The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in China some six months ago has without doubt brought about the greatest health risk globally and, in its wake, by some accounts, the biggest economic threat and devastation in more than 100 years.
Yet as the old adage has it: ‘every dark cloud has a silver lining,’ so it turns out that the outbreak of the pandemic that’s forced many countries to close their borders, would also lead to new business opportunities for others that were not readily available before, and in the process, giving rise to creative thinking and innovation.
Heron Marine, a black woman owned bunkering services company based in Port Elizabeth is one such business operator to be presented with an opportunity that would call for its creativeness in delivering services to four huge international cruise vessels it has never serviced before.
According to Kgomotso Selokane, Chief Executive Officer of Heron Marine, four international cruise liners from Carnival, namely, the Carnival Dream, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy, came calling into the port of Ngqura in May.
The call into South African ports by these four cruise liners – among several similar – was to disembark the country’s seafarers who – along with the entire cruise line industry– have become economic victims of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
Enroute to disembarking crew at Durban and other ports outside of South Africa the Carnival cruise ships required replenishments, among which was fuel for the journey to return home their thousands of seafarers rendered stranded due to closure of the industry worldwide.
Unlike its three sisters, the Carnival Dream – at 130,000gt and 305.47 meters long, with a guest capacity of some 3646 people as well as 1367 crew members – was to be refuelled seat anchorage. That presented some interesting challenges.
According to Ms Selokane, due to the configuration of the vessel and barge, the actual refuelling operation at anchorage required for the first time, the utilisation of a spacer barge with two Yokahama fenders on either side to serve as a bulwark between the company’s bunker barge and the cruise ship. In turn, this required not only tugs to shove and hold vessels in place, but also the utilisation of a mooring boat to layout oil booms to cover stern of the vessel.
Once arrangements had been finalised, and with a keen eye constantly on the weather conditions as the refuelling had to be conducted in open anchorage , Heron Marine called on, among others, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) for assistance with tugs and consulted with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) to ensure compliance with the strictest safety standards during the bunkering operation.
The final alignment of all parties and equipment and calm weather conditions allowed for a successful refuelling of the Carnival Dream by one of Heron Marine’s bunkering barges, the Bonaire Trader.
She added: “SAMSA and TNPA’s approvals… demonstrated South Africa’s commitment to implementing the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy’s (CMTP) in making the country an international maritime centre, but more so our contribution to the global maritime economy during these trying times.”
Part of the economic contribution involved the deliberate utilisation of all local based services suppliers for support infrastructure, she said
“In our commitment to our license requirements, we use local suppliers as much as possible. In this operation specifically we procured the services of a drone operator to take footage of the entire operation.
“However, the pinnacle of our excitement was how we committed ourselves, as an entity, to SAMSA’s SMME Development requirement, as our mooring boat was provided by a local 100% Black Owned SMME.
“We would really like to thank SAMSA and the TNPA team for allowing this operation to take place and supporting its precedence as a first of its kind offshore ALGOA BAY or maybe even South Africa. “Working together like this is a true indication of our South African Spirit – not matter what we endeavour,” said Ms Selokane.
Certain tough restrictions imposed on every aspect of life in South Africa on the basis of the country’s recent declaration of a state of National Disaster, as well as a three weeks population lockdown that began on midnight Thursday (March 26), as a response to the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, are constantly receiving reviewal, according to the Department of Transport.
For the maritime sector, one such strict restriction is that related to the entry and exit of seafarers and associated personnel at any of the country’s ports, which are virtually closed to all international trade cargo except that deemed to be essential supplies.
In terms of the new special rules, vessels dropping anchor at or near any of the country’s ports are not allowed disembarkment of seafarers and therefore not permitted to change crews, even if the seafarers are South African.
However, in a statement in Pretoria on Friday, Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula said that specific restriction was urgently being reviewed, this coming in the wake of an incident in Durban, where a crew of six (6) South African seafarers on a cruise ship, the Queen Mary 2 (erroneously named as the Queen Elizabeth 2), were disallowed disembarkment, according to the lockdown rules.
“These South Africans want to disembark and return home. However, our regulations do not allow crew changes at any of our ports, even if these are South Africans. The Queen Mary 2 is waiting for clearance to enter the port in order to refuel and take provisions. This is a matter we are urgently considering,’ said Mr Mbalula in Pretoria on Friday.
The confirmation of the reviewal came as South Africa ended its first of 21 days of a national lockdown in terms of a declared State of Natonal Disaster in line with a global scramble to ward off or limit the grossly negative impacts of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic now in its fourth month since its outbreak in China in December 2019.
