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Ports & Ships Maritime News

August 30, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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The Mercy Ships hospital vessel AFRICA MERCY (16,572-gt, built 1980) is currently heading for Durban where she will undergo repairs and maintenance at the Southern African Shipyards. She is due in dry dock from 12 September. It is believed that the ship will thereafter remain in Durban for a period until later in the year. Picture courtesy Trevor Jones


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Shipbuilder forum established – aims to keep naval shipbuilding ‘at home’


The South African Navy hydrographic survey vessel SAS PROTEA, for which a suitable replacement is expected to be announced sometime in the next few years. Picture Chris Jenkins

South African shipbuilders and associated industry leaders showed no hesitation when forming a forum to engage with government and other bodies with the express aim of ensuring that future orders for naval ships will be placed locally and not offshore.

“We have a legacy of discord and mistrust within the South African shipbuilding industry,” Prasheen Maharaj of Southern African Shipyards said, “but now we need to speak with one voice and to talk with each other.”

Calling for the formation of a forum to represent those involved with shipbuilding, including all the suppliers, there was unanimous and immediate support which led to the South African Shipbuilding Defence Industry Forum being established with the purpose of creating a powerful lobby to prevent or avoid such orders being placed outside South Africa.

The occasion was the Vessel Construction and Repair Business Summit held in Durban last Thursday under the auspices of Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal.

Fresh in the memories of those present was the orders for frigates and submarines that were placed with German shipbuilding consortiums as part of South Africa’s Strategic Defence Procurement Package, which resulted in strong political criticism and disappointment among local shipyards and suppliers.

Currently at stake are potential orders for up to six patrol vessels – three with a length of 50m and another three larger ships of around 80 or 90m, according to Rear Admiral (JG) JE Louw of the South African Navy, who was also present at the Summit. Other vessels in the pipeline for the navy include a dock landing ship to carry helicopters and a hydrogaphic survey ship to replace SAS PROTEA.

Maharaj said the industry needed to look even beyond the needs of the South African Navy. “If we can build patrol ships for the South African Navy, this can lead to further exports into Africa where there is a requirement for up to 30 and more patrol boats,” he said. “We have to become more creative in preventing such orders going offshore.”


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Cockett Marine goes live this week with Channel bunkering

A Durban-based Unicorn Shipping bunker barge, the 5,000-tonne FUMANA. Picture by Terry Hutson

Shipping operators and owners have reacted extremely positively to the news that Cockett Marine Oil, which is a 100% owned subsidiary of the South Africa’s Grindrod group, is to start a new bunkers-only service for ships transiting the English Channel.

From today, Monday 30 August, Cockett Marine Oil will be able to quote firm prices for fuel oils for delivery from 1 September when the new service officially starts.

Since the service was announced in late July, Cockett’s team at its UK head office and its seven other international offices have been meeting with major ship owners and operators around the globe. A healthy level of enquiries has already been received from a number of potential users of the service.

“We have been delighted to receive such positive feedback and have been promised strong support, especially from European shipping companies,” said Karl Beeson, Managing Director at Cockett Group. “The message we are hearing loud and clear is that the industry has been waiting for an alternative bunkers-only facility serving the English Channel and at the entrance to the North Sea.

“The two key commercial factors driving interest in the service are competitive pricing and that it requires a diversion of only one to two hours from the shipping lanes. As a result we will be able to compete head-to-head with existing facilities in the English Channel, and also with other major international bunkers-only supply centres.”

Sitting on one of the world’s busiest trading routes, and located approximately on 51deg 28min North/1 deg 20 mins East, the new service will be provided from three anchorage positions and offers the advantage of a very sheltered and deep water location. It has been facilitated using the combined experience and expertise of various Grindrod Group companies, including Unicorn Shipping and the Rotterdam based bunker supplier Associated Bunkeroil Contractors.

Details of the new Cockett Marine bunkers-only service can be obtained by visiting www.cockettgroup.com


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News from the shipping lines

MSC plans fleet expansion

According to French sources Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) plans to take delivery of 30 new 14,000-TEU container ships over the next three years. MSC chairman Gianluigi Aponte reportedly acknowledged the delivery of 13 or 14 of these superships this year, 10 more in 2011 and another nine in 2012.

However, said Aponte, the capacity of the company’s fleet would increase only by 10% at that time, as MSC would withdraw an 8,000-TEU ship for every 14,000-TEU vessel that enters service. MSC’s capacity currently stands at 1.7 million TEU. Unlike some of the other lines MSC would not be increasing the number of services between the Far East and Europe to utilize the new tonnage.

Aponte revealed that MSC carried 10.5 million TEU last year, which he said was more than what was carried during the pre-crisis year of 2007 although the company’s turnover had fallen to below its 2007 level.

Safmarine and Maersk provide new service with slot buy-in

Evergreen G class ship. Picture by Ian Shiffman

By buying slots on the new ASEAN-Gulf-ISC (AGI) service which is operated by Evergreen, OOCL and Simatech, Safmarine and sister company Maersk Line have been able to introduce a new service between South East Asia, India and the Middle East on vessels of between 2,200 and 3,000-TEU each. Both companies have bought slots in the service which commenced on 20 August with the sailing of the LT GENOVA. Port rotation is Laem Chabang, Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas, Port Kelang, Colombo, Jebel Ali, Karachi, Mundra, Colombo, Port Kelang, Singapore, Laem Chabang.

Hapag-Lloyd considers its debt restructuring

The German container carrier Hapag-Lloyd, which recently reported a return to profitability, is considering its options in order to avoid government financial guarantees that would restrict dividend payments. The offer of local city government support came during the period when Hapag-Lloyd was reporting serious financial difficulty.


