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Ports & Ships Maritime News

7 September 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 carrier XIANG YUN KOU (35,568-gt, built 2011) passing Schoenmakerskop (near Cape Recife) on 4 September, heading west. Picture by Luc Hosten

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Roadblocks ahead, say trade unions. Picture by Terry Hutson

South African trade unions involved in the road freight and logistics industry say that strike action appears inevitable after what they refer to as a deadlock in wage negotiations.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), together with fellow unions in the transport and logistics industry MTWU, PTAWUSA and TAWU, said this week that they have reached a wage negotiation deadlock after ‘tense and protracted discussions since early June this year’ at the National Bargaining Council for the Road Freight and Logistics Industry.

SATAWU claims that that, being the largest union in the council, it has always acted in good faith throughout the negotiations in an attempt to amicably reach an inflation related wage settlement of 12% across the board for implementation in 2013 and 2014 respectively. “We have also demanded an equal increase for workers classified under the extended bargaining unit of the council.

“Our members’ patience has been exhausted and our mandate will not change for demanding a living wage on their behalf. Employers have attempted to hoodwink us by tabling only 1% from their original offer of 6% across the board in all the bargaining units. We have rejected the offer and for that they have moved back to their original offer of 6%.

“We have issued notices of an industrial action to all our members in the industry and tools will be down soon. Unions have tried hard to go beyond the mandate, but there is no commitment for the employers to avoid the strike and therefore we have no option but to call our members to hit the streets of South Africa,” said the SATAWU chief negotiator Abner Ramakgolo.

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FNS L’ADROIT docks at the V&A

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FNS L'ADROIT, a Gowind class patrol vessel specially designed by DCNS for maritime protection missions, has docked at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront during a long deployment off Africa.

The unusual vessel will remain in port until 9 September provisioning and taking on bunkers before heading off for more patrol work, but while in port the ship will be used by DCNS to promote the Gowind range and demonstrate the operational value of the vessels and their cutting-edge technologies. DCNS will also exhibit at Africa Aerospace & Defence (AAD) 2012 in South Africa from 19 to 23 September.

According to DCNS the company’s presence in South Africa is part of an ongoing partnership with local shipbuilder Nautic Africa (formerly KND) covering promotion, construction and sales of the Gowind ocean patrol vessel (OPV). “This type of arrangement is key to DCNS’s ability to compete in export markets, and an operational presence in South Africa helps the Group understand the needs of the South African Navy and meet its local shipbuilding requirements,” says the company in a news statement.

“The Gowind is the most technologically advanced of all the vessels proposed for the South African OPV programme,” said James Fisher, CEO of Nautic Africa. “We’re convinced that DCNS is the Navy’s ideal partner in this highly competitive marketplace and that the DCNS OPV is the best platform for naval missions in Africa.”

L’Adroit’s visit in Cape Town includes demonstrations at sea to showcase the vessel’s capabilities under real operational conditions. “During previous stopovers, navies around the world have been impressed by L’Adroit and recognised the operational benefits of the Gowind range,” said Marc Maynard, head of Gowind program department. “We’re looking forward to working with South Africa to meet its requirements for offshore patrol vessels.”

The Gowind OPV L’Adroit was designed and built in less than 24 months and is packed with innovations – commando boat launch ramps, a panoramic bridge and enclosed mast for 360° visibility, and the Polaris mission system — for emerging maritime safety and security missions, including fisheries surveillance, interdiction of trafficking, environmental protection, humanitarian support and search & rescue.

The ship is not open for the public but the best viewing is from Quay 6 or the balcony outside the BAIA Restaurant, or an even better view from the coffee shop on the top floor of Woolworths, advises Steven Bentley, the V&A Harbour Master.

Seli 1 wreck will cost R40 million to clear

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What’s left of the shipwrecked SELI 1 earlier this week. Picture by Pat Downing

The National Department of Transport is reported to be ready to ask the Treasury for R40 million to pay for the clearance of the shipwrecked Turkish freighter SELI 1 that went aground in Table Bay near Bloubergstrand.

This week the City of Cape Town welcomed the news saying that it understood that the national cabinet will consider the matter in two weeks time after which the matter would go to the adjustment budget for the national government in October.

