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Ports & Ships Maritime News

November 22, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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First View – new mobile crane for Toamasina

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The company holding the concession to operate Madagascar’s Port of Toamasina on the island’s east coast, Madagascar International Container Terminal (MICT) has recently acquired and installed a new mobile harbour crane. MICT now has four of these large machines, boosting operational performance and market competitiveness in this region of the Indian Ocean.

The Mobile crane, a HMK 6407 model manufactured by Gottwald, has a maximum reach of 51 metres, and a capacity of 41 metric tons for single lift and 50 metric tons for twin lift.

MICT’s parent company is ICTSI – Philippine-based International Container Terminal Services which is involved in the operation and development of 21 marine terminals and port projects in 15 countries worldwide.

Toamasina is the Madagascar’s principal trading gateway.


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US bank clears way for South African locomotive exports

The US Export-Import Bank has taken the first steps towards the approval concerning the financing of several large US exports to South Africa, which includes the export of diesel-electric locomotives for Transnet.

“South Africa is a dynamic economy with a growing appetite for infrastructure development. That is why it has been designated by Ex-Im as one of nine countries where we aim to increase transactions,” Ex-IM Bank chairman and president, Fred Hochberg said during his recent trade mission visit to South Africa.

He said American companies and competitive Ex-IM Bank financing are available to meet South Africa’s infrastructural requirements and to support other purchases by small and mid-size businesses.

The locomotives being acquired by Transnet are General-Electric diesel-electric locos – GM has been a supplier to South African railways since the 1960s.

Ex-Im Bank is also involved with the financing of the initial carbon review of Eskom’s Kusile coal-fired power station.


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India’s Shipping Corp of India (SCI) launches new container service to East Africa

India’s state-owned Shipping Corporation of India is to launch a new container service between the Indian sub-continent and East Africa later this week.

The service will operate with three box ships each of 1,200-TEU capacity using a ten-day frequency with a port rotation of Colombo, Dar es Salaam, Mombasa and Colombo. A dedicated feeder service will make connections with Indian ports.

The new service commences with the sailing of the first vessel from Colombo on Saturday, 27 November.

SCI was created in 1961 with the amalgamation of Eastern Shipping Corporation and Western Shipping Corporation, both of India. From a regional shipping company with 19 ships, SCI has grown into India’s largest shipping company, with vessels occupied in several sectors including containers, bulk carriers, crude oil tankers, products tankers, passenger and general cargo ships, chemical carriers, LPG and ammonia tankers, and offshore vessels. SCI currently owns and operates about one third of India’s total tonnage at sea.


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Saga to expand fleet with additional ship

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Bleu de France – picture Wikipedia Commons

It is being widely reported that Saga Cruises, the UK-based cruise and holiday travel company is about to invest in another cruise ship.

According to these reports the ship-to-be is the BLEU DE FRANCE (37,301-gt, built 1981) the former Europa, Superstar Aries and most recently, the Holiday Dream.

Built for Hapag-Lloyd as their third EUROPA she was at the time one of the largest cruise ships in the world. That statistic was soon to be overtaken with the advent of the mega ships and Hapag-Lloyd in turn eventually replaced her with a new EUROPA, selling the older ship off to Star Cruises with whom she became the SUPERSTAR ARIES following a fairly major rebuild. This included the construction of a number of new balconies.

She underwent yet another refit at the time of her sale to the Spanish line Pullmantur, who renamed her HOLIDAY DREAM. Subsequently the ship underwent yet another refit, costing a reported €30 million – this was at the time of her transfer to CDF Croisières de France as their BLEU DE FRANCE.

With 30 years under her keel it can be expected that, provided these reports are correct, the ship will undergo yet another refit rendering her suitable for life as a Saga Cruises vessel. Saga currently operates the lovely SAGA RUBY and SAGA PEARL (the former ASTORIA), in addition to the SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE (former BERLIN, PRINCESS MAHSURI and ORANGE MELODY) – the latter ship having no age restriction and sailing with the company’s Spirit of Adventure Cruises brand. If you want to sail with Saga Cruises you have to be at least 50 years of age – a restriction leading to the unkind joke that SAGA is an acronym for ‘Send a Granny Away’. Bleu de France is currently operating a summer season of South American cruises with the Brazilian cruise operator CVC and the thinking is that she may only transfer to Saga in 2012.


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Piracy East Coast: Chinese semi-submersible highjacked

Resulting from the recent spike in banditry/piracy off the West African coast, PORTS & SHIPS will for the immediate future separate piracy reports from the East African or Somali Basin region, from those on Africa’s west coast.

Chinese semi-submersible TAI AN KOU highjacked

A report just to hand indicates that the Chinese semi-submersible TAI AN KOU (15,840-gt, built 2002) was highjacked by pirates while off the coast of Oman. The attack on the ship occurred on Saturday, 21 November 2010. The ship is owned by Tianjin Cosco Shipping and operated by COSCOL. No other information available at present.

Pirates seize seven fishermen off Seychelles

It doesn’t matter who or what you are – if you at sea in the ocean anywhere within range (and that can be up to a thousand miles or more from the African coast) then you are at risk from being pirated.

The latest vessel to be captured (apart from the submersible mentioned above) is a Seychelles fishing vessel with seven crew on board that was highjacked within Seychelles waters. According to a government statement issued on Saturday, “A 33-foot fishing vessel called FAITH has been highjacked by Somali pirates approximately 240 n.miles north of Mahe.”

