Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 23, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

Reach out to this dedicated maritime audience by advertising here with your Banner - contact info@ports.co.za



Please note - as tomorrow, Thursday 24 September is a public holiday in South Africa, there will be no news bulletin. The next news report appears on Monday 28 September 2009

Click on headline to go direct to story – use the BACK key to return

  • First View – STELLA HAMAL

  • No big splash intended for Ngqura

  • Green light for Transnet’s Ngqura rail operation

  • Drought and conflict aggravate hunger in East Africa, warns UN food agency

  • Piracy update – pirates get active again

  • Five ships to be auctioned in next few weeks

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pics of the day – AL MAREEKH


    First View – STELLA HAMAL

    The Liberian-flagged, German owned and operated bulker STELLA HAMAL (22,351-gt, built 2009) which called in Durban harbour this past week. Picture by Trevor Jones

    No big splash intended for Ngqura

    Report by K Eldritch

    Transnet intends foregoing any opportunity to open its new showcase ‘gateway’ of Ngqura with a flourish - just in case something goes wrong.

    That was the inference at a Business to Business meeting held in Port Elizabeth this week when the parastatal declined to say when the new terminal will be officially opened. The first ship will however enter port next Wednesday.

    Delegates were told that the official opening was being delayed to enable the operators to ease themselves in and to give them the opportunity of testing operating systems. After months of training including the use of simulators, several delegates appeared taken aback at the thought that operators might be unsure of how to operate a ship.

    “Why not fly in a few operators from the other ports, or even from Port Elizabeth harbour which is just 20 minutes down the road,” one potential port users suggested.

    Whatever the real reason, TPT plans to officially open the port later in October at a date to be decided and the first ship, which PORTS & SHIPS believes will enter the new harbour next Wednesday, will do so without any fanfare or attention from the media.

    Those attending the breakfast function also heard TPT’s chief executive Tau Morwe suggest that Mandela Bay has the potential of becoming the ‘Hamburg of Africa’, although he criticised academic institutes for not assisting with South Africa becoming a maritime nation. “None of the academic institutions have approached us to see what they can do for us in terms of skills or professional development,” he said.

    Turning to the subject of the manganese ore dump at Port Elizabeth, Morwe hinted of the possibility of manganese ore exports being re-routed through Saldanha. He said another option was to export the ore through the new port at Ngqura but as yet no decision had been taken.

    Green light for Transnet’s Ngqura rail operation

    A class 36 diesel shunting locomotive brings in a train of wagons to test the new rail facilities at the port of Ngqura. Picture courtesy TPT

    In contrast to Transnet Port Terminals’ cautious start to portside container handling (see report above), rail operations at the new port of Ngqura have already been given the green light after Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) successfully ran a test train this month over the Ngqura main line, declaring it safe for operations.

    Approval for the railway comes ahead of next week’s arrival of the first container ship at the new port.

    According to Transnet, rail mounted container cranes have since started loading and unloading actual trains in anticipation of the start of port and rail operations at the Ngqura Container Terminal.

    Transnet Freight Rail is on target for the completion of the Ngqura rail terminal, marshalling yard, and main line construction to the hinterland. There are presently four operational lines in the marshalling yard with the remaining five due to be available by March 2010.

    The rail route links the new port to the City Deep rail terminal in South Africa’s Gauteng Province via Beaconsfield (Kimberley). Transnet has refurbished some 400 container wagons and will utilise its class 7E locomotive fleet for traffic on the line, which has a design capacity of six trains per day (50-wagon trains).

    The new marshalling yard infrastructure can accommodate up to six trains per day per direction and the hinterland will have a design capacity of two trains per day. The hinterland capacity will be increased as volumes increase, subject to financial and business viability.

    Transnet says that the Port of Ngqura and its 60,000 hectare container terminal represent its (Transnet) solution to South Africa’s long-time lack of container capacity due to the considerable growth in container traffic.

    To date Transnet has invested in excess of R10 billion to develop the state-of-the-art port and associated infrastructure, which will boast a world class two-berth container terminal (with a further two berths under construction), a two-berth multipurpose terminal and a one-berth liquid bulk terminal. The Port of Ngqura’s advantage over other ports in Africa is that it is a deep-water port with a depth of between 16 and 18 metres, which can accommodate the new generation container vessels.

    This will enable Transnet to increase capacity for container volumes, and at the same time relieve container congestion in the South African port system, while attracting additional transhipment cargo. Planning of the port has been integrated with the planning of the adjacent Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) for efficiency and increased economic benefit to businesses in this location.

    The Ngqura container terminal will be able to accommodate large container ships carrying between 6,000 to 10,000 TEUs. It will be able to handle in excess of 100 container moves per ship working hour with sufficient stack and berth capacity to cater for future growth up to 2 million TEUs. The terminal also boasts good inland connectivity for import and export traffic through road and rail.

