Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 13, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – FORUM FIJI II

  • SA Transport Minister calls for introduction of cabotage in coastal shipping

  • Britain bans trading with Iran’s IRISL shipping line

  • Piracy update – Seychelles takes 11 pirates captive

  • Cape Town’s mystery submarine

  • Cruise operators object to increased port charges at Mombasa

  • SA Defence Force completes ten years of peacekeeping missions

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Today’s recommended read – is ‘Supply Chain’ obsolete?

  • Pics of the day – MSC LORETTA


    First View – FORUM FIJI II

    The German-owned, Gibraltar-flagged general cargo vessel FORUM FIJI II (5,025-gt, built 1999) seen departing Lyttelton, New Zealand at the weekend. Picture by Alan Calvert

    SA Transport Minister calls for introduction of cabotage in coastal shipping

    The following address was given at the opening of the AU Ministers of Transport Responsible for Maritime Transport conference in Durban yesterday (Monday). It was given by the South African Minister of Transport Mr Sibusiso Ndebele who was addressing the committee of experts ahead of the arrival of ministers. The conference continues all this week.

    In 2007 we met in the Republic of Nigeria in Abuja and decided that to push the maritime sector to the forefront of Africa’s economic development we need to draft the African Charter on maritime [transport].

    This gathering is a collection of the brains of brains in the maritime sector in Africa. You are tasked with the responsibility of finalizing the charter for the maritime sector in Africa. Based on your work, on Friday as Ministers we will be able to adopt the charter which will help us respond to the following challenges:

  • African Economic integration
  • Employment creation
  • Black Economic Empowerment
  • Women Empowerment

    Economic integration

    Some of us in this room have dealt with public transport. It is inconceivable that a taxi could pick up passengers in Johannesburg and drop them off in Durban where we are today and then pick up another group and take them on to Cape Town. It is inconceivable that that same taxi could pick up from Cape to Windhoek in Namibia. In the maritime sector this is the practice where international vessels pick up cargo and drop it off on African ports along our coastlines. Cabotage is therefore a policy instrument which we want to employ to turn these unequal terms of trade around.

    The bulk of Africa’s trade is seaborne, yet we do not control it. For example in South Africa 98% of our global trade is conducted through the sea, yet we do not control it. We need to move towards greater control of this important part of our economy through ownership and increased investment. This is one way in which we can increase the slice of African business along our coastlines.

    Economic integration remains one of the requirements for us to move out of being a developing continent to being a developed continent. Economic integration means finding common ground on a bilateral and multi lateral basis for common purpose activities.

    Training and Employment creation

    Training and capacity building remains a key strategic area if we are to increase our competitiveness over time and take our place among the maritime nations of the world. If 2010 is the year of the seafarer, this must be our rallying call for the future. The training of more seafarers will help us increase the number of people who enter the maritime sector. The increase in number and quality will ensure that we continue to play a role internationally in this global sector. At present there is an estimated shortage of hundreds of thousands of seafarers for our people across the world to move into.

    In 1988 the IMO launched the integration of women in the maritime sector programme. We also had the International Women of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the Women in East and Southern Africa (MESA). The objective of the charter is to ensure that we get closer to achieving these objectives.

    In order to grow the maritime industry we must deal with the perception that the industry is not attractive to young people. The industry itself also has a challenge to address this perception. But in addition government has to create a conducive climate for the entry of more young people into the industry.


    Maritime safety and security remains the key foundation for a sustainable industry. For the fact that the industry is international in nature, matters of safety and security are regulated through international conventions.

    The state of maritime safety and security in Africa should remain the key focus during this conference and in the future. This is because we cannot grow an industry through domestic and international investment unless it is safe. One of the most challenging issues at the moment is the recent increase in piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia. This is one example of an area which will never be resolved unless there is cooperation and coordination between interested parties.

    The current efforts coordinated by the IMO to deal with this scourge demonstrate that we can only address this challenge if we work together. As maritime experts in Africa you need to deliberate on how best our continent can make a meaningful input into these efforts.

    Our respective governments should make a clear commitment both in terms of human and financial resources to realize the objectives of the Plan of Action. The maritime sector remains one of the key engines for economic growth in Africa but will not move forward without active government support.

    The charter must map out a vision for the maritime sector in Africa. We must use this sector to move Africa from a developing continent to a developed continent. We must emerge from this conference with a clear vision for an Africa that plays its rightful role in the world.

