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Ports & Ships Maritime News

September 6, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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MUR’s container vessel AFRICAN UBUNTU running along Durban’s Esplanade Channel en route to a berth on Maydon Wharf. Increasing numbers of container ships are making use of the former breakbulk berths on ’the wharf’. See next story. Picture by Terry Hutson News continues below...

Transnet to develop Maydon Wharf for containers

Durban’s Maydon Wharf berths 9 to 12, with # 12 facing the camera.

Construction is due to commence shortly on converting a part of Maydon Wharf – berths 9 – 12, for container handling, according to Durban’st manager.

The first stage of the conversion of this former breakbulk area will be to redevelop the quay wall alongside berth 12, the first berth ’round the corner’ facing the channel that leads to the Port of Durban’s dry dock and ship repair yards. Berth 12 has a favourable length of 275 metres but is one of the shallowest berths in the harbour, with a maximum draught alongside of a mere 5.1 metres. As a result of this berth 12 has been used in recent years for little more than as a laybye facility, mostly for visiting fishing vessels.

Once the quay has been redeveloped and the bay dredged alongside it is intended that fairly large container ships will be able to make use of this facility, thus providing an additional option for shipping lines. By contrast, berth 11, which is around the 90° corner has a depth alongside 10.2m and a length of 190m and is increasingly being used by container ships fitted with own gear. The next two berths, 9 and 10 have a maximum draught alongside of 9.6 and 8.3m and lengths of 172 and 180m respectively.

Dredging of the channels facing berths on Piers 1 and 2 – which house the port’s two main container terminals – is to be followed by the laying of a stone ballast bed with a width of approximately 30m which is designed to help reduce the effect of prop wash from the vessels and tugs. The actual berths themselves have all been dredged to their chart datum depths.

Maersk Line, MSC and MOL are each pushing to bring in container ships with a draught in excess of 12.8m, according to port manager Ricky Bhikraj, who said that in the last fortnight MSC had sought permission for one of its vessels with a draught of 13.5 metres. The request had to be turned down, highlighting once more the urgent need for the development of deep water berths in the harbour.


News continues below…

South Africa edges closer to joining BRIC group

International Affairs Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

Pretoria - South Africa is confident that it could become the newest member of BRIC, a powerful economic coalition of the four largest developing nations in the world - Brazil, Russia, India and China.

This is according to International Relations and Cooperation’s Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane who was briefing the media following the recent state visit to China which formed part of government’s worldwide tour to expand ties with fast-growing emerging economies.

“We think we have done our best to and we think we have made a positive impression on all the BRIC members. We believe they will take a favourable decision,” the minister said on Thursday, adding that now all they could do was wait for a decision to be made.

South Africa is clamouring to become the fifth member of the BRIC economies. The country has held interactions with the Heads of State which have thus far shown interest in including South Africa.

The BRIC nations work to boost trade among themselves and South Africa is looking to expanded trade with the world, which will help it meet development needs, especially by improving infrastructure and livelihoods.

Regarding President Jacob Zuma’s state visit to China and its benefit to the country, Nkoana-Mashabane labelled the visit a success.

Zuma visited China with 13 cabinet ministers and a 370-strong business delegation to strengthen ties between South Africa and what has become the world's second-largest economy, with a Gross Domestic Product worth R9.5 trillion in the second quarter.

The ties between the two countries received a further boost, thanks to several new deals struck during the visit.

A comprehensive strategic partnership agreement as well as eight Memoranda of Understanding aimed at further strengthening bilateral ties and to implement areas of co- operation were signed, said the minister.

The deals centred on infrastructure construction projects, such as roads, railways, ports, power generation, airports and housing.

The business delegation also signed more than a dozen agreements involving investments in railways, power transmission, construction, mining, insurance, telecoms and nuclear power, among others.

The comprehensive strategic partnership declaration, she said, will guide South Africa's overall interaction with China over the next 10 to 15 years.

The minister said a key element of the strategic partnership agreement partnership was growth and development, focusing on beneficiation and the adding of value to resources, infrastructure, market access and trade in the Southern African Development Community region and on the continent.