    Milestones achieved to date have included the handover of the Port Control building, the container terminal’s first two of four berths, the two multi-purpose berths, the single liquid berth, the four-storey Transnet Port Terminals administration building and the temporary container engineering workshop. The Port Control Tower will operate 24 hours with marine operations and services initially offered during day hours.

    Equipment assembled and commissioned to date includes 22 rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs) and six Megamax ship-to-shore cranes, two rail-mounted gantry cranes (RMGs), two reach stackers, four empty container handlers and installation of all 1680 reefer frames for refrigerated cargo. The Navis SPARCS N4 terminal operating system and the auto gate facility have also been commissioned.

    While containers will be the primary go-live cargo focus at the Port of Ngqura, TFR is also engaged in a conceptual study regarding rail specific traffic so that other commodities can form part of the transport mix, depending on financial viability and availability.

    A single Class 7E electric locomotive of the type to be used on container trains from the port of Ngqura, seen here on the approaches to the port rail terminal. Picture courtesy TPT

    Drought and conflict aggravate hunger in East Africa, warns UN food agency

    21 September 2009 –The crop prospects in the Horn of Africa for this year are poor, on the heels of below-average rainfall, violence and displacement, and will intensify hunger in the region, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) cautioned today.

    With almost 20 million people in East Africa dependent on food assistance, this number may increase as the hunger season gets under way, especially among marginal farmers, pastoralists and low-income people in urban areas.

    Also compounding the problem is the El Niño meteorological phenomenon, which typically brings heavy rains to the area at the end of the year. This could result in floods and destroy crops, livestock, infrastructure, and homes, FAO said in a press release issued in Rome.

    Although prices have been on a downward trend recently, prices of maize, a major staple, are still higher than they were two years ago, with households having low purchasing power.

    This year's harvest is predicted to be the fourth successive poor harvest in Uganda, with some regions possibly seeing food production well below 50 per cent average. Over one million people are estimated to be food insecure in the country, with more possibly becoming hungry.

    In neighbouring Kenya, this year's poor maize crop – combined with already low cereal stocks, export bans high cereal prices – has reduced access to food.

    FAO's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit warned that Somalia is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in 18 years, with half the population – 3.6 million people – in need of life-saving assistance. This includes 1.4 million people in rural areas affected by severe drought, over 650,000 urban poor facing high food prices and 1.3 million people who have been uprooted by violence. – UN News Agency

    Piracy update – pirates get active again

    The German Navy frigate BREMEN (F207) which engaged with pirates in the Gulf of Aden this week.

    Yemeni Coastguards on board a ship sailing within the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden prevented a pirate attack on Sunday (20 September), the EU NAVFOR has reported.

    “On sighting of these military personnel the skiff abandoned the approach and tried to flee as reported by the merchant vessel to the UK Maritime Trade Organization in Bahrain. UKMTO alerted other merchant vessels and the Counter Piracy Forces on MERCURY, the EU-introduced common counter piracy communication system. Thereupon a Japanese P3 Orion reconnaissance aircraft, already on site, reported position information to other counter piracy forces. The Australian warship HMAS Toowoomba of CTF 151, closest to the skiff, was assisted by the helicopter of the German EU NAVFOR warship FGS Bremen in stopping the fleeing skiff. On sighting of the helicopter unknown items and a ladder were thrown over the bow of the skiff and all eight persons on the skiff raised their arms awaiting the boarding team of HMAS Toowoomba. During the boarding all piracy related paraphernalia was seized and destroyed. The helicopter of FGS Bremen continued to secure the area from the air,” said EU NAVFOR in its statement.


    In another incident, an Iranian warship opened fire on a number of motor boats carrying suspected pirates after they approached three Iranian vessels, the IRAN ABOUZAR, IRAN FARS and IRAN BAM also in the Gulf of Aden. After warning signals had been ignored the Iranian warship commenced firing in the vicinity of the suspected pirates, who broke off and left the scene.


    The Russian Navy is preparing to send its fourth detachment of warships to the Gulf of Aden to engage in anti-piracy patrols, reports the Russian news agency RIA Vostok-Media. The detachment will consist of one destroyer and two support ships, replacing the destroyer Admiral Tributs, and two support vessels which are currently on station. A marine unit is included whose task is to ensure the onboard security of merchant vessels.


    Meanwhile, a US government official says the biggest challenge to fighting piracy off East Africa is in prosecuting captured pirates.

    Andrew Shapiro, US State Department’s assistant secretary for political and military affairs said at a symposium in Washington that many countries have inadequate or antiquated national laws to deal with piracy, while other countries with the adequate legal system lack the will to prosecute.

