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Ports & Ships Maritime News

17 November 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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The cruise ship AMADEA has been making her way around the South African coast with calls at ports along the way. On Sunday 15 November it was Durban's turn to host the ship, which berthed at the N-Shed passenger terminal. This picture is by Ken Malcolm

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In a surprise turn of events, the Maritime Africa / MCSA conference set for later this month has been cancelled.

According to a spokesperson for the conference organiser, permit approval in terms of the National Conventional Arms Control Act (No. 41 of 2002) has not been received in time for final arrangements for the conference to be made.

The Maritime Africa / MCSA conference was due to be held in Cape Town at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 23 and 24 November. Regarded as one of the year's 'big ones' the conference attracts hundreds of delegates and hosts a large exhibition. Much of the conference centres around military or security matters and as a result a number of weapon systems would ordinarily have been on display. For this and possibly other reasons a permit is necessary.

"Unfortunately this leaves us no option but to cancel the event with immediate effect," Richard Stubbs, Event Manager said.

Among those who would have been exhibiting and taking part in the conference is Denel, South Africa's state-owned aerospace and defence technology company. Denel intended launching its maritime division, which was set up last year with a key objective of becoming a strategic partner for the South African Navy. It was regarded as a fantastic opportunity for Denel to launch its maritime division in public and to articulate its aspirations within the sector, said a Denel spokesman.

No reason is forthcoming as to why the relevant authorities were unable to respond in time regarding granting (or denying) permission to stage this important conference and annual exhibition and it reflects badly on the competence of the country. Once again Team South Africa appears to have dropped the ball!

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This building, the Djibouti Regional Training Centre, will play a key role in regional capacity-building initiatives under the Code of Conduct. The impressive new centre will be a vital component in the provision of maritime security and other training in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean area

This will broaden scope to other illicit maritime activity

From an IMO briefing of 13 November it is learnt that an international agreement, that has been instrumental in repressing piracy and armed robbery against ships in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, is set to significantly broaden its scope.

Signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct have agreed to work towards extending its remit to address other illicit maritime activity that threatens safety and security in the region, such as marine terrorism, environmental crimes, human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

National focal points, otherwise known as the signatory states for the code, which was adopted under the auspices of the IMO in 2009, have adopted a resolution expressing concern at the increasing risks from transnational organised crimes at sea and other threats to maritime safety and security in the region. They agreed to encourage information sharing on all illicit activities at sea.

Training and other capacity-building activities implemented under the auspices of the Djibouti Code of Conduct have been credited with contributing to the reduction of piracy in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, alongside the efforts of merchant ships to implement IMO guidance and best management practices, naval forces continuing to deter and disrupt pirate activities and States continuing to prosecute suspected pirates and increasing their maritime law-enforcement capabilities.

But the focal points recognised that piracy in the region has merely been suppressed and its root causes have yet to be addressed. They agreed that, nonetheless, there is now a window of opportunity for IMO Member States in the region to implement capacity-building programmes to prevent a resurgence of piracy and to address wider maritime security issues, as a basis for sustainable development of the maritime sector.

The focal points met on 11 / 12 November in the newly-completed Djibouti Regional Training Centre, which was formally opened by Mr Moussa Ahmed Hassan, Djibouti's Minister of Equipment and Transport, on 12 November. The Djibouti Regional Training Centre will play a key role in regional capacity-building initiatives under the Code of Conduct.

IMO Secretary-General HE Koji Sekimizu, speaking by video message during the opening ceremony, encouraged the Government of Djibouti to be imaginative in its use of the new building and to be proactive in maximising its potential, for the benefit of the whole region. The centre could be used as a venue for wider port, maritime, law-enforcement or indeed any other training, conferences and meetings, as well as being a centre of excellence for regional maritime security training.

He continued: "This impressive new centre will be a vital component in the provision of maritime security and other training in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean area and fully supports IMO's 2015 World Maritime Day theme: Maritime education and training. It should be an asset to Djibouti and to the region for many years to come."

2016 Plan
The national focal points meeting in Djibouti also approved the 2016 plan for regional training for Djibouti Code of Conduct countries.

Construction of the Djibouti Regional Training Centre was funded by Japan, through the Djibouti Code Trust Fund, with equipment provided by Denmark and the Republic of Korea.

IMO continues to support Member States to implement the Djibouti Code of Conduct through its Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) and through the Djibouti Code Trust Fund. It also maintains a presence in the region, focussed on the code, with two staff members based in Nairobi, Kenya, whose primary role is training.

Djibouti Code of Conduct
The Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden (the Djibouti Code of Conduct) provides a framework for capacity building in the Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean to counter the threat of piracy. The Code was signed on 29 January 2009 by the representatives of: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen.

Comoros, Egypt, Eritrea, Jordan, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates have since signed, bringing the total to 20 countries.

Since its adoption, the Code has become the major focus for facilitating transnational communication, coordination and cooperation in its four thematic broad pillars: delivering national and regional training, enhancing national legislation, information sharing and building counter-piracy capacity.

