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Ports & Ships Maritime News

December 14, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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PORTS & SHIPS will be taking a break during the December holidays and our final news service of the year will appear tomorrow, Wednesday 15 December. We return on 10 January 2011. During the shut-down period we will continue with Ship Movement reports except for the period 30 December – 6 January. Any urgent news items will be posted online as separate stories. May we also take this opportunity of wishing all our readers a very happy and blessed Christmas and a wonderful prosperous 2011.

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First View – BOURBON LIBERTY 121

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The newbuild French offshore supply vessel BOURBON LIBERTY 121 (1517-gt, built 2010) which has been in Cape Town harbour recently. Picture by Aad Noorland


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Interesting ships in our ports

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Normand Installer on her previous visit to Durban in June 2009. Picture by Trevor Jones

One of the larger offshore supply vessels, the NORMAND INSTALLER is returning to Durban for major maintenance and repairs at Dormac Marine’s Ship Repair Yard in Durban. The specialised offshore supply ship (14,506-gt, built 2006) arrives in Durban on 21 December and is scheduled to go into the dry dock on 3 January 2011. The work will include removing and overhauling the ship’s thrusters.

Normand Installer last called in Durban also for maintenance and repairs in mid 2009, when among other work, Dormac undertook the modification and installation of a carousel on the vessel. Even the dry docking of the ship required specialised treatment, with special blocks having to be fabricated to a height of 2.8m to accommodate attachments under the vessel, such as the azimuth thrusters. On that occasion the ship spent over a month in the dock before finally refloating on 15 July 2009. Now she is on her way back for a major maintenance survey which again requires her presence in the Durban dry dock. The contract has again been awarded to Dormac Marine.

As offshore vessels go, Normand Installer is big, with an overall length of 123 metres and a beam of 28m – that’s larger than some merchant ships calling at Durban. She is equipped with 500t and 400t winches and two large cranes – one of 250 ton able to lift from depths of 2 500m and the other an A Frame crane with a 350t lifting capacity – the latter is capable of working in combination with the 400t working winch.

Onboard the ship boasts accommodation for up to 100 persons. Apart from dining and relaxation areas the ship includes a sauna and change rooms, a small hospital, laundries, internet room, a gymnasium and a helicopter reception area. The ship includes a 19.5m diameter heli-deck up front. Rennies Ships Agency is the vessel’s agent in Durban.

Dormac reports having a steady stream of ship repair lined up in Durban extending well into the New Year. Among the ships due for maintenance and repair are the general cargo vessel YELLOWSTONE which is arriving for a special survey, the reefer ship GOLDEN HARVEST which will enter dock together with Normand Installer, and the factory ship OCEAN EXPLORER.

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The hospital ship AFRICA MERCY arriving in Durban in September. Picture by Terry Hutson

Meanwhile the hospital ship AFRICA MERCY remains on berth at SA Shipyards where work has fallen behind schedule. Dry docking of this vessel has been completed during which time a large hole was cut in the ship’s hull through which the ship’s six diesel-powered generator engines were removed and replaced with four new generator engines. In addition extensive electrical and mechanical maintenance is being undertaken.

While in Durban all of the non-engineering crew have either returned to their home countries for a short break or have remained in South Africa where they are staying at a former medical training college at Appelsbosch about 45 minutes outside of Durban. The only crew on board the vessel are those involved with the engineering side.

At present it appears unlikely that the hospital ship will leave Durban before early to mid January. On completion of her refit the ship is due to take up residence in Sierra Leone where she will continue with her mission of bringing medical care to those without access to proper facilities.

Readers are invited to visit the international and the South African websites of Mercy Ships by means of the banners displayed on PORTS & SHIPS and to discover some of the impressive and inspiring work that this Christian charity is performing.

