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Ports & Ships Maritime News

2 October 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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MSC is usually thought of in terms of container ships so when this newly built car carrier MSC IMMACOLATA (59,835-gt, built 2012) appeared in Durban at the weekend she immediately attracted extra attention. As far as is known she is one of two car carriers to carry the MSC prefix and funnel marking, both of them recent additions to the fleet. However, it turns out the chartered MSC Immacolata is currently on a sub- charter to another operator. Picture by Trevor Jones


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Motor vehicles at the Port of Mombasa car terminal face bond restrictions on their transit to Uganda and other neighbouring states.

Ugandan importers say they intend avoiding using the Port of Mombasa in Kenya in favour of Tanzania’ Dar es Salaam in future, because of unresolved issues with the Kenyan taxman.

Some 600 containers destined for Uganda are being held at the Kenyan port following the introduction of a cash bond tax. The chairman of the Kampala Traders Association announced last week that the association had resolved to suspend using Mombasa in the interim, reports New Vision (Kampala).

In addition, importers say they will take legal action against the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) which has issued a directive instructing importers to lodge either a cash bond equivalent to the value of the imported goods or a bank guarantee to the same value. This must be deposited before the goods being imported can be cleared.

The directive has affected not only the 600 containers waiting at the port but imports of motor vehicles and sugar.

Uganda’s trade minister, Amelia Kyambadde said she had been informed by the Uganda business community that the KRA, under notice CUS/L&A/LEG/1 had made a unilateral decision on a requirement for a cash bond or bank guarantee on transit sugar and motor vehicles above 2000cc.

Ugandan authorities say the action by the KRA directive constitutes another non-tariff barrier imposed by Kenyan authorities on its transit cargo and contravenes East African Community Customs Union protocol and decisions reached by the Council of Ministers in March 2012 on removal of non-trade barriers in the community.

“If Kenya needs an instrument to regulate regional trade in sugar and other products, a cash bond is not the instrument to apply,” said Kyambadde. - source New Vision (Uganda).

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Arab dhow highjacked off Salalah

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Anti piracy measures remain necessary. Picture Nexus Consulting

An Arab dhow has been attacked in the Arabian Sea near the Port of Salalah and this incident has signalled that with the end of the south-west monsoon shipping can expect more attacks.

Shipping intelligence agency Dryad Maritime issued a warning last week coinciding with the latest attack saying that any sense of complacency would be misguided. Dryad said that the latest confirmed attack should be seen as a sign that the pirates have awoken from their weather- forced hibernation and were again able to launch long-range and mothership-assisted attacks on merchant shipping.

The warning comes as several agencies and security companies advise ship operators against lowering their guard or reducing the number of armed security personnel on board ships transiting the affected area.

“Somali pirates are not out of business, even if times are hard when compared to the success of earlier years,” said Dryad Maritime Director of Intelligence, Ian Millen. “The pirate business has suffered a few setbacks, but the threat remains a very real one; the capability is intact and the motivation of those engaged is unlikely to have been diminished to the point of defeat.

“The message is clear — complacency is the greatest threat and constant vigilance, the greatest weapon in the fight against Somali pirates.”

During 2012 only 46 pirate attacks have been recorded, compared with 222 in 2011 and 239 in 2010. Of the 46 attacks this year just nine were successful, against 34 successful attacks in 2011 and 68 in 2010.

“In the face of such figures, we could be forgiven for thinking that it is ‘game over’ for Somali pirates, beaten into submission by coalition maritime forces and frustrated by the layered defence of predictive intelligence, armed guards and effective physical protection,” Millen said.

“To do so, however, would be a big mistake because so little has changed when viewed through the eyes of the maritime criminals in question.”

Dryad said the sea-change was largely attributed to both aggressive patrolling by international forces and increased vigilance by the commercial shipping industry.


Somali Port of Kismayo shelled – Al-Shabaab withdraws

An attack launched by African Union forces on the port city of Kismayo in southern Somalia has resulted in Al-Shabaab withdrawing from the port area and other parts of the city, which has been in the hands of the terrorist organisation for several years.

