Ports & Ships Maritime News

Dec 8, 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


  • South African port statistics for November

  • Richards Bay coal exports exceed expectations

  • Complex ship repair contract completed in Durban

  • Piracy update – another cruise ship comes under attack

  • Shipping trends – new tonnage keeps on coming

  • Pic of the day – INGWENYA & LONDON



    The French-owned pipe laying ship DEEP CONSTRUCTOR (former CSO Constructor, 9,640-gt, built 1980) recently completed a US$ 10 million major refurbishment and repair at the Dormac Marine shipyard and Durban dry dock and has sailed for West Africa. The contract lasted 2.5 months and involved nearly 2,000 people including all subcontractors. See story below.
    Picture by Trevor Jones

    South African port statistics for November

    Port cargo figures for November 2008 are now available, courtesy of Transnet Ports Authority.

    South Africa’s seven ports showed a considerable increase in total cargo tonnage handled against the previous month, reaching 21.692 million tonnes compared with 19.036mt for October, an increase of 2,656mt or 13.95%. This was also reflected in the number of containers handled, up 8.85% on the month of October. Cargo volumes are however expected to drop off during December as the year winds towards a close, a period also affected by the worldwide downturn in shipping movements.

    As is customary the figures shown in this report reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to include containers by weight – this is necessary because Transnet NPA no longer measures containers by weight, but does so by counting the number of TEUs - for which PORTS & SHIPS makes an estimated weight adjustment of 13,5 tonnes per TEU to reflect estimated tonnages. This figure may however be considered as conservative with 14 tonnes or even more perhaps being a more realistic figure as bulk cargo is handled in increasing volumes in containers.

    Figures for the respective ports during November 2008 were (with October figures shown bracketed for comparison):

    Cargo handled by tonnes

    Richards Bay                       7.888 million tonnes (Oct 7.365Mt)
    Durban                               6.806 Mt (Oct 5.964)
    Saldanha Bay                      4.571 Mt (Oct 3.522
    Cape Town                         1.105 Mt (Oct 0.859)
    Port Elizabeth                      0.924 Mt (Oct 0.845)
    Mossel Bay                          0.185 Mt (Oct 0.195)
    East London                        0.210 Mt (Oct 0.286)

    Total monthly cargo in November 21.692 million tonnes (Oct 19.036 Mt)

    Containers (measured by TEUs)
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA)

    Durban                              245,048 TEU (Oct 230,756)
    Cape Town                          62,697 (Oct 52,231)
    Port Elizabeth                       41,268 (Oct 36,254)
    East London                          5,076 (Oct 5,774)
    Richards Bay                            159 (Oct 411)

    Total containers handled during November 354,248 TEU (Oct 325,426)

    Ship Calls for August

    Durban:                    407 vessels 10.430m gt (Oct 349 vessels 8.435m gt)
    Cape Town:              217 vessels 4.106m gt (Oct 270 vessels 4.444m gt)
    Port Elizabeth:           111 vessels 2.638m gt (Oct 91 vessels 2.399m gt)
    Richards Bay:            160 vessels 6.055m gt (Oct 172 vessels 5.815m gt)
    Saldanha:                  31 vessels 1.880 gt (Oct 43 vessels 2,030m gt)
    East London:              29 vessels 0.728m gt (Oct 30 vessels 0.801m gt)
    Mossel Bay:                75 vessels 0.396m gt (Oct 69 vessels 0.243m gt)

    - source TNPA, with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container weights

    Richards Bay coal exports exceed expectations

    It hasn’t been the easiest of years for coal exports shipped through the port of Richards Bay but November will be looked back on as a case of ‘that’s more like it!’

    Volumes exported during November totaled 6.37 million tones, a considerable improvement on the 5.57mt recorded for the same period in 2007 and the 5.4mt shipped in October this year.

    At this rate Richards Bay Coal Terminal might end the year at around 60.5 million tonnes, much better than has been expected. The terminal has a capacity of 76mt at present.

