South Africa’s maritime risks come under scrutiny in Durban this week: SAMSA

20170419_101108Durban: 26 March 2019

The safety of oceans around South Africa along with the country’s level of preparedness for maritime risks come under the spotlight at a two-day sector workshop in Durban this week.

Organized by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the two-day workshop on Wednesday and Thursday is scheduled to explore a variety of maritime risks issues ranging from an overview of the country’s maritime risk profile involving case studies, the country’s legislative framework and institutional responsibilities, third parties dependencies, to maritime domain awareness, pollution monitoring and combating, the country’s response capability as well as funding.

As many as 20 participants inclusive of experts in specialized fields of the maritime time sector drawn from industry as well as SAMSA, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) are lined up for contribution and discussions over the two days.

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A tug under construction at a sea site in Durban in 2017. (SAMSA File Photo)

The event comes at a time when ship traffic volumes are reportedly on a steady increase around South Africa over the last few years leading to economic opportunities that include the recent establishment of a bunkering services in Port Elizabeth, one of South Africa’s nine commercial ports and reputably the most secure for the service.

There is also a notable increase in oil and gas exploration and related activities in the country’s oceans opening to unique opportunities and risks that the country must prepare for.

SAMSA, a State owned entity established 20 years ago and operating under the guidance of Department of Transport, is the country’s dedicated authority responsible for ensuring the safety of property and people at sea, the combating of pollution of the oceans’ environment by sea traffic as well as promoting South Africa’s maritime interests domestically and globally.

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(SAMSA File Photo)

Among processes involved in monitoring activity across the three oceans surrounding South Africa, SAMSA operates a Centre for Sea Watch and Response (CSWR) based in Cape Town. SAMSA’s CSWR is responsible for carrying out search and rescue functions over a 27-million km² oceans area abutting the country’s 1 300km coastline, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, the Southern Oceans in the south and the Indian Ocean to the east.

SAMSA’s CSWR is also charged with implementing systems for surveillance of the maritime domain, inclusive of vessels safety, vessel security, oil pollution prevention, detection and combating, maintenance of the maritime domain awareness as well as monitoring coastal and offshore maritime activities.

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An artist’s impression of the new facilities to be developed for the oil & gas subsector at the port of Saldanha

Tools in place include terrestrial and satellite automatic identification systems involving both long range identification, tracking and monitoring of ships and other vessels within South African territorial waters (a 200 nautical miles area within the country’s exclusive economic zone) and beyond, in order to maintain safety and security to navigation threats, marine environmental threats and assistance with search and rescue.

In pursuing these activities, SAMSA’s CSWR collaborates with a range of entities both in the private and public sectors inclusive of the South African National Defense Force, the SA Navy, the State Security Agency, the Department of Transport, Border Management Agency and others.

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The Cargo Bridge – an old vessel whose interior has been converted into a quaint restaurant is one of Durban’s landmarks venues and which recently hosted delegates to IMO Djibouti Code of Conduct Three Day Workshop in the city in November 2018.

In Durban on Wednesday, the two days workshop’s programme on South African maritime risks is scheduled to kickoff at 9am with an outline and analysis of the country’s maritime risk profile by Mr Brian Blackbeard of the Atlantis Consulting group and involving a feasibility study on of the country’s emergency towing vessels.

He will be followed by SAMSA acting CEO, Mr Sobantu Tilayi’s overview of the weather incident that rocked the Durban port a year ago and during which extensive damage to ships as well as pollution ensued.

Next in line with a review of current legislation related to maritime risks by Captain Gustav Louw (SAMSA) and exploration of vulnerabilities of the South African Maritime Risk System) by Messrs Mike Heads and Nick Sloane.

In the discussion on third party dependencies, Mr Andrew Pike and Mr Dave Main are scheduled to share insights gleaned during the incident of the sinking in 1991 of the Oceanos, a French-built and Greek-owned cruise ship due reportedly to uncontrolled flooding while sailing off the Wild Coast (Indian Ocean), as well as a look at costs of maritime risks management involving the exposure of the State to uninsured rogue ships transiting South Africa’s coasts.

The rest of the discussions involving Messrs Lauren Williams, Captain Theo Oakes, Dr Stander, Gavin Fitzmaurice, Terence Mabuela and Captain Ravi Naicker will look at maritime domain awareness issues including oceans and coastal management information management systems capabilities and usage, South Africa’s weather services capabilities, completeness and key challenges relating to provision of services in the maritime sector.

They will also discuss the country’s hydrography in relation to current incidents and the country’s maritime risk profile. They will also share insights into hindrances to successful maritime prosecutions, incident management organization as well as existing capabilities related to sea watch and rescue.

This SAMSA blog will carry updates on the discussions over the next few days.

