Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 23, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • Navy’s third new sub arrives at Simon’s Town

  • Seanergy acquires bulkers from Restis Group

  • AGOA gets the C-classes rolling from SA to the US

  • Kenyan shippers call for review of transport costs

  • Time to review how safety management systems work

  • COMESA ready to launch customs union in December

  • SA Navy needs more technical staff and divers

  • SADC expresses concern over violence in SA

  • Pic of the day – AGIA SOFIA


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    Navy’s third new sub arrives at Simon’s Town

    The South African Navy’s third Meko class submarine, SAS Queen Modjadji I (S103), arrived in Simon’s Town yesterday morning on her delivery voyage from the builders in Germany.

    Queen Modjadji I is the last of seven new ships from the controversial arms contract placed with German shipyards. Four frigates of the Valour class have already entered service in the navy as have the first two submarines, SAS Manthathisi (S101) and SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S102).

    The latest submarine arrived having been escorted home by SAS Protea, the navy’s hydrographical survey vessel. En route to South Africa Protea experienced mechanical problems, fortunately while the ship was in the vicinity of the Canaries, which resulted in an unscheduled call being made at Las Palmas and a frustrating delay as the request for spares coincided with public holidays in SA and elsewhere. Being a long weekend authorisation could not be obtained to purchase the necessary spares from Sweden – as the officer commanding SAS Protea expressed it on the navy’s official website, “Even the parts that we needed could not leave Sweden until the Monday morning because the accounts staff had taken the Friday off to have a long weekend. Imagine our frustration!”

    At least the crew made the most of the opportunity for some unexpected sightseeing on a scenic and popular holiday destination.

    Meanwhile the submarine had continued on ahead while remaining in constant contact with her escort and her scheduled arrival in Simon’s Town went ahead as planned.

    Seanergy acquires bulkers from Restis Group

    Greek shipping company Seanergy Maritime Corp has acquired six dry bulk ships – two of them newbuilds – from companies associated with the Restis family, owners of South African Marine Corporation, which was once part of the Safmarine shipping group.

    The six vessels are two single hull handysize bulkers AFRICAN ORYX and AFRICAN ZEBRA, two single hull supramax ships still under construction, and two single hull Panamax bulkers BREMEN MAX and HAMBURG MAX. The as yet unnamed newbuilds are due for delivery this year. The cost of the total purchase has been quoted at USD395 million.

    Seanergy has also acquired from the Restis Group the first right of refusal for two additional newbuilds due for delivery next year.

    All six vessels will enter into time charters with South African Marine Corporation in transporting dry bulk cargoes including coal, iron ore and grain. Average age of the six ships is 10.5 years and they have a combined carrying capacity of 317,743 deadweight tonnes.

    In terms of the sale agreement Enterprises Shipping and Trading SA (Restis Group) will provide technical management services and Safbulk Pty Ltd, another Restis Group affiliate, will provide charter party brokerage services to the Seanergy fleet.

    AGOA gets the C-classes rolling from SA to the US

    International car manufacturers that base operations in South Africa are benefiting from the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows certain categories of exports from Africa to enter the US market duty free.

    Motor vehicle exports from South Africa to the US surged 226 percent in the first three months of the year. Figures from the US state department show that the country bought USD375 million (R2.8 billion) worth of motor vehicles from South Africa between January and March, compared with USD115 million a year earlier.

    Nico Vermeulen, the executive director of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA, says Mercedes-Benz South Africa has introduced a new C-class model, after phasing out its old C-class model last year. The local operation has ramped up production, exporting 8,000 vehicles worldwide in the first four months, a fivefold increase on last year.

    He says BMW South Africa is a top exporter, including to the US. The cars are allowed into the US duty free under Agoa.

    Motor vehicles, along with other automotive manufactures, have made transport equipment the second-largest category of local exports to the US. In the first three months of the year, transport exports were worth USD423.9 million, up from USD169 million last year. (But this was a big dip from USD664.9 million the previous year. Vermeulen suggests that the decrease came ahead of Mercedes’ introduction of its new C-class.)

    The balance of trade in this category lies with the US, which exported USD544 million worth of transport equipment to South Africa, compared with USD344.4 million a year earlier. But overall, South Africa has a trade surplus with the US, exporting USD2.5 billion in the three months, compared with US exports to South Africa of USD1.4 billion.

    The reason for the surplus is USD1.7 billion worth of metals and minerals that South Africa sold into the US, of which only USD285 million was under Agoa. (Agoa News)

    Kenyan shippers call for review of transport costs

    Kenya’s Shippers Council this week called for a review of local transportation costs to reduce the cost of doing business in Kenya and the Great Lakes region, reports The Daily Nation.

    The council said on Wednesday that Kenya’s production costs were expensive because of the high cost of transportation, which amounts to between 40 and 50 percent of total import and export transportation costs.

    The Shippers Council CEO Gilbert Langat said local transportation costs were making the region very expensive and difficult to compete with other parts of the world where local transportation costs have been successfully lowered.

    He said road and rail transport in the East African region was performing poorly because of a variety of factors. Rift Valley Railway, which had taken over management and operation of the former Kenya and Uganda Railways networks, was not performing as expected and road transport is experiencing ongoing bottlenecks at borders and weighbridges due to over stringent customs regulations.

    He said it took 12 days to move cargo from the port at Mombasa to Kampala in Uganda.

    On the same day that Langat was saying this, Kenya’s Maritime Authority director general Ms Nancy Karigithu told the same meeting that Kenya needed to increase revenues via taxes on transport and insurance services.

    Time to review how safety management systems work

    In its latest podcast, ‘The Case Of The Bosun’s Omen’, Maritime Accident Casebook suggests that it is time to review how Safety Management Systems work, or don't.

