Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 1, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson




















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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – FJORD


  • Transnet suspends two senior employees


  • South Africa has record R6.7-billion trade deficit


  • Khangela Bridge – the R200 million harbour bridge that truckers ignore


  • Pirates seize Greek tanker as SA says it can’t afford to send warships


  • Large iceberg east of offloading zone for SA AGULHAS poses question


  • News clips – Keeping it brief


  • Pic of the day – KOTA ANGGERIK





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    First View – FJORD

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    The heavily-laden Dutch semi-submersible carrier FJORD (19,984-gt, built 2001) arrived off Cape Town yesterday and went to anchor in the outer anchorage. Picture by Aad Noorland



    Transnet suspends two senior employees

    Johannesburg, 30 November – Transnet announced on Monday that two senior employees at Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) had been suspended pending the finalisation of a disciplinary process. The matter follows a forensic investigation into alleged irregularities over the awarding and implementation of a multi-million rand tender and is connected to the suspension of TFR chief executive Siyabonga Gama.

    Both employees have been charged with serious misconduct, said Transnet in a statement. It said the misconduct included wilful or gross negligence and manipulation of tender processes in relation to the irregular awarding of a contract for security services at TFR. Transnet said this resulted in the company incurring irregular expenditure.

    “In line with the company’s disciplinary procedures, the two employees were afforded a fair opportunity to make representations as to why they ought not to be suspended. This offer was not utilized. Subsequently, they were suspended,” said Transnet.

    It added that the suspensions are regarded as appropriate because of the seniority of the employees involved and the gravity of the allegations levelled by the company. “The suspensions also became necessary to allow further investigations to be carried out without interference.”

    According to Transnet the contract was awarded without an open tender process being conducted or other qualifying bidders being invited.

    It transpires that the irregular awarding of the contract was approved by the suspended chief executive of TFR, Siyabonga Gama, despite him not having the requisite delegated authority, and which, along with other matters, subsequently led to him being suspended pending a disciplinary process.

    Transnet said in a statement that it is committed to upholding the highest standards of corporate ethics and governance.

    “Employees are expected to act in accordance with the company’s values which, amongst others, demand that they act with integrity and in a manner that inspires trust and honesty. Apart from guidance by their consciences, all employees are bound by a compulsory code of ethics. It is important that all our suppliers and business associates are given a fair and equitable opportunity to do business with Transnet.”

    It said that the company is determined to act against corruption and governance breaches and appealed to anyone who detects fraud and corruption to report these to an independently managed and anonymous toll-free line. Details are:

    Tip-offs Anonymous
    Freepost DN 298
    Umhlanga Rocks 4320
    Tel: 0800 003 056
    Email: transnet@tip-offs.com
    Fax: 0800 007 788



    South Africa has record R6.7-billion trade deficit


    Pretoria, 30 November 2009 (BuaNews) - South Africa has recorded a R6.7 billion trade deficit in October, the South African Revenue Services (SARS) said on Monday.

    According to SARS, the deficit was mainly due to an increase in imports of 21.92 percent and a decrease in exports of 3.18 percent.

    “Exports for October 2009 of R44.09 billion and imports of R50.80 billion resulted in a deficit of 6.7 billion,” said SARS.

    SARS further added that imports increased by R9.13 billion to R50.80 billion and exports decreased by R1.45 billion to R44.09 billion.

    In September, South Africa recorded a trade surplus of R3.9 billion. - BuaNews



    Khangela Bridge – the R200 million harbour bridge that truckers ignore

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    Earlier in November the Khangela Bridge linking the Umbilo Road arterial with Durban port’s strategic Bayhead Road was opened to traffic, after being under construction for about two years.

    The bridge, which cost R200 million and was paid for by means of a joint venture between the Ethekwini Municipality (Durban) and Transnet National Ports Authority, was designed to alleviate traffic congestion along South Coast Road and the Bayhead Road junction, an area that has experienced numerous traffic snarl-ups.

