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Ports & Ships Maritime News

18 September 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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The newbuild Chinese heavylift HAI YANG SHI YOU 278 (40,307-gt, built 2012), which is managed by the Dutch Dockwise company, called at Cape Town last week for bunkers while transporting the pipelayer SAPURA 3000 (32,060-gt, built 2008). Picture by Aad Noorland


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Port Ngcura, with Port Elizabeth in the distance

The Ngqura Container Terminal (NCT) operated by Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) is riding a wave of success after reaching a record level for container handing volumes during the month of August.

August 2012 saw the terminal handle its highest yet number of TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) handled for a month - 63,857 (TEUs) of which 18,725 were imports, 16,444 exports and 28,688 transhipment cargo destined for other regional ports. These impressive volumes handled exceed the previous highest number which was 47,614 handled in June 2012.

The increasing numbers have been attributed to the increase in market demand and to the reefer cargo season. The terminal handled 45,488 TEUs in August last year, which reflects an improvement in volumes of 28.8% year-on-year.

“As Transnet Port Terminals, we are pleased to have handled these volumes,” said TPT’s GM: Eastern Cape, Siya Mhlaluka. “We tremendously value the support of our clients and this achievement reaffirms the confidence that clients have in the Ngqura Container Terminal. The higher transhipment volumes are a result of the transhipment hub strategy, which is driven, supported and sustained by our key stakeholders and customers.”

During August 2012 shifts working at the terminal consistently achieved 29 moves per Gross Crane Hour (GCH). GCH is the common measure of productivity in the container handling business and represents the number of containers each crane moves per hour.

In praising the staff’s performance, Mhlaluka indicated that they have all done exceptionally well given the weather challenges that surfaced during this time of the year, i.e. wind and underwater currents.

“The GCH record performance has been made possible by teamwork and improvements in vessel and yard planning,” said Mhlaluka. “These volumes also have significant economic benefit because faster and more efficient container handling has ripple effects for the rest of the supply chain.”

This record has ignited a renewed sense of enthusiasm among staff in the terminal. “Our morale has been boosted by this outstanding record,” said ship-to-shore operator, Caroline Ndevulana.

She added there was good cooperation from the various internal departments such as the planning teams, who were willing to implement operational changes, and the stevedores, who worked to minimise delays to vessels.

“We are pleased to have handled these high import and export volumes, as TPT is committed to offering services which will enable the growth of its valued customers,” said Mhlaluka.


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Immigration formalities change at Cape Town

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Immigration measures are changing at the Port of Cape Town. Picture TNPA/The Aerial Perspective aerialphoto.co.za

Interim immigration measures have been introduced at the Port of Cape Town during the transition period caused by immigration authorities being relocated inside Cape Town Harbour, in addition to the planned establishment of a passenger terminal and the introduction of mobile eMCS units.

From December 2012, the Harbour Office for Immigration will be relocated within the access-secured harbour near E Berth, where plans are well advances to establish a passenger terminal for the clearing of passengers.

Immigration authorities intend to conduct regular patrols of key areas within the harbour.

Mobile eMCS devices will come into use by immigration officials in the near future to clear crews. Crew members from Visa-exempt countries and those holding Visas will be cleared to enter South Africa, but those without Visas will be restricted to the port and will not be allowed to enter the country.

In the interim, all crew eligible for entry into South Africa should be brought from the vessel to the immigration offices by the ship’s agent following an immigration escort, and all crew must be cleared to leave South Africa from the immigration office (Customs House).

In the case of large numbers of passengers arriving, and this applies only until the passenger terminal (phase 1) is ready, advance pre- clearance security procedures must be followed, with passengers manually cleared at the vessel and all data then uploaded to the system. Passports should be brought to the office without being separated from the passport holder.

The above process will be in use only until mobile eMCS devices are available. Thereafter, the same will be used at the vessel for clearances.

Crews coming into South Africa through an airport and leaving the country by arriving in a maritime port and then leaving by an airport will need to have a visa if not from a Visa-exempt country.

Vessels not coming into Cape Town Harbour, but having movement of persons or goods by launch or helicopter, may only do so at the OPL launch berth within the harbour with the official Port of Entry (not Waterfront or CTIA).