This is within the Seychelles exclusive economic zone, but that sort of thing never mattered to a pirate. The fishermen were fishing for sea cucumbers when the pirates came upon them. The statement said the pirates were being pursued by the Seychelles coast guard.

Another COSCO ship attacked

An unsuccessful attempt has made by Somali pirates on a Chinese COSCO general cargo ship named LE CONG (19,995-gt, built 2000), which has previously called at South African ports.

According to China’s Xinhau news agency the crew of 26 Chinese on board managed to fight off the attack and that one crewman had been injured. A Chinese warship on patrol in the Gulf of Aden was sent to the aid of the Le Cong which is continuing with its voyage. The attack took place last Thursday (18 November 2010)

Container ship Northern Valour wards off pirates

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EU NAVFOR reports that on Thursday, 18 November, in the early evening, a Pirate Action Group failed in its attempt to pirate the container ship NORTHERN VALOUR (29,115-gt, built 1996) in the Somali Basin, thanks to use of Best Management Practices by the German ship.

Crew on the Northern Valour reported they were under attack by pirates and were being fired upon with machine guns and an RPG, approximately 400 nautical miles South East from Mogadishu (Somalia). As the two skiffs approached to within 200 metres, the vessel’s master increased speed to 21 knots, mustered all non essential personnel in a safe room and activated self-protection measures.

The skiffs, outpaced by the vessel’s speed, eventually abandoned their attack. The Antigua & Barbuda-flagged Northern Valour later confirmed it was safe.

EU NAVFOR says in its report that this demonstrates once again that the application of all recommendations contained in the Best Management Practices booklet makes a significant difference in preventing a ship becoming a victim of piracy.


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Piracy West Coast: Attack on Danish products tanker off Conakry

Danish tanker attacked off Conakry

The Danish chemical products tanker TORM FOX (37,025-dwt, built 2005) has reported having been attacked by an armed gang or pirates/robbers while at anchor 21 miles off the pilot station as per Conakry Port Control Advice.

Five pirates managed to board the ship at 00h45 hours – three wearing army style camouflage uniforms and two in civilian clothes. Two of the pirates carried machine guns and the others machetes. They were also seen to have a few hand grenades among them. On being observed the alarm was raised and a distress call sent out on the Sat-C and the crew moved into a citadel condition. However, the pirates had already seized the duty AB resulting in the crew admitting them into the accommodation area.

The attackers then proceeded to take all cash and valuables from the crew and to force them to open the ship’s safe, before leaving the ship. After their departure the ship’s crew weighed anchor and steamed away from the coast, returning at daylight to rendezvous with the port pilot. The vessel suffered no structural damage and it would appear the motive of the ‘visit’ was for theft purposes alone.

Nigerian military forces rescue 19 hostages in Delta

Nigerian military forces have rescued 19 hostages that were being held in the Niger Delta by militants affiliated to the MEND organisation. The hostages consisted of eight Nigerians, two Frenchmen, two Indonesians, two Americans, a Canadian and four unspecified nationalities who were taken hostage in armed attacks on an Afren oil rig and an Exxon Mobil platform off the Nigerian coast.

A military spokesman said the rescue involved a combined air, sea and land assault on the militants position and that all 19 captives have been freed and were unhurt. Indications that there had been strong cooperation between the former militant leadership that accepted an amnesty, and the Nigerian federal authorities, which led to the rescue operation.

Warning to shipping off the Nigerian coast

Nigerian authorities have issued a warning to all oil facilities off the Niger Delta coast as well as shipping in general whether passenger or freight of statements by the MEND militant group that it intends stepping up attacks on oil installations.

In most cases where attacks have been made and people abducted and taken hostage MEND has claimed responsibility. Recently the organisation issued general warnings that it would be stepping up its operations against the oil companies.


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Grindrod Intermodal opens new warehouse at 6 Bluff Road

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Dave Rennie, CEO of Grindrod Freight Services, and Jan Nair, CEO of Grindrod Intermodal, who jointly unveiled the plaque commemorating Grindrod Intermodal’s new warehouse

Grindrod Intermodal last week officially opened its new “state of the art” warehouse at the former Unicorn Container Depot on the corner of South Coast Road and Bluff Road in Durban.

The premises, which have been in the hands of Grindrod since 1979 when it was purchased to become an empty container depot in the early years of containerisation in South Africa, has been enhanced with an 8,700m² warehouse adjacent to a 7,000m² yard for the handling of mining minerals, plus an open yard for the handling of empty and full containers.

The facility includes full OS and SOS Customs bond facilities, a repair and washing workshop, and a weighbridge.

During the mid 90’s changes within the Grindrod group resulted in the depot trading, firstly under the name of Container Link and then Grindrod Container Services. Due to thin trading margins, escalating costs and a downturn in container volumes handled, Grindrod Container Services and Confreight Cargo Management Centre established a Joint Venture company, CMC Grindrod and this entity traded through to 2007 when Grindrod secured 100% interest.

Now in Grindrod Limited’s centennial year, what began as a relatively small in-house depot operation has been transformed into Grindrod Intermodal’s (GIM) flagship development.

The warehouse can be contacted on tel. 031 452 2900.

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a section of the new 8,700m² warehouse with part of a consignment of scores of South African-manufactured UN military vehicles awaiting shipment to some world troublespot


Pics of the Day – KARIN RAMBOW

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The container ship KARIN RAMBOW in Cape Town recently. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

Image and video hosting by TinyPic 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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