Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 7, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – EXPLORER

  • Tanzania ends exclusivity clause with TICTS, opens door to other operators

  • NORTHERN RELIANCE becomes Ngqura port’s unexpected second caller

  • Mozambique confirms intention to build northern coal railway to Nacala

  • Trident Marine flexes its anti-stowaway muscles

  • Hapag-Lloyd thrown an EU lifeline but Maersk warns of too many operators

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pics of the day – SUBHIKSHA


    First View – EXPLORER

    The cruise ship EXPLORER (24,318-gt, built 2001) which arrived in Cape Town yesterday morning. The ship is currently operating as a floating university and has several hundred mostly American students as passengers on a four-month world cruise. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Tanzania ends exclusivity clause with TICTS, opens door to other operators

    The Tanzanian government and the Tanzanian International Container Terminals Services (TICTS) has ended an exclusivity clause thus opening the way for a new additional operator to handle containers at the port of Dar es Salaam.

    A report carried by the Dar es Salaam newspaper The Guardian says the two side signed an addendum and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Monday that, among other things, removes the exclusivity clause from the port terminal lease agreement. Infrastructure Minister Dr Shukuru Kawambwa said this would pave the way for other investors to provide container handling facilities at the Dar es Salaam port, and would increase efficiencies thus improving the movement of goods and services to customers.

    “As you know this port serves a lot of countries especially landlocked ones, so the removal of the clause would enable many players enter the business hence increase efficiency of the port,” he is quoted by the Guardian.

    The development follows a protracted period of dissatisfaction on the part of the government and other interests over the pace with which the privatized cargo services in Tanzania have been moving.

    “There was a time when we wanted to terminate the whole contract as suggested by Parliament, but in the interest of Tanzanians we found it much better to remove the exclusivity clause which prevented other companies from engaging in container handling services,” Dr Kawambwa said, adding that both parties had agreed to the decision and had pledged to work together to improve efficiency at the port.

    According to the minister a number of other parties have expressed interest in operating container handling services at the port

    “Now it is time for them to approach the authorities and offer their services to help to improve the port,” he said.

    The Tanzanian government is also thought to be in discussion with the Indian operator of the Tanzanian Railway Ltd, operated by Rites Ltd of India on a 25-year concession which was entered into from 1 October 2007, in which the government owns a 49% share. There has been mounting criticism over service delivery from the privatised railway company leading to demands that the concession be cancelled.

    NORTHERN RELIANCE becomes Ngqura port’s unexpected second caller

    It had been expected that the second container ship to call at the new port of Ngqura (which saw her first ship, the MSC CATANIA on Sunday) would be another MSC ship, the MSC SHANGHAI. That wasn’t to be however, with the unexpected arrival of a container ship in distress, the German vessel NORTHERN RELIANCE (35,595-gt, built 1994). The following report from the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) provides the details:

    On Saturday 3rd October 2009 the German registered container vessel NORTHERN RELIANCE, (35,595-gt), advised the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre that the vessel was taking water in the engine room and requested shelter in Algoa Bay.

    The vessel was on passage from Malaysia to Walvis Bay carrying 1,720 containers and with 2,402 tonnes of fuel onboard.

    The vessel was given permission to approach the coast but remain 50 nautical miles offshore until the vessel had been inspected by SAMSA. It was also required that proof of acceptable insurance cover was in place to cover a possible wreck removal and the costs of any pollution prevention work or a cleanup would be met by the owners insurers and the stand by tug SMIT AMANDLA was on scene to escort the vessel.

    The owners agreed to all the above conditions.

    The vessel, with the Smit Amandla in attendance, was in position on Sunday evening (4 October 2009). Due to there being no suitable helicopter resources available in the Port Elizabeth area the inspection could only take place at first light the following morning when a suitable launch had been sourced.

    A senior SAMSA surveyor boarded the vessel and with the temporary repairs affected to reduce the water ingress, found that the vessel could safely be allowed into port. Negotiations with Transnet National Ports Authority were concluded and the vessel was given permission to berth in the port of Ngqura.

    The vessel berthed on 5 October (Monday) for repairs to be undertaken and the Smit Amandla was released.

    Capt. NT Campbell
    Regional Manager: Southern Region SAMSA

    Mozambique confirms intention to build northern coal railway to Nacala

    Mozambique’s Transport Minister Paulo Zucula has confirmed reports that a new railway connecting the Moatize coal mines in Tete province will be built to the northern deepwater port of Nacala.

    The minister said the government has secured US$500 million to cover the cost of building the connections and improvements to the railway which will open the port to increased volumes of coal expected after the mines come on stream within the next year.

    Initially coal is to be exported through the port of Beira, making use of the refurbished Sena railway which is being rehabilitated by India’s Rites Ltd, who will also operate the service. Both the railway and port however have volume constraints and Mozambique would either have to improve facilities at the port and enhance the capacity of the railway, or look to an alternative route to the coast.

    Because of heavy silting of the river on which Beira port is built, it is considered virtually impossible to turn this port into a deepwater harbour.

    According to Zucula the railway to Nacala will be in operation by 2015, thanks to funding from the Dutch, Danish and European Union governments. Construction could begin as soon as two months, he said.

    The railway from Moatize will run north into Malawi to connect with that country’s existing rail network and then connect with the CDN-operated Nacala-Malawi railway leading to the port at Nacala. The upgrading of the northern railway will also bring benefit to northern Mozambique and in particular to Malawi for the conveyance of fertilisers, grains, cement and sugar among other commodities.

