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Ports & Ships Maritime News

22 February 2013
Author: Terry Hutson


Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002


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The yacht-like cruise ship CORINTHIAN arrived in Cape Town harbour this past week. With accommodation for just a hundred passengers (they refer to them as guests) and 50 ocean-facing suites, this is luxury on an exclusive nature minus the hordes of passengers found on the larger ships. Picture by Aad Noorland


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Two DAFF of the fleet of sea fishery vessels Sarah Baartman in the foreground and Lilian Ngoyi, which were entrusted to the navy for the past 12 months

In what can only be regarded as a surprising if not shocking state of affairs, it turns out that media and other reports of the Navy being unable to take the Sea Fishery department patrols vessels to sea, were after all largely accurate.

When it comes to reporting to parliament the truth has to come out, or at least that’s the theory. This was borne out this week when the Deputy Director-General of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), finally admitted that the department’s patrol vessels were stuck in Simon’s Town naval dockyard and unable to perform their duties.

Deputy D-G Greta Apelgren-Narkedien said the navy was unable to manage and operate the fleet which has been in its care for almost a year. The contract with the navy comes to an end on 31 March and will not be renewed.

The navy had been tasked with taking over the duties of operating and managing the fishery patrol and research fleet amidst accusations and counter accusations of corruption involving previous and the latest contracts awarded either to Smit Amandla Marine and its predecessors or subsequently to the Sekunjalo Consortium.

The navy later said the vessels were poorly maintained and unseaworthy, forcing DAFF to charter vessels to undertake crucial surveys. The navy said it had used some of the naval ships for this purpose as well.

Following the D-G’s appearance before parliament the DA spokesman Pieter van Dalen was reported as saying it was unacceptable and that DAFF had lied previously to parliament in order to create the impression that everything was in order. “Some heads must roll,” he said.

To those outside looking in on the industry, it’s always appeared that the minister mishandled the matter and that she allowed things to get worse, rather than better. The navy in turn was caught out by finding a fleet of red or white vessels parked in their backyard one morning, and lacked the personnel and the money to run the ships.

Whether the claims of the vessels being unseaworthy were correct is open to speculation; the fact of the matter is that for various reasons the navy was unable to do anything about putting the vessels back into ‘seaworthy’ condition within a reasonable timespan. Where a private ship or boatyard is capable of repairing a similar vessel and having it back in the water in a matter of weeks, it takes the navy a year or more. The DAFF vessels are after all far from being highly sophisticated and complicated vessels.

With the 31 March deadline approaching, when DAFF has to take back its fleet, the department must now start to look for key maritime personnel to man the vessels. Does the navy have the manpower to take the vessels from Simon’s Town and park them elsewhere?

The solution to getting the little ships seaworthy and back on patrol requires outsourcing once again. South Africa has the right people, but let’s hope it can be achieved with further melodrama.


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Off the new, on with the old – in a reversal of the old expression, three new super-post panamax STS cranes (two in this picture, in red) have already been discharged at the Durban Container Terminal, and now it’s time to load two of the seven year old IMPSA cranes being transferred to Port Elizabeth. The ship was the Zhen Hua 27 and it was December 2012. Picture by Trevor Jones

Pretoria - South Africa ‘s massive infrastructure plan should not be allowed to be impacted upon by the global economic slowdown or derailed by a lack of funding, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday.

In the last year, the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) has launched the intergovernmental forums of the 18 Strategic Infrastructure Projects known as SIPs.

Addressing parliamentarians, Gigaba gave an update of some of the projects in the infrastructure plan.

The infrastructure project aimed at unlocking the Northern Mineral Belt with Waterberg as the catalyst has to date shown that despite recent labour unrest challenges, Eskom’s Medupi power plant was 58% complete. A total of R60.4 billion has been spent to date and a total of 15,837 jobs created.

The project that is focused on the Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor has shown that the new multi-product fuel pipeline is on schedule, with spending on this project to date being at R16.9 billion and 2,490 jobs having been created.

The procurement of rolling stock for general freight is at 73% completion, with a total spend-to-date of R2.7 billion and 159 jobs created.

