Ports & Ships Maritime News

Apr 20, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson


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  • First View – GRAND MARK

  • Toxic container on Maersk ship to be sent back to Europe

  • Unilog is renamed Grindrod Marine Services

  • Grindrod earnings fall 60% to R873 million

  • British House of Lords urges the placing of soldiers on ships

  • Nepad unveils project to attract investments into Africa

  • Pic of the day – USS ENTERPRISE CVN65


    First View – GRAND MARK

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    The car carrier GRAND MARK (50,310-gt, built 2000) in Durban harbour on Friday, 16 April 2010. Picture by STEVE McCURRACH

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    Toxic container on Maersk ship to be sent back to Europe

    By Ejiofor Alike

    Maersk Line, the operator of MV MAERSK NASHVILLE, has been directed by the [Nigerian] National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) to retain the container carrying toxic waste onboard MV Maersk Nashville but return it to the port of loading in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

    The vessel, which was detained by port authorities last Thursday, was released from detention Friday afternoon and commenced cargo operations at 6.20pm [the] same evening.

    Confirming this development, the Managing Director of Maersk Nigeria Ltd, Mr David Skov, said in a statement yesterday that the said container was inspected by NESREA around 8.30pm Friday evening.

    According to him, Maersk Line is still awaiting the official report from the authorities as to the exact nature of the cargo.

    “The shipment is handled by Safmarine. According to the Bill of Lading, the shipper - whose responsibility it is to correctly declare the content of the container - has listed the container’s contents as used items comprising a motor vehicle and miscellaneous personal effects, including electronic items (television sets and a car audio system).

    “The goods were shipped from the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands on March 16, 2010. Neither Maersk Line, nor Safmarine, wishes to participate in illegal trade; illegal waste or any other type of illegal cargo,” he said.

    Skov insisted that it is the responsibility of Maersk Line’s customers - the shippers - to correctly declare the content of the containers.

    He acknowledged that both Maersk Line and Safmarine recognise the negative effects of transporting illegal waste on people's health and the environment in the countries where such illegal waste is discharged.

    “As responsible companies we do not want to participate in such trade,” he said.
    Skov noted that his company has a clear policy that it will not transport illegal goods of any kind and would not accept a shipment containing illegal goods.

    According to him, the company also has procedures in place to ensure that it ascertains what can be transported legally through its global liner network.

    “Representatives of Maersk Nigeria Limited, as agents for Maersk Line and Safmarine, have attended several meetings with the relevant authorities including but not limited to the Nigerian Customs Services, Nigerian Ports Authorities and NESREA.

    “As environmentally responsible companies, both Maersk Line and Safmarine have throughout this incident cooperated fully with the Nigerian authorities in resolving this matter so far and we expect to continue this good cooperation in the future,” Skov said.

    THISDAY reported that the various agencies at the Port last Friday moved swiftly to confirm the contents of the marked container brought along with others into the country on Thursday by a foreign ship, MV Maersk Nashvile.

    Found in the container when opened at about 8.30pm were disused motor batteries, tyres, which were more in number, broken black and white television sets, refrigerators and vehicle spare parts.

    NESREA said the contents agreed with the pictures of the items in the container earlier sent to it. The agency described the exercise as a success, saying the batteries were not in the ship’s manifest as being part of the cargo on board.

    Following THISDAY’s story of last Thursday, alleging that the ship laden with toxic waste was on its way into the country, and was to berth at the Apapa Port on Friday, security agents, particularly the Nigeria customs had placed their men on red alert at the ports.

    The vessel, however, arrived at Tin Can Island Port on Thursday, a day ahead of schedule.
    Following the arrest and detention of all crew members, the captain and cargo of the ship and the representative of Maersk Line in the country, one Mr Victor Onyenku, stakeholders including NESREA, NPA, the Navy, SSS, NCS, NIMASA, Ports and Cargo Handling Services, Maersk Nigeria, NDLEA, Police, the Immigration Service and even the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), convened a meeting on Friday in the office of the Port Manager, where the decision to retain the killer container on board the vessel was reached.

