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Ports & Ships Maritime News

14 December 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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Please note that we will be taking a break from the end of this week until early January 2012. Tomorrow (Thursday) will be our final daily news bulletin. If there is any important breaking news this will be reported as it happens, so do keep checking in. We would like to take this opportunity of wishing all our readers a very blessed and peaceful Festive Season.


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As the container ship ULSNIS (14,865-gt, built 1993) sails from Cape Town harbour we see further out in Table Bay one of MOL’s latest ships, the 5,600-TEU MOL GARLAND (59,307-gt, built 2011) waiting her turn at the container terminal. Picture is by Ian Shiffman

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President Zuma is met in Maputo by Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza and a guard of honour. The South African president is on a state visit to its neighbour. Picture Dirco

Pretoria - Fresh from visits to Nigeria and Benin, President Jacob Zuma departed yesterday (Tuesday) for Maputo, Mozambique, on a state visit to that country.

Invited by his counterpart Armando Guebuza, the visit is aimed at deepening already existing bilateral political, economic and social relations between the two countries, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said on Monday.

Zuma and Guebuza will hold talks concretising bilateral cooperation in key priority areas such as trade and investment, energy, mining, agriculture, communications, water, environmental affairs, arts and culture as well as science and technology.

The two will also exchange views regarding mutual cooperation at regional level, especially within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and discuss broad issues affecting the continent within the context of the African Union (AU).

During his visit, Zuma will lay a wreath at the Heroes Acre, as well as at the Matola Raid Memorial and Interpretative Centre, after which he will address the Joint Sitting of the Parliament of Mozambique and the Mozambique-South Africa Business Forum.

According to Dirco, several bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding will be signed during the visit.

South Africa and Mozambique share co-operative and friendly political and economic relations, both in a bilateral and multilateral context. The economic relationship is the strongest in the southern African region, with total exports in 2010 valued at R15.7 billion, while South Africa imported goods to the value of R3.7 billion during the same period.

Zuma will be supported by 11 Cabinet ministers, including those of Agriculture, Science and Technology; Energy; Mineral Resources; as well as Trade and Industry.

Investors have been showing interest in Mozambique's untapped oil and gas reserves and titanium mining is also a growing source of revenue.

Mozambique's economy suffered serious setbacks when it was hit by floods which affected about a quarter of the population and destroyed much of its infrastructure in 2000 and 2001.

The country also struggles with poverty, which remains widespread. While most of the population works the land, infrastructure nationwide still suffers from colonial neglect, war and under-investment. – BuaNews

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Picture credit: NRI station 11, Port Alfred

An unidentified floating object seen off the cost of Port Alfred saw the NSRI at Port Alfred’s Station 11 being called out to investigate.

Juan Pretorius, NSRI Port Alfred station commander reports that on Monday morning the station 11 volunteer duty crew were activated to investigate an eye-witness report of a large object appearing to be floating about two nautical miles off-shore of Cannon Rocks, West of Port Alfred.

“Members of our NSRI Port Alfred volunteer sea rescue duty crew drove our sea rescue vehicle to the location of the eye-witness account to look for ourselves while our local Coast Watcher network was activated and our local coast watcher, looking at the object through binoculars, confirmed that it appeared to be an oversized buoy which our rescuers arriving on-scene were able to confirm.

Pretorius said that the duty crew launched the station’s sea rescue craft KOWIE RESCUER and responded 20 nautical miles west where on arrival they found what they initially thought might be a harbour mooring buoy.

The object, which appears from the photograph to be a Yokohama fender was too large for the NSRI to tow with the Kowie Rescuer and the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Center) instead activated a salvage tug to investigate and decide on a course of action to either scuttle the object or bring it into port.

“A navigational warning is being broadcast by the Maritime Radio Services to vessels using the area to be on alert to avoid a collision with the object,” said Pretorius.

“When our NSRI rescue craft arrived on-scene the object had already drifted at about two and a half knots in an easterly direction to around two nautical miles off-shore of Boknes. Vessels and shipping in the area are warned of the navigational hazard.”

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Increased pressure to have containers weighed

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The days of containers arriving in a port not weighed may be numbered. Picture by Terry Hutson

The International Association of Ports & Harbors (IAPH), an associate of the UN’s IMO has become the latest influential organisation to side with those that want the IMO to amend the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to state that as a condition for stowing a loaded container on board a ship, the ship and the port terminal involved must have a verified weight of the container.

The announcement comes at the same time that the IMO’s Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC) subcommittee is meeting to develop a SOLAS requirement for having all loaded containers weighed before being shipped. The DSC is responsible for improving the safety of container stowage and ship operations.

“Weighing containers to confirm their actual weight is the right operational and safety practice. There is substantial experience with such a requirement in the United States demonstrating that this is feasible on a technological and commercial basis,” said Dr Geraldine Knatz, president of IAPH. She said it was time to make this a global safety practice. The IAPH will assist its members in cooperating with terminal operators to develop a suitable and effective process, Dr Knatz added.

Other associations and organisations that have fully endorsed the proposal that would make the weighing of container mandatory include BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the World Shipping Council (WSC).

Idle fleet grows as outlook remains bleak

The number of container ships that have been mothballed has increased to 210 vessels and the equivalent of 526,000 TEU of capacity, says the French analyst Alphaliner in its weekly report.

It expects the number of idle ship capacity to grow to 600,000 TEU by the end of this month and says that the outlook for shipping lines is not encouraging even with more ships being taken temporarily out of service.

