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Ports & Ships Maritime News

1 September 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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Maersk’s Canadian-flagged offshore support vessel MAERSK NOMAD (4323-gt, built 2009) photographed in Cape Toiwn earlier this week. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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Wednesday, 31 August 2011 - The UN Security Council today voiced concern over increasing maritime piracy, armed robbery and reports of hostage-taking in the Gulf of Guinea, saying the crimes were having an adverse impact on security, trade and other economic activities in the sub-region.

The Council took note of efforts by countries in the Gulf of Guinea to tackle the problem, including joint coastline patrols by Nigeria and Benin and plans to convene a summit of Gulf of Guinea heads of State to discuss a regional response.

“In this context, members of the Council underlined the need for regional coordination and leadership in developing a comprehensive strategy to address this threat,” said a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri of India, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency this month.

The Council urged the international community to support countries in the region, as well as the regional organisations – the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) – and other relevant bodies, in securing international navigation along the Gulf of Guinea, including through information exchange, improved coordination and capacity building.

The Council took note of the intention by the Secretary-General to send a UN assessment mission to look into the situation in the region and explore possible options for UN support.

Members of the Council also stressed the need for the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the UN Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) to work, within their current mandates, with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), as well as with all concerned countries and regional organisations. – source UN

Somali pirates release tanker POLAR

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The tanker Polar, pirated last year and released a week ago

The European Naval Force operating on anti-piracy patrol off the coast of Somalia, EU NAVFOR announced yesterday that in the early hours of 26 August, the Greek tanker POLAR (74,854-dwt, built 2004) was released from custody by Somali pirates and had reached the (relative) safety of the Omani port of Salalah.

Polar and her crew had spent 300 days in captivity after pirates seized the vessel. Apart from holding the ship and crew for ransom the Polar was also used as a pirate mother ship on occasion. At the time of her capture the Panama flagged and Liberian registered tanker was en route to Singapore from Suez and was approximately 620 nautical miles East of Socotra Island.


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CMA CGM profits drop but company remains optimistic

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CMA CGM Africa Two in Durban Harbour in April 2011. Picture by Terry Hutson

French shipping line CMA CGM has logged a drop in net profits of 72% for the first half of 2011, the company has announced. Net profits amounted to US$237 million for the period.

This was achieved despite revenues having risen 8% year on year to reach $7.3 billion and container volumes having increased 9.1% to exceed 4.8 million TEU carried, which CMA CGM says has outperformed the market. The shipping group did face a 36% increase in fuel costs however.

The CMA CGM Group says it will continue to develop its strategic positions in emerging markets, with a focus on Russia and India. In addition, it will pursue expansion in Latin America, where it will benefit fully from the 2014 opening of the Panama Canal’s third set of locks. “The Group’s new hub, in Kingston, will be ideally located to capitalise on the new opportunities. Moreover, the Group will pursue its programme to reduce costs in the terminal operations, logistics processes and capital projects.” The CMA CGM Group continues to believe that 2011 will be a positive year, “barring any unforeseen events in today’s highly unstable global economy.”

Refinancing announced for Horizon Lines

Horizon Lines, America’s largest domestic container shipping company, says it has entered into a definitive deal to refinance its debt with a group of noteholders who will become the majority shareholders of the company upon completion of the deal.

The deal was first announced in June and the company has been negotiating details this (northern) summer.

The holders of 99% of $330 million in 4.25 percent convertible senior notes that are due in 2012 have agreed to the transaction, under which they will provide Horizon with $655 million in new financing which will replace the company's existing debt.

The line said it made the exchange offer “in order to reduce our consolidated outstanding indebtedness and extend the maturities or our debt obligations.” Had the exchange offer not been completed leaving Horizon unable to address its near-term liquidity, “we would expect to [have] sought relief under the US Bankruptcy Code. Holders of old notes would likely [then] receive little or no consideration for their old notes.” – source American Shipper

STELLENBOSCH for scrapping

A ship that has been a regular caller on the South Africa coat for many years, MACS Line’s bulk carrier STELLENBOSCH, has carried her last cargo and is due to leave this week for the breakers in Asia.

A small farewell was apparently held on the ship in Durban harbour several days ago to bid one last farewell to the elderly vessel, which before becoming part of MACS Line sailed in SA Marine colours and later becoming one of the vessels taken over by Enterprise Shipping following the sale of Safmarine and SA Marine.


In our first posting of this story we referred to the vessel going for scrap as Algoa Bay. This is incorrect - the ship is actually STELLENBOSCH, not Algoa Bay. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Attempt to refloat grounded Phoenix later today (Friday)

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An attempt to refloat the grounded tanker PHOENIX and tow her out to sea is expected to take place on this afternoon’s spring high tide at around 17h00. The tugs SMIT AMANDLA and SMIT SIYUNDA will be connected to the tanker which is lying on the rocks of Sheffield Beach just north of Durban.

Phoenix has a large hole in her engine room hull and the general condition of the vessel is poor, leaving SAMSA to make the decision not to attempt to save the vessel but instead to attempt having her removed from the beach and scuttled in deep water off the KZN coast. Several places of choice have been selected for the ship’s watery grave.

The latest weather report suggests that seas will be fairly rough off the KZN coast by Friday afternoon with a bigger swell than has been the case so far this week. Yesterday the forecast was for very rough seas and a heavy swell of between 4 to 6 metres which was expected between Alexander Bay and Plettenberg Bay, spreading to Durban by Friday and reaching 6 to 9 metres between Cape Columbine and East London. This is expected to persist until Saturday.


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Cape Town – Transnet Port Terminals says the R5.4 billion, five-year expansion programme at the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT) is continuing to transform South Africa’s second largest container terminal into a modern facility.

