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Ports & Ships Maritime News

4-5 August 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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The Norwegian training ship SANDNES (1432-gt, built 1950) in Stavanger, Norway on 23 July 2011, just 24 hours after the horrific bomb blast in Oslo and the senseless killing of innocent young people on Utoeya island. Note the flags at half mast behind the ship. Picture by Trevor Jones

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The Ben Schoeman Dock on the left, with Duncan Dock to the right and the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) in the forefront. Picture by Steve McCurrach www.airserv.co.za

The Cape Town Harbour Master has announced the maximum length overall (LOA) for the port following the completion of a simulation to determine the adequacy of Ben Schoeman turning basin for post-Panamax container vessels.

The maximum LOA for the Port of Cape Town Container Terminal is 325 metres.

Below are the maximum LOAs for berth allocation at the Ben Schoeman Dock:

- Berth 601: Maximum LOA 300 metres
- Berths 602, 603 & 604: Maximum LOA 325 metres.

Cape Town’s Harbour Master has also announced the process to be followed at all times for applying to exceed the 14.2 metres maximum draft on departure for container vessels from the Ben Schoeman Dock.

The permissible draft may be exceeded up to a maximum of 14.7 metres on the following conditions:

1) Exceeding the draft is for departure only
2) Minimum high tide must be 1 metre on departure
3) Minimum IKC must be 1.2 metres on departure
4) Maximum swell inner channel (before main breakwater) must be less than 3 metres
5) The vessel GM must favourable at all times
The process to be followed is:

1) The client must make an application in writing to the Harbour Master, by email or fax, in advance with the following information:

a) Vessel LOA
b) Vessel LBP
c) Vessel beam overall

2) Client must check the tidal table (SA Tide Table) to determine if the tide will be suitable for his/her vessel to depart on requested draft.

3) Client must ensure that he/she has received an approval by the Harbour Master in writing prior to exceeding the promulgated draft of 14.2 metres.

4) It is the client's responsibility to inform the terminal that his/her vessel has been granted approval to exceed 14.2 metres thereby his/her vessel is a tidal vessel. source GAC World

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MSC Sinfonia

As we roll into August and the days begin to warm up after a colder than normal winter, its good to think that summer is just around the corner and that means cruise ships will be appearing over our horizons once again.

MSC Starlight Cruises reminds us that MSC Sinfonia and MSC Melody will be returning to South African shores at the end of the year for the 2011/2012 summer cruise season with a new and varied itinerary of 60 cruises out of Durban and Cape Town. These include cruises to destinations in Namibia, the Cape, Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands.

The season opens with the arrival of MSC Sinfonia in Cape Town on 8 November 2011 and closes with her departure on 30 March 2012. MSC Melody arrives almost a month later on 6 December and will also have an earlier departure this coming season, leaving for Europe on 18 February 2012.

New ports of call for MSC Sinfonia’s third season

The luxurious 2,100 passenger cruise liner MSC Sinfonia, which has rapidly become one of South Africa’s most popular vacations of choice, is returning for a third season and will feature Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape coast and Bazaruto in Mozambique as new ports of call.

Cape Town will be MSC Sinfonia’s first port of call in South Africa on 8 November after a 17 night southbound repositioning cruise from Genoa, Italy. Her season opens with a three night cruise to Durban which will again be home port through to 24 March when she departs, via Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, for the Mediterranean.

MSC Sinfonia’s busy schedule out of Durban focuses mainly on the sought after two night Indian Ocean ‘cruise to nowhere’ weekenders and a variety of three, four and five night cruises to Mozambique featuring stops in Maputo, Portuguese Island, Barra Lodge and Bazaruto.

Regulars on MSC Sinfonia’s New Year cruise will be delighted that the ship will enjoy a longer than usual three night stay in Mauritius, so passengers can fully enjoy the famous annual fireworks and general festivities as well as the island’s unique tourist attractions. The 11 night cruise also features a one day port of call at the French island of Reunion.

