Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jul 2, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – SANKO BEAUTY

  • Wage discussions disrupt container operations at Durban port

  • Shipping line news – new services introduced

  • Piracy update – suspects go on trial in Kenya

  • Walvis Bay Corridors show remarkable growth

  • Africa’s food crisis must not be forgotten amid global economic woes – UN trade body

  • Pic of the day – RMS ST HELENA


    First View – SANKO BEAUTY

    The newbuild offshore supply tug SANKO BEAUTY (2,428-gt, built 2009) arrived in Cape Town yesterday from Singapore to take up duty with the oil rig PRIDE SOUTH SEAS on the Agulhas Banks. Picture by Aad Noorland

    Wage discussions disrupt container operations at Durban port

    Operations at the Durban Container Terminal, the country’s busiest, were disrupted yesterday (Wednesday) over a wage dispute.

    A spokesman for Transnet Port Terminals claimed there had been no dispute but said there had been a series of ‘discussions’, and that any interruptions to the port were of short duration with workers returning to duty at 10am.

    PORTS & SHIPS observed workers holding what appeared to be a strike outside the terminal gates at 11am (Wednesday). Langeberg Road, which gives access to the terminal, was meanwhile blocked by waiting lorries that extended back into Bayhead Road, with SA Police Services personnel on duty.

    Other sources said the negotiations over wages had been ongoing for several weeks with no resolution reached. After a tentative agreement was reached yesterday it remained for union representatives to refer the matter to the respective afternoon and night shifts, which would lead to further disruption of port operations.

    Further suggestions of interruptions to cargo working came with news of bunker barge operators having to cancel several jobs involving container ships that had to remain outside the port until the terminal reopened.

    Shipping Line news – new services introduced

    Taiwanese container carrier Evergreen has announced the rationalization of two services into one involving South Africa. The company’s Far East – South Africa (FAX) service will be combined with Evergreen’s Far East - East Coast South America service by including South African port calls to create a Far East – South Africa – East Coast South America service.

    The new rotation will be Shanghai, Ningbo, Kaohsiung, Yantian, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas, Durban, Cape Town, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Paranagua, Santos, Durban, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai. Seven ships in the 3,400 – 4,300-TEU range will be deployed with a sailing scheduled for every 11 days.


    Safmarine has announced the launching of its ‘Safari 3’ service between Tanjung Pelepas, Mauritius, Madagascar, South Africa and Mozambique.

    “Our new Safari 3 string will complement Safmarine's existing service offering and market coverage of Southern Africa. Not only will it improve our direct coverage of the niche ports of Toamasina and Maputo to and from Asia, but it will also strengthen Safmarine's service into South Africa by taking the Indian Ocean Islands out of the westbound rotation of the main Safari string where our customers require fast transit times,” said Safmarine’s SA Trades Executive, Alex de Bruyn.

    He said the new string - which launches today (Thursday, 2 July 2009) - will also deliver market leading transit times to and from Mozambique and Madagascar. “it will be particularly attractive to shippers wanting a faster and more reliable service between Maputo and the Indian Ocean Islands. For example, the westbound transit time between Madagascar and Maputo is only four days.”

    Safari 3 is a weekly service linking Asia to Mozambique and the Indian Ocean Islands with direct calls to Tanjung Pelepas, Port Louis, Toamasina and Maputo. The eastbound transit time between Maputo and Tanjung Pelepas will be 15 days. Five 1,700-TEU vessels will be deployed on the service, providing adequate capacity to cater for both dry and reefer (refrigerated) cargo. Safmarine will run the new service in conjunction with sister company Maersk. See our related report dated 30 June HERE


    UAL – Universal Africa Lines has announced the start of a new service operating between South Africa and West Africa, complementary to UAL’s existing services between West Africa and Europe, the US Gulf Coast ports and South America. Seaclad Maritime are the South African agents.


    German carrier Deutsche Afrika Linien (DAL) has introduced a weekly southbound sailing from Marseilles in southern France to South Africa via transshipments on the company’s core service from Europe to South Africa (SAECS – Europe to South Africa Container Service operated jointly between Maersk, Safmarine, MOL and DAL). Cargo to and from Marseilles will go via Valencia and Las Palmas with a transit times of 25 days to Cape Town, 28 days to Port Elizabeth and 32 days to Durban. The first sailing from Marseilles will be the CARMEL ECOFRESH with an ETA Marseilles on 7 July, with cargo transshipped onto the MOL CULLINAN and arriving Cape Town on 1 August and Durban on 8 August.

    Piracy update – suspects go on trial in Kenya

    Seven suspected Somali pirates accused of attacking the German Navy oiler, FGS SPESSART (A1442) have gone on trial in a magistrates court in Mombasa, Kenya. The men were captured at sea after they allegedly launched an attack on the ship, not realising its military background.

    According to evidence given before Mombasa’s chief magistrate, shots were fired from the suspects’ boat although none landed on the German ship. The small boat had approached the Spessart in a suspicious manner and one man on board was seen to be wielding a rocket grenade launcher. The suspects’ boat turned away after the Spessart fired several flares at the approaching boat. Following a request for assistance helicopters despatched from a patrolling Spanish warship overflew the suspected pirated and fired warning shots, forcing the boat to stop and later be boarded. Witnesses from the Spessart testified that they had not seen the pirates close up and were unable to identify them. The case is proceeding.


    Arab states in the Gulf and Red Sea are planning a joint anti-piracy force, the Saudi Press Agency has reported. Delegates to a conference held in the Saudi capital said it was the primary responsibility of littoral states to defend the surrounding seas and it had become necessary to prevent the spread of piracy to the Red Sea or the Gulf. Eleven Arab states had therefore agreed to set up an all-Arab Task Force which will be led, at the outset, by the Saudis.

