Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 3, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • New look for PORTS & SHIPS


  • First view: MAHAWELI


  • President Zuma arrives in India


  • Row brewing over truck freight toll costs


  • Piracy – Libyans retake their ship but Panamanian ship QSM DUBAI is captured


  • NATO chairs counter piracy meeting in Bahrain


  • Decade-old US AGOA trade program assessed


  • Maersk secures new US Navy Military Sealift contracts


  • Rail strike over as workers accept PRASA offer


  • US and EU monitor top container lines for price fixing


  • Pics of the day – Floating dock ASABA GE





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    New appearance for PORTS & SHIPS

    PORTS & SHIPS, which during the month of May had in excess of 40,000 visits from readers, with 200,000 ‘pages’ being opened and viewed and 938,000 ‘hits’ made during the month, is about to undergo a facelift that will result in wider pages and a more immediate reader-friendly front home page. The site will continue to have a familiar appearance and we intend that the changes will make it easier for regular and new readers to navigate.

    We hope to introduce the changes, our first revamp in 8 years, within the coming week.



    First view: MAHAWELI

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    The Sri Lankan offshore supply tug MAHAWELI (487-gt, built 1982) which called at Caoe Town yesterday. Picture by Aad Noorland



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    President Zuma arrives in India


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    Pretoria, 2 June - President Jacob Zuma has arrived in India for talks with his counterparts aimed at strengthening and broadening commercial interactions between the two nations.

    Accompanied by his wife Nompumelelo Zuma and a business delegation, the president touched down at the Chatrapati Shivaji Airport in Mumbai, ahead of his state visit.

    “The visit provides an opportunity to strengthen the strong bilateral relationship that both countries share while addressing and promoting the importance of trade, industrialization, agricultural development, transport development, communication and International affairs,” says President Zuma.

    The President is due to deliver a keynote address at the re-launch of the India-South Africa CEO Forum on Thursday while the executive chairman of African Rainbow Minerals Patrice Motsepe will lead the South African delegation of the CEO's forum. Tata group chairman Ratan Tata will lead the Indian delegation.

    According to the Presidency, the launch of the forum is aimed at boosting investment and trade ties.

    When the official program begins on Friday, President Zuma will be formally welcomed by the Indian president and Prime Minister Mannoham Singh by a ceremonial honour at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

    Zuma will then visit the Rajghat Samadhi Memorial where he will lay a wreath at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial. He will take a guided tour of the Rajghat Samadhi Memorial and sign the visitor's book.

    The President and Prime Minister Singh will then hold official talks at Hyderabad House aimed at deepening strategic partnership between South Africa and India.

    Following talks, three agreements are expected to be signed namely the memorandum of understanding on Agricultural Cooperation; an amended Bilateral Air Services Agreement and a Memorandum on Mutual Cooperation between the Diplomatic Academy of the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of External Affairs of India.

    They are to be signed by Transport minister Sibusiso Ndebele, International Relations and Cooperation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

    President Zuma will also receive courtesy calls from Sonia Gandhi, Leader of the Indian National Congress and Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, and from Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party.

    A State Banquet is also to be held after which the President is expected to leave India on Friday. The president is being accompanied on his visit by a large number of South African businessmen. - BuaNews



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    Row brewing over truck freight toll costs

    An argument familiar to hauliers and their representatives is heating up after new road toll tariffs were introduced in South Africa in March, with more toll roads scheduled over the coming years. As in other countries worldwide, the increased cost of shipping cargo on the nation’s highways has been declared a regressive move by the nation’s trucking representatives, the Road Freight Association (RFA).

    The RFA believes that the increasing reliance on privately funded infrastructure projects on the part of the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) will have serious repercussions for smaller delivery firms particularly and make operations less competitive whilst fuelling inflation. The new rates can reach R280 for the largest vehicles on some motorways.

    For their part SANRAL point out the necessity to upgrade the country’s highway network as quickly as possible and gives the example of 2008/09 when funds required to maintain the network were put at R6.7 billion. Only R4.2 billion was actually forthcoming meaning many projects to upgrade were left unfinished.

    Private investment can be obtained for toll projects as many investors view them as a safe long term bet and the rising traffic levels across the country, up 20 percent in some provinces in an eight year period to 2008, make action to maintain and extend the system imperative. SANRAL currently has several significant Toll Road projects on the blocks including sections of the N17, N1, N2, N4, R30 and the Dube Trade Port. Several others have been recently completed including the N3 Toll Road project and the landmark Nelson Mandela Bridge in Newtown, Johannesburg.

    Despite the objections of the hauliers it seems that the Toll Road projects will form an integral feature of the South African transport network for the foreseeable future and, as their international counterparts will testify, once tolls are established it is a rare thing for them to be withdrawn once a scheme has recouped the initial costs. (source: Handy Shipping Guide)



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    Piracy – Libyans retake their ship but Panamanian ship QSM DUBAI is captured

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    QSM Dubai. EU NAVFOR image

    At 10h10 local time yesterday (Wednesday), the hijacked Libyan-owned merchant vessel RIM reported that the crew of 17 had successfully retaken control of the ship. One of the crew members was seriously injured during the incident.

