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Ports & Ships Maritime News

29 September 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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The car carrier VIKING OCEAN (39,454 gt, built 2012) finally made it into Durban harbour on Saturday, 26 September after being at anchor in the outer anchorage since her arrival off port on 31 August 2015. Since then the ship was shown as waiting on orders which must have come last week as the vessel suddenly raised anchor and headed into port, where she began working cargo. The ship sailed again later at around 21h00 that night. The picture of the ship arriving at R berth in the early morning is by Ken Malcolm.

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Benguela Viking, Viking Fishing's first trawler. Picture: Viking Fishing

Ten crew from the fishing trawler LINCOLN have died and three more were missing yesterday afternoon after a day of drama at sea 20 n.miles south of Hangklip.

Another eight crew members survived and were picked up by other vessels responding to the call for assistance in a search and rescue operation taken over by the Cape Town-based Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC).

Telkom Maritime Radio Services meanwhile broadcast an all ships alert warning vessels in the area to be on alert.

The drama began in heavy seas on Sunday at 18h00 when the 42-metre Viking Fishing trawler LINCOLN issued a distress call reporting that it was taking on water in heavy seas of 6 metre swells and winds gusting to 45 knots some 20 n.miles south of Hangklip, which is 35 n.miles south east of Cape Point. The distress radio call said that all 21 crew were preparing to abandon ship which was taking on water.

In response the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) launched sea rescue craft from their Hermanus and Simon's Town bases while at sea several other fishing vessels in the area responded, as did the bulk carrier vessel HARVEST RISING (46,678 dwt, built 1996). An SA Air Force 22 Sqaudron Lynx helicopter also responded by flying to the scene to carry out a search pattern for survivors.

The responding vessels on arrival, including the fishing vessels FUSCHIA, ARMANA and AFRICAN QUEEN, reported that all 21 crew on board the Lincoln had abandoned their vessel. Nine of the survivors were picked up and another nine bodies were recovered from the sea, with all vessels in the immediate area taking part in this operation, but three of the Lincoln crew remained unaccounted for.

The survivors were transported ashore and taken to hospital for observation. According to the NSRI one of the survivors who had been rescued had succumbed to injuries and died.

The eight survivors were receiving trauma councelling as were the families of those deceased.

According to the NSRI, despite an extensive air and sea search throughout the night and during Monday morning, no sign of the missing three crew have been found.

Meanwhile, the Lincoln was boarded by engineers and a tow was secured to another Viking Fishing trawler which took the casualty vessel in tow on a heading towards Table Bay.

An inquest docket has been opened by the police and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will open an investigation into the incident.

Viking Fishing has been in existence sine 1980 and is based from Cape Town. What was originally a family-owned company now employs about 1250 people many of whom having been with Viking since it was started 35 years ago. The company's founder, Nico Bacon remains as chairman of the company.

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The Capesize bulker Cape Orchid. Picture by Shipspotting

Both SAMSA and the Department of Transport expressed satisfaction at the weekend when what is claimed to be the first South African merchant vessel since 1985 was registered on the ships' registry.

The satisfaction centred around the the bulk carrier CAPE ORCHID (172,569 dwt, built 2001) which has been transferred to the South African Register. The ship is owned by Canadian interests and is on charter to a joint venture involving a major Japanese shipping line and a local South African BEE-empowered company.

It has been a mission undertaken by SAMSA and the DoT to resuscitate the moribund South African ships' registry as a means of raising national pride and of creating employment for South African seafarers, and in recent years some very ambitious plans have been announced.

Both SAMSA and the DoT have been encouraging investment in the local marine economy, which has been given impetus with the announement last year of Operation Phakisa which has similar if not more ambitious intentions in which some extravagant numbers have been targeted for employment in the maritime industry.

Cape Orchid sailed from Saldanha Bay last week after loading iron ore for Asia. It is believed that a second vessel which will be joining Cape Orchid on the local registry is due in the near future.

In a statement issued by SAMSA and the DoT at the weekend the occasion was described as a major milestone for South Africa and a step towards transformation for the shipping industry.

