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Ports & Ships Maritime News

7 September  2011
Author: Terry Hutson


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Yesterday we published a report with a distant photograph of the heavylift semi submersible ship MIGHTY SERVANT 1 with a jack-up rig loaded on board, which is currently passing along the South African eastern seaboard in a south-westerly direction.

Several readers have enquired asking what a semi submersible heavylift ship loaded with a jack-up rig looks like. On 24/25 October last year a sister ship, the MIGHTY SERVANT 3 was in Cape Town carrying a damaged rig, which gives a good impression of both. Picture by Frank Vennard/Videographics


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South African port statistics for the month of August 2011 that are to hand courtesy of Transnet NPA, show that total cargo handled at all ports amounted to 23.028 million tonnes (21.533mt for July) while containers totaled 404,723 TEUs, up from 388,069-TEUs in July.

The volume of cargo handled in August is one of the highest ever recorded for the South African port system.

The number of containers handled in July increased from July’s 388,069-TEUs to 404,723 and although not a record, remains a respectable improvement on the previous month as the ‘busy season’ progresses. Of this quantity 189,771 TEUs were exported, compared with 214,952 TEUS imported during the month.

To compare the 2011 August figures year on year with August of 2010, when a total of 21.061mt of cargo was handled (415,978-TEUs), go to the following link CLICK HERE. Use your BACK button to return to this page.

In August the number of containers handled at Ngqura increased to 51,394-TEU, while nearby Port Elizabeth containers decreased to 30,866-TEU.

The country’s big performer during August was Richards Bay, which handled 8.743 million tonnes of cargo, with bulk cargo (mostly coal) totaling 8.412mt. Excluding the small number of containers handled at Richards Bay, the port’s exports totaled 8,030mt compared with imports of 0.698mt.

As is standard with figures reported in PORTS & SHIPS, these reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to those provided by Transnet to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers by number of TEUs and no longer by weight.

To arrive at such a calculation, PORTS & SHIPS has used an average of 13,5 tonnes per TEU, which may involve some under-reporting but until the IMO enforces the weighing of containers at all ports we will have to live with these estimates. Nevertheless, we continue to make this distinction to prevent South African ports from being under- reported internationally.

Figures for the respective ports during Ausgust 2011 are (with July 2011 figures shown bracketed):

CARGO handled by tonnes during August 2011

PORT August 2011 mt July 2011 mt
Richards Bay 8.743 6.680
Durban 7.525 6.830
Saldanha Bay 3.299 4.950
Cape Town 1.215 1.088
Port Elizabeth 1.209 0.947
Ngqura 0.737 0.660
Mossel Bay 0.095 0.180
East London 0.205 0.199
Total all ports mt 23.028 million tonnes 21.533 million tonnes


 CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during August 2011
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT August 2011 TEUs July 2011 TEUs
Durban 249,602 242,805
Cape Town 67,324 57,223
Port Elizabeth 30,866 32,948
Ngqura 51,394 48,705
East London 4,390 4,649
Richards Bay 1,147 1,739
Total all ports 404,723 388,069

SHIP CALLS for August 2011

PORT August 2011 vessels gross tons July 2011 vessels gross tons
Durban 360 10,692,675 350 10,140,758
Cape Town 208 4,386,059 229 3,851,884
Richards By 164 6,513,869 140 4,639,208
Port Elizabeth 115 2,661,535 112 2,644,850
Saldanha Bay 42 2,215,022 48 2,754,493
Ngqura 40 1,875,584 30 1,549,698
East London 27 513,759 27 561,831
Mossel By 172 187,496 152 234,332
Total port calls 1,122 29,045,999 1,086 26,377,054

- source TNPA, but with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container tonnages



Month Months exports YTD exports Annualised M/T/a ships trains
January 4,389,925 4,389,925 51.55 45 597
February 4,567,950 8,957,875 55.27 44 705
March 5,364,674 14,322,549 57.93 57 710
April 4,807,041 19,129,590 58.03 53 689
May 3,572,127 22,701,717 54.72 41 560
June 4,776,609 27,478,326 55.26 42 435
July 4,362,979 31,841,305 54.67 45 734
August 6,986,627 38,827,932 58.16 60 856

- source RBCT

RBCT shipped slightly more coal than it received from the mines via Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), which represents an impressive improvement on recent months for both TFR and RBCT. TFR’s performance can be seen in the number of trains run to the port, 60 during the month which is the highest monthly number this year.


