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Ports & Ships Maritime News

12 October 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

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The products tanker SAFFRON 1 (32,040-dwt, built 1999) heads out from Durban in September. The ship had been an occupant of the busy harbour for several months earlier this year, after being arrested when she arrived under the name GANDARI. The tanker was subquently in the news when her crew were among the first seafarers calling at Durban to be advised that their normal seafarers’ identity documents were no longer valid as passport/visas and that they would have to report to Home Affairs for an entry visa and again later for an exit when the ship sailed. To reach Home Affairs they would have to rely on the ship’s agent taking them directly to an Home Affairs office. The ruling, which according to a Home Affairs spokesperson in KZN is to be applied at all South African ports, has been received with unhappiness by many visiting seafarers, who believe that they should be cleared through immigration when the ship itself is cleared into port.
Picture is by Trevor Jones


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Johannesburg, 8 October 2012 - The three week road transport strike ended this morning (Friday) when an agreement was reached between the Road Freight Employers Association and the South African Transport & Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU).

This follows another agreement reached with several smaller unions earlier this week which left SATAWU, representing the bigger portion of road freight employees, alone to carry on the strike action. SATAWU claims to have 28,000 members whereas the three smaller unions collectively represent 15,000 workers.

The latest round of talks began on Thursday evening during which an agreement was reached involving all unions. The announcement was made on Friday morning.

The ending of the road freight transport strike also means that the intended one day strike by SATAWU members working for Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) and the three-day strike by union members working for Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) would now not take place. The sympathy strike by port and rail workers was supposed to have commenced on Tuesday, 16 October 2012.

Earlier, Transnet confirmed receiving a revised notice from the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) advising of a secondary strike action that was intended to take place from Tuesday, 16 October 2012 at the Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) and Transnet Port Terminals (TPT).

According to SATAWU, the strike would have been of a one day duration at TFR and three full days at TPT.

Thos coincided with various reports of shortages of basic items such as foodstuffs, fuel including petrol and diesel and other commodities in some areas. There have also been scattered reports of violence committed against truck drivers and owner/operators across widespread areas.

AgriSA president Johannes Möller said that farmers' trucks passing a sugar mill in KZN have been shot at and as a result sugar farmers have now stopped delivering sugar cane because the strikes are preventing access to the mill. Reports from the Vaal triangle indicated that striking truck drivers were also targeting vegetable farmers' trucks, preventing them from delivering their products to fresh produce markets.

Möller said that democracy became distorted when violently forced upon non-participating parties, as seems to be the case in reported incidents occurring in agriculture. “It [violence] is apparently acceptable because a certain grouping is supposedly exercising its democratic right,” he said.

Möller pointed out that the perishable nature of vegetable and fruit lends a totally different dimension to transport strikes. “Not only does it impact on essential daily provision of products to consumers but, unlike non-perishable products, involves direct losses - fresh produce can only be kept in cool chambers for a limited period of time. To the extent that produce cannot reach the cold chambers or points of sale, this will not only impact negatively on the financial position of producers, employees on farms and rural economies, but also on urban consumers who will have to pay higher prices due to the shortages,” he said.

“Needless to add, foreign buyers, especially of fresh produce, will not tolerate poorer quality or inadequate provision as a result of local strikes, especially those that impact on harbour facilities.”


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Class 19E electric locomotive on a coal train near Ermelo. Picture by Eugene Armer/Wikipedia Commons

In a bid to increase the number of individuals in the technical and engineering fields, as well as to aid youth employment, Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) says it has a total of 700 high school pupils already on board its Cadet Scheme.

Speaking at the launch of the 'My Tomorrow Technical Careers Expo' at the Nasrec expo centre in Johannesburg this week, TFR Executive Manager for talent management, Ogotlhe Sathekge, said the programme developed by TFR was aimed at building capacity in terms of youth employment.

The government's major infrastructure plan, announced in President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address earlier this year, aims to turn the country into a construction site, with particular emphasis on developing rural areas.

As a result, government has planned 18 Strategic Integrated Projects, which focus on building the country's green energy supply and bulk infrastructure, among others. The successful execution of this ambitious development plan will need a major boost in the country skills base, a gap that the Rail Cadet Scheme is now aiming to help fill.

Through the scheme, TFR is sponsoring learners from Grade 10 to 12 who are performing well in school, particularly in maths and science. The students must have an average of 60% and above.

TFR has committed to provide the pupils with school uniforms, as well as to pay for tuition fees for both high school and tertiary education.

The scheme, launched in May this year, today has a total of 700 students and matriculants participating in it. Learners are mentored and exposed to the working environment in the technical and engineering fields at TFR. The scheme in the future aims to take on 2,000 students annually.

Learners also have to obtain a motivation letter from their respective schools as part of the selection criteria.

