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Ports & Ships Maritime News

22 January 2013
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.
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Simon’s Town Naval Harbour, 06:54 hrs Thursday 17 January 2013. Vessels on the West breakwater (R-L): RFA GOLD ROVER A271; Marine Research Ship AFRICANA; SAS PROTEA A324 (on outboard side of the breakwater); SAS ISANDLWANA F146.
Vessels on outboard side of Still Water Basin (orange hulls)(R-L): Environmental Protection Vessels VICTORIA MXENGE and “RUTH FIRST.
Vessels berthed in Still Water Basin (R-L): Tug ZTOU, DE MIST; Yard Craft 221, Mooring Lighter; Tug DE NEYS.
A Namacurra class Harbour Protection boat is doing the rounds in the Still Water Basin. Picture by David Erikson


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Probe into Nigerian port congestion

Congestion at the Nigerian ports is receiving serious attention, Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Finance was told last week.

On Thursday the House instituted an investigation into the circumstances causing congestion at all Nigerian ports over the last two years. The committees on Finance, Marine Transport and Customs & Excise were told to probe the matter and report back within three weeks.

It was suggested that a main cause of congestion arises from a conflict of interest between the various agencies involved, with Customs & Excise and the Federal Ministry of Finance departments highlighted.

Media reports in Nigeria report that the continued congestion at the ports, particularly those at Lagos and Port Harcourt, is resulting in a number of lines opting to call at Cotonou where they drop Nigerian cargo at the Benin port to be sent on by feeder vessels.


Zanzibar tightens up on passenger carrying craft

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SKAGIT, which capsized and sank between Zanzibar and Pemba in July 2012, resulting in a number of fatalities. Here the ferry is seen while operating in the United States

The government of Zanzibar in Tanzania is reported to be tightening up on regulations regarding the use of passenger carrying vessels.

This follows a number of vessels sinking in recent years, resulting in a considerable number of fatalities. Lawmakers recently passed the Isles Maritime Transport Amendment Bill which, although it still awaits presidential approval, will tighten up on regulations pertaining to the maintenance and care of sea-going and passenger-carrying vessels.

At the same time concern has been expressed on the issue of accountability of officials in ensuring that the laws are carried out. Legislators expressed the view that laxity in maintaining the law was partly to blame for recent fatal marine accidents in Zanzibar.

Among the amended regulations is the clause that ‘No ship of more than 15 years of age or above shall be registered and licensed for the purpose of carrying passengers in Zanzibar.’

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Skagit capsized


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Mozambique Customs seize containers of illegal logs

Mozambique news agency AIM reported last week that the Mozambican customs service has seized 30 containers full of logs that were about to be exported illegally to China through the port of Maputo.

The report said that the seizures began on 16 January in the town of Marracuene about 30 kilometres north of Maputo, where Customs located ten containers, each measuring 15 cubic metres, in a yard belonging to the Chinese firm Heng Yi.

As the investigations continued, the authorities discovered a further 20 containers already in the port waiting to be loaded onto a ship heading for China.

The containers in the Heng Yi yard contained mondzo, a species classified as a first grade hardwood, which cannot be exported without processing. Yet the mondzo logs had been packed into the containers without any inspection by the relevant authorities.

Last week the containers in the port were still being unpacked to check exactly what types of wood they contain. Staff of the Mozambican Tax Authority (AT) said that the origin of the logs is still unclear, but their nature and diameter indicate that they came from the forests of Nampula and Zambezia provinces, or possibly from the northern part of Gaza.

China is the largest consumer of Mozambican timber, and the Chinese market accounted for 85 percent of the 430,000 cubic metres of logs that left Mozambique, much of it illegally, between 2000 and 2010, according to a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency, a London-based NGO that works to fight environmental crimes. Source – AIM


Chibuto heavy sands tender cancelled

The restricted public tender for heavy sands exploration in Chibuto, in Mozambique’s Gaza province, has been cancelled by order of the Mining Resources Ministry, Mozambican daily newspaper Notícias reported.

After the proposals were opened in 2012 the winning company was due to negotiate and sign an agreement to carry out the exploration project by 3 December 2012.

In a statement issued in Maputo, the ministry said that, as the deadlines outlined above were not met, the Mining Resources Minister, Esperança Bias, had decided to annul the restricted tender launched in 2011.

