Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 7, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Grindrod and DP World take charge of Port Maputo

  • MOL upgrade provides first direct Asia – Maputo service

  • Briefly speaking - shipping and maritime news

  • Rail deliveries hamper Richards Bay Coal Terminal exports

  • Kenya strife affects Mombasa port operations

  • Navy responds to personnel shortage claims

  • Pic of the day – TOREA


    Grindrod and DP World take charge of Port Maputo

    The port of Maputo, which holds advantages of available land and water area for expansion and close proximity to trade centres in South Africa. Picture Terry Hutson

    Durban-based Grindrod Group has extended its interests in the port of Maputo with the acquisition of UK shareholder Mersey Docks Group’s shares in Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC). This follows closely Grindrod’s acquisition last November of the 12 percent stake held by Swedish construction company Skanska as well as an earlier purchase of Portuguese Liscont’s shareholding.

    MPDC is the operating company formed to operate the concession for the ports of Maputo and Matola, which covers both marine operations and much of the port terminals.

    In the past few years Grindrod has set about systematically establishing an increasing interest and involvement in the Mozambique port including a 95 percent acquisition of the adjacent Matola coal terminal. Meanwhile, Dubai-based DP World, with which Grindrod will now work in partnership, inherited the concession to operate the port’s container terminal when that company acquired P&O Ports’ international interests.

    Following the latest development Grindrod has entered into a partnering agreement with DP World in which each company will hold a 48.5 percent share of Portus Indico, of which MPDC forms its operating arm. A local Mozambique group owns the remaining balance of 3 percent.

    On the operating side the Mozambique government in turn retains a 49 percent share in MPDC through its national port and rail authority CFM with Portus Indico/MPDC holding the other 51 percent.

    According to news reports the group intends spending US $ 100 million on Port Maputo, which may include investments already made. Grindrod is however known to be developing a car terminal at the port and has extensively increased the capacity of the Matola coal and ore terminal.

    Having been locked out of any possible South African port concessioning by the South African government’s reluctance to enter into privatisation deals, Grindrod has since clearly turned its attention to the neighbouring states. In addition to Maputo the company has made considerable investment in the bulk terminal at Walvis Bay. The latest involvements at Maputo however, which bring with it a partnering programme with DP World, one of the world’s leading terminal operators, makes the Maputo development highly interesting and something to watch in the future.

    See our related story of 1 November 2007 Grindrod buys another 12 percent of Port Maputo CLICK HERE

    MOL upgrade provides first direct Asia – Maputo service

    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) has introduced a direct China – Southern African service which will include calls at the port of Maputo. The new service takes effect from mid January.

    Announcing this recently MOL President Akimitsu Ashida said the start of the new service will consolidate the Singapore – Durban shuttle service (ZAX) and the Shanghai – Singapore service (CSI).

    “With the consolidation, the new service will call at major ports in China (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Xiamen and Yantian which allows for a direct service between China and South Africa. In addition to Durban (the ZAX service original calling port in South Africa), calls at Maputo in Mozambique will start with this upgrading. Only MOL will offer a direct service between Asia and Maputo. This service upgrade meets the needs of the active seaborne trade on those routes.”

    The new service will be provided using seven MOL-operated ships in the 1600 – 1700-TEU range on a fixed day weekly frequency and commences with MOL AGILITY departing Shanghai on voyage 4506A on 17 January 2008.

    Port rotation is as follows:

    Shanghai – Xiamen – Yantian – Hong Kong – Dachan Bay (the new container terminal in Shenzhen where calls will be introduced) – Singapore – Durban – Maputo – Singapore – Shanghai.

    Briefly speaking - shipping and maritime news

    Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) has announced a review of the applicable bunker surcharge against present fuel prices on the Europe – South Africa – Europe trade (SAECS). With effect 1 February 2008 the revised bunker surcharge will become:

    US $ 390 per TEU for general purpose cargo
    US $ 555 per TEU for reefer cargo

    The revised surcharges will be effective as of the B/L date and will remain in force until further notice.