“During the school holidays, they'll come to us and be exposed to different career opportunities available in Transnet but only in the technical and engineering environments,” said Sathekge.

Once learners have completed their matric, they go on to study at the University of Johannesburg through a partnership between the university and TFR.

“We have a partnership with the university to further their studies in the technical and engineering fields. So we have a rail operations programme that we have with the University of Johannesburg, partnered with Glasgow University. Once they complete their studies, we employ them full time,” said Sathekge.


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New operator for Corinthian II

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Corinthian II on a visit to Durban in 2008. Picture by David Shackleton, copyright Shiphoto International, Durban

The diminutive cruise ship CORINTHIAN II is currently on charter to Travel Dynamics but will transfer to Polar Latitudes and is to be renamed SEA EXPLORER for three northern winter seasons from 2013, with Polar Latitudes having options for further renewals.

Corinthian II, which began as one of the Renaissance ships has a maximum passenger capacity of just 114 guests and specialises in cruises to less visited destinations. Polar Latitudes says the ship fits its vision for its programmes “as well as the evolving expectations of Antarctic travelers.”

During the northern summer of 2013 the ship will go on charter to Denmark’s Albatros Travel.


Meningitis Reported on MSC Orchestra

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MSC ORCHESTRA in Malaga. Picture by Jean Carlos Cilveti

MSC Cruises has confirmed that four MSC Orchestra crew members disembarked on 7 October, 2012 in Livorno, Italy, have been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and are receiving appropriate medical treatment in Livorno’s main hospital.

The cruise company said it was in close contact with their families and could confirm that the condition of two of the crew members was unfortunately serious.

The ship meanwhile has continued with her planned voyage and at her next port of call in Villefranche, France, 119 guests disembarked as scheduled in the port and 114 new guests embarked. Carrying 2,723 guests and 967 crew members, MSC Orchestra then continued her way to Valencia as per her planned itinerary.

“No additional crew members and no guests have presented symptoms,” reported Pierfrancesco Lepore, head of MSC Cruises Corporate Medical Services, and a specialist in hygiene and preventive medicine.

“The situation onboard MSC Orchestra is under control and an MSC Cruises medical taskforce is currently onboard to closely monitor the situation and ensure that all necessary procedures are followed,” he said. “We reacted promptly and provided all passengers and crew with an antibiotic treatment (Ciprofloxacin is the active ingredient) which is easy and safe to take, as well as highly effective as a preventative measure.”


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Safmarine appoints new Southern Africa Cluster Manager

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Dirk Hoffmann

Safmarine has appointed Dirk Hoffmann as its new Safmarine Southern Africa Cluster Manager. He succeeds Jonathan Horn who took up the position of Southern Africa Cluster Manager for Maersk Line in October 2012.

South African-born Hoffmann returns to South Africa after having spent nine years with Maersk in the United Kingdom. Having been with the AP Moller Maersk Group for 15 years, he brings with him a wealth of international experience in the containerised shipping industry.

“I look forward to returning to South Africa, the ‘spiritual home’ of the Safmarine brand and to working with the Safmarine Southern Africa team and our customers,” Hoffmann said. He commences his new role in December 2012 and will be based at Safmarine Quay in Cape Town.

The Southern Africa Cluster includes South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.


Third MSC Flaminia seafarer dies of his burns

A third seafarer from the fire-damaged container ship MSC FLAMINIA has died of his burn injuries in a hospital in Portugal.

The 41-year old Filipino was taken ashore to the Azores and then by air to hospital in Portugal and although his condition initially improved, he finally lost the battle to live and passed away earlier this week. Another seafarer died in the explosion that rocked the ship after a fire began in one of the containers on 14 July while the MSC Flaminia was in mid-Atlantic Ocean. A third seaman’s body was never found.

MSC Flaminia is meanwhile being emptied of her containers at the Jade Weser Port in Germany.


West African pirates release tanker

The Greek owned products tanker ORFEUS (73,400-dwt, built 2008) has been released by the West African pirates who highjacked it from the Port of Abidjan last Saturday, where the ship was due to discharge her cargo of 32,000-tons of petrol.

The crew of 24 is reported to be safe and unharmed. There has been no information made available about the ship’s cargo or whether a ransom was paid. The likelihood is that the petrol will have been transhipped to another vessel at sea after which the pirates would have handed the vessel back to its crew before themselves disembarking.


GRACE Management said it had received a message from the master of the tanker Orfeas, who said pirates released the ship today.


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Fishing vessel Acechador. Picture by Terry Hutson

A diplomatic conference to consider a new agreement aimed at implementing the provisions of an international treaty on fishing vessel safety has adopted a new agreement on fishing vessel safety. It will be known as the ‘Cape Town Agreement of 2012 on the Implementation of the Provisions of the 1993 Protocol relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977’.

