Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 15, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • Shake up for freight forwarding industry as EU probes anti trust activity

  • News from the shipping lines

  • Piracy – Elders call for release of British yachting couple

  • Fares to be halved on Maputo-Matola ferry

  • Nigeria detains tanker caught bunkering at Warri

  • Today’s recommended Read – Bronze Age shipwreck found off Devon coast

  • Pics of the day –FINNMARKEN



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    An unusual view of two Maersk sister ships at anchor off Sea Point, waiting for a berth in Cape Town harbour. At left is MAERSK DOUGLAS (54,771-gt, built 2005) and behind her is MAERSK DETROIT (54,771-gt, built 2005). Picture by Ian Shiffman

    Shake up for freight forwarding industry as EU probes anti trust activity

    A number of the world’s leading freight forwarders are facing anti trust enquiries by the European Commission and the US Department of Justice and if found guilty will face massive fines.

    The alleged transgressions involve mainly airfreight surcharge practices. DHL, DSV, Expeditors International, Kuene+ Nagel, Panalpina, UPS and UTi have all received Statements of Objection from the Commission.

    The Statement of Objection is a formal step in European antitrust investigations and is considered a serious matter not to be taken lightly.

    According to the EU Commission each of the companies is suspected of having cooperated on pricing strategies in infringement of European Union competition law and is accused of having in effect formed cartels – accusations that the various companies have denied.

    The accused companies now have two months in which to state their defence in writing. They can also ask the Commission for an oral hearing, which normally takes place a month or more after the written response has been received.

    Panalpina has taken the step of warning investors that it is under investigation and faces the possibility of fines.

    After hearing the respective defences the Commission will take a final decision on whether European law has been broken. If it decides it has it has the power to levy fines equal to ten percent of each company’s worldwide annual turnover.

    The US Department of Justice is reported to be also conducting a multinational investigation into alleged anti-competitive behavior by a number of leading freight forwarders.

    News from the shipping lines

    Smoother sailing ahead for Hapag-Lloyd

    Hapag-Lloyd’s financial situation is set to improve, according to sources within the German shipping line that has recently taken strain from operating losses. Perhaps these are deliberate leaks from the company, anxious to let stakeholders know that the corner appears to have been turned in the shipping line’s fortunes, but according to them Hapag-Lloyd moved out of a loss-making position towards the end of the year on the back of rising cargo volumes and improved freight rates. This was felt most on the important Asia-Europe trades.

    All the same, Hapag-Lloyd is expected to post a USD1 billion loss for 2009 but it hopes to be able to tell shareholders that the corner has been turned. Among the measures taken by Hapag-Lloyd has been reducing the number of staff, halting recruitment, restructuring liner services and streamlining regional offices. Another successful measure was to convince ship owners, of whom many are German, to reduce charter rates during these difficult times – 45 percent of the line’s fleet of 117 ships is chartered.

    Maruba enters new Asia to South America service with CLAN

    Argentine container carrier Maruba, which recently underwent difficulties with certain services, has entered a new partnership with Uruguay’s CLAN to start a new Atlanta service between South East Asia and the East Coast of South America and the West Coast. The new service will have two fortnightly strings, with one heading westbound around the Cape of Good Hope (but apparently not calling in South Africa) and continuing across the South Atlantic to ECSA before crossing through the Magellan Strait and returning to SE Asia. The rotation is to be Busan, Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen, Hong Kong, Shenzhen/Dachan Bay, Port Kelang, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Paranagua, Itajai, Rio Grande, Buenos Aires, Ushuaia, San Antonio, Callao, Hong Kong, returning to Busan.

    The second service is a shuttle calling at ports in the Far East, Central America and the West Coast South America. The port rotation is Hong Kong, Shenzhen/Dachan Bay, Xiamen, Ningbo, Shanghai, Busan, Manzanillo (Mexico), Puerto Quetzal, Acajutla, Corinto, Buenaventura, Callao, San Antonio, Callao, Buenaventura, Puerto Quetzal, Manzanillo (Mexico) and back to Hong Kong.

    The two services will make use of ships already on charter to Maruba in the 1,700 – 2,700-TEU range.

    MSC increases rates on Spain-Middle East-Far East service

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    MSC Shanghai. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has announced a general rate increase on all eastbound cargo from Spanish ports to destinations in the Middle East and Far East. The rate will increase from today (15 February) by an additional USD100 per container on all cargoes, including waste paper, plastic and scrap metal from the ports of Valencia, Barcelona, Cadiz, Cartagena, Malaga, Tarragona and the Canary Islands.

