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Ports & Ships Maritime News

1 March, 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002

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First View – HOUTA MARU

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The reifrigerated cargo ship HOUTA MARU (3519-gt, built 1991) which was in Cape Town recently. Picture by Ian Shiffman.


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Survey shows that strike action is a major threat to South Africa’s image

A report in the influential UK trade paper IFW says a recent study has found that industrial action is a major threat to South Africa’s image and that the impact of disputes on supply chains is damaging the country’s global reputation.

Industrial action and protracted labour disputes are more than twice as likely to happen in South Africa than anywhere else and constitute a major risk to supply chains, the IFW report quotes from the study.

The recently completed phase 2 of the US MIT Centre for Transportation and Logistics’ Global Risk Survey, a joint initiative in South Africa by the Association of Operations Management of Southern Africa, Imperial Logistics and MIT, found several types of risk faced by the logistics industry in the country, most of which result from industrial disputes.

Marius Swanepoel, CEO of Imperial Logistics, said: “We acknowledge that strike action is a fundamental right, but it is also important, however to consider the negative impact that protracted labour negotiations have on South Africa’s economic performance.”

One example would be the lengthy industrial strike following the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which had a negative impact on South Africa’s image, he said.

And last year’s Transnet-related strike by the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) and United Transport and Allied Trade Union (UTATU) led to major companies being unable to supply customers.

“Some shipping lines were required to divert vessels from Durban, which resulted in the delay of imports and exports and, in some cases, cancelled orders,” said Swanepoel.

It is not known how much of an impact the latest truck drivers strike will have in the coming months, but over the past week the country’s supply chain has been hit hard by a week-long dispute over pay.

On the plus side, the survey found that civil unrest, terrorism, product tampering and counterfeit products had less of an impact on the supply chain in South Africa than elsewhere. – source IFW


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Vehicle imports and exports drive East London port

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East London Container Terminal, with the car terminal across the Buffalo River

Increased volumes of container and vehicle shipments in and out of the port of East London have kept Transnet Port Terminals’ combi and ro-ro facilities on the move at the start of 2011, says Transnet Port Terminals.

January 2011 saw a significant year on year growth of 26% in Fully Built Units (FBUs), up from 37,472 in January 2010 to 50,513 units last month.

Exports last month were 200% better than forecast and imports were 38% better than budgeted.

The market predictions were that East London would have had a good year by the end of the financial year on 31 March 2011.

“These positive figures can be traced to the recovery in domestic and international markets and the positive outlook in the new vehicles market. The region is strategically important to Transnet and we are eager to capitalise on the local automotive sector as an avenue of growth in positioning the port,” said Transnet Port Terminals Acting Chief Executive Officer, Karl Socikwa.

Siya Mhlaluka, Terminal Executive Manager for Transnet Port Terminals’ Eastern Cape terminals, said container volumes were boosted by the import of automotive parts.

“Cars are manufactured in East London and then exported. 47,755 TEUs were handled in January 2011 resulting in a 17% improvement from last year’s 39,799 TEU’s,” he said.

Robert van Rooyen, Business Unit Executive at the multi-purpose terminal in East London said operational improvements had also had an impact.

“Our handling of these increased volumes was made easy because of the commitment of staff.

“The lull last year enabled the terminal to shape up its processes and increase investment in its human capital by continually enhancing the skills base,” he said.

Recently TPT increased the combi terminal capacity to 90,000 TEUs and increased customer parking in order to remain competitive.

Currently the terminal is gearing up towards a massive export programme won by one of the local vehicle manufacturers (Mercedes-Benz).

“By the time the first vehicle reaches the terminal, we will be ready to handle these larger volumes,” said Van Rooyen.

East London car and ro-ro terminal boast state-of-the-art equipment with 2,800 undercover parking bays and an additional 1,000 open bays.

The car terminal has received numerous safety accolades, including five consecutive Noscar Awards for safety. The combi terminal boasts a 4-star Nosa rating.