In support of the attack Kenya Navy ships bombarded the city. This was followed by a ground attack by AU and Somali government forces who entered the city and have taken possession of the port. Initial reports said that mobs had begun looting the shops, buildings and houses in the CBD area of Kismayo as government forces were not yet in full control.

AL-Shabaab meanwhile called it a strategic retreat aimed at drawing the government and AU troops into the city where street fighting could follow and where the government forces would not have the advantage of aerial and naval support.

Although Al-Shabaab and the Port of Kismayo have not featured strongly in incidents of piracy the organisation is known to have engaged in hostage dealing and profiteering from pirated ships and crew.


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The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel, 1995 (STCW-F 1995) entered into force on 29 September 2012.

The STCW-F Convention sets the certification and minimum training requirements for crews of seagoing fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and above. The Convention consists of 15 Articles and an annex containing technical regulations.

The STCW-F Convention has been ratified by 15 States: Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Kiribati, Latvia, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Norway, Palau, the Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Spain, the Syrian Arab Republic and Ukraine, and also by Faroes, Denmark.

The entry into force of the STCW-F Convention comes just days before a diplomatic conference, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 9 to 11 October, which will consider adopting an Agreement on the implementation of IMO’s other instrument relating to fishing vessel safety, the 1993 Protocol relating to the 1977 Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels.

The conference is expected to consider and adopt an agreement on the implementation of the provisions of the 1993 Protocol. The agreement would also amend the technical provisions of the 1993 Protocol, with the aim of bringing them into force as soon as possible thereafter.


Africa to launch master plan for shipping

Maritime officials from 30 countries are meeting in Mombasa this week to launch a master plan aimed at the continent taking its rightful place in the community of maritime nations and the shipping industry in general.

The meeting is a follow-up to a resolution reached at a workshop on the African Maritime Transport Charter held in Dalian, China in October last year and organised by the Chinese government for heads of maritime administrations.

Kenya Maritime Authority director-general Nancy Karigithu said last week that the conference was aimed at enabling a paradigm shift on the future of the African maritime industry. It would seek to address the continent’s unimpressive share of global investments in the maritime industry, despite making a significant contribution to global maritime cargo.

Organisers of the conference are the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA), the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and African Ship Owners Association (ASA) with facilitation by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The conference takes place at the Sarova Whitesands hotel in Mombasa between Wednesday (3 October) and Friday (5 October).


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SA cruise season a month way as MSC Opera prepares to head south

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The disco lounge on board MSC Opera

In one month’s time, the cruise ship MSC OPERA will embark on a southbound voyage to South Africa, where she will begin her first ever summer season in the region in style, by hosting two glamorous on-board events in Cape Town and Durban.

On 1 November 2012, MSC Opera will leave Venice, Italy, setting off on a 20-night cruise from the Mediterranean Sea to the North Atlantic Ocean and down the west coast of Africa to the South Atlantic Ocean. During this grand voyage guests will enjoy calls in Valletta in Malta, Palma de Mallorca in Spain, Casablanca and Agadir in Morocco, Dakar in Senegal and Walvis Bay in Namibia, before arriving in Cape Town on 20 November 2012.

To mark the luxury cruise ship’s maiden call in Cape Town, MSC Cruises is hosting a special charity event in aid of abandoned and abused children. Proceeds from tickets to the event and its action-packed auction will go to the Ukuthemba Foundation, a local organisation providing safe and loving home environments for orphans and neglected and abused children.

Following the Ukuthemba event, MSC Opera will set sail for her new homeport in Durban, where she will host an exclusive party on 23 November for media, VIPs and travel industry representatives in celebration of her arrival.

MSC Opera then has a full schedule of three and four night cruises, operating out of Durban from 24 November 2012 until early March 2013. She will take over the popular cruises to Maputo, Portuguese Island and Barra Lodge in Mozambique from sister ship MSC Sinfonia, who will in turn replace the smaller MSC Melody, allowing guests from the Cape Town region to experience a totally new product from their own home port.

