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Ports & Ships Maritime News

13 November 2012
Author: Terry Hutson



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We wish all our Hindu readers a very happy Deepavali

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The Emirates-owned and managed 2D seismic research vessel NORTHERN EXPLORER (3072-gt, built 1987) arriving in Cape Town this month. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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SAS DRAKENSBERG returning to Mozambique Channel

The South African Navy is to return to active anti-piracy patrols in the Mozambique Channel, after having taken part in recent naval exercises involving ships of the Indian, South Africa, Brazilian, Uruguayan and Argentine Navies.

The combat support vessel SAS DRAKENSBERG is to return for her second deployment this year and will be based in the northern Mozambique port of Pemba. It can be assumed that the South African Air Force will station reconnaissance aircraft back at Pemba in support of the mission. The aircraft were withdrawn earlier this year after the failure of the navy to place a ship on patrol.

In August the frigate SAS AMATOLA aborted her planned deployment to the naval base at Pemba after she developed engine troubles in her remaining diesel engine – the other having been out of commission for some time. Within days of leaving Durban the Amatola was seen arriving back off the port before heading south for her home base in Simon’s Town. It is understood that the ship returned using her gas turbine-driven waterjet propulsion.

The problems with the frigates’ engines are not new. In November 2010 Rear-Admiral Bernhard Teuteberg, the navy’s chief director: maritime strategy told members of Parliament's defence portfolio committee that the starboard propulsion unit on one of the frigates (SAS Amatola) was “broken”. He said that an investigation had discovered a shortcoming on an underwater exhaust valve and referred to it as a design fault peculiar to the sea conditions in which the SA Navy operates.

“It happened when the vessel was rolling excessively and therefore the pressure changed as the exhaust went down,” he said. The admiral explained that there was water ingress to the engine which damaged the crankshaft.

This led to an investigation of the navy's three other frigates but despite precautionary measures similar problems have occurred on at least two other ships. Both of SAS Mendi’s engines are said to be out of commission.

Following the recent abandoned attempt to reach Pemba SAS Amatola received repairs that enabled her to take a full part in the two naval exercises with visiting foreign navies. The ship is due to have at least one of her troublesome engines replaced during her major refit at Simon’s Town.

The problem isn’t unique to this one ship and a total of four replacement diesel engines are on order for the frigate fleet.


EU NAVFOR meets with Chinese Navy Counter Piracy Task Force

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The Chinese Navy frigate YIYANG and the Italian Navy ship ITS SAN GIUSTO meet in the Gulf of Aden. Picture Eunavfor

Earlier in November Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino – the commanding officer of the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia – Operation Atalanta, met Rear Admiral Zhou Xuming, the commanding officer of the Chinese counter-piracy task force on board the Chinese flagship, PLA YIYANG which is currently deployed in the Gulf of Aden.

During the meeting the two commanders discussed the on-going fight against piracy in the area, and shared common points of view about the matter.

Speaking during the meeting, Rear Admiral Credendino said “I am delighted that today our two flagships are sailing together, united against piracy. Our presence in these waters shows our joint willingness to combat this issue.”


China's 13th escort fleet departs for Somali waters

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The Chinese Navy frigate PLA Zhoushan arriving in Durban on completion of an anti-piracy deployment in Somali waters. This was in April 2011 when the Chinese ships paid a courtesy visit to South Africa at the completion of that particular deployment. Picture by Terry Hutson

The 13th naval escort flotilla of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, departed Friday (9 November) from China to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters. The flotilla, which left a port in Zhanjiang in South China's Guangdong province, will succeed the 12th escort fleet currently conducting missions in Somali waters.

The 13th convoy fleet includes the frigates HUANGSHAN and HENGYANG, the supply ship QINGHAIHU, two helicopters and an 800-strong troop. The three ships have all previously conducted escort missions in the area.

Since December 2008, authorised by the United Nations, the Chinese navy has dispatched 12 separate fleets to the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters to escort more than 4,890 Chinese and foreign ships.

At Friday's farewell ceremony, Wang Zhaohai, deputy political commissar of the PLA Navy, said the missions have rescued more than 50 Chinese and foreign ships.

