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Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 13, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

Shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa

 

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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First View – WESTERDAM

 

The Holland America cruise ship WESTERDAM departed Cape Town at 17:00 yesterday (Monday) heading for Rotterdam after embarking Dutch and other fans in South Africa for the World Cup. It was a perfect mid winter afternoon allowing her passengers to take clear pictures of Table Mountain and the Peninsula as she headed north. The ship arrived a month ago and has spent much of the time on laybye in Walvis Bay. Picture by Ian Shiffman

 

News continues below...

Controversy as PetroSA turns to SAAF choppers

A storm has broken out over the use by the national oil company PetroSA of helicopters from the South African Air Force to service PetroSA’s offshore gas platform.

This followed the state-owned oil company’s cancellation of a contract with Indwe Aviation, a move that led to suggestions of political bias in the decision to end the Indwe contract. The aviation company’s BEE partner Vuwa Investments includes Bulelani Ngcuka, the former national director of public prosecutions who incurred the displeasure of certain elements within the ANC during Zuma’s corruption trial.

In court papers before the Cape High Court Indwe Aviation asked for an urgent interdict stopping PetroSA from using a third party to provide aviation services for the oil company. The Cape Afrikaans newspaper Beeld then reported that PetroSA was maintaining in its answering court papers that piracy along the east coast was the reason for calling in the South African Air Force, citing a threat to national security.

Martin Steynberg, CEO for Indwe Aviation said in his court papers that he was advised that it is unlawful for the SAAF to provide commercial air transport operations. Steynberg stated also that while the SAAF is exempt from strict SA Civil Aviation Authority regulations, it does require that passengers waive liability. He said that his pilots required 3000 hours of experience including 1000 hours related to offshore platforms and his company was required to carry insurance of R1 million per seat.

Indwe took on the contract with PetroSA two years ago when CHC Helicopters withdrew from South Africa. Indwe leased two Sikorsky S61 Sea King helicopters for R1.4 million per month to handle the Mossel Bay contract for the oil company, transporting up to a thousand crew and maintenance personnel and luggage per month to the oil platform some 85km offshore. The aircraft are also available in case of an emergency. Indwe claims that its contract with PetroSA remains valid until 2013.

PetroSA was founded in 2002 through the merger of three government-owned oil-related companies; Mossgas which manufactures synthetic fuels at Mossel Bay, Soekor which was charged with oil and gas exploration, and a section of the Strategic Fuel Fund which previously secured and stored fuel, mainly oil.

News continues below…

RBCT’s turn as SATAWU strikes

 

Just when Richards Bay Coal Terminal was beginning to recover from the two and a half week strike by Transnet workers that prevented any deliveries of coal to the terminal, its own labour force has now gone out on a similar wage related strike.

SATAWU (South African Transport & Allied Workers Union), one of the three unions involved in the Transnet strike, rejected a 9.5 percent wage offer from RBCT management. It is not known at this stage what the unions are demanding except that based on the example of the Transnet and subsequent Eskom strikes the rate being demanded is possibly between 13 and 15 percent.

In a statement issued yesterday (Monday) RBCT said that it found the strike very surprising and disappointing as the wage offer made to the union is twice the inflation rate on what are already very high minimum salaries paid at RBCT.

“As RBCT we are confident that we have done all we could to ensure that our employees earn a reasonable and even higher living wage than most companies,” said Raymond Chirwa, Chief Executive of RBCT.

He said that production at RBCT is running normally.

“Our focus at this stage is to ensure that there is minimum impact on our operations. All the required machines, both on the off-loading of trains and loading of ships are fully operational. Our contingency plans are working as planned. We trust that SATAWU members will be reasonable and that they will accept this offer. RBCT will always be committed to providing an efficient and reliable service to all our users.”

Chirwa thanked all employees who were willing to work to keep production going and appealed to SATAWU to refrain from intimidating employees who are willing to work to keep the plant running.

 

News continues below...

