Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 14, 2008
Author: P&S

Reach out to this dedicated maritime audience by advertising here with your Banner - contact info@ports.co.za



Click on headline to go direct to story – use the BACK key to return

  • News from the shipping lines

  • Coega port to get its first cargo-working ships this week

  • Namibia’s rail strike over but banks penalise TransNamib

  • Naval activity – Operation Oxide to be held off Durban

  • Company news - Dubai Ports rakes in cash and Maersk enjoys first half profit

  • Cape Town scenes

  • Mauritius port president dismissed

  • Piracy Report – ships and crew freed

  • US introduces sanctions on IRISL

  • US accused of bribing pirates to search Iranian ship

  • Go ahead for Trans-Kalahari coal line

  • 16th Century Portuguese shipwreck reveals its treasures

  • Special Report – Mozambique Zimbabwe – the commodities lifeline

  • Pic of the day – RIO DE LA PLATA


    News from the shipping lines

    a recent arrival on the South African coast is MSC EAGLE, the former Eagle Express and before that MSC Izmir, seen arriving in Durban on 14 September 2008 shortly after having been taken back on charter by MSC. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Sea Consortium has announced the launch of a dedicated feeder service for the Red Sea, which commences this week Wednesday (16 September) with the 457-TEU K-WATER shuttling between the ports of Jeddah and Aqaba (JAX service) on a 7-day rotation.

    In addition Sea Consortium intends upgrading its Jeddah – Port Sudan service with the introduction of the larger 1,450-TEU POTOMAC and the 630-TEU HANSA LONDON. This will provide a monthly increase in tonnage of approximately 1,440 TEU.

    Resulting from the release of tonnage previously on this service, a new lower Red Sea service is possible, covering Aden, Djibouti and Hodeidah on a fortnightly rotation. Full details of this are still to be announced.

    According to Sea Consortium the current congestion being experienced at the port of Durban, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam means that precise forward scheduling has become something of a challenge. Sea Consortium’s monthly service on this route (EAX-2) nevertheless continues on a monthly frequency with additional frequency offered to Mombasa and Djibouti on its EAX-1 service. EAX-2 also serves Mozambique ports on the return leg from Dar es Salaam.

    The South Africa Europe Container Service (SAECS), consisting of Safmarine, Maersk, DAL and MOL is to reduce its sailing frequency on the Europe – South Africa – Europe intermediate service from weekly to fortnightly and is withdrawing three of its seven container ships accordingly. The consortium gives the reason as seasonal declines in volumes, in particular those on the northbound leg. The new reduced frequency will continue from September through until the end of January 2009 after which seven vessels will be placed back on the service.

    In the interim the four remaining ships are


    Port rotation will include double calls at East London and Port Elizabeth with the rotation Thamesport, Antwerp, Bremerhaven, Le Havre, Lisbon, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Capetown, Lisbon, Thamesport

    Coega port to get its first cargo-working ships this week

    The Port of Ngqura at Coega in the Eastern Cape was expected to receive its first cargo-working vessels this past weekend when the project cargo vessels BELUGA INDICATION and LANGELAND arrived off port.

    The two ships are operating on behalf of Beluga Shipping and BBC Chartering respectively and will be looked after by Mainport Agency.

    Port officials stress the arrival of two ships is not the official opening of the port which is scheduled for a future date. The project cargo being carried by the two ships is believed to be for an Eskom project in the Eastern Cape.

    Namibia’s rail strike over but banks penalise TransNamib

    TransNamib, Namibia’s state-owned rail company experienced a severe financial crisis last week when banks withdrew overdraft facilities, amidst suggestions that the management of the company was unstable.

    TransNamib’s CEO Titus Haimbili was recently suspended pending an investigation into the finances of the company. Resulting from his suspension the parastatal experienced a crippling strike involving almost the entire workforce of just over 2000 who demanded that Haimbili be reinstated. The strike all but crippled rail operations across the country.

    Meanwhile the board has appointed marketing manager Mike Kavekotora as acting CEO pending a final decision on Haimbili’s future. The country’s leading banks however said they did not accept Kavekotora’s new powers and claimed the company was too unstable to allow them (the banks) to continue providing overdraft facilities.

