Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jun 4, 2008
Author: P&S

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  • IMO welcomes Security Council action to curb piracy
  • UN sanctions anti piracy action off Somalia
  • The week’s piracy report
  • Unicorn Calulo bunker barges arrive
  • Dormac completes Smit Amandla barge in record time
  • Second Megawhite for Safmarine
  • MSC abandons Port Louis for Salalah
  • Salalah adds another three berths
  • Massive train derailment closes main Durban – Gauteng line
  • Maputo Corridor railway rehab nears completion
  • CDN needs USD18 million to fix railway
  • International Rail News – Berlin-Beijing railway set to roll
  • Warri Ports fights for its own
  • Maritime issues a threat to tourism
  • Angola promises speedy solution to Luanda harbour issues
  • Pic of the week – ARA ROBINSON


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    IMO welcomes Security Council action to curb piracy

    New York, 3 June - The United Nations International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has welcomed a new Security Council resolution which aims to curb piracy along Somalia's coast by allowing ships to enter the country’s territorial waters to prevent attacks by armed robbers.

    IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E Mitropoulos said today in a statement that firm action was needed since the current situation was stifling the flow of much-needed aid to Somalis, jeopardising the lives of innocent seafarers, fishers and passengers, and adversely affecting international trade.

    The Security Council resolution gives permission, for a period of six months, to States cooperating with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to enter the country's territorial waters and use “all necessary means” to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, in a manner consistent with international law.

    The resolution follows a surge in attacks on ships in the waters off Somalia's coast, including hijackings of vessels operated by the World Food Programme (WFP) and other commercial vessels. The resolution's text says these developments pose a threat “to the prompt, safe and effective delivery of food aid and other humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia,” and a grave danger to vessels, crews, passengers and cargo.

    The text was adopted by the Council yesterday with the consent of the TFG, which lacks the capacity to interdict pirates or patrol and secure its territorial waters.

    “We should work together to ensure that acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships sailing off the coast of Somalia are prevented and suppressed to the benefit of the Somali people, first and foremost, the seafarers and passengers on ships sailing in the region, the shipping industry and international seaborne trade,” Mr Mitropoulos said.

    The Security Council encouraged States interested in the use of commercial routes off the coast of Somalia to increase and coordinate their efforts to deter attacks upon and hijacking of vessels, in co-operation with the country's Government. – UN News Service

    UN sanctions anti piracy action off Somalia

    New York, 3 June 2008 – Foreign warships have been authorised to enter Somali territorial waters and intervene against acts of piracy. Announcing this earlier on 3 June the UN Security Council said it deplored the acts of piracy that have occurred off the coast of Somali and called on member states to co-operate in acting against this problem.

    According to the UN body it was “gravely concerned by the threat that acts of piracy and armed robbery against vessels pose to the prompt, safe and effective delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia, the safety of commercial maritime routes and to international navigation.”

    The UN action follows permission granted by Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TGF) for UN naval forces to pursue pirates into Somalia’s territorial waters and take action as necessary. The TGF called on all nations whose military ships and aircraft operate off the Somali coast to be alert to piracy and to assist in curbing this plague.

    The permission granted by the TGF is valid for a period of six months.

    The UN and TGF action coincided with Somali pirates threatening the lives of seafarers on board a Dutch ship, Amiya Scan which was highjacked off the Somali coast last week. The pirates said that any attempt to storm the ship would place the lives of the seafarers in great danger. They claim the ship was ‘arrested’ for being in Somali territorial waters without permission. “The Dutch ship entered Somali territorial waters for illegal fishing purposes,” they told a Somali radio station.

    The claim has been followed up with a demand that a ransom of USD1.1 million be paid for the release of the ship and its crew of nine Russians and Filipinos. The Amiya Scan was en route from Mombasa to Romania when seized.

    In April Puntland armed forces stormed another ship in the hands of pirates off the semi-autonomous north Somali coast and killed several of the pirates.