Both governments, will work closely “to map out action plans in various areas, so as to implement the consensus reached by the state leaders and benefit the people,” said the minister.

The visit also saw the signing of the Beijing Declaration which was signed by the two Presidents. They expressed their desire to further strengthen and deepen exchanges and cooperation between the two nations in both political and regional affairs by establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership based on equality, mutual benefits and common development.

The visit has pushed the bilateral relations to an unprecedented level, Nkoana-Mashabane said. – BuaNews


News continues below...

Back in profit could result in Hapag-Lloyd being sold off

Berlin Express ship hereXXX

It’s a funny old world. Because the shipping line division has returned to profitability, TUI AG may decide to sell off its remaining 42.5% shareholding in German shipping line Hapag-Lloyd.

In April 2009 TUI, which is one of Europe’s largest travel related companies, sold off a substantial chunk of stock to the Albert Balling Corporation in an effort to stabilize the shipping division of the company and to help reduce TUI’s losses from the shipping side of business.

In the second quarter of 2010 however, Hapag-Lloyd’s fortunes have undergone a remarkable turnabout and return to profitability. See our report of 12 August 2010 Hapag-Lloyd posts record quarterly profits.

In addition to its container division, Hapag-Lloyd also operates a successful cruise line division with a small fleet of ships including the highly rated EUROPA.

TUI’s travel section meanwhile is still feeling the pinch of the economic downturn and a healthy injection of capital from the sale of the balance of Hapag-Lloyd’s shares would make a large difference to TUI’s core business. TUI was apparently badly affected by the Icelandic ash cloud problems which resulted in air travel being suspended over large parts of Europe.

So on the other hand, with Hapag-Lloyd now making good profits, the inclination may be there for TUI to hold on to its share and to enjoy the fruits. As they say, it’s a funny world - watch this space!


News continues below…

Queen Elizabeth to name new Queen Elizabeth

Cunard’s other Vista class ‘Queen’, the 90,000-gt QUEEN VICTORIA, photographed here in Lyttelton Harbour (Christchurch), New Zealand by Alan Calvert

In a little over one month’s time, Cunard’s latest cruise liner, QUEEN ELIZABETH will be named shortly before entering service on a 13-night cruise to the Canary Islands.

Cunard has revealed that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will perform the traditional ceremony of naming the ship on Monday, 11 October 2010 in Southampton harbour.

The vessel, the second largest to be built for Cunard, is the third to carry the name Queen Elizabeth. HM Queen Elizabeth also named the line’s former flagship Queen Elizabeth II in 1967 and named the current flagship Queen Mary 2 in 2004 and was present at the age of 12 at the launch of the first Queen Elizabeth on 27 September 1938 when she accompanied her mother, Queen Elizabeth, to Clydebank for the launch.

“The naming of a Cunard Queen is a very special occasion and this will be an historic event in the true sense of the word,” said Peter Shanks, president and managing director of Cunard. “We are honoured and proud that Her Majesty will name our new liner.”

The latest Queen Elizabeth (92,000-gt) will carry up to 2,092 passengers. The ship has been built at the Fincantieri Monfalcone shipyard, Italy and is basically a Vista class cruise ship similar to the QUEEN VICTORIA which entered service with Cunard in 2007. There are a number of Vista class ships also in service with Holland America Line.

A list of the Cunard ships launched and named by British royalty reads:


  • QUEEN MARY, launched in 1934 by HM Queen Mary, wife of King George V. She became the first British Monarch to launch a merchant ship. HM King George accompanied his queen
  • QUEEN ELIZABETH, launched in 1938 by HM Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI and accompanied by the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret
  • CARONIA, launched in 1947 by the then Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by her husband HRH the Duke of Edinburgh
  • CARINTHIA, launched in 1955 by HRH Princess Margaret
  • QUEEN ELIZABETH 2, launched in 1967 by HM Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Princess Margaret
  • QUEEN MARY 2, named in 2004 by HM Queen Elizabeth II and accompanied by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh
  • QUEEN VICTORIA, named in December 2007 by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall who was accompanied by her husband, HRH the Prince of Wales


    News continues below…

    DoT reveals plans to improve South Africa’s rail network

    To be really effective South Africa needs a loading gauge and track configuration capable of running long double-decked container trains, as seen here in the United States.

