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Ports & Ships Maritime News

16 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 newly built accomodation and offshore support vessel EDDA FIDES (20,323-gt, built 2011) at Haugesund, Norway on 23 July 2011. Picture by Trevor Jones

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MV SININ released

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EU NAVFOR, the European consortium of naval forces operating escort duties and anti-piracy patrols off Somalia, reports that following the payment of a ransom, the pirated bulk carrier SININ (52,466-dwt) has been released after 182 days of captivity.

The ship, together with her crew of 22, consisting of 12 Iranians and 10 Indians, is Maltese flagged. When highjacked she was en route from Fujairah in the UAE to Singapore.

Crew of CARAVOS HORIZON fall back to citadel while waiting for help

Twenty-four Filipino crew on the bulk ship CARAVOS HORIZON (63,000-tonnes) took to the safety of a citadel on their ship when six armed pirates attacked and boarded their vessel.

Help came soon after in the form of the Royal Navy frigate HMS MONMOUTH which launched her Lynx helicopter to assess the situation and provide real-time information while the warship approached. Additional assistance was received from the USS BATAAN which sent a helicopter to conduct a wider search around the ship.

The military forces noted a ladder over the side of the vessel but saw no sign of any pirates. Armed personnel went on board and searched the ship without finding any of pirates, who had apparently abandoned the vessel after finding the crew were safe in a citadel.

Scepticism over reports that pirates are working in packs

EU NAVFOR says it remains sceptical of reports that pirates have been operating in packs of skiffs to attack passing merchant ships.

“We remain sceptical as to whether this is pirate activity. Despite the numerous reports, piracy activity in this area remains constant but at low intensity. To date in August we have had two confirmed attacks with no merchant ships being pirated,” said EU NAVFOR.

Armed guards successfully defend ship

According to the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre, armed guards on board a bulk carrier have beaten off an attack by Somali pirates that attacked the ship from a large number of skiffs (and contradicting the report immediately above).

The guards fired warning flares as 12 skiffs each loaded with between five and eight pirates attempted to come alongside. The skiffs were equipped with boarding ladders and the pirates were armed with automatic weapons. When the flares failed to deter the attack the guards on the ship fired several warning shots, resulting in most of the skiffs breaking off the attack. Two skiffs however pressed forward, firing on the ship.

After about half an hour of gunfire having been exchanged and several approaches had been made by the two skiffs, the pirates eventually broke off the engagement.

“While the rather ragged nature of the attack illustrates that the pirates still lack discipline, it should concern everyone in the maritime community that so many pirates would group together to attack a merchant vessel simultaneously,” said a spokesman for Neptune Maritime Security, which provided the armed guards on the ship.

The attack took place on Saturday some 20 n.miles east-northeast of Assab in Eritrea in the Red Sea. The IMB said the attack was significant because it suggested that the pirates have adapted their tactics to hunt in packs and also that they have extended their range of operation into the Red Sea.

Piracy on Lake Victoria

Maritime safety and security officer Gervas Fumbuka has told a meeting of East Africa police chiefs in Arusha, Tanzania, that pirates were causing problems for local fishermen on Lake Victoria.

Fumbuka said the police need to patrol the fishing waters to keep piracy at bay. He warned that the lax approach by law-enforcement agencies was creating an advantage for pirates on the Lake Victoria waters. Fumbuka warned that if nothing is done to salvage the situation the warlords, who have declared independence on some islands, would continue causing havoc.

Piracy has not only hit the East African Community but also the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region. Consequently, regional groupings such as those in East Africa and Southern Africa are taking the issue seriously.

The problem on Lake Victoria is not just affecting fishermen. Travellers are also facing serious problems with many boats being hijacked. According to maritime experts the growing number of cases on Lake Victoria is threatening the survival and livelihood of the people using the lake. Experts fear that cases of robbery, piracy and other insecurity issues are a threat and have urged local communities to do something. – source Raphael Mweninguwe, The Citizen/Tanzania

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Danish shipping giant, Maersk Line is increasing the size of individual ships from 8,600 TEU to 10,000 TEU by raising the wheelhouse and adding another layer of containers on deck.

This process has been started on Maersk's 16 S class ships, reports London's Containerisation International. Raising the bridge allows another tier of boxes, thus increasing capacity.

The reconstruction work has already started at Bei Hai shipyard in Qingdao, and is expected to be done by October next year with the company expecting to increase fleet capacity by 52,000 TEU.

“We will both lower the slot costs on these vessels and reduce the CO2 emissions per container moved, meaning we'll be able to be more competitive and with a lower environmental impact true undisputed leadership,” said Abhijat Chahal, of Maersk Line Vessel Management.

No mention was made in the CI report about the impact on seaworthiness. The initiative recalls the famous ill-fated Vasa, a Swedish warship of 1628 built top-heavy with little ballast. It foundered and sank less than a nautical mile on its maiden voyage. The Vasa represented Sweden's ‘great power period’. - source Seanews Turkey

Another reason why you need insurance

The World Shipping Council (WSC) said recently that on average there are at least 350 containers lost at sea each year, not counting catastrophic events (sinkings, fires etc). If these are included the average number goes up to 675 boxes lost each year.

“Total industry losses obviously vary from year to year, but these numbers are well below the 2,000 to 10,000 per year that regularly appear publicly, and represent a very small fraction of container loads shipped each year,” WSC said. It added that “the industry continues to pursue measures to reduce the number of containers lost overboard to zero.