    The VROM Inspectorate, which alerted NESREA, is an independent unit of the Ministry of Housing Spatial Planning and the Environment. It is the abbreviation of the Dutch name for housing, land use planning and environmental management while INECE is the global network of environmental compliance and enforcement practitioners - THISDAY.

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    Unilog is renamed Grindrod Marine Services

    Grindrod announced yesterday (Monday) that its subsidiary Unilog (Pty) Ltd has been renamed Grindrod Marine Services.

    Unilog has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Grindrod Limited since 1983.

    The renamed company has responsibility for the logistical support (marine equipment, stores, spares and provisions) of the Unicorn Shipping fleet and various other vessels operating worldwide. This service also includes the local and international support of new-building vessels and the support of operational vessels during dry-docking and refits.

    In a statement the company says that the Grindrod Board of Directors made the decision to rebrand or co-brand all 100% owned subsidiaries within the group in order to align group companies under a common Grindrod identity. In all respects the operations and management of Unilog / Grindrod Marine Services remains unchanged and the company remains involved in the same business, say the statement.

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    Grindrod earnings fall 60% to R873 million

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    Unicorn Tankers products tanker BREEDE seen sailing from Durban. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Grindrod Limited, the Durban-based shipping and logistics company which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, has announced a profit of R873 million for the financial year ended 31 December 2009.

    This was down 60% on the previous year earnings of R2.1 billion, generated during a period when the shipping and maritime industry was enjoying an unprecedented boom. Grindrod says the 2009 results were recorded against a backdrop of major global recession, volatility and uncertainty in financial, commodity and shipping markets, low trade volumes, softer commodity prices and increased credit and counterparty risk.

    In other words, during the recent economic downturn.

    It would be fair to compare these results with certain other shipping companies which have recorded considerable if not massive losses over similar periods. During the period under review Grindrod’s shipping earnings fell 74% from R1.862 billion to R492 million. On the other hand the Trading division grew its earnings 37% to R181 million and the Freight Services division increased its earnings by 17% to R222m.

    Grindrod Limited has declared a final ordinary dividend of 30 cents (South African).

    In its statement Grindrod says the strategy to diversify the group from shipping to a broader based freight and logistics operation has “paid dividends and contributed 50% of group earnings.” These operations include Freight Services, Trading, Ships Agencies and Financial Services. According to the financial report the shipping interests contributed 56% of group earnings.

    “In the shipping division, it is noteworthy that the contract cover and efficient ship operation during the major collapse in shipping markets ensured earnings outperformed market rates at the time. Given that drybulk shipping makes up less than half of group profits as well as the high level of contract cover, the Baltic Dry Index (“BDI”) is not considered a reliable measure of Grindrod’s performance and prospects,” the statement continued.

    Grindrod says it anticipates that all divisions will benefit from improving economic and commodity cycles in 2010. There are no ship sales planned in the current year, “however the group has very little debt and significant balance sheet capacity to expand its various businesses.”

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    British House of Lords urges the placing of soldiers on ships

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    Destruction of a pirate skiff by EU NAVFOR naval forces. Picture EU NAVFOR

    A committee from the United Kingdom's House of Lords has issued a report that warns “if the piracy problems of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean are not robustly tackled, there will be copycat piracy elsewhere on the world’s shipping lanes adjacent to failed states or regions where a government’s writ fails to reach.”

    The report said ship protection could be improved by putting troops on ships.

    The European Union Committee of the House of Lords looked at the issue of piracy and the EU's EUNAVFOR Somalia - Operation Atalanta, which has been in operation since December 2008.

    Operation Atalanta was the EU's first-ever naval Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operation and the first military CSDP operation in which the United Kingdom has taken a leading role.

    Originally given a one-year term with a budget of 8.3 million euros, the EU council late last year extended its mandate until 12 December. It operates in a zone comprising the south of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Somali basin and part of the Indian Ocean, including the Seychelles, an area in size comparable to that of the Mediterranean Sea.