Gigaba said that 54% local content on the manufacturing of locomotives has been secured, which will strengthen Transnet Engineering’s manufacturing capabilities and contribute to job creation and skills development, among others.

Additionally, a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment on the Durban Port Terminal’s Pier 2 upgrade will be completed in 2014 and R70 million has to date been spent on this project.

The minister noted that continued investment spending by public corporations and the broader public sector has contributed positively to economic growth and development. While coordination, integration and focus are important to infrastructure development and to the roll-out of infrastructure, the acquisition of new infrastructure should not come to a halt.

“We must never cease building new infrastructure and planning future capacity so that we never have to build new capacity under pressure when the need is urgent,” said Gigaba. Additionally, existing infrastructure should be properly maintained so that it yields a longer lifespan.

“Of paramount importance is that we cannot allow this massive investment programme to be impacted by the global economic slowdown or derailed by lack of funding,” he said.

On the South-Eastern node corridor development, the manganese ore rail to Ngqura project which is intended to increase rail capacity to increase the South African export of manganese from five to 16 million tons has not yet commenced but is in final planning phase.

On the integrated urban space and public transport system project, Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya has created 1185 jobs with a spend to date of R1.218 million and Cape Town MyCiti has created 635 jobs with a spend of R2.923 million.

The employment of the youth would begin to be addressed through the roll-out of infrastructure as they would be absorbed into employment and skills-development programmes. Source - SAnews.gov.za


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New equipment a further boost for SA’s port terminals

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Port Elizabeth Container Terminal now has two relatively new IMPSA cranes, transferred from DCT

Twenty five brand new forklifts to the value of over R30 million are the latest pieces of equipment to be delivered as part of port operator Transnet Port Terminals’ (TPT) seven-year R33 billion pipeline investment.

Four of the Hyundai 70D-7E forklifts were delivered to the East London multi-purpose terminals while the Richards Bay Terminal took delivery of 21 forklifts that will be used in the terminal’s breakbulk operation.

The forklifts are used to move non-containerised cargo more safely and efficiently within the parameters of the terminals.

TPT continues to introduce several multimillion rand equipment investments at its ports as part of Transnet SOC Ltd’s R300 billion Market Demand Strategy from 2012 to 2019.

Recently a R70 million Liebherr mobile harbour crane was delivered to the East London multipurpose terminals and was the first of its kind for the river port.

Port Elizabeth harbour’s container terminal meanwhile recently took delivery of two relatively new multimillion rand ship-to-shore (STS) cranes manufactured by IMPSA. These had been in service in the Port of Durban for the past seven years.

A R140 million, general bulk shiploader and a R130 million custom-built pneumatic ship unloader have been delivered to the Richards Bay Terminal.

Last year two new ship-to-shore cranes representing an investment of R150 million were launched into operations at the Ngqura Container Terminal. The Durban Container Terminal also made history when it took delivery of Africa’s first tandem lift ship-to-shore cranes.

“TPT will in the next seven years, continue to invest heavily in infrastructure, maintenance and expansion, drive growth and increase our footprint in Africa offering improved connectivity to existing and new markets,” said TPT Chief Executive Karl Socikwa.

The major equipment acquisitions will also result in new jobs and training of operators. This, says TPT, is in line with the Transnet Market Demand Strategy’s focus on creating jobs and developing skills to support capacity ramp-up, and more importantly to boost the country’s economic growth. Source - TPT


Mombasa cargo volumes slow as Kenya elections draw near

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Port of Mombasa - experiencing slowdown as elections approach

As the 4 March general elections in Kenya draw closer, cargo volumes at the country’s main port of Mombasa have begun slowing in anticipation of possible political unrest.

This follows the unrest experienced with the 2007/08 elections and cargo and terminal operators are understandingly nervous and uncertain this time round.

Although the general feeling is that the elections this time might pass off with little if any trouble, many cargo owners have apparently decided on playing it safe by either holding back on imports at this time, or have opted to make use of neighbouring Dar es Salaam.

According to a report in The Star newspaper, a spokesman for Kenya Ports Authority, Haji Masemo, said that there is reduced cargo traffic right now. However, that is possibly a result of the general downturn in world economies at this time, with reduced or static cargo volumes being experienced at many African ports.


