Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 5, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – CITY OF HAMBURG

  • Good news for Transnet as Fitch Ratings gives the nod on creditworthiness

  • News from the shipping lines

  • News from the African ports...

  • Piracy update – Somali pirates undeterred and surcharging begins

  • Nigeria receives maritime education assistance from Ukraine government

  • Pic of the day – Tugs in Cape Town: MAERSK BATTLER & SALVERITAS


    First View – CITY OF HAMBURG

    Diverted ship – CITY OF HAMBURG in Cape Town harbour. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

    The crisis in the Gulf of Aden caused by rampant piracy is resulting in increased bunker calls at the ports of Durban and Cape Town, and includes some unusual ship types for South African ports.

    Among these during December was the Ro-Ro vessel CITY OF HAMBURG, which on 4 December 2008 was delivered to its owner and operator, Louis Dreyfus Armateurs SAS and Norway’s Leif Hoegh ASA. The new ship had been built at the Singapore Technologies Marine (ST Marine) shipyard and was named back in June by Mrs Valérie Pécresse, French Minister for Higher education and Research.

    City of Hamburg is the first Ro-Ro ship to be delivered to the LDA/LHC partnership – a second sister ship CIUDAD DE CADIZ is due to be delivered by ST Marine during the first quarter of this year. Both ships will sail under the French flag.

    City of Hamburg follows the 2004 delivery of VILLE DE BORDEAUX, and both ships will operate under charter to aircraft manufacturer Airbus for the transportation of Airbus A380 components by sea from the various Airbus manufacturing plants across Europe.

    The components are collected at Hamburg (centre and aft fuselage), Mostyn in Wales (wings), Cadiz, Spain (tail) and St Nazaire (cockpit) for delivery to the French port of Bordeaux, from where the components are transported by river barge and road to the final assembly line in Toulouse.

    Good news for Transnet as Fitch Ratings gives the nod on creditworthiness

    Transnet and its sole shareholder received welcome Christmas news shortly before Christmas Day with Fitch Ratings affirming the state-owned transport group’s government-guaranteed debt ratings at national long-term ‘AAA(zaf)’ with a stable outlook.

    The favourable ratings apply only to that portion of Transnet debt which is explicitly guaranteed by the South African government, Fitch said.

    Up until the end of the Transnet financial year, 31 March 2008 the SA government had issued guarantees against R19 billion of the parastatal’s borrowings.

    In its statement Fitch said the guarantee applies to the T011 and T018 domestic bonds that mature in April 2010 and July 2014 respectively, and the Euro 42 and Euro 42A Eurobonds which mature in April 2028 and March 2029 respectively.

    Transnet has additional loans in its commercial paper programme and TN17 and TN27 domestic bonds that are not guaranteed by the central government.

    According to Fitch the Transnet 2008 fiscal year reflected the company’s successful turnaround strategy.

    News from the shipping lines

    Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), which has recently placed several 7,000-TEU sister ships on its Northern Europe – South Africa service (MSC FLAMINIA and MSC ALESSIA, each 75,590-gt, built 2001, 300m x 40m, draft 14.5m), has taken into service its largest container ship, MSC DANIELA (365.5m x 51.2m, 14,000-TEU) from Samsung Heavy Shipyards in South Korea.

    MSC Daniela stows 20 rows of containers across deck but her width of 51m leaves her too wide for the future Panama locks. Not that this will be an immediate problem, MSC Daniela is to be deployed to the Far East – Mediterranean ‘Jade’ service.

    Built using high-tensile steel to produce rigidity and reduce the risk of bending, the ship is unusual in featuring a deckhouse two thirds of the way towards the bows, separated well away from the engine room. This provides improved visibility from the bridge while improving container volume capacity. The positioning also has an added advantage by reducing the need for ballast water.

    Hamburg Süd, the German container carrier is expecting to take delivery of the latest in the ‘Monte’ series of 5,600 – 5,900-TEU ships, MONTE ALEGRE. She will be the sixth of a second series of ten Monte ships ordered from the Daewoo Group Shipyards in South Korea and Romania. Six of the class are being built to a lengthened 5,900-TEU version.

    Monte Alegre was due to sail from the Romanian shipyard last week for the Far East where she will join the company’s Far East to East Coast South America via Durban, South Africa service.

    Unicorn Tankers has sold the SOUTHERN UNITY (40,000-dwt, 24,663-gt, built 2004) which has now moved off the local coastal service on which it has been deployed since entering service in 2004 – the ship was renamed AMALIENBORG in December and sailed from Durban wearing the colours of Danish company Dannebrog Rederi.