    The House of Lords committee said Operation Atalanta “has made a strong contribution to combating piracy, in particular protecting World Food Program ships and coordinating with other maritime forces in the area.”

    But it said there are a number of areas that need improvement and require action.

    “Naval vessels and their crews are very expensive resources in short supply. With more surveillance aircraft the Atalanta fleet could be far more effective and efficient,” the report said. “Permanent availability of a tanker would prevent Atalanta vessels from having to return to port on a regular basis solely to refuel.”

    The United Kingdom and European Union “should insist that the WFP charter faster, larger and more modern vessels” because the small, slow ships used by the program “makes them especially vulnerable to pirate attacks. As a result they require greater military protection and resources.”

    The report adds that it would be “even more efficient for military contingents to be placed on these vessels rather than having warships and their crew shadowing each delivery. It should be a condition of the award of a WFP contract that, when requested, the flag state allow these vessels to carry Atalanta military forces on board.”

    The report said troops placed on commercial shipping should be given specialized training. It agrees with UK policy that private security guards should not be placed on commercial shipping because of the increased risks to crew and ships.

    The committee also took the insurance industry to task, saying it “is not taking sufficient responsibility for ensuring that commercial shipping transiting the area complies with readily available, tried and tested procedures to reduce the risk of capture by pirates. At a minimum the industry should impose increased insurance premiums on ship operators who do not comply.

    “We agree with the increasingly robust action taken against pirates by Atalanta forces. There is a need to change the perceived risk/reward ratio for pirate activity. We welcome the EU’s agreements with Kenya and the Seychelles to prosecute pirates, and the negotiations now taking place with other states in the region. We wait to see the number of successful prosecutions that result.”

    The report cautions, however, that “there will be no solution to the problem of piracy without a solution to the root causes of the conflict on land in Somalia. We support the EU’s efforts to deal with Somalia’s problems by building up the security sector in line with democratic norms, providing humanitarian assistance and assisting the authorities in Somaliland and Puntland to strengthen their coast guards.” - American Shipper.

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    NEPAD unveils project to attract investments into Africa

    The African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD recently unveiled 'The Best of Africa 2010-2015' project aimed at attracting investments into Africa.

    The project will focus on showcasing Africa as a business and investment destination, according to NEPAD's Planning and Co-ordinating Agency chief executive officer Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki.

    “We are looking to take advantage of the presence of the international and African business representatives that will be in South Africa for the World Cup in June. The idea is to get these representatives to engage each other on increased investments, growth and development for Africa.” says Dr Mayaki.

    The Best of Africa project will take place in the first week of the World Cup in South Africa and will include a business conference, an exhibition and a cultural festival - all designed to showcase opportunities in the continent.

    “It is a worthwhile initiative but much will depend on how well the African governments follow through with parties interested in investing in Africa. It is clear that there are investment opportunities in Africa but it is important to provide the favourable environment for investors to see a return." says TradeInvestSA editor JP van der Merwe.

    “Feasibility studies for new projects will need to be thorough, land rights and ownership will need to be well defined and governments will have to outline definitive investment plans, where a thorough step-by-step process is followed. For portfolio investments, African markets will have to continue to open themselves up so that potential investors can buy or sell assets quickly and without hassle,” he adds.

    The initiative draws on the declaration of the 8th Assembly of the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government through which the AU reaffirmed its commitment to make the 2010 World Cup a truly African tournament - NEPAD.

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    Pic of the day – USS ENTERPRISE CVN65

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    The US Navy nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS ENTERPRISE (CVN65) has gone on sea trails prior to returning to active service. This follows a two-year maintenance refit at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. Enterprise, which displaces 93,000 tonnes, was completed in 1961 as the world’s first nuclear carrier and is homeported at Norfolk, USA. The ship is powered by eight submarine type nuclear reactors, and underwent a major refit and modernisation between 1979 and 1982. The current refit will probably be the ship’s last as the carrier is due to be taken out of service within the next five years. Picture US Navy by MCS Specialist 3rd class Michael Croft.

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