Ports & Ships Maritime News

Feb 4, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – MAINPORT ASH

  • Port statistics for January now available here

  • Piracy report – Expect Somali piracy to last a long time, says EU admiral

  • News from the shipping lines

  • India’s RITES offers for sale its 51 percent in Tanzania Railways

  • Curfew on the Lagos waterways restricts vessel movements

  • Trade News – Anchor Industries receives large shipment of stud link chain

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Today’s recommended Read – Shipping Firms Pass on Piracy Charges to Local Importers

  • Pics of the day – SILVER WIND and USS NICHOLAS


    First View – MAINPORT ASH

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    The offshore tug MAINPORT ASH (1089-gt, built 1982) recently underwent maintenance and repairs at the Southern African Shipyards facility at Durban’s Bayhead and in January went to sea for trials before being handed over to her operators. Here the tug is seen returning to harbour along the Esplanade Channel, amidst a typical Durban summer ’atmosphere’ of sunny skies, a calm Durban Bay and a busy harbour in the background. Nearby a couple of Indian fishemen and several seagulls continue on the sandbanks quite unperturbed by the marine activity nearby. Picture by Terry Hutson

    Port statistics for January now available here

    South African port statistics for the month of January 2010 are now available, courtesy Transnet.

    As is customary the figures shown in this report reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers in terms of the number of TEUs and no longer by weight - for which PORTS & SHIPS estimates an adjustment of 13,5 tonnes per TEU to reflect tonnages. This figure is on the conservative side with 14 tonnes or even more being a more realistic figure, particularly in view of the increasing quantity of bulk cargo which is now being handled in containers.

    For comparative purposes readers can see statistics from 12 months ago (January 2009) by clicking HERE

    Figures for the respective ports during January 2010 are (with December 2009 figures shown bracketed):

    Cargo handled by tonnes during January 2010

    Richards Bay 8.359 Mt million tonnes (Dec 6.403Mt)
    Durban 5.491 Mt (Dec 6.493)
    Saldanha Bay 3.766 Mt (Dec 3.964)
    Cape Town 1.206 Mt (Dec 0.943)
    Port Elizabeth 0.598 Mt (Dec 0.843)
    Ngqura 0.103 Mt (Dec 0.040)
    Mossel Bay 0.080 Mt (Dec 0.125)
    East London 0.189 Mt (Dec 0.170)

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    Richards Bay harbour

    Containers (measured by TEUs) during January 2010
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Tranship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA)

    Durban 184,135 TEU (Dec 194,831)
    Cape Town 66,377 (Dec 57,235)
    Port Elizabeth 19,234 (Dec 17,919)
    Ngqura 7,665 (Dec 2,963)
    East London 2,370 (Dec 3,483)
    Richards Bay 0,910 (Dec 1,761)

    Total containers handled during January 280,691-TEU (Dec 278,192)

    Ship Calls for January 2010

    Durban: - 378 vessels 10.799m gt (Dec 363 vessels 9.952m gt)
    Cape Town: - 204 vessels 3.845m gt (Dec 221 vessels 4.129m gt)
    Port Elizabeth: - 76 vessels 1.747m gt (Dec 85 vessels 2.154m gt)
    Ngqura: - 18 vessels 0.949m gt (Dec 7 vessels 0.397 gt)
    Richards Bay: - 154 vessels 5.182m gt (Dec 155 vessels 4.846m gt)
    Saldanha: - 42 vessels 2.640m gt (Dec 38 vessels 2.217 gt)
    East London: - 32 vessels 0.544m gt (Dec 19 vessels 0.508 gt)
    Mossel Bay: - 32 vessels 0.104m gt (Dec 64 vessels 0.211m gt)

    Total ship calls for January 2010: 918 ships for 24,861,306-gt
    (Dec 945 ships for 24,018,795-gt)

    - source TNPA, with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container weights

    Piracy report – Expect Somali piracy to last a long time, says EU admiral

    North Korean ship RIM highjacked

    A North Korean flagged coaster, RIM (3,493-gt, built 1973) which is listed as owned and managed by White Sea Shipping of Libya, was highjacked yesterday morning (Wednesday) in the Gulf of Aden to the north of the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC). The ship was sailing just south of the Yemeni coast when attacked. Two US Navy ships, USS PORTER and USS FARRAGUT operating with the NATO CTF-151 force have confirmed the highjacking of the vessel.