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Nautica in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

Oceania Cruises’ luxury cruise ship NAUTICA (30,277-gt, built 2000) is currently on the South African coast making her first visit to these shores. The former Renaissance R- Ship made her first call in South Africa at Cape Town at the weekend where due to fog she was delayed in berthing. When the time came to sail at the weekend the ship was further delayed by strong winds and as a result Nautica has been forced to cancel her scheduled call at East London to make up time and is due to arrive in Durban at 7am tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. The South African ships agent for Nautica is Rennies Ships Agency.

Meanwhile the German cruise ship BREMEN has arrived in Cape Town after completing calls along the South African East Coast.

Another cruise ship due to arrive shortly is MSC MELODY, due in Cape Town on Saturday, 18 December. Melody will depart Cape Town later that evening for Durban on the first cruise of her extended season in South African waters. Arriving in Durban on Tuesday 21 December she will disembark passengers from Cape Town and Europe before preparing for the 9-night Christmas Cruise to Mauritius. She returns to Durban on Thursday, 30 December and will sail later that day for her New Year’s Cruise to Madagascar, returning on 5 January. After that she returns to Cape Town for a series of coastal cruises to Walvis Bay and to Mossel Bay.

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FNS Nivose, due in Durban tomorrow morning. Picture by Terry Hutson

The French patrol frigate FNS NIVOSE is due in Durban tomorrow morning (Wednesday) from Le Reunion. Nivose is currently on a patrol across the southern Western Indian Ocean and is calling at Durban for a few days of R&R and to take on stores. She sails next Monday 20 December.


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Navy Frigates and the Somali Pirates

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SAS SPIOENKOP, one of four frigates in the South African Navy. Picture by Trevor Jones

By Anton Kruger - Institute for Security Studies (Tshwane/Pretoria)

There is increasing pressure on South Africa to join the antipiracy efforts off the coast of East Africa. Some say that modern warships acquired as part of the controversial post-apartheid arms deal could be deployed, but Anton Kruger, writing in www.the-african.org, asks whether South Africa really has the capability or the obligation to get involved.

During the first week of October, a South African-owned yacht with three South African citizens on board was hijacked by Somali-based pirates off the coast of Tanzania and forced to turn back to the Puntland coast.

Many are asking why South Africa is not joining the international naval fleets to combat Somali piracy, which is essentially an 'African problem'. The European Union (EU) has also asked South Africa on several occasions to join the EU anti-piracy task force. After all, South Africa acquired naval warships at great expense after the end of apartheid. Why not use them?

Firstly, the objectives of the South African Navy, as outlined by the South African Department of Finance, state that the role of the SAN is to defend and protect South Africa and its maritime zones. Using SAN resources to combat piracy would therefore only be justified if the piracy threat were to move southwards into the SADC area and threaten South African trade.

Yet the South African White Paper on Defence further states that, as a fully fledged member of the international community, South Africa must fulfil its responsibility to participate in international peace support operations. But is the anti-piracy effort strictly speaking a peace mission?

This issue has not been entirely cleared up and it would seem that there are considerable contradictions between the SAN's own stated strategy, that of the UN, and other government strategies.

The second issue is South Africa's capability. South Africa has the only naval force south of the Sahara able to conduct credible anti-piracy operations. Currently, there are only five frigates, seven medium patrol aircraft and 18 small-range coastal patrol craft belonging to sub-Saharan nations available to patrol the 63,124 km of coastline south of the Sahara. Of the five frigates, four belong to the SAN, and most of the patrol aircraft belong to the South African Air Force (SAAF).

The SAN was fairly recently reequipped with modern frigates, submarines, and reconnaissance helicopters and also recently held comprehensive anti-piracy exercises.

The SAN's Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) is a special combat capability that was initially planned for inland waterways and coastal areas in support of peacekeepers, but that can be adapted to anti-piracy operations. Yet the SAN is being crippled by acute financial shortages. The South African defence budget has been repeatedly cut in recent years and plans are in the pipeline to reduce the SAN's operational capability even more in coming financial years. The government plans to reduce the hours spent at sea by the SAN from 9,000 this year to only 8,000 in 2011 and 2012.

