Detained Croatian flagged vessel in South Africa released, coastline clean up continues: SAMSA

(Photo courtesy of

Pretoria: 30 November 2021

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) says a Croatian flagged vessel detained in South Africa two weeks ago after an oil spill during bunkering in Algoa Bay has been released.

In addition; “The clean up of Tar balls that were washed up ashore following (the) oil spill that occurred during a vessel bunkering operation on the 17th of November 2021 in Algoa Bay is continuing this week,” said SAMSA in the joint statement with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE).

At the time of the incident, SAMSA previously indicated that approximately 80 liters of fuel spilled into the ocean when the environmental pollution incident involving the MV Solin occured at about lunchtime that day, and as a result of which emergency containment and clean-up measures in terms of the National Oil Spill Contingency Measures were activated, involving a number of other organisations and institutions.

Since then, according to SAMSA, about a handful of seabirds were found oiled and had to be cleaned, along with suspected heavy fuel oil residue called ‘tar balls’ reportedly since spotted and picked up from the adjacent coastline north east of the port city of Gqeberha.

In Pretoria on Tuesday, the agency said: “So far four (4) kilometres of the approximately eight (8) kilometres stretch of coastline between Hougham Park and Sundays River has been cleaned. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and other stakeholders including the Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment (DEFF) continues (s.i.c) to monitor the remaining stretch beach for any additional oil/tar balls or oiled wildlife. 

“The vessel was released from detention and was permitted to sail after an Admission of Contravention and the detention fee was paid by the vessel owner. The owner will remain accountable for all cleanup costs relevant to the oil spill.”

The MS Solin’s registered owner was indicated to be April Marine Inc and the vessels’ route track information by MarineTraffic on Tuesday showed the bulk carrier as having left Algoa Bay, on the indian Ocean, on 24 November 2021 for Saldanha Bay on South Africa’s west coast.


State of South Africa’s transport SOE’s under the spotlight: Dept of Transport

(SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 26 November 2021

South Africa’s transport sector State entities’ contribution to the country’s economic reconstruction and recovery comes under national focus late morning on Friday, in Johannesburg, where Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula is scheduled to present an assessment report.

According to the Department of Transport, the consolidated presentation will focus on performance of transport entities, clustered in terms of modes including aviation, roads, rail and maritime.

These include, specifically; the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA),Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA); South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL), Ports Regulator of South Africa (PRSA), Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS), Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA), Railway Safety Regulator (RSR), Road Accident Fund (RAF), Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

Participants during the session, led by Mr Mbalula, include his deputy, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga who recently returned to the portfolio; Transport Ministry’s acting Director-General, Mr Mthunzi Madiya, chief executives and board chairpersons of the institutions concerned, as well as related business and institutions’ representatives.

The event billed for the Sandton Convention Centre on Friday is scheduled to start at 10am and, as has become standard, will also be transmitted live online via this link:


Algoa Bay clean-up continues as shipowner files to cover costs – SAMSA

Pretoria: 23 November 2021

The monitoring of beaches and islands nearby Algoa Bay for ship fuel spread continues, while an investigation is underway into an oil spillage offshore that occured a week ago while a cargo vessel was taking bunkers, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reports.

According to SAMSA in a statement in Pretoria on Tuesday, the investigation into the incident – conducted in terms of Section 264 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1951 (preliminary enquiry into shipping casualties) as well as principles outlined in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Mandatory Casualty Investigation Code’, may take anything up to 30 days to conclude.

However, in the meantime, SAMSA said the registered owner of the Croatia-flagged vessel named MV Solin, April Marine Inc, had already provided a “Letter of Understanding” to cover the costs of the clean-up.

The clean-up, now also involving a handful of wild birds – three Cape Garnets and one African Penguin found so far to have been contaminated – continues, with a service provider appointed to also remove tar balls found in the area and which will be examined to establish their origin and possible association with the oil spillage last week.

At the time of the incident, SAMSA said about about 80 liters of oil made it into sea water while the vessel was being refuelled.