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World oceans are drowning in plastic waste, the shipping industry is not the culprit: SAMSA

ships at sea.jpg

Pretoria: 28 July 2017

The world’s oceans may be drowning fast in a mess of global plastic waste – estimated currently at some 275 million metric tons and in its wake, threatening all life on earth – but the shipping industry on which close on 90% of world trade depends, is not the culprit. Well, not quite.

That is because global shipping practices at sea are highly guarded through a number of international regulations, otherwise known as conventions, and closely monitored by member states of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) including South Africa, the latter through the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

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Captain Ravi Naicker, South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Centre for Sea Watch and Rescue national operations manager. Cape Town

This was revealed by SAMSA’s Centre for Sea Watch and Response (CSWR) during a mini conference hosted jointly by the SAMSA, United States Consulate, the International Ocean Institute and the V&A Waterfront held at the Two Oceans Acquarium at Cape Town’s Waterfront recently.

The mini conference occurred within a week of the wrap up of an even bigger oceans plastic waste gathering, the Africa Marine Waste Conference, held over five days in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape in early July, attended by about 250 delegates including a high contingent of scientists from Africa, the US, and Asia Pacific countries.

At the Cape Town event, keynote speakers included Dr Jenna Jambeck, an associate professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Georgia, United States, and director of the Center for Circular Materials Management at New Materials Institute; John Duncan of the World Wildlife Fund and Dr Anthony Ribbink, CE of Sustainable Seas Trust.

SAMSACSWR national operations manager, Captain Ravi Naicker, explained that global shipping involving millions of trade cargo vessels at sea daily – and therefore the most potential culprits for massive plastic and related waste pollution of the oceans – were actually not the culprits.

The revelation came against the backdrop of statistics showing that South Africa ranked No.11 in the world for waste management production and that the country alone was responsible for 12% of global plastic waste and about 2% of total mismanaged plastic waste, leading to between 0.9-0.25 megatons of it ending as marine plastic waste annually.

img_3102-722017With an estimated population of some 12.9-million people occupying the coastal line of South Africa, this amounted to about two kilograms of plastic waste per person per annum.

Globally, the world’s 192 countries situated along oceans and seas across the globe were said to generate as much as 2.5-billion metric tons of solid waste, of which 275-million metric tons was plastic waste and an estimated 8-million metric tons of mismanaged plastic waste ended up in the seas in 2010, according to statistics by Dr Jenna Jambeck.

Just over 6-million metric tons of the global (coastal countries) mismanaged plastic waste dumped at seas was currently still floating freely at the surface of global oceans waters, in the process, placing all life both in the oceans as well as on land, at extremely high risk.

According to Dr Jambeck, one of the contributing factors to widespread distribution of plastic waste is that: “In use – (plastic) items that are designed to last forever are only used a short period of time. 40% of plastic production is for packaging – and there are packaging needs for essential foods and things, but I will argue that we should rethink our systems and designs to meet those needs”

a-2Captain Naicker said ocean going vessels globally in South Africa’s oceans space contributed very little to this as waste management on ships was highly regulated.

He said the Africa region alone had about 18 000 vessels traversing its waters annually, with just over 3 000 of these sailing through South Africa’s oceans space equivalent some 1.5-million square kilometers of an Economic Exclusive Zone, from the Atlantic, the Southern Ocean through to the Indian Ocean.

Yet, of 1469 vessels randomly stopped for inspection over a six year period between 2011 and 2017, only 2.5% were detained for violation of environmental management protocols at sea, and only about 0.1% were responsible for garbage and record keeping violations.

SAMSA is the country’s State agency tasked through legislation (the SAMSA Act 1998) with responsibility for ensuring safety of life and property at sea, the combating and prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships, and promoting South Africa’s maritime interests.

Guiding the agency’s activities with regards the first two objectives relating specifically to safety of life and property as well as sound integrity of the marine environment, were six (6) International Conventions for the Prevention of Pollution by Ships (MARPOL Annextures) pieces of legislation binding member port states of the IMO for strict implementation in their respective ocean spaces.

In addition all trade vessels registered (flagged) in countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to the legislation and associated regulations regardless of where they sail in the world.

“These clearly state that ships using South African waters have no right to pollute seas while sailing here and that we are entitled to take action against should they fail to observe the law.

“However, member states are also required to provide facilities that enable ships to dispose of waste they cannot manage responsibly on board the vessels.” said Capt Naicker.

For his full presentation (about nine [9] minutes) Click on the video.

To read more on Dr Jambeck’s work, Click Here, and Here

End.

Rescued crew of stricken Greek ship in the Atlantic Ocean on their way to Cape Town

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Stricken Greek bulk carrier, the Antaios. It’s rescued crew currently on their way to Cape Town..