    Namibia’s government responded to the nationwide rail strike, which has since been called off, by calling on the office of the Attorney General to advise government on appropriate measures, after striking workers ignored a court order ending the strike. The cabinet meanwhile met in emergency sittings to discuss the matter. Trade unions maintained the strike was legal and had followed proper channels.

    According to TransNamib the rail company lost ND5 million (R5m) a day during the strike. TransNamib also faces legal action from customers including a consignment of fish railed from the port of Luderitz that went rotten after the train stopped operating.

    Naval activity – Operation Oxide to be held off Durban

    SAS ISANDLWANA F146 which will be taking part in Exercise Oxide off the KwaZulu Natal coast in October. Picture SAN

    The South African and French Navies are to hold joint exercises off the KwaZulu Natal coast during early October, it has been learned.

    Code named Oxide the exercise will involve at least one French Navy ship, the patrol frigate FNS Floreal which is based at La Reunion in the Indian Ocean, and a number of South African ships. Observers from the Mozambique military forces are also believed to be attending.

    South African ships expected for the exercise include the combat support ship SAS Drakensberg, the Valour class frigate SAS Isandlwana, the submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke and the strike craft SAS Isaac Dyobha. A coastal reconnaissance C47 will also take part.

    The various navy ships will be alongside in Durban harbour on 3 October. Meanwhile SAS Drakensberg will sail for La Reunion next Thursday to rendezvous with and accompany the French warship back to South Africa, during which planning for the exercise will also be carried out.

    HMS Liverpool (D92), a Type 42 destroyer of the Royal Navy is due in Cape Town harbour this week for a routine visit. One of the Royal Navy’s auxiliary vessels, thought to be the fleet oiler Grey Rover is expected in Simon’s Town at the same time.

    Company news - Dubai Ports rakes in cash and Maersk enjoys first half profit

    DP World, the rising star among port operators saw its post-tax profits soar by more than 50% to USD287 million for the first half of 2008. Turnover increased by 32% for the same period to USD1.6 billion while container throughput at the various terminals jumped 21.6% to 13.6 million TEU.

    During the period under review two additional terminals were added, at Dakar in Senegal and Sokha in Cambodia. During the second half of the year DP World will also add terminals at Tarragona (Spain, added in July) and Ma’alla in Yemen.

    "DP World remains committed to expanding its already strong presence in the faster growing emerging economies together with the more mature economies where capacity is constrained,” said DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem. “Its particular focus on the East-West trade routes via the Suez Canal and on origin and destination cargo positions fits perfectly to capture the long term growth potential evident in these regions. Despite the current uncertainty surrounding short term global growth, we will continue to invest for the longer term."

    CEO Mohammed Sharaf described the results as particularly pleasing in light of the fact that the industry overall has seen a slow-down in volume growth in the Asia-Pacific region, and that DP World is operating in a more challenging global financial and economic environment.

    “We expect this trend of outperforming the industry to continue through 2008, and anticipate delivering full year results in line with expectations." – source DP World

    It’s also been a good half year for the AP Moller-Maersk Group, which has been able to announce first half profits (after accounting for discontinued operations) of DKK11.9 billion (USD2.4 billion). This reflects a 40% increase year on year. Revenue went up by 13% to DKK148 billion (USD30.4bn), thanks mainly to higher oil prices and an increased share from oil production but higher freight rates and volumes also played a part, the group statement said.

    The Group’s shipping arm showed a profit of USD73 million, compared with a loss of USD219m for the appropriate period in 2007. Nevertheless the Group statement said that continuing high bunker prices, a slow down in global trade and significant new tonnage entering the global container fleets had impacted negatively on its results.

    Average freight rates increased by 12% compared with 2007 whereas bunker prices were 63% higher than in the first half of 2007. Maersk Line and Safmarine jointly handled 3.5 million FEU during the half year period for 2008, up 5% on the first half of 2007. Of this volume Maersk Line handled 3.1 million FEU, up 4 percent.

    Cape Town scenes

    The 32,474-gt Cypriot bulk carrier ARYA PAYAM in Cape Town harbour August 2008. Picture Ian Shiffman

    The heavylift vessel TARGET with rig MAERSK RESOLUTION on board, outside Cape Town September 2008. Picture Aad Noorland

    Mauritius port president dismissed

    Mauritius Ports Authority president Siddick Chady has been dismissed following his arrest on suspicion of soliciting a bribe from the Dutch dredging company Boskalis (see our earlier report dated 3 August 2008).

