Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 10, 2007
Author: P&S





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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • Asia port congestion looms

  • Coastwatch: African shipping news in brief

  • Funeral of shipping personality Paul Voigt

  • International maritime briefs

  • US Africa Command Builds Partnerships, Fosters Self-Sufficiency

  • Pic of the day – PRIORITY




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    Asia port congestion looms

    Congestion in Asian ports is a very real possibility, warns the TransPacific Stabilisation Agreement (TSA), a 14-member research and development association consisting of major container shipping lines*.

    Warning that volumes and port utilisation is likely to rise despite moderating growth, the TSA says that congestion at Asian ports will impact cargo flow and therefore ship schedules. The association reports consistently higher ship utilisation since May and going forward through the Northern Hemisphere summer, which has led to increased congestion at Asian ports, “notably Shanghal, Hong Kong, Singapore and Colombo, due to booming intra-Asia and Asia-Europe trade growth.”

    The TSA says US importers are facing supply chain congestion challenges that will become progressively complex to manage as the peak shipping season advances.

    TSA chairman Ron Widdows said the Asia-US supply chain infrastructure was operating at peak capacity right now, with no margin for error in the system. The main concern for container lines in 2007 and into 2008, he said, is not a weaker market but supply chain disruptions from Asia port congestion, labour slowdowns, and truck and inland rail cost increases and capacity availability.

    In particular, the proposed Los Angeles-Long Beach harbour truck initiative has caused concern over the future cost and supply of harbour trucking services at a critical gateway for US commerce. Additionally, with bunker fuel cost hovering in the $ 400 per ton range, Widdows predicted that fuel cost will become an even greater factor in ocean carrier economics in the next year.

    In South Africa Transnet Port Terminals has announced that it is studying the Los Angeles/Long Beach truck programme with a view to implementing the system at the Durban Container Terminal.

    * TSA Members include:

    American President Lines, Ltd.
    CMA-CGM
    COSCO Container Lines, Ltd.
    Evergreen Line
    Hanjin Shipping Co, Ltd.
    Hapag Lloyd Container Lines
    Hyundai Merchant Marine Co, Ltd.
    Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. (K Line)
    Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC).
    Mitsui OSK Lines, Ltd. (MOL)
    Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK Line)
    Orient Overseas Container Line, Ltd.
    Yangming Marine Transport Corp.
    Zim Integrated Shipping Services



    Coastwatch: African shipping news in brief

    Douala congestion: OT Africa Line reports an over abundance of containers accumulating at the port of Douala which is resulting in severe congestion and delays in the port as well as delays along the Douala – Chad railway.
    The report says that local agencies are investigating ways of improving the situation particularly for transit cargo but OTAL in the meantime suggests that clients consider postponing their shipments for Chad unless the cargo is regarded as of a critical nature.

    Mombasa congestion, the subject of much attention by Kenya Port Authorities in recent weeks, is partly a result of transit containers that are delayed in the port because of a lack of rolling stock. The study undertaken by the Kenya Ports Authority concluded that delays could be considerably reduced if there were more rail wagons and a better delivery system to neighbouring Uganda. As a result of the lack of rolling stock yard operations at the terminal were being hampered.

    Kenya upgrades security equipment: Also in Mombasa, local media reports that Kenya’s Revenue Authority is to equip the port with a new security capability including six new X-ray scanners, an electronic cargo tracking system, four high speed patrol boats and an additional sniffer dog for drug detection.
    Glad to see the dog is ranked up there with other expensive equipment.

    South Africa Europe Container Services (SAECS) has announced a further re-scheduling of one of its ships, SAFMARINE NOKWANDA as a result of ongoing congestion being experienced in European ports.
    As a result of the re-scheduling Safmarine Nokwanda will call at the port of Tilbury ahead of Rotterdam and not the other way round on voyage 706B.

    Norwegian Shipowner’s Association has agreed to partner the Indigenous Association of Nigeria (ISAN) to help develop Nigeria’s shipping industry, with a view towards making the Nigerian maritime industry more welcome among the European shipping community.
    Acknowledging that Nigeria has yet to embrace a maritime culture, ISAN’s president Chief Isaac Jolapamo said Nigeria was in dire need of ships and he appealed to the Norwegian Shipowner’s Association to assist Nigeria by way of its excess tonnage. He also appealed to the Norwegians to assist with training programmes for Nigerian seafarers.



    Funeral of shipping personality Paul Voigt



    The funeral of ships agent Paul Voigt will take place in Durban this morning (Friday) at 10am.

    The local shipping world was shocked earlier this week to learn of the sudden death of Paul Voigt, managing director and co-founder of ISS-Voigt Shipping, the biggest non-liner ship’s agency in South Africa. He was 57.

    Said Tony Schillaci, his business partner and close friend, “I was with Paul on Sunday (5 August) morning. He was behaving in his normal manner: happy and friendly. Suddenly he collapsed and died after what we believe was a heart attack.

    “The shipping business and his family were his life. He loved his work, especially the operational side. With his outgoing personality, it did not take him long to turn clients into friends. One of his favourite sayings was, ‘We work for our friends, and we don’t let our friends down’.”

    Paul started in shipping with Ellerman & Bucknall as a freight desk clerk. In 1989 he established Voigt Shipping with Tony Schillaci, Butch Preston and Robbie Gardner. The business was subsequently sold to Inchcape Shipping Services, and in 2001 was acquired from Inchcape by the Grindrod Group.

