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Ports & Ships Maritime News

27 February 2012
Author: Terry Hutson


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Cunard’s cruise liner QUEEN ELIZABETH appears out of the mist and rain as she sails from the harbour of Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, after a short 8- hour visit. Photographer and ship enthusiast Alan Calvert travelled from Christchurch especially to obtain a few photographs of the ship only to be met with a curtain of rain that at one stage closed the local airport.

The day before had been fine and the day after was also a fine day, he writes. “If nothing else the photo proves that I went to Dunedin to photograph Queen Elizabeth arriving on her first visit to the port.”

Picture by Alan Calvert


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SAS ISANDLWANA which is currently on deployment in northern Mozambique, seen here returning to Simon’s Town after a mercy mission dash to Tristan da Cunha in 2011. Picture by Bob Johnston

Cape Town, Sunday 26 February – The Defence Department is taking steps to tackle piracy, and intends re-opening a former naval base on Salisbury Island, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu said today.

Sisulu told a media briefing in Parliament that the Durban base had been downgraded to a naval station to save costs and operations moved to Simon’s Town, near Cape Town [in 2002].

However, the adoption of a strategy by the government to tackle piracy in its surrounding waters necessitated the re-opening of the base, she said.

Salisbury Island had been identified as the base at the meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) standing maritime committee held in Durban over the past week, but costs had not yet been calculated.

“We intend to start small because it’s going to be a very costly, a huge exercise,” said Sisulu.

At present just one frigate at a time had been deployed on anti-piracy patrol to Pemba in northern Mozambique and was supported by a number of helicopters on board the frigate as well as by ground troops.

South Africa has also signed a pact with Tanzania and Mozambique on maritime security co-operation, which would see the three countries working together to secure their respective territorial waters.

Sisulu said figures from two years ago by the International Maritime Bureau revealed that the cost of piracy was between US$7 billion and $12 billion a year. Added to this, there had been 17 acts of piracy in Tanzanian waters last year.

She said the sea was very important for trade as 91% of goods traded between African countries were transported by sea, while the continent had 44 refineries in 25 countries. This made it essential for African countries to police the continent’s waters, she said.

The South African Maritime Strategy - which was adopted by Cabinet last year - is being piloted by South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique, and Sisuslu said the deployment of the Isandlwana was more of a deterrent than anything else.

She said the department would be requesting that at least two percent of GDP be allocated to defence spending.

One idea, she said, was that those departments that could benefit from additional defence – such as Agriculture and Trade and Industry, could pool their resources.

The Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said that to deal with piracy it was important to tackle the political problems on the ground.

Nkoana-Mashabane attended a meeting in London on Thursday, hosted by AU security-council members, on how to work together with Somalis to return the country to normalcy.

She said South Africa had also pledged to make a donation of £10 million in the form of services and support to those in liberated zones in Somalia.

Meanwhile, she said the African Renaissance Fund would be collapsed into the SA Development Partnership Agency, which is now being set up by her department.

This new agency would continue to deal with political issues, but largely humanitarian aid on the continent, she said.

The draft bill for the establishment of the agency’s fund had been finalised and would be presented to Cabinet before it is published in the Government Gazette for public comment.

The feasibility study and business case for the new agency had also been completed and is awaiting the approval of the National Treasury and the Department of Public Services and Administration, she said. – BuaNews


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Delegates to the 18th Maritime Standing Committee, held in Durban

According to the chief of the navy, Vice Admiral Refiloe J Mudimu, southern Africa remains safe from acts of piracy because the ships of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region are on patrol off the respective coastlines.

He emphasised the capacity of SADC to withstand any incursions by the pirates but said there was still a need for a united front involving all the naval forces of the SADC members to maintain this ability.

Admiral Mudimu said there were issues relating to SADC’s continued capacity for dealing with maritime crime in the region. “We need certain assets to repel maritime crime but in terms of capacity [the availability of] finance will be fundamental to how we continue to react to these issues.

“Our countries must be able to trade freely and operate without fear through shipping.”

The challenge, he said, is having the right type of assets where they were required. In some countries the fight might be against pirates, in another it is against poachers, or against pollution. “Those assets are not currently there. We need therefore to focus on being able to provide the necessary capacity to maintain control. This also means having ship repair facilities where they are needed.”

He said there were a number of other issues that need to be addressed. One was the embedding of armed guards on merchant ships. Another was the involvement of the police in regards the question of what to do with captured pirates.

“We’ll be discussing hot pursuits into other regions,” the admiral said.

There is also the matter of what to do with captured pirates. Major- General Saidi Omar, chief of the Tanzania Navy said that three years ago there was no legal understanding of piracy in his country, which had to go about urgently placing it on a legal structure. There were currently 19 Somali pirates in custody in Tanzania and facing charges of piracy. If found guilty they face possible life sentences.

Another issue facing SADC countries and South Africa in particular involved the question of establishing floating armouries that could store weapons for vessels going into port – some other countries have already begun this and in South Africa the navy is engaging with SAMSA and other authorities to see if this is feasible.


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Map of the Seychelles. Source Wikipedia

The UK is to provide the Director and fund the construction of the new Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence Co-ordination Centre (RAPPICC) based in the Seychelles.

Foreign Secretary William Hague announced on 21 February that the RAPPICC will coordinate and analyse intelligence to inform tactical law enforcement options, including the turning of intelligence into useable evidence for prosecutions both in the region and further afield.