    Chady was released on bail along with Mrs Chady and a director of the family import company, Bashir Nazeer.

    In July Chady denied reports of having received a bribe of USD25,000 from the Dutch company for a contract to dredge Port Louis harbour. He offered to make his bank accounts available for scrutiny. "You will see that I never received any money from anybody from abroad," he said at the time.

    The charges relate to an enquiry into corruption involving Boskalis and Chady in which a fax sent in October 2006 reportedly advised Chady that the sum of USD25,000 had been transferred into the account of a UK-based film distributor, which deals with Chady’s Mauritius film company.

    Boskalis was subsequently awarded a USD15 million contract to dredge Port Louis to a depth of -14.5m. The work was completed in November 2006.

    Mauritius press reports said that Boskalis had denied having paid a bribe to Chady.

    Piracy Report – ships and crew freed

    Several of the highjacked ships being held by Somali pirates have been released after ransoms were paid amounting to millions of dollars.

    Among these is the BBC TRINIDAD, owned by Beluga Shipping of Germany which confirmed that all 13 crew members were safe and on board the ship which has sailed for Muscat. Also released is the Japanese tanker IRENE while unconfirmed reports suggest the Iranian bulker IRAN DEYANAT (see separate report in this Bulletin) has also been freed.

    Altogether something like 10 ships were being held near Eyl on the northern Somali coast, including several tankers and a two-masted yacht which appears to have been used subsequently as a mother ship for further pirate attacks. Yet another vessel seized previously and used for this purpose is a tug which has been identified as in use by pirates on several occasions.

    Meanwhile the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) have both spoken out strongly against the spate of pirate attacks, saying there is a lack of political will and an ‘abrogation of responsibility’ by governments with naval forces in the area and capable of taking action against the pirates.

    The ICS has called on its members to lobby their governments and to raise the issue of rampant piracy in the national media to create a greater international awareness. The ICS executive committee says its members should also draw the attention of defence and foreign ministries to an urgent need for military naval forces in the Gulf of Aden to begin providing adequate protection to merchant shipping. It says this is not evident despite the mandate received from the United Nations to take stronger pre-emptive action, in particular against clearly identified mother ships used by the pirate gangs which have been operating in the area with impunity.

    In a circular issued the ICS states “Recognising that the safety of merchant shipping may not be amongst the highest priorities of governments, the Committee suggested that national associations should do everything they can to put pressure on governments by generating publicity in their national mainstream media about this threat to shipping and the lives of

    In an internal newsletter the IMB acknowledged that the upsurge in piracy was a result of the inability of coalition forces operating in the Gulf to provide an adequate deterrence.

    “The coalition navies off the Horn of Africa are doing their best to respond to the attacks. Their priorities however are military operations in the Middle East and fighting terrorism. There are not enough coalition naval assets to effectively patrol this seaway in respect of piracy.”

    The ICS says it recognises that coalition forces are unclear what to do if they intervene and
    take pirates’ prisoner. The ICS said there are very few flag states and only one neighbouring country in the region which has accepted prisoners for investigation and prosecution.

    “Naval vessels will understandably hesitate to intervene once hijackers have taken over a vessel and are holding crew hostage. Concern over the safety of the hostages may preclude armed intervention except in exceptional circumstances.”

    Over in West Africa armed militants attacked an oil industry supply vessel and took a number of oil workers captive, including two South Africans. The attack on the vessel HD BLUE OCEAN occurred in the mouth of the Sambreiro River in the Niger Delta.

    The Italian Ro-Ro cargo vessel STRAD CORSARA (11,125-GT) in Cape Town harbour on 20 September 2007. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    US introduces sanctions on IRISL

    The United States last week introduced sanctions on the Iran national shipping line IRISL (Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines) as well as on 18 affiliated IRISL companies based on the accusation that IRISL is complicit in furthering Iran’s nuclear programme with logistical support.

    “Not only does IRISL facilitate the transport of cargo for UN designated proliferators, it also falsifies documents and uses deceptive schemes to shroud its involvement in illicit commerce," said Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in a statement.