Evergreen finalises order for another 10 containerships

 
picture by Ian Shiffman

Taiwanese container carrier Evergreen will be placing an order with CSBC Corp, a leading Taiwanese shipbuilder, for 10 container ships each capable of loading 8,000-TEUs.

This follows shortly after the company head stated that Evergreen would be increasing its fleet by up to a hundred new ships, a comment that took the industry by surprise as Evergreen has been one of the more conservative shipping lines, a factor that greatly assisted it to successfully ride the waves of the recent economic downturn.

The ships will be available for delivery from 2014, according to a Taipei newspaper, the Commercial Times.

This latest order follows an order from Evergreen Marine for 10 new ships from a South Korean shipyard, Samsung Heavy Industries, earlier this month.

 

News continues below…

Japan finances study to improve port of Nacala

 
Maersk Nebraska discharging grain in Nacala. Picture by Loni Shott

A two year study, which is being financed by Japan, will look into whether actions taken to improve the current capacity and operation at the port of Nacala in northern Mozambique are bearing fruit, says Adelino Mesquita, chief executive of Mozambican port and rail management company, Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Mozambique (CFM).

Mesquita revealed this during the Coordinating Council of the Ministry for Transport and Communications, which was held in Inhassoro, Inhambane province. He noted that the study was a result of difficulties experienced at the port of Nacala in handling large amounts of cargo.

He said that the study, which should take two years to finalise, was aimed at increasing the efficiency and capacity of cargo handling, as well as indicating the most advantageous modes chosen by investors to transport cargo, specifically mining products.

Mesquita did not give a figure for the investment necessary to improve operations at the port, noting only that large sums of money would be needed, while taking into account the proposals of the projects for (coal) mining that are awaiting improvements at the port.

Mesquita also said that the Sena railroad in the Beira Corridor would be delivered in September, with finishing work currently underway that includes construction of three small bridges, opening up aqueducts, regulating ballast, and welding rails over 15 kilometres of line.(macauhub)

 

News continues below…

The SEACOM cable... and piracy

 
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

By Ian Hunter (SA Weather Service)

The April Fool’s joke about Somali pirates doing a freedive down to the SEACOM undersea fibre optics cable proved to be somewhat less amusing in May, when the finalization of the project was actually delayed due to just such security issues (no expectations of freedive attacks, however !) : a cable ship would be a very vulnerable target whilst laying cable (or in the middle of a repair..)

Last year Somali pirates hijacked 47 merchant vessels - they have taken a number of ships of various tonnages this year including a chemical tanker just a day after the SEACOM repeater failure (5 July).

Many readers will be aware of internet sites that provide vessel positions via their voluntary observing ship reports (VOS), AIS (automatic identification system) or other semi-real-time systems. Referring to the map above, it is hardly surprising that neither the identity of the cable vessel, its home port – or its progress – have been provided to users.

The most recent prediction for the completion of the repair is 22 July. It is of interest to note that not only the cable repairs will be affected by the weather - hijackings off the Gulf of Aden show a distinct seasonal trend with the Southwest Monsoon bringing in gales and heavy seas from June onwards.

 

Piracy – Iranian ship escapes attack

A loaded Iranian tanker escaped capture by pirates late last week, according to Jamal Miahi, Deputy Head of the National Iranian Tanker Company.

The 158,000-dwt tanker, which was en route to Spain, reported that it was under attack on Thursday, 19h30 local time while sailing near the Bab el-Mandeb at the southern end of the Red Sea. Ten pirates in two small boats approached the tanker but the timely intervention of a military helicopter from one of the naval forces operating in the area arrived in time to assist the tanker’s crew in chasing away the attackers.

Miahi said this was the fourth attack on Iranian ships in the Somali region since 22 March and the 24th in a period of 22 months. He said Iran had sent several warships to the region to assist with guarding Iranian and other ships.

 

Pics of the Day – WEHR RISSEN

 

The German-flagged container ship WEHR RISSEN (16,802-gt, built 1999) which was in Cape Town at the end of June. 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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