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Ports & Ships Maritime News

17 July 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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The semi-submersible heavylift vessel TERN, with an accommodation barge loaded as deck cargo, was photographed in Singapore by Piet Sinke.

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MSC Flaminia in Cape Town late 2008. Picture by Ian Shiffman

The 7000-TEU container ship MSC FLAMINIA, which caught fire on Saturday after an explosion in hold 4, was still burning yesterday long after the ship’s crew had abandoned the vessel onto a lifeboat and raft.

According to some reports the hold included a number of containers carrying a combustible bleaching agent, calcium hypochlorite, and it is thought these may have been the cause of the explosion that led to the fire, which spread rapidly. When the crew realised it was out of control they took to a lifeboat and a life raft. One man was reported to be missing and is presumed to have died in the fire. Another four seafarers received injuries, two of them seriously. The crew of 25 consisted of five Germans, three Polish and 15 Filipino nationals plus two who were described as passengers.

The 75,590-gt ship, which is German-owned and on long-term charter to Mediterranean Shipping Company, was out in mid-Atlantic when the explosion occurred, too far for any helicopters to go to the rescue. After taking to the lifeboats the crew had a six hour wait before being picked up by the crude oil tanker DS CROWN, which was first on the scene.

The survivors were later transferred to another MSC ship, MSC STELLA which is taking them to the UK. Once the ship was within range of the islands a helicopter flew to MSC Stella to airlift the four injured seafarers to hospital, but one of the seafarers died of his injuries before reaching hospital Another man is in a serious condition.

In late 2008 MSC Flaminia was deployed onto MSC’s northern Europe – South Africa service and made a number of calls at Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town during 2009. At the time of her arrival she and her sister ship MSC ALESSIA were among the largest container ships to have called at the South African ports. The ship has a 7,000-TEU capacity.

As of yesterday MSC Flaminia was described as drifting at position 47 52N 30 44W with a large plume of smoke rising from the vessel. Sea conditions were fairly calm with swells of one metre and winds of force 3-4.

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Fonasba backs mandatory container weight verification

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FONASBA, the international ship brokers and ship agents federation, has given its full backing to efforts aimed at ensuring that all shipping containers for export are weighed.

The problem of under-declared and unverified weights is a serious one for ports and ships, Fonasba told the IMO's subcommittee on dangerous goods, solid cargoes and containers in support of the World Shipping Council-led campaign to enforce mandatory weigh-ins. According to Fonasba some containers have been 10 tonnes heavier than the stated manifest weight, and this has resulted in stacks collapsing, ships capsizing and even contributed to the break-up of the vessel.

Onshore, under-declaration has led to crane, straddle carrier and forklift failures as well as stack collapse, overturned trucks and damage to trains, roads and bridges.

“Ship agents see the problems which inaccurately weighed containers cause ports and ships every day,” said Fonasba general manager Jonathan Williams, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. “It is extremely worrying that there is currently no obligation for containers to be accurately weighed anywhere along the transport chain. Fonasba hopes that this initiative will rectify this anomaly and bring considerably more certainty, resulting in increased safety levels for all parties in the container shipping sector.”

The pro-weighing lobby includes BIMCO, the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers Federation, as well as the governments of Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States.

CSIR technology to support anti-piracy operations

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SAS Mendi in Durban, one of the SA Navy’s ships for which the new system has been developed. Picture by Clinton Wyness

The CSIR says it has developed a novel hosting system that allows for the loading of more – and different types of – boats onto ships, giving the South African Navy (SA Navy) an effective and rapidly deployable tool against acts of piracy.

As a result of increased piracy along the east coast of Africa, a growing number of shipping companies have had to route their ships via the Cape Sea Route instead of using the Suez Canal. After requests from foreign governments and industry, and after incidents on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) coastline, South Africa has had to consider effective means to combat such activities and safeguard the integrity of South Africa’s maritime domain. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) identified the need to have a more extensive, more agile and high-speed maritime capability ready for rapid deployment at sea; it soon became clear that Navy ships needed to carry more than just their own workboats. The solution also needed to be rapidly deployable and recoverable from and to the ship while underway.

Based on their research into controlled surface deployment of boats from moving ships, the CSIR’s maritime security team came up with a removable davit system that fits onto a shipping container footprint mounted and adapted on the ship’s deck. The system was put through stringent sea trials along the Cape Peninsula with various boats of differing design from the Maritime Reaction Squadron, South African Special Forces as well as the SA Navy.

