Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 4, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Royal Navy nuclear sub to visit Simon’s Town

  • Unions want compensation for kidnapped crew of DANICA WHITE

  • Audits find Mombasa a security risk

  • Volcano renders lighthouse out of use

  • Pic of the day – STEEL 1

    Royal Navy nuclear sub to visit Simon’s Town

    South African Navy headquarters in Pretoria has announced that a Royal Navy nuclear powered submarine, HMS SCEPTRE, will be visiting Simon’s Town as from today (Thursday).

    HMS Sceptre (S104), the first of the Swiftsure-class hunter-killer boats will remain at Simon’s Town until Saturday (6 October) and will not be open to the public although media will be permitted to take photographs at the naval dockyard.

    “The visit forms part of the British High Commission’s aim of promoting diplomatic relations with South Africa and will further strengthen the existing relations between the South African Navy and the Royal Navy,” said SA Navy spokesman Lt-Cmdr Prince Tshabalala.

    The visit by the British ship follows closely on the visit to Durban and Cape Town of the US destroyer USS FORREST SHERMAN which in turn was preceded by the visit of six warships of a NATO task force. Both the NATO group and the US ship exercised with the South African Navy while in South African waters. It hasn’t been disclosed whether joint exercises involving HMS Sceptre will be conducted.

    The Swiftsure-class of submarine consists of five boats, built between 1978 (HMS Sceptre) and 1981 (HMS Splendid). They displace 4,500 tonnes when submerged and have dimensions of 83m length by 9.8m by 8.25m. Propulsion is in the form of a single nuclear reactor feeding a steam turbine and driving a single shaft, producing 15,000 sea horse power and providing for a maximum speed of 28 knots.

    The submarine carries an arsenal of five 21 inch torpedo tubes firing a range of torpedoes, anti-ship sub-Harpoon and Tomahawk missiles.

    She was the Royal Navy’s tenth nuclear powered submarine to enter service and is the sixth navy vessel to carry the name Sceptre. In the late 1990’s the boat began six years of a costly refit that has equipped her to carry on well into the next decade.

    She carries a complement of 114 (18 officers and 96 crew).

    Unions want compensation for kidnapped crew of DANICA WHITE

    A Danish trade union says it is ready to go to court to win compensation for three members of the crew of DANICA WHITE, the Danish-registered cargo vessel that was seized by Somali pirates earlier this year and held to ransom. The ship was carrying a cargo of building materials from Dubai for Kenya when captured.

    Danica White carried a total crew of five – two officers and the three ratings, who were held hostage for more than 80 days while pirates negotiated with the ship’s owners before eventually releasing the ship and crew.

    Lawyers for the union say they will chase a claim of US$1.8 million on behalf of the three seamen against the ship’s owner, being for outstanding back wages and compensation for suffering and trauma while in custody of the Somalis. The union accuses the ship’s master of having sailed too close to the coast, thus inviting action by pirates known to operate in the region.

    It is believed but has never been confirmed that the ship and crew were released only after a substantial ransom was paid. Danish television news reported a security company as saying that it had paid over an amount of US $ 1.5m on behalf of the owner. The Danish government, while not confirming the figure also said a ransom had been paid which it disagreed with.

    The pirates released the ship to the French warship FNS BLAISON off the coast in August. None of the crew was reported as having been harmed.

    Danica White is due to arrive in Durban on Saturday 8 October.

    Audits find Mombasa a security risk

    Two audits independent of each other have found the port of Mombasa to be the most vulnerable to terror attacks along the East African coast, reports the East African newspaper.

    The first report to be issued by the US Anti-Terrorism Assistance Office was followed by a second conducted by the Kenya Maritime Authority, and both came up with what they said were glaring shortcomings which made the port, the busiest along the entire East African coast, a ‘soft target’ for terror attacks.

    Among the items highlighted as weaknesses was the state of the congested container terminal, resulting in poor verification and tagging. Also listed was a free movement of people, poor inspection and screening systems and a lack of a control tower to monitor ship movements outside the harbour.

    The Kenyan government is understood to have taken the reports seriously and has quietly instituted reforms and measures to correct the shortcomings. This includes the installation of a closed circuit television system (CCTV) and the institution of a special guard force consisting of security personnel from the National Security Intelligence Service, the Criminal Investigation Department, and Kenya’s regular police service.

    The tender for a CCTV system was withdrawn about a week ago because the wrong specification was used, and will have to be re-issued. The US has also sold several patrol boats including Defender and Archangel patrol boats.

    Teams from Israel and the United States Homeland Security Office are providing training for the security services (probably sufficient incentive to attract unwanted terrorist attention - editor).

    The US survey of regional ports included Djibouti, Dar es Salaam and Beira.

    Volcano renders lighthouse out of use

    The volcano which erupted on the island of Jabal al-Tair on Sunday (Lat 15 32.0N Long 041 50.0 E) has managed to put the Jazirat Al-Tair lighthouse on the island out of commission, reports GACWorld.

    The volcano began spewing out molten lava and hot ash late on Sunday, with one part of the island having disappeared to all practical purposes. Seven soldiers of the Yemeni armed forces, stationed on the island, lost their lives. One other soldier survived and was picked up by the Canadian frigate HMCS TORONTO which was cruising in the area.

    According to reports the lighthouse will remain out of commission at least temporarily.

    Pic of the day – STEEL 1

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The general cargo ship STEEL 1 (11,0130gt), loaded with a cargo of logs, was in Cape Town on 25 September when Ian Shiffman took this picture. Built in 1980 as TAIPENG the Panamanian-flagged ship has operated under a variety if name since then

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