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Ports & Ships Maritime News

30 March, 2011
Author: Terry Hutson


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

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The former library ship DOULOS (6818-gt, built 1914), now laid up in Singapore harbour, as photographed this week. Picture by Piet Sinke

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Pretoria, 29 March 2011 – South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe says Africa is ripe with opportunities for those willing to make investments.

Speaking at a public lecture at New York University, Motlanthe dismissed the negative perceptions of Africa, which has been labelled as a difficult place to do business.

Instead, he challenged the audience to contribute towards building Africa, particularly in areas of education, capacity building and infrastructure development.

He said a new breed of African leadership was emerging, driven by a vision of progress and development and commitment to democracy, peace and stability.

“We call upon the American people in different fields of human endeavour to once again join hands with us, so that together we can contribute to the achievement of these important goals of reconstruction and development,” said Motlanthe.

He is in the United States to drive South Africa's new economic strategy, with the aim of getting buy-in from that country.

The Deputy President also emphasised the importance of investing in the development of skills.

He related the challenges of extreme hunger, poverty, the urgent need for massive infrastructural commitments, staggering unemployment levels and universal access to quality education.

“In effect, challenges of development in Africa offer opportunities for academics and intellectuals in the United States and elsewhere in the developed world to make a meaningful contribution in this regard.”

Motlanthe said Americans should invest in South Africa, in spite of issues around the mining sector.

For some time, there had been concerns that the industry had not transformed as quickly or sufficiently as it could. With calls for nationalising mines, foreign investors have been sceptical.

“We have enough experience both in the Chamber of Mines and government to ensure that we create an environment in which new investors can come in,” Motlanthe assured.

He said a strong South Africa, which accounts for 50 percent of trade in Africa, helps create a strong Africa.

Motlanthe was due to meet with Vice President Joe Biden later yesterday. He will end his visit in Chicago on Thursday. – BuaNews

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Maersk increases piracy surcharge to US$ 350 per FEU

Maersk Line has announced an increase in its piracy risk surcharge of 40% as from 1 April, bringing the surcharge to US$ 350, up from $250 per FEU (Forty-foot container unit).

The surcharge applies on all trade between Europe, the Indian Ocean islands and East Africa.

“As a result of increased piracy, and our efforts to prevent attacks and protect our crews and cargo, we have revised our emergency risk surcharges to mitigate higher security expenses,” Maersk said in a statement.

For Middle East-East Africa trade lanes, the surcharge will go to $400 per FEU, up from $250 per FEU, and for US-East Africa services the new surcharge becomes $400 per FEU, up from $300 per FEU currently.

Pirated tanker identified

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The merchant ship pirated in position 15.36N and 057.04E as reported in yesterday’s News Bulletin has been identified. Shortly after the News Bulletin went online EUNAVFOR, the European Union naval force operating an anti-piracy naval service in the area reported that at approximately 09h00 on 28 March, the crude oil tanker ZIRKU (105,846-dwt, built 2003) was pirated approximately 250 nautical miles South East of Salalah in the eastern part of the Gulf of Aden (the coordinates above).

EU NAVFOR reported that the UAE flagged and Kuwaiti owned vessel was on its way to Singapore from Bashayer (Sudan) when it was attacked. The vessel was attacked by two pirate skiffs firing RPGs and small arms. The ZIRKU has a crew of 29 (1 Croatian, 1 Iraqi, 1 Filipino, 1 Indian, 3 Jordanians, 3 Egyptians, 2 Ukrainians and 17 Pakistanis) and added that there was no further information about the crew at present.

“The MV ZIRKU was registered with MSC(HOA), and was reporting to UKMTO. EUNAVFOR is continuing to monitor the situation.

Cooperation between Chinese Navy and EU NAVFOR bears fruit

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The merchant ship Amina with a cargo of World Food Aid being escorted by the Chinese warship Manshan (FFG-525). Picture EUNAVFOR

EUNAVFOR reports that from 22 to 25 March the Chinese warship FFG-525 MAANSHAN (CTF-526) had escorted the World Food Programme (WFP) vessel AMINA from Berbera to Bosasso.

“After the meeting between COMEUNAVFOR and the Commander of the Chinese Force (CTF-529), which took place on board the Spanish Flagship CANARIAS on 15 February, a daily exchange of information and coordination for escorting merchant vessels carrying WFP aid has been carried out.

The results of this mutual understanding between the Chinese Forces and EUNAVFOR have resulted in the first historical WFP (World Food Program) escort by a Chinese Naval warship. This is evidence of good coordination and co-operation with one of the many partners in the fight against piracy.

After the arrival of MV Amina in Bosasso, the WFP highlighted the high level of professionalism shown by the Chinese warship belonging to CTF-526.”

Coordination between the different actors operating in the Horn of Africa is of paramount importance in order to increase the overall effectiveness of the deployed naval forces, said EUNAVFOR.

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Chinese frigate Zhoushan (FFG-529), currently making visits to East and South African ports

The Chinese Embassy in South Africa has announced that at the invitation of the South African Navy, two Chinese Naval guided missile frigates, ZHOUSHAN (FFG 529) and XUZHOU (FFG-530) of the Chinese PLA Navy 7th Escort Task Force, will visit the Port of Durban between 4 and 8 April 2011.

A welcome ceremony hosted by the South African Navy will be held at the Port of Durban at 9am on Monday, 4 April 2011. The two Chinese frigates will be open to public from 4 - 6 April 2011. Friendly exchanges will also take place between the two navies during the visit.

