Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 21, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – SUEZ

  • Container volumes turn but 10% of ships remain idle

  • Nigerian tug OSAYAME finally paid up and free to go

  • Beluga takes delivery of super heavylift ship

  • Nigeria dry ports will help decongest its seaports, says Shippers Council

  • Cruising along the famed North West Passage with the HANSEATIC

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Today’s recommended Read –African navies are declining

  • Pics of the day – LIBRA IPANEMA


    First View – SUEZ

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    The Egyptian general cargo vessel SUEZ (9,277-gt, built 1984) which has been placed under arrest in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Container volumes turn but 10% of ships remain idle

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    The fickle cycle of shipping may appear to be swinging upwards once more but ten percent of container ships remain idle and unneeded, as their owners and former operators attempt to extract themselves from a miscalculation of gigantic proportion.

    Analysts see little chance of many of these ships coming out of early retirement in the near future as newbuildings continue to pour out of shipyards from Asia to Europe.

    According to Drewry Shipping Consultants, the 20 major container carriers lost something in the order of USD20 billion in 2009, while a number of smaller operators have closed their doors. Others, including CMA CGM, Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd, Israel’s Zim and Argentina’s Maruba have turned to their respective governments and creditor banks for handouts or additional loans to see them through the crisis, while others such as Maersk Line and MSC appear stoic while attempting to manage themselves into healthier waters.

    While one can debate the reasons for the economic global meltdown of 2008/09, the blame for the enormity of the woes facing container carriers must surely lie squarely with themselves. Lessons from the tanker industry in the 1960s and 70s went unlearned, as carriers competed almost childishly to see who could build the biggest and the most. And in the process, freight rates were depressed still further and well below cost, where they remain today.

    Shipping observer Alphaliner reports that 371 container ships are due to be delivered by shipbuilders this year, extending the fleet by 14 percent, and a further ten percent to come in 2011. And that’s after some carriers managed to cancel orders or renegotiate deliveries.

    One London analyst described shipowners as believing they could walk on water – they were like kids in a candy store, he said.

    The good news is that the economic corner appears to have been turned and world trade is beginning to recover, although most progress so far is with the bulk commodities – and it may prove a false dawn of mass producers like China simply replacing lowered inventories.

    Nevertheless, exports from China are on the rise once more, up 17.7 percent in December. But most people remain convinced it will be a long and slow recovery, reaching well into 2012 before one can say the world has fully recovered from recession. Drewry, which estimates that the decline last year reached 10.3 percent, sees a 2.4 percent growth for 2010. For the estimated 13.5 million people who owe their livelihood, either directly or indirectly to shipping, this will be welcome news.

    Nigerian tug OSAYAME finally paid up and free to go

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    Picture by Aad Noorland

    A tug built at the Cape Town Damen Shipyards has finally been released after all financial obligations were satisfied.

    The tug OSAYAME has been detained in Cape Town harbour for several months after it completed building, because of a dispute between the builders and the ships owners, a company registered as Starzs Marine & Engineering of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The dispute arose over a final payment on the vessel after successful payments worth USD11.6 million were made. Payment of the final installment, believed to be in the region of USD4 million was stopped by First Bank Nigeria Plc.

    Osayame was intended to enter service for five years with French oil major Total on 1 November 2009. In Nigeria the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been blamed for the fiasco, with managing director of Starzs, Greg Ogbeifun saying that his company was a major contributor to the 2 percent Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund and that he had expected NIMASA to intervene on his behalf. He said all the talk in Nigeria about indigenous shipping development was a farce.

    Beluga takes delivery of super heavylift ship

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    Beluga Houston

    German project cargo specialist Beluga Shipping took delivery this week of the first of their new super heavylift ships, BELUGA HOUSTON which will become the flagship of the fleet. Beluga has 16 new vessels on order with Beluga Houston (20,000-dwt) the first of the new ‘P’ series of ice class vessels. By 2012 Beluga expects to have 75 specialist ships on its books.

