Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 22, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Big year and record profits for Grindrod

  • Detained bulker LADY EAST to be auctioned

  • US Navy successful in shooting down rogue satellite

  • DP World buys Egyptian deepwater port

  • Zambia still keen to develop dry port at Walvis Bay

  • Pic of the day – MSC TOKYO and MSC BENEDETTA


    Big year and record profits for Grindrod

    Grindrod, South Africa’s leading shipping and logistics company has posted a 19 percent increase in earnings to R1.195 billion for the 2007 financial year and says there’s even better to come in 2008.

    As a result the company has been able to declare a final dividend of 44 cents per ordinary share, bringing the total dividend/distribution for the year to 78 cents (2006: 66 cents).

    Once again Grindrod’s shipping interests led the way as the group’s main profit contributor although trading, freight services and financial services each recorded good growth earnings.

    On the shipping side the group’s current core fleet of 39 ships will increase to 51 ships by the end of 2011 – this includes taking into account the planned disposal of two non-core handysize bulk carriers.

    Unicorn Shipping and Island View Shipping, which have previously traded as separate businesses, have now been merged into a single business covering both the tanker and dry bulk sectors. The division is currently expanding its ship operating capability in the handymax sector which will operate worldwide. The intention is for this to complement the South African based IVS Parcel Service and make use of the substantial cargo base handled by the group’s trading division.

    Shipping revenue increased by 33 percent and earnings by 13 percent over 2006.

    Grindrod’s Trading Division enjoyed a 36 percent increase in revenue during 2007, improved margins and a 158 percent growth in earnings over 2006. This was credited mainly to the contribution by Atlas Trading and Shipping which benefited from the substantial demand for agricultural commodities in sub-Saharan Africa, the West Coast of South America and the Mediterranean. The large increase in commodity prices, together with strong demand increased the group's working capital requirements.

    The Freight Services Division increased its revenues by 37 percent, margins improved by 13 percent and earnings went up 103 percent. Ships Agency has remained a strong contributor in this division and increased its market share during 2007. Ports and Terminals had a satisfactory year despite the reduction of throughput at the Maputo coal terminal due to a lack of rail wagons and rehabilitation work on the railway to South Africa. During the year Grindrod doubled its interest in the Maputo Port Development Company and undertook the construction of car and ferrochrome terminals in the Mozambique port. The division also made further investments in the ports of Durban and Richards Bay.

    The group’s rail division benefited from the sale of eight locomotives while logistics operations were impacted by an illegal strike in its Auto Carrier operation.

    Grindrod reports that Seafreight once again significantly improved on the previous year’s results. It says that the group's South African tanker operations, together with the newly established bunker barge business, which are now incorporated in a BEE joint venture with Calulo Services (Pty) Limited, will in future be included in the Freight Services division. During the year an additional bunker barge was ordered, increasing the order book to three.

    Detained bulker LADY EAST to be auctioned

    A court order was granted in the Durban High Court on Wednesday giving leave to sell the detained bulker LADY EAST by judicial auction.

    The 20,117-gt, 1978-built ship has been under arrest in Richards Bay harbour since May 2007, shortly after the ship arrived to take up a charter with Island View Shipping to carry a cargo of 32,000 tonnes of chrome ore to China.

    On arrival in port the ship was found to be deficient in a number of aspects requiring extensive repairs. The ship was found to have severe corrosion causing metal wasting and holes in the bottom hull and Lady East was declared unseaworthy, with the ship subsequently losing its classification through the American Bureau of Certification.

    It is estimated that claims against the ship and her owners, Premier Navigation of the Marshall Islands, amount so far to USD1.69 million, excluding port fees. Island View Shipping claims to have lost up to USD617,000 as a result of the cancelled charter. Experts say the ship would have an estimated value of USD3.7m if scrapped. Lady East was managed by Golden Transport Inc of Athens, Greece.

    Recently the crew of Russian and Ukrainians, which has remained on the ship since arrival, gave notice of their having been stranded without pay by painting a large sign along the side of the vessel which stated ‘S.O.S. Help us! Non paid crew want back home after one year service.’

    Wednesday’s court action had been set down for next week but Premier Navigation withdrew its intention of opposing the matter, resulting in the case have been brought forward a week.

    A second ship in a South African harbour that is expected to come up for auction shortly, according to reports, is the passenger ship MADAGASCAR (the former Stella Maris II and later renamed Viking Bordeaux), which has languished in Durban for the past couple of years following an abortive attempt to launch a new cruise company. Recently another attempt was made by a company styling itself as Razzmatazz Ocean Cruises, which also failed to get going.

