Cargo on arrested Russian vessel in South Africa above board: SAMSA

Pretoria: 23 August 2018

An initial inspection of a Russian vessel that was arrested near Port Elizabeth this week on suspicion that it was carrying weapons of war illegally has established that all the cargo was authorised and its stowage was in accordance with law.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) which was among South African government agencies to inspect the vessel following the allegations.

Captain Nigel Campbell. Deputy COO. SAMSA

SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer Captain Nigel Campbell said in Port Elizabeth that on inspection of the vessel, it was established that the cargo’s paperwork was in order as well as that its stowage was legal.

Captain Campbell said: “The vessel has the correct Document of Compliance to carry dangerous goods in terms of the IMDG Code (International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code) and the Merchant Shipping (Dangerous Goods) Regulations.

“The cargo landed at the Port of Ngqura had all of the required documentation in terms of the Code and the balance of the cargo onboard has the correct documentation and is stowed as required by the Code. It appears that there are no contraventions relating to maritime issues.

“We will continue with Port Control Inspection to ensure that all else about the vessel is in order. Otherwise, in terms of its cargo and stowage, all is above board,” said Captain Campbell.

News of the arrest of the vessel broke earlier this week after, according to local media in Port Elizabeth, authorities were tipped off about a cargo stowed deep on the vessel and thought to be of illicit goods believed to be weapons of war.

On Friday, Captain Campbell said among the cargo inspected were mining explosives and other material destined for the United States, Nigeria and one or another country.

The vessel will undergo further inspections, he said.


Injured crew members rescued from weather rattled vessel off South African coast

KS_FLORAPretoria: 06 June 2018

The South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC)  in Cape Town had to spring into fast action early on Wednesday after two crew members of a bulk carrier departing from South Africa for Brunei reportedly suffered serious injuries while sailing through choppy waters on the Indian Ocean.

Working in collaboration with a number of local institutions as well as a medical doctor in the Eastern Cape, the MRCC dispatched a South African Air Force aircraft from Port Elizabeth to pluck the injured crew members from the bulk carrier for medical attention in East London.

In a statement, the MRCC said the rescue scramble occurred early on Wednesday after the bulk carrier, KS Flora, sailing from the deep water port of Ngqurha in Port Elizabeth and while approximately 81 kilometers south west of East London, on its way to the Maura Port in Brunei, sent and emergency call for assistance with two injured crew members

“Today at 0934 SAST MRCC Cape Town received a call from RSC East London advising of two injured crew members on-board Bulk Carrier ‘KS FLORA’ approximately 81 kilometres from East London. The vessel had left Algoa Bay (Ngqura) bound for Muara Port in Brunei. The two crew got injured  due to vessel experiencing bad weather. One crew suffered severe left knee injury and the other suffered severe fracture left foot.

“MRCC then requested our coastal radio station (PORT ELIZABETH Radio) to connect the vessel to the METRO doctor for him to make a medical judgment on the condition of the two crew.

“The Metro doctor advised that one of the crew should be evacuated as soon as possible and he suggested air evacuation due to the urgency in the casualty requiring treatment. The vessel was diverting to East London as it was the closest port from their position.” said the MRCC.

A South African Air Force aircraft dispatched from Port Elizabeth rendezvoused with the vessel during the day approximately 36 kilometres from shore, for evacuation of the injured crew members and who have since been admitted to a hospital in East London.

The MRCC confirmed that the bulk carrier had since returned onto its journey to Brunei.


To learn more about the role of the SAMSA MRCC, please click here:

Fire-ravaged Liberian flagged cargo vessel at port of Ngqurha in mop up phase: SAMSA

Pretoria: 16 February 2017

Liberia flagged cargo vessel, APL Austria resting uneasily at the port of Ngqrurha near Port Elizabeth yesterday as a mop up phase began after rescue operations succeeded in putting out a raging fire on board the vessel since Sunday afternoon.
Liberia flagged cargo vessel, APL Austria resting uneasily at the port of Ngqurha near Port Elizabeth yesterday as a mop up phase began after rescue operations succeeded in putting out a raging fire on board the vessel since Sunday afternoon.

