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Ports & Ships Maritime News

21 April 2011
Author: Terry Hutson



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

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We send our warm wishes to all Christian readers for a Happy and Blessed Easter and greetings to our Jewish readers as they celebrate Passover. Because of the long weekend and with Monday 25 April being a holiday in South Africa, our next News edition will appear on Tuesday, 26 April 2011.


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Hapag-Lloyd’s super luxury cruise ship EUROPA, which has just received the prestigious Six Star Diamond Award for the fourth time. She remains the only ship ever to receive this accolade from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, which is renowned worldwide for awarding excellence in the global travel and luxury services sector. Each year the Academy bestows its coveted International Star Diamond Award exclusively to five star establishments that are deemed to be the pinnacle of quality by its esteemed Board of Trustees. See the report Special Award for German Cruise Ship below.


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Maersk Brownsville in Durban harbour. Picture by Trevor Jones

The world’s top 25 container lines pocketed nearly US$ 14 billion in profits in 2010, according to estimates from the maritime consultancy Alphaliner, reports American Shipper.

The estimates include earnings from the six lines among the top 25 that don’t publicly report their profits, including Mediterranean Shipping Co. and Hamburg Süd.

“A number of carriers (chalked) up record gains, which almost fully made up for the aggregate operating loss of $ 15 billion suffered by carriers in 2009,” Alphaliner said.

“However, the turnaround is expected to be short-lived as operating margins have crashed in the first quarter of 2011 - especially on the Asia/Europe trade. A lack of discipline in regard to capacity management has prompted freight rates to decline across all main trades since the third quarter of last year, as all main carriers increased capacity in order to defend or even expand their market share.”

Warning by Drewry

Alphaliner’s caution is borne out by the latest edition of Drewry Shipping Consultants’ Container Forecaster, which says that some container shipping lines may struggle to break even in 2011 after netting huge profits in 2010.

The dire projections come as lines have largely ignored the lessons learned in 2009 and engaged in reckless rate cutting, the London-based consultant said.

“In December, Drewry forecast that container shipping industry-wide profits will be reduced to $ 7 billion to $ 8 billion this year, down from the $ 17 billion bonanza of 2010,” Drewry said. “However, ill-discipline on rates and capacity management, combined with escalating operating costs, means that Drewry now thinks that many carriers will struggle to break even.

“The warning signs were there in the fourth quarter of last year as carriers were unable to sustain the upward momentum in profits of the first three quarters of 2010 as higher costs and some oversupply of tonnage (reducing load factors) kicked in. The erosion in freight rates has continued in the first three months of 2011, which unless checked very shortly could lead to losses at a number of lines at least in the short term.”

“The industry is well accustomed to profit swings, but if, as seems likely, industry profits vanish this year, it would mark possibly the shortest business cycle container shipping has ever seen,” Drewry said. “In the space of three short years the industry will have gone from bust in 2009 (-$19 billion) to boom in 2010 (+$17 billion estimated) and back to bust (small profit or loss) in 2011.” Drewry’s quarterly Container Forecaster projects that east/west freight rates excluding fuel will fall 13.2 percent in 2011. The report is available at www.drewry.co.uk - source American Shipper


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SAS Amatola (F145) entering Durban harbour. Picture by Manny Gounden

by Leon Engelbrecht, defenceWeb

The South African Navy (SAN) has ordered what appears to be a R42 million resupply of Umkhonto surface-to-air missiles (SAM) for its Valour-class frigates. The order, for R41,986,000, was placed last week Thursday.

South Africa in November 2005 joined a handful of nations to have fielded a functional operational anti-missile air defence systems with the successful firing of the Umkhonto-IR from aboard the Valour-class frigate SAS AMATOLA. Since then the SA Navy has regularly fired the 125kg, 12km-range weapon that carries a 23kg warhead, most recently this year during Exercise Good Hope IV, a joint multinational undertaking with Germany, where the missile was also successfully fired against a surface target.

“We heard it went very well,” Denel Dynamics CE Jan Wessels told defenceWeb in April last year. “The system has now been in service with the Navy for three years and all the feedback we get is very positive, it is really performing as advertised and more.”

Each of the four German-built stealth warships is fitted with a Denel Dynamics-designed 16-cell vertical launch system (VLS) for the Umkhonto (Zulu: Spear) that can be increased to 32. The first naval firing of the weapon took place on November 23, 2005 when the SAS Amatola fired an Umkhonto at a high-speed Skua target drone off Cape Agulhas. It fired a second a week later.

Both were fired with telemetry warheads to tell developers at Denel's nearby Overberg Test Range how the missiles were performing. Had real warheads been fitted, both targets would have been destroyed according to the data read-outs. “Both hits were within the specifications. The ranges achieved were even better than those specified,” then-Sitron project director Rear Admiral (JG) Johnny Kamerman said in a media conference in 2006.

The admiral added the development of the system had begun in 1993. South Africa decided to develop its own system even after sa nctions was lifted because high-end systems such as the US Aegis were unaffordable – “we can't afford the launchers, let alone the missiles,” Kamerman explained – “and low-end systems like shoulder-launched missiles were "a waste of time.”