    Reasons for the upsurge are not forthcoming but analysts say there has been an improvement in the rail service and that a decrease in demand for local coal has seen more available for export.

    Richards Bay’s main export market is in Europe although India has begun importing coal from Richards Bay.

    According to Transnet Freight Rail a total of 904 trains carried 5.72mt of coal to Richards Bay during November 2008 while McCloskey reports that the average price of coal exported was US$ 78 a ton for the week ending 18 November. Altogether the port handled 62 bulk ships during the period.

    Complex ship repair contract completed in Durban

    Something of the complexity of the contract can be judged from this picture of the Deep Constructor alongside the Dormac Marine quay. The new accommodation section that was built and fitted locally is the white structure opposite the wharfside crane. Picture courtesy Dormac Marine

    One of the more complex projects to be undertaken by a local ship repair yard in recent months involved the Durban yard of Dormac Marine and a French-owned deepwater pipe laying vessel employed with the oil industry off West Africa.

    The ship, CSO CONSTRUCTOR arrived in Durban to undergo both a name change and some major reconstruction and repair. The reconstruction included building an additional accommodation section on the vessel and some major upgrading of the operational machinery.

    The repair included dry docking the vessel to undertake blasting and coating and bush renewals on the rudder horn. After dry docking the ship transferred to the Dormac quay. Altogether a total of 1,829 people including sub-contractors were involved with the project, with Dormac providing about 400 workers and Technip supplying 70 specialist technicians from Scotland and France for the two and half months duration of the project.

    During the project the ship underwent a renaming to DEEP CONSTRUCTOR.

    Before even being awarded the contract Dormac Marine had to undergo an audit of its management process and facility to assess its state of readiness and ability to meet Technip’s expectations.

    The project was also subjected to a tight schedule with an incentive safety bonus attached to the contract that resulted in a cheque for R141,000 being awarded to Dormac staff by the vessel’s owners, Technip. By common agreement the money has been allocated towards a charity, with the Carte Blanche television station ‘Making a Difference’ campaign benefiting from the high standard of safety by Dormac workers.

    In addition Dormac supported the donation by adding a further R150,000 making a total of R291,00 that went to the Paediatric facility at Durban’s King Edward VIII Hospital.

    Some of the other work on the ship involved a major refurbishment of the helipad and various other parts of the vessel, while internal ballast tanks were converted into smaller tanks and an internal deck hatch opening enlarged. Mechanical work was carried out on all propulsion units and bush renewals on the rudder horn while significant pipe work was also carried out throughout the ship.

    Piracy Update – another cruise ship comes under attack

    It won’t be surprising if cruise lines choose to avoid voyages that involve transiting the Suez Canal in future. A second cruise ship, the German cruise ship ASTOR which was on en route to the Persian Gulf, is the latest to come under attack, according to reports surfacing at the weekend.

    And unconfirmed reports say another cruise ship, the Portuguese cruise ship ATHENA (16,144-gt, built 1948 as the Stockholm) also suffered the attention of Somali pirates, although this has not been officially confirmed.

    The Portuguese ship is on a positioning cruise to Australia for Classic International Cruises and according to at least one Australian passenger, they came under attack from a number of small boats as the ship passed through the Gulf of Aden. While the cruise operator has denied the report which was carried in a Melbourne newspaper, the passenger claimed the ship’s master, Capt Antonio Morais had announced on the public address system that “two attacks by pirates had taken place.” The report said passengers were told to stay indoors after small boats surrounded the ship.

    The Athena is due in Melbourne on 20 December.

    The other cruise ship involved in a report of piracy this week is the ASTOR (20,606-gt, built 1987 for Safmarine) which required the help of a German Navy frigate, MECKLENBURG-VORPOMMERN to make her escape after two suspicious looking boats approached the ship.

    Few if any of the passengers on board were even aware of the drama outside as the German frigate fired a warning shot at the two boats, which caused them to veer off. Astor is operating for Transocean Tours in Germany and is en route to Dubai and will later sail to the Indian Ocean islands and later to South Africa where she is due in Durban on 17 January.