    CHC Helicopters withdrew its Cape Town off-port helicopter service as from 31 December on account of what is succinctly termed ‘commercial reasons’. The services provided by the ‘choppers’ will be provided mostly by launch in future, in particular those provided by CMS (Carrier Marine Services) which operates in several of the country’s harbours.

    Delta Dore rescue completed: Last month shortly before ‘going off air’ we reported on the rescue mission of the super motor yacht Ocean 7 Adventurer which had left Cape Town for the region of Marion Island to assist the dismasted racing yacht Delta Dore taking part in the Barcelona World Race (in which by 1 January four of the nine yachts taking part had already fallen out). Delta Dore was being crewed by Jérémie Beyou and Sidney Gavignet.

    The end of her race came suddenly when the mast snapped in violent seas on 11 December with the yacht approximately 900 miles south east of Cape Town and approaching the Prince Edward group of islands (Marion Island). A call went out for assistance and the 115m powered trimaran Ocean 7 Adventurer left Cape Town to undertake the rescue.

    Capable of high speeds and easily the fastest option available, the trimaran successfully rendezvoused with the stricken racer and took her in tow, returning to Cape Town on Tuesday 18 December having negotiated the most hostile ocean on earth.

    Team leader on Ocean 7 Adventurer David de Villiers said the motor yacht was built to go anywhere and was the real hero of the operation.

    Australia has introduced the controversial Maritime Crew Visa (MCV) which becomes compulsory for all ships’ crew arriving in Australia or calling at any of the country’s ports as from 1 January 2008. Once granted the MCV will remain valid for three years and all ships calling are now required to submit their crew list and supporting documentation to Australian Customs at least 96 hours ahead of arrival of the first Australian port of call. This can be done via their agents.

    Rail deliveries hamper Richards Bay Coal Terminal exports

    Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) fell short of anticipated volumes when it rang up 66.157 million tonnes of coal exported during 2007. This compared with a total of 64.7mt delivered to the terminal by Transnet Freight Rail (Spoornet) but fell several million tonnes short of target.

    RBCT currently has a design capacity of 72mt but in recent years has been well below this figure due mainly to delivery problems by Transnet as well as lack of export production at the mines. However the terminal said in a statement on Friday that RBCT had reached an important milestone in its history by increasing its design capacity for coal exports from 72mt per annum to 76mt pa with effect from 1 January this year. The increase is part of the Phase V Expansion project which RBCT says is a clear indication that the company’s expansion project is on track.

    “The increase to 76 mtpa further cements our leadership position as the single largest coal export terminal in the world. A further increase in capacity to 91mtpa becomes effective in the first half of 2009,” said Kuseni Dlamini, Executive Chairman of RBCT.

    Dlamini said that there were a number of factors outside of RBCT’s control that contributed to the lower than expected exports. These included Transnet Freight Rail derailments as well as the lightning strike at TFR’s power station, which resulted in delays. Bad weather also resulted in a series of port closures, all of which impacted on RBCT’s coal exports.

    “The fact that we exported more coal than we received is a clear sign of the world class nature of RBCT’s operational efficiencies which underpin our reputation as the most efficiently run and reliable export coal terminal in the world”, he said.

    The bulker TIAN BAI FENG sails from Lyttelton in New Zealand on Saturday, 5 January 2008, loaded with 62,000 tonnes of coal for Richards Bay, where the high grade low ash content New Zealand coal will be blended with South African coal for re-export. Lyttelton also exports around 1.5mt of coal to India each year in addition to making regular shipments to Richards Bay. Picture by Alan Calvert

    Kenya strife affects Mombasa port operations

    Cargo handling at the port of Mombasa has been severely affected by the ongoing unrest in Kenya, with little cargo being collected or moved.