    Your deliberations should therefore achieve the following:

  • The finalisation of the text of the African Maritime Charter
  • The review of the Abuja Plan of Action

    All this we must address and we want results in two years time.

    In closing let us say this; the success of this gathering depends on your expertise and experience. It is you who must help us change Africa from a developing continent to a developed continent. It is through you, the brains of brains of brains of African maritime that we in Africa will change the world.

    Britain bans trading with Iran’s IRISL shipping line

    According to an article in Times Online Britain has banned UK companies from making use of the Iranian state-owned shipping company IRISL (Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line) on account that IRISL has transported goods for Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.

    The UK Treasury Minister made the announcement yesterday, saying that British companies may also not trade with Bank Mellat, one of Iran’s leading banks. Ms Sarah McCarthy-Fry said that “financial and credit institutions will no longer be able to enter into new transactions or business relationships with these entities, nor to continue with existing transactions or business relationships unless they are licensed by HM Treasury.” Bank Mellat trades in the UK as Persian International Bank.

    IRISL operates a fleet of container, bulk and general cargo vessels and has in the past been a frequent caller in South African ports when the company maintained an office in Durban. In the past five or more years however IRISL ships have become less frequent in these waters and the local office was closed.

    The British move follows a similar warning issued last month by the US Treasury against trading with IRISL. The US claimed the shipping line had provided logistical services to Iran’s Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics and had carried cargo for Iran’s nuclear and missile programme.

    According to the US Treasury IRISL falsified documents and used deceptive schemes to shroud its involvement in ‘illicit commerce’. “IRISL's actions are part of a broader pattern of deception and fabrication that Iran uses to advance its nuclear and missile programs,” the Treasury stated.

    High-level negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme are due to take place in Vienna next week involving Iran, western nations and Russia. – source Times Online

    Piracy update – Seychelles takes 11 pirates captive

    French marines stationed on board two French fishing vessels in the Indian Ocean engaged in a fire fight with suspected Somali pirates on Saturday before beating them off. The two vessels, DRENNEC and GLENAN were approached by two motorized skiffs approximately 195 n.miles north of the Seychelles.

    Initially the French fired flares at the approaching boats but when those in the two boats returned small arms fire the marines opened fire using live ammunition. The two pirate boats then left the scene but were pursued by the Seychelles coast guard who captured them south of where the engagement took place. Eight men were taken into custody and other three who were captured later on board a larger vessel in the area which is believed to have been the pirate’s mother vessel. The identity of the eleven men has not been confirmed.

    In Kenya nine Somalis facing charges of piracy had filed an appeal saying that the lower courts lacks jurisdiction over them and asking that the case be heard in Kenya’s High Court. The argument relates to the alleged pirates having been arrested in the Gulf of Aden which lies well outside Kenyan waters. They argue that there were no Kenyan goods, ships or personnel involved in the alleged attack.

    Meanwhile the UN has reported that less than a third of the aid pledged at a Brussels conference earlier this year to help Somali fight piracy ashore has been received. The aid was intended to assist Somalia in establishing a trained coast guard and providing ongoing training. Of the US$214 promised less than $70m has been received, the UN says.

    Cape Town’s mystery submarine

    A submarine that suddenly appeared among the docklands of Cape Town harbour recently created something of a mystery, until Aad Noorland, no stranger to the nooks and crannies of the port’s dockland, went off to investigate.

    The submarine is a life size mock-up under construction for a movie to be shot in and around Cape Town, with the submarine being destined for one of the Peninsular’s tidal pools. Picture by Aad Noorland

    Cruise operators object to increased port charges at Mombasa

    A Kenyan newspaper reports that international cruise operators are threatening to exclude calls at the port of Mombasa because of high operational costs following the introduction of Value Added Tax on all marine and port services.

    The levy will add 16% to port charges raised against visiting cruise ships and covers all items normally billed, including marine services such as pilotage and tug services.

    The article in The East African says the cruise lines regard the levies as untimely and unjustified, saying that the region’s cruise industry is already grappling with the effects of the economic crunch. Added to this the cruise lines are having to navigate around areas that pose a danger from piracy.

    In addition, poor infrastructure at the ports of Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar are not attracting cruise operators to the region, it says.

    Drawing a comparison with the port of Durban further south, where a total of 53 cruise ship calls are scheduled this summer, the report points out that far less ships are scheduled for Mombasa.

