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Ports & Ships Maritime News

27 July 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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Pacific International Lines (PIL) Singapore-flagged container ship KOTA HARUM makes a colourful picture as she heads off down Durban’s Maydon Channel towards a berth at Maydon Wharf 3 earlier in the week. Picture by Charles Baker

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Nigerian chief executive fired suddenly

Omar Suleiman, managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was unexpectedly dismissed from his job this week by President Goodluck Jonathan.

There was no prior warning of this dramatic move which was clearly not a spur of the moment affair as an immediate replacement for Suleiman has been immediately announced. He is Habibu Abdullahi who was previously the NPA’s acting Executive Director of Finance and Administration.

Three new executive directors of the NPA were also appointed. They are Mohammmed Sani Saleh, Executive Director Engineering and Technical Services; Olumide Oduntan, Executive Director Finance and Administration who takes the place of Habibu Abdullahi; and David Omonibeke, Executive Director Marine and Operations.

No reason for the dismissal of Omar Suleiman has been forthcoming other than it was part of ongoing reforms of the port and maritime sectors.

New Executive Directors for NIMASA

In other appointments affecting the maritime industry in the West African country, three new executive directors have been appointed to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

They are Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, Executive Director Maritime Safety and Shipping Development; Obi Callistus Nwabueze, Executive Director Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services; and Baba Haruna Jauro Executive Director, Finance and Administration.

These appointments are also with immediate effect.

Healthy growth for Mombasa container traffic

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Port of Mombasa Container Terminal, berth 16 – healthy growth for 2012

A growth of 24 percent in container traffic and 15 percent in all types of cargo has been recorded by the Kenyan Port of Mombasa for the first six months of 2012, it was revealed this week by Kenya Ports Authority’s managing director, Gichiri Ndua.

During the first half of the year the Port of Mombasa handled a total of 10.7 million tonnes of cargo, up 15 percent on the 9.3 million tonnes for the same period in 2011. “The growth in cargo volumes and hence the demand for services at the Port of Mombasa has grown progressively. There is need for capacity expansion,” Ndua said.

A US$300 million second container terminal is currently under construction at Mombasa. In addition Kenya is planning to build a new port at Lamu further to the north of the country. This new port will be able to serve neighbouring Ethiopia and South Sudan as well as the North Eastern region of Kenya.

Mombasa is eastern and southern Africa’s biggest and busiest general cargo port after Durban.

Tanzania port users upset over port tariff increase

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Port of Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam port users are uphappy over a planned increase in tariffs by the port authority.

It was reported that the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) has asked for increases in port tariffs ranging from between 23 percent and 132 percent, depending on the commodity.

“I have nothing against TPA increasing their tariffs, it goes without saying that prices for many things have gone up. What I am against, however, is the rate of the hike and the timing of the review, I fear that being the peak time, there is much at stake,” said Anil Patel, a committee member of the Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA).

Patel suggested that if the hikes were inevitable it would be better if they were delayed until after the peak season ends in November. Other stakeholders suggested that a phased set of increases would be preferable to any sudden rise of the magnitude applied for by the TPA.

Romanian seafarer dies in fall from ship off Durban

The National Sea Rescue Institute, Station 5, Durban said that a Romanian seafarer who was joining his ship in the outer anchorage off Durban has died after falling from the ladder while boarding the Capesized bulker CAPE KESTREL (161,475-dwt, built 1993) on Tuesday 24 July 2012.

The 61-year old seaman had stepped from the crew boat taking him and several shipmates to join their ship after a crew change off Durban. The man, who was not named pending his next of kin being advised, was climbing the ladder but slipped when he was about seven metres up the ladder. He fell straight into the sea and when recovered was declared dead despite CPR being administered.

Power cut warning for Maydon Wharf

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Durban’s Maydon Wharf Multi-Purpose and Agri-Bulk Terminal, no power this morning

Transnet Port Terminal’s advises that there is to be a electricity power cut at the Durban Maydon Wharf Multi-Purpose Terminal this morning (Friday, 27 July) between 09h00 and 11h30. “Unfortunately this will affect the landlines and email facilities in the Terminal’s GCOS Building. Should you require any assistance, please contact the relevant people on the cellphones,” advises TPT’s Commercial Department for the Maydon Wharf Agri- Bulk & Multi-Purpose Terminal.

