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Ports & Ships Maritime News

October 18, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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The Greek products tanker AMAZON GUARDIAN (43,075-dwt, built 1999) seen sailing from the port of Santos, Brazil last Thursday. Picture by Gustavo Castro de Sousa

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Shipping line news: CMA CGM gets overtures from Turkish investor

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CMA CGM Tema, by Ian Shiffman

French shipping company CGM CGM, which is not out of the financial woods yet despite a return to profitability, is being wooed by the Turkish company of Yildirim which appears ready to invest US$ 500 million in the shipping line.

CMA CGM is rumoured to have debts of around US$ 5 billion and has been casting around for investors or another means of holding off the debt which at one time threatened to bring down the world’s third largest container carrier.

CMA CGM has flirted with Lebanese, Belgian and US investors, with talks breaking down on each occasion. If the Turkish deal comes off it will see Yildirim, which has substantial interests in shipping, ports and mining companies, taking a 20% share in the shipping company.

The French government is understood to have indicated its support of CMA CGM in the event that it is unable to secure a suitable investor.

Grimaldi comes back to West Africa

Italian shipping line Grimaldi’s new Ro-Ro service from the Mediterranean to West Africa, the new Mediterranean Express will get underway from 26 October with the departure of the THEBELAND (20,881-gt, built 1978) from Salerno. The new service will operate every 18 days with a port rotation of Salerno, Genoa, Marseilles, Valencia, Dakar, Lome, Lagos, Cotonou.

Grimaldi says that in early 2011 it will replace the Thebeland with REPUBBLICA DI ROMA (42,001-gt, built 1992) as well as taking space with Navitrans on that company’s MEDCOA LOME (17,016-gt, built 1994).

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APM Terminals wins 25-year Monrovia concession

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Monrovia. Picture by Kingley Holgate

APM Terminals has signed a 25-year concession agreement for the operation of the Port of Monrovia in Liberia, which includes port management and modernisation.

The agreement for the port's privatisation will result in the investment of US$120 million in the facility over the course of the contract term.

The Liberian government elected to privatise the port in response to the urgent need for port infrastructure improvement, as the current facility was developed prior to containerised cargo transportation and requires investment in equipment and technology to bring the facility up to current industry standards.

Most of APM Terminals' investment during the initial years will cover construction of the quay, the establishment of efficient yard handling procedures and the installation of the new equipment required to transform the port into a more competitive, world-class facility capable of handling modern, deep-draft vessels.

The annual throughput capacity at the opening and future phases will be 75,000 TEU and 750,000 tons of general cargo. This will be APM's first 100% owned terminal in Africa.

The APM Terminals global terminal network is well established in West Africa, with facilities in Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Cotonou, Benin; Tema, Ghana; Apapa (Lagos) and Onne (Port Harcourt), Nigeria; Douala, Cameroon; Pointe Noire (under development), DR Congo; and Luanda, Angola. (Eye for Transport)

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Coega refinery will save South Africa billions - Zuma

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma said the proposed Mthombo crude oil refinery (at Coega) will save the country billions and showcase its competitive ability to counterparts globally.

It would also help the country escape from the current dependency trap, where refined automotive products had to be imported, the president said on Thursday.

Construction on the refinery, which will be the biggest in Africa, was expected to start in 2012, with the refinery to come on stream by 2015.

The $ 11 billion refinery, which will have a 400,000 barrels a day capacity, is meant to ensure security of fuel supply in SA.

SA is currently dependent on international oil companies to secure the country's future liquid fuels energy needs.

“With Project Mthombo, this country stands to save an estimated R12.6 billion a year in energy costs once the refinery is running, and could export oil across Africa,” said Zuma.

Zuma was speaking during his visit to PetroSA’s gas liquid refinery in Mossel Bay in the Western Cape. The visit by Zuma and Energy Minister Dipuo Peters was to obtain a firsthand account of the operations of PetroSA, his office said.

"We welcome the fact that PetroSA is making its impact, not only in job creation but in empowering the people as well. It employs close to 2 000 people, while 27,500 more will be absorbed within the crude oil refinery that is planned," President Zuma said.

He also commended the National Oil Company (NOC) for the role it was playing in reducing the country’s dependence on importing refined fuel.

Zuma also welcomed the impressive growth of PetroSA from its successful merger of Mossgas, Soekor and parts of the Strategic Fuel Fund in 2002.

PetroSA is reaching markets in Europe, the United States, Caribbean, Middle East and Far East, which Zuma said is an important achievement. – BuaNews

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Piracy: Kenyan lawyers and security agents suspected on conducting business with pirates

Allegations have surfaced suggesting that Kenyan law firms, security, aviation and shipping firms are conducting business with pirates operating in the Indian Ocean as the former facilitate the ransom discussions and payment.

Somali pirates are being paid over US$ 80 million as ransom every year, and it is thought that some of that amount goes through Kenya.

The International Maritime Bureau estimates that the world economy is losing up to US$ 18 billion per year due to piracy, which is running rampant due to an ineffective central government in Mogadishu.

