Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 15, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – AMADEA

  • South Africa joins other Indian Ocean countries in tsunami exercise

  • Transnet commissions new R45m world class cold storage facility

  • Piracy – Somali pirates becoming increasingly sophisticated, Interpol told

  • Motor industry ranks SA ports poorly in global productivity

  • Kenya shippers want action on costs for cargo moving through Mombasa

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pics of the day – CAPE INFANTA & EB&H FLOATING CRANE


    First View – AMADEA

    The cruise ship AMADEA (28,856-gt, built 1991) on arrival in Durban yesterday afternoon for a short visit. The vessel is the former Japanese NYK cruise ship ASUKA which called at South African ports several years ago. The Amadea is currently operated by Phoenix Reisen GmbH of Germany, who acquired her in 2006. Picture by David Shackleton, copyright Shiphoto International, Durban.

    South Africa joins other Indian Ocean countries in tsunami exercise

    Pretoria (BuaNews), 14 October 2009 - Nineteen countries bordering the Indian Ocean, including South Africa, are today taking part in an exercise to test a tsunami early warning system.

    Dubbed "Exercise Indian Ocean Wave 09," the United Nations-backed initiative will simulate a warning for a tsunami similar to the 2004 wave which killed more than 300,000 people.

    The exercise will test alarm procedures and overall preparedness from countries along the Indian Ocean.

    In a statement, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) said the drill was the first comprehensive test and evaluation of the warning system.

    The exercise had been designed to highlight faults and identify areas for improvement.

    The simulated tsunami will spread in real time across the entire Indian Ocean, taking around 12 hours to travel from Indonesia to the South African coast, the UNESCO said.

    Bulletins on seismic and sea level data will be sent from the Japan Meteorogical Agency in Tokyo and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, to national tsunami warning centres across the Indian Ocean.

    Newly-established watch centres in Australia, India and Indonesia, which are due in the near future to take over from Hawaii and Tokyo as monitors for the region, will also take part, share data among themselves.

    UNESCO said the exercise would allow states to test communication channels with regional alert centres, and identify weaknesses in warning and emergency procedures.

    The test comes two weeks after a tsunami smashed into the Pacific islands of Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, killing at about 183 people.

    Participating countries include: Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Timor Leste.

    Transnet commissions new R45m world class cold storage facility

    A reefer ship FUJI BAY (9,070-gt, built 1990) in Cape Town recently. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Western Cape fresh produce exporters targeted

    Cape Town, 14 October 2009 - One of the country’s most technologically advanced cold storage facilities, built by Transnet at a cost of R45 million, was officially launched on Tuesday (13 October) at the Cape Town Multipurpose Terminal, with a firm commitment from port operator Transnet Port Terminals to add value to fresh produce exporters throughout the Western Cape and beyond.

    Construction of the new, multimillion rand facility commenced in November 2007 and was completed in stages. Final commissioning and testing took place earlier this year.

    Addressing customers, official stakeholders and the media at the facility’s unveiling, Nosipho Damasane, Transnet Port Terminals Chief Operating Officer, said the multi-dimensional repository was Transnet’s solution to the outdated cold stores in the fruit export logistics chain, many of which are being withdrawn from service.

    “A world class fruit exporting country such as South Africa requires the services of a world class cold storage resource. The Cape Town MPT Cold Store makes this a reality with its high tech technology and equipment,” she said.

    She said the 24-hour facility was situated in the most convenient place in the logistics chain – directly on the quayside – and was therefore in an ideal position to reduce the cost of doing business by shortening the export route and eliminating additional handling.

    The cold store is located at the Port of Cape Town’s E–Berth where the draft of approximately 10.4 metres caters for most conventional vessels in operation today.

    The operation is under the management of Operations Manager, Beyers Pape, who has intimate knowledge of cold store management and operations, having worked in the fruit export industry for 20 years.

    While the high-tech facility was initially introduced as a fruit only storage facility and handled citrus, grapes and small consignments of avocadoes this year, it has since broadened its services to offer storage facilities for all perishable goods.

    Hannes Human, Business Unit Executive at Cape Town MPT, said the cold store featured 24 hour monitoring of the entire cold system and tracking of all cargo under the protection of the Paltrack tracking system throughout the export journey.