    Before the bridge could be completed however, the economic downturn occurred and a portion of the heavy traffic on the road leading to the port’s two container terminals and to the Island View oil and chemical complex, has dissipated. There have however been brief periods when container and other heavy vehicle traffic has accumulated, leading to further road congestion outside the port.

    Which is why the bridge was so keenly anticipated, as it was intended to direct much of the heavy traffic away from the narrow South Coast Road and the busy Rossburgh Junction, one of the country’s busiest road intersections. However, since the opening of the bridge it has been noticeable that few heavy vehicles or container lorries are making use of the bridge, with drivers apparently preferring routes they are familiar with.

    It seems Transnet Port Terminals and the Island View complex terminals will have to go on a campaign to inform the heavy transport companies that an alternate and easier route to and from the port of Durban is now available.



    Pirates seize Greek tanker as SA says it can’t afford to send warships

    Somali pirates are continuing to operate far from their homeland in their quest for seizing merchant ships for ransom, with reports being received of a Greek ULCC tanker, the MARAN CENTAURUS (300,294-DWT, built 1995) being highjacked 1,100 kilometres from the coast of Somalia.

    The giant oil tanker was attacked and captured on Sunday and together with its crew of 28 is now on a heading towards Somalia and, no doubt, a rich ransom. The vessel was en route from the Middle East to the United States and can be assumed to be fully laden – the ship is capable of carrying more than two million barrels of oil.

    This is not the furthest that Somali pirates have operated – several ships have been attacked and captured up to 1,000 miles from Africa, but does involve one of the larger vessels. Considering the type of boats used in the attacks, small open skiffs sometimes operating from larger mother ships, one has to acknowledge the seamanship and bravery of the pirates in venturing so far into the open ocean.

    Fears are also being expressed at the growing incidents involving piracy off West Africa. The area has long been prone to piracy or armed attack, although many of the incidents in the past were cases of theft involving robbers who climbed on board ships at anchor outside port, usually at night, in an attempt to steal whatever was handy and easily available. There were a significant number of militant attacks on ships involved in the oil industry, carried out by Nigerian militant groups ostensibly acting against the oil companies, although the suspicion is that ransom demanded for the release of those taken hostage has been the main reason.

    However, what is disturbing now is that Nigerian pirates appear to be operating further from their usual haunts and are acting beyond Nigeria’s international borders in waters of neighbouring countries.

    With Ghana about to become one of the major oil producers in the West African region this is not what oil companies will have wanted to hear. Attacks involving Nigerians have taken place off Cameroun and Benin and there are fears that pirates operating from Nigeria may soon regard the entire West African region as their area of opportunity. Even more worrying is that West African pirates have shown little hesitancy in using maximum force, whereas Somali pirates have exercised notable restraint.


    SA says no to anti-piracy patrols

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    SAS ISANDLWANA – SA has no money for anti-piracy patrols. Picture courtesy Ian Shiffman

    The South African Navy will not be made available to assist with anti-piracy patrols in the Indian Ocean, says Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

    She was responding to a question from the opposition Democratic Alliance deputy shadow minister of defence, James Lorimer. Sisulu said the navy was “preparing as part of its normal force preparations processes for potential ‘anti-piracy’ missions,” - whatever that means, and indicated that the government would take a future decision based on circumstances and after all due considerations had been considered.

    In a revealing statement Sisulu acknowledged that the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) had asked South Africa in 2008 to provide a warship to escort and protect its vessels ferrying food aid to Somalia. She said that as the mission was not mandated by the United Nations the cost of the mission would have had to be carried by South Africa, and as a result the request was turned down.

    This was despite some of the food aid being sourced from South Africa at market related prices and paid for by other donor countries through the WFP.

    So there we have it at last. South Africa has admitted it is too broke to send its navy off to do what it was designed to do at great expense – help protect African interests. The minister and the present government should keep this in mind this when next they discuss defence debates and whether they need to provide the navy with further warships, as has been suggested.

