Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 23, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Unicorn reveals its bunker plans and orders new barge locally

  • 26 nations plan Indian Ocean maritime military bloc

  • Luanda railway to reintroduce freight trains

  • International transport news

  • WFP introduces relief flights into Mozambique

  • Pic of the day – TAGA BAY


    Unicorn reveals bunker plans and orders new barge locally

    One of two new Unicorn bunker barges, SOUTHERN VENTURE which was launched in China on 16 January 2008. Picture courtesy Grindrod

    Grindrod and its subsidiary Unicorn have revealed details of Unicorn’s new bunkering services, which will get underway in South Africa this year. In a statement yesterday Grindrod announced that its Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) arrangement known as Southern Tankers has been replaced by a new deal involving Calulo Services, which in turn is a subsidiary of Calulo Petrochemicals.

    ‘The joint venture will consist of two entities operating in related, although slightly different maritime fields. The first entity, Unicorn Calulo Bunkering Services (Pty) Ltd will be owned 74.9 percent by Unicorn with the balance held by Calulo Services. This company will own and operate sophisticated bunker barges in South African ports delivering bunker fuels to the maritime industry. These barges have been built to ensure the conservation of the environment.’

    The second entity known as Unicorn Calulo Shipping (Pty) Ltd is a 50/50 joint venture between Unicorn and Calulo and will operate shipping services on the Southern African coast focused primarily on the tanker market.

    Calulo Services is an empowered shipping and logistics services group that has been established for five years.

    “Unicorn and Calulo have been discussing the possibility of forming a joint venture for many years, so we are pleased to finally conclude this arrangement which will significantly improve efficiencies and service offerings,” said Laurence Stuart-Hill, Unicorn MD and executive director of Grindrod Ltd.

    The arrangement broadens Calulo’s presence within the maritime sector by providing Calulo with a springboard into the ownership and operation of bunkering vessels said Bryn Ressell, Calulo Services CEO.

    Dormac will build third Unicorn barge

    Stuart-Hill confirmed that a third bunker barge was on order and would be built in Durban at the Dormac shipyard. Dormac is currently completing work on a new bunker barge for SMIT Amandla and will also add a double skin to a second SMIT Amandla barge, PENTOW ENERGY later this year.

    Stuart-Hill said that Unicorn has ordered 11 ocean-going ships in the past from Durban shipyards and is very pleased to again support the local industry. The contract is worth in the region of R80 million, he said.

    26 nations plan Indian Ocean maritime military bloc

    India is busy helping initiate a maritime military bloc comprising littoral states of the Indian Ocean and so far between 26 and 29 nations have come on board, reports the Indian Navy.

    In a statement the Indian Navy said that as part of its contribution towards consolidating the growing recognition of the importance of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Indian Navy has taken the initiative of setting-up an inclusive and consultative regional forum, to be known formally as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), where the ‘Heads/Chiefs of Navy’ of all littoral States of the IOR can periodically and regularly meet to discuss issues that bear upon regional maritime security.

    Among the countries taking part are South Africa, Australia and France who will participate in the initial symposium between 14 and 18 February 2008. France has confirmed its participation on the basis of being a littoral state with its province of Reunion island in mid Indian Ocean but other major nations such as the UK, the US and China will not be attending, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said yesterday.

    He said that Pakistan was invited but has so far not indicated whether it will attend.

    The symposium will consist of two parts. The first two days will be a seminar held in New Delhi in which an overview of the Indian Ocean maritime scenario with emphasis on maritime challenges and looking at ways to ensure synergies between the various participants will be considered.

    The balance of the symposium will involve a 3-day closed-door gathering in Goa of navy chiefs from all participating countries with the aim of establishing security mechanisms and co-operation between the respective navies.

    “Many navies of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) look to India to promote regional maritime security. It is thus prudent that India launches an inclusive forum for discussing and taking forward issues of common interest,” said Mehta.

    He added that while Southeast and East Asian countries of the (US-backed) Western Pacific Naval Symposium are heavily engaged in the maritime domain, there is an engagement deficiency in the Indian Ocean, particularly in the western Indian Ocean.

    “Consequently, external players are rapidly forging new maritime security relationships. The establishment of a regional naval grouping would promote greater mutual interaction and curtail growing dependency on extra regional players in the region. This apart, the symposium will enable Indian Ocean nations address their problems without external assistance.”

    The establishment of IONS consisting of Indian Ocean littoral states only is regarded in some quarters as a counter to efforts by the US and China to gain a permanent military foothold in the area. There are also concerns about increased maritime traffic passing through the Indian Ocean and Malacca Straits and the need to provide security for this shipping particularly from poaching and terrorist activity.

    In an unrelated event, ships of the Indian and South African Navies, together with naval vessels from Brazil are due to take part in exercises off the South African coast shortly. The exercises are seen as a reflection of the growing trade and cultural ties between the three nations, known collectively as IBSA. The exercises will follow the annual ATLASUR naval exercises involving the navies of South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay also off the South African coast.

    See related article IBSA plans joint naval exercise - CLICK HERE

    Luanda railway to reintroduce freight trains

    The Angolan Press Agency reports that Luanda Railway (Caminho de Ferro de Luanda, or CFL) intends relaunching its rail freight services this year in an effort to improve the movement of cargo into and from the port at Luanda.

    Meaningful freight services on CFL ceased a umber of years ago as a result of the civil war and although trains have operated for some years from Luanda in the direction of Malanje in the interior they have focused mainly on carrying passengers.

    According to CFL director for rehabilitation projects, Paulo Cuanza, CFL has a number of goods wagons available to start a service between the port and the Baia (Luanda) to Malanje section. He said the company was considering the purchase of new wagons and locomotives in order to provide a safe and reliable rail freight service.

