Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 25, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – NONOTI

  • Piracy and illegal seagoing activity

  • Mozambique news – Namibian fishing vessel Antillas Reefer forfeited

  • News from the shipping lines

  • World Bank to pay for Uganda rail rehabilitation

  • Special Report: late and erratic rains in Eastern Africa raise food security concerns – El Niño an additional worry

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pics of the day – FAIRMOUNT GLACIER & SEAREX X


    First View – NONOTI

    The Durban harbour tug NONOTI (295-gt, built 1982) at work in the approaches to the Esplanade Channel – note her new red funnel livery. Picture Terry Hutson

    Piracy and illegal seagoing activity

    Seychelles President James Michel has welcomed the announcement by the United States that it will conduct aerial and naval surveillance around the Seychelles islands. The assets include the use of P-3 Orion as well as unmanned aircraft in addition to naval forces.

    The announcement was made during high level talks between the US and the Seychelles held in Victoria last week, and follows an increase this year in incidents of piracy in and around the Seychelles Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ).

    “This new venture is both a concrete step in the fight against piracy and a symbol of the trust and understanding which exists between the governments of the Republic of Seychelles and the United States of America. We look forward to continually strengthening this partnership based on our mutual desire for peace and stability in the region,” President Michel said after the meeting.

    The meeting took place at State House and included Mrs Virginia Blaser, US Chargé d’Affaires and AFRICOM commander General William E Ward, along with other US military personnel.

    Puntland, the semi-autonomous northeastern region of Somalia, appears likely as the centre of anti-piracy operations for the fledgling Somali coastguard, which is receiving the backing of the UN.

    A significant number of Somali personnel have undergone training for the coastguard and the focus will now switch to the operational side which will take place in the heart of the pirates’ lair, so to speak – Puntland itself. Somali hopes eventually to have a coastguard force numbering 5,000 personnel.

    In West Africa, Sierra Leone Armed Forces Maritime Wing personnel took part in a boarding operation with crew from the US Coast Guard cutter LEGARE (WMCGA 912) when they boarded a Taiwanese-flagged fishing vessel, the YU FENG that was believed to be fishing illegally off the coast near Freetown in Sierra Leone.

    On inspection the fishing boat was found to be without a valid license to fish within Sierra Leone’s EEC and lacked a government observer or other crew from the West African country.

    A small crew remained on board the fishing vessel which was escorted the Legare to Freetown, where the Taiwanese crew was taken into custody.

    “This is a big catch for us,” said Sierra Leone Armed Forces Lieutenant Augustine Bengeh, executive officer of the Maritime Wing base in Murray Town. He described going so far out to sea in order to conduct such missions as a “dream come true” and said “this case should yield a lot of dividends for the country and the Joint Maritime Committee.”

    It has been reported that Africa loses upwards of US$1 Billion each year to illegal fishing along its coastline. Many African countries rely on fishing as a significant source of revenue and employment.

    Legare, which is homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia, is currently on a three-month deployment as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS). APS is an international initiative led by Commander, US Naval Forces Europe-Commander, US Naval Forces Africa/Commander, US 6th Fleet and is aimed at improving maritime safety and security for the continent of Africa through training and other collaborative activities with African partner countries. – source US Africom

    Mozambique news – Namibian fishing vessel Antillas Reefer forfeited

    The Namibian fishing vessel ANTILLAS REEFER which was seized by the Mozambique authorities in July last year on charges of illegal fishing in Mozambican waters, has been forfeited to the state. See the original report in PORTS & SHIPS of July 2008 HERE

    Although the ship was flying a Namibian flag Namibian authorities denied any knowledge of the vessel as being Namibian. The ship was observed off the coast opposite Zambezia Province and ordered to the port of Maputo, where an inspection revealed a cargo consisting of 43 tonnes of shark, four tonnes of shark tail, 11.3t of shark liver and 20t of shark oil, with a value estimated at around US$5 million.

    The vessel was also carrying a large quantity of bait and illegal fishing gear, including long lines of up to two kilometres in length. When questioned the captain understated the amount of shark catch he had on board. His ship was also found to be unlicensed.

    According to the Maputo newspaper Noticias the ship, owned by a Walvis Bay company named as Ompala Fishing, was brought to Mozambique by a local company, Sabpal Pescas. Mozambican authorities were advised at the time that the Antillas Reefer would be fishing for tuna.

    Mozambican authorities said they intend converting the Antillas Reefer into a fishery surveillance vessel, which would bring to four the number of vessels available for patrolling Mozambique’s two thousand kilometre coastline.

