Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 14, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • South African ports top 233 million tonnes during 2007

  • Durban Bayhead container terminal goes on hold, says Transnet

  • NYK and Hyundai bring on new joint Asia – South Africa East Coast South America service

  • INTERLUDE… annual maritime ball

  • Feature: Southern Africa’s EBH Group completes extensive repair schedule

  • Tanker explosion in Port Harcourt

  • Coastwatch

  • Pic of the day – ACERGY EAGLE


    South African ports top 233 million tonnes during 2007

    South African ports handled a total of 183.33 million tonnes of cargo for the calendar year 2007 January – December compared with 179.98Mt for the previous year. However, these figures exclude containers which Transnet National Ports Authority records in TEUs and no longer by weight.

    Using a calculation of 13.5 tonnes per TEU, which may be considered as conservative, Ports & Ships has taken into account the containers handled and has adjusted the total tonnage handled by all ports to read 233.44 million tonnes (2006 was 226.11Mt).

    Overall the seven commercial ports increased total tonnage handled by a mere 3.24 percent. Ports recording strong growth were Saldanha and Durban while Richards Bay recorded a lower volume for the second year in succession and Cape Town performed similarly to the previous year.

    It should be stressed these are volume figures and not financial indications of earnings per port which will reflect different results according to commodity volumes handled at each port. In terms of this exercise however the importance of including containers measured in tonnes can be seen with the port of Cape Town. Without this calculation the port is shown as having handled a total of 4.082 million tonnes but when containers are included it reaches 14.396Mt. By comparison Port Elizabeth handled 5.552Mt of cargo without containers (more than Cape Town) but when adjusted this increased to 11.231Mt, about 3Mt less than Cape Town because of a lower container volume.

    It can also be seen that by including containers by weight (as was historically done until recently) the port of Durban is not that far off the tonnage handled by Richards Bay.

    Including the adjusted figure for containers, the respective ports handled the following:

    Cargo handled by tonnes

    Richards Bay                      84.572 million tonnes (2006 – 86.885 Mt)
    Durban                              75.353 Mt (2006 – 73.542 Mt)
    Saldanha Bay                     43.687 Mt (2006 - 37.773 Mt)
    Cape Town                        14.396 Mt (2006 – 14.703 Mt)
    Port Elizabeth                     11.231 Mt (2006 – 10.173 Mt)
    East London                         2.400 Mt (2006 – 2.023 Mt)
    Mossel Bay                          1.802 Mt (2006 – 1.519 Mt)

    Total cargo handled all ports 233.441Mt (2006 – 226.11Mt) + 3.24 percent

    Containers measured by TEUs
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Tranship and empty containers)

    Durban                   2,479,232 TEU (2006 – 2,198,600) + 12.76 percent
    Cape Town                764,005 (2006 – 782,868) - 2.41 percent
    Port Elizabeth             422,846 (2006 – 392,813) + 7.64 percent
    East London                 41,986 (2006 – 38,308) + 9.6 percent
    Richards Bay                  4,021 (2006 – 4,191)

    Total handled 3,723,090 TEU (2006 – 3,416,780) +8.64 percent growth

    Ship Calls

    Durban:              4,608 vessels 105.713 million gt (4,566 vessels 96.669 million gt)
    Cape Town:         3,025 vessels 47.558m gt (3,044 vessels 47.625m gt)
    Port Elizabeth:      1,309 vessels 30.312m gt (1,634 vessels 27.446m gt)
    Richards Bay:       1,648 vessels 58,039m gt (1,575 vessels 57.080m gt)
    Saldanha:              470 vessels 26,517m gt (492 vessels 24.206m gt)
    East London:          307 vessels 8.435m gt (332 vessels 8.154m gt)
    Mossel Bay:         1,785 vessels 3.220m gt (2,548 vessels 2.997m gt)

    Total ship calls 13,152 vessels 279.795-million gt

    - source NPA plus Ports & Ships calculations regarding container weight adjustments

    Durban Bayhead container terminal goes on hold, says Transnet

    Transnet has confirmed that plans for an expansion of container terminal facilities at Bayhead (the Bayhead dig-out) are on hold but says this does not mean Durban will be bypassed as the country’s leading container handling port.

    The matter has been the subject of conjecture and concern in recent months and follows an initial public meeting that indicated Transnet was keen to go ahead with digging out a portion of the Bayhead for a new container basin.

