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Ports & Ships Maritime News

6 September 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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With two tugs pulling away in the distance, the tanker PHOENIX, now facing the open sea, is towed away from the shoreline and surf into the open sea. See report below under Coastwatch. This picture was taken on Saturday, 3 September shortly after 7.30am. Picture courtesy Ray Roberts/SAMSA

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Chris Wells, former acting CE of Transnet, who topped the list of earners from among the parastatals when he earned R10.681 million in 2010. Transnet executives occupied 10 or the top 12 positions from among this list.

The South African Transport & Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has hit out at what it says are immoral and excessive salaries paid to state-owned executives and has tagged Transnet specifically in this respect.

“South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world and inequality is getting even wider, as top–paid executives’ salaries keep shooting up to such high levels,” the union said yesterday.

Satawu was reacting to a Sunday Times story dated 4 September 2011 which detailed the annual earnings of top executives across the business sector. Among these were 14 Transnet personnel who it was claimed were earning between R4 million and R10 million a year. This, said Satawu, has happened while over 5 million people were plunged into dire poverty and more than 1 million jobs have been lost.

“This illustrates the massive disparity in earnings and attitudes by those at the top and the rest of their staff. As a union representing Transnet workers, Satawu will keep these figures in mind and use them to convince our members that they have every right to fight for big increases, so that we can start to narrow the chasm between rich and poor in South Africa.”

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Report and pictures by Frank Vennard of Videographics

The bulker SELI 1 ran aground near Blaauwbergstrand in September 2009, carrying 30,300 tons of coal and bunker oil. Since then the ship has been extensively damaged by winter storms, with this week's rough seas finally washing away the bow plates, causing Seli 1 to break in two and leaking remaining oil into the sea.

A 1one kilometre stretch of beach has been affected, said Disaster Risk Management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes. The city was informed of the leak at 11pm on Friday night, and cleansing is under way.

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Seli 1 in December 2009

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Seli 1 on 1 September 2011. Pictures by Frank Vennard/Videographics

Reports of Phoenix scuttling greatly exaggerated!

We apologise for borrowing an expression from the immortal Mark Twain but little else seems appropriate after we mistakenly reported that the Phoenix, after being freed from the rocky shores of Sheffield Beach, had been taken to sea and sent to the bottom.

It turns out that after the tanker was refloated on Saturday morning the tugs and tow have been maintaining a position 40km offshore of the South Coast, while salvors removed equipment that was needed to pump compressed air into the ship’s tanks to improve buoyancy.

SAMSA now advises that this work was completed yesterday morning and that the ship was being taken to its final destination and ‘safely sunk many kilometres below sea level tonight’ (Monday). So, by the time you are reading this it might just be that the vessel has finally gone to her watery grave.

Mighty Servant on coast with oil rig

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Picture by Gareth Pyne-James

Several readers enquired yesterday after seeing what appeared to be an oil rig out at sea off the KwaZulu-Natal coast. This was one of the MIGHTY SERVANT semi submersible heavylift vessels loaded with an oil rig and heading southwest towards the Cape of Good Hope, where it may be visible to observers in the Eastern or Southern Cape in the next day or two.

We believe this to be the Mighty Servant 1 delivering Seadrill’s 28,000 tonne jack-up drilling rig WEST ELARA from Singapore to Norway. Can anyone confirm or correct?

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MSC Fantasia

The third and latest addition to the MSC Cruises’ flagship Fantasia class, MSC DIVINA, was ceremoniously floated out of dry dock B of the STX Europe shipyard in Saint- Nazaire, France on Saturday 3 September and transferred to dock C for final fitting and furnishing ahead of her naming ceremony in May next year.

The event was witnessed by a select group of guests invited to see the 140,000-ton ship that when completed will carry a maximum of 4,363 passengers. MSC Divina becomes the 12th cruise ship in the MSC Cruises fleet.

The ship is being named in honour of Sophia Loren, modern day Italian screen goddess and patron of the MSC Cruises fleet, and will be appropriately themed as a divine goddess. This was hinted at for the first time on Saturday with the announcement that the ship’s 18 decks (13 of them for passengers) will be named after the Gods of Ancient Greece, among them Urano, Afrodite, Aurora, Giunone, Artemide, Zeus, Mercurio, Cupido, Iride, Minerva, Apollo, Saturno, Elios.

