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.

End.

Problematic toxic cargo headed for the bottom of the sea, announces SAMSA

Photo courtesy of Dr Holling

UPDATE:

Pretoria: 17 January 2022

The story below has elicited huge interest from a broad range of people across several sectors. Top most has been concern about the decision to dump the cargo of the vessel at sea, as annouced in the article. In response, SAMSA’s Deputy Chief Operations Officer, and acting Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller has since provided more detail about the development during a radio interview with Cape Talk Radio last week.

Click on the following link for the interview (+- 6 minutes).

Pretoria: 13 January 2022

A problematic water reactive cargo approximating 1500 tonnes laden on a vessel in St Helena Bay on the west coast of South Africa will be formally, finally dumped at sea; the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) announced in Pretoria on Thursday.

According to SAMSA, this will be just over two months of the country working tirelessly around the clock to safely manage the unstable chemical cargo since the encounter with its bearer vessel, the NS Qingdao, in Durban last October.

Since then, the vessel was shepherded under a watchful eye to a safe containment terminal in St Helena Bay on the Atlantic Ocean seaboard.

In subsequent updates about the management of the vessel, SAMSA described its cargo as consisting of “a mixture of Sodium Metabisulphite, Magnesium Nitrate Hexahydrate, Caustic Calcined Magnesite, Electrode Paste, Monoammonium Phosphate, Ferrous Sulphate Monohydrate, Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Sulphite Anhydrous and Calcium Chloride.”

On Thursday, in the statement in Pretoria announcing the latest development; SAMSA said: “SAMSA and its partners are continuing with the salvage work on the NS Qingdao. The NS Qingdao was evacuated from the port of Durban on 23 October last year after her cargo suffered a chemical reaction and released toxic fumes into the atmosphere.

“The vessel is currently anchored off St Helena Bay and an emergency dumping permit has been obtained from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to dump the reacting cargo at sea.

“Approximately 1500 tonnes of cargo will be dumped 250km from the closest point to land and in excess of 3000m of water. The dumping operation is expected to be concluded on 25 March 2022.

“To date more than 1000 tonnes of the cargo has been taken out of the vessel and it is expected that the remaining hotspots will be removed and dumped by 15 March 2022.

“The vessel has no obvious structural damage, and she will return to the closest port after the dumping operation is complete and her cargo is stabilised. An investigation will also be conducted to determine the reason for the cargo reaction .

“Structural specialists will also conduct an assessment to ensure that the integrity of the vessel is intact before allowing her to sail onward to her destination.

“The tug Umkhuseli continues to act as a safety stand by vessel. The operation is weather dependent to ensure that the highest levels of safety standards are maintained throughout the operation.

“The owners, insurance and salvors continue to work with the South African authorities on this matter,” said SAMSA

End

IMO Council seat loss disappoints South Africa: SAMSA

South Africa’s representative at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Seassion that began on December 06 in London,, Mr Sipho Mbata, casting a vote during elections of the IMO’s 40-member Council on Friday (10 December). South Africa lost its seat during the elections.

Pretoria: 15 December 2021

South Africa’s failure to retain its seat in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council last Friday, coupled with Nigeria’s failed effort to gain a seat, has come as a significant disappointment for the country.

That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) following the country’s loss of its seat during elections of the IMO’s 40-member Council for the 2022-2023 biennium in London last week.

South Africa, along with Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, and Morocco were the five African IMO Member States and candidates vying for a seat in the IMO 40-member council. Egypt, Morocco, and Kenya retained their seats.

Reacting to the development at the weekend, SAMSA said it was disappointed for South Africa following Friday’s IMO Council elections. SAMSA, a State agency operating under the Department of Transport, works closely with the department and relevant others in terms of IMO related matters. SAMSA and DOT officials often travel to the IMO in London where they serve of different IMO committees and South Africa also has a permanent representative at the organisation.

However, both DoT and SAMSA officials could not make it to London this time around for this year’s IMO 32nd Regular Session of the Assembly where the IMO Council was elected, due to strict travel conditions related to the recent and currently ongoing resurgence of Covid-19 pandemic infections across the world.

The United Kingdom immediately placed South Africa on its travel ‘red list’ shortly after the announcement by South Africa health scientists of the discovery in South Africa of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19.