Read this excellent article written by Leon Engelbrecht in Tuesday’s defenceWeb HERE. Use your back button to return to PORTS & SHIPS.


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New ship for USN Military Sealift Command

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USNS William McLean naming ceremony

The US Military Sealift Command (MSC) has taken delivery of its latest ship in the US Navy’s Lewis and Clark class of dry cargo/ammunition ships.

The vessel, USNS WILLIAM McLEAN (T-AKE-12) was launched at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego on Saturday, during which time the ship was also named. The ship is due for delivery later this year.

USNS William McLean is the 12th of a projected 14 dry cargo/ammunition ships, all of which will be operated by the MSC and crewed either primarily or solely by civil service mariners, depending on the ship’s mission. Eleven of the ships will serve as part of the command’s Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force and three are slated to be part of the Maritime Prepositioning Force.

Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force ships deliver ammunition, food, fuel and other supplies to US and allied ships at sea, enabling the Navy to maintain a worldwide forward presence. Maritime Prepositioning Force ships are continuously deployed to strategic locations worldwide carrying Marine Corps cargo ready for rapid delivery to shore.

More news on the Danica Sunrise

Yesterday we reported that the Indian Coast Guard had detained the Danish cargo ship DANICA SUNRISE (1684-dwt, built 1989) on suspicion of carrying arms and ammunition, but that a search had revealed nothing.

Subsequent reports say that among the crew of eight are two retired British Army soldiers, who are thought to have been employed as armed guards on the ship. The Indians surmise that weapons were thrown overboard once it became clear the ship was going to be investigated. Indian Intelligence says that the intention was to offload the weapons near Mumbai and says that an interrogation of the remainder of the crew has revealed that the stash of AK-47 semi automatic guns was dumped overboard and that these had been intended for use as protection against pirate attack.

Since the terrorist attack on Mumbai Indian security is a particularly sensitive matter, particularly concerning reports of unauthorised weapons.

The case reiterates the challenges and problems of ships arming themselves in defence against pirates, in that the vessels inevitably have to call at a port somewhere afterwards and that country, such as India or even South Africa, may have strict laws on the carrying of weapons. Dumping them overboard is thought to have become a common method, but its all a question of timing.

Barque EUROPA arrives in Cape Town

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The Dutch sailing ship EUROPA sailed into Table Bay and Cape Town harbour this week. The barque, one of the world’s graceful Tall Ships, last came this way in 2008 when she spent about five months in harbour undergoing a major refit.

A purpose-built sail training ship, Europa was built in 1911 and underwent a full restoration in 1994 when she re-appeared as a three-masted barque. She normally carries a smallish permanent crew along with up to 48 or so voyage crew members of all ages and nationalities, along for the experience and training.


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From left to right: Europa Captain Hagen Damaschke, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Managing Director Sebastian Ahrens, President/CEO of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences Joseph Cinque, EUROPA Hotel Manager Joseph Gruber, International General Manager American Academy of Hospitality Sciences Karen Lynn Dixon

New York, 20 April 2011 - Hapag-Lloyd’s luxury cruise ship EUROPA, which is habitually judged by the authorative travel magazine Condé Nast as the best cruise ship in the business, remains the only cruise ship in the world to receive the Six Star Diamond Plaque from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.

This is the fourth time the ship has received this honour but this year Europa was also awarded a Green Star Diamond Award and a Five Star Diamond Plaque for the ship’s new restaurant.

The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences is renowned worldwide for awarding excellence in the global travel and luxury services sector. Each year the Academy bestows its coveted International Star Diamond Award exclusively to five star establishments that are deemed to be the pinnacle of quality by its esteemed Board of Trustees.

The Europa was for the first time additionally awarded the Green Star Diamond Award recognising environmental responsibility, and her new ‘Restaurant Dieter Mueller’, launched last year, received a Five Star Diamond plaque, awarded for high quality and superb performance.

“The MS Europa is the only ship amongst our prestigious members deserving of the Six Star Diamond Award. It’s the most elite on the high seas,” said Academy President, Joseph D. Cinque. “The MS Europa, continuing to upgrade its superior product has earned its right again to this award, as well as receiving for the first time the Green Star Diamond Award and a Five Star Diamond plaque for its new restaurant.”

Europa is the first ‘all-suites’ cruise ship, with staterooms that are never less than 290 square feet (27m²), 80% of them having their own veranda, assuring privacy and relaxation. The Europa is one of the few ships in the cruise industry that offers guests the largest space per passenger, as well as one of the highest staff passenger ratios, with 280 staff members for a maximum 408 guests.

New to the Europa in September 2010, Dieter Mueller became the first award-winning chef to open his own gourmet restaurant onboard the ship. He’s personally on board 70 days a year.

The Europa offering international cruises (German/English) ensures English-speaking passengers feel comfortable from the moment they step on board.


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The Nacala railway into Malawi will have to undergo some considerable refurbishment if it is to carry large volumes of coal.

Maputo – Brazilian mining group Vale and the Malawian government this week signed a document for use of Malawi’s rail system as part of the construction of a railway to transport coal mined at Mozambique’s Moatize project, Mozambican newspaper Notícias reported.