    The eleven states involved are Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The task force would explore ways of cooperating with the fleet of more than 20 foreign countries already patrolling sea lanes in the Gulf of Aden and adjacent waters. – source Saudi Gazette


    The Dutch parliament has agreed that armed soldiers will not be placed on board Dutch ships sailing through high-risk areas prone to piracy. Dutch warships could however be used to escort vessels considered to be at risk because of low freeboard, low speed or other factors.


    A Middle East Workboats Conference to be held at the Abu Dhabi National Conference Centre from 5 – 7 October 2009 is expected to place a focus on piracy, especially following the attack on the German cargo ship CHARELLE some 60 miles south of Sur in Oman – far from the normal range of Somali pirate activity. A number of specialists in matters relating to piracy issues will speak at the three-day conference including William Tobin, Underwriting Manager, The Shipowners’ Protection and Floyd Woodrow, Operations Director, Cerberus International, a specialist in supplying training, protection and security services.

    “Attacks are now occurring further afield into the Red Sea around Aden and now more ominously into the Arabian Gulf,” said Christopher Hayman, Seatrade chairman, the organiser of Middle East Workboats exhibition and conference. “Ships must be more vigilant. The MV Charelle was caught unaware, without even raising any distress signals - they just did not expect it. In addition, many smaller workboats are active in that part of the Gulf. In the past they have been targeted by pirates and used as ‘mother’ ships enabling pirates to launch attacks deeper into international waters,” he added.

    Conference details are available at

    Walvis Bay Corridors show remarkable growth

    With the economic slowdown at its door step, the Walvis Bay Corridors (Trans Caprivi, Trans Cunene, and Trans Kalahari) have continued to show a growth of 63% compared to the previous year, reports the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBGC).

    Claiming credit for promoting the Walvis Bay Corridors as an alternative trade route for southern Africa, the WBCG says it also initiates projects and seeks funding for the development of facilities and infrastructure developments along these corridors.

    It says the Namibian government has upgraded road and rail connections linking the port of Walvis Bay with its neighbours to handle the increased volumes of cargo as well as providing infrastructural developments along the corridors. These have been complemented by infrastructure investments from the governments of neighbouring states to ensure the smooth flow of cargo.

    “The importance of the development of corridors is to promote regional economic growth with the aim of intensifying economic activities to and from markets along the various corridors,” says the group in a statement issued yesterday.

    According to the WBCG the major share of cargo moving from the port of Walvis Bay along the Trans Cunene Corridor into Angola consists of vehicles. On the Trans Caprivi Corridor which extends into Zambia cargo has increased by more than 150% since the completion of the Sesheke Bridge and the inception of a WBCG office in Lusaka.

    “This trade route has become a popular alternative for importers and exporters especially for the increased copper exports through the Port of Walvis Bay.”

    An office has also been opened in Gauteng, South Africa to promote the Trans Kalahari Corridor from Gauteng across Botswana to Walvis Bay, which offers Gauteng and Botswana importers and exporters a time saving of between 5 and 7 days.

    “Through Namibia there is now a direct service from all the major economies of the world such as Europe, North and South America, Middle East, Far East, southern Africa and West Africa. This forms a basis for an increased opportunity of trade not only for Namibian traders, but also traders in the region. Through the Port of Walvis Bay commodity traders in the SADC region are now able to put their products earlier on the international market and vice versa via direct shipping links through Namibia and not through ports of a third country.

    “The Walvis Bay Corridors provide an ideal opportunity to add economic value to countries like Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Zimbabwe through transport.”

    Africa’s food crisis must not be forgotten amid global economic woes – UN trade body

    Geneva – The governing body of the United Nations trade and development agency convened a meeting this week in Geneva to highlight the need to keep the food crisis affecting Africa from being forgotten as governments focus on tackling the global economic downturn.

    While the food crisis may not be making the headlines it did last year, food security is still a major concern in many African countries, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

    The prices of staple foods remain above their long-term averages and over 300 million Africans – about a third of the continent’s population – continue to face chronic hunger, the agency said in an information note. Ensuring food security in the region will require improving productivity and rural livelihoods, as well as addressing global market imbalances.

    UNCTAD said that decades of neglect, both national and international, of the African agricultural sector has transformed many countries from net food exporters to net food importers, leaving them vulnerable to price swings and variations in global crop yields. African countries currently import about 25 per cent of their food.

    “The vulnerability of the continent to serious food shortages and hunger remains, since the root causes have not been resolved, and a repeat of the 2008 food crisis can recur if prices for such staples as rice, wheat, corn, and cooking oil climb again on world markets,” said the agency.

    Among those addressing the meeting convened by the Trade and Development Board on the issue were UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, and David Nabarro, Coordinator for the Global Food Security Crisis and Avian and Pandemic Influenza, as well as several experts.

    Pic of the day – RMS ST HELENA

    The Royal Mail Ship St HELENA (6,767-gt, built 1990) is a regular caller in Cape Town while operating a combined mail, cargo and passenger service to the mid Atlantic islands of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. En route she calls at Luderitz and Walvis Bay, providing passengers a choice of cruises on a working cargo ship with semi-luxury passenger accommodation. All this appeared likely to end in the near future owing to British plans of building a long-awaited airport on St Helena island but with the global recession the British government has delayed this project by several years and the mail ship will now probably continue in her role of providing the only reliable link between the isolated islands and the rest of the world. The ship was photographed in Cape Town harbour yesterday by Aad Noorland.

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