Construction of MSC Divina commenced over a year ago and a total complement of 74 mega-blocks, each consisting of a set of large pre-fabricated hull components, were used for assembling the ship. Work on the keel is nearly completed. Already 50% of the fitting out has been done which includes completion of the electrical networking, plumbing and public areas. Work has also started on 400 of the 1751 cabins - one hundred more than her sister ships MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida.

As the most advanced of the trio of Fantasia Class cruise ships, cutting edge technical changes on MSC Divina include more powerful propulsion motors, rated at 21.8 MW each (compared to 20.2 MW on the MSC Splendida), brand new alternators and state-of-the-art HVAC chillers. The ship will also feature a new reverse osmosis system for fresh water production that requires 40 percent less power and therefore assuring less environmental impact.

The ship will be officially named on 26 May 2012 in Marseille, France.

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Trucking across Africa

The article regarding trucking from Dar es Salaam to Lubumbashi, Dar es Salaam also slow (Ports & Ships 5 September 2011) refers:

Regarding trucking from Dar es Salaam to Lubumbashi: that’s a good 2000, not 1500km.
Regarding trucking from Walvis Bay to Lubumbashi: it’s only 2500 kilometres, not 3500km.

But yes, the quoted businessman is absolutely right. Sailing from Europe to Walvis Bay is shorter than to the east African ports, there’s much quicker port handling, and the road and Namibia/Zambian border is so smooth that you easily gain three weeks in total.

The only bottleneck remaining is crossing the Zambian/DRC border at Kasumbalesa but that is true wherever cargo is originating (east or west coast).

Met Hartelijke groet/With best regards
Paul Sprunken
Procurement Process Officer, Logistics
Artsen zonder Grenzen/Médecins sans Frontières

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Schleswig-Holstein F216, the German Navy frigate now in Simon’s Town

A number of ships of the German Navy have arrived in Simon’s Town for an official visit.

Although we do not have all the details at this time, we can confirm the presence of two frigates, the Type 124 frigate SACHSEN F219 (commissioned 2003), and the Type 123 Brandenburg-class SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN F216 (commissioned 1995). It is thought that the ships arrived yesterday.

Other vessels may include a destroyer and one supply/replenishment vessel. Confirmation anyone?

SAS AMATOLA returns from Mozambique?

Another unconfirmed report suggests that the South African frigate SAS AMATOLA F145 has returned from anti-piracy patrol off northern Mozambique. If this is correct then it poses the question of a replacement ship to continue the patrols in the Mozambique Channel. Again are there any readers that can confirm whether the Amatola is back home?


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Maputo, 5 September – Mozambique and South Africa’s port and rail operators have reached an agreement for the involvement of the private sector in supplying railway wagons and locomotives, according to the Mozambican newspaper Notícias.

The newspaper cited projections from operators that the future of the port of Maputo lay with the use of rail transport to move coal, iron ore, chrome and containerised cargo to and from the member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The availability of more wagons and locomotives is one of the challenges included in the Strategic Plan for the Port of Maputo outlined until 2033, which considers that only with greater freight transport capacity will the port achieve the specified production rates in terms of cargo handling.

The idea is that investments in the three railroads linking the port to SADC countries have to be made. The three lines are the Ressano Garcia line which travels to South Africa, the Goba line to Swaziland, and the Limpopo line which provides a link to Zimbabwe.

The article says that as well as purchasing wagons and locomotives, the efficiency of the port of Maputo also depends on improving the effectiveness of operations at Customs, specifically the simplification of the goods transport system so that exporters from the region can gain confidence and start sending cargo to the port of Maputo once again.

The rolling stock problem does not affect South Africa as much, as the country has adequate road transport as an alternative that has been used to carry goods to and from the port of Maputo.

The biggest concern will be if and when Zimbabwe overcomes its current crisis and starts producing and exporting its minerals to Asian and European markets, at which time there will be a greater need for wagons to carry the goods to the port of Maputo and vice versa. (macauhub)


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As reported in an earlier PORTS & SHIPS, the newbuild drill ship PACIFIC SCIROCCO arrived off Cape Town in June this year from the Samsung shipyard in South Korea, where she had been launched and handed over at the end of March. The drill ship was en route to Nigeria and was to lay over in Table Bay for a number of weeks before departing. Pacific Scirocco is 228m in length and has a maximum speed of 11.5 knots. She displaces 96,000 tonnes and is designed to operate in seas that are 12,000 feet deep (3,657m) and can drill to 40,000ft (12,200m). Pacific Scirocco is owned by Pacific Drilling. Pictures are by Frank Vennard of Videographics

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