Sep 16, 2004
The small tanker Livingstone, long a resident of the KwaZulu Natal coast, leaves South Africa shores this week, probably forever, bound for the Persian Gulf.
Since 1984 Livingstone has earned her keep in the employ of Fuel Firing Systems, also known as FFS Bunkers. The Durban firm acquired the 67m long gas tanker from Unicorn Shipping and converted her into a bunker barge, initially in Durban and from 1991 in Richards Bay.
With a deadweight of a mere 1186 tons the ship probably didn’t present the common impression of a tanker, or even the gas tanker the ship was designed as back in 1968 in the Japanese shipyards of Taihei Kogyo. But tankers do come in all sizes, and some odd shapes, and Koyo Maru - the original name given by her Japanese owners, was well equipped to perform the duties of a gas tanker.
Later she passed into the hands of Southern Gas Shipping, a Panama-registered company subsequently acquired by Unicorn in 1978. The purchase included another diminutive French-built tanker named Pericles. Six years later came the sale of Livingstone, as Koyo Maru had been renamed, to FFS.
For 13 years Livingstone remained the backbone of FFS Bunkers’ operation in Richards Bay, pioneering bunker barging deliveries in that port, but with advancing years the time came when it was time to put the little ship out to pasture.
Most shipping people expected that to mean a final sea journey to the ship breakers.
Instead a Danish company has acquired her for further bunkering duties, this time in the Persian Gulf. As often happens with change of ownership the ship has a new name – Monjasa Pioneer, and it was under this guise that she will quietly slip from her mooring near the container terminal later this week and head out of harbour for one last time.
This article first appeared in The Mercury on 15 September 2004