Vessel with reactive chemical cargo finally cleared of its load, while a brobe continues into the cause: SAMSA

Pretoria: 05 April 2022

It may not be until after another 12 months before authorities get to know the real cause of the problematic chemical cargo South Africa has had to grapple with daily since arrival of the Marshall Islands registered cargo vessel bearing it, the NS Qingdao, initially in Durban, some six months ago.

Crucially though, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a statement in Pretoria last Thursday, ridding the vessel of the reactive chemical cargo has finally, successfuly been achieved and disposed of.

In the statement announcing the important milestone, SAMSA said: “The NS Qingdao has now completed the discharge of waste chemical cargo from hold No. 3 in Saldanha Bay, which brings to an end a salvage operation that started in October 2021.

“Waste cargo from the vessel’s hold No.3 was discharged in almost 1,000 skips and was responsibly disposed of at Vissershok High Hazardous Waste Management Site. Potentially contaminated ballast water pumped into ISO tanks was disposed of at the same site. During the discharge operation in the port of Saldanha Bay, no cargo residue entered the water,” said SAMSA.

Authorities also continued to keep a watchful eye in the surrounding ocean areas, without evidence to date that marine life and the environment were affected, said SAMSA.

“To date no threats to the marine life or environment related to the emergency disposal of cargo approximately 250 km offshore have been noted. Environmental Monitoring in accordance with the agreed EMP by the P&I Club’s appointed environmental specialists, in collaboration with DFFE, which includes amongst others satellite imaging of the area will continue,” said SAMSA

The agency further confirmed that an investigation into the cause of the chemical cargo’s instability and related matters would continue, involving a collaborative approach between vessel’s flag state, Marshall Islands and South African authorities, with the vessel remaining in detention pending proof of its seaworthiness.

Said SAMSA: “The vessel remains detained, subject to further inspections and repairs as required and will not be put to sea unless her seaworthiness can be confirmed. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the Department of Forestry Fisheries and the Environment (DEFF) have reached agreement with the vessel’s owners and P&I Club to implement a medium to long term environmental monitoring program (EMP). The program will deal not only with any immediate impact but also monitor and mitigate any future impacts.

“The vessel’s Marshall Islands Flag State appointed Investigation Team is still investigating the root cause, with SAMSA sharing any available information.  A final report which will be shared with SAMSA is expected to take approximately 12 months to complete.

“Again, SAMSA wishes to thank local and international members of a multi-disciplinary team who contributed to the containing and bringing of this emergency situation under control. The vessel owner should also be thanked for their continued cooperation with South African Authorities.”


SAMSA CFO takes charge of agency as interim CEO: SAMSA Board announces

Pretoria: 02 April 2022

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Financial Officer, Ms Zamachonco Chonco has been appointed the agency’s interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO), pending the finalisation of the process for appointment of a permanent CEO, SAMSA’s Board of Directors announced in Pretoria on Friday.

In a statement, SAMSA said Ms Chonco would take over with immediate effect from outgoing acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane, a chief director in the maritime directorate at the Department of Transport, who had been at the helm for just over a year.

SAMSA said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Zamachonco Chonco as its interim Chief Executive Officer. She replaces Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashilaone who has been in the position for the past 13 months.

“Ms. Chonco is currently SAMSA’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). She will lead the organisation while the process of appointing a permanent CEO is being finalised. Ms. Chonco is a qualified Chartered Accountant with vast experience in both private and public sectors within the finance, investment, risk management and audit areas.

“She has served with distinction as the Acting CFO at the South African Postbank before joining SAMSA. She has also held various senior positions in finance at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the Auditor General of South Africa.

“Since joining SAMSA, Ms. Chonco has been pivotal in supporting the agency achieve its first unqualified audit for the 2020/2021 financial year in more than four years,” said SAMSA

The agency further pointed out that Ms Taoana-Mashiloane will return to her position as the Department of Transport’s Chief Director for Maritime Industry Development.

“The SAMSA board thanked Ms. Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane for her valuable contribution in turning around SAMSA’s audit record and deepening the relationship between the Board and executive team while in the role as Acting CEO,” said SAMSA in the statement.


