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Ports & Ships Maritime News

29 October 2013
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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News continues below...


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The 2013 Clipper Round the World yacht race is on once again with Cape Town forming the end of the third leg, ahead of Leg 4 between South Africa and Australia. Most of the yachts had arrived when this picture was taken at the weekend. Picture by Aad Noorland

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) of Nigeria has approved a N58.6bn (US$368.7m) contract for the construction of ship building facilities and a dockyard in the Delta region.

The project is in line with the mandate of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under Section 22 (1k) of the enabling law of the agency.

Under the regulation, NIMASA will develop and implement policies and programmes to facilitate the growth of maritime infrastructure in the country.

According to Nigeria’s Federal minister of transport Alhaji Idris Umar, the project will be divided into two stages, where the first stage will involve construction of maritime equipments and structure, ancillary buildings and electro-mechanical works and facilities for the ship building at a cost of N40.2bn ($252.9m).

The second stage will involve all the civil and infrastructure works for the facilities at a cost of NGN18.4bn ($115.8m).

Umar said that Nigeria has a very serious dearth in ship building capacity and it is therefore imperative that the country develops the facility in order to curtail the incessant capital flight that is being experienced by the economy.

“Annually, we have to be acquiring vessels and ships outside the country which is telling on the economy,” Umar added.

“This project has the propensity to drive sustainable development and step up capacity building in the maritime sector of the economy. It will also help Nigeria to take its rightful place among the developed maritime nations across the world.”

Once completed, the facility will provide for the dry docking of ocean-going vessels, which will be useful for the training of Maritime Academy cadets. In addition, there would be a tripartite deal between NIMASA, the contractor and the private sector to ensure sustenance of the facility. source - Ship Technology

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Efforts to nudge the young humpback whale away from the quayside proved fruitless…… Picture NSRI

There was drama of an unusual kind late on Sunday night when a young whale entered the harbour and took up residence between the passenger ship MV EXPLORER and the dockside.

NSRI Stations 2 and 3 (Bakoven and Table Bay) were alerted and what follows is the NSRI report:

At 23h40 (Sunday, 27 October) Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) was alerted by the ship MV EXPLORER, docked at E Berth, Duncan Docks in the Port of Cape Town, of a whale appearing to be trapped between the quayside and the ship.

TNPA activated the Department of Environmental Affairs Oceans and Coasts and Mike Meyer was sent to investigate. TNPA officials were also dispatched and NSRI and TNPA tug boats were placed on alert.

On arrival on the scene Meyer found a juvenile Humpback whale, approximately 8 metres in length and estimated to be about 1 year old, trapped between the ship’s side and the quayside and despite having some space between the ships side and the quayside, and with the whale gradually moving backwards and forwards, it appeared to be too disorientated to move backwards to where the gap between the ship and the quay widened (towards the front of the ship) and continually appeared to wedge itself up against the ship and the quayside where the ship’s side was pressed hard against the quay side.

Despite numerous attempts using a pole and torch light to get the whale to move backwards towards a widening gap of open water, the whale remained trapped between the ship and the quay side, unable to turn around and continuing to nudge against the tyre fenders.

The whale also displayed damage to its mouth which appeared to be a result of nudging against the tyre fenders.

After his efforts to coax the whale backwards towards open water had failed, Meyer requested assistance.

NSRI Headquarters, NSRI Table Bay, NSRI Bakoven, a Western Cape Government Health EMS rescue squad, the Police Dive Unit, Harbour Police and the Police Sea Borderline unit were activated.

On arrival on-scene it was agreed that the MV EXPLORER would have to be moved aside to make space for a rescue effort and TNPA, together with the ships agent, authorised the operation to move the ship.

Two TNPA tugs, MERLOT and PINOTAGE, and a TNPA harbour pilot Yolisa Tshangela, were dispatched while the ship’s crew was mustered, along with TNPA shore crews, to carry out the task of moving the 24,300 ton, 590 foot ship, into the middle of the harbour to make room for a rescue effort to take place.

NSRI Table Bay launched their sea rescue rigid inflatable boat (RIB) ROTARY ENDEAVOR and Sea Borderline Police launched a Police Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB).

Under the guidance of Mike Meyer, once the ship had been moved aside, the two RIB's, with NSRI crews and Police Diver moved in to attempt to coax and guide the whale away from the quayside.

