Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 15, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – KOTA NASRAT

  • Richards Bay MPT has about-face over weekend overtime charges

  • Signs of an early recovery for the dry bulk sector

  • Piracy update – new Puntland leader promises action

  • China promises help in extending Mauritanian port of Nouakchott

  • Scepticism over Nigeria’s latest port appointment - new faces but same old challenges

  • Pics of the day –SPRINGBOK and UMZUMBE


    First View – KOTA NASRAT

    One of Pacific International Lines (PIL) latest container ships KOTA NASRAT in Cape Town harbour on 12 January this year. The ship was launched in November 2008 and was making her maiden visit to South Africa at the time. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Richards Bay MPT has about-face over weekend overtime charges

    The Richards Bay Multi Purpose Terminal, a business unit of Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), has pulled back from introducing a shortened 5-day working week that would have meant overtime charges for weekends.

    The notice was issued late last week stating that as from 16 January 2009 (tomorrow) anyone wanting to work a ship at the terminal during the weekend or on holidays must be prepared to pay overtime rates, a decision that was received with surprise and concern by port users. See our report for 13 January TPT cuts back at Richards Bay HERE

    In an email to all customers sent on Wednesday, TPT’s Divisional Executive Manager Victor Mkhize announced the retraction of the notice, saying here had been further deliberation on the matter.

    “However, this does not mean that terminals will absorb overtime cost incurred unnecessarily,” he warned, adding that the terminal would engage with customers on an individual basis to plan and find a less expensive way of providing the service.

    If it had been applied, the Richards Bay Multi Purpose Terminal’s new hours would have been from 06h00 on Mondays, to 06h00 on Saturdays.

    Signs of an early recovery for the dry bulk sector

    Positive signs of an early recovery by the dry bulk shipping sector are being noted, says the Hellenic Shipping News in its latest edition.

    The journal says that optimism appears to be returning following the sharpest rate fall in its history. It reports that on Tuesday this week the Dry Bulk Index (DBI) which tracks the cost of shipping commodities such as iron ore and coal, reached 911 points, up by 22 since the previous session.

    This is the highest point reached since October 2008, giving the owners of capesize vessels something to smile about.

    It quotes the average time charter for a capesize as being $15,235, an improvement by $1,105 against the previous day. “This level is even enough for some ships to return some modest profits to their owners, for the first time in months.”

    It’s not so rosy for the rest of the market however, with the Panamax Index posting another fall by nine points to end at 520 points, a level that produces an average time charter rate of $4,136, lower than the $4,208 earned by the supramaxes. Handysize activity has remained stalled for days, the article states, and stands now at 270 points and an average daily time charter of just $3,976.

    Piracy update – new Puntland leader promises action

    New leader pledges to help rid Puntland of piracy

    The newly elected president of Puntland, the semi-autonomous region of northern Somalia (the area that forms the geographic Horn of Africa) says the fight to stamp out piracy will be a top priority for his incoming administration.

    Abdurahman Mohamed Faroole, who was elected to the presidency on Thursday last week was being inaugurated at the state capital of Garowe and becomes the fourth president of the 66-member parliament.

    Puntland has enjoyed a fairly stable record of government, free from the rampant warlordism that has plagued most of the remainder of Somalia. However in the past year piracy in his country has become a problem of international proportion with local government authorities admitting they have been incapable of curbing its growth. The southern port of Eyl became the major centre of pirate activity and has grown rich on the many ransoms paid by ship owners and insurers to secure the release of vessels and crew.

    In recent weeks Puntland authorities have taken the responsibility for imprisoning pirates captured by international warships operating off its coast.

    Five ships released

    It is being reported that up to five ships have been released by Somali pirates in the past week, leaving an estimated eight vessels still in custody, which is the lowest number in many months.

    The latest ships to be freed include the Korean-owned, Philippine-managed AFRICAN SANDERLING (58,798-DWT) together with its 21 crew. The ship had been en route from Aqaba to China with a cargo of fertiliser. In addition a second Turkish ship, the KARAGOL (6,000-DWT) has also been released along with its crew who are reported to be in good health and safe. This follows the release of the 82,849-DWT bulker YASA NESLIHAN and its crew of 20 last week.

