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Ports & Ships Maritime News

10 February 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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

TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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News continues below...
FIRST VIEW – HMS DRAGON

P1220818b HMS Dragon 470

The British Daring Class Type 45 air defence guided missile destroyer HMS DRAGON (D35) arrived in Simon’s Town Naval Harbour on Friday (6 February). HMS Dragon is the fourth of the Royal Navy's six Type 45 air defence destroyers and was launched on 7 November 2008. She is currently deployed on operation: Atlantic Patrol Tasking (South) and has called at Simon’s Town for repairs, replenishment, and R&R for her 190 crew members. Picture: David Erickson

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PORT NEWS: QUARANTINE SHIP MOVED TO OUTER ANCHORAGE

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Great Scenery. Picture: Shipspotting

The bulk carrier GREAT SCENERY which arrived off Durban on Friday 6 February and was denied free pratique on account of the death of the ship’s chief cook under suspicious circumstances, has been moved to the port’s outer anchorage until further notice.

The ship arrived off Durban on Thursday last week with the news that the chief cook had died of a mystery illness. The ship had come direct from West Africa although it hadn’t called at any of the country’s affected by the deadly Ebola virus.

On arrival off the port a port health forensic pathologist boarded the ship and did a rapid test for malaria, which has similar symptoms to Ebola. The results proved negative and as a result he has recommended that a full post mortem examination be undertaken to determine the cause of death.

For this reason the ship entered port to have the deceased removed under strict conditions. There was no evidence of Ebola on the ship and the rest of the crew are healthy,… “therefore there is no reason to continue to refuse the ship entry,” said Capt. Alex Miya, Durban’s port harbour master.

Be that as it may. The ship entered port and berthed on Pier 1, berth 103 but has since been transferred to the outer anchorage where she lies at anchor. As a precautionary note, Port Health officials and Spilltech, which was employed by the ships agents, boarded the ship in port where they managed the removal of the body and carried out a decontamination of the ship. Spilltech also provided the TNPA and Port Health authorities with a detailed plan and precautions that were put in place to ensure the safe handling of the body and sanitisation.

French Navy ship to call at Richards Bay

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FS La Grandiere in Durban harbour. Picture: Hylke Wierenga

The Port of Richards Bay is to receive a visit by the French Navy ship FNS La GRANDIERE (L9034), one of five Champlain class small landing craft designed specifically for France’s overseas dependencies.

The ship arrives in the Zululand port this Saturday, 14 February 2015.

La Grandier has a length of 80m and a width of 13m and is powered by two diesel engines. She has a crew of 44 and can carry 138 soldiers and 12 vehicles. Her armaments consist of 2x 40mm (or 2x 20mm) AA guns, 2x81mm mortars, and 2x12.7mm machine guns. She also boasts a helicopter pad on the aft deck. La Grandiere was commissioned into service in 1987 and is based at Reunion.

Patrol ship in dry dock

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DAFF sea fishery patrol ship Sarah Baartman. Picture: Ian Shiffman

The sea fisheries offshore patrol ship SARAH BAARTMAN (1875-gt) is in East London undergoing a dry docking for maintenance and repair. Sarah Baartman, which was built in 2004 and commissioned in January of the following year, can be considered the ‘flagship’ of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) fleet. She was built in Romania at one of the Damen shipyards. The ship is not armed.

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NEW TERMINAL MANAGER FOR PORT OF CAPE TOWN TERMINALS

Pamela Yoyo

Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has announced the appointment of Pamela Yoyo as terminal manager of Cape Town Terminals (CTT), which includes the container and multi-purpose terminals.

Her appointment follows the transfer and promotion of former CTT terminal manager Brenda Magqwaka as general manager of TPT KwaZulu-Natal GM container terminals.

Yoyo started working for TPT as a human resources manager at the Richards Bay Dry Bulk Terminal in 2004. She later worked in a similar capacity at several TPT terminals including at the Durban Container Terminal and the Cape Town Container Terminal.

Her move into operations management took place in 2009 when she became a trainee operations manager and since then her rise has been rapid to the position of chief operations manager at the Cape Town Container Terminal.