Seli 1 was back in the news last week when oil began coming ashore once again. The ship went aground in September 2009 after which its owners and the cargo owners abandoned the vessel and cargo, which consisted of nearly 40,000 tons of coal loaded in Durban and bound for Gibraltar.

The ship carried inadequate insurance which left SAMSA to cover the cost of salvaging the vessel and any subsequent cleanups.

SAASOA chief executive resigns

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Thato Tsautse, former CEO of SAASOA

The South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents (SAASOA) has announced that its chief executive, Ms Thato Tsautse had resigned effective the end of August. She had been CEO since SAASOA evolved in 2007.

In a statement SAASOA said it regretted her decision to leave “…but she departs with our gratitude for the intellect, dedication and passion she brought to the position and with our very best wishes for the future.” Tsautse is also the current President of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Monthly Richards Bay coal exports

The Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) shipped 5.883 million tonnes of coal during August, the latest figures from the terminal reveal. This compared with 6.3 million tonnes exported the previous month.

The terminal was reporting a coal stockpile of 3.223 million tonnes at the end of the month. During August RBCT received 6.256 million tonnes of coal delivered by Transnet Freight Rail on 791 trains. The port received 51 ships to load coal during August.

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The existing Nacala Corridor railroad from Malawi to the port of Nacala. To link with the mines at Moatize in Tete Province a new section of railroad will have to be built running southwest from southern Malawi into Mozambique

The Tete-Nacala railroad, passing through Malawi, is the most appropriate solution to carry coal mined in Moatize, says Ricardo Saad, the MD of Vale Moçambique, a subsidiary of Brazilian mining giant Vale.

Speaking in Maputo Saad also said that the railroad, “is the only one that makes the project viable and allows for expansion of coal mining activities in Moatize,” which, in the long term, will increase to 22 million tons per year.

The Tete-Nacala railway line, in which the Vale group plans to invest US$4.5 billion, will have an initial capacity of 30 million tons per year, which is more than the company’s current production levels.

He noted that since the beginning of its operation about a year ago the company had exported almost 1.5 million tons of coal and that this amount would increase as Vale Moçambique currently had capacity to produce 5 million tons of coal per year, and within eight years would be producing 22 million tons of coal per year.

Saad said last week that the company plans to produce 4.6-million tonnes of coal at its Moatize mine in Mozambique this year as it ramps up production to supply growing demand from Asia.

“Our production is still constrained by the limited capacity at the Beira port and the Sena railway line. We have a lot of production stockpiled at the mine and we hope that when the refurbishment of the Sena line is completed, we can begin to accelerate our production capacity.”

Referring to the new railroad to Nacala, Saad said that there would be no conflict with other mining companies operating in Tete province, noting that the Mozambican government planned to set up a state structure to manage rail and port facilities built by Vale.

Macauhub recently reported that four new mining projects would start operating in Tete: Jindal Resources (Mozambique), Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), Ncondezi Coal Company and Minas do Revobué, which increases the number of companies mining coal in the province to a total of seven. (Source macauhub)

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Tanker highjacked outside Lagos port

The Singapore-flagged products tanker ABU DHABI STAR (51,069-dwt, built 2008) is reported to have been highjacked by pirates while drifting 14 n.miles off the Port of Lagos on Tuesday night (4 September).

The seizure of the fully laden ship took place after the 23 crew successfully mustered in a citadel. The attack suggests that the pirates have the skill to sail the vessel and it is likely that some or all of the cargo will be discharged into another ship after which the pirates will abandon the vessel.

Tanker hijackings and fuel theft have increased in recent weeks, with three similar hijackings having been reported – two off Togo in August and one more recently involving the tanker ENERGY CENTURION which was highjacked from Lome anchorage. More than 3,000 tons of gas oil (worth around US$3 million at market values) was removed from the ship’s tanks, along with ship's equipment and crew valuables. The ship was then released back to the original crew.

China Merchants takes 50% interest in Lome Container Terminal

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Lome’s ‘original’ container terminal – picture OTAL

Hong Kong’s China Merchants Holdings (Intl) Company has acquired a 50% stake in Thesar Maritime Ltd (TML), which owns a 35-year concession plus 10-year extension to develop and operate the Lome Container Terminal in Togo.

Once completed the container terminal will have four berths along a 1,050-m deepwater quay backed with a 53-ha yard and a design capacity of 2.2 million TEUs annually.

The other half of the company is held by a member of the Terminal Investment Limited (TIL) which operates 24 terminals internationally.

