Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 5, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • US Navy still battles pirates on the high seas

  • Port of Kismayu reopened

  • African countries to debate marine issues

  • South Africa to spend R100 million on fish farming projects

  • Rift Valley Railway on schedule, says Puffet

  • NSRI in rescue of ocean-going yacht off Port Elizabeth

  • Pic of the day – CONRAD S

    US Navy still battles pirates on the high seas

    Washington, DC, 2 November 2007 (US Department of State) – Countering piracy, or any other threat, comes naturally to US Navy personnel patrolling critical sea lanes around the world, and October was a busy month for those monitoring pirate activities off the east coast of Africa.

    On 30 October, a US Navy destroyer answered a call for help - relayed through the International Maritime Bureau - from the North Korean crew on a vessel that had been overtaken by pirates in international waters on 29 October.

    The USS James Williams dispatched a helicopter to the sugar-laden Dai Hong Dan, poised 60 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, to investigate the situation.

    The helicopter confirmed the plight of the ship - the pirates had taken control of the ship's bridge while the crew was confined to the steering and engineering areas -- and the destroyer headed to the scene. Upon its arrival, the Navy demanded the pirates surrender.

    The arrival of US assistance emboldened the North Koreans to take on the pirates, and a gun battle ensued that left two pirates dead and five captured. Although the North Korean crew regained control of their ship, three members were wounded in the fight.

    US Navy medics were invited on board to treat the wounded. The North Korean sailors were transferred to the American destroyer for medical treatment and later returned to their vessel. The five surviving pirates were kept under guard on the North Korean ship, which returned to the Somali port of Mogadishu.

    A coalition vessel destroyed the two pirate skiffs so they would not be used again for nefarious purposes.

    Piracy is an ongoing problem along the Somali coast. Some of the pirates are connected to Somali clans and have been outfitted with sophisticated weapons and tracking equipment.

    For the Navy, safeguarding critical sea lanes and reacting to conventional threats such as pirates or terrorists is all part of a day's work. US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Todd Vician told USINFO that countering piracy is just one part of a broader maritime security strategy.

    The 30 October incident had bilateral implications. The South Korea press speculated that US assistance to the North Korean crew may contribute to "a growing détente" between North Korea and the United States. A South Korean news agency, Yonhap, said the ship incident will likely help efforts toward normalised US-North Korean diplomatic ties. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters in Beijing on 31 October that he discussed the pirate incident and the Navy's intercession during talks with his North Korean counterpart on the effort to end the threat of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.

    Navy Commander Lydia Robertson of the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain told the Associated Press that the Navy's goal is to remove pirates from any transport vessel so "ships can return to legitimate shipping traffic and transit."

    A public affairs spokesman with US Central Command said piracy is "a serious international problem that requires an international solution." The Navy, he said, will continue to work with international organisations like the Malaysian-based International Maritime Bureau "to encourage mariners to take necessary precautions to improve their safety and security."

    US and coalition forces routinely conduct maritime security operations. Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Joseph Holstead said such operations are carried out in a manner consistent with international law "to help ensure security and safety in international waters so that all commercial shipping can operate freely while transiting the region."

    In a separate incident in October, a Panamanian-flagged ship sent out a distress call in the Gulf of Aden. US and coalition forces from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and other nations are monitoring the situation.

    Port of Kismayu reopened

    The Somali port of Kismayu has reopened to shipping after protesting soldiers placed a halt on all port operations.

    The disruption by armed soldiers appears to have been over unpaid wages, with the soldiers eventually resorting to closing the port to enforce their point.

    Shabelle Media Network in Somalia reports that a prolonged discussion took place between the protesting soldiers and elders of Kismayu, politicians and leaders of the Sade tribe or clan whose militia has effective control of the town.

    Agreement was reached when the elders promised the troops that wages would be paid, resulting in the militia returning to their base and port activities returning to normal.

    Kismayu is situated in the south of the country at position Lat: 0° 23’ N; Long: 42° 33’ W. The harbour consists of a natural anchorage and can handle ships in the basin with a draught of 8.5m. In addition to general cargo the port has frequently been used by the UN to move food aid cargo into the south of the country.

    African countries to debate marine issues

    by Michael Appel (BuaNews)

    Johannesburg – African countries are to meet this week to discuss marine issues such as the management of eco-systems, the importance of fisheries along the east and west coasts among other issues.