The two ships are withdrawing after serving in the Gulf of Aden to help protect Chinese and foreign merchant ships from the actions of pirates. They are currently visiting the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam on a five-day visit, having arrived there on Saturday 26 March.

In November 2010 the 7th Escort Task Force was dispatched by the Chinese government to perform an escorting mission in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia. Their main task was to ensure the security of Chinese vessels and personnel transiting the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia and to provide protection for chartered vessels working for international organisations like WFP (World Food Program).

While undertaking the mission in the Gulf of Aden, the 7th Escort Task Force conducted safe escorting for 38 batches of convoys involving 578 merchant vessels, and effected rescues of a number of merchant ships under threat by pirates.

The frigate Xuzhou was recently dispatched to Libya to perform the escorting mission for Greek Passenger Liner VENIZELONS which was evacuating 2142 Chinese personnel from Libya.

This is not the first visit to South Africa by Chinese warships. In August 2000, Chinese navy missile destroyers SHENZHEN and NANCANG visited these shores and the South African Navy frigate SAS SPIOENKOP visited Shanghai in October 2008 as a part of the yearlong celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of China-South Africa diplomatic relations.

As this issue went online it was not clear whether the two ships will be visiting other South African ports.

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MSC Sinfonia arriving in Durban – just four weeks of cruising remaining this summer. Picture Trevor Steenekamp

South Africans still have nine fabulous cruises aboard MSC Sinfonia to choose from during the next four weeks in April before the luxury cruise ship concludes her 2010/2011 record breaking summer season and departs for Europe on 3 May.

The cruise liner which has become one of the most popular vacations of choice for tens of thousands of South Africans is scheduled for a final month of short 3,4 & 5 night cruises to Mozambique from Durban with departures every Monday and Friday.

On Saturday 30 April, MSC Sinfonia sirens will boom a fond ‘arrivederci’ (Italian for ‘until we see each other again’) as she departs Durban, her South African home port of the past six months, for a leisurely three night coastal cruise along our shores to arrive in Cape Town on 3 May.

She leaves the Mother City the same day for a 18 night northbound cruise to Genoa, Italy, that will include a fascinatingly diverse range of ports of call from Walvis Bay, Namibia, Dakar in Senegal, Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands, Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira, Malaga in Spain and Civitavecchia, the port of Rome.

The 2,100 capacity MSC Sinfonia will spend the South African winter cruising in the Mediterranean Sea before returning to South Africa on 8 November. The smaller 1,500 capacity MSC Melody departed the country for Europe earlier in March and returns on 6 December. Early booking discounts of up to 40% are already on offer for the 2011/12 season and Starlight Cruises reports a strong demand from the public wishing to take advantage of these offers before they are withdrawn.

“It has been a record breaking season for both of these luxury cruise ships with a combined total of over 120,000 passengers cruising out of Durban and Cape Town. We are clearly seeing a new trend in local tourism where cruising features high on the list of options,” said Allan Foggitt, marketing director of MSC Starlight Cruises.

Foggitt said the phenomenal public response and enthusiasm for cruising had endorsed the company’s decision to bring two ships to South Africa this past summer.

“We are confident in the South African market and committed to growing it further. Cruising is clearly one of South Africa’s best value and most exciting local holiday options especially with children up to the age of 18 cruising and eating for free,” said Foggitt.

Together MSC Sinfonia and MSC Melody were able to offer a greater range of cruise destinations at competitive prices to Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius, Madagascar and Reunion. The new Cape Collection of cruises out of Cape Town to Walvis Bay and Mossel Bay and the weekend Atlantic Ocean ‘cruise to nowhere’ had also proved enormously popular, he said.

“In addition we are capturing an increasingly significant sector of the conference and incentive corporate market. And then wonderful romance of cruising has also opened new options for couples celebrating their weddings, renewing their vows and honeymooning.”

“We are looking forward to an even better cruise season in 2011/2012 when MSC Sinfonia and MSC Melody return to our shores later this year,” said Foggitt.

For those contemplating a cruise on Sinfonia before she departs these shores until the following summer, visit msccruises.com or starlightcruises.com for more information on both MSC Sinfonia and MSC Melody.

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Chaos along Durban’s Langeberg Road. Picture by Terry Hutson

Trucking delays are again a bone of contention at the port of Durban, as trucks calling at the Durban Container Terminal are either caught up in traffic congestion along the notorious Bayhead Road, where road-widening works have added to the headaches, or they face delays outside the terminal gates with little possibility of gaining either access or answers.

Drivers have complained to their employers or customers (many truck operators are one-man businesses for whom any delay has serious if not catastrophic implications) that “things have become chaotic with machines inside the terminal being parked off and managers are in meetings.”

It seems the South African curse of ‘meetings’ will simply not go away. What happened to the old practice of having a meeting after working hours (which was one sure way of keeping big-mouths shut and the meetings short)? We heard recently of similar problems at the Cape Town Container Terminal, until a short and very to-the-point blast from a certain outspoken customer of some standing made sure that ‘managers’ remain available to make decisions.

Back in Durban, we hear that drivers are being delayed by up to 12 hours to collect one container. That’s something that is simply not on! Not in a modern and supposedly well-run terminal, that aspires to be world-class. Yesterday it was reported that trucks had been sitting in the staging area since the night before.

Clearly Transnet Port Terminals, which operates the two container terminals mentioned above, has lots of work still to do – preferably without the need for further ‘meetings’.

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The little Greek tug CAPTAIN MICHALIS S (189-gt, built 1971), which featured in yesterday’s News Bulletin, has sailed from Cape Town with the DCI Dredge BH 1 on tow, bound for India. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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