As of Friday, the start of the national lockdown, South Africa recorded a rising figure of just over 1000 people found infected by the virus as well as confirmation of the death of the first person due to the pandemic.
The Health Ministry in a report on Friday gave a breakdown of the nature and extent of infection, stating that of the total 1170 people so far found to be positive of the Covid-19 virus, those hospitalised (both public and private) included 55 patients in intensive care units and three (3) in ventilations while 31 had recovered.
Of those infected, a total 4407 of those with whom they had been in contact had been identified and of these, 3465 successfully traced for their locations. The ministry also raised alarm that: “There is an increase in the rate of internal transmissions. Patients without a history of travelling abroad have been detected in many provinces.” – a situation giving justification to a clampdown n the movement of people between provinces and districts during the 21 day nationwide lockdown in order to prevent further infections.
Meanwhile, with regards the fate of seafarers, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), announced a raft of measures aimed at assisting the country’s seafarers.
The statement said:
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Republic of South Africa announced measures to combat the spread of the disease by declaring a State of Disaster and putting the country on lockdown effective midnight on 26 March 2020.
“The results of such lockdown is that all businesses are required to close doors except for those offering essential services. The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and its stakeholders have been affected by the lockdown as a result only with essential services being rendered. As such, the services for seafarers which are rendered directly by SAMSA and/or its clients/stakeholders may not be delivered during the lockdown, viz:
No training of seafarers for short courses over the period, academic programmes may continue through ‘e-learning’ platforms
No assessments for seafarer certification will be undertaken during this period.
No eye sights test will be undertaken during the period.
The results of this is that seafarers whose certificates expire during this period are not able to attend re-fresher training whilst some are unable to sign-off their vessels. SAMSA has granted a general extension to all certificates expiring during the National State of Disaster as set out in the Marine Notice.
For this purpose, the production of the said Marine Notice shall be sufficient for Seafarers working on vessels trading within the South African Ports.
Seafarers working on foreign vessels may be required to produce specific individual documents expressing the extension of the certificate. To this end, seafarers and the employers may obtain such extension by completing the application forms below.
All extension requests shall be made using the form below;
Users are requested to download the form from the link above and not to share with other persons to prevent missing out on changes that will produce negative results or return incorrect information. The system requires that all fields be completed correctly to ensure that the correct information is distributed.
As South Africa joined the rest of the maritime world to mark and celebrate the international Day of the Seafarer as guided by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and organised locally by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) jointly with the Department of Transport (DoT), seafarer’s general welfare was on the menu and there were few surprises about the issues raised or discussed.
After all, the IMO suggested theme for 2019 was #IamOnBoard – with Gender Equality.
South Africa’s marking of the annual event this year took the same format as in 2018, with three of the country’s coastal cities, Cape Town (Western Cape), Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape) and Durban (KwaZulu-Natal) hosting simultaneously the event. The idea according to the Department of Transport, is to ensure that as many of South Africa’s seafarers – some based in these cities – participate in the celebrations as well as ensuing discussions.
Indeed, speakers lined up to lead discussions totaled about five people in each of the venues – all selected according to either or both their involvement as well as experience in seafaring or such other field of engagement directly related to or impacts seafaring. Emphasis was placed active seafarers – seagoing or not – employers, as well as education and training providers or professionals.
This blog covered the Cape Town leg of the event and this is where, among a range of issues raised for discussion concerning gender equality and empowerment of particularly women, the question about drug use by seafarers – and precisely the adequacy and appropriateness of rules and regulations governing its management arose.
Ms Thembela Taboshe, one of the first three of South Africa’s black African women seafarers to obtain a Master Mariner qualification in the past fives years and now currently serving as a SHEQ Executive for Blue Continental Products at fishing group Oceana, wanted to know what the allowable limit of narcotic drugs could a sailor have on his or her system to be deemed safe or unsafe at work.
She said the question was arising against the backdrop of law reform developments in the country concerning the use of especially dagga or “weed” and which now deemed it no longer illegal for people to use the narcotic drug in the privacy of their own homes.
The law reform was well and good, she said, but it raised a few questions regarding implications of the free, legal use of the narcotic drug.
“This is a matter I’d like to raise and speak with SAMSA and DoT about. We need to actually come up with legislation about how people find out…..what is the allowable limit….what is not. How do we know that a person who is on the 10th day after having taken weed is actually capable of doing the job?” said Ms Taboshe.