With the fire that raged for days on board the APL Austria docked at the port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth now effectively extinguished, the vessel’s rescue has entered a mop-up phase during which debris and contaminated water filling up some of its cargo holds will be dispersed with, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported overnight. 

“The good news is that the fire on board is completely extinguished and port operations continued as per normal (with) two additional large container ships docking at the port today (Wednesday) where for a while no ships were allowed into the port while the APL AUSTRIA was on fire” said Captain Daron Burgess, SAMSA’s technical manager for the Southern Region.

Some of the charred remains of containers being removed from the fire ravaged cargo vessel APL Austria docked at the port of Ngqura

According to Capt. Burgess the mop-up involves removal of damaged containers and containment of their content. The teams will also drain out approximately 3000 cubic meters (three thousand) of water, ash and residue inside of No.4 cargo hold of the vessel – a disposal that will be preceded by a scientific analysis of the water to determine its toxicity and related pollutants to the environment prior to dumping.

“The plan is that if the water contains no marine pollutants, then it will be transferred into ballast water tanks on board. However, if containing marine pollutants, we will have to re-assess the situation and most probably will have to discharge ashore in approved receptacles and to be disposed of according to DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) requirements,’ said Capt. Burgess.

Meanwhile, he said; two (2) fire experts had already begun inspecting the vessel to try and establish what caused the fire that ensued on Sunday afternoon while the APL Austria was sailing westward in the Indian Ocean alongside the South African coast towards the Cape Peninsula.

According to SAMSA’s Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town, the Liberia flagged cargo vessel was approximately 30 nautical miles south west of Jeffreys Bay – some 50-70 kilometers west of Port Elizabeth – when it raised an alarm about the fire on board at about 5pm.

A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.
A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.

The MRCC redirected the 72 000 ton, 280m wide vessel back to the port of Port Elizabeth overnight and later had it dock at the port of Ngqura by Monday where rescue operations both on board, on the ground as well as on water, got fully activated; with the vessel’s crew having been successfully evacuated.


Last night, Capt. Burgess said initial inspection indicated that there was not much damage caused to the vessel itself by the fire. “No visual structural damages to No.4 cargo hold at this stage,’ he said adding that there were still about 16 containers remaining on board (ROB) on deck on top of No.4 hatch – two of which appeared to contain rice (25kg bags) and smoldering. “The plan is to discharge (these) ashore tomorrow and douse with water and de-stuff into skips – no immediate danger,” he said.

“There are also about 10 containers aft of accommodation (not at all related to fire) to discharge to accommodate replenishment of CO2-Room with 400 x 45kgs CO2 cylinders. The area is presently covered by these containers as it is situated aft of the accommodation and underdeck,” he said.

Centre aft pontoon of No.4 cargo hatch which opened up after an explosion on board. An investigation into the cause of the fire is now formally underway according to SAMSA

For continued maintenance of a safe working environment and to prevent any possible pollution of the seawater around the vessel, containment booms would stay deployed while overflows of contaminated water off the vessel would be sampled for analysis.

“All parties are satisfied with the progress of operation,” said Capt. Burgess.



Fire on cargo vessel at Port of Ngqurha under control: SAMSA

Pretoria: 15 February 2017


Work to salvage the last batch of about 32 containers in hatch No4 of the fire ravaged Liberian flagged cargo vessel currently docked at the port of Ngqurha was due to begin on Wednesday morning, on condition that the fire in the hold had been successfully extinguished, the South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA) reported on Tuesday night.

img_6445According to SAMSA, fires in the lower hold No4 of the APL Austria vessel had already been extinguished except for two containers in the cargo holding area that had been packed with candles and which had since melted into wax.

