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Ports & Ships Maritime News

17 May 2016
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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It's not often that we feature a bunker barge on these pages but the three Unicorn barges in South Africa hardly qualify to be so called. They are effectively small tankers and have proved their worth in the port of Durban and Cape Town. Here we see SOUTHERN VENTURE (4250-dwt, built 2008) exiting the Island View complex where she most likely went to load more bunker fuel. With approximately 400 ship calls in Durban each month the two Unicorn bunker tankers are kept busy for much of the time. This picture is by Ken Malcolm

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Computer-generated drawing of new administration building at the Port of Ngqura

Two new landmarks at the Port of Ngqura, which are part of ongoing developments to position the port as a container transhipment hub for Sub-Saharan Africa, have been officially launched by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).

The new features are the port's new impressive administration building under construction, and a marine craft basin for pilot boats and tugboats and othe small harbour craft, including office facilities for operational staff working on these craft.

Also included in TNPA's latest R700 million investment into the port is the vacuum based automated mooring technology introduced at Ngqura last year. Produced by global engineering group, Cavotec, the 26 mooring units were designed, custom manufactured and installed to meet the specific environmental conditions of the Port of Ngqura, which include strong winds that can negatively impact on cargo operations, safety and the port's efficiency.

You can read more about this system Cavotec automatic mooring system for Port of Ngqura

"These three major operational projects form part of Transnet's Market Demand Strategy (MDS) which is now in its fourth year of implementation and which aims to enable the effective, efficient and economic functioning of an integrated port system to promote economic growth," said TNPA Chief Executive, Richard Vallihu.

"Under the Transnet MDS TNPA will invest R56 billion over the next 10 years across South Africa's ports. These three projects at the Port of Ngqura represent an investment of R700 million," he said.

Ngqura Port Manager, Mpumi Dweba, said that such endeavours support the tremendous growth of the Port of Ngqura and match its profile as a world-class container hub, "which is encouraging significant investment in the region. They are designed to improve port efficiency at our port and are boosting the economy of the Eastern Cape in the short term by creating additional jobs," Dweba said.

So far the construction phase of the admin building and admin craft basin has created 154 jobs at a cost of over R18 million -- all of which benefits the Eastern Cape economy. Forty eight of these jobs have been created for Black youth, while 285 Eastern Cape employees are also benefiting from skills development programmes associated with these projects.

"In addition, 16 small businesses in the Eastern Cape have been engaged to provide materials, equipment and services at a cost of R4.36 million -- a further injection into the local economy.", Dweba said.

Construction of the R255 million administration building, which will be one of the premier 'green' buildings in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, is well underway with completion targeted for the end of this year. TNPA is pursuing a 4-Star Green Star SA rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa for the building, which comprises a five-storey building with a basement level and external parking areas. The building will house 205 staff.

Marine Craft Basin
Until now Ngqura has operated without an administration craft basin for the docking of marine craft such as pilot boats and tugboats, as well as various vessels belonging to SA Police Services and SANPARKS.

The new R362 million administration craft basin located at the root of the eastern breakwater in the port basin will facilitate this process safely in line with Ngqura's growing fleet of harbour vessels.

Construction of the administration craft basin is planned for completion at the end of the year. Dredging is well underway and marine construction has commenced.

The design of the craft basin ensures that the wave climate and wave resonance within the basin remain within specified limits.

The tender evaluation process for the administration craft building began on 18 April 2016 and this building is planned for completion mid-2017.

These developments are part of Transnet National Ports Authority's capacity installation programme intended to increase the handling capacity of the port, as well as other port activities in future for South Africa.

All Ngqura projects are subject to lengthy environmental assessment, design and tender stages to ensure that they comply with the strict conditions governing Ngqura's operations in this environmentally sensitive area. TNPA controls and administers the port on behalf of the State.