Thus, on Friday, senior DoT officials inclusive of the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga; Acting Director-General, Mr Mthunzi Madiya supported by staff from Maritime Branch as well as SAMSA Acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane and Head of SAMSA Corporate Affairs, Mr Vusi September; gathered at a Pretoria venue to participate virtually during the IMO Assembly session from Monday last week.

Leading to Friday’s IMO Council elections, South Africa was cautiously optimistic it would retain its seat on the Council. However, when the vote outcome was eventually announced in London late afternoon, there was visible disappointment among all the officials gathered in Pretoria for the event.

For limited highlights of Friday’s event in London and Pretoria, click on the video below.

A brief overview of last week Friday’s IMO Council (Category C Candidates) vote and the reaction from South Africa

In the aftermath, with a formal country reaction statement expected from Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula; SAMSA’s acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Mashiloane expressed disappointment insofar as SAMSA was concerned.

“For SAMSA, it is just to say that we are deeply disappointed by the outcome of the IMO Council vote, but even so, we will continue supporting the IMO work and ensure that we continue with our concerted efforts in respective committees to advance the African approach with respect to implementation of IMO Conventions we have acceded to. So, emphasis will be enhancing our work in Legal, Technical Committes, MSC and MEPC,” she said.

After the conclusion of the elections, the IMO congratulated the 40 Member States that were voted to constitute the Council for 2022-2023 biennium as follows:

  1. Category (a): 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services (listed in alphabetical order)

China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States

  • Category (b): 10 States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade:

Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates

  • Category (c): 20 States not elected under (a) or (b) above, which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world:

Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and Vanuatu.

The IMO statement further said: “The newly elected Council will meet, following the conclusion of the 32nd Assembly, for its 126th session (on 15 December) and will elect its Chair and Vice-Chair for the next biennium.”

End

IMO COUNCIL ELECTIONS: South Africa optimistic of retaining her seat during the highly contested elections on Friday.

Pretoria: 09 December 2021

With only a day to go before the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 176 Member States gathered in London this week, and next; for the 32nd Regular Session of their Assembly, decide on who among 49 countries vying for election will constitute its IMO Council on Friday, South Africa remains cautiously optimistic to retain its seat.

South Africa, located at the most southern tip of the African continent with approximately 3000km of a coastline stretching across three oceans, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Southern Ocean to the south and the Indian Ocean to the east – and therefore holding a globally significant geographic maritime position – is among a group of five countries from the continent vying for a seat in the IMO 40-member Council for the 2021-23 period.

The others are Egypt, Morocco (Mediterranean), Kenya (Indian Ocean), and Nigeria (Atlantic Ocean). Voting for the 40 member IMO council takes place on Friday, using an in-person-private vote system.

South Africa, one of the founding members of the IMO but subsequently suspended from active membership for many years until 1995 submits that it is optimistic, however, cautiously; that it will retain its seat.

According to its submission to members of the IMO Assembly this week, its optimism arises from its consistent, active participation in especially the technical work of the IMO, this in addition to its being a “State Party to the key IMO Conventions that promote safety, security and the protection of the marine and atmospheric environment.”

Among these are the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS); the Marine Environment Protection Convention (MARPOL) and the Search and Rescue Convention.”

The port of Cape Town, one of South African commercial ports spread almost evenly across the country’s approximately 3000km coastline, from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean,

South Africa states: “The Government of the Republic of South Africa is convinced that South Africa’s re-election to the Council will further contribute to the ongoing efforts towards the achievement of the goals of the International Maritime Organization (MO).”

These include safety of property and life at sea, protection of the environment from pollution by ships, as well as active promotion of the maritime sector domestically, regionally and globally – all mandated through legislation to a strategically located agency, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) to discharge, under the watchful eye of the national Department of Transport.

With eight specialised commercial ports and several small vessels harbours spread across the coastline from the border of Namibia to the west (Atlantic Ocean) to Mozambique in the east (Indian Ocean) – variously catering to an ever-growing global trade cargo, marine tourism and academic research fleet of vessels of various sizes – the country’s active and continuous contribution to IMO activities remains vital.