    Continuous quality inspections are carried out by the Perishable Product Export Control Board in order to maintain high quality service standards and compliance with world standards.

    The new cold store offers product-specific pre-cooling of conventional palletised cargo to required protocols, containerisation of cargo for the export market and shipping of cargo directly from the cold store into vessels.

    It also provides specialised pre-cooling services for fruit sterilisation, which is a requirement by certain world markets such as the Far East and USA.

    The cold store’s port-to-road linkages include five loading bays to ensure quick loading and offloading of cargo, with a turnaround cycle of ten containers per hour. The facility’s courtyard, which is situated adjacent to the cold store, is canopied to ensure safe loading and unloading of cargo during inclement weather.

    Port-to-rail connectivity includes a rail siding adjacent to the cold store, where palletised fruit is then transferred from or onto internal road transport vehicles for fast delivery in or out of the cold store.

    The cold store has three floors, each with cold storage capabilities. The ground floor, which can cater for the handling of 2,229 pallets is for storage only, the 1st floor is for pre-cooling and has a 740 pallet capacity, while the second floor, which can handle 486 pallets, is for pre-cooling and storage.

    Piracy – Somali pirates becoming increasingly sophisticated, Interpol told

    Somali pirates are becoming increasingly sophisticated, an Interpol conference being held in Singapore was told yesterday.

    Abdi Hassan Awaleh, Somalia’s Commissioner of Police said that the degree of sophistication available to pirates operating off his country’s coastline had reached the point where even the presence of a large international naval force, backed up by surveillance aircraft, was unable to curtail or prevent attacks on ships taking place.

    The Commissioner said that his limited police force was inadequate to properly police Somalia’s 1,900 mile of coastline, allowing pirates plenty of opportunities to slip out to sea and back again. “We have no power to chase or control such a long coastline,” he said.

    Even the Somali government was ‘fragile’, he said, adding that there has been little progress in combating piracy from Somalia.

    Motor industry ranks SA ports poorly in global productivity

    South African ports showed poorly in a benchmarking exercise conducted by the Automotive Industry Development Centre.

    Measuring productivity on the basis of container moves per hour the study ranked Cape Town as the least productive port of all internationally, ranking 17 out of 17. Of South African ports Durban showed up as the most productive but could only manage a ranking of 11 out of 17.

    The Japanese port of Yokohama achieved top ranking in the study, which only considered ports relevant to the local industry.

    Denisse van Huyssteen, communications manager at GMSA in Port Elizabeth said South Africa’s ports lagged far behind global standards in terms of productivity, adding further to the high cost penalties that South African industry has to pay. She said this affected the overall competitiveness of the local motor industry.

    She referred to high port costs charged at South African ports, compared with ports in South America and Asia. “Cargo dues are not charged at major ports elsewhere in the world. Cargo dues in South Africa are supposed to be channelled into the development of port infrastructure. In other markets around the world, port users are not the funders of port infrastructure - this is generally funded by government and local authorities.”

    In 2008 South African motor manufacturers exported 57% of local production. With a high percentage of components being imported this meant a substantial portion of each vehicle was exposed twice to these inflated costs.

    Kenya shippers want action on costs for cargo moving through Mombasa

    Mombasa – Kenyan shippers are adamant that an enquiry be held into what they describe as ‘ mysterious costs’ that are imposed seemingly at random by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) on cargo moving through the port of Mombasa.

    The Kenya Maritime Authority KMA) is also demanding clarity regarding the charges levied on cargo by individual port agents acting on behalf of shipping companies. Until now details of these costs have remained confidential but shippers say they want transparency on how amounts on the bills are arrived at.

    Shippers say that despite passing the Merchant Shipping Act this year, which was intended to regularise the situation, agents appear to be taking a laissez faire attitude when import cargoes are involved.

    There are reportedly 20 or so individual costs for anyone bringing goods through the docks. These include up to $65 ‘Bill of Lading release fee’, valid for seven days, after which another is required, circa $60 ‘B/L collection fee’, handling charges charged twice for each container, once by the KPA then again by the ships agents, $25 for passing on documents, $20 container cleaning on empty boxes, and so the list goes on.

    One of the areas which will continue to be a stumbling block is the container deposit levy which can be as much as $5,000 for each container leaving the port. The charge has some justification in that Mombasa has a history of containers which pass through without being returned; estimates put the figure as high as 500 per annum. The complaint is however that restitution of the fees by the liner agents is often subject to unreasonable and extreme delays.