She contextualized the matter as one concerning and with implications for seafarers in general and therefore relevant in terms of gender equality, but also women empowerment. (Ms Taboshe’s full remarks – average 6 minutes – along with those of the other participants are shared on the Day of the Seafarer‘s page)
The issue climbed quickly into the DoT and SAMSA list of issues requiring address over the next while and a report back to sailors prior to, or on Wednesday, 25 June 2020 and perhaps soon thereafter.
The DoT’s representative at the Cape Town event, Acting Deputy Director-General, Maritime Transport, Mr Dumisani Ntuli committed the department to do exactly that.
As indicated the drug usage issue by seafarers was among several that led to a robust debate in Cape Town. For a comprehensive multimedia report on these discussions, click here or on this blog’s main menu, click on the Day of the Seafarer‘s page at the top left of the bar.
The seafarers career in South Africa is bound for a major shakeup in the coming months involving three major aspects: a re-look at the status of their qualifications for proper positioning, an overhaul of the process of their intake into the career path, as well as expansion of employment opportunities – the latter expected to involve the establishment of a South African fleet of vessels to do port to port shipments.
The policy shifts by government, driven by the Department of Transport in collaboration with the maritime sector and various others, emerged during observation of the international Day of the Seafarer held in Cape Town on Monday – one of three similar events held also in Port Elizabeth and Durban.
It was the first time for South Africa to observe the annual seafarers’ event at three locations simultaneously on the same day at three venues – the other two being Durban and Port Elizabeth.
Participants at all three events included government and its agencies including the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), higher education and training institutions, industry representatives as well as seafarers, among others.
In Cape Town, Department of Transport acting Chief Director General for Maritime, Mr Dumisani Ntuli said a policy revision was currently underway to shakeup the country’s maritime sector but specifically shipping, with a view to facilitating the establishment of a domestic fleet of vessels to take over port-to-port shipping transport.
Primarily, this was to ensure greater participation of South Africa in the shipping sector involving its own people, but equally important, to create a stable and expanded opportunity for ongoing, sustainable development of a professional cadre of South African seafarers immersed in an own culture.
However, Mr Ntuli also acknowledged an urgent need currently to both address the issue of already qualified seafarers and whose qualifications as well as related experience do not enjoy recognition by the country’s education system in terms of the South African Qualifications Authority.
He said a task team involving appropriate representations from relevant stakeholders would be set up to fast-track the process.
In tandem, the quality of young people entering the profession would also require a re-evaluation as it was being established that some, if not a significant number of people pursuing seafaring for a career were either ill-prepared or simply not suitable for the type of work.
Currently, it emerged, there was a high drop out rate of maritime sector education students by especially cadets, once they get employed fully at sea.
According to Mr Ntuli, the main goal of all the initiatives was to ensure a stable career path for seafarers and that they are absorbed into the shipping transport industry and remain employed for their working lifetime.
With regards the observation of the Day of the Seafarer annually, he said the new format involving the staging of the event in cities across the country’s coastline would remain the feature, primarily to ensure engagement of all stakeholders for a continuous dialogue on matters affecting the sector.
For a detailed presentation of Mr Ntuli’s remarks on this and related matters, Click on the video below.
A full round up of the various participants’ contributions to the discussion at the Cape Town event on Monday will follow soon.
Among the key participants were Ms Leone Louw, a lecturer in maritime studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Mr Rob Whitehead, president of the Society of Master Mariners South Africa, Mr Leon Mouton of the Safety Training Group, Captain Ravi Naicker of the South African Maritime Safety Authority, as well industry and seafarer representatives.
Miss Lelethu Ntuzula. A Deck Cadet
Mr Sanele Hlongwane. Ratings Trainee
Meanwhile, dozens of young and aspirant seafarers attending the event were all enthusiastic about the prospects of their careers given the increasing attention that was now being given to their well-being going into the future.
Among these were Ms Lelethu Ntuzula and Mr Sanele Hlongwane, both in their 20’s – one a deck cadet and the other currently undergoing the first ratings training of its kind on board the SA Agulhas – an initiative of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) together with the TETA, that began three weeks ago in Port Elizabeth.
To hear their views, click on the video below.
Still in Cape Town, about two kilometers or so from the Cape Sun venue of the Cape Town leg of the Day of the Seafarers observation, at the Cape Town harbour, dozens of seafarers, young and old, on board the country’s dedicated cadet training vessel, the St Agulhas, had a cake and a braai, to mark the day, and fun was had by all.
Seafarers on board SAMSA owned national cadet training vessel, the SA Agulhas taking time out to enjoy Day of the Seafarer 2018
In the other two coastal cities where the event was held, similar sentiment and merriment emerged.
Mr Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA reiterated the authority’s openness to seafarers and informed those gathered that the overall wellbeing of seafarers was their priority.
