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Ports & Ships Maritime News

1 November 2011
Author: Terry Hutson


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The Cape Town harbour tug MERLOT (429-GT, built 1980) is one of Transnet NPA’s longest serving tugs still in service, and was built in Durban. Along with the other Cape Town tugs during the early 1990s, they were renamed and given the names of popular Western Cape wine cultivars, the others being the CHARDONNAY, the SHIRAZ and the PINOTAGE. Merlot’s original name was LOURENS MULLER. Picture is by Aad Noorland


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Finnish warship POHJANMAA and the burning of a pirate dhow

The UK government says it intends sanctioning the use of armed guards on ships sailing under a British flag and that the home secretary will be given the powers to license armed guards for these ships.

The decision, which has been expected, means that Britain has joined several other nations in accepting that the use of armed guards on merchant ships sailing in waters under threat from pirates is one of the most effective deterrents.

According to the British prime minister David Cameron, no merchant ship carrying armed guards has so far been highjacked. With up to 200 ships flying the red ensign this means lucrative work to those security companies that have geared themselves to provide armed guards for vessels heading towards at-risk waters, principally in the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, southern Red Sea and the East African coast.

Having a license to carry armed guards however, does not mean that merchant ships with arms on board will be welcome in all countries, and local laws will continue to apply with regard to vessels entering other nation’s territorial waters.

Cameron said at the weekend that after talks in Australia involving Commonwealth leaders it became clear that action needed to be taken with regards providing adequate and meaningful security onboard British ships. Asked by the BBC whether he was comfortable with giving permission to foreign operatives to ‘shoot to kill,’ Cameron offered a politician’s response of, “We have to make choices.”

He called the continued highjacking of ships around the Horn of Africa, a “complete stain on our world.”

“The fact that a bunch of pirates in Somalia are managing to hold to ransom the rest of the world and our trading system, is a complete insult and the rest of the world needs to come together with much more vigour,” he said.

Cameron’s announcement has been generally welcomed but concerns have been expressed as well. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) which represents 80% of the world’s merchant fleet, said through its secretary-general Peter Hinchliffe that they were concerned over the response from the pirates to the escalation of arming personnel on board the ships.

“To date, no ships with armed guards on board have been captured. But pirates will respond with increased firepower to overwhelm the armed guards, and when that happens the impact on the crew will be pretty dreadful,” he warned.

Maritime risk experts say that arming more ships will reduce the amount of insurance claims and will save the industry many millions of dollars.

Anti-piracy workshop begins today

The eThekwini Maritime Cluster (EMC) in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA), is hosting a two day workshop on Anti- Piracy in Durban at the Southern Sun Hotel (North beach) today and tomorrow (1 and 2 November 2011)


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MSC Sinfonia in Cape Town last year

When the cruise ship MSC SINFONIA (58,714-gt, built 2002) arrives in South Africa for the 2011/12 summer cruise season, her first port of call will be in Cape Town, and it is here that the ship will be host to the second on-board charity event in aid of Building Blocks, a local home for abandoned and abused children.

The cruise ship arrives in the Mother City on 8 October and the charity event will be held before the ship sails later that day for Durban where she will begin a season of three, four and five day cruises out of Durban mostly to the Mozambique coast.

MSC Sinfonia’s 2011/12 summer cruise season extends from November through to May 2012.

The Cape Town fundraiser, which was first held on board the ship last year, is part of the cruise line company’s long term international initiative to support community projects for less advantaged youth.

All funds raised at the cocktail party will go to the Building Blocks Children’s Home in Pinelands which, in conjunction with local authorities, rescues babies and toddlers and keeps them safe by providing a loving home environment. Many of the children, who have already been looked after at the home were born with drug and alcohol dependencies and were found in dire circumstances, including extreme poverty, abuse, neglect and disability.

The home is the first of four proposed ‘safe’ houses in Cape Town to be set up by the Building Blocks Foundation founded three years ago by a group of concerned South Africans led by Kim Killeen. Passionate about helping helpless children in South Africa break through poverty and disadvantage, the Foundation’s long term goal is to establish similar family homes throughout South Africa with a maximum of 6 children per home under the care of a dedicated house mother. The emphasis will be on love and education with professional medical care for those in need.

