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Ports & Ships Maritime News

1 February 2013
Author: Terry Hutson


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



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The Malayasian-flagged and owned offshore supply tug NAUTIKA RESOLUTE (1490-gt, built 2011) seen in Cape Town harbour earlier in January. Picture by Aad Naoorland


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Richards Bay Coal Terminal

Cape Town, 31 January 2013 – No decision had been taken by the government on whether or not to apply an export levy to coal, Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu said on Wednesday.

Responding to questions at the 2013 SA Coal Exports Conference at the Westin Grand Hotel in Cape Town, Shabangu said it was important that local coal supply is ensured, but stressed that a decision on whether to apply a levy on coal had not been taken.

She said the proposal to declare certain minerals as strategic assets had been included in amendments to the Minerals & Petroleum Resources Development Act, which was released last month for public comment.

However, she said even though government is keen that certain minerals such as coal should be declared as strategic assets, it remained important for the private sector players to work together to ensure the industry’s future.

Addressing the conference, Shabangu said the emergence of an export market for lower grade coal was a challenge for Eskom, as it put a strain on the availability of coal to the electricity utility.

A coal resource study by the Council for Geoscience report would be released soon, detailing how the country can better plan for future coal needs, she said.

On the challenges that face the coal industry, Shabangu said coal remained an important component in the country’s future energy mix.

Government viewed the industry as one that could contribute meaningfully to a successful and inclusive South Africa, she said, pointing out that the R87.8 billion in earnings generated by the sale of 252.8 tons of coal in 2011, accounted for 24% of total mining sales in that year.

She said last year was a difficult one for the mining industry and posed a challenge to the industry on how it could become a more inclusive one for workers.

The government’s role, however, is to achieve a balance between the benefits mining has for the industry and that which it has for ordinary South Africans, she said. The procurement of coal needed to be widened as presently coal sales were dominated by a few large players.

Her department would work together with the Department of Public Enterprises to ensure that more black-owned suppliers took part in the coal industry.

Shabangu said the question of nationalisation had been put to rest, once again by the ANC’s elective conference at Mangaung last month. “We are not going to nationalise any assets,” she said. source - SAnews.gov.za


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Ngqura and the wandering container ship

Brian Colenutt, Principal Officer, Port of Ngqura has responded to the report in Tuesday’s Ports & Ships News Bulletin concerning the incident in Ngqura harbour, in which a container ship broke free of her moorings and collided with another vessel and a pilot boat, the Orient. He writes as follows:

Thank you for this e-mail and link (Ports & Ships, Tuesday 29 January). I am not very impressed with the reporting detail of this article's accuracy.

The container ship was the MSC LISIANA, 365 metres long and in a very light condition of discharge.

The other ship (not a cargo ship) an old tanker (23yrs) bound for India and the scrap yards. She, the MARLIN, broke down off the south coast and was towed into Algoa Bay and finally Ngqura, for repairs.

The forecast for bad weather & strong winds was forecast. There were 2 ships alongside, discharging containers. Cargo work had stopped due to the wind speed (+/- 70Km/hr), the wind speed increased up to about 155Km/hr (77knots). This ship had about 22 mooring lines to bollards. First the bow lines started breaking. The tug contracted to hold the ship alongside was not powerful enough, as a single unit, due to windage area and length to hold her.

Finally the stern lines broke and the ship was blown onto the Finger Jetty. The poor ORIENT could not be moved quickly enough.

I hope this clears the picture. There was one injury, one crewman on the other container ship that was sailed. I believe that one of the breaking mooring lines broke his leg.

Brian Colenutt
Principal Officer, Port of Ngqura

The report that Mr Colenutt refers to appeared HERE - use your BACKSPACE button to return to this page

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Aftermath – the crushed pilot boat ORIENT


Business as usual for Port Said, despite protests

Despite the civil unrest currently sweeping parts of Egypt, the ports of Suez, Port Said and Ismailia are unaffected, according to Inchcape Shipping Services.

“Most port operations are currently continuing in Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, and canal convoys have not been interrupted despite ongoing disturbances in Egypt and a state of emergency being declared in the three Suez canal cities. The Egyptian Army has also been deployed to ensure all vessels can safely navigate the canal and has taken control of the Suez Canal building,” says ISS.

It adds that ISS Egypt has however suspended all husbandry services at all Egyptian ports including crew changes and transfers, Cash to Master and shipments delivery as road transportation is currently deemed unsafe by the company due to the anti-government action nationwide. “ISS Egypt also recommends for the safety of all personnel that any embarking/disembarking is postponed until the situation settles.”

The curfew implemented at Port Said City has now been amended to be set from 01:00 hrs to 05:00 hours.

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Port Said Container Terminal


DP World volumes top 56 million TEU

Terminal operator DP World is reporting a 2.4% increase in container volumes worldwide for its container terminals, which it ascribes to its Asia Pacific, Middle East and American regions.

DP World handled a total volume of 56.1 million TEUs during the 2012 year.

