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Ports & Ships Maritime News

9 Jan 2012
Author: Terry Hutson



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We take this opportunity to wish all readers the compliments of the season and hope that 2012 will be successful and happy for all. Thank you to all those who sent seasonal greetings – much appreciated


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We set the scene for another year of maritime reporting from the coasts of Africa with these views of the Odfjell drilling ship DEEPSEA METRO II (51,283-gt, built 2011) being towed into Cape Town harbour last week. Pictures by Glen Kasner

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St Helena’s airport comes a step closer

With the arrival on the South Atlantic island of St Helena of a second team from the construction company Basil Read, the development of an airport that will end the island’s centuries-long isolation has come a lot closer.

The contract to build the on-off airport was awarded last year to Basil Read – since then architects, consultants and other specialists have moved to St Helena to begin preparations for beginning construction work later this year. Basil Read is reported to be sourcing a ship which will be customised for the four-year contract, responsible for moving construction material and personnel to and from the island.

Construction material is scheduled to begin arriving at Rupert’s Bay on the island from mid 2012.

What this means is that about four or so years from now will mark the end of the mail ship service provided by the faithful RMS ST HELENA, which has been a regular operator between the island and Cape Town, Walvis Bay and the UK for many years.


In other South Atlantic Ocean news….

Mercosur closes ports to Falkland Island ships

MERCOSUR, the South American economic and trade organisation has shut its ports in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil to Falklands Island-flagged ships in a sign of solidarity with Argentina over its dispute concerning the islands that the South Americans refer to as the Malvinas.

A member of the Falkland Island Legislative Assembly, Jan Cheek described the action as bullying tactics by Argentina. “We are resourceful people and we will not bow to Argentina in their attempts to undermine our home and way of life,” she said.

Because of the close proximity of the Falklands to Argentina, some 400 n.miles away, trading with the South American continent remains an important factor in relations between the disputed island group and its nearest neighbour.

“The long and mutually beneficial trade relationship the Falklands have shared with countries in the region is at risk and the Islands are a valuable and reliable regional partner. The Falklands’ South American trading partners know this and have cultivated the lucrative trade relationships over many years,” Mrs Cheek said. Argentina claims sovereignty of the Malvinas and says that as things stand now UK companies are exploring for oil in the island waters and that British ships operating from the islands are taking oil and fish from South America. “It’s a global cause because in the Malvinas they are taking our oil and fishing reserves,” said Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Source BBC and FINN


Maersk increases US-West Africa rates

Maersk Line says it is increasing its rates for cargo from the United States to West Africa, as from 1 February.

The increase is US$150 per 20-foot container and $300 per 40-foot or 45-foot high-cube refrigerated container. The increase applies to destinations in Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde Island, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Western Sahara.


Maersk places congestion charge on Dar es Salaam

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Dar es Salaam

Maersk Line has joined Emirates Shipping in imposing congestion surcharges of US$150 per TEU, $350 per 40ft on all inbound shipments at Dar es Salaam as from 1 January.

“Due to the continued delays of more than six days in the Port of Dar es Salaam and no immediate solution is foreseen to reduce these days, we are compelled to proceed with the implementation of a Dar es Salaam congestion surcharge,” said Maersk.

Emirates Shipping Line raised a surcharge of $250 per TEU on cargo to Dar es Salaam and Mombasa on 1 December 2011.


Flooding raises further congestion charge concerns at Dar es Salaam

Heavy rains resulted in flooding across the city of Dar es Salaam. The rains and flooding came a few days before Christmas, leaving at least 20 dead and concerns over surcharges on cargo moving in or out of the port’s terminals (see report above). Ships were said to have been delayed by up to six days as containers lay piled up in the dockland area.


Nigerian ports face possible national strike

The Nigerian Labour Congress, which has 4 million members making it one of Africa’s biggest, has called for a nationwide and indefinite strike commencing today (9 January). This is in response to the removal of a subsidy on petrol that has caused the price of the fuel to almost double.

According to an alert issued by GACWorld, all banks, seaports, airports and economic activity will be affected. Travellers to the West African country should check with their airline before flying in to Nigeria.


