Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 30, 2006
Author: P&S

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • New player barges into Durban and Cape Town

  • Things look bleak for Safmarine Agulhas

  • New managers for Kenya Railways

  • Fresh calls for seamless borders






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    New player barges into Durban and Cape Town

    Southern Tankers, a black empowered subsidiary of the Grindrod Group announced yesterday its intention of competing for the bunker business in at least two South African ports.

    The announcement brings to a closure an open secret that Grindrod/Unicorn was intending moving into bunker barging in South Africa, a secret obvious to everyone as soon as Unicorn began recruiting personnel away from other barging operators.

    In a statement Grindrod revealed that its shipowning arm Unicorn Tankers has placed orders with a Chinese shipyard for two double hulled bunker barges for delivery in October 2007, with an option for the supply of additional barges. Significantly the statement reads that the first two barges will be delivered next year, suggesting that further orders are likely.


    artists impression of what the new barges for Southern Tankers will look like. Click image to enlarge

    The barges have been ordered on behalf of Southern Tankers and marks a significant step for the group, being a further diversification of the group’s activities even though the company already has an interest in bunkering through its partnership with Cockett Marine Oil, one of the leading suppliers of bunkers and marine lubricants internationally. Cockett supplies something in the order of 5 million tonnes of bunkers per annum but does not operate this service in Southern Africa.

    The new barges will be capable of delivering up to 4.5 thousand cubic metres of marine fuel oil, marine gas oil and marine diesel oil to ships in port (South African regulations do not permit the delivery of bunkers by barge or tanker outside a port). The barges have been designed to meet or exceed the oil majors’ safety requirement for ships of this type and purpose and will feature double-skin hull construction and triple screws for improved manoeuvrability.

    They have also have been designed with the future large post-Panamax container vessels in mind and will be able to deliver fuel bunkers at rates of up to 1,000 cubic metres an hour.

    Alan Olivier, Grindrod CEO-designate said that the new mandatory Marpol (IMO marine oil pollution) regulations and the requirements of oil majors that oil barges be of exclusively double-hull construction from 2008, provided the opportunity for Grindrod to pursue its diversification strategy into this specialist marine activity. Virtually all such barges world-wide are single-skinned. He added that the acquisition of these assets complemented existing businesses.

    There is a growing trend world-wide to move away from traditional pipeline deliveries to inherently safer water-borne deliveries of bulk bunker fuel to ships in port, a trend that the National Ports Authority has indicated it intends following.

    Acting on behalf of Southern Tankers, Unicorn applied its extensive state-of-art tanker experience and practices to the design and specification of the barges which will feature so-called ‘closed’ loading and discharging of their cargoes that effectively keeps hazardous petroleum vapours away from operating personnel. Control and management of the cargo operations will be carried out from the combined wheelhouse and cargo control centre, with pumps and cargo valves being remotely controlled from the bridge. Accurate flow meters and radar tank contents gauging and level alarms have been specified.

    Providing more than a hint as to where the barges will be placed, the announcement says the barges will have sufficient power to handle the south-westerly busters’ in Durban and the notorious south-easters in the Cape.

    The new vessels are to be managed, operated and crewed by Southern Tankers and will be among the most modern of their type in the world. Each vessel will be manned by a crew complement of not less than six and with three crews each to enable round-the-clock operation, the two vessels will have the potential to create employment for approximately 40 crewmen.

    The statement from Grindrod/Unicorn Tankers says that “all things being equal Southern Tankers would have preferred to have built these vessels locally and thereby to support local industry as Unicorn has done on eleven previous occasions. For economic considerations and In order to meet the tight delivery deadline ahead of the anticipated demand for vessels of this type it was necessary to place the orders at established facilities in the Far East.”


    Things look bleak for Safmarine Agulhas

    Pictures taken yesterday afternoon, ahead of the first attempt by the salvage tug Smit Amandla to haul the grounded container ship Safmarine Agulhas from its rocky and sandy perch outside East London harbour, indicate just how the position of the ship has been worsening by the hour.

    Earlier pictures showed the ship several hundred metres off the western breakwater but the latest available images, taken at 15:00 yesterday show the vessel’s stern to be firmly wedged in among the dolos making up the breakwater. Other images show that the bulbous bow has been broken off sometime since Tuesday evening when the vessel lost all power and began drifting towards the beach.

    It seems now that only a miracle or some very smart salvage work is going to save the unfortunate ship from becoming just another statistic among shipwrecks dotting the Eastern Cape coastline.



    If that sounds overly pessimistic on our part then study the images on this page and decide for yourself. Each picture tells a tale of its own.



    Bad weather en route delayed the arrival in East London of the salvage tug Smit Amandla and preventing any thought of attempting to pull the vessel away at high tide on Wednesday evening. As a result the salvage team decided to make the first attempt on yesterday’s high tide at approximately 18:00. In a statement the salvors said that the attempt would be made with the assistance of one or more harbour tugs. Should this attempt fail the structural integrity of the ship would be re-assessed and consideration given to lightening the vessel including taking off the 662 tonnes of heavy fuel and 88 tonnes of diesel on board.

    SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) has also arranged for the presence of a Sikorsky S61 helicopter to assist with operations and the coastal patrol vessel Victoria Mxenge is on station along with one of the older Kuswag oil pollution abatement vessels. In addition a coastwatch aircraft, Kuswag VIII has transferred to East London and is undertaking daily flights over the casualty to monitor for any pollution.

    Because the grounding took place on the outer side of the western breakwater, shipping operations are able to continue normally in the port.

    Safmarine Agulhas is owned by FA Vinnen & Co Gmbh of Bremen and is on charter to Safmarine on its intermediate South Africa Europe container service. The ship was en route to Durban with 469 loaded containers and 112 empties.


    New managers for Kenya Railways

    Kenya Railways intends appointing new managers from July, according to a report from Business in Africa.

    The new appointments are being made ahead of the concessioning of the railway by South Africa’s Sheltam Rail, which will operate most of the combined Kenya and Uganda Railways network under the name Rift Valley Railway.

    Kenya’s Transport Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere described the move as of the government putting in place the required legal, institutional and regulatory framework ahead of the concessioning, which takes effect from 1 August.

    He explained that in terms of the concession agreement the government remained responsible for managing a large part of the railways in Kenya.

    "Let it be known that not every property has been concessioned. The consortium will only manage the railway, main terminus and offices."

    - source Business in Africa


    Fresh calls for seamless borders

    Delegates to the Africa Rail Conference being held in Johannesburg heard that cargo was being delayed unnecessarily at the region’s borders because of too much bureaucracy and red tape.

    The CEO of Spoornet, Siyabonga Gama called on governments to consider introducing borderless communities; alternately he suggested a single inspection standard for rail cargo moving across borders. These proposals he said were necessary to reduce congestion and delays involving the region’s rail operations.

    As a result of these delays the railways were being penalised with high penalties for failing to meet contractual obligations and were losing further traffic to road transport.

    Delegates also heard that in South Africa in 2004 the rail service carried about 15 percent of the country’s total freight, or 180 million tonnes of the total of 1.15Mt carried and that during the past three years road freight had increased by nearly 17 percent.


    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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