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Ports & Ships Maritime News

9 July 2013
Author: Terry Hutson

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




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As Thor Dahl’s well-turned out general cargo ship THORSCAPE (15,290-gt, built 1977) makes her way towards the Durban harbour entrance, photographer Trevor Jones was up on the Bluff near the old viewsight, looking down on the departing ship. Thorscape operated on Thor Dahl’s service between Canada (Montreal), the east coast of the USA and South Africa. The year was 1978. Picture by Trevor Jones


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The Port of Saldanha in the Western Cape is set for the good times, if an article in Business Report is anything to go by. The report says that over the next seven years something like R8.67 billion will be spent on upgrading Saldanha Bay.

This figure is almost three times the R2.94 billion that has been allocated for the Port of Cape Town over the same period, which however doesn’t take into account the money already spent on deepening the container terminal quays and other improvements recently concluded at Cape Town.

According to the report, Saldanha will be geared up to take advantage of an expected increase in oil exploration vessels, including rigs and support ships. Transnet has obviously taken note of what has happened further north at the port of Walvis Bay, where the Namibian port has taken full advantage of west coast oil exploration and drilling activity, including that at Angola.

The report quotes Transnet CEO Tau Morwe as saying that a quarter of the world’s rigs are deployed between South Africa (he presumably means Africa’s west coast) and Brazil, which presents opportunities for the country to capitalise on them. He said that Transnet and South Africa shouldn’t dwell on “what we didn’t do but we need to say what we can do for now.” Morwe said Transnet and Namport were going to sign a memorandum of understanding – presumably along the lines of what was signed recently between Transnet and the Port of Maputo – which he said would result in joint identification and exploitation of opportunities.

Business Report quoted Mthozami Xiphu of the SA Oil and Gas Alliance as saying that South Africa would see oil rigs at work along its coast through its own exploration and oil production, as well as providing repair and maintenance facilities for rigs from other countries.

He pointed out that a company operating offshore of Angola was sending its rigs to Singapore for maintenance, while the berth in Saldanha should be developed to accommodate 12 ore more drilling rigs at a time.


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The container ship ALBEDO (10,859-gt, built 1993) which has sunk after being in pirate hands since November 2010. The ship is registered to and managed by a Malaysian firm calling itself Majestic Enrich Shipping SDN, of Penang, Malaysia

Pirates presumed to be from Somalia have attacked a bulk carrier in the Red Sea, next to Bab el-Mandeb, a natural choke point between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

The attack took place on 4 July but news has only now been released. The bulker, sailing in position 12 59.6’N – 043 06.7’E was approached by two skiffs carrying between seven and eight men on each boat, all armed with automatic weapons including machine guns.

After making a high speed approach on the starboard side of the bulk ship, the ship’s armed security team on board fired warning shots from a distance of about 700 metres, repelling the would-be pirates, who then broke off the action and retired.

Another ship, also not named, reported having been approached by 10 high speed skiffs with about five or six men in each, while sailing near the same choke point a few days earlier. A Yemeni-type dhow was in the vicinity and is thought to be a captured ‘mother ship’ to the skiffs, which broke off once the armed security personnel on board the vessel fired warning shots in their direction.

Captured Malaysian ship sinks

Meanwhile, EU NAVFOR, the European Union naval force operating on anti piracy deployment in the Gulf of Aden and Somali coast areas, reports that the captured Malaysian-flagged ship ALBEDO has sunk in rough seas while at anchor off the Somali coast.

The whereabouts or safety of the crew of 15 who have been in pirate hands since November 2010, is unknown at this stage. The ship was under pirate control when she sank.

EU NAVFOR says it will continue monitoring the situation. A search and rescue aircraft has closed the area and is carrying out an operation to look for any survivors.


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Queen Elizabeth 2 in the Dubai dry dock where she has undergone a complete overhaul to prepare for her next voyage

Queen Elizabeth 2, laid up in the Persian Gulf for several years, will sail again, it has been confirmed in Dubai.

No, this will not be a world cruise, nor a line voyage across the North Atlantic. Instead the ship is being readied to sail for Singapore and then to Hong Kong, before heading for an appointed shipyard in China where the ship will undergo a complete refit, emerging as an all-suite class floating hotel, definitely on the luxury side.

Once the conversion is complete, and assuming she doesn’t follow the example of one of her predecessors by catching fire and burning out while in an Asian port, QE2 will return to Dubai and take up her new role as a luxury floating hotel.

The plan for the former Cunard flagship has been something of an open secret for some time but this Sunday (7 July), the chairman of QE2 Shipping LLC , Dubai and QE2 Holding Pte Ltd, Singapore, Khamis Juma Buamim, called a media conference to confirm the plans and provide dates and other information.

A shipyard has not yet been selected as a process to evaluate several in China is still underway, but QE2 will sail from Dubai on 18 October this year, arriving in Singapore on 1 November. Three days later she sails for Hong Kong where the ship will remain for another three days, before then heading to the appointed Chinese shipyard where she will undergo a total transformation. She will emerge in 2014 as a luxury, all-suite hotel. Each of her luxury suites will be between 60 and 150 square metres in size.

Outlining the work that has been completed, Buamim provided details of the transfer of ownership of the vessel to a new entity called QE2 Shipping LLC, based out of and owned by Dubai. He said that all necessary registry documentation with the flag state on the ownership of the vessel had been completed. He also confirmed that all necessary insurances such as P&I, H & M had also been endorsed to recognise the new ownership. Most importantly, he was able to confirm that the QE2 had been brought back to class under the Lloyds Register.

