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Ports & Ships Maritime News

14 December 2012
Author: Terry Hutson



We offer great rates and a widespread dedicated maritime sector readership. Throughout 2012 Ports & Ships has averaged in excess of 50,000 readers each month. During October 2012, for example, we enjoyed the company of 54,360 readers on this site, readers who made 206,735 page views and recorded 956,532 ‘hits’. By having your company banner on these pages you can benefit by reaching out to this readership.
Another advantage of advertising with us is that we don’t take down our pages so your advert continues to work for you, month after month, year after year. Check it out on site -- we’re 10 years old this month so that’s not an exaggeration.
For a Rate Card please contact us at info@ports.co.za




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As a result of the holiday next week and it being the week before Christmas, there will be a single news bulletin during the week appearing on Wednesday

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Teekay’s Bahamas-flagged Floating, Production, Storage & Offloading vessel, FPSO CIDADE DE ITAJAI (91,468-dwt, built as tanker Spectrum 1985, converted 2012) arrived in Cape Town harbour this past week on her delivery voyage from Singapore, bound for Brazil. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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A justice in the North Gauteng High Court, Judge Louis Vorster yesterday (Thursday, 13 December) ruled that the controversial e-tolling in Gauteng should go ahead.

His judgment was in response to an application by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) which sought to have the project set aside.

e-Tolling was due to be rolled out across Gauteng highways – a project that has met with intense opposition from road users and in particular, trade unions. Outa accused the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) of not sharing sufficient information with the public before the intended roll-out which was postponed at the last minute after trade unions raised strong objections.

Judge Vorster said in his judgment that the application before him which stated that there had not been an efficient public participation process was flawed and therefore could not succeed.

Responding to the ruling, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) called on its members not to register or buy e-tags. In a statement yesterday afternoon Cosatu said the fight against e-tolling, and for efficient, reliable, affordable and safe public transport for all the people, has always been political rather than legal. “Our campaign will now continue and be intensified,” it said.

Cosatu said it was disappointed in the judgment. “We will take the fight to Parliament, which still has to pass the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill. This must not be steamrollered through but thoroughly discussed, so that we can finally have the public debate about the principle of e-tolling.”

Cosatu said that it intended continuing with the campaign of mass action which began with marches in Johannesburg and Pretoria on 30 November and the “highly successful slow-drive campaign on the highways on 6 December 2012.”

“We shall also urge motorists not to register with Sanral or buy e-tags, and to make the system unworkable.”

The union said that public support was still growing and it was certain that people power will ultimately convince the government to abandon a policy with is extremely unpopular, unfair and unworkable.

Cosatu said it has consistently argued that taxation must be the main source of funding road infrastructure. “The argument that ‘User Pays’ means that you cannot use the best roads if you cannot afford to pay. A third of our people use private cars to get to or from work, not from choice but because our public transport system is expensive, unsafe and unreliable.”

It pointed out that government has since exempted registered public transport from the tolls, yet very few buses and taxis actually use the tolled highways.


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PIL increases order for four ships up to a round dozen

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Pacific International Lines (PIL) Singapore-flagged container ship KOTA HARUM makes a colourful picture as she heads off down Durban’s Maydon Channel towards a berth at Maydon Wharf 3 earlier in the year. Picture by Charles Baker

Pacific International Lines, whose ships are regular callers in South and West African ports, has increased an order for four 3,800-TEU container ships to 12 ships with Dalian Shipbuilding Industry, in terms of an option which it was exercising.

Since PIL first began calling at South African ports about 12 years ago while en route to West Africa from South East Asia, the company has increased and strengthened the trade it does in the country to the extent that PIL is now one of the most frequent shipping lines calling in SA.


Controversial activist group acquires new ship

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Sea Shepherd’s latest ship, Sam Simon

The controversial Sea Shepherd Conservation Society last week showed off its latest ship with which it will tackle Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean.

The vessel is the SAM SIMON (built 1993) – having been name after the benefactor who financed its purchase..

The 56-metre long ship is registered in Australia and will be crewed by 24 volunteers all equally set on disrupting Japanese whaling fleets. Ironically, the ship is Japanese built and was formerly a Japanese government research ship operated by the Maizuru Meteorogical Observatory and boasts an ice-strengthened hull.

