Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 14, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – MONTE AZUL

  • Drewry pessimistic about quick container recovery

  • Walvis Bay to re-equip new terminal with new infrastructure and equipment

  • Piracy update – Somali pirates go after VLCC

  • Will she or won’t she? QE2 tipped as a Cape Town floating hotel

  • USS Arleigh Burke arrives in Durban

  • Pic of the day – USS ARLEIGH BURKE


    First View – MONTE AZUL

    The Hamburg Süd container ship MONTE AZUL (69,132-gt, built 2008) arriving in Durban yesterday (Monday 13 July). Picture Terry Hutson

    Drewry pessimistic about quick container recovery

    Drewry Shipping Consultants have painted a less than confident outlook on the container liner industry, dashing any hope of a reasonably quick recovery.

    “The bad news for the container shippers is that there is no good news,” Drewry said in its latest Container Forecaster. “The green shoots some industry leaders have talked about are wishful thinking.”

    According to Drewry the liner industry is making the mistake of continuing efforts to gain market share instead of cutting back on services and laying up of ships in line with the current weak demand.

    It says it anticipates that more shipping operators will collapse during 2009 – the slump in revenues being so huge that even cost saving measures won’t be sufficient to alter the effect.

    Drewry says that global container volumes will have shrink by 10.3% by the end of 2009 to 471 million TEU, followed by one per cent growth in 2010. In terms of TEU numbers that is equal to 2009’s total volume being 27 million TEU less than the volume in 2007. This, it points out does not bode well for the port and terminal operators.

    The supply/demand index is forecast at 83.4 this year, falling to 79.6 in 2010 as more tonnage is added from new deliveries.

    "For one of the most competitive trade routes - Asia/Europe - three years of demand growth have been wiped out," Drewry says.

    Container Forecaster editor Neil Dekker said Drewry’s analysis shows the container sector is looking at a US$20 billion loss in 2009, which he described as a big black hole that would lead to more casualties. Last year the collective industry made a profit of $5 billion.

    “We believe that the basic make up of the industry will change as companies either go bust, amalgamate or shrink, shedding assets and personnel in the process.”

    Dekker noted how some of the smaller operators have been able to operate profitably by focusing on profitability over market share and have been quietly expanding, and suggested the large carriers should take note of this. “Market share has been the overriding mind-set for 40 years,” he commented, adding that if carriers had invested more effort in forging good relationships and had treated the negotiating process with greater care, “then it would have been less easy for competitors to simply ‘buy’ business by lowering prices.”

    Walvis Bay to re-equip new terminal with new infrastructure and equipment

    Walvis Bay’s planned new container terminal, due for commissioning by 2012, will be equipped with R450 million worth of new container handling equipment including rubber tyre gantries and ship-to-shore cranes.

    Namport recently announced that Walvis Bay would get a new R1.7 billion container terminal which will be built on a man-made island facing the present terminal and connected with the mainland by a causeway. See that report HERE

    The rubber tyre gantries (RTGs) will be capable of stacking boxes five high in rows six deep, says the port’s project manager for the expansion, Elzevir Gelderbloem.

    Other new equipment includes STS cranes that will enable larger ships to call at Walvis Bay. All equipment will be computer-aided to help improve efficiencies.

    Piracy update – Somali pirates go after VLCC

    There’s no doubting the audacity of Somali pirates. Only the timely intervention of a French naval helicopter prevented a 264,758-DWT VLCC from being seized in the Gulf of Aden yesterday morning.

    The tanker, A ELEPHANT (145,661-gt, built 1987) came under attack from a dhow and two skiffs in the western part of the Gulf. After several approaches during which the pirates opened fire on the tanker the crew succeeded in warding off the pirates’ attempts to board, until a helicopter from the French warship, FNS ACONIT appeared.

    At the helicopter’s approach the pirates broke off the engagement and made their escape. There were no injuries reported on the Liberian-registered tanker which has been able to continue on her way.

    It is thought the dhow is the same Indian-owned vessel captured late last week – see our news report for Monday 13 July.

    In Nigeria militants from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) carried out an attack on the Atlas Cove jetty in Lagos harbour on Sunday night. The attack caused a fire to break out in which five oil workers died after receiving severe burn injuries.

    The attack left the depot and loading tankers moored alongside burning fiercely. The Chevron-owned facility also came under attack less than two months ago.

    Meanwhile, Danish business newspaper Borsen says in an article this week that piracy at sea off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden in particular has resulted in a ten-fold increase in insurance premiums for shipping companies.