Bunkering services moratorium re-imposed: SAMSA

Pretoria: 01 pril 2022

A moratorium on the issuing of bunkering licences in the Algoa region of South Africa and due to come to an end on 01 April 2022 has been reimposed, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) announced in Pretoria on Friday.

In a brief media statement on Friday, SAMSA described the u-turn on the earlier lifting of moratorium as based on outcomes of inter-departmental consultations. Consequently, said SAMSA, a Marine Notice on an interim application process and requirements to conduct ship to ship transfers and bunkering operations outside of a port is being retracted.

Said SAMSA: “The moratorium on the issuing of Bunkering licences in Algoa bay will not be lifted on the 1st of April 2022 as previously announced. The lifting of the moratorium was suspended following inter-departmental consultations.

“The moratorium was placed on 22 August 2019 pending the finalisation of the Transnet National Port Authority (TNPA) Risk Assessment Study for Algoa Bay.

“Following the suspension of the lifting of the moratorium the Marine Notice (MN 1 of 2022) on the interim application process and requirements to conduct STS or Ship to Ship transfers and Bunkering operations outside of a port will be retracted.

“The application window for Bunkering licences for Algoa Bay will be extended until the finalisation of the Risk assessment Study.

“The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) wishes to apologise for any inconvenience caused by this suspension and will continue to work with stakeholders in the bunkering space to reach a satisfactory conclusion.”


Min requirements for small vessels in OPL supply launches in South African coastal waters kick in: SAMSA

Pretoria: 08 March 2022

Vessels with a gross registered tonnage (GRT) of less than 25 operating along South Africa’s coastline for Off Port Limits (OPL) services providers will have six (6) months from 03 March 2022 to subject themselves to a formal vessel survey by the South African Maritime Safety Authority, the agency has announced.

Similarly, vessels of under 25 GRT currently under construction and designated for OPL services within the same South African oceans territorial space will have a grace period of six (6) months to comply with newly published requirements contained in a Marine Notice (MN 03-22 (S+P) released on Thursday last week, said SAMSA.

The Marine Notice in question, obtainable freely from the agency’s website, according to SAMSA; intends to give guidance and standardise the requirements for OPL launches along the South African coast by providing an overview of the requirements of design, construction, operation and manning of Off Port Limit (OPL) launch vessels of less than 25 GRT (Small Vessels).”

A small vessel under construction. (SAMSA File Photo)

Citing the Merchant Shipping National Small Vessels Safety Regulations 2007, and specifically regulations 6.1 (a to c) and 14 (1) and (2) (a), the SAMSA Marine Notice states that vessels of the category serving as OPL launches “…must be constructed of suitable material of good quality..(and whereby its design)  must provide a sufficient reserve of positive stability to prevent capsizing when carrying a heavy load….”

These also provide for manning requirements that include that owners of such vessels “…must ensure that the vessel is operated by or under the constant guidance of a skipper who is physically able and of sound mental health…” along with other bare minimum necessities such as requisite training evidenced by a Certificate of Competence issued by a certified authority.

In this regard, in terms of the Marine Notice, the general requirement effective 30 days from publication of the Marine Notice last week would be that:

  1. An OPL launch shall always be manned by a qualified Skipper and a minimum of two (2) competent crew members. A competent crewmember shall be a person that has completed induction and SAMSA recommends that the crewmember is also the holder of a Personal Survival Training and Able Seafarer Deck course certificate of attendance.
  2. Records of safety drills (as per the requirements of the MS NSVR 2007 as amended), including the recovery of a Man Overboard shall be readily available for inspection.
  3. The duties of each crewmember shall be clearly defined and displayed on board

The Marine Notice further outlines minimum manning requirements for varied services inclusive of medical incidents where a helicopter is not used, OPL with laden tankers, crew and cargo transfers, marine pollutants (as regulated by the Marine Pollution [Control and Civil Liability Act 6 of 1981), and related matters.

The Marine Notice is obtainable from the SAMSA website.


