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Ports & Ships Maritime News

4 July 2011
Author: Terry Hutson

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

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The South African polar supplyship SA AGULHAS in Cape Town harbour recently. Incidentally, the ship’s name is taken from the cape at the southernmost tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas, which is also where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans are said to merge. The name Agulhas itself comes from the Portuguese for ’needle’ which is thought to have been given because at this position the compass needle showed no deviation but pointed due north. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Port of Ngqura, looking across the pier built to accommodate dry bulk (nearside) and liquid bulk products (farside). So far it has never been used for either of these purposes. Picture by Terry Hutson

Siyabonga Gama, chief executive officer of Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) says he supports the use of Ngqura as the future manganese export channel, rather than the longer route to the port of Saldanha.

According to Gama the route to the Eastern Cape port would reduce the overall cost of a new manganese export channel by up to R3 billion. This is against an estimated cost of building the new channel to Saldanha of between R12bn and R15bn.

A study commissioned by Transnet to determine the best route for a new manganese export line is currently underway, with two options under consideration. One is to follow the existing iron ore line from the mines near Sishen to the Western Cape port of Saldanha, where more than 40 million tonnes of iron ore annually is carried for export.

The other route, which Gama says he favours, is from Sishen to the Eastern Cape port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth. Just over 2 million tonnes of manganese ore is currently exported to nearby Port Elizabeth along a route with a capacity of 4.2 million tonnes a year.

When the new port at Ngqura, 20km away was under construction, Transnet indicated that all manganese exports would be transferred to Ngqura where two dedicated deepwater berths were being provided. However, it then transpired that the stakeholders holding the leases for the Port Elizabeth manganese terminal had until 2016 before their leases ran out and were unwilling to relocate unless Transnet paid them out for their leases, which Transnet has been reluctant to do. As a result manganese continues to be exported through Port Elizabeth while at nearby Ngqura the two dry bulk berths (and the liquid bulk berth) stand empty and unused.

Anxiously awaiting some finality to this long-drawn out affair are local Port Elizabeth authorities who say they wish to develop a waterfront on land currently occupied by the manganese ore dump and the adjacent petroleum products tank farm. Alternately the area might be developed to enable the fishing industry to expand.

A proposed new line from Sishen to Ngqura would be approximately 550km long, compared with 860km to Saldanha. It hasn’t been indicated whether Transnet sees any likelihood of manganese sharing the existing iron ore line, but clearly the present rail route from the Northern Cape mines to the Eastern Cape is incapable of handling the 10 – 15 million tonnes of manganese ore being spoken about and would have to be rebuilt.

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A contract has been signed in Germany for the delivery of 28 new Terex diesel-electric Noell straddle carriers for the Durban Container Terminal.

Signing the contract on behalf of Transnet Port Terminals was CEO Karl Socikwa, who was accompanied to Frankfurt by Brian Molefe, chief executive of Transnet.

The first four of the 28 straddles will be delivered in September this year, with others following at regular intervals until the final delivery early in January 2012. They will be delivered in component form and assembled and commissioned on site at DCT.

This assembly and commissioning will be managed and performed by Terex Port Equipment Southern Africa (TPESA) together with engineers and quality control management from Terex Noell Germany.

TPESA and Terex Noell have committed a double figure percentage of the total contract value to the Transnet and Government driven Competitive Supplier Development Programme (CSDP).

This CSDP programme will encompass skills development at Transnet and at TPESA as well as the development of local suppliers and component manufacturer’s for the straddle carriers and, potentially, other Terex products.

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Greek ship to carry world’s largest kite

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SkySails at work

The world’s largest kite is to be installed on a Greek bulk cargo carrier, the 28,500-tonne AGHIA MARINA following the signing of a contract between the kite developers, Cargill and Greek ship owner and operator, Anbros Maritime SA.

The ship with a length of 175m is the largest so far to make use of the wind power technology developed by SkySails GmbH. The ship has an operating speed of 14 knots and is generally employed in carrying agricultural and industrial raw materials.