On the aspects related to interior and concept design, a number of international concept designer houses including Benoy, Francis Leung of Hong Kong, Ong & Ong, Wilson Associates and Jeday Associates have been invited to submit their plans.

On the technical side, teams from Drydocks World, which was charged with bringing the vessel back into class to enable her sail on her own steam to the Far East, and Oceanic Group, who have provided an on-board crew of 32 for that voyage, have worked on the first two phases of the project beginning with an overall check and work scope identification which was essential for the vessel after a long lay by.

Following this a number of activities were undertaken on the vessel including hull & structural checks, steel repairs & renewals, ballast tank, air conditioning, sea suction & cooling system inspections, pumping out, cleaning and steel renewal in deep tanks, overhauling of stabilisers and bow thrusters, cleaning of diesel oil tanks, sewage tanks and other tanks and safety checks, repairs and upgrades. The aspect of overhauling her engines had commenced and is currently well underway.

“Dubai owns the QE2 now and will never sell it,” Buamim said.

This latest development replaces an earlier proposal to moor the ship in Dubai where she would have become a 300-room luxury hotel alongside a maritime museum. Istithmar World, a subsidiary of Dubai World, had purchased the 293-metre long vessel from Cunard for nearly $100 million in June 2007. However, the global economic crash in the following year scuttled the project and since then the ship has languished in Dubai with an uncertain future.

Readers can follow the progress of the QE2’s transformation on the official website, which has recently been opened. The site promises regular updates of the progress made. Go HERE - use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.

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A residential suite in QE2. Suites of between 60m² and 150m² will emerge when the ship’s refurbishment is complete


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General-Electric diesel-electric Class 43 of Transnet Freight Rail, being built outside Pretoria. Picture by Charles Baker

Transnet says it is on track to take delivery of the 95 electric locomotives it bought from China South Railway, within the agreed time frames.

The contract for the supply of 95 electric locomotives was awarded to CSR in October 2012. The two parties agreed on a tight delivery schedule with the first batch of locomotives (10 of the 95) due for delivery in December 2013. The first 10 locomotives will be commissioned by March 2014 following endurance tests to determine readiness for operations.

The remaining 85 locomotives will be manufactured locally in line with Transnet’s commitment to localisation of the manufacturing of imported machinery through the company’s supplier development programmes.

All 95 locomotives are expected to be delivered on time.

The transaction is part of the company’s revised R307 billion seven-year infrastructure investment programme intended to ramp up capacity ahead of demand. About two thirds of the investment programme will be spent at Transnet Freight Rail to boost operational performance, reliability and overall energy efficiency in the company’s rail service.

The awarding of the contract followed an open and public tender process which drew interest from leading manufacturers around the world. Proposals were evaluated by different sub-teams of specialists from Transnet. In line with the company’s governance processes, the evaluation was overseen and monitored by Transnet Internal Audit.

The bidders for the supply of 95 electric locomotives were evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Price


  • Technical ability


  • Supplier development (including BEE)

These criteria were detailed in the formal invitations for proposals (RFPs or requests for proposals).

In a statement yesterday, Transnet said it wished to assure potential partners that the company’s procurement policy does not prioritise geographic origins as an evaluation criterion.

“Transnet is committed to maintaining the highest standards of good governance and is confident of the fairness and openness of the processes followed. The company has in place stringent governance requirements for its procurement processes, including the award of this contract. The transaction was subjected to a rigorous auditing process conducted by Transnet Internal Audit, and received a clean bill of health.”




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Importers in Rwanda and Uganda have been advised not to worry about the implementation of an EAC Single Customs Treaty, which will see the landlocked countries having offices and personnel at the Port of Mombasa to collect revenue on behalf of the respective countries.

The Rwandan Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for EAC Affairs, Amb. William Kayonga responded to concerns among some of his country’s clearing and forwarding agents that they would face challenges once a single customs for the EAC was established.

He said the Rwandan team at the Kenya port were fully aware of the benefits and challenges of implementing the single customs protocol, which he said laid a strong foundation for both the Common Market (COMESA) and Monetary Union.

Kayonga said there were many benefits for the participating countries including that Kenya will no longer collect duty from Uganda and Rwanda-bound trucks as has been the case. Other benefits include a reduction of costs associated with regulatory requirements, an increase in intra-EAC trade and a better turnaround of business, enhanced information technology and data collection at regional level, and the combating of smuggling.

Kayonga’s comments follow the agreement reached by the heads of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to fast-track the establishment of an East African Community single customs territory.

In related news, Uganda has become the latest member of the Free Trade Area (FTA) established under COMESA. As a result, the tariff on Uganda goods will be reduced to zero percent when exported to other FTA members, compared with a 2% levy on goods to non-member states.

FTA signatories are Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and now Uganda. The latter was a founder member of COMESA in 1994 but stood back from FTA for fears that Uganda would be flooded with goods from the other countries, destroying local production.




The Angolan Maritime-Port Institute (IMPA) is planning to build a river channel between Xangongo (Cunene) and Rivungo (Kuando Kubango), in the south-east of the country, with a view to transporting goods and people, Angolan weekly newspaper Expansão reported.

The director-general of the IMPA, Victor de Carvalho, said that construction was at an advanced stage and that the river channel would start being used in 2014.

De Carvalho also said that a river link between Zaire province and the Democratic Republic of Congo, along the Zaire River, was also under consideration.

“We are convinced that the project will be of benefit both to Angola and the DR Congo, given that it will make trade easier,” said the director-general of IMPA. Source – macauhub



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The Liberian-flagged, German-owned container ship DONAU TRADER (28,048-gt, built 2008) seen arriving in Cape Town on Sunday this week. The ship also operated for a few years under the name TS XINGANG before reverting to her original chosen name. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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