Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 10, 2006
Author: P&S

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • New submarine arrives in Simon’s Town

  • Newest Mercy Ship Africa Mercy dedicated to hope and healing

  • Namibia offers Zambia a dry port facility

  • New Seychelles agent appointed by Mitsui OSK

  • East African railway agreements signed and sealed




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    New submarine arrives in Simon’s Town

    South Africa’s new submarine, S101 arrived at the naval station in Simon’s Town yesterday after a seven week voyage from Germany.

    Under the command of Cmdr Gary Kretschmer and a South African crew, the type 209 S101 sailed from Kiel in Germany in the company of her escort vessel, the combat support ship SAS Drakensberg. S101 was commissioned on 3 November 2005 and is the first of three similar type 209-1400 diesel-electric submarines ordered by the SA Navy (the 1400 refers to the boat’s displacement). She was built by the submarine consortium consisting of HDW, Nordseewerken Emden and MAN Ferrostaal.


    SAS Drakensberg and S101 en route for South Africa – picture courtesy SAN. Click image to enlarge

    On arrival in Simon’s Town it was announced that S101 is to be named SAS Manthatisi, which is derived from the name of a Batlokwa chieftainess. South Africa’s Daphne class submarines were also named after prominent women from South Africa’s history – Maria van Riebeeck, Emily Hobhouse and Johanna van der Merwe.

    On 24 January, while undergoing her final sea trials off Norway a ‘technical problem’ occurred causing S101 to return to Kiel – it is understood this was the result of water ingestion while snorkeling to recharge batteries and could easily have resulted in the loss of the boat. In addition to her crew S101 had a German technical team on board at the time.

    It appears that the boat was running submerged and trimmed for a fast dive while snorting with only the snorkel above the surface to avoid radar detection when a wave swamped the snorkel. The safety device on the snorkel failed to engage and according to some reports failed to retract properly and then imploded under the water pressure as the boat dived.

    Meanwhile the engines switched over from diesel to electric power, but there is usually a short lag during which the diesels can suck out some of the oxygen remaining in the submarine, and with the loss of power and the submarine trimmed for depth the boat began to dive further.


    S101 on training exercises in European waters – picture courtesy SAN. Click to enlarge

    However quick action and good training by the submarine’s captain and crew saw the tanks being blown and the submarine shooting back to the surface. Once back on top and the hatches opened the diesel engines were restarted and S101 was able to return to Kiel, with everyone on board no doubt a little shaken but much the wiser for the experience.

    It was reported afterwards that the German observers on board were impressed with the way in which S101’s crew handled a potentially dangerous event, and said so to the extent that they were prepared to go to sea with the South Africans again.

    In April 2003 a Chinese Ming-class submarine no.361 had a similar problem in the Yellow Sea when it dived out of control, leading to the loss of all 70 on board. Included among those who died on board were a number of observers.

    It is now believed that the Ming class boat also experienced a technical problem with its snorkel, when a ball valve that is supposed to seal off the air intake when a wave washes over failed to engage. The diesel engines continue sucking air but now from the inside of the submarine, and for some reason the crew was unable to shut them down in time, leading to oxygen starvation and their asphyxiation.

    SAS Manthatisi will now undergo a further 12 or more months of extensive training before the crew are considered combat ready. The second submarine, S102 is expected to sail for South Africa in about 12 months time.


    Newest Mercy Ship Africa Mercy dedicated to hope and healing

    Commissioning Service Held for the Africa Mercy

    Newcastle, England : April 6, 2006 - As construction crews continued work on the Africa Mercy below decks, Mercy Ships supporters and crew gathered onboard today (Thursday) for a special commissioning service in anticipation of the ship’s upcoming deployment to Africa.



    British House of Lords member and Mercy Ships UK Board Chairman, Lord Ian McColl, served as host for the event. Dame Norma Major, wife of former British Prime Minister John Major, presided over the ceremony. JC Penney Company CEO and Mercy Ships International Board Chairman Mike Ullman gave the opening prayer. Special guest Mrs. Joseph Boakai, wife of the newly elected Vice President of Liberia, brought greetings and best wishes from Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state and a recent visitor to the Africa Mercy’s sister ship the Anastasis. Noting that the Africa Mercy is scheduled to visit Liberia next year, Mrs. Boakai said, “Something good is about to happen!”