    Another ship released was the VLCC SIRIUS STAR, carrying a cargo of 2 million barrels of oil worth $100 million, which was believed to be returning to Bahrain or possibly to Dubai but is now reported as possibly sailing for the Cape of Good Hope to take on bunkers and supplies as well as effect a crew change off either Durban or Cape Town.

    Russian frigate helps Maersk Ship fight off pirates

    Yesterday it was learned that a Maersk Line container ship, the NEDLLOYD BARENTZ (67,712-DWT) had called in the assistance of a Russian warship to help evade the attention of pirates who were attempting to board the boxship. Rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the Nedlloyd Barentz which increased speed and radioed for assistance.

    The incident lasted for 30 minutes before help arrived in the form of a helicopter from the Russian frigate ADMIRAL VINOGRADOV, which opened fire on the pirates’ boat, wounding and capturing three of the pirates who have since been handed over to the Yemeni coastguard. The Maersk ship was en route to a Saudi port at the time of the attack.

    China promises help in extending Mauritanian port of Nouakchott

    China has promised to assist the Mauritanian government with extensions to the port at Nouakchott.

    The assistance from China is worth $280 million and comes in defiance of moves by the African Union, the United States and the European Union to introduce sanctions against Mauritania following a coup carried out last August by General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

    The European Union has threatened to withhold $230m worth of developmental funding while the United States has suspended military aid including security training while imposing travel restrictions on Mauritanian coup leaders. The African Union has suspended the country from AU membership and is working with the European Union, the United States, the Arab League, and the Islamic Conference to sanction Mauritania's military rulers.

    China, which has extensive investments in the West African country, including oil exploration says it will provide the money to extend the port quays by a further 900 metres and, according to the Chinese ambassador, has ‘exemplary relations’ that will be furthered. Chinese contractors are said to have almost $700 million worth of projects currently underway within Mauritania.

    Scepticism about Nigeria’s latest port appointment - new faces but same old challenges

    Scepticism about fresh Federal Government efforts to decongest and get the Nigerian ports moving again are being voiced in the West African country. Critics say that Nigeria’s port problems have always been the same – congestion, inflation occasioned by high cost of doing business in the ports and corruption!

    In a stinging article in the Nigerian Tribune, the paper says that successive governments had sent so many ‘student ministers,’ each claiming to be ‘willing to learn’ that the industry had finally become stunted!

    “The most unfortunate aspect of these ‘rooky’ ministers is that when they had finally finished learning a year or two after, the Presidency would unceremoniously remove them and only to be again replaced by another ‘rooky’ minister!”

    The article quotes one of Nigerian’s leading maritime personalities, Capt Niyi Adeyemo who said the future of the Nigerian maritime industry was bleak.

    “Look, I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but honestly, if we continue to run this industry the way we are doing, it would almost be impossible to guess when we will ever be able to get there!” he said.
    The article slammed the appointment of a new minister – a pharmacist by profession who, it said, had little or no knowledge of the maritime industry and which sent jitters down the spines of principal maritime operators.

    It summed up the Nigerian port challenges by identifying four areas of concern.

    1] a lack of a functional rail system linking with the ports.
    2] the need for dredging the waterways and placing functional barges on them.
    3] the need for inland dry ports or Inland Container Depots.
    4] the need to modify terminal restrictions and enable container ships to berth during emergencies.

    The article says that after having toured the Lagos ports while looking for reasons rather than solutions for the congestion, the new minister should have discovered by now that the problem being experienced in Nigeria is one of terminal congestion, not port congestion.

    “However, if the government continues to send greenhorns to the industry as ministers, the key elements would continue to remain un-emphasised, un-pursued and lacking, and congestion would continue to hound Nigeria. Importers would continue to pay demurrage to shipping companies...., as well as to terminal operators for goods landed whose locations could not be identified or cleared.”

    Read the full article here HERE

    Pics of the day – SPRINGBOK and UMZUMBE

    The ill-fated SD14 freighter SPRINGBOK at the Durban ship repair jetty, not long before the ship was involved in her infamous and well-documented collision with another vessel, the gas roman, which saw the SD14 being sliced almost in two. Amazingly neither ship sank and remained afloat after the collision. Picture Terry Hutson

    The Durban harbour tug UMZUMBE, seen in the entrance channel of Durban harbour. Picture Terry Hutson

    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

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