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Picture courtesy SAMSA

Recovery of sunken dredger Jin Hang Bo will take three weeks

The Chinese dredger JIN HANG BO 53 which sank in Ngqura harbour on New Year’s Day remained submerged in the harbour on Friday awaiting an attempt to refloat the vessel.

Jin Hang Bo 53, which SAMSA says is JIN TAI, sank during dredging operations for the new container terminal extension at Ngqura. SAMSA said on Friday that pumping of the bulk fuel onboard the vessel had commenced on 3 January under the direction of the firm of Smit Amandla Marine and had been completed that day (Friday 6 January).

SAMSA said that inspection of the tanks were taking place and residues cleared. All loose containers and drums of pollutants such as grease, oil and paint were being removed along with any loose items on the vessel.

“Preparations are underway to refloat the vessel and moor her alongside in a safe condition. This consists of a dive survey to understand the nature of any damage to the hull; closing of all openings, vents, sounding pipes, etc.; lifting of the damaged spud leg; moving and securing the back hoe arm, which can be seen resting in the barge, in a fore and aft position. This weighs 250 tons; and identifying and sealing, if possible, the cause of the water ingress; and de-ballasting the dredger to reduce the list.”

SAMSA said that specialist salvage equipment was currently being mobilised from Cape Town and The Netherlands. The work of refloating the vessel was now expected to take about three weeks.


Drama and tragedy as Madagascan vessel capsizes

It is thought that overcrowding was the cause of the small cargo ship ELIZABETH capsizing and sinking off the east coast of Madagascar on 26 December 2011. According to Madagascar’s Maritime Operations Centre (COM), 36 people were missing after just two passengers were rescued.

The ship is believed to have been converted for use as a cargo ship from a fishing vessel. The little ship had sailed from Toamasina and was bound for Antalaha when the accident happened. According to a survivor’s report a big wave swamped the ship with water entering the holds and engine room and stopping the engines.


MSC enters Asia-East Coast South America trade – buys slots from other lines

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has chartered slots with immediate effect from the ASAX Loop 1/SEAS Asia-ECSA loop jointly operated by CSAV, CMA CGM and China Shipping Container Line (CSCL).

The move into the Asia ECSA trade is a further development of the tie-up between MSC and French ship operator CMA CGM which earlier announced an alliance on several other routes including between Asia and South Africa in which CSAV is also involved.

MSC’s new Asia-ECSA joint service has been called the Ipanema service and begins with the sailing of CSCL's vessel, the XIN TIANJIN from Busan in South Korea. The joint loop deploys 11 ships with an average capacity of 6,227 TEU, with six from CSAV, three from CSCL and two from CMA CGM.

The port rotation is Busan, Shanghai, Ningbo, Shenzhen-Chiwan, Hong Kong, Port Kelang, Santos, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Rio Grande, Paranagua, Durban, Port Kelang and back to Hong Kong.


CMA CGM increases rates and adds surcharges

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CMA CGM Africa Two in Durban harbour. Picture by Terry Hutson

French shipping company CMA CGM has increased freight rates while also imposing peak season surcharges on versatile trade lanes starting 1 January 2012.

Rates on cargo from Asia to the east coast of South America will increase US$600 per TEU from 1 January. Asia-South Africa cargo sees rates increasing by $200 per TEU, while services between Asia and Indian Ocean islands face an increase of $100 per TEU.

From 15 January CMA CGM will levy a peak season surcharge of $150 per TEU for dry or reefer cargo sailing from New Zealand to the Far East, south east Asia, the Middle East, and all ports in Africa.

The line said it is considering a congestion surcharge of $100 per TEU on cargo for Dar es Salaam on its SWAX service between India, the Middle East and East Africa. The carrier also plans to adjust the congestion surcharge at Mombasa from $110 per TEU to $210 per TEU on the same service.

The SWAX service rotation is Nhava Sheva, Jebel Ali, Khor Fakkan, Mombasa, Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, and back to Nhava Sheva.


FAIRMOUNT SHERPA moves Egyptian drilling rig

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Fairmount Sherpa. Picture courtesy Fairmount Marine

The tug FAIRMOUNT SHERPA has successfully towed the jack-up drilling rig BAHARIA I to her new position in the Zeit Bay oil field in the Gulf of Suez. The Fairmount Sherpa is one of five supertugs owned by Rotterdam based Fairmount Marine.

