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Ports & Ships Maritime News

November 24, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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First View – SANTA CLARA

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In yesterday’s News Bulletin we described the scheduled arrival of Hamburg Süd’s largest container ship, the 7,100-TEU SANTA CLARA which also has the largest number of reefer plugs (1600) of any container ship afloat. The 300m long Santa Clara, which has a loaded draught of 13.5m, is deployed on the company’s East Coast South America – South Africa – Far East service and is due to make calls in Port Elizabeth and Durban for the first time on 4 and 6 December respectively. The ship is the first in a planned series of ten ’Santa’ class container vessels.

Hamburg Süd says that to guarantee its customers optimum cargo care for perishable cargo and the best integrated logistics solutions, the shipping group is investing in cutting-edge vessels featuring a high reefer capacity, as well as in optimising its shipping and ancillary services. Picture courtesy Hamburg Süd South Africa

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Expect tight shipping and a lack of containers in the next few years, says industry chief

Singapore's NOL chief Ron Widdows says that tight shipping capacity and lack of containers in the industry might emerge in next few years.

“Based on the bounce that we have seen, as well as what we have seen on the asset side, we are probably looking at something around 2013 when not only is there a rebalancing of supply and demand, but probably a squeeze,” Mr Widows said at a meeting after the annual conference of the American Import Shippers Association and the United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, as reported in American Shipper.

He said there are just very few people ordering ships. “Ship financing is still largely locked up. The KGs are largely out of business. The Germans who built a lot of ships are largely not buying ships. There are no ships being bought on speculation, that is going to have the effect of tightening the supply side.”

‘KG’ stands for kommanditgesellschaft in German, which means limited partnerships. They were widely used to finance containership construction in the past, but “that scheme for raising financing is effectively gone,” said Mr Widdows.

He forecast that “capacity next year will be adequate, some squeezes in the peaks, maybe. But there is enough capacity in the world to meet the demand based on the growth we are projecting.”

Also, slow steaming is likely here to stay, but would be less attractive on the transpacific to US-flag operators, he added.

Regarding the supply of containers, he said container manufacturers have started to increase production, but it may not be able to satisfy the demand in the shipping industry.

In 2011, the industry will “probably face less problems with containers. That presumes that leasing companies and carriers are going to pay historic high asset prices.”

But for exporters, they might encounter the difficulty in getting containers. He said the price of a TEU has climbed to US$ 2,700 from about $ 1,500 already. Source American Shipper

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Piracy, East Coast: Combined navies rescue seven Seychellois fishermen

The seven Seychellois fishermen who were taken hostage when Somali pirates surprised them on their boat FAITH last Friday, have been rescued and are safe and in good health.

The dramatic rescue is the result of a combined operation involving the Seychelles Coast Guard, European naval forces and French E-3F and Luxembourg reconnaissance aircraft which located the pirates and hostages some 240 n.miles from Mahe and directed naval forces towards them.

“The rescued fishermen and 11 arrested pirates are on their way to Mahe,” said Major Georges Adeline of the Seychelles Coast Guard.

This success came after actions were undertaken jointly by EU NAVFOR and Seychellois Coast Guard units in the area surrounding the Seychelles islands, during which a total of 16 suspected pirates were captured within a period of a few days. The arrests include a whaler and one skiff with five pirates on board, discovered by aerial reconnaissance about 300 n.miles southwest of Port Victoria. A second skiff in this pirate group however managed to escape.

German court case against pirates gets underway

In what has been described as a landmark decision by German authorities, ten Somali suspects have gone on trial for piracy in a German court – Germany’s first piracy trial in 400 years.

The case involves ten Somalis aged between 17 and 48 years who have been charged with attempting to highjack the German container ship TAIPAN in April this year. See our original report of 8 April 2010 Dutch Navy recaptures highjacked container ship.

In the event the crew was able to make use of a citadel or safe room on the ship and await rescue by marines from a Dutch naval ship. The ten armed Somalis on board the vessel were captured after an exchange of gunfire and were taken into custody on board a Dutch naval ship and later flown to the Netherlands, where a court ruled that they could be extradited to Germany for possible prosecution.

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Dutch marines storm aboard the pirate-held German container ship Taipan in April this year

UK government warned of threat posed by piracy

Skynews reports that senior British naval commanders and others in the Ministry of Defence have warned that the British government is underestimating the threat posed by Somali pirates. They warn that the recent increase in attacks in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean is threatening the UK’s gas and oil supplies, which if disrupted could cause a rise in prices over the winter.