"South Africa, regarded as a maritime nation, relies each year on about 12,000 foreign vessels to carry 96 percent of its exports to the rest of the world. Most shipping lines register their ships outside SA yet carry millions of cargo each day [sic] to foreign countries. Aside from the income which is generated by ports and related cargo and vessel services, this potentially huge source of revenue stemming from freight remains largely untapped, and the SA economy receives no direct benefit," read the statement.

"Because all of these large vessels who come to our shores are flagged in foreign states, there is also obviously no obligation on the ship owners to employ South African citizens as crew. The key underlying purposes behind increasing the number of large and internationally going cargo and passenger vessels on the SA Register are accordingly to prevent the outflows of freight and passenger fares, to bolster the South African maritime industry in general, and to create jobs for local seafarers."

When Cape Orchid sailed it was with three South African maritime cadets serving on board who will gain their necessary sea-time on the ship.

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FS Mistral, the first of the class of French helicopter carriers

The two Mistral class helicopter carriers originally ordered by Russia as part of a four-ship deal with France have been sold to Egypt, France's Elysee Palace has confirmed.

The ships were ordered by Russia before the Ukraine Crimea crisis erupted, which led to a banning of military equipment to Russia which has been seen as the aggressor in the dispute. The Russians had paid a substantial amount for the four ships on order, of which two were to be built in France and two in Russia.

The contract was signed between the Russian government and France's STX shipyard with a value of US$1.3 billion but was later suspended as a result of international pressure in order to bring sanctions against Russia. France and Russia were reported to have reached a settlement recently in which Russia was reimbursed for moneys already paid. Certain Russian equipment for the new ships was returned.

It is reported that Egypt will pay around $1.06 billion for the two ships which were already under construction when the Russian deal was scrapped.

Delivery is expected to begin in March next year. The sale includes the training of 400 Egyptian naval personnel in the Saint-Nazaire shipyards.

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Watch a video of the world's largest ship. Video courtesy : Shipping Harbors [3:54]

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the world's second biggest container line, last week launched into service its latest Oscar class 19,224 TEU container ship, MSC MAYA.

She is the fourth in the class and follows behind MSC OSCAR, MSC ZOE and MSC OLIVER.

The ship is named after the grand-daughter of the group's founder and executive chairman, Gianluigi Aponte.

MSC Maya arrived in Antwerp for the naming ceremony from the shipyards of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Maritime Engineering (DSME) where another 16 of this class are on order and under construction. The ship naming was held on Saturday, 26 September and four-year old Maya Aponte broke the traditional bottle of champagne against the ship to name the new vessel. Looking on were her proud parents, president and chief executive officer Diego Aponte and his wife Ela Soyuer Aponte.

"Holding the ceremony in Antwerp means a lot to our family because this is where it all started for MSC," said Diego Aponte. "It was 45 years ago that my father and my mother started MSC with a single conventional ship, the MV PATRICIA, in Brussels. I believe it is through these kind of moments that we can transmit our passion for the sea to our children, to carry forward what my father has built over the past four decades."

The new ship is 395 metres in length with a beam of 59m and is designed to be environmentally friendly including a low fuel consumption MAN B&W 11S90ME-C two-stroke diesel engine, with an output of 62.5 MW (83,800 hp). The engine is designed to reduce CO2 emissions. The ship carries a crew of 22.

MSC Maya is deployed on MSC's ASia to Northern Europe service.

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Shire River in Malawi

The possibility of the Zambezi abnd Shire River systems being put to use as a shipping route is again on the agenda as Malawi attempts to resurrect what was once a transport route into landlocked Malawi.

According to the Mozambique news agency AIM, the transport ministers of Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique met in the Malawian capital Lilongwe to discuss the feasibility of using the Shire and Zambezi rivers for international shipping.

The ministers are considering a report by independent consultants on the navigability of the Shire-Zambezi Waterway (SZW) project. The proposed route is from Nsanje in Malawi to Chinde, the small Mozambican town at the mouth of the Zambezi. Most of the 343 kilometre long route is through Mozambican territory.

The project was conceived by the late Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, who considered it key to lowering transport costs to the Indian Ocean.

