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Ports & Ships Maritime News

7 December 2011
Author: Terry Hutson



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The Norwegian offshore supply vessel NORMAND SKARVEN (3149-gt, built 1986) arriving in Cape Town harbour this past week. Picture by Glen Kasner


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Port of Durban, a ship repair scene. Ships in the dock are from left GEO CARIBBEAN, OCEAN EXPLORER, NORMAND EXPLORER. Picture by Clinton Wyness

South African port statistics for the month of November 2011 that are now to hand courtesy of Transnet NPA, reflect once again a strong month for South African ports generally, with Richards Bay shining in the area of coal exports in particular.

Another bulk port to do well was Saldanha with 4.5 million tonnes of dry bulk (iron ore) exports listed. Cape Town achieved over a million tonnes worth of containers from a total of 76,000 TEUs while Durban recorded 251,753 TEUs for the month, bringing its total monthly tonnage handled to 7.253 million tonnes. Total containers handled by all ports reached 386,361 TEUs during November, down on the 412,000 handled in October and reflecting that the peak season was coming to an early end.

The high peaks of coal exports achieved by Richards Bay over the past few months indicates that not only is Transnet Freight Rail successfully moving high volumes of cargo but also that the mines are releasing coal for export and that logistic and other bottlenecks have been eliminated. At a current annualised rate RBCT will finish the year on 62.6 million tonnes of coal exported this year, but with the projected 6.2 million tonnes in December still to come this could rise to 63.6mt for 2011.

Interestingly, if RBCT, TFR and the coal mines had been able to sustain what they have achieved since August, the terminal could have finished at 76.755 million tonnes. At the current rate it is reasonable to expect RBCT to record exports well in excess of 70 million tonnes in 2012, possibly even reaching towards the 80mt mark.

The terminal has a capacity of 91mt.

To compare the 2011 November figures year on year with those of 2010, go to the following link CLICK HERE for last year’s figures. Use your BACK button to return to this page.

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 uses an average of 13,5 tonnes per TEU, which may involve some under-reporting but until such time as 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 lest South African ports continue to be under-reported internationally.


Figures for the respective ports during November 2011 are (with October 2011 figures shown bracketed):

Cargo handled by tonnes during November 2011

PORT November 2011 mt October 2011 mt
Richards Bay 8.210 8.977
Durban 7.253 7.734
Saldanha Bay 5.022 5.117
Cape Town 1.340 1.216
Port Elizabeth 0.898 1.099
Ngqura 0.531 0.768
Mossel Bay 0.131 0.159
East London 0.250 0.237
Total all ports 23.635 million tonnes 25.306 million tonnes


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

PORT November 2011 TEUs October 2011 TEUs
Durban 251,753 247,278
Cape Town 75,888 74,705
Port Elizabeth 24,495 25,465
Ngqura 39,350 56,859
East London 5,461 5,295
Richards Bay - 2,772
Total all ports 386,361 TEUs 412,374 TEUs


Ship Calls for November 2011

PORT November 2011 vessels gross tons October 2011 vessels gross tons
Durban 355 10,775,519  323  9,229,725
Cape Town 187 4,282,581  262  5,147,369
Richards Bay 146 5,775,106  157  6,288,687
Port Elizabeth 95 2,052,309  111  2,283,208
Saldanha Bay 42 2,887,185  42  3,193,656
Ngqura 28 1,587,143  31  1,661,774
East London 24 526,581  25  591,412
Mossel Bay 32 244,746  74  291,017
Total ship calls 908 28,131,170  1025  28,686,848

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




Month Month's 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 5,363,674 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
September 4,956,556 43,784,488 58.38 50 796
October 7,381,461 51,165,949 61.26 66 833
November 6,261,833 57,427,782 62.59 55 737

source:  RBCT

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Tivalu in the South Pacific, which climatologists say will be under water in 50 years. Nearer home the Maldives face the same prospect. Climate change – manmade or Mother Nature’s doing? You decide.

China's highest authority on climate change, the Chinese Academy of Science, has dismissed conventional wisdom on dangers posed by global warming as well as the harm supposedly done by carbon emissions, reports Hong Kong's South China Morning Post.

“We are not experiencing the most dramatic climate change in recent history,” said Liu Yu, the academy's Institute of Earth Environment deputy director. “In northern China, the warmest period occurred from 401-413 AD, which had an annual mean temperature 0.16 degrees Celsius higher than today's.”

Global air, sea and land transport sectors have been faced with huge expenses to meet rising regulatory compliance costs, some of which are set in ways to drive smaller operators out of business.