The conference, attended by 58 States, was held from 9 to 11 October in Cape Town, under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations specialised agency with responsibility for maritime safety and security and the prevention of pollution from ships.

In ratifying the agreement, parties agree to amendments to the provisions of the 1993 Protocol, so that they can come into force as soon as possible thereafter.

The IMO advises that ‘the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 will enter into force 12 months after the date on which not less than 22 States the aggregate number of whose fishing vessels of 24 m in length and over operating on the high seas is not less than 3,600 have expressed their consent to be bound by it.’

The Agreement will be open for signature at IMO Headquarters from 11 February 2013 to 10 February 2014 and thereafter remain open for accession.

The safety of fishermen and fishing vessels forms an integral part of IMO’s mandate but the international instruments on fishing vessel safety which have previously been adopted by the Organization have not come into force due to a variety of technical and legal obstacles. Fishing at sea remains a hazardous occupation and the sector experiences a large number of fatalities every year. Bringing into force a binding international safety regime is expected to play a part in helping to improve safety standards and reduce the loss of life.

Earlier this week, South African transport minister Ben Martins called on delegates at the Cape Town conference to help bring the agreement into force.

He pointed out that the 1977 Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessel, along with a 1993 protocol updating the agreement, has yet to come into force, leaving tens of thousands of fishermen, who work on vessels of over 24m in length, without any legally binding safety standards.

The protocol has, to date, been ratified by 17 states, but with a collective fishing vessel fleet of about 3 000 vessels. Source IMO, SAnews.gov.za and Paul Ridgway, London


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Next month ports authorities and terminal operators from over 11 African countries are due in Cape Town to develop collaborative approaches to ports expansion and regional trade facilitation during the African Ports Evolution 2012 Forum. The forum will take place at the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront from 20 – 22 November 2012.

The development and expansion of ports is an initiative of national importance across Africa and a key pillar of support for African infrastructure development and economic growth. In South Africa, Transnet is predicting an 8% annual growth rate in containers coming through its ports which means that existing infrastructure will reach its limit in 2019. In fact, without significant development of seaports and harbours, economic activity across the entire continent could be stunted by lack of capacity and cargo congestion.

With support from the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF), the Ports Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA), Transnet Port Terminals, The Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative, the Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat and the Walvis Bay Corridor Group, this forum is aimed at being the maritime industry’s response to growing trade volumes and its opportunity to develop Pan- African collaborative approaches to ports expansion and modernisation.

Tau Morwe, CEO of Transnet National Ports Authority, will open the forum with a keynote address highlighting Transnet’s commitment to growth and development through its pledge to invest R300 billion over the course of the next 7 years into transport infrastructure development. Brian Bitsch, Chief Commercial Officer of Sogester Angola, will also be in attendance, delivering a case study presentation on the US$155 million investment that modernised and upgraded the Port of Luanda.

Other major projects, such as the R8 billion investment into the Port of Ngqura that has transformed South Africa’s 8th commercial port into the 2nd largest container terminal in the country, will be unpacked to offer practical insight into overcoming the challenges of expansion and effectively building capacity at ports and harbours. “This conference will help Africa’s leading coastal nations collaborate with their landlocked neighbours to reduce the cost of trade, transport, and logistics across the Southern continent,” says Johny Smith, CEO of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group and featured Ports Evolution speaker.

“Port engineers, terminal directors, harbour masters, shipping lines and importers and exporters from destinations as varied as Mauritius, Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana and more will be present at the forum to share their experiences and successes in modernising commercial seaports and harbours for increased cargo handling capacity,” says Soren Du Preez, programme director for the African Ports Evolution 2012 Forum.

“Through this shared expertise and strategic collaboration, maritime leaders will forecast a path for African growth and capacity building in 2013 and beyond to reduce shipping logistics costs in Africa. South Africa's shipping logistics costs are currently at an average of 15.9% whereas in India the average is 6.7%, and in the United States it is 7.7%,” says du Preez.

The forum is sponsored by Nanoland South Africa and Stefanutti Stocks Marine and participating ports include Transnet National Ports Authority, Transnet Port Terminals, Mauritius Ports Authority, Maputo Port Development Company, Luanda Port Authority, Lobito Port Authority, Tanzania International Container Terminal Services Ltd, and more. During the forum participants will examine a holistic approach to coastal development, looking at how to specialise ports towards better service for global trade and increased operational efficiency and port competitiveness.

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Big Lift’s heavylift project cargo ship TRANSPORTER (8,469-dwt, built 1999) seen arriving in Durban harbour during September 2012 with project type cargo in the form of two large tanks. Picture by Trevor Jones

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The Chinese COSCO freighter QI LIN SONG (20,618-gt, built 2012) seen arriving in Durban harbour, also in September. Picture by Trevor Jones



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