In February Cargill announced it had signed a supply agreement with SkySails that aims to use wind power technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping industry. SkySails, based in Hamburg, has developed an 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.

“We are delighted to partner with Anbros and announce the Aghia Marina as the largest vessel to use the SkySails technology to date”, said Roger Janson, head of Cargill’s ocean transportation business. “As Cargill is one of the world’s largest charterers of dry bulk freight, we take our environmental stewardship commitments very seriously and actively seek opportunities to help raise industry standards in a number of areas. We’ve had an excellent relationship with Anbros for many years and are delighted that they see the potential of this technology from both an environmental and fuel saving perspective.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the 320m² kite will be installed on the Aghia Marina in the first quarter of 2012, and the system will be fully up and running within a matter of weeks. Anbros has now joined Cargill and SkySails in the development and testing of the technology.

For the next five years the Aghia Marina, which Cargill has on long-term charter, will use the SkySails system. SkySails will be responsible for training the crew of the Aghia Marina on how to operate the kite propulsion. The SkySails towing kite will be connected to the ship by rope and will fly in a figure-of-eight formation at a height of between 100 to 420 metres. It is computer-controlled by an automatic pod to maximise wind benefits.

“Anbros Maritime is proud to announce the signing of an agreement with Cargill and SkySails to use wind power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel costs in the shipping industry,” said George J Angelakis, director of Anbros. “We are honoured to have been selected by Cargill to pioneer this ground-breaking green technology. We see this choice as an acknowledgement of our long-standing service in the industry and our reputation for a high standard of operational and technical management, maintenance, reliability and safety. Cargill and Anbros have been collaborating for many years and this agreement will strengthen these ties even further. We are committed to the success of this project in the hope that it will usher in a new era of greener shipping.”

Stephan Wrage, managing director of SkySails said they are confident that this partnership will lead to further developments. “In particular we see great potential to incorporate our technology on even larger ships in the future.”

CSAV negotiating with CMA CGM and MSC

According to the Chilean national carrier CSAV it is in negotiations with CMA CGM and MSC with regards joint operating agreements or consortia on some of its services.

Those services under discussion include routes between the Far East and Africa, Brazil and the Mediterranean, the Pacific coast services of South America with Northern Europe, and the east coast of South America with the Middle East.

CSAV says the discussions are aimed at increasing profitability, reducing volatility of results, and CSAV’s current exposure.

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Celebrity Silhouette leaving the Meyer Werft shipyard on 39 June 2011

Celebrity Cruises’ latest ship, CELEBRITY SILHOUETTE has left the German builders yard of Meyer Werft in Papenburg and headed downstream for Emshaven in the Netherlands for final touches to be added to the 122,000-gt ship ahead of her naming ceremony in Hamburg on 21 July.

Heading downstream sounds easy going – apparently it is anything but and involves a complex bit of seamanship taking over 12 hours to complete. This includes removing power lines and temporarily lifting railway tracks to enable the giant 2,850-passenger ship to pass, sailing in reverse in with the aid of several tugs.

The weather also has to be perfect, with a high tide at crucial points and calm winds. The route includes several locks as well as an aqueduct over a busy highway.

Celebrity Silhouette is the fourth of five planned ships of the Solstice class being built for Celebrity Cruises. When the first in the series, Celebrity Solstice was launched she was the largest cruise ship to be built in Germany – that record was broken last year by the DISNEY DREAM. Following Celebrity Solstice came the second in the class, Celebrity Equinox, followed by Celebrity Eclipse. The fifth ship to follow Celebrity Silhouette will be named Celebrity Reflection and is due for delivery early in 2012.

Once named, Celebrity Silhouette will depart Hamburg on her maiden cruise to Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, from where she will provide 12-night cruises to the Holy Land throughout the remainder of the northern summer, after which she heads across the Atlantic to sail also on 12-night Caribbean roundtrip cruises from Cape Liberty, New Jersey. These commence in November.

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The 6,750-TEU container ship MSC LAURA (75,590-gt, built 2002) in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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