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Ports & Ships Maritime News

6 December 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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In the aftermath of the fire on the South Korean longliner factory ship DONGSAN, a harbour tug sprays seawater along the hull of the still very hot ship. See report below. This picture is by Aerial Perspectives.

For another perspective of the ship in port a year ago, go HERE

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Estelle Maersk (170,794-gt, built 2006) leaving Algeciras in Spain. Maersk’s ‘Daily Maersk’ named-day service appears to have put the cat among the pigeons. Picture Maersk Line

Cargo owners are watching with growing concern as shipping companies respond in different ways to the challenge thrown down by Maersk Line and its recently announced Maersk Daily service from Asia to northern Europe.

Maersk said in September that it was introducing the next step in the container revolution; that of absolute reliability by way of a daily service that would operate between Asia and northern Europe, in which customers would be guaranteed a daily named day arrival for their cargo.

In the event of a consignment being delayed, Maersk said it is prepared to pay a penalty but with daily sailings from Asia clients in Europe would be able to provide reliable ‘just in time’ principles.

See our original report Daily Maersk – a giant conveyor belt between Asia and northern Europe.

This announcement came at a time when freight rates on the major routes are falling and container lines are fighting for market share and to keep their ships loaded.

Since the Maersk announcement the Malaysian carrier MISC Bhd has pulled out of the container trades and is selling its 16 ships. Last week MSC and CMA CGM announced they would be partnering each other on certain trade routes, including the once lucrative but over-traded and underpriced Asia/Europe trades. Other trade routes involving the partnership are the Asia/Southern Africa and all South American services.

In terms of pure numbers the two European bedfellows have a larger combined market share over Maersk – 21.7% for the combined companies versus the 15.8% of Maersk, according to Alphaliner figures. Of course the lines have worked partnerships before – Maersk and CMA CGM already operate shared services between Asia and the Black Sea and one must wait and see how that one pans out, but the emphasis with which the new partnership between two family-owned former rivals was announced has been significant.

Analysts believe it to be in direct response to Maersk’s new ‘Maersk Daily’ service and point out, as did the two shipping lines, that the combined MSC/CMA CGM service between Asia and Europe will provide shippers with a greater choice of port calls (than the limited number of calls on the Maersk Daily). And while they say that MSC and CMA CGM are unlikely to be able to compete with the Daily Maersk concept, it will be difficult for anyone else to match the combined service on slot costs.

What the owners of MSC and CMA CGM have done is nothing new. Sharing of slots and services has been going on for generations and at times it is difficult to keep up with who is doing what. Recently the president of MOL suggested that the three main Japanese container lines, MOL, NYK and ‘K’ Line should amalgamate and form a ‘Japan Line’, an idea that apparently hasn’t been altogether dismissed. Two of the three Japanese lines have already announced cutbacks in container services. Nor is the concept of cartels, or conferences to give them their PR-speak names, anything new, although shipping lines will be quick to deny any suggestion of forming illegal cartels as a means of keeping in check a bigger and more powerful rival.

Diego Aponte, vice president of MSC and son of the founder Gianluigi Aponte, said in the Financial Times that other carriers would be welcome in the alliance. “Should other carriers want to join us, we would be delighted, because at the end of the day we need to fill up the vessels,” he said.

What this would mean of course is less choice for shippers, hence their disquiet. Of interest also is whether this ship-sharing will be extended to other services under pressure, including the north Pacific routes or the South Africa/Europe trades.

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Dongsan on fire in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Glen Kasner

Cargo handling operations at the Cape Town Container Terminal returned to normal from 19h00 on Sunday night (4 December) after the fire on board the Korean fishing vessel DONGSAN had earlier disrupted operations.

The container terminal was closed from 07h00 on Sunday morning due to the fire on board the vessel which is moored at Quay 501 in the Ben Schoeman dock. Ammonia gas which escaped from the ship blew in the direction of the container terminal.

A tug was still busy all yesterday cooling the vessel.

Transnet Port Terminals’ Chief Executive Karl Socikwa said the fire had a negative effect on three container vessels that could not be loaded/off-loaded.

“In terms of port operations, we have in effect lost two days - one day due to the strong wind on Saturday and one day due to the fire on Sunday,” he said.

“The fire damage is contained to the vessel only and Transnet National Ports Authority is managing and monitoring the situation on a 24-hour basis.”

TPT said that five employees had been treated for gas inhalation and discharged. Tests to identify the presence of toxic gases - including ammonia - were being conducted on a regular basis around the burning vessel. Low traces of ammonia were found which by Sunday evening were well within acceptable margins.