    While welcoming the UN Resolution the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has warned against moves by private security companies to offer their services by providing armed guards on ships operating in dangerous waters.

    IMB director Capt Pottingal Mukundan said the UN resolution was very welcome. “There will now be a legal structure for navies to fight piracy and protect ships many of which have been hit recently by pirates using rocket-propelled grenades. Navies mandated by law are the only ones who should pursue pirates. Using armed guards on ships is not the way to go. This is more complicated and prohibited by flag states. There are legal complications about armed guards using weapons,” he stated.

    The Canadian Navy meanwhile become involved in chasing off a suspected pirate attack on an unnamed ship in the Gulf of Aden this week. A helicopter flying from the Canadian frigate HMCS Calgary responded to a distress signal from the general cargo ship and made a series of low passes over two skiffs that had been approaching the ship. The two small boats broke off and turned back towards the Somali coast, some 65 n.miles away.

    The week’s piracy report

    The International Maritime Board piracy reporting centre has reported the following weekly piracy report for the period ending 2 June (Africa region only).

    27/05/08: 07h48 UTC: 14:04.30N - 049:23.72E: Gulf of Aden.
    A suspicious speedboat, with five persons, was noticed proceeding towards a tanker underway. Master increased speed, took evasive manoeuvres and called the coalition forces. Unable to intercept the vessel, after about forty minutes the boat aborted and moved away. At the same time, another boat was seen crossing the bows at a distance of 3 n.miles.

    28/05/08: 12h00 UTC: 13:43N – 048:50E: Gulf of Aden
    Four suspicious high-speed boats, length about 15 metres, wooden/plastic grey hull with four persons in each boat tried to approach a tanker underway. Master took evasive manoeuvres to prevent the speedboats from approaching closer. One speedboat crossed the bow at a distance of 0.5 miles. Later the boats aborted and moved away in a south-easterly direction.

    27/05/08: 05h45 LT: offshore Lagos, Nigeria
    Four robbers armed with knives boarded a product tanker at anchor. The lowered a hose into Cargo Tank No.1 and started to discharge cargo into the boat. Duty crew spotted them and raised the alarm. The robbers threatened the crew. Crew retreated into the accommodation and returned with pipes, sticks etc. On seeing the crew armed, the robbers threw their knives towards the crew and jumped overboard. No injuries to crew.

    28/05/08: 10h40 UTC: 13.09N – 048:58E, Gulf of Aden
    Four heavily armed pirates, in a speedboat, attacked and highjacked a general cargo ship underway*. They sailed the vessel into Somali territorial waters. Further details awaited.

    * The vessel noted in the last report above is thought to be the German-owned Gibraltar-flagged Lehmann Timber, a newly built 8,300-DWT general cargo ship en route for the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. One other ship is also reported to have been seized also in the Gulf of Aden but this has not been confirmed and no other information is available.

    Unicorn Calulo bunker barges arrive

    The two Unicorn Calulo bunker barges arrive in Richards Bay on board the semi-submersible pontoon Zhong Ren 1501, towed by the Chinese tug Sui Jiu 201. Picture courtesy Sturrock Shipping

    Two bunker barges built in China for the recently established BEE (black economic empowered) company Unicorn Calulo arrived in Richards Bay on Tuesday this week on board the semi-submersible pontoon barge Zhong Ren 1501, towed by the Chinese tug Sui Jiu 201.

    After having been floated off and in their rightful element, the barges have undergone final checking and refuelling before setting off under their own power for Durban. One of them will later sail also under its own power to Cape Town where the vessel is to enter service.

    Another side view of the pontoon with its cargo of barges on board. Picture courtesy Sturrock Shipping

    The two barges were to have been named Southern Valour and Southern Venture (and are in fact carrying those names painted on the bows) but Ports & Ships understands this has changed and new so-called ‘more appropriate’ names which have still to be decided will be given at functions in Durban and Cape Town. The Durban-based barge, hull number 103 will be named on 20 June and the Cape Town barge after its arrival in the Mother City.