“After a strong start to the year we had a challenging second half,” said DP World chief executive, Mohammed Sharaf. “Our tight focus on cost management and higher quality revenue mean we still expect to achieve EBITDA in line with expectations for 2012.”

He added that he expects 2013 to be an exciting year for the Group with planned new capacity on track to open in Santos (Brazil), Jebel Ali (UAE) and London Gateway (UK).


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US Navy ship to be cut up on Philippines reef

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USS Guardian

The US Navy minesweeper USS GUARDIAN (MCM5), which went aground on a reef a fortnight ago after leaving Subic Bay in the Philippines, CLICK HERE, is to be cut up and removed piece by piece, the US navy has announced.

The ship ran aground after reportedly using a faulty electronic chart. The Tubbataha Reef, which is part of a United Nations World Heritage Site, has suffered some damage from the grounding and it is felt that trying to take the ship off in any other way will result in further damage to the reef.

The first priority has been to remove all fuel and other oils from the vessel, whose crew was taken off shortly after the accident happened.


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HANJIN ROTTERDAM in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Map of Africa: CIA

by Chika Ezeanya

African Union plans to introduce cabotage laws restricting foreign vessels in African coastal waters could be a major step towards economic independence.

The African Union (AU) is in the concluding stages of fashioning an African 'cabotage' regime to ensure that only African-owned vessels can trade within the continent's coastal waters.

Many countries have cabotage regulations that restrict which carriers can conduct trade or navigate within their coastal borders. But Africa is only now taking action to legislate in a daring, though necessary, move to liberate African coastal waters from age-old foreign dominance, and take a significant step towards a more unified continent.

Colonialism and cabotage

The history of maritime trading within Africa's coastal waters, particularly sub-Sahara, is one of foreign domination and exploitation. From four centuries ago, European vessels traversed African coastal waters, hauling human cargo from Africa to Europe and the Americas.

From the 17th century, the Dutch East India Company sent several trading vessels to sail along the rocky shoreline of the Cape. The huge profits from the trade, coupled with the region's good weather, however, turned what began as a trading mission into a permanent settlement. In the following centuries native Africans suffered oppression, segregation and eventually apartheid.

In West Africa, following the abolition of the slave trade in the 19th century, British imperial vessels dominated the upper and lower Niger River, mostly trading palm oil, rubber, cotton and other commodities.

And from the late 19th century, the Congo River played host to numerous vessels of the International African Society, a private holding company of King Leopold of Belgium. The company enslaved the Congolese population to access ivory and rubber for European markets.

At sea over cabotage laws

Despite the political changes in African countries since the granting of independence in the mid-20th century, however, little has changed in terms of cabotage laws.

Non-African companies continue to dominate African coastal waters; African commodities and raw materials are still freighted aboard foreign vessels and exchanged for often sub-standard, over-priced, manufactured foreign goods; African coastal waters remain largely unregulated and any shipping vessel is, for the most part, free to sail from one coast of the continent to another; and African countries remain disadvantaged, economically and otherwise, under this enduring imperial arrangement.

The African situation contrasts sharply with other parts of the world where regulations govern the domestic transport of cargo by foreign-registered vessels. In China, for example, the Maritime Code states that ‘shipping and towage services between the ports of the People's Republic of China shall be undertaken by ships flying the national flag of the People's Republic of China’.

While in the US, federal law demands that all ‘goods transported by water between US ports should be carried in US-flag ships, constructed in the US, possessed by US citizens, and crewed by US citizens (75% at least)’. India's cabotage regulations ensure that coastal trade is strictly restricted to Indian flag-bearing vessels, as this ‘contributes significantly to India's economic growth’.

Africa's maritime economy has been estimated at around $1 trillion a year, accounting for over 90% of the region's entire commerce, and 38 out of Africa's 54 countries have coastlines.

But since Independence, African countries have mostly foregone economic advantages by allowing foreign vessels unfettered access to the continent's coastal waters. Although a few individual African countries such as Nigeria have cabotage laws, these are difficult to implement due to inadequate infrastructure, a lack of skilled manpower, and high operating costs.

A sea change in African law

The potential advantages of a unified African cabotage law, championed by the AU, are numerous. Africa could see considerable native capital enter the ship-building and maritime sector, creating employment for maritime practitioners.

African countries could see greater cooperation through the pooling of human and material resources to implement the laws and protect against piracy, bunkering, illegal fishing and other problems. The often undocumented human rights abuses encountered by African nationals working on foreign vessels could also be reduced.

But beyond the euphoria of the AU's declaration of independence for African coastal waters, there are sobering points that must be immediately addressed for an African cabotage regime to be successful.

Issues of operating costs, adequate infrastructure and capacity come to the fore; of the world's cargo-carrying fleet of 55,138 vessels as of 2011, for example, African countries combined own less than 5%. Any implementation strategies must be critically considered and strong enforcement mechanisms instituted well before take-off.

The AU should study others' cabotage laws, but be wary of imitating them. Africa has been in the habit of copying other nations to its detriment. The temptation could be to copy the Indian model, for instance, where foreign shipping companies can buy 100% into Indian subsidiaries, and be allowed to fly Indian flags to operate in the country's coastal waters. There are several disadvantages and loopholes in this approach, and it could prove practically unmanageable in Africa.

