Sunday, 25 March 2012


Postings have been a bit sparse, as the AM's talented wife has been sent on an international posting for four months - domestic tasks are to the fore and blogging to the back of the queue for a bit.

Having snatched a couple of hours this morning for a ride on the Street Triple, AM was pissed off to find one of his favourite 'scratch' roads had been downgraded from 100km/h to 80 km/h in "the interests of road safety". This road is three lanes wide (one downhill, two uphill to allow passing of slow vehicles), fully laid in smooth asphalt with wide, sweeping corners.

Which leads to the core of this post - rules which are culturally 'incompatible' with the constituency being controlled. AM heard a very stimulating address by Daniel Hannan, MEP for Southern England. The premise of his address was that Britain's constitution laws are founded in principles for which people had fought (and died) for, whereas Brussels created European laws founded in administrative expediency. The cultural dissonance, and general distrust of administrative rule-making, was posed by Hannan as a major reason for the UK's repudiation of the EU's hegemony.

Which segues straight to the now 80 km/h Whittlesea - Kinglake Rd in Victoria. The regulator has deemed that for the general public good, the speed limit shall be lowered by 20 km/h. The road users (observed by the AM this morning) do not believe that the lowering of the speed limit by 20 km/h contributes their safety or well being and continue to travel at 100km/h.

Another example is the urban shopping strip where the AM lives. This section of dual carriage , divided road has had the speed limit reduced to 40 km/h Monday to Saturday. This section of road adjoins a school zone, also speed limited to 40 km/h. Road users drop their speed through the school zone, but not the shopping zone. Road users have rationalised that children pose a real hazard while the speed reduction in the shopping zone is social policy masquerading as a safety initiative.

And finally, MacQuarie Airports levying car parking rates of $54 per day on motorcycles at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport, motorcycles which can co-coincidentally ride around the barriers at the exit gate. Enforce that, scum!

Which leads the AM to conclude that any rule which is not capable of being culturally, self-enforced by the constituency being controlled will be resented and flouted.

Rules consistent with cultural self-enforcement - drink driving, smoking in public places, safety interventions where someone is putting themselves in harm's way. Rules inconsistent with cultural self-enforcement - parking regulations (especially at airports), arbitrary speed limits inconsistent with the hazards being controlled and rationalised by 'the ruled' as being petty, "chicken shit" infractions.

Relating this truth to the maritime environment, it is inevitable that the latest high profile casualties will lead to more rules which will be codified into ever more bloated shipboard Safety Management Systems. A request to all Designated Persons Ashore and SMS Administrators - apply the cultural self-enforcement test to any new edict and ask yourself 'would I intervene to enforce this?'

The Antipodean Mariner

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Wrong Bike

After 18 months of the sequentially monogamous bliss caning the Street Triple through the urban jungle, The Antipodean Mariner is being seduced by the 'virtual infidelity' of a new bike.

With the sun beaming down on Melbourne for Grand Prix weekend, AM took a Triumph Sprint GT for a test ride around a test course of the industrial docklands. Mercifully free of traffic on a weekend, boogie time on a Saturday morning with the chaperon of one of the dealership's riders.

While the Sprint GT is a fabulous package of engine, hard luggage and ABS, the bike didn't light the AM's fire to the point of saying 'I do' at the alter of automotive consumerism. The stretch across the tank to the handlebars was just too uncomfortable when weighed up against a reality of a daily 70km commute. The AM has the luxury of two bikes covering the spectrum of city weapon (Street Triple) to luxury tourer (BMW K1100LT) so a high benchmark has been set.

The Triumph Tiger 1050 looks nice, but the dealership has just sold its current demonstrator. Maybe this is the one? More news next week as the Dealer shakes the distributor's tree to see what falls out.


Monday, 12 March 2012

Heavy lift accident

A photo has emerged on the 'Net of of the heavy lift vessel 'BBC Coral' which has had something go badly wrong during commissioning of her cranes. BBC Coral is one of a series of vessel being built at Jiangzhou Union Shipbuilding for BBC Chartering, a specialist project and heavy lift operator.

The vessel is scheduled to be delivered from the Yard in April and as part of the pre-commissioning as crane test load is applied - typically using a pontoon ballasted with seawater.

What the photo has captured is the grey ballast pontoon lying half on the dock and ship with the equalizing beam, used to spread the weight between the two deck cranes connected to the after crane.

The jib of the forward crane has 'detached' from the pedestal and is lying half submerged on the dock. The Shipyard doesn't make the cranes, installing then to the ship's structure under the direction of the Manufacturer. Some serious questions for the Crane Makers?

Photo credit: Shipping Newsclippings (Piet Sinke)


Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ore Fabrica and Ore Itagaui

Magellan, AM's eyes in Subic Bay, sent a quick note and photo last night of the operation in the inner harbour;

As of the evening of 9 March, the Ore Fabrica has discharged half her cargo into the Vale daughter vessel Ore Itaquai. Tugs have been kept standby all through - more as a safety precaution, since Ore Fabrica is currently anchored inside Subic Bay's inner anchorage - just off the Kalaklan light house. The early operation with Vale Brasil and Ore Pantanal was done in outer anchorage (south of Grande island)

The daughter vessel (Ore Itagaui) is towards us in the picture, and the Ore Fabrica is away from us. The daughter vessel will always be on the port side of the Fabrica, as that is where the shiploader is.