She holds a BTech in Human Resource Management from Technikon South Africa, a BA degree in maritime studies and an M degree in transport and logistics management, both from Stellenbosch University.

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MARITIME SECURITY EXERCISE CONCLUDES IN DJIBOUTI

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SA Navy Maritime Reaction Force (Marines) exercising on board SAS Isaac Dyobha

An eight-day training exercise for Horn of Africa naval forces concluded last Wednesday, 4 February in Djibouti, Somalia's Radio Danan reported.

‘Exercise Cutlass Express 2015’ focused on improving regional co-operation and information-sharing practices among East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity, including the detection and disruption of the delivery of materials used to build and develop weapons of mass destruction, according to the US Africa Command, which co-ordinated the exercise.

Participating nations included Australia, Canada, Comoros, Djibouti, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Seychelles, Tanzania and Turkey.

Commander of the Djiboutian Navy Colonel Abdourahman Aden Cher presided over the closing ceremony, where he praised the opportunity the exercise presented for Djiboutian troops to gain expertise in maritime defence, the Djiboutian Information Agency reported.

“This is the first time that the Djiboutian Coast Guard, which is a young institution, has participated in an exercise on a regional scale involving a number of different national and international partners,” said Colonel Waiss Omar Bogoreh, commander of Djibouti's Coast Guard.

“This represents a unique opportunity to strengthen our capacity to collectively fight criminal activities such as terrorism, maritime piracy and illegal trafficking at sea,” he said. - Sabahi

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) participation in Exercise Cutlass Express consisted of a small group of nine SA Navy ratings, who are all members of the Navy’s Maritime Reaction Squadron. The squadron was founded to deal with anti-piracy operations, including the boarding and searching of vessels at sea.

The force also exists to protect Navy assets while in foreign ports.

News continues below…

BIMCO ISSUES AFRICAN SECURITY ADVISORY

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The Maltese-flagged Greek tanker Kalamos, which was attacked by pirates off Nigeria last week in which one of the officers was killed and others abducted

BIMCO recently issued an advisory to highlight recent events in the African region and reinforce guidance.

On the previous weekend armed pirates boarded and hijacked a fishing vessel underway off Togo. The Togo Navy responded and engaged the pirates. Twenty crew jumped overboard in an attempt to escape, and were rescued by the patrol boat. The remaining seven crew were taken hostage as the pirates fled heading out to sea. The pirates later left the ship and the crew sailed towards a safe port. One crew member has been reported as killed in the incident.

On Wednesday night last week it was reported by IMB that armed pirates attacked a Greek-owned tanker while it was waiting to load off Nigeria, killing its Greek deputy captain and taking hostage three other crew. The attack on the ship Kalamos, which had a crew of 23 and was sailing under a Maltese flag, took place at Qua Iboe.

Members would want to know BIMCO has further heard that the Master activated the SSA and made a distress call which was received on channel 16, requesting medical assistance as a result of injuries sustained from the pirate attack on the ship. Three persons are missing, while in fact two crew were injured, one fatally as reported.

A NIMASA patrol boat was said to have engaged the pirates in a gun battle. The pirates were said to be using two speed boats and are well-armed. It is understood that the First Officer was shot twice and the ship was making arrangements to evacuate the other injured crew. The injured person is believed to be the ship's chief mate. Three crew have been abducted from the ship (2nd Officer and 2 x AB).

Members are reminded that the region has become extremely dangerous and product tankers and kidnapping of Caucasian crews seem to be the primary objective of the pirates. Although, as above, no type is entirely safe.

The use of PMSCs

As reported last week by BIMCO Security the Nigerian Government has said that it will not hesitate to detain any ship entering the country's territorial and coastal waters with security escorts on board, whether armed or unarmed. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, gave this warning when the agency detained three ships, LILAC VICTORIA, UACC EAGLE and MORGANE, because they sailed into Nigeria with individuals linked to private security firms overseas offering training on the use of weapons.

Advice

Members are advised to note this intention which has been corroborated by other third party sources. Last week two PMSC guards were arrested and a ship detained although cargo operations have been allowed to continue. It is not yet known if the guards were armed or not.

