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Ports & Ships Maritime News

24-25 November 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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The Saldanha Bay pilot boat IVUBU, which is currently on loan to the port of Cape Town while Cape Town’s pilot boats are out for maintenance and repair. Before being transferred to Saldanha, Ivubu was based at Richards Bay. Picture by Glen Kasner

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Quelimane in Zambezia Province, Mozambique

According to news reports Mozambique authorities are planning to turn the central Mozambique port of Quelimane in Zambezia Province into the country’s next coal port.

Quelimane is presently one of Mozambique’s smallest ports, is situated on a river and is generally shallow. Mozambique obviously thinks it can be successfully dredged to the required depth to be able to handle the estimated 20 million tonnes of coal a year that the report is suggesting.

Going further than this, Casimiro Francisco, the chairman of the Mozambican Coal Development Association, said at a coal conference held in Maputo and which ended on Wednesday that the port could eventually be expanded further to handle 100-million tonnes.

“By 2016 all the coal companies will be operating, including those whose projects are delayed, and all capacity at the Beira port will be used up. The country will need more solutions so we are looking at the Quelimane port as an alternative,” he told Reuters.

Turning Quelimane into a coal exporting harbour would necessitate the construction of a new 500km long railway from the Moatize region of Tete Province to the port. It would also require a new railway bridge across the Zambezi River.

The Zambezi River is already under consideration by Rio Tinto for a barging operation to move coal to the mouth of the river where an export facility would also have to be built. There is also another proposal to build a new railway from the mining area to just north of the Zambezi mouth where another new port or coal export facility would be built

According to Casimiro several companies have expressed an interest in funding the construction of a new railway to Quelimane and also the construction of export facilities at the port, in exchange for allocation on the railway and the port.

Whatever the outcome it cannot be denied that the mining of coal is beginning to change the face and economy of Mozambique.

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Bit Viking, now LNG-powered

The world’s first LNG-fueled product tanker, the BIT VIKING, is now officially in service according to class society Germanischer Lloyd (GL). The 25,000-dwt product tanker underwent an LNG main machinery conversion supervised by GL. The vessel is now also the largest commercial vessel, not including an LNG tanker, to use LNG as fuel.

Delivered in 2007, the China-built Bit Viking is equipped with double engine rooms, propellers, steering gears, rudders and control systems. Having previously been powered by two 6-cylinder in-line Wärtsilä 46 engines running on heavy fuel oil, the conversion has changed these to 6-cylinder in-line Wärtsilä 50DF dual-fuel engines operating on LNG, supplied by two 500 cubic meter LNG storage tanks on the fore deck.

During the conversion the vessel was fitted with the new equipment necessary for the LNG operation under critical supervision from GL experts ensuring the converted vessel was safely constructed, using the right type of materials and right type of welding.

The technical challenge in the conversion process was immense, says Ronnie-Torsten Westerman, Business Development Manager at GL. As a world first, the project required special attention ensure compliance with relevant class rules and how the flag administration would understand and accept the risk analysis.

“Special attention was given to the bunkering process and how it should be performed, since this is a critical operation and requires special expertise and equipment,” said Westerman.

Since re-entering service after her conversion on 25 October, the Bit Viking has already observed considerable environmental benefits including greenhouse gases reduced by 20% to 25%, sulphur output cut entirely, NOx gases cut by 90% and particulate emissions reduced by 99%. While an official emissions measurement has been conducted, the final results are not available yet but “these figures are a strong indicator of the outcome”, says Ronnie-Torsten Westerman.

The Bit Viking is trading along the entire length of the coast of Norway, from Oslo to Kirkenes, on behalf of oil major Statoil. Source GL

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Oasis of the Seas emerging from Turku, Finland

The next generation of ships needs to be of flexible design, according to Giuseppe Torrente, head of the design department at Fincantieri’s Merchant Ship Business Unit. He said they need to be energy efficient and economical to operate. “Already more hydrodynamic hull forms require less propulsion power,” he explained. (Cruise Industry News)

“The starting point is the speed. By designing hulls for the most frequent speed, we can optimize the hull for that speed and save fuel and energy. A hull optimized for 20 knots will be different from a hull optimized for 22 knots.”

In addition the industry has had to work in new stability requirements and the Safe-Return-to-Port concept in their new designs, as well as new ballast water, anti-fouling and recycling conventions, sequentially adopted by the IMO, according to Torrente. The real impact of the new rules and conventions are yet to be determined, he noted, calling it a revolution, not an evolution from past standards.

Pending is the so-called energy efficiency index for which the standards for cruise ships have yet to be defined and agreed upon. Its objective is to contain greenhouse gas emissions.

“As we see it, energy efficiencies will surely be increasingly important in the future,” said Olli Jantunen, senior vice president of sales and marketing at STX Finland, and Sami Kouvonen, manager of concept design. Kouvonen is also the naval architect for the dual-fuel Viking Line cruise ferry, designed to run on LNG and being built in Turku.

According to Richard Goodwin, manager of Lloyd’s Register’s Passenger Ship Support Center, future designs need to be evaluated for their purpose. “There is no need to design and build a race car if what you need is a family car,” he commented.