Li Xiaoyan, the fleet's commander and deputy chief of staff of the PLA Navy's South China Sea Fleet, said the 13th escort mission will continue to ensure the safety of Chinese ships and personnel passing the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters. It will also assist in the safety of cargo ships carrying humanitarian goods of the World Food Program and other international organisations.

“Sea conditions of the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters will turn better in the next few months, which might lead to more pirate activities and violence,” Li said. - source: Xinhua


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Oil for China makes up a significant amount of Angola’s total exports. Picture Macauhub

Almost half of Angola’s exports are destined for China, whilst sales to other large trading partners, such as the United States and France, continue to lose ground, according to Portuguese bank BPI.

In the first half of last year China accounted for around 35 percent of Angola’s exports, but this year that percentage rose to 49 percent, with almost all the other trading partners losing ground, according to figures from Angola’s National Statistics Institute (INE) quoted by BPI.

“The increase of over 50 percent in exports to China is notable, whilst other large trading partners saw demand for Angolan products drop significantly,” said BPI in its October report on the Angolan economy.

Amongst the countries that saw their significance amongst Angolan export fall are the United States, Canada and France.

Oil products account for the majority of Angolan exports and almost all sales to China.

In terms of Angola’s imports China’s importance also increased as it accounted for almost 11 percent of the total as compared to 7 percent previously.

The biggest source of Angola’s imports continues to be Portugal, which increased its share of the total from almost 14 percent to around 17 percent.

Whilst exports remain “dynamic” imports increased less significantly, BPI said.

Overall, Angola’s exports rose 14.1 percent in the six months to June and imports fell 2.6 percent, leading to a balance of trade surplus of 19.9 percent.

Angola’s currency, the kwanza, remains stable thanks to “robust” reserves of almost US$30 billion.

The exchange rate policy of the National Bank of Angola and the accumulation of reserves, ‘anchored expectations of inflation, as well as actual inflation,’ the report said.

The IMF projects that the Angolan economy will see growth of 6.8 percent this year and 5.5 percent next year thanks to sectors such as construction, energy, and transport, which have benefitted from an increase in public investment and from debts being settled.

Oil production in is expected to total 1.8 million barrels per day, which is more than the 1.6 million average for last year.

Partly due to expected positive growth, the Moody’s credit rating agency recently increased its outlook on Angolan debt, from stable to positive (Ba3).

The costs of financing foreign debt remain low – close to 3 percent – with an average maturity of 10 years.

Bilateral creditors such as China, Portugal and Brazil hold a third of Angola’s foreign debt, and over half is in the hands of commercial banks – source macauhub.


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Port of Cape Town’s Duncan Dock with the graving dock clearly visible. In the distance can be seen an oil rig at the A-berth repair facility. Picture supplied

Vessel and semi-submersible rig maintenance and modifications are characterised by tight deadlines and strict project schedules and any unwarranted delays in the repair programme can result in serious negative knock-on effects for the client, says Cape Town-based vessel repair, upgrade and maintenance company DCD Marine.

It adds that companies cite financial and reputational loss as the primary major consequences of repair setbacks.

“DCD Marine understands the importance of ensuring that the turnaround time on any vessel needs to be minimised. The company has earned a reputation for commitment to the sustainability of each client’s business and continues to grow its client base in the oil and gas, and marine industries through adherence to strict quality, safety and operational procedures,” says Gerry Klos, General Manager of DCD Marine.

He says that as a world-class shipyard and service provider to the international oil and gas industry, DCD Marine is regulated by stringent quality and safety compliance. “The company’s commitment to safety and quality is evident in its certification with the Lloyd’s ISO 9001:2008 quality management system and complemented by its Lloyd’s OHSAS 18001:2007 accreditation.”

A number of factors come into play when selecting a vessel repair service provider, according to Klos. “It is important to guarantee a predetermined capacity when tendering for projects. Vessel owners create production schedules that are planned to the nth degree. It is therefore critical that when a vessel arrives in port, the facilities required to undertake the repair or refurbishment work are geared up to cope with the workload.

