Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 10, 2005
Author: P&S







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Ships queue outside Durban

Twenty five ships lay at anchor at the outer anchorage off Durban this morning, as a result of strong winds and high swells that closed the port to incoming vessels on Tuesday and overnight into Wednesday. The build up of ships waiting to enter port further exacerbated the delays at the container terminal – early this morning the container terminal had the unusual experience of only a single ship on berth while 13 container vessels waited outside – several other container ships in the meantime having ‘cut and run’ for another port.

Swells of between five and eight metres were reported along with strong gusting winds during Tuesday and a seafarer on board the tanker Wappen von Munchen at anchor in the outer anchorage had to be evacuated from his ship after injuring his hand when his ship rolled heavily. The sailor was taken to hospital in Durban where his injury could be treated.

Average expected berthing delays for the Durban Container Terminal over the next week is listed as 25 hours but this figure may well push out even further following the latest delay. Productivity is said to be just below 16 TEU moves per gantry per hour, which is under the accepted norm, although container volumes had been averaging 4,250 per day.

Two berths at Durban Bluff Connections terminal (Bluff coal terminal) are now available following completion of refurbishment work on berth 4. The terminal has a full schedule of coal ships due between now and the end of December.

Richards Bay Coal Terminal had an average of four or five ships at anchor this week and full occupancy inside, with berthing delays of between zero and 72 hours anticipated. Twenty vessels are due at the terminal by mid November.


Food Aid scheduled for Mozambique

Almost 30,000 tonnes of food aid cargo is due to arrive at Mozambique ports in the next six weeks for distribution to drought affected areas. The cargo will be discharged at Maputo and Beira.

According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) there will be a serious shortfall across the southern African region as a result of a drop in donor aid. Currently the organisation is US7 million short in its appeal for 0m to feed the hungry through to end March next year.

Oxfam say rich countries are failing to learn the lessons of the Niger food crisis as between 10 and 12 million people in southern Africa face severe food shortages.

The organisation says the situation is critical across areas of Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and that over the last decade worsening poverty, lack of social welfare, economic decline and HIV/AIDS have made families and communities more vulnerable. It says it is these factors, together with poor and erratic rainfall, that has brought about the current situation.

The WFP said this week that about 800,000 people in Mozambique alone are in danger of ‘extreme food insecurity’ and will be at risk of severe hunger until the next harvest in March 2006.


PetroSA gets major share of oil concession

Namibia’s ministry of mines and energy has awarded PetroSA a 70% share of the concession to explore for oil in the offshore block 1711, which lies on the international boundary between Namibia and Angola. The block is reported to have two defined hydrocarbon exploration prospects known as the Kunene and Hartmann.

The exploration entails site surveys, seismic reprocessing and a detailed technical review costing a minimum of US0,000.

The balance of the allocation was awarded to EnerGulf Resources Inc. (17%), Namcor, the Namibian state oil company (10%) and Namibian black economic empowerment (BEE) groups (3%). PetroSA has responsibility for carrying Namcor and the BEE groups during the exploration phase.


Russian tug heads home

The Russian tug Nikolay Chiker, which has been on station in South African waters for several years while on charter to the Greek salvage company Tsavliris, has been recalled to Russia by her owners, the Russian Federation, and will proceed to the White Sea for future duties.

The tug, one of the more powerful to ply the oceans on salvage work, came to South Africa in 2003 towing a fire-damaged vessel to Durban for repairs and subsequently went on station based in Cape Town. During the period she was in these waters Nikolay Chiker assisted with several newsworthy salvages, including towing the crippled bulker CSK Tribute to Nacala in northern Mozambique in March 2004 where repairs were successfully carried out, and assisting with the salvage of another bulker, Cape Africa in May 2004.

More recently the tug was unsuccessful in a protracted attempt to pull the grounded logger Kiperousa from a reef off the Eastern Cape coast. Kiperousa later became a total wreck and broke up in heavy seas.