The whale stubbornly refused to budge despite the best efforts of the rescue crews on the two RIB's, and police diver Douglas Jones volunteered to get into the water and physically push the whale away from the quay wall.

Once in the water Jones managed to push the whale away from the edge of the quayside and then both RIB's were used to guide the whale out towards the port exit.

Police Diver Jones remained in the water next to the whale and continued to gently push the whale along in conjunction with the two rescue RIB's.

Efforts were then begun to re-berth the ship.

During these efforts (to coax the whale out to sea) the whale attempted to return to its original place next to the quay side but remarkably the whale then decided to follow the tug boat MERLOT, which had by now released her lines to the now docked ship.

Mike Meyer surmises that the juvenile whale, distressed and disorientated, may have mistaken the tug boat MERLOT for its mother. The tug was instructed to head out to sea and the whale followed MERLOT out of the port exit to open waters.

Mike Meyer has expressed that he is cautiously optimistic that the whale will survive this ordeal although fearing that the whale may be too disorientated to survive, especially since it appears to be separated from its mother.

The Port of Cape Town and beaches in the Table Bay vicinity will be monitored to see if the whale returns into port or if it beaches along the coastline.

The rescue operation was completed at 04h10 on Monday, 28 October.

Thanks were expressed to Captain Jeremy Kingston of MV EXPLORER and to his crew. MV EXPLORER, a floating University of Semester at Sea, departs Cape Town for Argentina on Wednesday.

Students on the ship gave the whale a number of names during the rescue operation.

All services involved are commended for participating in this rescue operation. source - NSRI

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UAL Houston, distinctive with its Groot Cross Bow, lies alongside the drill ship Ensco DS7 off the Port of Walvis Bay. Picture by Volker Pesch/UAL

Transferring oil & gas related cargoes from a ship to a land-based terminal is already a major operation in its own right, but when it comes to a ship-to-ship (STS) transfer it’s a far more complicated operation.

Universal Africa Lines (UAL), a niche breakbulk carrier servicing the oil & gas industry, undertook just such an operation on Sunday, 27 October in Namibian waters some six miles off Walvis Bay when 53 riser pipers weighing approximately 22 tons each and measuring 24 metres long and 1,3 metres wide and high, were transferred from one vessel to another.

The cargo was moved from the drill ship ENSCO DS-7 to the newly built UAL HOUSTON and is being transported to Lobito, Angola for refurbishment.

The decision for the offshore ship to shore transfer (STS) is due to the draft in the port being too shallow to accommodate the drill ship.

A STS transfer is by no means an easy feat and therefore operations were carried out in accordance with the strictest adherence to safety regulations.

The UAL Houston is one of the new innovative vessels in the UAL fleet and was built in the Netherlands. This vessel is considered unique because of the application of the Groot Cross Bow – an innovative bow shape with wave piercing abilities.

This ensures the ship will have less slamming and maintain speed easier when compared to the more conventional bow shapes with bow flare, ultimately resulting in massive energy savings as less fuel would be burned and there would be a reduction in the CO2 output.

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Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has called for tenders for the manufacture of two new dredgers to enter service in South African ports.

This follows the delivery of a new trailing suction dredger, ISANDLWANA (6,155-dwt), which arrived in Durban on 3 December 2010 after having been built at the IHC Merwede shipyards in the Netherlands as a turnkey project for Transport & Offshore Services (TOS) on behalf of her future owners, TNPA.

Isandlwana was the first dredger to be built for the South African ports since INGWENYA entered service in 1981.

This was followed in July 2012 when a tender was called for the construction of a new grab dredger using the hydraulic grab crane currently in use on the dredger named Crane.

The latest tender documents indicate that a trailing suction hopper dredger with a hopper capacity of 5,500m³ is required including its design, construction, commissioning and delivery and that preference would be given to applicants with a B-BBEE status. A compulsory briefing session will be held on 21 November 2013 at 10h00 with full details contained in the RFP document.

A second tender, also including the design, manufacture, assembly, commissioning and delivery is sought for a new Bed Leveller (Plough Tug) for dredging services at the Port of Durban. This would presumably replace an existing plough tug in service at the port. A compulsory briefing session will be held on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 at 10h00, with details available in the RFP documents.

Meanwhile, confirmation of the contract for a fleet of nine new tugs for TNPA is still awaited. Indications are that the contract is to be awarded to Southern African Shipyards in Durban but the final word is still awaited.