“Furthermore, one needs to carefully plan the mobilisation of permanent and temporary employees, together with subcontractors, timeously and expeditiously. DCD Marine believes that by employing highly qualified staff and investing in the training and upskilling of its own staff as well as the employees of its sub-contractors, the company is able to guarantee best practice service levels to its clients,” he adds.

DCD Marine has access to a number of top-class facilities including the A-Berth facility, with its 275 metre long quay and 42,700m² laydown area Sturrock Graving Dock in the Port of Cape Town, facilities in Saldanha Bay, and remote site capability. These facilities enable the company to mobilise staff, plant and equipment to undertake the repairs in any other port. This was successfully demonstrated in the Port of Ngqura (Coega) during 2011.

The recently upgraded A-Berth facility was utilised to refurbish Odfjell Drilling and Technology’s Deepsea Metro II vessel in preparation for a contract in Brazil. “In addition, DCD Marine recently undertook repairs and upgrading of Saipem’s three-legged semi -submersible drilling rig, SCARABEO 3, at A-Berth,” says Klos.

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Gerry Klos


The Sturrock Graving Dock which has an overall length of 360 metres, a bottom width of 38.4 metres and a depth over the entrance sill HWOST (High Water of Ordinary Spring Tide) of 13.7 metres, recently played host to the arrival of the DYNAMIC INSTALLER, a SBM Offshore’s diving support vessel. Similarly, Ensco’s DS-1 (previously known as the PRIDE AFRICA) drillship was dry docked and upgraded at the facility (see Pics of the Day below).

Bourbon Offshore’s anchor handling vessel, Bourbon Thetys, was dry docked in the Robinson Dry Dock.

“We also undertook the fabrication of subsea structures for SBM Offshore for PetroSA’s Project Ikhwezi in DCD Marine’s steel fabrication workshop.” comments Klos.

One of the company’s latest projects includes the semi-submersible drilling rig from a Texas-based drilling contractor, the NOBLE CLYDE BOUDREAUX. A time-driven project from the start, DCD Marine was allocated only 15 days to complete the scopes of work prior to sailing to Australia. This included scraping, HP washing, painting of pontoons, braces, columns, fairleaders and anchor racks. The project also included the installation of a new blast wall and supplying and fitting of 209 off tank anodes and 80 off hull anodes. DCD Marine completed the repairs a day ahead of schedule.

“The ability to undertake this volume of projects within a 12-month period is testament to our ability to successfully strategise and finitely plan for successful completion,” says Klos.

He points out that in addition to these capacities, the company has extensive experience and knowledge in the industry. “This is complemented by the expertise and skills evident in our carefully-chosen projects team.

“We have invested intensively in the upskilling of our employees and sub-contractors. In this way, we are able to both service the requirements of our clients and support job creation in the industry.

“According to our clients, Cape Town continues to be the leading port for rig and vessel repairs and upgrades due its location, infrastructure, capacity and capabilities with Coega and Saldanha Bay as alternative options.

“DCD Marine aligns itself with industry-respected and reliable sub-contractors, all committed to our common objective of the provision of safe, quality and customised repair, refurbishment and fabrication services. This has allowed the company to become recognised as the preferred supplier of turnkey project offerings, including project management, vessel inspections, drydocking, rig repairs and upgrades, as well as conversions and modifications,” Klos concludes.


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The way to a passenger’s heart is through his or her stomach, appears to be the approach that MSC Cruises is taking with its South African cruise season in mind.

With little more than a week before the arrival of MSC OPERA on 20 November, MSC Cruises has announced its flexible buffet hours, likely to become a firm favourite with South African cruise enthusiasts not known for gastronomic shyness.

According to MSC Cruises a cruise is a voyage of discovery and it is aware that the gastronomic experience is an incredibly important part of this journey. “In fact, as a company inspired by Mediterranean values, MSC Cruises knows that good food is about more than just delicious meals, it’s a real way of life,” says MSC Cruises in a statement.

“The company is therefore constantly looking for innovative ways to enhance the gastronomic experience on board and, besides the impressive main and speciality restaurants, has recently introduced a more flexible buffet service.”

