Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 7, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson
















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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – BOA MIGHTY

  • Customs (SARS) advises of measures taken ahead of industrial action

  • Interesting ships at sea and on the water

  • US Military also to use Seychelles to stage surveillance aircraft on anti-piracy patrol

  • Cruise operator files for insolvency

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • SA supports commitments to economic recovery

  • Today’s Good Read

  • Pic of the day – CMA CGM EVEREST




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    First View – BOA MIGHTY



    The tug BOA MIGHTY (1062-gt, built 2006) arrived off Cape Town last week towing BOABARGE 35 on which was loaded a ’cargo’ of a tug and several river barges, making for a very impressive sight as the collection of tugs entered harbour, assisted by the harbour tug MERLOT. What is the collective noun for a number of tugs? Pictures by Aad Noorland



    Customs (SARS) advises of measures taken ahead of industrial action

    Customs and Border Management of the South Africa Revenue Services (SARS) in Pretoria has issued the following notification for attention of all stakeholders:

    IMPENDING INDUSTRIAL ACTION

    As you may be aware, organised labour has given notice that they intend to embark on industrial action on 7 September 2009.

    The SARS management recognises the seriousness of the proposed industrial action and has developed contingency measures in the event that the planned industrial action goes ahead. These measures are aimed at ensuring that core activities and services are undertaken with minimal disruption.

    From a Customs and Border Management perspective these measures, amongst others, entail the following:

    Traders and agents acting on their behalf are encouraged to undertake pre-clearance;
    All queries should be directed to Branch Managers;

    Where Branch Managers are unable to assist, queries should be escalated to the SARS Head Office: Customs and Border Management Division;

    Two call lines have been created at Head Office to report any difficulties as a result of the industrial action, including difficulties in obtaining release of your goods. The telephone numbers are (012) 422 6617 and (012) 422 8603 and dedicated officers have been assigned to assist. These numbers will be operational for the duration of the industrial action between 07h00 and 18h00 daily;

    The standard turnaround time for the processing of all manual / disc clearances cannot be guaranteed, apart from exceptional circumstances that will be at the discretion of Branch Management;

    For electronic payments in case of deferment, clients are required to fax proof of payment to either (012) 422 6910 or (012) 422 6991 and include the following details:

    Client code;
    Statement no;
    Settle date;
    Contact details; and
    Branch Office.

    The SARS Customs and Border Management Division highly appreciates your cooperation and reconfirms its commitment to service.

    kind regards
    Erich Kieck
    Group Executive: Customs Strategy & Policy



    Interesting ships at sea and on the water



    One of the chief interests in being a ship watcher, whether for professional reasons or as a hobby, is the ever changing panorama of vessels arriving and leaving our ports – particularly at busy ports like Durban and Cape Town.

    Among the unusual sights in Table Bay this past week was that of the newly built harbour tug OSAYAME which was being moved from the Damen Cape Town shipyard on Saturday (5 September) to a berth in the Ben Schoeman Dock where final fitting out will take place. The tug has been built for the Lagos port services. Photographer (Aad Noorland) was lucky enough to be on hand when this unexpected movement took place and had his camera ready.

    In Durban the second of a series of five new drillships under construction for American company Transocean, arrived off port on Friday for a crew change and to take on stores and supplies. The DISCOVERER AMERICAS was built at the Daewoo Shipyard in South Korea at a cost in the region of US$670 million and has the ability to drill in water up to 12,000ft deep at depths of up to 40,000ft.

    Discoverer Americas is en route to the Gulf of Mexico where Transocean has a four year drilling contract due to commence later this year. Approximately 125 crewmembers were exchanged while the drillship, which has too large a draught to enter most South African ports, lay off the Bluff while two Transnet helicopters from the ports of Durban and Richards Bay ferried the new crew on board and took those being replaced ashore.

    When the first of these Enterprise class drillships arrived off Durban in May this year she attracted much attention from people living on the Bluff and elsewhere due to her bright lights at night and PORTS & SHIPS’ office took a number of calls from the public curious to know what it was.

    A third drillship, the DISCOVERER INSPIRATION will enter service later this year and is expected to similarly stop off Durban to effect a crew change en route. A full crew is placed on board in Korea to enable training to commence before the vessel reaches her drilling station, with a second crew replacing the first at the halfway point, roughly off the coast of South Africa.