Fairmount Sherpa became available shortly after delivering the semi-submersible drilling rig NOBLE PAUL ROMANO in the North Hap’y oilfield in the Greater Nile basin offshore Egypt, after being towed from Jamaica. This was done on behalf of the Egyptian oil company Zeitco. The Fairmount Sherpa was mobilised via the Suez Channel towards the Zeit Bay oil field in the south western part of the Gulf of Suez.

After arrival of the Fairmount Sherpa on location the towing connection with the rig Baharia I was established. The tow was completed without problems. At her new drilling location the Baharia I started immediately with the jack-up operation. During this operation the Fairmount Sherpa remained connected with the rig for safety reasons. Upon release, the Fairmount Sherpa demobilised through the Suez Canal to her next assignment.


US hits Maersk for US$31.9 million over false claims

Maersk Line Limited, a wholly-owned US subsidiary of the Danish AP Moller-Maersk group, has been fined $31.9 million after admitting that it submitted false claims to the United States in connection with contracts to transport containerized cargo to support US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The US Justice Dept said last week that it alleged that Maersk knowingly overcharged the Department of Defense to transport thousands of containers from ports to inland delivery destinations in the two middle east countries.

“The government contends that Maersk inflated its invoices in various ways. For example, Maersk allegedly billed in excess of the contractual rate to maintain the operation of refrigerated containers holding perishable cargo at a port in Karachi, Pakistan, and at US military bases in Afghanistan; allegedly billed excessive detention charges (or late fees) by failing fair and honest contractors,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “As the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to fight procurement fraud demonstrate, those who put profits over the welfare of members of our military will pay a hefty price.”

The settlement resolves allegations against Maersk that were filed in San Francisco by Jerry H Brown II, a former industry insider. The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals called ‘relators’ to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the proceeds of a settlement or judgment awarded against a defendant.

The relator in this action will receive $3.6 million as his statutory share of the proceeds of this settlement. “Contractors that submit false claims for monies they are not owed cost the government millions of dollars every year,” said Melinda Haag, US Attorney for the Northern District of California. “This settlement should send a strong signal that the government is committed to safeguarding taxpayer funds by ensuring that contractors operate ethically and responsibly.”


AP Moller-Maersk head admitted to hospital

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Nils S Andersen, AP Moller-Maersk CEO

Nils S Andersen, the chief executive officer of AP Moller-Maersk was admitted to hospital in Switzerland on 30 December after one of his heart valves began leaking.

It appears that Andersen was not aware of the problem until he began his holiday in Switzerland where his condition deteriorated acutely, causing him to undergo surgery which involved the replacement of a cardiac valve. He will be absent from AP Moller-Maersk for about one month. “The executive board will continue to run the AP Moller-Maersk Group during Nils S Andersen's absence [and] the individual board members will be in close contact with me," says Michael Pram Rasmussen, chairman of the board.


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Indian livestock carrier released without ransom

An Indian-registered livestock carrier, SAVINA AL-SALAM which was captured along with its crew of 16 Indian seafarers, has been released by the pirates.

The ship was seized and it was assumed to be heading for the pirate-held port of Bosasso.

No explanation for the ship’s sudden release has been given but the presence on board of over 3600 head of sheep is thought to have been a factor – the pirates have learned how to handle sailors of every nationality but the thought of having to feed those sheep, and do the mucking out may have proved discouraging.


Italian tanker captured

The Italian products tanker ENRICO LEVOLI (16,631-dwt) and crew were captured by Somali pirates on 27 December 2011 while off the coast of Oman. The ship carries a crew of 18, including seven Indians, six Italians, and five Ukrainians.

The ship has been taken to anchor about 70km southeast of Garacad. Enrico Levoli was sailing between Fujairah and the Mediterranean with a cargo of caustic soda when captured.


EUNAVFOR says that 60 seafarers held by pirates have died

According to EUNAVFOR, the European naval force operating on anti piracy patrol off the Somali region, says that sixty seafarers have died in pirate captivity over the past four years.

It said that many others have suffered at the hands of the pirates who have tortured them and subjected them to ill treatment.