A third of the UK’s imports come through the Gulf of Aden along with 15% of the UK’s natural gas imports. According to a senior MoD source, the question that should be asked of ministers is – do they want to see a fuel price rise over Christmas because of Somali piracy? The report said that last month when the Singaporean-registered gas carrier YORK was captured, the island nation came close to a total power outage as a result of the disruption of supplies.

The Royal Navy and its supporters want the new Nimrod MR44 marine reconnaissance aircraft project to be brought back to life. They say the Nimrod would hugely boost the international naval efforts to stop piracy in the Indian Ocean because the aircraft can cover such large areas with its advanced radar and other surveillance equipment.

This week the chief of the general staff, General Sir David Richards, said scrapping Nimrod was “a risk but not a gamble”.

Comment : The UK is not the only nation to possibly underestimate the effects of piracy on its economy. Closer to home the South African government appears to ignore the actions of Somali pirates despite an increasing number of ships being South Africa bound or sailing from this country. Meanwhile South Africa’s Navy appears to be unavailable to help defend Africa’s shores. One of the claims freely bandied about when the arms procurement programme, including the navy frigates and submarines, was still under debate, was that the SAN would then be equipped to assist and aid other African nations. A recent appeal to South Africa for assistance by the African Union has gone unanswered.

However, to be realistic on this matter, history shows us that it took more than three hundred years for any European nation to take any serious action to stop the pillaging of the Barbary pirates of North Africa (modern Morocco), even though the same pirates regularly raided the English and French coasts, taking hostages from villages and towns into slavery and raiding even as far as the eastern seaboard of North America. Apart from the occasional hanging of those ‘caught in the act’ or the odd ship ‘blown out of the water’, little real effort was undertaken to stamp out the scourge. So why therefore, should we think it would be different now?

What do others think? If you have a comment to make, send it to info@ports.co.za

East African goods could cost more because of ongoing piracy

In a similar vein, media reports are suggesting that East Africa’s imported goods may soon cost more if the UN declares the Western Indian Ocean region to be a war-risk zone in response to the sudden spike in acts of piracy.

In the past two months more than 40 vessels of every description have come under attack from Somali pirates. The reports say that if the UN does raise the level of alert it would require shipping lines to take a war-risk cover for cargo and vessels, of which the cost would inevitably be passed on to the consumer. The Kenya Ships Agents Association (KSAA) executive officer Fredrick Wahutu says that once an area has been declared as ‘dangerous waters’ or ‘a war-risk operation zone’ then most shipping lines would most likely want to pull out.

Marine analysts estimate that the region’s shipping is absorbing an extra US$ 200m due to the piracy in the Somali Basin. It is claimed that the East African ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam are now among the most expensive in the world as a result of the effects of piracy and in a related matter the Kenyan authorities have already indicated they can no longer afford to carry the cost of prosecuting pirates captured by international naval forces, or to jail them in already overcrowded jails. In both Kenya and Tanzania tourism has been severely affected and visits by cruise ships are almost non-existent. Even fishing vessel calls have decreased drastically.

German frigate Hamburg joins EU NAVFOR piracy patrol

The German air defence frigate FGS HAMBURG has joined the EU NAVFOR Task Force as from 21 November.

According to EU NAVFOR, FGS HAMBURG and its crew are fully prepared and trained to take an active part within the Task Force in anti-piracy operations. The warship is equipped with an extensive range of self defence equipment and carries two Lynx helicopters on board. FGS HAMBURG also maintains an on board medical facility and has two interpreters (Arabic and Somali) within her crew.

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The German frigate FGS HAMBURG on a visit to the Simon’s Town Naval Base in 2008. Picture by David Erickson

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South Africa signs defence and S&R pacts amidst controversy over ships

Defence pact signed between South Africa and Argentina

At the conclusion of ATLASUR VIII involving the navies of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and South Africa, two of the participants, South Africa and Argentina have concluded an agreement concerning military defence development and co-operation.

“South Africa and Argentine strengthened their military partnership by signing an agreement to exchange technology, innovation, military health development and participation on joint training exercises and partnership for search and rescue operations in the Southern Atlantic Ocean,” said ministerial spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya in a statement issued on Sunday.

“The two countries also agreed to explore areas of defence-industrial co-operation, in the aviation, avionics, command-control-communications, air-to-air missile technology, grenade launches and maritime environments.”

The signing of the agreement followed the arrival in Argentina of South Africa’s minister of defence, Lindiwe Sisulu who met with her Argentine counterpart, Dr Nilda Garré on board the SA Navy combat support ship SAS DRAKENSBERG.

