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Ports & Ships Maritime News

28-29 April 2011
Author: Terry Hutson


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

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Monday 2 May is a public holiday in South Africa. Our next News Bulletin will appear on Tuesday, 3 May



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What’s in a name? It’s often something of a curiousity when ships carry names that appear out of the ordinary, though enquiry might reveal that everything is sane and logical. The name of a ship is, to some of us at any rate, an embodiment of that ship’s personality, and that is said without getting into a debate over whether ships, like locomotives, aircraft and even motor vehicles have their very own ’personalities’ including unexplainable bad habits!

One recalls, for example, about ten years ago a shipping group had named a number of ships after football players, all from the same famous club in the UK I think it was, but this could be put down as universal enthusaism for the game and club. Whether there was a full team of 11 ships plus reserves I can’t recall, but I often wondered what what would happen when a player lost form and was dropped or transferred, but perhaps that was never a problem for the club in question. All this trivia came to mind with the arrival of a picture of an oddly-named chemical tanker that called at Durban during April, named STENA FR8 1 (46,846-dwt, built 2007). No doubt there’s a perfectly logical explanation as to why this oddity appears on the bows and stern of an otherwise ordinary looking vessel, but a quick delve into Equasis for details of this ship unveiled a second ship of the same basic dimensions and year of build, named STENA FR 8 2. Both are operated by a Singapore-based company named Stena Navig8. A little more digging showed that prior to 2007 the first ship was named Fr8 Freedom while the other was previously named Fr8 Fortitude. Perhaps there’s a reader or two out there that can shed a little light on this. – Terry Hutson

FR8 1 seen leaving Durban. Picture by Trevor Jones


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MSC Sinfonia arriving at Durban – picture by Trevor Steenekamp

It’s been a successful and pleasurable six months cruising in southern African waters for MSC SINFONIA, which is currently on her last journey to Mozambique before departing from Durban on Saturday 30 April for the final time this summer.

The 58,701 ton Lirica class ship sails for Cape Town on Saturday, arriving there on 3 May where coastal passengers will disembark and new passengers board for the 18-day cruise to Genoa in Italy. Many of the latter will have flown in from Europe for this voyage.

MSC Sinfonia and another MSC Cruises ship, MSC Melody have enjoyed the most popular and successful cruise season ever in South African waters, with coastal cruises out of Cape Town (MSC Melody) to Mossel By or to Walvis Bay, and cruises from Durban (MSC Sinfonia) to Mozambique islands and destinations including Maputo. In all, more than 120,000 people have enjoyed a cruise on these two ships during the summer months.

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MSC Melody

During the recent summer MSC Melody introduced a number of 5 and 6-day cruises to Madagascar as well as joining MSC Sinfonia on longer cruises that visited Mauritius and Reunion. MSC Sinfonia meanwhile spent much of her time on the highly popular 4 and 5-day cruises between Durban and the Mozambique coast, with these arriving and leaving Durban on Mondays and Fridays.

The good news for those that can hardly wait for more cruising opportunities, is that both ships are due back here from November for yet another season of cruising. MSC Sinfonia arrives in Durban on 8 November 2011 and sails for Cape Town and Italy on 26 March 2012 after four months of cruising.

The stately MSC Melody will arrive in Cape Town on 6 December 2011 and depart back to Europe on 20 February 2012. In between there will be coastal cruises out of the Mother City to Walvis Bay on the west coast and to Mossel Bay on the east, as well as extended 6 and 10-day cruises between Durban and Fort Dauphin in Madagascar and to Mauritius.

Then there is an exciting 11-day cruise from Durban on board the Melody that visits Ile Sainte Marie - the pirate haven of old on Madagascar’s east coast which is steeped in history, Pointe des Galets in Reunion, and Port Louis in Mauritius. This particular cruise is surely the real cherry on top as far as the coming summer season is concerned. Roll on summer!


