Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 3, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – ENERGY PANTHER


  • Transnet strike to hit ports and railway operations


  • Mystery surrounding deaths on car carrier off Durban


  • French Navy nabs more pirates


  • Grindrod buys remainder of Fuelogic


  • Damco given Best Clearing Agent of the Year award


  • Zimbabwe begins refurbishing locomotives and rolling stock


  • Saga Rose mystery moves to Mozambique


  • Pics of the day – SERPENTINE





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    First View – ENERGY PANTHER

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    The Greek chemical and oil products tanker ENERGY PANTHER (44,999-dwt, built 2008) which was in Cape Town last week. Picture by Ian Shiffman



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    Transnet strike to hit ports and railway operations

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    The two Durban container terminals likely to be strongly targeted

    Up to 50,000 port and railway workers are due to go out on strike next Monday after negotiations between the trade unions and Transnet broke down last week.

    In a joint statement issued on Friday, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) and the United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) said they would be leading a strike against Transnet after wage demands were not met. The unions are demanding increases of 15 percent whereas Transnet is believed to have offered 8 percent.

    The joint statement said the strike would start with the first shift on Monday morning, 10 May.

    As in the past it may be expected that the country’s main container terminals, in particular Pier 1 and DCT at Durban, will be targeted more strongly than other terminals. The Durban container terminals handle 65 percent of the country’s import or export containers.

    The unions say that all divisions of Transnet will be affected. These include all port terminal and port authority operations, including marine piloting, all Transnet Freight Rail operations, the company’s rail engineering division, Transnet Pipelines which transports fuel inland from Durban, and Transnet Capital Projects.

    The unions say that while passenger rail services will not be directly affected, a separate negotiation involving Metrorail and its parent company may see industrial action take place at the same time. Long distance train travel with Shosholoza Meyl may also be affected similarly.

    The unions pointed at a number of issues. These included drawing attention to the huge salaries paid to top managers within Transnet, saying that it would take the lowest paid Transnet employee 121 years to earn the annual salary and bonus of the acting group CEO. The bonuses paid out last year were highlighted, where 51 percent of the amount went to 4 500 managers with the balance being shared among 49,000 workers.

    The unions also want contract workers to be made permanent, and say that there are more than 5,000 contract workers who are mainly concentrated in Transnet Capital projects who are on annually renewed contracts with no benefits. Unions say that management’s proposal to appoint only 850 of these is not acceptable. There are several other issues involving medical aid subsidies, maternity benefits and a cap on overtime as well as a guarantee that no retrenchments will take place for the next year.

    By Sunday evening Transnet had not reacted to the news of the strike.



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    Mystery surrounding deaths on car carrier off Durban


    Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of two persons, a man and a woman, who it is believed fell or jumped from a car carrier outside Durban harbor yesterday morning (Sunday).

    The ship’s identity is known to PORTS & SHIPS but is being withheld until confirmation is received that the respective families have been notified. It is thought that the man was a senior officer on board the car carrier which has since docked in Durban.

    According to the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), the Transnet port helicopter was activated and two rescue craft and swimmers of the NSRI put to sea to conduct a thorough search following reports of the people overboard. A Smit Marine vessel also responded.

    At first light the two bodies were seen floating in the sea about two miles from the ship and have been recovered. Both bodies have been handed over to the Forensic Pathology Services and the South African Police Force has opened an inquest docket.

    According to one report the two people concerned were married.


    In other incidents involving the NSRI, a missing snoek fishing boat, Snoekie was found after being reported overdue in Lamberts Bay on the west coast. The fishing boat was carrying a crew of 11 and had been fishing 15 n.miles north of Lamberts Bay, about 5 n.miles offshore. An all vessel alert was issued when the vessel failed to return on Saturday night.

    However, communications with the drifting boat were re-established at approximately 22h45 and two other boats went to sea to rendezvous with the missing boat that had drifted 55 miles from its last known position. A tow was made and the missing boat returned safely to harbour.


    The Table Bay NSRI reports that a 54-foot yacht, >I>Ex Africa had experienced engine failure near Robben Island after sailing from Cape Town en route to Saldanha Bay and Europe. A NSRI rescue craft was able to secure a tow and help the yacht back to Cape Town harbour.



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    French Navy nabs more pirates

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    ladder found on one of the mother ships and taken for evidence. Picture EU NAVFOR

    Two French Navy ships attached to the European Union naval forces (EU NAVFOR) operating in Somali waters have captured and destroyed two pirate mother ships while taking 20 suspected pirates into custody.

    On Saturday morning (1 May) the French warship FS TONNERRE located and boarded two pirate ships, 450 nautical miles east of Somalia. Evidence consisting of weapons and a ladder were seized and 11 suspected pirates were taken on board the Tonnerre.
    This followed the sighting of a pirate action group (PAG) by a Swedish patrol aircraft on the previous day. FS Tonnerre was ordered to intercept the pirate group. Having launched its helicopter the Tonnerre located the pirates first thing on Saturday morning. When the suspected pirates realised that anti piracy forces were closing in, they started to throw some weapons and the ladder overboard which was recorded by the helicopter crew.

    A boarding party went over from Tonnerre and secured the remaining evidence as well as taking the suspected pirates on board the frigate. The mother ship, a ‘Whaler’ was destroyed and the two skiffs taken aboard FS Tonnerre.

    Following hot on the heels of FS Tonnerre’s success, the EU NAVFOR ship, FS LAFAYETTE similarly destroyed another mother ship and took nine suspected pirates on board for questioning.

