Ports & Ships Maritime NewsJan 30, 2008
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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS
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Port Louis has a challenging future
UN genocide adviser calls for end to Kenya violence
SAECS port omissions force schedule change
China to Europe in 15 days
Pic of the day – SAS Spioenkop
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Port Louis has a challenging future
by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip – Port-Louis)
The next three years (2008 – 2010) will prove to be challenging for the port of Port Louis, Mauritius, which has some major development projects already in the pipeline at an estimated total cost of Rs 5 billion (US$174 million).
Focus is currently on the following:
* Construction of the petroleum jetty which will be completed by May 2008 (Rs 560m).
* Corrosion protection of steel piles at Port Louis and Port Mathurin, scheduled for completion by February 2009 at a cost of Rs 225m.
* Construction of a Cruise Terminal which is expected to be operational by September 2008 (Rs 350m).
* Construction of a flood wall at the Mauritius Container Terminal (MCT) by April 2008 at an estimated cost of Rs 150m.
* Development of a Waterfront Development at Les Salines.
* The extension of the Mauritius Container Terminal (Rs 550m).
* Development of a Fishing Port at Bain des Dames (Rs 850m).
* Upgrading of the MPT into a modern container terminal (Rs 600m), and
* Dredging and reclamation works at Fort William (Rs 1.2 billion).
In addition to the above the Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA) will be procuring one large and two small tugs at an estimated cost of Rs 300m ($10.5m) to cater for the future increase in vessel calls at Port Louis Harbour.
The MPA has also entrusted the preparation of a new Port Master Plan to Messrs. Halcrow (UK). The study will identify opportunities and threats facing Port Louis Harbour and Port Mathurin, Rodrigues, and formulate land use and development plans to cater for the economic development of the country over the next 25 years. The final study report will be submitted to Government by May 2008.
The oil jetty is designed to handle tankers of up to 55,000 DWT as compared to 40,000 DWT presently. With the passage of Cyclone Gamede in February 2007, substantial damage was caused to the work structure, the jack up barge, cranes and driller. The execution of the project has thus been delayed and now its completion is scheduled for May 2008.
Quays 1, 2, 3 and 4 were constructed in the 70s and have outlived their economic life. MPA is thus proceeding with the repairs, strengthening and protection of the steel piles and on completion of the works in 2009, the economic life of this facility will be extended by some 20 years.
The contract for the supply of a closed circuit camera system for the whole port area and main buildings was awarded in May 2007. The implementation of this project at a cost of Rs 37m is progressing satisfactorily and the works are scheduled for completion by early 2008.
Safety to Navigation
With a view to enhancing the level of navigational safety in the port, a new harbour radio station has been constructed at the Capitainnerie at a cost of Rs 38m. The station will be equipped with modern radio communication and vessel tracking systems, estimated at about Rs 12m.
Renovation of lighthouse
The lighthouse at Flat Island, which is an essential requirement for safe navigation is being refurbished and all the buildings within the compound restored. The contract for the above project was awarded in May 2007 for the sum of Rs 10.2m and works were completed in December 2007.
US pulls back on Africom HQ
The message was never quite as blunt as the South American’s used to put it… ‘Yankee go home’ but it remained just as clear - the United States is not welcome to set up AFRICOM’s military base and headquarters in Africa.
This has been the firm attitude of a number of African leaders, including Presidents Mbeki of South Africa and Umaru Yar'Adua of Nigeria – representing the sub-continent’s two ‘powerhouses.’
For the present Africom remains based in Stuttgart, Germany but when President George W Bush announced last February that the United States would create a new, unified combatant command for Africa (Africom) to oversee security, enhance strategic cooperation, build partnerships, support nonmilitary missions, and conduct military operations as necessary, the thinking was that its headquarters would of necessity move to an African location.
The rationale behind the US drive for a separate US African Command was felt in some quarters to be long overdue. It was said that Africa was no longer a region that could be ignored by the US. The National Security Strategy clarified the need to expand and safeguard America’s access to energy resources, and to prevent the spread of terrorism in weak or ‘problem’ states.
