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Ports & Ships Maritime News

14 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 chemical and products tanker ALPINE LIGHT (50,238-dwt, built 2010) seen arriving in Cape Town recently. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, SAMSA chief executive

In support of national government’s New Growth Path (NGP) to create 5 million jobs over the next 10 years and reduce unemployment by 10%, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), together with the Department of Labour and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism, is hosting the South Africa Maritime Industry Careers Expo and Jobs Summit to be held in Durban at the Moses Mabhida Stadium from 25 to 28 September 2012.

The Expo, will form part of SAMSA’s drive to revive the country’s maritime industry and create 160,000 jobs within the next 20 years.

“Up to 98% of trade between South Africa and its partner countries is seaborne, yet maritime career opportunities remain largely untapped due to lack of awareness amongst South Africans,” says SAMSA CEO Commander Tsietsi Mokhele.

In support of its core message that young people can ‘choose a Career Less Ordinary in the Maritime Industry,’ the South Africa Maritime Industry Careers Expo and Job Summit will inform learners, school leavers, job seekers and teachers / educators of opportunities in the industry and will provide a platform for employers and job seekers to connect.

With almost half of youth under the age of 25 currently unemployed in South Africa and a shortage of some 30,000 skilled artisans and technicians in the country, the Expo and Summit is expected to make a significant contribution to driving skills development and employment in the maritime sector for the youth of South Africa. SAMSA developed the Maritime Skills Development Program as a result of its skills study.

In celebration of the Expo, the training ship SA AGULHAS will sail into Durban harbour on Heritage Day, 24 September, to fly her colours for the more than 10,000 visitors expected at the Expo.

The event, the largest of its kind in South Africa, is being co-hosted by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism in KwaZulu-Natal (DEDT – KZN) in partnership with the Department of Transport, Department of Labour, Human Resources Development Council of South Africa (HRDCSA), National Development Youth Development (NYDA), Ethekwini Municipality, eThekwini Maritime Cluster (EMC), Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) and Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), and supported by the Department of Higher and Basic Education (DHET).

The Expo and Summit promises to be a stimulating and interactive event, packed with exciting displays, skills and information sessions, workshops, competitions, water sports activities and even a seafood pavilion, all aimed at giving young people an inspiring insight into careers in the maritime industry. Information will be available on jobs for technicians, artisans, crew members, engineers, IT specialists, managers and much more as well as maritime law and maritime economics.

Learners and job seekers will be able to find out about bursaries, learnerships and in-service training, as well as how to access funding. They will meet future key employers and inspiring people from the industry, get free career advice, attend interactive information sessions, receive advice on writing a CV, receive a toolkit with all they need to know about getting into the industry, and enjoy plenty of fun and entertainment.

“Awareness of opportunities for careers in the maritime industry must start in the classroom,” says Mokhele. The Expo is therefore also offering a full educator workshop programme and a comprehensive toolkit for teachers, to provide them with the necessary information and skills to teach learners about maritime careers.

The Expo will culminate in a one-day Jobs Summit on 28 September, involving decision makers from the industry. “The Jobs Summit will be a critical platform for raising awareness about the job opportunities available in the sector and how it can contribute to government’s agenda of job creation,” says Mokhele.

Discussions at the Summit will have strategic outcomes such as securing accord by industry employers on labour standards and access to opportunities to ensure sustainable employment within the industry, and a partnership with maritime employers and other organisations in the recruitment and placement of job seekers.

The Jobs Summit will also launch an online portal, the South African Jobs Summit Portal, designed to connect job seekers with potential employers.

Teachers and learners, parents and employers are urged to visit www.samaritimecareers.co.za* to attend. The Expo will run from 25 to 28 September and entry is free while the Job Summit will take place on 28 September.

• When this report went ‘live’ on Friday 14 September this address was not yet working. Readers should check with it later next week.

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View across the museum showing the tug Ulundi on the hard, with another tug JR More in the immediate background and the former SA Navy minesweeper SAS Durban beyond her. Picture by Terry Hutson

As part of the National Maritime Week being celebrated in Durban between Tuesday 25 and Friday 28 September 2012, the Port Natal Maritime Museum in Durban will launch a new exhibition of photographs showing the history of the Port of Durban between the 1840s and the present day.

The exhibition which will remain in place after Maritime Week is over as a semi permanent exhibition, will be on display in the Britannia Room at the museum, which is situated in Maritime Place off the Esplanade (facing Samora Machel Street [Aliwal Street]).

The photographs come from the personal collections of several members of the Friends of the Museum and the Durban Local History Museums Trust, the Engineers Department of the TNPA, and other sources including the Local History Museum. The panels displaying these will be arranged in order from the early days of the harbour leading round to the present time and revealing all the major developments that have taken place in Africa’s busiest and most important port.