    The PAG consisting of one mother ship and two skiffs was spotted by a helicopter operating from FS Lafayette in the Indian Ocean between Mogadishu and the Seychelles. When detected, the suspected pirates tried to escape and threw paraphernalia overboard. The helicopter fired warning shots and the mother ship finally stopped.

    Lafayette then did an unopposed boarding and found evidence that the men on board intended to commit piracy. Nine individuals were held for further investigation and the mother ship was destroyed. The skiff was taken onboard Lafayette as evidence.



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    Grindrod buys remainder of Fuelogic

    Grindrod Limited has announced that it has acquired full ownership of Fuelogic (Pty) Ltd, a company in which it previously held 75 percent less one share.

    Fuelogic is a bulk liquid fuel transporter operating in South Africa under long term contracts. This involves the primary distribution of fuel from refineries and import facilities to terminals, depots and large customers.

    Grindrod says that although the demand for fuel has softened, the long term forecast for demand remains robust with significant growth opportunities in the cross border market. The company has therefore made a strategic decision to expand its existing service in the petrochemical sector.

    The purchase of the balance of shares has cost Grindrod Ltd R160 million and is being paid for in cash. As a result Fuelogic becomes a full subsidiary of Grindrod Limited.



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    Damco given Best Clearing Agent of the Year award

    Damco Logistics South Africa was presented with the Best Clearing Agent of the Year 2010 Award at the first annual International Produce Limited Logistics Conference in Leeds, United Kingdom recently.

    International Produce Ltd (IPL) is a wholly owned entity of ASDA Wal-Mart - one of the UK’s leading supermarkets, sourcing from quality growers worldwide to provide the best value fresh produce. IPL manages a number of ‘categories’ on behalf of ASDA Wal-Mart, including top fruit, melons, stone fruit, grapes, citrus, salads, bananas and 'exotics'.

    The Award comes as recognition of the work that Damco Logistics South Africa, in conjunction with their colleagues in the United Kingdom, have put in over the last five years to provide Reefer Logistics services for International Produce Ltd - allowing top levels of on shelf availability and low cost to its customers.

    “Damco Logistics South Africa was chosen as the winner of this Award for its proactive approach to managing the IPL business. Damco not only displayed a really keen approach to communication back to the UK Head Office, but also engaged in innovation at a strategic level. IPL felt Damco's recent investment in managers with Reefer specialist knowledge showed its commitment to the category and to IP,” said Jason Kelly, Operation Director, International Produce Ltd.

    Through offering value adding, flexible and customised solutions, dedicated industry specialists at Damco worked hard to build the long term partnership with IPL.

    The model that Damco has helped IPL create in South Africa, is now being extended through 'ex works' purchasing to other sourcing areas around the world. For the first time this season product ex Chile, the second largest deep sea origin for IPL, is moving on the ex works basis and managed by Damco Chile.

    Dawie Kok, General Manager for Reefer South Africa says: “Damco Logistics South Africa is very honoured to be named as IPL's Best Clearing Agent of Year for 2010. Receiving such an Award is very motivating and highlights Damco's dedication to service delivery and our passion for customers. Damco is committed to developing our relationship with IPL and strives to support IPL even further on strategic logistics initiatives.”



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    Zimbabwe begins refurbishing locomotives and rolling stock

    Acording to the Zimbabwe Herald, the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), once one of the most efficient and well-run railway companies in southern or central Africa, has begun refurbishing its locomotives, wagons and coaches to ensure smoother movement of passengers and goods.

    “We are going to renovate everything from the stations to railway tracks so that we ensure safe and efficient movement of both passengers and goods in Zimbabwe, said NRZ spokesperson Mr Fanuel Masikati.

    Masikati said the programme included the laying of new sleepers bought from China to replace the obsolete infrastructure. “We have already replaced railway sleepers along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls, Gweru-Kwekwe and Nyazura-Rusape lines and we believe these renovations will go a long way to providing efficient service for our customers,” he said.

    Masikati said a microwave link was being installed along the Harare-Dabuka route.
    “The installation will improve operational efficiency and safety and we expect to complete the programme by the end of the year. Repairs of wagons, coaches and locomotives is an ongoing programme,” he said.

    The NRZ has sent staff for re-training to provide efficient service to clients.- The Herald



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    Saga Rose mystery moves to Mozambique

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    Picture Terry Hutson

    Just when we thought the mystery of the SAGA ROSE had been cleared up, the ship takes another turn and confuses everyone.

    When we last reported the cruise ship’s movements, Saga Rose was in Richards Bay to load bunkers and water. Earlier she had confounded ship watchers by calling at Port Elizabeth for the same reason. Port Elizabeth is not a regular bunker port.

    While the ship lay at her berth alongside the coal terminal in Richards Bay, PORTS & SHIPS received word that the vessel had been sold to Chinese interests. Some of the mystery solved, but not her strange choice of ports for loading fuel and supplies. Durban or Cape Town would have been quicker and cheaper.

    While in Richards Bay the vessel operators requested permission to wait over another day. This was apparently turned down on the ground that the berth was required for a coal ship, and Saga Rose sailed that same day, Thursday.

    Then comes the revelation that after sailing from Richards Bay she put in to the port of Maputo, further up the coast. Why? The only thing we can think of is that some mechanical work was necessary while in Richards Bay, hence the request for another day in port, and when this was turned down the operators decided to take the ship to the Mozambique port.

    Of course, the way this mystery is unfolding even that idea is likely to be shot down.



    Pics of the day – SERPENTINE

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    The former Belgian Ro-Ro vessel SERPENTINE (22,748-gt, built 1980), photographed in Cape Town harbour shortly before being renamed WINNER XI and sailing off to the ship breakers in the Far East. Pictures by Ian Shiffman



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