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Liebherr ship-to-shore cranes at DCT. Picture Terry Hutson

Transnet said yesterday (Tuesday) that an agreement has been signed with China-based Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co (ZPMC) for the purchase of seven tandem lift ship- to-shore (STS) cranes which will go into service with the Durban Container Terminal, Pier 2.

“This is part of targeted interventions to renew Transnet’s fleet of port handling equipment in an effort to boost efficiency and productivity at South Africa’s flagship Terminal,” Transnet said in a statement.

The agreement, which was concluded at Transnet’s head office at the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg following a competitive tender process, is for the design, manufacture, delivery and commissioning of the seven cranes to replace some of the Terminal’s ageing infrastructure.

Pier 2, the larger of two container terminals in the Port of Durban operated by Transnet Port Terminals, achieved average moves per gross crane hour (GCH) of 23 during the financial year ended March 2011, which has been blamed on breakdowns in port equipment – straddle carriers and cranes. This average improved to 24,5 GCH during the last quarter of the same year as management interventions began to pay off.

The urgent procurement in terms of Transnet’s accelerated fleet renewal plan will address the terminal’s performance, making Pier 2 the first terminal in Africa to operate tandem lift STS cranes. The tandem lift capability of the cranes, which can simultaneously handle two 12m containers or four 6m containers within a hoisting capability of 80 tons, is a significant step towards making Pier 2 a globally competitive terminal as is the case with Pier 1.

Pier 1, which has state-of-the-art equipment, achieved an impressive 29,5 GCH over the previous quarter.

The purchase of the cranes will result in improved operational efficiencies and reduced service times. The cranes are also designed to suit the future deepened north quay berths of Pier 2 and be able to easily service the new generation megamax container vessels.

To be manufactured in China, the cranes will be installed during the 2012/13 financial year. In line with Transnet’s commitment to Government’s Competitive Supplier Development Programme (CSDP), the agreement has a significant localisation component which includes job creation, skills development and localisation. This will include partnering with a local partner for the manufacture of crane spares locally and for the provision of after sales support and maintenance.

CSDP, which is led by the Department of Public Enterprises, is an initiative designed to boost the local component of imported goods by encouraging original equipment manufacturers to partner with local suppliers.

The purchase of the cranes is in addition to the implementation of a Terminal Operating System, NAVIS Sparcs N4, which is intended to enable enhanced vessel and terminal planning to further boost efficiency at the terminal, although considerable ‘teething problems’ have been experienced at DCT which is a straddle carrier operation. NAVIS Sparcs N4 is said to be better suited for rubber tyre gantry type operations.

Transnet recently placed an order for 28 new diesel-electric straddle carriers, 14 of which have twin lift capability. “We have begun taking delivery of some of the parts, with the last batch due at the end of December this year,” said the statement.

The purchase forms part of Transnet’s R110,6 billion infrastructure investment programme for the next five years which is being funded on the strength of Transnet’s balance sheet. In addition to the purchase of new equipment for Pier 2, the programme includes capacity expansion for the Cape Town Container Terminal from 700,000 TEUs per annum to 1,4 million TEUs.

In Cape Town, Transnet reached another milestone when the new truck entrance and staging area was officially opened at the Cape Town Container Terminal (see yesterday’s News Report). This is a significant milestone for the port users, as it will alleviate truck congestion from Duncan Road, located within the Port of Cape Town.