    Based on an incident investigated by the Hong Kong Marine Department, Mardep, The Case Of The Bosun's Omen tells the story of the death of a bosun when the MacGregor hatchcovers on which he was standing opened under their own eight and crushed him between two 1.5 tonne steel pontoons. The incident happened because the seafarers involved did not follow safety procedures given in the ship's Safety Management System.

    Says Bob Couttie, administrator of Maritime Accident Casebook (MAC) and narrator of the podcast: “Seafarers not following procedures laid down in a ship’s SMS is a common element in maritime casualties. In rare cases, it's true, seafarers have been prohibited from having access to a ship’s SMS but for the most part it’s a matter of them not following the procedures, not being familiar with them, or deliberately ignoring them.
    Somehow the message isn’t getting across that these documents aren’t there just to add ballast, they're there to save lives.”

    “It may be time to take a look at how the SMS is implemented and why they are having less impact on accident reduction than they should. How do we get that information out of the ring-binder or off the ship’s computer’s hard disk and make it an essential working tool for seafarers.”

    Like all MAC podcasts, The Case Of The Bosun's Omen reveals the circumstance around a real event through an audio podcast and online materials available for free at the Maritime Accident Casebook website, www.maritimeaccident.org.

    As with the preceding episodes, each podcast is backed by an illustrated online transcript that seafarers can read, discuss and share with their crewmates and other seafarers. Those with training and safety responsibilities can use the broadcasts and the transcripts freely.

    Maritime Accident Casebook, MAC, is a unique, free, informal educational resource for seafarers and maritime trainers which seeks to empower seafarers through knowledge to keep themselves alive and their ships safe. Using audio podcasts that can be played on any computer, MP3 Player or MP3-capable cellphone and online downloadable hard-copy transcripts, MAC encourages seafarers to discuss lessons learned from real-life events and apply them to their own vessels and working practices to create a safety-conscious community.

    For further information about Bob Couttie's Maritime Accident Casebook see the website at http://maritimeaccident.org  or email

    COMESA ready to launch customs union in December

    The long awaited customs union for Eastern and Southern Africa is due to be launched in December, according to COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa).

    Comesa consists of 19 countries making a potentially combined trading block, of which 14 members are participating in the Comesa Free Trade Area under which no tariffs are levied on goods from members states.

    Each member however applies its own regime of tariffs on goods imported from outside the region. Under the union, members will also have one tariff for goods coming in from outside the member states. – source www.allafrica.com

    SA Navy needs more technical staff and divers

    by Edwin Tshivhidzo

    Simons Town, 22 May - More technical staff and divers are urgently needed in the South African Navy, says Director of Fleet Force Preparation, Rear Admiral Hanno Teuteberg.

    Addressing journalists a day before (Wednesday) the arrival of the last acquired submarine christened SAS Queen Modjadji 1, Admiral Teuteberg said the Navy was currently working on incentives to retain navy employees in the service.

    “As part of the incentives, members of the Navy will have an opportunity to travel around the world as part of their duties,” he said.

    The Navy, he said was currently training some of its members to operate the newly acquired war ships in other countries.

    He also encouraged members of the public to apply for positions within the Navy irrespective of whether they could swim or not.

    “We are not going to turn away someone because he or she cannot swim, what we are going to do is to teach them how to swim,” he said.

    Admiral Teuteberg said the Navy would continue to plan ahead for the benefit of the country and its people.

    He said this was in line with the White Paper on Defence which prioritises the safety and protection of the country.

    Regarding the recently acquired submarines, he said they are the best in the world, fitted with the latest technology.

    The latest acquisition, Queen Modjadji is expected to be united with her two sister ships on Thursday, the SAS Manthatisi and SAS Charlotte Maxeke, that have already been taken into service by the South African Navy.

    She left Germany on 22 April under the full control of the South African Navy.

    Defence Minister Mosioua Lekota officially handed her over to the Navy on Thursday (yesterday).

    The fleet of three submarines was bought as part of South Africa's multi-billion Rand strategic arms acquisition programme.

    According to Rear Admiral Teuteberg, the Navy made a proposal for the acquisition of the submarines in 1998.

    The Navy also received four new patrol frigates as part of the package, as well as four Super Linx helicopters to be operated by the South African Air Force from the ships.

    According to the Navy, the state-of-the-art submarines will among others be used for peace support missions, protection of offshore assets and to conduct search and rescue missions. - BuaNews

    SADC expresses concern over violence in SA

    Zambia, 22 May - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of mission accredited to South Africa have expressed concern at the escalating attacks on foreign nationals in the country.

    The ambassadors and high commissioners held a meeting in Zambia on Wednesday to discuss the problem and resolved to ask the South African government to find a permanent solution to the crisis.

    Zambia's High Commissioner to South Africa, Leslie Mbula, who chaired the meeting, expressed solidarity with the victims and urged the South African people to accommodate people from other countries in the region because of a common shared history, culture and destiny.

    The high commissioner also thanked the South African government for the tireless efforts being made in assisting the victims of the violence.

    Since the start of the attacks last week, more than 40 people have been killed and thousands have been displaced.

    Eleven ambassadors and high commissioners attended the meeting which took over three hours.

    Present at the meeting were heads of mission from Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia. - BuaNews-NNN

    Pic of the day – AGIA SOFIA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The Maltese-registered Greek owned bulker AGIA SOFIA discharging a cargo of 28,500 tonnes of soya bean meal at SA Bulk Terminals (Maydon Wharf 5) last week. ISS Voigt were the ships agents. Picture by Steve McCurrach http://www.airserv.co.za/maritime.htm

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