Two to three more weeks to clear problematic chemical cargo off vessel in South Africa’s west coast: SAMSA

The NS Qingdao pictured after anchoring at the port of Saldanha on the Atlantic Ocean seaboard a few weeks ago. (Photo: Supplied)

Pretoria: 07 March 2022

It may be another two to three more weeks before troublesome chemical cargo is fully offloaded from the NS Qingdao vessel, currently docked at the port of Saldanha on South Africa west coast, said the South African Maritime Safety Authority late Friday.

This would be about six months since the Marshal Islands registered commercial cargo vessel first set anchor at the country’s ports only to prove a major headache after its cargo of a chemical product reacted to rain water at its first attempt to offload in Durban last October, thereby setting in motion one of the most intense, delicate and time consuming unstable cargo containment exercises ever undertaken by authorities in recent times.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, SAMSA confirmed the vessel was still at anchor in Saldanha Bay for the continued discharge of its waste cargo.

“The vessel will be alongside a berth again on or about Sunday 6th March to continue operations. Operations are proceeding in a safe and well-coordinated manner and good progress has been made,” said SAMSA

The agency added that: “As of the 1st  of March 2022, approximately half of the cargo in cargo hold No.3 had been discharged and disposed at Vissershok High Hazardous Waste Management Site. Wastewater will also be pumped into tanks and sent for disposal at the same waste management site.

“It is anticipated that once the vessel is alongside a berth that it would take approximate 2 to 3 weeks to discharge the remaining waste cargo from the ship and dispose it at Vissershok. The vessel will then be inspected by SAMSA and its classification society to ensure she is safe to continue her voyage to Brazil to discharge remaining cargo onboard.

According to SAMSA, the agency and the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE) have reached agreement with the vessel’s owners and P&I Club “to implement a medium to long term environmental monitoring program so that any potential immediate and future impacts can be assessed and mitigated. 

“The P&I Club’s appointed environmental specialists in collaboration with DFFE are continuously monitoring the coast and sea area to determine any threats to the marine environment resulting from the emergency disposal of cargo dumped approximately 250 km offshore. To date, satellite imaging shows no immediate indications of harmful effects to the receiving environment or marine life.

“The Marshall Islands Flag State Investigation team have (also) started their investigation and it is expected to continue over the next few months until the root cause can be established. As part of the co-operation agreement, SAMSA is sharing the available information with the vessels flag. It is expected that the detailed investigation will take an estimated 12 months to complete and that the final report will be shared with SAMSA,”said SAMSA

The agency also expressed its gratitude to all people it has worked closely with to date in managing the vessel.

“SAMSA would like to thank the salvage team onboard, who at great peril to themselves, said SAMSA, “risked everything to successfully bring this emergency situation under control where normal cargo operations could continue. The support from all the person involved in managing this emergency since it started in Durban in October 2021 has been very good, despite the difficult choices that had to be made over the last 6 months by the Authorities.

“The vessel owner continues to co-operate with all authorities and have covered all expenses to date regarding this salvage operation,” said SAMSA.


South Africans generosity puts paid to inhumane conditions faced by crew of abandoned vessels in Durban: SAMSA

Pretoria: 17 February 2022

It will be a while, if ever again, that crew of a set of vessels reportedly abandoned at the port of Durban will face inhumane conditions, largely characterised by starvation – thanks to the generosity of South Africans during the last month that has ensured them enough food and other necessities supplies.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) seafarers’ welfare office in Durban, which together with two other non-governmental organisations, the Mission to Seafarers and Meals on Wheels SA set the alarm in January after the 18 crew members were found to be starving on board the three vessels which have been declared abandoned by the IMO in January 2022.

The vessels involved, two of them – the PSD2 and PSD104 are sister offshore supply vessels that are both Tanzanian flagged, while the third, the MT Fairy Tale – is a Belize registered tanker.

The MT Fairy Tale and the PSD2 had been at the port of Durban for over five years while the third (the PSD104, the second of the Tanzanian registered) had docked at the port in January 2022. The seafarers on board include 11 Indians, one (1) Iranian and six (6) Bangladeshi nationals.

Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, SAMSA Manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Seafarers’ Welfare.

According to SAMSA Manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Seafarers’ Welfare, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, not only did groups of South Africans respond positively, speedily, with donations that have ensured enough food and other necessities supplies, but the widely publicised plight of both the seafarers as well as the vessels themselves drew attention of both the owners as well as the Indian government’s attention.

Support was also being received from the International Transport Federation (ITF) which had assisted the crew members arrest the vessels, anyhow, following complaints from the crew, and which matter was now set for the courts, according to SAMSA.

 “The media has really helped put pressure on the owners,” said Mr Rantsoabe, adding: “They have been coming on board trying to reach settlements with the crew and telling them they saw the story in the media. One of them was very embarrassed about the diesel story and started providing diesel and he had not done so in five (5) months.

More food supplies to crew members of abandoned vessels at the port of Durban donated by a local community group, Newlands Diwali Festival (Photo: SAMSA)

“The crew are now also able to contact their families through the generosity of the Mission to Seafarers who provided them with Wi-Fi routers.

“The International Transport Federation has also provided money for food via the Mission to Seafarers, which is used to supplement whatever is provided by the two charity organisations.

“At the moment the seafarers are very grateful and feel that they have enough food to last them through February. The ITF has also procured fuel for the two vessels that can take fuels, which will help run the engine and generators.

“We have also received calls from charity organisations such as NEDFEST… (such that) presently food supplies will not be an issue again for this crew,” he said.  

Their movement outside the vessels was still restricted, however, and therefore not allowed to leave the port. The difficulty said Mr Rantsoabe; was with the fact that the vessels did not have Port Agents who assume official direct responsibility for vessels and crew once in the country’s ports.

However, SAMSA facilitated a dialogue with the port authorities (Port Health, Immigration, SAPS, TNPA) who in the end, working jointly together with Shipmed and Mission to Seafarers; made the vaccination of all the seafarers possible on Wednesday last week (09 February 2022). They were transported under SAPS escort to a vaccination clinic.

“They were all smiles after vaccination,” said Mr Rantsoabe

Some of crew members of the abandoned vessels at port of Durban pictured while they were all taken to a local city clinic for their Covid-19 vaccination. Prominent in their company is the Rev.Fr Thami Tembe of the Mission to Seafarers. (Photo: SAMSA)

Mr Rantsoabe further reported that a week ago, he and SAMSA Durban region Principal Officer, Captain Gqwetha Mkhize accompanied a team from the Indian Consulate to the PSD2 and PSD104 vessels. “They stated they will be putting pressure to the Flag State and the owners’ country using diplomatic means (State to State basis).”

Abandoned vessels’crew pictured while being visited by Indian Consulate officials in the company of SAMSA senior officers, Durban office Principal Officer, Capt. Gqwetha Mkhize and OHS& Seafarers Welfare manager, Mr Sibusiso Rntsoabe a week ago (Photo: SAMSA)

On how long it can take to have both the situation of the crew and vessels resolved, Mr Rantsoabe said: “Unfortunately that question is difficult to answer. Normally once SAMSA gets involved things move quickly and the company pays.

“Detention does work because the owners normally want to get the ship out of the port as soon as possible. However, in the case of the Fairy Tale there is no hurry. The vessel is not going anywhere unless somebody buys it. So as SAMSA we can fine and detain but detaining a vessel that does not intend moving out becomes just a futile exercise, especially when owners pay the fines, but detention remains.

Capt. Vernon Keller, SAMSA Deputy Chief Operations Officer.

Remarking on the latest developments regarding the crew of the vessels, SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller applauded the effort of all those involved, including the role the media played in sharing the plight of the seafarers, but added that as far SAMSA was concerned; “it is an amazing effort by the SAMSA team…but our job is not done.”

Said Capt. Keller; “Our seafarers kept this world moving forward throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, transporting essential cargoes around the world, yet seafarers struggled to let the world understand that they are essential workers.

“They were forced to spend more time onboard their vessels unable to go home, some even lost their family members and could do nothing about it.  The psychological effect that this pandemic had on the seafarer will be studied for years to come.