The new truck entrance comprises four lanes and a fifth for abnormal cargo, compared with the original two lanes. In addition, the trucks will now be serviced from kiosks located adjacent to each lane, resulting in a quicker and safer service.


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Stung perhaps by the recent embarrassment of Somali pirates highjacking a ship from within the port limits of Salalah in Oman, the Omani navy and air force struck back promptly and efficiently when it was reported that the container ship NEDLLOYD AFRICA (48,508-gt, built 1992) had been highjacked by pirates off the coast of Salalah.

The Liberian-flagged, 3,602-TEU container ship was sailing approximately 35 n.miles southwest of the port when 10 pirates came on board, but not before the crew had sent out a message announcing they were under attack and had been boarded.

The Omani navy and air force responded, although details have not been provided by the Omani authorities, but when they arrived on the scene the pirates apparently threw away their weapons and surrendered. There were no injuries to either the ship’s crew or the pirates, it was reported.

While this was happening, Omani forces also secured the release of an Arab dhow that had earlier been captured by another group of pirates. No details of this engagement have been given although it appears that the dhow may have been used as a mother ship to attack the Nedlloyd Africa. Eleven Asian crew members of the dhow were released unharmed.

The captured pirates have been taken into custody by the Omani Police and will appear in a Salalah court. – OneOman.com

EU NAVFOR welcomes new ships

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SPS Galicia

The European Naval force operating an anti pirate patrol off the coast of Somalia has welcomed two new ships since the start of September, as other vessels are rotated back to their respective navies.

The two vessels to join EU NAVFOR are the Spanish amphibious ship SPS GALICIA and the Royal Dutch Navy logistics support ship HNLMS ZUIDERKRUIS. SPS Galicia is a modern Landing Platform Dock (LPD) commissioned in 1998. She displaces 13,800 tons and has a length of 160 metres and is equipped with two helicopters that assist in giving her the capability of accomplishing a wide variety of tasks with considerable operational flexibility and enhanced effectiveness within the Operation ATALANTA mission. This is her second deployment to the Horn of Africa. The Commanding Officer Captain Juan A Cornago Diufain is supported by a crew of 126 Officers and sailors and the ship and crew will be operating in the region for the next three months.

Commander Herman de Groot is the officer commanding the Dutch logistic support ship HNLMS Zuiderkruis. Together with a crew of 190 and boasting a Lynx helicopter, the ship will operate off the Horn of Africa until the end of November in support of World Food Programme and AMISOM escort ships and counter-piracy in the region.

Capable of replenishment other vessels with diesel oil, aviation fuel and provisions, HMNLS ZUIDERKRUIS will enhance the ability of EU NAVFOR and other warships to remain at sea for long periods.

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HNLMS Zuiderkruis


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NSRI’s Spirit of Vodacom. Picture by Ian Shiffman

Two NSRI stations in the Western Cape went on alert on Monday when a long line fishing vessel, the Herman S reported that rope had fouled its propellers which the crew of 20 had been unable to free. The vessel was then some 40 n.miles offshore of Cape Town.

Brad Geyser, NSRI Hout Bay station commander, said that although unable to continue fishing because of the rope fouled around her propellers and unable to retrieve two of her fishing long lines that were currently deployed in the water, the skipper reported all crew to be safe and in no imminent danger but that assistance was required to either free the rope or for the Herman S to be towed to the nearest safe port.

He said that both NSRI Hout Bay and NSRI Table Bay had been placed on alert. “NSRI Hout Bay volunteer duty crew launched our 7.3 metre rigid inflatable sea rescue craft ALBIE MATTHEWS accompanied by a salvage dive master (arranged by the vessels owners) and NSRI Table Bay launched their 13 metre deep sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF VODACOM.

“On arrival on-scene our NSRI Hout Bay sea rescue team found all 20 crew safe but their vessel was found to be rendered useless by the rope fouling the propellers. The diver was deployed into the water and in an hour-long dive operation, using cutting equipment, all rope was successfully cut free. “Once free of the rope and with the Herman S underway again and busy recovering her long lines before beginning her return to Hout Bay, we requested the NSRI Table Bay sea rescue boat to turn around and return to their base.” He said the fishing vessel was expected to arrive back in Hout Bay but that as a precaution the sea rescue stations would remain on high alert until then.