    Positioning the pontoon into position for submerging to float off the barges. Picture courtesy Sturrock Shipping

    A tight fit on that pontoon. Picture courtesy Sturrock Shipping

    Then its time to submerge the pontoon and float the barges off. Picture courtesy Sturrock Shipping

    Gotcha! In the waters of Richards Bay at last, and under the care of the harbour tug RB1. Picture courtesy Sturrock Shipping

    A happy and perhaps a little relieved Deon Esterhuyse, in charge of Unicorn Calulo Bunker Barging. Picture Sturrock Shipping

    See related reports Unicorn Calulo’s new bunker barges arrive this weekend HERE

    …and Details of new Unicorn bunker barge HERE

    Dormac completes Smit Amandla barge in record time

    The 23,495-gt Indian-owned bulker MARE-TAK in Durban harbour on 2 May 2008. The ship is currently in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire undergoing repairs attended to by a team from Dormac Marine. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Durban, 4 June – Dormac Marine reports that the Smit Amandla Marine bunker barge formerly known as Pentow Energy, which has been undergoing double-hulling on the company slipway in Durban as the country’s first modified double hulled bunker barge, was due to be launched today (Wednesday, 4 June).

    The barge, which has been renamed Smit Energy, has acquired 210 tonnes of new ‘skin’ in compliance with new regulations calling for double-hulled tankers and barges in service along the South African coast.

    The double-hulling has been completed more two months ahead of schedule.

    Next in line for double hulling by Dormac is Smit Amandla’s Richards Bay barge, Smit Bongani. While this is taking place Smit Energy will transfer temporarily to Richards Bay to perform barging functions at that port, after which she will return to Durban and take up service alongside Smit Amandla Marine’s newbuild barge, Smit LiPuma which is already in service.

    The Dormac Marine slipway is a busy place at present with fabrication of Hull 109 for Unicorn Calulo Bunker Services – the third new barge for that company (see report above referring to the arrival of Unicorn’s first two barges ex China).

    Dormac Marine is also busy with normal ship repairs on the container ship Safmarine Gonubie alongside the company’s repair quay. This involves minor steel repairs before the ship undergoes a special survey dry docking which will include repairs to her bow thrusters, crankcabs and boiler repairs. While in the dry dock the ship will undergo shot blasting and a complete paint job before emerging as the renamed MV Columbo, having now completed her charter with Safmarine.

    Dormac reports having three riding squads undertaking repairs to ships at opposite ends of the world. One squad is currently attending to the MV Mare-Tak (in Durban last month) in the port of Abidjan, Ivory Coast. A second team is off to Yokohama in Japan to attend to the MV MOL Sprint, while a third squad has travelled to Madagascar to undertake a seal bonding job with the MV Marina.

    Second Megawhite for Safmarine


    SAFMARINE KOMATI is the name of Safmarine’s second so-called Megawhite container ship, which was named at the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Shipyard in Busan, South Korea last week.

    The 6,160-TEU panamax vessel joins her sister, SAFMARINE KOMATI, which was named in April as the two largest ships in the fleet.

    In the 1970s came the ‘Big Whites’ – so named because of their size (among the biggest container ships at that time) resplendent in all white livery – ships which have only this year begun leaving the service. Now, so it seems, we have the ‘Megawhites’ as apparently Safmarine prefers to call them, again because of their size within the company fleet and Safmarine’s all white colour scheme.

    Somehow Megawhite doesn’t have quite the same ring about it but who’s to say!

    “Safmarine has experienced ten-fold growth in the Far East region in the last five years and it is therefore an honour to name the vessel in the presence of customers who have partnered us in that phenomenal growth,” said Peter Ehrenrieich, Owner’s Representative and Safmarine Asia Region Executive.

    Safmarine Komati was named by Liang Jingying, wife of Mr Zhang Minglei, General Manager and Owner, Wuhan Safe Jetta Material Flow Co Ltd in the company of guests from China, Japan, Taiwan, South Africa and Korea at the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Shipyard in Busan, Republic of Korea. Also attending the naming ceremony was Mr KW Park, President of Hanjin Heavy industries and Construction Co Ltd.

