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Ports & Ships Maritime News

4 March 2012
Author: Terry Hutson


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Video clip of storm conditions at Ponta do Ouro on the Mozambique/KZN border. source YouTube

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Sunday 4 March 2012

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Tropical Storm Irina as at 00h00 last night. Image by Passageweather.com

Heavy rains have been falling across southern Mozambique spreading into South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, into Swaziland and northern KwaZulu-Natal, with rough seas reported between Richards Bay and Maputo. On Saturday night rains began falling in the Durban area with heavy falls occurring from the early hours of Sunday morning (today).

At Durban the port was closed to shipping on Sunday morning due to poor visibility, with ships unable to enter or sail. Ports & Ships was told the reason is that the pilot helicopter could not fly safely due to a lack of visibility.

Concerned passengers on board the cruise ship MSC SINFONIA have been phoning the offices of Ports & Ships enquiring as to the ship’s whereabouts and whether it is safe. According to Durban port control the cruise ship will be returning to harbour after 18h00 today (Sunday) The ship was due at 7am on Monday.

At Richards Bay the port was closed as from 02h30 this morning, “due to the weather including poor visibility.” It was raining heavily “on and off”, we were told.

Forecast track of Irina

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Passageweather.com’s prediction for Monday 5 March 00h00, i.e. midnight tonight

As with most weather forecasts there is always a slight or sometimes larger divergence of opinion. The SA Weather Service, in its latest media release issued yesterday (Saturday 3 March) said the following:

“At 02h00SAST Saturday 3 March, Moderate Tropical Storm IRINA was located at 25.5S and 37.6E (in the vicinity of Inhambane, Mozambique) and is moving in a west- south-west direction at 13knots. The storm retains Moderate Tropical Storm status until Tuesday, 6 March 2012.

According to the latest track forecast the storm will continue in a southerly direction from tomorrow, 4 March 2012 and will move away in a south-easterly direction on Monday, 5 March 2012. By Tuesday the storm will re-curve back and move northwards. There is, however, no further indication that the storm will make landfall in the following 5 days.

Due to its position relative to the coastline it will, however, still result in heavy falls of rain (>50mm/24hrs) over the extreme southern parts of Mozambique, Swaziland, Mpumalanga southern highveld and the east coast and adjacent interior of South Africa, which will create the risk of flooding in those areas. Very rough seas with wave heights in excess of 4-6m are also expected from Richards Bay to Maputo.

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Irina’s predicted position at 18h00 on Monday 4 March. Image by passageweather.com

On Saturday 3 March the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre issued the following report written by Rob Gutro:

Irina is expected to begin affecting coastal Mozambique before 12h00 UTC (2 p.m. local time, Mozambique) on 3 March, with rough surf, gusty winds and moderate to heavy rainfall. Irina is currently creating seas of 20 feet (~6 meters) in the southern Mozambique Channel, and those rough seas that will affect the Mozambique coast.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts Irina to track along the southeastern coast from Inhambane, Quissico, Chibuto and move inland just north of Maputo by 5 March at 00h00 UTC (just after midnight local time on 5 March5) so it will be an overnight landfall. It is then expected to move west-southwest and dissipate quickly over Mozambique.

The US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) was predicting Irina would remain out at sea centred east-southeast of Maputo and would begin a slow reversal back towards landfall over southern Mozambique.

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www.passageweather.com’s prediction says this is where the storm will be at midnight Monday night, 5 March 2012.


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Saturday, 3 March 2012

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Tropical Cyclone Irina at midnight last night

Tropical Cyclone Irina began coming ashore on the southern and central coasts of Mozambique spreading inland into Mpumalanga yesterday (Friday) and warning alerts are indicating that South Africa’s province of KwaZulu Natal faces heavy rain, strong winds and rough seas as from later today (Saturday) or from Sunday 4 March.

Wave heights of between 6 and 8 metres can be expected durig the affected period, according to Passageweather.com.

The cyclonic weather conditions could last for several days with heavy prolonged rains not seen in KZN since Cyclone Domoina in 1984 (also spelled Demoina). The KZN port of Richards By appears certain to feel the effects of the storm, as may also the port of Durban about 140km to the south.

Further north the Mozambique port of Maputo is already feeling the effects of the cyclone which however is expected to rapidly lose its strength as it moves overland. Mozambique has been struck by a succession of tropical storms so far in 2012 making this one of the most prolific ’cyclone seasons’ experienced in the Mozambique Channel zone in some years. The respective authorities appear however to be better prepared than in the past and aid and assistance has been available much quicker, helping to negate the effect on the people and the land.