Yesterday (1 September) CTCT officially opened its new truck entrance and staging area valued at R12 million. “This is a significant milestone to the industry and port users. Its significance will be evident in the alleviation of truck congestion from Duncan Road, located within the Port of Cape Town,” said TPT in a statement.

The new truck entrance comprises of four lanes, and a fifth lane for abnormal cargo, leading into the recently combined A and P Check that serve as a truck and container verification point for the terminal.

The five lanes provide a wider truck entrance channel into the terminal compared to the two-lane traffic flow it replaces. In addition, the trucks will now be serviced from kiosks located adjacent to each lane. According to TPT this will result in a quicker and safer service as truck drivers will not be required to disembark their vehicles.

“The new facility will be beneficial to harbour carriers and ultimately to the entire supply chain. These will allow terminal management to have improved control on traffic, more especially as we approach our peak season,” says Transnet Port Terminals’ Acting Chief Operations Officer – Container Sector, Velile Dube.

CTCT’s peak season falls within the months of November and April. During this season the terminal handles larger volumes of refrigerated containers (reefers), of which approximately 70% are stacked in the Rubber Tyred Gantry (RTG) stacking area, with the conversion of the terminal into a RTG operation having been one of the key objectives of the expansion project.

The completion of the third and last RTG Reefer stack in mid-August has increased the terminals’ RTG Reefer capacity with an additional 936 RTG Reefer points, bringing the capacity of the RTG Reefer stack to 2712. This has resulted in the terminal’s total reefer capacity tripling to 3884 reefers since the commencement of the expansion project.

“The increased reefer capacity couldn’t have come at a better time. It will enable us to efficiently service the greater volumes expected during the peak season,” says Dube.

To date, the expansion project has provided the terminal with 720m of refurbished quay wall to accommodate two large 305m vessels along the quay. The remaining 412m of the quay wall is currently under refurbishment and is due for completion by 2013. The phasing-in of RTGs has now been completed and the full complement of 28 RTGs is in operation. The delivery of two additional ship-to-shore (STS) cranes is expected in December 2011. These cranes will be commissioned in April 2012 resulting in the terminal being equipped with a total of eight cranes.

The development of the terminal’s human capital is progressing according to schedule. This has entailed an aggressive recruitment and training programme for operators of lifting equipment (OLEs) to operate the new STS cranes and RTGs.


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USS SAMUEL B ROBERTS (FFG 58) visits Maputo

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US Navy picture

Maputo, 1 September 2011 – The US Naval Forces Europe-Africa Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategy, Resources and Plans has visited top diplomatic and military leadership in Mozambique.

The meetings were held in conjunction with the visit of the US Navy warship USS Samuel B Roberts (FFG 58) to Maputo from 26 to 29 August.

Together with the US Ambassador to Mozambique Leslie V Rowe, Rear Adm. Kenneth KJ Norton paid a visit to Filipe Jacinto Nyussi, Mozambique defence minister, to engage in bilateral political and military dialogue concerning important host nation issues underscoring maritime security for the region.

Adm. Norton emphasised the significance of Mozambique´s progress in maritime security over the past several years.

“Our meeting here today is a tangible symbol of the US bilateral partnership with Mozambique, which we would very much like to see continue,” he said. “What we have here is a great opportunity to build upon the maritime security efforts Mozambique has shown over the past four to five years.”

That same evening, at a reception on board the American frigate, Ambassador Rowe echoed the importance of a bilateral partnership to maritime security and enhanced cooperation between the two nations.

“As many of you are aware, the American Secretary of the Navy, Secretary Mabus, was just here visiting Mozambique and met with Prime Minister Aires Ali to discuss, among other topics, maritime security and enhanced cooperation,” the ambassador said. “This visit of the USS Roberts, the presence of Adm. Norton, and the recent visit by Secretary Mabus are indicative of the interest we hold in the growing partnership between our armed forces.”

Earlier in the day Adm. Norton also met with Mozambique´s chief of the navy, Rear Adm. LL Menete. During the meeting Adm. Norton explained that the real significance of the USS Roberts' port visit, as well as Mozambique’s participation in the multinational security cooperation initiative, Africa Partnership Station (APS), in building lasting friendships and promoting cultural exchange among sailors.

APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

USS Samuel B Roberts, an Oliver Hazard Perry class guided-missile frigate, is homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., and is on a scheduled deployment to the 6th Fleet area of responsibility.


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C&C Technologies South Africa, based in Cape Town, will be hosting the South African Hypack 2011 User Conference from 6 to 9 September 2011 at the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Table Bay harbour.

Mr Pat Sanders, president and founder of Hypack Inc, based in the United States, will be presenting the conference, which is held annually and is available to anyone who is running a current Hypack Hydrographic software package.

The conference is offered to Hypack users as part of their Annual Maintenance Plan, and encompasses any upgrades and modifications offered in the latest 2011 software package.

This also offers a platform to users to discuss the software directly with Hypack and network with other users. In previous years the conference has been a three day event, but this year it has been extended to four days, with the last day focussed on the dredging aspect ‘Dredgepack’ component of Hypack. This has been added due to recent activities in the increase of dredging operations both in South Africa and in neighbouring countries.

Hypack is a world leader of hydrographic software, and offers an all-in-one package for surveyors conducting basic single beam surveys through to more advanced side-scan and multi-beam surveys on dams, rivers, waterways, harbours and offshore.

In addition, there will be a survey vessel available to take delegates into the dock area to conduct a small multi-beam survey for practical demonstrations.

The majority of delegates already booked for the conference are from within South Africa, along with delegates from Nigeria and Mozambique.



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The Italian crude oil tanker NEVERLAND ANGEL (115,949-dwt, built 2009) which called at Cape Town this week. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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