Ports & Ships Maritime News

Sep 30, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – MSC CATANIA

  • First container ship for Ngqura postponed because of delays at Durban

  • CMA CGM seeks moratorium and restructuring to remain afloat

  • Materials Handling specialist back in business

  • A step closer towards a Common Market for Africa

  • African port news - Nouakchott harbour project launched

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pics of the day – FENG KANG SHAN


    First View – MSC CATANIA

    The post-panamax container ship MSC CATANIA (60,117-gt, built 1994) which is intended to become the first vessel to work containers at the new port of Ngqura later this week – see story below. Picture by Ian Shiffman.

    First container ship for Ngqura postponed because of delays at Durban

    Picture by Ian Shiffman

    PORTS & SHIPS can now disclose that the first container ship to make use of the new container terminal and port of Ngqura, MSC CATANIA (60,117-gt, built 1994), will now ‘inaugurate’ the new terminal hopefully on Sunday, 4 October.

    The intention had been to have the MSC vessel sail into Ngqura today (30 September) but unfortunately the ship has been delayed at Durban where the latter port is once again suffering from chronic seasonal delays, brought on by adverse weather conditions and an unexpectedly large number of ships.

    It seems ironically appropriate that delays at Durban should cause a postponement in the first working of a container ship at the new Eastern Cape port, which is being promoted as an alternative to Durban because the latter is so often congested. MSC Catania is currently riding at anchor in the Durban outer anchorage awaiting a berth at the Durban Container Terminal and is only expected to berth at DCT at 14h00 today (Wednesday – weather permitting), after which the ship will sail for the Eastern Cape and its appointment at Ngqura.

    The official launch of the new port and terminal remains set for ‘later in October’ – with 12 October having been mentioned in unofficial circles.

    CMA CGM seeks moratorium and restructuring to remain afloat

    CMA CGM IMPALA in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    French shipping giant CMA CGM, which operates the world’s third largest container carrier fleet, has been forced to turn to its creditors and seek a restructuring of a US$5 Billion debt in order to stay afloat.

    The line, which operates a fleet of around 360 ships and has 60 large new container ships on order for delivery between now and 2012, met with creditors last Friday (25 September) to request a moratorium on its debt. Creditors have been asked to freeze the $5Bn owed for one year.

    In a statement issued after the meeting CMA CGM said it was trying to renegotiate or cancel some of the newbuilding orders. The spokesman said the rescue plan wasn’t about seeking subsidies but rather to look at mechanisms of restructuring the debt or deferring payments or taking an injection of fresh capital.

    CMA CGM is just the latest of several shipping companies to reveal the extent to which the economic downturn is affecting the bank balances of shipping lines. Already several major lines including Zim Integrated Shipping Services, CSAV and Hapag-Lloyd have entered into restructuring programmes while others like Maersk Line and MSC are known to be hemorrhaging badly. Maersk at least remains a part of a much wider shipping and oil empire but MSC must be in a similar position to that of CMA CGM with a considerable number of large new container ships coming from the builders’ yards that have to be paid for.

    Earlier in September CMA CGM chairman and founder Jacques Saade called on the European community to ensure that CMA CGM, MSC and Maersk survived the container industry’s biggest ever slump, saying that he called on them to protect the three big European maritime companies.

    Materials Handling specialist back in business

    Edwin Briggeman – back in business

    Within a few months of Finnish materials handling company Kalmar Industries opting to close its South African offices, former managing director of Kalmar Industries in South Africa, Edwin Briggemen has opened his own operation based in Durban.

    Briggeman, with considerable experience and lots of connections both locally and overseas, said he opted to remain in South Africa rather than relocate back to Europe. He is originally from the Netherlands.

    During his time in South Africa with Kalmar, the Finnish company became one of Transnet Port Terminals’ major equipment suppliers, providing an extensive fleet of straddle carriers, rubber tyre gantries (RTGs), reach stackers and other equipment to the country’s various ports.