Delegates of countries that are members of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understandinng during ther annual general meeting in Cape Town in 2020

South Africa is also a part of the western Indian Ocean regions that contain 14 major commercial ports – seven of her own (Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, Ngqura, East London, Durban and Richards Bay (South Africa) as well as those in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Maputo, Beira, Nacala, Quelimane, Pemba (Mozambique), and Mombasa (Kenya). These serve as hubs for traffic emanating from, and destined for, Europe, Asia, the Americas and the east and west coast of Africa.

In addition to the large cargo ships traveling internationally, the country says; many smaller boats serving local needs ply the coastal waters and harbours and, in the process, adding to the considerable navigation risks faced by large ships.

In its submission to the IMO Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session ahead of Friday’s IMO Council Elections, the country states: “South Africa as a fully democratic country continues to be an active and loyal member of the International Maritime Organization. The Government of South Africa is very keen to continuously work with the IMO towards promotion of safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping.

“South Africa has developed domestic legislation to implement the adopted Conventions and such pieces of legislation include the South African Maritime Safety Authority Act, 1998. The Act establishes SAMSA as an agency of government charged with the responsibility to promote safety of shipping; protect the marine and atmospheric environment and promote South Africa’s maritime interests.”

Senior Department of Transport officials during a visit of the South African Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre in Cape Town in 2020

To this end, South Africa boasts among other things; a dedicated Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC) that positions her as a regional leader in terms of hosting state-of-the-art search and rescue infrastructure and services for the Southern African Region:

“As a coastal State, we manage and maintain a system of AIDS to navigation including lighthouses, a fully-fledged Marine Hydrographic Service, as well as Emergency Response Capacity, which includes a Search and Rescue Centre, Emergency Towing Vessel, Information and Communication Systems.

“These systems give assurance to international shipping on the safety of shipping along the SA coastline as well as supports the entire Southern African Region.

“Our search and rescue region extend to Antarctica and our LRIT Data Centre caters for more countries in the region. We have over the years fully discharged our duty of ensuring order at sea by all the systems we have put in place, including our anti-piracy initiative in the Mozambique Channel.

Delegates from 22 African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean during a four day conference in Cape Town in 2019 under the aegis of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) led Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern African (GI-WACAF) Project.

“South Africa (also) became a member COSPAS/ SARSAT programme since May 2001, and the system in Cape Town detects on a yearly average 607 Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacons (EPIRBS) that transmit on 121.5 MHz. Detection of the modern and new technology 406 MHz beacons is 4 increasing and at the moment, the averages are 200 detections per annum, and this is based on the information passed on to South Africa.

Alongside that aspect of work, SAMSA conducts inspections on foreign vessels visiting her ports and regionally, the country works in tandem with neighbouring countries conjoined by their borderline access to the affected oceans. South Africa is a member of two port state control regimes; the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding and the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding.

It is also notable that South Africa was the first country worldwide to formally implement the International Labour Organisation (ILO) inspired and driven Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188) – a pioneering position that has since led to her consulting extensively with other countries still at early stages of the convention’s implementation.

Delegates from three South East Asian countries – Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand during a week long visit to South Africa in 2019 to glean the country’s experience with the implementation of the ILO C188 Convention.

At this year’s General Assembly, South Africa is backing fully the IMO General Assembly’s adoption of entry into force and implementation of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement. In her submission South Africa says that in terms of current arrangements, for the Agreement to be in force, at least 22 States with an aggregate number of the qualifying fishing vessels must ratify/accede to it.

To date, 16 States with an aggregated fleet of 1907 eligible fishing vessels have ratified the instrument.

South Africa’s view is that: “South Africa, as the host of the International Conference on the Safety of Fishing Vessels held in Cape Town in 2012 and signed the Agreement and the 2019 Torremolinos Declaration, supports the adoption of the draft resolution on the entry into force and implementation of the Agreement.

“The entry into force of the Agreement will increase safety standards on fishing vessel design, construction and equipment will also positively impact the working conditions of fishing vessel personnel and the safety of the search and rescue and emergency response services in mitigating the consequences of fishing vessel casualties. Furthermore, the Agreement will assist in the prevention of marine pollution, including plastic pollution, from fishing vessels and in combatting IUU fishing.”