Paul Ridgway

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Cover of the Djibouti Document

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Young Endeavour

Australia's Sail Training Ship YOUNG ENDEAVOUR, manned by 12 personnel of the Royal Australian Navy and another 24 Australian youth who have embarked on a circumnavigation of the world, has arrived in Cape Town.

The 44 metre long sailing ship was a gift to Australia in 1988 from the United Kingdom at the time of Australia's bicentenary of colonisation and has recently taken part in the Anzac Centenary Commemorations held in Gallipoli, Turkey as well as in the 2015 Tall Ship Races held in the North Sea.

Her arrival in Cape Town follows a voyage across the South Atlatic from her last port of call at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Her visit to Cape Town will last until 24 November when she sails into the Indian Ocean towards her final destination back home in Australia.

The ship is brigantine rigged, with a 32-metre (105 ft) tall mainmast, and ten sails with a total area of 511 square metres (5,500 sq ft). She displaces 239 tonnes and her auxiliary propulsion is provided by two Perkins V8 M200 TI diesel engines, providing 123 kW each. As a naval vessel, Young Endeavour is attached to the RAN's Mine Warfare, Hydrographic and Patrol Boat Force, from whom the naval crew is drawn. The balance of crew consists of young people between the ages of 16 and 23.

Young Endeavour will be open to the public while in Cape Town on Saturday, 21 November between the hours of 10am and 3pm. The ship is berthed on Jetty No.2 at the V&A Waterfront harbour.

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Med Ship Co 20091113 49197 Sinfonia by Trevor St
MSC Sinfonia arriving in Durban in 2009, for the very first time. This Thursday she arrives once more ahead of a summer cruising season in South Africa, but this time as a recently 'stretched' or lengthened ship. Picture is by Trevor Steenkamp

MSC SINFONIA's arrival in South Africa early on Thursday sparks the start to the 'real' cruise season for locals, in spite of several other cruise ships having already called.

MSC Sinfonia arrives in Durban from an unusual direction, having sailed from Italy to South Africa via the Suez Canal and western Indian Ocean for the first time in six years for a MSC Cruises ship. Although this is the shorter and more 'natural' route, MSC Cruises stopped sailing to South Africa via the Red Sea as a safety measure at the height of rampant piracy in the Horn of Africa region.

With that challenge now minimised, if not largely eradicated, the positioning voyages of the resident MSC ship in South Africa during the summer reverts to using the Indian Ocean route.

Her current voyage has seen the recently enlarged MSC Sinfonia sailing via the widened Suez Canal, Aqaba in Jordan, the lovely Seychelles, to Mauritius and Reunion and finally 'home' to Durban.

In spite of the feeling that piracy is under control, it is notable that the line continues to avoid calls at Mombasa or Dar es Salaam as this would take the ship too close perhaps to the recently troubled Somali coast.

So, in two days time (Thursday) and for the first time we will be able to see and appreciate exactly what her 'stretched' version is really like.

As with her three sisters, MSC Opera, MSC Lirica and MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia has undergone roughly 50 million Euros worth of lengthening and a general refurbishment. The programme has provided almost 200 additional cabins, many of them with balconies, and has increased her capacity by almost 500 passengers.

The ship is arriving at a time when the South African economy is hovering near the dreaded recession point, and the Rand is rapidly disappearing over the horison as a currency of some worth. Yet despite this and despite MSC Sinfonia's increase in size and capacity, sales and marketing director Alan Foggitt says that a number of her cruises out of Durban this summer have already been sold out.

And that's before the ship has even arrived!

Allan Foggitt C250
"Our figures are growing at an incredible rate," says Foggitt. This at a time when much of the remainder of the tourism sector is taking a knock, thanks to the declining rand value and the economy.

"To date, over 80 percent of our annual budget has already been achieved, and we are sitting on an occupancy rate of 70 percent." N-Shed which is in use as a passenger terminal at Durban has also undergone refurbishment and now boasts a number of new improvements aimed at making the facility more people friendly and helpful to the tens of thousands who will board and leave the Sinfonia and other cruise ships during the summer. This apparently includes added signage, balustrades, turnstyles and sail shades, as well as new ramps, a new fast track lounge, immigration and check-in desks, new baggage scanners and conveyor belt, an air-conditioning system, extra seating, and a back-up generator and UPS to cater for the eventuality of load shedding. To cater for increased demand, MSC Cruises entered into a joint initiative with Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to upgrade the existing N-Shed Terminal, says Foggitt.

"N-shed was initially a warehouse that was used as a terminal when MSC Cruises first started cruising local waters in 1989. It was upgraded a few years back, however, of late, it required further upgrades to accommodate more passengers in a more comfortable and efficient manner. To make this a reality, MSC Cruises entered into a joint initiative with TNPA to improve these facilities."

Regardless of these improvements, Durban needs a new and dedicated passenger terminal. The process of building one at the Point seems bogged down in bureaucratic processes, whereas a contract to develop a new terminal at Cape Town has already been settled with the V&A Waterfont company being appointed.