According to the newspaper this is not the first time that the Mining Resources Ministry has made use of administrative measures in relation to the concession process for the heavy sands in Chibuto.

The project was initially a concession of BHP Billiton, which had its license cancelled due to not meeting the schedule that had been agreed with the Mozambican government.

Later another Canadian company saw the licensing process cancelled after being awarded the tender, allegedly for failing to comply with the outlined schedule.

Studies carried out so far show that in Chibuto there are over 72 million tons of ilmenite, the exploration of which would take at least 30 years; 2.6 million tons of proven zircon reserves and 0.4 million tons of rutile, in an area of 10,840 hectares. Source – macauhub


Rio Tinto’s coal production figures under scrutiny

The Mozambican government plans to review the technical aspects of the Rio Tinto mining group’s activities in Mozambique, after the mining company announced a drop in the amount of coking coal it mines in Mozambique, explaining this was due to transport constraints, the deputy Mining Resources minister said in Maputo.

“We hope they can show us technical data about these findings for us to carry out our own checks,” the deputy Mining Resources minister, Abdul Razak told Portuguese news agency Lusa in relation to Rio Tinto’s announcement about coal production in Mozambique.

The group announced last week that its financial statement contained a write-down of US$3 billion related to its Mozambique project and that coal mining would be at lower levels than initially projected due to a lack of transport capacity in the country.

Razak gave assurances that, “the Mozambican government is working with companies so that transport capacity will increase in the short and medium term,” but noted that Rio Tinto’s assessments were, “a normal situation in geology, where this happens a lot.”

“Of course there is no immediate solution, but, in the future, not in the medium term, there will be solutions for carrying coal and other products, on the Sena line and Nacala line, as well as on other railroads that are due to be built,” said Razak.

The company announced a drop in the book value of assets of US$14 billion, which were related to Mozambique and to Canadian aluminium group Alcan, which was acquired in 2007.

In a statement the Mozambican subsidiary of Rio Tinto, which in 2011 took on a majority stake in Riversdale Mining, the previous owner of the Benga coal mining project, announced it was working with the Mozambican government to find alternatives, after its initial idea of transporting the coal (by barging) along the Zambezi River was not approved. Source – macauhub

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Saldanha Fabrication Centre, Port of Saldanha

As a result of the sub-lessees failing to secure any business, the facility that was built as the Saldanha Fabrication Centre in 2007 is now to be converted into a multi-disciplinary facility to support the sectors of Oil & Gas; Petrochemicals; Renewable Energy Power; Desalination; Mineral Mining, Environmental & Chemical Industries.

This facility will be in the Customs Controlled Area (CCA) and will therefore enjoy 'free-port' status. The CCA will then be extended as the IDZ phases in the port’s hinterland come into being.

KNM Grinaker-LTA will be retaining a certain area including the 25 metre high Bay 1 and Bay 2 workshops. This is intended to house equipment for the Oil & Gas majors which will require the height to be increased. Their work will be fabrication.

The facility has its own dedicated jetty, ideally for loading large diameter, heavy and long vessels, jackets and modules. KNM Grinaker-LTA Fabrication remains the sole local fabricator for the untapped market of pressure vessels above 100mm thicknesses.

The other areas, workshops, etc, are available for leasing on a long-term basis and the rental rates will be determined by the size of area required and the length of the lease. Saldanha Freight Services (SFS) are working with KNM Grinaker-LTA in searching for potential lessees. The screening of lessees will be intensive as the core activities must fit with the KNM Grinaker-LTA vision.

This facility is leased from and located in the Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) zone designated primarily for the oil & gas sector. West of this facility (off-picture) is an area earmarked for a large graving dock, should such a dock be deemed sustainable in the long-term. East of the facility is open land also designated by TNPA for Oil & Gas developments.

This is the area where the Oil & Gas Base will be established. It will be linked to the shore-front with workshops and other facilities as well as deep-drafted quayside (berths) and lay-down areas suited to the maintenance & repair of vessels in the oil & gas industry.

The roads to the 4-berth multi-purpose terminal (MPT will be upgraded in the short-term to facilitate handing of imports & exports over this terminal. This land is available for leasing from TNPA and SFS is in a position to facilitate this for interested parties. These developments are planned for the 0-5 year and 6-10 year period commencing in 2013.

