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Ports & Ships Maritime News

30 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 largest container ship to arrive in a South African port on regular business, the 109,835-gt MSC CHICAGO sailed into Durban yesterday to work cargo at the Durban Container Terminal, berth 108/109. The ship has a nominal container capacity of 9178-TEU and is 337m long with a beam of 46m. She draws 13.1m of water when fully loaded, making it unlikely that any attempt will be made to fully load the ship in Durban unless it is with empty containers, as was done with a previous ship of slightly less capacity earlier this year. MSC Chicago has already called at Port Louis and Ngqura en route to Durban frm the Far East. Picture by Clinton Wyness


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Phoenix on the rocks of Sheffield Beach a few days ago. Note the suspension bridge erected to gain access to the ship from the shore, which has saved the R50,000 an hour helicopter expenses. Picture courtesy SAMSA

The next attempt at refloating the grounded tanker PHOENIX from the rocks of Sheffield Beach is likely to be delayed for several days on account of low swells coinciding with the spring high tide.

This was announced yesterday (Monday) at a press briefing held in Durban by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

It was originally hoped to make the attempt today on the full spring high tide, which occurs in the late afternoon. However, weather forecasts indicate that a small swell will be running for the next few days, whereas by Friday it is being forecast that the swell should have increased sufficiently to make an attempt at pulling the ship clear with some confidence of success.

It was also announced that any hope of taking the ship to the breakers in India have been dashed owing to the poor condition of the vessel. A large crack has opened in the engine room which has opened the vessel to the sea and the best that can be hoped is that she will remain afloat long enough for her to be towed to the chosen scuttling point south-east of Durban and 78 km from the coast, in 2000 metres of water.

Several alternate sites have been chosen closer to where the ship is currently grounded in water depths of approximately 200 metres, in case it is not possible to reach the chosen point.

SAMSA confirmed yesterday that when the ship was on tow behind the tug SMIT AMANDLA in mid July, the vessel had been refused entry to the ports of Durban and Richards Bay as ports of refuge for the given reasons that both ports were full and could not accommodate the vessel. As a result the Phoenix was taken to anchor in the Durban outer anchorage while awaiting hearings regarding her arrest with the Durban High Court. An order allowing for seizure and sale of the vessel was granted on 22 July.

With permission having been denied to enter the port of Durban where ship repair facilities were available, the ship’s fate was sealed. Had the ship been allowed to make repairs in the safety of the port none of the ensuing drama off the Sheffield Beach coastline would have occurred. Repairs could have taken place in port with minimal risk and the current bill to the South African taxpayer which has now reached an estimated US$ 4.25 million (R30 million) and is still mounting, could have been avoided. The ship could even have been sold for scrap at a small profit to the authorities.

The circumstances surrounding the plight of the Phoenix on the South African coast, and its cost to the South African taxpayer, is yet another indication that the country is sorely in need of its own version of the UK’s SOSREP – someone with the authority to overrule port harbourmasters when the greater national need is there.

However, Captain Saroor Ali, SAMSA’s regional manager, East Coast said yesterday that he wanted to make it clear that he had never said the ship would be taken into Durban, as was reported in some of the national media.

Following the grounding of the Phoenix on the morning of 26 July, the crew of 15 Indian seafarers were safely evacuated from the ship and taken ashore. For approximately the next week they were accommodated in a Durban hotel and were then flown home to India all at SAMSA expense. The crew indicated they had not been paid by the ship owner for six months. On board the Phoenix, which was in a very poor condition, there were not enough lifejackets for all crew and the single lifeboat was inoperable.

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Note the poor condition of the decking, typical of the remainder of the ship. Picture courtesy SAMSA


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dti minister Rob Davies

Pretoria - Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has urged the private sector to come up with projects that will enhance South African exports to India.

“The minister has urged the private sector to explore opportunities presented by the political and economic relationships that India and South Africa have,” dti spokesperson Sidwell Medupi said.

This as Davies is in India to attend the SA-India CEOs Forum scheduled for today.

Speaking at a reception hosted by the South African High Commissioner to India in New Delhi, Davies said Tata India is one of South Africa’s largest foreign investors.

Bilateral trade between South Africa and India has experienced an upward trend from 2006 to 2010, growing from R16.3 billion to R43 billion.

“It is unbalanced. South Africa is exporting primary goods while India is exporting value added goods to South Africa,” said Davies.

Coal, solid fuels, manganese ores and copper ores are some of the exported goods to India, while petroleum oils and vehicles are some of the goods that are imported from India.