    Rim was captured by Somali pirates in February this year. Its crew consisted of 17 Rumanians and Libyans.

    The incident yesterday took place south east of Garacad, off Somalia’s northern coastline, where the vessel had been held. The closest EU NAVFOR warship, the SPS VICTORIA, was immediately tasked by the Force Commander Jan Thörnqvist, to meet up with MV RIM in order give medical assistance. SPS VICTORIA launched her helicopter immediately.

    Confusing reports that the ship had been pirated again came prior to the helicopter reaching the scene of the incident. It was however quickly established that the crew were in control of the vessel but there were pirates in the vicinity who were attempting to impede the EU NAVFOR operation by utilising another hijacked vessel, the MV VOC DAISY. When SPS VICTORIA’s helicopter approached the MV VOC DAISY changed her course – no warning shots were fired.

    It is believed that some of the pirates on board the Rim were killed during the ship’s recapture by its crew, who now have effective control.

    EU NAVFOR says it is monitoring the situation and more information will be released as it becomes available.


    In another incident reported by EU NAVFOR, the owner of the MV QSM DUBAI reported in the early hours of yesterday that a group of armed pirates had boarded the ship and taken control. USS COLE from CTF 508 (NATO) first reported that they had seen a person with an RPG on board. A coalition Maritime Patrol Aircraft was tasked to investigate the situation and confirmed that the ship was hijacked.

    The MV QSM Dubai, a Panama flagged general cargo ship with dead weight of 15,220 tonnes and a crew of 24 comprising Egyptian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Ghanaian nationals, was in bound from Brazil when hijacked in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor.


    In a third incident, this time involving the Yemeni navy, Yemeni marines rescued a fishing boat and its 9 crew members after they were hijacked last Friday. The rescue operation took place off Yemen’s Al-Mahrah province that borders Oman.

    The 13 captured pirates will face trial in Yemen where recently other convicted pirates were sentenced to death. Yemeni forces found weapons including machine guns and RPG launchers. The 9 crew members were reported safe and unharmed.


    Three Somali nationals, who are suspected of being pirates, have been detained in Lakshadweep after the Indian Navy spotted a suspicious looking boat off the Kerala coast. If the three men prove to be pirates it means that piracy has moved even closer to India and that the Somali pirates have few boundaries or limitations to where they operate.



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    NATO chairs counter piracy meeting in Bahrain

    by Paul Ridgway (GB)

    On 1 June, NATO acted as Chairman at the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) meeting in Bahrain for the first time. The SHADE is primarily a military meeting focussing on the issue of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin. Coalition Maritime Forces (CMF), European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), China, Russia, India, Japan, South Korean, Yemen, Seychelles, Egypt, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia all attended.

    SHADE meetings have been conducted monthly for over one year and are also attended by nations in the region of Somalia that are impacted by the current piracy issue. The agenda for the day allowed briefs from NATO on the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin operations in this current weather transition window, campaign analysis, air co-ordination, and an update on Best Management Practices by the merchant community represented by Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF).

    Throughout the day NATO’s representative and Chairman for the meeting Captain Adrian Van Der Linde (Royal Netherlands Navy) fostered a spirit of co-operation and frank/honest discussions to allow all forces and nations to share information and work together to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia. Over 100 people attended, representing 30 nations. There was excellent dialogue between NATO, CMF, EU and China, Russia and India. Interpol also presented and can provide support and training to all militaries on evidence control.

    Chairmanship of SHADE is open to any organization or nation that provides significant forces within the IRTC and is presently rotated between CMF, EU, and NATO, with China in the foreseeable future. As NATO has extended her mandate of Operation Ocean Shield to end of 2012, the SHADE meetings are an excellent method to maintain tactical level co-ordination between naval forces operating in the area, educate each other on ongoing operations and maintain pressure on the Somali pirates.

    It is notable that since the IRTC scheme was introduced and forces have actively been working together there has been a significant reduction in hijackings in the Gulf of Aden.



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    Decade-old US AGOA trade program assessed

    The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the US government’s trade preference program for Africa, is now 10 years old.

    President Bill Clinton signed the AGOA bill into law on May 18, 2000. Since then, three successive administrations, including the Obama administration, have actively implemented the program working closely with African partners.

    Assistant US Trade Representative Florie Liser said AGOA has led to a significant increases in two-way trade between the United States and Africa.

    “I would say that AGOA has been a success for a couple of reasons. First of all, its goal was to encourage the diversification of Africa’s trade with the United States. What has happened under AGOA is we have a number of stories in terms of the increase in non-oil trade. That has doubled in the 10 years of AGOA. And, in the meantime, US exports to Africa have also grown,” she said.

    Critics say AGOA has not been substantive enough and needs some redefinition. For example, they say petroleum products continue to account for the largest portion of US imports from AGOA countries.

    Liser said, while about 98 percent of AGOA products from Africa enter the United States duty-free, the concern lies with the supply side in Africa.