    Liner agents maintain the inflated costs are merely being passed on by shipping companies who have lost revenue because of depressed freight rates; clients say they want to see the evidence. Bidders for the port services may be well advised to study the solutions to these problems before committing themselves, indeed ship owners may actually be banned from having an interest in the port management due to a monopoly clause in Kenya’s marine law. – source The Handy Guide

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Plans to sail the giant FPSO GLASS DOWR (56,924-gt, built 1996) from Cape Town harbour yesterday came to naught and last night the vessel was still in harbour. Weather permitting it is intended to move the vessel from Cape Town, where she has taken up valuable space for many months. It is understood the vessel is to be towed to Port Elizabeth where she will be berthed for an estimated period of six months. - GS


    The sale of several remaining ships held in South African ports under judicial arrest has been concluded this week with the successful sale of the reefer vessel EW COOK (4,986-gt, built 1986) in Cape Town harbour for a figure of US$1,070,000. The vessel was offered with a reserve price of $500,000. In Richards Bay the anticipated sale of the bulk carrier SARA V (31,167-gt, built 2002) was completed when an offer of $20.6 million was accepted. The bulker had attracted considerable interest owing to her excellent condition and the fact that she is relatively new. The sales were concluded by Admiralty Sales under the hammer of auctioneer Captain Roy Martin.

    The South Korean general cargo ship BRIGHT DREAM (15,893-gt, built 1983), which is under arrest in the Richards Bay outer anchorage, is expected to be finalised within the next few weeks when it is anticipated that the vessel will also be placed on sale by auction.


    Container volumes increased 34% at the Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT) during 2008, reaching a turnover of 2.4 million TEU and making this Africa’s most busy container port and terminal. The previous top ranked container port and terminal were Durban and the Durban Container Terminal respectively. Egypt has embarked on an expansion programme for SCCT to increase in capacity to 5.4m TEU by 2012 which will make this the largest single container terminal in the Mediterranean. SCCT already handles 20% of all Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea transshipment cargo moves.


    Nearer home, the Namibia port of Walvis Bay recently achieved 40 container moves an hour on two Maersk container ships in port, improving on the port’s previous best achieved also on several Maersk ships and reported in these columns on 17 August 2009 HERE. On the most recent occasion 40 moves an hour were achieved with the MAERSK JENA, which involved a movement of 463 containers to enable the ship to sail within seven hours. The next ship was MAERSK PEMBROKE which had a movement of 836 containers allowing the vessel to sail within 14 hours of berthing. The ships were worked using four mobile cranes on each vessel simultaneously, which called for some skilful manoeuvring.


    Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority (GPHA) director-general Mr Nesta Galley says that the government has set up a commission of enquiry to look into the circumstances of a contract issued to Meridian Port Services, a foreign-owned consortium that controls 60% of all stevedoring activity at the port of Tema. The DG said that the committee would submit its findings and recommendations to government which would then take an informed decision on the matter.


    Nigeria’s Federal Government has agreed to cut the Nigeria Ports Authority jetty charge by 50% ahead of the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry. The Federal Government believes this will offset the effects of deregulation on prices of petroleum products. The FG says it also intends improving the maintenance of the Apapa jetty and will undertake the dredging of the waters around the jetty.


    Norwegian ship owner Atle Jebsen died tragically on Tuesday (13 October) when the car he was driving was involved in a head-on collision with a container truck near Bergen. One of his employees also lost her life in the accident and another was seriously injured and was taken to hospital. Jebsen, who was born in Bergen in 1935 was the grandson of Peter Jebsen, founder of the famous Norwegian shipping company. By a strange twist of fate Antle Jebsen was involved in another accident in the United States in 1966 when the train he was on was involved in a collision with a second train. His father lost his life in that accident.

    Pics of the day – CAPE INFANTA and EB&H FLOATING CRANE

    Workboats on the go in Durban harbour. The CAPE INFANTA seen underway exiting the Maydon Channel and entering the Esplanade Channel en route to the harbour entrance, while in the second picture Elgin Brown & Hamer’s floating crane is seen in a similar position but heading in the opposite direction back to EB&H’s Bayhead shipyard. Pictures by Terry Hutson

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