    The Reverend David Souter of the Church of Scotland led attendees in several prayers, hymns and responsive readings. Toward the end of the service he described a Celtic tradition for the launching of new ships. A prayer would be said over a small vessel and then the boatmen would push off into the current, often without a paddle, letting the vessel go where it would to signify surrender to God’s leading.

    “The Africa Mercy is the culmination of much vision and sacrifice,” Reverend Souter concluded. “We cannot begin to imagine what the ship’s pilgrimage will be. It is as much in God’s hands as those setting forth in those tiny boats. We pray God’s blessing on all who sail her and all who serve in her.”

    Mercy Ships Founder Don Stephens spoke late in the service saying “On behalf of those living on the continent of Africa who will receive hope and healing from this ship, I wish to express gratitude and appreciation to you. Without you we couldn’t have come this far.”

    When she enters service later this year, the Africa Mercy will be the world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship. With six operating theaters, recovery beds for 78, a CT scanner, and a crew of more than 450, the Africa Mercy will effectively double the medical capacity of her predecessors.

    - source : Mercy Ships


    Namibia offers Zambia a dry port facility

    Zambia has been offered and has accepted a dry port facility from Namibia, which will enhance reasons for the landlocked country to make use of the Trans Caprivi Transport Corridor linking the two countries.

    This was disclosed at last week’s launch of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) branch office in Lusaka (see our News Bulletin dated Friday 7 April 2006). Zambia’s Minister of Transport Abel Chambeshi said there were two sites under consideration – one at Grootfontein and the other at Walvis Bay itself.

    At present a study, which is being financed by UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) is being conducted to decide the future location of the dry port.

    For its part Zambia intends extending the Mulobezi branch railway to link with the new railway line coming in from Namibia (at present the Trans Caprivi is a purely road corridor).

    Since independence from South Africa Namibia has embarked on an ambitious railway building programme as well as the development of road corridors. Apart from consolidating and improving the existing railway network and infrastructure, Namibia is building new lines towards Angola in the north and Zambia in the northeast. At the same time the port of Walvis Bay has been modernised and extensively dredged to accommodate vessels up to the size that call at Durban on the east coast – South Africa’s busiest port.

    The intention is clear – Namibia intends winning trade and traffic for both the port at Walvis Bay and the TransNamib railway system. And to achieve this it has targeted not only countries on its northern borders but also the lucrative industrial market in Gauteng, where it points out that Walvis Bay can offer a four to five day saving in time for cargo to or from the America’s or Europe when compared with cargo owners using Durban or Port Elizabeth.


    New Seychelles agent appointed by Mitsui OSK

    Mahe Shipping Co Ltd has been appointed as sole agent for Mitsui OSK Line’s liner routes for the Republic of Seychelles.

    The appointment coincides with the launch of Mitsui’s new EAX service on the Asia – East Africa route which commences this month. The move was announced last November and is aimed at expanding MOL’s its services in the Indian Ocean.

    The new service commences with the vessel EAX Sincerity which sails from Port Kelang on 24 April 2006 on a rotation of Port Kelang – Colombo – Male (bi-weekly calls) – Mahe (bi-weekly calls) – Mombassa – Tanga (bi-weekly calls) – Dar es Salaam – Mahe (bi-weekly calls) – Colombo – Port Kelang.


    East Africa railway agreements signed and sealed

    The Kenya and Uganda railway concession which awarded operating rights to South Africa’ Sheltam Rail has finally been signed into force, after several months of delay over legalities concerning pension rights for former railway employees.

    Kenya Railway Corporation signed the concession some while ago but Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) delayed matters pending a court case over the pension issue.

    The signing of the final agreement on Friday (7 April) means that Sheltam Rail, operating in both countries as Rift Valley Railway, will take over the concession to operate the railway for the next 25 years. In addition the Interface concession has also been signed giving Rift Valley Railway control and operation of the passenger services in both countries as well.

    Roy Puffet, managing director of both Rift Valley Railway and Sheltam said he would endeavour to accommodate as many of the railway workers as possible.

    URC is to be handed over to Rift Valley Railway at the end of July 2006. In terms of the concession the privatised railway is required to increase traffic levels by 75 percent within the first five years of the concession period – they are currently in the region of two million tonnes annually.

    The South African company paid initial fees of USD 3 million for Kenya Railways Corporation and USD 2 Million for URC to operate the network and will pay annual concession fees equivalent to 11.1 percent of gross revenue in both Kenya and Uganda. For the passenger service RVR paid USD 1 million up front.


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