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MSC Melody off the Mother City – back in December


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A Konecrane of the type ordered by Transnet Capital Projects

South Africa’s state-owned transport conglomerate Transnet has ordered three Konecranes Rail Mounted Gantry (RMG) cranes for intermodal operations in Johannesburg.

The order – placed by a specialist unit, Transnet Capital Projects – represents Konecranes’ first in South Africa for container handling equipment.

The yard cranes will go into operation at Johannesburg’s City Deep Container Terminal, with delivery scheduled for 2012.

City Deep Container Terminal is a key link in the country’s complex logistic network. It is the largest of six major inland terminals that connect with South Africa’s ports.

Containers unloaded at various regional ports are transported to City Deep Container Terminal by rail before being dispatched by truck to their final destination. The new RMGs will load and unload containers between rail and truck.

According to the Finland-headquartered manufacturer, the yard gantries will reduce the operation time on each train and increase the productivity of the terminal.

The RMG cranes are equipped with Active Load Control, which provides advanced anti-sway features and horizontal fine positioning, without hydraulics. They have a lifting capacity of 41 tonnes, lifting height of 11.5 metres and a span of 22.5 metres. They are equipped with a rotating trolley. These features improve product performance, which increases operational performance.

Konecranes’ local branch in Johannesburg will take care of the local support and the preventive maintenance of the cranes during the first year of operation as well as a RailQ inspection on the crane tracks. RailQ is a new Konecranes product that gives three dimensional measurements of the rails, ensuring that the track remains according to tolerances.

“We look forward to the operational improvement and efficiency offered through Konecranes’ advanced product offering,” said Vernon Kretzschmar, procurement lead Gauteng, Transnet Capital Projects.


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NSRI called into action

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NSRI towing the yacht Muirsheen Durkin

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was called out to evacuate a stroke victim from an oil tanker at sea off Saldanha.

The sea rescue took place on Sunday morning when volunteers from the NSRI Mykonos station launched their rescue boat Spirit of Freemasonry to rendezvous with the Pakistani crude oil tanker MAR PRINCESS (96,648-dwt, built 1991) and to provide medical assistance to the ship’s master, a 38-year old Pakistani, who had suffered a stroke.

“The call had been received by Maritime Authorities the day before and an SA Air Force 22 Squadron helicopter, NSRI Air Sea Rescue Unit and Metro EMS rescue paramedics were placed on alert at approximately 16h00 but due to the distance from shore, off Port Nolloth, where the ship was at that stage, and the approaching nightfall, the decision was taken to effect a boat sea rescue operation staged from Saldanha Bay in the morning and NSRI Mykonos was placed on alert,” said Darius van Niekerk, NSRI Mykonos station commander.

In the meantime a Metro EMS doctor relayed medical information to the ships medical crew to assist with treatment during the night. “NSRI Mykonos sea rescue craft, accompanied by an Atlantic Medical Services paramedic, rendezvoused with the ship at midday seven nautical miles off-shore of Saldanha Bay in rough 4 to 5 metre swells and a 21 knot north-westerly wind,” said van Niekerk. “The patient was stabilised, transferred onto our sea rescue craft and brought ashore where we were met by Metro EMS paramedics from the METRO EMS Red Cross AMS helicopter who further assisted to stabilise the patient who was then transported to hospital in a stable condition.

NSRI Mykonos was unable to stand down for long, because at 15h00 it was activated to assist the yacht Muirsheen Durkin, sailing from Cape Town to Namibia and experiencing engine failure.

“We rendezvoused with the yacht off-shore of Langebaan and towed the yacht safely into port where she will effect repairs,” said van Niekerk.


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Just a year after establishing its own subsidiary in Kenya, which it said at the time would be used as a springboard for expanding operating in Africa, international logistics provider Logwin has announced that the Kenya hub will become its gateway into East and Central Africa.

This is as a result of the rapidly developing trade between the region and China and India. The Logwin subsidiary in Kenya will handle incoming freight and cargo through the airport at Nairobi and the seaport at Mombasa, which is then distributed across the region.