In the statement on Tuesday, said SAMSA: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and other stakeholders including the Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment (DEFF)  continues to monitor and investigate an oil spill that occurred during a vessel bunkering operation on the 17th of November at 13H15 in Algoa Bay.

“To date, a small amount of emulsified heavy fuel oil, commonly known as Tar Balls has washed ashore along the beach between Hougham Park and Sundays River. A service provider has been appointed to remove the tar balls, samples were collected and submitted to SAMSA to determine if the oil is from this incident.  

“To date four (4) birds ( three Cape Garnets and one African Penguin) were found to be contaminated by oil and have been captured and are being cared for by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).

“The beaches and islands are being monitored daily when weather permits for any additional oil/tar balls or oiled wildlife. The vessel Insurer is providing a “Letter of Undertaking” to cover the costs of the clean-up operation and the vessel should be released soon,” said SAMSA.

Meanwhile, in relation to another recent ship incident in St Helena Bay off the west coast, involving the foreign vessel known as NS Qingdao, SAMSA reported that due to bad weather in the area over the last few days, the vessel had to be ordered back offshore as a precautionary measures to prevent possible further exposure of its cargo to dangerous weather elements.

“Due to the wind and recent rains in St Helena, the cargo holds of the NS Qingdao were closed to prevent further incidents and she was instructed to sail 20 nautical miles offshore from St Helena  as a precautionary measure.  

“The aim is to open and ventilate the cargo hold offshore due to the  excess buildup of toxic fumes in the hold. Once the hold is properly ventilated, the vessel will return to St Helena to continue the discharge operation. She is being escorted by the tugs Umkhuseli and SA Amandla.

“NS Qingdao was on safe anchorage in St Helena Bay where she was towed after her chemical cargo become unstable due to contact with rain whilst discharging in the port of Durban,” said SAMSA.


Croatian flagged vessel detained in Gqeberha after oil spill at sea during bunkering: SAMSA

SAMSA File Photo

18 November 2021

A Croatian flagged vessel has been detained in South Africa for an investigation after an oil-spill of about 80 liters at sea while taking bunkers offshore at Algoa Bay near the city of Gqeberha (a.k.a Port Elizabeth) on Wednesday, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) announced last night.

According to SAMSA in a statement, the detention of the vessel and its investigation followed detection of the oil spillage at about lunchtime yesterday which prompted immediate containment and clean-up measures involving a number of other organisations and institutions in terms of the National Oil Spill Contingency Measures.

“The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has initiated all relevant oil spill response teams as per the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan to assist with the containment and cleanup operation following an oil spill In Algoa Bay today.

“This spill occurred today at approximately 13h00 when a Croatian flagged vessel, MV Solin was taking bunkers offshore from the bunker tanker “Sea Express” while at the Algoa Bay anchorage number 1. It is estimated that at least 80 (eighty)liters of Heavy Fuel Oil entered the sea water after a fuel tank on board the receiving vessel overflowed. Oil Spill booms were deployed and some clean up operations have commenced.

“Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Department of Fisheries Forestry and Environment (DFFE), The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), South African National Parks (SANPARKS), Extreme Projects ECMS, SpillTech, and other stakeholders are assisting with the operation,” said SAMSA.

The agency added: “SAMSA has detained the vessel and is busy investigating the incident.”


South African seafarers medical certificates validity extended to two years effective this month: SAMSA

Pretoria: 17 November 2021

Medical certificates for South African seafarers have officially had their validity extended from one year to two years, according to a Marine Notice (MN 22-21 [C+F+P]) published by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on Wednesday.

The announcement follows approval given to amendments made to the Merchant Shipping (Eyesight and Medical Examinations) Regulations, 2004 now repealed and replaced by the promulgation of the The Merchant Shipping (Training, Certification and Safe Manning) Regulations, 2021 on 23 April 2021.