    Johannesburg - The Department of Transport says it is working on a massive rail investment programme to improve the country’s aging rail network.

    The department’s Director General George Mahlalela said the investment, which involves billions of rands, will include beefing up operations in the passenger rail sector. Three high speed rail projects have been identified in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Musina in Limpopo.

    Mahlalela said most of the country’s commuter rail system has reached the end of its life span. “We believe that an ambitious programme of introducing new rail stock and technology in our system is an absolute necessity and will protect out historical investment in the sector,” he said.

    The plan comes a week after South Africa and China entered into a rail agreement when Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele and his Chinese counterpart Liu Zhijun signed a memorandum of understanding on the sector. Officials say the deal seeks to promote investments and trade cooperation between the two countries.

    Mahlalela said the massive increase in people’s movement and road traffic was posing serious challenges for the country’s economy.

    “We are seeing a massive increase in long distance travel in South Africa…this puts a major strain on our roads and air traffic, these challenges can only be addressed through rapid rail system.

    “Our view is that the rail sector should be one of the major investment areas for the transport sector and the economy of South Africa,” he said.

    Over R40 billion has been invested in the past five years in passenger rail infrastructure across the country. Mahlalela said these included the R25 billion invested on the Gautrain and almost R13 billion on the rehabilitation of passenger coaches and signaling systems.

    The department says the investment programme, which is expected to run for the next 20 years will create “certainty” and allow manufacturers to retool their businesses leading to sustainable local industrial activities.

    “It is generally agreed that new rail technology generates social benefits, which stem from savings, increase in reliability, comfort and safety as well as from the reduction of congestion and accident in alternative modes, it is the most environmentally-friendly mode of transport,” Mahlalela added. – BuaNews

    Editor’s Note – Although this report focuses on passenger services, the above initiative would have obvious spin-offs for freight rail operations, which remains the major source of earned income for the railways. In South Africa railways have become an almost ignored and outmoded entity as far as commercial users are concerned, particularly for general freight traffic including containers. Perhaps, therefore, a complete redesign and revamp of the entire system could do the trick of revitalizing the very concept and approach to rail, even if it includes what we consider to be wasteful switch to broad gauge operations.


    News continues below…

    Border not affected by Maputo strife

    by Eric Mashaba

    Komatipoort - Unrest in the capital of Mozambique has not affected the Lebombo border post near Komatipoort in Mpumalanga, which is the main port of entry between the country and South Africa.

    Henson Msongweni, head of the South African Border Control Operation Coordinating Committee, said the Lebombo border post was operating normally.

    “The traffic flow in both directions is less than we normally see, but we have not experienced any problems so far. The border was also not closed on Wednesday when the riots in Maputo started, and since early on Thursday people have been coming and going through the border as usual,” he said.

    Msongweni said the riots seemed to have taken place about 80km from the border, “which leaves us with little to worry about.”

    Anita Heyl, spokeswoman for N4 toll road operator Trans African Concessions (TRAC), said travellers should check on the situation in Mozambique before making use of the N4 route between Matola and Maputo.

    “Riots and protest actions have been reported on that stretch of road, but TRAC's operations in Maputo have not been directly affected. We have opened lanes at the Maputo Plaza to allow for quick and easy traffic flow through the plaza so that people do not have to stop for long during these exceptional circumstances,” she said.

    “Normal traffic flow at the plaza has, however, decreased substantially since the start of the unrest. The plaza will operate at full capacity as soon as the situation in Maputo has normalised.”

    Meanwhile, South African Airways spokesperson Fani Zulu said flights to and from Maputo have resumed after being cancelled on Wednesday. – BuaNews


    Pics of the Day - VOYAGER


    The Ro-Ro vessel VOYAGER (former Seaboard Voyager, 14,351-gt, built 1985) which arrived in Cape Town last week, seen on the E Mole. Pictures by Aad Noorland



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