MSC Opera is slightly larger than her sister ship MSC Sinfonia and can accommodate over 1,700 guests. South African cruise lovers are eagerly awaiting her first call in the region and the new elegance she will bring, with her glamorous décor and public areas enhanced by a sweeping marble reception area and magnificent open spaces with glass walls for spectacular ocean views sure to please local cruisers.

“The operation of both MSC Opera and MSC Sinfonia for the 2012/13 South African cruise season will enable a total of 135,000 passengers to experience Mediterranean style MSC hospitality over the course of the season,” said Allan Foggitt of MSC Starlight Cruises. “This will set a new record for local cruising, surpassing the previous record by nearly 25,000 passengers.”

In addition to the change in vessels, the ever popular Christmas cruise itinerary has also been modified slightly and will now sail to Portuguese Island and then on to the tiny beach village of Anakoa in Madagascar. The 11-night festive New Year cruise will now include the celebration of New Year’s Eve under La Reunion skies and a call in Mauritius on New Year’s day, where MSC Opera will remain in port for 3 nights.

Towards the end of the season, MSC Opera’s itineraries will include Port Elizabeth and she will also sail a small number of cruises out of Cape Town to Mossel Bay, Walvis Bay, and Luderitz before leaving South African shores for the European summer.

MSC Opera has 856 cabins of which 172 are balcony cabins and 28 are balcony suites. The ship has four restaurants, eleven bars, two pools, and two whirlpools and boasts the sumptuous MSC Aurea Spa, a disco, video games room, internet café, casino, team building facilities and a medical centre. The ship has a wonderful array of duty free shopping and caters for kids with the Buffalo Bill children’s play area, special dining options for children and families, and four different kids clubs. Additional facilities include the Cotton Club bar and a stage on deck for outdoor entertainment.

Bookings for the 2012/13 season are now open.

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MSC Opera


Cruise associations tighten up on lifeboat safety

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P&O Cruises’ ARCADIA during a visit to Durban in April this year. Picture by Trevor Jones

The US-based Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the European Cruise Council (ECC) announced last week that all member lines will be required to hold twice yearly lifeboat drills involving fully loaded ship’s lifeboats.

The new lifeboat policy exceeds current international regulatory requirements and is a result of the Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review that was launched in January 2012. During the training, the lifeboat is filled to capacity with crewmembers and manoeuvred in the water to facilitate familiarisation with lifeboat operations. It is mandatory that all crewmembers involved in operating or loading of lifeboats attend the drill. Smaller ships with less than 300 crewmembers will conduct similar training as appropriate.

“The cruise industry continues to work on a global level to improve the safety of passengers and crew, which is our number one priority,” said Christine Duffy, president and CEO of CLIA. “Since January of this year, and in keeping with our efforts to continuously improve operational excellence, the global cruise industry has voluntarily adopted seven wide-ranging safety policies. We remain fully committed to exploring further enhancements in a number of areas that will add to the industry’s excellent safety record.”


Alaska cruise season ends

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Themed park running down the middle of the huge OASIS OF THE SEAS

The final cruise visit of the 2012 cruise season in the Alaskan port of Juneau came to an end last week when the Holland America ship OOSTERDAM sailed from the port.

During the northern summer 37 different ships from 15 cruise companies visited Juneau bringing about 925,000 visitors to the port and city. Passenger numbers are steadily increasing after a drop-off during the economic downturn of 2009. In 2008 more than one million passengers visited Juneau by cruise ship.

As many of the cruises begin and end in Juneau, the city benefits by having passengers arrive or stay a day or two before or after their cruise, adding value to the hotel and restaurant trade as well as local sightseeing tours and other tourism related business. - source alaskapublic.org


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Tema Port in Ghana, frequently affected by congestion. Picture OTAL

A senior Ghanaian official last week committed his government to pursuing reforms at the country’s ports aimed at revitalising growth in the shipping industry.

Collins Dauda, minister for Transport, said at the Sixth National Shippers’ Day organised by the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) that the reforms include improvements to infrastructure in the ports.

The Shippers’ Day was held under the theme ‘Enhancing Shipping Competitiveness: Removing the Obstacles.’

