Weekly Press Review – 12 December 2016

The big maritime news this week is the announcement that African Marine Solutions Group (AMSOL) has acquired the marine solutions company Smit Amandla Marine.

According to the press the sale of the Smit Amandla Marine to AMSOL, which is owned by a consortium including Smit Amandla Marine management and employees, the Mineworkers Investment Company, Pan-African Capital Holdings and RMB Ventures, is in line with a stated commitment by shareholders to capacitate the company over time and return it to 100 percent South African ownership.

Paul Maclons, AMSOL Managing Director, said, “We are excited to build a great South African company and to remain relevant to our clients in the energy, mining, ports and maritime sectors into the future.”

Mary Bomela, CEO of the Mineworkers Investment Company, believes the acquisition supports the objectives of Operation Phakisa. “In facilitating the transformation of the maritime economy in South Africa, AMSOL is now in a unique position to support the continued growth and transformation of the sector in the region – with the transaction including Smit Amandla Marine’s business in Namibia and Mozambique.”

Also making headlines this week is the announcement that South African company Veecraft, specialists in new vessel construction, will be selling two advanced specification security vessels after clients defaulted on payment.

The sale will take place in Cape Town and the vessels could fetch up to US$6 million each.

Ariella Kuper, managing director of Clear Asset who is assisting Veecraft with the urgent sale of the vessels says, “International companies are showing interest in these vessels.”

Finnish power systems company Wartsila is among several companies eyeing opportunities in South Africa’s mooted gas-to-power independent power producer (IPP) programme.

According to the press the programme is expected to be the catalyst for the development of the gas industry in South Africa.

Weekly Press Review – 30 October 2015

Shipbuilding was in the news this week as Minister Rob Davies took the opportunity to highlight its potential contribution to the economy at the launch of a new vessel built at the Damen Shipyard Cape Town Facilities.

Smit Amandla Marine (SAM) partnered with Damen Shipyards to build two new vessels at a cost of R150 million.

SAM took on the local boat building challenge and made the decision to build the two vessels locally as part of their obligations in the National Industrial Participation Programme.

Rob Davies, Trade and Industry Minister, said, “We’ve identified that we have an opportunity to more or less triple the number of people employed, as well as the contribution to the GDP between now and 2033 from the oceans economy and one of the sub-sections of that is boat and shipbuilding.”

Smit Amandla Marine director Paul Maclons said, “While it is often more cost-effective to build these vessels in the East, it made sense to explore other options and support client and country priorities, with our company investing significantly into the local economy.”

The naming ceremony for one of the vessels took place on Thursday.  The vessel was named the Aukwatowa.

Also making headlines this week was the announcement that South Africa’s state-owned aerospace and defence company, Denel, will be launching its maritime division, with the aim of becoming a strategic partner to the South African Navy.

The launch will take place at the upcoming Maritime Africa Conference and Exhibition taking place at the CTICC in November.

Ismail Dockrat, chief executive of Denel Integrated Systems and Maritime said, “Maritime Africa is a fantastic opportunity for Denel to launch our maritime division in public and articulate our aspirations within the sector.”

Also in the news this week is another abalone arrest which took place in Hermanus.  The a 52-year-old man suspect was arrested and dried abalone with an estimated value of R1.2 million was confiscated.

According to the press the threat to the survival of the African penguin is so great that conservation organisations are planning to take drastic action to try to save this species from possible extinction.

The plan is to set up an artificial penguin colony on the southern Cape coast.  According to Christina Hagen, of Birdlife South Africa, the two sites being considered for the colony are De Hoop Nature Reserve and a stretch of state-owned land at Keurboom near, Plettenberg Bay.

The proposal for the artificial colony will be discussed at the World Seabird Conference in Cape Town next week.

Seabird, Cape Nature, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Sanccob will be part of the discussion to decide on the best location for the artificial colony.

Three new vessels to be launched in National Marine Week

National Marine Week kicked off in Cape Town this morning when the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Minister Edna Molewa, addressed a small audience of learners, invited guests and media. It was the first in a number of maritime-related functions in our calendar this week that includes the launch of three new vessels in Durban and Cape Town.

  • On Wednesday Sea Harvest will name their newly acquired R130 million vessel, the Atlantic Peace where Chairman Fred Roberston and CEO Felix Ratheb will officiate the proceedings.
  • Nautic Africa launches their 35 m Sentinal on Thursday in the Cape  Town harbour and invited guests will be treated to a little spin in the multi-role crew and patrol vessels.
  • Smit Amandla Marine will launch the latest addition to their fleet in Durban on Thursday.  The Sibanye linerunner has been in production at the SA Shipyards facility and will receive a formal welcome.

That’s a lot of nautical flavour for a week that is aptly named and perhaps speaks to the pronouncements that the government is making around the blue economy. Minister Molewa touched on the importance of Operation Phakisa this morning too – and affirmed that the results of the Ocean Lab deliberations held in Durban recently will be announced shortly.

She added that the Department of Environmental Affairs has been tasked to lead the blue economy initiative and that the focus will be on sustainable economic and social development.

We are still collecting feedback from the industry on Operation Phakisa. <CLICK HERE> To complete our quick survey on the initiative.

 

World Maritime Day

Today is World Maritime Day today. This day, set aside for the last week of September each year, offers a day to reflect on how the maritime industry has influenced our lives over the past year and also offers an opportunity for organisations, companies and individuals to actively do something to acknowledge the people involved in an industry that so many take for granted.

