Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 11, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – SONGHAI

  • South African Port Statistics for July now available

  • NSRI kept busy over long weekend

  • Call to expand Africa – US trade by way of AGOA

  • Rift Valley Railway concession ended

  • AP Moller-Maersk closes Odense shipbuilding yard

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pic of the day – MERMAID COMMANDER


    First View – SONGHAI

    The SONGHAI seen in Cape Town harbour on Friday, 7 August 2009. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    South African Port statistics for July now available

    South African port statistics for the month of July 2009 are now available.

    The figures show a marginal increase in tonnages handled across the ports when compared with the previous month. There was however an 11.28% drop in the number of containers handled across all ports during the period (down by 35,316-TEU) with the most significant decrease being at the port of Durban which was down almost 12% on containers or 25,189-TEU for the month.

    Ship calls were fairly similar to the previous month including gross tonnages.

    As is customary the figures shown in this report reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers in terms of the number of TEUs and no longer by weight - for which PORTS & SHIPS estimates an adjustment of 13,5 tonnes per TEU to reflect tonnages. This figure is on the conservative side with 14 tonnes or even more being a more realistic figure, particularly in view of the increasing quantity of bulk cargo which is now being handled in containers.

    For comparative purposes readers can see statistics from 12 months ago, ie July 2008 by clicking HERE

    Figures for the respective ports during July 2009 were (with June 2009 figures shown bracketed):

    Cargo handled by tonnes

    Richards Bay                 6.717 Mt million tonnes (June 6.035Mt)
    Durban                         5.499 Mt (June 5.786)
    Saldanha Bay                5.099 Mt (June 5.445)
    Cape Town                   1.200 Mt (June 1.192)
    Port Elizabeth                0.888 Mt (June 0.874)
    Mossel Bay                    0.150Mt (June 0.224)
    East London                  0.205 Mt (June 0.173)

    Total monthly cargo in July 19.758 million tonnes (June 19.729 Mt)

    Containers (measured by TEUs)
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Tranship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA)

    Durban                          184,975 TEU (June 210,164)
    Cape Town                      64,255 (June 66,740)
    Port Elizabeth                   25,199 (June 33,561)
    East London                      3,285 (June 2,360)
    Richards Bay                           6 (June 211)

    Total containers handled during July 277,720-TEU (June 313,036)

    Ship Calls for July 2009

    Durban:            382 vessels 9.553m gt (June 428 vessels 10.528m gt)
    Cape Town:      290 vessels 5.417m gt (June 238 vessels 4.215m gt)
    Port Elizabeth:   139 vessels 2.960m gt (June 115 vessels 2.504m gt)
    Richards Bay:    148 vessels 4.470m gt (June 172 vessels 5.423m gt)
    Saldanha:          47 vessels 2.742m gt (June 39 vessels 2.617 gt)
    East London:      26 vessels 0.684m gt (June 22 vessels 0.515 gt)
    Mossel Bay:      119 vessels 0.221m gt (June 180 vessels 0.260m gt)

    Total ship calls for July 2009 1,151 ships for 26,046,943-gt (June 1,194 ships for 26,062,816-gt)

    - source TNPA, with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container weights

    NSRI kept busy over long weekend

    Holiday weekends are usually busy times for emergency services and for the National Sea Rescue Institute this past long weekend was no exception, with several sea rescues successfully undertaken a well as a number of beach emergencies attended to.

    On Saturday 8 August at approximately 13h30 the NSRI St Frances Bay duty crew was activated following reports that the commercial fishing trawler White Rose had been involved in a collision at sea with the fishing ski-boat Lucky Luke approximately 1 nautical mile off-shore of Shark Point. Two men off the ski-boat were reported to be in the water but otherwise uninjured after their boat capsized following the collision.

    According to Garth Shamley, Cape St Frances’ deputy station commander, the NSRI rescue craft Spirit of St Frances II was launched and on arrival on-scene they found that the two ski-boat men had been rescued by the crew of the White Rose.

    He said that the White Rose was reportedly at anchor when the collision with the ski boat Lucky Luke took place, causing the ski boat to capsize. “It has been reported to the NSRI that the fishing trawler White Rose immediately made all efforts to rescue the two men, who had landed in the water, and both men were successfully rescued by the White Rose and no-one was injured in the incident. Our NSRI rescue craft transferred both men from the White Rose onto our rescue craft and then towed their upturned casualty craft to St Francis Bay harbour where the boat has been recovered,” he said.

    Shamley said the matter is being investigated by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

    Further north the Richards Bay NSRI was called out following a call for assistance from the yacht Aquarius which was taking water and was reporting a flooded engine room while the yacht was some 17 n.miles south of Richards Bay harbour and 12 n.miles offshore. The yacht had a crew of three and was experiencing 3-metre swells a 20-knot south westerly wind and rain squalls.