    Safmarine Komati has a crew complement of 18 and senior crew present at the naming included the Master of the Safmarine Komati - Captain Christopher Smith, Chief Engineer Christopher Blenkhorn, Chief Officer Raimer Potgieter, Second Engineer Wojciech Rybinski and Electrical Engineer Jason Lee Deetlefs (one or two good South African sounding names in amongst them).

    The two new ships, Safmarine Komati and Safmarine Kariba, are deployed on the Europe - Middle East – India service (known as Safmarine’s Prime Express service).

    Technical specifications of the Safmarine Komati:

    – Length: 299.47 m
    – Breadth: 40 m
    – Deadweight: tdw 84,775 mt
    – Service Speed: 25.10 kn
    - Container Capacity: 6160 TEU (nominal)

    The name Komati is taken from the river of that name which rises near the town of Breyten in South Africa, before running through Swaziland and emptying into Maputo Bay in Mozambique close to the port city. According to PE Raper, former head of the Onomastic Research Centre, HSRC the name is Swazi in origin and means ‘river of cows’, ie hippos.

    MSC abandons Port Louis for Salalah

    MSC has moved its East Africa tranship cargo from Port Louis to Salalah. Picture by Terry Hutson

    report by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip - Port Louis)

    Port Louis, 31 May - Irregularities in port productivity at Port Louis has resulted in Mediterranean Shipping Company Ltd (MSC) taking the decision to move all tranship containers for East Africa across to Salalah in Oman.

    MSC stopped transhipping containers in Port Louis intended for Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar after one of its ships on the East Africa service was unduly delayed in Port Louis for over 17 days.

    Some months back, as a result of poor port productivity three shipping lines, MSC, Maersk and CMA-GGM, signalled their intentions of instituting an increase in the ocean freight for Port Louis cargo, involving imports as well as exports. This increase was to have come into effect in mid-May but due to an improvement in productivity in early May the three companies revised their position, opting to wait and see how the situation has developed by the end of July.

    Rene Sanson, Managing Director of MSC deplores the fact that an improvement in productivity came “too late.”

    “It is a pity that by the time an improvement of the performance had manifested itself an agreement has been signed between MSC and the port of Salalah in Oman,” he said.

    “What is now being transhipped in Oman was previously transhipped in Port Louis. The result is that we are losing approximately 15,000 containers which we will never be able to recover.”

    Sanson believes that the harbour productivity is too unpredictable. “It is true that there has been an improvement in productivity during (the past) three to four weeks, but this performance is irregular and has not been positive over past few days. At this stage, we cannot guarantee a quick turn around to ships.”

    However, according to Rene Sanson, MSC will, as from this week, tranship in Port Louis containers coming from Mozambique that are bound for the Far East. That should constitute approximately 6,000 to 7,000 containers per annum.

    CMA-CGM has also highlighted problems arising because of poor port productivity in Port Louis. The French line has cancelled three transhipment services using Port Louis: two since November and one in April. La Reunion operates one of these services consisting of the transhipment of goods coming from the Indian Ocean area in Port Louis and carried via Sri Lanka for Europe and the United States.

    CMA-CGM is currently studying possibilities of increasing the volume of transhipped containers in Port Louis coming from Europe, Asia and the Far East and which are intended for the ports of the region.

    “But at this stage, there has been no decision as it still depends on the evolution of the productivity,” said Brajen Hazareesingh, of Maritime France, Maritime Agency, representatives of CMA-CGM in Port Louis.

    “If the productivity is acceptable, these transhipments will be performed before the end of the year. We will be able to handle between 5,000 and 6,000 additional containers.”

    Maersk says it does not envisage any change in the three services which is being operated from Europe, the Far East and South Africa. However, “no new service is considered without an increase in productivity and in dredging works to allow Port Louis to accommodate ships of larger tonnages,” said a Maersk spokesman.