    Saying that there is “unfinished business” here in South Africa, Briggeman Materials Handling Solutions will focus on the container business and on consultancy and refurbishment programmes.

    “Because I’m totally independent I am also available to undertake project management of equipment refurbishment and to provide tailor-made solutions,” Briggeman said. He intends also setting up a number of agencies for offshore equipment suppliers.

    Briggeman Materials Handling Solutions can be contacted at tel 27 71 868 0929, email Edwin@briggeman.co.za or go to the website at www.briggeman.co.za

    A step closer towards a Common Market for Africa

    Moves towards the creation of a single trading bloc on the sub-Saharan African continent have moved a step closer with the meeting of five regional organisations in the past week which among other things pledged to reduce the cost of doing business on the continent. This would be tackled by way of stepping up the pace of regional integration and development across Africa and through good governance, elimination of non-tariff barriers and the creation of a more efficient infrastructure.

    The five regional organisations that met with the European Union in Lusaka, Zambia were the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), Indian Ocean Commission, the African Union Commission and the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development.

    One of the issues concerned the challenge of overlapping membership of various regional members within organisations like SADC, the EAC and COMESA. Other challenges included the need for a continental Customs Union followed by a Common Market for Africa.

    Meanwhile, in Kampala ministers from the five member states making up the EAC have signed the Common Market Protocol which paves the way for free movement of goods, labour and services across the EAC region. The Protocol will now be taken to the EAC Council for approval before being hopefully signed by heads of state on 20 November this year.

    The EAC consists of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. - source East African Business

    African port news - Nouakchott harbour project launched

    Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and the Chinese vice foreign minister, Zhai Jun officially launched a project to extend the port of Nouakchott on Friday, 25 September.

    Known as the Port of Friendship (PANPA) project, it is being built and financed by the Chinese government and will be completed in 36 months. The project includes a petroleum berth, a breakwater and a 5km dyke along the port using dolosses to protect the harbour infrastructure.

    Together with additional buildings and equipment the project is expected to revitalise the port. – source Xinhua


    Throughput at the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam fell 25% in the first half of 2009, according to Tanzania’s central bank. The bank ascribed the drop to the global economic downturn.

    Dar es Salaam handled a total of 533,000 tonnes of cargo for the first six months of the year.


    The Tanzania Revenue Authority says it intends buying two mobile heavy-duty scanners which will go into service at the ports of Dar es Salaam and Tanga, where it expects them to help reduce congestion. A week previously the Tanzanian government made it clear that it expected the clearing of containers at the ports to be speeded up to encourage greater use of the Tanzanian ports. The TRA said the new scanners would enable ships with a thousand containers for loading and discharge to do so in two days in future instead of the usual five days at present. – source East African

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    The former president of Safmarine Inc, the US arm of Safmarine, Captain Robin Edwards Riley, has died in the United States. Captain Riley, who was born in South Africa in 1940, was a graduate of the General Botha Nautical Academy before going to sea with Safmarine as a cadet and later reaching the position of ships master. In 1972 he transferred to the US branch of Safmarine as a marine superintendent in New York, later managing the company office in Baltimore before being appointed president of Safmarine Inc in New York. He retired in 1999.


    Safmarine has appointed Captain Louise Angel, the company’s first female ships’ master, to draft a maternity scheme for female seafarers within the company who wish to care for their children ashore while not risking their jobs at sea. Worldwide the incidence of female ships officers is increasing slightly, with a woman recently appointed to command one of the Royal Caribbean International cruise ships for the first time. The International Labour Organisation however says there has been little change from the one to two percent of female seafarers when it conducted a survey of 1.25m seafarers in 2003.

    Last year the New York Times reported that the US Navy planned to get round the question of appointing female sailors to submarines by making two Virginian class submarines consist of all-female crew and officers.

    Pics of the day – FENG KANG SHAN

    The Cosco general cargo ship FENG KANG SHAN (13,367-gt, built 1985), seen here in Cape Town in July this year, has visited South African ports on a number of occasions. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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

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