The timing of China's statement, based on a study of Tibetan tree rings, is also significant because of the current international climate change talks in Durban, South Africa and China's opposition to carbon taxes imposed by the European Union on aircraft flying in and out of EU territory.

Continuing, Prof Liu said: “Popular belief is that industrialisation has led to the fastest rate of warming witnessed by humans, that we are at the warmest time of the modern era and that we are causing global warming by emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. None of that fits the records in tree rings.

“The climate change debate has more political significance than scientific. Diplomats can sit at negotiating tables talking about carbon caps while scientists have not reached an agreement on the role of carbon dioxide in global warming,” he said.

“Political decisions must be based on sound scientific foundation, or they will be useless, if not dangerous,” he told the SCMP in an extended interview.

Prof Liu has studied untouched forests dating back thousands of years along the remote Tibetan Plateau to assess current weather patterns and said that tree rings are key to understanding and predicting climate change.

For more than a decade, he has run simulations on computers to determine annual temperatures in the region over the past 2,485 years. Prof Liu said the sun, and not man-made factors, cause climate changes. “We believe that the sun and atmospheric circulations play a vital, if not decisive, role,” he said. source – HKSG


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The decision by Malaysian shipping company MISC Bhd to withdraw from container shipping has been acknowledged by the maritime industry as a ‘wise move’ .

MISC announced recently that it was leaving the container business because to stay in would require massive investment to compete with the giant container ships being used on the major shipping routes.

The Kuala Lumpur’s Sun Daily quoted an industry source as saying that “To become a major player in the international container shipping industry requires massive investment. MISC would have to invest a lot more to compete with major shipping lines that have mega ships of 12,000 to 16,000-plus TEU and a fleet size that runs into hundreds.”

“Against this background, MISC's decision to exit the liner business is not a bad thing after all. In fact, they should have done it earlier,” he told the Sun Daily.

MISC has lost over three quarters of a billion dollars from its liner business over the past three years, much of that a result of trying to compete in the container trades.


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Until recently merchant ships have had to rely on escorts from assisting navies, such as the Greek ship HLS Elli seen here escorting the PETRA I which is carrying supplies to the AMISOM peacekeepers in Somalia. More and more nations are now legislating to allow armed guards on boar ships under their flag.

Report courtesy Paul Ridgway, London

UK-registered vessels will be able to employ armed guards to defend themselves against pirates in exceptional circumstances under new guidance confirmed by the British Government yesterday.

The move comes after a significant increase in the number of attacks against vessels in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden in recent years. Evidence shows that vessels with armed guards are less likely to be successfully attacked, which is why the [UK] government has been working in recent months to allow the lawful use of armed guards in exceptional circumstances.

The guidance published yesterday includes the factors ship owners should include in a risk assessment and advice on selecting a private security company (PSC). Shipping companies wishing to use armed guards will also be required to submit a detailed counter-piracy plan to the Department for Transport in advance.

Shipping Minister Mike Penning said:

“The word 'pirate' can conjure up cartoonish images of eye patches, parrots and wooden legs, but the reality is much more serious. Modern pirates are dangerous, organised criminals who have shown they are not shy of using violence to achieve their goals. We have not taken this decision lightly. It is clear that we must offer those flying the Red Ensign every opportunity to ensure the safety of their crews and vessels.

“By allowing the use of armed guards in a structured, legal framework we can move to a system where ship owners can provide an adequate deterrent against this scourge on the maritime industry.” Under the changes published yesterday, any PSC employed to put armed guards onboard UK ships will require authorisation from the Home Office for the possession of prohibited firearms. The Home Office and police will also carry out checks into the PSC and its personnel before an authorisation is granted.

The guidance published yesterday will be kept under review to ensure it reflects continuing work being done at both a national and international level to counter the increase in piracy around the world.


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Antillas Reefer (left) and Kuswag I in Maputo Bay. Picture Ministry ofFisheries

Mozambique has a new ship to patrol its Exclusive Economic Zone and try to bring an end to illegal fishing, mainly of tuna and shark fins, by foreign ships, Mozambican newspaper Notícias reported.

The ship is the ANTILLAS REEFER, which was seized in July 2008 for illegal fishing off the Mozambican coast and which has been heavily refurbished in order to carry out a number of activities, including patrolling the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) said the national director for Fishing Inspection, Manuel Casteano.

It is estimated that illegal fishing leads to losses for Mozambique of at least US$64 million each year.

Casteano said that although the Antillas Reefer was a vessel that could be used for a number of activities it would, for the fishing sector, increase patrols carried out by Kuswag-1, a ship chartered in 2008 with the financial support of Norway.