    Maputo – A new ferry has been introduced in Maputo which will operate between the port city and the municipal district of Catembe, on the opposite side of Maputo Bay.

    The new ferry, named MPFUMO (which is the traditional name for the city of Maputo) has a capacity to carry 250 passengers, 10 motor cars and four light trucks with between 10 and 15 tonnes of cargo. Mpfumo is the last of a batch of six ferries ordered by the government for various parts of the country to improve water transport and access in Mozambique. The government invested a sum of US$16.4 million on the six ferries including the provision of docking facilities.

    In central Mozambique the rebuilt Sena railway from the port of Beira will be opened to traffic in September, according to India’s outgoing High Commissioner, Rajinder Bhagat.

    The opening of the line as far as Sena has been delayed on several occasions and for various reasons including heavy rains. However the newspaper Noticias carried a story claiming that the deadline had to be extended several times because of the apparent inability of the contractor, the Indian Rites and Ircon consortium (RICON) to plan and mobilize the required materials. The newspaper says the railway will only be ready in November, not September.

    The railway is being rebuilt at Dondo which is the junction on the main line between the port of Beira and Zimbabwe. From Dondo the line extends northwards to Moatize in Tete Province, and will be used mainly to carry export coal from the mines in Moatize to Beira. The distance is 545km but there are also two branch or secondary lines, one a 44km line from the Dona Ana Bridge across the Zambezi to the Malawian border, and the other between Inhaminga to the sugar town of Marromeu (82km). – source AIM and Noticias

    News from the shipping lines

    Sea Consortium reports that the Red Sea ports such as Hodeidah, Jeddah and Aqaba were affected by annual pre-Ramadan volume increases as well as service irregularities throughout July resulting from the South West monsoon season over the Indian sub continent.

    As a result Aqaba Container Terminal temporarily suspended the Berthing Window Agreements until the end of August due to heavy congestion at the Port, exacerbated by the breakdown of one of the terminal gantry cranes and a growing backlog of empty containers at the Port.

    In the Red Sea, Sea Consortium has re-vamped its Upper and Lower Red Sea rotations to cover more ports and to link the two areas. As from the beginning of August the RSX service was achieved by adding the TAIPAN (10,965-gt, built 2007) to the 'YELLOW RIVER and running a new 17/18 day schedule of: Jeddah, Aqaba, Sokhna, Jeddah, Djibouti, Aden, Hodeidah, Jeddah. Sokhna in Egypt and Aden in Yemen become new regular calls on Sea Consortium’s Red Sea services.

    In addition, the 438-TEU MARINA has been employed on Sea Consortium’s Jeddah Sudan Express (JSX), offering a seven day shuttle between the ports of Jeddah and Port Sudan.

    Further rate restorations have been announced on the Far East – Europe service, with French carrier CMA CGM and Taiwanese carrier Evergreen both applying US$200 per TEU hikes as from 1 September. The Evergreen increase applies only to the westbound trade via India, while CMA CGM says the increase applies to its Far East – northern Europe service as well as that between the Far East and the Mediterranean and Black Sea. CMA CGM has already included a rate restoration increase on its India – Europe service. 


    In the United States two US-flagged mini cruise ships, the WILDERNESS DISCOVERER (ex Mayan Prince) and the WILDERNESS ADVENTURER (ex Spirit of Adventure and ex Caribbean Prince) have been sold by the creditors JP Morgan Chase to private Pacific Northwest interests. Wilderness Discoverer fetched US$314,760 and Wilderness Adventurer $201,240.

    The new owner apparently intends starting a cruise adventure type operation called Innersea Discoveries in May, 2011, appealing to the younger and more adventurous traveller. The sale was concluded by Marcon International Inc of Coupeville, Washington.

    The two ships, which were built by Blount Marine of Warren, Rhode Island will undergo refits in Seattle. Wilderness Discoverer carries 84 passengers in 38 aircondioned en-suite cabins and was built in 1992. Wilderness Adventurer was built in 1983 and accommodates 69 passengers in 38 cabins across three decks.

    World Bank to pay for Uganda rail rehabilitation

    The World Bank says it will consider funding Uganda’s drive for access to the sea in order to ease its dependence on unreliable rail and road transport systems.

    At present Uganda is almost totally dependent on the port of Mombasa in Kenya owing to a lack of sufficient lake transport which could provide access to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam. The rail network between Mombasa and Uganda is not functioning well while road transport has proven costly and unreliable.