    As the country looks for a solution to the political crisis, brought on by disputes over last week’s election results, cargo has rapidly built up in East Africa’s busiest port leading to delays in unloading and loading of ships. Meanwhile a shortage of fuel has all but crippled neighbouring Uganda, which relies on supplies brought in from Mombasa.

    Once again the crisis in the port is a result of a build up of uncleared containers, according to the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) which revealed that by late last week there were 17,500 containers accumulating in the terminal against the normal capacity of 14,300.

    Terminal manager James Rarieya said that 25 percent of the boxes were destined for neighbouring countries. The failure to have them collected was because of insecurity arising out of post-election violence, he said.

    "On Wednesday, we managed to deliver only 79 containers compared to 500 to 550 containers we deliver during normal days," he told a local newspaper. He appealed to importers to collect their boxes as ships were being delayed because of the congestion.

    Last year shipping lines said they intended imposing a surcharge on containers destined for the port of Mombasa because of ongoing congestion. Port and government officials managed to get the shipping lines to declare a moratorium until the end of 2007 by which time it was hoped the backlog would have been cleared. That was before the latest crisis.

    In the meantime the port authority is utilising all available space at the port including the car terminal and breakbulk cargo area to store containers.

    Rareiya said that so far no shipping line had diverted ships away to other ports.

    Meanwhile in neighbouring Uganda domestic air services have been curtailed because of a shortage of aviation fuel as a result of the violence in Kenya. Little or no deliveries from the port of Mombasa are being made and a Uganda Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said there were no reserves available and that some flights had been suspended.

    Uganda newspapers reported that bus and taxi services had also been affected by fuel shortages, leading to a dramatic increase in fares which had doubled and tripled in some cases.

    Navy responds to personnel shortage claims

    SAS CHARLOTTE MAXEKE (S102) on her arrival in False Bay from Germany in April last year. Picture Clinton Wyness

    Navy say training programme offers matriculants hi-tech skills

    With South Africa's batch of 2007 matriculants having last week received their results and now examining their future prospects, the South African Navy - laden with a raft of newly-acquired, high-tech equipment - is looking to recruit and train youngsters going forward, writes Shaun Benton (BuaNews).

    Roland Shortt, the commander of the S102, the second of the three submarines ordered from Germany, told BuaNews that an ideal situation for the submarine service of the SA Navy would be the use of four crews to ‘man’ - or, rather, ‘person’ - the three submarines.

    Commander Shortt was responding earlier in December to claims in local media that the Navy was looking at a very tight staffing complement, with reports that it would not have enough skilled submariners to keep all three of the new submarines in South African waters.

    Defending the Navy's staffing predicament, Commander Shortt said that at any given time, most Navies would see a submarine dry-docked and undergoing routine maintenance, thus reducing the need for a full staff complement.

    It was not unusual for a navy to keep a submarine out of the waters and under maintenance at any given time, Commander Shortt said, speaking as a commissioned officer with a staff wish-list while conceding that many skilled staffers left the Navy for financially greener pastures.

    However, the commander did concede that the ideal situation would be one where the Navy had one extra crew to back up its existing three crews in the case of sickness or other reasons for absenteeism.

    Four crews would be ideal to staff - in rotation - the three new submarines, the third of which is expected to arrive from Germany and be commissioned by the Navy in May 2008.

    Commander Shortt said he was also forced to contemplate a skills depletion that has seen navy-trained, skilled artisans departing for the private sector, in South Africa and in off-shore business, such as the booming West African oil industry.

    Ironically, the intensive training provided by the Navy, combined with the military discipline and strong sense of purpose imparted to youngsters, means that Navy-trained artisans are in high demand by private sector companies.

    By the same token, this makes the Navy a desirable destination for youths - including those who may not be able to afford the costs of further education - who wish to pick up skills while serving in the country's defence forces.

    Not a single of the 30-odd crew members on each of the submarines can operate without intensive training, said Commander Shortt, adding that all of his crew are well-trained electricians, mechanics, information technology specialists or have other artisan skills.

