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Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 20-21, 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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Unical’s bunker barge SOUTHERN VALOUR at work in Cape Town harbour. Picture by The Aerial Perspective aerialphoto.co.za


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Mounting aggression in Cote d'Ivoire

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Ivory Coast – map CIA

Pretoria, 19 - Forces loyal to the former president of Cote d'Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo - who refuses to step down despite his electoral defeat - have opened fire towards UN peacekeepers in a new “act of aggression,” according to the UN envoy on the ground there.

“The situation is very, very hostile but our spirit remains high,” special representative and head of the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) YJ Choi, said on Tuesday.

In the latest attack, UN peacekeepers stationed at the Pullman Hotel, in Abidjan, were waiting for the arrival last night of the AU emissary, Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who was escorted by a UNOCI patrol, when a group of young people from the Gbagbo camp encircled them.

“The armed elements, which were supporting them, opened fire in the direction of the UNOCI vehicles, forcing the peacekeepers to respond by shooting in the air,” the mission said in a press statement. The UNOCI has around 9,000 peacekeepers in the West African country.

The Kenyan Prime Minister, who is accompanied by a very strong delegation, is also expected to hold meetings with both sides in Abidjan.

Gbagbo has refused to step down despite the internationally recognised victory of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara in November's run-off elections.

Peacekeepers from UNOCI are currently protecting Ouattara and members of his new government in Abidjan's Golf Hotel against the already six-week blockade siege by Gbagbo loyalists.

The UN Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution to authorise another 2,000 peacekeepers, as well as the temporary transfer of three armed helicopters, from the UN peacekeeping mission in neighbouring Liberia. Gbagbo has demanded UNOCI's withdrawal - which the UN has rejected.

Choi said they will continue to provide “rapid reaction capability” essential for the protection of civilians both in Abidjan, where Gbagbo loyalists have launched attacks, and in the country's west, which has seen an outburst of ethnic fighting.

Until ten days ago, the Gbagbo loyalists' hostility was largely confined to rhetoric and propaganda on television but now it has been transformed into actions, he noted.

“They are shooting at our convoys; fortunately nobody got killed yet but it's very close. They are shooting at us and they attacked and ransacked provision trucks escorted by UN security forces,” said Choi.

Choi added that the Gbagbo forces are mostly using and paying youth groups, numbering in the hundreds to the thousands, “to attack us and we cannot fire at civilians.” The turmoil from the elections has displaced tens of thousands of people, mainly in the west of the country where an ethnic conflict has erupted. – BuaNews


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Piracy: Massive cost of Somali scourge, and more ships are attacked

A new examination of the cost of piracy has put the true cost at between US 7 and $12 billion a year.

The Report, ‘The Economic Costs of Maritime Piracy’ by The Human Security Support Project says that by the end of 2010, around 500 seafarers from more than 18 countries were being held hostage by pirates (with a spate of attacks the figure had since risen to around 650 by mid January).

Examining the global cost of piracy, the One Earth Future (OEF) Foundation conducted a large scale study to quantify the cost of piracy as part of its Oceans Beyond Piracy project.

“Based on our calculations, maritime piracy is costing the international economy between $7 to $12 billion, per year,” the Report says.

. It details the major calculations and conclusions made in the study. The project focuses on direct (first) order costs, but also includes some estimates of secondary (macroeconomic costs), where data is available. It concentrates on the supply-side costs to both industry and governments. The study set out to analyze the cost of piracy to the Horn of Africa, Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea, and the Malacca Straits. The focus is inevitably on the costs of Somali piracy because this is the region where contemporary piracy is most highly concentrated and is the greatest source of current data and information.

The report notes that increasing the amount of ransom payments apparently has the effect of lengthening the time required for negotiations, and as a result the duration that seafarers are held hostage. It notes that four ships released last November were held for an average of 150 days.

The report found that the total cost of a ship being held for ransom was around double the value paid to the pirates. “The cost is duplicated by a number of factors: the cost of negotiations, psychological trauma counselling, repair to ship damage and the physical delivery of the ransom money, often done by helicopter or private aircraft. “Finally, large costs result from ships being out of service. For instance, it costs around $ 3 million for a cargo ship to be held for two months at a charter hire rate of $50,000 a day.” Taking into account ransoms, insurance, re-routing of ships, security equipment, naval forces, prosecution, piracy deterrent organisations and the costs to regional economies, the report comes to the conclusion that the total cost of piracy is between $7 to $12 billion a year.

The OEF says that the project is designed to be a collaborative effort. “We welcome feedback and suggestions from stakeholders concerned with the issue of maritime piracy. We hope that it will be a useful tool for analysts and policy makers working towards solutions to piracy.”

Meanwhile the NATO Pirate Centre reports that in the past two days at least six ships reported having come under attack by pirates. Most were fired upon – one ship from three skiffs - but all managed to evade capture.


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September 1968 and one of Elder Dempster’s ships, DEGEMA (5,902-gt, built 1959) is seen arriving in Durban harbour but in Safmarine colours. Picture by Trevor Jones

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December 1969 and the Ellerman’s City Line CITY OF BIRMINGHAM (7,599-gt, built 1949) is seen sailing from Durban, pilot ladder still trailing over the side. Picture by Trevor Jones


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Trade and Commodities: South Africa and India trade set to hit new heights

South Africa and India two-way trade to reach US$10bn a year

Two-way trade between India and South Africa is set to reach US$ 10 billion a year by February this year, nearly two years ahead of what had been expected, India’s Trade and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said in South Africa recently.

