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Ports & Ships Maritime News

28 February 2012
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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News continues below...

FIRST VIEW – EXPLORER

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The cruise ship EXPLORER (24,318-gt, built 2001) which arrived in Cape Town harbour on Friday, 24 February. Due to recent immigration rulings, the ship is berthed at E berth in the Duncan Dock and not in her usual V&A setting. Explorer also doubles as a floating university for much of the year, using a Semester at Sea programme from the the Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE) and as a result she calls at ports across the wide world, which is an education in itself. Explorer was last in Cape Town in September 2011. This picture by Aad Noorland

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ANOTHER COAST CRUISE SHIP IN TROUBLE

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Costa Allegra, adrift without power southwest of Seychelles. Picture by Wiki Commons

Costa Cruises Mauritius-based COSTA ALLEGRA (28,597-gt, built 1969) was being reported last night as having lost power following an engine room fire and adrift 200 n.miles southwest of the Seychelles. The ship is without all power and the nearest known vessel was a fishing trawler which was expected on the scene at midnight last night (Monday). Other vessels have left Victoria in the Seychelles to go to the assistance of the cruise ship. The nearest land is the small island of Alphonse, about 20 n.miles away.

There are no reports of any injuries and although Costa Allegra is drifting without power or electtricity she is not being reported as in any immediate danger.

The fire is believed to have begun in a generator.

Costa Allegra had just completed her 2011/12 summer cruise season sailing out of Port Louis, having sailed from Mauritius on Monday 20 February with 636 passengers and 413 crew on board bund for Italy. Included in the crew are a umber of Italian marines, on board to provide protection against pirates as the ship was due to pass through the ’pirate zone’ en route back to the Mediterranean.

The ship, the oldest in the Costa fleet can carry up to 1,066 passengers and was built originally as the container ship Annie Johnson for the Swedish Johnson Line.

She was subsquently acquired by Regent Cruises in 1986 who renamed her Regent Moon with the intention of converting her for cruise purposes. This was not immediately carried out however and in 1988 a Panamanian company bought her and gave the ship the new name of Alexandra.

In 1990 Costa Cruises bought the ship, had her converted for cruising and on completion in 1992 she was renamed Costa Allegra. It is believed that the ship may be under charter to the French company Paquet Cruises but this could not be immediately confirmed.

Costa Cruises operates a second ex-container ship, the former Axel Johnson which was renamed COSTA MARFINA after conversion. Slightly smaller, she was also built in 1969.

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SMIT AMANDLA WELCOMES WITHDRAWAL OF CONTROVERSIAL TENDER

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The offshore sea fishery patrol ship Sarah Baartman with the inshore patrol boat Lilian Ngoyi in the background. Picture by DAFF

Black empowered marine services specialist SMIT Amandla Marine says it welcomes the decision taken by the Director General of the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) on Thursday 23 February to revoke the award of a key vessel management tender.

“The decision on the part of DAFF was well received by our employees who own 12% of the company and have worked consistently to execute the current contract over the years,” said bidder SMIT Amandla Marine's spokesperson Clare Gomes. “We look forward to an opportunity to tender fairly, openly and transparently for the effective management of our country’s fisheries research and patrol vessels.”

“We also note Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s recent announcement of a Chief Procurement Officer position in Treasury and we are encouraged by the multiple measures being put in place to ensure fair and equitable tendering and to prevent anti-competitive behaviour, improving the capability of public sector purchasing.”

The R800 million contract to manage and operate the fleet of sea fishery patrol boats and to combat illegal fishing within South Africa’s economic exclusion zone was controversially awarded to Sekunjalo Marine last November. This was followed by SMIT Amandla Marine, which held the previous contract to operate the vessels, taking the matter to court to challenge the awarding of the contract to Sekunjalo as the preferred bidder. Sekunjalo is also the owner of Premier Fishing, one of South Africa’s largest fishing companies.

SMIT Amandla’s contract with DAFF runs out at the end of March 2012.

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MIXED OUTCOME TO UK SOMALIA CONFERENCE

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Picture Finnish Navy

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) – the principal international trade association for ship owners representing all sectors and trades and over 80% of the world merchant fleet – has responded to the outcome of the intergovernmental conference on Somalia hosted by the United Kingdom on 23 February.

The ICS says the shipping industry welcomes the commitments made to try to restore government and civil society in Somalia – the absence of a functioning state being one of the underlying causes of violent Somali pirate attacks against international shipping, which have so far led to more than 60 seafarers losing their lives and 4,000 seafarers being taken hostage. However, addressing these issues will take years if not decades.

“The international shipping industry notes with some concern that the Conference outcomes do not appear to include any firm political commitment or new actions to eliminate or significantly reduce the scourge of Somali piracy in the immediate future.

“Governments must task their military forces to take the attack to the pirates and ensure that the military assets required to do this are maintained so they can continue to defend merchant ships in the best way possible. Little mention seems to be have been made to the obligations of governments under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to protect merchant ships and their crews from piracy, and the industry fears that the current level of pirate attacks is something which the governments may be willing to continue to tolerate because ships are out of sight and out of mind, even though they transport about 90% of world trade.

