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Ports & Ships Maritime News

16 May, 2011
Author: Terry Hutson


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The South African Navy frigate SAS MENDI (F148) returned to Durban on Friday, 13 May from her deployment in the Mozambique Channel where the ship has been on anti-piracy patrol. While in the northern approaches to the Channel she was based at the Mozambique of Pemba. Picture by Clinton Wyness.


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As featured above, the South African Navy frigate SAS MENDI (F148) has returned from her deployment of anti-pirate patrols in the northern reaches of the Mozambique Channel. The warship arrived back in Durban on Friday morning, 13 May 2011 after a three month deployment. As reported previously, it is believed but not yet confirmed, that SAS AMATOLA has taken her place at the Pemba base in northern Mozambique. The South African Air Force has also deployed a C47 maritime reconnaissance aircraft at Pemba to undertake aerial patrols of the Mozambique and Tanzanian coasts.

French frigate disrupts pirate mothership

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FS Nivose in Durban. Picture by Terry Hutson

On Friday 13 May the French patrol frigate FS NIVÔSE which is attached to the European Naval force operating off Somalia, EU NAVFOR, disrupted a Dhow that is suspected of being used as a Pirate Action Group (PAG) mothership since it was pirated over a year ago.

The Dhow, which is suspected of having carried out several recent attacks in the Arabian Sea and which still has her original crew on board as hostages, was spotted by an EU NAVFOR German Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) earlier the same day. Once identified, the Dhow was tracked by the MPRA which guided the FS NIVÔSE into position.

In the morning of 13 May, the French warship and her helicopter approached the suspected pirate dhow and ordered her to stop. During the approach, several weapons and two attack skiffs were seen on board the Dhow. As she was considered to pose a very real threat to merchant shipping in the area and after several verbal warnings, the FS NIVÔSE was forced to fire warning shots at the Dhow in an attempt to get her to comply. The warning shots were also ignored but the Dhow changed course back toward Somalia.

Concerns for the safety of the hostages, who are under constant threat of death or violence from the suspected pirates, prevented the FS NIVÔSE from taking any further action against the suspect vessel but, unwilling to let her go with her attack skiffs on board, the French warship entered into a lengthy conversation with the suspected pirates who were ordered to abandon the skiffs. Snipers from the Estonian Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) on board the FS NIVOSE proved vital to reinforce this order.

The skiffs were eventually abandoned by the suspected pirates and the Dhow sailed off in the direction of Somalia. Without attack skiffs, it is nearly impossible for a Pirate Attack Group to launch further attacks.

Spanish sailors off Vega-5 released after ransom is paid

According to Ecoterra International two Spanish fishermen from the Mozambique fishing vessel VEGA 5 that was captured by pirates on 28 December, have been released.

The two Spaniards were put ashore in Somalia and held for ransom while the remainder of te Vega-5 crew were forced to take a large group of pirates to sea using the fishing vessel as a mothership. Vega-5 and her skiffs were subsequently involved in a fire-fight with the Indian Navy in Indian waters and was destroyed, with a number of Mozambican fishermen and sailors being killed. Others were plucked out of the sea and taken to India before being repatriated to Beira in Mozambique, leaving 11 of the original Mozambican crew remaining unaccounted for.

Ecoterra reports that the ransom paid was substantial, involving multi-millions of dollars. This figure will be disputed butin any event it is not good news for two South African sailors that are being held for ransom in Somalia.

GOOD READ: Rich Returns for Somali Pirates Evading Capture in Gulf of Aden

by Robert Young Pelton

13 May 2011 (Bloomberg) - Tucked behind the shouting dockworkers and fishermen cleaning their nets at the wharf in Bosaso, on the Gulf of Aden in Somalia, there’s a row of decrepit gray skiffs and patrol boats.

Strewn with rusted anti-aircraft shells and old mattresses, these dead ships look more like floating homeless shelters than vehicles of terror. Out on the water, though, they played a starring role in a booming criminal enterprise. These are the impounded attack vessels used by Somali pirates to hijack passing cargo ships, private yachts, and even oil tankers.

Drive a few hundred yards west along the beach, and there, just past the presidential compound, is a well-worn and crowded jail, with 248 pirates among its 400 prisoners, Bloomberg Businessweek reported in its 16 May issue.

Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, the president of Puntland, insisted that I visit the prison to prove that his tough stand on maritime kidnappers was not just talk. Somalia has not had an effective central government since 1991, and Puntland is one of its seven autonomous regions. Minutes after entering the prison, I met 51-year-old Farah Hirsi Kulan, or ‘Boyah.’

Halfway into an eight-year sentence for piracy, Kulan lounged outside a packed cell block with another famous bandit, Omar Bagaley. A newly arrested 13-year-old, Saynab, sat wedged between Bagaley’s knees on a concrete slab.

