that they were preparing to abandon ship and that they were launching their life-raft. We requested the crew aboard the trawler to sit tight aboard their craft as at that stage they were in no imminent danger.

Hamilton reported that at 04h20, as the tide dropped the trawler began to list to one side and for safety reasons the decision was made to immediately begin rescuing the crew from the sea-side using the NSRI sea rescue craft. Three NSRI rescue swimmers transferred to the trawler to assist with the safe evacuation of the crew, who were then taken off one by one in relays and transported to the NSRI deep-sea rescue boat beyond the breaker line.

As the larger boat filled up with rescued fishermen it was necessary to head back to the Mossel Bay base where they were medically assessed by the Metro EMS paramedics.

Hamilton said that during the sea rescue the smaller rescue craft sustained some damage and the NSRI had to launch a larger rigid inflatable to take over the rescue operation.

“By 06h55 the Captain and his First Mate were the last two to be taken off the casualty boat and by 07h05 all crew of the casualty boat were accounted for and safe ashore at our sea rescue base. There were no injuries and the NSRI was assisting the TNPA tug is trying to salvage the grounded trawler on the incoming tide.


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The Holland-Africa liner Klipfontein

Pictures and story by Hans van de Ster MS KLIPFONTEIN was the first of a trio of ships to be built for Holland-Africa Line between 1939 and 1940. These were to be a new class of combination passenger liners, offering new standards of comfort.

Klipfontein’s career between the Netherlands and South Africa prior to the war was short-lived, as in 1942 she was taken over by the US War Shipping Administration to be used as a trooper.

She survived the war and after her duties were completed she was returned to VNSM / Holland-Africa Line on 1 February 1946. After a comprehensive refit, she re-commenced her Netherlands, UK, South Africa and Mozambique service, which continued until a dramatic day in 1953.

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Klipfontein sinking

8 January 1953 was a calm day at sea, but it was the day the Klipfontein would strike some submerged rocks off Mozambique, just five nautical miles off Cape Barra. The captain realising the ship was badly damaged and doomed, immediately called for the ship to be abandoned.

Passengers and crew remained calm and went about the evacuation with great efficiency, which was aided by the calm seas, and the knowledge they were close to the shore.

Klipfontein sank within a hour after the accident.

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last view of the ill-fated Klipfontein

Thankfully, the Union-Castle liner, RMS Bloemfontein Castle was close at hand and she rescued all 234 passengers and crew. Master of the Bloemfontein Castle, Captain J A Fergurson and his Senior Officers later received commemorative gifts from Holland-Afrika Line in thanks for an efficient rescue of all Klipfontein’s passengers and crew.

Bloemfontein Castle was later sold to become the Chandris Lines Patris, a ship that transported thousands of European and British emigrants to Australia and New Zealand.

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The passengers


The above article was written by Hans van de Ster, whose mother’s nephew served on the Klipfontein as chief officer. It was he who provided Mr van de Star with the pictures illustrating this report on Yesteryear. Mr van de Ster is compiler of the weekly free Tugs Towing & Offshore Newsletter, which can be subscribed off the website www.towingline.com


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USNS Bruce Heezen. Wikpedia image

by Petty Officer Steve Owsley The US Navy scientific survey ship USNS BRUCE HEEZEN, named after a world-famous American oceanographic surveyor, pulled into the Port of Maputo on 20 June 2011, after a 30- day period in which the crew, in partnership with the Mozambique military, conducted hydrographic surveys of Maputo Bay's channel and approaches.

The ship and its complement of two Hydrographic Survey Launch boats scanned 5,276 nautical miles of the ocean floor of Maputo Bay.

The team is conducting what is called a first order survey, which requires that the entire area of the survey be scanned with a multi-beam sonar array, said the ship's senior Naval Oceanographic Office representative, Kenzie Delaine. The survey data will be shared with the Mozambican government's Ministry of Transportation and Communication and Ministry of Defense, providing usable, current navigational data to increase safety of navigation, which will benefit commerce, tourism, and future ship visits to Maputo Bay.

Commercial activities in shallow water ports, such as Maputo's, are made significantly safer and more attractive with more detailed information about depths and safest transit areas, leading to greater trade opportunities, as well as facilitating anti-piracy exercises involving larger ships.

Two Mozambican Navy officers were on the ship during the period at sea, serving as liaisons aboard the survey boats during survey operations, and participating in the data collection and processing on board the HEEZEN.

“They were great team players. They were in the launches everyday, working with the surveyors and the boat crews. Without them approximately 60 percent of our mission wouldn't happen,” said Ship Master Ryan White.

The Mozambican Navy has also been providing security escorts for the HSLs during the surveys, utilising two of the twelve 7 metre rigid hull boats recently supplied to them by the US government as part of a US Africa Command maritime security program.

The two embarked officers and their counterparts on the security boats ensured that any vessels in the area maintained a safe distance from the HSL survey vessels during their operation. The Mozambican Navy officers speak both English and Portuguese, helping to communicate orders from the survey launches to the security teams and communicating with other vessels in the area that could have interfered with their surveys.

Mozambican Fuzileiros, similar to US Marines, also provided physical security on the pier 24 hours a day while the ship was in port.

This is the second 30-day survey mission conducted by the USNS Bruce Heezen and the Mozambican government. Two more are scheduled to take place in the coming months.

On the previous mission, two Mozambican oceanographers from the Ministry of Transportation and Communication were on board the ship and worked side by side with US Naval Oceanographic Service scientists. Future missions will map more of Maputo Bay and will continue to develop the partnership between the US and Mozambican governments. – source US Africa Command (Africom)

USNS Bruce Heezen has since sailed from port.


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Image and video hosting by TinyPic The bulk vessel ALMA ALTA (no details available) seen arriving in Cape Town on 12 June 2011. Picture by Ian Shiffman

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The Japanese wood chip carrier DAIO ANDES (35,845-gt, built 1983) which called at Cape Town on 18 June 2011. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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