“As an ex-seafarer, it pains me to know that there are still seafarers who are being treated even worse than during the pandemic by unscrupulous ship owners and managers. Administrations should stand up across the world and say enough is enough. If these seafarers were airline crew, the world would stand up and listen, so why are we not affording seafarers the same respect. Seafarers have truly become the forgotten few.


‘About time South Africa woke up from its slumber,’ maritime sector key role players urge!

Pretoria: 11 February 2022

“South Africa can no longer afford own goals – our neighbouring countries are outmanoeuvring us and positioning themselves to be competitive and attract investment to grow their jobs, capabilities and supply chain,” says Ms Nthato Minyuku, chairperson of the Board of Directors of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Ms Nthato Minyuku. SAMSA Board Chairperson

Ms Minyuku’s statement – partly in summation of input drawn from a group of maritime sector key role players, but also an own institution’s viewpoint – came during this year’s SAMSA stakeholders event held on Wednesday.

The gathering is the first scheduled calendar year event by SAMSA drawing together, under one roof, a large number of the country’s maritime economic sector representatives, to both share their own experiences and broad plans while at the same time getting briefed about SAMSA performance, its short term strategic as well as business plans.

Now on its 10th year, the SAMSA stakeholders event held in February each year is scheduled to coincide with the country’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) presented by the President of the Republic.

Held virtually online for the second year running due to Covid-19 pandemic related conditions, the event on Wednesday afternoon, over two hours, drew close on 100 representatives from across the country’s maritime economic sector, with at least eight of those (excluding SAMSA representatives) forming a guests speakers panel sharing its views and perspectives about conditions being experienced in respective sub-sectors – some new and some old.

The panel included familiar and relatively new faces, among them Mr Andrew Millard, director of Vuka Marine – owners of the country’s only fleet of commercial cargo vessels registered under the South African flag; Capt. Rufus Lekala, Chief Harbour Master at Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA); Mr Peter Besnard, Chief Executive Officer of SAASOA; Mr Unathi Sonti, Chairperson of the Maritime Business Chamber; Mr Cleeve Robertson, Chief Executive Officer of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI); Mr Mthozami Xiphu, Board Chairman of the SA Oil & Gas Alliance (SAOGA); Mr Innocent Dwayi, Vice Chairperson of FishSA as well as Ms Kaashifah Beukes, Chief Executive Officer of the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone.

Among issues touched upon by the group were the following, in no particular order:

  • SA losing its seat in the IMO Council in the last elections in December 2021 and thereby potentially losing its voice and influence in the global arena.
  • Continued uncertainties and lack of urgency in resolving long standing “shipping taxation” matters, which render the SA Ship registry uncompetitive.
  • Lack of predictability of the SAMSA tariff increase process, which impacts negatively on the affected firm’s budgeting progress. 
  • Need to strengthen management of the new risk (prevention and combating of marine pollution) introduced through Ship-To-Ship (or bunkering) operations in Algoa Bay. This they said remined a great concern for environmental activists and required a collaborative effort between the public and private sector.
  • Limited support given the fishing community, following the issuing of fishing rights, with regards especially the capacitation of small scale fishers and cooperatives, including fishing safety awareness initiatives and training and development.
  • South Africa’s ports efficiencies.
  • Negative impacts of Covid-19 on shipping in general, resulting in reduced revenues
  • Lack of certainty on SAMSA’s stand on strategic Objective 3 of its legislated mandate: “Promoting the country’s maritime interests”, including unpacking what this means.
  • Slow transformation of the industry, more so limited support given to new entrants and small businesses (whilst noting some progress through SAMSA initiatives.
  • More support for non-profit organisation such as the NSRI to fulfil and expand its work e.g. water safety awareness and training, as well as strengthen capacity to fulfil its search and rescue efforts.
  • Collaborative effort in advocating and lobbying for a just transition to clean energies and decarbonisation regimes, covering not just SA, but also the African continent.
  • Defining Sout Africa’s role within the African Continental Free Trade Area arrangement, and how to capitalise on the opportunities presented by same.
  • Lack of a collaborated effort in attracting and promoting investment into the SA maritime industry, inclusive of the maritime related infrastructure.