“Containers lost overboard as a result of events related to severe weather are usually outside the control of carriers, stevedores, or shippers, and unfortunately, such events are unlikely to disappear completely. But the industry has been supporting a number of efforts undertaken in recent years to reduce the number of containers lost at sea.”

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by our Mauritius correspondent Maryse Hurot

After the establishment last week of a set of procedures and the installation of oil booms around the vessel to contain any possible oil spillage from the ANGEL 1, which went aground on the North-East Coast of Mauritius on 8 August, the Mauritius Government and the Crisis Management say they can expect to start pumping out the fuel from the vessel’s tanks.

Until now however, the sea conditions have not been favourable to the salvors. Alan Jacobsen of Seatronics (Mauritius) acting on behalf of the salvors did confirm on Saturday that the first attempt to pump out the fuel from the Angel 1 would start the following morning. There has unfortunately been no feedback on how this delicate operation was carried out or whether it even took place, due to very bad weather conditions prevailing over Mauritius all over the weekend.

An Antonov 26 aircraft was chartered by the salvors to bring additional bunker pumping equipment from South Africa to adequately enable these operations.

It has also been learned that the Total bunker barge (MT Minorque) has been requisitioned to receive the oil from the Angel 1.

Government Officials confess that this type of operation is very delicate and risky and any mishap may result in a severe oil spillage along the northern and western coasts of the Island.

Another problem which will have to be solved sooner or later involves the transhipment of the ship’s cargo of 32,000 tons of bagged rice. Right now a ship-to-ship operation cannot be envisaged due to the severe conditions of the sea around the grounded vessel.

A spokesman from Five Ocean Salvage team has advised that they are waiting for the arrival of two tugs, the 8000 HP Mahanuwara which is coming from Sri Lanka and the former Durban tug Ndongeni which is coming from Mozambique. Both are expected to arrive on scene next Saturday, 20 August.

It is reported that the Angel 1’s engine room is flooded with sea water to a depth of approximately 10 metres.

N.B. The tug coming from Sri Lanka has correctly been identified as the MAHANUWARA. Our confusion in yesterday’s report came from an incorrectly spelt name provided by the salvors. Thanks to readers Andy Anderson, Kees Pronk and Hans van der Ster (the latter of Tugs Towing & Offshore News) for deducing the correct spelling and identity.

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Shi Lang under construction

Speculation is rife that China’s aircraft carrier, the former Soviet-era VARYAG is about ready for sea trials. The ship has been renamed the SHI LANG.

The 300m long aircraft carrier was purchased from the Ukraine in 1998 for a reported US$20 million and although the Chinese initially said it was to become an amusement park most observers considered it was simply a matter of time before the ship was remodelled into service as the Chinese Navy’s first active aircraft carrier.

Now the Chinese press has joined those also reporting on the progress of this vessel. China’s Global Times reported recently, “The remodeling work on the aircraft carrier is almost finished and a test voyage could take place as early as 1 August, which marks the founding of the People’s Liberation Army.”

The Global Times has posted dozens of pictures showing the bridge of the carrier near completion and pieces of scaffolding being removed. Other pictures showed lifeboats and other equipment being loaded onto the carrier.

It is now considered likely that the sea trials will take place no later than 1 October, the founding day of the People’s Republic of China.

In an interview published this past week, Chinese Navy Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo revealed that China intends building a carrier group, although he acknowledged that the project would take some time and would prove difficult. “The aircraft carriers will form a very strong battle group,” he told the China Economic Weekly. “The construction and functional demands of an aircraft carrier are extremely complex,” he said, emphasising that the training of crew and pilots was one of the bigger challenges.

China is known to be developing its own High performance jet fighter and strike aircraft capable of flying off the deck of an aircraft carrier.

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Somerville, Australia – Australian-based manufacturer of marine aids to navigation, Sealite P/L recently appointed Durban-based marine supplier – Rotor Motive as its authorised distributor for South Africa.

Rotor Motive has been involved in the marine industry since formation in 1988 and over the years has formed strong alliances with its clients. Rotor Motive has a well established office in Pinetown and prides itself on personal service and attention to detail. The company offers a wide range of essential services and products for the marine industry and is now authorised to supply world-leading marine aids to navigation manufactured by Australian-owned manufacturer Sealite P/L.

Sealite’s range of navigation aids include short and long range solar-powered LED marine lanterns, rotationally moulded, polyethylene buoy products up to 3 metres in diameter, monitoring and control systems including GSM, AIS and Radio, Leading Lights, UL1104 certified and COLREG-72 compliant barge lights, bridge lights, area lighting systems, power systems and other products to provide safe environments for marine, aviation, telecommunications and mining customers worldwide.

Locally, Sealite products can be purchased exclusively through Rotor Motive and globally through 100+ authorised distributors and are in service in more than 110 countries. End-users include major military establishments, Coast Guards, Ports and Harbour and Inland Waterway Authorities and other government bodies worldwide.

Contact Rotor Motive on tel +27 (0) 31 765 3615 or by email info@rotormotive.co.za


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The rather splendid looking Norwegian passenger/RoRo ship (ferry) COLOR MAGIC (75,156-gt, built 2007) of Color Line. Color Magic runs a regular service between Oslo and Kiel. Interesting that the American spelling is preferred. Picture by Trevor Jones

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