He said that after looking carefully at the figures he had come to this conclusion it would happen this financial year, “…in fact I have been conservative [and] it may happen as early as next month.

The minister said a new target of $15bn in two-way trade would be discussed with his South African counterpart, Minister Rob Davies, who is to be a part of President Jacob Zuma’s delegation to the first Bric meeting in China to which South Africa has been invited. China recently invited South Arica officially to become a member of BRIC – a trading bloc of emerging economies consisting of Brazil, China, Russia and India.

Opportunity for South Africa as just 15% of Queensland coal mines remain operational

Providing it can get its rail deliveries in order South Africa is in a valuable position to take advantage of Australia’s Queensland coal mines being unable to deliver more than a fraction of normal production following devastating flooding.

Reports say that only 15% of Queensland’s coal mines remain fully operational and damage to the Australian coal industry is estimated at A$ 2.3 billion. Australia provides two thirds of the world’s coking coal, with 90% coming from Queensland. According to reports many of the mine’s can only operate under restrictions with flooded coal pits, damaged rail lines and closed ports.

South Africa is seen as one of the suppliers that could benefit because of its geographic relative to markets such as India and even China, but there are reservations over whether South Africa’s rail services can sufficiently increase supplies in time to take advantage of this opportunity. Indonesia is seen as one of the other countries with the opportunity of helping fill the gap until Queensland comes back on stream.

There are fears that the delays and shortage of coal will lead to an increase in the price of steel globally. South Korea’s POSCO, the world’s third largest steel producer, has already warned of rising prices as it tries to secure new coal suppliers.

Egypt on guard against Tunisia-style food riots

Egypt’s Trade Minister Rachid Mohamad Rachid says Egypt has adequate wheat stocks and does not need to increase its purchases in the face of what has occurred in Tunisia, where the North African country’s president was overthrown because of rising food prices.

Minister Rachid said Egypt was moving at the same pace as originally planned – since the beginning of the 2010/11 fiscal year Egypt had purchased 5.53 million tonnes of wheat at international tenders. Reuters said this week that Egypt may spend an extra US$ 776.1 million to R1.21 million on food subsidies, up from a previous forecast but as a result of rising global prices. Egypt imports about half of the food that is eaten by its population of 79 million and is struggling with double-digit food inflation. In 2008 the country experienced food riots over price increases and bread shortages.

Reuters reports that other Arab countries have responded to protests in Tunisia by taking steps to protect their populations against global price increases. This has included reducing import duties


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Shipping news – MSC takes delivery on latest 12,500-TEU giant

Mediterranean Shipping Company takes delivery of MSC LAUREN

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the world’s second biggest container carrier, has taken delivery of MSC LAUREN, a 12,500-TEU container ship delivered from South Korea’s STX Shipyard. The ship, which was ordered in August 2007 cost US$ 159 million and is the second of nine similar size vessels on order from this yard.

MSC Lauren will join the company’s Far East-North Europe service. The first new 12,500-TEU ship, MSC BERYL entered service last September.

Shipping fleet grows by over 10%

Hellenic Shipping News reports that a new research project by the N Cotzias Shipping Group has concluded that the world’s shipping fleet has grown by 10.1% in carrying capacity and now has the ability to carry 1.39 billion tonnes of cargo.

The greatest increase came with the dry bulk sector which now totals a capacity of 623 million tonnes. Tankers increased by 6% to 514mt while the container sector increased by 7.4% to reach 186m dwt, 160 million tonnes in gross tonnage, and 14.2 million TEU in capacity.

“The active and in service world shipping fleet of all major sectors, as at end of 2010, consists of 45,092 ships, divided in Bulkers, Tankers, Containers, Gas Carriers, Ro Ro, Reefers and Car Carriers. At the same time the same group of vessels in January 2010 amounted to a slightly less total of 44,293 units, and the deliveries of new ships from the vast order book, minus some serious scrapping, and the phase out process of tankers, have increased the world active fleet by 799 ships or 127.5 million tons. The world active fleet in all ship types has increased by nearly 10.1% in terms of carrying capacity. This is a serious annual increase in the supply of ships, always considering that despite a vast number of deliveries the order book has remained practically unchanged,” said the report. – source Hellenic Shipping News

Safmarine and Antwerp celebrate cooperation

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Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO of Antwerp Port Authority (pictured left), receives a ship model of the Safmarine Kuramo from Tomas Dyrbye, CEO of Safmarine Container Lines at the Port House, Antwerp. The Safmarine Kuramo is one of three sister ships with the home port of Antwerp.

At an unveiling ceremony held at the Headquarters of the Antwerp Port Authority, Safmarine CEO Tomas Dyrbye presented a ship model of the Safmarine Kuramo to CEO Eddy Bruyninckx as a gesture of thanks for the many years of close cooperation between the two entities.

The Safmarine Kuramo, a 2,096 TEU container ship built in Germany in 2004 and designed specifically for trading to and from Africa, is Belgian-registered and has Antwerp as its Home Port together with sister vessels the Safmarine Cameroun and Safmarine Nimba. “The Port of Antwerp is the gateway to/from Africa and the Safmarine Kuramo being specifically built for that continent will always be more than welcome in our midst,” said Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO of Antwerp Port Authority.

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Pics of the Day – CHEM TAURUS

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The Singapore-flagged products tanker CHEM TAURUS (19,399-dwt, built 2000) in Cape Town during January this year. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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