    According to a report by the World Bank, Port Louis is classified as 132nd out of 150 ports on the index level of perception of logistics. Port Louis is even preceded by Madagascar and Mozambique.


    Several projects are under consideration by the Port Authorities.

    - Purchase of new equipment (cranes, lifting trucks, tractor-trailers) to improve productivity.
    - The enlarging of the quay of ‘Mauritius Container Final’ to Mer Rouge is envisaged in order to be able to operate three ships at the same time, against two currently.
    - The installation of cranes in the Multipurpose Terminal (next to Lafarge Cement Mauritius’ installations).

    See related report MSC goes to Salalah HERE

    Salalah adds another three berths

    Dubai, 4 June – The port of Salalah has signed a memorandum of understanding with Oman for the construction and operating of three additional deep water container berths.

    Once completed Salalah will have a total of nine berths extending 3,555 metres in length. The first of the three new berths will be operational in the first quarter of 2011, followed by the other two the next year and will increase the port’s annual capacity by 3 million TEU to 9 million TEU. The three berths 7 – 9 form the first stage of Terminal 2 encompassing 1,350m of quay.

    According to Gary Lempke, Salalah’s chief executive, the signing of the MoU indicates the government of Oman’s intention of being at the forefront of regional port development and of enabling the Port of Salalah to keep up with growing demands and customers expectations.

    Salalah consists of Terminal 1 with 6 berths extending 2,205m and operated with 17 Super Post-Panamax STS gantry cranes. An additional eight STS Super Post-Panamax cranes and four mobile harbour cranes are on order, which will increase the port’s present capacity from 4.5m TEU to 6m TEU.

    Salalah is situated in southern Oman directly opposite the main shipping route between Asia and Europe. The port is a joint venture between the AP Moller-Maersk Group and Omani investors and is operated by APM Terminals. – source Gulf News

    Massive train derailment closes main Durban – Gauteng line

    Durban, 2 June – The main Durban to Johannesburg railway line has been blocked after a massive derailment on Saturday near Boughton in Pietermarizburg.

    The accident site is not far from where another huge derailment occurred in 2004.

    In the latest derailment, 42 out of 44 wagons loaded with export manganese ore came off the tracks on Saturday (31 May), spilling ore across the permanent way and closing the double track lines to both up and down traffic.

    The driver of the train died in the accident while his assistant managed to jump clear and suffered slight injuries.

    According to local news reports nearby residents said they heard the crash followed by a series of further crash sounds as the oncoming wagons derailed. Sections of track were torn up in the accident.

    Boughton, 119km from Durban, lies on a section of a long climb out of Pietermaritzburg towards the Cedara Tunnel and Howick. The line consists of a series of sweeping bends and curves as it ascends the escarpment. The train was descending towards Pietermaritzburg station at the time.

    A spokesman for Transnet Freight Rail said technicians and personnel were on the scene clearing up the wreckage. He said that fortunately the area was accessible. In the meantime trains between the port of Durban and Gauteng have been re-routed via Vryheid and along the Richards Bay coal line and the North Coast line. The main line was expected to be closed for the best part of this week.

    Immediate speculation suggested that the train’s brakes had failed soon after it left Balgowan, which is 53km from where the train came off the tracks, but Transnet Freight Rail has refuted this saying it is too early to determine the cause.

    Maputo Corridor railway rehab nears completion

    Maputo – Rehabilitation of the railway line between the port of Maputo and the South African border at Ressano Garcia / Komatipoort is nearing completion, says CFM-Sul, the Mozambique state-owned rail and transport company.

    And according to CFM Executive Director Adelino Mesquita, the line will carry between 2.8 and 3 million tonnes of freight this year which will increase to an annual figure of 4 million tonnes within a couple of years.

    Mesquita made the announcement at Maputo station last week on the arrival of a special train carrying clients who had been invited to see for themselves the progress on the railway.