Millions of dollars exchange hands between pirates and ship owners, according to the programmes coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Programme (SAP), Andrew Mwangura, whose group works to defend the right of crews stuck on hijacked boats.

The World Peace Foundation has released a report which claims that Kenya is a country whose firms are strongly responsible for the piracy taking place along the Somali coast. The Foundation is an international think-tank joining scholars, diplomats, lawyers, military officers and maritime partners collaborating to end piracy.

According to the report, some 1,500 pirates are active in Somalia, an enterprise organised in seven syndicates with a ‘few bosses’ in charge of the associated ventures. Mainly, they are all headquartered in Kenya, Dubai, Lebanon, Somalia and certain European countries. Thus far, the heftiest ransom the pirates had obtained so far was US$ 7 million for the release of a Greek oil tanker earlier in 2010, the report informed.

A maritime official on condition of anonymity admitted knowledge of a select few law, security, aviation and shipping companies in Mombasa and Nairobi involved in negotiating the release of hijacked vessels and the payment of ransoms.

He explained that the ransom money comes from agents of hijacked ships in Nairobi or Mombasa and is then transferred by air or sea to the pirates.

Sometimes, the ransom payments go on during the small hours of the night under tight security from Nairobi to Mombasa before going on a ship that will transport it to Somalia, he said.

“Once such missions have been accomplished, the pirates pay the law, security, aviation and shipping firms involved through their agents in Nairobi and Mombasa through an unofficial money remittance system called Hawala,” he told The Daily Nation.

Hawala is a trust-based system originally used extensively by a network of money brokers in the Middle East and Africa, but now accepted in Europe and North America. - Daily Nation and Shiptalk

South Korean fishing vessel seized

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Golden Wave

Somali pirates have captured the South Korean fishing vessel GOLDEN WAVE, formerly named KEMUMMI 305. The fishing vessel was operating off the Kenya coast at the time of the attack on Saturday, 9 October. No other details are available.

French aircraft carrier to go hunting pirates

The nuclear-powered French Navy flagship and aircraft carrier FS CHARLES DE GAULLE has sailed on a four-month mission during which the aircraft carrier and its support group will take part in anti piracy activities off the Somali coast.

The flagship will also provide support for NATO troops currently in Afghanistan, said French Rear Admiral Jean-Louis Kerignard, commander of the group. He disclosed that the group would also train alongside allies from Saudi Arabia, Greece, India, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates. The ships will make two stopovers at Djibouti where France maintains a base, before returning to Toulon in February 2011.

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Phoenicia makes landfall in Lebanon

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On Friday morning, 15 October the replica Phoenician sailing ship called PHOENICIA sailed in to port Beirut, Lebanon, arriving from port Sidon also in Lebanon where the team on board and ashore were welcomed by a committee organised by the Phoenicia.org research centre.

Lebanon's Minister for Culture also attended a special ceremony for Phoenicia to mark the 2,600 anniversary of the original voyage. Phoenicia is now nearing the end of the long circumnavigation of Africa, undertaken to demonstrate that the story as described by the Greek historian Herodotus was feasible and plausible, that the Pharaoh Necco had commissioned the Phoenicians, then the most famous seafarers of their time in the Mediterranean, to sail around the continent of Africa.

The present circumnavigation has been undertaken in a replica ship built in Syria using methods and materials believed to be similar to those employed 2600 years ago. The expedition, led by Briton Philip Beale and manned by teams of volunteers with up to 16 crewmembers on any one leg of the journey, took them down the Red Sea, through the pirate-ridden Gulf of Aden and past the Somali coast, along the East African coast and into Mozambique and South African waters.

Rounding the Cape of Good Hope the tiny vessel encountered stormy seas and winds but made it safely into the Atlantic. The journey then continued along the South West African coast into West Africa, round the bulge until the Strait of Gibraltar was encountered – the Gates of Hercules as described by Herodotus in his account of the original journey. After crossing the Mediterranean the Phoenicia arrived in port Sidon, Lebanon prior to making for Beirut where this week the ship and crew will remain until Wednesday 20 October, after which they head off for Syria and the completion of the voyage.

A total of 14 countries were visited where opportunities of describing the voyage were taken. The voyage will not have put to rest all doubts over the correctness or otherwise of Herodotus’ story, but it has shown it to have been feasible. The Phoenicians would have taken considerably longer to complete their circumnavigation as they had to stop, and according to the historian, sow and grow crops for the next section. Nevertheless it is a further acknowledgement that our knowledge and understanding of ancient sea travel is scant, and that it would be unwise to simply dismiss stories and even some myths as being of no real importance.

To follow the voyage and find out more about this expedition, go to www.Phoenicia.org.uk

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Pics of the Day - ANDERMATT

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The Swiss bulker ANDERMATT (20,200-dwt, built 2002) seen in the Esplanade Channel in Durban harbour at the weekend. Pictures by Trevor Jones

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