Logwin, which has a strong focus on textiles and fashion imports is already well established in South Africa and is reported to be eyeing a 2012 or 2013 opening in Ghana, West Africa. With concerns over political stability the choices of Kenya and Ghana seem logical but so far Logwin hasn’t moved into the logistics of supply and has restricted itself to providing sea and air freight services to customers.


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Dubai, 26th April 2011 – Topaz Energy and Marine, a leading oilfield services group, has secured a two vessel contract offshore Nigeria for the duration of 2011. The award constitutes a new market entry for Topaz in the strategically important and buoyant West African offshore sector.

Topaz has mobilised two anchor handling tug supply vessels (AHTSV), TOPAZ JOHOR and TOPAZ JURONG for an eight month contract to support operations in the Atlas, Mira and Brittania fields, offshore Nigeria, on behalf of AXXIS Petroconsultants Ltd.

The award of the contract follows the development of a Topaz management team for West Africa, led by Roy Donaldson, Chief Operating Officer at Topaz Marine, who has over 10 years of operational experience in Nigeria.

“This award fits well with our international expansion plan and is significant since it lays the first cornerstone of Topaz’s strategic presence in the region,” said Topaz Chief Executive Officer, Fazel A. Fazelbhoy. “These markets are large, high growth and will reward those that are well prepared with the right strategy. The youth and operational flexibility of our fleet gives us a compelling advantage due to increasingly stringent safety regulations and vessel age restrictions.

“We have taken our first step in the West African offshore sector and we believe this market has immense potential for growth. We look forward to exploring further market opportunities during the course of the year.”

Topaz’s entry into West Africa is part of the group’s long-term strategy to follow ‘future oil' and expand into deep-water offshore growth markets. Earlier in 2011, Topaz Marine completed the successful US$ 40 million acquisition of two anchor handling vessels in Brazil, operating on 3-year contracts for Petrobras, marking its entry into the Brazilian offshore sector. Topaz, which operates a fleet of approximately 100 offshore support vessels and provides energy and marine engineering services, believes that both of these contracts will serve as spring boards for growing its operations further.

Topaz is a wholly owned subsidiary of Renaissance Services SAOG, a publicly traded company on the Muscat Securities Market, Oman.


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Contrary to our earlier report (Tuesday, 26 April) that the Greek bulk carrier EAGLE has been released following the payment of a US$ 6 million ransom, it is learnt that the ship is still being held by pirates. Ecoterra reports that the pirate spokesman making the announcement ‘mistook’ the ship for another, the RENUAR, which he said was because they are both Greek owned and both have crews of 24, all Filipinos.

As a result we alter our report of Tuesday and announce that RENUAR (70,123-dwt, built 1993) has been ransomed for $ 6m and is on its way to Fujairah. Renuar was en route to Port Louis, Mauritius when seized on 11 December 2010.

NATO reports that there is at least one group of pirates active in the Arabian Sea and warns that there may be others. Further south, NATO says that although there is a low level of activity, perhaps as a result of counter piracy actions in the southern Somali Basin, at least one whaler is known to be active.

This whaler is thought to be operating along the Kenya/Tanzania coast towards the Mozambique Channel, where a South African frigate is on patrol. In addition to this, the captured fishing vessel JIH CHUN TSAI 68, which is being used as a pirate mother ship, remains missing and may be active in this area as well.

In the north in the Gulf of Aden there is a slight increase of activity with a pirate mother ship possibly in operation. NATO says it is not unusual to find that in the Babal Mandeb Strait area fishermen are carrying guns and they do attempt to fish close to the wake of larger ships, possibly causing confusion.



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The smart looking Danish-owned and operated, Bahamas-flagged bulker CLIPPER SPIRIT (30,475-dwt, built 2009) seen passing Wilson’s Wharf in Durban at the Easter weekend. Pictures by Trevor Jones

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