African states responded with a willingness to cooperate with the United States towards several of these objectives and two US warships are currently deployed to the West African region for a lengthy period, where they are showing the flag and have been generally warmly welcomed. Several naval exercises have taken place in East, South and West Africa involving other warships, but the message from most African states still remains clear and unambiguous. There must be no American military base anywhere in Africa. President Yar’Adua went so far as to say that the US military would not be allowed to establish a base anywhere in the West African region, despite having no mandate to speak for the remainder of West African states.
He later qualified his statement saying he had asked the US to assist Africa in establishing its own version of an African High Command, which would be managed by itself without allowing the US to set up a base in Nigeria.
South Africa’s attitude was set out by Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota who said Africom would not be welcome in Southern Africa, a viewpoint that did not receive total support from other countries in the southern African (SADC) sub-region.
Faced with what was perhaps an unexpected response, it now appears the US is taking a step back. Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, Africom’s deputy commander indicated in the past week that the US military command for Africa is turning away from setting up an African headquarters and will instead emphasise the value that Africom can bring to Africa.
Moeller confirmed that for the foreseeable future Africom would continue to be based in Europe. “From here we can do all the activities that we need to do with our African partners,” he said.
Referring to the idea of an African base he said. "If it's in the desire and the interests of our African partners in that regard then we'll look for an opportunity to do that where it makes sense to do so, but only obviously where we're invited."
The US has also gone to some length to stress it is not looking to base additional US troops in Africa apart from 1200 currently at Djibouti. Instead it said the focus of Africom would be on assisting African countries with counter-terrorism training and with providing humanitarian assistance. President Bush described it as “promoting peace, security and our common goals of development, health, education, democracy and economic growth in Africa.”
Sceptics on the other hand see things differently, pointing out the growing reliance of the US on African oil supplies. They remain convinced that the US intended from the beginning to situate Africom’s headquarters in the region of the Gulf of Guinea where the oil lies thickest.
Admiral Moeller dismisses this, saying there’s a lot of misconception out there but he acknowledges that Africom had much work to do on its strategic communications.
Africa Partnership ship visits Togo
In a matter related to Africom, High Speed Vessel (HSV) 2 SWIFT has arrived in Lome, Togo making this the first US Navy warship to visit the country in 15 years.
While in Togo the crew will meet their counterparts on several levels by participating in a community relations project at a local school, visiting an orphanage and hosting receptions with the Togolese Navy.
The commanding officer of Swift said that his ship was unique and different from any other that he had served on and was able to get into ports that other ships can’t. “I just think the opportunity to visit a country like Togo is extremely unique," Cmdr. Charles W. Rock said in an interview with the Africa Partnership Station news service.
Referring to the mission Rock said that while this is the first time Swift has operated in the Gulf of Guinea, the mission of maritime partnership to foster safety and security while bringing humanitarian aid to the region is one the crew was already experienced in.
"Swift participated in something similar in the last eight months called global fleet station and that was conducted in the US Southern Command area of operations, specifically the Caribbean and Central America," Rock said. "We did a similar type of mission, but the cultures are different and the people are different, so the outcome of the vision of what we're trying to achieve is frankly a bit different. Although, we have a lot of experience doing this type of theatre security cooperation work, this is a different spin."
New Officer Commanding for SAS SPIOENKOP
The South African Navy frigate SAS SPIOENKOP (F147) has a new officer commanding (O/C). Captain Christopher G Manig who hails from Pinetown in KwaZulu Natal was appointed O/C at a ceremony in Simon’s Town last week.
Capt. Manig is no stranger to command, having previously been officer commanding the strike craft SAS RENE SETHREN and SAS MAKHANDA. He was appointed Executive Officer of the frigate SAS ISANDLWANA in 2002, serving there until 2006 when he became Surface Warfare Officer in Fleet Command and from March 2007 O/C of the Maritime Reaction Squadron.
His predecessor as O/C SAS Spioenkop, Captain DR Faure will be taking up the position in Fleet Command of Operations Manager.
UN genocide adviser calls for end to Kenya violence
28 January 2008 – The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide today called for an immediate halt to the destructive cycle of attacks and revenge attacks in Kenya, where post-electoral violence continues to claim lives, and announced plans to dispatch a staff member there.
Francis Deng urged national and local leaders on all sides to publicly call for an end to the violence and to statements inciting violence, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York.