The KNM Grinaker-LTA facility is however available immediately, and the facility will be leased out in sections to operators fitting the criteria of KNM Grinaker-LTA.

Enquiries may be addressed to
Graeme Clemitson, Operations Director, Saldanha Freight Services (Pty) Ltd


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French yachtsman rescued by cruise ship

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Frenchman Alain Delord and his yacht tchouk tchouk nougât. Picture: Facebook

An Australian cruise ship, ORION (3,984-gt) has rescued a French yachtsman whose yacht tchouk tchouk nougât broke a mast in the Southern Ocean, 500 n.miles from the nearest Australian coast.

The cruise ship, which was returning from a cruise to Antarctica with 100 passengers on board, diverted some 53 hours from its course to find and rescue the yachtsman, Alain Delord (63) who had abandoned his crippled yacht for a life raft three days earlier.

An Australian Air Force aircraft meanwhile had dropped a rescue kit containing food and water and a survival kit to Delord but because of the distance from the nearest coast (Tasmania), a helicopter rescue was not possible.

For the passengers on board the Orion, a memorable cruise was made even more memorable, having taken part in and witnessing an unexpected sea rescue in Southern Ocean waters. For the yachtsman it was the end of a dream however.


Sugar exporters switch to containers

Sugar exporters are making increased use of the ubiquitous container in place of bulk ships when exporting white sugar, it is being reported in Europe.

Proponents of the container say it has become cheaper than having to charter a bulk ship to ship bulk sugar and that not only bagged sugar but bulk shipments are being made in containers which can load up to 22 or more tons. An international sugar trader is quoted as saying that there is greater security from theft using sealed containers, and that sugar usually arrives in better condition because it is not handled as much.

It is also attractive to smaller exporters or importers – not many can afford the cost of chartering a 14,000-ton bulk ship, they say. Using a container can save as much as US$25 a ton and you can also get lower rates going from west to east, exporters point out.

Brazilian sugar exporters are among those making increased use of containers, particularly from the port of Santos. However, trade sources say the main drawback to the use of containers is a lack of control over delivery times. They point out that containers are often transhipped, which means delays in deliveries. “When you charter a ship you at least have control.”


China Shipping Container Lines back in the black

China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) says it will make a profit of Rmb520 million (US$83.7m) for 2012, which became possible thanks to a sale and leaseback of 28 percent of its containers at year-end.

According to the Hong Kong listed company, improved market trends and its own ability to make use of opportunities in a volatile industry, plus the disposal of old containers, has made its recovery possible.

In 2011 CSCL declared net losses of Rmb2.7 billion and Yuan 290 million for the first three quarters of 2012. In November and December 2012 CSCL cashed in $147 million from the sale of 380,000 TEU of containers aged between three and eight years, and then hiring them back. This represented 28 percent of CSCL’s container boxes.


Oops…. We may have used the wrong chart

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USS Guardian aground in the Philippines

Yokosuka, Japan - The US 7th Fleet Commander on Saturday expressed regret over the grounding of USS GUARDIAN (MCM 5) on Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea.

“As a protector of the sea and a sailor myself, I greatly regret any damage this incident has caused to the Tubbataha Reef,” said Vice Adm. Scott Swift. “We know the significance of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and its importance as a World Heritage Site. Its protection is vital, and we take seriously our obligations to protect and preserve the maritime environment.”

The Avenger-class ship had just completed a port call at Subic Bay and was underway when the grounding occurred. As of 20 January the condition of the Guardian has not changed; the ship was still grounded with no one onboard and there are no traces of an oil slick in the area. No one was injured during the grounding which occurred three days earlier.

The US Navy says that once the USS Guardian has been safely recovered by the US Navy, the US government will continue to work with the Republic of Philippines government to assess the extent of the damage to the reef and the surrounding marine environment caused by the grounding. It says that the Philippines government was promptly informed of the incident and is being updated regularly by US officials.

It has since transpired that an out of date electronic chart may have been in use by the USS Guardian at the time of the grounding.


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The South Korean owned and operated VLCC ATLANTIC CARRIER (256,777dwt, built 1993) is possibly the biggest ship to enter Cape Town harbour this year. The giant 331m ship was in ballast when she arrived in port to take bunkers, while en route to Saldanha to load ore. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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