Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 21, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – SVITZER MERINGA

     
  • South African ports and railways face strike threat

     
  • Three Thai vessels highjacked as pirates head towards India

     
  • Showing how it’s done – TransNamib CEO polices the level crossings

     
  • Japan charges New Zealand anti-whaling activist

     
  • Takoradi Port to be transformed

     
  • Ash Refugees

     
  • Pics of the day – IRAN SHARIATI and JOLLY BIANCO




     
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    First View – SVITZER MERINGA

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    The tug SVITZER MERINGA (250-gt, built 2006) waits near the entrance to Newcastle harbour in Australia for an arriving woodchip carrier. Picture by Alan Calvert



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    South African ports and railways face strike threat


    Up to 50,000 workers in the harbours, railways and pipeline industries may shortly be on strike, unless Transnet and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) and United Transport & Allied Trade Union (UTATU) are able to come to a quick agreement.

    This became clear yesterday when talks between two of the recognised unions (SATAWU and UTATU) and Transnet broke down on Monday night.

    The unions are asking for a wage increase of 15% which they say is in compensation of a less than average wage increase in 2009. Transnet has offered 8%, but the union is also angry over massive bonuses paid to managers in 2009. In addition they claim that over half the bonuses paid last year went to less than 10% of the work force.

    “The 11 executive managers received an average of R2.5 million in bonuses whereas the average bonus paid to workers in the bargaining unit was R10,000. Satawu’s view is that these massive discrepancies are fueling inequality and greed on the part of a few,” said Patrick Craven on behalf of Satawu.

    Labour is also demanding that Transnet agree to making no retrenchments during 2010, to which they say Transnet has responded by saying it can only agree if labour accepts the 8% wage offer.

    In a statement Satawu says it will be presenting Transnet’s final offer to its national shop steward’s council this Thursday (22 April) “…and thereafter with general membership in the provinces before making a final decision on the way forward, including whether to proceed with strike action.”



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    Three Thai vessels highjacked as pirates head towards India

    Three Thai fishing vessels from Djibouti have been hijacked 1200 nautical miles east of the coast of Somalia, reports the European Union Naval Forces operating off Somalia on anti-pirate patrol.

    These latest hijackings, which occurred on Sunday (18 April) are the furthest east of any pirate attacks in the area since the start of EU NAVFOR’s Operation Atalanta in December 2008, almost 600 miles outside the normal EU NAVFOR operating area.

    EU NAVFOR says that this is a clear indication that the EU anti piracy mission, together with those of NATO and CMF, is having a marked effect on pirate activity in the area. However the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) warns that pirates are now moving closer towards the eastern parts of the Indian Ocean and are approaching the west and south coasts of India, the Lakshadweep/Minicoy islands, and Northern Maldives.

    The IMB alert lists six recent attacks in the eastern Indian Ocean, ranging from 60 degrees east to 69 degrees east. The organisation says it has written to the authorities in India and the Maldives appealing to them to step up patrols.

    “If the attacks go unchecked,” said Noel Choong, head of the piracy reporting centre, “the pirates could move to attack ships closer to the two country’s coastlines.”

    In the attacks on the Thai fishing vessels, MV PRANTALAY 11, (26 Thai crew) MV PRANTALAY 12 (25 Thai crew) and MV PRANTALAY 14 (26 Thai crew), belong to a Thai based company PT Interfishery Ltd, were all highjacked.

    EU NAVFOR says it can confirm that all 77 Thai crew are safe and well and that the vessels are heading towards the Somali coast and that EU NAVFOR will continue to monitor the situation.



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    Showing how its done – TransNamib CEO polices the level crossings

    TransNamib's Chief Executive Officer, Mr Titus Haimbili, unexpectedly showed up at railway crossings in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay one morning last week, personally reprimanding motorists, cyclists and even pedestrians about ignoring stop signs when crossing the railway lines.