For each of the participants’ remarks, the speakers’ notes in video format clips are presented below

Summing up their inputs, Ms Minyuku, who also gave highlights of the SAMSA’s performance over the last year, said: “What resonates across all inputs from our various speakers today is that there have been some gains in the maritime industry, yet constraints remain – especially within the context of ongoing COVID19 restrictions.

“Through concerted intergovernmental and industry partnership – we can bank and scale up innovative solutions, especially in times of stress. Yet we must also progress on delays in policy, legislative, regulatory and institutional reforms required to unlock the industry.

“South Africa can no longer afford own goals – our neighboring countries are outmaneuvering us and positioning themselves to be competitive and attract investment to grow their jobs, capabilities and supply chain.

“The WF 2022 Global Risk Report is telling – South Africa is identified as one of 31 countries with a high risk around erosion of social cohesion. It also finds that prolonged economic stagnation, employment and livelihoods crisis and state collapse are some of the biggest risks facing us over the next two years. There is clearly no time to waste, and we all need to redouble our efforts.

“While we all eagerly await the 28th SONA tomorrow – closer to home for our maritime sector, today is the 10th SAMSA engagement with stakeholders to reflect with us on the gains and misses of the previous year. In the process, we also hope to share various direction on priorities and plans for the year ahead.

“Last year I sat here on the same platform, five (5) months after taking the helm of the SAMSA Board – I assured you that when we meet again in 2022, we would be talking about a stabilizing SAMSA poised to prepare South Africa to become an International Maritime Centre while contributing to economic recovery and the building of a developmental state.”

Turning onto SAMSA’s performance and progress, she highlighted a number of issues among which were: general financial instability of the entity; late or no approval of tariffs threatening the entity’s ability to fulfil its legislated mandate; challenges with attracting and retaining critical and scarce skills, executive suspensions and the impact on senior management capacity and the SAMSA brand, possible restructuring and a model to be employed to create a lean and requisite organisation, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the entity’s ability to rollout its outward looking programmes and initiatives as well lack of adequate investment in critical SAMSA tools of trade.

These notwithdstanding, Ms Minyuku said there were also areas of significant positive achievements.

About these, she said: “I am pleased to report on behalf of the SAMSA Board that despite the challenges presented by the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic, a legacy of controversy as well as poor audit outcomes – we stayed true to this commitment. We are turning the corner in stabilizing SAMSA and good governance in five (5) key areas. We have

  • delivered our first unqualified audit in four (4) years for the financial year ending 30 March 2021. We stayed honest to the Audit Recovery Plan which we tabled to the Minister by diligently closing out the internal weaknesses underlying previous audit findings.
  • taken a non-negotiable line on addressing whistleblower and stakeholder allegations of malfeasance. You are aware that we have course corrected by suspending implicated executives and running an independent forensic investigation to get to the bottom of longstanding issues which have gone unaddressed for too long.
  • run a successful CEO recruitment process and made recommendations of a suitable candidate to the Minister for appointment – these details will be shared with industry once the process is completed
  • held the SAMSA Executive accountable to maintaining our going concern status by tightening our belt and achieving savings targets introduced through austerity measures.
  • reviewed and approved enhancements to over 20 ICT, HR, Finance and Legal policies to bring SAMSA up to speed with current practice in this regard.

“I wish to commend the SAMSA Executive Team for buying into our vision to play their part – not only to ensure that the dreaded “cash flow day zero” never saw the light of day, but that we turnaround our audit record around,” she said.

For Ms Minyuku’s full remarks, click on the video below.

Earlier in the day, SAMSA’s acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane also outlined various activities being undertaken by the agency, inclusive of efforts to entrench and promote boating safety across the length and breadth of the country, consistent with the recently launched Inland Water Strategy Plan. The SAMSA initiative launched last year according to Ms Taoana-Mashiloane, involves the development of a cadre of Marine Officers, three of which are currently in the programme, with more to be enrolled depending on affordabilty. (A comprehensive detail of the MO programme here).