    ASIAN GLORY used to assist pirates at sea

    The Eukor car carrier ASIAN GLORY has been utilised by Somali pirates to rendezvous with a highjacked Pakistani dhow, the FAIZE OSAMANI, whose owner reported on 6 January that she had been highjacked by pirates off Kismayo on the Somali coast. The dhow subsequently headed north where the rendezvous with the captured car carrier took place. Maritime Patrol Aircraft of the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) reported seeing the dhow approximately 150 n.miles NE of Socotra, lying dead in the water. Following the arrival of Asian Glory pirates from the dhow transferred across and the car carrier headed back towards the Somali coast where she is thought to have anchored off Garacad, north of Hobyo. The Danish warship HDMS ABSALON proceeded to the dhow and rendered medical and engineering assistance before the Faize Osamani was able to proceed on her voyage, back in the control of her crew again. – source EU NAVFOR

    Admiral warns of a long road ahead in Somalia

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    Rear Admiral Peter Hudson

    Rear Admiral Peter Hudson, operation commander of EU NAVFOR said on Tuesday that Somali pirates could be expected to continue threatening merchant shipping along the Somali coastline for several more years at least. He welcomed the news that China intended playing a greater role in anti piracy operations in the region, but said that because the pirates had shown they were capable of spreading operations deep into the Indian Ocean, where international naval forces would be unable to adequately protect, “I suspect we will still see ships taken…. far from the Somali coast.”

    In 2009 Somali pirates were reported to have taken USD80 million in ransom money from 47 ships with more than 300 crew captured and are still pressing ahead with attacks on merchant shipping. Nine vessels and 230 seafarers currently remain in pirate hands.

    Ukraine gets involved in anti piracy operations

    The Ukraine, which has been one of the countries most affected in terms of its seafarers captured and held for ransom (the Philippines is the most affected) has indicated its intention of becoming more involved in anti piracy operations. Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Poroshenko confirmed that the Ukraine would provide a naval vessel and aircraft plus a Special Forces team that would be used as a Vessel Protection Detachment on behalf of Operation Atalanta, under the command of EU NAVFOR. EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta’s main function is to provide escorts for merchant ships carrying humanitarian aid on behalf of the UN body, World Food Program (WFP). However the ships of Atalanta also partake in other escort duties and render aid to those under attack by pirates.

    IMO creates anti-piracy jobs

    The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has created four new anti piracy positions to help enforce the Djibouti Code of Conduct, which was established in 2009 to prevent ship highjackings off the coast of Somalia. The posts are being funded by financial support from a number of countries, including Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and South Korea.

    Shippers complain that piracy has increased costs

    The rise in piracy along the Somali coast has increased costs to shippers and end users, the traders and public, says a report in the Kenyan Business Daily. The paper said that members of the Kenya’s Shippers Council and Kenya traders have had to pay an additional Ksh2 billion to cover the cost of piracy over the past 18 months.

    Those affected say the increase is a direct upward cost adjustment by shipping lines who have to sail longer distances to avoid the risk of piracy before getting to Kenya’s ports. There is also the cost of cargo not reaching its destination, resulting in lost business. The Council has called on the international community to come to Kenya’s aid and to provide safe passage for ships coming to Kenya.

    In 2010 there are still no African nations taking part in anti piracy naval operations. African nations with the ability to do so, like South Africa with its modern and well equipped navy, have refused to become involved and the South African government remains silent on the matter. In 2007 Kenya declined to send its soldiers to take part in the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISON), a regional force approved by the UN that is assisting maintain law and order in certain centres of Somalia.