    Ship repair people confirmed several weeks ago they had been told the matter was on hold and unlikely to proceed. The ship repair cluster had expressed its concern at the effect the harbour extensions would have on the repair industry including shipbuilding.

    Durban shipbuilders have a number of ship building projects in hand including five tugs and several bunker barges, worth hundreds of million of rand which have also created hundreds of new jobs and prospects of further orders were at risk because of uncertainty over the future.

    But if expansion plans for container terminals have been cancelled what future lies ahead for Durban, Africa’s busiest port which in 2007 handled a record 2.479 million TEUs (twenty foot container equivalents), up by 12.7 percent on 2006. At this rate of growth – which equals the so-called ‘middle road’ forecast of port statisticians, Durban will be handling 3,556 million TEUs by 2010 and 6,493m by 2015, which is the earliest year any new ‘dig-out’ option could come into service. By that stage Durban would be more than gridlocked with trucks and empty container depots scattered around the city and unless there was a dramatic improvement in productivity the terminals would be likewise affected and more than likely subjected to costly surcharges from the shipping lines.

    There are those stakeholders who will point out the difficulty of reading between the lines of Transnet’s latest statement that ‘Durban will remain Africa’s largest container handling facility and plans by the Transnet National Ports Authority to expand the port are on track’ given the ease with which Transnet has changed its mind over the years.

    A number of influential people within Transnet are known to be in favour of the airport site dig-out proposal, which they consider to be Durban’s inevitable solution and who believe it should be done sooner rather than later. This will strike resonance with a lot of people in the maritime industry. There is also some pressure on developing a container terminal at Richards Bay, which is also considered as ultimately inevitable and of course there is the new port of Ngqura at Coega in the Eastern Cape, almost ready now to take its first container ship.

    The problem with both these latter options lies with the road and rail infrastructure which would need extensive upgrading to handle any additional traffic for the Gauteng region. Coega is seen by many of the shipping lines as an ideal hub port for transshipment containers, but that is mostly future business and won’t greatly reduce the pressure on Durban.

    As has been suggested before on PORTS & SHIPS, Durban’s container growth need not be outward and it’s actually a good thing that Transnet is taking a fresh look at things. Too often in the past the solution has been to throw money at the problem without addressing issues such as productivity levels that by themselves can greatly multiply the capacity of existing facilities.

    To do this requires a considerable mindshift, especially when dealing with such delicate issues as labour on which any such success would depend. Improvements in productivity would automatically win time for future long term projects, such as the airport dig-out and the development of Richards Bay for container handling, including road and rail infrastructure.

    Given the problems that Durban already faces with its congested road systems, the scrubbing of the Bayhead project, if that’s what it comes to, is a good thing both for the city and the maritime industry. However Transnet should not allow further time to erode before setting out on a new approach. Many in shipping will be hoping that a radical rethink along productivity lines will now be placed high on the agenda.

    NYK and Hyundai bring on new joint Asia – South Africa East Coast South America service

    NYK and Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) have announced a joint container service between Asia, South Africa and East Coast of South America.

    The new service will be named New Horizon Express (NHX) and will commence operations as of the second half of April. It replaces NYK’s current New Good Hope Express Service (NGX), which has been operating together with Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd.

    NYK and HMM said they aim to provide an improved level of service quality by concentrating on a better integrity of schedules and fast transit times to main markets in Asia, South Africa and East Coast of South America.

    New Horizon Express will be a weekly fixed-day service operating a total of 10 vessels, eight from NYK and two from HMM, with a weekly capacity of about 2,500 TEUs.

    The port rotation will start at Shanghai, as follows:

    Shanghai - Ningbo - Hong Kong - Singapore - Durban - Santos - Buenos Aires - Itajai - Paranagua - Santos - Itaguai (Sepetiba) - Singapore - Hong Kong – Shanghai.

    Other main ports in Asia will be covered by feeder connection.

    About NYK

    Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) is one of the world's leading transportation companies and operates approximately 740 major ocean vessels, as well as fleets of aircraft, trains, and trucks. The company's shipping fleet includes around 140 containerships, 270 bulk carriers, 50 wood-chip carriers, 110 car carriers, 25 reefer carriers, 70 tankers, 20 LNG carriers, and three cruise ships. NYK's revenue in fiscal 2006 was $ 18 Billion, and as a group, NYK employs about 51,000 people worldwide. The company has offices in 240 locations in 27 countries, warehouses in every continent, and harbour operations in Asia, North America, and Europe. NYK is based in Tokyo, and has regional headquarters in London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, and Sao Paulo.

