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Ports & Ships Maritime News

3-4 February 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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First View – QUEEN MARY 2

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Just a reminder... the Queen returns to South Africa on Friday when arguably what is now the most famous ship in the world arrives in Cape Town. During her visit a considerable number of passengers will disembark, having enjoyed the cruise segment from New York to South Africa via the Caribbean and South America.

A similar number of new passengers will join the ship for the cruise to Australia and when she sails from Cape Town it will be to her next port of call of Durban, where Queen Mary 2 arrives on Monday (7 February). Here Transnet NPA has happily agreed to reopen the landside end of the North Pier which will enable the public to watch this great ship, all 150,000 tons, as she sails serenely into Africa’s busiest port, somewhere between 6am and 7am and again in the early evening after 6pm when she sails for Port Louis, Mauritius.

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Increased Africa deployment is changing the region's cruise map – Africa Cruise Forum

The potential that exists around the African continent for cruise lines seeking virgin territories and new experiences for their guests is vast and as yet largely untapped. A large part of this potential lies on the Indian Ocean coasts, where the majority of ports are in close proximity to game reserves boasting an abundance of the "big five" of the animal world, a sure-fire winner for cruise passengers.

MSC has increased its seasonal presence to two vessels and has invested in improved embarkation facilities at the Port of Durban as well as developing areas of Portuguese Island in Mozambique. The 2,000 passenger MSC Sinfonia will finish her second extended season in the region this May and 1,500 passenger MSC Melody has now joined her, increasing MSC's regional capacity to more than 100,000 passengers. By the end of this cruising season Durban will have welcomed in excess of 60 cruise calls.

Costa, Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Silversea, Travel Dynamics, Oceania and Fred. Olsen are all active on the African continent, whether it be with cruises visiting the east and west coasts, the Cape Verde Islands and St. Helena, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia in the north or calling at the islands of Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion. It is expected that more lines will be attracted to the collaborative opportunities this part of the world has to offer in the near future.

The cruise potential of Africa will be the focus of attention at the Seatrade Africa Cruise Forum, taking place in Durban from 10-12 May this year. The event, in conjunction with the Cruise Indian Ocean Association (CIOA) and the Province of KwaZulu Natal, will be held at the elegant Fairmont Zimbali Resort, just north of the city.

Participants will hear from cruise line experts on what they need to see from Africa in terms of port operations, infrastructure, hospitality, shore excursions and regulatory environment as well as the region's own potential as a source market for cruise passengers.

The cruise forum has been carefully planned to take place straight after INDABA, Africa's top travel show, enabling delegates to combine their attendance.

More information on the event and how to participate can be found at www.africacruiseforum.com

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MSC Sinfonia cruising off the Mozambique coast

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News of ships and shipping lines

Profitability returns to ‘K’ Line

Japanese shipping line ‘K’ Line has returned to profitability on the back of a buoyant container industry, and in the process is reversing losses it made in 2009. ‘K’ Line reports a group-wide net income of US$ 85 million for the third financial quarter, which compares with a loss of $205m for the same period one year earlier. Of the group’s operating revenue of $119.6m, the container division provided $70.1m.

‘K’ Line spokesman and executive Kenichi Kuroya said in a letter to shareholders that the company would continue with slow steaming as a cost-saving measure because of economic uncertainty. – source JOC online and K Line

NYK sees large increase in net profit

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NYK Line’s Polaris Leader (51,917-gt, built 2009) in Cape Town

NYK Line is another Japanese shipping company to have enjoyed profitable sailing during 2010, with net profits during the third fiscal quarter rising ten-fold despite higher fuel costs and soft bulk markets. According to NYK it handled the rising fuel costs by going to slow steaming and restricting capacity.

In the container division NYK enjoyed an operating profit of US$ 96 million for the quarter (October-December) compared with a $138 million loss for the same period one year earlier. Total container revenue increased by a whopping 16.9% to $ 1.7 billion. Group-wide net profit increased to $ 323 million, as against a net profit of just $27.7m a year ago. Revenue went up to $5.4 billion (2009: $4.7bn) and operating income increased to $ 362.4million (2009: $ 52m).

NYK’s car carrying division increased volume by 20% but the company said that dry bulk volumes had been hurt by the drop in Chinese iron ore imports. Rising vessel capacity led to reduced rates for bulk carriers and tankers, the company said. – source JOC online and NYK

Indian Navy ship sinks after colliding with German container ship

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INS Vindhyagiri burning in the naval dock. Picture Military Times

The Indian Navy ship INS VINDHYAGIRI (F42) caught fire and has sunk in Mumbai harbour after colliding with a German container ship. The naval ship, a former Leander class frigate now referred to in India as a Nilgiri class, was returning to port after celebrating India’s ‘Day at Sea’ with families of military personnel on board. There were no reports of injuries and everyone was safely evacuated from the ship.

According to initial reports, the German container ship NORDLAKE (22,450-dwt, built 2004) took a sharp turn to avoid another freighter but collided with the frigate instead. The Nordlake suffered only minor damage.

