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Ports & Ships Maritime News

7 August 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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With airfield construction teams having already taken up residence on St Helena, the cargo/passenger ship RMS ST HELENA is probably now on borrowed time as far as her regular service between Cape Town and Britain's mid Atlantic island posession is concerned. This picture was taken in Cape Town harbour during July this year. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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The Italian RoRo container specialist Ignazio Messina has signed a contract with South Korean shipbuilder STX Offshore & Shipbuilding for four new 2,900-TEU ro-ro container ships for delivery in the second half of 2014.

The order is said to be worth US$300 million and represents the second stage of a two-phase $600 million fleet modernisation programme, resulting in a number of newbuilds entering service with the line.

The ships are being designed in-house by the Genoese Messina Group naval architects. Each ship will be 240 metres long, 37.5m wide and will have a maximum speed of 21.5 knots. The vessels will have antipollution systems installed including sophisticated exhaust gas cleaning.

The first four newbuilds of the modernisation project were built at the Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) in Okpo, South Korea.

Among these are the 50,000-gross ton JOLLY DIAMENTE and JOLLY PERLA which entered service between Italy and South Africa via the Red Sea and East African ports earlier this year.

Ignazio Messina currently has 14 ships in its fleet and is ranked as the world’s second largest operator of ro-ro container ships.

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Maputo port volumes set to increase dramatically

If current growth rates continue the Port of Maputo will more than double its throughput in the next six years, forecasts the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister organisation to the publication Economist.

The EIU’s June report on Mozambique said it expects the port to finish 2012 having handled 14 million tonnes of cargo, up from 11.8mt in 2011, which in turn was a 30 percent increase in volumes on the year 2010.

At the recent conference in Maputo involving the Mozambique Government, port stakeholders and the Maputo Port management, detailed plans for expanding the port were presented. These suggested that Maputo would be handling 40 million tonnes within the next six years, following a US $1.7 billion investment in infrastructure and terminals and the refurbishment of port rail and road facilities.

“A lot of the port’s traffic is bulk goods, particularly coal and iron ore,” the EIU pointed out, while also highlighting that Maputo Port serves several neighbouring countries, namely South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Swaziland.

It said that the future of the Port of Maputo looks assured considering that when it was handed over as a concession, the total traffic through the Port of Maputo was under 5 million tonnes a year.

Dredging of Maputo

In other Maputo news, the Maputo daily newspaper Notícias reports that the Port of Maputo is to undergo further dredging of the access channels and other operational areas as part of an emergency dredging programme.

This is to counter a build-up of silt in the channels which is affecting the desired 11m draught.

The dredging is to be carried out by local dredging company Empresa Moçambicana de Dragagem (Emodraga) and Denmark’s Rohde Nielsen.

Previous dredging between September 2010 and January 2011 removed 2 million cubic metres of sediment and rocks and improved the available depth of water in the channels and operational areas from a maximum of 9.4 metres to 11 metres.

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Cape Town

The National Sea Rescue Institute was kept busy over the weekend with a number of call outs involving vessels and their crews at sea. This was in addition to several other incidents along the coastline and inland waterways of South Africa.

On Saturday 4 August the NSRI Sea Rescue helicopter unit volunteer duty crew at Cape Town was activated at midday by the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) following a request for medical assistance from the I&J stern fishing trawler FRESSIA. The trawler was reporting that one of its crew onboard had sustained serious head injuries from a cable that backlashed on him after snapping under strain, striking his head. At the time the trawler was at the fishing grounds 70 nautical miles (130 kilometres) off-shore of Cape Agulhas.

A Western Cape Government Health Emergency Medical Services (EMS) duty doctor was tasked by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) to medically evaluate the patient using radio telephone, following which it was decided that with the patient’s condition now critical he required immediate evacuation by the fastest possible means to an appropriate medical facility for treatment.

The NSRI Sea Rescue helicopter unit volunteer duty crew, two EMS paramedics, and a flight crew from the SA Air Force (SAAF) 22 Squadron at Air Force Base Ysterplaat subsequently launched the medical rescue operation using one of 22 Squadron’s Oryx helicopters.

Meanwhile, medical advice was given by radio telephone to the trawler’s captain by the EMS duty doctor. The trawler was instructed to head towards Cape Town to reduce the distance of the rescue mission.

On arrival overhead of the trawler one of the EMS paramedics and a NSRI rescue swimmer were winched onto the vessel and the patient, 30-year old Joseph Fortuin from Delft, Cape Town was stabilised before loading into a specialised stretcher and hoisted into the helicopter. He was then flown to Groote Schuur Hospital in a stable but serious condition suffering an eye injury, a fractured arm and a chest injury.

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NSRI volunteer crew and paramedics in the Oryx helicopter after successfully evacuating an injured fisherman from the trawler Freesia. Picture NSRI

Mossel Bay

Also on Saturday, 4th August a call was made for assistance to be given to a Russian seafarer needing medical evacuation off a refrigerated ship off the Mossel Bay coast.

NSRI Mossel Bay Station 15 responded by launching its sea rescue boat Vodacom Rescuer to rendezvous with the reefer vessel CHANGQUINOLA BAY which was sailing towards Mossel Bay from the direction of Port Elizabeth.