For more on Ms Taoana-Mashilone’s remarks click on the video below.

Video clips of eight (8) maritime sector representives speaking briefly during SAMSA’s preSONA event on Wednesday. The event had been livestreamed on the day.


SAMSA PreSONA Stakeholders Session; Pretoria

Pretoria: 09 February 2022

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is currently holding its first stakeholders’ engagement event for the calendar year 2022, closely linked to South Africa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) scheduled for Thursday (10 February 2022). The aim of the session, according to SAMSA, is to share the entity’s perspective of the state of the country’s maritime economic sector, along with its strategic objectives as well as plans for the coming year. The event also presents an opportunity for engagement with stakeholders on various issues of direct and immediate interest. Today’s event held virtually online is scheduled to last for two hours, beginning at 2pm to 4pm South African Time.

Below is a livestream of the event:

(UPDATE – 16h30: Viewers are advised to please note that due to technical challenges initially experienced, during livestreaming, the audio is inaudable during the first 17 minutes 34,30 seconds of the video. It is suggested that the viewer drags the progress bar to that point for listening to the session.)

Moratorium on bunkering licences’ applications lifted: SAMSA

SAMSA File Photo

Pretoria: 31 January 2022

Current and aspirant bunkering services providers keen to obtain an operating licence in Algoa Bay, South Africa may now go ahead and apply, as the moratorium on applications will be lifted effective 01 April 2022, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

The agency in a statement in Pretoria on Monday further said while the lifting of the moratorium on bunkering licences application would be effective only on 01 April 2022, the filing of applications is open from Tuesday this week, 01 February 2022.

The statement said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is pleased to announce that the moratorium on the awarding of bunkering licences in Algoa Bay will be lifted as of the 1st of April 2022 with applications being accepted from the 1st of February 2022.

“The moratorium was placed on 22 August 2019 pending the finalisation of a Holding Capacity and Risk Assessment Study. The lifting follows the last seating of the Bunkering Stakeholder session held in December 2021 that resolved that the moratorium should be lifted.The lifting means that new potential entrants can now submit their applications with effect from 1 February 2022.

“An application package that clearly outlines the application process and all related requirements will be uploaded on the SAMSA website 1st of February 2022.

“Only online applications will be accepted via the email address. All stakeholders that sent their applications in the past should reapply via the online system. The online application process is a transitional arrangement pending the finalisation of the Bunker/ Ship to Ship (STS) codes.

“Interested stakeholders are encouraged to read the Marine Notice (MN 1 of 2022) on the interim the application process and requirements to conduct STS or Ship to Ship transfers and Bunkering operations outside of a port in conjunction with the current Bunker Codes as the codes will ultimately takes precedence over any other documentation. 

“In addition, a special Bunkering Stakeholders session will be convened on the 7th of February 2022 at 10h00 to address the application package and any clarity seeking questions,” read the statement.

SAMSA Acting CEO: Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane

Commenting on this latest development on bunkering services in South Africa, SAMSA Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane said the new online application process was an effort to streamline the processes in the bunkering sector and to ensure that the whole process was fair, just and transparent.

Expressing a word of gratitute to all stakeholders for their patience during the moratorium, she said: “We are confident that the reopening of the Bunkering Sector will bring much needed economic spin offs and relief to the region and country as a whole.”   


Salvage of vessel with unstable chemical cargo off South Africa’s west coast reaches final stage: SAMSA

Pretoria: 28 January 2022

The salvage of a vessel with unstable chemical cargo, the bulk carrier NS Qingdao; off South Africa’s west coast, is reaching a critical final stage, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

This is contained in a statement issued by SAMSA in Pretora on Friday morning. In the statement the agency says the volatility of the chemical cargo – inclusive of an out of control fire in a cargo hold – is being successfully contained so far, this following the off-loading and dumping of some of the cargo at sea recently.

As a result, the 190×32 meters, Marshall Islands flagged bulk carrier is being brought into the port of Saldanha Bay for further offloading and final disposal of the rest of the cargo at an inland hazardous waste management site located at Visserhok.