Read the remainder of this excellent account here Bloomberg Business Week Use your Back Button to return to this page.


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Emirates Shipping Line adds South China to its Asia-Africa service

Emirates Shipping Line has added two calls in South China to a service linking Southeast Asia and East Africa, the line said last Wednesday.

Emirates’ AFA service now has a rotation of Hong Kong, Shekou, Singapore, Port Klang, Colombo, Mombasa, Tanga, Dar Es Salaam, Singapore and Hong Kong. This is being operated with four ships averaging 1,968-TEU each.

Maersk has good first quarter

Danish shipping company Maersk Line has enjoyed a record first quarter profit improvement of 82% year-on-year of US$ 1.2 billion. This was on a 10% increase in revenue which reached $14.5 billion ($13.2bn last year), which the company said was primarily due to higher container freight rates, container volumes and oil prices. The Group’s ROIC increased to 11.7% (7.6%).

Maersk Oil also recorded increased profits of $ 512 million, up 35.2%, which it said was assisted by the 38% increase in oil prices to $ 105 a barrel. “We have had a good start to the year and are very satisfied with the results,” said group CEO Nils S Andersen. “Our businesses have performed very well, even as tanker rates have remained low, and container rates have been decreasing.

“In the past six months we have made significant investments in ships, terminals, drilling rigs and oil fields. These reflect our continued strong confidence in the long term future of our markets and not least our ability to continue to compete successfully,” he said.

Red ink for Hapag-Lloyd

It wasn’t such happy tidings for German container carrier Hapag-Lloyd, despite higher operating profits in the first quarter 2011 when compared year-on-year, but interest rates saw the German line recording its bottom line in red ink.

Revenues rose by 16.5% to € 1.483 million, thanks mainly to a 10% increase in the average freight rate. Transport volumes went up 2% to 1.2 million TEU carried by the line and adjusted EBIT (earnings before interests and taxes) totalled € 16.1 million, up by € 9.4 million on last year.

“Given the prevailing conditions, we achieved a good result in the first quarter,” said commented Michael Behrendt, Chairman of the Executive Board of Hapag-Lloyd Holding AG. “Nevertheless, the rise in the oil price, the weak US-dollar and growing competition are making business more difficult. Our aim must be to see that the additional external challenges are covered by appropriate rate increases.”

Hanjin Shipping also in the red

Falling rates and rising fuel costs are to blame for driving South Korean shipping company Hanjin Shipping into the red for the first quarter of 2011. This after the company announced a first quarter operating loss.

Revenues reached US$ 1.9 million for the first quarter, which is an increase of 16.9% year-on-year, but the operating loss amounted to $11 million. Hanjin’s container division loss was $ 28 million on volumes amounting to $ 1.6 billion, which was a 15.6% increase on 2010.

According to Hanjin the main reasons can be found with the downturn of freight rates on the Asia-Europe trade, where capacity is increasing but so are fuel and logistics costs. “We will concentrate on maintaining profitability by optimising our trade lanes through various cost-cutting measures,” the company said in a statement.

Hanjin’s bulk division achieved an operating profit of $ 17 million, which it said is due to the profits earned in advance with long-term vessel chartering and cargo transport contracts made during the previous market boom.

K Line chief resigns

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Kenichi Kuroya

Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (‘K’ Line) president and chief executive officer Kenichi Kuroya tendered in his resignation effective 13 May 2011, without any reason being given for the resignation. He had been in office for just one year.

The board of directors have elected Jiro Asakura, presently vice-president, to take over the reins from Kuroya as president and CEO. Kuroya however remains as a director of the company.


DP World 1st Quarter volumes up 8.5%

DP World, the Dubai-based terminal operator said last week that in the first quarter of 2011 it had handled 6.8 million TEU, an increase of 8.5% on the same term in 2010. This was achieved across the 49 terminals that DP World operates either fully or partially across the world, including several in Africa and Madagascar. DP World intends seeking a listing on the London Stock Exchange later this month or early in June, for which the company will release shares valued at approximately 20% of the company’s worth.

ICTSI increases income by 25% to US$ 28.5 million

International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) yesterday reported consolidated unaudited financial results for the quarter ended 31 March 2011, posting revenue from port operations of US$ 154.9 million, an increase of 28% over the US$ 120.7 million reported last year, Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) of US$ 71.2 million, 26% higher than the US$ 56.6 million generated in 2010, and net income attributable to equity holders of US$ 28.5 million, up 25% over the US$ 22.8 million earned last year.

ICTSI said the higher net income was mainly due to an increase in volume brought about by the continued recovery of international trade, favourable container volume mix, and higher revenues from storage and ancillary services.

Container terminal operations in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), comprised of terminals in Poland, Madagascar, Syria and Georgia, handled 139,467 TEUs in the first quarter of 2011, 21% higher compared to the 115,039 TEUs handled in the same period in 2010.