“Our NSRI Mossel Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew, accompanied by an ER24 paramedic, rendezvoused with the vessel two nautical miles East of Mossel Bay harbour breakwater and the patient was found to be in a stable condition (walking wounded) and was brought across to our sea rescue craft,” said Dawie Zwiegelaar, NSRI Mossel Bay station commander.

The patient, thought to be suffering from a food related illness, was taken to shore and transported by ambulance to the Life Bay hospital in Mossel Bay where he was treated by hospital staff. The seaman was subsequently discharged into the care of the ships agent, King and Sons.

Port Elizabeth

The Port Elizabeth NSRI was called out on the evening of Sunday, 5 August to medically evacuate an appendicitis patient from a passing ship. The Port Elizabeth NSRI was also involved with assisting a waterlogged supply boat in difficulties while at sea.

The 255-metre long Cyprus-owned and flagged bulk carrier ORIENT CRUSADER sent out a call for help for one of its crew, a 32 year old Ukraine seafarer, Oleg Storozhenko who was suspected to be suffering from appendicitis. Having been alerted by the Port Elizabeth TNPA, Station 6, Port Elizabeth launched their sea rescue boat Spirit of Toft to rendezvous at sea with the bulker.

The Orient Crusader, whose last port of call had been Singapore was advised to sail closer to land before the evacuation rescue operation could proceed. The ship was met some six n.miles east of Port Elizabeth where two NSRI crew medics went on board the bulker to find the patient in a stable condition. He was then transferred to the NSRI rescue boat and taken to Port Elizabeth harbour where an ambulance was on standby to transfer him to the St Georges Hospital in the city.

In a second incident involving Station 6, the NSRI rescue duty crew was activated by Transnet National Ports Authority at 20h45 on Sunday evening, 5 August following a call for assistance from the 10m ship’s supply boat Syncro which reported that it was limping back to port after being engulfed by a wave 4 n.miles south of Cape Recife. The supply boat had a crew of three on board.

“The vessel Syncro, which carries supplies and routine crew rotations to passing ships on behalf of ships agents, was heading out to sea on a mission to rendezvous and re-supply a passing ship approximately six nautical miles off-shore of Cape Recife,” reports Ian Gray, Station 6 commander. “In 3 metre swells and 4 nautical miles off-shore of Cape Recife, which is about 12 nautical miles from port, she took a wave over the starboard quarters which engulfed the vessel causing cargo to be shifted to one side of the vessel, resulting in the port gunnel sinking to the water line and causing the port motor to sustain electrical failure causing it to stop working,” he said.

“The vessel, listing to one side and lying low on the water, then took more waves over her bow and gunnels which swamped the vessel and forced her to lie heavy and low in the water after filling up with water.

“The three crewmen onboard fought to save the vessel, which included dumping cargo overboard.”

After having restored some integrity to their vessel and managing to proceed slowly towards Port Elizabeth using just her starboard motor while having to continually pump water from the vessel, the skipper, as a precautionary measure put out a request for assistance from the NSRI.

The NSRI immediately launched two rescue craft and rendezvoused with the supply boat just offshore of the Port Elizabeth beachfront.

“We found the vessel listing to one side and lying low in the water but she was making good headway under one motor in the calmer sea swells inside of the Bay. We then escorted the vessel into port where she was run safely onto the beach,” said Gray.

With the help of the NSI volunteers the vessel was secured on the beach then pumped free of water before refloating her after which she was berthed. There were no injuries sustained by anyone involved.

“It is suspected that a side-on wave may have caused the initial damage and her crew, skipper John Liverick, Mr Nduzi and William Hennop, all from Port Elizabeth, are commended for their handling of the emergency and for saving their vessel under what must have been trying circumstances,” said Gray.

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Jacson 33 accommodation barge. Picture Sea Trucks

A Dutch-based offshore oil services supply and support vessel operator and owner, Sea Trucks has confirmed that an attack was made by pirates on the accommodation barge JACSON 33 approximately 30 n.miles off the Bonny Fairway buoy in Nigeria and that four of the company’s sea-going personnel had been kidnapped and taken hostage.

In addition, two naval security guards based on the barge were shot and killed in the attack, which took place shortly after midnight on Saturday night, 4 August.

The barge, which can accommodate up to 200 people, had 27 people on board at the time of the attack, of which seven were expatriates.

In a statement to AFP Sea Trucks spokesman Corrie van Kessel said that the two remaining security guards had been taken to hospital in Port Harcourt for treatment. He said Sea Trucks Group was making every effort to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing four personnel.

According to Nigerian sources the four missing men were from Iran, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. The Nigerian Navy has deployed a helicopter and a boat to search the area where the attack took place but of course the attackers are long since gone.

The normal course of events in such situations is that a ransom demand will be made for the release of the men. The security guards, being local Nigerians have no ransom value in the eyes of the criminals and care was not therefore taken to ensure that they were not injured. The foreigners however could be ransomed with an expectation that their employers will pay out, although details of the transaction are seldom confirmed or divulged.

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An African named ship in a South American harbour. Grimaldi Group’s ro-ro car carrier GRANDE CONGO (47,658-gt, built 2010) leaving the port of Santos, Brazil. Pictures by R Smera

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