The davit system can accommodate boats of various hull shapes weighing up to 5 tonnes. The system comprises a wave compensating hydraulic davit system mounted on a load vector compensating base. The base also houses the drive system with local and remote controls, stored energy for a full deployment and recovery operation, as well as the logistic support equipment needed for the boat. Boats, as well as crew, can be lowered and retrieved safely by the davit system while the ship is underway. Two of these davit systems are normally fitted to a ship, with another two boats housed in the ships boat bay on CSIR-developed cradle systems.

Apart from successfully supporting integrated naval operations on the east coast of Africa, the CSIR-developed capability has also allowed the SA Navy to conduct extended operations up the west coast of Africa, ensuring that the SANDF’s mandated responsibilities within the SADC and African Union security environments are met.

More systems were subsequently developed to outfit navy frigates, as well as the combat support vessel SAS Drakensburg, for missions on a rotation basis. This allowed the SA Navy to integrate its warship capability with various specialised elements within the SANDF to create an extended off board capability. This capability includes visit, board, search and seizure, interdiction, insertion and recovery over beaches, as well as augmenting search and rescue capabilities. Source CSIR July News

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Saga Ruby to make final voyage

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Saga Ruby

One of the last remaining cruise ships with pretentions of having that so-called ‘classical liner profile’, SAGA RUBY is approaching her 47th anniversary and the news from Saga Cruises is that the ship will be sold shortly after completing one last Round the World Cruise.

The 24,492-gt ship, the last remaining British-built cruise ship was built in the yards of Swan Hunter in Wallsend. On entering service in 1965 for the Den Norske Amerikalinije (Norwegian America Line) as their VISTAFJORD, she operated between Scandinavia and North America until 1983 when she was sold to Cunard.

Initially Cunard retained the name Vistafjord but in 1999, perhaps in an attempt to eke out additional mileage from the aging ship, she underwent a revamp and was renamed CARONIA under which title she sailed until sold to Saga Cruises in 2005, who promptly renamed her Saga Ruby. Together with the SAGA ROSE (the former SAGAFJORD) the two ships sailed the oceans until Saga Rose was withdrawn in 2009, leaving Saga Ruby as the last surviving classic liner serving the UK.

According to Robin Shaw, Saga Cruises’ chief executive, “Operating a ship of this age to meet the exacting standards we and others set is becoming an increasing challenge. We have therefore decided that she should be gracefully retired in 18 months.”

What that ‘graceful retirement’ will be they are not saying but the chances must be high that she will go to the scrappers.

Australian Navy capitulates – opens Sydney navy base to cruise ships

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Queen Mary 2 in Sydney Harbour. Picture Cunard

The Royal Australian Navy has agreed to allow cruise ships to dock at its Garden Island Naval Dockyard in Sydney Harbour, despite the government advising against it on security grounds.

The reason why cruise ships need the navy dockyard is that Sydney is running out of space for them, in particular the ultra large cruise ships such as QUEEN MARY 2 which cannot fit under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The matter has come to a head with more cruise ships than ever wanting to call at the Australian city port – last year Sydney had 214 cruise ship calls, an increase from the 150 of the previous year.

Some of these were multiple calls by ships stationed in Australian waters, but that doesn’t matter. A cruise ship call is a cruise ship call, no matter that the ship may have been visiting just a week earlier. Most of the ships went to the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay or else on the other side of the bridge at Barangaroo.

The naval dockyard is situated in the delightfully named Woolloomooloo which is close to the city, another advantage. Added to which is that name, surely a tourist attraction all by itself!

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Massive tenders for new TFR locomotives

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Class 43 GE diesel-electric locomotives of TFR. Picture SAR Connecta/Wikimedia Commons

In what must be one of the biggest tenders ever issued for new locomotives for South Africa’s Transnet and its forebears, tenders have been issued for the supply of more than a thousand locomotives for delivery to the company’s General Freight Business division.

The tenders, which appeared in weekend newspapers on Sunday (15 July) call for the supply of 599 new dual voltage electric locomotives and the supply of 465 new diesel locomotives.

The two tenders close on 2 October 2012.