Members are reminded that detailed BIMCO Guidance on Gulf of Guinea Piracy can be found in "Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Masters for Protection against Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea Region". The principles and best practices outlined are in many areas identical to dealing with SOMALI piracy and are strongly recommended. It is strongly advised if trading Nigeria members seek assistance from NIMASA or the Nigerian Navy, the only legitimate sources of protection.

News continues below…

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ALL BUT A SELL-OUT SEASON FOR MSC CRUISES IN SA

The 60,000gt MSC OPERA has more than being singing for its supper in SA waters….indeed it’s been an extraordinary year with average occupancy at 99.7 % for the season so far…and looking equally good for the remainder as cabins are mostly sold out,” Allan Foggitt, sales and marketing director, MSC Cruises SA, has told Ports & Ships.

PIC 1 Allan Foggitt
Never one to rest on his laurels, Allan Foggitt is cautiously optimistic about the coming 2015/16 cruise season, “which will be a bigger challenge with the extra 1,000 passengers a week needed for the stretched MSC SINFONIA, even though we are currently booking around 1,500 passengers a week,” said Allan.

Meanwhile, much interest has been generated by the lengthening of the MSC SINFONIA, the second of four MSC vessels to be stretched by nearly 24 metres…and the vessel designated to sail in South African waters later this year.

An outstanding maritime engineering marvel

Cutting a cruise liner in half means to lengthen it means just that…you cut it in half! One can but imagine the precision workmanship required to break through existing superstructure and fittings, without causing undue damage at any stage. It must be something to behold in situ.

PIC 2 DSC09138 A600
High up on stocks in the Italian Fincantieri shipyards and like a fish out of water…the soon-to-be 65,000gt MSC SINFONIA seen in the early stages of being fitted with 200 extra cabins…increasing the ship’s capacity from 2,100 to 2,600 passengers. The ship is currently being totally refurbished from stem to stern, which will see this popular vessel returning at the end of 2015 as a totally new ship with special features designed specifically for the South African market.

PIC 3 DSC09145 A294 A PIC 4 DSC09146294 B
The vessel has to be dragged apart into two separate sections, which would obviously be cause for distress among crew members, seeing their beloved home being broken up like this.

PIC 5 MSC Sinfonia and new midsection Jan 2015
With the entire process being conducted in a dry dock, here the new section for MSC SINFONIA gets eased into position, before the dock is emptied and the slice is inserted by a series of hydraulic lifts.

PIC 6 DSC09151600
A shot for use in a brochure this is not…but it truly does reveal the intricacy of the contemporary ship-stretching operation. It simply boggles the imagination to think how they are going to successfully patch it all up perfectly again? This is by no means new technology, with a few vessels having been lengthened back in the 70s even. But, the prohibitive costs of the complex operation proved a complete damper for other contenders in earlier years, but these days it is considered viable when compared with the cost of a newbuild. MSC Cruises is clearly reckoning on a favourable return of investment. So, then, this the MSC SINFONIA that will grace our waters later this year…and the entire operation promises more onboard vibes, extra facilities and a much sleeker and leaner profile for an already not unattractive lady of the seven seas. You’d better book now…

Do remember that MSC Cruise’s repositioning cruises still offer unbeatable cruise value and MSC SINFONIA will be departing the Italian port of Genoa on 25 October, via Civitivecchia, Katakolon, Port Said, Suez Canal, Safaga, Aqaba, Seychelles, Port Louis, Reunion and arriving in Durban on 19 November.

The ship sails from Cape Town to Venice on 6 May 2016, via Walvis Bay, Dakar, Las Palmas, Tangier, Valletta, Dubrovnik, Ancona and arriving in Venice on 28 May 2016. The lead-in prices are beyond attractive.

News continues below…

IMPROVEMENTS AT DAR ES SALAAM ALLOW LARGER SHIPS TO DOCK

Maersk Cubango, 1759699 shipspotting 470
Maersk Cubango

Tanzania Ports Authority says that it has concluded improvements at the port of Dar es Salaam to enable larger ships to safely dock and work cargo.

