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Ports & Ships Maritime News

20 February 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002

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The floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) platform known simply as PSVM, seen here at anchor off Walvis Bay, where the platform and the accommodation barge Jascon 31 called recently for a few days. For those who prefer to know the origin of things, the name PSVM is an acronym of the Plutao, Saturnao, Venus and Marte fields which lie in the northeast sector of Block 31 in the ultra-deep oilfields off Angola. Why such a sequence of planet names we cannot say. Picture by Paul vd Merwe

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Cyclone Giovanna on Sunday at o6h00UTC, free at last from the coat of Madagascar. Imagery by www.passageweather.com

Cyclone Giovanna, contrary to earlier forecasts, has changed direction and is heading east away from the southern coast of Madagascar where for over a week the tropical storm has wreaked havoc on various parts of the island.

On Sunday the storm was centered away from the south western Madagascan coast and south of the Mascarene islands of Reunion and Mauritius and was being predicted to intensify yet again while angling southwestwards away from any land.

Giovanna has moved in an anticlockwise direction around the coast and land mass of Madagascar for more than a week, bringing severe damage and loss to property. The loss of life has not yet been determined, owing to the remoteness and poor communications on some parts of Madagascar and the storm will have left a scar that will take some time to heal.

Mozambique authorities meanwhile are heaving a sigh of relief at the news that the cyclone had changed course yet again this time away from its coast. During her path down the channel the storm posed a danger to shipping in the Mozambique Channel even reaching to the Mozambique coast where choppy seas and high winds were reported along the Inhambane coast.

According to the Mozambique government’s Disaster Management Coordinating Council, Mozambique’s improved weather forecasting capacity enabled authorities to give warnings in good time which has helped reduced the loss of life and property from the spate of storms and bad weather. Nonetheless, Defence Minister Filipe Nhussi said that deaths at sea had occurred despite an alert having been given. He instructed the shipping authorities to take a tougher line and issue outright bans of fishermen putting to sea during critical weather conditions. He said the state of disaster readiness should be maintained because the rainy season is not over until the end of March.

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Two security officers on board the container ship BELGICA (25,608-gt, built 1997) were arrested and charged, together with the ship’s captain, of possessing illegal weapons on board the vessel after the ship’s arrival in Mombasa

The weapons consisted of a Remington sniper rifle, several AK47 rifles, two Glock automatic pistols and 600 rounds of ammunition.

The weapons and ammunition were discovered while the 2,648-TEU ship was being discharged in port. Captain Bernd Waschitzek and his two security personnel, Sven Bauermann and Jozef Michialik were subsequently released on bail by the Kenyan authorities after making a declaration that the weapons were purely for anti-piracy defence.

Fishing vessel boarded by pirates

A fishing vessel was boarded by pirates about 35 n.miles southwest of Masirah Island in position 19:57.1N 58:25.51E at 1930 local time on 14 February.

The armed pirates came aboard from a 20ft brown-coloured dhow with the name HANDER but all they wanted was food and fuel and the crew’s possession, which they stole before leaving. Shipping has been warned to look out for the Hander which may have remained in the area.

Killing on the high seas

Outrage is being expressed over the killing of two Indian fishermen who were shot and killed by armed security guards on board an Italian crude oil tanker, the ENRICA LEXIE (104,255-dwt, built 2008) off the Kollam coast in Kerala recently.

Not surprisingly most of the outrage has come from India, where the authorities while rightfully upset over the loss of life are apparently forgetful of the occasion when their own navy fired upon a Thai-registered fishing vessel, the Ekawat Nava 5 which was in the hands of pirates but which was also carrying the original Yemeni crew. While some of the pirates escaped in a skiff the Indian Navy frigate continued firing on the fishing vessel, which was badly damaged and subsequently sank. Bodies of those killed were left in the water and there the story may have ended but for one of those twists of fate.

Against all the odds, one of the Thai fishermen survived for more than a week, floating in the ocean until picked up by a passing vessel. After he was taken ashore and placed in hospital the man recovered his senses and was able to tell the tale which would otherwise have never been heard.

You can re-read that story HERE - use your BACK BUTTON to return to this page.

According to available reports the latest incident also did not become known until after some of the surviving Indian fishermen returned to their village.

The sad incident highlights again what others have warned against, that undisciplined or untrained security placed onboard merchant ships are not the appropriate personnel to deal with suspected pirate attacks on ships, and that more of these incidents are likely to occur unless proper controls are introduced.

Already there is a certain antipathy between the naval forces operating on anti-piracy patrols, which generally exercises admirable control, and the armed guards found on a mounting number of ships. Among the groups of armed guards are trained ex-military personnel but there are also a number of others who lack such professional training.

Until some form of qualification and control is brought into use with having armed guards on board ships, the chances are that more unwanted loss of life will result.

