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Ports & Ships Maritime News

July 15, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

Shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa


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First View – SAVE OUR SEAS


An unusual research vessel has been visiting Cape Town and Durban recently and is currently on her way to Europa Island in the Mozambique Channel to continue a study of sharks. This is the SAVE OUR SEAS which was built in Houma, Louisiana, USA, in 1980 as the supply ship CLIPPER CAP HAITIEN under the American flag. Thereafter she bore the names ENSCO TENDER, TENDER TIDE, PALADIN SHADOW, before changing her flag/registry to that of Marshall Islands and being renamed PEACEFUL FISH.

SAVE OUR SEAS acquired her present name in mid 2009 and would appear to have been considerably altered for her new role. She is officially classified as a yacht, but perhaps research vessel would be more appropriate.

The little vessel spent a short while in Cape Town and more recently conducted research into the sharks that traditionally follow the annual sardine run when these small pilchard-like fish migrate up the east coast of South Africa at this time of the year, often coming ashore along the coast of KwaZulu Natal where they are happily claimed by the local people and holidaymakers.

The picture shown here, which is copyright to Shiphoto International, Durban, was taken as Save Our Seas sailed from Durban on the afternoon of 13 July.


News continues below...

Transnet’s latest tug PHOLELA is launched

The new tug PHOLELA stands on her blocks on board the floating dock SASDOCK prior to the naming ceremony and launch, which would take place in the waters of the Maydon Channel turning basin. Picture Terry Hutson

Transnet National Ports Authority’s latest harbour tug, the 70-ton bollard pull PHOLELA was named and entered the water yesterday in front of an appreciative audience of invited VIPs and guests.

Pholela is the fourth in a series of seven tugs under construction for the TNPA at the Bayhead Southern African Shipyards in Durban. With a current value of R600 million, the contract called for seven harbour tugs using Voith Schneider propulsion units that would enter service in the new port of Ngqura, Durban and Richards Bay.

All seven tugs are being named for South African rivers, the latest naming being for a river that rises in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg mountains. Tugs 1, 2 and 3 in the present series have already been delivered to the port of Ngqura where they have entered service. Tug number 4, PHOLELA will enter service in Durban on 10 September, once final fitting out and sea trials are completed.

Some of the invited guests who enjoyed the naming ceremony of the new tug. Picture by Terry Hutson

The tugs MAN engines, Voith propulsion units and generators were imported from Europe but otherwise all seven tugs have been designed and fully built in South Africa at Southern African Shipyards, and follow on from a series of earlier tugs also built in Durban at the same yard. The design work for the current range was carried out by Durban-based naval architect, Naval Africa.

Although designated for harbour work the tugs are sea-going boats. Ricky Bhikraj, Durban’s port manager told PORTS & SHIPS that the next two tugs under construction, which have already been allocated names – LOTHENI and LILANI, will be ready to enter service on 10 October 2010 and 11 April 2011 respectively. A seventh tug, which will most likely go to the port of Richards Bay, has yet to be allocated a name.

Bhikraj said that Durban currently has eight tugs in service and although two of these, the 28-year old NONOTI and UMZUMBE were earmarked for replacement, the chances were that they would receive comprehensive refits and be retained in service in Durban, giving the port a fleet of ten tugs available for service.

“The Port of Durban needs ten tugs,” he said. “We have up to 1,000 ship moves a month to handle and sometimes the current fleet is under severe pressure.”

Durban Port Manager Ricky Bhikraj and Bongi Mathi, the sponsor and the Procurement Executive with Transnet who named the vessel. Picture by Terry Hutson

Don Mkhwanazi, chairman of Southern African Shipyards said the shipyard, which had 400 personnel working on the tug programme including nearly 30 apprentices, was constantly looking for future work. This included bidding on a contract for tugs for TransNamib in Namibia, tugs, patrol ships and a survey vessel for the South African Navy and various other workboats and patrols boats mainly for African countries.

He referred to a recent repair contract carried out on the Indian offshore tug SUBHIKSHA as one of Southern Africa Shipyards’ ship repair highlights, which involved rebuilding the ship after a fire off Beira had all but destroyed the machinery and equipment of the vessel. Subhiksha is now back in service off West Africa. He said the success of this and the success of the tug building programme, coming hot on the heels of the successful FIFA Soccer World Cup, was a triumph for African ability against African pessimism.

“At Southern African Shipyards, where we have the largest ship building facility in Africa, we are revitalising the ship building industry in Durban and developing much needed skills and knowledge, while also creating substantial employment opportunities. Ship building is part of South Africa’s maritime heritage, which has developed over many years and should not be regarded here as a dying industry. We can compete successfully with the best in the world. We look to the government for further support and encouragement for the shipping industry as a whole, as a means of creating employment and skills for our people.”

He thanked Transnet National Ports Authority for its support not only with the tug orders but also in providing shipbuilding facilities within the port.