This was despite the No4 cargo hold having filled with water equivalent the height of four containers as result of firefighting efforts that began on board the vessel on Sunday afternoon on the eastern ocean of South Africa, some 30 nautical miles south west of country’s world reknowned surfing mecca, Jeffrey’s Bay.

At the time, according to SAMSA, the 280 metres wide and 72 000 ton cargo carrier was headed west towards the Cape Peninsula.

img_6527 img_6496

After reporting the blaze on board, SAMSA’s Maritime Rescue Co-ordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town, redirected the vessel back to the port of Port Elizabeth and eventually its current anchor alongside the port of Ngqurha, some 30 kilometres east of Nelson Mandela Bay, where rescue operations continued including the safe evacuation of its entire crew.

On Tuesday night SAMSA reported that as many as 281 containers had been removed from the vessel and that to maintain ongoing stability of the situation, containers forward and aft of No.4 cargo hold on deck were also being discharged to create working space and a fire-break on deck, while contents of burnt damaged containers which were discharged were being de-stuffed into skips ashore.

Burned damaged containers would be moved off site as from Wednesday, said SAMSA. Meanwhile, firefighting services remained on site including TNPA tugs are boundary cooling and on standby.





Blaze on board Liberian flagged vessel in Port Elizabeth contained: Monitoring continues

Pretoria: 14 February 2017

The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of
The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of

A fire that broke out on a giant Liberian flagged container vessel, the APL Austria while sailing west off the eastern ocean of South Africa on Sunday has been contained, but its situation is still being closely monitored, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reported on Tuesday.

The 71 867 tons, 280 meter-wide container carrier on which fire broke out in one of its cargo holds on Sunday afternoon while sailing 30 nautical miles south-west of Cape St Francis – some 50-70 kilometers west of the city of Port Elizabeth – had to be diverted back to the port of Ngqurha on Sunday night in order for rescue operations including firefighting to be conducted.

With the crew evacuated – an operation overseen by the SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town, throughout Sunday night, Monday and early Tuesday, firefighters both on board and outside the vessel, inclusive of tugs from the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) battled the fire, while efforts were made to remove some of the cargo on board to safety.

A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.
A graphic map showing the exact location where the APL Austria was when it was diverted back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon after fire was reported to be blazing in one of its cargo holds.

On Tuesday afternoon, SAMSA Centre for Shipping Executive Head, Captain Nigel Campbell reported that the battle against the blaze was being won progressively.

“It appears that the fire in the hold has been extinguished but the space has not been deemed safe to enter as yet. There are still smouldering containers on deck which are being fought by the fire brigade, a harbour tug is providing boundary cooling. Containers with hazardous cargo are being removed from the area around the fire,” said Captain Campbell.

He added that: “The Joint Operations Committee sits shortly to monitor progress against the plan.”



Firefighters battle blaze on board Liberian flagged vessel in Port Elizabeth!

The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of
The APL Austria cargo vessel (Photo: Courtesy of

Pretoria: 13 February 2017

The cause of a major blaze on board the APL Austria, a Liberian flagged cargo vessel now docked at Ngqura harbour, some 30km east of Port Elizabeth, may take time to determine; the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) said on Monday as firefighters continued to battle the blaze earlier in the day.

According to Captain Daron Burgess, a Principal Officer for SAMSA’s Southern region; rescue services were set in motion on Sunday afternoon, at approximately 5.49pm, after the SAMSA Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) located in Cape Town was alerted of a fire on board the container vessel.


At the time, according to Capt Burgess, the vessel was 30 nautical miles South-West of Cape St Francis – some 50-70 kilometers west of the city of Port Elizabeth.

He said when alerting the MRCC, the crew of the vessel had been of the impression that the fire was on the vessel’s “No.3 cargo hold” only to be later established as having broke out in its “No.4 cargo hold”.

The APL Austria built in 2007 is about 280 meters in length overall,  with a beam of about 40m and a gross tonnage of about  71 867 tons and a deadweight of some 72 807t.