China steps up anti-piracy training

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The Chinese Navy frigate ZHOUSHAN FFG529 arrives in Durban harbour on an official visit at the end of her deployment on anti-piracy patrol. Picture by Terry Hutson

The Chinese Navy is reported to have stepped up training for anti-piracy patrolling, in what is the most direct indication that China intends continuing with long- distance overseas missions.

Since December 2008 China has stationed several ships on anti-piracy patrol off the coast of Somalia and has participated in joint missions with other navies operating on similar deployments. In April 2011 ships of the Chinese Navy visited Durban on while returning to China after completing a deployment off Somalia.

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MSC Fantasia, sister ship to the new MSC Divina

MSC Cruises and the STX Europe ship yard in Saint-Nazaire, France, last week (16 February) began the 100 day countdown to MSC DIVINA’s long-anticipated christening which will take place on 26 May 2012 in Marseilles, France.

As the third and latest addition to the MSC Cruises’ flagship Fantasia class, MSC Divina will become the 12th and, according to MSC, most magnificent ship of the MSC Cruises’ fleet. The final stretch of construction, her ‘dressing up,’ is therefore a mammoth feat requiring immense dedication, technical expertise, attention to detail and craftsmanship.

At the STX Europe ship yard, where workmen have been building beautiful ships for the last 150 years, over 1,400 skilled professionals representing over 100 companies are working hard to get MSC Divina ready for her big debut.

Locksmiths, electricians, coppersmiths, mechanics, carpenters, decorators, marble fitters, light technicians, insulation and air-conditioning technicians, kitchen designers and supervisors represent just some of the many trades involved in the fitting and furnishing of the 333 metre long, 38 metre wide, 140,000-ton, 4,363 passenger luxury cruise ship.

In now less than one hundred days’ time, when MSC Divina emerges for her debut ‘Grand Ball’ on 26 May 2012 in Marseille, over 2.2 million hours will have been spent on her construction and an extra one million hours of work will have been devoted to meticulously applying the finishing touches.

Taking a closer look at this floating palace

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La Reggio restaurant on the MSC Splendida, sister ship to the new MSC Divina

MSC Divina is made up of 30,000 tons of steel, 300km of piping, 1,800km of electric cables, and 66,000 light points. Construction started over a year and a half ago and a total complement of 80 mega-blocks, each consisting of a set of large pre-fabricated hull components, were used for assembling the ship.

MSC Divina will boast 1,751 cabins (one hundred more than her sister ships MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida), 25 lifts and 27,000 square metres of public spaces which include restaurants, bars, a casino, four swimming pools, including the new Garden Pool, a bowling alley, a gym and the superb MSC Aurea Spa. The ship’s 18 decks, 14 of them for passengers, are named after the Gods of Ancient Greece.

The next big event in MSC Divina’s calendar is her first sea trial, which will take place in mid-April 2012. The trials will involve approximately 300 people and over 60 separate tests and will cover everything from speed and manoeuverability to acoustics and vibrations.

And then lots of lucky people get to cruise in her.

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The reception area on board the MSC Splendida

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With a pair of harbour tugs performing the traditional water cannon salute, Jolly Diamante crosses the bar for the first time on her way into Durban harbour. Picture by Trevor C http://www.nauticalimages.co.za

When the 50,720-gt JOLLY DIAMANTE sailed into Durban harbour on Friday shortly after 1pm it was fulfilling a promise made by the chief executive of Ignazio Messina Line that the first in a series of newbuild Ro-Ro ships would be deployed to the Italy – South Africa services.

That assurance was given in October last year when chief executive Steffano Messina and several of his fellow directors including managers from the company’s other African branches, gathered in Durban at the luxurious Oyster Box Hotel to celebrate the line’s 90th anniversary.

Messina explained how since its early beginnings in 1921 Messina Line has remained associated with Africa. When the company started operations it ran between Italy and North Africa but that was soon expanded to include the Red Sea and then later East Africa and South Africa.

Messina Line operates a breakbulk and container service from Italy to Durban and return, out of a fleet of 14 owned ro-ro ships. Jolly Diamante is not only the latest ship but becomes the largest in the fleet. At the celebration in Durban in October Messina said that the significance of this new ship being deployed on the South Africa service indicated the importance that Messina Line placed in the East and South African trades.

Messina ships are easily recognizable by their bright orange/red hulls and the prefix used with every ship’s name – Jolly, meaning Joker. The Port of Durban will be handing over a plaque commemorating the ship’s first call at a function on board the vessel later today.

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Jolly Diamante making her grand entrance into Durban harbour. Picture by Trevor C http://www.nauticalimages.co.za

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Carrying Coals to Newcastle! The dry bulker AOM JULIA (76,596-dwt, built 2009) arriving in Lyttelton, New Zealand at the weekend to load coal for Richards Bay (presumably coking coal). Picture by Alan Calvert

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Stolt Tankers’ chemical products tanker BASUTO (25,197-dwt, built 2006), flying the colours of Durban-based Unicorn Shipping and managed by Jo Tankers, sails into Santos harbour. Picture by SMERA

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