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The exhibits on display cover a wide range from harbour craft such as KHAYA LETHU (above) to machinery used in the stevedore industry and a magnificent example of a Rope Making machine on rails donated by a local company. Picture by Terry Hutson

The museum was established in 1988 and is open every day of the week including Sundays. It caters for visitors with an interest in ships and maritime matters and offers an excellent introduction for schools into the mysteries of a modern harbour and its workings. The museum is on the waterfront near the tug harbour and overlooks most of Durban Bay, offering grandstand views across the harbour at the container terminals, Salisbury Island, the T-Jetty and Maydon Wharf away in the distance.

Large numbers of schoolchildren visit the museum every month, with schools making appointments up to a year in advance. The Port Natal Maritime Museum has the highest visitor count of all eight of Durban’s local history museums, and for many of those arriving it provides a first view of ships and a working port to schoolchildren from upcountry, of whom many have never before seen the sea let alone a harbour with real ships.

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The tug Ulundi being brought ashore to become a permanent exhibit on the hard at the Port Natal Maritime Museum. This was in 1988 and today the tug has an access door in the side of the vessel from which visitors enter the ship directly into the engine and boiler room, before climbing the steps to the deck above with its wheelhouse and other areas of the 1927-built tug. Picture PNMM

As such the Port Natal Maritime Museum, with two ships in the water (the ‘Ton’ class minesweeper SAS DURBAN and the former Transnet harbour tug JR MORE) and a third vessel the former Port Elizabeth and Durban tug ULUNDI on the hard, provides an exciting place for children and adults alike, with lots of strange places to explore inside the ships. Visitors can access even into the engine rooms of the vessels as well as wheelhouse bridges aloft and accommodation areas in between.

At present the minesweeper is temporarily not open to the public as work is necessary to her decks. Being of an all wood construction, and permanently in the water, she requires permanent maintenance which hasn’t always been forthcoming and some urgent remedial action is now necessary. Plans are also afoot to dry dock the JR More for a full inspection although this valuable tug is in relatively good condition.

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The museum as seen from the waterside with SAS Durban (front) and JR More in the background. Picture by Terry Hutson

The organisation ‘Friends of the Museum’ has been formed and teams of volunteers are busy each week applying additional ‘tender love and care’ to the many exhibits on display.

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Above and below – volunteers at work shining, cleaning and loosening equipment in the engine room of the tug JR More. This particular crew were all managers/surveyors from the firm of DNV, who took a morning off from their regular conference at the Durban offices of classification society Det Norske Veritas to lend a helping hand at the Port Natal Maritime Museum. They have promised to come back for a second helping when next in Durban. Picture by Peter Hamer/DNV

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The Ripple, a replica of an old wood and iron house from Sea View in Durban, which holds the ticket office, shop and general offices of the Port Natal Maritime Museum. Picture PNMM

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by Ludovick Kazoka (Tanzania Daily News)

The management of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) has been impressed by the speed of the study being conducted by Chinese experts to establish challenges facing the jointly owned railway line.

Tazara Managing Director, Mr Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika said in Dar es Salaam that the team of 140 Chinese experts was already in the field to establish both technical and managerial problems.

“We cannot pinpoint anyone on problems facing Tazara. We are all being part of the problems as they (problems) are in the hands of all stakeholders of Tazara,” admitted the Tazara boss.

He was speaking after handing over documentary response of the questionnaires to the Tazara Rehabilitation Project Manager, Mr Jia Guangzhi whose team of researchers jetted off for Zambia after the event. Mr Mbikusita-Lewanika noted that the report on the study would be submitted to the governments of the partner states in June next year for the major renovation of the railway line.

Tazara Deputy Director, Mr Damas Ndumbaro said underfunding was the major setback to many railway lines' success in Africa, saying the governments should earmark enough funds to improve the railways' operations. “We are optimistic that after the study Tazara will be one of the best railways to provide services,” he said.

Last week, the Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, said the government opted for independent researchers because most of the challenges were involving management, saying the study will provide the government with recommendation on how best to run the railway. Source Tanzania Daily News/ allAfrica.com

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The accident to the SA Navy submarine SAS QUEEN MODJADJI on 17 July, when the boat hit the seabed during a training exercise, has been passed off by the navy and others as the equivalent of a ‘fender-bender’ collision between cars.

This surprising appraisal of an incident that could under other circumstances have had tragic results, may make for a neat deflection but hasn’t escaped the attention of a Freedom Front politician, Pieter Groenewald who asked some searching questions of the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans. The minister responded that a board of enquiry had been appointed and would be looking into the affair.

Meanwhile, the minister continued, the submarine has been repaired and will be available to take part in the forthcoming Operation Atlasur IX and IBSAMAR involving the navies of several South American nations (Atlasur) and later Brazil and India (IBSAMAR).

The accident happened during a routine diving safety drill off the KZN coast but the submarine struck the bottom of the seabed, resulting in a 1.5 x 1.5m dent in the boat’s outer hull opposite the area of the main ballast tank. Fortunately the seabed was mud and sand. There were no injuries to crew on board at the time and the submarine was able to resurface and proceed to Durban where an inspection by divers could be carried out. Once it was ascertained that there was no immediate risk to the submarine, SAS Queen Modjadji resumed her voyage and returned to Simon’s Town where she was taken out of the water for a full inspection and repairs.