“Despite, the high level of capacity withdrawals, carriers are still facing an uphill task in their attempt to raise freight rates before the end of the year,” the report reads. “Vessel utilisation rates remaining stubbornly below 90% on most main trade lanes, with year-end volumes coming in much weaker than originally expected,” Alphaliner said.

German logistics entrepreneur wants to increase his stake in Hapag-Lloyd

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The German logistics entrepreneur Klaus-Michael Kuehne and the City of Hamburg are intending to increase their stake in German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd. At the same time the majority shareholder, TUI, is wanting to divest its shares in order to focus more closely on the tourist side of its business.

A report in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that Kuehne and Hamburg are keen to increase their share to at least 20% of the company. TUI holds 38.4% of Hapag-Lloyd. Recent efforts to find a buyer have proved fruitless.

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Two frigates arrive in Durban

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SAS Isandlwana F146 arriving back in Simon’s Town after a mercy dash to the remote South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha in May this year. Read that report HERE and use your BACK BUTTON to return to this page.

Picture by Bob Johnston

Two South African Navy frigates, SAS ISANDLWANA and SAS MENDI arrived in Durban yesterday (Tuesday).

SAS Mendi has been on deployment in northern Mozambique on anti-piracy patrol – her second deployment - while SAS Isandlwana has been on base in Simon’s Town.

The arrival of both ships in Durban indicates that SAS Mendi is returning from her deployment and is to be replaced by SAS Isandlwana.

The South African Navy, at the request of and with the aid and support of Mozambique has maintained a forward station at the port of Pemba near the Tanzania border and opposite the Comores group of islands at the northern entrance to the Mozambique Channel for much of this year. The naval presence has generally consisted of a frigate supported by reconnaissance aircraft of the South African Air Force, although it is possible that one of the submarines has also been on patrol in the region.

The navy recently carried out a joint anti-piracy exercise with the French and Mozambique Navies using Pemba as a base.

Australian Navy looks at using civilian crews

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HMAS Choules in Cape Town during November on her delivery voyage to Australia. Picture by Ian Shiffman

Some Australian navy vessels could eventually be crewed mostly or entirely by civilians under a new proposal that the Defence Ministry is examining, Australia’s 9News has reported.

The report said that Defence Minister Stephen Smith had indicated that the new policy could apply to selected support ships such as the new transport ship HMAS CHOULES and the auxiliary tanker HMAS SIRIUS.

HMAS Choules called at Cape Town recently on her delivery voyage to Australia. The ship is the former British amphibious support vessel RFA Largs Bay.

The Defence Minister said the idea of using civilians wouldn't apply to warships, including the navy's frigates, Air Warfare destroyers, Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD) ships and patrol boats.

He pointed out that such crewing arrangements were being applied successfully with other navies including the British Royal Navy and the US Military Sealift Command (MSC) which supports the US armed forces.

Smith said the navy would now conduct a study to assess the viability of this proposal.

“[The] Navy will work with other federal agencies and Australia's maritime industry to examine the feasibility of alternate crewing options to better utilise [the] navy's uniformed workforce and take advantage of skills and experience in the civilian shipping industry,” he said in a statement.

“The study may also provide a complementary strategy to reinvigorate Australia's merchant shipping industry.”

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The semi-sub oil rig Blackford Dolphin in Cape Town harbour. Eight coffer dams of various shapes and sizes were built to speed up the fitment of anodes on this vessel. Picture by Frank Vennard / Videographics

Story and pictures by Frank Vennard

The Dolphin Drilling company’s semi-submersible oil rig BLACKFORD DOLPHIN was recently in Cape Town to have work done prior to being stationed off the Brazil coast. This work included replacing sacrificial anodes and cleaning the ballast tanks.

DCD - Dorbyl was given the task of fitting a total of approximately 784 sacrificial anodes, which included tank anodes, pontoon anodes and column/bracing anodes. Each anode was 3 metres long and weighed approximately 200 kg.

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One of the giant coffer dams built to enable work dry beneath the surface of the harbour

The project was completed within the timeframe due to the fact that DCD had, prior to the arrival of the Dolphin, manufactured eight coffer dams in-house, each 7m high x 4m wide x 1.2m deep.

Once the coffer dams had been positioned, the water was pumped out and a gas safety check was carried out at the bottom of the coffer dam before work commenced. The anodes were then winched into position and welded in place.

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Another coffer dam is hoisted alongside prior to lowering into the water and securing alongside one of the rig’s legs

Two hundred and ninety (290) of the anodes were fitted to the columns and diagonal braces. These were installed by abseilers as access with staging would have been too time consuming.

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Water is pumped from the coffer dam as it is secured alongside the rig and made watertight, using chains and outside water pressure

In addition to fitting the anodes, the pontoon ballast tanks were cleaned by grit blasting and painted with Eureka Fluid film Gel. This gel has a superior long-lasting anti-corrosive coating.

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Looking down into a fitted (and watertight) cofferdam where anodes are being fitted by abseilers

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Operations continued through the night and around the clock until all the anodes have been fitted and the ballast tanks cleared. Once completed the rig was ready to go. All pictures by Frank Vennard / Videographics

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As the name suggests, POLARSTERN (4374-gt, built 1982) is a double-hulled icebreaker which is used for polar research purposes and to carry supplies and expeditions to the Antarctic. The ship is owned and managed by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research of Bremerhaven, Germany and flies the German flag. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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