TPT said that it expects that port operations will be fully normalised by today (Tuesday 6 December).

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Dakar, southern section. Picture courtesy OTAL

West Africa's largest and most modern container terminal, Terminal à Conteneur in the port of Dakar, which is developed and operated by terminal operator DP World, was officially opened last week by Abdulaye Wade, President of Senegal.

The terminal was upgraded in terms of a concession agreement signed in 2007, and is now capable of handling more than 600,000 TEUs annually – more than double its original capacity at the time of the concessioning.

“The expansion of the terminal and the upgrading of the facilities and equipment make DP World Dakar the most modern and efficient terminal in western Africa,” said Sultan Ahmad Bin Sul-ayem, chairman of DP World. “Our experience is that economies grow as efficient infrastructure comes on line and today it opens up a whole new world of economic possibilities for Senegal and West African communities. We are grateful to the Government of Senegal for their support and cooperation in helping to make this possible.” Since winning the concession in 2007, DP World has introduced window berthing, where vessels book a specific time they can berth, virtually eliminating waiting time at anchorage.

DP World Dakar is the only port in the West African region offering this service. In addition, DP World has reduced truck turnaround time to less than half an hour, and introduced clear tariffs and processes supported by modern technology systems. The result of these improvements has been an increase of around a third in volumes through the port, with the resultant benefits for the trade and Senegal's economy, reports Gulf News.

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MSC Melody arrives today

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MSC Melody off CapeTown

MSC Cruises’ second ship to operate in South African waters this summer, the 1500-passenger MSC MELODY is due in Cape Town today (Tuesday) at the start of her 2011/12 summer cruise season.

The ever popular and elegant ship will spend most of her time cruising out of Cape Town, her ‘home’ for the summer months. She will operate a few two-day- ‘Cruises to Nowhere’ as well as a series of 3 and 4-night cruises along the south-east coast to Mossel Bay and on the west coast as far as Walvis Bay.

Over Christmas and New Year MSC Melody will cruise from Durban on longer 10 and 6-night cruises to Mauritius and Madagascar respectively, before returning to Cape Town for more of the coastal cruises.

The ship returns to Durban on 22 January for an exciting 11-night cruise to Ile Sainte Marie, the pirate haven of history off the Madagascan coast, Reunion and Port Louis, Mauritius followed by a 6-night cruise from Durban to Fort Dauphin in southern Madagascar. Then it is back to Cape Town via a coastal cruise and several more cruises to Mossel Bay and Walvis Bay before the ship heads back to the Mediterranean on 20 February 2012 via an 18-night cruise up the Atlantic.

Details of these cruises are available from www.StarlightCruises.co.za

P&O Cruises will celebrate 175 years in 2012

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P&O Cruises’ Oriana, set to become an adults only ship. Picture by Robert Ravensberg

P&O Cruises will be celebrating its 175th anniversary in style next year and is offering a range of discounts on various cruises. Go to P&O Cruises for details.

P&O Cruises says it traces its lineage back to the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company that began operations as the mail carrier between Great Britain and the Iberian Peninsular 175 years ago next year.

All of these discounted cruises are from Southampton and they all head out to the Atlantic coast and island destinations, reminiscent of the original P&O schedules.

The cruises range throughout next year but at one point it appears as though P&O Cruises intends having seven of its ships in Southampton at one time.

Discounts are also being offered on other cruises between now and February including world cruises, with some great deals available.

The managing director of P&O Cruises, Carol Marlow says that 2012 is going to be an exciting year for the company and they are looking forward to celebrating their anniversary with their customers. She explained that there will be a grand event and also a celebration of the fact that the ship, Oriana is to be made an adults exclusive ship.

Details of the sale are available online and from P&O Cruises’ 2012/13 brochure.

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In three separate incidents, the NSRI was involved in assisting an ill fisherman from a chokka boat off Kenton-on-Sea in the Eastern Cape and a visiting yacht off the southern Cape coast as well as another yacht in difficulties off the southern Cape coast.

In the chokka (squid) boat incident Station 11 at Port Alfred was alerted via a request for medical assistance from the chokka boat KENDAL 15 n.miles off Port Alfred in the vicinity of Kenton-on-Sea. The chokka boat reported that one of the fishermen was suffering from continuous seizures.

“Our NSRI volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft KOWIE RESCUER and responded to the fishing boat 15 nautical miles from our harbour lying in the vicinity off-shore of Kenton-On-Sea,” reported NSRI Port Alfred station commander Juan Pretorius. “On arrival on-scene our sea rescue medics went onboard the chokka boat and stabilised the patient who was then transferred onto our sea rescue craft and brought to Port Alfred harbor where the 40 year old man (believed to be from Port Elizabeth) was transferred into a Metro EMS ambulance and transported to hospital for further treatment. He was in a stable condition.”

