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Ports & Ships Maritime News

14 August 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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News continues below...


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With the magnificent backdrop of Table Mountain complete with ’tablecloth’, the semi-submersible heavylift MIGHTY SERVANT I (29,193-gt, built 1983) arrives off Cape Town varrying the oil rig NOBLE CLYDE BOUDREAUX on her broad deck. The rig is due to undergo some maintenance repairs at the Cape Town repair quay over the coming weeks. Picture by The Aerial Perspective aerialphoto.co.za

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Questions are being asked following the news that the South African Navy submarine SAS QUEEN MODJADJI I (S103) was put out of action after colliding with the seabed.

The German-built submarine, one of three in South Africa’s arsenal, was on a cruise along the eastern seaboard between the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal when the accident occurred. According to reports the submarine nosedived into the sea floor while doing submerged safety drills.

The submarine was able to surface and proceeded to Durban where an inspection revealed denting of her forward hull. The submarine subsequently sailed for Simon’s Town to undergo repairs.

Opposition political parties immediately seized on the incident with demands for an explanation as to how the accident occurred. They were quick to score points by pointing out that one of the three submarines, SAS MANTHATISI (S101) has been out of the water for some time following a series of problems which include having to have her propulsion batteries replaced. The third submarine SAS CHARLOTTE MAXEKE (S102) is undergoing routine maintenance at present.

In April this year Commander Handsome Thamsanqa Matsane became SAS Queen Modjadji’s officer commanding and the navy’s first black officer to take command of one of the submarines.

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SAS Manthatisi (S101), the first of three German-built submarines to be delivered to the South African Navy. This boat is currently out of commission while undergoing repair that includes replacing her batteries

US Navy destroyer collides with MOL crude oil tanker

The US Navy confirmed yesterday (Monday) that one of its destroyers, the Arleigh Burke class USS PORTER (DDG78) collided with a Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) VLCC, OTOWASAN (302,477-dwt) outside the Strait of Hormuz.

The accident occurred at about 1pm local time on Sunday, 12 August. There were no injuries on either vessel and both were able to continue with their voyages. USS Porter sailed under her own power for Jebel Ali where an inspection to assess the damage was begun yesterday (Monday). The destroyer has a 3m x 3m gash on her starboard side.

The fully laden tanker Otowasan received negligible damage and has continued her voyage to Singapore.

The US Navy said that the incident was under investigation. USS Porter is under deployment to the US 5th Fleet.

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No port of refuge for MSC Flaminia

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MSC Flaminia on fire

The fire damaged container ship MSC FLAMINIA remains at sea adrift and with a tug in attendance but still without any indication that authorities in Europe or the UK are prepared to offer a port of refuge status for the stricken ship.

“I consider it shocking that in this situation a ship under [a] German flag does not receive a permission from the European countries to call at a port,” said Helmut Ponath, CEO of Reederei NSB, which owns the ship.

The container vessel is currently in position about 360 n.miles off the English coast and until she is allowed into a port or other sheltered waters, the salvage of containers on board the fire damaged ship remains impossible, say salvage consultants.

MSC Flaminia caught fire in one of her container holds on 14 July. The ship was at that time midway across the Atlantic after sailing from the US bound for the UK. An explosion in the containers led to one of the crew going missing while fighting the fire – the rest of the crew abandoned the ship and were later picked up by other vessels. A second seaman died before he could reach hospital and several others were admitted to hospital in the Azores.

The ship meanwhile took on a 10° list from all the water injected onto the ship by salvage tugs to fight the fire.

Reederei NSB said in a statement that the weather had remained favourable for salvage work for much of last week but this was not possible without permission to take the ship into a port. It said it was in intense negotiations with the European littoral states and is in constant contact with the German authorities in an effort to explore all opportunities of successfully completing the salvage operation.

Fire damaged Chamarel aground off Namibia

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Chamarel on fire off the Namibian coast

The French owned, Cape Town-based cable layer CHAMAREL, which caught fire last week while heading for the port of Walvis Bay, is reported to have gone aground on a sandbank off the coast of Namibia.

None of the 56 crew was injured and all were safely transferred to a Namibian research vessel. The cause of the fire is not immediately clear but it would appear that the ship has severe damage from the fire and may have been further weakened by going aground.

Chamarel is owned by France-Telecom Orange which operates a fleet of six ships, including the cable layer TELIRI which was also recently in Cape Town. Both Teliri and Chamarel were involved in the laying and repairing respectively of cables along the African coast.

“This is a very serious incident, and I would like to express my sincere thanks to the crew members for their courage in managing the situation,” said Theirry Bonhomme, the company’s senior executive vice president of networks and carriers and R&D. “The safety of our crew is our primary concern and we will look closely at the results of the investigation,” he added.

New port manager for Richards Bay

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Thami Ntshingila

A new manager for the Port of Richards Bay is due to be announced this morning (Tuesday 14 August). There are no further details available at present. The previous port manager was Thami Ntshingila, who was appointed to the position in 2007.

Stakeholders have been invited to a briefing at 1pm today (Tuesday) where the new port manager will be announced and introduced. Stakeholders will presumably also be told what is happening with his/her predecessor.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) is currently involved in a wide-scale programme involving the port managers in what it says is a redefining of the TNPA in terms of the National Ports Act No.12 of 2005 and to deliver on Transnet’s Market Demand Strategy. Senior port managers at Cape Town and Durban, Sanjay Govan and Ricky Bhikraj respectively have been redeployed but have continued as acting port managers in the meantime.

Other port managers to be affected are Mossel Bay and Saldanha where a reshuffle took place recently.