    Unicorn Tankers recently took delivery of the 11-271-gt newbuild chemical and oil products tanker BERG which is currently deployed on the southern African coast including visits to Mozambique ports.

    News from the Mercosul Line, which has no bearing on African trade but does have a connection of sorts with Safmarine, is that AP Moller-Maersk, Safmarine’s parent company, intends transferring two 2,478-TEU newbuilds to Mercosul Line, which is an AP Moller-Maersk affiliate.

    The two ships will be delivered from the Volkswerft shipyard with the first vessel taking the name MERCOSUL SANTOS and being delivered shortly. The second and as-yet unnamed vessel will be delivered in March. The two ships are the last in a series of ten that were built by Volkswerft for Maersk and its sister company Safmarine.

    Singapore-based Pacific International Lines (PIL) has taken delivery of the KOTA NASRAT, the sixth 1,802-TEU container ship ordered at the Dalian shipyard. Kota Nasrat will enter PIL’s service between Asia, East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands (EAS).

    News from the African ports…

    Picture by Dick Moore

    Gas find drilling equipment in Port Maputo

    Pictured above is drilling equipment stored in the Port of Maputo which has been used in Phase II of the exploration by SASOL of two new offshore gas fields in the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane.

    After use in this project, the equipment was recently sent to Port Maputo from where it will be shipped to the Middle East for another exploration project.

    According to reports, gas was discovered at depths of 1,339 and 1,359 metres and it is hoped the discoveries will prove commercially feasible. Natural gas production is having an increasingly positive impact on Mozambique’s economy and South Africa is a major buyer of export volumes.

    Port Maputo has played an important role in the development of Mozambique’s natural gas reserves.

    Apart from the present project, 48,000 sections of coated pipes were unloaded from 12 ships in 2003-04 for the construction of an 865 km pipeline connecting the Temane onshore gas fields to SASOL’S petrochemical complex at Secunda. – report by Yvonne de Kock

    Port managers key to alleviating congestion

    Port managers have a key role to play in overcoming port congestion in African ports and need to ignore the notion that they are public servants answerable only to their respective governments.

    This was the conclusion of a four-day brainstorming session held in West Africa that focused on problems faced by Africa’s ports, principally those in Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania. The meeting identified port congestion as a common feature in each of these countries, along with the need for increased training of maritime personnel, which was required to ensure the continent’s preparedness in meeting the challenges of the future.

    Other areas identified included excessive red tape and bureaucracy, particularly involving customs services and a seamless operation at the ports.

    The brainstorming session consisted of maritime experts drawn from across the region as well as representatives of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).

    Referring to the role of port managers the forum noted that port managers need to move beyond the notion that they are public servants answerable only to government. It was the role of port managers to bring to government attention the need for better attention to vital areas, such as the rehabilitation or construction of roads accessing the ports and improved port services.

    Dry-docking of Cape Town floating crane INKUNZI

    Cape Town’s floating crane INKUNZI has been taken out of service temporarily while undergoing its two yearly dry docking and lay up refit.

    The crane will not be operational for the period starting 07h00 today (Monday), 5 January until 16h00 on Friday, 6 February 2009.

    Potential users of the crane are requested by the port authority to please consult the port’s marine office to verify whether work has been successfully completed before accepting any bookings scheduled for the period immediately following the refit period.

    Piracy update – Somali pirates undeterred and surcharging begins

    AQUILA COLLEAGUE (13,066-gt, built 1998), diverted via the Cape. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    With more than a dozen international warships on patrol in the Gulf of Aden, pirate activity is continuing to make world headlines with reports coming in of attempts, not always successful, of highjacking of commercial ships in the area.

    During December two ships were seized by pirates but a number of other attacks were thwarted by the timely response of warships alerted to the fact. In some cases pirates were captured, leaving the international warship concerned with the problem of what to do with the suspected pirates.

    One German warship, the frigate KARLSRUHE released its captives after destroying their boats and then deciding they (the Germans) had no further jurisdiction and that no German interests were at risk. This serves to highlight the problem facing international forces combating the scourge of piracy.

    In an incident reported to have taken place last Friday (2 January) pirates came under attack from both a Danish warship, the ABSALON and the cargo ship involved. The latter fired flares into the speedboat carrying the pirates, causing the boat to catch fire and the pirates to jump into the sea, from which all five were later rescued by the Danes who now have to decide what to do with them.