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Another view of the modern car terminal on East London’s West Bank


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Piracy – ship feared lost in cyclone is found and pirates arrested

Missing ZOULFIKAR found off Madagascar – crew safe Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Madagascar’s miniscule navy and search and rescue unit has succeeded in finding and bringing to safety the highjacked Comoros vessel ZOULFIKAR which was reported missing in the aftermath of Cyclone Bigiza.

In our report of yesterday we stated that the captain of the Zoulfikar and five others, including two Somali pirates, had arrived in Antsiranana harbour to report that their ship was in danger after running out of fuel at sea.

Zoulfikar was highjacked by Somali pirates in November 2010 and since then little has been seen or heard of her, except that she appeared to be in use as a mother ship to smaller pirate skiffs operating in the Mozambique Channel and south of the Seychelles. When captured the ship had 29 people on board – 20 passengers and 9 crew.

Following the arrival of the six in a small boat, Madagascan authorities organized a search and rescue operation that involved four spotter aircraft doing reconnaissance at sea. The ship was eventually found late yesterday some 150km east of Cap d’Ambre, Madagascar’s most northern point. A vessel from Madagascar’s navy was sent to intercept and bring the ship back to port in Antsiranana (Diego Suarez).

The operation was carried out with the aid of the 2nd brigade of Madagascar’s rapid intervention forces (RFI) along with other personnel from the Antsiranana naval airbase. On approaching the pirated ship, the pirates hoisted a white flag and meekly handed themselves over.

The ship had not only run out of fuel but was low on water and provisions. Hostages on board were taken for medical examinations but otherwise appeared alright.

A spokesman for the Madagascan authorities said the pirates would be tried in a Madagascan court as they had been arrested in Madagascan waters and because some of the hostages were Madagascan. South Africa currently has a frigate, SAS MENDI on anti-piracy patrol in the Mozambique Channel

Anti-piracy Round Table meeting

by Paul Ridgway, Correspondent, London

A briefing from IMO tells that within the Action Plan to promote this year’s World Maritime Day theme – Piracy: Orchestrating the Response, a meeting took place at Headquarters earlier this month between IMO Secretary-General Admiral Efthimios E. Mitropoulos and industry and seafarers’ representatives. All emphasised the need for urgent and co-ordinated action from governments, the shipping industry and the maritime community to address the escalating crisis of kidnap and ransom of seafarers off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden, in the Arabian Sea and in the western Indian Ocean.

Representatives of the Round Table of international shipping associations: (BIMCO, ICS, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO), OCIMF and ITF agreed that the situation off the coast of Somalia is nearing crisis point with escalating levels of violence, increased risk to seafarers’ lives and significant disruption to global trade and the world economy.

The meeting agreed on the need for compliance with the IMO guidance and best management practices; the need for improved co-operation, communication with, and deployment of, naval forces operating in the area; and the need for more proactive measures to avoid ships becoming victim to this organized criminal activity at sea.

In noting the reported use of armed personnel by some shipowners in response to the growing threat of piracy attacks, the meeting maintained the position recommended by IMO (namely, that this should be decided by the shipping companies concerned in consultation with the flag State) and, although recognizing that some shipping companies felt compelled to employ such personnel, reiterated the need to ensure that the recommended preventive, evasive and defensive measures, including reporting, are effectively implemented.

The meeting welcomed the initiatives taken by IMO towards development of regional capacity through the Djibouti Code of Conduct and recognized the need for further engagement with navies and coastguards from the region.

Furthermore, the contribution being made by naval forces currently operating in the region to protect both humanitarian aid shipments to Somalia operated by the World Food Programme (WFP) and merchant shipping, while also keeping open the vital shipping lanes of the Gulf of Aden and that linking the Persian Gulf with the Cape of Good Hope, was warmly welcomed.

The Secretary-General reported on his efforts to encourage increased provision of support to naval and military activities in the region and again called upon Governments and States, including littoral States, to recognize the scale of the issue and its potential impacts and to deploy further military assets accordingly.

Secretary-General Mitropoulos highlighted the requirement for financial support for both the IMO Djibouti Code Trust Fund and International Contact Group trust funds to enable the establishment of information-sharing centres and training for experts in the region and the ongoing development of an international infrastructure for the prosecution of captured pirates.

