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Ports & Ships Maritime News

20 June 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002

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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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FIRST VIEW – VENEZIA

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The car/passenger ferry REPUBBLICA DI VENEZIA, now renamed simply as VENEZIA, preparing to depart from Durban on what is assumed to be a one-way voyage to the ship-breakers of Asia. The ship has already undergone her change of name, becoming the VENEZIA, which is customary among ships heading for the breakers. She is now registered in the Comores. Picture by Trevor Jones

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NEW RAILWAY TO CONNECT RICHARDS BAY WITH GAUTENG

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Transnet Freight Rail and Swaziland Railway are looking at the viability of a new railway from Mpumalanga Province to the port of Richards Bay via Swaziland.

The purpose of the railway is basically to relieve pressure on the existing Richards Bay coal line, which last year delivered 62.86 million tonnes of coal, well short of the reported capacity for Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) of 91mt.

According to Siyabonga Gama, TFR chief executive, who made the announcement in Cape Town last week, TFR is considering moving commodities other than coal off the Richards Bay line to assist with TFR upping the capacity handled by that line. The idea is that the new line will carry this other freight, while also calling at Matsape, the industrial centre of Swaziland en route to the port at Richards Bay.

“We want to see if we can explore a link through Swaziland to Richards Bay so we can use that channel to take out non-coal cargo, which would vastly improve capacity,” Gama said.

A spokesman for Swaziland Railway said the proposed new line could also handle iron ore from a new mine near the South Africa/Swaziland border.

Gama said the new line would cost between R17Bn and R19Bn and would “help to catapult South Africa beyond its current position as the sixth-largest exporter of coal to perhaps the second- or third-largest globally.”

TFR is under pressure to find ways of improving rail delivery, following a series of disastrous derailments in recent years that has the result of volumes dropping at RBCT. By the end of May this year TFR had delivered 25.722mt of coal to RBCT – if this is annualised it would amount to 61.84mt, another poor year for TFR and the port. TFR’s annual capacity for the line is said to be 76mt and while coal mining companies are continuing to push for added capacity TFR has pointed out that it hasn’t always been its fault when targets are not met.

In its defence TFR has cited cases where the coal mines have been unable to handle block trains, leading to delays as wagons are marshaled and shunted onto private railway networks. In other cases the mines have had insufficient coal available for export.

TFR says it is expecting to spend R27Bn on the existing coal line over the next ten years.

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MAERSK EXPRESSES CONFIDENCE IN AFRICA TRADES

Maersk Line has expressed confidence in trade between Asia and Africa, saying that double-digit growth can be expected.

According to Thomas Knudsen, Maersk Line Asia operations chief, Africa is very strong, particularly with commodities. “We’re seeing more cargo moving in containers pretty much everywhere in Africa – East Africa, South Africa, West Africa, he said.

Knudsen said that busier sea traffic to Africa was helping offset slower business on other trade routes, including the benchmark Asia to Europe trades that are under pressure from a glut of capacity and slower economic growth in the West.

Maersk and several other lines including CMA CGM, MOL and NYK have increased tonnage to their various Africa trades this year.

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CREATING OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH EDUCATION IN GHANA’S COCOA COMMUNITY

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Safmariners, Group colleagues and students at the launch of the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) Agricultural Logistics Skill Development Programme at the KNUST School of Business

Young Ghanaian students with ambitions to join the agricultural industry will now benefit from the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) Agricultural Logistics Skill Development Programme at the KNUST School of Business. The programme was launched earlier this week at KNUST in Kumasi, Ghana.

The aim of the educational programme is to equip selected youths with post-secondary education with knowledge and understanding of logistics, supply chain, warehousing and socio-economic issues. Graduates of the programme will be qualified for employment in the agriculture industry as logistics and warehousing technicians. Approximately 30 students have enrolled for the first phase of the programme.

The funding for the training has been provided by WCF member companies Safmarine and ADM Cocoa. WCF is managing and overseeing the programme through the ECHOES Alliance, WCF’s initiative to enhance agricultural education in cocoa farming communities, while KNUST School of Business is responsible for developing the educational curriculum for the programme.

Safmarine’s Global Sustainability Manager, Larisa Thuije says: “As a member of the WCF, and given Safmarine’s long involvement with our customers in the cocoa trade, we are keen on promoting sustainable development through education. This programme is a great opportunity for that.”

