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Ports & Ships Maritime News

5 May 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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BOURBON EXPLORER 510 aad noorland 11 (3) adj 480

The St Vincent & Grenadine-flagged offshore supply vessel BOURBON EXPLORER 510 (3,600-dwt, built 2014) called at Cape Town recently for bunkers and supplies and is seen here sailing from port, accompanied by the harbour workboat KESTREL. Pictures: Aad Noorland

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video clip: NSRI

A capsized vessel that SAMSA (SA Maritime Safety Authority) believes to be a barge has turned up in the busy shipping lanes some 10 nautical miles south of Cape Point.

Most of the vessel is submerged with just the stern part showing above surface.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was alerted to the presence of the hulk on Friday, 1 May after a fishermen at sea came across the vessel, which appears to have been floating capsized for some time.

The NSRI posted an Urgent Maritime Navigational Hazard floating off-shore of Cape Point warning, urging fishermen and vessels at sea off the Cape Peninsula and False Bay Coast to be cautious and aware of the risk.

On receiving the news from the fisherman, the NSRI Simon’s Town responded aboard their sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF SAFMARINE III and SPIRIT OF SURFSKI II.

They attached life-jacket strobe lights onto the wreck in an effort to make it more visible to passing traffic. “Our greatest concern is fishermen departing to go to normal fishing grounds South of Cape Point before sunrise and returning after sunset as the floating wreck is barely visible,” said the NSRI.

It appears that sightings of the floating wreck have been made before although it remains unknown what vessel this is or where it originated. SAMSA thinks the barge may have originated in East Africa and floated down the coast on the Agulhas Current.

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A Marine Biologist who is an NSRI Hout Bay volunteer and who accompanied NSRI Simonstown says he thinks that, judging by barnacle growth on the wreck, she may have been floating like this for about two months.

Telkom Maritime Radio Services meanwhile responded by posting a Maritime Navigational Hazard for vessels in the area to be on alert.

NSRI said it would attempt to monitor future sightings to track progress of the floating wreck.

Smit Amandla Marine which is under contract to the Department of Transport to respond to maritime emergencies off of the South African coast, warned that the vessel’s hull is made from fiberglass and was therefore difficult to be detected by radar.

The tug SMIT AMANDLA was despatched to locate and tow the capsized vessel away from the coast. Under the direction of Capt Nigel Campbell of SAMSA (Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre), the team on board the tug under the command of Capt Kariem Enrahim was able to successfully locate the upturned hull of the capsized vessel floating off Cape Point.

Last night they were preparing to tow the capsized vessel about 100 n.miles away from the coast where it will be sunk.

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Programme Manager for TNPA’s R1.4 billion tug contract, Eugene Rappetti (left), with Southern African Shipyards CEO, Prasheen Maharaj in front of one of nine tugboats being built at the Durban shipyard for the port authority

Transnet National Port’s Authority’s R1.4 billion contract to produce nine powerful tugboats is progressing on time and within budget at the Southern African Shipyards premises in Durban.

“This is a milestone project that reinforces the capacity and skill of South Africa and indeed Durban when it comes to competing in the global shipbuilding industry,” said TNPA programme manager Eugene Rappetti, Senior Manager for Marine Operations.

“Despite the challenges of energy disruptions, the project team is forging ahead and has made impressive progress, with around 11% of the fabrication and construction on the project completed thus far,” he said.

The project kicked off in August 2014 and is set to provide a big boost to the local economy over its 42 month lifespan. It includes the manufacture of one of the world’s largest and most powerful harbour tugs.

The new fleet of nine high quality tugs will replace ageing tugboats at the Ports of Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay and Saldanha.

Rappetti said TNPA had 29 tugs presently in service nationally, but the requirement for bigger, strong tugboat fleets had increased in line with bigger commercial vessels calling at South African ports more frequently.

“The increased bollard pull of these new generation tugs meets international standards and they also feature the latest global technology. The tugs have Voith Scheider propulsion which makes them highly manoeuverable and able to change the direction and thrust almost instantaneously while guiding large vessels safely into our ports,” he said.

Tight deadlines
Given the project’s tight deadlines five tugs will be under construction simultaneously at any given time in Southern African Shipyards giant hangar hall at Bayhead, Durban.

Rappetti said the first tug was already about 35% completed and its hull and superstructure were 70% completed. The first tug is expected to be handed over in January 2016 to the Port of Port Elizabeth, followed by handovers every three months until the last one is launched in early 2018.

Durban based Southern African Shipyards owns and operates the largest shipyard in Southern Africa. Having also built TNPA’s previous 12 tugs, it scooped this contract - the largest single one awarded by TNPA to a South African company for the building of harbour craft - through an open and transparent process. The company’s employees have a 12 percent stake in the company, which has 60 percent black ownership.

Subcontractors on the project include well-known multi-nationals such as Barloworld Equipment, Siemens, Voith Schneider, as well as local contractors such as Bradgary Marine Shopfitters.