The belief that pirates are anxious to keep their captives alive to help secure a ransom is paid appears to have less foundation than originally. The truth about how seafarers are treated while in captivity is also withheld from the world’s press by ship owners and operators who enforce the silence rule once seafarers are released. Even those that administer counseling to the released seafarers are told that to divulge what they learn will mean barred from any access to released seafarers in the future.

Ship owners and operators appear not to have heard of the grape vine.

Pirates Release oil tanker SAVINA CAYLYN For $11.5m

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Savina Caylyn

The Italian-flagged oil tanker SAVINA CAYLYN has been released after a ransom, reported to be of US$11.5 million, was dropped near the ship. The ship and her crew of 22, comprising 17 Indians and five Italians had been held by the pirates for 11 months.

The ransom money was paid over in two installments with drops from a helicopter flying overhead. A few hours later the pirates released the ship and crew.

The reason for two drops was apparently to ensure that all crew, in particular the 17 Indians on board were released. This follows the affair of the captured bitumen bulker ASPHALT VENTURE in which eight Indian seafarers were held back after the ransom was paid. This was in revenge for pirates being held by Indian authorities. What happened in this case was that the first package of $8.5 million was dropped with the request that the Indian seafarers were to be allowed to leave the ship in small boats. Once they were considered to be safe the balance of the money, $3 million was dropped and the piorates vacated the ship, allowing the crew to sail from the area.


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Logistics company DHL has become the preferred logistics partner of South Africa’s Mining Oil and Gas Services (MOGS) in the development of a new Oilfield Services Complex (OSC) in Saldanha.

DHL’s role will include the provision of bonded chartering services, warehousing and facility management, ocean freight, air freight, road freight, clearing and forwarding, customs brokerage, express logistics and supply base management.

When completed in 2015, the Saldanha OSC could extend up to 500ha and will service major oil companies and multinationals in the west, central and southern African offshore oil and gas fields.

“Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in DHL’s network,” said Thomas Nieszner, CEO, Europe, Middle East and Africa, DHL Global Forwarding said. “Partnering with the continent’s key institutions and organisations to create logistics and service hubs such as this one with MOGS is how we leverage the growth opportunities here as well as add value at the same time. Logistics is a key element of the OSC and it is exciting to become a strategic partner at an early stage, where we can be involved in the development of Saldanha’s air, sea and ground infrastructure.”

MOGs is part of the Royal Bafokeng Holdings Group and opened its Saldanha office in Langebaan in May 2011. It aims to provide bespoke facilities, infrastructure and land to the major oil companies and MNCs at Saldanha in a multi-phased, multi-site development. This will include expanding the Oilfield Services Air Logistics Hub serving West, Central & Southern African offshore oil and gas fields. Errol Gregor, CEO, South Africa’s Mining Oil and Gas Services, said that with DHL as their strategic partner in logistics, they are confident they will achieve their ambition to be the preferred partner for world energy companies in oil and gas services.

“MOGS has considerable experience designing and building oil and gas sector infrastructure with planned facilities in Luanda and Nigeria to service the west coast,” he said. “By leveraging our combined strengths and capabilities, DHL and MOGS can work towards making Saldanha a one-stop shop for the offshore energy industry in Africa.”


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A surprise New Year caller in the ports of Durban and Cape Town came in the form of the Hurtigruten passenger vessel FINNMARKEN, which called for bunkers on her re- positioning voyage from Western Australia to Norway, via a refit in Singapore.

Happily, during this refurbishment, the vessel was repainted from the rather anaemic white hull that she featured while on the Australian charter, and is now freshly painted in the Hurtigruten livery. She had no passengers on board, and spent only 6 to 7 hours in Durban on a blazing New Year’s Day, before heading off for another bunker stop in Cape Town several days later. The vessel will resume her traditional Norwegian coastal service from February, initially spelling the fire-damaged NORDLYS, but then serving as a more permanent replacement for the classic NORDSTJERNEN, the last of the midships Hurtigruten liners from the fifties.

FINNMARKEN bunkered in Cape Town on her outward positioning voyage to Australia in early 2010, so it was good that Durban had a look in this time.

During the week we’ll show a few more pictures of this passenger ship in Cape Town harbour, taken by other photographers. Today’s pictures and caption above by Trevor Jones.

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