It is being claimed that the purchase was made without the Japanese government being aware of the buyer’s true identity.

Sam Simon will join three other Sea Shepherd vessels in the Southern Ocean this coming year. Sam Simon, the man, is the founding producer of the Simpsons TV series and is a prominent animal rights campaigner. It is said that he paid US$2 million for the vessel.


Costa Cruises woes continue

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Damage to the Costa Pacifica in Marseilles

Costa Cruises’ ships can’t keep out of the limelight with regard to mishaps, so it seems. The latest cruise ship in trouble is the COSTA PACIFICA , which was damaged in a collision with pilings being used to lengthen the quay in the French port of Marseilles.

The collision left the ship with an eight metre long gash in the hull above the waterline, ripping open a section of the side. The ship with about 2000 passengers on board was attempting to dock in 25 knot winds.

Repairs were carried out allowing Costa Pacifica to depart on her next voyage to Barcelona on the following day (Wednesday 12 December 2012).


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Tobela Gqabu, the Lawhill Maritime Centre’s first Master Mariner

In 1999, when 16-year-old South African, Tobela Gqabu, applied for a Safmarine bursary to complete his schooling at the Lawhill Maritime Centre – a centre which prepares young South Africans for employment by providing them with maritime-related skills and knowledge while they are still at school - he’d never seen an actual ship, nor had he heard about shipping line Safmarine or the subjects Maritime Economics and Nautical Science which are offered as part of the national senior certificate curriculum at Lawhill.

Thirteen years later, in 2012 and at the age of 28, Tobela Gqabu became the Lawhill Maritime Centre’s first internationally-qualified Master Mariner, having obtained his Master’s Certificate of Competency or Class 1 maritime qualification.

According to Safmarine CEO, Grant Daly, who grew up in the Eastern Cape town of Molteno, not far from Tobela’s home in Manzana Village, Engcobo, “Tobela’s qualification as a Master Mariner represents a very proud moment in the history of Safmarine.

“Seventeen years ago, Safmarine decided to partner the South African Department of Education and the Simon’s Town School in establishing the Lawhill Maritime Studies programme at the school, and Tobela’s achievement is an example of how mutually-beneficial this partnership between business and education, has been.”

Commenting on Tobela’s achievement, Brian Ingpen, Head of the Lawhill Maritime Centre, said: “Throughout his school career at Lawhill, Tobela showed a strong determination and commitment to succeed and the fact that he has achieved his Master’s Ticket 10 years after matriculating, is further proof of that determination.”

Even though Tobela is currently working ashore as a ship’s surveyor for the SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), he plans to return to sea when the right opportunity comes along, ideally to take command of a product tanker.

“I aspired to command a ship for so many years and now that I have my Master’s Ticket, it’s important that I turn that aspiration into reality.”

With more than half of South Africa’s population under the age of 25, Ingpen feels Tobela’s achievement and the success of the Lawhill partnership with Safmarine should inspire other companies to collaborate with educational bodies to address skills development and unemployment in South Africa.

“The South African Census results published in October 2012 showed that South Africa is becoming a younger nation. This is why we need more of these partnerships to empower our youth to contribute positively to the future of our country. Together we can create many more positive role models, like Tobela Gqabu.”

Ingpen says Safmarine’s ongoing support for the maritime programme shows that “Safmarine’s promise of ‘making the difference’ applies as much to its support of talented South African youth interested in the maritime industry, as it does to its customers, who rely on Safmarine to ship their cargo from one end of the world to the other.

He says when Tobela joined the Maritime Studies programme in 2000, Safmarine was the programme’s major funder and principal supporter.

“Safmarine’s contribution to the Maritime Studies programme for almost two decades has gone beyond merely providing financial support. Over the years, Safmarine staff have contributed their time and talents and between 1997 and 2010, Lawhill House, constructed from 47 shipping containers donated by Safmarine, made it possible for out-of-town students, such as Tobela, to attend the programme and obtain a quality education in a supportive, boarding school environment.

“Thanks to the foundation provided by the company, the programme today enjoys the support of both the local and international maritime industry.”


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Durban’s ‘Golden Mile’ of beachfront – in reality over four miles of golden sands and year-round warm water. Are ships at anchor posing a threat?

