Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 26, 2007
Author: P&S


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  • Cape Town entertains the cruise ships

  • Pier 1 sets target of becoming No.1 container terminal

  • Marine and Coastal management holds regional meetings re new cost recovery framework

  • Integrated Coastal management Bill public participation process

  • Farewell to the Big Whites

  • Pic of the day – BELUGA RECOMMENDATION

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

    Cape Town entertains the cruise ships

    Yesterday was a bumper passenger ship day for Cape Town with four passenger/cruise ships gracing the port and the V&A Waterfront in particular.

    Fred Olsen’s cruise ship BLACK WATCH of 28,670-gt was the first to arrive on Tuesday for a three-day stopover – she sails again later tonight. BLACK WATCH is a regular and popular caller in South Africa bringing mainly British visitors to these shores. From Cape Town she heads around the Cape toward the east coast ports.

    The second ship to arrive was another British ship, the rather delightful 24,490gt SAGA RUBY, which with her near sister SAGA ROSE must surely rank as two of the best looking classic passenger ships afloat. SAGA RUBY operates with the Saga Holidays company of Folkstone, UK. She was built at as the VISTAFJORD for the Norwegian American Line of Oslo in 1983, before being sold to Cunard in 1999 and renamed CARONIA, in which guise she remained until Saga bought her in 2003. She carries up to 690 passengers.

    Closely following behind SAGA RUBY was the diminutive Kenyan cruise ship ROYAL STAR (5.067-gt) which is becoming a regular summer caller in these parts. At this time of year ROYAL STAR makes a change to her routine of cruises between Mombasa and the northern Indian Ocean islands when she heads off down the east coast into South African waters. She is one of the few cruise ships able to actually dock at Mossel Bay by going alongside in that little harbour – other larger ships anchor outside and hope for calm seas so that passengers can go ashore to sample the delights of the Southern Cape. As shown in a photograph carried in PORTS & SHIPS earlier this week, ROYAL STAR is looking quite splendid for her age (built 1976). The ship was built at the Italian yard of CRD Adriatico in Trieste as the passenger ship SAN GIORGIO.

    Bringing up the rear of this quartet of passenger ships was the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena, which could regard Cape Town as her home base from where she journeys out to the islands of St Helena and Ascension in the south Atlantic and occasional forays to the even more remote Tristan da Cunha.

    Pier 1 sets target of becoming No.1 container terminal

    Durban, 25 January 2007: The signs are there that Durban’s second container terminal, now under construction at Pier 1 in Durban harbour, will set new benchmarks for standards of efficiency at South Africa’s container terminals.

    After many years of using straddle carriers to move containers around the terminals – always controversial because of the long distances each straddle has to operate, SA Port Operations (SAPO) has decided on a radical departure by opting for a rubber tyre gantry type operation (RTG), and Pier 1 is now in the midst of a total reconstruction. This will see it transformed it into a modern and hopefully super efficient type operation, one that other terminals in the country will come to be judged against.

    Those are perhaps strong statements, and don’t come from SAPO, but that is the reality of what is happening over at Pier 1, the former home of the breakbulk Multi Purpose Terminal (MPT). The latter operation has been transferred to the City Terminal at the Point.

    Pier 1 began handling containers about a year ago but because of a lack of infrastructure the operation relied on using ships’ own gear (cranes), which is a slow and cumbersome operation. Originally it was intended to convert the terminal one berth at a time with the terminal remaining in commission. Then late last year it was decided to go for broke and shut the terminal down as soon as the seasonal rush was over and set about fast-tracking the rebuilding. Unfortunately there hasn’t been much of downturn and the ships keep coming to Durban with ever increasing numbers of containers, but the die is cast and Pier 1 is now out of commission. It has become a construction site.

    Les Biggs, SAPO’s Pier 1 Waterside Manager in front of the construction site that was the multi purpose terminal but is in the process of being transformed into a modern well equipped container terminal. Picture Terry Hutson

    But things are happening fast. Already half of the new reinforced concrete slab has been laid and a number of the rubber tyre gantries have arrived and are being assembled. A rubber tyred gantry is basically a much larger form of straddle carrier that stands over a long row of stacked containers - five-high and six-wide in Pier 1’s case. That’s compared to stacking boxes two-high using the straddle carriers at Durban Container Terminal. What this means is that at Pier 1 we are seeing an example of vertical expansion – imagine the increase in capacity if this was implemented at the other container terminals!