In terms of these changes, according to the SAMSA Marine Notice; “The Regulations have changed the validity of Seafarers Medical Certificates from one year to two years from date of issue.”

It adds: “SAMSA have noted that both seafarers and medical practitioners will be faced with a set of immediate challenges.”

Among these is that medical certificates currently reference the repealed 2004 Regulations. As an interim resolution, says SAMSA, “Medical Practitioners shall amend this part by striking through the reference to “the Merchant Shipping (Eyesight and Medical Examinations) Regulations, 2004, as amended” as shown in the annex and inserting the reference to the 2021 Regulations.”

The other challenge would be that: “…the Expiry Date of Certificate field will reflects a “No more than 1 year from the date of examination” statement.” To overcome the challege, SAMSA says: “The Medical Practitioner shall strike through and amend this text to reflect a validity of two years unless there are any exclusionary medical conditions.”

With respect to authentification of the changes as outlined: “A medical certificate may only be amended (only the copy issued to the Seafarer) as shown in the annex… the Medical Practitioner shall put their initials next to each change.”

SAMSA further says that in terms of approvals for Medical Practitioners that existed prior to the Regulations being published, these: “shall remain valid until the expiry date set on the accreditation certificate issued. Similarly, Medical certificates issued between the 23rd April 2021 and the publication of this Marine Notice remain valid as issued,” says the notice.

SAMSA publishes all Marine Notices on its website.

In the event of any queries, relating to the announced changes and related matters in respect of the medical certificates, SAMSA says these should be directed to the Office of the Chief Examiner at

Meanwhile, in a Marine Circular (MC 10-21) also due out on Wednesday, SAMSA provides what’s described as “…guidance and clarification on the term “to the satisfaction of the Administration” and similar ambiguities contained in the 2011 TDC Code – CODE OF SAFE PRACTICE FOR SHIPS CARRYING TIMBER DECK CARGOES, 2011 – IMO Resolution A.1048(27)

SAMSA states: “It is recognised that in many cases the text of international instruments does not provide sufficient clarity for the requirements to be fully understood and implemented domestically. This includes situations for example, where the international obligation provides that a ship owner or ship builder does something to the Satisfaction of the Administration.

“This MC therefore provides additional guidance and clarification to assist the reader with compliance with the obligations contained in the 2011 TDC CODE – Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes, 2011 – A 27/Res.104


SAMSA launches forensic investigation into allegations of management misconduct

Pretoria: 16 November 2021

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) says it has appointed an independent firm of forensic investigators, Morar Incorporated, to probe allegations of misconduct and whistle blowing reports received from external and internal stakeholders.

In a statement in Pretoria on Tuesday, SAMSA said: “The appointment follows a SAMSA Board resolution to conduct thorough investigations of critical aspects of the SAMSA business and conduct of management.

“Owing to the seriousness of the allegations as well as to facilitate the investigation, and to minimise any potential prejudice that might otherwise be occasioned to both the suspended executives and the entity, the SAMSA board was prompted to place on precautionary suspension its Chief Operations Officer, (Mr Sobantu Tilayi), Company Secretary (Mr Moyahabo Raphadu ) and Chief Human Capital Officer (Ms Lesego Mashishi).”

The trio’s suspension was effected on Monday, 26 April 2021.

The agency described the process undertaken so far as intended to “…emphasise its (SAMSA) commitment to zero-tolerance where misconduct is concerned and remains determined to continue to protect the public interest in accordance with its regulatory mandate.

“Consequently, SAMSA stakeholders are hereby encouraged to make available, by 30 November 2021, all information and/or documentation relevant to the investigation to Mr Vijay Bositsumune as follows: Email: Telephone: +2733 345 4004, Facsimile: +2733 342 5699, Cellular: 084 313 6822,” said SAMSA


Toxic fumes off cargo vessel in St Helena Bay pose no immediate threat to marine environment or people: SAMSA

A screen grab of a map location of the vessel, NS Qingdao as of Wednesday afternoon.

