Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 31, 2005
Author: P&S

P&O Ports faces takeover

First it was the P&O cruise operations that were hived off to American interests. Then came P&O Nedlloyd which was sold to the AP Moller/Maersk Group and which is to fully amalgamate early next year when the names P&O and Nedlloyd will both disappear from the lists of container shipping.

Now it may be the turn of P&O Ports, the terminal operator and stevedore specialist, which is facing a bid from Dubai Ports World, the world’s sixth largest port operator.

Dubai is set to offer £3 billion sterling (no pun intended) for Britain’s largest ports and ferry group. That’s a fact, but if you are interested in the other rumours, AP Moller/Maersk (APM) Terminals and Hutchison Whampoa and even one or two others might take a stab with better offers.

Banking sources in Dubai reported at the weekend that Deutsche Bank had been hired by Dubai Ports to advise it on the purchase offer. Needless to say all parties concerned are declining to comment but shares in the P&O Group rocketed by 40% today on the news of the bid.

Dubai Ports World is a new company, having been formed out of Dubai Ports Authority and Dubai Ports International less than a month ago. It currently has interests in 15 international terminals and the acquisition of P&O Ports, which controls 27 terminal operations in 18 countries worldwide, will add strong value.
Early in 2005 Dubai Ports acquired the American and international port terminal operator CSX.

P&O Ports is represented in South Africa via port operations and stevedore functions and the container terminal at Maputo, MIPS, is operated under a concession by the company.

Stay 200 miles off Somalia, warns MARAD

Ships should stay at least 200 nautical miles from the Somalia coast because of rampant piracy from the Horn of Africa country.

That’s the warning issued by the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) in an advisory dated Friday, 28 October 2005. In its advisory MARAD warns about false distress calls, saying that caution should be exercised when responding to distress calls in the area, as this is a tactic employed by the pirates.

Reports from Kenya following a number of that nation’s ships being highjacked while delivering food aid to Somalia in recent months indicate that the highjackers have a system of intelligence involving ships sailing from neighbouring countries, and appear to have knowledge of the ship and its destination.

Madagascar cruise ship arrives

The diminutive cruise ship Madagascar sailed into Durban under grey skies and calm seas on Saturday (29 October) after completing a long delivery voyage all the way from Odessa in the northern Black Sea.

Sailing down the East African coast the ship encountered heavy weather in the Indian Ocean but came through unscathed and on arrival off Durban’s North breakwater on Saturday she looked remarkably impressive in her livery of a dark blue hull and white superstructure.

Internally we are told the ship still has some refurbishment to complete with the finishing touches being added in Durban before her cruise itinerary starts in earnest on 11 November.

See the full report in the CRUISE NEWS & REVIEWS SECTION of Ports & Ships

Salvage of Umfolozi begins

The Ocean Africa Container Lines vessel Umfolozi, which sank in Walvis Bay harbour on 17 September, is in the process of being salvaged, but having been declared a constructive total loss the ship will in all likelihood be taken away for scrapping.

Umfolozi was built in 1982 and was under charter to Durban-based Ocean Africa on the coastal service between Durban and the West Coast. The ship collided with the NPA dredger Ingwenya outside the harbour at around midnight on Friday 16 September, but with the aid of harbour tugs was able to get back to port before sinking alongside the container berth in relatively shallow water. A number of containers on board were submerged with the ship. (See our news report dated 17 September 2005)

Doria goes into dock

In another incident on the West Coast the Ocean Africa Container Lines ship Doria grounded herself off Angola but was able to return safely to Durban with cargo intact and under her own ‘steam,’ where the ship entered the Eldock floating dock today.

The work on assessing the damage to the vessel’s hull and effecting repairs is expected to take at least a month, and with the loss of Umfolozi at Walvis Bay (see story above) it means things are somewhat stretched for the coastal container service.

However Ocean Africa is due to take delivery during November of another container ship they are naming Limpopo, which will be timeous when she enters service at Cape Town on or about the middle of the month.

Big light up at Coega tomorrow

Tuesday night (Tuesday) will be ‘lights on’ for the new industrial development zone park at Coega, north of Port Elizabeth.

That’s when the big switch-on takes place, before an assembly of dignitaries and invited guests to witness the completion of a three year R194 million electrical supply project.

The adjacent port of Ngqura is nearing completion and should be capable of taking its first ship before the year is out, although ancillary terminal operations mean that the port will not be pressed immediately into service. Ngqura will have two berths for containers and another two for breakbulk and dry bulk cargo working as well as a tanker berth in its initial phase.

Several container lines are known to be anxious to use Ngqura as a regional container hub for their respective trades.

Clipper Race update

When the skippers were researching this race, they saw much data about the general anticlockwise air flow rotating around the central South Atlantic High. This has lead to the current fleet course and the overall closeness of the ten boats. This is probably about to change. Tomorrow the fleet is likely to be in the transition zone between weather systems, with the low pressure system shown off to the south west effectively pushing the high pressure cell to the south, leaving a large area of not very much breeze in its place. This breeze will be very variable in direction too, not conducive to the steady runs which the yachts have been experiencing over the last couple of days.

There seems to be a significant split already in the fleet overnight. The detailed chart in the leaderboard section shows that the wind is coming from directly behind the yachts, and this has lead some to go on port gybe, with the wind off the port side of their stern, and the others on starboard gybe. The three boats which have gone north on port gybe, Victoria, Cardiff and Durban, have lost out on miles to the finish in the short term, but will be hoping that the next 24 to 36 hours gives them stronger breeze in the north. The two leading yachts, Western Australia and Jersey, have managed to make good runs in almost the right direction, as has Qingdao. These three all started off in roughly the same southerly side of the fleet at 16.00 GMT yesterday, which would indicate that the breeze was at a slightly kinder angle to them, allowing them to sail their direct course.

New York, Glasgow, Singapore and Liverpool seem to have been forced south. With the exception of New York they have had 12 hour runs of approximately 10 miles less than the rest of the fleet, which is usually a sign of less local. This illustrates the transitory nature of the zones between pressure systems – a difference in location of only 5 to 10 miles can mean a significant change in wind speed or direction, which is not obvious at all from large scale meteorological forecast charts. The crew and skippers on board those yachts will not be slackening off, however, as they know that with the coming messy wind situation the boats that have been immediately luckier can have it all reversed.

There is one more thing that has changed – the close group of New York, Durban and Victoria has bombshelled completely, with Joff Bailey deciding to take New York down to join Singapore and Qingdao – they will be just visible to each other from the tops of their masts!

- this report courtesy Clipper Ventures

Did you know that Ports & Ships lists ship movements for all ports between Walvis Bay on the West Coast and Beira on the East Coast

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