    CFM-Sul took back the concession to upgrade and operate the railway which was previously awarded to Spoornet, as Transnet Freight Rail was then called, because of non-compliance with the terms of the contract. Since then a determined effort has gone into completing the rehabilitation on schedule. In addition to the improvements are the refurbishment of locomotives and wagons and the procuring of second hand locomotives from India.

    The cost of rehabilitating the 88km stretch of railway has been given as USD 20 million and is due for completion in July this year. By that stage the line will be able to handle trains of 60 wagons hauled by three diesel-electric locomotives, compared with two locomotives hauling a maximum of 40 wagons at present.

    On the South African side of the border Transnet electric locomotives take over the haulage to Gauteng or other areas in Mpumalanga or Limpopo provinces.

    CDN needs USD18 million to fix railway


    Nacala, 3 June – The Corredor de Desenvolvimento de Nacala (CDN), which owns the concession to operate the railway between the port at Nacala and the Malawi border in northern Mozambique, requires funding of USD 18 million to complete the refurbishment of the railway, according to reports.

    The 77km section requiring rebuilding lies between Cuamba and Entre Lagos in the Niassa province.

    A railroad director named as Manuel Macopa was quoted by Macauhub as saying that CDN was looking for funding. He said that one possible short-term solution might be to rebuild a 7 kilometre section of line costing just half a million dollars.

    Since taking over the concession in January 2005 CDN has come under severe criticism from CFM, Mozambique’s state-owned rail and port transport company, as well as from government ministers for what they claim is a lack of performance.

    a section of the Nacala railway, which extends from the port of Nacala in northern Mozambique to the eastern Malawi border. Picture CDN

    International Rail News – Berlin-Beijing railway set to roll

    German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) expects to begin freight rail operations between Berlin and Beijing within three months, according to media reports in Europe.

    The mammoth journey (9,850-km) between Berlin and Beijing will be operated by China United International Railway Container Transport (CUIRC) with a travel time of 15 days, compared with 35 days for sea freight. DB holds an 8 percent stake in CUIRC.

    “Cargo trains cannot compete with sea freight, but for express goods or oversize volumes they do make sense,” said Norbert Bensel, DB’s logistic operations chief. DB says it expects to achieve annual sales of about €10 million from the venture.

    The ambitious project, which for generations has been the dream of many a railwayman, comes at a time when DB will be partially privatised during the year. DB and Russian rail operator RZD are believed to be holding talks about taking a stake in each other – the Russian operator will be a main roleplayer in the new Germany – China rail operation as for much of the time trains will be crossing on Russian tracks.

    Warri Ports fights for its own

    Lagos, 3 June – Nigeria’s Delta State has stepped in to prevent the diversion of ships from Warri Ports.

    The disclosure was made by Dr Wilson Omene, chairman of the Ethiope West local government council at a media briefing for the Nigerian Ports Consultative Council Meeting, which was being held ahead of a maritime summit.

    Omene said a tacit agreement had to be reached with strategic stakeholders to stop what he called an ugly situation when ships meant for the Delta ports were being diverted to other ports, which resulted in economic and social hardship in Delta State.

    His comments referred in particular to the transport of construction equipment and material for the Escravos gas to liquid project which was being diverted to Port Harcourt. – source Vanguard

    Maritime issues a threat to tourism

    report by Alain Malherbe (AeroShip - Port Louis)

    The Director of community outreach and public affairs at the African Centre for Strategic Studies (Mr. Clifford Barnath) was in Mauritius for a symposium on maritime security. He speaks of the “shared strategic interests” of Mauritius and the US.

    You participated in a symposium on the theme ‘Meeting Maritime Security Challenges for Mauritius in the 21st century’. Could you elaborate on these challenges?