According to ADM Cocoa’s Alain Fredericq, director, Global Business Development and Sustainability, this programme will benefit industry in Ghana, particularly within the cocoa supply chain.

“As Ghana becomes an increasingly important producer of cocoa, the need for effective logistics at every step of the supply chain is crucial to the Ghanaian cocoa industry,” says Fredericq. “The educational programme’s varied curriculum allows for a profound understanding of challenges along the supply chain and encourages students to work toward sustainable solutions.”

The World Cocoa Foundation’s President Bill Guyton added that this was “another example of the public-private partnerships that form the basis of WCF’s programmes to benefit cocoa farmers, their families and their communities.”

The programme curriculum will cover training of various subject areas, ranging from the introduction to logistics and supply chain, purchasing, warehousing and inventory management, transport and distribution, to covering economic and social issues affecting the industry, amongst others.

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PIRACY REPORT: PRIVATE SECURITY FIRMS WANTS CLARITY OVER BRINGING WEAPONS INTO PORT

In the wake of British security company PVI having had a number of its operatives arrested and detained in Eritrea for bringing weapons into that country - see our report on that incident British firm says sorry to Eritrea , private security firms providing armed escorts on ships in pirate-ridden waters are seeking clarification on what terms they may enter ports on key shipping routes.

Eritrea is not the only country to have arrested armed escorts on board ships entering territorial waters. In South Africa a number of ships’ masters have been arrested for having arms on board their vessels and not having complied with the correct reporting mechanism.

A maritime law attorney to whom we spoke in Durban said he had advised ships masters not to plead guilty to such charges because the ships’ master then acquires a criminal record, which can follow him around the world and cause problems in places like the United States. Nevertheless several ships captains have taken the short route and pleaded guilty, paid the fine and been able to sail without further delay to themselves or their ship.


Crew rescued off burning highjacked ship

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MV Orna

The crew of 19 on board the highjacked cargo ship ORNA (27,915-dwt), which was captured by Somali pirates last December, have been taken to safety on board another captured vessel after the ship caught fire off the Horn of Africa.

It is believed that the fire began in the ship’s kitchen with an electrical fault. A spokesman for the pirates said that all crew were taken off the ship to safety on another vessel and were well.

Orna has been in use by the pirates as a mother ship since her capture last year.


Pirates release SUSAN K

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Susan K

Somali pirates have released the captured German general cargo ship SUSAN K which has been held in captivity since April this year.

The vessel’s crew of 10 Ukrainians and Filipinos was reported to be safe on board the vessel but little else was known as the ship headed for a ‘safe port’.

Ransomed crew from SUEZ forced to abandon ship

The 22-man crew of the ransomed freighter SUEZ, which was released from captivity by Somali pirates recently, have been forced to abandon their ship after it began sinking in heavy weather.

The Egyptian owner of the ship apparently ordered the crew to leave the ship following reports from an accompanying Pakistani warship, the PNS BABUR which safely took all crew off the stricken ship. Suez had been in danger of capsizing after being caught in strong winds and having run out of fuel. The ship was off the coast of Oman at the time and appeared to have declined assistance from the Indian Navy ship INS GODAVARI.


German warship sinks pirate skiffs

EU NAVFOR, the European Union naval presence in the Somali region, reports that on the morning of 10 June, the EU NAVFOR German warship FGS NIEDERSACHSEN detected a suspected Pirate Action Group (PAG) whilst conducting a routine patrol in the Southern Somali Basin.

‘The PAG, which is suspected of carrying out a number of attacks on merchant vessels in the area, consisted of a fishing dhow and two attack skiffs. Small arms and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG)s were also seen on board.

‘As the Dhow was considered to be a real threat to shipping in the area, the German warship decided to disrupt the vessel but fears for the safety of the hostages on board prevented the Niedersachsen from taking direct action against the vessel. Instead, to remove the Dhow’s ability to launch further attacks, the warship opened fire on the two attack skiffs sinking them in the process. Without attack skiffs, it is highly unlikely that the suspected pirates could successfully board a vessel.

‘Having lost its skiffs, the Dhow changed course and made its way back toward Somalia. This disruption has undoubtedly hampered pirate action and avoided highly probable attacks on merchant shipping and vulnerable vessels in the area.’

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News continues below…

PICS OF THE DAY – PAVILION

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The Ro-Ro passenger ferry PAVILION which arrived in Cape Town last week and is believed to be en route from Santos for the breakers in Asia. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

Image and video hosting by TinyPic 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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