LOGISTICS Klaus-Michael Kuehne stands down as chairman of Kuehne + Nagel Logistics

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Klaus-Michael Kuehne

Switzerland - A legendary figure of the freight industry, Klaus-Michael Kuehne, announced last week that he is to relinquish his role as Chairman of the Kuehne + Nagel Group, one of the world’s leading logistics companies. He will retain his majority shareholding and a place on the Group’s board.

In a meeting following Kuehne’s recommendation to the Board of Directors, Karl Gernandt, Executive Vice-Chairman, was elected to become the new Chairman.

“The Kuehne + Nagel Group is well positioned among the leading global logistics providers, has maintained a remarkable course of success and strives for sustained growth. Based on this, I have decided to pass further responsibilities into younger hand,” said Kuehne.

Jointly founded by Kuehne’s grandfather in 1890, Kuehne + Nagel now has more than 58,000 employees at 900 locations in over 100 countries and is one of the world’s biggest logistics companies with very strong market positions in the seafreight, airfreight, contract logistics and overland transport markets. Much of this was accrued under Klaus- Michael’s leadership, which began in the mid-1960’s.

“I am convinced that Mr Gernandt as my successor in the function as Chairman will ensure stability and continuity, fostering the company’s further development,” said Kuehne. “As majority shareholder and member of the Board of Directors my dedication to the Kuehne + Nagel Group remains unchanged and I will continue to support expanding its leading position in the global logistics industry,” he said.


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A new anti boarding device has been developed by a Cape Town company which aims at preventing pirates from boarding a ship moving at sea.

The development comes after pirate attacks have reached record numbers of seized ships and seafarers, who are being held for long periods while complicated ransom negotiations are carried out.

The Cape Town firm of Vessel Protection Systems is headed by ex seafaring officers with long experience of being at sea and in command of ships. The following report describes the new product which appears to have found a fool-proof way of preventing unlawful access to a moving ship.


The Anti Boarding Device is a system to utilise the best features of razor wire, while avoiding the inherent dangers of handling the material.

A coil of razor wire is encased in a fibre glass canister and hung on the outside of a ship’s rail. Multiple canisters are employed and fitted roughly every 18 metres, starting at the break of the forecastle.

The razor wire is deployed either manually or remotely, using the ship’s air system.

When deployed, the razor wire presents the attacker with multiple parallel and overlapping coils, all behaving in erratic ways, as the ship’s speed through the water causes the coils to jump around. This makes boarding the vessel extremely hazardous, and the system is virtually impossible to negate.

Disadvantages of Permanent Razor Wire

Permanently installed razor wire is a nightmare for the installer, the working of the ship, and for ISM auditors.

It is often impossible to launch life rafts or lifeboats when the razor wire is in position.

Gangways have to be lowered on each docking, and the permanent razor wire has to be unfastened. Each time razor wire is stretched or unfastened, the likelihood of injury to the crew is great.

There are ports where the vessel is not welcome on the wharf with the razor wire installed, and some stevedore companies refuse to work ships that are festooned in razor wire.

Although well galvanised, razor wire will rust if left out in the elements for more than a month or so.

Advantages of the Anti Boarding Device

The fibre glass canisters are easily carried and hung in position, as they weigh less than 30 kilos each. They can be positioned so as to completely protect areas such as the gangway with ease, and can simply be lifted off the rail when the ship is in port.

None of the crew need ever touch the razor wire, and the wire will never touch the vessel unless under attack, when the wire would be deployed.

The razor wire is treated with a moisture and rust repellent, and as it is well protected inside the canister, it should last a minimum of 4 years unless deployed.

The canisters can be installed by the ship’s crew in a very short time, as the ship is entering the danger zone, and then lifted off and stored back in the bosun’s locker until needed again.

For a company running more than one vessel through the Gulf of Aden, it would be a simple and quick operation to use a store ashore in, say, Suez. A ship southbound could pick up the canisters in Suez, install them on the passage south so that they were ready for use while transiting the Gulf of Aden and the N. Indian ocean, and then drop them off in, say, Singapore. The next westbound vessel could then pick them up, use them for protection, and drop them off in Suez.

For those worried about the damage to the hull paint caused by the razor wire sliding up and down, (this applies especially to Superyacht captains), considering that as the pirates are likely to spray the ship with automatic gunfire, the damage to the paintwork is negligible. In any case, it is definitely cheaper to patch paintwork than to pay ransoms.

For more information contact Vessel Protection Systems or email info@vpsystems.co.za. This includes a video of the system in use on the website.

Alternately click on the banner at the top of this page.


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Map: Wikimedia Commons

The Management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has restated its commitment to the effective implementation of the provisions of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marpol 73/78 Convention as it relates to the management of the nation’s Marine Environment.