    "IRISL's actions are part of a broader pattern of deception and fabrication that Iran uses to advance its nuclear and missile programs. That conduct should give pause to any financial institution or business still choosing to deal with Iran," he said.

    US accused of bribing pirates to search Iranian ship

    Iranian media reports claim that the US offered Somali pirates, who earlier had highjacked the Iran Shipping Lines’ bulk carrier vessel IRAN DEYANAT (25,168-gt) in the Gulf of Aden and were holding it and the crew for ransom, the amount of USD7 million to search the ship for uranium and chemical weapons.

    The reports were unable to say how the pirates responded to the offer. The US has alleged that Iranian ships are used to regularly carry nuclear and other material using state-owned ships.

    The deputy CEO of Iran Shipping LInes said that reports of Russian and Syrian crew on board the Iran Deyanat were not true nor were there any on board the vessel when it was attacked.

    Go ahead for Trans-Kalahari coal line

    The Namibian government has given the go-ahead for a railway line from a coal mine near Mmamabula north of Gaberone to be built across the Kalahari Desert and to the coast of Namibia, either to the existing port of Walvis Bay or a new port possibly at Shearwater Bay.

    The coal mine has reserves of around 2.8 billion tonnes although not all production will be for export. It is also planned to build a coal-powered power station near the mine and coal source.

    The proposal envisages the export of 10 million tonnes of coal annually. The mining company and/or a railway operator will be responsible for the operation of the 1500-km railway, which could be operational by 2014 according to the reports. The railway will connect with the Namibian rail system near Mariental.

    16th Century Portuguese shipwreck reveals its treasures

    Work on recovering artefacts from a 16th Century ship wrecked on the Namibian coast and now covered by sand is expected to commence shortly.

    This follows the discovery of the shipwreck, believed to be a Portuguese trading ship on an outward voyage to the Indian Ocean. The ship was wrecked about 12km north of the Orange River mouth and was discovered during diamond recovery operations. The wreck has been described as Namibia’s most important archaeological find of recent times.

    Among items already recovered from the ship are thousands of Spanish and Portuguese gold and silver coins, minted in the late 1400s and early 1500s, several tons of copper, bronze cannons, more than 50 elephant tusks, various navigational instruments and pewter tableware, which have been removed for safekeeping.

    The shipwreck lies below the sea level but in the manner adopted for diamond recovery operations a sea wall has been built to keep back the sea while mining operations took place. Source The Namibian.

    Special Report – Mozambique Zimbabwe – the commodities lifeline

    HARARE, 11 September 2008 (IRIN) - It is 7 a.m. at the main long-distance bus terminus in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. The roof-rack of a battered 75-seater bus is piled high with goods, from bales of dried tobacco leaves to reed mats, in preparation for the 24-hour journey southeast to the town of Sango, in Chiredzi district on the Mozambican border.

    "We go to the Sango border every Wednesday morning and if we travel without any problems we arrive there early on Thursday morning. It is a long journey of over 500 kilometres," a bus conductor for the Mukumba Brothers transport company, who declined to be named, told IRIN.

    "The luggage we are carrying belongs to traders, who are going to sell their goods in Mozambique. On our return trip the bus is equally loaded on top and inside with rice, cooking oil, food and other things such as soap that most traders bring back," the conductor said.

    Mukumba Brothers is one of several bus companies plying the Harare-Chiredzi route, which is not as well known as the Harare-Mutare route to the eastern border, but a busy trading route all the same.

    The bus, crammed with passengers perched between bags and bundles, leaves Harare two hours late, only to stop for another hour in Willowvale, a light industrial area on the city limits, where drums of scarce diesel is poured into the tank while mechanics carry out last-minute checks on the vehicle.

    The bus finally begins its journey in earnest in the midday heat, but Mervis Chiuto, a cross-border trader and mother of three, is not concerned about the delays.

    "I have been selling reed mats in Mozambique for many years and I have been using this route for a long time. This road from Harare to the border is long, but once you cross into the Mozambican side it is easy to travel because there is a cheap train that goes to [the Mozambican capital] Maputo. That is the one I have been using all these years," Chiuto told IRIN.