Tracking the 'comings and goings' at Subic Bay using Lloyd's List Intelligence, Vale are 18 days into the first (Vale Brasil) trans-shipment operation. The second vessel, Vale China, has been at anchor since 25th February (15 days now). While Ore Fabrica is a technological 'tour de force', the AM believes that the Beijing mandarins will be well satisfied at their handiwork.

As an aside, China's media are this week reporting that the Port of Dalian has opened it's new 400,000 DWT ore terminal. Somewhat ironic that China has been the beneficiary of the real financial investment in the construction of the ChinaMax ships, the conversion of the trans-loader Ore Fabrica and the construction of a 400,000 DWT ore port.

How many times can the ticket get clipped?

Antipodean Mariner

Friday, 9 March 2012

Beira Commissioning

The new coal terminal at Beira, Mozambique has finally been commissioned for both inward coal receival from rail and outward loading to ship. The terminal's first ocean-going vessel 'Sea Loyalty', on her maiden voyage, has berthed and loaded coking coal for steel mills in Japan.

A colleague of the AM sent through these pictures of Sea Loyalty loading the first export cargo under the quadrant ship loaders on Berth 8. Some coal has been exported using 'skip loading' at a general cargo berth and Coeclerici's 'Bulk Zambesi' has loaded for trans-shipment at Berth 8.

The two quadrant ship-loaders at work

Sea Loyalty alongside Quay 8

Hard coking coal for steelmaking

'Kanchana Naree' loading coal from skips

The Antipodean Mariner

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Release of the interim Rena report

TAIC's interim report on the grounding of Rena has been released today and has been widely reported in the New Zealand media. This posting is for the wider readership and there are several stories with comment and analysis on the wire services.

Despite being an interim, the report appears to identify most of the contributing factors. The vessel lost time on her schedule in Napier, due to another vessel having a priority for the berth and stevedores. When she sailed from Napier, reporting an ETA Tauranga of 0230 on the 5th, the Master shortened the course around the Mahia Peninsular to make up time.

At midnight on October 5th, Port Control told the Second Mate that the ship's ETA of 0300 at the Pilot Station was right at the end of the tidal window for entry. Between 0100 and 0200, the course was progressively altered to port in small increments.

Although it appears Astrolabe Reef intermittently showed up on the radar, the absence of an 0200 position plot on the chart meant the bridge team didn't appreciate what the 'paint' was. At 0214, as the Master was making his way to the chart room to plot the ship's position, Rena grounded at 17 knots.

Chart of the Bay of Plenty and the vessel's track from TAIC's Interim Report

While the Master and Second Officer are squarely in the gun, the Antipodean Mariner continues to hope that TAIC's full report will look at the overt commercial pressures put on Masters to meet schedules published weeks earlier by Owners and Charterers. One thing for certain is that the Master and Second Officer will probably spend a lifetime asking themselves on how they ended up on Astrolabe Reef.


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Bits and Pieces

Vale Beijing is passing Capetown, on her way to the Cape of Good Hope and then Sohar to discharge. Drydock in the Arabian Gulf will follow and hopefully a detailed explanation on the cause of the hull failure. The screen shot was taken from MarineTraffic AIS and posted from the AM's Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet.

Ore Pantanal has discharged her ore cargo in Kaohsiung and returned to Subic Bay for another. Ore Fabrica is rafted up with Ore Itaguai inside Subic Bay while Vale China remains at anchor outside. Ocean Creation, the Cape believed to have been the next trans-shipper, may turn out to be a 'red herring' as her position is shown as tied up at the Keppel repair yard at the head of the bay. She appears to be trading Brasil - Asia in ore but may just in for a scheduled dry-docking?

The initial report on Rena's grounding will be released (sans analysis into the cause of the grounding) on Thursday 8th March (NZ's morning) on the TAIC website.


Astrolabe Reef update

Astrolabe Reef has been relatively quiet this weekend with the absence of Smit Borneo. Scheduled maintenance has apparently turned out to be major repairs to the barge's roller fairleads, which lead the anchor wires out to the mooring spread.

With an ETA at Astrolabe Reef not expected before the coming weekend, the Salvors have been cutting up containers in situ and then heli-salvaging the remnants to the barge Pohonui for haulage back to Tauranga.

The McDermott helicopter transferring what remains of an MSC 40 foot container to Pohonui

The AM is guessing that the Salvors are getting down to the dregs now and wonders what the decision-making process is to assess the 'cost to benefit' equation of flying off small pieces of scrap metal from a big piece of scrap metal?