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Irina as expected at 12h00 noon today



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The Vietnamese-flagged and owned dry bulk carrier VEGA STAR (22,035-dwt, built 1994) arriving in Durban harbour, 28 February 2012. Picture by Trevor Jones

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Staying with the Vietnamese theme and at the other end of the size scale is Cosco Line’s containership COSCO VIETNAM (91,051-gt, built 2011) arriving in the port of Santos, Brazil. Picture by R Smera


Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za



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The newbuild tug SMIT KIWI (377-gt, built 2011) which passed through the port of Cape Town recently. The harbour tug was en route from Singapore to the Dutch port of Rotterdam and called for bunkers and supplies. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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The troubled DCT by night

Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) says it is working closely with the manufacturers of the Navis SPARCS N4 terminal operating system to sort out the continuing problems at Durban Container Terminal, Pier 2, nine months after the system went live at the largest and busiest terminal in the country.

Although the system was first installed at various other port terminals, commencing with Pier 1 Container Terminal in Durban and followed by Ngqura, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town container terminals, the system has continued having problems.

“We thought that we would have ironed out all the kinks and queries at the other terminals before going live at DCT, Pier 2 but this hasn’t happened, they’re still occurring,” Ports & Ships was told recently. At DCT Pier 2 where the main problems are said to have severely impacted on productivity, TPT was forced to declare Force Majeure at the end of January.

“Most of the productivity issues and downtime in 2011 related to technical issues following the national rollout of the new NAVIS Sparcs N4 terminal operating system, with which Transnet was the first worldwide to operate multiple marine and rail terminals from a central server,” said Hector Danisa, terminal executive manager for the Durban Container Terminals.

“TPT initially worked closely with the Navis software manufacturers to iron out the issues, and then set out to introduce a recovery plan to industry and other stakeholders last year. This plan was aimed at stabilising the terminal from August 2011 and growing the business thereafter by encouraging improvement in key areas such human capital, equipment and planning.”

Clearly that hasn’t exactly all gone to plan, judging by the January declaration. TPT has conceded that there are bottlenecks and operational problems, without spelling out exactly what the causes are. Ports & Ships has been told discreetly that “some people are being naughty”, which confirms in the minds of many of TPT’s customers that it is largely a people problem and not so much the software that is to blame.

While TPT is keen to put on a determined and positive face to the matter and to set out to convince customers that one or other of the various recovery plans is about to work, the reality is that everyone is no better off than they were more than a year ago. Ships are continuing to be delayed or diverted, trucks arriving at the gate continue to be snared in kilometres-long snarl-ups, and if anything, productivity remains at a similar or perhaps lower levels than one year ago.

Much comment has been said and written about the planned decommissioning of one of the berths on DCT’s North Quay to enable the deepening of each berth to a depth of 16.5 metres. Transnet says say that the terminal would lose around 400,000 TEU a year as a result of this, and would continue as other berths were tackled one by one.

The question that should be asked is whether any exercise been done as to how many additional TEUs could be handled if DCT got its act together and began performing the way it is capable, given the equipment at its disposal? World class hub ports are capable of handling 680,000 to 700,000 TEUs annually per berth and while Durban falls far short of being regarded as a world class container port, it is sobering to think what might be achieved provided the real issues of Durban’s poor productivity were overcome. Perhaps then the temporary loss of a container berth as it was upgraded might not be felt so badly.

Perhaps also the urgent need to further expand the port would also not be required.


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The captain and chief engineer of the Dutch-owned Curacao-registered reefer ship BREIZ KLIPPER (4263-gt, built 1991) have been taken hostage while the ship was at anchor outside Nigeria’s Port Harcourt, in the position 04:12N - 006:56.

The reefer was 3 n.miles off the port’s Fairway Buoy when the attack took place at 15h10 on 28 February.

GAC reported that eight armed men boarded and opened fire towards the bridge using automatic weapons, stole cash and crew's possessions and kidnapped the master and chief engineer before escaping. A third crew member was left unaccounted for.

GAC says the incident highlights the high levels of violence involved with attacks off Nigeria; it is likely the two crew members abducted will be held for ransom onshore.