    Kenya’s tourism minister told the newspaper that he had raised the matter with his counterpart from the finance ministry and that the matter was under deliberation.

    Several cruise operators have apparently reacted to the new charges, saying the increases will be referred for discussion at the next European Cruise Council meeting. Among the lines most affected is Costa Cruises, which has the ship COSTA ROMANTICA operating in the western Indian Ocean during the coming summer months with at least eight calls scheduled for Mombasa. Costa said in a letter dated 8 September that it was now reviewing alternative port calls to avoid these cost increases and will be reporting on the matter to its parent company, Carnival Corporation Plc.

    “Take this up with the relevant authority and warn them that they are in danger of losing major cruise business in Mombasa if they choose to impose such high fees,” the letter added.

    Crystal Symphony in Mombasa - is the sun setting for the Kenyan port?

    SA Defence Force completes ten years of peacekeeping missions

    Pretoria (BuaNews) - The Department of Defence and Military Veterans will on Friday (16 October 2009) celebrate 10 years of involvement in peace missions in the Southern African Development Community and Africa.

    The celebrations will commence with a colourful Military Parade in 1 South African Infantry Battalion unit lines, and later be concluded with a march past at the Bloemfontein City Hall which will be presided over by senior government officials.

    After a decade of participation in peace missions, South Africa’s endeavour to establish peace and stability in Africa has become a key element of its foreign policy, with South Africa being one of the largest troop contributors to peace missions in Africa.

    Earlier this year, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended South Africa's continued role in peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction in Africa.

    South Africa, since 2000, has been a major contributor to United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions and has troops and military observers deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Darfur (in Sudan) and Nepal, among others.

    The South African Navy has played a prominent role in these peacekeeping missions.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    The FPSO Glas Dowr (left) in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Aad Noorland

    The Harbour Master’s office at the port of Cape Town has advised of a delay in sailing for the FPSO GLAS DOWR (56,924-gt, built 1996), which is now scheduled to leave the port on Wednesday morning, 14 October. The notification says that disruptions to port working will be kept to a minimum.


    Uganda says that two new ferries will be in service on Lake Victoria for the Kalangala district by next June. Currently only one ferry, the MV KALANGALA is in service and when this has had to undergo maintenance or repairs the movement of goods and people has been affected. “The two new 'modern and reliable' ferries will work concurrently with MV Kalangala at the Nakiwogo landing site,” District Commissioner Deo Nsereko said. The Kalangala district consists of a number of highly populated islands which are reliant on the ferry service to maintain contact with the mainland.


    The port of Kolkatta (formerly Calcutta) in India’s West Bengal has been closed until 17 October because of congestion, forcing ships to move to the nearby port of Haldia to discharge cargo. Local export cargo has had to be held back while the backlog in the port is cleared. Customers say they lay the blame at Kolkatta on a lack of maintenance of equipment and other facilities, which included the breakdown of 22 yard shunters and 13 reach stackers recently. Port officials admitted there had been a total logistics failure.


    Nigeria has acquired 25 new locomotives to replace older obsolete locos in the national fleet, as the Federal Government tries to come to terms with rebuilding its once extensive rail network. The transport minister announced that the Federal Government was interested in adopting the wider European standard gauge to replace the existing Cape gauge used throughout Nigeria. He said the rehabilitation of railway lines would be completed in ten months time and the new locomotives would begin arriving between January and July next year.

    Today’s recommended read – is ‘Supply Chain’ obsolete?

    “Don’t shackle yourself to the notion of a chain” writes William B Cassidy, who adds that every decade or so, a new name is chosen to describe the business of getting raw materials and finished goods from suppliers to consumers: transportation, physical distribution, logistics. Is ‘Supply Chain’ obsolete? Read on HERE.

    If you have any suggestions for a good or thought-provoking read please send the link to info@ports.co.za and put GOOD READ in the subject line.

    Pics of the day – MSC LORETTA

    The impressive lines of the container ship MSC LORETTA (73,819-gt, built 2002) in Cape Town harbour. One of eight sister ships in the fleet, MSC Loretta has a loading capacity of 6,724-TEU. The sister ships are MSC Barbara, MSC Mariana, MSC Marina, MSC Melissa, MSC Michaela, MSC Stella and MSC Viviana. 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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