    As a result and following political unrest in Kenya which led to a break in rail transport on several occasions in 2008 and 2009, as because of ongoing political disputes between Kenya and Uganda, Uganda has increasingly looked towards creating a rail and lake connection with Tanzania in the south. There has however also been talk of building a new standard gauge (European) railway through Kenya from Mombasa to Uganda.

    During his visit to Uganda a week ago, World Bank president Robert Zoelick said the bank would finance the rehabilitation of the existing railway between Kampala and Mombasa as well as connections north into South Sudan and south into Tanzania.

    Special Report: late and erratic rains in Eastern Africa raise food security concerns – El Niño an additional worry

    GIEWS (UN Global Information & Early Warning System), August 2009 - The outlook for the 2009 crops raises serious concerns following inadequate seasonal rains, conflict and displacement. Late and below average rains, from March to July, in most of Eastern Africa affected agricultural activities and hindered crop growth.

    The low cumulative rainfall has also led to water shortages in pastoral areas of northern and south-eastern Kenya, south-eastern Ethiopia and inland regions of Djibouti. The current scarcity of adequate pasture has lead to worsening body conditions of livestock and consequently reduced good market prospects, directly impacting pastoralists’ incomes and their ability to access staple foods.

    In addition, the reproduction rates of livestock have suffered from successive poor seasonal rains since 2007, making the recovery of pastoral livelihood systems more difficult, and worsening long-term food insecurity.

    A positive change in this scenario will very much depend on rainfall conditions in the coming few months. The incidence of El Niño weather phenomenon is closely being monitored around the globe. In Eastern Africa, the occurrence of El Niño usually brings heavy rains towards the end of the year and early into the next one. This usually results in floods and mudslides damaging crops, both in the field and in stores, and increasing the number livestock losses together with damage to infrastructure and housing. For instance, from October 1997 to February 1998, exceptionally heavy rains associated with the El Niño phenomenon caused havoc in most parts of Eastern Africa, with severe floods seriously damaging food production and distribution.

    In the region as a whole, hundreds of thousands of people were estimated to have been affected. Heavy rainfall and high temperatures will also create a favourable environment for mosquitoes to breed and spread, increasing the prevalence of malaria and Rift Valley fever. Furthermore, historical data indicate that during and after an El Niño phenomenon, cholera outbreaks are common.

    Across Eastern Africa prices of maize, a major staple, have shown a declining trend since the beginning of the year, yet remain higher than their pre-crisis levels. In Uganda and Kenya, for instance, prices of maize in June 2009 were almost double their level 24 months earlier. Prices of sorghum, another staple crop, in Khartoum, Sudan in June 2009 were more than double their levels in June 2007. Similarly, prices in Mogadishu, Somalia, still remain higher than the pre-crisis period, despite declining since mid-2008. Given a low household purchasing power, a worsening of the overall food security situation can be expected.

    Nearly 20 million people currently depend on food assistance in the region. The above factors are expected to aggravate the situation, especially with respect to marginal farmers, pastoralists and low-income urban dwellers.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Narlene Soriano (left), ICTSI Public Relations Head, receiving a plaque of recognition from Erik Stern, President of Stern Stewart and Co, Martin Schwarz also of Stern Stewart and Benjie Ramos, President of BusinessMirror.

    Philippines terminal operator ICTSI (International Container Services, Inc) has been ranked among Asia’s top ASEAN 100 Relative Wealth Index list for 2009. The Manila-headquartered company was ranked 39th in Southeast Asia and third in the Philippines, with ICTSI being cited as one of only two companies in the Philippines that created wealth for shareholders during a six-year business cycle from 2001 to 2008.

    Nigeria’s Federal Government has appointed an eight-man presidential technical review committee to look at the concessioning process for the Ijora Jetty in Lagos State. The awarding of a concession has become contentious and Nigeria’s President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has instructed that a technical review committee consider all aspects and make appropriate recommendations.

    Durban’s new floating dock, intended as a vehicle for the launch of new tugs under construction at Southern African Shipyards, is now due in Durban on Saturday, 29 August, after being delayed through waiting for the end of the monsoon in the northern Indian Ocean.

    Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has announced that the Durban floating dock owned by Transnet has been withdrawn from service indefinitely. A notice issued on 21 August stated that the floating dock will be out of commission until further notice. No reason was provided but it is believed that a history of poor maintenance is the cause.

    Pic of the day – FAIRMOUNT GLACIER & SEAREX X

    The Netherlands-flagged tug FAIRMOUNT GLACIER (3239, built 2006) arriving in Cape Town yesterday morning towing the platform SEAREX X (5,734-gt, built 1983). Pictures by Aad Noorland

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