    About HMM

    HMM is an integrated logistics company, operating approximately 100 state-of-the-art vessels. HMM offers worldwide global service network, diverse logistics facilities, leading IT shipping related systems, a professional highly trained staff, and continual effort to provide premiere transportation services. HMM transports nationally strategic materials such as crude oil, LNG, iron ore/coal and diverse special products as well as import/export goods. Earnings are five trillion Korean won per year. HMM has formed a global business network with four international headquarters, 23 subsidiaries, 57 branches, six overseas offices and 10 liaison offices.

    INTERLUDE… annual maritime ball

    News continues below….

    As we move into 2008 a glance back into 2007 at the shipping industry’s annual Maritime Ball held in Durban late last year, when various shipping organisations from around the country combined their efforts to celebrate the year.

    Among those enjoying the ball were (standing from left) Duncan Davies, John Jones, Ivan Clarke, Carmen Jones, Hilton Cairns. Sitting from the left are Cecele Davies, Barbara Rankin, Philip Simpson, Katherine Hulett and Eddie Cairns. Pictures by Bridge Marine

    from left standing Pauline and Ian Appleton, Sean Minogue, Scott Millar, Tim Phillips,
    Johann de Goede. From left seated are Pat Brooker, Lesley Phillips, Alison Millar, Fiona de Goede

    from left Megan Harris (MH Marketing Consultancy), Dean Fraser from Panargo and Natasha Vaughan from Bridge Marine

    Feature: Southern Africa’s EB&H Group completes extensive repair schedule

    With ship building yards worldwide operating at full capacity until at least 2009, South African ship builders and ship repair companies have been gearing up to take advantage of the new opportunities.

    According to Rob Deane, managing director of the Durban-based international ship repair contracting group Elgin Brown & Hamer (EB&H), all ship repair companies are extremely busy with work on vessels of all sizes, from large container ships to small tugs.

    Providing a full house capacity in all aspects of ship repair, as well as riding crews to vessels worldwide, the EB&H group comprises eight companies and operates in Durban, East London, Cape Town and the Namibian port of Walvis Bay. On average, EB&H repairs up to 600 vessels a year, of which more than 130 are docked.

    Further opportunities for the Durban operation are now in the pipeline with the widening and deepening of the city’s harbour mouth. The entrance channel will be doubled from 130m to between 220m and 300m, providing access for ‘super ships’.

    “At present, vessels that carry up to 50,000 tonne can be accommodated but once the upgrade is finished, larger vessels carrying from 70,000 to 250,000t will be able to enter port, which will increase the amount of vehicle traffic significantly,” said Deane.

    In Durban, the EB&H group has rounded off a busy year with the completion of a substantial contract awarded by Acergy S.A. for the annual docking of the ACERGY EAGLE, one of the most sophisticated sub-sea construction ships in the world. Operating in the oil fields off Angola, the 6,500-dwt vessel is able to undertake a wide range of subsea field development and construction tasks, including flexible flowline and umbilical lay, subsea structure installation, flowline tie-in with either saturation diving or ROV intervention, as well as FPSO mooring installation and tensioning. Her 250t cranage gives her the ability to load flexible flowline reels in remote locations.

    On arrival mid November (2007), the Acergy Eagle’s A-frame aft platform was removed by EB&H to enable the vessel to dock in the port’s inner drydock without disrupting the docking and undocking of other vessels. The platform had been added for a previous project but the owners subsequently decided it was unnecessary for it to be refitted.

    The main elements of the project involved extensive work on the three LIPS Azimuth thrusters – which took the entire month-long docking - and the three LIPS bow thrusters, as well as comprehensive docking work. The bow thrusters, each driven by an electrical motor weighing 7t, had to be removed from the vessel and taken to the workshop where they were completely overhauled under the supervision of a Wartsila propulsion service engineer.

    During the main docking work, no blasting activities could be undertaken due to the volume of repairs required on the thrusters. As a result, all paintwork preparation had to be done mechanically. After repairs, the onboard Kenz crane was commissioned and load tested to 275t with water weights. Repairs to the Hydralift crane were also undertaken and it was tested to 175t.