In addition, from a global marine law perspective, South Africa has a long tradition with the Maritime Law Association of South Africa populated by some of the world respected jurists, thereby ensuring that its maritime arbitration capability is one of the well-respected in the world.”

The country states: “South Africa can therefore, with its strategic position at the tip of the continent straddling three oceans, coupled with our well-established technical capability and skills base, make a meaningful contribution to the activities of the IMO Council in service to international shipping.

Delegates from 25 countries that are signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) three day workshop in Durban in November 2018

On global collaboration in general, South Africa was due to host the World Maritime Day Parallel Event in 2020 but the IMO had to postpone the event due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The outgoing IMO Council had, however, approved retaining South Africa as host of the event in 2022 conditional to the COVID-19 pandemic trends.

During this year’s IMO Assembly, South Africa also intends to sign the Jeddah Amendment to Djibouti Code of Conduct (the Code) with the IMO Secretary General. The Code aims to suppress transnational organised crime and other illegal activities at sea.

On the elections of the new IMO Council for 2022-2023 biennium , while South Africa remains optimistic of retaining her seat, should things go completely awry for some inexplicable reason, the country may still stand a chance of returning to serve in the council as currently there is a proposal before the IMO Assembly to expand the council’s membership from 40 seats to 52.

The proposal, which South Africa has given her support, further calls for the IMO Council’s term of office to be extended from two (years) to four (years).

In her submission to the IMO Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session currently underway, South Africa states that: “South Africa would like to support the draft amendments to Articles 16, 17, 18, 19(b) and 81 of the IMO Convention and the associated draft Assembly resolution.

“We believe that the expansion of members to the IMO Council will ensure that there is diversity, geographical spread and representation of the interests of all IMO Member States.”

End

Women firmly taking centre stage in maritime sector globally – IMO to celebrate them annually

IMO meeting hall, London (Photo: Courtesy of IMO)

Pretoria: 07 December 2021

Technological advancements in global shipping and related activity in the maritime sector, along with the global impacts of the rampant unseizing spread of the Covid-19 may remain central to discussions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 175 Member States General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session currently on – in a hybrid format – from London; however, women empowerment in the sector also remains central.

That’s at least according to the immediate past president of the Assembly, Ms Nomatemba Tambo – currently South Africa’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and the country’s permanent representative at the IMO.

According to the IMO, citing a BIMCO/ICS 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report, women represent only 1.2% (or 24,059) of the global seafarer workforce. However, the IMO says that while this may seem miniscule in comparative terms, in actual fact, “..this represents a positive trend in gender balance” as it reflects a 45.8% increase compared with 2015 figures. 

Currently, the IMO working in conjunction with the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA International) is conducting a global maritime industry survey intended to “obtain baseline data on the number of women in maritime and oceans fields and the positions they occupy.”

The plan, say the IMO and WISTA; “…is to repeat the survey every three years…..our aim (being) to support implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by having comparable data that will assist us in creating programmes and proposing policies that will increase the participation of women in maritime.

“This will help promote a more diverse and inclusive environment in our sector. We will publish a report on the aggregate numbers that will be available to all interested parties.”

Ms Nomatemba Tambo, outgoing President of the IMO General Assembly (Regular Session) is South Africa’s permanent representatives at the IMO and the country’s HIgh Commissioners to the United Kingdom.

In her final presidential speech reflecting on work of the IMO over the past two years, on Monday Ms Tambo applauded the international organisation for formally endorsing the establishment of a dedicated day to celebrate women directly, annually, in the maritime sector, beginning next May.

She said: “I ….commend the IMO for declaring 18 May as the International Day for Women in Maritime. This is a great step in celebrating women’s efforts and their contribution to the maritime and shipping industry. I believe that this initiative will succeed in raising the profile of women, removing the barriers of entry and addressing gender imbalance faced by women in the maritime and shipping sector.”

The IMO Council agreed on the establishment of the dedicated day for women in maritime at its November 2020 meeting and now, it’s due for formal adoption as a resolution by the General Assembly currently gathered in London for its 32nd Regular Session, beginning Monday this week through to Wednesday next week.

From a South Africa pespective, the development is partly a direct result of the IMO’s inclusion of more female officials in its governance structures, as exemplified by Ms Tambo’s ascendancy two years ago to the presidency of the organisation’s General Assembly.