Seafarers had to prepare themselves for the challenges associated with working in a diverse and multi-cultural environment, he said.
Some seafarers gathered in Durban asserted that one of the challenges they faced at sea was being perceived as ill-disciplined when they raised labour-related issues with their superiors on-board.
Mr Tilayi said: “It is important for our seafarers to understand that it is the Merchant Shipping Act, rather than the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which governs the labour rights of seafarers.”
He encouraged seafarers to view the maritime industry in its global context, and consider the norms and standards established in the companies in which they worked.
“We encourage all our seafarers to understand the complexities of the industry they serve,” Mr Tilayi said.
In summary the DoT and SAMSA said the maritime industry had the potential to address the high unemployment rate, and a plan of action was necessary to include the following interventions:
Adopt South African models and knowledge to solve the country’s unemployment rate.
Develop and own a South African shipping fleet for economic growth.
Develop a seafarers’ culture and create employment opportunities for qualified South African seafarers.
Develop a career path plan.
Build the fishing industry to accommodate SA seafarers.
Strengthen the capacity of the SA Agulhas to use it as a training vessel for South African seafarers.
Integrate technological advancements in the industry.
The eyes of the maritime sector globally turn their focus on Monday onto the role of one of the most critical key role players in the field, seafarers – upon whose shoulders the movement of ships of all sizes as well as safety of global goods trade rests.
It is observance internationally of the Day of the Seafarer (DosT) in South Africa for the first time, the event led by the Department of Transport (DoT), with assistance by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will be marked simultaneously in the three coastal cities of Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, beginning from about 9am.
Deputy Transport Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga (Left) and (former) Transport Minister Mr Joe Masangwanyi (Right ) with Ayanda Miya and Mluleki Khwela – two of the SA Agulhas cadets that returned with the vessel from a trip to Antarctica over 80 days in November 2017 to January 2018. They were invited for the opening of South Africa’s Parliament in
Two of the SA Agulhas 20 cadets that returned with the vessel earlier this year, Ayanda Miya and Mluleki Khwela with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the opening of 2018 installment of the sitting of South African Parliament in February
Young cadets returning from a three months sojourn into the Antarctica in 2018
Participants are expected to include several role players in the country’s maritime sector inclusive of government agencies, shipping and related company representatives, higher education and related institutions, seafarers and others.
And central to the events, in addition to messages both by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Department of Transport, will be a round-table session (Duban) and panel discussions (Port Elizabeth and Cape Town) on matters affecting seafarers.
(For a preview of the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga’s full message for DosT pre-recorded earlier, and for that of the IMO, Click on the videos below)
According to the DoT, for this reason, the South African Day of the Seafarer event will have as its supportive domestic theme: “A Dialogue with the South African Seafarer on the Day of the Seafarer.”
Reflecting on how the annual observation of the seafarers day came about eight years ago, the department says the IMO designated 25 June as the international Day of the Seafarer “as a way to recognize that almost everything that we use in our daily lives has been directly or indirectly affected by sea transport.
“International shipping transports more than 90 percent of global trade to peoples and communities all over the world and about 20 million containers are traveling across the oceans every day.
“Driven by the IMO together with partner countries including South Africa, this year’s Seafarers Day celebration theme is “seafarers’ well-being”. IMO asserts that the year 2017 and 2018 have seen strong momentum in the industry to address seafarer’s well-being, particularly their mental health.” says the DoT
Also noting that “South Africa, as a member of IMO has traditionally supported and participated in the Seafarers Day celebration,” the department says the country’s approach this year to include a stakeholder dialogue as part of the observation is intended to ensure that seafarers are not just celebrated, but also given opportunity to share their owns views about matters that impact their profession.
“The Department of Transport wants to create a platform to engage with seafarers in order to better understand the challenges they are facing and together to develop responses to the identified challenges. The purpose of participation is to create awareness about the role of seafarers and to inculcate the seafaring culture and excellence in South Africa.
“The IMO encourages governments, shipping organizations, companies, ship owners and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote the Day of the Seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully,” it says.
Monday’s observation of the Day of the Seafarer in South Africa in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban will then have its main goals; the initiation of a dialogue with the country’s seafarers, with the intention to find possible solutions on how to tackle challenges they may be faced with, but also provide ideas and projects to improve seafarers prospects for placement on ships worldwide and related opportunities, says the DoT.
Captain Pretty Molefe
Captain Tsepo Motloutsi
TRAILBLAZERS: The Department of Maritime Studies has teamed up with industry and the College of Cape Town to train marine engineering students in workshop skills which are needed before they start working on ships
Notably, the DoT says it also wants to focus attention on the role of especially female seafarers and about whom it says, remain under represented in the shipping subsector.
