Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 30, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – CE-DUKE

  • Transnet concludes R2.2-Bn loan agreement with French investor group AFD

  • Container line introduces piracy surcharge

  • Walvis Bay the loser as Maersk Line revises Samba service

  • Concern over Dubai World’s restructuring but DP World terminals look safe

  • NSRI involved in fishing boat rescue

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Pic of the day – MONTE OLIVIA


    First View – CE-DUKE

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    The Maltese-flagged Capesize bulker CE-DUKE (84,448-gt, 170,085-DWT built 2001) called at Cape Town on 26 November to take bunkers. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Transnet concludes R2.2-Bn loan agreement with French investor group AFD

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    Jean-Michel Severino, CEO of the AFD Group (left) and Chris Wells, acting CEO of Transnet at the signing of a R2.2 Billion loan agreement in Cape Town last week. Picture by Terry Hutson

    Transnet and French investment group Agence Française de Développement Group (AFD) have concluded a R2.2 Billion loan that will be utilised for the expansion of the Cape Town Container Terminal, now underway. AFD is a development finance institution owned by the French government.

    The agreement was signed in Cape Town on Wednesday and will be used to part fund the R4.6-Bn expansion of the port’s container terminal. The loan is to be rolled out over 15 years, with a three-year capital grace period and forms part of Transnet’s well-publicised R80 Billion investment programme.

    The upgrade of the terminal includes deepening the entrance channel, the container terminal turning basin, refurbishment of the container berths, replacement of container handling equipment and the acquisition of new equipment. Back of berth areas are also being reconfigured to provide additional stack capacity and to improve access.

    The terminal’s capacity will be doubled to 1.4 million TEU by 2012.

    Referring to the agreement as “ground-breaking”, Transnet’s acting CEO Chris Wells said the loan was a significant investment that would be used to build capacity for the port ahead of demand.

    “We are pleased at this historic partnership (between Transnet and AFD). This is by far the largest single funding initiative for one project. Apart from being a vote of confidence to Transnet’s sound management of its investment programme, especially the rigorous risk management framework, it is also a testimony to the attractiveness and bankability of all the projects we are undertaking as part of our five-year capital programme.”

    He said that what made the agreement with AFD particularly attractive was that although in it is in euro, it can be disbursed to Transnet in rand, a move that will boost Transnet’s ability to manage its financial risks, particularly foreign exchange risk.

    Wells said the AFD transaction was in line with Transnet’s funding strategy and plan which seeks to diversify funding sources and investors for the company’s investment programme.

    “The AFD is a full supporter of Transnet’s expansion plans,” said Severino. “We believe this will build the port’s capability to meet the growing capacity demand. The AFD is also confident that this will play a major a role in stimulating the South African economy and sustaining the jobs for South Africans working at the ports and the construction companies implementing the project.”

    He added that the investment in the port of Cape Town fulfils a key component of AFD’s Country Partnership Strategy for 2009-2011. “This addresses our aim to reinforce South Africa’s productive sector for providing financial support for investment programmes that have been developed by SOEs.”

    Although the AFD has been active in South Africa for years, this is its first agreement with Transnet. The loan is also the largest to be made by AFD in sub-Saharan Africa in 2009.

    Container line introduces piracy surcharge

    French shipping company CMA CGM has introduced a piracy surcharge for its container ships transiting the Gulf of Aden of USD41 per TEU, because of high costs brought about by anti-piracy measures and insurance.

    “The transit of containerships through the Gulf of Aden in both directions is subject to high costs caused by the prevailing risks of piracy in the area. CMA CGM continues to ensure the safety and the security of cargo carried by its vessels through the Gulf of Aden,” the company said in a statement issued last week.

    The surcharge takes effect from 15 December and is additional to any rate agreement, said CMA CGM.


    Meanwhile, the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) operating in the Gulf of Aden and Somali coastal region on anti-piracy patrol said that a Greek frigate operating with EU NAVFOR, HS ADRIAS had intercepted a group of suspected pirates approximately 260 n.miles north-east of the Seychelles and had taken nine into custody. The incident involved a skiff sailing with a second skiff in tow which it is thought was the craft that had approached and threatened the French-flagged Ro-Ro ship ECLIPSE a little earlier. In the incident armed personnel on board the French vessel fired warning shots at the approaching skiff and frightened it off.

    Utilising the assistance of patrol aircraft, the Greek ship later intercepted what is thought to have been two pirate vessels.

    “Greek EU NAVFOR warship HS Adrias, tasked to search and neutralise these suspected pirates, intercepted the suspected pirate attack group with help from another Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Adrias's boarding team secured the two skiffs with in total nine persons on board. All remaining piracy related paraphernalia, including the excess skiff, was seized,” said EU NAVFOR in a statement.


    In a pirate-related incident off the coast of Benin in West Africa the first officer of the German-owned Liberian-flagged CANCALE STAR (42,010-gt, 73-600-DWT, built 2007) was shot dead and four other crew members were injured when pirates boarded the tanker.

    Other crew members managed to overpower one of the attackers who has been handed over to police. The captured pirate said he was from a Nigerian border town.


    From Mombasa comes news that the German-owned, French-operated DELMAS NACALA came under attack by pirates last week east-south-east of Mombasa but was able to out-manoeuvre the pursuers and make an escape. Two skiffs approached the French ship and opened fire with rocket propelled grenades and automatic rifles. There were no injuries and only slight damage to the ship was reported.