    “What we are seeing, and what many of the experts are saying, both Africans and here in the US is that it’s not the market access that is the issue. The issue really lies with the supply side. And, immediately, what you realize is that there isn’t the capacity to scale up in that kind of way,” Liser said.

    She said Africa’s productive capacity in terms of value added or processed product is still relatively low, with the exception of South Africa.

    Liser said, in addition to market access, the US was also working on trade-capacity building support.

    “We have helped the Africans to basically put in place the kind of reform measures that will make it easier for businesses to do what they do, to remove some of the constraints in terms of the business environment on that end, to reduce the cost of production which has to do with, in some cases, the high cost of transportation and energy on that end,” Liser said.

    A number of African countries have been turning recently toward China for their infrastructure development.

    Liser said the United States is not in competition with China with regards to trade in Africa. But, she said the US had some concerns with regards to China-Africa trade.

    “We have some concerns because some of the patterns that we have seen in terms of China-Africa trade are that you have raw materials that China needs that are coming out of Africa in very large volume and then Africa is purchasing a lot of the finished products from China. What we are, I think, focused on is whether or not Africans are in a position, at this point, so that they can benefit the most out of this, where more jobs are created on the continent, where more of their product is processed right there on the continent,” Liser said.

    Thirty-eight Sub-Saharan African countries are currently eligible for AGOA.

    One of the criticisms of the program has been its eligibility criteria, including progress toward implementing economic reforms, establishing the rule of law, reducing poverty, and strengthening labour and human rights.

    Liser said countries are asked to make continual progress. But, if a country has had a coup d’etat, it will not be able to meet the rule of law and governance requirement. - Agoa.info



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    Maersk secures new US Navy Military Sealift contracts

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    USNS Charlton, one of the navy’s pre-positioning ships in Durban. Picture by Terry Hutson

    Maersk Line has been awarded several contracts to manage and operate 10 ships within the US Navy Military Sealift Command’s Pre-positioning Force. The contracts have a dollar value of approximately USD 350 million.

    “Maersk Line's support of Maritime Prepositioning Ships goes back to 1983 when we converted five commercial vessels and operated them for 25 years. We're pleased that MSC has recognised the value of our service and has entrusted us with these ships,” said Scott Cimring, Maersk Line’s Senior Director of Government Ship Management.

    In terms of the contract Maersk Line will provide seafarers including technical support ashore and afloat, as well as all the equipment, tools, provisions and supplies necessary to operate the vessels worldwide.

    Maersk will also support MSC in the management of government-owned cargo, including, but not limited to, hazardous materials, vehicular, bulk, and general cargoes.

    The ships are among eleven that MSC solicited in February 2009, with Maersk Line having been awarded a contract for every ship on which it offered. An eleventh ship is reserved for a small business set-aside contract. The contract comes into effect this year and has options for extension from 2015. Source: Maersk Line and maritimedanmark.dk



    Rail strike over as workers accept PRASA offer

    The 15-day strike involving passenger train services in South Africa has come to an end following the acceptance of agreements between PRASA and SATAWU, reached yesterday.

    Satawu deputy president Robert Mashego announced this on Wednesday saying the “strike is over and our members are back at work.”

    The strike was a side issue to the wider Transnet strike involving freight rail and port and pipeline operations, that extended for 18 days and all but crippled Transnet operations.

    PRASA strike workers demanded a 13 percent increase to which PRASA increased its original offer to 10 percent. The latest offer which has been accepted will see a 10 percent increase across the board being applied for the 15,000 union members. Shosholoza Meyl (long distance passenger train) workers earning less than R60,000 a year will now get a 12.5 percent increase and Metrorail (suburban train services) earning less than R70,000 a year will receive a 12 percent salary raise. The new offer will be back-dated to 1 April 2010. All workers will receive an additional R1000, once-off payment at the end of June.

    For the first time in about three weeks all train services in South Africa are reported to be back in service.



    US and EU monitor top container lines for price fixing

    The Wall Street Journal report reported yesterday that the US Federal Maritime Commission and the European Commission were monitoring the world’s top container shipping lines for any evidence of price fixing. This follows reports that shippers and exporters are having difficulty obtaining vessel space, particularly on the US-Asia trades since the lines began laying up to 500 container ships worldwide and leaving many vessels idle as a means of reducing losses. (Source Eye on Transport)



    Pics of the day – Floating dock ASABA GE

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    Readers will recall the events involving the floating dock that broke in half in the Mozambique Channel, leading to fears of ‘toxic pollution’ by Mozambique authorities. The stern section that broke away is still aground near Vilanculos where Svitzer Salvage is endeavouring to recover it and bring it to Cape Town for a possible reunion with the main dock. In this picture taken yesterday morning, looking directly into the sun, the front section of the dock is seen arriving in Cape Town harbour. Picture is by Aad Noorland

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    Assisted by several harbour tugs the dock is manoeuvred into the harbour and a safe haven. Picture by Aad Noorland

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    A close-up view of the stern section where a large portion of the floating dock broke off and drifted away. It appears likely that even if the stern section is recovered, the dock is going to be a little shorter when repaired than when it first set off from China some weeks ago. Picture by Aad Noorland



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