Acting Director-General, Madeni Kipande says that ships of up to 250m in length are now arriving and working cargo since the improvements. He cited Mediterranean Shipping Company’s MSC MARTINA, which is 244m in length with a width of 32.3m and was carrying 2,411 containers as one of the recent arrivals.

The largest ship to dock without any special arrangements was MAERSK CUBANGO with an overall length of 250 metres and a width of 38m and a capacity of 4,500 TEU.

“The arrival of such large vessels is a major achievement to be recorded by the Tanzania Ports Authority,” Kipande said.

A spokesman for MSC said the line intended bringing bigger ships onto the service that includes Dar es Salaam in the near future.

WHARF TALK: DURBAN’S PROBLEMS WITH DREDGING AND A HOAX

Durban dredging problems

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TNPA’s trailing suction hopper dredger ISANDLWANA

In recent months a number of incidents have occurred to raise concern among the Durban shipping community about the safety of the port with regards the depth of water in strategic places.

One of these is the entrance channel, where two ships touched bottom while attempting to enter port. As both ships had Transnet marine pilots on board and there has been no suggestion of pilot error, it becomes safe to assume there was a problem with the available depth of water at the time coupled with heavy swells.

In early December the German-owned container vessel ER Elsfleth of 33,800dwt touched bottom outside the harbour entrance channel just before reaching the shelter of the breakwater. The ship, which is fairly small compared with many other container ships, has a draught of 11.5m when fully loaded. At the time of her approaching the port a strong swell was running so the assumption is that the ship touched bottom as the swell dropped to its lowest point.

This is an area where white water has been noted breaking in the entrance channel, which old salts will tell you is a sign of shallow water. This is noticeable when a strong swell is running, as it was on the day when ER Elsfleth attempted to enter port.

All that Transnet had to say was that the ship “is suspected to have touched bottom.”

Fortunately there was no damage and after divers had conducted an inspection the ship was able to begin discharging and loading her containers.

This incident followed that of a potentially more serious one involving the oil tanker Pacific Quarz in October last year. In very similar circumstances the tanker tore a large hole in her bottom hull after also “touching bottom” while attempting to enter port. The tanker is double hulled and the gash opened up her water ballast tank, so no oil leaked otherwise there could have been an environmental catastrophe on Durban’s hands.

The implications of these two incidents, as well as several others involving ships within the harbour including one of a container vessel that got stuck on a sandbank for several hours, should be causing alarm bells to be ringing at TNPA’s Harbour Master department, as it suggests that dredging has not been done recently and that outside the port entrance a shoal is forming, while inside sections of the harbour have been silting up.

These are a layman’s interpretation of events. It’s up to TNPA to disclose the full facts of the matter but so far none have been given despite being asked. The port doesn’t lack the necessary equipment. A few years ago Transnet acquired the trailing suction dredger Isandlwana and has since taken delivery of the grab hopper dredger Italeni while retaining use of another trailing suction dredger, Ingwenya.

The department performs its own hydrographic soundings and is presumably aware of the changing conditions inside and outside the port. The entrance channel when widened and deepened in 2010 at a cost of R2.83 billion, boasted a depth of -19 metres outside the channel entrance, shallowing to -16m as you enter the channel between the breakwaters and continuing with this depth until the end of the T-Jetty was reached. As none of the berths exceed a permissible draught of -12.5 metres and many are far less, no ship permitted to enter port should have been in danger of going aground.

The inference therefore is that maintenance dredging has not been performed which resulted in these incidents taking place.

Although our attempts to obtain comment from Transnet have gone unanswered, we understand that since then a high spot off the corner of the T-Jetty opposite berths N and O has been removed (this is where a container ship got stuck) and dredging at other troublesome points has been done, including the sand trap outside the South breakwater.

The latter is essential in order to trap sand moving by littoral drift up the coast, which otherwise is dumped on the seabed in front of the port entrance, creating Durban’s notorious sandbar.

The Port of Durban has since been authorised to exceed the current dredging budget to attend to any urgent and additional dredging necessary in the port.

Although official comment has been withheld, the following was volunteered by a former Durban and Cape Town dredger master, harbour pilot and harbour master retired, Captain Bill Shewell.