The Admin Craft Basin project includes the construction of a 246m long rock mound breakwater with a concrete block-work breakwater head, 480m of anchored diaphragm wall, 400m of rock revetment, 580,000m3 of dredging and a boat ramp. The completed admin craft basin will create 385m of usable quay length.

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Transnet received a boost (and not a little relief) from credit rating agency Moody's, confirming the company's solid financial standing and general attractiveness of its portfolio of projects.

Encouragingly, the ratings agency said it had changed Transnet's outlook from being on review for downgrade. According to Moody's the outlook for the state-owned company was negative and this was in line with its assessment of the Sovereign rating -- Transnet's rating is linked to that of the Sovereign.

Confirming Transnet's global and long-term local currency investment grade credit rating of Baa2, Moody's praised the company's management track record of executing its capital investment strategy. Transnet recently appointed long-serving executive, Mr Siyabonga Gama as Group Chief Executive. According to Transnet he is globally regarded as South Africa's leading expert in railways and ports operations.

Moody's noted and recognised Transnet's:

  • Consistent record in operating its railways infrastructure and freight services at a profit

  • Ownership of South Africa's eight commercial ports and operation of a large part of the country's stevedoring services

  • Oversight of the strategically important fuel pipelines

  • Significant medium-term capital expenditure programme, which is required to maintain and upgrade its infrastructure assets

  • Profitability despite credit metrics being under pressure due to the weak economic environment
  • The move by Moody's confirms both the success and vigour of management efforts and interventions to ensure the integrity of the company's finances. These include a strict cost management regime, focus on volumes, especially high-yielding lines, and the record-breaking capital investment programme.

    Transnet plans to invest between R340 billion and R380 billion over the next 10 years. This is likely to take its infrastructure investment programme, the Market Demand Strategy, to a record half a trillion rand.

    Moody's said it expects Transnet to commit to capital expenditure that will earn the company a sufficient return on assets to support its funding requirements.

    Transnet raises funds on the strength of its own balance sheet and receives no funding or guarantees from the fiscus.

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    Deidre Ackermann
    Deidre Ackermann

    Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has successfully completed an upgrade of its NAVIS container terminal operating system from version 2.3 to 2.6. This includes upgrading at all terminals across the country, both at ports and landside operations.

    The latest Navis version boasts a number of new features like enhanced rail functionality, improved performance and scalability, amongst others. The software is the only solution that allows planning and operational staff to view, manage and control multiple terminals from a central location at the click of a button.

    "We pulled out all the stops to ensure that this upgrade was incident-free, which included undertaking a number of interventions to mitigate the business risks for both Transnet Port Terminals and our customers," said Deidre Ackermann, GM of TPT's Enterprise Information Services.

    She said that TPT drew on experience gained from previous installations and upgrades of Navis which led them to taking on a new approach for this particular installation. This approach involved the system undergoing four types of testing that included user acceptance testing, stress testing, an emulation tool, and finally a roll-back solution which tested that TPT were able to revert back to the existing Navis 2.3 system if needed.

    Terminal staff were also trained in readiness for the switchover and TPT 'super users' as well as Navis engineers were on standby to assist while the upgrade was taking place.

    "I believe the success of this software migration was as a result of our client's cooperation, TPT's thorough preparation and new testing approach that gave us the confidence to be ready for any unforeseen situation if it had come to light, but ultimately it enabled us to deal flawlessly with this upgrade and without detriment to operations," she said.

    "Our constant communication with clients throughout the process has also been key and I would like to thank our customers for their contribution to all the phases of the upgrade."

    Ackermann said that with the new software TPT will be better equipped than ever before to handle increased capacity. She said the upgrade will be complemented by ongoing investment in the terminals, such as the introduction of tandem lift cranes for moving empties, the speeding up of transit through the gates and the modernisation of rail terminals operated by TPT in the ports.

    TPT manages 16 cargo terminal facilities across seven South African ports with a staff compliment of over 9,000. Its operations target four major market sectors -- the automotive sector, containers, bulk and break bulk, organised according to their respective geographical regions. Karl Socikwa is the Chief Executive.