The Kuswag-1, a former South African environmental patrol vessel, is currently used to patrol shrimp fishing, and thus with the Antillas Reefer it will be possible to cover other species such as tuna and shark.

Casteano also said that the Antillas Reefer was able to remain at sea continuously for four months, thus making it possible to cover Mozambique’s ZEE in a more comprehensive way.

Pirated Vega 5 survivors get their jobs back

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Vega 5. Picture AFP/Getty Images

The fishing company Pescamar has thought better of its decision to sack 12 workers who survived a Somali pirate attack, and has offered to give them back their jobs, reports the Beira paper Diario de Mocambique.

The 12 men were sacked on 25 November and Pescamar justified the move on the grounds that the company needed a smaller workforce.

The 12 had all worked on the Pescamar prawn trawler, the VEGA 5, which was hijacked on 27 December 2010 off the coast of the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane. The ship was taken to Somalia, where it was turned into a pirate mother ship. The Mozambican crew was then forced to work for the pirates as they set out in the Vega 5 raiding shipping in the Arabian sea.

In March, an anti-piracy unit of the Indian navy engaged the Vega 5 in a gun battle. The Vega 5 caught fire, and those aboard, comprising pirates and original crew jumped into the sea. The Indian navy picked up a total of 61 pirates and 13 of the original crew members (12 Mozambicans and one Indonesian). Nine other crew members (seven Mozambicans and two Indonesians) remain missing and are believed drowned.

The two Spanish crew members were meanwhile being held hostage in Somalia and were eventually released in May against a large ransom.

The Vega 5 survivors were angered by the sackings, and by the fact that they had received no compensation from Pescamar for their ordeal at the hands of the pirates. They contrasted the millions of dollars paid in ransom for the two Spaniards with the shabby treatment they claimed to have received from Pescamar.

The Pescamar director, Felisberto Manuel, announced the company’s change of heart after a meeting with the survivors – a meeting that was also attended by trade union representatives and officials from the Sofala Provincial Labour and Fisheries directorates.

The 12 survivors carried in their pockets the letters they had received from Pescamar telling them that, as from 27 November their services would no longer be required.

Manuel said the company was open to signing new work contracts with the 12, and “we never considered abandoning them”. The letters of dismissal were just a “breakdown in communication”.

The contracts of the 12 were about to expire anyway. He said that under normal conditions the 12 should have been informed that the company was “rescinding their contracts in order to sign new ones, which did not happen”.

The contracts were however, temporary – according to Manuel the 12 could not become full members of the Pescamar staff because the list of permanent staff was already full and could not be expanded.

A representative of the survivors, Jose Mandava, said “whenever the company takes a position about our contracts, it never tells us.”

“Since the company says it’s open to sign new contracts with us, we shall analyse the matter and communicate our decision,” he added.

The Sofala Provincial Fisheries Director said the lack of dialogue about terminating the contracts had worried the group. “We recommend that the company improves its level of communication, so that it does not create any further agitation,” he stressed. source AIM


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A rare visitor to Durban in the 1970s was Shaw Savill’s passenger liner OCEAN MONARCH (25,971-gt), seen here on one of just a few arrivals in the port. Built in 1957 by Vickers-Armstrongs of Newcastle as Canadian Pacific’s EMPRESS OF ENGLAND, she was sold in 1970 to Shaw Savill who set about converting her to their requirements which included carrying 1372 passengers. Entering service with Shaw Savill in 1971 she was to spend only a few years with that company before being sold to scrap in 1975. Picture by Trevor Jones

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April 1964 and pulling away from L Shed in Durban harbour is the Portuguese liner MOCAMBIQUE(12,976-gt). Note the line-up of ships along the Point, then a busy part of the port. Those with sharp eyes might be able to make out the dredger BLESBOK also in the background. Picture by Trevor Jones

MOCAMBIQUE and her sister ANGOLA were built in 1949 and 1948 respectively – Mocambique by Swan Hunter and Angola by Hawthorn, Leslie & Co, a well-known locomotive builder of its day. Both ships were considered fast for their time, immediately post-war (17 knots) and provided very good first class accommodation of suites and single and double cabins all with own bathrooms. These were the days when having en suite bathrooms was not always the norm. The ship also carried a tourist class on the upper deck and a third class which was placed well forward. The ships carried up to 105 first class, 141 tourist and 300 third class passengers and operated between Lisbon, Angola, Cape Town, Lourenco Marques, Beira and Nacala before returning along the same route. Durban wasn’t always a scheduled call.


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