Motorists warned of Durban port road delays

The construction company busy upgrading and widening the road section of Bayhead Road from Langeberg Road as far as Pier 1 has issued a warning of delays in the Bayhead Road area as a result of excessive traffic, which it says is not connected with the roadworks.

Bayhead Road at times becomes one of the most congested roads in South Africa, with traffic for the harbour building up for several kilometres and remaining gridlocked for hours at a time. Transnet National Ports Authority has engaged the services of a road construction company to widen the road from two to four lanes and to create a number of truck stops in key points. This work is underway and is currently about halfway through the contract. Aurecon, the transportation planner says it will advise once the situation has improved but in the meantime motorists are advised not to use Bayhead Road if at all possible.

It’s official – Phoenix has gone to her watery grave

After a number of false alarms and predictions, the tanker PHOENIX which spent more than a month on the beach at Sheffield Beach on KZN’s North Coast, was finally scuttled yesterday southeast of Durban in deep water.

Foreign navy ships at Simon’s Town

In addition to two German Navy ships at Simon’s Town (see our News Report of yesterday), the Royal Navy Type 42 destroyer HMS EDINBURGH is also reported to be a visitor to the South African naval base. On Monday the British ship appeared to be undertaking some form of exercise judging from her tracking pattern. Meanwhile it is reported that a third German Navy ship may be on her way to join the frigate FGS Schleswig-Holstein and the destroyer FGS Sachsen. The additional vessel could be the fleet oiler FGS RHOEN A1443 SAS AMATOLA still on anti piracy patrol

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SAS Amatola. Picture by Manny Gounden

Reports that the South African frigate SAS AMATOLA has returned from anti-piracy patrol in the Mozambique Channel have proved to be incorrect and the warship was noted in the northern Mozambique port of Nacala from 3 September until Monday, 5 September. It is however thought that the ship’s tour of duty may be coming to an end after which another of the navy’s frigates will be rotated to the piracy patrol duty.


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Stretching the Save Our Seas

In Monday’s News you mention that the vessel at SA Shipyards (SAVE OUR SEAS) is possibly the first extension of its kind.

I can recall the prawn trawler ELIZE as well as two whale catchers that were cut and extended. This work was supervised by the late Dick Jenkins.

Paul Chinneck
(contact details provided)



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Seli 1, as of yesterday. Picture by Pat Downing

Announcing that the clean-up operations of oil from the shipwrecked bulker SELI 1 (which some wags are now calling SELI 3 because that’s how many pieces of the ship there now are) is complete, the City of Cape Town says it is taking legal advice over the matter but holds SAMSA and the TNPA and Department of Transport responsible.

The clean-up operation was called off on Monday when no more oil was detected as coming ashore.

“The rapid response by the City’s disaster response teams has averted serious pollution of marine live and environment over this past weekend”, said Alderman JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member: Safety and Security.

In a statement issued yesterday the City said it remained very concerned about the current situation of the SELI 1.

“Since the vessel stranded in September 2009 it has repeatedly had a negative impact on our environment and coastline. The City is in the process of calling an urgent meeting with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) regarding the fate of the vessel; and to establish what other preventative measures need to be implemented to avoid further oil pollution.

“The City believes that SAMSA and the National Ports Authority are legally responsible on behalf of the Department of Transport to ensure the safety of life and property at sea and within the port area; and to prevent and combat pollution of the marine environment by ships. However, the existing maritime legislation does not currently offer a solution to the crisis. It does not compel SAMSA to manage the wreckage. The City has engaged its legal advisers on the matter of using the Disaster Management legislation to address the current crisis.



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Unicorn Tankers’ products tanker LAVELA (40,100-dwt, built 2010) in Cape Town harbour this week. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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