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The Port of Durban’s plough tug, IMPISI which is presumably to be replaced with a new bed leveller vessel now on tender. Picture by Terry Hutson


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STS cranes at Durban Container Terminal. Picture by Terry Hutson

Port operators need to start making the most of their existing equipment assets and stop looking to spend their way out of the financial crisis, according to asset management specialist Malcolm Youll.

A new piece of kit – be that a crane, straddle carrier, or port operating system – may promise increased productivity but when the shine wears off, or a change occurs in the business cycle, they could end up being expensive white elephants.

Terminals could make much better use of the equipment they already have, counsels Mr Youll, chief executive of asset management newcomer AssetRight. In his view, increased efficiency is a tried and tested way to overcome a depressed global economy and the pressures of increased competition.

“Awareness of asset management techniques is generally low in terminal businesses; the focus has always been on short-term operational delivery and profitability.

“But today you have to make the most of what you have got. It’s very capital intensive to buy machinery, but often there’s little consideration given to the cost of machinery that’s under-utilised or even redundant.”

Efficiency plus

Asset management provides new and optimum solutions to the problem and is not capital intensive. Tens and hundreds of thousands invested can make ten times plus in efficiency gains, just by viewing things differently. For example, not maintaining equipment for the sake of it but because there is a clear, measureable need.

For Mr Youll the key is ‘doing more with less for longer’. “Sweat the assets. You have to make them work, rather than resourcing to peaks and troughs or buying another straddle carrier, gantry crane, or RMG.

“Organisations need to look at their equipment utilisation from a different perspective, which is hard to do when you are immersed in the business and faced with immediate operational pressures.”

While acceptance of asset management as a proven science is currently low in the ports and terminals industry, Mr Youll says this is changing and the pioneers will be the ones to profit the most.

“Those who embrace it now will see the benefits; those who wait and see or follow will miss the opportunity because this is about long term planning for the future of business. I predict that this will be the next big thing that consultants will be selling to terminal operators.”

Big three

Most businesses have a pool of capital available for reinvestment. Decisions on how to reinvest should be based on three areas; increased capacity, efficiency and reliability and sustaining the asset base.

In some terminals, engineering and maintenance departments have not always had an easy line to management, particularly when it comes to making a case for funding. Sustaining the asset base (or maintenance) is often regarded as an operating expense. This has meant that the employees that could potentially provide information on how a physical asset can be better utilised are not heard.

“Stop looking at the financials in the way you’ve always looked at them. Stop focusing just on the day-to-day operational pressures of the business and start listening to the engineering guy,” says Mr Youll. “He knows what he’s talking about and can save more money than anything else that you could probably do in a board meeting.”

Indeed, Mr Youll claims that just one operational meeting focussed solely on asset management could make a massive difference to a port business. For example, data can now be analysed to give the true expectation of the lifetime of a part in the actual environment it will be working in, allowing failures to be anticipated well before they actually happen.

Some of the technologies involved in physical asset management could also have a positive effect on the equipment users themselves, giving double benefits to port operators. But getting port labour onside needs to be sensitively undertaken.

“The best way to approach this is in terms of education, explaining the value you can add to the business through personal contribution,” says Mr Youll. “The human factor has a massive impact. Conversely, as soon as you lose the people, you’ve lost the game. No change management programme will ever succeed unless you have the people on board.”

Shared knowledge

Transferable knowledge from other transportation organisations could help foster acceptance. “The ports industry is lagging behind some of the other industries. However, if you actually integrate best practise techniques from other industries, like the airline industry, you can apply that to terminals; the assets are different but the way that they behave is the same.”

In that respect, physical asset management is not the dark art that many perceive it to be.

“It is so simple,” says Mr Youll, “but no one is bringing the pieces together. The underlying message is start thinking about asset management and what it can do for you. Out of everything I’ve done in the past 20 years, this is what I believe will make a mark on industry.” source – Port Strategy


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Port Elizabeth harbour

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The Singapore-owned, Malaysian-flagged offshore supply vessel ARMADA TUAH 105 (2,929-gt, built 2009) in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Aad Noorland

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The Italian standby safety vessel DP STAR (498-gt, built 1971) with the Chinese heavylift Zhen Hua 20, loaded with STS cranes at her stern. The heavylift is undergoing engine room repairs. Picture by Aad Noorland

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