Mabaya described the agreement as an achievement by the respective navies of the Southern Hemisphere (within the South Atlantic sphere) to ensure continued cooperation in maritime security and to gauge each other’s readiness to address ongoing global security challenges.

“These threats present major challenges to the deployment of our armed forces. Deterrence is not enough. Our armed forces must be able to anticipate and act swiftly to address these threats whenever they arise.

In an obvious sales pitch, she described South Africa’s defence industries as technologically advanced and diversified, and which present the Argentine Ministry of Defence “with a range of defence systems required for its modernisation programme.”

According to subsequent reports Sisulu has offered Argentina South African expertise with the development of radar equipment and technology.

SAS Drakensberg and its accompanying submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke have sailed from Argentina for South Africa and are due in Simon’s Town on 3 December.

SA signs several search and rescue agreements with neighbours

by Nthambeleni Gabara (BuaNews) Pretoria - South Africa boosted its sea and air search and rescue capabilities by signing a cooperation agreement with Zimbabwe, Mauritius and Uruguay last week.

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said the agreement would help South Africa tighten its operations, enhancing its good safety record.

“We strive to implement stringent safety measures in the areas of aviation and maritime transport in pursuance of international standards and recommended practices,” said Ndebele.

South Africa had identified 14 countries in its search and rescue region with which to partner. To date, seven agreements have been signed, four agreements have been concluded and are ready for signature. One has been negotiated and two are still to be negotiated.

The minister said the agreements would make it easy for all these countries to execute their rescue missions and rely on each other for assistance and support.

As part of the latest agreement, common search and rescue procedures will be developed. Resources will be pooled and mutual visits will be undertaken, he said.

Easy entry of Search and rescue units in each other's territories and the establishment of one or more commitments provide for ongoing cooperation in improving effectiveness in this field will be facilitated.

Ndebele said there was a high level of inter-regional cooperation when it came to passing on information regarding incidents within each other's regions.

“When we are aware of an incident within the neighbouring region, we will try to assist where possible by gathering information, put out broadcasts and on occasion, even contract vessels in order to assist. This practice is reciprocated by all concerned,” he said.

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YESTERYEAR – those classic ships – GRECIA and VENEZIA

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Two former Ilion Lines/Halkidon ferries that until recently operated from Bari and Trieste to Albania. Above is the GRECIA (7,873-gt, built 1973 - ex Expresso Grecia, ex Expresso Livorno) while below can be seen a bow shot of VENEZIA (8,069-gt, built 1978 - ex Expresso Venezia, ex Expresso Ravenna). The two ships were built at the now closed Luigi Orlando shipyard in Livorno/Leghorn.

VENEZIA was delivered for scrapping in Aliaga in October 2010, while there is no information to hand as to GRECIA’s fate. Pictures and ship background Trevor Jones

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DHL to focus on Africa as new ‘engine of growth’ in India’s developing economy

DHL's Global Forwarding division is focusing on Africa as a new engine of growth in the rapidly developing economy of India.

With trade between India and Africa rising almost four-fold in the last five years, from US$ 9.9 billion in 2004-05 to US$ 39 billion in 2008-09, DHL-GF says it sees vast potential in the India-Africa trade lane.

India and Africa have also expressed a strong commitment to reduce trade barriers and encourage bilateral trade to further fuel growth in both markets.

According to Amadou Diallo, CEO of Africa & South Asia Pacific, DHL Global Forwarding, Africa is a key emerging market, with air cargo and ocean freight volumes between India and Africa expected to grow by 9.8% and 9.2% CAGR from 2009 to 2015.

Since 2004-2005, petroleum products have accounted for 22.2% of India's exports to Africa, while crude petroleum accounted for 58.6% of India's total imports from Africa in 2008-2009.

DHL Global Forwarding has continually invested in India. In 2009, the company invested US$ 15 million in three Life Science Competence Centres in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Singapore to boost DHL's logistics capabilities for the Life Science industry in the region. With a US$ 10 million investment to establish a logistics and warehousing facility in the upcoming Free Trade Warehousing Zone (FTWZ) in Tamil Nadu, the company will also be the first global logistics company to operate a facility within the FTWZ that offers customers the benefits of a duty free zone with high quality infrastructure.

In addition, the company has allocated significant resources to facilitate growth in the India - Africa trade lane. It has set up India Desks in ten African countries, and plans to establish additional Desks next year.

source: eye for transport

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Pics of the Day – OCEAN PRINCESS

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Princess Cruise Lines’ OCEAN PRINCESS (30,277-gt, built 1999), the former Tahitian Princess arrived in Cape Town on Sunday for a one-day visit as the South African cruise season gets underway. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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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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