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Cyclone Haruna in the southern Mozambique Channel. Image NASA

As Tropical Cyclone Haruna nears the south west coast of Madagascar, after having come together over the Mozambique Channel on Tuesday this week, widespread rain damage is feared in central Mozambique and according to reports all efforts at returning the Sena railway to service after it was closed due to flooding, have been postponed. The low pressure system called System 94S first began developing last Friday, 15 February in the northern Mozambique Channel and over the course of the next four days became more organised until by Wednesday it was officially a cyclone named Haruna, reports the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, which monitors storm activity by means of satellites. “At 15hrs00 UTC on 20 February, Haruna reached hurricane (or cyclone)-force with maximum sustained winds near 70 knots (80 mph/129.6 kph). Haruna is centered near 22.1 south latitude and 40.7 east longitude, about 400 nautical miles (460 miles/741 km) west-southwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar. Haruna is moving to the west at 4 knots (4.6 mph/7.4 kph) and generating 25-foot-high (7.6 meter-high) waves,” reported NASA.

“Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center expect Haruna to make a brief landfall near Androka in the southwestern part of Madagascar as the storm heads southeast into the open waters of the southern Indian Ocean.”

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Haruna’s projected course. Picture Weather Underground


Sena Railroad in Mozambique at a standstill until further notice

The Sena railroad, which transports most of the coal mined in Mozambique’s Tete province to the port of Beira, will remain at a standstill for an undetermined amount of time, said the spokesman for state port and rail company, Alves Cumbe.

“Although we are carrying out emergency work, we cannot say when the line will be re-opened, because weather conditions remain threatening and that is something we cannot control,” the spokesman for Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique told Portuguese news agency Lusa.

The spokesman for CFM noted that there was no alternative to the Sena Railroad for coal exports, as other options were being built or were under consideration.

Brazilian company Vale and Anglo-Australian company Rio Tinto are the multinational companies most affected by the stoppage, as they already produce and export coal in Tete.

On Monday, Vale said in a statement published in Rio de Janeiro that for reasons of force majeure Vale Moçambique was unable to fulfil its contracts to supply coal mined in Mozambique’s Tete province.

The Sena railroad has come to a standstill due to derailments and torrential rains that have washed away parts of the line and even some small bridges. This has meant that Vale Moçambique has been unable to transport around 250,000 tons of coking coal.

Until December of last year the Brazilian mining company transported over 2 million tons of coal along the Sena railroad on 1,000 trains, whilst Rio Tinto transported 35,000 tons of coal. Source – macauhub


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Mozambique’s and Africa’s forests are being depleted by illegal logging. Picture J Nadine Laporte, WHRC

A new report says illegal logging has resulted in a loss of millions of dollars of potential revenue in Mozambique, one of the world's least-developed countries. A London-based NGO says Mozambique's plight is part of a global problem.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) says up to 48 percent of timber exported from Mozambique to China may be illegal.

A February EIA report says illegal harvests may have cost the cash-strapped African nation US$30 million in lost state revenues in 2012.

EIA forest analyst Chris Moye says officials in both countries are at fault.

"Chinese companies are knowingly breaking the laws, including producing fraudulent documentation which lies about the shipments that they are in fact sending over to China," said Moye. “And, they are able to do that because they have political patronage.”

In Mozambique, Vanessa Cabanelas, a technical advisor for the group Environmental Justice, says the EIA findings come as no surprise.

“The situation is really bad and the way it is going, I do no know for how long it will be bad but it will end eventually with no wood,” said Cabanelas.

She says Mozambique's government does not have the means and the power to deal with the magnitude of the issue.

It is not just a problem for Mozambique. Kerry Cesareo of the World Wildlife Fund says illegal logging is a global problem.

“Some of the top countries where we see a very high estimated rate of illegal harvest would include Russia, China, Indonesia, Brazil, Malaysia and I would probably add Bolivia, Ghana and Cameroon,” said Cesareo.

She says the problem is fueled by an increasing demand for wood and wood products coupled with weak enforcement of logging regulations and corruption.

“So you have strong demand that may drive illegal harvesting on the ground and sometimes there is a blind eye being turned, or there is just inadequate capacity to control the forestry service and enforce existing laws related to forest management,” Cesareo said.

