Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 14, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • A heavyweight floating crane for MACS Line

  • Reefer ship suffers fire damage in Mozambique Channel – on tow to Durban

  • SATAWU’s Randall Howard elected president of International Transport Federation

  • Possible end to scourge of Somali pirates

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

    A heavyweight floating crane for MACS Line

    Maritime Carrier Shipping, better known as MACS Line, is currently celebrating 25 years of service to South Africa.

    MACS operates a multipurpose liner service between the UK/Europe and South Africa, but it’s not as obvious quite how the 25 year celebration fits in. The company says it was founded in 1970 and began the Europe-South Africa service in 1979, and followed this with the incorporation of one of its competitors, AESL in 1983. Now none of that quite adds up to 25 but oh well, what the heck, perhaps celebrating is just another way of saying thank you to customers and an excuse for having a party or two.

    MACS Line has long been a fixture in Durban with ships making regular use of the Multi Purpose Terminal on Pier 1. So much so that berths 101 and 102 were often referred to as ‘MACS Corner’. Recently however the company has had to relocate from Pier 1 to the new multi purpose terminal at the Point.

    MACS ships are also regular sights in Richards Bay, Maputo, Cape Town and Walvis Bay, and also calls at Port Elizabeth.

    The company operates an easily recognisable fleet of smart looking ships distinguished by the logo of a rhino painted in white and adjacent to the letters MACS on the black and red hull. Some of the ships are Ro-Ro vessels and a number have heavylift gear able to lift 80t or 100t loads.

    MACS latest acquisition is of special interest. She is a true heavylift Ro-Ro semi-submersible vessel named m/v Cheyenne, which can lift cargo of up to 400 tonnes with its own twin 200t cranes. Being a Ro-Ro Cheyenne also has a strong ramp on the stern and as a semi-submersible is able to float cargo on or off, giving the operator three methods of handling oversized cargo, although the really interesting thing about this ship is what MACS intends to do with her.

    “The universal purpose vessel m/v Cheyenne will, in future, be used as a floating crane at all ports where MACS Line calls, where special handling equipment is required and where MACS own tonnage does not have sufficient gear to operate themselves,” says Felix Scheder-Bieschin, who with his brother and father runs the company that Felix Snr founded in Germany back in 1970, or was it 1979…., oh well, lets say 25 years ago.

    Cheyenne will function as a very strong floating crane and will increase the lifting capacity at many of the smaller ports around the southern African coast, from the range of Angola in the west to Tanzania and the Indian Ocean islands in the east.

    The idea is to station the shallow-draft ship (4.8m) in South Africa from early in 2007 following which it will be used in a tranship and feeder ship capacity under the full control of MACS Line and sister company Gulf Africa Line, a multi purpose company operating between southern Africa and the US Gulf ports. With the increase in project cargo along the southern, west and east African coasts Cheyenne looks to be kept busy.

    Cheyenne was last in South Africa in May this year to deliver a giant new ship unloader for the Bidfreight Port Operations’ bulk terminal at Durban’s Maydon Wharf.

    Reefer ship suffers fire damage in Mozambique Channel – on tow to Durban

    According to an as yet unconfirmed report, the conventional reefer ship Ice Flake (6,985-dwt, 1987-built) has suffered fire damage in her engine room while off the Mozambique coast and is under tow and is heading for Durban.

    The refrigerated ship, registered in the Cayman Islands and owned by a Greek company had earlier loaded citrus fruit at Maputo and is believed to have been off the Mozambique coast near Beira when the fire broke out. This has since been extinguished leaving the ship without power hence the tow.

    It is understood that the Durban firm of Dormac has secured the contract to repair the ship in Durban.

    In another incident involving a reefer ship late last week, the Estonian vessel Tahoma Reefer caught fire in the port of Monrovia in Liberia, West Africa. As flames threatened to engulf the ship a US Navy non-combatant ship USNS Apache (T-ATF 172) in the employ of the US Military Sealift Command came to the assistance in rescuing the crew and bringing the fire under control after a battle lasting more than four hours.

    There were no in juries or casualties on board the reefer which received extensive fire damage.

    SATAWU’s Randall Howard elected president of world union federation

    Satawu General Secretary Randall Howard was last week elected President of the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) – a powerful global union federation with worldwide membership and influence. The organisation has been holding its four yearly congress in Durban.

    In his speech Howard, who replaces outgoing president Umraomal Purohit, stated: “Satawu (the South African Transport & Allied Workers' Union) recognises that our international work has strategic importance for our movement. There is recognition that the most effective way to challenge global capital is through global organising and trade union work.”

    “During the next four years we need to become more deliberate about advancement of women. We want to improve their involvement in trade unions and ITF structures, and their representation in leadership positions.

    Referring to the ITF’s commitment to a worldwide anti-HIV/Aids campaign, he concluded: “The resolution we have adopted builds on our previous work on HIV/Aids, and we must now intensify our efforts. In 2010, we must be able to report back to the next congress about what we have done, not on why we didn’t do it. The ITF must invest a lot more into that struggle, as effectively as we can.”

    After leaving school Randall Howard worked for various companies before being employed by South African Container Depots (SACD) in 1986. He joined the Transport and General Workers’ Union and was elected a shop steward and then the Chairperson of the Western Cape branch. In 1988 he was dismissed from SACD and became a full time organiser with TGWU. He was subsequently elected Branch Secretary, then National Deputy General Secretary and, in 1994, General Secretary. He held this position until the merger of TGWU and Sarhwu in 2000. At Satawu’s founding congress Randall Howard was elected General Secretary and in this capacity is a member of the Central Executive Committee of Cosatu.

    What is the ITF?

    The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a global organisation representing around four and a half million transport workers worldwide. There are currently 624 unions from 142 countries affiliated to the ITF, which carries their interests into the global arena.

    Founded in London in 1896 the ITF is one of 10 Global Union Federations.

    Possible end to scourge of Somali pirates

    Hopes to an end to piracy off the coast of Somalia are high this weekend following the seizure of the pirate haven of Haradere by the Islamic Courts militia.

    The port was seized earlier yesterday (Sunday) by units of the Islamic Courts which are gradually spreading their control across much of southern and central Somalia. Haradere, a small port about 300km to the north of Mogadishu, has been the centre of many of the highjackings and acts of piracy by Somalis in recent months and the place where the seized ships were most often taken.

    According to an Islamic Courts spokesman the Islamic Courts are in full control of the town and port and have been welcomed by the local population. He said the days of piracy and banditry were over and people could go back to being ordinary fishermen but definitely not piracy.

    map courtesy IRIN – click to enlarge

    The pirates of Haradere were answerable to no-one except regional warlord Abdi Mohamed Afweyane, who is usually held responsible for encouraging the acts of piracy off the Somali coast under the guise of protecting the coastline from foreign intrusion. The pirates or bandits apparently fled at the approach of the Islamic Courts militia who arrived in trucks and bakkies armed with machine and other guns.

    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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