Chilean container line CSAV (Compania Sud Americana de Vapores) plans to increase its fleet with five 8,000-TEU container ships, which it says will be built at South Korean and Chinese shipyards. With the addition of extra ships the company says it will be able to secure new routes to boost its cargo shipping division. Delivery of the new ships is set for 2012-13

ZIM zips back into profit

Israeli’s national carrier ZIM is the latest container line to report having returned to profitability after it posted a net income of US $ 3 million for the second quarter of this year, compared with a year-on-year loss of $ 186 million from the second quarter last year.

Zim is reporting improved cargo volumes, higher freight rates, improved incomes from subsidiaries and income from ‘uncompleted voyages’. It says freight rates increased 26% from an average of $1,057 per TEU to $1,328 for the second quarter of 2010, during which Zim carried 547,000 TEU, up from 438,000 TEU for the same period last year.


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Tanzanian president promises new ship for Lake Victoria

Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete promised the people of the Kagera region on the eastern shores of Lake Victoria that the Tanzanian government would replace the MV BUKOBA which sank more than ten years ago. He said the replacement ship would be a new vessel.

The new ship, he said, would be larger and much better than the Bukoba that capsized in 1996 killing around 800 people. The president, who is facing re-election, acknowledged that there was a transport problem resulting from a lack of suitable ships on the lake. The current service between Bukoba and Mwanza in the south is carried out by the MV VICTORIA, which is an ageing vessel.

President Kikwete also promised that his government would upgrade the Bukoba Airport which would be provided with a modern lounge in addition to improvements to the runway that are currently underway.


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MAILBAG: For the record…

Good evening
Enjoyed the read as usual (Thursday, 26 August). However the article on the SA Navy in Mozambique indicates that the SAS AMATOLA is in Maputo - strange but I see her lying alongside in Simon`s Town. The SAS SPIOENKOP is in Mozambique as part of the exercise.

Secondly the Hector was not lying anywhere near the Simon`s Town harbour entrance but 5 miles away next to Seal Island.

I am the Harbour Master and personally went out in the tug to identify her for SAMSA.

Capt Glen Knox
Simon’s Town

Capt Knox, you are of course quite correct. An online change was made to the identity of the frigate in Maputo as soon as we received your email. Thanks for keeping us in line.


News continues below…

Does anyone know this dredger?


Another of our readers was given a very small and rather poor photograph of the bucket dredger shown above, which he has been unable to identify. He presumes it might have been taken in the 1930s.

There is general agreement that this is a SAR&H dredger and we have so far eliminated the SILURUS and also the DELVER.P> “I would be very much appreciated if someone could identify it, or put me on to someone who might be able to help,” the reader says.

Does anyone have an idea of the identity of this vessel? Emails toinfo@ports.co.za


Alert for whale entangled in netting

Picture courtesy Graham Anley

Boaters and the public in the Eastern Cape between Plettenberg Bay and East London are being asked to keep a close ‘eye out’ for the adult female Humpback whale that is entangled in netting and is expected to be in this area accompanied by her approximately 1 month old calf.

This appeal is being made by Mike Meyer of the SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) and with the support of the NSRI.

Members of the SAWDN were activated following eye-witness reports on Friday of a cow and her calf, both Humpback whales, in the vicinity of close in-shore at Robberg, near Plettenberg Bay, with the adult 13 metre cow reported to have netting entangled around her body, tail and dorsal fin. “Attempts made to try to free the nets off the whale on Friday in Plettenberg Bay by volunteers of the SAWDN Disentanglement Network were suspended after the adult whale appeared to get agitated by the rescue teams presence.

“Appeals were made to boaters and the public to be on the look-out for this whale (and her calf) but no sightings have been reported (by Sunday afternoon) however we are hopeful that these two whales will be sighted and reported,” said Meyer.

“On Saturday morning an SA Air Force (SAAF), 35 Squadron, Dakota (fixed wing aircraft), returning from East London to her base in Cape Town, volunteered to search for the whales while she flew overhead of the area where we expect these two whales to be (between Port Elizabeth and Plettenberg Bay) and although two whales were spotted by the 35 Squadron crew it was confirmed by them, on closer inspection, that these were not the same whales.

“Only the adult female has netting wrapped around her torso, tail fin and dorsal fin and not the calf.

“Any sightings of these whales should be reported to the Sea Rescue Emergency Number (Eastern Cape) 041-507 1911.

“SA Whale Disentanglement Network volunteers in Plettenberg Bay, St Francis Bay and Port Elizabeth are on high alert to respond to any reported sightings.

“We are urging boaters and the public not to try to attempt to disentangle the whales themselves as an operation of this nature is extremely dangerous due to the size and the unpredictable behaviour of these animals. The volunteers of the SA Whale Disentanglement Network are trained in these types of rescue operations and use specialised equipment.

“It is suspected that the fishing nets around this whale may be Tuna Purse Seine Nets not normally found in SA waters and we suspect that she may have gotten fouled in these nets further North beyond SA’s borders. (This is our suspicion and unless we recover the nets we cannot confirm this!).

“The adult whale presently does not appear to be debilitated by the gear (nets). The effect of the drag of the net, on its migration South, is presently not known.


Pics of the Day - CHAMAREL


The Mauritian-flagged cable laying vessel CHAMAREL (5,924-gt, built 1974) which is owned by France Telecom Marine and is maintained on a permanent standby in Cape Town harbour, returns to her usual V&A Waterfront berth after a period on berth at the nearby Cape Town harbour’s E Mole. Pictures by Aad Noorland



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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