South Africa, one of several southern and eastern African countries involved in an initiative to relaunch the Women in Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa (WOMESA), but rescheduled due to South Africa’s inability last October (2020) to host the IMO General Assemby Parallel Event billed for Durban owing to the global oubreak of Covid-19, views Ms Tambo’s contribution in the maritime sector as pioneering.

Ms Tambo’s two-year reign ended on Monday with the election of Philippines’ permanent representative to the IMO, Mr Mr Antonio Manuel R. Lagdameo as the successor. However, his 1st Deputy is yet another Southern Africa woman, Ms Linda Scot of Namibia.

Effectively, this means that two women, both of Southern Africa will have been at the helm of the IMO General Assembly for a combined four years both as President and deputy President respectively and successively – a historical record to date.

Ms Tambo remains South Africa’s permanent representative at the IMO.

On the establishment of a dedicated maritime women’s day, last November, the IMO Council’s explanation of its decision was that; “Once adopted by the IMO Assembly in December 2021, the observance will celebrate women in the industry, promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, raise the profile of women in maritime, strengthen IMO’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime.”

The development immediately received praise from the IMO’s Secretary-General, Mr Kitack Lim. “I welcome the Council’s adoption of this proposal.  Not only does it further efforts to achieve SDG 5 on gender equality, but it is a perfect follow-on action to the IMO Assembly’s resolution and call to achieve a barrier-free environment for women, so that all women can participate fully, safely and without hindrance in the activities of the maritime community, including seafaring and shipbuilding.” said Mr Lim at the time

After being formally endorsed this week by the General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session members, the day will feature prominently among the global maritime sector’s annual calendar that already includes a Day of the Seafarer (June) and a World Maritime Day (October).

In the meantime, in his opening remarks of the IMO General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session in London on Monday, Mr Lim confirmed that the 2022 World Maritime Day will be “New technologies for Greener Shipping”. This year’s World Maritime Theme was: “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future

End

Oil spillage clean up ended in Algoa Bay: SAMSA

(SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 06 December 2021

The clean-up of the Algoa Bay ocean and adjacent coastline has been terminated in the absence of evidence of any further spread of the fuel, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) announced at the weekend.

In the statement, SAMSA said: “The clean-up of patches of small tar balls that were washed ashore, following the spill of bunker oil into the water during a vessel bunkering operation on the 17th of November 2021 in Algoa Bay, has come to an end.

“The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), SANPARKS and other stakeholders including the Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) continue to monitor the remaining stretch beach for any additional oil/tar balls that may wash out. No further sightings of tar balls have been reported. The Incident Command team is in the process of demobilising and scaling down the response,” said SAMSA

The termination of the clean-up exercise which according to SAMSA, saw approximately 400 liters of oil recovered from the water, shall exclude the continuous monitoring of Algoa Bay’s islands by SANParks rangers and others involved for signs of oiled wildlife and birds.

“The Islands in Algoa Bay are being monitored for signs of oiled wildlife and birds by rangers from SANPARKS and SANCCOB as part of the routine operation.

“To date four (4) birds (three Cape Garnets and one African Penguin) were found to be contaminated by oil and have been captured. Two (2) of the captured birds have died – one, of malnutrition and the other of a fractured leg. The remaining ttwo (2) are being cared for by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB),” said SAMSA.

End

Specialist equipment procured from Europe to evacuate unstable chemical cargo off vessel at St Helena Bay: SAMSA

02 December 2021

The procurement and arrival in South Africa next week of an Inert Gas System and a specialist excavator operator from Europe is expected to relieve pressure and provide enhanced safety to management efforts of transferring an unstable chemical cargo off a constrained vessel currently docked in St Helena Bay.

That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in a statement in Pretoria on Thursday confirming the docking yet again of the Marshall Island flagged bulk carrier, NS Qingdao, back at St Helena Bay on Tuesday, after days spent off shore due to its unstable chemical cargo.

The saga with the vessel, according to SAMSA, began on 23 October 2021 in Durban where it had docked to offload its chemical cargo, but had to be sent back offshore and rerouted to St Helena Bay after her cargo suffered a chemical reaction, releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere.