Vessels in the area are advised to maintain strict watch rotas and exercise vigilance at all times. Thirteen attacks have been recorded off West Africa in 2012 so far, seven of which occurred off Nigeria.

Meanwhile the owner of Breiz Klipper says the ship has since “proceeded to safer waters and is currently navigating at open sea off the West African coast awaiting further instructions.”


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By Thando Cezula

East London - It's all systems go for the construction of a multi-million rand Chinese vehicle manufacturing plant in the Eastern Cape.

Officials from China's leading auto manufacturer, First Automobile Works' (FAW), signed a contract with the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) earlier this week to mark the beginning of construction on the company's $100 million truck and passenger car plant to be built at the IDZ.

“FAW's decision to build the plant in South Africa is significant, as it will be one of the biggest manufacturing investments by China in the country so far. FAW's arrival in the Eastern Cape adds to the existing list of automobile manufacturers already in the province, including Volkswagen, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz,” said Coega Development Corporation (CDC) spokesperson, Ayanda Vilakazi.

The plant's initial construction is set to cost R200 million and will be built on 400,000 square metres of land in the IDZ's Zone 2.

It is expected to produce 5,000 trucks annually, as well as light commercial vehicles and passenger cars. In its first phase, the plant is expected to create 500 permanent jobs for people in the province.

Once completed, the truck assembly facility is expected to create a further 500 to 800 jobs, with more jobs being created when the company starts producing an additional 30,000 passenger vehicles annually.

"We welcome the private sector's investment of billions of rands that will provide desperately-needed job opportunities, while also helping to address poverty and inequality in the province," said Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet, during the sod-turning ceremony on Tuesday.

She said national government's efforts to develop infrastructure in the province was pivotal in securing FAW's investment.

Vilakazi said FAW's decision to invest in the province was prompted by Coega's location, the proximity of the Port of Ngqura, the logistical solutions available, the availability of skills in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan area and support mechanisms offered by Coega.

Since entering the market in 1984, FAW has produced 16 million vehicles and has consistently been a Fortune 500 company.

FAW is also China's leading exporter of vehicles and has joint venture operations with many of the world's leading vehicle manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Toyota and Mazda. – BuaNews


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Costa Allegra arrives safely in Seychelles port

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The powerless cruise ship COSTA ALLEGRA which had an engine room fire that left the ship helpless and drifting in the Indian Ocean, was towed safely into port yesterday (Thursday) at Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles.

The ship lost all power after a fire that began in its generator on Monday left the ship dead in the water. On board the cruise ship were 636 passengers and over 400 crew. The passengers had boarded the ship in Port Louis, Mauritius anticipating a lengthy and relaxing cruise as the ship repositioned back to the Mediterranean, after completing a summer season of cruises out of Port Louis.

The fire left the ship without any power at all, including no electricity, not hot food and making it difficult for passengers to find their way about below decks. With the toilets not working either conditions could not have been too pleasant but fortunately the weather remained good with calm seas prevailing.

A French fishing vessel, the TREVIGNON was first to arrive and took up the tow, which it continued with until reaching Victoria despite the arrival of two tugs from the Seychelles port. A spokesman for the company owning the Trevignon said the vessel was designed for pulling up very heavy nets and that taking the Costa Allegra under tow had not presented a problem. The success of the tow will have provided the fishermen with something of an unexpected windfall.

Passengers have been offered a choice of remaining in the Seychelles for a short holiday or flying home almost immediately.


Keel laid for the EUROPA 2

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On Thursday, 1 March, the next construction stage of the EUROPA 2 began with the keel laying, with the first block of the ship being lifted into the dry dock at the STX Europe shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.

In time-honoured tradition, Sebastian Ahrens, Managing Director of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Laurent Castaing, General Manager of STX France, each placed a coin in the block. The coins were welded into the block and will remain with the ship on all future cruises.

Concurrent with the start of construction in the dry dock, the suites of the ship are being manufactured in the shipyard’s cabin factory. At the beginning of July 2012, the EUROPA 2 will take to the water for the very first time so that work on the interior of the ship can be initiated at the outfitting pier.

A total of 835 shipyard workers are involved in the construction of the new ship and until the delivery of the ship in the Spring of 2013 the shipyard workers will dedicate over 2.5 million hours of labour to the project.

