Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 8, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • Alexandros T survivors arrive in Durban

  • Richards Bay chalks up 30 years as a port

  • Tragic death of South African shipping leader

  • COTE D IVOIRE: Poultry cull in city markets after bird flu outbreaks

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
    WEB SITE: www.hugheship.com

    Alexandros T survivors arrive in Durban

    The seven survivors of the ill-fated ore carrier Alexandros T arrived in Durban by air yesterday (Sunday), after having been airlifted off the ship that rescued them, the Japanese bulker Fortune Express.

    The seven men, six Filipino and one Rumanian, were quickly whisked away to private lodgings and kept away from the media. A spokesman for the company that owned the Alexandros T said they were in need of rest and recuperation, although he is probably acting on instructions to ensure that the men do not have a chance to talk freely about what happened on board the stricken vessel.

    Earlier the South African search and rescue authorities announced that all hope of finding the missing 26 sailors have faded. Apart from several ships that searched in the area where the ore carrier is known to have sunk, a South African Air Force C130 Hercules aircraft conducted a patterned search looking for survivors. The aircraft was responsible for locating one of those rescued, a Filipino who was alone in one of the life rafts, and directed the Fortune Express to pick him up. The aircraft also reported seeing a number of other life rafts in the water which were all empty.

    It is thought that the missing sailors were unable to board life rafts before the ship broke up and sank and would have entered the water with life jackets on but at the mercy of the sea and the cold. The water temperature was reported to be in the region of 16 to 18 degrees Celsius and it would have been a matter of hours before hypothermia would have begun setting in.

    From all accounts the ship began taking on water somewhere off the Cape coast during Wednesday 3 May. With the ingress of water and heavy seas encountered south of Port Elizabeth the vessel began listing sharply during the early evening which led to the master giving instructions to abandon ship. Shortly afterwards it appears the vessel broke in two and sank rapidly. Messages had meanwhile been sent to the owners in Greece who had appointed Smit Amandla Marine as salvors but the vessel sank even before the tug Smit Amandla could put to sea from Cape Town. The ship’s position was then 280 miles south of Port Elizabeth.

    What is not yet publicly known if at all is why the 171,875-dwt fully laden ship began taking on water – was it through the hatches or was water admitted through a cracked hull? She was not the first ore carrier to get into difficulty while making the crossing from Brazil to China – given the circumstances of many of these ships no doubt she won’t be the last.

    Richards Bay chalks up 30 years as a port

    Every five years the port of Richards Bay has reason to celebrate. After all it was only 30 years ago on 1 April that the first ship entered what was then a brand new port, built to handle a total of 26 million tonnes of export coal to Japan over a ten year period.

    The celebration this year, marking 30 years as a port, took place about a month late on Friday, 5 May, but what difference does a month make when a party is in the offing? After all that’s one thing the good people of Richards Bay know how to do – party!

    But it’s not just about having a good time. It’s also a time to recall the small beginnings, of how in the first year only 86 ships called, compared with the almost 1,800 that called last year. Of how the port now earns R15 Billion annually in foreign exchange – mostly from the export of coal but also a surprising amount of other exports as well. In fact Richards Bay is primarily an export port, with minimal imports by comparison.

    Guests at the function, held in a large marque outside the port administration building, heard how the port now handles 89 million tonnes in a single year, representing about 53 percent of all cargo handled at South African ports. Guests also learned that Spoornet, one of the other partners in the Richards Bay success story, has carried 1.4 Billion tonnes of coal along the Richards Bay coal line since inception in 1976. This required 81,386 trains of 200 wagons each which, if joined together, would extend roughly 203,465 kilometres – about five times the diameter of the earth at the equator or half the distance to the moon.

    Altogether the port has handled 1.7 Billion tonnes of cargo over its quays – both coal and other commodities, and some 14,700 ships have called over these 30 years. The average size of each ship was 92,500-dwt.

    Guests were also given the expected pep talk about the future and were reassured with promises of infrastructural spending to take the port forward. Among immediate plans are the construction of a multi billion rand dry dock and ship repair facility to handle vessels up to 350,000-dwt – something not possible at present anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Guests were also told that the NPA was pushing very hard for a container terminal to be built at the port, and thus encouraged the port manager, Thami Ntshingila issued an appeal to the KZN Finance Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize (who was conveniently in attendance) to lobby his colleagues in central government to make sure the money was made available.

    SA Port Operations, which according to the programme was a co-sponsor of the function, for some reason failed to attend and were conspicuous as a result. SAPO has already gone on record saying that it intends major infrastructure improvements to the tune of R1 Billion at Richards Bay’s port terminals – something port users are pleased to hear as they have strong concerns over productivity at some of these terminals.

    In fact the Zululand Observer published several articles outlining many of the grumbles, complaints and concerns of port users in its edition that appeared the day before the party.

    ‘The once envied port, in the past referred to as ‘the Singapore of Africa’, is now spoken of in the same breath as third world ports such as Lagos and Mombassa, and stands in danger of being by-passed by world maritime trade,’ the Observer noted, adding that the port has gone backwards since its impressive beginnings.

    What was both amusing and reassuring was that the Observer’s editor, who wrote the pieces concerned, was nevertheless asked to act as master of ceremonies at the function, so presumably the good folk of Richards Bay port hold no grudges.

    Tragic death of South African shipping leader

    Kieran Sullivan, who opened and headed one of Durban’s most successful ships agency businesses, died tragically in a motor accident on the KZN North Coast on Friday night, May 5.

    Sullivan (49) was managing director of PIL South Africa, previously known as Foresure Ships Agency, and also of Penta Holdings which involved a variety of companies. One of his most recent business ventures was Foremost Yachts, the South African agents for Italy’s Ferretti Yachts.

    He started Foresure Ships Agency about five years ago along with three fellow directors. Before that he headed the local Nan Tai ships agency in South Africa and prior to that worked for both Maersk and the Grindrod Group.

    According to his fellow director and friend Louis MacGregor-Langley, Sullivan lived to help others and as a result he touched the lives of many. He said that business would continue with the remaining three directors running the PIL South Africa as before.

    COTE D IVOIRE: Poultry cull in city markets after bird flu outbreaks

    ABIDJAN, 5 May 2006 (IRIN) - Health and government officials in Cote d'Ivoire have announced a range of measures to stamp out bird flu after the discovery of at least three outbreaks in the main city Abidjan.

    Minister of Animal Production and Fish Resources, Alphonse Douaty, said on Friday that veterinarians are to cull all poultry in markets through the city as the government prepares a system for reimbursement.

    "We want to have a sanitary vacuum at these markets," Douaty said.

    The ministry was also planning to inspect industrial poultry farms and issue a stamp of approval to reassure costumers. The city’s four million people will be able to call a free hotline.

    Douaty said the government needed at least 6 billion CFA, or 11 million dollars, to compensate poultry farmers and combat the disease.

    The first cases of bird flu were reported on 26 April by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), but the Ivorian government issued official confirmation just this week.

    The latest of the three outbreaks was found in domestically kept chickens in the populous suburb of Yopougon, according to Daouda Coulibaly of the National Institute for Public Hygiene.

    Coulibaly said several people in the area were being monitored for potential human infections of the H5N1 avian virus.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    Did you know that Ports & Ships lists ship movements for all ports between Walvis Bay on the West Coast and Beira on the East Coast?

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