Photo courtesy of MarineTraffic.com

According to SAMSA, redirecting the bulk carrier, now under constant escort, to St Helena Bay on the country’s west coast (Atlantic Ocean) was intended to provide it with protected anchorage, “with the advantage of being in close proximity to the Vissershok waste deposal site where the cargo could be safely discharged and neutralised.”

However, with stormy, wet weather unrelenting, said SAMSA: “Last week (25 Novembe)r the vessel was instructed to sail offshore (again) under tow to help ventilate her No3 cargo holds after the hold was closed due to a change in weather conditions causing an increase in hot spots in the hold and fumes to enter the engine room through the engine room vents.”

In the meantime, said SAMSA that all non-essential personnel were removed as a safety precaution, with only a minimum crew onboard. In the intervening period, plans were made to procure a special Inert Gas System and a specialist excavator operator from Europe. SAMSA said the Inert Gas system would be used to blanket the cargo with an inert gas to prevent any further reactions in the cargo.

However, the discovery of and an announcement in South Africa about a new Covid-19 variant, Omnicron, which almost immediately sent several countries abroad in a tailspin of panic, followed by the closure of borders and bans on international flights to the country, “delayed operations slightly,” said SAMSA, adding that the salvage crew was, however, “optimistic” that the Inert Gas System would arrive in St Helena Bay by Tuesday next week (07 December 2021).

A MarineInsight.com illustration of an inert gas system plant.

MarineInsight.com contextualises the use of an inert gas system as follows: “Inert gas system is the most important integrated system for oil tankers for safe operation of the ship. Inert gas is the gas that contains insufficient oxygen (normally less than 8 %) to suppress the combustion of flammable hydrocarbon gases. The inert gas system spreads the inert gas over the oil cargo hydrocarbon mixture which increases the lower explosion limit LEL (lower concentration at which the vapours can be ignited), simultaneously decreasing the Higher explosion limit HEL (Higher concentration at which vapour explodes).

“When the concentration reaches around 10%, an atmosphere is created inside the tank in which hydrocarbon vapours cannot burn. The concentration of inert gas is kept around 5% as a safety limit.”

Meanwhile, in Pretoria on Thursday, SAMSA further reiterated its earlier assurance that the toxic fumes emitted from the vessel do not pose any danger either to humans or the oceans and coastline environment. Providing specific detail of the bulk carrier’s water sensitive and reactive chemical cargo, SAMSA said: “SAMSA would like to assure the public that this is a controlled event and neither the environment nor any person is at risk at this time and that all safety precautions are taken to prevent the situation from escalating.

Of the cargo’s nature, the agency said: “The bulk cargo consists out of a mixture of Sodium Metabisulphite, Magnesium Nitrate Hexahydrate ,Caustic Calcined Magnesite, Electrode Paste, Monoammonium Phosphate, Ferrous Sulphate Monohydrate, Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Sulphite Anhydrous and Calcium Chloride.”

With the recall of the vessel to dock at St Helena Bay on Tuesday, said SAMSA: “The cargo is being discharged into skips to remove all hot spots in the cargo hold to help neutralise the chemical reaction and gases under the watchful eyes of experienced salvors and chemical experts.

“The first two skips were discharged yesterday morning in the care of SPILLTECH for transportation to Vissershok under controlled conditions. SAMSA would like to reaffirm that there is no immediate risk to any person ashore and that all persons involved in the operation onboard is using all the required personnel protective equipment.”

However, just to be sure, extra measures undertaken since the rerouting of the vessel from Durban to St Helena Bay have included the constant watchful eye of a tug UMKHUSELI that, according to SAMSA “will remain on site to act as a static tow while the vessel is at anchor and ensure that any toxic gases are blown offshore during the operation.

“The ship owner is cooperating with SAMSA, DFFE, TNPA, Salvage Team and local authorities.SAMSA would like to assure the public that this is a controlled event and neither the environment nor any person is at risk at this time and that all safety precautions are taken to prevent the situation from escalating,” said the agency.

End.

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

(Photo courtesy of MarineTraffic.com)

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.

End.

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 exams@samsa.org.za

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

End

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

A screen grab of a marinetraffic.com 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

End