    The introduction of the new ice class vessels follows a successful voyage through the North East Passage between Europe and Asia last year, which the company said both reduced fuel costs and emissions and avoided notorious pirate haunts. Beluga says it is catering for a sector of the freight industry which, “unlike conventional and container shipping, is likely to develop over the next few years.”

    The new vessels will have on board cranes capable of lifting between 800 and 1400 tonnes and able to make deliveries and collections from the most inhospitable places and where the infrastructure is incapable of providing suitable handling options.

    Apart from their high lifting capacities the P series vessel have adjustable tweendecks and possess an extra deck for cadets to provide the necessary facilities for future seagoing personnel. At least two of the ‘P’ series ships will be equipped with the towing kite system developed by SkySails to increase further efficiency and environmental-friendliness.

    “The P-class will set new benchmarks for the transport of project and heavy-lift cargo from and to almost every harbour in the world”, says Niels Stolberg, President and CEO of the Beluga Shipping GmbH.

    Beluga is represented in South Africa by Mainport Africa Shipping. Contact details in our Maritime Services Directory HERE

    Nigeria dry ports will help decongest its seaports, says Shippers Council

    Nigeria’s Shippers Council says it believes that not only will the establishment of inland or dry ports help ease the difficulties that shippers encounter, but they will help relieve the chronic congestion at the country’s sea ports.

    Giving a paper at a one-day shippers’ forum held in Kaduna, Mr RK Sanusi, director of the Inland Transport Services Department of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), said the inland dry ports would also boost economic activities in the regions where they are established while creating job opportunities. They would also have the advantage of stemming migration away from the rural areas, he said.

    Sanusi said there were six inland dry ports in various stages of construction in Nigeria, across the six geo-political zones of the country. The proposed inland dry port at Kaduna, which would be the seventh, is still at conception stage and he advised all stakeholders to help facilitate its confirmation. – source Daily Trust

    Cruising along the famed North West Passage with the HANSEATIC

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    Fancy a cruise with a difference? Hapag-Lloyd is offering a Northwest Passage cruise later in the year on board their 184-passenger HANSEATIC (8,378-gt, built 1993).

    The ship departs from Kangerlussaq, which is in Greenland for those who didn’t already know, on 16 August and will spend 24 days at sea sailing along the Greenland coast and near the Arctic Circle, before ending the voyage at Nome in Alaska on 9 September.

    This won’t be a voyage of discovery, for Hanseatic has covered the famed passage before, as has another Hapag-Lloyd vessel, the BREMEN. The two ships have done the cruise on no less than 12 occasions, so it’s not something of a trip into the unknown, although the Northwest Passage has long retained an air of mystery and intrigue.

    Last summer both ships repeated the cruise in opposite directions, crossing each other in the Northwest Passage itself.

    It’s not all plain sailing however and passenger will feel the sense of adventure as they journey to places where few others have been and in waters that seldom see other shipping of any description. According the Hapag-Lloyd the amount of time spent at sea and the length of the voyage requires accurate forecasts of all the provisions needed, including fuel, drinking water and food, to maintain the high standards aboard the ship.

    Although Hapag-Lloyd is taking advantage of global warming and retreating ice, which exposes places otherwise inaccessible, it remains essential that the ships have ice class, which both Hanseatic and Bremen possess, with strengthened hulls and the highest ice class (E4) for passenger ships.

    Included in the itinerary is a passage across Disko Bay where passengers will be able to inspect bizarrely shaped icebergs. While crossing the Canadian Arctic the ship with its shallow draught will be able to sail close to the Canadian arctic coast, providing an ongoing panorama of caribou, polar bears, musk oxen, bald eagles and whales while also making use of the zodiac landing craft to go ashore wherever possible. Planned visits, depending on weather, include a former whaling station on Herschel Island, a landing in Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island which includes a visit to the wreck of the vessel MAUD in which Roald Amundsen conquered the Northwest Passage and various other stopping places including Barrow in Alaska, the most northern city in the world.