    Madagascar is under judicial detention at a laybye berth in Durban harbour in the care of the Durban Court Sheriff.

    US Navy successful in shooting down rogue satellite

    A missile from a US Navy cruiser has successfully intercepted a ‘non-functioning national reconnaissance satellite’ that was threatening to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere without having sufficiently broken or burned up.

    At 22h26 EST on Wednesday the US Navy Aegis class cruiser USS LAKE ERIE (CG-70) fired a single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), striking the satellite approximately 133 n.miles over the Pacific Ocean northwest of Hawaii. The satellite was travelling at a speed in excess of 17,000 mph.

    According to the US Department of Defense the objective was to rupture the satellite’s fuel tank to release and dissipate approximately 1,000 pounds of hydrazine fuel before it entered the earth’s atmosphere. At the time of this report confirmation that the fuel tank had been successfully fragmented was being awaited although a fireball and vapour trail had been detected after the strike.

    It was expected that because of the satellite’s low altitude debris would enter the atmosphere almost immediately. Remaining debris would re-enter the atmosphere within the next 40 days and burn up.

    The shooting down has drawn strong criticism from China and Russia with suggestions that the US had other military motives.

    DP World buys Egyptian deepwater port

    Dubai Port World (DP World) has acquired a 90 percent stake in the Egyptian deepwater port of Sokhna for the sum of USD670 million, with Egypt’s Amiral Holdings retaining the other 10 percent.

    The port of Sokhna is situated in the Red Sea near the southern entrance to the Suez Canal and is strategically placed on the busy East – West trade route. It is the closest port to Cairo and has four quays with a depth alongside the berths of 16 metres. The container terminal is capable of handling 750,000 TEU annually but the port also caters for breakbulk and general cargo. In 2007 the port handled a total of 440,000-TEU.

    DP World says it intends investing an additional USD1.3 billion in the port over the next three years, which will include a new 1,300m pier and container terminal that will increase the port’s container capacity to 2 million TEU annually. By that stage the port will be able to handle 8,000-TEU ships.

    Of interest is that Sokhna becomes the 43rd port across 23 countries to come under the control of DP World, which among other things is steadily building a strategic network of ports between Asia and Northern Europe and North America.

    Among other Red Sea ports controlled by the Dubai-based company are Jeddah and Djibouti.

    DP World recently increased its interest in the port of Maputo by becoming a joint shareholder with Durban-based Grindrod and CFM in the Maputo Port Development Company. Previously DP World’s interest in Maputo had been confined to the container terminal which was ‘inherited’ with DP World’s acquisition of P&O Ports. But in an announcement earlier this week DP World highlighted its intention of further involvement in Mozambique with a USD200 million investment in the Bilene Hotel – a luxury beach resort, golf estate and eco development north of Maputo and served by its own private airport.

    According to Dubai World Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem the company will invest about USD1,5 billion in Africa over the next five years. The company already has major investments in the Cape Town V&A Waterfront, the Pearl Valley Signature Golf Estate and Spa near Cape Town, the Le Galaway Beach Hotel in the Comores, the Muyuni Resort in Zanzibar and Kempinski Hotel in Djibouti.

    Sultan bin Sulayem rates Africa alongside China and India as the group’s hotspots for investment. “There are vast opportunities in Africa, opportunities unlike anywhere else in the world, such as the magnificent Bilene Hotel. Our presence on the continent places us at an advantage for African investment,” he says.

    Zambia still keen to develop dry port at Walvis Bay

    Zambia says it has taken up an offer by the Namibian government to develop a dry port near the port of Walvis Bay.

    Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Professor Fashion Phiri told parliament this week that a piece of land had been offered by the Namibian government on which to construct a dry port for the benefit of Zambian importers and exporters.

    He was responding to a question raised by a MP as to whether Zambia had taken up Namibia’s offer for a dry port. The deputy minister said that Zambia remained interested and had allocated some funds this year towards the project

    Pic of the day – MSC TOKYO and MSC BENEDETTA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Two ships passing, not in the night but in bright sunshine inside the port of Durban. Nearest the camera is MSC BENEDETTA, which was until recently the largest class of MSC container ship (5,000-TEU) on the South Africa service. That’s now history - the other ship sailing from port is MSC TOKYO, which has a capacity of 5,926-TEU and is by far the largest container ship of any company to call in South Africa. On this voyage she lifted 5,008-TEU at Durban.
    It wasn’t that long ago that the experts were telling us how we were unlikely to ever see 6,000-TEU ships in Durban or Cape Town and yet here they are about to become commonplace – even before the harbour entrance is widened!

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