Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 11, 2006
Author: P&S

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • Final chapter for Moquini families

  • Safmarine containers provide classroom for computer classes at school

  • The late Ex-Chief Engineer Hennie Viljoen

  • Alexandros T survivor search continues





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    Final chapter for Moquini families

    Durban. 10 May : The six families whose loved ones were lost at sea during the Moquini yacht disaster last year will get closure on Friday 12 May)when the courts finally declare the missing seamen dead.

    The move means the families can secure death certificates, submit life insurance documentation and eventually close this tragic chapter. After being lost at sea for five months, the Moquini was spotted off the Wild Coast in February with the keel missing and no trace of the six crew members.

    Captained by experienced skipper Graham Cochrane, the Moquini was participating in the Mauritius to Durban Yacht Race. The crew members were Kurt Ostendorf, Neil Tocknell, Sheldon Dickerson and his cousin Mark Dickerson, and trainee yachtsman Michael Goolam.

    Shepstone and Wylie attorney Zwelihle Mkhize, who represented the families in bringing the applications to Court, said this final step in the legal process would allow the families to move on with their lives.

    Both the Durban law firm and Advocate John Pammenter SC offered their services without charge in recognition of their long association with the shipping industry and sailing community. Shepstone and Wylie has acted for ship and yacht owners and their clubs for over a century, while Pammenter is himself a sailor and his son is currently part of the team sailing with the Shosholoza in the America Cup.

    Mkhize said the families had already held their individual memorial services some time after the Moquini had disappeared without a trace last September and did not believe there were plans for further formal tributes. In terms of the law, the South African Maritime Safety Association conducted an investigation into the tragedy once the Moquini was found.


    Moquini ‘comes home’ – click image to enlarge. Picture Terry Hutson

    The yacht was located upside down about 500 nautical miles off the Wild Coast and towed into Durban harbour for investigators to undertake the arduous task of establishing how it had capsized.

    The report, although completed, has not yet been released for public information.


    Safmarine containers provide classroom for computer classes at school

    Last week shipping company Safmarine officially opened a computer laboratory, named the Khanya Project, at Bonnievale Primary School. The school is situated 180 kilometres from Cape Town in the fruit-farming district of the Breede Valley.

    The Khanya project – which takes its name from a Xhosa word, ‘ukukhanya’, meaning ‘enlightenment’ - is an initiative by the Western Cape Education Department that aims to establish computer networks with Internet connectivity and audiovisual facilities at qualifying schools.


    Students and teachers celebrate the recent opening of the Safmarine funded computer laboratory

    Alan Jones, Africa Region Executive for Safmarine, said that Safmarine, as a long term supporter of sustainable development through education, was honoured to support the Khanya Project by providing a much needed classroom facility built from three retired 12m seafreight containers.

    He said Safmarine was fully supportive of the need to expose children to an e-learning environment at a young age. “We believe this is an important educational step and fully support the Western Cape Education Department’s initiatives in this regard.”

    Khanya Director, Mr K van Wyk, said: “By equipping young learners with the necessary computer skills, we provide them with a real chance of making a place for themselves in the technological world of tomorrow.”

    Van Wyk paid tribute to the teachers and the school governing body. “They have played an important role in this project by motivating and inspiring the learners to further their education.”

    The Safmarine-donated container classroom is able to comfortably accommodate 50 students.


    The late Ex-Chief Engineer Hennie Viljoen

    The death has occurred of Mr Hennie Viljoen, aged 80 years.

    Originally a steam locomotive driver of the South African Railways and Rhodesian Railways, Mr Hennie joined Unicorn’s ancestral company, Thesen’s Steamship Co in 1957 as Chief Engineer on our original SWAZI, a steamer of just 238 tons gross. Studying by correspondence he eventually obtained his Chief Engineer’s ticket in the late 1960’s. Having survived the Second World War, Hennie vowed never to set foot in a ship’s lifeboat or raft – even for practice drills – and did not do so.

    Hennie retired in 1987 from KOWIE on her last voyage under that name. During his 30-year career with Unicorn he served on most ships in the fleet at the time, but he was synonymous with the twin-screw Thesen’s motorships SWAZI COAST (2) and PONDO COAST on which vessels the writer sailed under him on many occasions, including my first voyage as Cadet. He stood-by ORANJEMUND as Chief Engineer during her commissioning at the yard and served on her for a number of years thereafter. He was an enthusiastic participant in and supporter of our synthetic alternative fuel project which ran for many years.

    Hennie Viljoen will be fondly remembered for his mischievous and entertaining sense of humour, his helpfulness and good old-fashioned engineering know-how. With his sad passing goes another slice of our colourful history.

    He leaves behind two daughters and a son as well as brothers and sisters and many friends. He will be missed.

    Robert Young
    UNICORN SHIPPING


    Alexandros T survivor search continues

    The search for survivors off the sunken ore carrier Alexandros T is continuing with the tug Smit Amandla remaining on station after having covered an area of approximately 1,500 square miles since 5 May.

    Alexandros T sank 280 miles south of Port Elizabeth on the evening of 3 May, after taking water in several of her holds. The ship was sailing in heavy seas and strong winds at the time. By the following morning seven of her crew had been picked up by another bulker, the CSE Fortune Express and have since been taken to Durban before returning home. Both the Fortune Express and another vessel conducted a search until the arrival of the Smit Amandla. A South African Air Force C130 aircraft also covered thousands of miles with an aerial search for the 26 seamen who remain missing.

    Despite the ongoing search hope is now fading that the missing seamen will be found alive and the current search operation is under review. According to the Philippine Embassy in Pretoria, the Philippines, Romanian and Greek governments have each urged the South African government to continue searching. Their appeal was made after the official search effort was called off on Saturday night, leaving Smit Amandla as the sole vessel in the era and on contract to the Alexandros T’s management company.

    Yesterday, in reference to media statements about port state inspection defects found on Alexandros T, the ship’s managers issued the following statement:

    ‘A US Coast Guard inspection of November 2003 uncovered deficiencies that were promptly rectified. The vessel had at that stage been recently acquired by the owners and was in the process of being upgraded to their own very high standards. Since that 2003 inspection the vessel has passed through Special Survey and numerous Port State Control inspections without detention in States with extremely high levels of scrutiny such as Australia and South Africa, the most recent inspection being at the last loadport when no material deficiencies were noted. Regular class and statutory inspections found the ship to have met all class and statutory requirements and to be ISM compliant.

    Lloyd's Register, the vessel's classification society issued a statement on 4 May confirming that the ship was fully up to date with all classification and statutory inspections. Additional inspections by interested commercial parties, likewise, found nothing to question the structural integrity of Alexandros T.

    Looking ahead, the managers are committed to doing everything in their power to identify the causes of the loss of 'Alexandros T'.


    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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