    However, the minister indicated that some of the current funding would be used in dredging the port at Beira to improve loading facilities there. It is believed that a lighter system connecting to Capesize ships waiting some distance from the port will be introduced to handle the initial exports of coal from Beira.

    Trident Marine flexes its anti-stowaway muscles

    The arrival in Richards Bay of giant Brazilian drill ship PETROBRAS 10000 (60,331-gt, built 2009) provided an excellent opportunity to KwaZulu Natal’s newest anti-stowaway team to flex its muscles and ensure that no stowaways had snuck onboard.

    The sheer complexity of the drill ship made this an ideal vessel for determined stowaways to target and find a place to hide until the ship was back at sea. It also required a special team of trained operatives, and their dogs, to make sure this didn’t occur.

    Trident Marine Services was established relatively recently, although several of the personnel including chief executive officer Justin Nel have considerable experience with anti-stowaway services.

    The company was formed in April this year and undertakes a number of maritime port-related services, including tour guiding for ships crew, handling of accommodation requirements for crew changes, meeting and assisting crew changes, a cash to master service and gangway security – the latter in conjunction with international security provider ADT.

    But the main focus of Trident Marine is to provide anti-stowaway services, in which the searching of ships in port is the main area of expertise. A team of specially highly trained and equipped personnel are now on duty at both Durban and Richards Bay, the ‘personnel’ including a team of specially trained dogs – all Jack Russells - used to sniff out the hiding places used by stowaways on board vessels. Each handler and dog undergoes a minimum of four months initial training followed by ongoing refresher courses and exercises, but the real exercise comes once on board the ship.

    The search team is fully equipped to safely access any part of any ship, and personnel even carry gas masks for those occasions when enclosed tanks have to be examined.

    Thus the arrival of the Petrobras 10000 provided an excellent opportunity to place a large team on board and ensure that when the ship sailed it wasn’t with any unwanted passengers. The ships operator and agent expressed satisfaction with the service and passed compliments for their professionalism and appearance. One seafarer even wondered if this was the SAS coming on board!
    Trident Marine Service can be contacted at Durban 031 202 2888/9 or Richards Bay 035 753 3510/11/12 or email dbn@tridentmarine.co.za

    Hapag-Lloyd thrown an EU lifeline but Maersk warns of too many operators

    Germany’s Bundestag (parliament) has agreed to the distressed Hamburg-based shipping company Hapag-Lloyd receiving €1.2 Billion in federal and local government loans to bail the company out of its current financial problems.

    Without the loans it is unlikely that Hapag-Lloyd would be able to continue during the current economic downturn. The Bundestag said it has suggested conditions be placed on Hapag-Lloyd’s owners, although it hasn’t gone into detail. However several committee members expressed concerns over how Hapag-Lloyd and shareholder TUI AG would make use of the state aid and has suggested a cap on executive salaries and a ban on dividends.

    The agreement to the loan is just the latest in a lengthy saga of trying to keep the troubled container line in German, and preferably Hamburg hands. The City of Hamburg became a shareholder in the shipping line earlier this year and has also injected capital into the company.


    In the United States a senior US Maersk executive, chief financial officer Morten Nicolaisen said at a maritime conference that only a major consolidation among shipping lines could save the industry from unsustainable low freight rates.

    Nicolaisen said the state of the industry was actually much worse than was being reflected by the US$20 Billion losses forecast for 2009. He pointed out that this amount should be doubled as during a normal year shipping lines would expect to make profits in the region of between $10 and $20Bn.

    There are simply too many ships and too many companies, he said, and even the loss of a couple of small companies would not make much of a difference, as their ships wouldn’t disappear but remain in the system.

    He also questioned whether there was a need for all shipping carriers to have global ambitions. They should rather concentrate on their core services and leave most inland container movements to domestic providers who can mix and match different modes of transportation and know their own markets.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    A meeting of the Federation of National Associations of Shipbrokers and Agents (FONASBA) is taking place this week at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town and got underway yesterday morning. Also participating from a local perspective is SAASOA – the South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents which was created in 2007 through a merger of the Association of Ships Agents and Brokers of Southern Africa (ASABOSA), the Association of Shipping Lines (ASL), and the Container Liner Operators Forum (CLOF).

    Some 60 delegates are taking part from various parts of the world to discuss and debate issues of common interest and concern, each representing their own national association.


    According to reports in the Cape Town press (Cape Times) the South African Navy has sold an historic double-barrel 127mm gun that has been mounted in the Lower North Battery between Simon’s Town Main Road and the railway station, which is now being cut up for scrap. The Simon’s Town Historical Society has slammed the action as ‘total destruction’ but the navy’s spokesman Lt Cmdr Greyling van den Berg said the gun was deteriorating badly as a result of being situated only metres from the sea. The cost of maintaining it and keeping it there would have been too high, he is reported as saying.

    Question: Does the navy no longer possess the manpower and a few tins of paint? It also reminds us of the sad condition of the large guns mounted on the end of Durban’s Bluff, similarly neglected but in their case ‘out of sight’ and therefore of mind.


    India’s state-owned Coal India says it intends buying an overseas coal mine by March next year and will float its first-ever coal import tender next month (November) to meet surging local demand. Although one of the world’s major producers, India requires growing imports to meet demand especially from the country’s energy producers. The country expects to import 60 million tonnes of coal in 2009/10, an increase on 57mt last year. The country is looking for strategic partnerships to acquiring coal assets in South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and the US.

    Pics of the day – SUBHIKSHA

    The extensively repaired offshore tug SUBHIKSHA (2,655-gt, built 2001) which recently underwent rebuilding in Durban following an engine room fire in the Mozambique Channel last December, arrived in Cape Town this week to take bunkers. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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