As one of the key objectives of the 2011 IMO theme is to provide care, during the post traumatic period, for those attacked or hijacked by pirates and for their families, the meeting welcomed information on the work being undertaken by a group of industry organizations in response.

Greek bulker pirated in Arabian Sea

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The pirated DOVER. Picture by marinetraffic.com and EU NAVFOR

The European Naval forces operating anti-piracy patrols off Somalia, EU NAVFOR reported yesterday (Monday) that a Greek bulker named DOVER (38,097-dwt, built 1981) had been highjacked by pirates approximately 260 n.miles northeast of Salalah in Oman.

The bulker was en route from Port Qasim in Pakistan to Saleef in Yemen. EU NAVFOR said there had been no further communication with the vessel apart from the brief message that pirates were on board. The Panamanian-flagged ship has 19 Filipino, one Russian and three Romanian crew members. It had been registered with local anti-piracy authorities prior to commencing its voyage.

There is some speculation however that the crew may have retired into a citadel room.

Breaking News – pirates take yacht with three children on board

In news that only came available as this issue was being finalised, the Danish Foreign Ministry has confirmed that seven Danes, including three children, have been taken hostage by pirates in the Indian Ocean. The seven, a family of five including three children aged between 12 and 16, and two other adults, were on a yacht when the pirates struck.

This is the first time that children from a first world country have been known to be taken hostage by Somali pirates.

Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen said she was deeply concerned about the situation. “It is almost unbearable to think that there are children involved and I can only sharply denounce the pirates' actions,” she said.

The pirating apparently took place last week on Thursday, 24 February, when a distress signal was sent from the yacht. The news was only revealed on Monday evening.


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Cruise: Hapag-Lloyd to replace Columbus one year early

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Hapag-Lloyd’s COLUMBUS, due to be withdrawn in May next year. Picture by Hapag-Lloyd

New York, NY, 28 February 28 2011 - Hapag-Lloyd Cruises says it will be taking its premium ship MS COLUMBUS out of the fleet one year earlier than planned, in May 2012, by mutual agreement with Conti, the Munich based group of companies and owner of the ship.

All cruises offered up to May 2012 will be taking place on the COLUMBUS as scheduled. The ship is to be replaced in Spring 2012 (Northern Hemisphere) by her successor the COLUMBUS 2. The COLUMBUS crew will transition over to the COLUMBUS 2.

The farewell to the COLUMBUS is the logical move, resulting from a strategic business development in the premium segment for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. The successor ship, the COLUMBUS 2 offers a higher passenger capacity of 698 people.

“COLUMBUS 2 is a modern ship. She provides more diversity and comfort at a very good price/performance ratio, and represents for us an economically attractive expansion of our capacity in the premium segment,” said Sebastian Ahrens, Managing Director of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.

The COLUMBUS will be offering her world tour 2011/2012 as planned. At the end of that voyage on 7 May 2012 in Nice, France, the ship will leave the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises fleet.

Only two published cruises following the world tour will be cancelled. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will be offering special deals for re-booking onto the COLUMBUS 2 for any customers who have already booked these two cruises. The crew of the COLUMBUS and the senior officers will be continuing their activities on the successor ship, the COLUMBUS 2, ensuring high quality and good service from the very beginning, says the German cruise company.

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COLUMBUS 2, due to enter service with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises from the third quarter of 2012. Picture by Hapag-Lloyd


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DHL is Africa’s International Freight Forwarder for third time

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Picture Wikimedia Commons

Nairobi / Singapore - DHL, one of the world’s leading logistics companies, was named International Freight Forwarder of the Year in Africa at the 2011 STAT Times Awards last week in Nairobi, Kenya. The International Award for Excellence in Air Cargo was voted by STAT Times’ readers worldwide.

According to a recent report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), air freight recovery hit a peak in 2010, followed by a fall in the later months. Only Africa showed year-on-year growth from October to November, affirming its position as one of the twelve emerging ‘hotspots’ in the world, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook.