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    Video clip of the expansion project of the Panama Canal [time 5:51] source Panama Canal Authority / YouTube

    The above video clip has been released by the Panama Canal Authority, a little over a month before the expansion project is declared completed. Inauguration date is 26 June 2016, and the first ship to pass through the new locks will be a Cosco ship. The choice of shipping line was decided via a lottery.

    The canal is more than a hundred years old and in that time over one million ships have transited through the 80 kilometre length. A width, length and depth restriction led to the distinction of ships as 'Panamax' and denoting meaning they were capable of using the Canal, or Post-Panamax whichs aid they were too large and unable to use the canal.

    Now a whole new terminology will have to be developed.

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    Saldanha Bay harbour oil and gas 480


    Congratulations to TNPA on the progress made to date.

    With the processes for the OSB, Berth 205 and the Mossgas QuayJetty now underway, the focus shifts to TNPA undertaking detailed evaluation of tenders from interested bidders and, finally leading to conclusion of agreements with successful bidders..............lots of work still to be done...........the first being to attract the right quality of industry bidders.

    However, from the questions raised at the CCA Environmental Background Information Document (BID) meeting in Saldanha on Thursday 12 May, there still seems to be a lack of understanding within the public domain as to how the processes will unfold and, once the preferred bidders have agreements in place with TNPA (as Landlord), who and how these preferred bidders will be responsible for staff and services procurement.

    The lease agreements to be concluded between TNPA and the successful bidders are still way down the track. The process requires bidders to respond to the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the OSB, and a BOOT tender for berth 205 and the Mossgas Quay/Jetty.

    These tender bids are then evaluated taking into account the New Growth Path/Supplier Development/BBBEE criteria, as well as the technical fit and financial evaluation. Only if the bid passes the required government prescribed thresholds, will the negotiations leading to an agreement with the bidder(s) start. Ultimately this will lead to an agreement, i.e. a lease agreement with TNPA, which will contain all the safeguards in respect of local content, job protection and skills development for locals, etcetera. This applies to both foreign and local bidders.

    This confusion needs to be addressed to avoid fingers being pointed at the wrong party i.e. TNPA.

    TNPA has enough to do to conclude these projects and then look ahead towards planning for future growth of new business and the expanding of existing facilities to meet market demands. Talk to TNPA and stop the shouting & complaining. Listen to TNPA rather than be critical. Contribute to the processes.

    Well done, TNPA Saldanha.

    Graeme Clemitson
    'The future is Maritime'

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    Being carried by a Trinity House engineer, a Tideland Sea Beacon 2 System 6 radar beacon or racon. This unit has been modified to provide data on location, but that is not visible. Picture courtesy Trinity House.

    By Dr Nick Ward CEng FRIN AFNI, GLA Research Director
    and Dr Paul Williams, CEng BSc(Hons) FRIN GLA R&RNAV* Principal Development Engineer

    * General Lighthouse Authorities of Great Britain and Ireland Research and Radionavigation Directorate. Background
    e-navigation is an IMO initiative for future, digital navigation in the maritime sector. It was conceived about ten years ago following an input to IMO's Maritime Safety Committee from several leading maritime nations. This highlighted a clear need to equip the master of a vessel, and those responsible for the safety of shipping ashore, with modern, proven tools to make marine navigation and communications more reliable and thereby reduce errors.

    Key objectives of e-Navigation include: safe and secure navigation of vessels, facilitating communications, including data exchange between vessels and shore, integration and presentation of information onboard and ashore to maximise navigation safety benefits and minimise risk of confusion, as demonstrated in projects such as Mona Lisa 2.0.

