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Ports & Ships Maritime News

5 December 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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The container ship SAFMARINE NOMAZWE (50,657-gt, built 2004) in Table Bay with Cape Town in the background. Picture by Aerial Perspective

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A fire that has been burning for several days on board the South Korean fishing trawler DONGSAN has resulted in an ammonia gas leak that has forced the closure of the nearby Cape Town Container Terminal.

The fire on board the ship, which is moored in the Ben Schoeman dock at Quay 501, began on Friday and by later that evening was thought to be under control with the fire isolated just aft of midships. However around midnight Friday night the fire flared out of control with flames visible as firefighters fought to control the blaze. Soon the ship was burning from stem to stern.

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One of the harbour tugs has been spraying water onto the ship’s hull and fire fighters are working from the dock to dampen down the ship.

A statement issued by the TNPA on Sunday confirmed reports received that the Cape Town Container Terminal has been closed temporarily due to an ammonia gas leak caused by the fire. CEO Tau Morwe said that the necessary measures and precautions had been put in place to contain the situation. Access to the site was restricted to disaster management personnel only.

The TNPA said that operations outside the Ben Schoeman dock were continuing as normal and the situation regarding the container terminal were due to be reassessed at 17h00 today (Sunday, 4 December 2011).

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TNPA new appointments

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has recently made two appointments to its senior personnel.

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Hamilton Nxumalo

Hamilton Nxumalo, former chief engineer with Transnet Port Terminals and having held senior positions with Illovo Sugar, Airports Company South Africa and Transnet Freight Rail, has been appointed by TNPA as its general manager: Port Design, Planning and Infrastructure Maintenance.

He is based in Johannesburg and in Durban.

Nxumalo is a qualıfıed mechanıcal engıneer and holds an MBA degree. His current main challenges are the development of the new dugout port at the old Durban International Airport, capacity creation for manganese exports in the Port of Ngqura and the rehabilitation of Port Nolloth as an operating port, along with engineering skills development.

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Brinton Spies

Brinton Spies has been appointed general manager: Human Resources at the TNPA.

He is a seasoned HR professional with extensive experience of both local and international operations and has worked in a cross cultural setting mainly in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Spies’ previous position was Head of Human Resources at Cisco Systems, responsible for the Sub Saharan Region, and managing director of Human Resources for Africa with Glenrand MIB, a financial services company. He has been a Principal Consultant in Organisational and Strategic Change and is a registered psychologist with a background in both education and human resources management.

Spies was also the head of the Department of Educational Psychology at the College of Education where he was responsible for training teachers and involved in the formulation of Education policy and strategy.

Cape Town Container Terminal Festive Season hours

The working times for Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT) during the upcoming Festive Season will be as follows:

16 December 2011:
Normal operations (24/7).

25 December 2011:
The terminal will be closed from 18h00 on 24 December 2011 and will reopen at 06h00 on 26 December 2011.

1 January 2012:
The terminal will be closed from 18h00 on 31 December 2011 and will reopen at 06h00 on 2 January 2012.

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Pirate activity, 24 -30November 2011. source UKMTO

Somali pirates have been unsuccessful in several attacks on merchant shipping in the past week and with the release of another two ships during the same period, the number of vessels and seafarers being held hostage for ransom has reached one of its lowest levels for some time.

The NATO Shipping Centre reports that pirates made an unsuccessful attempt using rocket-propelled grenades to capture a ship off the coast of Oman. The vessel was not identified by the centre.

The attack took place 230 n.miles east of Salalah and involved a single skiff. The pirates fired on the vessel twice and tried to board but “were deterred by defensive measure employed by the vessel”, according to NATO. The ship is now safe and continuing to its destination.

The bulk carrier CHRISTINA IV was fired upon by six pirates in a skiff on 29 November at 0822 UTC while underway in position 15:01N – 056:36E, approximately 215 nm northeast of Socotra Island, Yemen, reports UKMTO. The armed security onboard returned fire while the vessel increased speed and took evasive action resulting in the pirates aborting their attack.

In the Gulf of Aden the bulk carrier FANEROMENI came under attack from two skiffs with at least 14 pirates in them, approximately 42 n.miles south-east of Perim Island off the coast of Yemen. The attack took place last Wednesday, 30 November.

There are currently only about seven merchant ships and their crews remaining in pirate hands, along with another seven fishing vessels and a number of dhows and smaller craft. This is the lowest number of ships being held for some time and is a reflection of the effectiveness of improved responses by the merchant ships. These include having armed guards on board as well as ships crews observing recommended best management practices.

The flip side of this however is that Somali pirates, and the criminal syndicates behind them, will be getting desperate as money dries up. With the interim Somali government promising to take action against pirates on land the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia is beginning to look much more promising.

Off Nigeria, three men who were taken hostage when pirates attacked the offshore support vessel C-ENDEAVOUR on 17 November have been released unharmed. News continues below…


Last week Cape Town-based Fairseas International despatched at very short notice one of their charter vessels, the container ship TEAM BREMEN (8407-gt, built 2006) to proceed at full speed to the South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha to recover a stricken yacht Mar Mostro.

The yacht had been dismasted near the island while taking part in the first leg of the Volvo round the world yacht race.

The ship had first to call at Cape Town to uplift a cradle and lifting gear before proceeding at high speed for Tristan da Cunha. With the race set to resume on 10 December there was no time to waste. Meanwhile a new mast was being flown to South Africa.

On arrival of the island it took just five hours to uplift the yacht and its crew and to begin the return ourney back to Cape Town, again at full speed. Team Bremen is due back in the port on Tuesday evening, 6 December, leaving sufficient time for the new mast to be fitted and tested.

Fairseas director Liam Mckenzie paid tribute to all involved in the operation for what he called “their professionalism under difficult circumstances.”

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The Liberian-flagged, Ahrenkiel-managed bulk carrier AS ELBIA (34,394-dwt, built 2011) Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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