MSC Melody to arrive earlier this year

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MSC Melody

The elegant, more intimate 1,500 passenger capacity MSC Melody makes her first port of call in South Africa earlier than last year, arriving this time at the beginning of the summer high season on 6 December in Cape Town.

MSC Melody will again feature the Cape collection of short cruises from Cape Town to Walvis Bay in Namibia, Mossel Bay on the Southern Cape coast and the Atlantic Ocean ‘cruise to nowhere’s’ during three distinct periods in December, January and February.

Creating the dividers between the Cape cruises will be two periods of two cruises each at the end of December and January when MSC Melody will be Durban based and enjoy leisurely voyages to the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius, Madagascar and Reunion.

MSC Melody’s ever popular 11 night Christmas cruise will also include a longer than usual three night stop in Mauritius while her festive New Year’s cruise this year will feature a six-night itinerary from Durban to Fort Dauphin in Madagascar.

The highlight of MSC Melody’s season is sure to be the end of January’s bumper 11 night, three island Indian Ocean cruise from Durban through turquoise waters to Port Louis in Mauritius, Pointe des Galets, more commonly known as ‘little Paris’, in French Reunion and the beautiful tourist destination of Ile Sainte Marie in Madagascar.

The last of MSC Melody’s longer cruises of the season out of Durban will be a six night cruise to Madagascar early in February after which she returns to Cape Town for a final flush of cruises before heading north again to Italy on 18 February.

Port Elizabeth and Bazaruto new ports of call

“MSC Sinfonia will enjoy a slightly shorter season here in Southern Africa this year as she is needed earlier in Europe for the start of the 2012 Mediterranean season, but we don’t believe it will detract in any way from what is gearing up to be another exceptional season,” said Allan Foggitt, marketing director of MSC Starlight Cruises in South Africa.

Foggitt said the company was extremely pleased to include Port Elizabeth on South Africa’s East Coast and Bazaruto, one of Mozambique’s top resorts, as maiden ports of call for MSC Sinfonia this season.

“The inclusion of Port Elizabeth, albeit only one day at the end of the season, allows us to offer our international guests an opportunity to visit all three of our major port cities as well giving locals the option of joining the northbound repositioning cruise from their home town. We hope it will pave the way for many more visits.

“Bazaruto was always a popular stop for the MSC Monterey, MSC Rhapsody and MSC Melody in the past and it’s wonderful to be able to re-introduce this great destination.”

Foggitt said the longer Christmas/New Year stop-over’s in Mauritius for both MSC Sinfonia and MSC Melody had come about as a result of requests from passengers and the company was happy to have been able to oblige.

Bookings for the 2011/2012 season aboard MSC Sinfonia and MSC Melody are already open with over 31 departures listed as Prima Specials whereby the earlier one books the bigger the saving, 36 partner special departures in which a partner pays half price and 36 departures listed for a special ‘buy 2 get 2 free’ deal for four people sharing a cabin. Details are available from MSC Starlight Cruises or your local travel agent.

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The tug Buccaneer

According to WikiLeaks, the release of the Italian flagged tug BUCCANEER may have been the result of what amounts to the biggest ransom payment so far, consisting of a cash pledge to the Somali Transitional Federal Government worth US$18.5 million.

At the time there were accusations that the barges were carrying toxic waste, but this was denied by the ship operators. Although flagged in Italy, Buccaneer is American owned.

Wikileaks alleges that the tug was released amidst a series of claims and counterclaims concerning the ransom, whether it was paid and if so how much. The Somali pirates said they were paid $5.7 million (€4m), which was vehemently denied by the Italian government.

Wilileaks says that pressure was brought on the pirates by the Transitional Federal Government at about the same time that the Italian government pledged to donate $18.5m (€13m) to Somali ‘institutions and the peace process’. Additional money was paid by the Italian Development Corp, which Wikileaks suggests is also linked to the release of the tug. Buccaneer was captured by Somali pirates in April 2009 while towing two ocean-going barges through the Gulf of Aden. The tug and tow were taken to an anchorage off the coast of Somalia.