    Rennies Ships Agency is the ships agent caring for these ships and also took care of the replacement crew ahead of the Discoverer America’s arrival.

    A picture of the Discoverer Clear Leader, the first drill ship to pass the coast can be found HERE



    US Military also to use Seychelles to stage surveillance aircraft on anti-piracy patrol

    Following on from our report last Thursday (3 September 2009) regarding the Luxembourg Government placing two Maritime Surveillance Merlin aircraft in the Seychelles (see that report HERE), Jay Gates who is the Airfield Operations Manager at Humberside International Airport in the UK writes to say that the company deploying them (the Luxembourg aircraft) is going to be CAE Aviation which is based at Luxembourg’s Findel Airport.

    But, he says, there are even more surveillance aircraft to come. “It also appears that the US Military is going to use the Seychelles as a transit/fuelling base for it's Maritime Patrol P-3 Orion aircraft based in Djibouti, as well as Mahe being a base for the unmanned 'Reaper' Drones.

    “I read this article in the well-read Stars and Stripes newspaper..... and other news agencies are still reporting this today.”

    US plans land-based UAV patrols to combat piracy

    by Mark Abramson, Stars and Stripes
    European edition, Saturday, August 29, 2009

    Courtesy of the US Air Force

    US officials plan to use MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the Indian Ocean as a way to combat piracy in the region.

    About 75 US military personnel and civilians will be headed to the Seychelles islands in the coming weeks to set up the Reaper operations, which could start in October or November. US Africa Command is calling the Navy-led mission Ocean Look.

    The US will base the Reapers — to be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance — at Seychelles’ Mahé regional airport, Vince Crawley, AFRICOM spokesman, said.

    The Navy has been using ship-based UAVs in the region for some time, but using land-based drones for counterpiracy work is new, he said. Piracy is a major problem for the Seychelles because it is dependent on shipping, he added.

    The mission should last several months, with a Reaper airborne at all times, Crawley said. Details on exactly how long the UAVs would be in the Seychelles are still being worked out, he said. The UAVs would not be armed.

    “We will get it up and running and see for a few months if it is the right assets and location (for counterpiracy). It is a very strategic location,” Crawley said.

    According to San Diego-based General Atomics, which manufactures the Reaper, the UAV can stay in the air for 30 hours and fly at speeds up to 275 mph.

    The decision to base the Reapers in the Seychelles — about 1,000 miles off the east coast of Africa — comes at a time of year when the weather in the area clears up and pirates based out of Somalia and the region take to the seas.

    “Traditionally what we are seeing this time of year, the monsoon season will end,” Lt Nathan Christiansen, spokesman for the Navy’s 5th Fleet, said. “Last August, right about this time, we saw 12 attacks in one day.”

    In addition to Reapers, the Navy has experimented with operating P-3 Orion patrol aircraft at the same Seychelles airport. A P-3 crew with Squadron VP-10 operating out of Djibouti stopped off at the Seychelles overnight from August 12 to August 13 to test the idea.

    “I believe the main focus would be maritime security and counterpiracy operations,” said Navy Capt. John Moore, commodore of Combined Task Force 67 in Sigonella, Italy. The P-3s would not be permanently based there, Moore said.

    Orions with a combat radius of 2,380 nautical miles can cover and survey a large area, the captain said.

    “They add a lot of situational awareness. I would say that our assessment (of operating from the Seychelles) proved successful. We could do this,” Moore said.



    Cruise operator files for insolvency

    The German cruise operator Transocean Tours has filed for insolvency, German newspapers and the cruise media are reporting.

    Transocean operates the well-known cruise ship MARCO POLO with which is was planning to operate cruises inside a new company in the Caribbean and elsewhere from in October, as well as the cruise ship ASTOR and various river boats in Europe. Transocean said it is hoping to restructure before any of the planned cruises can be affected and hopes to fulfill existing cruises planned for the remainder of 2009.

    As recently as 13 August Transocean issued a statement announcing the launch of a two-ship operation from the UK, under the guise of a company called Cruise & Maritime Voyages. The statement said the company had secured the 820-passenger ship MARCO POLO on time charter for another five years. Marco Polo had operated for the past two years under the Transocean brand, but Cruise & Maritime Voyages had planned cruises for the Caribbean, South America and into Nordic waters and the Mediterranean with a second vessel, OCEAN COUNTESS joining the venture.