    The voyage is priced from USD21,000 per person based on double occupancy for an outside cabin. Details available from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises at www.hl-cruises.com - Please mention PORTS & SHIPS.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Squabbles over container ship charter

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    Picture by Aad Noorland

    A dispute over who has the charter for the container vessel ALIOTH (16,162-gt, built 2006) appears to have broken out as the vessel lies in Cape Town harbour. Safmarine is reported to be negotiating with the owner to take the 1550-TEU ship on charter, while fledgling MBG Shipping says it has paid a sizeable amount to secure the vessel for a new service between South Africa, West Africa and Europe. MBG is the latest company with Ian Wicks at its head. He was the former MD of South Africa Independent Liner Services (SAILS) in which Lonhro held a controlling stake and ultimately pulled the plug, liquidating the company. At the time Wicks was on suspension from the company. He has also been involved in several attempts at starting alternate liner services from South Africa, each of which closed.


    South Africa to train Nigerian locomotive drivers

    Twenty-five Nigerian locomotive drivers will be sent to South Africa on an intensive refresher course, Nigerian Railway Corporation MD Adeseyi Sijuwade said this week. The drivers would leave for SA at the end of January in order to equip them for 25 new diesel-electric locomotives that are on order from Brazil and will start arriving in Nigeria during Mid-February. The balance of the locos will arrive in the West African country by August 2010. A number of junior engineers are to be sent to Pakistan to undergo three months of training in railway technology, he advised.


    Ethiopia to build new railway to Djibouti

    The Ethiopian government has entered into a memorandum of understanding with four foreign countries to undertake a feasibility study for the construction of a new railway between Addis Ababa and the border with Djibouti. The four companies competing for the contract are China Communication Construction Co, China Railway Group, India’s Overseas Investment Alliance, and an unnamed Russian company. Ethiopia is also looking at developing a railway with Kenya in the south.


    Nigeria and Angola, Africa’s two largest oil producers, have no naval capacity

    Sub-Saharan Africa's two largest oil producers lack naval capacity to secure their coasts for shipping, defence experts reportedly said today.

    “At the extreme end, Angola once had a small fleet and now de facto has none,” defence analyst Helmoed-Römer Heitman told South Africa's defenceWeb.

    “The Nigerian Navy is trying to rebuild itself, but is nowhere nearly at the capability levels it once had,” Heitman added.

    The website also found that Africa's navies are in decline overall, which poses a threat to the continent's shipping.

    “I believe that Africa is sliding – with the possible exception of the North African states and perhaps Namibia,” Brenthurst Foundation's Steve Stead, a retired rear admiral, told the site.

    See the full report at Today’s Recommended Read, below


    Large contraband haul in Niger Delta

    Nigerian Customs Service seized contraband worth N350 million (USD2.3m) discovered hidden in the creeks of Obolo in Cross River State. According to Customs’ Assistant Comptroller-General it is the biggest seizure by customs in recent times. The smuggled goods, which are believed to have come into the country from Malabo in Equatorial Guinea, were in 16 trailers hidden in the creeks. Smugglers fled when the customs officers were seen approaching. The discovery only became possible because of the amnesty granted to militants who would otherwise have made access to the creeks impossible.

    Today’s recommended Read – African navies are declining

    African navies are – a few exceptions aside - in a state of decline. That's the view of a colloquium of naval experts polled by defenceWeb.

    The experts, nearly all retired admirals who now consult, say it has been a bad decade for most African navies.

    “I believe that Africa is sliding – with the possible exception of the north African states and perhaps Namibia,” said the Brenthurst Foundation's Rear Admiral (Retired) Steve Stead.

    “In 1997 the Kenyan Navy sent two 'missile boats' to participate in the SA Navy's (SAN) 75th Anniversary Review – I doubt they could do it today,” he adds.

    But retired Rear Admiral Chris Bennett, co-author on a recent official popular history of the SAN, says Kenya is working hard to make the ships they have properly seaworthy, “but struggling with technical infrastructure as all African states do in regard to maritime forces.”

    Read this interesting and challenging report HERE.

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

    Pics of the day – LIBRA IPANEMA

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    The container ship LIBRA IPANEMA (26,836-gt, built 2006) seen in Cape Town in the past week. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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    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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