At V.Ships Leisure, Vittorio Facco, technical director responsible for newbuildings, said that diesel electric propulsion is here to stay.

Markus Aarnio, vice president of competence at Foreship, said that other powerplant alternatives are not viable, including solar power, which he called “basically a gimmick.” He added that the only choice is between podded propulsion, which generates less noise and vibration, or shaft lines.

Matteo Di Maio, managing director at V.Delta, said the company may take a different view from the big cruise lines, as they mostly work with smaller newbuildings in the luxury, premium and expedition market segments. “For the smaller ships, the choice is between diesel electric propulsion with shaft lines or mechanical propulsion.”

According to Facco: “The bottom line is that new ships need to be profitable in order to provide products that the market wants and operate within the financial parameters of the owner. “You cannot design from energy saving perspectives alone.”

Putting a brake on inventions and new technology is that something really new would set a ship too far apart from the rest of a fleet, and the cruise line may be forced to retrofit all their other ships, Aarnio explained.

Looking ahead, Fincantieri’s Torrente said that someday e-guided vessels may be a reality, using technology to avoid collisions, groundings and other incidents. “Then, we do not have to concentrate on the consequences of flooding if collisions can be avoided,” he noted.

Today, cruise ships use AC current, and DC is considered old technology. “But,” said Torrente, “progress is being made on DC circuits, breakers, engines, generators and batteries. So never say never.” source – Cruise Industry News, Fall 2011

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US Coast Guard cutter CHASE which has been donated to the Nigerian Navy and becomes NNS THUNDER. Picture: US Coast Guard

Nigeria’s latest warship, the former US Coast Guard cutter CHASE has sailed for Africa as the Nigerian Navy ship NNS THUNDER.

The cutter was transferred to Nigeria in a formal ceremony on 13 May and she subsequently underwent a refit ahead of her voyage to Nigeria, reports defenceWeb. She sailed from her former base at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, California. The Nigerian Minister of State and Defence, Erelu Olusold Obada was present at the departing ceremony.

The coast guard cutter CHASE was declared as surplus by the US Coast Guard who explained that by donating the ship to Nigeria it had save the Coast Guard US$10 million in disposal costs.

defenceWeb writes that the Hamilton class High Endurance Cutter was laid down on 26 October 1966 at Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans; launched on 20 May 1967 and commissioned on 11 March 1968. The 115 m, 3250-ton cutters is armed with a 76 mm OTO Melera gun and was decommissioned on 29 March this year in San Diego. She was transferred as an excess defence article under the US Foreign Assistance Act. One of her sister ships, the Morgenthau, is still based in Alameda, while another was donated to the Philippines.

The class has a crossing range of 9,600 nautical miles (17 800 km) at 20 knots (40 km/h). Top speed is 28 knots. Fitted with a 24 m flight deck – but no hangar – the ship is capable of handling a medium helicopter.

On arrival in Nigeria the ship will go into service in the Gulf of Guinea to tackle the problem of increasing piracy in the region, but will also be available to deal with the theft of oil bunkers, smugglers and other criminal activity.

According to defenceWeb the Nigerian Navy is seeking government approval to acquire up to 49 ships and 42 helicopters over the next ten years to police the nation’s territorial waterways and Gulf of Guinea. The navy has already taken delivery of 10 smaller donated vessels to assist operations in the Niger Delta. source defenceWeb

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South Africa’s national oil company PetroSA has been given the environmental go ahead and begin searching for more gas reserves off the coast of Mossel Bay.

The project named Project Ikhwezi is aimed at extending the life of the existing Mossel Bay gas-to-liquid fuel refinery in Mossel Bay.

The wells are situated off the F-O field which is 40km south-east of the F-A production platform. PetroSA hopes to have production from the gas field in 2013.


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A couple of unsuccessful attacks on shipping have been recorded in recent days. In the Indian Ocean the container ship MSC JEANNE was fired upon by six pirates in two skiffs on the morning of 21 November. The attack took place while the container ship was underway in position 04:03S – 042:55E, about 198 nm east of Mombasa, Kenya.

The master of MSC Jeanne raised the alarm, took anti-piracy preventive measures, and fired flares toward the skiffs, resulting in the pirates aborting the attempted attack and moving away. - reports from IMB and UKMTO

In the gulf of Aden the bulk carrier PIONEER PACIFIC came under fire from eight pirates in two speed boats on 20 November at 13h45 UTC while underway in position 12:27N – 043:47E, about 24 nm southeast of Perim Island, Yemen.

The ship’s crew fired flares when the speed boats were 600m away from the vessel and an onboard security team commenced fire towards the pirates, causing them to veer away and break off the action.


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The container ship MSC METHONI (73,819-gt, built 2003), the former MSC Viviana, seen in Cape Town harbour this month. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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The Greek-owned, British-managed, Isle of Man-flagged products tanker BRITISH ENVOY (37,582-dwt, built 2006) was another visitor to the Mother City and port in recent weeks, when she was also photographed by Ian Shiffman

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