Since the mid-1970s South Africa has retained the services of at least one large salvage tug on station on the coast at all times – the former Safmarine tugs John Ross and Wolraad Woltemade alternated on this duty over many years before the Safmarine subsidiary Pentow Marine passed into the hands of the Dutch salvage company Smit. More recently John Ross was renamed Smit Amandla, following the creation of a joint venture between Smit Salvage and a black empowerment company, and today Smit Amandla remains on station for any emergency along South Africa’s coastline.


New Madagascar service launched

Madagascar’s national carrier SMTM (Societe Nationale Malgache de Transports Maritimes) is launching a new service between the Indian Ocean island and Durban from 25 November when the 3,810-gt vessel CEC Vision arrives to inaugurate the service.

The general cargo ship CEC Vision was built in 1994 and has a capacity of 350-TEU with 50 reefer plugs and is self geared with two 50-tonnes cranes. The service will include Mauritius, La Reunion and Madagascar ports.


Clipper Race update

Thursday 10 November

Wild, wet and windy seems to be the general consensus on conditions for the fleet at the moment, but this is not stopping them from racing hard. Glasgow have gained over Victoria, and Westernaustralia are continuing their climb back and have edged ahead of New York. In both cases the more southern yacht has gained, something that will not make happy reading for Conor and the crew on Cardiff who seem to be heading towards Namibia at the moment.

Of course in sailing it is often not so much a matter of where you want to sail, as where you are physically able to sail. With the current wind direction each boat is making the best course to windward they can, and unless there is a dramatic change of wind direction they will all need to tack to the south at some point. Any reluctance to do this so far is due to the fact that the course they would be able to sail on the opposite tack would give them no reduction in distance to finish, and possibly even add on miles, so they will all be hoping for the wind to move more to the south as predicted, enabling them to sail more to the west rather than having to tack. The problem is in the timing. Those that wait too long may find that they still need to tack to clear the land (most at present) in which case a southerly wind will end up giving them the same problem as they try to head south.

The boats have three main sources of weather information. The first is the old fashioned one, barometer and visual observation. Watching the pressure trend over several hours or days, combined with mark one eyeball of cloud formation, wind direction, precipitation and even wave and swell direction gives one a good short term idea of what the weather is likely to do next, but for longer term planning you need to know what is going on elsewhere. It is not enough to know what the pressure is doing at your position. You want to get an overview of what it is doing over a much larger area, and what it is predicted to do in the next few days. For this the tools are satellite and long range radio. If one has good SSB radio reception one can pick up regular fax transmissions of synoptic charts, and download them onto PC or printer. The quality is not always great, and the blurred pictures require a good degree of interpretation, but weatherfax has been the offshore staple for years.

The satellite system on board automatically receives EGC (Elective Group Calling) messages that give a synopsis of pressure systems, their movements and sea area forecasts for whichever ocean region one is interested in. Great stuff, and for the past four Clipper races these and weatherfaxes were pretty much the building blocks from which one developed one’s tactics. Unfortunately this race several of the boats have had reception problems with their SSB’s and so have not been able to receive weatherfaxes. Instead we have therefore been sending the entire fleet Grib files at specified times every couple of days. Grib files are little packages of data that are loaded into the Euronav SeaPro navigational software and display pressure, wind direction and wind strength directly onto the UKHO Arcs electronic charts, as have been displayed on some of our previous reports. Not only do these give you a clear picture of what is happening at a particular time, they also show you forecasted changes as well, for whatever period we have set. So, every other day the fleet receives a forecast which shows directly on their charts what is predicted to happen for the next four days. Easy. The harder stuff is still working out where to point the boat with all this information at one’s disposal! And of course as the crews are beginning to discover, no forecast no matter how convincing is guaranteed 100% accurate.

- this report courtesy Clipper Ventures


Did you know that Ports & Ships lists ship movements for all ports between Walvis Bay on the West Coast and Beira on the East Coast




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