    The Richards Bay NSRI rescue craft Spirit of Round Table was launched and on arrival found that the yacht's crew had successfully stemmed the inflow of water and had the situation under control but due to the flooding of the engine room they were without power, navigational aids or battery power.

    A tow-line was rigged from the rescue craft and a tow of the casualty yacht commenced towards the Port of Richards Bay, which was safely reached some while later. There were no injuries reported on board the yacht.

    Meanwhile, Ian Wienburg, the NSRI CEO has reported that on Saturday 8 August eight NSRI Air Sea Rescue Unit (ASRU) volunteers left for the United States for a week long exchange visit with the United States Air Force (USA) Air National Guard (ANG) in Long Island, New York.

    “The South African NSRI ASRU team includes specialised sea rescue volunteers from around South Africa. The NSRI ASRU delegates are to participate in training missions together with the elite 103 Rescue Squadron who were amongst the first responders to the 9/11 disaster, Hurricane Katrina and who are also on stand-by for NASA.

    “The NSRI is the official rescue service for all coastal airports around South Africa and, as such, this exchange visit forms part of the 2010 readiness programme.

    "The USA has sponsored four of the NSRI delegates and, after a local sponsorship fell through at the 11th hour, the remaining four NSRI volunteers stepped in to pay their own way. Should you wish to make a contribution towards the costs please call NSRI Marketing Director Meriel Bartlett on 082 994 7555 or merielb@searescue.org.za.

    The 8 NSRI ASRU volunteers participating in this exchange visit are: Andre Beuster - NSRI ASRU Commander (Melkbosstrand), Robert Fine - NSRI ASRU Deputy Commander (Hout Bay), Marc Rodgers (Plettenberg Bay), Andre Fletcher (Durban), Kevin Warren (Port Elizabeth), Kobus Barnard (Melkbosstrand), James Beaumont (Hout Bay), Marius Hayes (Melkbosstrand).

    Call to expand Africa – US trade by way of AGOA

    A call has been made to expand the AGOA Act to other undeveloped nations around the world and not just in Africa.

    The call was made by Jim McDermott, the US congressman who is credited as one of the founders of the Africa Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA). McDermott said that nations in South America and Asia should also qualify – “If you are poor it doesn’t make any difference if you’re Asian or South American,” he said.

    The AGOA At provides the opportunity for trade between qualifying countries and the United States on a duty-free basis covering almost 7,000 items that can be exported to the US but so far sub-Saharan Africa accounts for a little more than 1% of the total US exports and about 3% of US imports.

    McDermott was speaking in Kenya last week where the annual AGOA Forum was held, which was themed on realising the full potential of AGOA through expansion of trade and investment. He said that when the AGOA Act was passed into (US) law in 2000 it was with the hope that it would bring Africa into global trade.

    “We want Africans to sell to us and get their economy going and get foreign exchange and to do things inside their countries. But we also want them to have money to buy things from us.”

    The unsaid message is that Africa has not as yet taken proper advantage of this opportunity.

    US Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson said in his opening address at the Forum that the Trade and Development Act of 2000, which created AGOA, had mandated the Annual Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum with eligible sub-Saharan nations to discuss expanding trade and investment relations between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa.
    “The AGOA Forum is the only annual US ministerial with sub-Saharan Africa. As such, it is an opportunity for the United States and African nations to have a dialogue on all the issues that contribute to long-term development and growth, including good governance and sound economic policies. In this time of economic crisis, it is important that the United States and Africa work cooperatively, as a major trading partner, to protect economic growth, advances made, and to lessen the negative impact of market fluctuations.”

    Rift Valley Railway concession ended

    Kenya faces something of a double-track crisis this week with the likely closure of the ill-fated Rift Valley Railway, whose 25-year concession was due to lapse yesterday (Monday 10 August) after government took the necessary steps to end the concession agreement on account of what it (government) said was a lack of performance by the RVR.

    The agreement lay between the governments of Uganda, Kenya and the Rift Valley Railway, a South African headed consortium of companies. RVR, in which Sheltam was the main partner ran into difficulties almost from the word go and the situation wasn’t helped with riots and political upheaval twice interrupting efforts at establishing a regular rail service between the port of Mombasa and Nairobi and Kampala in Uganda.

    In terms of the agreement the ownership of the railway reverts to Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) which originally ‘owned’ the former East African Railways system in Kenya and Uganda. At the time of the concessioning however the railway had been allowed to run down and deteriorate to a point where it was all but ineffective.

    It was also reported in Kenya that the government has failed to allocate the money necessary for Kenya Railways Corporation to take over and keep the network operating. The money was also necessary to pay pensions due to retired personnel. A report by the departmental Committee on Transport, Public Works & Housing which was tabled in parliament last week revealed that the money has not been allocated.

    Doubt has also been raised over Kenya’s ability to proceed with ambitious plans of building a new standard gauge railway from Mombasa inland to Kenya and extending to other regions in the hinterland. This follows the failure of the Kenya Treasury to provide any of the money allocated for the project. The estimated cost of the railway is said to be KSh120 billion, which appears to be something of an under-estimation.