    He indicated that if necessary CFL might launch the goods service using locomotives currently employed on the passenger trains.

    The rehabilitation of the CFL is being carried out by the Chinese firm of CMEC-TEC which began reconstruction work in October 2003, involving the repair of the railway between Luanda and Malanje with new underpasses, viaducts, stations and railway halts. Included in the contract is the Cazenga railway workshop and the installation of a communication network.

    So far 14 km of the Musseque to Viana section has been repaired.

    Construction of the CFL was begun by the Portuguese in 1886 in an attempt to link the two colonies of Angola on the Atlantic coast and Mozambique on the Indian Ocean by a railway (the Trans Africa Railway Company).

    This effort was abandoned when Cecil John Rhodes ‘annexed’ Rhodesia on behalf of Great Britain in 1890 and the CFL, as it was to be known, ended at the town of Malanje some 400km from Luanda. The railway was subsequently nationalised by the Portuguese government in Angola in 1914 after the original company was unable to continue. In 1963 the line was converted from metre gauge to the Cape gauge of 3ft 6ins.

    Early locomotive power was of course steam consisting of a variety of straight and Garratt type (articulated) locomotives, with diesel-electrics being introduced in the 1970s. The railway carried iron ore and manganese as well as agricultural products including coffee and maize.

    International transport news

    Eurasian Land-Bridge gets underway

    The proposed Eurasian Land-Bridge, consisting of a rail service between China and Europe also dubbed the ‘New Silk Road’, received a boost this month when a freight train loaded with containers departed Beijing for Hamburg.

    The 10,000km journey is expected to take less than 20 days and if successful will open a new path for the movement of containers between Europe and Asia. A target of between 15 and 18 days is achievable, the rail companies involved believe.

    Although a train can carry only a minute proportion of what a modern container ship carries, the facility offers an alternative that reduces time and cost, says German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB), which is one of six railways involved in the project.

    The train is operating through China, Mongolia, along the Trans-Siberian Railroad in Russia and into Belarus and Poland before reaching Germany. One of the main obstacles threatening the success of the project is that of customs formalities at the respective borders (now is that a familiar story?).

    Singapore again top port

    Despite impressive results from several Chinese ports Singapore remains the world’s busiest in terms of containers and cargo volume and has shown double-digit growth in almost all aspects – tonnage, container numbers, bunker sales and Singapore-flagged ships.

    Container growth increased by 12.7 percent to 27.9 million TEUs in 2007 while total cargo handled topped 483.4 million tonnes, up by 7.8 percent. Bunker sales grew 11.2 percent to 31.5 million tonnes and the number of ship arrivals reached a phenomenal 1.46 Billion gross tons, up 11 percent on 2006. Container ships contributed 36 percent of this total and tankers 30.5 percent.

    WFP begins relief flights into Mozambique

    The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) began relief flights this week to provide vital humanitarian assistance to tens of thousands of people affected by the extensive flooding along the Zambezi valley in central Mozambique.

    Based in the town of Caia, WFP's Mi8 helicopter flew its first mission on Monday morning when it transported 2.2 tonnes of mosquito nets, tents and plastic sheeting to Mutarara for UNICEF.

    The helicopter delivered its first consignments of WFP food assistance yesterday – carrying 2.5t of cereals and pulses on each flight to Goligoli, where over 13,000 people have been displaced by the floods and are in need of food assistance.

    WFP is planning to deliver 74t of food to Goligoli, which should take the helicopter around 4-5 days.

    The helicopter will deliver food and non-food supplies on a priority basis on behalf of the entire humanitarian community to displaced people in inaccessible resettlement areas. All flight and cargo decisions will be taken in consultation with the government's National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC) and other partners.

    A second helicopter is on stand-by for deployment to Caia to enhance the humanitarian response.

    Around 76,000 people have been displaced by the current floods. Many more remain stranded in areas that can no longer be reached by road. In particular, parts of Tete, Sofala and Manica Provinces are now inaccessible by land.

    WFP has already begun delivering food assistance by road. Over 1,000 newly affected beneficiaries at the Bawe resettlement centre in Mutara district received WFP food assistance through World Vision last week.

    Almost 14 tons of WFP food was also transferred by an INGC truck to the Beia-Peia accommodation camp on the flooded Save River last week for immediate distribution.

    WFP has also provided the authorities with three boats to assist the rescue and evacuation operations and is considering hiring a large barge for relief distributions.

    Before the current crisis, WFP had been providing assistance to around 190,000 people, who lost their crops during the Zambezi floods in early 2007 and have been living in resettlement areas. This caseload will also require food assistance until the next harvest.

    Between February and December 2007, WFP distributed 14,500mt of food assistance to beneficiaries in the resettlement centres in the Zambezi river valley.

    WFP is working closely with the INGC to determine current beneficiary caseloads in the resettlement centres (both new and former beneficiaries) in order to resume food distributions as soon as possible.

    An initial assessment of the food security situation was conducted last week. Led by the government and including WFP and other humanitarian partners, the assessment will give a clearer indication of the food security situation, including how much food assistance will be required.

    WFP has 1,500t of food stocks near the flood-affected areas due to its ongoing operations in the area. However, before the floods, WFP faced a shortfall of around 5,600t for its operations until the end of April. Considering the scale of the current floods and the increased needs along the Zambezi, this shortfall will increase substantially.

    Pic of the day – TAGA BAY

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Lonro Sails container ship TAGA BAY seen on a grey day moving out from Durban’s Maydon Wharf where she had discharged and loaded containers before sailing for Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and then Europe. Picture Terry Hutson

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