The SA-India CEOs Forum is a platform for business community interaction between SA and India.

The minister is expected to address the forum later today. – BuaNews


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Israel’s ZIM suffers quarter loss

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ZIM’s LOS ANGELES (91,158-gt, built 2009) in Shekou, China. Picture courtesy ZIM

Israel’s ZIM line has not enjoyed any fruits from its labours during the second quarter of 2011 and has posted a loss of US$68 million for the quarter compared with a modest profit of $3 million for the same period of 2010.

ZIM said in a statement that the loss could be attributed to weak rates and increased capacity. However, the Israeli line has enjoyed an operating profit of $79 million for the second quarter after a $7m operating loss in the first quarter.

“Zim's financial results continue to be close to the average operating income in the liner shipping industry, a fact reflecting the efficiency measures and strategic changes being introduced by the company, according to the strategic plan formulated in 2010,” the statement continued.

Cosco backs down on charter disputes

State-backed China Cosco Holdings said the company has resolved its lease disputes with shipowners on 18 ships and says a settlement will be reached soon.

“Through negotiation, consultation and communication, currently (we) have reached contract agreements with several partners involving 18 ships,” Zhang Liang, president of Cosco, told journalists last Friday.

Zhang did not reveal further details of the settlements but said the total number of ships arrested was small when compared with the 400 plus vessels operated by Cosco.

In recent weeks Cosco has sought better terms for lease contracts signed during a shipping market boom in 2008, but as charter rates plunged the company decided to halt payments to several shipowners. This led to a number of ships facing arrest.

Playing down the arrest of ships, Zhang said having ships arrested was common with charter disputes.

The state-backed shipping giant has meanwhile reported a loss of US$432 million for the first six months of 2011, down by 177% on the same period last year.

Cosco says the main reason was a reflection of the slack global economy, where demand among the developed markets had remained flat. Emerging markets also underperformed owing to their need to combat inflation, the Chinese line said. “We hope to see the market warm up as the world economy bounces back in the second half of the year,” Wei Jiafu, Cosco’s chairman said.

Polarstern at the North Pole

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Polarstern ties up at a giant ice floe. Picture Karel Bakker, Alfred Wegener Institute

Remember the Polarstern? The icebreaking research vessel has been a regular annual visitor to Cape Town either on her way to or returning from the Antarctic, as has been reported in our Ship Movements section and occasionally in our news columns. On 22 August this year the Polarstern of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association, reached the North Pole, reports ScienceDaily. The vessel is apparently enabling scientists to document changes in the far north and researchers are conducting extensive investigations into the water, ice and air at the earth’s most northern position.

The report said that the small amounts of sea ice cover made the route to the North Pole from the Canadian Arctic possible. The ship has on board 55 scientists and technicians from six countries.

“From a scientific point of view the North Pole is not more interesting than other places in the Arctic,” reported Prof. Ursula Schauer from on board the Polarstern. The oceanographer at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association is the chief scientist of the expedition. “The expected changes are rather minor here. However, the northern part of the Canadian sector of the Arctic still numbers among the least researched regions on the globe because of the dense pack ice.”

This is the third time that Polarstern has reached the North Pole. On 7 September 1991 the ship was one of the first two conventionally driven ships to sail there, along with the Swedish research icebreaker Oden. Almost exactly ten years later, on 6 September 2001, she carried out a joint expedition at the North Pole together with the American research icebreaker Healy. – source ScienceDaily


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A passenger-carrying ship from Cameroon, the MONICA has been attacked by armed men off the coast of Nigeria, and the ship’s captain has been taken hostage by the pirates.

The attack happened on Saturday at around 8am local time. Seven heavily armed men came on board the Monica, which was carrying 150 passengers at the time. The motive of the attack appears to have been robbery, although why the master was taken is not clear unless it is for ransom.

None of the others on board the ship were harmed although they were robbed of any money they had on them.

All that is known of the ship at this stage is that she is managed by Corner Water Shipping Company Ltd. The Monica was apparently en route from Cameroon to Oron in Nigeria. The ship was since left for Cameroon with an escort of the Nigerian Navy on board.

Somali hostages

Meanwhile, Ecoterra Intl reports that at least 32 large and 18 smaller foreign vessels plus one stranded barge remain in Somali pirate hands and are being held for ransom. There are at least 545 seafarers kept hostage against their will - this includes a South African yachting couple and a Danish yachting family including three children and two friends.


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sicilia ==470

The Ahrenkiel-managed container ship SICILIA (25,927-gt, built 2008) in Cape Town harbour earlier this month. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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