Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 9, 2006
Author: P&S

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  • US assists Kenyan Navy with new patrol craft

  • Hapag introduces Europe - West Africa service

  • Salvage blues at East London and Tristan da Cunha

  • Pilot training programme ‘piloted’ in South Africa

  • Mittal to reopen steel plants in Mozambique

  • Picture of the day

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    US assists Kenyan Navy with new patrol craft

    Mombasa, 6 October: The United States informed Kenya last week it would be donating a fleet of six armoured offshore patrol boats to assist Kenya with maintaining maritime security along its coastline.

    The US assistance comes in the face of increasing concerns over the security situation in neighbouring Somalia, where the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) is assuming power over large sections of the country, leading to a possible widespread movement of people fleeing from the area of conflict in southern Somalia.

    The US obviously fears that the UIC’s assumption of power in Somalia will lead to possible terrorist activity involving groups such as Al-Qaeda and has expressed its concern at the development. The developments place Kenya in the forefront of US and anti-terrorist activity in the region, something that Kenya would ordinarily have not wished for.

    The value of the patrol craft is said to be US $ 3 million and consists of five 8m Defender class patrol boats and a single 13m Archangel class boat. In addition Kenya armed forces will receive equipment and training.

    Last week Kenya announced that it had increased land and sea patrols near the Somali border, while the navy and port officials had been placed on high alert.

    The new patrol craft will be used for monitoring the coastline and deterring criminal activity including illegal arms and drug running.

    In 2005 the US also donated four Defender class boats to the Yemen to assist that country with patrolling its coastline.

    Hapag introduces Europe - West Africa service

    The German container carrier Hapag Lloyd is expanding its North/South services from the end of this year with two ships being deployed between Europe and West Africa.

    The development follows Hapag Lloyd’s recent announcement that it will have a slot charter arrangement with MSC between Europe and South Africa and was opening offices in South Africa. Initially Hapag Lloyd indicated it was to deploy its own ships on the South Africa service but later switched to having a slot charter arrangement with MSC instead.

    The new West Africa service will utilise two 800-TEU ships with a call rotation of Hamburg, Amsterdam, Southampton, Dakar and Tema, sailing every 16 days.

    Until now Hapag Lloyd enjoyed a slot charter arrangement with CSAV on the Europe/West Africa service.

    Since its takeover of Anglo-Canadian company CP Ships earlier this year Hapag Lloyd has become the world’s fifth largest container carrier. The company says it has traditionally focused on the main East/West routes but intends stepping up its presence in the North/South trades, particularly those with Africa. The company is owned by the Hanover-based TUI Group.

    Hapag-Lloyd is represented in West Africa by Sumaco, Abidjan/Ivory Coast, Somicoa, Dakar/Senegal, Blue Funnel Nigeria, Apapa/Nigeria and Blue Funnel Ghana, Tema/Ghana.

    Salvage blues at East London and Tristan da Cunha

    There is still no news about two salvage operations – one along South Africa’s east coast and the other in the South Atlantic at Tristan da Cunha.

    The first mentioned involves the ill-fated container ship Safmarine Agulhas, which went aground outside the port of East London on 26 June. Despite efforts by the salvage team from Smit Salvage, the ship resisted all efforts and remained firmly aground alongside the port’s western breakwater where she eventually broke her back.

    The South African maritime authorities subsequently instructed the owners to totally remove the shipwreck ‘right down to the seabed’ and gave a date of February 2007 by when this is to be achieved.

    A tender process resulted in four companies bidding for the contract but so far and for no reason that Ports & Ships knows of there has been no indication when the successful contractor will be announced. The German owners presumably know a thing or two and must have confidence that the shipwreck can still be removed in time.

    The second ‘shipwreck’ still unresolved involves an oil platform curiously known as ‘A Turtle’ but which was named Petrobas XXI when it ‘got lost’ in mid Atlantic and subsequently went aground along the coast of the remote island of Tristan da Cunha sometime between May and early June. Efforts by the salvage company Smit Salvage, using the tug Zouros Hellas to remove the rig from the rocky shores of Trypot Bay, proved unsuccessful and were eventually abandoned ‘for the time being’ until the weather improved and a larger and more powerful tug could be obtained.

    That’s where the situation is at present, although the islanders are understandably asking questions and wondering what lies ahead. As the island’s news website tristandc.com put it recently, “Despite assurances from optimistic salvors, there must be a concern that the rig could break up to an extent that a salvage operation (to its planned destination of Singapore for repairs) will not be worth the expense, given the original state of the rig and subsequent damage.”