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Burning MSC Flaminia nears UK coast

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MSC Flaminia burning earlier this week

The burning and abandoned container ship MSC FLAMINIA had been towed to within 150 miles of the UK coast last night (Thursday), according to the owner Reederei NSB.

The 6732-TEU ship was taken in tow behind the tug FAIRMOUNT EXPEDITION with a second tug keeping station and spraying water onto the ship to help prevent the fire from spreading. However a list of around 10 degrees has developed as a result of all the water taken on board as a result of the fire fighting but also from collapsed containers.

A salvage crew managed to board the ship earlier in the week and have restored the vessel’s fire-fighting equipment which is now spraying water onto the area in front of the deckhouse to prevent the fire from spreading. It is thought likely however that the ship will remain at risk from the fire for some time to come.

So far the fire has affected holds 4, where the fire broke out, 5 and 6 and these have been destroyed. The owners said however that the situation was improving and less smoke was being emitted. MSC said in an update that the extent of damage to the cargo cannot be assessed until the ship has reached a port of refuge. Individual cargo issues could not be discussed before that, the company said.

It is thought that permission will be sought to take the ship to a sheltered position along the UK coast where salvage work of the cargo and ship can be assessed and carried out. UK authorities are expected to decide on this within the next few days.

MSC Flaminia caught alight while in mid Atlantic while voyaging between the US and Europe. One man was killed in a subsequent explosion and a second crewman died later from his burns and injuries.

Nigerian ship fire – 30 dead

At least 30 people died when an offshore supply vessel caught fire and exploded while alongside the Abuloma Jetty in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. After the fire began there was apparently little warning before an explosion ripped across the vessel, leaving those on board little chance of escaping. Among those on board were a number of ladies ‘visiting’ the workers and crew.

It is thought the fire may have begun as a result of maintenance welding taking place on the vessel, which was not named in the reports received.

Zanzibar authorities tightened up on vessel inspection after ferry disaster

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The ferry SKAGIT while still operating in the United States.

Zanzibar maritime authorities are to tighten up on vessel inspections following the ferry disaster on 18 July when the SKAGIT sank while travelling between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. The ferry was carrying at least 290 people at the time.

The Zanzibar government has instructed the Zanzibar Maritime Authority to liaise with the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) to inspect all vessels in Zanzibar and to ensure that only seaworthy ferries are allowed to operate.

Around 150 people have died or remain missing after the ferry put to sea in poor weather conditions, bound for the nearby island of Zanzibar. A hundred and forty-six people were rescued form a crew and passenger list totalling 290 persons on board. So far 104 dead have been accounted for, leaving an estimated 50 still unaccounted for.

What is not known but is suspected is that the ferry may have been overloaded. Ferries and passenger vessels in the region are notoriously overloaded and this is where the island government should focus its attention, not only on the age or condition of the vessel.

New Report confirms Daily Maersk reliability

Maersk Line says that new research confirms that its ‘Daily Maersk’ product, whereby the Danish container company offers a daily sailing between selected Chinese ports and selected northern European ports, has out-performed other container lines in terms of reliability.

The report, a joint effort between e-commerce network provider INTTRA and container shipping analyst SeaIntel, examined the performance of the top 20 container lines in schedule reliability.

In the past year, it said, Maersk Line has been the No.1 carrier in eight of the months and No.2 for four. The report also highlights, among others, the effect of Daily Maersk on Maersk Line's June reliability, a month when many carriers saw reliability dip.

“Maersk Line reached a 98% on-time performance to North Europe in June, which is the highest performance seen in 2012 of any carrier, which clearly shows not only their commitment to the 'Daily Maersk' concept, but also their operational capability of actually delivering it,” reads the report.

The significance of the June performance is that it marks the end of a three-month period known for the lack of reliability from shipping lines. Daily Maersk achieved 97% reliability in this period, a result that Maersk Line's chief trade and marketing officer Vincent Clerc says emphasises the value of the product.