    Walvis Bay the loser as Maersk Line revises Samba service

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    LARS MAERSK. Picture by Terry Hutson

    Maersk Line has decided to abandon its direct East Coast of South America (ECSA) to Middle East service on its ‘Samba’ service, which goes around the Cape of Good Hope, in favour of a transshipment service out of Algeciras, starting in January 2010.

    The Samba service currently connects Jebel Ali, Walvis Bay, Vitoria, Itajai, Paranagua, Rio Grande, Santos, Salalah, and Jebel Ali.

    The revised Samba service will connect the ECSA with the Middle East and West Africa at Algeciras by means of ships on the Europe-ECSA L-Class service. The rotation of this service will be shortened with calls at Rotterdam, Thamesport and Bremehaven being discontinued, with the new rotation becoming Algeciras, Dakar, Montevideo, Itajai, Paranagua, Rio Grande, Santos, and back to Algeciras.

    There will be three weekly sailings from ECSA to Europe with the change.

    Concern over Dubai World’s restructuring but DP World terminals look safe

    Just when most of us are managing to convince ourselves that the worst of the economic downturn is over, the world’s capital markets have been shaken by the news that Dubai World is asking for a standstill of its debt for six months.

    Dubai World faces a USD3.5 Billion bill which is due later this week and presumably doesn’t have the money to cover it. Altogether the company has a debt of around USD60 Billion. As a result a number of projects have been placed in doubt, not least among them the future of the mothballed passenger liner QUEEN ELIZABETH 2. Reports have already been received that auditors examining which assets can be sold off to reduce the debt have confirmed that the passenger ship is not excluded.

    There has been speculation that Dubai’s oil-rich neighbour state Abu Dhabi may have to come to the rescue of Dubai once again.

    Dubai has formally asked debtors of Dubai World and its property investment arm Nakheel to agree to a debt standstill while it restructures Dubai World. The announcement sent a wave of concern about the Gulf region’s financial wealth, and a number of projects have either come to a halt or have been placed in doubt.

    Questions will be asked about what effect this will have on Dubai World’s investments in South Africa, including the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town in which a subsidiary of Nakheel, Dubai World Africa holds a 37.5% stake. Earlier this year Nakheel indicated its intention of staging the passenger ship QE2 at Cape Town as a floating hotel and tourist attraction.

    This was in response to the financial crunch in Dubai itself affecting the conversion of the iconic ship and her staging on a special berth in Dubai. QE2 subsequently moved to the Dubai Dry Docks to undergo refurbishment prior to her planned move to Cape Town, despite there being no clarity as to whether South Africa authorities including Transnet National Ports Authority would accept the vessel. Strong opposition was voiced by tourist bodies and hotel groups objecting to a ship such as QE2 being used as a floating hotel in Cape Town.

    It appears that DP World, which operates 49 port terminals throughout the world and has another 12 under construction, is safe and has been excluded from the restructuring planned for Dubai World, Dubai’s investment company. DP World’s involvements in South and southern Africa include stevedoring activities in South Africa (the former P&O Ports), and a 50% stake in the company that manages and operates the port of Maputo as well as Maputo’s MIPS container terminal.

    NSRI involved in fishing boat rescue

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has gone to the assistance of a fishing vessel in distress in Cape waters.

    The incident involved the fishing trawler Tiger Reef which reported that it was taking on water while some 9 n.miles west of Dassen Island. The vessel with a crew of 13 men on board was lying heavy in the water in rough sea conditions in a 4 metre swell and 10 to 15 knot southerly winds.

    The NSRI despatched its rescue craft Rotary Onwards from the NSRI Yzerfontein base and the NSRI Table Bay station’s Spirit of Vodacom while a Titan/NSRI helicopter was placed on alert. Maritime Radio also broadcast an all ships alert and the fishing vessels Kingclip, JoAnne and Potsberg responded.

    On arrival it was discovered that all crew were safe but were having to use water buckets to bail out their fishing vessel as the ship’s water extrication pumps were not working. The NSRI transferred an engineer on board the fishing boat to assist but the water pumps could not be started and four seamen from the Kingclip subsequently transferred across to the Tiger Reef to assist on the water buckets. Arrangements were also made for the Kingclip to take the Tiger Reef in tow and the two vessels headed for the port of Cape Town escorted by the Table Bay NSRI rescue craft. The other fishing vessels that had responded were relieved from duty.

    The cause of the casualty taking on water is to be investigated by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    NEPAD Award for MCLI

    The Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI) has been awarded one of three NEPAD Transport Infrastructure Projects of Excellence awards for the N4 Maputo Development Corridor. Co-chairman of MCLI, Dr Antonio Matos said the corridor had proved to be a catalyst for growth through the significant investment in infrastructure along the corridor. “The more than USD5 Billion investment in infrastructure since the inception of the corridor has provided sustained and continued economic growth and we would like to see this trend continue,” he said, saying that the award would be shared with other corridor partners.

    The award is an initiative of the NEPAD Secretariat and is aimed at showcasing successful transport infrastructure projects in Africa.


    Tropical Storm Bongani blows itself out before reaching Comores

    The second tropical storm of the summer season to affect the Western Indian Ocean, Cyclone Bongani had lost much of its strength by the time it reached the Comores islands late last week. Earlier the storm dumped large amounts of rain on the Seychelles and northern Madagascar but by Sunday (29 November) Bongani had largely dissipated in the Mozambique Channel

    Pic of the day – MONTE OLIVIA

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    Hamburg Süd’s Monte-class container ship MONTE OLIVIA (69,132-gt, built 2004) called at Durban during the weekend when the ship worked cargo at the Pier 1 Container Terminal. Picture by Trevor Jones

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