Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 31, 2006
Author: P&S





TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

  • Transnet strike hits ports and railway


  • Winds hurt Cape Town harbour


  • Captured Somali pirates to face the law in Kenya


  • Four oil workers may be released


  • MOL begins renaming PONL ships


  • Clipper Race - the tactical racing begins







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    Transnet strike hits port and railway

    A rolling strike by members of four Transnet trade unions began across the provinces of Free State and KwaZulu Natal yesterday (Monday) with greatest attention focused on the ports of Durban and Richards Bay where many Transnet workers downed tools on the first of three days of industrial action.

    As thousands of workers failed to turn up for work yesterday morning Transnet attempted to paint a positive picture by saying that contingency plans had been put in place to ensure normal operations at the ports and with commuter services. Unions on the other hand claimed success in keeping large numbers of workers away and issued statements that “everything is at a standstill at the harbours (Durban and Richards Bay).”

    Ports & Ships own observations suggest that both claims are overstated – the affected areas in the ports appeared to be confined to areas operated by the NPA and SA Port Operations only, with the exception of the Durban car terminal which was seen to be working, while independent terminals and stevedores were also working normally other than for a reduced movement of ships. Ship arrivals in Durban were restricted to a mere six vessels including one cruise ship, while 14 sailings took place. However any stoppage or delay has its effect and the knock-on effects are not good news for business or the economy. The two Durban container terminals were the most affected areas with road gates shut and no traffic being admitted.

    At Richards Bay port operations appeared to be less affected that at Durban and the coal terminal remained in full operation, although there is no confirmation as to whether RBCT is receiving coal trains. The terminal will however have a stockpile (usually about 3 million tonnes) on hand to tide things over should the trains stop running.

    Metrorail, the commuter train service in Durban, came to a virtual standstill all day with commuters having to be diverted to buses employed by the company. Freight train services were also affected although its effect is more difficult to determine.

    The strike in KZN is expected to continue today and will culminate tomorrow (Wednesday) with a mass march through Durban.

    It then moves to the Eastern Cape (Monday 13 February), Western and Northern Cape on Tuesday 14th, and affects the remainder of the country on 20th February.

    If the dispute has not been resolved by that time the unions have threatened a national strike on 6 March.


    Winds hurt Cape Town harbour

    Strong winds are continuing to delay ship movements and cargo working operations at Cape Town harbour. Yesterday morning eight ships were at anchor in Table Bay including five container ships. With a build up of ships expected outside Durban because of the three-day strike at that port, some bunching of container ships can also expected at both ports.

    Altogether about 150 hours has been lost at Cape Town during January owing to the Cape’s notorious south-easter.


    Captured Somali pirates to face the law in Kenya

    It appears likely that the ten suspected Somali pirates, captured at sea by the US Navy destroyer USS Winston S Churchill, will be tried in a Kenyan court of law.

    This follows the detention in Mombasa of ten men who were flown ashore from a US Navy ship. They are being held at a Kenyan police station and are expected to appear in a Mombasa court next Tuesday (7 February). It is not known at this stage what charges they will face.

    However it is highly unlikely they will be returned to Somalia where there is no effective government or judicial process.

    The ship on which they were captured, a motorised dhow named Safinat Biscarat, was allegedly captured earlier by the ten men who used it to hunt and attack other vessels at sea. The vessel was intercepted by the US Navy after a chase at sea in which warning shots were fired in the air, forcing the alleged pirates to surrender. Sixteen Indian sailors on board the small vessel told the US Navy that their vessel had been seized near Mogadishu five days earlier and used for attacking commercial shipping.


    Four oil workers may be released

    The four expatriate oil workers captured by militants off a service vessel at an oil platform in the Niger Delta may be released, according to reports coming out of Nigeria.

    The four men who have been held hostage have been identified as an American, a Briton, a Honduran and a Bulgarian and will be released on humanitarian grounds, says a statement ascribed to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). It did not reveal the time or place of the hand over, nor is it clear whether a ransom has been paid by the oil company involved.


    MOL begins renaming PONL ships

    The process of renaming former P&O Nedlloyd ships appears to have begun, albeit with little or no fanfare or announcement. Readers will recall that P&O Nedlloyd was taken over last year by AP Moller-Maersk and the joint companies will begin operating from this year as Maersk Line.

    However, owing to concerns within the European Union as well as South Africa and Australasia, some of the former P&O Nedlloyd (PONL) services have had to be disposed of to other carriers. In the case of the South Africa Europe Container Service (SAECS) including the intermediary service, Mitsui OSK Line successfully acquired the interests of PONL. This involves also taking over two modern container ships on the main SAECS service, the 4,900-TEU PONL Heemskerck and PONL Livingstone.

    Noticed on the current ships due in port listings (available on this site) are an apparent name change for PONL Heemskerck, which is due in Durban on 6 February under twin names – the original PONL name and that of MOL Cullinan – the latter having welcome South African connotations. So far there is no mention of PONL Livingstone which is currently on the European leg of her rotation.

    A second vessel involved on one of the subsidiary services is PONL Portbury, which is already on the South African coast and shown on the port lists as both PONL Portbury and MOL Springbok.

    The first name change to appear in Maersk ‘colours’ is that of PONL Susana, which becomes Maersk Normanville. No doubt other vessels will follow in short succession.


    Clipper Race - the tactical racing begins

    As the ten yachts competing in the Clipper Round the World Race approach the South China Sea proper the tactical part of this leg began today, with nine of the competitors tacking to the north before swinging north east again while the remaining yacht, Cardiff continued on a direct course. The yachts are having to sail directly into the 10-15 knot breeze.

    By 17.00 today the result of the manoeuvre had seen a change in the leader, with Singapore holding a slender one mile lead over Durban. The race position at that time was (with distance to finish)

    Singapore (1919)
    Durban (1920)
    Victoria (1922)
    Westernaustralia.com (1923)
    Jersey (1923)
    New York (1923)
    Liverpool (1926)
    Glasgow (1927)
    Qingdao (1936)
    Cardiff (1956)

    - source http://www.clipper-ventures.co.uk


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