    As an interesting footnote to the above, when the Chinese terminal operator Hutchison Whampoa visited Durban some eight or so years ago, at a time when everyone thought the container terminals would be made available for privatisation, after completing their study they announced in a public forum (to a meeting of businessmen in Durban) that if they were successful in obtaining the concession they would immediately convert Durban Container Terminal to a rubber tyre gantry operation.

    “You don’t need a bigger terminal. Expand vertically and this terminal can handle everything that comes its way,” the meeting was told.

    What a RTG looks like – a group of RTGs at work at an international container terminal. Picture courtesy Kalmar

    With the advent of RTGs the containers at Pier 1 will be collected at the ship’s side and delivered to the stack, or vice versa using trucks and trailers.

    At other international terminals this method has been shown to be far more efficient than using straddle carriers, which have to collect the boxes at the ship and not only deliver to the stacks but also stack them in the correct place. This system works but takes time.

    By the end of April this year the first berth at Pier 1 will reopen to ships, fully equipped with 3ha of stacking space behind the berth, two super post-panamax ship-to-shore cranes to load and offload the ships, and six RTGs in operation at the stacks, backed up by a fleet of trucks and trailers to move the containers between the stacks and the ship.

    By end-August the second berth will be in operation and the full terminal of three berths, capable of handling 720,000 TEUs (20ft container equivalents), will be opened by year end.

    Pier 1 previously had a capacity of 136 000 TEU.

    Pier 1, highlighted in brown, where a new container terminal is being built

    But equally exciting is the news that the berths alongside are being deepened to allow a draught of 15.5m compared with the current 11.8m. This has significant benefit for Durban, in that theoretically the terminal could handle the largest container ship afloat, based on draught considerations. Linked with the widening and deepening of the port entrance and channels it means that Durban need no longer fear being discarded by the growth in size of container ships.

    Again of interest, engineers say they will deepen the quayside without the need to build a new quay wall further out into the bay. In the past this was always presented as an insurmountable problem making the deepening of berths a difficult task.

    An example of the growth in size of container ships can be seen from a number of MSC ships now on the Europe – South Africa service that carry up to 5,100 TEU, compared to the norm of 3,000 TEU a couple of years ago. Other lines have also increased the size of the ships on the Durban service, so this development is timely. Some of these ships not only carry over 4,000 TEU but are also much wider – up to 37m which is 5m beyond the panamax range (a panamax ship is one that can transit the Panama Canal, where there is a restriction of 32.2m width in the locks in addition to length and draught considerations).

    The cost of rebuilding Pier 1 will come to around R2 Billion but the benefit to Durban and South Africa will be incalculable.

    However, every port terminal relies on its people, and nowhere is this more evident than here in South Africa. It’s one thing to rebuild and reequip terminals but if the people operating them don’t also come to the party then it will be a waste of time, to say nothing about money.

    Probably the biggest challenge facing SAPO (and the National Ports Authority) is to improve the ‘work ethic’ among all its personnel, whose people need to realise that to survive in the modern world everyone has to perform to world-class standards. It’s no longer okay to set mediocre targets of say, 16 or 18 container moves per crane per hour, when international benchmarks are more than twice that. Durban must achieve similar efficiencies otherwise importers and exporters and shipping lines will take their business someplace else. It used to be that there wasn’t a ‘someplace else’ but with the advent of Coega, and the possibility of Richards Bay coming on stream, this will change. Internationally, several ports have suffered by being cut out of the loop because they did not adapt.

    Pier 1 Container Terminal (720,000 TEU) will handle more containers than stage 1 at Coega (500,000 TEU) so the opportunity exists now to cement the use of Durban as the preferred port of entry for South Africa’s container business.

    Fortunately Transnet and SAPO seem to have realised this and a massive retraining programme is underway over at the Durban Container Terminal (DCT), where something like 60 Sri Lankans have been brought in on a contract basis to handle a berth at a time while the regular DCT team is sent on intensive training. What is happening while the Sri Lankans are here is that they are establishing new standards in container handling, simultaneously undoing any excuse that with old equipment ‘it can’t be done.’