The Europa 2 will be positioned in the luxury segment as a lifestyle-oriented, casual alternative to Hapag-Lloyd cruising, and is due to be commissioned in the northern Spring of 2013. With eleven decks and 251 suites, the Europa 2 will offer a maximum capacity of 516 passengers, and more space per passenger than any other cruise ship. Eight restaurants, as well as six bars will offer culinary diversity onboard, and a large spa and fitness area will take into account the trend towards health and well-being on voyages.


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Drilling rig delivered to Brazil


Video clip of Delba III at sea off Saldanha. Video image courtesy Frank Vennard of Videgraphics

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Fairmount Summit

The tug FAIRMOUNT SUMMIT has delivered the new-build drilling rig ODN DELBA III safely from the Persian Gulf to a location offshore Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The total voyage over a distance of 10,625 n.miles was performed with an average speed of 6.0 knots.

ODN Delba III is a semi submersible drilling rig for deep water operations build in Abu Dhabi for Odebrecht Drilling Services, part of Odebrecht SA, a Brazilian multinational.

Odebrecht contracted Fairmount Marine to tow ODN Delba III from Muscat, Oman, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For this job the Fairmount Summit was mobilised to the Persian Gulf. During the towage at a stopover at Cape Town, some cargo runs were performed by the also contracted Fairmount Fuji. This multi-purpose DSV/supply vessel had just returned to Cape Town after a survey job on the Atlantic Ocean.

The towage of ODN Delba III was Fairmount Marine’s second successful operation for Odebrecht in a short period. Earlier Fairmount Marine performed the towage of semi submersible drilling rig Norbe VI, a sister unit of ODN Delba II, for Odebrecht.

Fairmount Marine is a marine contractor for ocean towage and heavy lift transportation, headquartered in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Fairmount’s fleet of tugs consists of five modern super tugs of 205 tons bollard pull each, especially designed for long distance towing, and a multipurpose support vessel. Fairmount Marine is part of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs Group.

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DELBA III with FAIRMOUNT SUMMIT on the tow off Saldanha. Picture by Frank Vennard/ Videographics.


APM Terminals posts record results

APM Terminals has reported record breaking annual results for 2011. A revenue growth of 10% year- on-year and an EBITDA of USD 1,059 mio. makes APM Terminals’ result for 2011 “the strongest ever”, according to CEO Kim Fejfer.

Net operating profit after tax was US$649 million compared with profits of $793m in 2010 that were heavily influenced by extraordinary items including divestment gains. The profit in 2011 before gains and special items was USD 611m, 24% higher than the previous year. The return on invested capital reached 13.1% which is a significant leap in profitability from 2010 where the return percentage was 10.4% when corrected for divestment gains and special items.

Growth is key for the independent port and inland services operator, says Fejfer. With most industry analysts forecasting a large need for additional port capacity over the next decade, Fejfer says APM Terminals is eager to secure the lion’s share of global growth opportunities. “If there were such a thing as a ‘market share’ for expansion, we believe that APM Terminals would be the #1 global port operator in 2011 in that category. We committed more than 3 billion USD to infrastructure development and facility expansion in 2011 and expect to do something similar in 2012,” he said.

During 2011, APM Terminals secured 5 new locations as a result of the company’s active portfolio development efforts: Poti in Georgia, Moin in Costa Rica, Callao in Peru, Gothenburg in Sweden and Lazaro Cardenas in Mexico. These complement the project pipeline of Santos, Brazil; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Wilhelmshaven, Germany and Vado, Italy. APM Terminals has recently also announced upcoming investments in Izmir, Turkey.


In other AP Moller news…. New CEO for SVITZER

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Indonesian-based Svitzer Quest. Picture by Piet Sinke

Robert Uggla has been appointed new CEO of SVITZER with effect from 1 May 2012. Robert Uggla has until now held the position as Managing Director of Broström, which is part of Maersk Tankers. He replaces Jesper T Lok, who was recently appointed new CEO of DSB, the national Danish train operator.

Robert Uggla joined the AP Moller-Maersk Group in 2004. In 2006, he was appointed Maersk Line Country Manager based in Dubai, and in 2009, he became Managing Director of Broström.

SVITZER has some 4,500 employees and operates a fleet of more than 500 vessels within harbour and terminal towage as well as salvage. Globally the company is represented in more than 100 ports and currently has a new building programme of 20 vessels.



News continuesbelow…


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Pacific International Line’s (PIL) 2483-TEU container ship KOTA PURI (27,104-gt, built 2008) seen sailing from Cape Town harbour earlier this week. Pictures by Aad Noorland


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