    Cargo from the same Spanish ports but bound for Middle East destinations will face a USD100 per container general rates increase as from 1 March.

    Piracy – Elders call for release of British yachting couple

    Traditional leaders in Hawiye, Somali have called on the Somali pirate groups holding a British yachting couple for ransom to release them.

    According to a report on Shabelle radio on Friday, Mohamed Hassan Had, who is chairman of the Hawiye traditional elders, said that the continued captivity of the two British hostages could affect Somali citizens living in Britain. He called on the pirates to release them without delay or conditions.

    The British couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, were captured on their yacht while sailing from the Seychelles to Tanzania in October 2009. Although the pirates subsequently abandoned the yacht, which has been taken back to the UK, the couple were kept for ransom and have been detained at separate locations inland from the coast. A recent television broadcast shown on British television showed a video recording of Mrs Chandler appealing for help in their release. A Somali doctor who was present said she was in a poor state of mental and physical health.

    The pirates are demanding a ransom of £4.4 million for their release which the British government has refused saying it will not pay pirates.

    Russian Navy on alert

    Russian news sources are reporting that Russian Navy ships on duty off the Somali coast have been placed on high alert in anticipation of intensified activity by Somali pirates off the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden. “Warships and auxiliary vessels of three fleets are ensuring navigation safety in that area at present,” a Navy spokesman told Itar-Tass on Friday.

    “The Navy command has decided to keep the Admiral Chabanenko large anti-sub ship of the North Fleet in the Gulf of Aden until further notice.” He said the warship was engaged in escorting merchant vessels through pirate-infested waters. In addition the Neustrashimy patrol ship of the Baltic Fleet and the SB-36 auxiliary vessel of the Black Sea Fleet and the Olekma vessel of the Baltic Fleet are fulfilling the anti-piracy mission in the same area, he said.

    Fares to be halved on Maputo-Matola ferry

    Ferry fares between Maputo and Matola on the recently introduced ferries are to be halved, says the company running the service, Transmaritima.

    This is in an effort at getting more people to make use of the ferry service. Each of the two craft, which entered service in January, can carry up to 70 people but so far the travelling public has shunned the service, reports the Mozambique news agency AIM.

    When he inaugurated the service on 23 January Transport Minister Paulo Zucula urged people to make use of the ferries as an alternative to road transport and to get cars out of the city. He claimed it would save people time and money but so far few have taken his advice, hence the attempt at attracting customers by cutting the price.

    The price was previously 30 meticals (a little above one US dollar or R7.85). The new tariff sees this reduced to 15 meticals during weekdays but remaining at 30 on weekends.

    Nigeria detains tanker caught bunkering at Warri

    As Nigeria tightens up and enforces its cabotage and illegal bunkering laws, the small Nigerian crude oil tanker SHEKINA (3,334-gt, built 1978) was detained by the Nigerian Navy near the Escravos bar in Warri.

    The tanker, with a crew of 17 on board including one female was escorted to the Warri naval base where it is being held on charges of illegal bunkering. It is believed the low pour fuel oil on board the vessel had been illegally obtained.

    The investigation is continuing.

    Today’s recommended Read – Bronze Age shipwreck found off Devon coast

    One of the world's oldest shipwrecks has been discovered off the coast of Devon after lying on the seabed for almost 3,000 years.

    The trading vessel was carrying an extremely valuable cargo of tin and hundreds of copper ingots from the Continent when it sank. Experts say the "incredibly exciting" discovery provides new evidence about the extent and sophistication of Britain's links with Europe in the Bronze Age as well as the remarkable seafaring abilities of the people during the period.

    Archaeologists have described the vessel, which is thought to date back to around 900BC, as being a "bulk carrier" of its age.

    Read about this fascinating discovery 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.

    Thanks to Chris Bennett of the South Coast for today’s Recommended Read.

    Pics of the day –FINNMARKEN

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    An unusual arrival at Cape Town on Saturday was the Norwegian-flagged Hurtigruten cruise ship FINNMARKEN. The ship looked smart in her unusual white hull. Finnmarken (15,690-gt, built 2002) sailed down the west coast of Africa and from Cape Town she heads for Fremantle and Barrow Island. Her owner and operator, Hurtigurten ASA (which name could be taken as meaning ‘Coastal Express’) specialises in cruises among the Norwegian fjords and the Arctic regions including to Greenland, as well as cruises to Antarctica. 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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