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Ports & Ships Maritime News

5 October 2012
Author: Terry Hutson


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The Indian Navy destroyer INS DELHI, which displaces 4950-tons, arrived in South Africa yesterday to take part in the regular IBSAMAR exercise, which is held in Cape waters and involves ships of the Indian, South African, Brazilian and Uruguayan Navies. Accompanying INS Delhi is the new replenishment vessel INS DEEPAK, which we will feature in a future news bulletin. The two ships sailed into Durban harbour yesterday and will remain in the port until Monday morning, when they will sail for Port Elizabeth and Simon’s Town. Later today (Friday, 5 October) both ships will be open to the public between 14h00 and 17h00. They are berthed on the T-Jetty. Picture by Trevor Jones

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DAFF ships at anchor in Simon’s Town. Picture SA Navy

If you are already puzzled over the going’s on at DAFF (the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries) since Tina Joemat-Pettersson took over as minister, then things just got more puzzling.

On Monday this week DAFF issued a press statement saying that a forensic investigation by Ernst & Young had ‘confirmed multibillion-rand corruption’ by Smit Amandla Marine – the company that operated the departmental patrol and research ships for the past 17 years. Smit Amandla Marine immediately issued its own statement saying it intended taking legal action and this was followed the next day with DAFF adopting a much more subdued approach and saying in another statement that ‘something was wrong’ with the R1.6-billion tender and that investigations may lead to criminals actions.

That’s a far cry from the positive announcements of Monday.

“We are astounded by today’s (Tuesday) substantially revised press statement by DAFF which materially waters down the allegations made about Smit Amandla Marine in a statement issued by DAFF on Monday,” said Sithembiso Mthethwa, a director at Smit Amandla Marine.

Mthethwa said that earlier claims against Smit Amandla Marine by DAFF could obviously not be substantiated and appear to have been mischievously dismissed by the department as preliminary findings on an internal investigation only. “The lack of evidence confirms our conviction that the allegations made on Monday against Smit Amandla Marine are false, outrageous and extremely damaging to this company, and we question the department’s intent. Through our attorneys, we have requested a copy of the preliminary report from the department, so that we can respond. We regret that DAFF has not made any effort to verify facts despite numerous requests over the course of the past six months. We are seeking legal recourse and a formal process to defend Smit Amandla Marine and to clear our name.”

In its coverage of the story, Business Day suggested that neither DAFF nor its political head, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, appear to have heard the standard advice issued to those who find themselves in a hole: stop digging. It suggested that ‘the way the department and ministry are carrying on, it may as well be Ms Joemat-Pettersson’s grave they are digging.’

But while these accusations, counter-accusations, denials and backpedalling takes place, South Africa and its fishing industry is left with no ships out on the ocean patrolling the long coastline and the economically important fishing grounds. The navy, to whom DAFF’s ships were transferred in a blaze of publicity, has not been capable of putting them to sea other than in a token manner and they remain at anchor in Simon’s Town.

Strangely, one of the vessels, the research ship ALGOA was transferred back to the Department of Environmental Affairs who promptly appointed Smit Amandla Marine to operate the vessel for them. Pressed for an explanation as to this turnabout, DAFF’s acting director-general said that the Department of Environmental Affairs would have to account for this action. The ship is currently in East London.


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Naval ships gather for ATLASUR and IBSAMAR

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The Brazilian Navy light patrol frigate BARROSO arriving in Cape Town yesterday. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

Ships from five navies have gathered in South Africa for this year’s ATLASUR and IBSAMAR naval exercises, which take place off the Cape of Good Hope. The ships currently taking part in Exercise Atlasur are from the navies of Argentina, South Africa, Brazil and Uruguay. They will be joined later by two ships of the Indian Navy ships for Exercise IBSAMAR.

The two ships from the Indian Navy meanwhile arrived in Durban on their way to Simon’s Town, as reported elsewhere in this column (see above). Yesterday and today the vessels from the navies of Argentina, South Africa, Uruguay and Brazil took a break from Exercise Atlasur and have berthed in Cape Town's V&A Waterfront, where they will be open to the public today (Friday). Among these are the Brazilian light patrol frigate BARROSO which displaces 2350-tons and is 100 metres long. The frigate is capable of 27 knots and carries a complement of 126.