    The new ‘turnkey’ submarines - meaning that they are all brand-new, straight-off-the-shelf submarines from their German manufacturers - are all diesel and battery-powered underwater vehicles equipped with the latest technology and which require highly-trained staff to operate them.

    The three submarines are Class 209-Type 1400 MOD diesel-electric powered, and the full scope of the acquisition includes logistic support products, services, and equipment that includes simulators, test equipment, documentation and spares.

    And, according to documents provided by the Navy, to ensure the effective transfer of technology and the ability for the local submarines to be locally supported, a resident in-country support team is to be based in Simon’s Town for five years.

    The average mission duration of each of the 62-metre-long submarines is 45 days, while their total cruising range is around 10,000 nautical miles, with the navy arguing that they provide a ‘force-multiplier’, meaning that it would need many more surface ships to provide the same level of defence and deterrence that the subs provide.

    At the same, the four new frigates acquired by the Navy, while not necessarily all requiring the same level of skill as that demanded of the submariners, also represent increased demand for disciplined Naval staffers.

    Navy PR officer Lieutenant-Commander Prince Tshabalala himself grumbled to BuaNews about the high take-up by the private sector of the Navy's well-trained staff.

    However, he shrugs off the Navy's ‘skills drain’ with the knowledge that at least, and for the most part, the Naval staffers leaving for the private sector go on to provide much-needed skills to the country's economy, thus boosting local productivity and efficiency and making South African a more competitive player in the global economy.

    At the same time, Lieutenant-Commander Tshabalala says, there is space for a mechanism whereby the private sector could provide for some payback to the Navy, either financially or through apprenticeships or other forms or reciprocation.

    In mid-December, the Chief of the Navy, Vice-Admiral Refiloe Mudimu officiated at a function at the deep water port of Saldanha on South Africa's west coast where over 300 young men and women graduated after successfully completing the Military Skills Development programme.

    The graduation ceremony marked the completion of training for the 325 youngsters before they left for more specialised training by the navy, to prepare them for future utilisation in the Navy's fleets.

    The naval training unit, known as SAS Saldanha, has trained more than 1,700 young South African men and women since its inception in 2003. And it is not only military skills that are taught but basic life skills as well.

    The Military Skills Development (MSD) programme is a two-year voluntary training programme with the first six months focusing on the transition from civilian life to military culture. In the remaining 18 months, the MSD recruits are deployed in the Navy's fleets for further training enhanced by practical experience.

    On top of this, and to provide youngsters with the opportunity to find employment at the end of their two-year contract, the Naval Gymnasium Programme, which falls under the MSD programme - which in turn forms part of the Department of Defence's ‘HR 210 rejuvenation sub-strategy’ - equips youngsters with enhanced life skills.

    Overall, the programme includes training in ‘naval competencies’, which includes organisational studies, maritime practices and physical fitness.

    The life skills component includes a focus on ‘financial health’ as well as computer literacy, maritime first aid, musketry, platform operator training and fire-fighting.

    The ‘platform operator training’ component includes occupational health and safety as well as training in electrics, mechanics and internal combustion systems for ships, with all the elements combining to enable recruits to confidently enter the private sector job market should they not wish to extend their career in the Navy.

    The Navy itself, however, has incentives to retain recruits, including officers' courses enabling recruits to reach command level should they make the grade.

    Pic of the day – TOREA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    TOREA, the former Unicorn Tankship’s NYATHI arrived at Lyttelton, New Zealand on Saturday night (5 January 2008) from the Marsden Point Refinery which is situated at the top of the North Island. The 25,400-gt products tanker (built 2004) recently passed into New Zealand operation (Silver Fern Shipping) which included reflagging the ship to New Zealand and it is interesting to note that she has retained the hull colours while adopting the Silver Fern funnel marking. Alan Calvert reports that the hull will be painted black during her next dry-docking. Picture Alan Calvert

    See our related story of 9 November 2007 CLICK HERE

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