“The Department of Transport will use the Seafarers Day to launch an annual platform of engagement on issues affecting seafarers including promotion of female seafarers. Shipping is one such wherein women constitute a very miniscule part of the shipboard workforce.
“The Seafarers day is a great opportunity for seafarers and maritime professionals in general from all sectors to promote and raise awareness of the value of seafaring culture and practice including training and development. The industry still foresees a shortfall of skilled, licensed officers and engineers in future years.
In keeping with modern communication trends, two hashtags are being used to highlight the event: #SupportSeafarersWellbeing through dialogue and #GoodDayatSea
According to the DoT, The first hashtag can be used by shipping companies and others within the industry, “to show how they create opportunities and decent working environment for seafarers and how they address mental health issues among their seagoing staff.
“The second hashtag can be used to engage the general public, to wish them a good day at sea and encourage seafarers to share photos of themselves in a positive work environment.”
Meanwhile, in support of the ‘dialogue’ aspect of the observation, a couple of weeks ago SAMSA launched an initiative involving video interviews with local and international seafarers currently in South Africa, but also a social media initiative encouraging seafarers anywhere else to share their stories.
Ahead of and in marking the Day of the Seafarer, a few of them spoke out about their love and challenges of being a seafarer
International seafarers in South Africa sharing their experiences of the job as part of Day of the Seafarers 2018 celebrations
In the video interview series dubbed: “In Conversation with Seafarers – In celebration of Seafarers’ Day 2018′ 10 seafarers ( five female and five male including three international) shared their joys as well as frustrations that they experience in the profession, yet with most stating that seafaring is remains their first love and so it shall remain for a while yet.
To view the interviews (averaging 15 minutes each) go to the “Day of the Seafarer 2018” page or Click Here.
Of Monday’s Day of the Seafarer observation event nationally, in addition to traditional media coverage, SAMSA’s news information online platforms, inclusive of social media, will share news and information flowing from the events on a regular basis throughout the day. In addition, this blog will provide a comprehensive multi media report, inclusive of interviews with some of the participants, from late afternoon on Monday through to Tuesday.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has expressed sadness at the confirmed death of a South African seafarer, Mr Stephen John Bouch of Johannesburg on board a Maersk Line cargo vessel that caught ablaze in the Arabian Sea near Oman a week ago.
Mr Bouch, 53, a veteran seafarer was believed to be among four missing crew members of the Maersk Honam cargo vessel that caught alight on Tuesday last week while en route from Singapore to the Suez in Egypt.
At the time of the incident, the vessel had 27 crew on board of which 23 were evacuated. One crew member, a Thai national, had passed away due to injuries sustained while four others remained missing until on Monday after three of the bodies were found, Maersk Line reported.
According to the shipping company’s statement, the three bodies found had not yet been identified and the search for the fourth person, now presumed dead, was continuing.
It was not clear on Tuesday whether the South African seafarer, Mr Bouch was among those whose bodies had been found, since no identity had been established of any of the bodies.
In Pretoria on Tuesday, SAMSA which had been in touch with all relevant authorities as well as the affected family since reports of the incident last week, expressed sadness at the turn of events involving the death of Mr Bouch and the other sailors.
In a statement SAMSA said: “The South African Maritime Safety Authority joins the South African maritime fraternity in mourning the loss of seafarers on board the Maersk Honam.
“South Africa has lost Mr Stephen John Bouch, of Johannesburg. Our condolences goes to his family, colleagues and fellow seafarers.”
According to SAMSA, Mr Bouch was a qualified and experienced Marine Engineer with seafarer certificates inclusive of a Certificate of Competency as an Officer in Charge of Engineering Watch or Designated Duty Engineer for which he Qualified 24 June 1991.
He had been an employee of Safmarine, later becoming part of Maersk, for the most part of his life.
SAMSA said during his time with Safmarine (Maersk), he worked and mentored many other young South African officers.
A South African seafarer has been confirmed dead along with three other crew members of a Maersk Line ship container that caught on fire in the Arabian Sea a week ago.
According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), the name of the South African seafarer is Mr Stephen Bouch, a marine engineer from Johannesburg.
On Monday, Maersk Line, owners and operators of the container ship named Maersk Honam that caught on fire at sea some 900 km south of Oman while sailing from Singapore to the Suez last Tuesday, confirmed that three bodies of the four crew members who had been lost inside the vessel during an evacuation, were found in the vessel.
A fourth crew member of the container ship had not yet been found, but was also presumed dead, said Maersk Line Chief Operating Officer, Søren Toft.
