Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 7, 2006
Author: P&S


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  • Coega’s cart placed before the horse

  • Mighty Servant 3 sinks outside Luanda

  • Mossel Bay protesters march to prevent harbour cannery

  • Share your Christmas with a Seafarer

  • SAS Isandlwana on her way home from South America

  • Pic of the day

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    Coega’s cart placed before the horse

    It doesn’t come as a surprise but is at least now public knowledge – government is in no hurry to open the port of Ngqura, possibly as a result of realising there is as yet little need for it.

    This became evident this week when Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin, responding to a written question from opposition MP Eddie Trent (DA), disclosed that the time frames necessary to bring the port into operation were still to be decided. He revealed that they will be submitted to the Transnet Board for consideration only later this year.

    To all extents and purposes the new port is complete from a marine perspective, other than a tug basin and a proposed extension to the intended container terminal. But before the port can open for business someone must decide what goes where, if indeed anything goes anywhere.

    If that sounds like gobbledygook then consider this. A new deep water port has been built but remains unused, complete with five berths that authorities now think is insufficient although they remain uncertain what bulk cargoes will be handled. It still has to be decided whether the manganese will transfer from Port Elizabeth to Ngqura, and there is unfinished business about whether the new port can become a second export outlet for iron ore.

    The move to develop a container terminal came about only after the port was being planned when a container company (P&O Nedlloyd) offered to develop a container terminal. This was not included in the original plans but was quickly accepted. P&O Nedlloyd subsequently found itself suddenly excluded.

    According to the EP Herald newspaper, opposition MP Trent reacted angrily to the minister’s reply, saying that the situation was ‘unacceptable’.

    “How can you embark on a multi-billion rand project without having some idea of the whole process and how it will unfold and how that project will become operational?

    “The least we would expect is that Erwin will make an announcement before the end of the year. It is quite unacceptable that there is this kind of ad-hoc approach where major investment is involved,” he is quoted as having said.

    Minister Erwin explained earlier that the management of large capital projects had been allocated to a Transnet team which was responsible for the feasibility, design and implementation of projects costing in excess of R300 million.

    “The project plan for the development of the Port of Ngqura container terminal includes the specification, procurement, installation and commissioning of the terminal and its equipment, including the cranes,” the minister said.

    The port of Ngqura, which as Trent should know has in fact been something of an ad-hoc affair since the beginning, has been under planning and development since 1996 or thereabouts. It carries the cumbersome name Ngqura, whereas the adjacent industrial zone is known by the easier name of Coega.

    Perhaps given the circumstances the port should be renamed Port Heath Robinson.

    Mighty Servant 3 sinks outside Luanda

    The Dutch semi-submersible heavylift ship Mighty Servant 3 sank yesterday outside Luanda harbour shortly after having discharged the drilling platform Aleutian Key. There were no fatalities or injuries and the Aleutian Key was not damaged in the accident.

    All 83 crew on board the platform remained on the vessel which later proceeded to its drilling position off the Angolan coast.

    The reason for the sudden sinking of Mighty Servant 3 is not yet clear and divers will have to go 62m deep to examine the ship. From reports it took a mere half hour for the heavylift to develop a list and go under. The weather and sea conditions were considered to be normal at the time.

    Mighty Servant 3 is owned by Dockwise Shipping which also owned Mighty Servant 2 – a similar ship that sank off the Indonesian coast in 1999 after hitting a reef.

    A few years prior to this (1996) Mighty Servant 2 spent some months in Durban after one leg of a three-leg rig collapsed across her deck while crossing the Indian Ocean. After inspection of the other legs in the safety of Durban harbour it was discovered that the other two were also severely corroded as well and had to undergo shortening and repairs before the heavylift could continue her voyage.

    Mossel Bay protesters march to prevent harbour cannery

    Protesters at the small port town of Mossel Bay received a last-minute nod from the police which allowed them to march in protest against the building of a fish cannery in the harbour precinct.

    Although the march was not well attended organisers dubbed it a success saying they had little notice to advise the public and attract support. The harbourmaster of Mossel Bay accepted a petition from the protesters at the harbour gates.

    The protest was called to appeal against the building of a pilchard cannery within the port, which was felt to be too close to tourist spots and the central business district. Protesters say the town will be affected by the smell and increased traffic levels from heavy lorries. They also say that blood water will spill into the harbour attracting sharks and other predators to Mossel Bay to the detriment of tourism. They want the cannery to be built further away from the town.

    The company planning to build the cannery has negotiated a 20-year lease with the National Ports Authority to permit the processing of pilchards/sardines on the south Coast instead of having to be taken long distances to west coast processing factories. It is claimed that in recent years fish stock has migrated to the south coast in greater numbers than before, making such a project viable.

    Share your Christmas with a Seafarer

    by Yvonne de Kock

    This project which has been running for 20 years is an important one in the life of all the Missions operating in the port of Durban (as in many other ports). Some 3000 parcels comprising small items which are of importance to seafarers are wrapped by a most enthusiastic team and distributed to those on vessels in the port of Durban as well as in the roadstead.

    Distribution takes place on 22, 23, 24 and 25 December. On 23 December a ‘Father Christmas’, accompanied by port chaplains goes out on a pilot boat, kindly supplied by the National Ports Authority, to deliver the gifts. On Christmas day Rev Boet van Schalkwyk boards vessels in port to deliver gifts and later all gather at the Bayhead Mission in Langeberg Road, Bayhead for a Christmas Service.

    The festive season can be a lonely time for those far from home and family especially where there are children involved. Nothing can replace this longing but by being remembered in a strange country and port and hearing some kind words and wishes, it is trusted that this time for seafarers will be less lonely.

    SAS Isandlwana on her way home from South America

    The South Africa Navy frigate SAS Isandlwana has departed from Valparaiso in Chile and is heading home after taking part in a naval expo in the Chilean port.

    Earlier the recently commissioned frigate participated in Exercise Atlasur VI with ships and personnel of the Brazilian and Argentine navies.

    Exponaval 2006 at Valparaiso was attended by 28 world navies with ships coming from South Africa, Chile, Mexico, Columbia and Argentina. Also in attendance was the chief of the South African Navy Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu and the South African Minister of Defence, Minister Lekota who signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at creating greater maritime trade links between South Africa and Chile.

    SAS Isandlwana is expected to return to South Africa on 21 December.

    Picture of the day

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    One of a number of similar beautiful reefer ships built in France in 1973, SNOW DRIFT has recently spent some time in Durban undergoing dry-docking and repairs/maintenance. She is a regular caller at the port during the citrus season along with some of her sisters, one of which, SNOW LAND, followed her for similar treatment.
    Over her 33 year life span she has had a number of owners, the present being Holy House Shipping of Sweden but flies the Cook Islands flag, being registered in Rarotonga. One wonders how much longer she will remain in service, presumably for some time as otherwise her owners would not have embarked on the work she had done in Durban. Picture copyright SHIPHOTO INTERNATIONAL email shack@iafrica.com

    NB Pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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