Another ship attacked off Benin

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Gotland Sofia

According to Benin news services, a Swedish ship, the products tanker GOTLAND SOFIA (53,187-dwt, built 2007) has been attacked and boarded by pirates off what is now becoming a notorious coast for pirate activity.

The attack took place on Sunday, 31 July but was of short duration as vessels of the Benin Navy responded quickly and effectively, leaving the pirates to abandon their prize and make a hasty escape.

The vessel operator, Wisby Shipmanagement has confirmed the details in a statement issued on Monday, saying that no-one on the tanker was hurt during the attack and that the tanker suffered only minor damage. The crew of 18 Filipinos, four Swedes and a Ukrainian were left traumatised however.

Pirates clash over highjacked ship POLAR

A pirate has died and several others were wounded in a clash between two pirate rival groups in Dhanaane village, which lies between Hobyo and Garacad.

The clash concerned the ransom paid over to release the highjacked ship POLAR, which was seized last October and is being held near Hobyo. The ship’s owners agreed to pay US $8 million to release the ship and crew but a second pirate gang apparently refused to agree to the release of the ship and demanded more money. A shoot-out followed during which one man was killed and two were injured.

From reports received it appears the man who died was one of the pirate’s investors, who had helped fund the pirate’s venture. He was one of those demanding more money.

Residents of the village said they were scared of the pirates who were often drunk and who fired indiscriminately in the village. “We feel afraid,” said one of the villagers.

The release of the Polar has consequently been delayed.

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Since the Panama Canal opened a passageway between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans nearly a century ago, nearly one million ships have sailed through. Building the channel across the Isthmus of Panama began in 1882, but disease, geography and politics delayed its completion until 1914. More than 27,000 workers lost their lives during construction. Now, what’s been called “the greatest engineering feat in the world” is being expanded, so today’s larger ships can take advantage of this vital link in global maritime trade.

Colossal is the best word to describe the dimension of the expansion works here. With an investment of $5.5 billion, the Panama Canal will soon have a third channel for the transit of much larger ships. Jorge Luis Quijano, the canal’s executive vice president of engineering, says the canal is operating at full capacity and needs to expand.

“This new canal actually is offering a larger vessel that it can handle with deeper draft with a longer and wider vessel,” noted Quijano.

Here at the Gatun, locks on the Atlantic side of the original Panama Canal, ships pass just centimeters away from the concrete walls on both sides. These vessels cannot be more than 32 meters wide, and ride only 12 meters deep in the water.

The new locks – now being built parallel to the old ones – will handle ships up to 49 meters wide with drafts of more than 15 meters.

This ship passing through the Gatun Locks is heading south, into Lake Gatun and on to the Pacific Ocean. Parallel to it is the excavation for the new, larger canal.

“This is the existing canal that is composed of two sets of locks and this is the third set of locks, it’s a third line for the ships to go by,” explained Oscar Soto, the chief engineer for the Atlantic region.

At Lake Gatun – created 100 years ago to supply water for the canal – Captain Ubaldo Pimentel has been running a passenger boat for decades. He says engineers are using dredging ships and dynamite to create deeper, wider passageways to the new Gatun locks.

“The mountain used to get all the way to the red buoy,” Pimentel noted. “They took all that material and pushed it back to widen the lake.”

For nearly a century, many cargo ships were designed specifically to fit the Panama locks. In the last few decades, however, larger vessels, known as post-Panamax ships, have been forced to carry their cargo around South America. When it’s completed, in 2014, the new 80-kilometre-long channel will admit some of those larger ships, but as engineering vice president Jorge Luis Quijano explains, not the largest.

“No, no quite. We had to look at the optimal size of vessel that would make the return on the investment, of a high value to us. So we chose what size of vessels that could actually pay for this project,” Quijano explained.

