Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 26, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • KUISEB refloated at Beira

  • Giant refinery plan for Coega

  • ORIBI rescues fishermen in Mozambique Channel

  • First new STS crane for Port Elizabeth arrives

  • Government places ban on abalone fishing

  • Pic of the day – MATE

    KUISEB refloated at Beira

    The Unicorn Shipping bulker KUISEB (18,964-gt) went aground on one of Beira’s notorious sandbanks yesterday morning (Thursday) after dragging on her anchor.

    The ship recently completed dry docking in China and carried a cargo of fertiliser back to Africa, making scheduled calls first at Durban to discharge some heavy equipment and then to Maputo to discharge the fertiliser before heading for Beira to unload the balance.

    With the advent of high tide later in the day the ship was able to float off by herself and has since moved to the outer anchorage to await arrival of divers from South Africa later this morning (Friday), who will make an underwater inspection of the ship. There was no apparent indication of damage or water ingress at this stage.

    Once the remaining fertiliser in the ship’s holds has been discharged at Beira Kuiseb will return to her normal duties on the ‘salt run’ delivering salt from Walvis Bay to Richards Bay and frequently carrying a cargo of sugar on her return to Namibia.

    See PORTS & SHIPS News Bulletin for 24 October for a picture of the ship on her recent call at Durban.

    Giant refinery plan for Coega

    Port Elizabeth, 25 October 2007 (BuaNews) - PetroSA's announcement that it is investigating the possibility of building a R39 Billion crude oil refinery at the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) site has been warmly received by the corporation.

    The spokesperson for the Coega Development Corporation Ongama Mtimka said the announcement "reiterates our position that the Coega IDZ is a viable business proposition".

    "There are other potential investors who have shown interest in a crude oil refinery in the Coega IDZ," he said.

    The Coega project is a multi-billion-rand industrial development complex and deepwater port in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape. Some of the projects in the area include the construction of a R2.8 billion Coega Aluminium Smelter and a deepwater port, called Port Ngqura [the latter is now nearing completion of phase 1 and is due to open to shipping by 2009].

    Dubbed Project Mthombo, the proposed crude-oil refinery is expected to produce about 200,000 barrels of fuel a day and will come on stream in 2014/15.

    "The fact that PetroSA considered Coega as the prime location is a massive vote of confidence in the Coega IDZ. We welcome the announcement and will continue to negotiate with potential investors," said Mr Mtimka.

    Once the various aspects of the project had been confirmed, the final investment decision would be made around 2010 with the refinery coming on stream in 2014/15.

    According to PetroSA, the Coega IDZ offers world-class infrastructure, is ideally located near growing centres of demand in the Eastern and Western Cape, and has sufficient land available for secondary industries to develop around the refinery.

    [PetroSA also operates the gas-to-liquid refinery at Mossel Bay.]

    ORIBI rescues fishermen in Mozambique Channel

    Capt Chris Savage, master of the Unicorn tanker ORIBI reports on an unusual rescue at sea

    Many stories have started with the line “It was a dark and stormy night!” but in our case it was just the opposite - a warm tropical moonlit night with a light wind, low swell, and few clouds.

    Sunday 30 September had been a lovely day for those of us on board the Unicorn tanker ORIBI and everyone except the watchkeepers had been given the afternoon off for R & R.

    At 00.55 on Monday morning the telephone in my cabin rang. This is not a good sign and rarely brings good news in the middle of the night. The Second Officer, Aneez Chorakkad reported that his lookout, Ordinary Seaman Jevan Rust and himself could see a faint light and hear some whistling and shouting.

    I immediately proceeded to the bridge to investigate. In the days since 9/11 life at sea has changed dramatically in terms of security and we now have Ship Security Officers, Security Courses, electronic door locks and security exercises. Piracy is also rife in many parts of the world and as we were five days out of Durban proceeding north up the Mozambique Channel midway between the Mozambique coast and the Comoros islands and heading towards a known piracy area, I was concerned.

    On reaching the bridge a very faint blue light could be seen on the starboard side along with faint shouting, while the dim outline of a small light-coloured boat could be made out. There were no targets showing on the radar. The second officer altered course towards the light and I spoke with the Chief Engineer officer who had been called to the engine room by the duty engineer. He had heard about a boat and was expecting me to ask for any additional speed he could find to take evasive action in case of a piracy attack!