Hydraulic oil pressure failure was offered as the reason for the accident.

Groenewald was having none of this and said he wanted to see disciplinary action being taken. “The reply of the Minister confirms my allegations that there had been negligence and poor training. The exercise was carried out precisely to imitate such a situation where the hydraulic pressure in the submarine should be stopped. Such exercises have strict security measures that have to be followed and it is clear that these measures were not implemented. The outcome of the Board of Inquiry is being awaited and disciplinary steps should be taken.”

Naval apologists have tried to pass off the accident as something that just happened, giving examples of other navies that have experienced similar accidents. While the inquiry will hopefully reveal the full facts, the accidents in other navies offers little reason for feeling complacent with what happens in this country’s navy and a full public explanation of the inquiry’s findings must be made available.

SAS Amatola

In other navy news, the frigate SAS AMATOLA was forced to abort her planned deployment to the Mozambique Channel where she would have been engaged for three months of anti-pirate patrols after one of her main engines reportedly malfunctioned.

The frigate, which has already completed one full deployment to the Mozambique Channel was forced to return to Durban and then to Port Elizabeth before going on to Simon’s Town.

Another frigate SAA MENDI also returned from Mozambique with engine troubles at the end of her deployment last year. This ship has since entered onto a planned maintenance period including dry docking.

SAS Amatola has been operating for about three years without one of her two main diesel engines. Repairs were said to be feasible during her planned main refit when a section of her hull can be cut open to allow the removal of the damaged engine and its replacement.

In a reply to questions asked in parliament earlier this year the then Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu gave the following response:

‘None of the vessels, excluding the submarine SAS MANTHATISI, are presently “out of service”. They are all being managed within the approved SA Navy Maintenance and Upkeep Programme and as part of the short and medium term Force Employment Plan. All issues regarding the SAS MANTHATISI have been reported extensively and she will in due course once again provide our country with valuable service at sea, whilst the next submarine will enter a refit phase.’

SAS Manthatisi remains out of service awaiting a replacement set of batteries which will only arrive in the country later this year. She has been held in reserve since October 2007 following a much publicised incident involving a fusebox. The navy has denied that the submarine, the first to enter service with the SA Navy, was extensively damaged by the incident when the wrong fuse box was used for shore power to the submarine, but ever since she has been awaiting a battery replacement. These are said to be part of a routine battery replacement programme aimed at replacing batteries after eight years of service.

“In order to ensure that the SAS Manthatisi (S101) will be operational for a period of at least eight years on completion of the first minor overhaul, the SA Navy will procure a new battery for the submarine. Each submarine will, in turn, be fitted with a new battery on completion of their respective minor overhauls,” was the answer that Groenewald received last year to another of his parliamentary questions.

According to the navy the battery consists of 480 man-sized cells and weighs 250 tonnes. Parliament was told that a battery costs R35 million.

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MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia

MSC Group owner and president Gianluigi Aponte this week received the prestigious Cruise International Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award, accepted on Mr Aponte’s behalf by Giulio Libutti, Managing Director MSC Cruises UK and Ireland, was presented at the 2nd Cruise International Awards ceremony attended by leading industry figures.

“We are delighted to bestow upon Gianluigi Aponte this well-deserved honour,” said Liz Jarvis, editor of Cruise International. “Under his guidance MSC Cruises has become one of the world’s leading cruise companies; that it has done so in such a relatively short period of time is testament not only to Mr Aponte’s expertise, but to his extraordinary vision.”

Aponte founded MSC Cruises in the late 1980s. In just over two decades he has grown his company from modest beginnings to become the world’s fourth-largest cruise operator, boasting an ultra-modern fleet of 12 ships - a thirteenth, MSC Preziosa, will be christened next March - and market-leading positions in the Mediterranean, South Africa and Brazil.

The success of MSC Cruises is only part of a remarkable career that has spanned over 40 years and seen Aponte build up a global empire that dominates in not just one shipping sector but several.

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Gianluigi Aponte

Born in Sorrento, Italy, he began his career as a captain in the family company, which operated a fleet of sailing boats on the Mediterranean. In 1970, following a few years in banking, Aponte set up the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) with the purchase of a single ship. Under his leadership, MSC is now the second-largest container ship operator in the world, employing more than 40,000 people and operating a fleet of 441 cargo vessels serving 306 ports across five continents.

Despite its spectacular growth, MSC is still a family-owned business and its founder remains dedicated to the company and to his family.

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Following the fire and beaching of the cable layer CHAMAREL (8575-gt, built 1974) in Namibia, the French operators France Telecom-Orange moved quickly to replace the vessel with another on maintenance standby in the port of Cape Town. The ‘new’ ship, which is smaller than the ill-fated Chamarel, is the LEON THEVENIN (5887-gt, built 1983) which is due to become a familiar sight to visitors to Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. Top picture by Ian Shiffman. Lower picture by Aad Noorland

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