    Mr Haimbili told the Namib Times that TransNamib recently adopted a zero tolerance approach to railway crossings and said all stakeholders, including the public as well as the local authorities will be engaged in the weeks and months to come to make railway crossings safe for everyone.

    He invited the Namib Times to the Rikumbi Kandanga Avenue railway crossing where a number of shortcomings were identified including a lack of booms to stop cars in the event of a passing train, the issue of warning lights at these crossings and also the absence of clear traffic marks which instructs a motorist to stop at the crossing.

    It was also learnt that Mr Haimbili had a meeting with the CEO of the Walvis Bay Municipality, in which the local authority was reminded of its duty to erect booms at all railway crossings and that the Municipality's traffic department must ensure that clear traffic marks are applied instructing motorists to stop.

    Mr. Haimbili warned that motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike cannot always blame the authorities in the event of accidents at railway crossings. The same as the authorities must ensure that the necessary equipment and procedure are in place at crossing, the onus also rests on the shoulders of the public to adhere to safety procedures at the crossings. He pointed out [that] he also stood at the Mondesa railway crossing on the previous day, reprimanding the passing public. That included two wide eyed cyclists. - NAMIB TIMES (with some editing by Ports & Ships)



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    Japan charges New Zealand anti-whaling activist

    Japan has brought charges against New Zealand anti-whaling activist Peter Bethune, who made world headlines in February when he boarded a Japanese whaling vessel in Antarctic waters in an attempt to highlight the fight against Japan’s continued whaling.

    Bethune boarded the Japanese whaler to protest to the ship’s captain for having rammed his yacht ADY GIL in January this year. Before making the boarding he left messages saying his intention was to bring about a citizen’s arrest of the whaling ship’s captain and challenge the Japanese authorities to arrest him for the sake of the publicity this would arouse.

    Bethune was on board the yacht Ady Gil when it was rammed by the Japanese whaling ship, causing extensive damage to the specially built trimaran. The Australian and New Zealand governments are still investigating the incident and may bring charges against the Japanese whaling fleet.

    According to reports Bethine is being held in a maximum security prison in Japan and could face up to 15 years in prison for illegally boarding a Japanese ship at sea. His father said in an Australian radio broadcast that it was clear the Japanese intended making an example of his son to discourage further anti whaling attempts in the Southern Ocean.

    Bethune faces five charges – trespass, vandalism, carrying a weapon, obstruction of passage, and causing bodily injury.

    See related article HERE



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    Takoradi Port to be transformed

    The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has designed a master plan for the redevelopment and expansion of the Takoradi Port to transform it into a modern and vibrant one to meet the challenges of the emerging oil and gas industry.

    The Board of Directors and management of the GPHA has already discussed and approved the plan, which would be implemented in three phases.

    The first phase, involving a detailed engineering design, is estimated at USD 150 million, while the second phase will consist of marine works, with the third phase covering both marine and civil works.

    The weakness of the Takoradi Port, which was constructed in 1928, include shallow berths, low operational productivity, land space limitation and imbalance of cargo.

    A stakeholders’ forum on the proposed expansion of the port has been held in Takoradi. A presentation on the development proposals for the port was made for the public to make comments and ask questions on the project.

    At the forum, the Minister of Transport, Mr Mike Hammah, said the ministry had a significant role to play in the successful exploitation of the oil and gas industry.

    He explained that it was for that reason that the ministry and other stakeholders held a major transport sector conference in Accra in July, last year, for all the agencies under the ministry to understand fully their respective roles in the oil and gas exploration to prepare them for the challenges ahead.

    Mr Hammah said the Ministry of Transport was aware of the maritime demands of oil exploration and production, including the gas by-product, and was determined to meet those demands.

    He said the situation now, where services needed by oil companies were being provided by existing oil service facilities in Abidjan, could not be allowed to persist forever.

    The minister said the master plan for the expansion of the two main ports of Tema and Takoradi had been developed since 2001 and was expected to be implemented in phases but the current situation underscored the need for the ports, particularly that of Takoradi, to respond quickly to emerging demands.