“Abdicating responsibility to private armed guards to whom, in the absence of adequate military protection, shipping companies are now resorting in increasing numbers, is not a viable long term solution for eliminating piracy. Recent press reports might give the impression that the level of piracy off Somalia is decreasing, but the capability of the pirates is actually higher than it has ever been.

“The shipping industry strongly supports the Conference’s focus on the need for apprehended pirates to be arrested, taken to a court of law and, if found guilty, be imprisoned, including the announcement to establish a new Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence Co-ordination Centre based in the Seychelles.

“The shipping industry also welcomes the determination of governments to break the financial chain through legal action against criminal financiers investing in piracy wherever in the world they are identified. With respect to the latter, ICS notes the commitment to establish an ‘international task force on pirate ransoms in order to understand the ransom business cycle and how to break it.’

“However, the shipping industry would be deeply concerned by any suggestion that the payment of ransoms to pirates, in order to secure the release of seafarers being held hostage, should be prohibited or criminalised.

“The primary concern of the industry is humanitarian, and ship owners have a duty of care to their crews and their families. In the event that seafarers are taken hostage, the inability of the international community to eliminate piracy or rescue hostages means that shipowners have no option but to pay ransoms. The alternative would be for ship owners to abandon their crews to months if not years of appalling treatment – including torture and murder, which has already been the result when ransoms have not been paid.

“In the event that ransom payments were prohibited or criminalised, many seafarers and shipping companies would understandably refuse to sail in the affected danger area, with significant implications for the large proportion of world trade, including about 40% of world oil shipments, which are transported via the Western Indian Ocean.

“ICS strongly believes that effective compliance with Best Management Practices (preventive measures) by shipping companies, and recent military intervention with a more aggressive stance, has reduced the pirates’ rate of success. However, the current situation remains totally unacceptable, with about 200 seafarers still being held hostage in the most terrible conditions, with thousands more still having to transit the danger area in constant fear of their lives.

“ICS will continue to work to ensure that the problem of piracy retains sufficient political and public attention so that the crisis might be properly and decisively addressed in the immediate future.” Source ICS/ via Paul Ridgway, London

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LARGE COAL TERMINAL PLANNED FOR NACALA

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The Nacala railway

The Mozambique government has released information concerning the development of a large coal terminal at the port of Nacala, in northern Mozambique.

The country’s prime minister Aires Bonifacio Baptista Ali said in Tokyo, where he has been attending a conference, that the terminal will have to be up and running within two or three years and that it will have a capacity of 25 million tonnes of coal a year.

The coal terminal has long been speculated about, with theories about where in the bay of Nacala it would be built. The Brazilian mining house Vale, which has large investments in the port and also the Nacala railway to the Malawi border, recently announced plans to develop a spur line from Moatize in Tete Province to the Malawi border to connect with the railway in that country, which in turn connects with the Nacala railway coming in from the coast.

Vale expects to ship a maximum of 18 million tonnes of coal annually to Nacala, to supplement the coal being shipped through the port of Beira in the south using the Sena Railway.

Vale has apparently said it will spend US$4.4 billion on developing the Nacala railways and port to an efficient operation that can handle the volume of coal that will be shipped along the northern route.

It also appears that Japan may be interested in becoming not only an investor but also in buying coal from Vale in Mozambique.

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SPAIN’S NAVANTIA AND VEECRAFT MARINE SIGN MoU

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Spanish Navantia ‘Meteor’ patrol ship

In a press release issued by Navantia SA, Spanish shipbuilder Navantia and the Cape Town-based shipbuilder Veecraft Marine have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the construction in South Africa of Navantia’s Avante class Inshore & Offshore Patrol Vessels.

Navantia was invited in June 2011 to submit information for the construction of these vessels for the South African Navy in terms of Project Biro, and both companies are gearing themselves up for the possibility of new business that may flow as a result of this.

Navantia says that the MOU is indicative of its serious intention of offering vessels with cutting edge technology to the SA Navy whilst at the same time working hand in hand with local industry in the construction of these vessels.

Other shipbuilding companies that are known to have an interest in Project Biro, in which the South African Navy is interested in acquiring up to nine multi-purpose hull vessels as replacements for the current three T-Craft inshore patrol boats and the remaining former strike craft that are now utilised as patrol boats.

In terms of what the government and the navy have repeatedly stated, it is preferred that the vessels will be built in South Africa. Apart from Veecraft Marine and its associate Navantia SA, shipyards known to have an interest in tendering for the project are Cape Town’s Damen Shipyards and Durban’s Southern African Shipyards, which has partnered with Germany’s Lürssen Werft for this project.

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Navantia’s Avante 1400 class offshore patrol vessel

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PICS OF THE DAY – ATLANTIC TITAN

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The Danish-owned, Singapore-managed and Hong Kong-flagged chemical products tanker ATLANTIC TITAN (47,128-dwt, built 2008) arriving in Cape Town during February. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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