    The Joint Conference of Parties (COP) for the Abidjan and Nairobi Conventions is taking place in Johannesburg from 5 to 8 November.

    Continental marine issues will be high on the agenda for the 40 environment ministers from across Africa.

    The purpose of the Nairobi Convention is the protection and development of the marine and coastal management of the eastern African region.

    South Africa joined the Nairobi Convention in 2001 and ratified it in November 2002.

    The Abidjan Convention region has some of the largest marine ecosystems projects, including the Guinea Current Project implemented by United Nations Environmental Programme and the United Nation Development Programme, the Benguela Current project implemented by UNDP and the Canary Current project implemented by Food and Agriculture Organisation.

    The joint COP has been organised in collaboration with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) under the auspices of the African Union (AU).

    The conference will focus on ecosystems-based management approaches, especially in the context of the connection between land and sea.

    It will also review the conventions to recognise the importance of fisheries and of the ecosystems that support fisheries and related livelihoods.

    Clarification regarding how fisheries issues relate to the two conventions and its implementation, in so far as it impacts on habitats and livelihoods, will be discussed.

    The outcomes from the conference will include recommendations to adopt the protocol for land based activities and sources of pollution for each convention area.

    The work programmes will be action oriented agendas that give a holistic overview for ecosystem based coastal and marine management in sub-Saharan Africa, to be implemented by governments and partners from civil society, intergovernmental agencies, projects and the private sector.

    In addition, there will be a Joint Declaration issued by NEPAD from the Joint Heads of Delegations.

    This declaration will cover the common thematic areas that were discussed during the event and will assist in renewing and maintaining governments' commitment to the implementation of the two conventions in the context of NEPAD.

    The COP will take place under the theme, ‘Building on Success’, focusing on the progress made from the multiplicity of programmes and projects that have been implemented since the adoption of the two conventions.

    South Africa occupies a unique position as the only country on the continent to inhabit both the west and east coast of Africa.

    In the last four years, the Nairobi Convention has been able to gain resources from various sources including $3.4 million from the Norwegian government and $4.2 million from the Global Environment Facility.

    The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency has been a consistent partner in the western Indian Ocean region and in the last four years has supported the convention with $1.3 million.

    In addition, five governments from the eastern African region have consistently contributed to the Nairobi Convention's Trust Fund.

    South Africa to spend R100 million on fish farming projects

    The South African government has announced an investment of R100 million on aquaculture (fish farming) across six marine projects.

    Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk said last week that huge opportunities existed in aquaculture or marine farming, which had the capability of reducing pressure on wild stocks as well as creating new economic opportunities.

    He said the global demand for fish products had increased in recent years while at the same time the supply from capture fisheries was decreasing.

    “In contrast, aquaculture production has increased by an average of 9 percent globally. Following the global trends, capture fisheries in South Africa are in decline affecting some 28,000 direct jobs that are located in areas characterised by high unemployment. It is in these areas that a growing marine aquaculture industry could provide additional economic activity.”

    Van Schalkwyk said it was significant that South Africa imports more fish products than it exports.

    “According to studies, on average 200,000 tons of fish, valued at R0.7 billion, was imported per year during the period 2000 - 2004. In this context, aquaculture presents a good opportunity to diversify fish production to satisfy local demand, export opportunities, and the creation of new jobs. Currently the marine aquaculture industry in South Africa contributes 0.005 percent to the country’s GDP and provides 1,200 direct jobs. This is modest compared to countries like Chile with a GDP contribution of 1.4 percent and 60,000 direct jobs; a GDP of 1 percent and 4,200 direct jobs in Norway, and a GDP of 0.06 percent and 670,000 jobs in Vietnam.”

    He said he was proud to announce that R100 million had been allocated in the next financial year to make a number of aquaculture interventions.

    “Six Marine Aquaculture Projects for our four coastal provinces will be initiated in the 2008/2009 financial year. These projects will be the following:

    * The establishment of a abalone farm in Gansbaai, Western Cape
    * The establishment of a finfish farm for silver cob or yellow tail in Saldanha Bay, Western Cape
    * abalone ranching in Port Nolloth, Northern Cape
    * the establishment of a finfish farm in Qolora, Eastern Cape
    * the establishment of a finfish farm in Sokhulu, KwaZulu-Natal and
    * the development of a state hatchery

    “In addition to these amounts that will be spent on marine aquaculture projects our department will be spending a total amount of R50.6 million in the current financial year on our working for the coast social responsibility projects. I can also announce that we have allocated a further R240 million for these projects starting in the next financial year.”