Additional action by the International Maritime Organisation and the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia will ensure that shipping travelling through the Gulf of Aden has access to the best and most up to date advice on how to help tackle the scourge of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

These new measures came two days ahead of the London Conference on Somalia, which brought together over 50 countries and international organisations to agree a series of practical measures to support Somalia including further measures to tackle piracy and its root causes.

“The establishment of a new intelligence co-ordination centre will allow the international community to target the king-pins of piracy and ensure piracy does not pay,” said Hague. “For too long, the international community has focused its efforts on the young desperate men who are sent out to sea, without seeking to hold to account those who finance and enable huge pirate operations.

“RAPPICC, based in the Seychelles, will ensure that is no longer the case. I am pleased that the UK is able to provide the first Director and £550,000 to fund the construction of the RAPPICC, which will be operational in time for the seasonal increase in pirate activity. The Seychelles and Dutch governments, as well as INTERPOL, have made commitments to support this centre, and I hope that others will follow their lead.”

He said that the UK will also provide £150,000 to support for the UN Political Office for Somalia in creating a pilot maritime security coordination office in a stable region within Somalia. The office will help to ensure greater coordination of counter-piracy activity on the ground to maximise the impact of the international community’s efforts.

“We are also working to ensure that shipping travelling through the Gulf of Aden has the best information and advice to avoid and counter piracy. I welcome the decisions of the IMO to provide guidance on the use of armed guards to Flag States and Ship owners, and to enhance the information on high risk areas available via their website, to ensure that seafarers and industry have greater access to such information.”

Hague said that the UK will continue to work closely with countries across the East African and Indian Ocean region and around the world to ensure that efforts to tackle piracy are comprehensive and coordinated. “We particularly want to see an end to pirates being captured and then released because there is nowhere to prosecute and imprison them. We hope that Conference participants will agree a commitment to do more to increase judicial capacity in Somalia and the wider region.” Source Foreign & Commonwealth Office/Paul Ridgway


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The drillship OCEAN RIG POSEIDON and support vessels at the Zafarani location off Tanzania. Picture Statoil/Heine Melkevik

Statoil has announced a significantly large discovery of natural gas in the Zafarani exploration well in the Block 2 licence offshore of Tanzania.

Results announced earlier on 17 February said there were indications of natural gas in the well. Logging results now show that the discovery is a high impact discovery, so far proving up to 5 Tcf of gas in-place.

The well has encountered 120 metres of excellent quality reservoir with high porosity and high permeability. The gas-water contact has not been established and drilling operations are on-going.

“This discovery is the first Statoil-operated discovery in East Africa and an important event for the future development of the Tanzanian gas industry,” said Tim Dodson, executive vice president for Exploration in Statoil.

“This discovery could potentially be a catalyst for large scale natural gas developments in Tanzania,” says Yona Killaghane, Managing Director of Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC).

Earlier last week the partnership signed an addendum to the production sharing agreement for Block 2 which stipulates the commercial terms in case of a development of natural gas resources in the block with the Tanzanian authorities. Statoil operates the licence on Block 2 on behalf of TPDC and has a 65% working interest with ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Tanzania Ltd. holding the remaining 35%. Statoil has been in Tanzania since 2007 when it was awarded the licence for Block 2. TPDC has the right to a 10% working interest in case of a development phase.

Zafarani is the first exploration well that has been drilled in the licence which covers an area of approximately 5,500 square kilometres. The water depth at the well location is 2,582 metres and the well itself will be drilled to reach an expected total depth of around 5,100 metres.

The drillship, Ocean Rig Poseidon, will after completing the drilling activities at Zafarani move to drill a second well in Block 2 on the Lavani prospect.

An earlier discovery of natural gas offshore Tanzania was made last year by BG Group, while just to the south offshore of Mozambique, Italy’s Eni SpA and the US company Anadarko Petroleum Corp have made large discoveries.


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The Dutch salvage company Smit Salvage has completed removing fuel oils from the forward tanks of the capsized cruise ship COSTA CONCORDIA, which came to grief on the rocks off the island of Giglio on the night of Friday, 13 January this year.

All together six forward tanks have been safely emptied and the hoses, pumps and valves have been disconnected with the flanges sealed off. The bunker tanker ELBA which has been employed to receive the transhipped oil has moved away from the shipwreck and is to be replaced by a second vessel, the fuel barge MAGIC DUBA.

The next tanks being targeted for emptying are the mid tanks on the ship as well as two double-bottom sludge tanks. These will have to be emptied using Smit’s ‘hot tap’ method.

Operations to remove the oil and to continue looking for missing bodies in the ship is being hampered by rough seas and strong waves.

In other news concerning the Costa Concordia, prosecutors have added Costa Crociere executive vice president Manfred Ursprunger to the list of Costa Cruises employees under investigation for the shipwreck.

According to Italian media sources, all suspects face possible charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and failing to communicate with maritime authorities. In addition to the ship’s master Captain Francisco Schettino and his first officer Ciro Ambrosio, the others have been named as Roberto Ferrarini, head of the company's crisis unit, Paolo Parodi, fleet superintendent of the ship and four officers of the ship: Roberto Bosio, Silvia Coronica, Salvatore Ursino and Andrea Bongiovanni, and now the company VP Manfred Ursprunger.

Italian sources also say that the number of bodies found on deck 4 of the ship last week had risen to eight by the weekend.


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The Norwegian products tanker CHAMPION CORNELIA (44,999-dwt, built 1996) seen departing from Cape Town earlier this month. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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