All the same forms and procedures are to be carried out by OPL movements. – source GAC


SARA calls for govt investment in rail and ports

The Southern Africa Railway Association (SARA) plans for governments in the region to invest in developing rail and port infrastructure, said the president of the association, Mozambique’s Rosário Mualeia.

Speaking at the ceremony to launch the SARA annual conference, to be held in November in the Mozambican capital Maputo, Mualeia also noted the importance of government support in removing tariff controls and simplification of customs procedures and formalities.

Mualeia, who is also president of Mozambican state port and railway company Portos e Caminho de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM), also noted the importance of harmonising policies and regulations for road and rail transport in the region, as well as exemption of reduction of taxes on importing equipment for the sector.

According to daily newspaper Notícias the next SARA conference will discuss the activities of associated companies, with particular focus on promoting integration of transport services in the region.

As well as associated railway companies, the conference will involve regulating bodies, investors and financiers for rail industry projects, financial institutions, transport sector consultants, information technology and systems specialists, amongst others.

SARA was set up in 1996 and brings together port and railway companies in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) with the aim of promoting and developing the region’s commercial interests. (macauhub)


Back to normal at Durban’s Pier 1

Conditions at Durban’s Pier 1 have returned to normal after last week’s disruption when Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) declared force majeure after unexpected go-slow action by employees at the container terminal.

In a notice sent to clients TPT wrote, ‘The situation is that the illegal industrial action has affected productivity and led to delays and backlog in the movement of cargo through the terminal. Unfortunately this disturbance and its effects are beyond the control of TPT which has no option but to invoke the provisions of the force majeure clause in terms of TPT's commercial agreements. Any claims arising from this will therefore be dealt with as such in terms of the applicable contractual agreements. ‘This constitutes an official notice suspending the provisions of all applicable contracts in the interim,’ wrote DCT terminal executive Hector Danisa.


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Fairmount tug completes tow between Port Louis and Port of Spain in record time

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Fairmount Sherpa and the Atwood Condor rig

Fairmount Marine’s tug FAIRMOUNT SHERPA has delivered the rig ATWOOD CONDOR safely in Port of Spain, Trinidad after a record voyage across two oceans. The semi submersible rig was towed from Port Louis, Mauritius, over a distance of 8,100 nautical miles with an average speed of 8.5 knots.

The Atwood Condor is a 2012 Singapore build dynamically positioned semi submersible drilling unit capable of operating in 3,050 metres of water and drilling depths up to 12,200 metres. The 118 metre long state-of-the-art rig has accommodation capacity for up to 200 persons. The rig is owned by Atwood Oceanics, headquartered in Houston, US.

Before crossing the Atlantic Ocean Fairmount Sherpa and her tow made a planned four day stop-over at Walvis Bay, Namibia. During this stop- over the Fairmount Sherpa performed several cargo and passengers runs between the rig and the port.

Fairmount Marine is a marine contractor for ocean towage and heavy lift transportation, headquartered in Rotterdam. Fairmount’s fleet of tugs consists of five modern super tugs of 205 tons bollard pull each, especially designed for long distance towing, and a multipurpose support vessel. Fairmount Marine is part of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs Group.


Award for whistleblower

A Filipino seaman is US$150,000 better off after having blown the whistle on his former employer for illegally dumping bilge waste.

The seaman, an oiler on board the vessel STELLAR WIND (38,313-dwt, built 1984), was paid the reward money for providing evidence including photographs taken with his cell-phone of the use of an illegal ‘magic pipe’ used to circumvent the vessel’s oily water separator equipment.

Under US law in certain cases up to half of the fine paid by a guilty party may be awarded to any person who provides evidence leading to a conviction. In the Stellar Wind case, the ship was inspected by US Coast Guard officials who were passed notes by the Filipino seaman which led them to discovering the ‘magic pipe’.


HMS ARK ROYAL heading for the breakers

Britain’s aircraft carrier HMS ARK ROYAL is to be sold for scrap, it has been announced.