The memorandum of understanding, which was signed in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe, is part of the construction of a railway line between Moatize, in Tete province, central Mozambique, and the Mozambican port of Nacala in the north, via the shortest route, which crosses southern Malawi.

The project aims to overcome problems that have come up with the Sena railway line, between Moatize and the port of Beira, in central Mozambique, which will not be able to transport the large amount of exports that Vale and other mining companies working in the region are expected to carry out.

The railway line to Nacala, which is expected to cost 1.5 billion euros, will be 900 kilometres long and pass through Malawi making use of the existing rail infrastructure.

Since studies began for mining coal at Moatize Vale has always maintained the possibility of building a railway line to transport the coal, although it later gave up on the idea because it was more expensive than using the Sena line.

In the middle of the project to rebuild the Sena line, Vale became part of the shareholder structure of Corredor do Norte (Northern Corridor), which was a clear sign it had reconsidered its decision to give up the idea of transporting coal via Nacala.

Vale is expected to start exporting coal in the next few months.

At its peak of production the Moatize project is expected to have a nominal production capacity of 11 million tons of coal per year, of which 8.5 million tons will be metallurgical coal and 2.5 million tons will be thermal coal.

As part of its investments in Moatize Vale is building one of the biggest coal processing units in the world, with capacity for 26 million tons per year, an amount that makes it possible to expand the project at a later date. (macauhub)

Moz-Canadian consortium awarded tender to explore heavy sands in Chibuto, Mozambique

Maputo, 20 April 2011 – Rock Forge Titanium, made up of Mozambican and Canadian investors, has been awarded the international public tender for heavy sand exploration in Chibuto, the Mozambican Mining Resources Ministry said in Maputo Tuesday.

The project, which is located in an area of 10,849 hectares in Gaza province, southern Mozambique, was initially explored by BHP Billiton, but in 2009 it had its license cancelled due to not meeting the schedule that had been agreed with the Mozambican government.

According to studies carried out, the area contains around 72 million tons of ilmenite (iron oxide and titanium), which is used to produce titanium dioxide, an essential component for the paint, paper and plastics industries.

Rock Forge Titanium beat South Africa’s MOD Chibuto Sands in the race for the concession. MOD was the only other company competing for the tender that was launched in October 2010. (macauhub)

Large natural gas deposit found in Rovuma basin, Mozambique

Maputo, 20 April 2011 – A large natural gas deposit has been found in the Rovuma basin, according to Japanese company Mitsui, which is part of an offshore exploration project in northern Mozambique.

The basin of the Rovuma river, which separates Mozambique from Tanzania is estimated to contain 10 trillion cubic feet of gas (283.168 billion cubic metres), which represents a potential 10 million tons of liquid natural gas (LNG) over the next 20 years.

Japan imports 60 million tons of LNG per year.

Mitsui has a 20 percent stake in this project in the Rovuma basin, which also involves Mozambique’s oil and gas company ENH and US company Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

The companies plan to start producing liquid natural gas in 2018 following negotiations with the Mozambican government, which are expected to begin in 2013. (macauhub)


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The Port of Durban has issued a memo to all ships agents reminding them of existing radiation contamination precautions that were put in place following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March this year.

The memo from Captain Sanjoy Sen reads:

There is a worldwide concern regarding ‘Radiation Contamination’ coming through the cargoes originating from Japan.

In order to address the issue the National Nuclear Regulator have taken a very proactive action at the right time.

NNR has given instructions to inspect and monitor ‘Radioactive Contamination’ of all cargoes that are exported from Japan after March 11, 2011.

To coordinate and carry out this exercise, we require the following information from all the shipping agents in advance.

Vessel’s Name
ETA Durban
Berthing at
List of Japanese Cargoes for Durban Discharge
Dates Cargo was Loaded in Japan
ETD Durban

So far only two agencies have reported such vessels and the cargoes.

Please note that Nuclear Radiation is a national concern and therefore all shipping agents are expected to cooperate.

Best Regards

Captain Sanjoy Sen
Marine Safety & Environmental Manager
Port of Durban



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We started today’s edition with a cruise ship, so let’s finish with one of yesteryear’s versions of the same, the passenger liners. In this picture we see the Union-Castle liner CARNARVON CASTLE in mid ocean on 19 April 1962, crossing with the passing Union-Castle ship RHODESIA CASTLE. Picture by Trevor Jones

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Above is the Italian Lloyd Triestino liner GALILEO GALILEI (27,907-gt, built 1961/3) which was introduced into service between Italy and Australia as an immigrant ship, although if truth be known she also brought new standards of luxury to immigrant travel. Initially the ship travelled out via the Suez Canal but later in the 1960s she began travelling via the Cape of Good Hope. In 1979 she began a new life as a cruise ship although this was short lived in Lloyd Triestino ownership and after a period of being laid up, she was sold to Chandris Lines. The ship ended her days with Sun Cruises in 1999 after an engine room fire. This picture was taken outside Durban in mid 1969, also by Trevor Jones


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