As marine staff working vessels through the entrance going back 50 years in my time, we witnessed the incredible speed that the sand drift past the Bluff would accumulate within two days of a westerly blow.

“As Pilots we would consider the state of the tide before bringing deeper draft vessels in or wait till the dredgers had done a middle line bar sweep.

“The two large dredgers would already have been out at dawn, pipes down, sucking away this drift of collected sand and dropping their loads off the beach off Addington, allowing the sand to continue its natural drift north.

“Today or tomorrow or next year or next generation of dredgers will need to get off their berths at dawn, get out on the sand bar and dig like hell to suck off the last storm drift, and then continue digging a pit behind the bluff drift [sand trap] considerably deeper than twice the new depth of the channel in the hope that they have dug or sucked out sufficient sand flow area to allow our normal deep draft vessels safe entrance.

“It is not a mystery, it’s a working challenge. If you want ships to cross the bar, dig the sand away, but remember it will come back, and the dredgers must be one step ahead again, budget or no budget.

“Before they dig out Toti harbour, the same will apply there, just like Richards Bay and now at Durban.”

Durban taken in by hoax

MSC Nikita DSC 0069 ADJ 470
Picture courtesy Damian Carrington

Someone had a good laugh at the expense of many in Durban last week with a story that he or she placed in the social media, together with a collection of photographs apparently providing evidence of a ship sinking in Durban harbour.

As has been demonstrated so often by the power and outreach of the social media, it didn’t take long for the story to go ‘viral’. I personally received numerous phone calls, emails and text messages either advising of what was ‘happening’ or seeking confirmation about the apparently unfolding drama.

The pictures showed an MSC container ship, MSC Nikita being towed into port in a severely distressed condition, with a list to port and down at her stern, so much that part of her stern was under water. A number of harbour tugs hovered around her, a coast guard type vessel was on standby and a large salvage tug appeared to have the main tow.

How the ship remained afloat looked a mystery in itself.

As dramatic as this looked, anyone even slightly familiar with Durban and Transnet harbour tugs ought to have been able to identify a number of things indicating that this wasn’t Durban, yet there were more than a few experienced old salts who were, at least initially, taken in by the dupe.

For one thing, the harbour tugs were red and white, whereas Transnet tugs are black and white. South Africa doesn’t have any coastguard vessels such as in one of the pictures, and there are no electric pylons running across the harbour as appear in other pictures.

It is also highly unlikely that either TNPA or SAMSA would allow a ship in this condition anywhere near the port of Durban entrance.

Transnet reacted rather frostily, issuing a statement later in the day which called the matter a “malicious hoax” and denying that any ship was sinking in Durban harbour.

An investigation by veteran ships agent Andy Anderson turned up the events leading to these remarkable pictures. This drama took place in 2009 outside the port of Rotterdam. The story back then, together with the same photographs as used in the Durban hoax, appeared in Ports & Ships online on 15 September of that year, showing the container ship being towed into the safety of the Maasvlakte section of Rotterdam harbour, where her cargo was later discharged before the ship was temporarily repaired and taken away for breaking up.

MSC Nikita had earlier been involved in a collision with another ship outside the port and had been breached in her engine room, leading to flooding. Being close to port, help was quickly on hand and there was no environmental disaster.

Back in Durban, and in late January 2015 someone who remains unknown has meanwhile enjoyed a good laugh at the expense of so many people.

* The above articles appeared on the shipping page of The Mercury Network of 3 February 2015

EXPECTED SHIP ARRIVALS and SHIPS IN PORT

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Gateway port

Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

In the case of South Africa’s container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container Stack Dates are also available.

You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by going HERE - remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.

PICS OF THE DAY – MSC VANCOUVER and MSC DAMLA

MSC VANCOUVER 7 February 2015 2 470

MSC DAMLA 7 February 2015 2 470

Two Mediterranean Shipping Company ships arriving in Durban harbour this week were (top) MSC VANCOUVER (93,572-dwt, built 2004), which is owned by ER Shiffahrt and was built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea, and the 6,266-TEU capacity MSC DAMLA (74,453-dwt, built 2002), built in Japan at the Ishikajima-Harima Heavy Industries shipyard. Pictures: Trevor Jones

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