Under the current defence budget, the SAN will only be able to deploy one patrol frigate together with one support ship at any given time, and that will most probably deplete its yearly operational budget. The SAN also has other responsibilities, which it is barely capable of fulfilling at this time, such as anti-poaching, search and rescue, and overall maritime defence of the South African coast. Under the current defence budget, deploying one frigate to the Somali coast would mean that the SAN is unable to fulfil its primary responsibilities towards South Africa.

Up to 14 countries have committed naval forces to the joint maritime task force to patrol Somali and adjacent waters and deter piracy. This amounts to nearly 30 foreign warships that are off Somalia's coast at any one time, but has had little effect in deterring Somali pirates, who have moved their attacks further into the Indian Ocean and up to a few miles from the Kenyan and Tanzanian coasts, where the poor capabilities of the Kenyan and Tanzanian navies have left coastlines wide open to attack and exploitation.

One would have to ask whether the deployment of a single South African warship will make any difference to the situation if the current extensive foreign naval force operations are unable to do so.

It would be much more worthwhile for the South African government to concentrate on patrolling the SADC's eastern maritime border. It is a much smaller area to cover, and the SAN could operate from ports in Mozambique and Madagascar. This would make much more economic and military sense than to try conducting operations in the north Indian Ocean and serving as an African fig leaf for international inaction on Somalia.

Who Will Pay

According to diplomatic sources, several European countries have indicated their willingness to at least partly finance South Africa's participation in the international effort to combat piracy. This would include the integration of marines into the naval task force and training in Djibouti or Mombasa.

“It is in line with South African foreign policy ideals of 'Africa for the Africans', and yet there is absolutely no African presence here,” said one source.

Though it is clear that South Africa won't be able to send more than one warship to the area, the Europeans believe any help is welcome to achieve the mammoth task of fighting the elusive Somali pirates.

“Perhaps we need the piracy to move down to Southern Africa for South Africa to become involved,” said the source. ISS


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News of ships and shipping lines

Shipping gets off lightly in Cancun

Cancun: The tetchy negotiations at the Climate Change Summit in Cancun, Mexico attended by 193 nations came to a close on Saturday with shipping and aviation both off the hook.

Representatives agreed on a plan aimed at combating climate change, including a target to limit global warming and a fund to help developing nations tackle the effects of the crisis. However, the deal that was reached at the Climate Change Summit in Cancun, Mexico, on Saturday does not set binding targets on reducing the so-called greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

The draft simply aims to work out a “global goal for substantially reducing global emissions by 2050.”

The accord says that the conference “recognises that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required according to science ... with a view to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperatures below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”

A UN advisory panel had suggested placing levies of some kind on the fuel or emissions of airlines and shipping companies, but such a proposal was dropped during the negotiations. – Fordex News

CMA CGM brings in biggest box ship between Asia and West Africa

French line CMA CGM has introduced the biggest container ship so far on its Asia-West Africa service, the 3,600-TEU CMA CGM AFRICA ONE.

The previous largest CMA CGM ship on this service was a 2,500-TEU vessel. CMA CGM is introducing four similar size vessels on the service which will make calls at Tema, Lagos, Abidjan, Cotonou and Lome.

Maersk calls for carbon distance labelling

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Maersk Fukuoka in Lyttelton, New Zealand. Picture by Alan Calvert

Maersk Line said in a statement Thursday that it is encouraging political leaders to create standards so customers and consumers “can follow the carbon footprint of the products they buy.”

Saying the United Nation's Conference of Climate Change, COP 16, is unlikely to reach political consensus, Maersk said it was responding to a UN call for key industries and companies to give ideas on how to fight climate change.

“To tap into shipping’s low carbon potential, COP 16 should create carbon transparency and embrace the concept of ‘carbon distance,’ ” said John Kornerup Bang, lead climate advisor for the AP Moller - Maersk Group.

“The actual distance traveled by a product is not important. What’s important is the CO2 emissions resulting from the transport and the societal value of the service provided. That is the essence of carbon distance.