This year South Africa is recognising the day with various events around the country. Transport Deputy Minister, Honourable Sindisiwe Chikunga will host the World Maritime Day Career Expo and Exhibition in Kimberley in the Northern Cape. The celebrations are being held under the theme: “Sustainable Development: International Maritime Organisation’s contribution beyond Rio+20.”
The event is being attended by school children from previously disadvantaged communities who will be given the chance to display their knowledge of the maritime sector through educational displays and exhibitions.

Schools around the Northern Cape will participate in a competition involving: ship designing, essay writing, drama and art competition.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the Department of Environmental Affairs, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), Grindrod Shipping Company, Smit Amandla Marine and various other key maritime stakeholders will engage with the learners, providing information surrounding various activities within the maritime industry.

The day will be closed with a gala dinner.

The South Africa Navy is also acknowledging the day and participating in the celebrations.

World Maritime Day in South Africa also serves as a platform to create awareness around the career opportunities available within the maritime industry. It’s just a bit of a pity that the industry seems to rely on the usual suspects (see the list above) to promote their sector. Where is everyone else? We should all be involved in these initiatives.

Make a note in your diaries because in September 2014 Maritime Review will challenge the entire industry to come to the party!

July/August Editorial Comment

MY EDITOR’S COMMENT FROM THE LATEST ISSUE OF MARITIME REVIEW:

Servest cover designThe recent grounding of the Kiani Satu grabbed media headlines towards the beginning of August. Many of the news reports were to be expected: highlighting details of leaking oil; initial unsuccessful refloating attempts; lack of availability of the patrol vessels as well as comments from concerned environmentalists and citizens. There were those, however, who seemed to use the floundering vessel as a platform to try refloat issues that have long been scuppered by factual evidence. 

Take the media report that focused on comments made by the Chairperson of the Fisheries Portfolio Committee, Lulu Johnson for example.  Mr Johnson chose to lay blame for the lack of readiness of the DAFF patrol vessels at the door of Smit Amandla Marine.

I’ve heard him say it before and he was quoted again saying; “They (Smit Amandla Marine) have got away with murder”.  It is rather a simplistic summation that makes little sense against the almost two-year drama that now surrounds the  cancellation of the vessel management tender; the transfer of the vessels into and then out of the SA Navy – and the current contract which aims to get the vessels operational again.

Documents and reports exist in the public domain clearly disputing this “fact” that Johnson is so determined to  try to qualify. His argument that Smit Amandla Marine handed over a fleet of unseaworthy vessels has even been disputed by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) themselves.

So, Mr Johnson, here are some facts for you to consider. At the time of the vessel handover from Smit, independent third party marine surveyors were contracted to verify the condition and inventories of the vessels. In addition, DAFF was provided with a full risk assessment, which raised a number of concerns the company had.

They specifically emphasised the risks associated with the Africana and DAFF was warned about the consequences of laying the vessels up “inappropriately”. At the time of the handover, the vessels were seaworthy and all statutory certificates were valid.

It would, however, be accurate to note that the vessel is old and that, as admitted by Smit Amandla Marine at the time, she did require some key maintenance work including a main engine overhaul, pipe work, hydraulic and steel work as well as an overhaul of the onboard electronic systems.

That these projects were not carried out is not due to mismanagement by the previous vessel management service provider, but rather due to budgetary constraints of the Department.

Ironically while Mr Johnson was pontificating and accusing the company of murderous actions; the self same company was out at sea in their well-maintained workhorse – the Smit Amandla (previously the John Ross) which is, incidentally, even older than the Africana and still going strong. Called out to the scene of the stricken Kiani Satu under the DOT casualty response contract; the Smit Amandla entered into a Lloyd’s Open Forum (LOF) and shortly thereafter invoked the SCOPIC clause.

What followed was a tremendous effort by authorities, salvors and volunteers to minimise the damage to the coast and to wildlife.

Just over a week later, the vessel was refloated and towed away from the coast.

What Mr Johsnon’s portfolio committee did successfully do was re-awaken media attention to the fact that the DAFF vessels are still not operational. At a joint press conference with Damen in May to announce the contract to affect emergency measures to get the vessels back at sea, Greta Apelgren-Narkedien noted that a period of six months was needed.

Since then the vessel management tender has been announced and the Department has yet to reveal the successful bidder. Factoring in the six months from May – perhaps we can anticipate that this announcement will come sooner rather than later to ensure that the vessels have a new home to go to when eventually certified seaworthy.

Given the controversy that dogged the previous announcement, however, there must certainly be a great deal of pressure for DAFF to get it right with no room for litigation.

The media, the current bidders and the Fisheries Portfolio Committee will be waiting to scrutinise the results.

For Shaheen Moolla, however, the portfolio committee does not have the teeth of a true watchdog – and he seems to describe them as a tame puppy when it comes to their oversight duties. You can read his concerns in this regard on page 8 of this issue.

Perhaps that’s why he has taken it upon himself to act in the capacity of the barking dog next door as he aims to make his neighbours  aware that DAFF’s house is not in order.

We said it last issue, and I’ll say it again: the last few months of this year will vindicate either DAFF or their detractors as deadlines and timelines begin to catch up with them.

Let us know what you think!

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