It was not clear if Mr Bouch was among the three bodies found or might be the one whose body is still missing.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce that the human remains of three of the four missing crew members after the fire aboard Maersk Honam have been found on board the vessel. At this point in time our three colleagues are unidentified,” said Mr Toft
He said: “Given the time passed and the severe fire damages of the vessel we must conclude by now that we have lost all four colleagues who have been missing since the fire onboard Maersk Honam which began on 6 March. All four families of our deceased colleagues have been informed.
“Our most heartfelt condolences go out to families of our deceased colleagues. We share their sorrow and do our outmost to support them in this devastating time,” said Mr Toft in the statement.
A thorough search on board the Maersk Honam would continue, said Mr Toft adding that active search and rescue mission at sea would however be terminated.
A week ago, the company had confirmed that among the four crew members missing was a South African seafarer. The four were among a crew of 27 manning the vessel during its voyage when the massive blaze broke out of a cargo hold.
The 27 crew members were mostly from India (13), the Phillipines (9), Romania (1), South Africa (1), Thailand (2) and the United Kingdom (1).
Twenty three of the seafarers were successfully evacuated a while after the ship caught fire after it had become clear they could not contain the blaze themselves and called for assistance.
One of the 23 evacuated sailors, a Thai national, was reported eventually to have succumbed to his injuries last week while the rest of the crew was transferred to hospitals in India for treatment.
SAMSA which on behalf of South Africa, has declared itself a “substantially interested party” in the matter, said it would maintain contact with all relevant authorities while investigation of the incident continue.
These include the Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB) of the Singapore Transport Ministry which confirmed the launch of an investigation a week ago. The Maersk Line vessel built a year ago with a nominal capacity of 15 262 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit), is registered in Singapore.
Now also confirmed to be involved in the investigation is the India Marine Police, said Maersk Line on Monday.
The shipping company said in terms of the rest of the surviving crew of the Maersk Honam , all were recovering well and some had already been released from hospital.
“On land, the medical conditions of the evacuated crew members are progressing positively. All 22 have received medical treatment and the majority have been released from hospitals. Colleagues who initially received intensive care have been moved to a general ward and are recovering well. A crisis psychologist has been made available to all crew.
“Our colleagues that were evacuated to local hospitals in varying conditions of health are improving and we are now preparing to bring them back to their families as their condition allows,” said Mr Palle Laursen, Chief Technical Officer for Maersk Line.
A process for the further standardization and conversion of certificates issued to South African seafarers, including certificates for persons working on fishing and other local vessels is underway, the South African Maritime Safety Authority announced this week.
SAMSA says the revalidation now due affects precisely South African seafarers holding Certificates of Competency and/or Proficiency issued in accordance with regulations repealed by the Merchant Shipping (Safe Manning, Training and Certification) Regulations, 2013.
These include groups of certificates in the categories of Marine Motorman, Fisherman, Port Operations and Radio Certificates. In these categories, according to a schedule released with the MN No.16, there are as many as 31 different seafarer operations certificates due for revalidation.
Changes in certificates titles
SAMSA says among highly significant issues with the announced revalidation is that a majority of the seafarers’ certificates are changes in titles, in accordance with Regulations.
The 31 listed certificates for revalidation all carry news titles.
But in addition, says SAMSA, holders of certificates previously covered under Marine Notice 24 of 2016 (Applications for new Manila Compliant Certificates) may continue applying for their certificates as required to keep their certificates valid for service.
Meanwhile, in terms of the requirement now due to for re-validation of certificates in the categories highlighted, SAMSA says seafarers holding the certificates listed shall re-validate at five (5) yearly intervals with applications for re-validation acceptable from six (6) months before expiry.
“During the application for re-validation/conversion, candidates must select the appropriate new title of the certificate as set out in the equivalency table in Regulation 115 and summarized in the Annexure issued,” says SAMSA’s Chief Examiner – Mr Azwimmbavhi Mulaudzi.
“To be issued with the new format certificates, seafarers holding certificates listed in the Annexure of the Schedule posted on the SAMSA website, shall apply using appropriate forms found in all SAMSA offices countrywide, and on the website.
“Information, other than course certificates, submitted as prima facie evidence of the candidate being complied with the requirements for the new certificates must be in accordance with Paragraph 4 of GOP-506 – Revalidation of a Certificate of Competency
“Furthermore, all applications shall be submitted at the nearest SAMSA office, and applications submitted to the Head Office will be assigned to a port office. Candidates applying shall use the latest forms available on the SAMSA website.”