Still, the project means officials will be able to double the amount of cargo the canal can handle.

“The present canal has a total capacity of about 340 million tons a year that it can handle, that’s the maximum capacity,” Quijano noted. “With the expansion we expect to double that, over 600 million tons that we can handle in a year.”

That’s important, because ships using the canal pay by weight. Canal authorities expect more than half of the multi-billion-dollar expansion costs to be paid by today’s canal traffic, with the larger ships using the new channel paying for the rest.

The massive canal expansion is being done by several international contractors, but 90 percent of their work force is Panamanian.

Working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the project is moving ahead on schedule, to open in 2014, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal. The celebration, they say, will be colossal. (voanews)

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The Nautical Institute, with its Headquarters in London, is the international representative body for a broad range of maritime professionals involved in the control of sea- going ships and with an interest in nautical matters. The Institute has more than 40 branches worldwide and over 6,000 members in some 110 countries.

2011 is the Nautical Institute’s 40th Anniversary and is being celebrated with a series of ‘Command Seminars’ being held in Canada, the USA, the United Kingdom, China and South Africa during the year.

For some time now the Nautical Institute has been keen on establishing a branch in South Africa where there are already some 42 registered Institute members. The opportunity to do this has now presented itself with the Command Seminar to be held in Cape Town on 8 and 9 September 2011 and the South African Branch will be launched at this seminar.

The overall theme for the international series of Seminars is ‘Marine Resource Management Challenges – Present and Future’ while the local theme for the Cape Town Seminar will be ‘African Shipping – Contemporary Challenges’.

An impressive program has been organised for this seminar where, for the first time, real issues directly affecting professional Southern Africa seafarers and other maritime professionals will be discussed, debated and agreed on.

The Nautical Institute will be represented by several Senior Management officials, namely Captain James Robinson – President; Captain Allen Brink – Vice President; Mr Philip Wake – Chief Executive; Mrs Bridget Hogan – Director of Publishing and Marketing; Captain Harry Gale – Technical Manager.

The Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr Jeremy Cronin, MP, has agreed to deliver the keynote address at the opening of the seminar on Thursday, 8 September 2011 and a range of the regions experts on maritime issues will present papers on the key issues of the day. These will include:

  • The issue of piracy will be presented by LCDR Chris Godier of the US Coast Guard whose office in Bahrain is the primary liaison for matters of counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

  • The South African Navy’s Rear Admiral (JG) Kevin Watson will present a paper on the creation of an Integrated Maritime Security Capability on the Southern African Coast.

  • The important issue of rebuilding the South African-flagged fleet will be covered by Tony Norton, a leading maritime attorney with Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs.

  • Captain John Abercrombie of SAMSA will update delegates on the STCW Convention’s Manila amendments – a process he has been intimately involved with.

  • Professor John Hare, head of the Shipping Law Unit at the University of Cape Town will address delegates on the emotive issue of the Criminalisation of Seafarers.

  • Professor Edward Snyders, Head of Maritime Studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, will present a paper on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) within the maritime profession.

  • The CEO of SAMSA, Tsietsi Mokhele, will deliver a paper on Human Capital Development (HCD), an issue critically important to the rebuilding of the South African fleet.

  • The intended outcome of the Seminar is the delivery of unanimous resolutions from the assembled maritime professionals to present to Governments and other relevant parties in order to give clear directions on maritime strategies affecting their safety, competence and professional development within the Southern African region.

    The two-day seminar is being held at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Granger Bay campus where there is only capacity for 110 delegates – 80% of which is already booked.

    Details of the Command Seminar program and registration, as well as the Nautical Institute generally, can be found on their website http://www.nautinst.co.za or by emailing info@nautinst.co.za


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    Cunard’s latest cruise ship QUEEN ELIZABETH (90,901-gt, built 2010) seen arriving in Stavanger harbour, Norway on 24 July this year. Pictures by Trevor Jones

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