Dauda said international trade and transport had been a major driving force behind the country’s socio-economic progress, with government generating over 70 percent of its revenue from import duties and other taxes on the activities of shippers.

Dauda said government was aware of the contributions and challenges of the shipping industry, adding that his ministry, through its maritime agencies, was putting in place measures to address them.

A key measure includes government securing funding to carry out further expansion of the country’s ports and facilities to reduce congestion.

Other measures include deepening the draughts of the berths, the acquisition of equipment to improve port operations, and development of new empty container yards outside the port.

He said his ministry had already held a series of meetings with the Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana (SOAAG) seeking ways of tackling some of the challenges.

Dauda disclosed the GSA, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and other key stakeholders in the import and export trade had been directed to engage all relevant actors to find a permanent solution to the problem of congestion at the seaports.

Ghana successfully implemented an electronic cargo clearance a decade ago with a view to achieving a single window concept of cargo clearance in the country.

The minister asked industry players to collaborate with the authorities to ensure the attainment of that objective to derive maximum benefits from full automation in the cargo clearance regime.

Chief Executive of the GSA, Kofi Mbiah, emphasised that seaborne trade had seen an average increase of 22 percent in the last 10 years.

In spite of the significant contributions of the industry to Ghana ’s economy, he said shippers faced a number of problems such as infrastructure limitations, a plethora of illegitimate and high charges, and excessive delays.

Others include cumbersome clearance procedures, high incidence of pilfering and other operational issues relating to container management between the port and the inland container depots.

He called on the government to address the cargo throughput in respect of infrastructure imbalance of the ports as a matter of urgency and also address the need for a medium to long-term plan of port development fitted within an integrated trade and transport logistics policy.

Mbiah also asked government to consider private sector participation under a public private partnership arrangement to deal with auctioning uncleared cargo, including vehicles, from the ports.

The National Shippers’ Day is a biennial event instituted by the GSA in 1997 as a national platform for interaction among key players along Ghana ’s international trade and transport chain. - Source Xinhua



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Chinese aircraft carrier LIAONING is commissioned

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Chinese PLANavy aircraft carrier Liaoning which has entered service. Picture Xinhua

After years of hedging and more years of refitting, the Chinese PLAN aircraft carrier LIAONING has been commissioned at a ceremony in Dalian on Tuesday last week, 25 September 2012.

The ship, originally named VARYAG had been acquired from the Ukraine in an incomplete state and towed to China. Initially the Chinese gave out the story that the vessel was intended for a gambling vessel but eventually as work commenced on rebuilding her as the nation’s first aircraft carrier, the truth came to be admitted.

China has also developed the J-15 carrier-borne aircraft for the ship, which underwent successful trials last year.

See other reports on this topic:
Chinese aircraft carrier nears readiness for sea trials and
Chinese aircraft carrier SHI LANG goes to sea

China says it has no need to build a second aircraft carrier, but they once said they wouldn’t build this one either. Watch this space.


Russia announces plans for nuclear cruiser

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Russian battle cruiser Admiral Nakhimov. Picture Council.gov.ru

Three years ago Russia announced that it planned to rebuild all three Soviet nuclear cruisers ADMIRAL NAKHIMOV and ADMIRAL USHAKOV of the Northern Fleet and ADMIRAL LAZAREV of the Pacific Fleet, reports the Barents Observer.

Today, Russia has only one nuclear powered battle cruiser in active service, PYOTR VELIKY, based in the Northern Fleet. This vessel was taken into service in 1996 and is today considered to be the fleet’s flagship. (Pyotr Veliky visited Cape Town in 2009 and later took part in anti- piracy work off Somalia – P&S)

The 252 metres long and 24,300 tons heavy Kirov-class cruisers are the largest and heaviest surface combatant warships in the world.

As Admiral Ushakov and Admiral Lazarev are considered to be beyond repair, they will be scrapped, a source in the military complex told Izvestiya. The third ship, Admiral Nakhimov will be modernised at the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk. The cost of rebuilding and modernizing the vessel is estimated to be some RUB 50 billion (€1.24 billion).