The Uruguayan ship is another light patrol frigate named URUGUAY of 2250 tons displacement, and carrying a crew of over 150.


Road truck strike now in second week, with threats of escalation

Meanwhile sporadic cases of assault, arson and stone throwing are being reported. In the Cape several vehicles were set alight yesterday bringing to seven the number that have been burned out this week. In Gauteng there have also been cases of arson and assaults against drivers of delivery vehicles and some owners are reported to be resorting to the use of private armed guards to escort their vehicles on their journeys.

In Durban there have been less cases of truck violence reported but although a number vehicles were noted in Bayhead Road and Edwin Swales VC Drive heading towards or from the container and bulk terminals and depots, it is noticeable that there are less trucks on the roads.

SATAWU is demanding a raise of 12% and has rejected offers of 9%.


Bayhead Road completed

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King’s Rest and Bayhead area from the air, through which Bayhead Road (mainly white) threads its way. To the upper right is the Bluff which overshadows and protects the harbour; lower down is the Bluff Yacht Club and Silt Canal with the mangoves and heritage site away to the left and one of the container terminal staging areas prominent. In the distance if the Point and harbour entrance. Picture by Aurecon SA

The construction company involved in improvements including widening the strategically important Bayhead Road which leads into the Durban Container Terminal areas, Island View oil tank area and the Bluff bulk sites has been completed, although the contractors will remain on site for another week or so attending to finishing touches.

During this period minor road traffic interruptions may occur and road users are requested to exercise caution. The new Pier 1 Staging Area is currently closed until further notice, with access provided only to TFR at the Kings Rest marshalling yard.

The construction period has lasted about two years while the road, which carries large volumes of heavy trucking, has been widened and several truck staging areas were completed.


Tanzania: Single buoy mooring ready for business

Dar es Salaam’s Single Buoy Mooring or Single Mooring Point (SMP) as it is known locally, is complete and will commence operations this month.

The SMP is designed to increase the flow of petroleum products through the Port of Dar es Salaam and to ease the congestion of tankers waiting outside port. The new facility is able to handle vessels up to 150,000 tons, compared with a maximum capacity of 35,000 tons at the old tanker berth in the port.

Ugandan transport minister Abraham Byandala said the new mooring would benefit not only Tanzanians but the East African Community (EAC) at large. “We really commend this development ...it encourages us (EAC) and other people around the world to continue using the port and expedite development,” he said.


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Long Liner to be sold at auction today

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Chin Liang Horng alongside in Cape Town

The sale of the 333-gt 1982-built long liner CHIN LIANG HORNG is to take place this morning (Friday) at the Cape Town offices of attorneys Webber Wentzel at 11am. The sale is to be conducted by Consolidated Auction Group’s Dave Johnson.

Dave Johnson can be contacted on +27 (0)83 625 8480, with legal enquiries to Jonathan Daniels +27 (0)83 420 0799


Bulk carrier towed into Cape Town

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Samos Legend safely alongside in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Aad Noorland

The Greek-owned bulker SAMOS LEGEND (70,231-dwt, built 1996) experienced mechanical problems in the Atlantic and had to be towed into Cape Town by the salvage tug SMIT AMANDLA earlier this week. The ship was en route from Santos in Brazil to Pyeongtaek in South Korea.


SA exporters react to Maersk reefer increase

South African exporters have responded negatively to Maersk’s announcement of a US$750 per TEU ($1500 per 40ft) reefer container rate increase on 1 January 2013.

In an address at the Cool Logistics conference held in Antwerp last week, Maersk Line CEO Søren Skou said that although the hike amounted to a 30% increase in prices globally, the company might have to reconsider its participation in the reefer trades unless it is able to secure better returns.

He said the reefer carriers had not recovered losses incurred through bunker increases and inflation and that by 2015 the industry would have to invest US$3.5 billion in new equipment which would not be recoverable at current rates.

South African exporters however dismissed the increases as ‘overzealous and flawed’ in the context of the South African citrus trade. The Citrus Growers’ Association CEO Justin Chadwick wrote to member companies saying that production and logistics costs were already overburdened with a future that looked difficult in terms of returns to farmers. He said that reefer freight rates on the South Africa/Europe routes were considered to be sufficient for a return on investment in equipment requirements while still generating a profit for the lines.