NIMASA’s Director General, Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi stated this when he led the Agency’s management on a facility tour of the operations of the African Circle Pollution Management limited located in the Free Zone Enterprise on the Snake Island in Lagos. The DG’S visit to the African Circle was part of efforts to ensure that the provisions of the IMO MARPOL 1973/78 Conventions as relates to adequacy of Port Reception facilities in the country are complied with.

Akpobolokemi disclosed that the Agency will support Public Private Partnership models to facilitate effective management of Ship generated waste within the Nigerian marine and Coastal environment adding that a roadmap on Marine Waste Management in Nigeria will soon be made public.

He said that Regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Nigerian laws were taken into consideration in arriving at the road map structured to provide the ideal platform to grow the business of Managing Waste generated in the Nigerian Maritime Environment.

While commending the Management of African Circle for the Lagos operations which he described as the best in West Africa, the DG advised them to work at improving operations in Port Harcourt, Calabar, Warri and Onne Ports.

He noted that investment in Waste Management in the Nigerian Marine Environment will not only improve the country’s rating in the global maritime industry, but also have a multiplier effect of employment generation in Nigeria amongst others.

“It is to the benefit of Nigerians that this Public Private Partnership model of managing waste in our Marine Environment is sustained and encouraged to grow rapidly. We are committed to the growth of this industry. Because if you look at the manpower development, employment generation, economic activities, besides the fact that they help us meet IMO requirements in Managing Waste in our Marine Environment, you will agree with me that it is worth Government support to ensure growth.” he said.

Mr Akpobolokemi also declared that the Agency will look at issues based on IMO regulations and Nigerian laws in working out the guidelines that will provide the ideal environment to grow the business of managing waste generated in the Nigerian marine environment.

The NIMASA helmsman assured that the Agency will ensure an annual audit of the facility so as to maintain IMO standard adding that their level of compliance with the Nigerian Local Content Act is quite encouraging.

Nigeria looks east to Singapore for guidance

A five member team from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was in Singapore earlier this year to study how the city state operates its world-class ports, Seatrade Asia reports. The visit came in conjunction with an NPA agreement with the Sinagpore-based Tolaram Group to build and operate a port 60km east of Lagos, Nigeria.

The 60-year old Tolaram Group which began with manufacturing businesses, is now looking towards infrastructure and energy sectors. Having been active in Nigeria since 1977, Tolaram has a sound understanding of the terrain there. “We have always been committed to the economic development of Nigeria and see this port as another opportunity to demonstrate our commitment,” said Tolaram Group director and MD for Nigeria, Haresh Aswani.

When completed, Aswani said the Lekki port will be capable of servicing the entire West African coast. The port will be developed in phases with the first expected to be operational by 2015. It will have three container berths equipped to handle over 1.8 million TEUs, two liquid berths and one berth for dry bulk cargo. When fully completed, Lekki should be able to handle some 6 million TEUs as well as ‘significant volumes of liquid and dry bulk cargoes’. – Seatrade asia


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Dear Ports & Ships

It is good to see Transnet's new focus on its container and automotive services and also that the lessons of the bulk lines, in which rail has a true economic advantage, are to be applied on the busy Durban Gauteng Corridor Transnet Freight Rail ring fences container and auto services Ports & Ships 12-13 May 2011

The operational improvements to the container service are there for all to see but, from a national economic welfare perspective, it is important to ask whether the new CAB will be charging tariffs that achieve a proper economic return on all of the investments that have been, and will be, applied to this corridor, as well as fully covering the operating costs of the service.

If tariffs do not cover both the investment costs and the operating costs then the business will simply be purchasing operational improvements at too high a cost.

While Mr Gama rightly draws attention to rail's significant carbon footprint performance advantage over road transport, unless the environmental advantage exceeds the difference between full cost coverage and the tariffs actually being charged, then an economic liability, not an asset, will be the outcome.

My experience with the costing of environmental externalities shows that, even at very generous prices for carbon, the environmental component is a small proportion of total costs. The implication is that, unless the new business is very close indeed to yielding a proper economic return on capital, then environmental advantage will be insufficient to mitigate an otherwise uneconomic investment.

If, however, the tariffs to be charged by the CAB will indeed cover all of its costs then Transnet is to be congratulated and supported. If not, some hard questions should be asked about why a State Owned Enterprise should be permitted to continue making uneconomic investments; investments that will ultimately cause a deterioration, not an improvement in national welfare.

Andrew Marsay, Transport Economist
Randburg, Gauteng
South Africa


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The classic shape of the SD14 freighter SAFINA 2 (8996-gt, built 1986, the former Phuong Dong 2), and a type now becoming a rare ‘bird’ in our ports. This vessel was first observed at Maydon Wharf where she was loading bagged sorghum but these pictures were taken on Sunday 15 May as the ship moved from her berth towards the channels and the open sea. Pictures by Trevor Jones

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