With Africa fast revealing a future worth investing in, companies need a partner with first-mover knowledge, expertise and experience, and as a global logistics player with a strong focus and lead on Africa, DHL Global Forwarding says it is the leading service provider in the region’s air freight industry. In 2010, DHL Global Forwarding saw significant volume growth in Africa in both its regular operations and charter operations connecting all regions with Africa.

Amadou Diallo, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding, Africa and South Asia Pacific, DHL Global Forwarding, said: “DHL has been supporting business in Africa for more than 30 years now and we’re set to keep Africa well-connected to the rest of the world while identifying new opportunities in the intra-African market to support the region’s fulfillment of its vast growth potential. The award is a testament to our unparalleled service in Africa and a signal from the market that we’re on the right track to meet our customers’ business needs.”

Held biannually until its fourth instalment this year, the STAT Times International Award for Excellence in Air Cargo recognizes global logistics leaders in the air cargo industry for their outstanding contributions to Africa’s growth.


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Cargill to go ahead with kite-powered ship

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Geneva, Switzerland, 28 February 2011 — Cargill has signed an agreement with SkySails GmbH & Co KG (SkySails) to use wind power technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping industry.

SkySails, based in Hamburg, has developed innovative, patented technology that uses a kite which flies ahead of the vessel and generates enough propulsion to reduce consumption of bunker fuel by up to 35 percent in ideal sailing conditions.

In December Cargill will install the 320m2 kite on a handysize vessel of between 25,000 and 30,000 deadweight tonnes, which the company has on long-term charter, making it the largest vessel propelled by a kite in the world. Cargill and SkySails aim to have the system fully operational in the first quarter of 2012. Cargill is currently helping SkySails develop and test the technology and has identified a ship-owner – supportive of environmental stewardship in the industry – with whom it will partner on the project.

The SkySails kite will be connected to the ship by rope and is computer-controlled by an automatic pod to maximise the wind benefits. The kite functions at a height of between 100 to 420 metres and flies in a figure of eight formation. The SkySails system is automated and requires only minimal action by the crew. An automatic control system steers the kite and adjusts its flight path. All information related to the system’s operation is displayed on the monitor of the SkySails’ workstation on the ship’s bridge.

“For some time, we have been searching for a project that can help drive environmental best practice within the shipping industry and see this as a meaningful first step”, said GJ van den Akker, head of Cargill’s ocean transportation business. “The shipping industry currently supports 90 percent of the world’s international physical trade. In a world of finite resources, environmental stewardship makes good business sense. As one of the world’s largest charterers of dry bulk freight, we take this commitment extremely seriously. In addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the SkySails technology aims to significantly reduce fuel consumption and costs. We are very impressed with the technology and see its installation on one of our chartered ships as the first part of an ongoing, long-term partnership.”

Stephan Wrage, managing director of SkySails said his company was excited that its technology will shortly be used on a handysize vessel for the first time. “We see great potential to incorporate it on larger ships in the future,” he said.

According to a United Nations (International Maritime Organisation) study, up to 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) could be saved every year by the broad application of the SkySails’ technology on the world merchant fleet. This figure would equate to 11 percent of the CO2 emissions of Germany.

Cargill is a significant global transporter of agricultural, energy and industrial commodities. Although the company does not today own or operate ships, its ocean transportation business ships more than 185 million tonnes of commodities each year, in the process connecting supply from areas of surplus with demand in areas of deficit.

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Skysails, harnessing the wind



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When the earthquake struck the city of Christchurch and port of Lyttelton on Tuesday, 22 February, the New Zealand multi role vessel HMNZS CANTERBURY was already in the port. Her crew and those of two Patrol vessels gave help by providing security patrols around the port township and also assisted with helping people immediately after the quake. Canterbury sailed several days later for Wellington to load further supplies before returning to Lyttelton the following day. Picture by Alan Calvert

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The chartered container ship MSC ITALIA seen arriving in the New Zealand port of Lyttelton. Picture by Alan Calvert


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