    “Funding is important, but so is the availability of witnesses who can provide testimony. Allowing competent authorities access to vessels, manifests and other records may be vital to successful prosecution. It is important that shipping companies support the prosecution of their attackers,” he said.

    According to Shapiro the American decision to prosecute the single suspected pirate captured during the MAERSK ALABAMA hostage drama demonstrates US resolve to prosecute when its own ships are attacked. “We continue to urge other affected states to prosecute as well,” he said.

    He said the US was working with other agency and international partners to find ways of disrupting the investment and distribution network of the pirates and their financial enablers.

    Five ships to be auctioned in next few weeks

    No less than five ships are to be offered for sale by judicial auction within the next three weeks, commencing with the first vessel going under the hammer today (Wednesday) This is the product tanker SERAM WIND (10,949-gt, built 1987, IMO 8517097) which will be put up for sale by auction from the offices of Deneys Reitz attorneys in Durban at 11am.

    The next sale will involve the well-publicised Ro-Ro passenger car carrier DAEWOO FRONTIER (42,567-gt, built 1988, IMO 8521206) will be offered on Tuesday, 29 September, also in Durban but at the Hilton Hotel, Polela Room at 11am.

    On the same date and time the pure car carrier TRUST DUBAI (5,879-GT, built 1987, IMO 8701387) will also be offered for sale. Both ships are currently in Durban harbour.

    The next sale involves the reefer cargo ship EW COOK (4,896-gt, built 1986, IMO 8613920) will be sold by auction in the Boardroom of the Department of Maritime Studies (CPUT), the Survival Centre, Granger Bay, Cape Town on Tuesday 6 October 2009 at 11am.

    The final sale involves the modern bulk carrier SARA V (31,167-gt, built 2002) which is presently lying at the outer anchorage of Richards Bay and will be auctioned from the Royal Room of the Royal Hotel in Durban on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 at 11am.

    Admiralty Shipsales is conducting each of the above sales. Full details of the ships are available on the company website at www.admiralty.co.za

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Mozambique says it plans to establish three duty free industrial areas in the city of Nacala in Nampula province in northern Mozambique. Minister of Planning & Development Aiuba Cuereneia said the success of this development could lead to similar ventures elsewhere.

    “Nacala has the necessary conditions to become a trading post, from which coal from Moatize in Tete province can be distributed, a matter that is being analysed by Vale do Rio Doce, which is responsible for the project,” he said.


    Nigeria’s Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been tasked with ensuring that Nigeria’s cabotage laws are applied and adhered to. The Federal Minister of Transport, Ibrahim Isa Bio said Nigeria is ready to assume its rightful place in the maritime sector in the region and NIMASA has been instructed to ensure this happens, which includes ensuring the 70% participation of Nigerians according to the cabotage act.


    The Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) says it has allocated the money to upgrade its various ports including those on the inland waterways. The ports of Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Bagamoyo, Mtwara, Mwanbani (south of Tanga) and the lake port of Kigoma are all earmarked for various improvement programmes, he said. Included is a study to determine traffic flow at Mtwara port with regards the southern corridor import/export traffic to Malawi, Zambia and northern Mozambique.


    In Nigeria more than 400 heavy-load trucks and trailers are being held up at the town of Banki near the Cameroon border because Cameroon’s authorities claim they are overloaded. The line of trucks has resulted in traffic congestion extending back 15 kilometres, according to news reports from the region and is causing serious disruption and inconvenience for other road users. Cameroon has declared that overloaded vehicles coming from Nigeria are causing damage to the country’s road system. Truck drivers questioned say they are being forced to overload or face dismissal.


    Captain Charles AJ Vanderperre, who is regarded as the pioneer of third party ship management, has died at his home in Thailand at the age of 87. For more than five decades Vanderperre was regarded as one of the most prominent names in Hong Kong’s maritime world. He was the founder of Wallem Shipmanagement and later of Univan Ship Management.

    Pics of the day – AL MAREEKH

    The Saudi-owned and flagged refrigerated (reefer) cargo ship AL MAREEKH (13,29-gt, built 1984), has been a regular caller in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town every year during the citrus season, including when this majestic looking ship operated as the LINDEROS and prior to that as PACIFIC UNIVERSAL. She was in Durban when these pictures were taken this week by Trevor Jones

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases (and trade news) for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

    Did you know that Ports & Ships lists ship movements for all southern African ports between Walvis Bay on the West Coast and Mombasa on the East Coast?

    Colour photographs and slides for sale of a variety of ships.

    Thousands of items listed featuring famous passenger liners of the past to cruise ships of today, freighters, container vessels, tankers, bulkers, naval and research vessels.


    South Africa’s most comprehensive Directory of Maritime Services is now listed on this site. Please check if your company is included. To sign up for a free listing contact info@ports.co.za or register online

  • Google

    Web ports.co.za

    Click to go back

      - Contact Us

      - Home