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LOTHENI, one of the previous batch of Voith Schneider-propelled harbour tugs built for the TNPA at Southern African Shipyards in Durban. Picture: Trevor Jones
According to Southern African Shipyards CEO Prasheen Maharaj, his company had created 500 direct and 3500 indirect jobs through the project.

“This is a real demonstration of how the maritime economy can be used to unlock the economic potential of South Africa, in line with the intention of government through Operation Phakisa. Our country definitely has the skills and capacity to succeed in sectors such as marine transport and manufacturing, ship building and ship repair,” he said.

“We have committed to ensuring that each tug has a minimum of 60% locally manufactured components, while partnering with international companies on the remaining aspects that cannot be manufactured here, for example the engines and propulsion units.”

He said the intention was to maximise local content and spread the benefits of the project to black suppliers, women- and youth-owned businesses.

“Ultimately South Africa will achieve a socio-economic benefit of more than R800 million as a result of the Supplier Development Plan attached to the contract,” said Maharaj.

In addition a number of national and international training and development opportunities are being created for local employees, with TNPA already set to send employees to Germany and Norway for training on the new propulsion units. They would also receive training locally for four to six weeks.

Rappetti said TNPA also had a large training programme in place for engineering and deck cadets to ensure that the vessels had skilled people in place to operate them.

With the completion of this contract, TNPA’s new fleet will then include one of the most powerful harbour tugs in the world at 42 metres long and 15 metres wide with a bollard pull of just below 100 tons. The other eight 31m tugs are marginally bigger than the existing tugs, but are far more powerful, with a 70-ton pull. The older tugs have 32.5 to 40 ton pulls.

Two tugs will be allocated each to the Ports of Durban, Richards Bay and Port Elizabeth, while Saldanha, which handles the largest carriers and has had a history of vessel groundings, would receive three tugs.

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Video clip of fire on board Hanjin Green earth. Clip courtesy Port Said Police

A 13,000-TEU ultra-large container ship caught fire while sailing through the Suez Canal on Friday, 1 May.

The HANJIN GREEN EARTH was arriving from Jeddah and had entered the canal when the fire appeared to have broken out, although it had possibly been smouldering for some time before that.

The two-year old vessel is deployed on Hanjin’s Asia-North Europe service. The fire appeared to be confined to a number of containers just ahead of the ship’s smokestack.

A number of tugs attended the vessel, helping to extinguish the fire with their hoses. Several other ships were part of the convoy and all kept moving northwards as tugs fought the fire.

According to some reports the fire was put out within a matter of hours. Other reports suggested the fire was still a factor and that at least 50 containers have been damaged.

The ship was later reported at anchor off Port Said. There have been no reports of any injuries to crew who are presumed to have remained on board the ship.

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Hanjin Green Earth. Picture: Shipspotting

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In an interview with a financial newspaper prior to his secondment to Eskom, former chief executive of Transnet Brian Molefe was quoted as saying that “The problem with grain is that once we deploy locomotives, they’re seasonal and sometimes there’s a lot of volatility.”

At a time when Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) is renewing its locomotive fleet with over a thousand new acquisitions and at a time when South Africa is set to import large volumes of maize due to the drought, there remains uncertainty as to whether TFR is capable of handling this traffic, or whether road transport will again stand to benefit.

The report quotes how 30 years ago, South Africa moved 80 percent of its maize production by rail, whereas today the figure is a mere 20 percent. Molefe said, “We’re working on it,” when pressed on this issue.

It seems Transnet has had 30 years to work on it but is still not gaining ground.

We all know the reasons; of how road transport was deregulated in the late 1980s which opened the gates to an unprecedented surge from the road industry which almost overnight captured most of the general freight from TFR and is similarly now taking away large percentages of dry bulk cargo while Transnet is left with excuses.

If that sounds harsh then remember how there have been warnings enough over the years but no-one at Transnet appeared to be interested. The deregulation of the roads may have been the catalyst to opening the gates of hell as far as ordinary road users are concerned, but misdirection and mismanagement at Transnet Freight Rail must surely take most of the blame, even today.

For years now we have failed to be impressed while hearing how Transnet has introduced this or that new master plan aimed at bringing back containers and other cargoes onto the rail, and we’re still hearing this same old story.

Brian Molefe’s parting comments to Bloomberg just about sums up the dilemma at TFR. “We’re working on it.” The business keeps reinventing itself but seldom addresses the fundamentals. For instance, this question of not having enough assets to properly handle the grain traffic until the year 2024, according to Grain SA CEO Jannie de Villiers, would be unbelievable if it were anywhere else.

If the figures quoted are correct, South Africa currently exports 1.9 million tonnes of grain annually. Many rail companies would give their best to gain control of that amount of traffic, no matter the commodity. And with the prospects of large volumes of imports this year, that may equate to return traffic. What could be better? If locomotives are allocated to geographic points, as they once were, instead of restricting them to commodities, then there wouldn’t be this concern. TFR’s focus on specific commodity business units instead of the tried and tested regions-based operating business model is surely one of the reasons why the organisation is forced to turn a cold shoulder to seasonal traffic.