Yesterday morning (Thursday) 36 ships were drifting or at anchor outside the Port of Durban, waiting for a berth or for cargo. Most if not all would have had their engines ‘ticking over’ as they held station in the port’s so-called ‘outer anchorage’ which these days means opposite the upmarket suburbs of Umhlanga and La Lucia.

Until now the only concern expressed over the time these ships spent waiting outside port concerned the expense they were incurring while being prevented from docking in the harbour, and the concern and anguish of cargo owners who on occasion faced factory shutdowns because some vital ‘just-in-time’ object was being prevented from being discharged.

The problem is not unique to Durban and some other ports have larger problems, some with even more ships lining up outside port. But now, for the first time possibly, a new complaint is being heard – that of pollution to the nearby beaches and it concerns the famous Copacabana and Ipanema beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

There, a line of ships numbering as few as a dozen are the subject of complaints from hotel operators and local residents who accuse the 12 or so ships in the anchorage outside port of providing a blemish on the city’s landscape and a threat to Rio’s marine eco-system.

The city’s famous landscape has been declared a world heritage site earlier this year and those claiming to be affected by the ‘blight’ of ‘too many ships’ belching exhaust fumes have taken up the matter with the Brazilian naval authority responsible for regulating traffic in Guanabara Bay, demanding that the congestion be lifted.

Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes told Bloomberg’s news agency that “we can’t let our seafront, one of the most beautiful and well-known postcard views, become visually polluted,” he is quoted.

According to Cia Docas do Rio de Janeiro, the local port authority, Rio received 2,281 ship calls during the first half of 2012, an 197% increase from 2009 figures. On the current count the number of ships calling at Rio is about the same as that for Durban, which regularly has the greater number of ships waiting in the outer anchorage and, presumably, belching exhaust fumes.


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It’s taken a year longer than expected but on 8 December, MSC Cruises celebrated the opening of a new and much needed beach facility on Portuguese Island, Mozambique, one of the beautiful destinations on the company’s southern African itineraries.

Completed just in time to welcome the 41,000 MSC guests expected to visit the island during this cruise season, the facilities provide travellers of all ages with the ideal place to take a break from the hot Mozambican sun.

The facilities include a large and comfortable undercover dining and entertainment area for cruisers, a venue for MSC’s chefs to prepare and present a beach barbeque and a unique beach bar with themed entertainment.

Children and families are also catered for, with a children’s play area alongside the main structure designed to keep the younger guests entertained and protected from the sun, while offering parents peace of mind as they enjoy the idyllic sandy beach.

As part of the upgrade, MSC Cruises has also added some new shore excursions to its programme. Activities now include paint ball, fun torpedo, snorkelling and sea kayaking, while beach games are coordinated by the animation club to keep children of all ages, and the young at heart, entertained throughout the day.

Passengers intent on being ‘far from the madding crowd’ are provided with the option of purchasing additional exclusive access to the ‘Beach Club,’ an area on the beach with its own Tikki Bar, sun loungers and umbrellas.

“Portuguese Island is one of the most popular cruise destinations on the South African cruise calendar,” said Allan Foggitt, Marketing Director of MSC Cruises South Africa.

“Previously, the destination was a Robinson Crusoe type of call: a beautiful, untouched island, but with a lack of facilities for passengers enjoying a day on the beach. This was therefore an important area of focus and improvement for MSC, and we are now sure that our travellers will enjoy the same high standards on the island as they enjoy on our ships.”

The construction and long term operation of the new facilities has also made a substantial contribution to the local community of next door island Inhaca by creating a number of jobs for its inhabitants.

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Union-Castle Lines’ TANTALLON CASTLE (7,448-gt, built 1954 by Harland & Wolff) with the pilot boat alongside and Durban’s Bluff beyond, as the ship faces the open sea. In 1972 the ship was sold to the Greek company, Pateras Bros, who renamed her Aris II and later Aris, before sending her to the breakers in 1978. Picture by Trevor Jones

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Another of the three former Royal Mail Lines’ A-class ships to be taken into service by Shaw Savill was the ARANDA of 18,500 gross tons, seen here coming alongside Durban’s L-shed in August 1969. L shed at that time doubled as the second of two berths serving as the port’s passenger terminal. Note the split bridge. Aranda was the former ARAGON with Royal Mail Lines. Picture by Trevor Jones


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