“Businesses are stepping in to fill the political void. This initiative is a testament to the fact that the UN sees businesses as solution providers. It’s good to see that shipping is seen as part of the solution,” Bang said. – American Shipper


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Tanzanian inland container terminal expected to relieve port congestion

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Congestion of containers at the Dar es Salaam port would be substantially reduced after the construction of an Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Kisarawe, some 40 kilometres from the port. The development of Kisarawe ICD, a project whose feasibility study was funded by the World Bank, will see containers being shuttled between Dar es Salaam port and the depot by rail.

A report presented to a conference on port operations in Africa by the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) said the proposed depot would be located where the Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) and Tanzania Zambia Railway (TAZARA) rail lines are about seven kilometres apart.

“The Authority has decided to invest in the facility in order to reduce container congestion at the Dar es Salaam port,” the report read in part, adding that TPA plans to construct a multi-storey car park at the port, the country's largest.

The facility, with a capacity of accommodating about 8,000 vehicles at one time, will operate as cargo freight station. Construction of the ICD, which starts next year, is one of the strategies undertaken by the Authority to modernise the port facilities and infrastructure which will, in turn, improve service delivery.

The strategies include implementation of a Single Point Mooring (SPM) project which commenced in October this year. The project will take 18 months to implement. TPA officials say the US$ 60 million (about Sh84 billion) project will provide the port with the capacity to handle six million tonnes (of oil) per annum.

Other actions taken to address the question of a limited port capacity includes the reduction of cargo dwells time and ship waiting time by acquiring appropriate equipment, and the introduction of a vessel and yard planning software system.

“The computerisation of general cargo terminal and harmonisation of cargo clearance system in collaboration with other stakeholders forms a part of the strategy to address effective service delivery,” the report pointed out.

Efforts to improve service delivery also entailed the automation of cargo clearance processes and the introduction of a booking system for cargo delivery. TPA, which was established in 2005 when it took over from the Tanzania Harbours Authority (THA), maintains that it was proud of the achievements it had made in the last five years.

According to the report, cargo traffic has increased from 5.383 million tonnes to 8.824 million tonnes, presenting an increase of 63.9% over the last five years. “During the same period, TPA has constructed a new Port Control Tower at the Dar es Salaam port. This signal station has enabled vessels to navigate 24 hours at the port,” the report said.

Recently the authority teamed up with other ports operation stakeholders in adopting a technology that cuts down paper work and movement under a system known as Ports Community System (PCS). Source : AllAfrica


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PPG’s Interfreight named as a Top 100 mid-sized company in Uganda

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PPG’s Kevin Stephens

Interfreight Ltd, a member of heavy-lift network the Project Professionals Group, has been named as a Top 100 mid-sized company in Uganda.

The awards are an initiative of professional services network KPMG and the publishers of the Daily Monitor newspaper.

PPG general manager Kevin Stephens congratulated Interfreight on its achievement and recognition as a stand-out business service provider in the African market.

“It is pleasing to see Interfreight’s efforts rewarded as they have been involved in an impressive number of projects over the years, particularly the transportation of mining, and power industry plant and equipment,” Stephens said.

The annual awards survery was introduced to showcase business excellence and support and encourage mid-size companies who are the driving force behind the Ugandan economy.

The awards recognise financial growth, market reputation, public opinion, corporate governance, and contribution to the economy.

Interfreight Commercial Director, Dilip Bhandari, and Logistics Director Martin Richner accepted the award during a gala night at the Kampala Serena Hotel. Interfreight was founded in 1968 and has a freight logistics network throughout Eastern Africa.

The Project Professional Group specialises in the handling of large volume breakbulk, over-dimensional and heavylift project cargoes.


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Pics of the Day – JIN YUAN and KATINA

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We don’t have any information of this ship other than her name, JIN YUAN and that she was in Cape Town in the past week. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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It’s a different story with the Croatian bulker KATINA (26,026-dwt, built 1980) however, which was also in Cape Town about the same time. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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