Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 8, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • NATO naval task force sets sail round Africa

  • Coastwatch: maritime briefs from Africa

  • International news briefs

  • Imported food a threat to Sierra Leone agriculture

  • Pic of the day – USS NORMANDY

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    NATO naval task force sets sail round Africa

    A NATO maritime squadron consisting of six naval ships has sailed from the Mediterranean to undertake a unique circumnavigation of the African continent to highlight NATO’s capability of upholding security and international law on the high seas.

    The ships from Canada, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal and the United States, forming NATO’s Standing Naval Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) and under the command of Rear Admiral Mike Mahon of the US Navy on board his flagship USS Normandy (CG60), a Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser, are currently heading for West Africa. The first ‘port of call’ will be to the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, which has been the scene of much unrest with kidnapping of oil workers from oil rigs and other installations off the coast.

    The ships will also make a four-day visit to Cape Town and will conduct exercises with ships of the South African Navy – this being the first time that the SA Navy will have exercised with a NATO force of ships in local waters.

    Later the Group will exercise off the coast of Somalia, this also being troubled waters where repeated acts of piracy have taken place. In mid-September the ships will visit the Seychelles before ending the mission by passing through the Suez Canal.

    According to NATO secretary-general Jaap de Hoop, ensuring maritime security on the high seas in international waters is a key mission for the 26-country alliance.

    “Maritime security, ensuring the safe passage of shipping and supporting a coordinated international approach to protect energy supplies are high priorities for NATO,” he said.

    The Alliance says that the 12,500 nautical mile mission round Africa will serve to demonstrate NATO’s continuing ability to respond to emerging crisis situations on a global scale and foster links with regional navies and other maritime organisations.

    Coastwatch: maritime briefs from Africa

    Piracy off Somalia continues to be a concern with further reports of suspicious activity on 29 July and 3 August, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre. The first incident took place during mid morning at position 00:27:5S, 049:36:4E, or 270 n-miles from the Somali coast and involved a suspicious vessel keeping convoy with a bulk ship for approximately four hours but not acknowledging or responding to radio messages or transmitting any AIS data. Only when the master of the bulker turned away did the other craft break off, only to return several hours later. After a further three hours during which the bulker began taking evasive action, the suspicious craft finally broke off and headed towards the African coast.
    The second incident took place at position 02:54N, 051:42E some 240 n-miles off the Somali coast and involved another craft trying to intercept a container ship, changing course in tandem with the container vessel. Finally the superior speed of the box ship told and the smaller craft gave up the attempt and departed.

    Lawlessness of Nigeria also remains a problem with the IMB reporting the boarding of a LPG tanker at anchor off Lagos on 5 August by two men armed with knives. After crew sounded the alarm the robbers made off with some of the ships stores. Port control was advised and in turn gave the advice to the vessel to drift some 15 miles from the pilot station. The IMB repeats the warning to all ships to maintain strong vigilance in most areas off the Nigerian coast.

    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) has announced that the container ship MOL CULLINAN on voyage 706B (South Africa to Europe – SAECS) will be omitting the port call at Las Palmas owing to delays incurred by the ship on her previous call at Durban. The Las Palmas omission is to help the vessel regain lost time.

    “All Port Elizabeth and Cape Town cargo is to be transferred to the DAL Kalahari 706B.
    Durban cargo will be loaded on the MOL Cullinan 706B for Cape Town discharge, the cargo will then be loaded on the DAL Kalahari 706B out of Cape Town for Europe.”

    The updated schedule is:


    ETA Plz Aug 7th @ 0430/LT
    ETB Plz Aug 7th @ 0600/LT
    ETD Plz Aug 7th @ 2230/LT

    ETA Dur Aug 8th @ 2000/LT
    ETB Dur Aug 13th @ 0200/LT
    ETD Dur Aug 14th @ 1200/

    ETA Cpt Aug 16th @ 0200/LT
    ETB Cpt Aug 16th @ 0600/LT
    ETD Cpt Aug 17th @ 2000/LT

    Las Palmas - OMIT

    ETA Rotterdam Aug 29th 0400/LT

    International news briefs

    German rail strike affects ports - German ports are facing severe disruption arising from a wage dispute involving the German state railway Deutsche Bahn. The locomotive drivers’ union GDL has called its members out as from today (Wednesday) in a campaign which appears to be aimed specifically at having the maximum effect on the group’s freight operations, as passenger services are excluded from the strike. According to the union the intention is to block all freight traffic – an action which means the ports will be starved of cargo. According to reports Hamburg and Bremerhaven are likely to be the worst affected – Hamburg’s port authority has already set up a task force involving the terminals, private rail operators and Deutsche Bahn officials.
    Shipping line Mitsui OSK (MOL) advised yesterday that it was difficult to know to what extent the flow of import and export cargo will be affected.