    • The WFP is a United Nations organisation.



    Large iceberg east of offloading zone for SA AGULHAS poses question

    by Ian Hunter, SA Weather Services

    For the SA AGULHAS (South African Antarctic research and supply ship) to unload her heavy equipment in Antarctica a ramp has to be cut into the ice shelf edge. This is normally done in Penguin Bukta (bay), some 15 km west of the forwarding depot, E-base. Refer to the map below - note the iceberg B15K approaching from the east. This image dates back to 23 October when ESA’s Envisat was passing overhead. Its Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) is able to see through cloud to measure a great variety of surface features. These images are in Wide Swath Mode – 150m X 150m resolution.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    The photo immediately above, taken alongside the ice shelf shows a recently-constructed ramp and the large 25 ton crane mounted up on the bow of SA AGULHAS.


    In mid-September there was great consternation at the SANAE IV base when it was reported on one earth satellite image website that a large piece of ice had broken off the coast of Queen/ Dronning Maud Land.

    There were fears for the fate of E-base.

    In actual fact the iceberg in question - B15K - calved in the Ross Ice Shelf on 19 February 2004 (*).The location map shows its track for the last 5 years and 9 months :

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Now this iceberg has actually reached the Dronning Maud Land coast – over 7 ½ years after it calved in the Ross Sea. Typically these icebergs will travel westwards around the Antarctic coast and run aground from time to time - they may not budge for months and even years. B15K has changed very little in shape in the past few years, although its keel depth has probably decreased somewhat.

    After rapidly rounding the Trolltunga ice tongue earlier this month, the iceberg somehow managed to land its ‘bow’ on the short stretch of continental shelf (depth < 200m) - extending east from Otter Bukta – see 2nd ASAR image below, dating back to Sunday 22 November 2009 :

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Unfortunately there were no further Envisat passes over this area to date (26-11), but it seems likely that the iceberg will rotate anti-clockwise around its ‘bow anchor’ in the westward currents, eventually pull free - and continue westwards towards the Weddell Sea. However there is another section of continental shelf extending seaward of the Blaskimen Ice Rise…

    The SA AGULHAS leaves Cape Town on 9 December. She should reach the pack ice edge in about a week, but the ‘bergs will start appearing well ahead of the ice edge - which is presently at latitude 60°S if sailing south down the Greenwich meridian.

    -----------------------------------

    * The mother berg B15 was one of the largest ever observed when it calved from the Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000 - 300 X 40 km. When B15K broke away from it in February 2004 it was instrumented by various institutions in the United States - with GPS, AWS, webcams, thermistors – even a seismometer to record ‘ice quakes’.

    B15K is approximately 60 X 5 km, i.e. it would stretch from Pretoria to Johannesburg.



    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Nigeria XXXXXXXX

    Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the International Mobile Satellite Organisation (IMS) have signed a Long Range Identification Tracking System (LRIT) services agreement for the monitoring of ships in the area of Nigerian responsibility. In conjunction with this, NIMASA has appointed Pole Star Space Applications to operate Nigeria’s National Data Centre.


    --------------------

    73 die in DRC lake disaster

    At least 73 people have died and others remain missing after a logging boat sank in a lake in western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There are at least 272 survivors. The boat, which in some news services has been described as a barge sank in bad weather on Lake Mai Ndombe in Bandundu province. The vessel was not licensed to carry passengers and with no manifest it is proving difficult to know if any other people are unaccounted for, said a Congolese Red Cross spokesperson.


    Pic of the day – KOTA ANGGERIK

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    The ships of Pacific International Lines (PIL) are usually smart and neat in appearance. KOTA ANGGERIK (17,652-gt, built 1999) is one of the longer serving container ships on the South East Asia to South Africa service and certainly one of the handsomest. Picture taken in Cape Town by Ian Shiffman



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