Malawi even went as far as building port facilities at Nsanje at a cost of twenty million US dollars. In October 2010 it actually held an inauguration ceremony attended by VIPs including President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Zambia's former president Rupiah Banda. The event was a huge embarrassment when the Mozambican authorities blocked fertiliser laden barges that were en route to the ceremony. That incident including the arrest of Malawi's military attache for 'cruising on the River Shire', was reported at the time here in PORTS & SHIPS CLICK HERE.

Since the meeting in Lilongwe last WednesdayMozambique's transport ministry has been outspoken, again rejecting the proposal, reports Radio Mozambique.

Transport minister Carlos Mesquita said that the first major conclusion that the German consultant arrived is that the Shire and Zambezi rivers are not commercially navigable in their natural form, and would require having to be dredged at least by 1.5 metres to make them navigable.

Mesquita said the dredging would cost about US$18 million, followed by a further $30 million annually to ensure maintenance dredging, and another $50 million to clean up the vegetation that surrounds the two rivers. Then there would be additional investments necessary for port and operating infrastructure.

The consultant's report indicated that navigation would be possible for just four or five months in the year, or about 36 percent of the time. In view of these findings it did not make sense to consider the two rivers as being commercially viable, particularly as the likely traffic would not exceed 250,000 tons a year.

Mesquita pointed out that all the Mozambique ports had been built to serve inland destinations including the landlocked countries of southern Africa. Malawi has a direct rail link to the sea along the Nacala Corridor to the two ports at Nacala -- one for general cargo and the other for coal and other minerals.

He said that stories that Nacala was available only for coal exports was a total fallacy. The rehabilitated railway was capable of carrying a wide variety of cargo using heavier wagons with trains running at higher speeds.

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Karl Socikwa, TPT CEO

Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) and Grindrod have announced bursaries that each company intends awarding to deserving candidates. The timing of the announcement was to coincide with World Maritime Week and the staging of last weekend's Port Festival held at the Port of Richards Bay. The theme of this year's World Maritime Week is Maritime Education and Training.

"One of our objectives is to identify key talent and assist in developing their skills and empowering them to achieve their potential," said TPT chief executive, Karl Socikwa.

"As a company we are passionate about empowerment, through education and training. We are delighted to be able to help these hardworking students with their tuitions and are confident that they will put their education to good use in becoming the future leaders of South Africa," he said.

The TPT bursary money is intended to help ease the financial burden of school tuition and will go towards helping scholars cover the costs of uniforms, textbooks and stationary for the next academic year. In order to be chosen as a bursary winner, scholars will have to meet specific criteria. They will have to be Grade 10 students who are studying maths and science as core subjects, as well as being consistently high performers who are from a previously disadvantaged background.

Three reports from the final term of 2014 and the first two terms of 2015 will also have to be submitted in order for candidates to be considered for a bursary.

In addition to the bursaries, TPT staff will also be giving of their time to help educate groups of students about future career possibilities in the maritime industry.

Durban-based Grindrod said at the recent weekend that it intends awarding four bursaries to disadvantaged students to study a one year diploma in Maritime studies at either Durban University of Technology or Cape Technikon. The bursaries will be in the names of Grindrod and Sturrock Grindrod.

There are several initiatives in place, such as a graduate programme, specifically developed to help graduates bridge the gap between learning institutions and the work place. Graduates are exposed to various divisions of the business by following a structured practical programme, and acquiring practical skills which are relevant to both the business and the graduates' fields of interest and learning. Where possible, after the programme, graduates will be absorbed into the business and offered permanent positions.

In addressing employment equity the focus has always been on a high percentage of graduates from previously disadvantaged groups.

Grindrod Shipping Training Academy, a prominent developer of young South African talent since 1975 has trained both seafarers and personnel for shore based sectors of trade. It is a registered establishment that conducts courses required by the marine and allied industries. It provides South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA) approved training courses to local and international clients.

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The heavy load carrier FAIRPLAYER (15,027 gt built 2008) sails from Durban after making a bunker and supplies call. The ship is laden with what appears to be oil industry equipment. The heavyload ship is Dutch owned, operated and flagged. Pictures are by Trevor Jones


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