The new container terminal is being positioned as a regional hub. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has signed a terminal service agreement to use the facility for 15 years as from the start of operations.

Cargotec Receives Order for Four Kalmar Quay Cranes in West Africa

Cargotec has received a large repeat order for four Kalmar quay cranes from the French Bolloré group, through its wholly-owned Unicaf subsidiary. The deal follows an order received in 2011, which at the time represented Cargotec's first ever quay crane delivery in West Africa.

The Kalmar quay cranes on order will be delivered to various ports in West Africa where handling is currently carried out primarily by mobile cranes or ship's own gear, and to green field terminals. The cranes have a lifting capacity of 60 tonnes under the Bromma twin-lift spreaders. They will be built to a single box boom type design, with an outreach of 47 m and a 30.5 m rail span.

Thanks to significant growth in container handling capacity over the last years, Bolloré group has become the biggest container terminal operator in West Africa. It operates 13 container terminals in the whole Africa and plans to reinforce its presence in West Africa to meet the needs of the fast-growing economies in the region.

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Anger at latest livestock shipment

A Singapore-registered Marshall Island-flagged livestock carrier, BARKLY PEARL (5375-gt, built 1993) which is due to sail from the Port of East London this weekend loaded with cattle on the hoof and bound for Port Louis, has raised the anger of animal protection agencies opposed to the shipment of live animals for slaughter.

Calling it a ‘Ship of Shame’ and a ‘death ship’ activists are determined to put to an end the transportation of livestock destined for slaughter. South Africa doesn’t have a large trade in export livestock but that which is exported usually goes to Port Louis where for religious and cultural grounds the demand requires that animals be slaughtered locally and not shipped in as frozen meat.

According to an activist group on Thursday the NSPCA will be taking legal action to prevent the latest shipment from leaving East London. It said that the NSPCA has grave concerns with this shipment “due to prevailing weather conditions which will not only lead to greater suffering for the animals on board throughout the voyage but will undoubtedly prolong the length of the voyage.

“Meat should be exported on the hook not on the hoof. If live animals are to be exported for slaughter, they should be transported by air.

Five vehicle carrier companies raided

The Japanese offices of five of the world’s largest vehicle carrier shipping companies were raided this week by Japan’s antitrust regulator.

The offices of NYK, Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisen, Eukor Car Carriers and Mitsui OSK Lines were searched yesterday after 10 shipping lines came under suspicion of raising rates together for the transport of motor vehicles to the US market, Europe and parts of Asia.

Observers said the matter to watch now was the degree of monetary fine that will be imposed on the lines should evidence of collusion be uncovered. Several of the lines when approached said they were cooperating with the authorities.

Navies warn shipping to continue taking anti-piracy measures

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Flagships together in the fight against piracy – the Korean frigate WANG GEON of Task Force 151, the French Navy ship FS MARNE of Operation Atalanta, and the Dutch frigate EVERTSEN of NATO Ocean Shield present an united face against piracy. Picture EUNAVFOR

European Union Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atalanta, NATO and Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) called this week on the shipping industry to continue with anti-piracy measures despite the current downward trend in piracy events.

In a recent report published by the International Maritime Bureau it was announced that there had been a 54% drop in global piracy during the first half of 2012. One of the key contributors to this welcome development was the fall in both Somali hijackings and attacks. “There are many factors which have led to this, two of which were the work of military forces in the region and self-protection measures taken by commercial shipping. “We currently see a tactical and reversible success. It is of utmost importance that pressure on Somali pirates and their business model is maintained and even increased as the strategic context, the situation in Somalia allowing for pirates to act, has not yet changed,” said Deputy Operation Commander Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi.

“International Navies and all merchant vessels transiting the High Risk Area, need to remain vigilant and uphold their respective responsibilities to support the fight against piracy,” he added.

By joining forces, counter piracy efforts are more effective and can achieve more than any one ship, navy, organisation or country working alone, the communiqué said. “Even with all this military presence, the efforts of our naval forces cannot guarantee safety in the region. It is for this reason that CTF 151, NATO and the EU remind all ship-owners, operators and managers to continue to educate and train their mariners in both the threat and how to mitigate it.”

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The Cypriot-flagged container ship ALEXANDER (48,237-gt, built 1992) outward bound from the Port of Cape Town. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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