    Last week however Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry warned that what was happening in Somalia could force the Kenyan government to rethink its longstanding non-interventionist policy.

    “Obviously, we cannot continue to watch from a safe distance as happenings both within and outside Somalia continues to impact negatively on Kenya,” Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang'ula said at the weekend.

    If you wish to read more on this last topic, scroll down to the Recommended Read section below

    News from the shipping lines

    Slow boat to China

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    Maersk Brooklyn in Durban – picture by Trevor Jones

    One of the effects of slower steaming by containerships is that a number of laid up vessels are being returned to service to help maintain the integrity of weekly or fortnightly services by shipping lines. AXS-Alphaliner reports that during January 30 ships totaling 70,000-TEU were returned to service by various companies, resulting in the idled fleet being reduced to 532 ships with a capacity of 1.37 million TEU. In its newsletter Alphaliner said the number of idle ships had a limited effect on charter rates, which have remained largely unchanged. Reasons for the reduction in the idled fleet is put down to slow steaming on long-haul trades, new services being introduced which have mainly involved smaller container ships in the 1,000 to 2,500-TEU range, and a small number of ships recalled for the “pre-lunar new year cargo rush”.

    CMA CGM secures USD80 million cash injection

    French shipping company CMA CGM has received an USD80 million cash injection as the company continues to negotiate with bank and creditors over restructuring. CMA CGM faces a USD5.6 billion debt and has managed to get banks to agree to loaning USD500 million in cash in exchange for a process of restructuring that has seen founder Jacque Saadé having to stand down as chief executive. The company is also negotiating with South Korean shipyards over the cancellation of 15 of the 45 container ships it has on order while attempting to delay a further 15 newbuilds.

    India’s RITES offers for sale its 51 percent in Tanzania Railways

    Only a formality stands in the way of the concessioned Tanzanian Railways Ltd reverting to full government ownership after the Indian company RITES Ltd offered up its 51 percent share in the railway.

    The stopblock for Rites has been in sight ever since mounting criticism in parliament and the media made it clear there was little chance of the concession running its course. From a distance one cannot comment on the why’s and wherefore’s that went into the breakdown of relationships and confidence but Tanzanian expectations appear to have been that all that was required for the railway’s turnaround was for a private concessionaire to come in and everything would be right, overnight.

    Clearly that was never going to be possible. RITES points out that since taking over in 2007 it has spent more than USD45 million on refurbishing the railway, including spending USD20 million on acquiring 25 locomotives and passenger coaches to replace those that the previous administration had lost or destroyed. But in the meantime bottlenecks at the port were building and something or someone had to take the blame. The poor railway service was the obvious choice.

    Having had a go at the concessionaire operating the port container terminal, and not succeeding, RITES appears to have become the scapegoat as Tanzania quickly lost all enthusiasm for privatisation. Now it says it will take back the railway and turn things round. Everyone hopes this will be so, but the sneaking feeling remains, if so then why didn’t the government, which allowed to railway to become run down in the first place, go this route before bringing in a private operator?

    Curfew on the Lagos waterways restricts vessel movements

    The Nigerian Federal Government is reported to have imposed a curfew on the Lagos waterways from between 6pm and 6am each day. The curfew is being enforced by the Nigerian Navy and appears to be aimed at preventing insurgency from militants who this week abandoned the three-month ceasefire and amnesty.

    The restriction is also thought to be aimed at enforcing the government’s new get-strong approach to the cabotage law, which in previous years has been largely ignored.

    Military sources confirmed the curfew saying that it was to ensure safety and security that was adopted (but not implemented) last year, following an attack by militants on Atlas Cove. The action was directed mainly at small motor boats operating on the waterways and engaged in illegal activities, it said.

    Trade News – Anchor Industries receives large shipment of stud link chain

    Anchor Industries, supplier of lifting and rigging as well as marine and offshore mooring equipment in Southern Africa, recently received 10 bundles weighing 36 tonne each of stud link chain and one bundle of kenter shackles that will be supplied to a semi submersible drilling rig for its mooring applications.