    At the car terminals at Durban and East London we’ve seen how SAPO, with properly equipped facilities, can set and maintain world class standards.

    In the case of Pier 1 there will also be no old equipment. Everything is out of the top draw and hopefully that will include the personnel. The new terminal will employ up to 400 people, most of whom have to be recruited. With the very best available container handling equipment including a new operating system (NAVIS, which replaces the COSMOS system) and new automated gate processes plus a new rail terminal capable of handling full block trains of 50 wagons (100-TEU) to be completed by August, there will be no excuse for anything but the best service in future.

    Marine and Coastal management holds regional meetings re new cost recovery framework

    The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism's Marine and Coastal Management Branch will embark on a process to inform stakeholders in the fishing industry of the concept of a Cost Recovery Framework for the Marine Living Resources Fund.

    The cost recovery framework forms part of the strategy to stabilise the Marine Living Resources Fund, as was outlined during a fishing industry stakeholder meeting with the Minister and the Director-General late last year. The implementation of such a framework is envisaged to improve service delivery to stakeholders.

    The information sessions will take place as follows:

    29 Jan '07, Port Nolloth, 14h00 - 16h00 at Library Hall

    30 Jan '07, Lamberts Bay, 14h00 - 16h00 at Municipality Hall, Kerkstraat 42

    31 Jan '07, Saldanha, 11h00 - 13h00 at Tabakbaai Resort, Diazville

    01 Feb '07, Cape Town, 10h00 - 12h00 at Woodstock Library

    05 Feb '07, Port Elizabeth, 14h00 - 16h00 at Conference room, Hume Park, Parrott Avenue, Humerail

    06 Feb 2007, East London, 11h00 - 13h00 at Grifton Bar room, Buffalo Sports Club, Buffalo Park Drive

    Integrated Coastal management Bill public participation process

    On 30 January 2007 the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism will embark on a public participation process to discuss the Integrated Coastal Management Bill which was gazetted on 15 December 2006 for a 90 day public comment period.

    The first public participation process will take place in KwaZulu-Natal from 30 January to 1 February 2007, where after other provinces will be visited (full details of meetings on http://www.deat.gov.za). Specific meetings will also be held in each coastal province with government employees and other stakeholders comprising members of each province's Provincial Coastal Committee who will assist to facilitate the participation process. These committees assist to co-ordinate coastal management in each province.

    The Department has also compiled a user friendly guide to facilitate meaningful and informed public participation during the 90 day comments period. The Guide is available in English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa on http://www.deat.gov.za.

    When the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament South Africa will for the first time have a national Coastal Management Act in place for managing our coastal zone, a priceless national asset.

    When the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism announced the introduction of the Bill in December 2006 he emphasized the enormous social and economic benefits derived from our coastline and the costs to society associated with the mismanagement of the coast and its resources. He further pointed out that economic and social opportunities for wealth creation and equity are being missed and coastal ecosystems are being degraded.

    The publication of the Bill for comment therefore represents a historical opportunity for coastal stakeholders, interested and affected parties and members of the general public to help shape the content of the proposed Integrated Coastal Management Act.

    Farewell to the Big Whites

    It’s not official yet but the indications are there that the famous ‘Big Whites’ of Safmarine are soon to disappear from our horizons.

    Among the first to go is the SA SEDERBERG, which is being replaced by SAFMARINE MERU, the recent newbuild that entered service late last year.

    While Safmarine haven’t actually said so it can be taken as likely that the second newbuild, SAFMARINE MULANJE, which was named a few weeks ago, will also enter the South Africa – Far East service (SAFARI) and will replace one of SA WINTERBERG or SA HELDERBERG.

    Of the original four ships that leaves MAERSK CONSTANTIA (the former SA WATERBERG) in service with sister company Maersk Line also on the same service, but come to think of it we haven’t seen her in recent months.

    Pic of the day – BELUGA RECOMMENDATION

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Beluga Recommendation, one of the smaller heavylift special project cargo ships belonging to the German company, seen on a previous visit to Durban. Picture courtesy Mainport Africa

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

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