Experts doubt the cost efficiency of modernisation: “For the same amount of money we could buy a new vessel like the French helicopter carrier MISTRAL, Andrey Frolov, editor of the Military Export magazine said to Izvestiya. “These huge vessels are vulnerable to modern weapons. They were built in Soviet times and even after modernisation they will last a maximum of 15 years,” he explains.

The Northern Fleet’s command is also skeptical about the plans. Admiral Nakhimov will demand a large crew, and it is not clear where these people are to be found: “Such a large ship needs several hundred top qualified officers and contracted sailors which are more needed on the new vessels that are under construction now. Who is going to serve on the Admiral Nakhimov is still very unclear,” a source in the Northern Fleet’s command staff said to Izvestiya.


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The European and South African Competition authorities have approved the transaction announced in March 2012 in which Grindrod Limited, the integrated logistics and shipping business, agreed to sell a 50% interest in Cockett Marine Oil (Cockett) to Vitol, the largest independent energy trading business in the world.

Cockett is one of the leading value-added resellers and physical marine fuel suppliers with a network of offices across Europe, Americas and Far East providing a global service to shipping clients. It delivers approximately five million tonnes of marine fuels annually and is also developing a network of physical supply operations in strategic locations.

“Vitol is the ideal partner to support Cockett's global growth strategy”, said Karl Beeson, Managing Director Cockett Marine Oil.



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SAS Durban resting on the tug JR More. Picture by Prof Brian Kearney

Staff and volunteers at the Port Natal Maritime Museum battled all weekend to prevent the ex-SA Navy minesweeper SAS DURBAN from sinking at her mooring alongside the former harbour tug and fellow exhibit, JR MORE.

The ship began to list to starboard during the early hours of Friday morning, amidst heavy rain that fell across Durban for the remainder of the day and night. Extra pumps were borrowed from various sources as staff tried to contain the rising level of water, a battle that continued into the following couple of days.

Had the minesweeper not been berthed alongside the ex-harbour steam tug JR More it is possible that she may have capsized on several occasions during the course of Friday as staff struggled to save the ship. SAS Durban has been barred to visitors for some time on account of the rotten condition of her decks, in which several large holes were recently patched by a member of the Friends of the Museum in an attempt to prvent rainwater from entering the ship.

The 55-year old warship is one of only three known survivors of the ‘Ton’ class minesweeper fist developed for the Royal Navy in the early 1950s. South Africa had the largest number of these ships outside of Britain, ten in total with eight being transferred from the RN in terms of the Simon’s Town Agreement. Two additional ships were built specifically for the SA Navy of which SAS Durban was one, SAS Windhoek being the other.

The little ship has been a favourite exhibit at the Durban maritime museum since 1988 but in recent years has become neglected and allowed to deteriorate. As recently as Thursday the Durban History Museums Trust voted a considerable sum of money for the Friends of the Museum, a volunteer organisation, to begin replacing the decking. This was less than 12 hours before the ship almost capsized.

On Tuesday last week the Museum held a function to officially open an exhibition of photographs depicting the history of the Port of Durban. Giving the keynote speech Professor Brian Kearney, chairman of the Board of Trustees warned museum management of the deteriorating condition of the exhibits with these prophetic words, “The condition of the JR More and the minesweeper Durban are now so poor that any day now you may find them at the bottom.”

He said there had been very little positive reaction to urgent requests to the city by the trust for remedial action. “Four years ago the trust offered a large sum of seed-money to the council for a major refurbishment programme. We have not had a reply, but we repeat our offer.” By Monday the situation with SAS Durban appeared to have stabilised but the condition of her timbers below decks remains unknown until a proper inspection can be carried out. It is clear that repairs will require more than simply replacing all her decking, which the Friends of the Museum were preparing to undertake. The condition of her hull will now require the vessel to be taken out of the water for urgent attention.

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Picture by Prof Brian Kearney



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The WAF class (West Africa) container ship SAFMARINE CHAMBAL (50,869-gt, built 2012) sailing from Cape Town last week. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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