    Perhaps a re-assurance from both respective owners would help settle the uncertainty.

    Pilot Training Programme ‘piloted’ in SA

    by Jyothi Naidoo, NPA

    Training of marine pilots at the National Ports Authority of South Africa (NPA) is soon to once again become a wholly South African product. In recent years all training has been conducted in the Netherlands at the Shipping and Transport College, Rotterdam (STC), but now the NPA has launched the ‘pilot programme’ of the Pilot Training Programme, which will be held at the Port Training Academy, the training centre of the NPA in the Port of Durban.

    This development is a milestone for the NPA and also ensures that the critical skill needed to sustain the core business (Marine Operations) is being provided prior to a skills shortage.

    “In order to sustain NPA in terms of growth, we have to build a strong foundation in terms of Marine skills such as Tug Masters and Pilots. The key to our success is our people, hence it our intention to solidify our skills and strengthen our foundation,” said Beatrice Nkayi, Executive Manager: Human Resources at NPA, who is also the Project Sponsor.

    Pictured at the NPA Academy, from left to right: Willem de Vreeze (STC), Vish Govender (NPA Pilot Trainer), Basil Ndlovu (Port Manager), Alison Visagie (Manager: Port Academy), Capt. Eddie Bremner, Beatrice Nkayi (Exec Manager: HR – also Project Sponsor) & representative from STC. Picture NPA

    The programme is a joint partnership between the NPA and STC which will last for a period of three years. The objective of this partnership is the migration of knowledge and during this ‘hand-holding’ period the role of STC will decrease and that of the NPA increase until STC exits at the end of the third year.

    The programme started with STC in 1999 and has continuously been reviewed which has led to a much improved programme today. The training will now be conducted by South African Pilots over a period of 52 weeks. Previously trainees spent three months in Rotterdam undergoing training. With the new programme they will attend only a two week practical training course in Rotterdam. Willem de Vreeze, representing STC, and who is instrumental in this entire process, gave the assurance that the training programme is in line with international standards such as the IMO (International Maritime Organisation).

    A rather familiar figure in the Maritime Industry, who is the project champion and technical representative for marine services and exco to ensure that the details of the program reflect the NPA business needs, is Capt. Eddie Bremner, former chief harbourmaster who recently retired. He has been an integral part of the process from the beginning and part of his contract back to NPA is specifically for the pilot training. Capt. Bremner is generally very passionate and excited about this programme.

    The male candidates undergoing training to become marine pilots with the NPA. Picture courtesy NPA

    The minimum criteria for selection were: a qualified Tug Master, Class 3, ex Naval Watch keeper certificate. All applicants were subject to psychometric testing, stringent interviews and medical tests. Trainees will also have a dedicated mentor at each port to ensure effective monitoring and feedback. The training material was prepared as per SAQA quidelines.

    The scope of the training will entail the following phases:

    Phase 1: Colregs, Ship handling theory and practical, tidal theory, SMCP & communication, STCW Radar Navigation, ISPS, Search and Rescue, IALA buoyage system, HUET, ISM/ISPO, DGPS/ECDIS/AIS, MARPOL, Port State Control, liability Marine Insurance, Salvage Agreements, Cargo handling & stability, Port Familiarization, (Dis)Embarkation

    Phase 2: VTS familiarisation, Regional Regulations relating to pilotage, Regional tidal aspects, Communication procedures in the port, Navigation in port approach and port entrance, anchoring, sailing from anchorage,

    Phase 3: Navigation in port area, use of tugboats, docking/undocking, mooring on buoys, emergency situations, Bridge Resource Management.

    The candidates are existing NPA employees from the various ports and include both women and men.

    Mittal to reopen steel plants in Mozambique

    Mittal Steel South Africa says it intends acquiring two closed steel mills in Mozambique, the Companhia Mozambique de Trefiloria and Companhia Siderigica de Mozambique, which are presently owned by the Mozambique government.

    In terms of how ‘privatisation’ usually happens in Mozambique, Mittal will most likely enter into a partnership with government but says it hopes to have both mills up and running in a matter of months.

    The two steel mills are costing the Indian-based company something like R90 million US $ 11.45 million). Mittal Steel SA also owns and operates the former government-owned Iscor Steel in South Africa, known now as Mittal Steel SA.

    Picture of the day
    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Too large for West Africa (see our report above), Hapag Lloyd’s Colombo Express is one of the new generation large container ships. Picture courtesy Hapag Lloyd

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