According to a Western Cape government website, the site is “one of three operational (Cape Town) landfill sites… located close to Table View and exists for the disposal of general and low to medium hazardous waste which cannot be reused or recycled.”

In Pretoria on Friday, SAMSA said due to this latest development, “the emergency (of the cargo vessel situation) has now been downscaled from a ‘severe maritime emergency’ to a salvage operation that can be safely managed in port.”

According to SAMSA, the bulk carrier, is drifting currently off the port of Saldanha Bay, waiting for a berth.

Said SAMSA in the statement: “The bulk carrier, NS Qingdao, will be brought into the port of Saldanha Bay after the chemical decomposition and fire in cargo hold No.3 was brought under control. The emergency has now been downscaled from a Severe Maritime Emergency to a salvage operation that can be safely managed in port. The vessel is drifting off the port of Saldanha Bay, waiting for a berth.

“This decision was taken by the competent authorities after DFFE and SAMSA representatives conducted a vessel inspection offshore to determine whether it was safe to do so and reviewing reports from the chemical and fire specialists onboard.

“Transnet National Port Authority will provide a berth for the vessel and is comfortable that it safe for the vessel to enter the port.”

“The Joint Operations Committee (JOC) comprises of National, Provincial government officials and includes local municipal representatives. The JOC members have been actively involved in managing this maritime emergency since the vessel was evacuated from the port of Durban.

“Salvage experts have been working around the clock to contain and extinguish the fire onboard the vessel for the past three (3) months. Attempts to extinguish the fire by discharging the reactive cargo via skips offshore and dispose of the cargo at the High Hazardous Vissershok waste management site was hampered by the location of the affected cargo within the cargo hold.

“The vessel was escorted offshore by an Emergency Towing Vessel in early December after the fire unexpectedly re-ignited, causing a large volume of toxic fumes to be released and enter the engine room resulting in the evacuation of the engine room.

“Due to the fast deteriorating conditions onboard and to save the ship and people onboard, the JOC decided to conduct an emergency dump of the absolute bare minimum of reactive cargo 250km offshore in 3000m of water in order to bring the situation under control as fast as possible.

“The DFFE issued an emergency permit as prescribed by Chapter 8, Section 71 (1) (a), of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008) and the Dumping at Sea Regulations, after consulting with the Oceans and Coasts research branch, Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

“GESAMP is a group of independent scientific experts that provides advice to the UN system on scientific aspects of marine environmental protection and consists out of up to 20 experts, over 500 scientists from at least 50 countries. This organisation provides authoritative, independent, interdisciplinary scientific advice to organisations and governments to support the protection and sustainable use of the marine environment.

“The GESAMP mechanism functions under the auspices of ten UN Organizations, all with substantial maritime and ocean interests and potentially overlapping responsibilities.

“Approximately 1300T of cargo was dumped offshore which enabled the situation to be brought back under control. The JOC can confirm that the operation was monitored through onboard drones and DFFE satellite imaging and can confirm that no immediate environmental damage was observed. 

“The hot cargo cooled rapidly and dissolved very quickly in the ocean. Although no immediate environmental damage was noticed, SAMSA and the DFFE are in discussions with the vessel owner and insurers to arrange a medium to long term environmental monitoring program so that any potential future outfall can be managed responsibly as fast as possible.

“The vessel was anchored off St. Helena Bay for the last two (2) weeks to allow the authorities to monitor the cargo and establish whether it was safe to enter port.

“The affected portion of the chemical cargo will be discharged in port by the Salvors and chemical waste specialists. The chemical waste will be taken to the approved High Hazardous Waste Management site at Vissershok until such time that it is safe for stevedores to manage the cargo discharge operation.

“As an interested state, SAMSA concluded an investigation cooperation agreement with the Marshall Islands Maritime Authorities. The cause of the incident is still under investigation and a chemical analysis of the cargo will be completed while the vessel is in port to determine the underlying casual factors for the fire and whether the vessel had any undeclared cargo in the hold.

“The vessel owner, master and P&I Club is cooperating with the Authorities, ” read the SAMSA statement.