In a marathon yacht tow the NSRI St Francis Bay was alerted on Saturday to go to the assistance of a 40ft mono hull yacht SONNE AZUL from Holland, which was reporting the loss of rudder steering and requiring assistance 20 nautical miles off-shore of Tsitsikamma, 25 nautical miles from the St Francis Bay base. The yacht had on board two Dutch nationals, the skipper Onno Verver, aged approximately 45 and his female crew companion.

“Our NSRI volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF ST FRANCIS II and on arrival on-scene, in fair sea and weather conditions, we found the yacht drifting (in the direction of Australia) and unable to steer or manoeuvre her way out of her predicament,” said Gary Rider, NSRI station commander St Francis Bay.

“It was determined that the casualty yacht’s rudder had jammed in position, unable to be moved, suggesting the yacht may have collided with an object or fishing nets while underway.

“A tow-line was rigged and the long tow back to St Francis Bay began while NSRI Port Elizabeth and NSRI Oyster Bay were placed on alert to assist if necessary.”

Rider said the towing progress was particularly difficult because the position in which the casualty boats rudder had jammed caused the direction of the casualty boat to want to head in a different direction to which it was being towed.

“The size of the yacht and the class of our sea rescue craft put the tow effort on the edge of our capabilities particularly because of the jammed rudder. Making slow progress we determined that if the weather changed for the worse we may need more help.

“As a precautionary measure we also, assisted by Maritime Radio Services, broadcast a request for all chokka fishing boats in the vicinity of between us and our base to go on high alert to assist us if necessary.

“We admit it was quite a relief to see the many chokka boats, on our way home, coming over to check on us to make sure we were doing okay and had we needed their help at any point the good relationship we share with the chokka fishing community would have put us in their good hands.

“After a 5 hour and 30 minutes tow we finally arrived at our sea rescue base and our smaller sea rescue craft EIKOS RESCUER I was launched to help corral the yacht safely to a berth in the harbour.”

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Cape Town’s Spirit of Vodacom which had a lengthy round trip when going to the assistance of a foreign yacht yesterday

Station 3 at Table Bay (Cape Town) had an even longer-distance request for help. At 02h06 on Monday, 5 December the NSRI Table Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew were activated by MRCC (The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) following an EPIRB (Emergency Positioning Indicating Rescue Beacon) activation 65 nautical miles off-shore of Cape Town.

Paul Leech, Table Bay station commander reports:

“The EPIRB activation was intercepted by the United States Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre who contacted the South African Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre to activate an investigation and a search and rescue operation.

“It appears that the two men onboard a yacht were in the middle of a fishing fleet when they lost both masts which may have snapped one after the other possibly by wind. The fishing vessel HANGBERG went to their assistance. Efforts were made to cut the rigging (in the water behind their yacht) free but after these efforts failed it was suggested they activate their EPIRB and subsequently a sea rescue operation was launched.

“Our NSRI volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF VODACOM and on arrival on-scene found the yacht STELLA DI MARIE with two foreigners onboard who are unable to speak any English. They have two broken off masts (both trailing behind the yacht in the sea), broken rigging and sails, (also all trailing behind the yacht in the sea).

“Unable to communicate with the two men because of the language barrier, our sea rescuers have rigged a tow-line from the casualty yacht to our rescue craft and our sea rescue craft is towing them at 5 knots and making slow progress towards the Port of Table Bay.

“The towing effort is currently being made more difficult by the 'debris' trailing behind the yacht and at 16h00 we are launching our sea rescue craft ROTARY ENDEAVOR to rendezvous with the rescue operation and take a look to see if some of the debris can be coral'd or cut free before trying to bring the yacht into port.

“Communications between our sea rescue base and our sea rescue craft are being assisted by the Maritime Radio Services and at this stage we are not pressing for any more details. We are satisfied that the two men are safe, they appear not to be injured, and we can find out exactly what happened to them and where they are from once they are neatly in port.”

She said that at 11h45 (yesterday) the towing rescue effort was 30 nautical miles from port and they were expected to arrive at around 17h00.

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The crippled yacht Stella di Marie safely in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Paula Leech/NSRI

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The semi-submersible rig SONGA ECLIPSE which has been at anchor off Sea Point for several days before heading off to Angola in the company of the assisting vessel, REM GAMBLER. Picture by Aerial Perspective

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The semi-submersible heavylift vessel TEAL (22,835-gt, built 1984) taking bunkers in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Aerial Perspective

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