    My part of the programme was to talk about how to put together a national security strategy, why it’s important and how to communicate it across a broader spectrum of society so that everybody can participate in its development. I talked about the shared strategic interests of the United States and Africa. We share interests on a number of fronts. One is a concern for anti-terrorism efforts. Not that Africa is in any way a terrorist continent, but there are elements and vulnerabilities that support the possibility of recruiting for terrorism. If people are poor, if they’re not educated, if they don’t have an opportunity to succeed, they might become candidates for recruitment by terrorist organisations. We also have positive strategic interests. Africa is becoming a rich source of things that the rest of the world – not just the US but also China and India – want. I consider this to be a positive thing for Africa. It puts Africa in a very good position to have a lot of people competing to buy oil, bauxite, copper, timber and diamonds. It becomes a concern when governments can’t control their resources and they are stolen and sent off to a bank in Switzerland. Even worse, from our perspective, is that they fund terrorist activities and weapons. Our strategic concern, and that of African states, is to protect their resources from illegal activities and that’s an area we think we help in.

    What about maritime security?

    We have concerns about maritime security. From our perspective, it ties back to weapons of mass destruction. But it also has to do with trade. 80 percent of the world’s trade is by water and a large portion of that goes either north or south of Africa. It would be a strategic problem if terrorists, or anyone else, were able to interdict that trade.

    What is your appraisal of the effectiveness of the Mauritian naval fleet to deal with these challenges?

    I would say that Mauritius is pretty much like the rest of us, even the US, in that we have more coastlines than we have assets. We don’t have enough ships to protect our own borders. We’re working with the Mauritian authorities and other African countries to build up different levels of defence. Ships are only one way to protect the coastlines. There are also listening devices and satellite devices. A lot depends on training and getting good people in. We’re working with the Mauritian government to improve its capabilities in maritime security.

    Is illegal immigration via coastlines a big issue for you?

    In some countries more than others. In terms of our national security concerns, it becomes a problem of “Who are these people?” If they’re normal refugees, that’s one set of issues. If they are terrorists, that becomes another set of issues.

    Would you say that the American presence in Diego Garcia has made the region more or less safe?

    It’s not an issue that I follow.

    As you said earlier, terrorism stems from socioeconomic problems. What is the US doing to tackle these problems in the region?

    The bulk of our efforts in the war against terrorism are against those things. We realize that the war on terrorism is mostly not a military issue. It’s all about eliminating the root causes of terrorism. We have a multi-billion dollar HIV/AIDS programme, we have the Agricultural Growth and Opportunity Act, which deals with free trade and exchange of goods. We have multiple programmes looking at human rights, the treatment of women, children’s issues and diseases. I think we put around USD 4 billion into Africa every year. Some of that also includes peace-keeping support for the United Nations.

    You mentioned some positive shared issues between Mauritius and the US. What are they?

    Our big concern throughout Africa is that peace and security in Africa equates with peace and stability in the US. Tourism is number three on your list and maritime issues are a threat to tourism. You’re now trying to convert some of your sugar stock into sugar by-products, such as bio-fuels. These are positive changes that the government wants to make. We are interested in providing capacity-building tools to help achieve those goals. Mauritius is well-off compared to some other African states so you don’t need as much help on some things. Everything is secondary to peace and stability issues. You can’t have the others unless you have those two.

    Angola promises speedy solution to Luanda harbour issues

    Angola’s transport minister Augusto da Silva Tomás says the government intends finding a speedy solution to Luanda Commercial Port’s problems.

    Speaking to the media at the end of a visit to the dry ports of Viana and Cazenga districts, he said that both government and private companies had a duty to provide transportation services with quality and good performance.

    He said government was aware that there were some problems that had not been taken care of in the areas of Customs, terminal infrastructure and management and the need to have integrated systems between the Luanda port administration and the companies that operate the terminals and business in the port.

    He said that container congestion required efficient and prompt solutions and he has instructed the managers of the two dry ports to improve management skills and to provide an improved service to customers as a means of facilitating the clearance of the Luanda port terminals. Source Angop

    Pic of the week – ARA ROBINSON

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    ARA Robinson (P45), a Espora class (Meko) light frigate of the Argentine Navy that took part in the recently concluded Atlasur 2008 naval exercise off the Cape coast. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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