    The increasing number of attacks on merchant shipping travelling through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, or further south in the vicinity of the Somali coast has seen more and more shipping lines opt for the choice of sending their vessels via the longer and more expensive route around the Cape of Good Hope. Few companies are making public statements to this effect but have quietly opted for this choice rather than have a ship taken out of service while they bargain for its release and that of its crew.

    Shipping lines have the choice of chancing that their vessels can outrun or out-manoeuvre the pirates, while also incurring increased insurance and security costs. On the other hand the alternate of re-routing via the Cape can cost upwards of US$140,000 a voyage (based on 14 days additional sailing at US$ 10,000 a day – a larger ship will cost considerably more).

    It is not only shipping lines that are facing this dilemma. Cargo owners will have concerns over whether cargo will reach its destination on time – a ship that has been highjacked may remain in pirate custody for up to three months and that includes the cargo on board.

    Cruise operators may decide their ships are capable of outrunning any pirate in a speedboat and there have been several instances to back this up in recent months, but the safety and goodwill of passengers is usually more about having a perception of safety than bland assurances of being able to out-manoeuvre pirates at sea. At least one cruise operator has already opted to fly passengers past the danger leaving the ship with a skeleton crew to make the hazardous journey - see our CRUISE NEWS report of 12 December Swashbuckling pirates now a part of the cruise attraction HERE

    Another innocent victim of this 21st Century phenomena is the Suez Canal, which faces less ships making use of its 120-mile waterway. With over 18,000 ships using the canal, and all paying fees to do so, it is one of Egypt’s most important economic assets bringing in more than US$5 billion in fees last year. Any reduction in this is immediately of concern to the Egyptians. Egypt has already decided to defer an increase in canal rates for 2009.

    As a result of these factors it is perhaps inevitable that shipping lines would sooner rather than later begin introducing surcharges to cover rising costs of shipping activity in the region. One of the first is the French line CMA CGM, the world’s third largest container line, which has imposed a US$23 per TEU surcharge on its vessels using the Gulf of Aden. According to CMA CGM the surcharge is directly related to pirate activity as a result of higher insurance and other security costs.

    Other lines are expected to follow.

    Nigeria receives maritime education assistance from Ukraine government

    Nigeria is to be further partnered in the field of maritime education by the Ukraine government.

    Already over 500 Nigerian and other cadets and officers from the sub-region have undergone higher maritime education training in the Ukraine and now attention is being turned towards the establishment of the African Maritime University, the first for West Africa, which is to be established in Oyo State.

    Speaking at the commissioning ceremony for the Oyo Campus of the African Maritime Academy, Nigeria’s Fleet Commodore Muhammed Yusuf said the educational relationship between both Nigeria and the Ukraine had proved mutually beneficial but the need to consolidate the relationship could not be over-emphasised. Yusuf said the programme enjoyed the approval of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

    One of the purposes of the academy is to address the employment challenges facing West Africa, particularly in the maritime field, with a view to training skilled personnel in the area of Nautical Science, Marine Engineering and Transport, Maritime Business and Port and Shipping Administration.

    Plans to launch the proposed African Maritime University were at an advanced stage, he said, with the technical and logistical support necessary already in place.

    Ukraine’s Ambassador in Nigeria, Dr Oleg Skoropad was represented at the function by Ukraine’s representative to the UN on special programmes, Dr Timokhin Viacheslav, who said that the Ukraine would continue to support the academy and offer high quality maritime education to Nigerian cadets within the academy. “It is only proper that we take this relationship to greater heights,” he said.

    “It is my hope to continue to move Nigerian cadets from this academy to Ukraine for further studies in higher maritime education and possibly placement on board vessels in Ukraine.”

    Pic of the day – Tugs in Cape Town: MAERSK BATTLER & SALVERITAS

    The Danish offshore supply tug MAERSK BATTLER (4,363-gt, 1997 built) arrived in Cape Town on 20 December for bunkering and supplies. Overshadowing the tug in this picture is not Table Mountain for once but the Saipem oil platform SCARABEO 7, which is in the port for repairs and a refit. Picture by Aad Noorland

    Also in Cape Town recently was the Singapore-registered tug SALVERITAS (2,658-gt, built 2007) which arrived off the port on 22 December. Salveritas is seen in this picture sailing from Cape Town four days later on 26 December. Picture by Aad Noorland

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