“There is no plausible explanation that warrants such an increase based on the current SAF-EU freight rates,” he argued, adding that the rate increases would resurrect demand for bulk reefer vessels.


Argentine tall ship Libertad detained in Ghanaian port

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The Argentine Navy tall ship LIBERTAD has been detained in the Ghanaian port of Tema on account of creditors suing Argentina in international courts over that country’s 2002 debt default.

Ten years ago Argentine declared a world-record sovereign default as the South American country suffered a financial melt-down. Resulting from this Argentine faces numerous lawsuits in the US courts from bondholders seeking to recover the full value of the defaulted bonds by freezing state assets.

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Fleur du Cap and successful ship – owners

On 18 September we published a picture of the ex-SA Navy torpedo recovery vessel Fleur, which is now owned and operated by Durban-based company Subtech and which operates under the name FLEUR DU CAP. We subsequently received this email from Subtech’s marine and technical manager, Gary Grenfell.

“As the Fleur du Cap’s owners and managers we read the caption below a picture of her in your Tuesday 18th September bulletin with dismay and some alarm. Since purchasing this vessel in September 2010 she has been very successfully deployed on security detail along the Eastern Coastline, from the Port of Durban, all the way to Oman on a number of occasions.

“We are currently seeking to continue marketing her availability and suitability for further security/anti-piracy work and your caption could conceivably have caused some irrevocable harm to her reputation amongst potential clients. Please would you ensure that the misperception is corrected at the earliest opportunity.”

We welcome feedback and corrections on any of our reports, although the above letter was a little puzzling as a picture of the FLEUR DU CAP appeared recently on a European ships broker’s site advertising the vessel as a guard/utility vessel and for sale.

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Fleur du Cap as she appeared on a broker’s site

India to deploy commandos on its ships in pirated waters

Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) commandos are expected to embark on Indian cargo ships by the end of this year subject to the framing and adopting of rules of engagement by the local government in accordance with the international maritime laws, the Press Trust of India informs.

The CISF commandos will be entrusted with providing security on-board Indian merchant vessels sailing their way through the waters under risk of pirate attacks.

Many Indian merchant ships employ private armed guards on their vessels but the Indian government is keen to replace the foreign security firms with its own armed special forces who will undergo specialist training before being deployed.

The plan is to have a five-member security detachment headed by a commander that will sail with ships deploying for the western Indian Ocean. These forces will return on the next suitable vessel returning to India.


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The Southern African branch of the Nautical Institute will shortly be holding ECDIS Seminars in Durban and Cape Town.

An Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) is a computer-based navigation information system that complies with International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations and can be used as an alternative to paper nautical charts.

The Manila Amendments to STCW (which include the use of ECDIS to maintain the safety of navigation as a required competence) came into force on 1 January 2012 and the mandatory carriage of ECDIS began to phase in from 1 July 2012. Over the next 5 years, as more mariners gain experience in using new equipment and technology associated with electronic navigation, there will be many issues arising from this increasing use of ECDIS.

This new technology presents many challenges to the navigator which may be directly related to the use of equipment and its navigational facilities, including whether information is being appropriately displayed. Other issues may address aspects of the current operational practice of using ECDIS and some may arise solely from insufficient or inappropriate training of users.

The Nautical Institute has invited speakers, knowledgeable in the field of ECDIS, to present this seminar and all members and any other interested professionals are invited to attend.

This free seminar is being run in Durban and Cape Town as indicated, with sponsored drinks and snacks afterwards. Anyone wishing to attend either of the seminars is asked to please email the Nautical Institute at info@nautinst.co.za confirming your name, contact details and preferred seminar before 15 October 2012.

The seminars will be held as follows:

Durban Seminar
Wednesday 24 October 2012 from 17h30 to 20h00
venue Shepstone & Wylie Attorneys
24 Richefond Circle, Ridgeside Office Park
Umhlanga Rocks, Durban

Cape Town Seminar
Thursday 25 October 2012 from 17h00 to 19h00
Venue The Auditorium
Cape Peninsular University of Technology
Granger Bay Campus, Cape Town


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The Liberian-flagged, German-owned heavylift cargo vessel HHL RICHARDS BAY (17,644-gt, built 2010), carrying some interesting craneage, was photographed in Singapore. Interestingly, the ship is registered to an owner listed as HHL Durban and is managed by Beluga Fleet Management. Pictures by Piet Sinke

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