    Rift Valley Railway on schedule, says Puffet

    Mombasa, 2 November 2007 – The MD of Rift Valley Railway (RVR), Roy Puffet says the rehabilitation of the railway is on schedule, contrary to claims that little has been achieved.

    He also defended RVR’s record of clearing cargo from the port at Mombasa, saying that part of the problem was a result of cargo owners not clearing their cargo, often because they lack the correct documentation.

    Puffet said that RVR had spent US$ 10.5 million in less than one year in rehabilitating and upgrading the various railway systems and that a further $17.5 million would be spent in the next 12 months.

    The run-down railway was taken over from government operation on a 25 year concession with the intention of returning it to profitability, he intimated.

    "We took this in our stride by looking at the opportunity rather than the challenge and we are glad that after one year, we have positive achievements to celebrate."

    According to Puffet RVR has drastically cut the number of derailment and accidents and the number of claims is declining. Delivery turnaround times have been reduced while transit times between Mombasa and Kampala in Uganda had been reduced from 21 days to seven days. RVR now has the ability to raise revenue and pay regulatory fees and taxes.

    Puffet said it will take five years to complete turning round the railway.

    Critics of the privatisation programme however continue to argue that gains on the railway have not so far translated into efficient movement of cargo from the port, where Kenya Ports Authority has twice this year waived charges for cargo owners to encourage the movement of cargo from the harbour. At the same time cargo owners have shown a reluctance to make use of the railway instead of road transport.

    source – The Nation

    NSRI in rescue of ocean-going yacht off Port Elizabeth

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Port Elizabeth Station reports that it has been involved in the rescue of a yacht in difficulty off the Algoa Bay coast.

    Ian Gray, NSRI Port Elizabeth Station Commander reports: “At 10am (Sunday) NSRI Port Elizabeth were activated by the National Ports Authority following a request for assistance from the 39 foot Mono-hull yacht SHOESTRING reporting mechanical engine failure, no wind and one of her three crew suffering from dehydration 40 nautical miles off-shore of Port Elizabeth.

    “We determined that the yacht has sailed from her last port of call, Richards Bay, headed for Cape Town where the yacht is registered. For the past two days, having departed Richards Bay, they ran into windless conditions off Port Elizabeth and the 3 crew on-board had been struggling with hardly any wind in which to sail and mechanical engine failure and one crewman was reportedly suffering dehydration from motion sickness.

    “We launched our rescue craft SPIRIT OF TOFT and on arrival on-scene a tow-line was rigged, rehydration therapy was administered to the ill crewman and we expect to tow them safely into Port at around 8.30pm tonight.

    “The skipper and owner, Peter Muzik, has been sailing on an around the world trip for the past 4 years, writing for a sailing magazine. The yacht struck a reef off the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, a group of small islands 500 km south of the Maldives, and has since been sailing without an engine propeller, which was ripped off.

    “Muzik came into Richards Bay for minor repairs where his two crewmembers, Mae Lion and Keith Pienaar, boarded the yacht to sail with him on the final leg of his voyage to Cape Town. All men are from Cape Town.

    “They ran into windless conditions two days ago and without a propeller to motor on called for assistance to get to Port Elizabeth this morning.”

    “At around 10.30am as our rescue craft prepared to depart on her voyage to rendezvous with SHOESTRING our volunteers were called down to the yacht club where a 56 year old local had collapsed from a suspected heart attack on the yacht club jetty.

    “On our arrival the local man, whose name has not been released, was suffering breathing difficulties and a weak pulse and within moments of our arrival he had lapsed into unconsciousness with no pulse and no breathing.

    “Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) efforts were administered by our NSRI crew and his pulse and breathing were restored.

    “A Guardmed Private Ambulance arrived on-scene and treatment was handed over to the Guardmed paramedics.

    “The man has been transported to hospital in a serious condition.”

    Pic of the day – CONRAD S

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Container ship CONRAD S entering Durban harbour. Picture Terry Hutson

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