    However, I could see no immediate risk from the small boat so we slowed down while mustering all crew. We soon came to a halt close to the boat and could clearly see two men in shorts and tee-shirts as they paddled towards us. There was an outboard motor in the bottom of the boat and a plastic fuel drum and little else except for some pieces of fish on one of the thwarts.

    A rope was passed to them which they secured to their boat and they were then assisted on board via the pilot ladder which had been rigged. They were immediately searched by the Chief Officer, who found only a cellphone which had been the source of the blue light! The men indicated that they were thirsty and water was given to them which they gratefully accepted. We brought the outboard motor on board and then secured another longer line to their boat and secured it astern before resuming our passage toward Dar es Salaam with the boat on tow.

    The two men were taken to the crew’s messroom where we attempted to find out more about them although they spoke no English but seemed to speak some form of French. They wrote their names as Papamhoma and Soundjay Saadi and mentioned the Comoros Islands which were 85 miles to the east of our position.

    After more water and coffee and a meal they were taken to the ship’s hospital. Our ships crew showed them how the shower operated, where the soap and towels were and made sure they both had a shower!

    some of the crew of the South African tanker ORIBI with the two Comoros fishermen (centre, seated) who were rescued at sea after drifting 85 miles in the Mozambique Channel. Picture courtesy Master of the Oribi

    Regardless of status, whether stowaways, rescued persons or whatever, security of the vessel must always be maintained and therefore a watch was mounted outside the hospital door to ensure they did not wander around. Fortunately we have three trainee deck hands on board at present which meant we could spread the workload.

    Next morning after a hearty breakfast they were escorted to the bridge and I showed them a chart which had the Comoros Island on but they had obviously never seen a map or chart before but did mention the name Moroni which is on Grande Comore Island. I also showed them a calendar but again they did not seem to understand but had indicated to one of their “minders” that they had been at sea for three days.

    I showed them the satellite telephone and indicated that they could make a call and they retrieved a number from the cellphone. I looked up the international dialling code for the Comoros Islands and dialled the number and they spoke with somebody for a while and presumably explained their predicament and were much happier after the call.

    I had meanwhile contacted various authorities, agents, P & I Club and reported what had happened.

    For the next 48 hours they watched videos and DVD’s, ate huge meals and smoked borrowed cigarettes wearing donated tee shirts, accompanied always by a “minder”!

    On Wednesday morning the vessel berthed in Dar es Salaam and a representative of the P & I club along with Immigration Officials took them ashore where they were to be taken to the Consulate to have emergency travel documents issued and eventually be flown home. Their outboard motor was also landed with them. Unfortunately their boat had broken free as we approached the anchorage and had quickly been retrieved (stolen) by local fishermen.

    I have since heard that they flew back home on Tuesday 9th along with their outboard motor.

    Chris Savage
    Master, mt ORIBI

    First new STS crane for Port Elizabeth arrives

    BELUGA LEGISLATION in Port Elizabeth discharging one of two STS cranes on board for the PE Container Terminal. Picture by Dayle Coombe / http://www.sa-transport.co.za/

    The heavylift cargo vessel BELUGA LEGISLATION was carrying very important and much needed cargo for Port Elizabeth when the ship arrived in the Eastern Cape port earlier this week. Loaded in the ship’s holds and as deck cargo were the components and sections for the first of a number of new ship-to-shore (STS) container cranes for the Port Elizabeth Container Terminal.

    This is the first new crane investment to be made at Port Elizabeth since the terminal opened in 1977, and is part of a major investment programme being made by Transnet Port Terminals (formerly SAPO) which will see all three container ports, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, being equipped with new post-panamax cranage and a fleet of new straddle carriers and rubber tyre gantries.

    The latest Liebherr crane, together with a second carried on board the Beluga Legislation for the Durban Container Terminal, forms part of an order for 14 STS cranes placed in November 2005 with the German crane builder Liebherr which are being manufactured at Liebherr’s Killarney plant in Ireland. The cranes arrive in knock-down condition for assembly locally and the new Port Elizabeth crane is expected to be in service by March 2008.