The aircraft carrier was decommissioned in 2010, five years earlier than expected, and now faces being scrapped after the failure of efforts to turn the ship into a helipad on the Thames, a hotel, a casino, museum and proposals to sink her as a dive attraction off the English South Coast.


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Guard ships come in all shapes and disguises. This is the former navy ship SAS Fleur, now renamed FLEUR DU CAP, after an unsuccessful attempt to use her as a guard ship. Picture by Terry Hutson

Ship owners are being advised not to become complacent over a drop-off in the number of pirate attacks, particularly in the Horn of Africa region.

Addressing delegates at an International Chamber of Shipping event, the Security Association for the Maritime Industry (SAMI) said it was concerned over the tendency to reduce the number of armed guards on board ships on account of a belief that piracy was diminishing.

SAMI says that if ship owners persist in pressurising security companies to reduce the number of guards on board ships, it will become a matter of time before a serious security breach occurs. It said it could not maintain a 100% success rate using two-man teams on vessels.

“The worst enemy is complacency,” said SAMI’s Peter Cook. “Some shipowners have been reducing their best management practices and putting pressure on teams to cut numbers. Armed guards have experienced a 100% success rate but I want to put a caveat on this.” If the cutting of teams to just two men per ship continues, the possibility of a serious incident increases, he warned.

The Lowy Institute for International Policy, an Australian think tank, estimates that that more than 140 recently launched maritime security companies currently employ about 2,700 armed contractors (guards) on commercial ships.

In South Africa the frequency of armed guards boarding ships in South African territorial waters continues to increase. Meanwhile the use of floating armouries operating from international waters, where ships call to take on weapons before entering at risk areas, has been introduced as a means of avoiding restrictions on weapons in ports.

Government policy, international organisations and international law have all failed to keep up with rapidly adapting changes taking place in the shipping industry, which leaves maritime security companies to operate in murky waters without regulatory oversight, the think tank concluded.

Adding to the risk is an increasing number of armed patrol boats operating in the regions affected by pirates. The Lowy Institute believes that at least 40 private armed patrol boats are now, or soon will be, operating in the Indian Ocean, providing protection for vessels that hire them.

“If unchecked, these fleets could be more akin to sea-borne vigilantes than to private incarnations of naval counter-piracy forces,” the report said. The Institute said that the use of private armed patrol boats should be actively discouraged. “There is a legitimate and long-term role for private companies to provide security at sea. But their use requires more regulation and coordination than we have seen thus far,” it added.


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Angola’s CFB railway, soon to reconnect with Zambia

The rail link between Angola and Zambia is due to be concluded soon, the director of the Angola National Railway Institute (INCFA), Júlio Bango Joaquim said on Friday in the city of Lubango.

On the sidelines of the closing ceremony of a seminar on the Moçâmedes Railroad ore transport project, Joaquim said that the link between Angola and Zambia, via the Benguela Railroad (CFB) was a priority to boost development between the two countries.

“At the moment we have three lines and the idea is to keep the link between Angola and its neighbours and make it easier to set up a network that will become regional rail grid,” he said according to the Angolan news agency Angop.

Joaquim also said that the Transport Ministry had plans to introduce electric-hauled trains, but added that its execution depended on improving the quality of the electricity that is currently available in the country. (macauhub)


Zambia cancels rail concession, says privatisation has failed

Zambia’s former finance minister says the cancellation of a concession agreement with Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ) was a welcome development which corresponded with concerns raised in the 2009 SADC Technical Report on Railway Concessions in the region.

The report claimed that concessioning of railways within the SADC region had resulted in the deterioration of infrastructure as well as large-scale retrenchments and reduced business cooperation amongst the respective railways in certain areas.

The Zambian government last week announced that the concession awarded to RSZ had been cancelled and that the government had taken back ownership and the operating responsibility for the country’s railway network. Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda said that any delays in cancelling the concession would have seen further deterioration of infrastructure. The move had been done in accordance with Cabinet's mandate to safeguard the interests of the people of Zambia.

He accused RSZ of having blatantly disregarding the provisions of the 2003 concession.


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The 8600-TEU container ship HANJIN ROTTERDAM (91,621-gt, built 2011) arriving in Cape Town for the first time at the weekend. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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