Mr Mulaudzi says SAMSA will continue to accept applications and process, for first issue of the certificates, under the repealed Regulations, until 31 December 2018, except for Certificates of Competency which require candidates to complete their written examinations at SAMSA.
He says the last application for the Certificate of Competency which includes the written examination is scheduled for 15 October 2018 to allow such to be processed, while the last written examination at SAMSA shall be on or before 25 November 2018
Candidates being assessed successfully during this period shall be issued with the equivalent new format interim certificate as well as the final certificate.
According to Mr Mulaudzi, applications for re-validation and conversion may be made from next Monday, 21 August 2017.
He says, otherwise all certificates to which the issued Marine Notice applies, other than Short Range Radio Operators Certificates, shall remain valid for service until 31 December 2018
“Certificates for Long Range shall remain valid for a period of five (5) years from the date of issue, i.e. not valid beyond 31 July 2022, except that certificates issued on or before 31 December 2013 shall remain valid until 31 December 2018.”
For further info, affected and or interested people may view the MN No.16 on the SAMSA website, or alternatively make inquiries with the Chief Examiner through the following email address: email@example.com.
Four cargo vessels now in the country’s register, with about a dozen more due for registration in the next few months!
Port Elizabeth: 14 July 2016
South Africa’s drive to expand growth and economic opportunity in the country’s maritime economic sector is steadily gaining pace with one campaign of the broad Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) strategy – the local registration of trade cargo shipping vessels under the country’s flag, gaining ground.
This became evident in Port Elizabeth this week when on Wednesday afternoon, the fourth so far of an estimated dozen international cargo vessels due for registration, had raised and held aloft at its stern for the first time, South Africa’s flag for its identity.
The MT Lefkas, a bunker (ship fuelling) vessel, is owned by Greek shipping fleet group, Aegean; and will be officially stationed at the port of Port Elizabeth, to supply fuel at sea to vessels sailing along Africa’s southern oceans.
For Aegean, the registration in South Africa of the R200-million worth bunkering vessel measuring some 102.5 meters, with a gross tonnage of 4580; is a kick-off to a medium to long term investment in the country involving a capital layout of about R1.6-billion, and which will involve two more vessels; according to regional manager Mr Kosta Argyros.
He said the MT Lefkas, with a capacity of some 6.8-million litres of oil, will effectively be the runner between the Aegean’s other bigger tanker station offshore along the Eastern Cape coast and passing fleets requiring fuel supplies.
According to Mr Argyros, the positioning of the Greek’s bunkering services vessels in the Eastern Cape coastal area is based also on projections of significant growth in oceans based cargo which, he said, would see an increase of as many as 300 trade vessels in the region in the near future.
However, for South Africa’s broader economy, the addition of the vessel to the country’s steadily yet progressively growing stock of locally registered cargo vessels – now numbering four since September 2015 – will expand opportunities for a whole range of ocean economy businesses, but also critically, provide berths for the training of seafarers.
Mr Argyros confirmed: “The registration of the “MT Lefkas” and other vessels that will follow is significant towards the employment of the South African seafarers. Every vessel has extra accommodation that allows for the training and development of cadets.
“The registration of the vessel is not restricted to the bunkering operation only but also introduces many economic benefits for the people of Port Elizabeth such as surveying, offshore services and crew changes” he said.
According to Mr Argyros, these and a whole range of additional business opportunities could generate as much as R5-million for Port Elizabeth’s local economy in a given time period and in the process, create more additional employment opportunities for the local communities, thereby spreading the income benefit.
Port of Port Elizabeth Manager, Mr. Rajesh Dana added: “The Port of Port Elizabeth is proud and honoured to be the registered home port for the Aegean vessel, MT LEFKAS. We congratulate Aegean for the registration of the vessel on the South African flag and look forward to the opportunities that this will present to Nelson Mandela Bay and South Africa.
“This historic event is significant to the Port of Port Elizabeth and South Africa at large as it marks the catalytic growth in the South African Ship Registry and once again highlights Nelson Mandela Bay’s attractiveness as a Maritime City and its potential to exploit the Blue Oceans Economy,” he said.
(For Mr Dana’s remarks, Click Below)…..
With the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) charged by Government with responsibility for developing and expanding the country’s stock of locally registered vessels carrying the country’s flag, the organization’s acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi was on hand on Wednesday to witness and welcome the hoisting of the South Africa flag on the Greek owned vessel at the port of Port Elizabeth
Mr Sobantu said the positioning of the Aegean vessel in Port Elizabeth was with meeting a number of socio economic objectives among which was to strategically expand the location of fuel resources placement in the country, and which up to now, had been largely (66%) confined to the port of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
Mr Tilayi, flanked by the Mayor of Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay metro), Dr Danny Jordaan and port of Port Elizabeth manager Mr Rajesh Dana, said the development and operationalization of the Ngqurha deep water port also in Port Elizabeth had opened up opportunity for expansion of transshipment of not only South African goods, but that of the whole of southern Africa.