Monday, 5 March 2012

Analyst's report on Subic Trans-shipment

Commodore Research, a US brokerage, issued their Dry Bulk weekly report today which contained analysis of Vale's Malaysian and Subic transhipment hub strategy. Read with the AM's posting (Subic Sitrep, Feb 29th), maybe someone at Commodore follows this blog?

Iron Ore Transshipment Finally Completed - Commodore Research (5/3/12)

Vale’s Philippines floating iron ore transshipment hub, also known as the Ore Fabrica, has successfully completed its first iron ore transshipment. The first smaller Capesize vessel to leave the Ore Fabrica laden with iron ore is the 179,000 dwt Ore Pantanal.

The Ore Pantanal was loaded with iron ore from the Vale Brasil (the first VLOC to arrive at the Ore Fabrica) last week. The Ore Pantanal then set sail to deliver its cargo to buyers in Taiwan. A second VLOC, the Vale China, has also arrived but has not berthed alongside the Ore Fabrica as the Vale Basil has not left yet.

Another capesize vessel, the 300,000 dwt Ore Itaguai, is also still waiting to be loaded with iron ore. In addition, the 207,000 dwt Ocean Creation, which is sailing from Japan, is expected to arrive this week.

Overall, the use of this transshipment hub continues to be beneficial for the capsize market as it helps employ extra capesize vessels. In addition, transshipment is taking much longer than planned. The Ore Fabrica was previously announced as being capable of loading 5,000 tons of iron ore per hour, which would result in 180,000 tons of iron ore from a laden VLOC being loaded into a capesize vessel in about 36 hours.

12 days passed, however, before the Ore Pantanal was loaded with iron ore from the Vale Brasil and able to set sail to deliver the iron ore cargo to buyers in Taiwan.

The Antipodean Mariner

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Storm passes

The bad weather lashing New Zealand's north has passed over Astrolabe Reef and Rena has been remained unmoved. In comparison to the January storm which brought in heavy swells from the north, this storm came from the west with less fetch for sea and swell to build. No walk in the park though for the standby vessels monitoring the wreck site while 'Smit Borneo' was alongside in Tauranga for repairs and maintenance.

With the decks clear of containers, the Salvors are reported to be cutting into the boxes below decks to unload their contents in situ.

Rena being lashed by Westerly gales at Astrolabe Reef

The Antipodean Mariner

Mozambique blocks Zambesi River coal barging

The Old Coal Loading Dock on the Zambesi River, at Tete Mozambique (AM)

MAPUTO — Mozambique's government has refused to let mining giant Rio Tinto use the Zambezi River to transport coal to the Indian Ocean for export, the deputy mining minister said on Friday

The southern African country's environment ministry worried the operation might harm the ecosystem, Deputy Minister Abdul Razak told AFP.

"For now, according to the information passed on by Micoa (the environment ministry), it is not possible to use the river to export coal," said Razak.

"It is because of the ecosystem. More studies need to be done."

Environmental groups had raised concern about using the river for barge transportation.

The Zambezi flows downward from the Cahora Bassa dam and into the ocean through the Zambezi Delta wetland system, rich with wildlife and birds including some endangered species like the wattled crane.

Infrastructure is the biggest challenge in exploiting the country's massive coal reserves, which have gone largely untapped since independence from Portugal in 1975 due to a civil war that lasted until 1992.

Razak said the Sena railway line to Beira in the centre of the country and the Nacala line in the north were the preferred export routes for coal, which is tucked into the northwestern province of Tete.

But he acknowledged the railroads would not be enough once the mines hit full capacity.

"For now the lines are sufficient for initial coal exports, but we are working with companies eventually to find supplementary means," he said.

Brazilian miner Vale opened a coal mine last year, and has rights to the bulk of the Sena line's capacity. It also owns the controlling share in the Nacala line.

Coal exports are expected to rise 22 percent this year to around $2.3 billion (1.7 billion euros).

Source: AFP, 3rd March 2012

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Tom Price

Mrs Kulkarni asked for some more photos of the ore carrier 'Tom Price'. The AM saw her in Japan recently, when she was about one month from delivery to her Owners, MOL. She has been chartered to an Australian mining company and will trade between the Pilbara and North Asia.

Tom Price is an ore carrier design, optimized to lift the maximum cargo (230,000 tonnes) at the drafts at the ports of Port Hedland, Dampier and Port Walcott. Her sister ship, Pilbara Maru, is under construction and will follow her into service later this year.

The Antipodean Mariner

Friday, 2 March 2012

Storm at Astrolabe Reef

New Zealand is battening down for a storm this weekend, but out at Astrolabe Reef the faithful are maintaining their vigil over the Rena.

Winds are forecast at 40 knots, gusting to 60 knots, and Smit Borneo has been berthed in Tauranga to avoid the worst of the weather.

The calm before the storm - Smit Borneo and Go Canopus (LOC/Maritime NZ)

The condition of the two parts are being monitored as the heavy swells could cause the stern to drop into deeper water - the bow seem to be well grounded and has apparently not moved since October.

Photo: Vaughan Williams, Maritime News Clippings

Any change in status will be posted but this weather system is the worst forecast since Rena sank on 10th January.