VALE BEIJING passing along SA coast

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The almost fully-loaded 400,000-dwt bulker Vale Beijing is escorted away from Port Sao Luis after cracks in her hull were discovered.

Earlier last evening the 400,000-dwt iron ore bulker VALE BEIJING was sailing along the South African coast and was passing Cape Recife, near Port Elizabeth, en route to Brazil.

Vale Beijing was in the headlines in December last year when the ship’s hull began cracking while being loaded with iron ore in the Brazilian port of Sao Luis. The ship at that stage had almost completed taking close to 400,000 tonnes of iron ore on board when the cracks were noticed and the ship began taking on water. Port authorities, who were unable to discharge cargo at the port, ordered the ship away from the berth and to an anchorage of refuge outside where temporary repairs could take place.

Meanwhile an examination of other ships of the same class and size revealed flaws that needed urgent attention. After completing temporary repairs Vale Beijing sailed for the Persian Gulf where her cargo was discharged, before heading for South Korea and permanent repairs to her hull. These were completed earlier this month and the ship is now heading back to Brazil to load cargo for a second time.

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MSC Sinfonia sailing from Cape Town. Picture by Clinton Wyness

Due to operational reasons the MSC Starlight cruise ship MSC SINFONIA will no longer sail to the whaling town of Hermanus and from there to Mossel Bay. Instead the cruise ship, which arrives in Cape Town in November, will head to Walvis Bay and Luderitz on 28 November on the maiden voyage of her 2012 South African season.

“Whilst we were excited to showcase one of South Africa’s most beautiful whale destinations,” notes Allan Foggitt of MSC Starlight Cruises, “we must respect the restrictions to cruising to this area. MSC, as a leading member of the European Cruise Council, has agreed to promote a transparent and sustainable cruise industry, and will share good practice with relevant maritime authorities.” Nature enthusiasts need not, however, despair as the ship will still serve as the stage to whale sightings and bird watching in the Atlantic sea. The course to the beautiful harbour town of Luderitz and to the haven of Walvis Bay are well known for an array of seabirds, including albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels and skuas. During the November season many species from the Arctic mingle with local and Antarctic seabirds in this part of the south Atlantic.

Walvis Bay also hosts a natural lagoon on which an overwhelming abundance of birds and large flocks of Flamingo’s can be seen.

Whales are a popular sighting on this route, with the Southern Right's breeding ground being the sheltered bays of the Western Cape coast. Excellent sightings have been reported along the route with cruise passengers having the added advantage of being at sea.

MSC Sinfonia has 777 cabins, of which 132 are balcony suites. The ship also boasts four restaurants, 10 bars, two swimming pools and the luxurious MSC Aurea Spa. Guests can enjoy world class performances in the San Carlo Theatre and take advantage of the state-of-the-art fitness centre, golf simulator, casino, mini club, teen's club, disco, internet arcade and luxury shopping. Additional facilities include a business and conference centre and medical centre.

For more details visit MSC Starlight Cruises

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Six companies have submitted bids to draw up a viability study of the Malawian proposal to re-open the Zambezi and Shire rivers to international shipping, according to a report on Radio Mozambique on 9 July, as reported by the Mozambique news agency AIM.

The report said that the bids are now under consideration by the Malawian government, the secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Development Bank (ADB).

According to an announcement from Malawian Transport Minister Sidik Mia, the purpose is to assess the environmental impact of navigation along the rivers from the Mozambican district of Chinde, at the mouth of the Zambezi, to the Malawian river port of Nsanje, on the Shire. Mia hoped that an assessment of the six bids will be completed by the end of July, and it will then be know which company will carry out the study. Malawi received a loan of three million US dollars from the ADB for the study. But this project depends entirely on Mozambican agreement, since most of the proposed waterway flows through Mozambican territory. The Mozambican government is worried about the impact of possible spills or collisions on the Zambezi ecosystem.