    “Our company has a reputation for service. Paul would have wanted us to continue offering that kind of service, and it is our intention to do so,” said Schillaci.

    Paul is survived by his wife Karin, daughter Nicolle and son Paul.



    International maritime briefs

    The wreck of MSC NAPOLI which was beached on the English coast in January this year after developing a hull fracture while voyaging between Europe and South Africa, is to be scrapped at an Irish yard, it has been announced. Earlier the container ship was broken in two to facilitate the removal process but a decision hadn’t been taken whether to scuttle both sections or take them for recycling (the in-word for scrapping in these conservation-sensitive times).
    Salvage experts were forced to use explosives to divide the ship, leaving the stern firmly aground off Sidmouth. The bow section which was refloated, was towed to a point further along the coast and will now to towed by a British coastguard tug to the shipyards of Harland & Wolff in Belfast for breaking up. The tow is expected to take five days to complete.
    The stern section containing the accommodation section, engine room and other heavy equipment will be broken up offshore where it remains half a mile from the beach and the metal recovered for recycling. So far the salvage operation is estimated to have cost over £50 million.

    German Rail Strike postponed The planned strike by German rail workers, which threatened to interfere with already congested European ports, has been called off after being declared illegal by the German Labour Court. The strike by the Locomotive drivers union GDL was to have begun on Wednesday and was aimed at stopping all freight train operations, in a move that threatened to cripple the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven in particular.
    The decision by the German Labour Court rules out any further strike action until 30 September. (See our news report for 8 August 2007.)



    US Africa Command Builds Partnerships, Fosters Self-Sufficiency

    by David McKeeby (USINFO Staff Writer) 6 August 2007

    Washington 6 August 2007 – The precise role the newly created US Africa Command (AFRICOM) will play is to build on long-standing partnerships to deliver humanitarian assistance and foster self-sufficiency by helping African nations build strong, effective democracies, according to US officials.

    “We are not at war in Africa, nor do we expect to be,” Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer told senators in a 1st August hearing. “Our embassies and AFRICOM will work in concert to keep it that way.”

    The United States monitors potential security threats by dividing its forces into regional combat commands. Despite Africa's many security challenges over the years, attention to the continent was divided among three separate military commands focused on Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

    “Back in the Cold War, we were spending in the European Command only about 5 percent of our time in Africa. And now it's increasing,” Jonathan Gration, a retired US Air Force major general, told lawmakers. “AFRICOM is a concept that is good, and it needs to happen.”

    But since the February announcement of its formation, AFRICOM has been the subject of great concern among many Africa watchers, said Mark Malan, a former South African military officer working on behalf of the Washington-based advocacy group Refugees International.

    “When the US promotes a combatant military command in terms of development and humanitarianism, Africans will inevitably suspect that the true story is being kept from them,” Malan said.

    “There is strong fear and apprehension within Africa, within the United States, in Europe and elsewhere that AFRICOM signals the militarisation of US engagement in Africa at the expense of developmental and diplomatic interests,” added Stephen Morrison, an Africa expert from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Frazer said these fears are unfounded.

    Responsibility for US diplomacy will remain as always with the State Department, she said. Unlike any other US military command, AFRICOM will feature a senior State Department diplomat serving as a deputy and adviser to AFRICOM’s commander, with additional diplomats and aid workers joining military officers at the helm, she added.

    “It is in many ways the marriage of State's expertise and authorities with the military's resources and security experience, and we are excited about it,” said Frazer.

    Such a collaborative approach is not new, said Stephen Hess, an assistant administrator with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), who highlighted the close collaboration between his agency and the US military to save lives following disasters and to aid communities in need with civic action programs that deliver food, health care, clean water, new schools and other necessities.

    “AFRICOM will support, not shape, US foreign policy on the continent,” said Theresa Whelan, deputy assistant secretary for African affairs at the US Defense Department, who added that AFRICOM in many respects is an effort by the United States to “catch up” with rapidly evolving governance and defence institutions in the region, such as the African Union.

    “Africa has long been seen as a problem to be solved, a continent of failed states, faltering economies, regional conflicts, and corrupt leadership. This image, though, is a far cry from the Africa of today. With the support of international partners, Africans are slowly but surely instituting democracy and good governance across the continent,” she said.

    AFRICOM is another step in this process, but will not bring a large US troop presence to the continent, Whelan said. Currently based in Germany while reviewing hosting offers from several African countries, AFRICOM will not include a complex of large military bases, but rather a small support staff, which will be able to summon forces and equipment as needed.

    For decades, the US military has helped train and equip Africa’s militaries, allowing them to take charge of securing their own countries, the wider region through bodies such as the African Union, and around the world, through participation in UN peacekeeping missions. Although the structure is new, AFRICOM’s mission will continue to stress the military’s role as a guardian of democratic society that operates under civilian control and respects human rights.

    “The purpose of AFRICOM is to encourage and support this African leadership and initiative, not to compete with it or to discourage it,” Whelan said. “US security is enhanced when African nations themselves endeavor successfully to address and resolve emerging security issues before they become so serious that they require considerable international resources and intervention to resolve.”

    (USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, US Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



    Pic of the day – PRIORITY

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice



    The Indian-owned and Panamanian-registered general cargo ship PRIORITY (15,848-gt) arrives off Durban. Built in 1977 the ship is owned by Leo Shipping of Mumbai. Picture Terry Hutson


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