    With the cargo valued in excess of R10 million, this 360t project was the largest single shipment of chain that Anchor Industries has supplied to date. Manufacturing the equipment took a period of 60 days and shipping the products from the factory in Europe to Anchor Industries in Cape Town required an additional 30 days on board the Diamond Land.

    Precise planning was required to co-ordinate the 40t low bed trucks, mobile cranes and quayside riggers needed to offload, transport and store this large quantity of chain. This was a task made more complicated by the fact that the vessel’s exact docking date and time was repeatedly changed due to weather and scheduling delays in the Cape Town port.

    Operations Director of Anchor Industries, Peter Minnaar says: “The challenge experienced in this process was that the project had to be completed within a very short delivery time with hardly any notice in advance. Although the bundles were correctly slung, loading and offloading of stud link chain always takes longer than anticipated and requires additional resources than initially planned. Working around the clock, our experienced team of highly skilled staff met this challenge with dedication and precision.”

    The two-day process of offloading and managing the paperwork of the cargo at G-Berth and at the yard was closely monitored by well trained Anchor Industries staff. The chain and kenter shackles will be stored for approximately three months until the rig leaves the harbour.

    In line with their continued emphasis on quality and reliability, Anchor Industries has formed partnerships and alliances with major equipment suppliers worldwide. All Anchor Industries equipment is available for rental or sale and testing services are an integral part of Anchor Industries’ service offering. Visit the website at www.anchors.co.za for more information.

    News clips – Keeping it brief

    King Shaka Airport named

    It’s now official. Durban’s new international airport nearing completion to the north of the city has been named King Shaka International Airport. The confirmation of this came this week from Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana who said the name had been submitted to the South African Geographical Names Council and was approved. The Dube Trade Port will operate adjacent to the new airport, which opens to aircraft in May this year.


    Coal exports to India increase

    South Africa can expect to export up to 25 million tonnes of coal a year to India by 2012 to feed that country’s growing demand. Addressing the McCloskey Coal Conference held in Cape Town last week Viresh Oberoi, Chief Executive of mjunction Services said that India’s demand for steam and coking coal would exceed its domestic supply with the country needing to import 110mt of coal by 2012. In 2009 South Africa exported 17.7mt of coal to India.


    Today’s recommended Read – Shipping Firms Pass on Piracy Charges to Local Importers

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    Asian Glory, now flying the Jolly Roger

    The price of doing business in East Africa is going up because no-one seems able to control or end the ongoing piracy off the Horn of Africa. According to some sources Somali pirates took a cool USD80 million in ransom money last year and look set to continue unabated during 2010. They have even had the audacity to seize and turn into a giant ‘mother’ ship a captured Eukor car carrier, ASIAN GLORY, which has already been used at least once in assisting pirates at sea. Presumably the crew on board the vessel are being forced to cooperate and operate the vessel, surrogate pirates!

    An article in yesterday’s Kenya Business Daily examines the cost of piracy to the region and its effects. Read more 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 – SILVER WIND and USS NICHOLAS

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    The Italian cruise ship SILVER WIND (16,927-gt, built 1995) of Silversea Cruises, one of the loveliest small luxury cruise ships in service and a regular caller in South African waters. So much so that this year the ship, carrying up to a maximum of 314 passengers on each voyage, is enjoying an extended stay with cruises along both Atlantic and Indian Ocean seaboards from Cape Town to Maputo with all ports in between. Here she is seen entering Cape Town harbour yesterday morning. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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    The American frigate USS NICHOLAS (FFG 47) arrived in Cape Town yesterday to link again with the high speed vessel HSV-2 SWIFT that arrived a day earlier. Both ships are on what might be called goodwill tours of South Africa, having visited Durban and now Cape Town. Earlier they called at East African ports as part of the US Africa Partnership Station programme.
    The two ships will not be taking part in exercises with the South African Navy on this visit, Ports & Ships was advised. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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