Ms Tandi Lebakeng who was the Acting Port Manager of the Port of Saldanha has moved to the Port of Mossel Bay as port manager. Willem Roux, who was port manager of the Port of Mossel Bay is now at the Port of Saldanha in that capacity, where TNPA says he will use his considerable experience gathered in the petrochemical industry to further the objectives of the port development plans in the Port of Saldanha.

“We are reviewing the best fit between the Port Managers’ passion, experience and skills and the operational requirements and challenges we are facing as the National Port Authority. It has therefore been decided that the port managers of Saldanha and Mossel Bay be re-deployed effective 1 July 2012.” said Tau Morwe, TNPA’s chief executive at the time.

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Among the various reports issued by the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) are the following which took place over the recent weekend:

Richards Bay alert

Dorian Robertson, NSRI Richards Bay station commander, reported the following on Saturday, 11 August 2012: “Last night, Friday, 10 August, NSRI Richards Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew were alerted by Netcare 911 to be on stand-by to casualty evacuate the master of the Panamanian registered bulk carrier CAPE VALENTIA, sailing from Singapore to Mumbai.” Robertson said the ship was expected to be nearing Richards Bay at around 13h00 on Saturday, 11 August, with the master of the ship, Captain Rajpal Singh, from India, requiring to be casualty evacuated off the ship as he is suspected to be suffering pancreatitis.

“At 12h30, Saturday, 11 August, our NSRI Richards Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew, accompanied by a Netcare 911 paramedic, launched our sea rescue craft Spirit of Richards Bay and rendezvoused with the ship seven nautical miles off-shore of Richards Bay. The patient was stabilised by the paramedic and transferred onto our sea rescue craft and brought into Richards Bay Port from where he was transported to hospital by a Netcare 911 ambulance in a stable condition.”

A whale of a story

On that same day the NSRI Durban was activated following reports that a 35 foot Sport fishing motor catamaran Hot Stuff had collided with a whale. One adult male onboard was reported to be seriously injured after being thrown forward on deck and colliding with deck structures, leading to suspected fractures to his right arm.

Paul Bevis, NSRI Durban duty coxswain, said that the NSRI Durban volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched the sea rescue craft Eikos Rescuer II accompanied by a Netcare 911 paramedic and rendezvoused with the casualty boat eight nautical miles off-shore of Durban. Meanwhile the Transnet National Ports Authority rescue helicopter was placed on alert and the Provincial Government Emergency Medical Services (EMS) duty doctor was consulted to assist in deciding if the patient should be airlifted to hospital.

On arrival the patient, 50-year old Derrick Pienaar was found to be suffering from a fractured right humerus (upper right arm bone) After treatment on board the fishing boat he was transferred across to the NSRI rescue boat and taken to the Durban port where he was transferred to a waiting ambulance and taken to hospital.

The fishing boat suffered no apparent damage from striking the whale and was able to return to harbour unaided. According to Clifford Ireland, NSRI Durban station commander, a whale which is thought to have been the one which struck the boat was seen in the area. It didn’t appear to be injured.

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Derrick Pienaar being transferred ashore in Durban. Picture by Chris Botha Netcare 911

Cape Town call out

On Sunday morning (12 August) the NSRI Table Bay and NSRI Mykonos (Saldanha) volunteer rescue duty crews were placed on alert by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) following reports that the 48 year old Chinese captain of the 180m long bulk carrier MAPLE CRYSTAL was suffering from suspected appendicitis and needed to be medically evacuated from his ship.

The ship was 20 n.miles offshore of Saldanha Bay heading towards its next port of call at Durban and was due to pass Cape Town.

“A Western Cape Government Health Emergency Medical Services (EMS) paramedical rescue team were also placed on alert,” said Pat van Eyssen, NSRI Table Bay duty coswain.

“After it was decided that the closest rendezvous point would be off Cape Town our NSRI Table Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom at 12h35, accompanied by two EMS rescue paramedics, and rendezvoused with the ship 13 nautical miles north west of Mouille Point Lighthouse in rough 4 to 5 metre swells.” He said that on arrival an EMS rescue paramedic and a NSRI rescuer were put on board the ship to stabilise the patient, Captain He Zongzheng, who was then transferred to the sea rescue craft in a satisfactory condition (walking wounded) and taken to the Port of Cape Town where an ambulance was waiting to transfer him to the Christiaan Barnard Hospital for further medical assessment.

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Maple Crystal. Picture by Robyn Silverstone

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Tanzania is de-registering 36 Iranian oil tankers and container ships that had been flagged to the Tanzanian Shipping Register in avoidance of US and EU-imposed sanctions against Iran’s nuclear development programme.

This follows Tanzania coming under harsh criticism in the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The flagging issue allowed the Iranian ships not only to avoid sanction measures but to obtain indemnity cover.

A US inspired investigation turned up information showing that a Dubai-based shipping agency named Philtex was behind the Tanzanian flagging of the ships, without, it is claimed, Tanzania being aware of what had transpired.

“The government has thoroughly investigated this issue and established that the Zanzibar Maritime Authority (ZMA) through our Dubai-based agent, Philtex, registered 36 Iranian crude oil tankers and containership vessels to fly the Tanzanian flag,” Zanzibar Vice President, Seif Ali Iddi told an assembly of the House of Representatives of Zanzibar.

“The Zanzibar government is in the process of de-registering the ships and also terminating its agency contract with Philtex after establishing the truth that these ships are flying the Tanzanian flag,” he said.

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The recently chartered Subtech Offshore tug TERAS HYDRA departing Durban for Moma in Mozambique, towing a large barge the BRONAUGH J. Picture by Gary Grenfell

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The tug and tow combination in the Durban port entrance channel. Picture by Gary Grenfell

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Stern view of the barge BRONAUGH J as it leaves for Moma to take part in a heavy earth mining operation. Picture by Gary Grenfell

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