Southern African Shipyards is a 60 percent black owned South African company.


Hauled by two TNPA tugs, the SASDock floating dock with the new tug Pholela on board moves away from the quay towards the turning basin where the dock will later submerge, allowing the tug to enter the water for the first time. Picture by Terry Hutson


News continues below…

Roll up for Open Day on the SA AGULHAS

Ever wondered what an Antarctic supply and survey ship looks like on board? How the crew and passengers live and what do they do while on those long and dangerous trips down to the Antarctic mainland? Well now’s your chance, providing you are in the Cape Town area on 24 July when South Africa’s famous Antarctic supply and survey ship SA AGULHAS will have an Open Day for the public alongside the East Pier in the V&A Waterfront harbour.

The ship will be open for visitors between 09h00 and 15h00pm, with the last tour commencing at 14h30pm.

There is supposed to be further information and a map to the ship at www.mtnsciencentre.org.za although yesterday we were unable to find it – possibly it is still to be loaded so do try. Anyway it is hard to get lost in finding the V&A Waterfront’s East Quay – once there look for the bright red ship.


News continues below...

Hapag-Lloyd opens new link between Europe and West Africa


Hapag-Lloyd advises that with effect the end of July, it will offer a new link between the Mediterranean and West Africa.

Starting with the sailing of MV KOLLMAR, ETD Algeciras on 30 July 2010, the new Mediterranean West Africa Express (MWX) will operate on a weekly frequency with following port rotation: Algeciras - Lagos-Apapa - Cotonou - Tema - Abidjan – Algeciras.

On the southbound leg Algeciras will act as the hub for cargo originating at Port Said, La Spezia, Genoa, Barcelona and Valencia, whilst on the northbound leg the service offers connectivity to Valencia and Genoa via the South Spanish port.

Hapag-Lloyd says that this step emphasizes its commitment to the African continent and especially to the West African trade and complements its Sub-Saharan Africa network consisting of the


  • South Africa Express (SAX) North Europe – South Africa
  • West Africa Express (WAX) North Europe – West Africa
  • West South African Express (WSX) Asia – South and West Africa
  • Asia – Africa – South Service (ASE) Asia – South Africa – SAEC
  • North America Africa Service (NAA) Canada – South Africa


    News continues below…

    AP Moller-Maersk adjusts its profit expectations

    Picture Terry Hutson

    One year ago and it was mostly doom and gloom as shipping companies announced financial figures showing them to be caught in stormy weather with little prospect of finding more friendly calmer seas in a hurry.

    It’s marvelous how things can change in just 12 months – many of those same companies are now forecasting calm seas with only a few clouds in the sky as they head back into profit making.

    The Danish firm of AP Møller-Maersk A/S is one such. In its Interim Management Statement on 12 May 2010, the company announced that a profit for 2010 was expected – an improvement compared to the previous expectations on 4 March 2010 of a modest profit.

    The improvement of especially the container business has since then been greater than envisaged and AP Møller-Maersk now expects that the profit for 2010 will exceed the profit for 2008 (which was USD 3.5 billion corresponding to DKK 17.6 billion at the time).

    This expectation is provided that freight rates, oil prices and the USD exchange rate remain stable at current levels. It includes an accounting gain from the previously announced sale of shares in the Yantian terminal in China which has now been closed.

    Dansk Supermarked’s sale of Netto Foodstores Limited is still subject to approval from the UK competition authorities, and the possible gain from the sale has not been included in the above-mentioned estimate.

    The outlook for 2010, says AP Møller-Maersk, is still subject to considerable uncertainty, not least due to the development in the global economy. Specific uncertainties relate to the container freight rates, transported volumes, USD exchange rate and oil prices.

    The result for the first half year 2010 including an elaboration on the expectations for the 2010 result will be announced with the Interim Report on 18 August 2010.


    News continues below…

    Zimbabwe rail network faces collapse - GM

    by Nqobile Bhebhe (The Independent)

    Zimbabwe’s entire rail network faces collapse because of neglect, dealing a blow to the country's economic recovery efforts, Mike Karakadzai, the general manager of the state-owned National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), has said.

    Karakadzai said the government should speed up the opening of the country's rail sector to private players to ease the burden on NRZ, which is the sole operator of the rail system.

    “NRZ has limited resources to maintain the rail network which is in bad shape,” Karakadzai said. “The rail network is fast deteriorating and on the verge of collapse due to lack of periodic maintenance. As NRZ we don't have enough financial resources to undertake such a huge task. If other players come on board, the burden of maintaining the rail network would be shared.”

    Zimbabwe's rail network, once a hub of the regional transport network, stretches for 3,077km. So dilapidated is the network that the World Bank in December recommended the closure of some lines.

    Karakadzai said his firm was lobbying government to quicken the process of inviting new players because, unlike the road sector, the NRZ was receiving no support from treasury.