    "I sent my children to school through cross-border trade. Now they are married, but I still continue buying and selling things because the cost of life in Zimbabwe is now very expensive and you need to work. My son is a teacher but I also look after him, because his salary can't buy even a bar of soap," she said.

    "People used [to use] the Mutare route to Mozambique because there is a better road, but life has worsened in Zimbabwe and in the past two years I have seen the number of people using the Sango border increase. More people have been buying food such as rice and sugar for their families, and for resale back home [in Zimbabwe]."


    Zimbabwe's economic meltdown has left few people in the country untouched. Unemployment is above 80 percent, annual inflation is officially estimated at more than 11 million percent, and shortages of basic foods, electricity, fuel and potable water are commonplace.

    More than three million people, a third of the population, are believed to have left for neighbouring countries or have gone even further afield to Europe and Australia in search of work, and many remit money to their relatives trying to eke out a living in Zimbabwe.

    The widespread shortages, which the UN predicts will see more than five million people requiring food assistance by early 2009, has resulted in a huge increase in cross-border trading.

    "I am on my way to Maputo to buy sports shoes and labels for resale back in Zimbabwe. I do this once every month. Some other times I also come back with packets of rice when I can carry them," Tapiwa Chimombe, another trader, told IRIN.

    Chimombe graduated from a "good" Harare school in 2000 after passing his A Levels, but turned to cross-border trading when he could not find work in the formal sector. He said many other young men who had worked in banks or as technicians had given up their formal jobs and become traders "because a white-collar job no longer pays in Zimbabwe".

    "You find that most of the women who have been using this route know each other, and the same goes for most of us young people as well. After a few months of doing this you start to recognise familiar faces."

    The familiarity of the passengers makes conversations come easily, albeit in hushed tones, about the recent elections and the ongoing talks between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

    "Like most of the passengers in here I paid R150 (USD19) for this trip because it is easier to pay for things in Zimbabwe with [South African] rands than with local currency. The bus companies prefer payment in foreign currency rather than in Zimbabwe dollars and this is a sign that things are not good, and we need ZANU-PF and MDC to reach an agreement soon or there will be no future for our children," Chimombe said.

    The final 180km to the Mozambican border, which skirts the Gonarezhou National Park, is on dirt roads. "In the next few months, when the rain season begins, this dust road becomes a hazard. Buses fail to navigate the dust road so some of the companies withdraw their buses, and truck drivers charge us exorbitant fees to transport our goods," Chiuto commented.

    Sango border

    The bus arrives at Sango in the early hours of the morning. The Zimbabwe-Mozambique border is demarcated by two red-brick buildings that house officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and the department of immigration.

    In the half-light of dawn there is already a queue waiting for the border to open at 6 am. People are sleeping on the pavements, using their luggage as pillows; a few of the women comfort young children while others wait to use a single tap to wash.

    A few of the travelling women had toddlers with them.

    Thursday is the busiest day of the week for immigration officials on both sides of the border because the train comes from Maputo and the long-distance buses arrive from Harare.

    Good news is always a rare commodity, but today there is some. "With effect from today ZIMRA has increased the amount of foods that can be imported from Mozambique without being charged duty," an immigration officer tells the gathering crowd.

    "You are now allowed to bring in up two 200 kilograms of rice and no duty will be charged [a fourfold increase on the previous limit of 50 kilograms]; the amount of cooking oil you can bring through the border is now 100 litres [double the previous amount of 50 litres]."

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    Pic of the day – RIO DEL LA PLATA

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Hamburg Sud's newbuilding RIO DE LA PLATA sails from Durban on 14 September 2008 on completion of working containers at the Pier 1 Container Terminal.  Picture by Trevor Jones

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

    Did you know that Ports & Ships lists ship movements for all southern African ports between Walvis Bay on the West Coast and Mombasa on the East Coast?

    The daily shipping report for Cape Town now includes a webcam view of the city across Table Bay

    Colour photographs and slides for sale of a variety of ships.

    Thousands of items listed featuring famous passenger liners of the past to cruise ships of today, freighters, container vessels, tankers, bulkers, naval and research vessels.


    South Africa’s most comprehensive Directory of Maritime Services is now listed on this site. Please check if your company is included. To sign up for a free listing contact info@ports.co.za or register online

  • Google

    Web ports.co.za

    Click to go back

      - Contact Us

      - Home