Essentially, the upcoming African cabotage law is a significant leap towards realising Africa's economic independence. The law, when it comes into force, should prove to be a major unifying factor in the continent's drive towards a more united economic and geopolitical bloc.

Viewed as the next economic frontier for the world to conquer, Africa can no longer afford to accept the colonial divisions that have chiefly served to empower other continents to Africa's detriment.


Chika Ezeanya blogs at www.chikaforafrica.com . Her book Before We Set Sail was shortlisted for the Penguin Publishers Award for African Writing.
Source of this article ThinkAfricaPress


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Cyclone Felleng may impact MSC Sinfonia cruise

The cruise ship MSC SINFONIA sailed from Durban yesterday on a cruise to southern Madagascar and the port of Fort Dauphin, which would appear to place her directly within the outer fringes of Tropical Cyclone Felleng, which is moving down the east coast of Madagascar.

The ship has been dogged by strong winds and seas that has impacted a number of her cruises. On a recent cruise to the South Atlantic island of St Helena the ship was delayed by a day before being able to allow frustrated passengers ashore.

The ship has also been delayed by winds outside or in port at Cape Town on at least three occasions, and on her current voyage from Cape Town to Durban she was held up for some time outside Port Elizabeth. She arrived in Durban yesterday (Thursday, 31 January) to, you guessed it, a strengthening wind but wasn’t delayed in entering port, nor when sailing later in the afternoon in very windy conditions.

Last night at 23h00 MSC Sinfonia and her sister ship MSC Opera passed each other opposite Richards Bay – MSC Opera is returning to Durban from a cruise to the Mozambique coast. MSC Sinfonia returns from her current cruise on 6 February.


MSC Starlight Cruises advises PORTS & SHIPS that the routing of the MSC Sinfonia was changed prior to her departure and there was never any plan for her to sail near the cyclone...


Excitement as cruise ship calls at Kenya port

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The German cruise ship Astor. Picture by Terry Hutson

There was some excitement and pleasure when the German cruise ship ASTOR called at the northern Kenya port of Lamu at the recent weekend.

The ship arrived with 320 passengers on board, as well as 245 crew members. Greeting the ship, Kenya Tourism Board managing director Murithi Ndegwa described the visit in optimistic terms, suggesting it was a precursor of more to follow, particularly once the new Lamu port is complete. “This is definitely a shot in the arm for Kenya's tourism and this particular region, and we know, with the coming up of the port, more is yet to come. We urge our international partners to encourage other cruise liners to chose Lamu as a destination place, since there is a lot to be offered,” he said.

Ndegwa’s words might be seen as wishful thinking at this time, yet the visit by the Astor could also signal that some cruise lines are at least prepared to test the waters following the lessening of piracy activity in recent months.

Since the onset of rampant piracy from neighbouring Somalia, Kenya has seen very few cruise ships despite the country and the ports of Mombasa and Lamu having been favourite destinations in years gone by.

For some years Kenya even supported its own cruise ship – a local operation involving the flying in of guests from Europe to visit lodges and game parks before ending their East Africa safari with a cruise aboard the ROYAL STAR. That came to and end however and hasn’t been attempted since by any other entrepreneurial operator.

The Astor also visited the Seychelles en route to Kenya and following her visit to Lamu, called at Kenya’s principal port, Mombasa. The visits passed off without incident.


Nile River cruise ship sinks

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King of the Nile, which sank this week. Picture by Ahram Arabic News

. The Nile River cruise ship KING OF THE NILE struck some rocks near the Upper Egyptian cities of Kom Ombo and Aswan and has sunk.

The vessel was carrying 112 Egyptian passengers and an undisclosed number of crew members. There were no injuries reported and all those on board were able to reach safety with the help of rescuers.


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Cyclone Felleng and projected path as at 31 January at 11pm IST

Cyclone Felleng was progressing along its projected path yesterday (Thursday) parallel to the east of Madagascar at around 13 knots and was less than 400 n.miles north-northwest of the island of La Reunion, where a Yellow Alert has been issued.

The storm is reported to have maximum sustained winds of around 115 knots (213 km/h or 132 mph) and is moving to the southwest. The storm is creating dangerous seas with waves of 11.5 metres, the NASA Hurricane Service said.

It is anticipated that the storm will weaken as it moves further south into cooler waters.



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A couple more of the ‘golden oldy’ coasters that were such regular callers at the South African ports some 40 and more years ago. The first picture is of the RAMPART, formerly of African Coasters but in this pictures wearing the attractive Unicorn crest on the stack. Picture by Trevor Jones

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The second picture is of the coaster INTABA, previously of Smiths Coasters and like the Rampart, having been absorbed into Grindrod’s Unicorn fleet. Of interest is that the ship was registered in Singapore, possibly as a result of sanctions becoming applied against South Africa at that time. The picture, taken in October 1969 is by Trevor Jones


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