“This helps reposition this whole (Eastern Cape) region to become an important transshipment hub for the entire southern African region.
He added: “Port Elizabeth has a very big potential as a services port for a whole range of maritime economic activities, including cruise (leisure) vessels because of its strategic positioning geographically but also because of the geolocation of the two ports which among other things, enjoy significant protection from weather and ocean currents related conditions,” he said.
(For Mr Tilayi:s full remarks, Click Below)
Also welcoming the Aegean business operation’s location in Port Elizabeth, Dr Jordaan said the development was an indication of the progressive achievement of the objectives of the country’s Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) initiative launched in 2014, and which he said, placed the Eastern Cape coastal city central to efforts to rejuvenate the country’s maritime economic sector.
Dr Jordaan echoed words of encouragement to especially local business to take advantage of emerging opportunities linked to investment such as that of the Greek shipping company now based in the city.
(For Dr Jordaan’s video clip, please Click Here)
And for the formal flagging of the Aegean owned bunkering services vessel, the MT Lefkas, Click Here)
Centre for Seafarers commits to meeting December 2016 deadline with new version certificates
Pretoria: 04 July 2016
Hiccups experienced over the past few weeks with the issuance of newly revised seafarer certificates should soon be history following to anticipated successful upgrade of software systems, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) said in Pretoria on Monday.
SAMSA’s Chief Examiner at the Centre for Seafarers, Captain Azwimmbavhi Mulaudzi said delays were experienced due to information technology infrastructure problems and quality assurance issues, leading to backlogs in the issuance of seafarer certificates.
The revised certificates covering a whole range of seafarer skills levels are being issued in terms of the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention (Manila Amendments) effective from May 2016.
In terms of these, all certificates issued by SAMSA prior to the Manila Amendments, in terms of The Merchant Shipping (Training and Certification) Regulations (1999 as amended) would expire at the end of 2016.
A Marine Notice (No.24 of 2016) to the effect was published by SAMSA on 24 May 2016, advising all affected parties of the need for affected band of seafarers to renew or revalidate their certificates prior to their expiry date on 31 December 2016.
According to the notice (available on SAMSA’s website) applicants could use any number of ways to lodge their applications including delivering them in person or via a proxy to any of SAMSA’s offices countrywide, or filing their application online especially if they are out at sea or abroad.
At the time of the issuance of the Marine Notice, SAMSA anticipated issuing out as a matter of top priority, as many as 2300 Certificates of Competency and about 4000 Certificates of Proficiency compliant with the new Manila Amendments by December 2016.
This would be followed in sequence by as many as 5000 local certificates for fishing and port operations
On Monday, Captain Mulaudzi said a few hundred applications had been received from seafarers since publication of the Marine Notice, but then SAMSA’s IT infrastructure ‘hit a snag’ that had led to “frustrating” delays in the roll out of new certificates.
Captain Mulaudzi said SAMSA had noted reports that some employers had begun to place on unpaid leave seafarers who were affected by the delays.
“SAMSA’s Centre for Seafarers would like to update the South African seafarers, including foreign seafarers holding South African certificates, on the progress being made in issuing their certificates.
“SAMSA is mindful of the fact that it is six months to go to the deadline set in the STCW Convention in the issuing of the new Manila Compliant Certificates. We are also aware of the seafarers who have applied for their certificates more than two months ago and have yet to receive them. We are also concerned about reports that employers are starting to place seafarers on unpaid leave if they are not holding these certificates.
“We would like to assure fellow seafarers that every effort is being made to ensure that no seafarer is further disadvantaged by the delays we are experiencing. Being mindful that this has become an urgent matter to all seafarers, SAMSA will, in the interim be prioritizing certificates for those seafarers who are being placed on unpaid leave.
“Seafarers who are facing loss of income during the month of July 2016 should inform the SAMSA office where they made their applications. The relevant office will advise the Chief Examiner and the Registrar of Seafarers, to prioritize the certificates of those seafarers. SAMSA will then be able to increase the priority of that application,” said Captain Mulaudzi.
He further issued and assurance that the backlog will be cleared by the end of July 2016. However, for those seeking any further clarity or wishing simply to make an inquiry, they may direct these to the following:
SAMSA Media and Communications officer Tebogo Ramatjie, or