    Progress in IMO
    The IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), has developed and approved (in November 2014) an E-navigation Strategy Implementation Plan (SIP) to be implemented during 2015-19. Four work programmes are planned for this period covering:

  • Revised performance standards for Integrated Navigation Systems relating to the harmonisation of bridge design and display of information

  • Guidelines for the harmonised display of navigation information received via communications equipment

  • Guidelines on standardised modes of operation (referred to as S-mode); and

  • Revised general requirements for electronic navigational aids relating to 'Built-In Integrity Testing' for navigation equipment.
  • A further work item on Maritime Service Portfolios (MSP) was deferred until MSC 96 (May 2016). MSP have been identified as the means of providing electronic information in a harmonised way between shore and ships. This output proposes to harmonise the format, structure and communication channels, functional and physical links, and message formats used for exchange of that information. The input to MSC 96, supported by many national members and international organisations, should lead to an MSC Resolution providing general guidance to international organisations and service providers to develop MSP in a coordinated and harmonised manner.

    In the long term and for complete harmonisation of MSP and their display on board, it may be necessary to revise the requirements contained in SOLAS Chapter IV and V and some of the supporting performance standards for the relevant equipment.

    Progress in IALA
    At the 17th and 18th Sessions of the IALA ENAV Committee in October 2015 and March 2016 work continued on the development of standards, communication and navigation systems, Maritime Service Portfolios and product specifications for data exchange.

    In December 2015 IALA held a Seminar on Maritime Digital Infrastructure and Test Beds in Gothenburg. The conclusions were:

    1. Adoption of e-navigation and use of digital infrastructure depends on sound business cases with clear tangible benefits.

    2. IALA should consider establishing a collaboration forum across the maritime domain including other IGO, NGO and industry, to ensure harmonious implementation of e-navigation.

    3. There is merit in local and regional implementation as a means to obtain global acceptance of e-navigation solutions.

    4. A coordinated, decentralised approach could be used for information sharing and service interaction between different domains.

    5. The Maritime Architecture Framework can be useful for visualising different perspectives of e-navigation and their inter-relationships in the maritime domain.

    6. There is a compelling need for universal identification of actors and information objects etc. to enable interoperability.

    7. Cyber security issues need to be addressed.

    8. IALA ENAV could consider hypothesis driven validation methodology when assessing test bed results.

    9. Increased visibility of themes being addressed in test beds and establishment of Special Interest Groups may enhance collaboration.

    A workshop is taking place in May 2016 in Lisbon on Shore-based Maritime Services from Theory to Practical Use: Who Will Do What When. This is expected to move the MSP development process forward.

    Projects and Test Beds
    A repository of test beds is maintained on e-navigation.net and IALA encourages those establishing new test beds to provide information about them on that site. As part of its contribution to the EU Horizon 2020 Project EfficienSea 2, IALA is establishing links between that project and all other relevant test beds, particularly those developing e-navigation applications.

    e-navigation communications
    Two fundamental components are required for e-navigation to work. Resilient PNT (Positioning, Navigation and Timing) is covered in a separate article, but dependable communications are also essential. Automated reporting, route exchange, maritime safety information, virtual Aids to Navigation -- almost every e-navigation solution relies on communications.

    A recent report produced by the General Lighthouse Authorities and provided as an input to IALA, showed that new systems such as the VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) and Navigation Data (NAVDAT) had important roles to play in many e-navigation applications. A few applications demand very high bandwidth and would benefit from broadband via satellite, but most requirements can be met by VDES and NAVDAT, which use available maritime VHF and MF channels, respectively. The use of satellite (VSAT) based broadband is expanding, with the current number of terminals deployed rising from 20,000 today to a projected 40,000 terminals by 2020. This expansion of use is being driven by the mariner's requirement to be online all the time, particularly for infotainment and social media applications.

    Future Direction
    It seems likely that the ground work for implementation of e-navigation will continue in IMO, while the development and definition of MSP is progressed in parallel by IALA. Applications and solutions will be tested and demonstrated in the various test bed projects and those that offer real benefits to mariners, pilots, ship operators, ports and other stakeholders will be adopted and standardised. So e-navigation will be realised by a process of user selection, rather than top-down imposition.

    submitted by: Paul Ridgway

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    People's Liberation Army ( Navy) frigate PLA( N) Y
    Chinese frigate of same class to that which is visiting Simon's Town. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

    A surprise visit to the Simon's Town naval base occurred yesterday when a three ship group of China's navy arrived for what appears to be an official visit.