Earlier this year the government even turned down the proposal from the mining company Rio Tinto-Mozambique to move Mozambican coal down the Zambezi in barges. Source: AIM

Sena Railway to be upgraded to carry 18 million tonnes

The Sena railway, which runs from the town of Moatize in the Tete region of Mozambique to a junction on the main Beira- Zimbabwe railway, is to be upgraded to carry up to 18 million tonnes of coal a year, says Transport Minister Paulo Zucula. The line currently has a stated capacity of six million tonnes a year.

Addressing the media, the minister said the total investments in Mozambique’s transport and communications networks exceeds 400 billion meticais, or the equivalent of around US$14.3 billion. This includes the refurbishment of the existing northern railway linking Malawi and the Port of Nacala, as well as construction of a new coal port at Nacala-a-Velha on the opposite side of Nacala Bay to the existing port.

He said the immediate target was to solve the logistical challenges of moving huge volumes of coal from the coalfields in the Tete region to ports on the coast.

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The number of pirate attacks have fallen sharply in the first half of 2012, led by a drop in Somali piracy, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) global piracy report revealed, but warned that these numbers were offset by a worrying increase of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea.

In a report issued by GAC, it said that 177 incidents were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the first six months of 2012, compared to 266 incidents for the corresponding period in 2011.

The report showed that 20 vessels were hijacked worldwide, with a total number of 334 crew members taken hostage. There were a further 80 vessels boarded, 25 vessels fired upon and 52 reported attempted attacks. At least four crew members were killed.

The decrease in the overall number is primarily due to the decline in the incidents of Somali piracy activity, dropping from 163 in the first six months of 2011 to 69 in 2012. Somali pirates also hijacked fewer vessels, down from 21 to 13. Nonetheless, Somali piracy continues to remain a serious threat.

The report, in part, has attributed the noticeable decline in Somali piracy to the pre-emptive and disruptive counter piracy tactics employed by the international navies. This includes the disruption of mother vessels and Pirate Action Groups.

The effective deployment of Best Management Practices, ship hardening and, in particular, the increased use of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP), has also contributed to the falling numbers.

As of 30 June 2012, Somali pirates were still holding 11 vessels and 218 crew, 44 of whom were being held ashore in unknown locations and conditions.

The decline in Somali piracy, however, has been offset by an increase of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, where 32 incidents, including five hijackings, were reported in 2012, versus 25 in 2011. In Nigeria alone there were 17 reports, compared to six in 2011. Togo reported five incidents including a hijacking, compared to no incidents during the same time last year.

The IMB report emphasized that high levels of violence were also being used against crew members in the Gulf of Guinea. Guns were reported in at least 20 of the 32 incidents. At least one crew member was killed and another later died as a result of an attack.

In Nigeria, three vessels and 61 crew members were taken hostage. Seven vessels were boarded, six fired upon and one attempted attack was reported.

The report further showed that attacks by armed pirates in skiffs were occurring at greater distances from the coast, suggesting the possible use of fishing or other vessels to reach targets. On 30 June 2012 alone, three vessels were fired upon, including a tanker and a container vessel within a five-minute period, approximately 135 nautical miles from Port Harcourt.

The increase in pirate activity off Togo has also been attributed to Nigerian pirates. The five reported incidents all occurred in April, culminating with the hijacking of a Panamax product tanker by the month's end.

Attacks elsewhere in the world have mainly been armed robberies. Indonesia accounts for almost 20% of the global numbers, with 32 reported incidents compared to 21 over the same period in 2011. Twenty-eight of the vessels targeted were boarded, including 23 anchored vessels, two berthed and three that were underway. Guns have been reported on one occasion. IMB further noted that many other attacks may also have gone unreported. Source: International Maritime Bureau and GAC World

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Two cable layers in port together - CHAMAREL (nearest) and TELIRI in Cape Town this past week. The cable layers are involved in maintenance work on submarine cables off the coast of Africa. Picture by Aad Noorland

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video hosting by TinyPic On Friday (20 July) we showed the South African-flagged trawler DESERT DIAMOND in Cape Town harbour. Here now is her near sister vessel, DESERT JEWEL, also in Cape Town harbour. Both ships are part of part of Oceana Group’s fleet and are used to fish horse mackerel, also known as maasbanker. Picture by Aad Noorland

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