Pretoria: 10 November 2021

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has given assurance that toxic fumes coming off a vessel offshore near St Helena Bay pose no immediate threat to neither the marine environment nor to humans.

In a statement in Pretoria on Wednesday afternoon, SAMSA described the vessel concerned as a bulk carrier named the NS Qingdao, some of whose chemical cargo had apparently become unstable due to contact with rain water while it was discharging cargo in the port of Durban. Once the incident had been identified, the vessel was evacuated from the port and towed out to sea in order to ventilate its hatches offshore.

The SAMSA statement said: “The South African Maritime Authority are (s.i.c) aware of a vessel releasing toxic fumes in St. Helena Bay. The geared bulk carrier NS Qingdao suffered a chemical reaction after its cargo came into contact with rain water while discharging the cargo in the port of Durban. Concentrated toxic fumes were released into the atmosphere and as a result, the Transnet National Port Authority in consultation with SAMSA, DFFE and other stakeholders decided to evacuate the vessel from the port so that the hatches can be ventilated offshore.

“SAMSA directed the vessel to sail to a protected anchorage under the escort of the tug UMKHUSELI. The vessel has a full a team of salvors, chemical experts, hazmat teams and other emergency personnel on board to manage the operation safely, following defined emergency protocols. The owner is co-operating with the Authorities and has been very proactive to help contain the situation.

“The cargo will be discharged into skips, chemically neutralised and landed ashore at an approved dumping site in a safe and controlled manner.The vessel poses no immediate threat to the marine environment and humans,” said SAMSA

For an audio version of the statement click below:

A SAMSA statement by the Acting Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller


South Africa’s new bunkering and ship-to-ship transfer codes of practice out for public comment: SAMSA

Pretoria: 08 November 2021

Current and aspirational bunkering and ship-to-ship transfer services providers in South Africa will have the next three weeks beginning this Monday to peruse and offer comments on the country’s proposed new bunkering and ship-to-ship transfer codes of practice, according to a public notice issued by the South African Maritime Safety Authority at the weekend.

The Marine Information Notice, according to the agency, “…serves to inform the general public and maritime stakeholders that SAMSA in collaboration with the Department of Transport and Transnet National Ports Authority have drafted a Bunkering Code of Practice and a Ship to Ship Transfer (STS) Code of Practice for purposes of bunkering and cargo transfers in the Republic of South Africa.

“The purpose of this Bunkering Code of Practice and Ship to Ship Transfer (STS) Code of Practice is to provide the framework for those involved in such operations, useful guidelines and an outline of the requirements for those involved in such operations. The codes also promote Maritime Industry Development for the benefit of South Africans which includes the employment of South African seafarers and developing the South African Ship Register,” says SAMSA in the notice.

South Africa currently has five bunker suppliers proper (excluding traders and companies only involved in deliveries), Shell, BP, Astron, Engen and FFS, and five bunker operators within the country’s ports, namely: AMSOL, Linsen Nambi, Minerva, South African Marine Fuels and Heron Marine.- the last three operating off the Algoa Bay coastline of the Indian Ocean.

Publication of the codes comes about as offshore bunkering services in particular are establishing a permanent presence especially on the coastline around Algoa Bay nearby the two ports in Gqeberha: the port of Port Elizabeth and port of Ngqurha.

The establishment of the offshore bunkering services in the area four years ago sparked a lot of controversy involving environmentalists concerned about the impacts of oil spillages in the area with possibly highly devastating effects to the environment and life both at sea and on adjacent coastal areas.

In fact, those fears were virtually realised in 2019 after a reportedly early morning bunkering incident led to spillage of between 200-400 liters of fuel into the ocean. Notwithstanding, and fully cognizant of the dangers, according to SAMSA, South Africa also realises the vast economic opportunity presented by the country’s geographic position at the foot of the African continent.