    The two reels of A&R winch wire, each weighing 92t, arrived on board the vessel DIAMOND LAND. The adapter reels were designed by Aquatek, and manufactured and fitted by EB&H. The 1,500m length of old wire was removed and placed in the hold, then the new 77mm diameter wire was wound onto the winch under tension. After this the old wire, weighing 50t, was transferred onto one of the reels.

    Working to offshore standards, the extensive steelwork included fabricating a new reel adapter for undersea cable laying and a new beam for the carousel. The carousel is located in hold number 2 with 1,200 weight capacity, equivalent to 4 reels. Specialists from the UK were brought in to assist with the beam, which also required the assistance of a scaffolding expert. Repair work was undertaken on the two Work Class ROVs, which are rated to 3,000m.

    Despite adverse weather conditions, the entire programme was carried out within the specified timeframe and the vessel sailed for Angola on schedule before the end of December.

    the cable reel used on Acergy Eagle. Picture courtesy EB&H

    Other projects undertaken by EB&H in Durban included the RoRo CERVANTES, the M/V NORTHERN EXPLORER, the DOLPHIN 6 and two dredgers, the PINTA and the ORWELL.

    The RoRo Cervantes was repaired in the National Ports Authority (NPA) dry dock due to the size of the vessel, which could not be accommodated on EB&H’s floating dock, Eldock. The scope of work included removing and refitting the port and starboard tailshafts, as well as the bow thrusters.

    Following the purchase of the vessel Dolphin 6 by new owners, EB&H was contracted to undertaken extensive repairs throughout the vessel. Steel repairs included replacement of the entire aft deck, the fitting of new steel to the forepeak and the renewal of hull plating. Extensive hydraulic work was undertaken on the cranes.

    The twin-screw 2D seismic vessel Northern Explorer, managed by Goebird Management in Dubai, entered EH&B’s Durban-based floating dock, Eldock, during April for a month-long repair programme.

    Built in 1987 and converted for seismic operation in 1998, the survey vessel is equipped with state-of-the-art 2D seismic equipment and diesel electric propulsion.

    “The vessel had sustained bottom damage due to grounding and the starboard rudder was in a bad way,” said Bob Seethie, project co-ordinator at EB&H. “Our mandate was to overhaul all equipment as set out in the specification of repair to class requirements, with priority being given to the rudder and grounding damage.” Seethie said that particular care had to be taken in view of the sophisticated seismic equipment on board.

    The gas oil tank damage was repaired with new steel which was blasted and primed in EB&H’s yard. The ballast tanks were coated with balloxy and the fresh water tanks with tankguard. Spotblasting of the hull required about 30 tonnes of grit and was completed in a day. The bulk of the work involved gas freeing all of the tanks for hot work and the steel repairs, which amounted to 22 tonnes. In addition, the rudder was straightened, machined and rebushed.

    Other projects included the passenger cum container ship MAURITIUS TROCHETIA , which engages in inter-island cruises and regional trade, and two reefers from Saudi Arabia.

    The Pinta and the Orwell, both Belgian dredgers, required straightforward maintenance work. EB&H’s Marine & Hydraulics division undertook extensive work on the Pinta, including removing and refitting the hopper door hydraulic ramps. The scope of work on the Orwell included removing the tailshaft for repairs and removing and refitting the port and starboard propeller shafts.

    In 2006, EB&H undertook a five-month project to rebuild and lengthen a dipper dredger, the TOSHKA, which had been built for work on the Toshka Canal near Lake Nasser in Egypt. After it had served its purpose, it was cut up into sections and shipped to Durban where it was reassembled by an EB&H team. The length was increased from 45m to 60m, necessitating the fabrication of a new section of the pontoon. Extensive work was also required for the hydraulics, electrics, steelwork and mechanised spud poles. Renamed the PINOCCHIO, it subsequently returned to EB&H Durban for further fitting out and adjustments prior to undertaking a new contract in Reunion.

    Contracts undertaken at EB&H’s East London shipyard included a project with salvors Mammoet to bring part of the wreck of the container ship SAFMARINE AGULHAS to shore. The vessel ran heavily aground due to engine failure while leaving the port bound for Durban.

    Namdock - EB&H’s Namibian success

    Located in Walvis Bay, EB&H Namibia’s main business involves servicing and repairing offshore supply vessels, reefers, container vessels and tugs. Namdock, the company’s floating dock, was acquired in a N $ 30 million (R30m) joint venture with NamPort and was commissioned during 2006.

    The first phase of an expansion programme at EB&H Namibia was completed mid year, with further expansion plans already underway.