Pretoria: 05 December 2016

The entire crew of a bulk carrier that sent a distress call after reportedly suffering engine fire damage off the Atlantic Ocean has been rescued and is currently on its way to Cape Town, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported in Pretoria on Monday.

The 19 crew were plucked off the stricken Greek bulk carrier ANTAIOS by an ore carrier, the NSU INSPIRE – and now currently on their way to Cape Town Harbour – after their vessel reportedly experienced a fire and flooding in the engine room while sailing from Argentina to Saudi Arabia.

In a statement on Monday, SAMSA said its Centre for Sea Watch and  Response based in Cape Town had received a satellite phone call from the NSU INSPIRE – a 330 meter Japanese ore carrier – reporting  a distress call from the ANTAIOS.

nsu-inspire-2“The 170 meter ANTAIOS had reportedly experienced a fire in the engine room while sailing from Argentina en route to Saudi Arabia loaded with grain. The fire caused some damage which led to flooding in the engine room. When the flooding became uncontrollable, the captain decided to make a distress call and order the crew to abandon ship,” said SAMSA.

SAMSA reports that the dramatic incident apparently occurred in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, in an area some 860 nautical miles west of Cape Town and an area the maritime authority said was  well outside of the striking distance of shore-based rescue facilities.

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Circled in red on the left end of the map is the area on the Atlantic Ocean at which crew of a stricken Greek vessel, the ANTAIOS were rescued on Sunday, according to the South Africa Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on Monday

“The mayday call was picked by the NSU INSPIRE which was sailing from Brazil to Singapore and China. The captain of the NSU INSPIRE immediately informed the SAMSA CSWR and proceeded to the rescue. In the meantime, CSWR immediately initiated a mayday relay broadcast requesting vessels in the vicinity to proceed to the stricken vessel and render assistance.

“The response to the broadcast was immediate and a total of 24 merchant ships called SAMSA’s CSWR offering their assistance, some were as close as 80 miles from the scene and others as far off as 600 miles.

“Six ships closest to the stricken ANTAIOS were diverted by the MRCC to the position in case the NSU INSPIRE needed help in rescuing the crew.

“Happily, by 20h39 MRCC was informed by the captain of the NSU INSPIRE that his ship had arrived on-scene and had commenced recovering the ANTAIOS crew from the two lifeboats they had escaped to. All 19 crew members were plucked to safety on board the giant 330 meter ore carrier and are currently on the way to be dropped off in Cape Town from where they will be repatriated,” SAMSA said.

SAMSA also confirmed that a local shipping agency had since been appointed by the stricken vessel owners to take care of the crew once they arrive in Cape Town. The crew is expected in Cape Town and about midnight on Monday.

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Arrested Chinese vessel faces more charges – to remain in custody until fines are paid: SAMSA

Pretoria: 18 May 2016

The Chinese fishing vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186 captured and arrested by South African authorities last weekend after being found to have conducted itself illegally, is to remain in South African custody until all fines imposed on its owners have been settled, alternatively, a court case is instituted, goes on trial and concluded.

An image of the Chinese vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186. Courtesy of Independent Online
An image of the Chinese vessel, Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186. Courtesy of Independent Online

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which on Wednesday (18 May 2016) announced to have found that the vessel had contravened environmental laws governing the country’s territorial waters.

In the statement, SAMSA said its investigation had established that documentation of the vessel was  in order. However, it had been found to have violated the country’s environmental laws governing the oceans. SAMSA confirmed that: “the fishing vessel was detained today and two Admission of Contraventions were issued to the master and owner of the vessel.

“The detention and fines were issued because of an unauthorised pump and flexible pipes from the engine room bilges directly over the side and that no Oil Record Book was available on board the vessel.

An image taken by SAMSA investigators aboard the Chinese vessel arrested in Cape Town and which show the condition of some of the water and oil management pipeline on the vessel.
An image taken by SAMSA investigators aboard the Chinese fishing vessel arrested in Cape Town and which show the condition of some of the water and oil management pipeline on the vessel.

“This is a direct violation of our marine pollution legislation. The vessel will only be released once the two non-conformities has been rectified and detention fee paid.

“We still have to wait to see if the master and owner will accept and pay the Admission of Contraventions or prefer to go to court, in which case we will have to lay charges at the police station and allow the law to takes its course,” said SAMSA in a statement.

The organisation further said that the country’s ports authority, the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and other relevant authorities had been notified of the detention.

DAFF briefed on findings

Earlier on Wednesday, SAMSA officials also met and briefed the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga of their findings and determination following a visit and on board investigation of the vessel by the organisation’s surveyors on Monday afternoon.

A second image taken by SAMSA investigators aboard the Chinese vessel arrested in Cape Town and which show the condition of some of the water and oil management pipeline on the vessel.
A second image taken by SAMSA investigators aboard the Chinese vessel arrested in Cape Town and which show the condition of some of the water and oil management pipeline on the vessel.