As de Villiers commented in the Bloomberg article, “The railway is a great asset but the needs of agriculture, sadly, aren’t being met.”

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Are learnerships proving effective in the logistics and supply chain management industry?

Dr Frances Wright, lecturer for the Institute of Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Global economic pressure and rapid advances in technology and the knowledge-based economy have seen much of the world plunged into a skills shortage crisis. In South Africa the problem is compounded by a history of poor quality education and limited opportunities. Solutions to the problem need to not only be effective on a broad scale, but also meet the speed at which change is happening.

With a 27 percent shortage in filling critical positions, old strategies are no longer able to meet the critical need to produce more skills; neither are they producing the higher level and kinds of skills needed to respond to the demands of a global knowledge-based economy. In response, government has placed vocational and occupational certification and capability building via learnership and apprenticeship programmes at the core of its skills development policies.

In 2012, the Human Sciences Research Council researched the impact that these policies were making in addressing the crisis. Although the Developing Skills and Capabilities through the Learnership and Apprenticeship Pathway Systems Synthesis Report highlighted the value these programmes offered, despite negative perceptions, it also raised alarm bells about the mismatch between the skills and capabilities developed during training and those required in the workplace.

At the beginning of 2015, Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande highlighted the success of learnership programmes, primarily due to the partnerships between employers, SETAs and training providers. He felt that although these programmes are often complicated to administer and expensive to run, they remained a highly effective mechanism for skills development, with 86 percent of those who have completed a learnership subsequently employed. In the current financial year, the department has actively increased targets on learnerships, with the SETAs targeting more than 43,000 spaces for unemployed individuals entering learnerships.

The Institute of Logistics and Supply Chain Management (ILSCM), a division of the Open Learning Group (Pty) Ltd has been actively involved in establishing learnerships for candidates in NQF Level 4. The ILSCM found that skills transfer is more successful when learnership programmes are applied in combination with coaching or mentorship and when buy-in is achieved from all levels of management. Success comes down to the ability of the company’s programme administrator and the willingness of the mentors. The first skills that need to be developed are industry administrative skills. Many mentors resent the added pressure, but have to be convinced of the benefits of mentoring to the individual and to the industry.

In part these issues are the legacy of the industry’s history. The professionalisation of the industry is relatively new. In the past most managers moved up the ranks via experience rather than formal qualification. Higher degrees in the subject are rare and the demand for formal qualifications has only recently become necessary to meet the challenges of globalisation.

There is also a strange anomaly in the industry; larger companies are more committed to developing their learnership programmes, but generally don’t claim the skills development levy, while smaller companies show no real commitment to the programmes, despite the positive outcomes and increase in productivity for the company.

Effective mentorship is not something that can be enforced or legislated and only once these programmes are effectively managed and mentor-driven, will the true potential be achieved. Generally speaking, this is only likely to happen with the overall professionalisation of the industry through management qualifications and programmes.

It is fortunate that there are programmes such as those offered by the ILSCM. In a situation like this, learners can be led to achieve fully accredited degrees, diplomas or certificates. It is a privilege to be involved in such a scenario. It is fulfilling to know that even distance-learning learners can be supported to achieve qualifications and that a learner’s career possibilities will expand dramatically, even when work pressures might slow down the process.

Dr Frances Wright is a lecturer for the Institute of Logistics and Supply Chain Management (ILSCM). The ILSCM is a division of the Open Learning Group (OLG). Dr Wright holds a BSc Honours in Technology and Operations Management from the Production Management Institute. She completed her MBA at the North-West University in 2007 and was honoured as top Operations student. She also holds a PhD in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurship from the North-West University. Dr Wright is a business mentor and trainer for Business Partners and for Enablis and also consulted on the eTV show ‘Its my Biz’ where she supported entrepreneurs who participated on the show.

The ILSCM can be contacted on 100 670 4800 or email them at info@ilscm.co.za and website at www.ilscm.co.za

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Jessegaard Marine

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Oelof Marais, well-known stevedoring personality in the port of Richards Bay, has been appointed as manager at the Richards Bay office of Jessegaard Marine (Pty) Ltd.

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OCEAN PRINCESS aad noorland (3) RC 480

What may prove to be the final cruise ship of the season has just completed her journey along the South African east coast, calling at Durban, East London and now Cape Town. She is the OCEAN PRINCESS (30,277-gt, built 1999) which is on her world cruise that is taking her back to the UK. In the upper two pictures by Keith Betts, Ocean Princess is seen sailing from Durban in excellent weather last Friday, 1 May. In the lower picture the 826-passenger capacity ship has arrived in Cape Town and is seen here alongside her berth. In March 2016 Ocean Princess transfers to Oceania Cruises who have bought her, and after a refit in Marseilles she will reappear as SIRENA for that line. This picture by Aad Noorland


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