Ironically, the Indian Navy Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Nirmal Verma had earlier in the day commented to visitors and other navy personnel about the use of the latest technology for preventing ship collisions at busy harbours.

Afterwards the Indian Navy made the following statement: “The collision led to fire and flooding onboard INS Vindhyagiri. INS Vindhyagiri was thereafter safely berthed alongside in the Naval harbour. Ammunition on board was cleared and all efforts were made to contain the fire and flooding onboard. Concurrently, necessary measures have also been taken to prevent any spillage of oil from the ship. Other naval operations and commercial operations in Mumbai port have not been affected. No casualties have been reported.” The last time an Indian warship sank in peacetime was in 2006, involving the Tarantul-class corvette INS Prahar.

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West Africa Folder: EU ban on Ivory Coast imports takes effect

Cote d’Ivoire standoff sees shipping lines cut calls

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Port of Abidjan, politics preventing it from reaching its potential. Picture by OTAL

A call has gone out from the aspirant president of Cote d’Ivoire for a general boycott of cocoa from his country, as part of his further attempt to unseat the previous president, Laurent Gbagbo. With Ivory Coast producing one third of the world’s cocoa, approximately 1.17 million tonnes annually, the call by president-elect Alessane Quattara is being treated seriously, although whether his followers are capable of effecting a boycott at the main port remains uncertain.

In addition, the recent EU Council Regulation 25 of 2011 calling for a European Union boycott of trade with Cote d’Ivoire has seen several European-based shipping lines responding with suspended southbound services. Hapag-Lloyd made the announcement that “We have to inform you that according to Council Regulation (EU) No 25/2011 Hapag-Lloyd is for the time being not in the position to accept cargo for Cote d'Ivoire,” while Maersk Line has temporarily stopped accepting imports into the country on several trade lanes, although northbound trade out of the country will continue. “We have temporarily stopped accepting imports into Cote d'Ivoire on several tradelanes, including Europe, North America and the Caribbean/Central America. It's because of the EU action,” explained a Maersk spokesman.

French carrier OT Africa Line (OTAL) has issued no statement and other non-European lines that call regularly into Abidjan have yet to report their intentions but it seems a container shortage will be one result. As a result cocoa exports that do take place may have to be sent in bulk or as breakbulk. – source Containerisation International and OT Africa

Call for Federal Govt to step in with wreck removal at Nigerian ports

Nigeria’s Federal Government has been urged to assist the National Ports Authority (NPA) with removal of shipwrecks that hinder safe navigation along the Nigerian coast.

At a recent stakeholders forum held in Lagos the NPA was told that it was its statutory responsibility to ensure the safety of navigation in the port zones and that the federal government should make the necessary funds available. The NPA was also informed that it was also its responsibility to attract larger ships to Nigerian ports and that this therefore meant providing the right environment.

Construction of Lekki port to commence soon

Construction of Nigeria’s new deepwater port at Lekki on the Lekki Peninsular, east of Victoria Island, Lagos, is due to start soon, after years of decision-making and preparation.

According to Kundan Sainani, director of Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise, the final agreements with the government regulatory authorities are being finalised, after which construction can begin. It is hoped this will be in the third quarter of this year. The project management company, US-based Louis Berger Group Inc has already received bids for the construction phase from shortlisted construction companies from around the world. At the request of the bidders the timeline had been extended to November last year.

OT Africa introduces new direct calls at Walvis Bay and Namibe

OT Africa Line (OTAL) has announced new direct calls to Walvis Bay in Namibia and Namibe in Angola on its Angola Shuttle Service. This is being achieved with five vessels offerings sailings every nine days. The rotation has become Lisbon, Leixoes, Vigo, Tangiers, Luanda, Walvis Bay, Namibe, Lobito, Lisbon.

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Environmental Issues: UK to sell off its forests

According to a report in the Independent (UK) and repeated in several environmental publications, the UK government is preparing to sell off some of the country’s forests and woodlands.

Environmental Secretary Caroline Spelman said that about 75% of the woodlands might be sold but these did not include ancient woodlands such as the New Forest, which acquired its name in 1079 when William the Conqueror turned it into a royal hunting preserve.

Environmentalists are horrified and more than a quarter million signatures have been gathered against the proposed move. “The outrage at this issue has highlighted the public's love of a woodland walk, and we must work together to ensure that, whoever owns the land, the public's access is protected,” said Tom Franklin, head of the walking group the Ramblers.

Now what has this to do with a maritime publication, you ask? Nothing directly, but it does bring to mind the decimation of forests across Europe and the British Isles from the 15th century onwards for the purpose of building wooden ships for the Spanish armadas, the British Royal Navy, the French Navy, the Dutch East India Company, the British East India Company, slavers and various other shipping operators of the time, all anxious to get ships into the water whatever the cost. Only limited effort went into replanting what was lost.