    The twin-lift crane will have a span across 19 containers, thus being able to handle the wider container ships already calling at South African ports.

    Government places ban on abalone fishing

    by Shaun Benton (BuaNews)

    Cape Town - Permission to fish for wild abalone, also known as perlemoen, has been suspended in South Africa from next month, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said yesterday.

    The decision to suspend permission for abalone fishing from 1 November 2007 was taken by Cabinet during one of its regular meetings on Wednesday, Mr Maseko said. Abalone stock in South Africa is "in a crisis and threatened with commercial extinction.”

    While resolving to suspend permission for abalone fishing, Cabinet at the same time approved a social plan to address the job losses that will result from this decision, Maseko said.

    He added that the social plan approved by Cabinet to address the impact of the decision on those who depend on abalone fishing for their livelihood would consider alternative means of earning a living from the sea.

    "Some of the measures incorporated in the social plan will include the development of a sustainable aqua-culture industry and issuing of additional permits for whale watching and shark-cage diving.

    "Government will work with all key stakeholders to manage the transition, which I'm sure will be difficult for many involved in this industry," Mr Maseko said.

    It is believed that there are about 800 jobs dependent on the legal fishing of abalone, which has also been subjected to sustained and widespread poaching over the years, given that the coveted and tasty shellfish fetches very high prices abroad, especially in the Far East.

    The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism stated on Thursday that there are currently 302 rights holders (262 individual divers and 40 legal entities in the form of close corporations) operating in the sector, accounting for about 800 jobs, including those of individual divers.

    A number of criminal syndicates, with international links, are believed to have been behind much of the widespread poaching, which has led to a decimation of stocks.

    Mr Maseko conceded that it was "not an easy matter" for government to suspend abalone fishing, but added that government has the responsibility to "strike a good balance" between the species going extinct and the needs of communities living along South Africa's coastline.

    The department said the decision by Cabinet to suspend permission for abalone fishing would ensure the survival of the species.

    Welcoming Cabinet's decision, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, said: "[Wednesday's] tough decision by Cabinet to support the suspension of wild abalone commercial fishing will ensure the survival of the species and will also ensure that our children and the generations that follow will know what perlemoen is.

    "We are unfortunately at a point where the commercial harvesting of wild abalone can no longer be justified because the stock has declined to such an extent that the resource is threatened with commercial extinction."

    Mr van Schalkwyk added: "The main causes of the decline in abalone stocks are poaching and the migration of West Coast Rock Lobster into the abalone areas. Rock Lobsters consume Sea Urchins that provide shelter to juvenile abalone.

    "This in turn subjects the juvenile abalone to increased mortality. Studies further show that unless decisive and immediate action is taken, the resource will collapse completely with little prospect of recovery."

    The minister added that for the past few years, the department's managers and researchers have been recommending closure of abalone fisheries. The decision to suspend permission to fish for abalone was taken in terms of Section 16 of the Marine Living Resources Act.

    The suspension of permission to fish for abalone as of 1 November was indefinite, Mr Maseko said earlier. Of course, the possibility exists that the suspension could be lifted after a period of a few years should abalone stocks replenish themselves.

    However, the minister cautioned that if there is not "a drastic decline" in poaching, he would consider a 10-year ban on perlemoen fishing.

    "I want to give notice that if there is not a drastic decline in poaching I will have to apply my mind at the start of the next season as to whether it is perhaps time to consider a complete ban on all perlemoen harvesting for a period of ten years to allow the resource to recover."

    The minister added that in other countries, abalone fisheries are also threatened with commercial extinction.

    In North America, for example, abalone fisheries have now been closed for more that ten years, he said, adding that it has been suggested that such fisheries are slow to recover because closure was delayed.

    To ensure that the suspension of harvesting is observed, monitoring and control of abalone by the department is to be scaled up, and abalone population dynamics will be monitored through regular research surveys.

    Pic of the day – MATE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The container vessel MATE sails into the entrance channel of Durban harbour en route to the container terminal, while in the background work continues apace on widening the port’s entrance channel. Clearly visible in this elevated picture is the base of the new North breakwater, creeping out from the land some 100 metres to the north of the old which it will soon replace Picture by Steve McCurrach

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