Those existing laws include regulations against importing illegal timber as well as laws against trading timber harvested illegally.

Secretary-General Ben Gunneberg heads the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the world's largest forest certification program. The group works with countries to help keep logging at a sustainable level. He says the governments of some of the countries hit hard by illegal logging are working with international regulators.

“Those are the negotiations that have been taking place in some of the countries, and by no means all of the countries, where the issues are fairly major,” said Gunneberg.

He says forest management is key because about 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihood to some degree. Source – VOA


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Dutch navy ship HNLMS De Ruyter and a helicopter from the Spanish Navy ship ESPS Mendez Nunez– see story below. Picture EU NAVFOR

Pirates who kidnapped the foreign crew off an offshore service vessel are demanding a 200 million naira (US$1.3 million) ransom for their release, while off the coast of Somalia a Dutch warship has intercepted a group of suspected pirates about 200n.miles off the African coast. Pirates boarded the offshore supply vessel ARMADA TUAH 101 on Sunday, 17 February and took six of the crew, all foreigners away with them when they left, leaving Nigerian crew on board the vessel unharmed. They have since demanded a ransom of 200 naira (US$1.3 million) for their release, according to Nigerian police.

The nationalities of the six taken hostage are believed to be three Ukrainian, two Indian and one Russian seafarers. Armada Tuah 101 is owned or operated by a Nigerian company, Century Group.

This was the fourth vessel to be attacked off the West African coast in a period of just ten days, the others being Armada Tugas 1, Esther 7 and Walvis 7.

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Two suspected pirate skiffs, one towing the other, being pursued by a Dutch Navy helicopter. Picture EU NAVFOR

On the other side of Africa, off the coast of Somalia, the Dutch Navy ship HNLMS DE RUYTER intercepted a suspected group of pirates about 200 n.miles east of Eyl off the Somalia coast. The nine men were taken on board the Dutch ship for further investigation.

This occurred on Tuesday, 19 February. The ship is operating as part of Operation Atalanta with the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR). The ship had been tasked to find a suspected pirate group that had been reported by a merchant ship sailing in the area. As a helicopter operating from the De Ruyter approached, the men on board the two skiffs were seen to be throwing objects overboard. The two skiffs then separated in an attempt to escape but one craft was quickly stopped in the water by the helicopter and by boarding teams from the navy ship.>p> The second skiff was meanwhile located by a Spanish EU NAVFOR maritime patrol aircraft which kept it under surveillance until it too was stopped in the water by the helicopter off the Spanish naval ship and flagship of the EU NAVFOR force, ESPS MENDEZ NUNEZ.

“With this action the EU Naval Force has once again sent a clear message to the pirates. We are watching you and intend to stop you if you put to sea,” said the Commander of HNLMS De Ruyter, Captain Harold Liebregs.

The nine suspected pirates are being held on board HNLMS De Ruyter for further investigation and evidence collection in order to fully assess the possibility of prosecution. The two attack skiffs were also seized.



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Wednesday this week (20 February) was a special occasion for Durban-based shipping company Island View Shipping (IVS) when the newly built 61,000-DWT dry bulk carrier SANTA BARBARA, on a one-time charter to IVS from her Singapore-registered owners, arrived in Durban to load a parcel of flouorspar at the South African Bulk Terminals on Maydon Wharf 5. This was the ship’s maiden voyage having made just one other port call between Durban and the builder’s yard in Japan.
All pictures by Trevor and Debra Steenkamp www.nauticalimages.co.za

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To welcome the ship in the traditional fashion a tug salute was organised but this had to be postponed until Santa Barbara’s departure as the ship entered port in darkness. In the meanwhile however, some of the IVS staff went on board to honour the ship in another traditional fashion, with the handing over of a commemorative plaque. Posing here for the camera are the ship’s officers – from left Captain Roberto Bautista, 3rd officer Marvina Bernales, chief officer Angelo Ramos, 2nd officer Jupiter Blanco, and 3rd officer Kim John Hermez. Behind them is IVS general manager Axel Krumhoff (left) and other personnel from IVS.

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The tug salute became possible when Santa Barbara sailed yesterday (Thursday).



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