    According to Transocean the suspicious boats had not approached within 3 n.miles of the cruise ship and turned away into Yemeni waters after the frigate’s intervention.

    The Indian Navy says it broke up a concentration of small boats each with about five people on board in an area regarded as high risk at position 13.39N – 048.55E on 3 December. It says the skiffs broke off in different directions after the Indian frigate’s helicopter flew over and said it believes that pirates are beginning to target ships arriving from the south or that are en route to Mombasa in Kenya, where they sail closer to land. The International Maritime Board (IMB) which monitors piracy worldwide advises that all ships at sea maintain a strict 24 hours visual and radar watch off the coasts of Kenya and Somalia.

    The IMB has also repeated a warning of three suspicious vessels operating in the Gulf of Aden which are believed to be acting as mother ships for the pirates. Two of these are Russian-built stern trawlers carrying the names BURUM OCEAN and the name ARENA or possibly ATHENA. One of the trawlers has been seen operating approximately 60 n.miles northeast of Bossasso in Somalia. The third vessel is a blue painted tug also operating in the Gulf of Aden.

    Sweden is the latest country to send warships to the Gulf of Aden region to assist with anti-piracy patrols and to act as an escort for UN food aid deliveries. The corvettes STOCKHOLM and MALMÖ accompanied by the support vessel TROSSÖ will sail for the area in March next year for a tour of four months and are expected to be on patrol as from April. A Swedish report said that the navy is now recruiting crews to man the ships on international deployment.

    A total of 15 EU countries are expected to participate at different times in Operation Atlanta which has been launched under a UN mandate to protect UN food aid deliveries. The first operation under Atlanta begins today (8 December 2008) with the involvement of six EU warships in the area that will act under the mantle of UN Conventions 1813 and 1826 for the protection of UN food aid deliveries.

    shipping trends – new tonnage keeps on coming

    As the slump in world economies escalates and shipping lines begin to mothball ships and rationalise services, the delivery of newbuilds continues apace.

    A year ago it was almost impossible to find a shipyard that could build a new ship within a reasonable timeframe. Now orders for new ships has come to a standstill but while this is happening deliveries continue at an average rate of 4,350-TEU per day. That means 130,000-TEU of new space on container ships is available each month for markets that no longer exist.

    According to AXS-Alphaliner the existing cellular fleet comprises 4,651 ships totaling 12.26 million TEU. So far this year 47 ships with a capacity of 76,000 TEU have been sent to the breakers, half of these in October and November. Meanwhile the capacity on the three main east-west routes – Asia/North America, Asia/Europe and Europe/North America has been cut by 6.7%, or 61,000-TEU, to 855,000-TEU since 1 August 2008.

    At the same time the Hamburg Shipbrokers Associations says its Container Ship Time Charter Assessment Index (ConTex) has dropped from 1,022 in February to 405. The index is based on charter rates for 1,100, 1,700 and 2,500-TEU ships.

    In a related report, Maersk Line has revealed that it has laid up eight of its 6,500-TEU ships (52,500-TEU total capacity) of the CV 65 class that were operating predominantly in the Asia services. “Freight rates remain under severe pressure and rates do not cover costs,” said Maersk in a statement. “We have reached a point where laying up eight vessels makes better sense than redeploying them.”

    Maersk says it is prepared to lay up more ships if necessary but will look at other methods to reduce capacity through schedule changes, consolidation of services, vessel sharing arrangements, improving port productivity and slower steaming.

    Pic of the day – INGWENYA & LONDON

    The departmental hopper dredger INGWENYA (4,420-gt, built 1981 as the HR MOFFATT), seen in Durban Bay. Picture by Rip Riphagen

    The Svitzer tug LONDON (2,708-gt, built 1975) which arrived recently in Cape Town for repair and maintenance. Picture by Aad Noorland

    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?

    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