The buffet will now be open non-stop for 20 hours a day, from 6am until 2am, meaning that guests can now enjoy more flexible times for traditional main meals, as well as satisfying rumbling stomachs at any time of the day and into the small hours of the morning, with no extra charge. No more waiting impatiently for that midnight 4th meal!

“Our Mediterranean way of life teaches us the importance of spontaneity,” says MSC Cruises Corporate Product Manager Andrea Gangale. “By extending the buffet service, we have introduced a more relaxed and flexible approach to dining. Our guests can enjoy MSC’s famous Mediterranean and international cuisine whenever they feel like it, and not when the clock dictates that it’s time to eat.”

MSC Opera arrives in Cape Town on 20 November and leaves the same day for Durban, where she arrives on 23 November to undertake cruises to the Mozambique coast and islands. Her sister ship MSC Sinfonia arrives in Cape Town on 28 November and will commence a season of cruises from the Mother City. News continues below…


Armed drama at Tema as Argentineans arm themselves

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There has been a spot of bother in Tema where the Argentine Navy sail training ship ARA LIBERTAD is under detention on behalf of US creditors.

Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority officials cut off water and electricity prior to moving the ship to another less busy berth in the harbour, but when port workers tried to come on board they were met with armed Argentinean sailors who held them at bay.

According to a court order obtained by the port authority, the ship Libertad, “currently at berth 11, Tema Port, be moved and kept at berth 6.” Agents acting for the Libertad claimed that an automatic stay of execution applied for a period of seven days.

It took the arrival of the Argentine Ambassador to Nigeria and the intervention of the Ghanaian Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Eastern Naval Command before the matter was defused and the sailors agreed to lower their weapons.


Direct South Africa - West Africa service planned by MSC

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is planning to introduce a direct service between South Africa and West Africa as from 23 December 2012.

Until now MSC has offered a transhipment service using ships on the South Africa – Northern Europe service with cargo transhipped at Las Palmas.


CMA CGM officially the world’s largest container ship

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CMA CGM Marco Polo on sea trials

CMA CGM MARCO POLO, the world’s largest containership, began her first voyage last week, 7 November, from Ningbo, China

The new 16,000 TEU vessel, owned by CMA CGM, sails under the UK flag. She was built by DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering) in South Korea and has the following dimensions: 396 metres long, 54 metres wide, and a draught of 16 metres.

CMA CGM Marco Polo is the first of a series of three 16,000 TEU vessels that will be named after great explorers. The delivery of the two next vessels is expected in 2013.

The giant ship operates on the FAL1 weekly Asia – Northern Europe trade route and is due in Southampton, her first European/UK port of call on 10 December 2012, calling also at Hamburg (12 December), Bremerhaven (14 December), Rotterdam (16 December), Zeebrugge (17 December), and Le Havre on 19 December.

CMA CGM was expected to unveil solid third-quarter profits just days after taking delivery of the world’s largest containership.

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The three ships of 16,000-TEU were originally intended as 13,000-TEU vessels but were subsequently upgraded in size


Maersk has ‘better than expected’ results for third quarter

Maersk Line is back in the black after a strong third quarter in which profits reached almost US$500 million, compared with a loss of $289 million for the same period of 2011.

“We delivered a good result for the quarter considering the challenging economic environment,” the company said in a statement. “Thanks to our rate initiatives and cost reductions, Maersk Line is back in black figures year-to-date, and the high oil price supports a satisfactory result for Maersk Oil. We are expanding our terminals network in Latin America, Russia and other growth markets and expect our strategic initiatives to support both our returns and earnings stability as we move forward.”

The group’s port operations division, APM Terminals, saw its profits drop from $173 million to $160 million, year on year, although volumes rose 4 percent to 9 million TEU.

Container throughput increased by 7 percent compared with the same period in 2011.

“Maersk Line has done what they set out to do when we entered the second quarter and will continue their efforts to secure rates at a level where we can achieve a fair return on our investments,” says CEO Nils S. Andersen.


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The oil drill ship ENSCO DS-1 (29,847-gt, built 1999) which has undergone a full refit and repair at the Cape Town graving dock, emerging under her new name. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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