Transnet needs to speed up with the tender and contracting of someone to develop a new a more suited facility, less this end up being like the neighbouring Point Waterfront -- bogged down in inertia!

Because of her increased length, MSC Sinfonia will no longer berth at N shed but around the corner at M berth, which used to be where the mail ships tied up every week. This is unfortunate as the cruise ship will no longer be visible to anyone along the Esplanade or at Wilson's Wharf. The N Shed terminal will continue to be used as normal however.

MSC Sinfonia sails from Durban later on the same day for the first of her Mozambique cruises, a four day visit to Maputo and Portuguese Island. She then provides a variety of cruise options until the end of summer.

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Ships from the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) off the coast of Somalia. Photo: EUNAVFOR

The United Nations Security Council last week renewed for another year its authorisation for international naval forces to join in fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia, stressing that while the threat from Somali pirates has declined, it still remains a matter of "grave concern."

Adopting a unanimous resolution, the 15-member body highlighted the important role played by ships from regional organisations such as the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Operation (NATO) Ocean Shield, but noted that the primary responsibility lies with Somalia, a country torn apart by 25 years of strife.

"While noting improvements in Somalia, [the Council] recognizes that piracy exacerbates instability in Somalia by introducing large amounts of illicit cash that fuels additional crime and corruption," the resolution declared, stressing "the need for a comprehensive response to prevent and suppress piracy and tackle its underlying causes by the international community."

It called on States and regional organisations to deploy naval vessels, arms, and military aircraft, and provide logistical support for counter-piracy forces.

At its height piracy off Somalia's coasts netted scores of vessels, from large container ships to small leisure yachts, resulting in hundreds of people being held hostage and millions of dollars being paid in ransom.

Since the UN first authorised international naval intervention in 2008, the rate of seizures has gradually declined. In February this year a mission under the auspices of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) freed four Thai nationals after nearly five years in captivity, the longest held hostage ordeal in the battle against the pirates.

By that time six of the original 24 crew members of the Taiwanese-flagged FV PRANTALAY 12, who were held on land, died from illness while 14 Myanmar crewmen were released to police in northern Somalia.

In a bid to avoid the impunity that the pirates have enjoyed, today's resolution urged flag, port and coastal States and the home States of piracy victims to cooperate in determining jurisdiction and investigating and prosecuting perpetrators, and proposed the establishment of specialised anti-piracy courts in Somalia with substantial international participation.

It noted "with concern" that the continuing limited capacity to facilitate the custody and prosecution of suspected pirates after their capture has hindered more robust international action and too often has led to pirates being released without facing justice.

It stressed that peace and stability within Somalia, the strengthening of local institutions and economic and social development are essential for the lasting eradication of piracy off Somalia, while also noting that piracy contributes to the instability in the Horn of Africa country. source: United Nations News Centre

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Hout Bay fishing harbour

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) says it is working around the clock to resolve the technical challenges in vetting the small-scale fishing regulations.

The purpose of the regulations is to ensure equitable access to fish by small-scale fishing communities, transform the inequalities of the past fisheries system and address the high levels of abject poverty, socio-economic development and food insecurity in the small-scale fishing communities.

The department acknowledged that window dressing was huge in the fishing industry, which is why fishermen in the primary co-operatives were being registered as 100 percent owners. Meanwhile, they would have a seat in the secondary co-operatives, which processed the catches.

The department on Monday said it was working closely with the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor (OCSLA) to urgently resolve the technical legal issues in order to have the regulations vetted to lift obstacles for fishing communities.

"The department acknowledges that it has not met the timeframes as communicated in the Roll-Out Plan. The Roll-Out Plan will therefore require adjustment but this adjustment will only be communicated once the department has resolved the vetting issues with OCSLA," the department said.

The regulations empower the Minister to identify, verify, register and recognise both small-scale fishers and small-scale fishing communities. The verification of individual fishers will be done in consultation with the fishing community.

The vetting and the approval of the small-scale fishing regulations is necessary in providing the legal framework for prescribing the process for allocating small-scale fishing rights and the overall management of this new fishing sector.

However, due to the sensitive nature of the process, the department said it had reached some technical challenges in vetting the small-scale fishing regulations.

The department says it is continuing with consulting communities as it progresses to the final stretch of implementing the fisheries policy.

In the meantime, communities that have as yet not registered an expression of interest with the department are reminded that the expression of interest process is still open for fishing communities that would like to be considered as part of the implementation process.

The expression of interest form can be downloaded by CLICKING HERE

Stakeholders are also encouraged to consult the department's website www.daff.gov.za and Facebook (Small-Scale Fisheries) page to keep updated with the most recent small-scale fisheries information and developments. -- SAnews.gov.za

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The Durban prawn trawler STRIKER belonging to the Viking Fishing Group heads home to the fishing jetties in Durban bay on Sunday (15 November) just as a sudden rain squall fell across the bay. Picture is by Ken Malcolm


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