    Shipowners have been warned by the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) to comply fully with new Sulphur Emission Control Area for the English Channel and North Sea (SECA-2). IBIA says in a statement that there is a misconception that ships will be deemed to be acting in good faith if low sulphur fuel is taken on before the ship enters SECA-2 but continues to burn high-sulphur fuel for a period of time within the SECA due to the logistics of fuel changeover.
    “This argument is unfounded and misleading and could in fact result in a vessel being considered non-compliant by Port State Control,” said IBIA secretary-general Ian Adams. He said it was important to stress that there is no provision for a vessel to be considered to be ‘acting in good faith’ in either the IMO or the relevant EU legislation, which enters force on Saturday, 11 August.
    Adams also warned that it would be dangerous to follow any advice suggesting that SECA-2 regulations will not come into force until they have been ratified by the UK government, adding that it will still be an offence even though the legislation has yet to be ratified.

    A stowaway focal point has been established within the IMO’s Maritime Safety Division following a joint Intercargo/Intertanko submission made by the IMO Facilitation Committee.
    The stowaway focal point (SFP) has been established in order to provide assistance in facilitating diplomatic cooperation with the disembarkation of stowaways in circumstances where other attempts have proved difficult or have failed. The intention is to have an alternate resource for owners and ship’s masters to attempt a speedy conclusion to the repatriation of stowaways discovered on board ships.
    The role of P&I Clubs, flag states and other bodies were commended for the successful role each plays in resolving stowaway cases.

    Imported food a threat to Sierra Leone agriculture

    Map courtesy IRIN

    Dakar (IRIN) - Food imports are keeping Sierra Leone from realising agricultural self-sufficiency and meeting the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating hunger by 2015, experts say. In a country where 80 percent of food is imported, mostly from the USA and Europe, the local agricultural industry is feeble and local farmers struggle to compete.

    “Sierra Leone faces a huge dependency on food importation, irrespective of the country’s potential for agricultural production,” Tennyson Williams, country director for the non-governmental organisation (NGO) ActionAid, told IRIN.

    According to ActionAid, of the 780,000 hectares of available farmland in Sierra Leone, only 15 percent is being used for food production. The National Farmers’ Association of Sierra Leone has called on the government to help improve capacity to produce food locally.

    ActionAid says a reduction of hunger in Sierra Leone can be brought about only by an increase in national agricultural productivity. The answer to hunger eradication lies in increased support for local farmers and not in “support of multinational companies; promotion of trade liberalisation and opening up countries for dumping of farm products from highly subsided farmers from the north”, the group says.

    Wasted potential

    According to Williams, the potential for local production is far greater than what is being realised at present. “With sufficient support and training, local agriculture could feed those going hungry in Sierra Leone,” he said. “The importing of food is cutting away at valuable livelihoods. If agricultural capacity was increased, it would create jobs, income and increased access to food.”

    Williams said local crops are of higher quality than those being imported from Europe and North America. “Local rice is much better than imported rice; it is higher in nutritional value and more disease resistant. Yet the country continues to eat rice from outside its borders.” Rice and chickens make up the bulk of food imports.

    According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, 80 percent of Sierra Leoneans live in poverty and most households do not have access to sufficient food.

    ActionAid’s HungerFree Sierra Leone campaign, launched in the first week of July as part of a global effort to force governments to keep their pledges to cut world hunger in half by 2015, recommends that countries be given support to help them boost domestic agriculture.

    The World Food Programme (WFP) also supports local capacity building efforts. WFP regional public affairs officer for West Africa, Marcus Prior, said: “WFP, whilst prioritising deliveries for people who would otherwise go to bed hungry, is also working with farmers to help rehabilitate agricultural land and infrastructure as part of our efforts to contribute to the immediate as well as more long term recovery of the country…The nation’s farmers are the country’s food security.”

    Unmet goals

    In 2002 Sierra Leonean President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah pledged to eradicate hunger in the country by 2007, saying in a statement: “I committed myself to do everything within my powers to ensure that within the next five years, no Sierra Leonean should go to bed hungry.”

    Now, in 2007, Sierra Leone is not even near meeting the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating hunger by 2015. “The country’s agricultural sector is too underdeveloped to reach this goal by 2015. It will take major policy changes, local participation and time, but we are still advocating progress,” said Williams.

    Sierra Leone, which has recently emerged from a devastating civil war, has a rapidly growing population of over six million people.

    According to ActionAid, 852 million people around the world suffer from chronic hunger.

    [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

    Pic of the day – USS NORMANDY

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The guided missile cruiser USS NORMANDY of the Ticonderoga class, the flagship of a six-ship squadron of NATO ships now circumnavigating Africa. After visiting Nigeria the ships will exercise with the South African Navy off the Cape coast before making an official visit to Cape Town. Picture US Navy

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