    Contractors have claimed they could complete the railway as far as Kampala within two years.

    Talk in political circles is that the Kenyan government is now looking for a Build-Operate- Transfer solution to the problem where the builder will have to provide the capital and will then have the right to operate the railway for a prescribed period.

    It is also being reported that plans to build another standard gauge railway from the port of Lamu to the Ethiopian and South Sudan borders have already been shelved for monetary reasons.

    AP Moller-Maersk closes Odense shipbuilding yard

    It may not be altogether surprising but it comes nevertheless as a shock to learn that AP Moller-Maersk has decided to close its shipbuilding yard at Odense in Denmark.

    In an announcement yesterday (Monday) the company said that shipbuilding activities would be discontinued as soon as contracted orders have been fulfilled.

    “Historically, Odense Steel Shipyard (Lindø) has had a very special role in the AP Moller-Maersk Group. Due to the expansion of the yard capacity in low cost countries in the Far East and most recently with China’s determined endeavours of becoming the world’s largest shipbuilding nation, the competitive situation for the shipbuilding industry has become increasingly difficult in recent years.

    “Regardless of the huge effort to improve the yard’s competitiveness with investments in new technology and streamlining of the production, the yard has run up very considerable annual deficits and must today realise that it is impossible to attract orders which are commercially sound.

    “In this light the Board of the yard has decided to discontinue the shipbuilding activities, when the contracted orders have been fulfilled. Thus the present workforce will be continuously downsized to accommodate production.”

    Contracted orders (five bulk carriers, seven Ro-Ro ships and three frigates) extend to August 2010, November 2011, and February 2012, respectively. The first redundancies of approximately 175 employees are expected to take place from the end of August this year.

    “We have to realise that it is impossible for Lindø to attract new orders. The Board has therefore decided to make it absolutely clear that Lindø will not be building more vessels, once the contracted orders have been delivered,” says Lars-Erik Brenøe, Chairman of the Board.

    ”We will continue the process of attracting clients to the business unit, Lindø Industrial Services, and in that connection we strive to ensure a considerable number of jobs. We will in the time to come work closely with all relevant parties to provide the best possible assistance to the employees who will be leaving Lindø during the next few years.”

    As the shipyard’s orders are fulfilled, capacity for Lindø Industrial Services will increase. This means that both Lindø Industrial Park and Lindø Industrial Services have increased capacity to sell to other clients, and that Lindø Industrial Services' business areas are no longer strategically essential and can therefore be sold as independent businesses.

    Lindø Industrial Services' business areas comprise operation of mooring space and cranes, including the gantry crane, steel storage and handling, internal transport of heavy equipment, production of pipes and steel components as well as letting of ocean-going transport barges.

    With the discontinuation of the shipbuilding activities at Lindø, there is no longer a need for ownership of the Lithuanian shipyard, Baltija Shipyard and that company has therefore been put up for sale. AP Moller-Maersk says the sale will not have any effect on Lindø’s and Baltija’s contracted orders.

    “Also the design and engineering company UAB Baltic Engineering Centre in Lithuania is put up for sale.”

    News clips - Keeping it brief

    Six people have died and another 15 are missing after two passenger ferries sank at Langbasa in Lagos State on Friday (7 August 2009). One of the boats began taking on water and started sinking and the second vessel became unstable after approaching to give assistance, only for panicking passengers to scramble onboard, causing it to sink also. Fishing craft and police managed to rescue a few people from the water but 15 remain missing.

    In another boating disaster 11 people including women and children drowned last week when their ferry boat taking them from one side of the Nile River to the other sank. The accident occurred about 40km north of Khartoum.

    The US Navy oceanographic research vessel USNS SUMNER has arrived in Cape Town and is berthed at the V&A Waterfront. The ship, which is one of seven oceanographic survey ships in her class in the US Navy, also visited Cape Town in June this year.

    The semi-submersible heavylift ship MIGHTY SERVANT 3 has completed repairs and refurbishment after her five month sojourn underwater off the Angolan port of Angola and has rejoined the Dockwise fleet. The vessel has been under repair at the Grand Bahama Shipyard since January 2008. After being refloated by Smit Salvage the Mighty Servant 3 was taken to Cape Town harbour for evaluation before the contract to repair her was awarded.

    Philippine port operator International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI) has reported unaudited results for the second quarter which indicate an 18% decrease in revenue to US $96 million and a net income decline of 33% to $12.2 million for the quarter.

    DP World says it handled more than 20 million TEUs across the 49 port terminals it operates for the first six months of 2009.

    Pic of the day – MERMAID COMMANDER

    The Thai-owned and operated offshore supply vessel MERMAID COMMANDER (4,294-gt, built 1987) arrived back in Cape Town last week to take bunkers and resupply. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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