An example of this came with Colbert, the minister to Louis XIV, who informed the king that France was in dire straits and could lose a war with the English, because the English had enough timber remaining to build a hundred warships, whereas all the available timber in France could build only twenty! Historians have noted that the shortage of wood to replace ships was one of the factors that kept many a French fleet in port rather than have them venture out to do battle.

Similar decimation of forests took place on the eastern seaboard of North America, both before and after the War of Independence in 1775 and it’s been said that the cutting of American forests played a role in the cause of that strife.

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Wilhelmsen Ships Service closes Nalfleet deal – will hold chemical prices

Wilhelmsen Ships Service reports that it has finalised its agreement with Nalco to buy Nalfleet, a sales and technical service organisation specialising in marine chemicals.

Wilhelmsen Ships Service already owns Unitor chemicals and this acquisition will further strengthen and enhance the company’s marine chemicals offer to the maritime industry.

Last week, Wilhelmsen Ships Service announced that Graham Hunter, former General Manager of Nalfleet, will head up its marine chemicals operations. Starting today, Hunter will lead a team of dedicated professionals in managing two solid brands and further developing the company’s position in marine chemicals. “The Unitor and Nalfleet brands will remain and we are currently developing business and marketing strategies for both ranges of chemicals. Focus now is on ensuring a smooth transition for our customers and improving our global offer and customer solutions brought to the marine market,” he said.

The transition period is scheduled to last from 1Q- 3Q 2011 and starting today Wilhelmsen Ships Service will put a hold on all chemicals prices.

President of Wilhelmsen Ships Service, David Tandy said that a time of transition and integration is demanding for everyone involved. “Nonetheless, I’m confident that we have the strength and organisational flexibility to take good care of our customers throughout the changeover,” he said. “As a customer centred service organisation it is key that we share synergies with our customers from day one; that is why we will now hold prices on chemicals.”

In addition to marine chemicals, Wilhelmsen Ships Service supplies Unitor marine products, technical services, ships agency services and maritime logistics.

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Rail News: Moz govt threatens to cancel Beira Railroad concession and Nacala railway repair to cost $231m

Repairs to Nacala Railway to cost US$ 231 million

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Nacala rail corridor to Malawi

It will cost an estimated US$ 231 million to fully rehabilitate the Nacala railway, which extends from the northern Mozambique port of Nacala inland to the border with Malawi and on to Blantyre, as well as having several branches within Mozambique.

The figure is a result of a study undertaken by Malawi’s Ministry of Transport and Public Infrastructure and is based on the findings of a study financed by the European Union.

Under current conditions a train has to travel at a maximum speed of 20 km/h and will take between five and seven days to complete the journey from Nacala to Blantyre. After being rehabilitated the time can be reduced to 38 hours, with trains travelling at speeds of between 50 and 70 km/h. source AIM

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Nacala Railway

Mozambique government threatens to cancel Beira Railroad concession

Maputo, 2 February – The Mozambican government has said it will cancel the concession contract with Beira railroad company, Companhia dos Caminhos de Ferro da Beira (CCFB) if work to rebuild the Sena railroad is not concluded by 24 March, Mozambican state newspaper Notícias reported.

If the contract is cancelled, management of the railroad will be handed over to state rail and port management company Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM), whose chairman, Rosário Mualeia, gave assurances in Maputo that reconstruction of the Sena railroad would be finished on time to transport the first shipment of coal mined at Moatize, starting in the second half of this year.

Mualeia also denied previous information citing the director general of CCFB as saying that reconstruction of the Sena railroad had been concluded last Monday.

According to the chairman of CFM, the quality contracted for the Sena railroad has basic fundamental requirements that have to be observed before the work can be considered to be ready for commercial train operation.

Along the Dondo-Inhaminga section of the railroad, Mualeia said, defects and omissions had been detected that needed to be corrected, and the request for final inspection of the Mutarara-Moatize section has yet to be made, as outlined in the contract, and in some areas drainage ditches have not been built and some stations have yet to be concluded.

Considering the overall delay of around 15 months, Mualeia said that it was unlikely that CCFB would be able to finish the work that needed to be done in the 60 days given by the government and thus it was inevitable that the concession contract would be cancelled and management of the system handed over to CFM.

The concession on the Beira Railroad System, which includes the Sena and Machipanda lines, was granted in 2004 to Companhia Caminhos de Ferro da Beira (CCFB), a consortium made up of Indian state companies RITES and IRCON and Mozambique’s Portos e Caminhos e Ferro de Moçambique (CFM), for a renewable period of 25 years. source macauhub

Pics of the Day – OXL EMIR and PROTEO

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The general cargo ship OXL EMIR (8,861-gt, built 2001) at Cape Town’s Landing Wharf 3. No, it is not loaded with Pride South Seas, the port’s resident oil rig, as much as the TNPA would like to see the rig leave. Picture by Aad Noorland

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Two views of the fully laden Cypriot owned and managed oil tanker PROTEO (99,392-dwt, built 1993) seen departing from Cape Town. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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