    “The trading environment is uneven,” he said. “Currently the state is contributing heavily towards maintenance of roads, but for us we are in it alone yet we have no resources for it. So the players in the road sector are in some way subsidised by government.”

    He said private players would be charged an access fee similar to airport tax and port tax. All players, including NRZ, would contribute funds that would be channeled towards maintenance of infrastructure, according to a plan being lobbied for by NRZ.

    Government has drawn up its own plan to revive the rail sector.

    Under the 2010-2015 Medium Term Plan, which the government is using to benchmark economic recovery, the state should review current regulatory policies governing railways in a move that could bring competition to the loss-making NRZ.

    According to the 212-page draft, government is considering “a separate body to own/operate infrastructure while the rail services are opened up to a number of sector players for a fee.”

    The revival of the rail infrastructure is pivotal to the country's economic turnaround programme as investors require such infrastructure if they are to pump money into the economy.

    Currently NRZ is operating at between 30 percent and 50 percent capacity because of a myriad of challenges.

    - The Independent

    Note Railway infrastructure along the network operated by NRZ was for many years highly regarded as among the best in the world, with mainline track condition of the highest standard of excellence and the envy of its neighbours.


    Botswana and Namibian police join hands to secure common trade corridors

    The Botswana Police Service and the Namibian Police have joined hands to embark upon the first ever Joint Traffic Law Enforcement Operation for the Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) under the theme ‘Securing Our Common Trade Corridors, One Operation at a Time’.

    This initiative emanates from the first ever meeting of the Traffic Commanding Officers of the three national police agencies of Botswana, Namibia and Zambia held in Gaborone in April earlier this year.

    At that meeting, the importance of road safety matters affecting the two regional corridors of the Trans-Kalahari Corridor and the Walvis Bay Ndola Lubumbashi Development Corridors (former Trans Caprivi) were underscored. This followed a road safety assessment project undertaken by the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) which highlighted certain safety and law enforcement concerns along these corridors.

    An agreement was made to undertake a comprehensive programme of action, the first ever simultaneous joint law enforcement operation at random all the way from the Port of Walvis Bay up to Pioneergate bordering South Africa.

    The project, an initiative of the WBCG and sponsored by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, aims at improving road safety and reducing transport costs along the corridors and thereby contributing to stimulating economic growth. Best practices and success factors that emanate from this exercise will be replicated to other corridors. The exercise is focusing on commercial vehicles using the corridors and is instituting a Zero Tolerance practice to offenders.

    The WBCG says that it has become imperative that with the increase in cargo moving along the Walvis Bay Corridors, that measures be implemented to ensure the safety and security of the corridors.


    Annual Sea Sunday coming up

    Each year the chaplains in ports worldwide commemorate Sea Sunday as a day in which members of the public and those who work in the maritime industry are able to gather together one Sunday morning to worship, give thanks and remember those who “go down to the sea in ships”.

    In South Africa this is held, in the Port of Durban at least, annually at a venue in the port itself – the N-Shed Passenger Terminal has generously been made available by Transnet for the past ten or so years.

    Because as an international affair it is held on different days of the year to fit in with local opportunities and requirements. In Durban this year the Soccer World Cup was taking place at the time when the annual Sea Sunday Service would normally have been held and it was expected that a cruise ship, the NOORDAM would berth alongside as accommodation for visiting fans and would therefore require the terminal area.

    As readers know, this was cancelled at a late stage by the organisers but by then arrangements to postpone the annual service to a date in July had been finalised and was left in place.

    As a result the annual Sea Sunday Service will be held at Durban’s N-Shed Passenger Terminal this Sunday, 18 July at 11h00. The service is multi-denominational and everyone is welcome to attend.

    Because 2010 has been declared as The Year of the Seafarer, this year’s service will be somewhat different and the port’s the seven chaplaincies involved in ministry among the crews of ships visiting the port have arranged additional activities which will add to the ‘appeal’ of the annual service. These include having the NSRI stage a mock rescue in the harbour alongside the berth and it is hoped that, providing the harbour is not too busy at that time, that Transnet National Ports Authority will place a tug and helicopter on show.

    There will be tea or coffee and refreshments available after the service which lasts about an hour. Members of the general public are welcome to attend this annual interdenominational function in which honour and respect is paid to seafarers of the world, and in particular those who come to Durban. Parking is available near N Shed.


    Pics of the Day – MSC LESOTHO


    Despite the great number of MSC ship calls in South African ports, and the size and importance of Mediterranean Shipping Company to the maritime business in South Africa, only a small number of ships have appeared in local ports bearing local names. When MSC LESOTHO (75,637- gt, built 1997) made an appearance in these waters she became one of the exceptions. These photographs were taken on the ship’s most recent visit in Cape Town this week. Pictures by Ian Shiffman



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