Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 18, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • News and views about ships in Durban

  • SAPO acknowledges there’s a problem at the gates

  • Coastwatch: Pirates tow away reefer ship

  • Diesel shortage hits Durban bunkering

  • Fire in Durban harbour tunnel

  • Pic of the day – CHUN HO

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

    News and views about ships in Durban

    SEVERAL of the Maersk Sealand container ships in service with Maersk Line and operating to South Africa have been sold to MSC and Conbulk, reports the HKSG news service also known as Shednet.

    The report says that MSC has acquired SEALAND INDEPENDENCE (currently at the Durban Container Terminal) and SEALAND DEFENDER while SEALAND EXPLORER was sold to Conbulk. The latter ship was previously on long term charter to MSC.

    A number of the 32,600-gt Sealand vessels recently transferred from US services to the east coast of Africa. A total of twelve in the class were built in Japan in the late 1970s initially as 1,667-TEU vessels but were later stretched to handle 2,680-TEU. One of the vessels, Sealand Express made the news for all the wrong reasons in August 2003 when she went aground outside Cape Town but was later refloated and repaired in Durban.

    This week saw the return of the reefer ships to South African ports at the commencement of the citrus season, which normally runs until October. A couple of these ships have already called in the past week or two but yesterday three ships were loading at the Durban Fresh Produce Terminal (FPT) on the T Jetty and a fourth was at the Maydon Wharf fruit terminal. According to FPT there is a long line-up of reefer ships calling to take fruit to destinations in Russia, Northern Europe, the Middle East and Japan.

    Also in port at present is the Indonesian container ship SAM RATULANGI (at berth 203), which featured in our PIC OF THE DAY feature yesterday. The question was raised then asking if any reader knew the meaning of PB1600 in the ship’s name and Jonathan Boonzaaier from Singapore was quick with a response.

    “I think I can solve your mystery of the name of the Indonesian containership SAM RATULANGI PB 1600. The ship is named after an Indonesian hero, as you stated. The PB stands for Palwo Buwono, the class of ship it belongs to, while the 1600 is the TEU capacity of the ship. Its sistership is the M H THAMRIN PB 1600.”

    Mr Boonzaaier added that Djakarta Lloyd is a containership company owned by the Indonesian Government, which is the registered owner. Details of the shipbuilder can be found at http://www.pal.co.id

    Another container ship to slip into port with little or no fanfare is ITAL ONESTA which is deployed with the joint Cosren, Evergreen, Hamburg Sud and Maruba service operating between the Far East and east coast South America via South Africa. The fully cellular 32,968-gt Ital Onesta entered service earlier this year and has a capacity of 2,778-TEU. This is her first visit.

    SAPO acknowledges there’s a problem at the gates

    SA Port Operations (SAPO) is acknowledging publicly that there is a problem at the gates to the Durban Container Terminal.

    In a letter distributed to customers this week SAPO says it is currently experiencing an increase in the number of trucks arriving at the terminal gates, “especially during the peak period starting from 10:00 to 01:00 daily.”

    “The terminal is handling in excess of 3,000 trucks on a daily basis and this is resulting in congestion at the terminal gates thus causing truck queues up to Bayhead Road.

    “In an effort to ease the truck congestion at DCT, all stakeholders are urged to assist the Terminal by making use to the off peak period from 01:00 to 10:00 to deliver or pick up containers from the terminal,” wrote Moshe Motlohi, Business Unit Executive at DCT.

    While most road users will support the appeal, the cynics among us will say that the problem is that the congestion outside the gates has been there for several years and is steadily getting worse and that making appeals to change collection/delivery times now is unlikely to have much effect.

    At the recent public forum meeting to discuss the proposed extension of Durban Bay into the Bayhead area the matter of Bayhead Road congestion was raised by several people attending. In addition it has been the subject of a number of newspaper articles and has been reported in this column on several occasions.

    While we understand that the problem is not of SAPO’s making – the terminal operator has to control the number of vehicles arriving at the gates – the challenge is much larger than simply trying to spread the trucks across 24 hours. Neither the city authorities or the port and terminal authorities have so far shown much intent in solving the problem, which goes further than causing great inconvenience to innocent motorists caught up in the gridlocked road system extending way beyond Langeberg Road.

    The problem also impacts severely on truck operators, particularly those which are owner-driven and rely on being able to make four or five pick up calls at DCT during each day. Having to sit in a traffic jam for up to five hours a day at times is not only inconvenient – it is costing large sums of lost income to these owner/operators.

    Then also there is the inconvenience to tenants in the Bayhead area that are unable to gain access to or from their premises because almost the entire length of Langeberg and Bayhead Roads are solidly packed with heavy container loads.

    It is good that SAPO is acknowledging the problem and looking for solutions. Hopefully the terminal operator and others responsible will endeavour to find more permanent and speedy solutions.

    Coastwatch: Pirates tow away reefer ship

    PIRATES attacked and seized the reefer vessel TAHOMA REEFER which was at anchor off Monrovia, the capital and main port city of Liberia.

    The attackers came aboard the dead vessel, which has been at anchor off Monrovia since last year when it suffered a fire that destroyed much of the upper deck space (see our News Report on the incident dated 14 August 2006).

    The fire on the Estonian-registered vessel was put out with the help of a US Navy non-combatant ship, USNS APACHE (T-ATF 172) which was assisting Liberian authorities with harbour work and came to the rescue of the crew and helped put out the fire.

    In this week’s incident the pirates, who were armed with machetes, approached the reefer with two fishing boats before launching their attack. After beating up the reefer’s crew the pirates took possession of the ship and began towing their prize towards the Ivory Coast using the fishing boats as tugs.

    Later a UN helicopter from the peacekeeping forces in Liberia reported seeing the reefer heading towards Ivory Coast waters but was unable to take any action.

    The French Navy which has ships deployed off the Ivory Coast may be able to take some action against the pirated ship but this could not be confirmed yesterday.

    Diesel shortage hits Durban bunkering

    SOUTH Africa’s already critical ship bunkering problems received another setback with reports (unconfirmed as this went to ‘press’) of the non-availability of diesel fuel oil for bunkering purposes at Durban.

    According to reports received by PORTS & SHIPS Engen is only quoting contract customers for MFO and will only start quoting on the spot market from mid to late July. These reports say that Engen will stop quoting ‘spot’ distillates prices at the end of this month (May) and restart in mid to late July.

    This leaves some doubt about Shell and BP’s ability (basically the same supplier) to carry all the spot demand as there is some uncertainty about whether the Sapref refinery is fully operational.

    As of this week Shell has already stopped quoting, claiming that there is a problem with the line. BP however is reported to still be on the market.

    Fire in Durban harbour tunnel

    A FIRE broke out in the old tunnel that runs under the Durban port entrance last night. Initial reports from several observers said that there was nobody in the tunnel when an explosion occurred ahead of what became quite an intense fire.

    It is thought that timber used for a pedestrian platform may have added fuel to the fire - eyewitness reports said that flames could be seen coming out of the Point entrance to the tunnel which is situated close to the old Thirsty’s Restaurant complex, which is scheduled for demolition.

    The sub-aqueous tunnel carried electrical cables and other services including sewer pipes across to the Bluff and had a timber walkway running its full length. The eThekwini (Durban) city authorities recently completed construction of a new and longer tunnel set at a greater depth in advance of the widening of the port entrance project.

    Pic of the day – CHUN HO

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The bulker CHUN HO sails from Durban after loading a cargo of sugar at Maydon Wharf 2. Picture Terry Hutson

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

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