The order for the 465 diesel-electric locomotives follows an earlier order for 100 GE C30ACi type diesel-electric locos, classified class 43 by TFR, of which 90 are being assembled locally after the first ten were supplied direct from the GE plant in Pennsylvania in the USA. The units are unique in that they are the first diesel-electrics to be supplied to South Africa that use AC traction. At 3,300-hp they are the most powerful diesel locos in service with Transnet and can be regarded as a replacement for the ageing class 34. In December 2009 when the order was placed for the 100 class 43 they cost a reported R2.4 billion.

The 599 dual voltage electric locomotives follow an earlier order for 110 units designated class 19E. These were single cab dual voltage 3 kV DC and 25 kV AC traction electric locomotives intended for the Richards Bay coal line between Ermelo and Richards Bay. The order was placed with Mitsui for the design, Toshiba which provided the electrical equipment, South Africa’s Union Carriage & Wagon for the loco bodies and the RSD division of DCD-Dorbyl for the bogies. Assembly began at the UCW plant and the first locos were delivered in mid 2009.

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TFR’s class 19E dual voltage electric locomotives, seen near Ermelo on the Richards Bay coal line. Picture by Eugene Armer/Wikimedia Commons

Rift Valley Railway’s ambitious plans

Announcing ambitious plans of doubling capacity on the outdated Rift Valley Railways, the Egyptian investment group Citadel Capital and fellow shareholders say they will invest US$62 million to buy new wagons and restore others already on the railway.

Along with other refurbishments to the permanent way they say they will be able to double the capacity of all freight trains to 1500 tons. In addition trains will be able to run faster, enabling RVR to increase the share of freight on the rail to 35 percent within 30 months.

RVR handled about 1.7 million tons of cargo last year.

“We will be able to run bigger capacity trains, thereby improving our loading capacity and reducing the operation's transit times,” said Brown Ondego, RVR’s executive chairman.

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Amidst change and uncertainty in global economies, a shift is seen worldwide towards emerging markets that have been more resilient to the economic downturn than their counterparts in developed countries. South Africa is currently well positioned to shine as a global business partner, with the performance of its logistics sector being a key determinant.

This resonates with the theme of South Africa’s 8th State of Logistics™ survey namely, ‘Gearing up for Change’. The survey was released in June jointly by the CSIR, IMPERIAL Logistics and Stellenbosch University. Wide media coverage ensued, with numerous news items on diverse topics contained in the survey.

“The South African government’s increased focus on and investment in infrastructure development have seen more than R260 billion being set aside for transport and logistics projects,” says Dr Cornelius Ruiters, Executive Director of the CSIR’s Built Environment research domain.

“The effective maintenance, expansion and management of our country’s infrastructure will enable South Africa to compete at a higher level globally,” Ruiters notes.

“For logistics to become a competitive weapon for South Africa, change is required. We need to change from the mindset that logistics is merely the result of other market activity, to that of giving logistics its due as a value creator,” emphasises Cobus Rossouw, Chief Integration Officer of IMPERIAL Logistics.

“South Africa is a leader in complex, emerging and dynamic logistics environments and has achieved success despite geographical impediments, severe skills shortages and lack of economies of scale,” Rossouw says. You can read the full report in the CSIR eNews newsletter South African logistics must gear up for change . Use your BACKSPACE BUTTON to return to this page

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The public tender for selection of the company that will carry out the studies of the economic feasibility of building the Techobanine deep water port in Mozambique’s Maputo province, is due to be launched in the next few weeks, says Mozambique’s Transport and Communications Minister.

Speaking to daily newspaper Notícias, Minister Paulo Zucula said the master plan for the project had recently been completed and that its proposal was due to be presented soon to the Council of Ministers.

The port complex is expected to cover an area of 30,000 hectares, and will have an additional area of 11,000 hectares for industrial development, as well as capacity to process 200 million tons of a variety of cargo per year.

The Techobanine region is 70 kilometres south from Maputo and 20 kilometres from Ponta do Ouro, a beach area that borders South Africa.

Zucula also said that after the economic feasibility studies were concluded a public tender would be launched to draw up the project’s engineering studies.

According to Minister Zucula, the port of Techobanine, which is a joint project of the governments of Mozambique and Botswana with the involvement of the private sector, will complement similar port facilities whose capacity has been used up by the region’s traffic. source – macauhub

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The Singapore-flagged, Norwegian-owned LPG tanker BW TRADER (53,151-dwt, built 2006) which called at Cape Town earlier in July. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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