“The vessel was instructed to proceed to Algoa Bay anchorage and she arrived at the anchorage area at 02h00 this morning, Monday 13 February 2017. There are several containers containing hazardous cargo on deck above No.4 cargo hold, but fortunately none of them were on fire,” said Capt Burgess.

According to Capt Burgess, relevant senior officials of the port of Ngqurha, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and SAMSA boarded the vessel from about 4am on Monday for an assessment of its conditions while firefighters, inclusive of three TNPA harbour tugs assisted with the firefighting operation by providing boundary cooling.

“Lots of black smoke was emanating from the vessel. The weather conditions have been favourable since the incident occurred, with a light South-Easterly wind. The vessel heaved anchor at about O5hOO this morning and was instructed to proceed further out in the bay to clear the other vessels at the anchorage area. The tugs continued with boundary cooling during the morning hours; during the night the vessel used their on board fire extinguishing media.

“After the fire was relatively under control, arrangements were made to take the vessel into the Port of Ngqura with the Metro Fire Fighters on standby and to deal with the situation upon arrival alongside. The vessel entered the Port of Ngqura at approximately 10h00 this morning. It is not yet clear at this stage what caused the fire. An investigation will be undertaken once the fire is extinguished to try and establish the cause of the fire,” reported Capt Burgess.


South Africa to beef up ocean environment protection against pollution: Department of Transport

South Africa also boasts cheapest tariffs for merchant shipping sector than any other ports in the world: National Ports Regulator


Xhariep Dam (Free State): 30 September 2016

The beefing up of ocean environmental protection, particularly pollution prevention as well improvement of labour conditions for seafarers are among a series of initiatives currently being pursued in broad efforts to enhance rejuvenation and development of the maritime esector, the Transport Department confirmed this past week during the global observation of the World Maritime Day 2016.

Speaking at South Africa’s own version of the event held at Xhariep Dam in the Free State on Thursday, and whose international theme for 2016 was: Shipping is indispensable to the World; Transport Department maritime transport branch acting deputy Director General, Mr Clement Manyungwana highlighted a series of activities the department was engaged in currently with several stakeholders – among them other Government departments, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – to strengthen the country’s hold and management of its maritime sector development drive.

According to Mr Manyungwana, among the initiatives he said were closely aligned to the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) were;

  • development of an integrated transport strategy,
  • enhancement of ocean security through acquisition of additional vessels,
  • promulgation of legislation to advance the protection of seafarers onboard vessels, as well as
  • development of further maritime policy and legislation

The improvement and enhancement of ocean environmental protection regarding particularly oil pollution was in part, in recognition and appreciation of the growth in shipping traffic drawn to newly established bunkering services at the country’s newest deep water port, the port of Ngqurha near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province.

For his full remarks (Audio only), Click Here

Ports Regulator & CEO, Mr Mahesh Fakir with Department of Transport Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga at the port of Saldanha on Monday
National Ports Regulator & CEO, Mr Mahesh Fakir

Meanwhile, National Ports Regulator CE, Mr Manesh Fakir said in efforts dedicated to attracting more global business trade vessels onto the countries’ port and to enhance local exports competitiveness, several studies had been conducted over the last year and which have led to identification of various efficiencies as well as establishment of a basket of incentives in the form of tariff reductions.

Mr Fakir said as a result, shipping liners reporting on South Africa’s ports now enjoyed lower prices of up to 50% less in comparison with comparable ports elsewhere in the world, with iron ore shipments specifically now paying less by up to 70-80% – largely due to the Rand/Dollar exchange effect.

On efforts to bolster South Africa’s export trade, he said that locally manufactured goods for export through containers also enjoyed as much as 70% lower tariffs compared containerized imports.

However, Mr Fakir warned that with global fleets increasing vessel carrying capacities leading to reduction in actual fleets, tariffs would not hold down for too long and might indeed increase over the next 10 years largely due to infrastructure maintenance and upgrading costs.

For Mr Fakir’s full remarks (Audio only), Click Here