“Having lived in South Africa for many years the country and its future remain very important to me. Anything I can do to help is with the utmost pleasure,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises, who added that MSC Cruises was proud to align themselves again with what Building Blocks was achieving and to share in ensuring the success of their vision for the future.

Ticket sales and enquiries can be made by contacting : Jenny Berger 082 504 7447 or 021 532 2096 or emailing: kim@bbch.co.za


In our story yesterday of the expected arrival in Durban of the DISCOVERY SUN, apparently on her way to the breakers in the east, we managed to get the ship’s lineage somewhat confused. This ship is not the former ISLAND PRINCESS – her previous names have included Scandinavian Sun and Caribe. Incidentally the error was ours, not Trevor Jones who provided the alert that the ship was heading for Durban to take bunkers on 4 November. Thank you to reader Andrew Smith for pointing out the error of our ways.


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Durban Container Terminal

Based on quantitative and qualitative data, the recent paper ‘Cargo Dwell Time in Durban’ attempts to identify the main reasons why cargo dwell time in the Durban port has dramatically reduced in the past decade to a current average of 3-4 days.

A major customs reform; changes in port storage tariffs coupled with strict enforcement; massive investments in infrastructure and equipment; and changing customer behavior through contractualisation between the port operator and shipping lines or between customs, importers, and brokers have all played a major role, concludes the paper.

The authors say that the main lesson for Sub-Saharan Africa that can be drawn from Durban is that cargo dwell time is mainly a function of the characteristics of the private sector, but it is the onus of public sector players, such as customs and the port authority, to put pressure on the private sector to make more efficient use of the port and reduce cargo dwell time.

The 33-page report makes for interesting reading, particularly for port operators where cargo dwell time continues to be a major problem leading to port and terminal congestion.

The document can be read HERE and is in a pdf file, which may take a short while to download. Click on your BACK BUTTON to return to this page.


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Port of Nacala – set for transformation

The second phase of the Moatize project of Brazilian mining group Vale is expected to be concluded in 2014 and will represent an investment of US$1.658 billion, US$161 million of which have been consigned for this year, the group said last week in Rio de Janeiro.

According to results documents for the third quarter of the year, the second phase of the Moatize project, located in Mozambique’s Tete province, includes opening a new mine, construction of a new coal reception and preparation unit and extending storage space, as well as all associated facilities.

Moatize II will add 11 million tons of coal per year to total capacity, 70 percent of which is expected to be metallurgical coal and 30 percent thermal coal.

As the coal operation is logistics intensive, Vale is investing in the Nacala Corridor, including construction/renovation of the railroad and construction of a sea terminal with an estimated nominal capacity of 18 million tons of coal per year but with potential to expand in the future up to 30 million tons per year.

Total investment, Vale said, would be US$4.444 billion, US$3.435 of which would be for the railroad and US$1.009 billion for the sea terminal.

Full control

Vale said that, in line with the decision to invest in the Nacala corridor and according to the initial acquisition of a 51 percent stake in the Northern Corridor Development Company (SDCN) in September 2010, it had acquired a further 16 percent of the company for US$8 million to reach a total stake of 67 percent in the company that controls and is responsible for the port of Nacala, for the concession on an 872-kilometre railroad in Mozambique, which links Entrelagos, in Niassa province, to the port of Nacala, and for the Malawian railway system, which is currently made up of 797 kilometres of railroad. (macauhub)

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The Durban whaler CJ HOVELMEIER No.29 sets out to hunt whales off the Natal (KZN) coast. Picture is by Trevor Jones

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The Durban-based departmental suction dredger BONTEBOK of the SAR&H (now Transnet) seen in February 1985 flying the grey paying-off pennant and with VIP guests on board as she made her final journey across Durban Bay.
The steam-powered suction hopper dredger Bontebok was built by Wm Simons & Co of Renfrew UK as Yard No.795 and was launched on 1 June 1952, being handed over to the SAR&H in the following year. Her gross tonnage was 3,318-gt and deadweight 4,176-dwt. The vessel was just on 100m in length and she drew 18ft 7ins draught in the measurement used in SA at that time. The dredger was powered with a 6-cylinder triple expansion stream engine which was also built by Wm Simons & Co. This produced 3,000ihp and giving the vessel 10 knots of speed. After withdrawal in 1985 Bontebok was scrapped in Durban in 1986. Picture is by Trevor Jones


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