SAMSA states: “South Africa is the gateway to Southern Africa and has a well-developed port network. Additionally, and owing to its geographical and strategic position, approximately 1500 vessels traverse the South African EEZ every day, with 90% of them on passage, and therefore not calling at any of the South African ports. Most popular routes are East West – primarily the oil trade to North West Europe and the USA and West East, (involving) bulk carriers to China and oil from West Africa, as well as container ships in both directions.

“SAMSA, working with partners and industry, is committed to contribute towards South Africa unlocking the potential of the ocean economy through bunkering, including satisfying the following inclusive growth imperatives: localisation, transformation, development and growth of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), maritime capacity development and job creation (and) social cohesion and nation building.”

According to SAMSA, the same is true of ship-to-ship services and which encompass broadly, a whole set of value added services including fuel suppliers, hull cleaning, ship agency, lube oil traders, oil spill response, ship chandlers, launch operations, bunker surveying, crew change, hospitality (Guest houses and Hotels), provisions, spares, diving, seafarer employment, ship ownership,
bunker traders and slops / sludge disposal.

The proposed code of practice states in part that: “Conducting bunkering operations systematically and carefully in accordance with the requirements contained in this Code taking into account legislation as detailed in Chapter 9 of this code, requirements and the relevant parts of International publications, namely ISGOTT and the Ship to Ship Transfer Guide, should ensure that such operations are conducted in a safe manner.

SAMSA says the proposed code, put together with contribution from the International Bunker Industy Association (IBIA), consists of the requirements for obtaining approval and recommendations by SAMSA “in the interests of maintaining good operating practice in South African waters and reflects world best practice.”

“The principal objective is to ensure that bunkering operations are conducted with zero harm to the marine environment. This code details the requirements for accomplishing safe bunkering operations and in turn support commercial marine activity.”

Relating specifically to the economic objectives of the code, says SAMSA, the bunker operators are required to develop their own Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP), as part of their submission, which must be in line with the principles of the comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP) and adhere to the vision, mission and goals as detailed in the document.

“The MIDP must facilitate the development of the sector by, among other things;

  • Promoting equitable access and participation of Black South Africans in the entire maritime value chain;
  • Deracialize enterprise ownership, control, skilled occupations and management of existing and new maritime enterprise;
  • Unlocking the full entrepreneurial skills and potential of Black South Africans in the sector;
  • Facilitating structural changes in maritime support systems and development initiatives to assist Black South Africans in owning, establishing, participating in and running offshore bunkering enterprises;
  • Socially uplifting and restoring the dignity of Black South Africans within the sector;
  • Increasing the extent to which communities, workers, co-operatives and other collective enterprises own and manage existing and new offshore bunkering enterprises, increasing their access to economic activities, infrastructure and skills training;
  • Increasing the extent to which Black South African women, people living with disabilities and youth own and manage existing and new enterprises, increasing their access to economic activities, infrastructure and skills training; and
  • Empowering rural and local communities to have access to maritime infrastructure, ownership and skills

SAMSA states that application of the code once operational, shall be characterised by consistency, objectivity and timeliness. “This code will be applied consistently. Each application received will be treated fairly with the sole objectivity of ensuring that approved operations will be conducted in a safe manner and protecting the marine environment from any harm.

“The application received will be dealt with as swiftly as practical, subject to all required information being submitted and any request for additional information is promptly provided. However, where the Authority has determined that certain areas/locations are deemed unsuitable for particular types of operations, the Authorities decision will be binding and no applications or supporting evidence will be accepted.

“The number of Operators may be limited in certain geographical areas, based on an area risk assessment including but not limited to, available anchorage areas, TNPA licencing conditions, weather, number of incidents, vessel size limitations, environmental risks, etc. If the limit, as established, by the Authority has been reached no further application will be considered by the Authority,” says SAMSA

Interested persons may submit written comments on these draft Codes on or before the 8th December 2021 to the Chief Executive Officer: SAMSA via email to

Electronic copies of both the Bunkering Code of Practice and Ship to Ship Transfer (STS) Code of Practice are available on the South African Maritime Safety Authority website or alternately may be requested by an email sent to