    The three ships consist of the 23,000-ton replenishment oiler type AOR TAIHU (889) which arrived first, the frigate DAQING (576) and the ageing destroyer QINDAO (113).

    National news broadcasters immediately linked the ships with the so-called mysterious Chinese fishing 'fleet' that is currently passing the South African coast en route to the Congo. Last week social media sounded the alert to their presence off the KZN and Wild Coasts, amidst far-fetched accusations that the Chinese were here to raid the sardines shoals which in another month or so will begin their annual migration along that very coast.

    It subsequently turned out that the Chinese fishing vessels were new vessels and were on their way to fish off the Congo, where they had obtained licences to do so. But to get there, they have to pass South Africa, but such was the social media outcry, which was taken up by national newspaper and radio media, that a DAFF patrol ship on the east coast was sent to investigate. The fishing vessels were allowed to proceed. Then, according to reports, as the fishing vessels approached the Cape coast they were intercepted by a naval vessel sent to investigate, at which sight they scattered, with their AIS transponders turned off. The navy vessel gave chase and apparently took one of the fishing vessels into some form of custody, 'to check its papers'.

    There is so much wild speculation and conjecture that we're not sure what exactly took place. Apparently, if you think something, it's okay to say so on social media and then it becomes fact.

    According to these reports the Chinese fleet did not have permission to sail through South African territorial waters.

    The scary part of this story is how social media can whip up a hysteria which is then taken up by the authorities and treated seriously. Is there anything so unusual about a group of fishing vessels sailing along our coast, en route to some other destination? At certain times of the year the port of Cape Town is full with Chinese and other nationality fishing vessels, and hello, there's more than 30,000 vessels of all types passing our coast every year, so what makes this group any different?

    PORTS & SHIPS frequently gets reports of 'strange fishing vessels' raiding our coast -- this from observers on the shore who notice the vessels and immediately jump to conclusions. It's good that people are observant, and that they take the trouble to enquire about the purpose of the vessels out at sea. What is less good is that it doesn't appear that our maritime authorities, are always equally aware of what is going on or have accurate knowledge of what each ship is doing. Or if they do, then this is not shared at different levels.

    The Chinese warships that arrived at Simon's Town are, meanwhile, unlikely to take up the cudgels of their fellow countrymen dressed in fishing garb. Their purpose apparently is a sort of 'show and tell', to be confined among the navy fraternity.

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    Port Louis 470
    Port Louis - Indian Ocean gateway port

    Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

    In the case of South Africa's container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container Stack Dates are also available.

    You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by going HERE remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.

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    QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    We publish news about the cruise industry here in the general news section, but this is also available in a dedicated Cruise News section. This section will include various stories and news not covered in the general news so if you have an interest in this sector don't forget to check regularly on our CRUISE NEWS page.

    This you will find here in CRUISE NEWS & REVIEWS

    Naval News
    SA Navy 480

    Similarly you can read our regular Naval News reports and stories which also have their own dedicated section, although some stories may be duplicated in the general news section.

    Find the Naval Review section HERE

    Remember to use your backspace key to return to this page.


    MSC AZOV IMG 9246 480

    Mediterranean Shipping Company's 9,400-TEU capacity container ships MSC AZOV (112,434-dwt, built 2013) arrives in Durban last Friday, 13 May 2016 and moved smartly to the Durban Container Terminal to work her cargo. The ships was built by Shanghai Jiangnan-Changxing Shipbuilding in China as their hull number 1068A. The vessel is a charter to MSC, being owned by Costamare Shipping of Athens, Greece. This picture is by Keith Betts


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