Mr. Deng is dispatching one of his staff members to Kenya as soon as possible to examine the situation, Ms. Okabe added.
Nearly 700 people are believed to have been killed in the violence, which first began a few weeks ago after Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner over opposition leader Raila Odinga in December elections. The crisis has also forced some 255,000 to flee their homes.
Noting that political and community leaders may be held accountable for violations of international law committed at their instigation, Mr. Deng urged them to meet their responsibility to protect the civilian population and prevent the violence.
The Special Adviser echoed High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour in calling on the Kenyan Government to abide by its international human rights obligations in responding to demonstrations, including holding police accountable for their actions.
Meanwhile, the UN country team reports that over the weekend, the World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners distributed one-week food rations to more than 30,000 people in six Nairobi slums. It also distributed two-week rations to nearly that many people in the Kisumu slums, and began its first distributions in Nakuru.
WFP also delivered seven metric tons of corn-soya blend and split peas to the Nyanza Provincial Hospital for supplementary feeding managed by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The security situation continues to delay the delivery of aid, and WFP is working with the Government to ensure military escorts to provide safe passage for trucks carrying supplies.
SAECS port omissions force schedule change
Cape Town, 29 January 2008 – SAECS (South Africa Europe Container Service) has announced the following port call omissions.
The container vessel SAFMARINE NOKWANDA will omit Cape Town First Call (Import) on voyage 802A. Cape Town Import cargo will remain on board to be discharged on her second call (Export).
The updated schedule is as follows:
SAFMARINE NOKWANDA 802A
Cape Town 1: Omit
Port Elizabeth: 29/01/08 - 30/01/08
Durban: 31/01/08 – 02/02/08
Cape Town 2: 07/02/08 – 09/02/08
The omission is to assist in ensuring that the ship does not experience any further delays to her schedule.
The container vessel MOL SPRINGBOK on Voyage 802B will be omitting port calls at Durban and Port Elizabeth to allow her to return to her schedule after the delays she experienced during her previous voyage.
All Durban and Port Elizabeth Export cargo will be transferred to the DAL EAST LONDON on Voyage 802B. Port Elizabeth Imports will be discharged in East London and loaded onto the MAERSK VIGO 802B for Port Elizabeth discharge.
The revised schedule is as follows:
MOL SPRINGBOK 802B:
East London: 02/02/08 – 05/02/08
Port Elizabeth: Omit
East London: Omit
Cape Town 2: 06/02/08 – 07/02/08
China to Europe in 15 days
They said it would take 20 days but that was five days too many. The first of the so-called ‘New Silk Road’ freight trains between China and the German port of Hamburg completed its epic journey in just 15 days this week.
That’s about half the time it takes by sea and presents an alternative to shipping via the Suez.
The journey has long been a dream of those who believed a trans-continental train journey was both feasible and economically sound. Challenges that stood in its way included the numerous border crossings and resultant bureaucracy, and from a technical aspect several changes of rail gauge. The Russian railroad operates with a much wider gauge than that of Europe and China.
Even in progressive Germany a further challenge presented itself. The train had to be split into two, finishing the course as not one but a pair of trains.
Countries through which the train travelled while completing the 10,000km journey were China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany.
Cargo on board the test train consisted of containers loaded with electronics, clothing and footwear.
Despite the obstacles the test is considered to have been a success and a portend of things to come. While it can never seriously challenge sea trade simply on account of sheer volume, railway officials say they are confident that another five days can be shaved off the timetable. At ten days for the journey this offers a serious alternative for time sensitive cargo for which air cargo proves too costly. But a test train is just that, a test and what matters is whether officials can make the system work as an operating service.
China has its own Eskom problems
Faced with ongoing shortages of coal to feed hungry power stations, China’s Ministry of Communications has instructed shipping services to redeploy certain ships onto domestic coal routes to help avoid power station shutdowns in southern China.
Vice Director of the Ministry of Communication’s transport department Fu Jinxiu announced that the COSCO company has recalled 11 ships and China Shipping another six vessels from their overseas routes
Pic of the day – SAS SPIOENKOP
Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice
SAS SPIOENKOP (F147), the third of four Valour class frigates in the South African Navy, seen in Cape Town harbour. The ship underwent a change of command last Thursday – see article above. Picture by Ian Shiffman
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