    The Director-General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Mr NP Galley, said the Takoradi Harbour had seen only one major expansion in the 1950s since it was built in 1928.

    The Deputy Western Regional Minister, Ms Betty Busumtwi-Sam, said the expansion of the Takoradi Port was long overdue. She said it was important to expand the port because of its strategic location as far as the oil production was concerned. - GRAPHIC GHANA



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    Ash Refugees

    by Paul Page

    In Kenya, exporters in the country's huge flower shipping industry are said to have burned 400 tons of flowers over the weekend because they could not get flights to Europe and the flowers were going to rot.

    In the United Kingdom, a 4-year-old child was reported to be in grave condition because material for a badly needed bone marrow transplant could not get out of Canada.
    And Royal Navy ships were being mobilized for the possibility of getting Britons stranded by the shutdown of U.K. airspace back home.

    They're all signs of the way we've all come to depend on the ease of movement provided by modern aviation. It may be expensive or it may be cheap, it may often be an enormous hassle, but air transport is always there. Usually, as when Atlantic salmon is offered fresh and unfrozen at a grocery story or when half a million iPads suddenly turn up at stores and doorsteps in the United States, it's almost invisible and easily accepted, like the air in the sky.

    But the spreading volcanic ash cloud that closed down European airspace is proving a great reminder of the technological and fragile marvels that make aviation possible. A small shopkeeper just off London's touristy Carnaby Street said the empty streets were killing his business, and that sales for him and neighboring shops were off 50 percent since the cloud came in from Iceland.

    It is also a great leveler. It doesn't matter how much money you have or what your title is, we are all trapped together. Well, not entirely together.

    Hundreds of people were said to be sleeping, or trying to, in airports across Europe. We just heard today that the head of the International Air Transport Association, Giovanni Bisignani, was among the stranded, trapped in Paris without a chance of a flight to Geneva. I doubt if Bisignani was sleeping on the floor at Paris Orly Airport.

    In London, I'm simply extending a stay a few days at a time at a hotel that seems happy enough to take the booking since few people are coming in to take rooms. In the meantime, the stories are coming in about stranded families at London Heathrow Airport who are not even getting a bottle of water or a blanket from the airport authority. Instead, one man said, they are hearing constant, blaring announcements to not leave their baggage unattended — you know, the sort of thing the military and police do to drive holed-up bad guys crazy.

    And that goes to another area where the ash cloud has offered, oddly enough, more clarity.

    After years of losses and cutbacks, years of bankruptcies, consolidation and competition from low-cost carriers, the airline industry has little customer service beyond the surface. Although systems for booking, ticketing and transporting passengers work on a normal day, disasters such as the Iceland volcanic explosion show there is little behind the scenes.
    All fellow volcano refugees I spoke with in London had similar stories of no communication from carriers — none at all. The airlines had no more idea than any of us, of course, when airspace might be opened. But there was no word at all on what contingency plans might come in or what emergency actions might be taken once airspace was cleared. Instead, flights were canceled and no traveler on any US carrier that I found was notified of a rebooking.

    Meanwhile, carriers held meetings with freight forwarders and shippers to update them on booking plans and to suggest alternatives around closed northern Europe.

    It's one of the few times in which being treated like cargo didn't sound so bad at all. - Journal of Commerce online



    Pics of the day – IRAN SHARIATI and JOLLY BIANCO

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    The Iranian bulker ship IRAN SHARIATI (43,6130dwt, built 1985) sailing from Durban in November 2005. Although still owned and operated by IRISL the ship now carries the name ADMIRAL and is flagged and registered in Hong Kong. Picture by Terry Hutson

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    Ignazio Messina’s Ro-Ro vessel JOLLY BIANCO (30,969-gt, built 1982) heading out from Durban that same day in 2005. Picture by Terry Hutson



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