The SAMSA findings and fines will be in addition to a set of others fines imposed on the vessel by other South African authorities including DAFF and SARS.

This followed the capture and arrest of the Chinese fishing vessel with nine crew on board on Friday last week off the coast of the Eastern Cape and berthed at the port of Cape Town.

It and several similar vessels believed to be from the same company, en route to the DR Congo were sought to be rounded up by DAFF officials for inspection following reports of suspicious behaviour, but refused.

According to DAFF, the vessels were initially rounded up and ordered to obey officials, but soon scattered and disappeared, except for the one that was eventually captured and arrested.

A DAFF spokesman, Ms Bomikazi Molapo said: “The crew claimed to have been travelling to the Democratic Republic of Congo where they claim they were going to fish and claim to have the necessary permits to do so. We have also established that this fleet of nine vessels is related and belong to the same company.”

Shortly after its berthing at the Cape Town harbour on Saturday, according to DAFF, rummaging was conducted on the captured vessel involving the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African Revenue Services (SARS) as well as the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).

Ms Molapo said while the early investigators found no fish on board the vessel, it had however violated the country’s Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) in that the fishing vessel entered the country’s EEZ without the authority of a valid permit.

“The vessel also contravened Section 56 (2) in that (the) Master or crew member of the fishing vessel in question, did not immediately comply with lawful instruction as given by a fishery control officer and also did not facilitate the safe boarding, entry and inspection of the fishing vessel,” she said.

Due to these violations, DAFF issued a seizure notice that will involve the vessel, its gear and equipment, stores as well as cargo.

In terms of this, the vessel will not be allowed to leave the port of Cape Town or relocate to any other berthing space within the port, unless authorized to do so by DAFF.

According to DAFF, SARS had also fined the vessel R8 000 for tobacco and cigarette related charges. SAPS was also following up and investigating a case involving the keeping of dogs in the vessel.

Centre for Sea Watch and Response had kept an eye on the vessels

A screen image of the tracked route of the 10 Chinese fishing vessels that went past the South African coast and one of which was captured following to violation of some of the country's territorial waters' management laws.
A SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch and Response tracking system screen image of the tracked route of the 10 Chinese fishing vessels that went past the South African coast and one of which was captured following to violation of some of the country’s territorial waters’ management laws.

Meanwhile, it has since dawned that the SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch and Response (CSWR) had actually tracked a number of the vessels as soon as they were within South Africa’s territorial waters on 07 May 2016 and according to its report, the Chinese fishing vessels had left China at the end of March 2016 destined for the Congo in West Africa.

The Centre said it had tracking AIS data for only six of vessels, indicating that carriage of AIS transponders for fishing vessels was a “flag State” requirement and that not all fishing vessels carried these devices.

A SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch and Rescue image showing the location of the rest of the Chinese fishing vessels along the Namibian coast earlier this week
A SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch and Response image showing the location of the rest of the Chinese fishing vessels along the Namibian coast earlier this week

This notwithstanding, the Centre said it had noted that the 10 vessels were detected by MRCC Mauritius and their National Coast Guard (NCG) aircraft was launched to interrogate (them). Their identities were established as Lu Huang Yuan Yu 185, 187, 197 and 199 and these were heading towards Congo.

Six others, the Lu Huang Yuan Yu 186, 188,189,195, 198, and Xu Huo 9618 were bound for Port Louis, and arrived on 28 April before departing on 01 May after bunkering at outer anchorage.

The Centre said: “The vessels entered SA waters on 07 May; passing through territorial waters off Richards Bay about 19h00 on 08 May, and Durban on 09 May; then Port Elizabeth on 10 May and rounded Cape Agulhas on 11 May, and off Cape Town about 14h00 on 12 May heading toward Saldanha Bay area. This is a distance of about 880 miles in about 91 hours which equates to an average speed of 9,6 knots.

A SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch and Rescue tracking system image showing the actual route taken by the Chinese vessels since leaving China about two months ago.
A SAMSA Centre for Sea Watch and Response tracking system image showing the actual route taken by the Chinese vessels since leaving China about two months ago.

According to the Centre, the track data of the six vessels indicate that they entered the SA coast near Richards Bay and stayed within the territorial zone all the way and passed Cape Town in keeping with their response to the Mauritian Authority of heading to the Congo.

The Centre said following the attempted roundup of the fishing vessels for inspection by the DAFF’s coast guard vessel, the FPV Victoria Mxenge, about 25 miles SW of Saldanha, the vessels dispersed and eventually continued heading northward towards Namibian waters.

SAMSA said that Namibian authorities had since been informed about the alleged incidents in South African waters.

The latest tracks show eight of the 10 vessels off Angola, outside of their EEZ.

End.