    Included in the initial phase were the implementation of services to the floating dock, additional jetty infrastructure, an access causeway and shore facilities, as well as a N $ 6-million upgrade of the workshop, stores and administration buildings. By investing N $ 1-million in modifications to the dock’s keel block system, the floating dock can now also accommodate vessels with dropdown thrusters to a maximum height of 3,0m.

    Phase two includes the purchase of a second floating dock which is currently being finalised. Plans are also underway to expand business in the West African coast oil and gas offshore sector.

    Recent projects undertaken at EB&H Namibia included repairs to a number of sub-sea construction vessels, a geological survey vessel and a dredger, as well as oil rig support work. The company’s greatest logistical challenge to date, undertaken in 2006, involved a comprehensive repairs and maintenance programme for the Sedneth 701, a 91-metre long oil rig owned by Transocean Inc. In total the Sedneth 701 was a five-month project but the onboard work had to be completed in just one month while the rig was in Walvis Bay harbour. Specialised scaffolding had to be brought in from the United Kingdom to accommodate heights of up to 40m above the water

    Tanker explosion in Port Harcourt

    Niger Delta militants have claimed responsibility for the explosion on board the Greek 12,742-dwt tanker GOLDEN LUCY in Port Harcourt on Friday (11 January) which has claimed at least one life and forced the closure of the port. Port and government officials were quick to refute this however, saying the explosion had not the result of terrorism.

    The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) claimed credit for setting the explosion early on Friday morning while the ship lay alongside in harbour. Golden Lucy had earlier discharged about 7,500 tonnes of petroleum but still had other petroleum cargo on board.

    The state governor’s media spokesman reacted by dismissing MEND’s claims saying an official investigation had determined the explosion was the result of a fault in the ship’s engine room. The port manager Dele Alabi also told journalists that the explosion was the result of what he called a ‘marine accident’ in the engine room.

    Fire services rushed to the harbour and began attempts to put out the blaze, with the vessel being moved away from the quayside and into the channel. The port was closed for much of the day and all movement in the harbour stopped.

    According to some reports at least one person lost his life in the explosion or subsequent fire but this has not been confirmed. One report suggested that two men who set the explosive device were seen jumping off the ship as it exploded, with one of them losing a limb in the process. However a spokesman for MEND claimed the explosion had been set off by remote control after its members working inside the oil industry had gone on board and laid the charges.


    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has again had a busy weekend, with a number of rescues around the coast involving people drowning or suffering near drowning. As far as sea operations are concerned Pat van Eyssen, Station Commander at Table Bay Station reports that on Saturday 12 January the NSRI Table Bay was activated by Transnet National Ports Authority following a request for assistance from a French Canadian couple on a yacht. The yacht had recently sailed from Canada and her last port of call had been Port Elizabeth, and while approaching Cape Town had suffered engine failure in 20 to 25 knot South Easterly winds.

    “We launched our rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom and met up with them 6 nautical miles west of the Table Bay port breakwater where their vessel was taken in tow,” reported van Eyssen.

    In another somewhat different incident the South African Whale Disentanglement Unit, comprising Marine and Coastal Management (MCM), the Yzerfontein National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), Cape Nature Conservation and the Police Dive Unit, responded at 09h30 on Friday 11 January to approximately 1 nautical mile off-shore of Dassen Island following reports of a juvenile whale entangled in suspected crayfish ropes and nets.

    NSRI Yzerfontein’s volunteers of the South African Whale Disentanglement Unit launched their NSRI rescue craft Lady Coutts and their stand-by rescue craft Blue Mermaid with the MCM, Cape Nature Conservation and Police Dive Unit members on-board and on arrival on-scene a 9 metre, approximately 1 year old, Hump Back Whale was disentangled successfully using specialised whale disentangling equipment. Crayfish nets and rope were recovered from the scene and brought ashore.

    The Port of Durban advises that Island View berth 2 is out of commission between yesterday (13 January) and Thursday (17 January inclusive. No reason has been provided.

    Pic of the day – ACERGY EAGLE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    One of the more interesting ships to enter Durban port last year and also to undertake repairs in the dry dock was the Acergy Eagle, a sub-sea construction ship that operates in the offshore oil industry at depths of up to 3000m. The vessel underwent her annual maintenance under the care of ship repair company Elgin Brown & Hamer. See report above. Picture courtesy Elgin Brown & Hamer

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