    A year ago premiums were placed at 0.015% of a vessel’s value, but have now reached an average of 0.15%, the paper reported. The article disclosed that premiums vary according to the risk involved and can reach as high as 0.8% of the ship’s value if sailing in particularly dangerous waters such as the Straits of Malacca or in Nigerian waters.

    Referring to the number of ships that are being diverted around the Cape of Good Hope, the article quoted an Australian researcher Helen Bendall as saying that the net cost for a supertanker sailing around the Cape of Good Hope was around US $ 7.2 million and for a container ship this was about $ 3.8 million.

    Will she or won’t she? QE2 tipped as a Cape Town floating hotel

    Topping the cruise rumour market this week are reports of the passenger liner Queen Elizabeth 2’s possible move from Dubai to Cape Town.

    According to these reports cash-strapped Dubai firm Nakheel, a division of the Dubai royal family’s DP World development empire, has applied to place QE2 on a permanent mooring in the V&A Waterfront, in which DP World holds the principal share.

    Readers will be aware that when QE2 was withdrawn from service a year ago by Cunard, the most famous passenger ship was sold to the Dubai company for £50 million with the intention that it became a floating hotel and tourist attraction. Elaborate plans of removing her funnel to a plinth alongside, and adding an extra 30m to her length to provide additional accommodation and public areas were unveiled, but that was before the economic crash of October 2008.

    Since then a number of reports have suggested that QE2 could be returned to cruising, albeit temporarily, or the ship might even return to the UK. Meanwhile QE2 sits quietly in Port Rashid harbour awaiting her fate but this week reports emerged that Nakheel had requested permission to moor the vessel in the V&A harbour at Cape Town, where she would become a floating hotel and tourist attraction.

    But other ports, including several in the Middle East have also expressed interest in playing host to the QE2. The advantage that Cape Town holds is that Nakheel would retain full control of the ship whereas in another port that might not be so.

    Tourism authorities in Cape Town have acknowledged the report and say that the decision lies first with Transnet National Ports Authority although the Department of Tourism would also have to consider the desirability of having QE2 added to the equation of available hotel accommodation in Cape Town. A decision would be made shortly, reports said.

    DP World and Transnet have both declined to comment on the stories, with Transnet saying it would be inappropriate at this stage.

    USS Arleigh Burke arrives in Durban

    Commander Briam Moum, USN. Commanding Officer USS Arleigh Burke. Picture Terry Hutson

    by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) David Holmes, US Navy

    Durban, 13 July 2009 - USS ARLEIGH BURKE Burke (DDG 51) arrived in the port city of Durban, South Africa on Monday to kick off a range of ashore and at-sea cooperative activities in the coming weeks between the two nations’ navies.

    During USS Arleigh Burke’s visit, office calls with local officials will take place as well as various at-sea evolutions geared to enhance maritime interoperability.

    “It’s always great when two partner nations can schedule meaningful and productive events such as these,” said Capt. James Tranoris, Commander, Task Force 363. “It not only enhances the professional element of each of our navy’s ability to work with one another for a safer maritime domain, but renews the strong ties of partnership we have with South Africa. For some of our sailors, this will be their first time interacting with the South African Navy. It’s a superb opportunity for them to make new friends and learn how another foreign navy operates.”

    Arleigh Burke, a guided missile destroyer home-ported in Norfolk, Virginia, is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the 6th fleet area of responsibility. The ship has supported various partnership building operations and training through Africa Partnership Station port visits in Djibouti and Kenya and is scheduled to continue similar port visits to Mauritius and Tanzania in the coming months. - USN media report.

    NB: On completion of their Durban visit, USS Arleigh Burke and SAS Amatola will sail for Simon’s Town on Wednesday morning, 15 July. En route the two ships will conduct exercises together. While in the Cape the US destroyer will not visit Cape Town and after leaving Simon’s Town will be returning directly to Mauritius followed by a visit to Dar es Salaam.

    A second South African Navy frigate, SAS Mendi, which is also visiting Durban at this time will sail this week on a routine east coast patrol. One of the navy strike craft was also in port yesterday, and berthed at Salisbury Island. - P&S

    Pic of the day – USS ARLEIGH BURKE

    The US Navy destroyer USS Arleigh Burke arriving in Durban harbour, Monday morning, 13 July 2009. The ship is on a goodwill visit to Durban and will sail for Simon’s Town on Wednesday. Picture by Hylke Wierenga

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