    Among the reasons given for the company’s financial troubles are the cancellation of the world cruise of the ASTORIA in late 2008 because of engine problems, which led to large insurance claims, and losses in the exchange rate with the Marco Polo.

    Other than marketing Marco Polo in the UK, all of Transocean’s efforts involving the Astor and the various of riverboats were in the German market.



    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Coal exports through the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) reached 5.59 million tonnes in August, which reflected a 5.9% increase on the same period in 2008. In July RBCT exported 5.44million tonnes of coal.


    Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) and Taiwan’s Evergreen are the latest shipping lines to announce general rate increases. In MOL’s case all westbound cargo from Japan, Asia and the Indian subcontinent to the Mediterranean and northern Europe will be subject to a US$250 per TEU increase as from 1 October. Evergreen has announced an increase on its northern Europe to the USA trades of $350 per TEU and $450 for a 40ft container.


    Maersk Line says container volumes may have bottomed out and that growth may be experienced in the fourth quarter of this year. “We are seeing a recovery in shipping, but it is from an incredibly low level, so in my mind it has bottomed out,” Jesper Praestensgaard, Maersk Line CEO for Asia Pacific said. “If we are lucky we will see growth on a year-on-year basis in the fourth quarter.”



    SA supports commitments to economic recovery

    Pretoria, 5 September 2009 (BuaNews) - South Africa has expressed its support for the commitments made at the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in London at the weekend.

    Among these commitments is the decision to promptly implement the April 2008 quota reform package, improve the quota share of emerging countries in both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, reform their Executive Boards, and increase the size of World Board by one member to allow an additional African Chair.

    “South Africa also supports the expansion of credit facilities including the introduction of the Flexible Credit Line and a more flexible range of instruments for low-income countries,” said the National Treasury.

    However, it added that turning broad commitments for governance reform into action remained a challenge.

    “On reforms to the financial regulatory system, South Africa supports the initiatives of the Financial Stability Board to improve the architecture of the financial regulatory system, and mechanisms to improve collaboration and co-ordination between countries.”

    The country in particular supports the initiatives to regulate bankers pay and bonuses in order to reduce and minimise excessive and reckless risk-taking culture that has infected many banks.

    South African regulators have been effective in regulating such risk in our banking system, said the National Treasury, and this remains an example to the rest of the world.

    It further said that the world economy had a way to go toward complete recovery and it was still concerned about the impact of the financial crisis on low income countries, particularly those in Africa.

    “The G20 has reaffirmed that collective and coordinated efforts will be needed globally to ensure sustainable growth, and to build a stronger and more effective international financial system,” it said.

    Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Renosi Mokate, attended the G20 meeting on Friday and Saturday.

    The meeting noted that there were tentative signs of recovery in the global economy, although it was uneven across countries and regions.

    “The outlook remains cautious and it is too early to conclude that the recovery has gained traction. In light of this, the G20 countries committed to maintaining their current fiscal and monetary policy stimulus policies,” said the National Treasury.

    The meeting reviewed the latest data on the state of the world economy and concluded that stimulus packages should remain in place until recovery is secured.

    The meetings of the G20 in November last year, and April this year, lead to a reshaping of the architecture and rules governing the global financial system.

    While the weekend's meeting reiterated the need for swift and full implementation of the commitments made at the Washington and London Summits, countries agreed on steps to be taken to strengthen the financial system, coordinated by the Financial Stability Board.



    Today’s Good Read

    The Times (of London) yesterday (Sunday) carried a story about the highjacked freighter ARCTIC SEA, suggesting that perhaps the real cargo of interest on the ship was not the timber, but Russian arms intended for Iran. It was perhaps inevitable that rumours such as this would emerge over the nature of the ship’s highjacking and cargo and we haven’t been disappointed, as this story recounts. You can read the Times online article HERE

    Please note that PORTS & SHIPS doesn’t necessarily agree with or endorse any of the stories referred to as good reads – that’s for you the reader to decide.

    If you have read something interesting and think that others might also enjoy reading it, please send the link to info@ports.co.za and write GOOD READ in the subject line.



    Pic of the day – CMA CGM EVEREST



    Two views of the French container ship CMA CGM EVEREST (21,971-gt, built 2005) in Cape Town harbour during August. Pictures by Ian Shiffman





    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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